DNR Again Claiming Staff Shortages - - Yet Has Greater Hiring Powers Than Ever
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Lee Bergquist and the non-profit legal watchdogs at Midwest Environmental Advocates have documented an across-the-board pullback in inspection work by the Department of Natural Resources during Scott Walker's first year in office.
But as it did when the State Journal found the department had cut back widely on enforcement actions against polluters as well, the department offered up the weakest and most of bureaucratic whines:
We're short of people.
Walker recreated the department as a charter agency last year, meaning it could go outside some state hiring procedures and recruit with more freedom than other agencies.
So where's the follow-through?
Could it be that serious, science-based professionals are not beating down the doors to work for agency now run by Cathy Stepp who has been famously anti-DNR, and still openly partisan?
So where is the tipping point for the public on the way this taxpayer-financed department is being run?
* The human waste spreading outrage in Jefferson County?
* The fresh pollution of the St. Croix River?
* The fresh revelations by both major statewide daily papers of systemic reductions in inspections and enforcement actions needed to insure clean air and water for all the people of the state?
Or the realization the department's managers, while saying they don't have the horses to get the job done, somehow have the time to chat up conservative talk radio hosts, stay on message for a bigger agency despite their small-government ideology, and manage a news release machine?
This posting had information that got to the heart of where the DNR has been headed - - in its own words - - since Stepp took over:
this message is sent to all DNR Central Office staff, Darwin Road staff, and Regional Directors:
Come and join us for our 1st annual Halloween Progressive PotluckHow does it work?Staff on each floor will be designated a food type to bring. For example, employees on 8th floor are asked to bring meat or a hot dish which will be set up in a conference room on 8th floor. The same will happen with each floor. (See attached poster for food assignments). Everyone will need to go floor to floor to get a balanced meal (unless you are in the mood for only dessert and you can just stay on 7th floor…) Don't have time to get something together for the potluck?? Bring a canned good to donate to the food pantry instead.And Costume Challenge!Central Office has challenged the Regions to a costumer competition. We are asking each bureau and office to take a picture of their staff in costume and forward it to [...] Pictures will be included in the next e-digest. Who wins? You decide. And the prize? The pride in believing that your region/office was the best!!Our Goals?To have funTo mingle with staff on different floorsTo enjoy some great food
Let's not forget one key reason the DNR is short of people: Walker's "tools" ran them off, en masse, including a lot of senior people who owned much of the agency's institutional knowledge. My guess is that Cathy Stepp is not at all interested in staffing up the DNR. For one thing keeping the staff decimated saves money and her boss is all about cutting spending. Second, a short staff forces the DNR to back off on regulation and enforcement while leaving Stepp with a convenient excuse. "Oh, gee, we'd really LIKE to do the job with which we are charged, but we JUST don't have the staff."
I tried to work with the DNR when Doyle was in office. He would not even respond to a petition--the DNR permitted a culvert blocking the original Wolf River, refused to rescind the permit and refused to have a hearing because of Doyle's staff reductions. Check with Edwina--I think she is still there. We finally did get additional culverts but we should not have had any. It was an eighty foot wide, eight feet deep river. We do not need a DNR which violates its own rules.
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