Monday, January 3, 2011

Stepp Talks Loosened Regulation: Wants Employees To Speed Up Permitting

Incoming Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp sent the following email about her boss, their goals and management team makeup to DNR employees last Thursday. I am underlining the unmistakable takeaway.

Governor-elect Walker announced his cabinet secretaries this morning.  As I am sure you have heard, I have been asked to serve as this department’s secretary.  I am both humbled and excited about this opportunity to work with you.
Before I introduce our leadership team, I want you to know that as a citizen of this state I am proud of your work.  Our team hopes to build on your accomplished past.  Well-managed, sustainable natural resources and a clean environment are important to Wisconsin and fundamental to a strong economy. 
Will there be some changes?  Yes, but our goal is to not change what’s working well.  There are many successes. The Governor has identified areas where he would like to see improvement. Briefly, he expects us to work with you, as a team, to look at the agency’s permitting processes to find ways to streamline and minimize review times and he wants to strengthen this agency’s focus on customer service. 
I emphasize that these are goals we will work on together, with your input. Governor-elect Walker is committed to making transparent decisions that are based on the law and sound science.
Second, getting to know you is the leadership team’s immediate priority.  To that end, I would like to invite central office and South Central Region employees to a meet and greet with cookies in Room G09 today, Thursday, Dec. 30, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.  Following that, the deputy, exec assistant and I will be visiting the floors of GEF 2.
In the coming weeks, we plan to be out at DNR offices meeting with you and learning about your programs. At the present time we are trying to arrange meet and greet sessions in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Rhinelander, Spooner and Eau Claire, hopefully for as early as this coming week.
I wanted to get some information to you as quickly as possible about the new leadership and what to expect over the first few weeks and months.
This is a period of some uncertainty for all involved, including the new leadership team, but together we will be successful innovators.  You have the day-to-day experiences and great ideas.  We want to hear those ideas.  You will find that we will be very approachable as a leadership team.  We will work to build your trust in us.  Open communication is an important element of this trust.  You should expect frequent communications about the department’s goals, objectives and accomplishments. 
It is the overall goal of Governor-elect Walker to create jobs in this state – good jobs that will keep our children here and give them a bright future.  And I believe that can be accomplished while preserving a healthy environment and natural resources for our quality of life.
Here’s some background about me and the secretary’s staff:
  • Secretary Cathy Stepp.  I served as Racine’s State Senator from 2002 to 2006, but most of my experience has been in the private sector.  As a former homebuilder, I became aware of Wisconsin’s regulatory climate and how it affected small business owners.  In 1998, Gov. Tommy Thompson asked me to bring this perspective to the Natural Resources Board, and I was on the board for three years.  This experience encouraged me to run for the legislature where I was chairman of the Senate’ Job Creation Committee and co-chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  I chose not to seek re-election and returned home at the end of the four year term to rejoin my husband in our family business.  I am an avid outdoorswoman.  I enjoy Wisconsin’s snowmobile trails each winter and I have hunted turkeys in western Wisconsin.  I appreciate the tremendous hunting opportunities our state offers to residents and tourists. I strongly believe job creation and environmental protection can be mutually supportive.  As a small business owner, I understand the importance of customer-friendly relations.  The best times in my life have been spent outdoors with my  husband, Paul, and two children, Hannah and Mitchell.
  • Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney.  Matt was raised on a small family farm outside of Masonville, Iowa.  He graduated from Loras College in 1991with a major in Political Science and Economics.  He graduated the University of Iowa College of Law in 1994.  He is married to Linda Moroney and has a 7-year-old daughter, Olivia, and a 1-year old son, Mason.  They reside in Waukesha.  He has been attorney at DeWitt Ross and Stevens the past two years, and was previously the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Builders Association of Greater Milwaukee.  He enjoys playing basketball, fishing, and spending time with family and friends.
  • Executive Assistant Scott Gunderson. Scott grew up on a farm in Racine County. He has owned and operated a hunting and fishing store in Wind Lake for 26 years.  For the past 16 years, he has represented the 83rd District in the Wisconsin State Assembly. He has been on the Assembly Natural Resources Committee all eight sessions, serving as vice chairman and for the last four years as chairman.  He authored the state’s Constitutional Amendment protecting the right to hunt, fish and trap, and negotiated the legislative approval of the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact to protect the interests of Wisconsin’s residents and industries.  He lives in Waterford with his wife, Lisa, and is the father of three adult children. 
I am planning on making final division administrator selections in the next one or two weeks.
Thank you for your time today, and our team looks forward to meeting you later today and in the coming weeks. 
Cathy Stepp
Incoming DNR Secretary


Anonymous said...

Make sure to go fishing at your favorite lakes. The "sped up" permitting promise means more highway runoff killing the fish in many of them.

James Rowen said...

Ditto if they kill the phosphorus rule. That only took 20 years to get done.

Anonymous said...

Seems like sped up permitting might be good for her pocketbook as well. Since she owns a home building business, quicker permits will mean quicker profits. Hmmm - isn't that the same kind of conflict that caused Peter Peshek to be ousted as Tommy's appointment to run the DNR back in 1992?

Riverkeeper said...

Fox--meet henhouse! I will also note that Matt Moroney has a history of denying science when it is inconvenient to development. He wanted all mention of riparian corridor protection stricken from the SEWRPC regional water quality management plan b/c in his opinion there was no science that vegetated corridors protect water quality. This despite a very extensive appendix to the plan detailing the science (Appendix O) and THOUSANDS of studies that prove that vegetated ribbons along our waterways protect water quality. I am very worried about gutting of the shoreland regs more so than Phosphorus at this point. I will say that anyone who thinks shoreland regs are bad should visit a lake in IL. There is a reason why they all come up here to recreate!

Anonymous said...

Getting a permit in a timely manner is not going to destroy the environment and it may enhance a persons enjoyment of their own property. Science is the process of finding out what is real. If Cathy Stepp’s management results in harmful effects to the environment, then these effects should be observable and measurable not requiring a large dose of imagination or faith for all to see.

Anonymous said...

Moroney lives in the Town of Delafield, NOT Waukesha. His purported residency in Waukesha is something they may try to deceive the public on as he becomes the point man for the Waukesha diversion application.

It will be yet another example of someone from outside the city of Waukesha trying to tell and convince the city residents what is best for them.

Strange bedfellows... To think that Schreiber is working in conjunction with Walker appointees to move this thing forward.

Hopefully there will be some checks and balances like the MI DNR / Gov and the new Gov of NY to make sure the application is thorough, complete and not the 7th grade rough draft that it appears to be now.