Friday, November 13, 2009

Doyle DNR Bill Veto Very Regrettable

He sent signals that it was coming, so while 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.

It sets up a collision with the Legislature and members of his own party just as Democrats are perhaps sorting out their 2010 gubernatorial candidate troubles - - Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett might be close to announcing - - in the wake of Doyle's sudden decision to step aside next year.

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.

It is painfully ironic that Doyle through his veto would validate the Machiavellian move to control the DNR from the Governor's office pulled off by a power-hungry, statist Thompson - - Doyle's nemesis as he chafed as Attorney General in Tommy's shadow all those years.

Tommy was the walking definition of bad, obstructive, Imperial governance personified for AG Doyle as Tommy grabbed the DNR Secretariat, killed the Public Intervenor in Doyle's offices and sent Consumer Protection off to the Ag Department.

All of which pleased the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, our state's champions of weak public resource regulation, and the most vocal supporter of keeping the DNR Secretary close to the Governor where the WMC could more easily and quietly make self-serving pitches.

Of course, a rare veto override is possible.

And would exacerbate tensions between the Governor, legislators and activists who have worked for years to restore some of the DNR's historic independence - - the reform bill kept intact a governor's ability to appoint the DNR board members - - and implement a change that Doyle supported when he was a candidate in 2002.

I don't see anything good in this action. It's a step backwards for grassroots democracy and public participation in the most basic of agencies.


Matt said...

Again, I ask:

What makes it so difficult to understand that any and all agencies that utilize and spend taxpayer dollars and have propensity to abuse private property rights MUST be accountable to those who grant them such extraordinary power?

You always crow about this with the DNR, but what if we made all State agencies like this?

Tyranny by committee, simple.

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