Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How Walker is privatizing and selling off Wisconsin

[Updated from 10/30/17] The latest in a string of resource-privatizing GOP-crafted bills - - this one serves metal mining investors and will overturn a long-standing, bi-partisan Wisconsin law that has kept rivers free of acidic mining runoff - - is closing in on Assembly approval:
A legislative committee has signed off on a Republican bill that would end Wisconsin's nearly 20-year ban on gold, silver and nickel mining...
The vote clears the way for an Assembly floor vote Thursday.
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He says "Wisconsin is open for business," but GOP WI Gov. and big business bellhop Scott Walker is packaging and delivering it to his backers right under our noses.

To understand the perpetually campaigning and corporate water-carrier Walker is to understand how his one-party GOP rule steers state power and public funding to special-interests and donors who have made his career possible. 


If Walker is re-elected to a third term in 2018, you can write off Wisconsin as a traditional democracy and treat it like a private sector subsidiary that serves Walker donors, not voters or taxpayers.


Some support for the argument:


* Remember that among Walker's first actions as Governor in January, 2011 was to administratively suspend state review of a wetland-filling permit application filed by one of his donors to speed along a development near Lambeau Field.


* This post among others explains how a donor's privately-owned golf course has gotten the attention and action from the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Administration and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.


* This post among others explains how special interests sent specific, hand-delivered demands for control over the public's waters to GOP legislators who, through coordination between GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel, and the GOP-run Assembly and Senate, got legislation adopted which implemented those private interests' demands.

* This post among others explains the relentless pursuit by special interests for control of the people's water; a group of Walker donors did win permanent high-volume groundwater pumping permits from the DNR which are blocked, for now, by a Dane County Circuit Court judge.

* This post among others explains how major Walker donors, water users and large animal feeding operators will get even more favored treatment through Walker's move last week - - without hearings or legislative action - - to transfer from the DNR those large animal feeding operators' permit reviews and already weak inspection and enforcement actions to the another state agency - - Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection - - which by law promotes and helps market milk, cheese and meat products.

And that was not the first time Walker gave these insiders special treatment.

* And then there is the Foxconn project ticketed for Mount Pleasant, a small Racine County village - - summary post, here that explains Walker's signature giveaway of state law, legacy and $3 billion+ through a still-secret contract with the Foxconn developmenthrough a semi-public funding agency he created and chaired.

It speaks volumes that the Foxconn deal also provides unique procedural fast-tracking of any Foxconn-involved litigation to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where a Walker-friendly majority installed with the help of major donors shared with Walker  should give Foxconn and Walker whatever they're looking for.


The Foxconn deal deeply embeds private control of public resources by setting a precedent for permanent private control of public water and wetlands that is already rewarding Walker insiders , according to this very-detailed report from the scene:

Mt. Pleasant, population 26,000, has already committed $20,000 a month for a project manager from the Milwaukee construction outfit, Kapur & Associates. The firm’s founder, Ramesh Kapur, gave the maximum personal contribution of $10,000 to Gov. Walker in 2010; other Kapur associates kicked in at least $6,000.
We have seen this sort of story, here: 
The Department of Natural Resources has reworked details of a high-profile land transaction in northern Wisconsin that involves a major political supporter of Gov. Scott Walker after an initial deal drew sharp criticism and complaints of favoritism... 
Uihlein and her husband, Richard, had donated millions of dollars to Walker at the time Uihlein wanted to buy the land. 
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last year the couple donated $2.5 million to Unintimidated PAC, a political action committee supporting Walker's presidential bid that was formed in April 2015. 
They also had contributed nearly $290,000 to support Walker's elections for governor. Also, Richard Uihlein donated $200,000 to Our American Revival, an organization formed by Walker in January 2015.
And I'd earlier collected these examples: 

* This is just the latest example of Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker and his party helping the private sector absorb public resources in a loop of mutual self-interest across multiple business interests: 
…the Walkerites have used law and policy and political power in Wisconsin – – this GOP/corporate control has been an under-covered, carefully crafted take-over operation – – to tilt benefits and access in a heavenly way towards big business and the executives who own them. 
There are records of $10,300 in campaign donations from the land owner and people associated with it to Walker’s campaign, according to this report by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
* A major lead paint maker was found to have donated $750,000 to committees tied to Walker and GOP legislators before and after the GOP-controlled Legislature rolled back lead paint manufacturers’ liability responsibilities.
* Another $700,000 was routed secretly to Walker’s campaign by an out-of-state mining company for whom Walker signed sweetheart legislation written with the company’s participation to allow the digging of a gigantic open pit mine measured in miles across the Bad River watershed and Penokee Hills in Northwest Wisconsin.
As I said, if Walker is re-elected, Wisconsin as we'd known it will be gone, and Wisconsin, Inc. will have replaced it.

Racine legislator eyes takeover of key Milwaukee agency

[Updated] Yeah, why not let a Republican legislator junior emperor from Racine
Van Wanggaard.jpg
use state power and law to dictate the makeup of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.

And turn it from a citizen review panel to a police officer and fire fighter-run body that will further drain the City of Milwaukee of local control, again, and resident taxpayer money.


Walker set the tone with Act 10, stripping away local governments rights' to negotiate with employees, and followed up later with a bill which erased Milwaukee's residency rule for public employees.


Which means a remade Fire and Police Commission could be packed with police officers and fire fighters who live in Wauwatosa, Cudahy, Whitefish Bay, etc.

Although to be fair, Wisconsin Republican politicians also will strip a rural area of its local control if big money wants favors.
The state Department of Natural Resources has rejected an ordinance developed by Bayfield County in northern Wisconsin that sought to put more restrictions on large scale farms built near a watershed.
GOP State Senator Tom Tiffany is the master, having perfected the technique for the failed GTac mine:
See his latest giveaway - - remember, he tried but failed to close off thousands of acres of publicly-accessible forest land prior to much significant work on and near potential excavation sites - - to serve the mine owners' interests:
13-3146_1.pdf Preview · Download
His bill - - call it the 'Go Ahead And Dynamite Despite The Asbestos Act' - - is not a hit at local control. It the elimination of local control in favor of the company's control, with the blessing of the state.
More examples of GOP Big Government, here
The pace has quickened since 2011, they say, in tandem with Republican control of the governor's office and the Legislature.



Walker pays no price for failings, scandals like Lincoln Hills

Our Teflon Governor - - Google Walker (I'll help) and subjects like John Doe I, II and $700,000 secret mining donation, deer Chronic Wasting Disease, incomplete I-94 and Zoo Interchange projects, minuscule job growth and 250,000 jobs not created, second-worst roads, worst ranking for business startups, repeated and growing giveaways of public water and other resources, secret Foxconn contract, known water contamination, etc. - - is sliding past accountability, again, over the Lincoln Hills youth prison scandal.

Shortly after his 2010 election, Walker shut down the boys youth prison in Waukesha County - - despite millions of dollars having been spent on then-recent improvements - - as part of his Act 10/austerity/destructive anti-union slim-flam, and sent the offenders Up North, out of sight and away from SE Wisconsin where many have family connections.

He ignored a direct warning about the situation from a judge.

Walker knows that hell-hole conditions at Lincoln Hills have festered and worsened, yet refuses to meet with an injured staff member and will not make a personal fact-finding visit there - - or to any state corrections institution, for that matter (so he won't be confronted by angry officers as well as conditions he has made worse) - - yet is laying the groundwork through easy rides statewide for a re-election campaign without the Lincoln Hills travesty, or his other failures or his enabling embrace of Russia's best friend Donald Trump denting the Walker image or poll numbers?

Why is this?

Low-to-no public expectations?

Post-Act 10 exhaustion/acceptance?

Weak or disorganized opposition?

Unstoppable pro-Walker networks and echo chambers?

Newsrooms drained of staff and energy?

Maybe you can get re-elected in 21st century Wisconsin - - after having made it harder for city residents and Democrats to vote - - through repeated attacks on the DNR, slams at unions, kicking the poor by freezing the minimum wage and pledging to drug-test public aid applicants, pretending to be the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, tweeting your picture wearing UW regalia despite never having taken a class there while corporatizing its mission and cutting its budget - - and never admitting error or making an apology.

Weigh in.






Monday, October 30, 2017

In Mueller's Monday charging, a Sam Clovis sighting

And who is Sam Clovis, you ask, well, he's:

*  A Trump campaign official who urged a lower-level staffer to go get what 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton that the Russians were offering.

*  And a former conservative talk radio host and...

*  A climate change denier who is, wait for it...

*  The non-scientist whom Trump appointed chief scientist at the US Department of Agriculture, as I noted in May.

Pretty much sums up Trump World, no?

Waukesha/Milwaukee make water deal WI DNR botched

The deal announced today gives the City of Waukesha a supply of diverted Lake Michigan water through the Milwaukee Water Works at a lower cost to Waukesha water users than what an Oak Creek connection would have carried, while bringing Milwaukee a revenue stream and some Waukesha-provided lead abatement funding.

The die was cast more than a decade ago when the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission began its recommendations for eventual Lake Michigan diversions, and the Great Lakes governors approved an exemption for out-of-basin diversions which was aimed to make Waukesha eligible to apply for, and be granted a diversion.

The deal follows geographical restrictions which Milwaukee had urged to limit Waukesha's plan to redistribute some diverted Great Lakes water to other Waukesha-area communities - - a sprawl-inducing plan endorsed by then-DNR Secretary and development-friendly Cathy Stepp - -  but those Milwaukee-endorsed restrictions on sprawl-inducing water export were eventually validated by the governing organization of Great Lakes states which sets the rules on who may divert water and why:

It was clear since 2010 that the expanded service territory and its sprawl opportunities were going to be problems once the application made its way to the other states...
Contrast the now-shrinking proposed service territory to what was declared as an iron-clad, non-negotiable extended service territory laid out several years ago by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary and chamber of commerce water-carrier and mouthpiece Cathy Stepp when she said that any potential water supplier of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha was required by state law to supply the entire expanded service territory.
So a water deal which suits Milwaukee, Waukesha and the other Great Lakes states - - and which reduced the amount of the diversion while limiting sprawl to the benefit of the region - -  finally moves forward after years of foolish, costly and self-inflicted delay predicted in 2010: 
The weakest link in the application - - and what will raise questions all the way from the Town of Waukesha to the City of Milwaukee, and with reviewers and regulators in all the eight Great Lakes states, is Waukesha's plan to send Lake Michigan water into parts of Pewaukee, Genesee and the Town of Waukesha.
Expanding the current service territory land mass by 80%.
That expansion - - mapped out and green-lighted by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission for the Waukesha application administatively, without public review - - plays some role in Waukesha's request for up to 18.5 million gallons of Lake Michigan water daily.
Also for the record: I quoted Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett making this proposal to Waukesha in 2012 - - and it's the basis on which they made a deal today: 
The City of Milwaukee continues to be interested in negotiating the sale of water to the City of Waukesha’s current water service area. The Milwaukee Water Works could provide your residents with a healthy and sustainable supply of drinking water at a rate that our competitors cannot even come close to matching
Taking action to revise the proposed service area now is likely to relieve you from the expense and time spent on challenges to your diversion request down the road. For the sake of your ratepayers and your timeline, I ask that you reconsider your position on the service area so that we can commence negotiations to serve Waukesha city residents with high quality water at the lowest possible cost.

Tremendous addition to our Foxconn awareness

I bow to Madison writer Lawrence Tabak for on-the ground investigative Foxconn reporting that raises the bar high. I have added it to my Foxconn archive, here.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Key meetings could signal state backing for Kohler course

The Wisconsin DNR is edging closer to deciding whether Herb Kohler, a Scott Walker donor, can build another high-end golf course, this time on a 247-acre nature preserve he owns south of Sheboygan along Lake Michigan.
247 acres with forest, wetlands, perhaps Indian mounds with Lake Michigan access and side-by-side with a state park featuring sand dunes and unspoiled beaches is a significant, perhaps unique parcel in Wisconsin.  
By comparison, Lake Park in Milwaukee is 137 acres and South Shore Park is 45 acres, according to Milwaukee County records.
Also at stake: the integrity of Wisconsin waters, environmental rules, procedures. laws, and the reputations of several state agencies.

I have written repeatedly about this issue, having referenced it in a Friday blog posting:
 "the ongoing Wisconsin DNR review of proposed, high-end, wetland-filling-and-polluting, artifact-threatening, dune-damaging golf course [construction] adjacent to Kohler Andrae State Park" south of Sheboygan.
And again, in a Saturday posting about water, Walker and special interests:
The DNR has been working closely for several years with a Walker donor to help smooth out his bid to launch the construction of a golf course in a nature preserve along Lake Michigan despite significant questions about rare dune preservation, wetland filing, the Public Trust Doctrine, fertilizer runoff and even the private use of acreage for a golf course building and pavement inside the popular Kohler Andrae State Park next door. 
With the cooperation of the Walker-led Department of Administration which quickly approved the annexation of the Town of Wilson golf course site to the City of Sheboygan - - suppressing the town's opposition - - and parallel cooperation on friendly changes to the park's master plan from the Walker-led Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, preliminary approvals for the golf course from the DNR can't be far off.  
(The US Army Corps of Engineers and US EPA still have to weigh in, court action is likely to follow.)

The DNR's web page about the proposed project is here, and it further describes what the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has already agreed to:
Master Plan Amendment
In 2015, DNR received a request from the Kohler Company that identified approximately five acres of Kohler-Andrae State Park lands to use in support of their proposed public golf course to be located to the north of the park. Specifically, Kohler proposed to construct and maintain the following on park lands: 1) a roadway and roundabout to access its lands; 2) utility access; and 3) a maintenance facility. In June 2017, the Natural Resources Board approved the department’s recommendation to initiate a master plan amendment process to consider these proposed changes.
The agency's analysis of the project's environmental impact statement has moved along since 2015, but questions about possible water contamination from golf course fertilizer and issues raised in an accompanying wetlands permit application had hung up the agency's review, media reported:
The site contains about 48 acres of wetlands, 3.69 of which the company has proposed filling to construct the course…
Environmentalists and a local landowner group have been...raising worries about fertilizer and water use and the effects of cutting large swaths of forest for fairways. The DNR...has requested a detailed fertilizer and pest control management plan.
There is well-organized grassroots opposition to the project and to the golf course site's annexation from the Town of Wilson to the City of Sheboygan which was quickly approved by Walker's Department of Administration. 

The retired superintendent of the adjoining state park which would lose land to the development has ripped that privatization:
36-year DNR veteran James Buchholz said in his formal comments that the draft EIS "is flawed and incomplete...lacks scientific analysis and study, and depends way too heavily on the Kohler Company’s own very slanted studies and papers."
His emailed comments to the DNR were copied to project opponent Friends of the Black River Forest, which is distributing them. 
Yet there are signs that the DNR is ready to wrap up its review; government agencies do not like to extend heavy lifting into the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year, so mid-November is the likely time for the DNR and Natural Resources Board to tie things up for 2018 and beyond.

The agencies are looking to hold perhaps three separate public meetings on project issues on the same date - - November 15th is a possibility- - to air its reviews, demonstrate that it has met all its obligations to the public interest and push the project forward. 

That suggests the agency believes it has all the information it needs from the company and other sources about construction, water, wetlands, and other issues; experience shows public meetings and hearings can be essentially perfunctory, with boxes on input and procedure getting checked to comply with guidelines and law while key political, and policy and decisions have been made.

Bottom line: It's important that opposition be properly submitted, and that large numbers of people make a show of support with their presence so media and government officials see it all with their own eyes - - and I have no doubt that people will show up as they have for several years - - but the state green-lighting the project looks likely, and soon.

The meetings which the DNR and Natural Resources Board are likely to hold before the holidays are 1) an informational session on the wetland permit, 2) an informational meeting on the final Environmental Impact Statement, and 3) a public hearing where formal comments would be collected on the changes to the Kohler Andrae Park Master plan.

Remember, the Board is the DNR's oversight and policy body, and like DNR management, is dominated by Gov. Scott Walker appointees, and he is all for releasing developments like the Foxconn project and others from wetland and environmental reviews, and also wants to give big corporate farms and feedlots an easier path to groundwater access and use on their terms, regardless of downstream or environmental consequences.

The three probable meetings could be scheduled at different times, but on the same day, at the same location.

Call it a recipe for confusion, and also a demand for large chunks of time from citizens on a working day or on already-busy evening: why not hold the meetings on successive days or a schedule which puts the public's needs first?

People can inquire about meeting plans and urge the DNR and the Natural Resources Board, (NRB), to make some changes.

What is hanging in the balance is the integrity of public water resources a stone's throw from Lake Michigan, not to mention the integrity of the DNR's processes and mission and the Natural Resources Board's park planning and management responsibilities.

Here is the NRB website and contact information: 

Laurie J. Ross, Board Liaison Office of the Secretary Laurie.Ross@wisconsin.gov 608-267-7420

Further information about the Board membership is here.

DNR records show that the project's contact person is Mike Thompson, 414-303-3408

The DNR's new secretary is Dan Meyer 608-266-2621/Toll Free 1-888-936-7463 TTY Access via relay - 711.

The contact number for Gov. Walker is 608-266-1212, and the office website is here.

Ron Johnson shocker! Idiotic talking point mouthed

Congressional probes into election interference by Russia get the GOP stall, Trump throws out distracting stories and a Mueller indictment has been filed - -  so Ron Johnson coughs up the day's GOP nowhere man talking point and earns his daily $794 taxpayer-funded check. 
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said Friday afternoon that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian influence in the 2016 presidential campaign, should step down.
“He should resign,” said Johnson, who is chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “I take the position that we shouldn’t have a special counsel at this time. We should let the (congressional) committees do their work.”Image result for rojo the clown

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Walker will float campaign on our water

Scott Walker's imminent 2018 GOP gubernatorial re-election campaign will be fueled by concessions of state power and public resources - - principally water - - to already-wealthy, dominant private interests.

One accounting shows a $50 million Walker/special interest haul, and counting.

Regrettably, this 2015 posting which updated a 2013 posting shows the problem has been building for years.
Wisconsin's Water Crisis  
The only differences between what Walker has inflicted on clean air and water, and the people's rights to them - - and Donald Trump's assaults on the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior lands and clean government? 

Trump's reach is broader and Walker has been at it longer. 

Regrettably, both of these Republican corporate tools are going to leave our water, land and democracy dirtier than when they found it.

And both told us precisely what they would do if elected.

Trump said he would break the EPA into little pieces; Walker said he wanted a "chamber of commerce mentality" atop the WI DNR when he appointed former developer and virulent DNR opponent Cathy Stepp to run that agency for nearly eight years.

And Walker? Within hours of his January, 2011 swearing-in, Walker blocked the review by the DNR of a wetland filling permit filed by a donor/developer so construction could begin on the donor/developer's timetable.

And Walker's intentionalconsequential and persistent diminution of the DNR's public oversight role, along with the transfer of state power and the people's resources to the private sector, continues unabated - - and also continues to define the goals of the regime Walker wants to direct for another four years.

Key examples:

*  The subsidy-laden, record-breaking Foxconn project - -  that $3-billion-taxpayer-dollar+ deal which Walker made in private with company officials - - is  his re-election's 'Campaign At The Public's Expense' Exhibit "A.".

He included in the deal unique exemptions for Foxconn at its projected rural Racine County site from routine Wisconsin environmental standards and reviews. 

He also inserted in the deal overrides of state constitutional protections known as the Public Trust Doctrine that bar in the public interest the filling of wetlands  and other actions which obstruct the free flow - - thus its use and appreciation - - of public waters.

Walker pushed the deal through the legislature and is willing to weather some bad press about keeping the final implementing contract with Foxconn secret in order to signal to all potential donors and well-heeded business and conservative advocacy groups that their interests are his interests and supersede the public's right to resources, and also the right to know.

*  The DNR has been working closely for several years to help smooth out a controversial bid by a Walker donor to launch the construction of a golf course in a nature preserve along Lake Michigan despite significant questions about rare dune preservation, wetland filing, the Public Trust Doctrine, fertilizer runoff and even the private use of acreage for building construction and pavement sought by the developer inside the popular Kohler Andrae State Park next door.

With the cooperation of the Walker-led Department of Administration which quickly approved the annexation of the Town of Wilson golf course site in a nature preserve to the City of Sheboygan - - suppressing the opposition - - and parallel cooperation on friendly changes to the park's master plan from the Walker-led Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, preliminary approvals for the golf course from the DNR can't be far off. 

(The US Army Corps of Engineers and US EPA still have to weigh in, court action is likely to follow.)

*  Walker donors also won the right to permanent high-capacity well withdrawals, though a court, citing the law and The Public Trust Doctrine, has blocked the giveaway as unconstitutional.

*  And speaking of donors, remember how a key Walker and Trump donor got the inside track on acquiring primo DNR waterfront land? That deal fell through after media sniffed it out, but entitlement for the 1% was certainly in the air.

So heads up, Lake Michigan shoreline defenders where the Town of Wilson borders just got redrawn to serve another Walker favorite, because in this state right now you have to fight the state from giving away what's not the state's to give away, and to pass on the state's legacy, too.

*  After years of minimal inspections and kid-gloves' enforcement which only ensured there would be manure runoff and well-water contamination by the expanding number of industrial-scale animal feeding operations known as CAFOs, Walker says that's not enough and has devised a new perk for major Ag interests:

The transfer by executive action, and without legislative hearings or approvals of  CAFO permitting from the DNR which the ingrates at Big Ag still sue - - and brag about defeating - - to another state agency which, by law, promotes and markets milk, cheese, meat and other produce.

Can you say :conflict-of-interest?"

*  Next up: more favors for mining companies. They're coming for your water, too.

Again, I urge everyone - - citizens, teachers, candidates, activists - - to read up on the Public Trust Doctrine and demand that Wisconsin politicians abide by it, because Walker is lining up taxpayer-paid agency actions with campaign messages which reinforce his 'chamber of commerce mentality' governance, all the while to pretending the Public Trust Doctrine, Article IX of the Wisconsin Constitution, doesn't exist.

Walker is trading our water for votes. Bartering public resources without asking for his personal and partisan advancement, though the resources Walker is dealing away belong to the people.

He is their trustee, not auctioneer, and we need to let him and his allies know it:
Professor Arlen Christenson, a Professor Emeritus of Law and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School as well as founding Board President of Midwest Environmental Advocates, lays out simply how the [Public Trust Doctrine] works.
“It holds that the state is the trustee of the waters of the state for the benefit of the people of the state,” Christenson said. “And so the trustee has a duty to care for, manage, improve and protect the water for the benefit of the citizens. It’s not as if the state owns the water, but the people are the beneficial owners of water, just as the beneficiaries of a trust

 


Walker figures out new way to serve business, weaken WI DNR

[Updated from 10/28/17] Right-wing WI GOP Gov. and corporate bellhop Scott Walker now wants to give foxes the run of the farm.

He's moving to shift from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the oversight of controversial, large-scale, water-demanding and manure-producing animal feeding and breeding operations to the more industry-focused Wisconsin Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection, (DATCP), where all sorts of ag and dairy promotion and marketing is centered. 


I'll add below the email which DNR management sent to employees late Thursday about the plan.


Note that Wisconsin legislators didn't want Walker to use the state budget as the means to split the Wisconsin DNR into half - - as various DNR haters and business allies have dreamed of doing for years- - essentially creating a more narrowly-focused Department of Hunting, Fishing and Recreation and another agency to 'regulate' de-regulate for corporations the people's air, water, and land.


So Walker is simply moving to do much the same thing by again using his executive powers to weaken, downgrade and twist the DNR into the 'chamber of commerce mentality' operation he set in motion for his corporate backers' nearly eight years ago.


That's when he turned the wrecking ball over to the enthusiastically anti-DNR and ideologically-committed 
developer and former McDonald's store manager Cathy Stepp on day one of his first term.


Sidebar: Stepp has taken her environmental hostility to Donald Trump's US Environmental Protection [Sic] Agency regional office in Kansas City - - allowing Walker to replace her with an actual, just-retired chamber of commerce official who cements that chamber of commerce/state definition loop.


But 'chamber of commerce mentality' Walker was not content with having already trashed the DNR's nationally-recognized, talent-attracting water division and further whittling the DNR down to a glorified business permitting, self-regulating agency that will perform like a patronage-directed department of commerce and help him move $3+billion in public funds to the wetlands-filling, water-sucking Foxconn plant where bulldozing in Racine County might start next year


Walker wants to further drain the DNR's mission, just as he did by wiping out its science bureau and laying off agency scientists, and removing climate science and materials from the agency mission, and replacing civil service oversight of the DNR's forestry division with an industry insider and further separating that workforce from the rest of the DNR staff by moving the forest division up north, and, through budget cuts and favoritism, laying the groundwork for corporate sponsorships at state parks (are direct state parkland transfers to private owners for projects like the proposed, high-end, wetland-filling-and-polluting, artifact-threatening, dune-damaging golf course adjacent to Kohler Andrae State Park south of Sheboygan far off?


Now instead of giving the DNR the staff it needs to carry out its traditional, constitutionally-protected water resource mission in the public interest, Walker is out to move the DNR's already-weakened, overtly business-friendly 'oversight' of industrial-scale cattle and dairy operations


from the water specialists and institutional memory and past practices at the DNR to the more friendly business-related confines of the State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, (DATCP).

From DATCP's "about us" web page:

DATCP Mission
We partner with all the citizens of Wisconsin to grow the economy by promoting quality food, healthy plants and animals, sound use of land and water resources, and a fair marketplace.
DATCP Vision
We will deliver efficient and effective programs and services to Wisconsin agriculture, consumers, and businesses, to provide market confidence and to enhance competitiveness and profitability.​
Talk about setting up a classic conflict of interest and clash of private and public interests in a state where the deck is continually stacked in favor of business and campaign donors by Walker, the GOP Attorney General and the Walker-led. GOP-dominated state legislature. 

And where the rush is on for sweetheart mining and other water-privateering legislation, perhaps to circumvent a possible statewide redistricting ordered by the US Supreme Court to overturn the WI GOP's grotesquely-gerrymandering.


The Walker plan to move what is essentially the protection of the pubic's water to DATCPhad been reported almost a year ago when he gave big ag a heads up; today one of its representatives has given a thumb's up

John Holevoet, director of government affairs at the Dairy Business Association, said... the authority transfer would be a “good move” from both an environmental and farmer perspective, and would mean the state’s taking a “fresh look” at the program that will “probably make it more functional and better.”
This is the state agency that is assigned ag and dairy promotion, by law:
The specific duties of the secretary of agriculture, trade, and consumer protection are outlined in Chapter 93.07 of the Wisconsin state code. Some of the main duties of the office include:[5]
  • Promotion of agriculture: "To promote the interests of agriculture, dairying, horticulture, manufacturing, commercial fishing and the domestic arts and to advertise Wisconsin and its dairy, food, and agricultural products by conducting campaigns of education throughout the United States and in foreign markets. Such campaigns shall include the distribution of educational and advertising material concerning Wisconsin and its plant, animal, food, and dairy products. The department shall coordinate efforts by the state to advertise and promote agricultural products of this state, with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation where appropriate. The department shall submit its request and plan for market development program expenditures for each biennium with its biennial budget request. The plan shall include the identification and priority of expenditures for each market development program activity.
  • State aid to Livestock Breeders Association: To receive and examine, prior to its transmission to the department of administration, the biennial request for state aid of the Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Association; to transmit and make recommendations upon this request to the department of administration and the governor; and to advise as to the manner of expending and accounting for state moneys appropriated to that organization."

And promotes ag and dairy businesses and helps those industries sell their products through a non-profit marketing board, according to a DATCP web page:

Established in 1983, this market order board has 25 members who represent Wisconsin's thousands of ​​dairy farmers. Its mission is “To help grow demand for Wisconsin milk by providing programs that enhance the competitiveness of the Wisconsin Dairy Industry.” 
DATCP also:

*  Manages the Alice in Dairyland program.


*  Works closely with the annual World Dairy Expo.


*  Has a non-voting seat on the World Dairy Expo board executive committee.


All of which speaks to a government agency that is a lot closer to private sector goals than is the DNR, even with the changes Walker has made there.


Relevant employees at DNR got this email from environmental and business operations manager Pat Stevens, a former builders, transportation and WMC official first put in charge of DNR programs like clean air and other business-related tasks, and to whom oversight of the former water division had been transferred:

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To staff in: External Services, Drinking Water and Groundwater, Water Quality, Remediation and Redevelopment, Enforcement, and Fisheries Management
From: Pat Stevens, Mark Aquino, Sanjay Olson, and Todd Schaller
As part of his multi-faceted rural agenda, Governor Walker announced Thursday that he has asked the DNR to start working with DATCP and the EPA on transitioning CAFO regulatory and enforcement authority from DNR to DATCP.
Because your program may work with CAFOs, we wanted to share this information with you. Please understand that it is too early in the process to even begin to outline for you how this will work or to answer the various questions you might have on hearing the news. Many details need to be worked out and any move will require legislative and EPA approval.
In general, we see this as an extension of our own alignment process where we have moved related programs once covered by two or more DNR divisions into one division to streamline the process. Currently, the two agencies have different rules impacting CAFOs, so it makes sense to evaluate how to consolidate them under one agency instead of having CAFOs answer to two different agencies.
We at the DNR have experience in these complex moves and changes. Alignment, HR Shared Services, and PECFA are all examples of how we can work through these projects that provide benefits and more efficient services for our customers.
No timetable has been set but we will begin immediately to explore how such a move can take place. We will keep you posted as the process moves forward.
Please note that Jim Dick will be the spokesperson on this issue.
Thank you.
Pat Stevens
Administrator – Environmental Management Division
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
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Finally, it's important to understand that moving DNR work related to the state's more than 240 CAFOs - - most house dairy cattle, but don't forget the pigs! - - and their clean-air and water-related issues also physically separates the process from public oversight and participation.

DATCP's building is located on the far east side of Madison, about eight miles from the State Capitol, the DNR, legislative offices and various public policy and advocacy groups long-located in downtown Madison.


Note also that people used to connecting with the DNR in Madison by bus can get to the DATCP building - - but that trip adds another hour or so from the Capitol Square with a transfer at East Towne mall.


Why should so many people be additionally-inconvenienced?


I think we know the answer. 


*  Long bus commutes, like cumbersome Voter ID laws which create long lines, lead people to stay home.

*  Or like the isolation of the regional planning commission in western Waukesha County, far from the Milwaukee population center, and not even on a bus line, period.

Where government puts its facilities and how they are staffed says a lot about how that government wants to interact with the people who pay the bills.

Back to Voter ID. Walker said the state would issue qualifying ID's at state motor vehicle offices, then closed some and didn't expand the often minimal hours to help get those ID's in people's hands.

When it comes to public input, and protecting the state's waters which the Wisconsin Constitution says belong to all of the people, which side of the public-private line do you think DATCP supervision of big ag and big dairy is going to land?

So many things about this Walker-ordered reorganization being done administratively without hearings or legislative action absolutely scream 'Big Business Wins Again, Public Loses.'


Remember when former WI DNR Secretary Stepp famously complained that government should not:

Change the Rules to Fit the Players.