Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Six ex-DNR Secretaries oppose Walker power grab

Six former Secretaries of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have signed a public statement opposing Scott Walker's surprise budget initiative to fundamentally remake the department's citizen policy oversight board into an advisory body.

That would vest more power over DNR policies and programs in the Governor's "chamber of commerce mentality," political appointees who run the agency.

The letter was released by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, (WWF). I will post the text below.

Here is the WWF release:

                              Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

April 2, 2015

Contact: George Meyer, Executive Director, 608-616-5545

All Former DNR Secretaries Endorse Current Authority for the Natural Resource Board 

Columbus: In an unprecedented letter of unity, all six former living DNR Secretaries endorsed that the Natural Resources Board should retain its current authority over the Department of Natural Resources. The former Secretaries careers span 36 years of leadership from 1975 through 2011 and represent Secretaries that served under both Republican and Democratic Governors and served as both Board appointed and Governor appointed Secretaries. The Secretaries are Anthony Earl (also a former Governor), Bruce Braun (Deputy Secretary under the late Secretary Buzz Besadny), George Meyer, Darrell Bazzell, Scott Hassett and Matt Frank. The letter was sent to the Chairs of the Joint Finance Committee:

Dear Senator Darling and Representative Nygren:

The state budget that is presently before the Joint Finance Committee proposes to change state law by removing the decision-making authority of the Natural Resources Board and making it solely advisory to the Department of Natural Resources Secretary.

The below signed individuals served as Secretaries of the Department of Natural Resources from 1975 until 2011 (36 years). The group includes Secretaries that served in Republican and Democratic Administrations and as Board-appointed and Governor-appointed Secretaries. We have worked very closely for and with the Natural Resources Board over those years and have direct first-hand knowledge of its operations and value.

We all agree that the Natural Resources Board should be retained as the decision-making body for the Department of Natural Resources. As presently constituted the Board provides immeasurable value for Wisconsin citizens and the natural resources of the state.

The Board provides an extremely valuable function as a major gateway for average citizens to directly impact all forms of natural resource management. This is done through citizen appearances at the monthly Natural Resources Board meetings and through the thousands of individual citizen communications that Board members receive each year and bring to bear in their decision-making process. 
Secondly, we all have benefited from having the direct input from the highly respected conservationists that have served on the Board during our tenures. Natural resource decision-making is often complex and controversial and we found it very valuable to have the ideas and direction of these individuals in making decisions. The Board as decision-makers brings the perspective of average citizens to the table and is valuable in molding agency decisions to be less bureaucratic and workable for the average citizen.
It has been set forth by some that removing the Natural Resources Board as the decision-making body will increase accountability for agency decisions for Wisconsin citizens. In fact, having the open process of monthly meetings of the Natural Resources Board as a decision-making body where average citizens can comment and bring forth any issue regarding the agency problems is a far higher level of accountability for Wisconsin citizens.
Lastly, we believe that if the Natural Resources Board is changed to an advisory body, the state will lose the high level of individuals that have historically served on the Board and that their “advice” will be easily dismissed at the discretion of the Secretary.

Sincerely yours,

Anthony S. Earl                                   Bruce Braun                                George Meyer
 DNR Secretary                   Deputy Secretary to C.D. Besadny             DNR Secretary
   1975-1982                                          1982-1993                                     1993-2001

 Darrell Bazzell                                     Scott Hassett                                 Matt Frank 
 DNR Secretary                                    DNR Secretary                            DNR Secretary
   2001-2003                                            2003-2007                                   2007-2011

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seems like lots of people are beginning to stand and be counted against the Walker budget and Walker himself. I can't help but believe that Walker's lap dog legislators are beginning to see that all is not well in Wisconsin and they can claim things are on the up swing but after 4 years of this claim people's wallets are thinner and they're no longer buying this cheap talk! The ship is seeking and the captain's already abandoned the good ship Wisconsin and the Republican crew are left to bail like crazy because they didn't outfit the ship with life boats.....not even life vests!