I was traveling and missed the news about the selection of Howard Shelanski to replace Cass Sunstein as head of OIRA, the White House office that oversees government regulations. Or, regulatory czar, in simpler terms. He’s a terrific pick.
Howard was on the faculty here when I first came to Berkeley and got to know him over lunches at Steve’s Korean Barbecue, a student dive near the law school. He has four traits that augur well for his new position: he’s smart, honest, tough, and fair-minded. He’s also got real economics chops — so far as I can tell, he’s the first Ph.D economist to hold the position in some time. I’m also pretty confident that he’ll give honest advice to the President should the occasion arise. None of our conversations were about environmental policy, so far as I can remember, though i do remember get some tutoring about telecommunications law. So I don’t have any reason to think that he’s predisposed one way or the other on environmental or regulatory issues. Nor do I have any reason to think his judgments will coincide with mine (outside of the realm of Korean cuisine), but I do know all sides will get a fair hearing.