The Journal Sentinel says in a Sunday editorial that blatant human waste-hauling dumping violations revealed by the Wisconsin State Journal
deserved more than the wrist-slap that Scott Walker's DNR had arranged, but felt compelled to balance
out that logical conclusion with a slap at agency critics whom the paper
says are using the episode as a recall cudgel against Scott Walker.
For my part, guilty as charged.
Call me a repeat and consistent offender, but read to the end of this post.
* I wrote a year ago that the the newspaper was wrong when it said Walker should get the benefit of the doubt over his seizure of more direct control of the DNR via executive order. The relatively mild sanction given the human waste polluter buttresses the case for Walker's recall and restoration of the DNR to honest regulator in the public interest.
* And just a few days ago, after the State Journal had also revealed that Walker's DNR had systematically and drastically cut back on pollution enforcement for the past year, I wrote this about policy and special-interest management at the ENR:
Walker did not hand-pick staff and officials from the WMC, the road-builders and other special interests to regulate at the DNR. They were put there to de-regulate.But the editorial suggests that agency critics and recall supporters are driven "more than a little" by partisan motives:
The DNR's reductions in clean air and water enforcement actions under Stepp's leadership [Sic] at Walker's behest proves that they did not and do not deserve our trust when it comes to environmental protections.
But the level of criticism that the case has generated seems to us unwarranted and overblown - and has more than a little to do with the gubernatorial recall election on June 5. Democratic legislators demanding an investigation and some former Democratic DNR secretaries who are outraged by the case also may have an agenda that goes beyond procedures at the agency.Hold on:
I was recently critical of the administration of former Gov. Jim Doyle for embedding partisanship in the management of the DNR, and I pointed out in November, 2009 that Doyle and Democrat legislators wrongly missed a chance to return the DNR to more independent, publicly-spirited controls:
On May 1, 2012, I wrote:
corporate tool Cathy Stepp has greatly curtailed enforcement of clean air and water laws and regulations is bad enough, but do not forget that in 2009, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a measure that would have returned the selection of the DNR Secretary to the quasi-independent Natural Resources Board.In the 2009 posting, I said:
And Democrats were unwilling to help override the veto, so the measure died and the appointment remained in the hands of the Governor.
...Gov. Jim Doyle's veto of the bill returning the power to appoint the Department of Natural Resources Secretary to the DNR board - - and reversing a Cabinet-expanding power grab engineered by then-Gov. Tommy Thompson - - [it] is disappointing...Environmentalists have frequently and loudly criticized back-sliding on green programming and government action in Wisconsin, regardless of party.
And it is a slap at much of Doyle's core constituency - - environmentalists, urbanists, conservationists - - who believe that a DNR moderately removed from gubernatorial direction would function more in the public interest and less driven by special interests.