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Nearly Two Years Later, Wisconsin DNR and Tech College Boards Resign

Badger Project, Badger Project
January 6, 2023

Christina Riefling, THE BADGER PROJECT

Nearly 20 months after their term ended, three members of the Wisconsin Institute of Technology System Committee resigned before the new year. This was just days before Tony Evers was sworn into his second term as Governor.

This story also appeared in The Badger Project

The Badger Project has obtained the resignations of Becky Levzow, Kelly Tourdot, and Mary Williams from the engineering college system. The three women submitted letters last week stating that they would be leaving their jobs by 1 January. Their profiles have been removed from the Wisconsin Institute of Technology System website.

The three were appointed by former Governor Scott Walker and joined the board in 2015. All three had refused to resign, even though their terms were set to expire in May 2021.

Their announcement comes after Walker-appointed state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) board member Fred Plenn, whose term ended in May 2021, announced he would be stepping down on Dec. 23. . Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit to remove Mr. Plenn, but the conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last June that Mr. Plenn cannot be fired without cause.

A Republican governor could have appointed a like-minded replacement to the Holdout’s board seat, but Evers’ re-election would prevent Republicans from endorsing their preferred candidate.

Ed Miller, professor emeritus of political science at UW-Stevens Point, told the Badger Project in an email that he was not surprised that Prehn had stepped down after Evers was re-elected.

“[The state board]has held up for over four years, which suggests that service is getting a little longer,” Miller wrote. “Given that serving on the board is a volunteer position, individuals realize it is time to leave, even if they could have continued.”

Miller also pointed out that DNR board members have more influence over policy than technical college board members, where “decisions are actually made by staff.”

“In many cases, donors are given the status [on the technical college board]is more honorific than influential,” writes Miller.

Prehn cast a decisive vote in favor of Republicans on the DNR board.

Williams, a former Republican state legislator, declined to comment when reached by phone. Levzow, a dairy farmer in Rio, also declined to answer questions, saying he would go out to milk the cows, but said, “I had a lot of fun doing this job and I believe in education.” added. Badger Project left a phone message for his Tourdot, an executive at Waunakee’s construction trade association, but did not get a call back.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMathew (R-Oostberg) said in January 2022 the state Senate will hold public hearings for the rest of the year on 180 Evers’ unconfirmed appointments, including five Cabinet members. announced that it would not take place. At the end of Evers’ first term, his sixth unconfirmed minister of health and human services, Karen Timberlake, resigned.

Fred Plain at the Natural Resources Commission meeting on August 11, 2021.

At a press conference in November, LeMahieu said he intended to refer the appointment to a Senate committee, but this does not guarantee it will be brought to the Senate for a full vote.

Allowing past appointees to exceed their term in office is unconstitutional because it violates the constitutional allocation of powers and violates the law that created the term, Miller said in an email to The Badger Project in September. I wrote in

“The court majority is just making a decision to stick with their partisanship,” wrote Miller.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Annette Ziegler wrote in a majority opinion for the court’s right-wing camp that Mr. Pullen could stay past his term until the state Senate approves a successor.

“This conclusion complies with the plain language of Wisconsin law and raises no constitutional concerns,” she wrote.

The court’s three left-wing justices disagreed.

“Because of the absurd retention of the majority, Prehn’s six-year term on the Natural Resources Commission (which expired more than a year ago) will expire as long as Prehn wishes, unless he refuses to resign and the Senate approves it. , can survive the governor-nominated successor,” Justice Rebecca Dallett dissented.

“This is kind of a sad comment on the current state of politics,” UW-La Crosse professor emeritus of political science Joseph Heim told The Badger Project in September. “It seems to me like a groundbreaking tactic that will fuel chaos throughout the Wisconsin government.”

badger project is a non-partisan, citizen-supported journalism non-profit organization in Wisconsin.

This article first appeared on The Badger Project and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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