Thursday, June 23, 2016

WI DNR again spins program failures, blames staff numbers

The deliberately demoralized and politicized Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - directed by Scott Walker away from public priorities by his "chamber of commerce mentality" - - has been caught again not doing the basics of environmental protection.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
And the Walker-appointed chair of the state's Natural Resource Board - - which is supposed to oversee the DNR - - is said to be 'surprised' at the outcome?

Has this man been asleep for the last few years?

Let's apply the Wisconsin Idea which Walker nearly killed off and do a little sifting and winnowing:

In May, 2012, a high-ranking DNR apologist for the agency's pollution-enabling kid-gloves inspection and enforcement policies blamed the agency's low staffing levels - - which the Walker administration created through a corrosive internal environment, plus budget and program cuts  - - during a spin and responsibility-evasion session with a relatively-friendly Journal Sentinel editorial board
DNR Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney... told us the primary reason for the [enforcement] drop is lack of staffing and a high vacancy rate, not a change in philosophy. 
"There has been no conscious decision to reduce inspections," he told the Editorial Board on Tuesday. "But there is only so much work that can be done with the bodies we have." 
Moroney said the department's staff shrank from 2,317 employees in January 2011 to 2,169 in August 2011. It's now at 2,205 and growing.
So here it is 49 months later and the inspection and enforcement numbers are still lousy, and the DNR is still spinning out the same old excuses
Officials pointed to high levels of retirements and staff turnover since 2011, and financial constraints on the agency that have limited hiring in many cases. 
Fiscal constraints? How did that happen? Who cut the budget, eliminated science positions, and removed state funding from state parks and enjoys selling off DNR land and mission?

High levels of retirements? Whose Act 10 and anti-environmental policies made retirements a certainty - - as career scientists and public servants were not persuaded to stay by Halloween parties.

As I said in a separate but related context: it's all bologna. 

The DNR under Walker is doing precisely what he wants: minimal enforcement and maximum corporate freedom to pollute, grab groundwater, promote relaxed air quality standards, etc.

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