Thursday, November 30, 2017

DNR upends its own hearing, fair process, WI environmental protection

We've heard a lot lately about fake news.

In Wisconsin, the real news is about fake hearings. 

I'd recently written that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had dismissively lowered the public policy and citizen input bar flat to the ground by scheduling five Kewaunee County water-related permit hearings assembly-line style on the same day, thereby giving opponents exactly one-minute-per-permit to address a county-wide Big Ag polluting reality which weak, pro-industry permitting processes helped create:
How low has the bar been dragged for the democratic process in Wisconsin? 
How dismissive of the general public has the DNR become? 
How beholden is DNR management to big corporations which the agency barely regulates in Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' government?
The answers: 
The bar is on the ground. The public can't be more definitively dissed. And DNR management could not more clearly display how deeply in thrall it is to Walker's donors and corporate supporters.
Boy, I was wrong, as the DNR just broke the bar into pieces Thursday and threw then into Lake Michigan by disclosing agency preliminary approval before Thursday evening's long-anticipated public hearing to allow a Walker donor to tear up a nature preserve

fill wetlands and disrupt wildlife to construct a controversial Lake Michigan shoreline golf course.

You might read through this recent posting and see how many observations from advocates, activists, experts and a DNR staffer accurately predict what has just happened.

So preliminary approval - - and who expects a reversal - - before the hearing, while withholding disclosure key components of that approval.

Translation: Walker wants the development. He's got a donor to please, a corporate sector to endlessly satisfy, but go ahead, ye peons, speak a minute or two or three from the heart and change DNR management's mind.

And the DNR's oversight body, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, will no doubt soon follow suit and give away some state parkland adjoining the golf course site so the developers can build an entrance, road, parking lot and maintenance equipment building - - on public land.

What kind of a process is that in a democracy?

Why waste people's time at a hearing, other than to establish a legal record which some day might convince a fair-minded court that takes its dedication to facts and democratic process more seriously than does DNR management.  

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