State and Federal Conflict

Suzanne Ghais

Program Manager at CDR Associates, Boulder, Colorado

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A mediation that I did between a federal agency and a state agency. In this case it was the state agency that was the regulator and the federal agency that was the regulated because it had to do with a military base that had environmental problems, so the state agency was the environmental regulator. They had just locked horns about the states authority to require certain things and they had communicated a lot by email and a lot by non-communicating. I went through the normal steps of a mediation, including trying to get to what was really important to them and putting that out there for both sides to see and to understand, so they could get away from fighting about who has what right, who has what authority, etcetera. And it just completely shifted. I'm not sure what was the moment when that shift occurred, but I think to a large extent it happened in my work before the meeting.

That's one of my principles, I try to make a lot of progress before the people actually meet in preparing them and letting them talk to me and vent and let them work through some of the emotional aspects.