Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cathy Stepp's Casting Call for DNR Haters

Outgoing State Senator Cathy Stepp (R-Yorkville) is a member of the Senate Select Committee on DNR Regulatory Reform. She has called for citizens to come and bitch about the DNR next Monday.

First, as an aside, let me just point out something. Does anyone else find it odd that we have a State Senator on this committee that is also a contractor/developer? Is it possible that Stepp has a natural dislike for the DNR? I don’t know this, but I’d sure like to know if any of those pesky DNR regulations ever cost Stepp’s business money. I’d also like to know if her company had ever been cited by the DNR for any violations. I don’t know this to be true but I think the possibility is worth looking into even if she is on her way out.

Anyway, so Stepp invites citizens to join in on this DNR bitch fest. Does this mean that people who appreciate the work of the DNR can’t come? Does this mean that I am not invited if I disagree with her apparent disgust with the Department? According to a recent piece in the Racine Journal Times, some pro-DNR groups and individuals feel like they get rail-roaded when they come to such events.

Rebecca Katers, who is pro-DNR and a member of the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin, attended one of the committee's public hearings in Green Bay on Jan. 10.

"They knew I was a local environmentalist, so they held my name until dead last," she said. "Their mind was made up."Katers said she signed up to speak at the beginning of the meeting, only to watch as Committee Chair State Sen. Alan Lasee, R-Rockland, walked up and down the auditorium rows, calling one DNR opponent after another to speak among the hearing's 100 attendees.

When it was all said and done, Katers spoke before a near-empty auditorium after 6½ hours of waiting."This was a clear manipulation of a public process. It was not honorable and it was not balanced," she said.

DNR policy adviser Paul Heinen, who has attended several of these hearings, said he's seen examples of what Katers went through in Green Bay."I've seen it at all the meetings I've went to. Pro-DNR people are cut off or forced to wait," he said. Heinen went on to say that while committee members call for complaints from area residents, "they certainly aren't sending out messages to people who like the DNR."

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