Wednesday, May 31, 2017

WI DNR magazine fight reveals empty agency rhetoric

The GOP-led Wisconsin Legislature's budget writing committee votes today on whether to shut down a magazine published since 1918 by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources which carries no cost to taxpayers and has more than 82,000 paying subscribers.

I have been raising the alarm about this thoughtless and expensive move since early February:
Walker wipes out DNR magazine, keeps killing agency mission
Though its costs were completely covered by subscribers, and the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine had a long and useful run, climate change denier Scott Walker and his "chamber of commerce mentality" DNR mission-saboteur Secretary Cathy Stepp are using the state budget to wipe out the credible, high-quality publication that published items like this no longer wanted by official Wisconsin. 
Noted here, and hat tip to both Madison papers for spreading the word:
The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting a spike in orders for the DNR's venerable, 100% subscriber-supported magazineWisconsin Natural Resources magazine cover photo
which Gov. Walker plans to budgetarily scrap as he continues his ideological war on science and the provision of public information:
Props to the Capital Times for the push.
The nearly 1,400 subscription orders came in during an eight-day period after publication of articles in the Wisconsin State Journal and other newspapers about Walker's plan to cut the magazine. 
At the same time, environmental reporter James Rowen used his blog to urge his readers to subscribe.
Initially, the governor's office explained the budget proposal by saying the state shouldn't duplicate privately owned periodicals, but a spokesman hasn't given examples. But three private, Wisconsin-based publishers last week told the State Journal they don't compete with the DNR magazine and didn't ask Walker to eliminate it.
We hear constantly from Republicans like our anti-science Governor that government should be run like a business that listens to its customers.

No one has been more outspoken using this business/customer relationship construct than Stepp, a former developer and Walker's hand-picked "chamber of commerce mentality" DNR Secretary. 
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 Take a look at how she framed a discussion about the ongoing reorganization of the "customer service agency" she runs:
Like any healthy organization striving to remain relevant and responsive to its customers, we spent more than a year evaluating our assets, liabilities and available human and financial resources...
We are a customer service agency that also regulates our customers. That's a unique challenge. Our customers include everyone who lives, works, plays or makes anything here. They all expect clean air and water, robust wildlife, world-class trout streams and first-class parks and forests. All of our customers, taxpaying citizens, license and permit holders and visitors also deserve the best possible return on their investment that we can provide. This alignment plan sets us on the path to accomplish that.
So all DNR customers if you follow her framing have standing and should be served by the agency - - except apparently 82,000 customers willing to pay for a magazine they want customer-based 'business' to keep providing.

Plus - - it will cost more than twice what the administration first claimed to close down the publication, so they are willing to make something that right now costs nothing to publish as a self-supporting enterprise to a nearly negative $800,000 expense to shutter.

The reason Walker wants to shut the magazine down is because its pages have a habit of showing through gorgeous color and evocative wording Wisconsin's disappearing natural beauty - - wetlands, pristine timber, rare dunes and groundwater which feeds springs, rivers, lakes and streams -- which he and his administration are busy filling, draining, clear-cutting, and otherwise transferring to the very special interests which define that "chamber of commerce" mentality. 

Bottom line, as they say in the business world:

Walker and Stepp don't even believe their own b.s.

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