Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Change in DNR Secretary Appointing Power A Political Drama

The State Assembly has approved a bill restoring the power to appoint the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to the DNR's seven-member board.

Currently the power rests with the Governor - - a change engineered in 1995 by Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Ironic, then, that it is Gov. Jim Doyle who may pay the price for the politicization of a job that was somewhat insulated from outright gubernatorial control - - I say somewhat because DNR board members are gubernatorial appointees, too, though with staggered terms that can overlap a Governor's tenure.

But during Doyle's two terms in office, assertions spread around the Capitol and within the DNR that the Governor's office was over-managing the department.

And that the DNR's regulatory approach was too much appreciated by the Republican-leaning Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

But I'm guessing that the legislative effort to remove the Governor's direct appointing authority would not have picked up so much steam had Doyle replaced DNR Secretary Scott Hassett in 2007 with a DNR professional, or a known conservationist/environmentalist, rather than with Wisconsin Corrections Secretary Matt Frank.

And had offered a detailed explanation for Hassett's sudden resignation in the first place.

We'll see if the Senate approves the appointment powers' change, and if there are the votes to overturn a possible Doyle veto - - even though Doyle campaigned against Thompson's takeover of the Secretary's appointment and promised to support a return to the selection by the Board.

We'll also see if a more independent Secretary selection results in a stronger environmental and conservation agenda at the agency.

Let's hope so.


Anon Jim said...

Wow - guess Jim Doyle doesn't quite walk on water as you you usually portray him.

And Matt Frank - is that the guy who was in charge of collecting DNA (or not as it turns out) while the Corrections Secretary.

Sounds like Matt is another par for the course incompetent Wisconsin bureaucrat.

James Rowen said...

Anon Jim shows he loves his wisecracks, but does not read this blog carefully.

While I think Gov. Doyle has been a good Governor, I have not hesitated to criticize him or his departments when I think the policies are wrong.

Too much road-building. No DNR work on rules ti implement the Great Lakes Compact.

Misdirected efforts to weaken air quality standards in SE Wisconsin.

But there has been great work expanding the Stewardship Fund for open space acquisition.

Solid progress on high-speed rail.

And he has fought the Right on Voter ID and gay rights, and helped deal with a bad national economy by aggressively bringing in stimulus funding

You never get everything you wantin politics, and I'd rather have had Doyle in office than any of the GOP's candidates.

Anon Jim said...

James - only recently starting reading your blog and no I do not read all of your postings as the topics are not always of interest for me.

Btw here is a tip I figured out about 20 years ago - virtually all commonly available "juice" blends that have cranberry in the name are sweetened. Apparently unsweetened cranberry juice is too tart for the mass market.

And even what companies like Minute Maid / Coca-cola try to pass off as "apple juice" is dubious at best - drinking those chemical tasting concoctions does not bring to mind any kind apple I have ever eaten.

James Rowen said...

To Anon Jim: Yes, I know about the so-called juice and cocktail beverages. In that posting, I was poking fun at myself, but also making what may have been a redundanct point.