Thursday, March 10, 2011

Capitulating To Tavern Owners, DNR Pulls Back Northwoods OWI Enforcement

Ah, now Wisconsin is wider open to drunken snowmobiling, thanks to a deliberate pull back by the DNR under pro-business Cathy Stepp - - Scott Walker's new DNR secretary.

From a Fox6 News report:

For many snowblowers, sledding from bar to bar is an accepted part of the culture. A 2009 FOX6 investigation found riders getting loaded with no fear of getting stopped.

"DNR Director Cathy Stepp says, "There's a feeling or perception in the area of over enforcement."
To supplement local law enforcement efforts, the DNR spends $125,000 a year in overtime to fund a special Snowmobile Accident Reduction Team(SART)...
...Stepp says she's been hearing from constituents up north that they don't like the extra patrols. "And the perception was, there's a lot of tax dollars going to pay for overtime, and for time in the woods. I mean that's the perception."
Stepp recently ordered the SART team to stop enforcing snowmobiling laws in the northwoods. She claims there is no controversy in this move. She says it's a money saving move.
"I'm charged with being frugal with the money we're given."
Instead of disbanding SART, she reassigned them to patrol trails south of highway 29. It's a line that extends from Green Bay to Shawano to Eau Claire. Stepp says there's more deaths south of highway 29.
Stepps statement is barely true. There have been six riders killed north of highway 29 compared to eight deaths in the south.
Over the past nine seasons 140 snowmobilers have died in the northern third of the state, compared to just 72 everywhere else. That's a margin of 2-1.
Stepp admits she was influenced by a stream of complaints from northwoods business owners, snowmobile club members, and at least one police chief in Minocqua.


Betsey said...

Let's see . . .

1. It's a money-saving measure, yet SART wasn't disbanded, just reassigned to another area. Where's the savings in that?

2. It's a 'perception' problem or 'feeling' problem -- thanks Cathi! (I only wish my keyboard allowed me to dot my 'i' with a heart!) You've set back high profile professional women about 45 years.

3. "Stepp admits she was influenced by a stream of complaints . . . " What? Stepp under the influence? Say it isn't so, Cathi!

4. Cathi! uses science and some of those funny statistickies to justify her move: however, number of citations should probably be used instead of number of deaths. A reasoning person could argue that fewer deaths were the result of more enforcement.

5. Snowmobilers who kill or injure themselves do so by banging into trees, crossing open water and having arguments with cars (snowmobilers usually lose). Why not just cut down the trees and fill in the lakes, thereby cutting your accidents by 2/3?

6. I wouldn't care if snowmobilers just eliminated themselves (survival of the fittest) while cranked up on Wild Turkey, but their irresponsible behavior can kill or injure others such as car occupants and snowmobilers, and destroy the lives of their children and family members.
However, Tavern Leaguers might think more long-term before supporting less enforcement: way to erode your customer base!

7. Cathi! We're coming in to swimsuit season. I don't want you to depress yourself by trying on swimsuits, but it's one way to beat back those winter blahs--and is certainly less harmful to fewer people than trying to run that big ol' DNR with all its pesky rules and laws and such, and all those whiny public employees!

Anonymous said...

Geez, I wonder if the fact that snowmobile deaths are down in the northwoods this year has something to do with the previous enforcement policy....