Here is why Scott Walker appoints a business person like Cathy Stepp as secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.
The Green Bay Packers organization wants to develop land adjacent to Lambeau Field as part of a sports-shopping-entertainment complex. Working through a board member and successful businessman John Bergstrom, the Packers lined up a nice fit: Bass Pro Shops. Or so they thought.
Turns out of the 20 acres in question sat 1.6 acres of low-quality, purple loosestrife-infested wetlands. In exchange for converting that acreage, the Titletown Development would restore 4 acres of wetlands elsewhere. Doing so exceeds the ratio of 1.5 to 1 required by the state in similar projects. (Brazee Lake, aka "the Old Lake," was restored that way when the DOT expanded Highway 151 between Sun Prairie and Columbus.)
In the zero sum game played by the environ-mentalists, that was no good. State environmental officials had approved a permit for the project, but the Wisconsin Wetlands Association challenged the decision, forcing a process that could tie up the project for months.
Republicans introduced a bill to accommodate the sporting goods store.
Four Democrats led by Rep. Brett Hulsey countered with a letter to the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, Inc., urging them to keep their store and its 150-300 jobs out of Wisconsin.
Hulsey and the others told Bass Pro founder John Morris and Jim Hagale, president and CEO of the company, that they were concerned that the project would "bypass Wisconsin's wetland conservation laws to build a Bass Pro Shop on wetlands in the municipality of Ashwaubenon..."
"Please contact Rep. Brett Hulsey's office immediately," the letter concluded.
Bass Pro Shops had been blackmailed. Few companies, especially one catering to sportsmen, want that kind of publicity. They catch on pretty quickly when they're not wanted.
The Environmental Law and Policy Center was delighted.
DNR says only 1.65 acres of wetlands would be lost, and in exchange the developer agreed to rid the site of invasive plants that would eventually destroy the wetlands anyway.
"By not doing this project what you have is a wetland that's going to lose it's value over time," Bruce Baker, administrator for DNR's water division, said. "That's why this project as far as we're concerned is really an enhancement of the wetlands on the site."
Last we heard, George Meyer's Wisconsin Wildlife Federation countered by asking Bass Pro Shops to reconsider pulling out of the project. Good for them.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, State Sen. Bob Cowles, one of the better environmentalists in the Legislature, said:
"This is no wetland. I walked the site and I thought, 'This whole hubbub is about this site?' Come on!"
Reagan, a President for our times
We continue our tribute to the greatest president in the last 60 years, Ronald Reagan. His centenary is this Super Bowl Sunday.
Barely a week into his presidency, the new President cast what he would later call "the evil empire" into sharp relief.
Soviet leadership had "openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat."
The assembled Washington press corps responded with what National Security Adviser Richard V. Allen described as "an audible gasp." A Washington Post editorial crabbed that this "good-vs.-evil approach risks missing what legitimate opportunity for honorable accommodation there may be." -- Wall Street Journal: 01-31-2011.
I said that Barack Obama's State of the Union was "afternoon in America." Here is the real thing:
The inimitable George Hesselberg on Twitter:
I was just reminded that the Southern Hemisphere World Naked Bike Ride is just 7 weeks away. It's always hard to decide what not to wear.