The New Idea
Important new program ideas flow from Manuel like water from a spring: making an issue of lead in gasoline; decentralizing wastewater treatment; changing when Mexico City takes its major holidays; fundamentally reorganizing the environmental ministry; raising the alarm over widespread natural arsenic contamination of groundwater in northern Mexico; and negotiating toward the introduction of the federal District's first hazardous waste treatment facility.These specific idea have an impact because of a larger encompassing idea: Manuel is building an island of trust in a sea of division and failed communication -- a center that can speak out to the public with credibility, anchor the policy debate, and facilitate problem-solving collaboration.He and those he's beginning to draw to him can talk to all the actors in their own language, understanding their values and problems. They are also highly competent technically and, far rarer, managerially and institutionally as well. The can discuss how a standard can be policed as easily as the government's enforcement staff -- and how the required controls can best be found, financed, and maintained as easily as a plant engineer. They are champions for the environment, but truly effective champions because, no one's adversaries, they are respected and trusted.From this position of strength Manuel is setting out:to (1) educated and activate the public; and, (2) suggest and catalyze a cascade of practical reform ideas.