Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Should Again Select DNR Secretary

Wisconsin had a rich and proud tradition of having the Department of Natural Resources Secretary appointed by the Natural Resources Board.  Starting in 1927 the Natural Resources Board worked to insure that the loftier goals of managing the state’s resources should be kept from the hands of any governor.  But in 1995 Governor Tommy Thompson claimed that power as his own within the executive branch.   There had been high hopes that Governor Jim Doyle, once a critic of the change, would over-turn the decision during his time in office.  But Doyle also embraced the power to make the selection.

For many years this issue has percolated among those who seek to remedy an issue that can be seen as an over-reach by governors.  The concern about the political games over the selection process by governors, from both parties, is something that more of the state should consider as the election for our next governor nears.

I was heartened by the words of Democratic candidate Tony Evers in a recent debate for his desire that the secretary to again be an “independent appointment”.  Conservationists stateside surely applauded.

We should all cheer this desire by Evers.  On the face of the issue itself the board should have the responsibility to make the selection.  By making the change a sound governing process could be achieved.  But there is another reason we should give two-thumbs up for our next potential governor.  Relinquishing power and control is hard for any executive branch to do, which is one reason it is important to be judicious about granting powers in the first place.   So there is something most old-fashioned and welcoming in hearing Evers make the issue a campaign topic.

I have never viewed this issue as a partisan one from the time I started railing about it in the mid-90’s.  Instead, it is a process question that cuts to the core of how our state government functions.  We need to remove the temptation from a politically minded person, be they Democrat or Republican, to use this selection to sway policy for anything other than what is in the best interest of the natural resources we treasure.

Who among my readers does not feel, regardless of  which political party sat in the East Wing, that outside special interests did not try to sway the selection of DNR secretary in a governor’s cabinet?  Who among the conservationists in our state does not believe that this process has not placed politics ahead of sound resource policy at critical junctures?

Some will argue that the rationale for making the change while a Democrat is in office is less compelling.  I strongly disagree.  There is no sound policy reason that this change should not be made.  For decades our state benefited by the board making the selection of DNR Secretary.  Only pure politics undid that process, and only pure politics is preventing the return of the board from again making the selection.

Question About Donald Trump And Sex Education

In school sex education debates conservatives say that there can be no speaking about condoms as kids will just want to experiment and use them. Well, they say, show them a bat, ball, and catcher mitt and they want to play.

But now we are told that Trump’s words of hate and bigotry can in no way lead troubled and mentally ill people to act in ways that are not in accordance with law and social norms.


Caffeinated Politics Strongly Endorses Tony Evers For Wisconsin Governor

Today the Wisconsin State Journal endorsed Tony Evers for Wisconsin Governor.

In addition, it is also time for this blog to add an endorsement.  My perspective is that we need to again have the tone and comportment in our state politics of the kind that we knew from our past.  It is vital that we correct the harsh and damaging rhetorical course that we are now on, and arc towards our commonalities.  

There are many issues voters in Wisconsin can point to where a change in policy would allow for a better outcome.  From voting rights, lax environmental regulations, union rights, or women’s health we have witnessed Governor Scott Walker advancing the most convoluted reasoning for passing his proposals.  There are a whole raft of legitimate reasons why voters want a change in governor come this November’s election.

But over and over as I view the political landscape the larger need of Wisconsin becomes most clear.  There is no way to miss the troubling issue which has been front and center since Walker’s first inauguration.  In an attempt to further his national profile Walker used public employees in the state as a weapon.  Walker worked to demonize them, trying to make teachers, scientists at the DNR, and public safety workers somehow unworthy of their roles or their wages.  In attacking public workers he split families into opposing camps, drove wedges through communities, and in so doing tarnished the reputation of our state.

We can have legitimate differences about the role of unions and connected issues.  Having discussions about this issue, or any other, is most appropriate.  What is not healthy is to use the “us” and “them” approach of the kind Walker did to achieve his political desires.  I say political desires as there has always been a career ladder that has, first and foremost, appealed to Walker.  Policy moves have always been mere tools for his personal advancement.

I continuously hear from friends scattered across the country about their lack of respect for this state based on what Walker and his Republican legislatures have done.  Wisconsin was once viewed as the place of open and clean government, unblemished natural resources, and a populace that was generous in spirit and deed.

Walker did not find those attributes of the type which could garner his bona fides with national conservatives who give money and support for presidential nominations.   Instead, Walker needed to dig deep and mean with divisive policy proposals in order to capture the imaginations of those he needed to impress in his climb upwards as a politician.  That political climb, is after all, the only career field he has ever known.

But for the sake of Wisconsin, it must end.

We need to have a state where, once again, competing ideas can be discussed in civil ways.  We need to lower the voices and rancor which has, sadly over the past eight years, not been the norm.  We must get back to the point where at the end of the day–whether we agree or not–we can grab a meal together or play a round of golf as friends.  Too many stories of hostile Thanksgiving meals due to Walker pitting one group against the other must end.

The person to help take the steps leading us back to the Wisconsin we all knew as younger men and women is Tony Evers.  I will conclude my heartfelt endorsement of Evers with his words which echo my hopes.  And our collective needs.

“We have divided this state politically to a high level of partisanship where we can’t even figure out how to fix our roads. It started with pitting people against each other during Act 10 and it’s continued to this day … that has to end and that can end as long as we have the right governor. I’ve been elected by Democrats and Republicans and Independents. I can certainly work with people from across the aisle and make that happen.”

Tony Evers Gets Wisconsin State Journal Endorsement

Straight to the heart of the matter.

Evers may lack polish and seem boring at times. But electing a lifelong educator instead of a professional politician should appeal to many voters tired of the bickering and partisan games at the state Capitol.

Change is needed at the top after eight years of Gov. Walker sowing division, undermining good-government protections, and skimping on basic services such as roads while running up debt.

Front Pages Of Pennsylvania Newspapers Cover Jewish Synagogue Slaughter From AR-15 Used By White Nationalist

These newspapers convey the mood of a nation.

Way Forward For Nation Might Happen By Looking Back To TR In 1883

Our nation is divided.  Political tribalism has a firm grasp on the populace.   Both parties say that the other one does not listen, or try to understand the position which is being advocated.  It is that theme in 2018 which has a historical connection back to 1883.

I was reading today about a Maine congressman, Thomas Reed, who eventually became Speaker of the House.  But as the story is evolving, Grover Cleveland the New York Democratic Governor, has vetoed a bill which would have rolled back fees for New York City’s much detested elevated railroads.   The bill was very popular as the corporate entity was the most hated in the state.

Republican Assemblyman Teddy Roosevelt had stood on the floor and denounced the railway company as “infernal thieves and conscienceless swindlers”.   It would seem there was no wiggle room in how he viewed the matter.

Cleveland did not truly think TR wrong in how he viewed the company, but instead made the point there was a contract with the state that needed to honored.  That was the basis for his veto.

Here, then, is where the thrust of this post is headed.

TR had voted for the bill, but when READING the veto message from the governor–of the other party--came to see the logic and wisdom of Cleveland.  The time to think and reflect allowed him to see he was wrong, and the other person right.

When making a public statement about his change of mind TR said, “It is a question of doing justice to ourselves.  It is a question of standing by what we honestly know is right. Even if in so doing we antagonize the feelings of our constituents.”

That is the bi-partisan lesson we need to hear in this nation–coast to coast.

Below is photo of the two men. GC and TR.

Cutting To The Chase

My fellow Americans,

No more thoughts and prayers!

You need to step up and address the moral decay that exists in the Donald Trump White House.

You need to address in a meaningful way needed gun control?

Otherwise, it is just meaningless words.

How Did America Get To This Place In 2018?