When college dropout/Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took power following his election to governor in 2010 we got a taste of what was to come when he “dropped the bomb” on public employees with his infamous 2011 Act 10 legislation. At the time hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites took to the streets surrounding the state Capitol Building to express their outrage at Walker’s plan to strip collective bargaining from the vast majority of public employees and take away negotiated benefits that allowed public employers to pay for the employee’s retirement contribution in lieu of pay increases. Walker and the GOP dominated legislature rubber-stamped this proposal and many others aimed at gutting longtime progressive laws on workplace protections, the environment, equal protection, along with a myriad of other cuts to education, public services, and anything else deemed to be too “liberal” for the dictator in training. This scorched Earth policy led to an attempt to recall Walker in June of 2012. Somehow Walker won the recall election and was reelected this past fall by 52 percent of the voters that bothered to show up at the polls. Now he has his eyes set on the presidency.
Over the years there have been some dullards and batshit crazy types that have sought the mantle of the presidency. Most have been just amusing and made you roll their eyes when they spoke. Walker is a dichotomy. He may be one of the most dull and bland politicians that this country has ever seen. He is also one of the most extreme and dangerous politicians that this country has ever seen. The national media has been giving him a pass thus far as they do with every “fresh face” that pops up during the presidential primary season. The media has been fawning over how Walker would “appeal” to both right wing extremists and moderates because of how “non-threatening” and “every man” he comes across as. We don’t hear one word about how he has divided this state along partisan lines not seen in it’s existence. There is no mention of the “John Doe” investigations that landed six of his staff and campaign donors in prison. There is no mention of his “pay to play” politics and blatant cronyism. No mention of how he has gutted public education in favor of religious based “voucher” schools. No mention of how he has gutted environmental laws to favor destructive mining interests. No mention of how he further demonize the poor and unemployed with degrading drug testing. No mention of how he has made Wisconsin the only state in the country that legalized dog fighting by allowing vicious dogs to be pitted against wolves. No mention of how he and his allies seek to alienate those that signed the recall petition against him. I could go on, on, and on. Walker is the type of politician that the world has not seen since Europe in the mid to late Twenties. He is that dangerous. Walker is also dangerous because he is essentially a robot that will do whatever his big money benefactors wish and he doesn’t care who he steps on or offends in the process. A robot has more feeling and emotion than this guy.
Gutting Science and “Citizen Oversight” of the DNR
Because this blog is focused on wildlife issues I will let my above rant speak for itself and turn the focus of this post to Walker’s latest assault on the “management” of our public lands. Yesterday, Walker unveiled his “slash and burn” 2015-2017 budget. Along with cutting $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system and a myriad of other “red meat” elements for the extremist right wing there were continued direct attacks on what elements of “science” remain at the Wisconsin DNR and what little voice citizens have in environmental/wildlife policy.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board was developed to be a “citizen board” that oversaw Wisconsin DNR policy and approved or shot down proposed rules for the agency. In 2011 the Wisconsin Legislature made sure to stack the board with majority hunter and big ag elements appointed by the governor. Walker wasted no time filling open board positions with people like his campaign advisor, extreme hunting lobbying group founder, outfitter, and past head of various extreme hunting groups, Greg Kazmierski. The remainder of the board is filled out with real estate elements, a big ag representative that thinks “god” tells him to kill wolves, and a biologist for a bird killing group. Even though Walker has the board stacked with his own political allies that rubber stamps the vast majority of what he wants that still isn’t good enough for the dictator in training. This proposal was unveiled yesterday during Walker’s budget address:
The proposed 2015-17 budget announced Tuesday night would strip the Natural Resources Board of its authority and make it an advisory panel, reduce the DNR Bureau of Science Services, eliminate educator positions and assume authority for the citizen boards responsible for preventing development from harming the scenic lower Wisconsin River and the Kickapoo Valley.
Remember those “Sportsmen for Walker” signs that popped up everywhere during the recall in 2012 and this last election cycle? It looks like those “sportsmen” that voted for Walker may have been duped along with the rest of us as even the hunter stacked NRB is now being stripped of their authority and taking their alleged “citizen’s voice” along with it.
Of course in the same article I had to laugh at the irony of the former DNR Secretary and current head of the anti-wolf and deceptively named hunting group the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, George Meyer, making this comment:
“That’s terrible,” former DNR secretary George Meyer said of removing the Natural Resources Board’s authority. “It just politicizes natural resources management.
“The Natural Resources Board allows citizens who don’t otherwise have political clout and don’t finance political campaigns to have a vehicle to bring forward their ideas.”
Politicizes? You mean like how your group has a prominent spot on the anti-wolf DNR “Wolf Advisory Committee?” Not political like how your group wants Congress to pass legislation stripping wolves of Federal protections? How about when your kill everything representative to the Wolf Advisory Committee wanted to press for more mass overkill that would have killed almost half of the wolf population in one year? You shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses George.
Back to Walker and his continued gutting of citizen input and environmental rules and regulations. Walker not only wants to eliminate the power of the NRB he also wants to cut a large number of science based positions from the DNR. We can’t let a little thing like science and education get in the way of raping and pillaging the landscape now can we?
A budget summary issued by the governor’s office said 66 DNR positions “no longer serve the core mission of the agency.”
A spokesman said some of the positions were in the science division and others were educators.
The science bureau provides data and research to guide decisions on managing natural resources. The spokesman said 39 of the jobs are vacant.
Meyer, who is executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federal, said science-based decisions are crucially important.
Except when it comes to wolves, right Georgie?
Aside from the usual hypocrisy of Meyer and his group, the Walker Administration has decided that science and education “no longer serve the core mission” of the DNR. Let that sink in for a moment. Walker is so hellbent on wining over the extremist anti-environment right wing that he is announcing that science and education play a lesser role or even no role in his DNR. This should horrify all those “Sportsmen for Walker” or anyone else that cares about our environment and wildlife. This kind of extreme slash and burn may play well with the far right Teavangelicals in Iowa and a portion of the 52 percent that voted for him but I can’t imagine that this kind of anti-science/anti-environment zealotry will play well on a national state if Walker makes it through the primaries once his true background comes to light.
But that is not the end of it. Just to get in one more little dig at the “tree huggers” and “non-consumptive” users Walker is raising fees on camping and state park permits:
On other conservation matters, Walker is proposing to raise fees by $2 a night for a campsite and by $3 a year for vehicle park stickers at state parks.
He would also take away $13.3 million in taxpayer funds from the DNR, requiring it to rely more on its reserves.
Remember this is the same guy that in his last budget made sure to cut the cost of a wolf kill license in half to appease the anti-wolf factions. Not only do you have to dodge bullets and traps in our state parks, you will now have to pay $3 more for the privilege to do so.
The Gutting is Not Done Yet
As an aside, what would be a Walker outrage without pointing out a potential Bob Welch connection? See if this proposal makes you feel safer?
Walker’s budget eliminates most third-shift tower guard positions at Wisconsin prisons, saving about $6 million over two years. The governor recommended instead using technology and ground patrols to keep the prisons secure overnight.
The budget also calls for transferring about $95 million in youth and family aid programs from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Children and Families. It’s a move meant to “align similar programs,” according to the governor’s office.
By shifting the programs and cutting guard positions, state aid to the Department of Corrections would fall from $1.18 billion in fiscal 2015 to $1.08 billion by fiscal 2017, the second year of Walker’s budget.
Let’s not forget who extreme right wing former state senator and current lobbyist, Bob Welch, counts as a client: the private prison firm Corrections Corporation of America. Who wants to wager that these cuts to the DOC will culminate in the introduction of legislation that allows for the state to “contract” with companies like Corrections Corporation of America to “fill the gap” and promote “public safety” by “outsourcing the cut prison guard positions?
You could call me Nostradamus, but I don’t need mystical powers to see the future. Anyone that has paid attention the last four years knows exactly how Walker is going to play this. His “big and bold” ideas are at the expense of our environment, economy, education, and public safety.
This is what 52 percent of our fellow citizens voted for. Enjoy it. You bought it now you own it. Unfortunately the rest of us have to suffer right along with all you “Sportsmen for Walker.” Scott Walker just took a “big and bold” dump on all of us in the hopes that his extremism will someday make him president. Let’s make sure the real Scott Walker is shown for the whole nation to see. I think that we can start by rekindling the protests of four years ago, only bigger and bolder. What do you think?