By TARA COPP
Scripps Howard News Service
May 20, 2005
Last week, the Pentagon listed 33 major military bases for closure, 29 for realignment and almost 800 smaller facilities, many of them guard or reserve locations, for either realignment or closure. If listed towns can't persuade the nine-member Base Realignment and Closure Commission to override the Pentagon recommendations, the communities face losing thousands of jobs as the military pulls up stakes and moves on.
There are two ways towns can get "face time" with commissioners.
First, the panel has scheduled 16 regional hearings meant to serve clusters of affected bases. At those hearings, several different communities may be sharing the commission's time. At least three or four commissioners will be attending each of the regional hearings, said commissioner Harold W. Gehman Jr., a retired Navy admiral.
Second, at least one commissioner each will personally visit 60 to 65 of the most affected sites, Gehman said. The schedule for the individual visits is expected to be complete soon and will be available on the Web site.
Thursday's commission hearing was the last of a weeklong series with each branch of the armed services to discuss individual closure decisions.
During the meeting, each commissioner listed which decisions they would recuse themselves from to avoid conflicts of interest.
- Gehman said because of his previous position advising the Virginia governor's office on how to prepare for base closure, he would recuse himself from any "substantial participation" regarding a Virginia facility or out-of-state facilities expected to relocate to Virginia.
- Former Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, said he would recuse himself from any "substantial participation" on votes or discussions about Utah bases.
- Commissioner Philip Coyle, a Californian who was the Pentagon's director of operational testing and evaluation, said he would remove himself from any decisions regarding California because he briefly worked with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the state's base-closure strategy.
- Commissioner James Bilbray, a former Democratic congressman from Nevada, said he would recuse himself from any decisions involving that state.
On the Web:
Source: The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission
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