Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Getting harder to be 'shocked, shocked' at DNR management

[Updated from 10/11] You may remember that a major donor to Scott Walker's GOP political machine was on the fast track to obtain for cash some primo, state-owned lake frontage with the WI DNR's green light until media and public outrage blew the deal up - - though eventually it went through in a property exchange that some felt was more even-handed, but only in a game that the wealthiest among us could play.

Goosed along by eager, business-compliant GOP legislators.

While everyday folks in this state just had their camping and trail and DNR park entry fees raised because Walker believes in a leaner state government - - for the commoners - - and people living near the big feedlots that Walker and his DNR are intentionally under-regulating - - 'no staff,' they say, as they keep cutting staff - - can't get a glass of tap water without a cow pie tang.

Updated: Or as a recent report disclosed, toxic atrazine in their well water.

Well, the same big-donor folks are at it again - - this time getting some speedy DNR approvals for miles of permanent trail and bridge building near their properties - - in a state where you can't get a pothole filled - - but this time the DNR's Secretary, private sector cheerleader and high-profile Donald Trump supporter Cathy Stepp insisted she didn't order up any favors for the Walker donor, Elizabeth Uihlein, who also is a major Trump fundraiser

"Never came up with Liz and I," Stepp said. "None of her representatives. Have never had conversations with anybody.'"
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
Reminds me of Captain Renault in "Casablanca" who was "shocked, shocked" to discover that gambling was taking place in a casino.

Imagine if Walker said, 'What - -  Club for Growth? Campaign donations? Isn't that the McDonald's morning bunch that exchanges gardening tips?'

And, also: "Liz and I..." Really?

That there are two tracks for access to government officials or state power under donor-friendly Walker and his handpicked 'chamber of commerce mentality" administrators like Stepp began in Walker's first days in office.

How many everyday Wisconsinites can get the Governor to waive a DNR review of their plan to construct a building and parking lot on a wetland, then have the Governor sign a special bill rushed through the Legislature to make the DNR review go away forever?

Look at the so-called DNR 'review process' underway adjacent to Kohler-Andrae State Park just south of Sheboygan where Walker $40,000 donor and powerful corporate figure Herbert Kohler, Jr wants to flatten and otherwise remake into a high-end golf course a water-rich nature preserve where rare dunes, native artifacts, and scores of acres of woodlands sit at the edge of Lake Michigan.

And the proposal also seeks the right to build into the adjacent state park.

What do you think would happen to you if you walked into your nearest state park and set up your own taco or T-shirt stand on four acres because, like the golf course developer, your considered those acres underused surplus property for the taking.

The DNR has a group of staffers working on the concept as drawn up by consultants, but without requiring the submission of a formal permit application that would subject actual details to closer citizen review and perhaps legal challenges.

In other words, the developer gets free project consultation from the very state agency that will ultimately have to approve or deny the plan.

How do you think that will go? As senior staff are either dispirited on the job, or leaving.

Consider this comment from the website of the Friends of the Black River Forest, the leading citizens' group opposing the plan. Said the group's attorney after reviewing the DNR's draft environmental impact statement - - released without a formal permit application:

"Thus we disagree, with the DEIS from its very first sentence, i.e. that it "fulfills" the DNR's legal duties..." If and when it receives sufficient information from Kohler, the DNR must redraft the DEIS and renotice the draft for public hearing, before finalizing the EIS. Otherwise, the DNR will have allowed Kohler to complete a significant regulatory hurdle, in a premature fashion that is virtually without precedent, in a way that defies the purpose and requirements of the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act."  8/24/16

And is the US EPA interested? It should be, as many of these big-ticket projects under DNR control have an impact on the US Clean Water Act the DNR under Walker has ignored.


Betsey said...

"Ask Liz and I"

Anonymous said...

The only thing that would shock me about Scott Walker's DNR would be if they told a Walker contributor NOT to put urine and feces in your drinking water. What the media is not telling you is that Walker's idea of a "Chamber of Commerce" attitude at DNR has nothing about economic developmen & growth. It is all about pay-to-play.

Walker will need boatloads of money to ride around the U.S. swillin' cheap beer for the 2 years leading up to the 2020 republican convention. After all, he will put his entire family on the payroll at exorbitant salaries and likely need more than the $90,000 per day he burned through in summer 2015 telling everyone dumb enough to listen that his qualifications were he "has a wife, 2 kids, and a Harley".

Wisconsin media ate that up, ya know.

At $90,000 per day, Scottie will need at least 40,500,000 to get to the convention (he will not run for re-election in 2018 and will pass the baton to Robin Voss).

Anonymous said...

Corporate Cathy reminds me of James Watt.

Anonymous said...

Coming soon.

DNR joint marketing effort with Big Ag.

Water with feces and nitrates from big ag to be marketed as "fortified water" with "added nutrients". Patented processes and trademarks prevent competition and justify consumer price increase since they are getting "new and improved" water.