Years ago there was an amusement park nestled in the mountains of North Carolina called Ghost Town in the Sky.
It was a replica of an Old West cowboy town, complete with all the frills. Families could take their kids, watch the can-can dancers in the saloon while sipping root beer, they could watch gun fights in the street, and take a ride on a stagecoach.
They could also go to the local newspaper, which would print a front page with a big headline blaring "(Kid's name) guns down Dangerous Dan."
Seems like all the inhabitants of Ghost Town in the Sky were deathly afraid when Dangerous Dan rode into town - afraid that he would have his way with them - and they were constantly trying to find people, that is to say little kids, to gun him down.
Here in Wisconsin, there's sort of a ghost town in the sky, or perhaps we might better call it Zombie Town in the Sky. Its formal name is the Department of Natural Resources, where soulless corpses, otherwise known as bureaucrats, roam the halls, finding property to take, people to harass, and businesses to over-regulate.
This week, they have learned that a man named Dan is riding into town, and, given his rhetoric as a former legislator, they must view new DNR secretary Dan Meyer as a very Dangerous Dan who could threaten their powerful kingdom.
For his sake, he had better be very dangerous, for the bureaucrats are going to be gunning for him from Day 1, just as they were for Cathy Stepp when Walker appointed her after his election in 2010.
And make no mistake, while these bureaucrats are gunning for him, they are going to continue their impressive performances as walking-dead thugs on the prowl and pushing partisan Leftist agendas, in particular wing-nut theories of global warming.
So we are giving Mr. Meyer the same advice we gave to Cathy Stepp: Take a meat cleaver to the agency as soon as you can, cut the heads off the snakes, and clean house with reformers. Just as we urge Dan Meyer to be Dangerous Dan, we advised Cathy Stepp to be Cutthroat Cathy.
Really, it's the only way to deal with Lunatic Leftists.
Ms. Stepp never took our advice. Years after her appointment, the same thugs were carrying out the same thuggery, the same bureaucrats were still writing rules and regulations.
As a result, her tenure was diminished. Some reforms were enacted and there were some improvements in services and efficiency, but most of the improvement was at the top of the agency.
Below the appointed top tier of management, career bureaucrats continued to rule the roost and run amok.
As such they have continued to pile up serious complaints from citizens, and they have earned the ire of such people as state Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake), who has once again called for the agency to be split asunder - as it should be - and for other reforms.
The Legislature and the governor should follow through on Mr. Jarchow's calls to action against this rogue agency. But while most of those reforms are beyond Mr. Meyer's capacity as secretary, that does not mean he does not have a crucial role to play.
As the DNR secretary, he must refuse to coddle bureaucrats, as Ms. Stepp tended to do, and he must impose deep reform inside the agency, reforms serious enough to remove the bad actors and effect a culture change in the department.
As we report today, years ago, in his last campaign for the Assembly, Mr. Meyer recognized this need for strong leadership and internal reform.
"My opinion on reforming the DNR after being down there for 10 years, and I don't know if it can be done, you would need a very strong secretary," he told The Times in 2010.
He also said strong leadership alone was not enough: "I firmly believe it's a whole culture change that has to take place. My feeling is that there is a core of people in there that have their own agenda. They are going to be there longer than elected officials are. Elected officials are looking at two to five years; they are looking at 20 to 30 years. So they are plotting and plotting and plotting and then a Democratic administration comes in and they have more freedom to get what they want."
Well, Mr. Meyer, guess what? You were right all those years ago. It will take your strong leadership, which we did not get with Ms. Stepp, and it will take more, a whole lot more, because those same bureaucrats are still there, still plotting and plotting and plotting.
Instead of letting these creatures continue to plot against us, it's time to put these ghouls in a deep political plot of their own, from which they cannot escape.
Coddling Cathy couldn't get it done. It's going to take a Dangerous Dan to do it.
If he can, Zombie Town in the Sky might come down to Earth, and bureaucrats in the DNR might be humanized enough to realize that part of their job is to listen to the mere mortals who live here.
A contented citizenry, secure in their property rights and free from the noose of absurd regulations, might then relax with a root beer and watch the can-can dancers in the saloon of society.
It might be happy times in Wisconsin again, and that would be a headline worth blaring.
Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Article comment by:
"This editorial is full of misleading and wrong-headed claptrap."
That is what this once fine local news outlet has become. Ideology never used to have a place here. Sad!
Posted: Saturday, October 7, 2017
Article comment by:
Today there was yet another story telling of the damage manure spills have done to yet another body of water. A Wild Rosde dairy had a spill that ended up in Otter Creek, killing 1,300 fish, mostly trout. Under the Walker administration, manure spills have become far more common than in the past. Part of the reason is that under Stepp, DNR scientists no longer review permits for the "mega dairies". Instead, the DNR uses the data provided by consultants for the farms. This is the kind of thinking where you hire a fox to watch the chickens. But, Stepp and Walker have made it a point to ease restrictions on manure. Door County has hundreds of wells where you cannot drink the water because of manure run off. If Mr. Moore has his way and all restrictions are taken away, we all may get the chance to drink manure flavored water. Is that really what you want?
Posted: Monday, October 2, 2017
Article comment by:
Merlin Van Buren
"in particular wing-nut theories of global warming"
The wing nuts are the two editors who wrote this column. Bury your head in the sand, but don't try to bury my head in the sand. It's very convenient to discount global warming, but not prudent.
Merlin Van Buren
Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2017
Article comment by:
This editorial is full of misleading and wrong-headed claptrap. Kathy Stepp unfortunately was very successful in her efforts to diminish water, air and land protections that every Wisconsinite should now be mourning. Individual land rights are being used as a false argument for eliminating protections from commercial interests. Don't fall for the claptrap. Encourage the new administrator to rehire the scientists removed by Stepp.
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