Is Gov. Privateer taking the state's deer hunt private? Politifactoid: No way! | Wis.Community

Is Gov. Privateer taking the state's deer hunt private? Politifactoid: No way!

Tom Barrett's pants figuratively are on fire because he's warning voters that Gov. Walker's new "deer czar" likes the idea of privatizing deer hunting, even on public lands.

That's the latest word from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Politifact, which has a knack for not always noticing when the governor's own trousers have been smouldering awhile.

We'll give Politifact this: When Mayor Barrett's campaign says Scott Walker "has a plan" to privatize public lands and “wants to sell our deer to the highest bidder," it is true that no such plan has been announced. And give Walker credit for not shooting himself in the foot with a .22 on the eve of an election that might oust him.

Then again, Walker also did not telegraph (except to his billionaire backers) his plans to all but end collective bargaining in this state. Indeed, that's characteristic of the "drop the bomb" / "divide and conquer" governor. This is, after all, a governor who has been very vocal about privatization in general as being a good thing. He also was very vocal in his original campaign, criticizing deer herd management by the Department of Natural Resources.

Never mind the complexity of the issue, especially with respect to deadly Chronic Wasting Disease afflicting the wild deer herd and now some managed herds. Once again be advised: Walker plans to change deer management somehow and in some way, which is why he brought in Kroll, a consulting biologist, and why he is paying him $125,000 to tell Wisconsinites how to go about hunting.

It's Walkerism to a T: If it ain't broke, break it. Then, complain that we're broke.

Kroll undeniably has had a history in Texas of saying rather sensational things, such as characterizing the hunt on public lands as "communist." Kroll now says he was misquoted, or, in other moments, that he did say it, but was merely joking around for effect. Whatever. The best you could say is that Kroll's not exactly instilling faith and trust in government, a style the Walker administration itself is so very parsimonious in applying.

But hell, let's light a fire under Barrett anyway.

Interestingly, Walker's plans to address deer management issues don't particularly seem to involve the DNR> That ironicall, might be a good thing since the DNR under Walker has become more a playground for private interests wanting to despoil the environment for fun and profit. It's an agency that no longer pays serious attention to the state's traditional, citizen-driven Conservation Congress, beyond Secretary Cathy Stepp's occasional lip service.

Instead, Walker himself will make deer herd management decisions, in concert with his Department of Administration, the state's ultimate bureaucracy -- one that makes the DNR's alleged heavy-handedness look like an ice cream social.

As is typical of Scotty's top-down management style, no public hearings have been held and we're essentially waiting for the gov to drop another bomb. Thus, Democrats arguably have the right instincts in bringing the issue to the attention of voters before the election, since it's clear that Walker's decision will come aftewards. 

But far be it for Politifact to fret over the fact that Kroll is on the state payroll without ever first having to appear before any legislative committee to answer concerns and questions, much less be confirmed by lawmakers independently after Walker's singular hiring decision.

Outsourcing state work is bad enough; outsourcing it to Texas? Get a rope!

Summing up: Do Barrett, other Democrats and conservationists and hunters have any legitimate concerns about what Walker is up to? We say yes. A governor who has demonstrated a broadly anti-environment, anti-public input, pro-privatization bias should have no expectation that anyone will believe him when he says Barrett's claims are untrue. Walker already has cried wolf too many times. (Heh-heh. I said, "cried wolf.")

"The blog reports of what I said about ‘communism’ is a distortion of my real feelings, as well," Kroll wrote, in defense of himself. "We discussed how the top-down [whoops, there's that "top-down" thing, again] approach to game anmagement was the wrong approach, and if you give people the incentives and support to manage game animals on private and public lands, as well as a say in how these resources are managed, it is a ‘win-win’ for everyone."

So Kroll *IS* for getting the input of the Conservation Congress, huh? Input, maybe. Decision power: Not on your life.

Kroll also told Journal Sentinel outdoor writer Paul Smith: "The last thing I want is to make it harder for hunters to participate in the great sport of deer hunting in Wisconsin on public land." Exactly right. It will be, if he does it, the very last thing. Kroll will do a bunch of other stuff before he does that. Perhaps only after the election will it come to pass that making the hunt more expensive and more privately controlled become the last thing. Then Kroll will blowi these northern climes and head back to the Lone Star state, where most deer hunting already takes place on private lands and at high fees.

The way things are going, we won't know until it's too late, of course. Unless guys like Barrett continue to speak up and demand answers, and the public joins in the cause. But, hey, over at Politifact, they'll just ignore everything else in favor of the heat and smoke from a a pair of burning pants. Makes quite a spectacle, especially if they're hunter orange.

ADDENDUM  An excellent rejoinder to the Politifact article comes from folks who helped start the anti-Kroll campaign over at DailyKos. Read their detailed rebuttal of the Journal Sentinel's reasoning at:

Published

June 4, 2012 - 4:10pm

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