Legacy or Sham?

The Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution has been established in Mo Udall's name. Would he even like it?

I'm torn. I see Suckling's point. Now that his side is winning, why should he go soft? Big business would never do that. It's refreshing to see a nonprofit advocacy group that not only swims with the sharks but regularly devours them.

But would Suckling be wimping out by participating in this institute? I'm not so sure. If negotiations are fruitless, there is always the option of litigation.

While I am suspicious that pols like McCain--who resides at the bottom of the League of Conservation Voters' annual rankings--are hitching their wagons to Mo Udall's green star, we won't know whether the institute can be beneficial if nobody gives it a chance to work.

And we can only guess what Udall would say about the institute, if he were here today. He was debilitated by Parkinson's disease when the institute was founded, unaware of the legacy others were trying to create for him.

Suckling has a guess: "I think Mo would be very pleased to see the progress being made with Arizona's environment and would not at all be pleased that his name is being put on a group whose goal is to slow down and subvert the progress we're making."

Reached at his home in Santa Fe, Mo's brother, former Interior secretary Stewart Udall, says, "The Southwest Center has had considerable success in the courts, and you can't blame them for using the system that seems to have worked for them so well. But this new entity under my brother's name, I'm sure is going to try and do something that's fair and judicious and would actually help resolve disputes rather than go through long-winded court proceedings."

I believe, at the very least, that Mo Udall would be disappointed to know that federal environmental laws--some of which he helped to pass--are being so flouted as to necessitate the conflict-resolution institute. And at the same time, he'd likely be saddened to learn that in American politics today, it's not unusual for people to announce they have no intention of compromising.

We'll never know. But I'd feel much better if we could name a mountain after the guy, too, just for good measure.

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