So props to the strong and continuing reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Lee Bergquist about the continuing abuse of the public's rights to their resources in Wisconsin.
And a tip of the hat in particular to Bergquist's recent disclosures about wealthy Walker donors pressuring the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for favors on and near state - - public - - land and waters in Northern Wisconsin:
A footpath on Department of Natural Resources property in Vilas County that a wealthy political supporter of Gov. Scott Walker is trying to buy has been upgraded in recent months without state approval.
A spokesman for business executive Elizabeth Uihlein acknowledged that workers at her adjoining property may have ventured on to state land and cleaned up the trail slightly, although those who have seen the trail say the improvements were detailed and significant.
Uihlein, a co-founder of Uline Corp. in Pleasant Prairie, is seeking to buy 1.75 acres along Rest Lake, where the footpath is located. But a tentative deal with the DNR was put on hold last month after critics raised questions about the transaction.More about the Uihleins, in a Forbes piece, here - - and note also that the family packaging and distribution company owned and run by the Uihleins recently received approvals from the DNR and other agencies for major floodplain alterations to accommodate expansion on the company's Pleasant Prairie, WI property.
And information is here about proposed and actual sale of various parcels of public lands during Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County Executive and Governor.
But back to the current land sales and water issues up North, and the two big takeaways:
* That the land deal on Rest Lake was tabled by the DNR's long-standing oversight board after public outcry underscores why that board needs to remain independent, though Walker tried to water it down to a toothless, advisory board through an unsuccessful budget maneuver earlier this year.
* And you can draw a straight line from this unfolding outrage over special treatment for special people back to one of Walker's earliest actions as Special-Interest-Governor-in-Chief after he was sworn in:
His administrative intervention before an appeal process had been completed to permit the filling of a wetland for a donor/developer to build a building near Lambeau Field - - a move made law by the Legislature.
I'd noted the current Walker/donor case more than once on this blog - - an example - - as part of this blog's focus for years years on threats to the state's waters and the damage that Scott Walker's chamber-of-commerce remake of the DNR is doing to the environment:
A blog posting summary from last year:
There were early signs of Walker's intention to unwind long-standing legal protections that had given Wisconsin a strong and deserved environmental reputation as he handed over resources, like groundwater and wetlands, to people out to make a buck - - even though the State Constitution's Public Trust Doctrine says the waters and their surroundings are commonly-held assets to be guarded by the state as trustee for all the people, not sold, given away or disrespected.
Among the early signs:
* Walker's very telling claim during the campaign that it was opponent Tom Barrett with the radical environmental agenda. This is what we now know is Walker's pattern - - twisted, even dishonest rhetoric, a flight from transparency despite his boast about it (scrubbed from his website), and all blended with finger-pointing and misdirection verified time and time again by PolitiFact, its few "True" ratings and far greater total of "False" and "Pants on Fire" conclusions when reviewing Walker's remarks.
And for a perfect point of closure: the link to Walker's campaign ad wherein he made the claim about Barrett is now blocked. See this posting. File at #transparencyfail.
* Walker's very early push for a special bill passed by the Legislature to allow a donor to develop a wetlands near Lambeau Field for an outdoors supply retailer before the DNR had finished its environmental review.
And that was just the beginning.As people living near big dairies are learning.
As people trying to save Kohler-Andrae State Park near Sheboygan from private golf course intrusion, its Black River, and wetlands, and nearby Lake Michigan from runoff are learning.
Remember: It's the public's waters. Which the state constitution says are held in trust for all the people of the state, not as a special interest cookie jar the DNR and the Governor and his hand-picked corporate errand boys and girls can open when whim and money are in the air.