Saturday, August 12, 2017

As WI, GOP change the rules for Foxconn, one reminder

It was just a few years ago that a former Wisconsin State Senator complained strongly on the Internet that state government officials played favorites and shafted the public in favor of special interest insiders with maneuvers called "Change the Rules to Fit the Players."

The aggrieved ex-legislator capitalized the words, such was the exasperation, anger and sense of betrayal behind the broadside.

And how true is that today.

*  Residents of the small Lake Michigan shoreline Town of Wilson south of Sheboygan are fighting against wholesale changes in what had been decades of rule-driven normalcy as the State Department of Administration quickly approved the rule-bending annexation of a big chunk of the town to the City of Sheboygan so a Scott Walker donor could more easily level, fill, cut through and otherwise convert a pristine, wetland-laden, wooded-and-rare dune-rich nature preserve into a high-end golf course.

Also speeding along: the approval sought from a state oversight board by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - led by Walker's hand-picked 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp - - of proposed changes to the rules governing the use and management of the DNR-run state park that adjoins the golf course site and transfer between five-and-twenty acres of public, state park land for the golf course road approach, and entrance, and patrons' parking lot, and 24,000 sq. ft. maintenance building.

Think about all the rule changes being considered just for the benefit of a single private sector player - - including moving part of an established town into another community, with multiple, public consequences on budgets, tax revenues, taxpayer-paid and provided services, park land usage, groundwater quality and quantity, wildlife habitat, traffic counts, air quality and more - - all enabled by a raft of public officials including the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

*  And, of course, don't forget about the potential - - dare we say probable - -  $3 billion state giveaway for the Foxconn-pitched mega-factory in Southeastern Wisconsin which rests upon granting precedent-setting changes to Wisconsin rules everywhere - - including current environmental project review requirements, to wetland-filling and stream diversion prohibitions, to guarantees of constitutionally-protected water-quality and hard-won basic water access and enjoyment rights - - changes made more likely given DNR Secretary Stepp's enthusiastic backing even though the many rule changes will further downgrade the effectiveness and reputation of the agency she directs and its public health and safety mission she is supposed to implement.
The Foxconn bill will allow the company to move streams, fill wetlands and discharge waste into waterways. Streams are sensitive to changes in the environments they serve and connect with: the Little Plover River can run dry in central Wisconsin when too much groundwater is removed for nearby Big Ag irrigation, for example.
So Wisconsin under Walker and his key environmental shape-shifter Cathy Stepp will 'Changing the Rules to Fit the Players' when the players are their partisan backers, campaign enablers and ideological brethren.

Stepp should amend that complaint aimed at those who "Change the Rules to Fit the Players" because she is the one who made it, and further lives out the "HYPOCRISY" barb she threw at her original, now richly-ironic targets.


Joshua Skolnick said...

If the good people of Wisconsin ever regain control of state government the first order of business needs to be a renaming of the DNR to fit an actual mission of protection instead of exploitation. Rename it the Department of Conservation.

Yvette9b said...

Sheila Harsdorf is playing the same game for a business in the Town of Somerset in St. Croix County. SB309.