Matt Adamczyk, the Wauwatosa blowhard who got himself elected state treasurer by grandstanding that he would dismantle the office, has discovered that the job he so dislikes has some clout after all.
He can use his allegedly unwanted position to gleefully bully fellow state employees to quit even mentioning the words "climate change."
Never mind what all those pointy-headed scientists say — Adamczyk is obviously a learned "expert" on the environment. Just ask him.
His experience includes helping run the family heating and cooling business, which, of course, owes much to hotter and colder weather. Even better, he has served as a consultant to two of the Legislature's most notorious right-wingers — the lamentable state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who hails from Adamczyk's hometown of Wauwatosa, and state Rep. Tyler August, a Lake Geneva Republican who is most famous for threatening to cut Madison's state aid because it wouldn't OK licenses for the ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft.
Adamczyk has used his new-found power to bully employees of the state's Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a small nine-person shop that administers the millions of dollars that flow from the state's trust lands to public education in the state. More specifically, he has targeted the executive director of the office, a woman named Tia Nelson, who just happens to be the daughter of one of the country's most famous environmentalists and the founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson, the late Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator.
The staff of the lands trust board is overseen by the state treasurer (Republican Adamczyk), the secretary of state (Democrat Doug La Follette) and the attorney general (Republican Brad Schimel). The three elected officials either OK or deny recommendations made by the staff on grants to public schools or loans that can be made to municipalities for deserving public projects.
It turns out that Tia Nelson had been asked by former Gov. Jim Doyle to serve as co-chair of a global warming task force even while she served as the executive secretary of the land trust office. Once the task force had delivered its recommendations, she hasn't been involved on climate change except to periodically answer emails or make comments if asked by those who know of her expertise on the subject.
Alas, after last fall's election, along came the apparently enlightened Adamczyk to throw his weight around. He first ordered the office to delete any reference to climate change on its website. Then he wanted Nelson fired. La Follette and Schimel voted "no." Then he wanted Nelson to be muzzled about even mentioning climate change while at work. Schimel regrettably voted with him and they outvoted La Follette.
The secretary of state believes that Adamczyk has a vendetta against Nelson because of her dad, the famous environmentalist. La Follette insists Adamczyk not only is a climate-change denier, but an avid anti-environmentalist to boot.
Former Republican state Treasurer Jack Voigt told the State Journal that what Adamczyk is doing is "uncalled for."
"To me it's becoming political to the point that he wants to control everything," Voight added.
But that's precisely what Adamczyk and a number of the other new Republicans who the voters decided to send to Madison the past few years are up to — trying to infuse their narrow political ideology into virtually every function of state government.
Their aim isn't to make government work, but to make sure it doesn't.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. email@example.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
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