In Wisconsin, Say “Cheese”, but not “Climate”

April 8, 2015

Obviously, for some politicians, in some states, “climate” has become an unwelcome topic.  The increasingly popular answer?

Ban it.

Bloomberg:

Discussing climate change is out of bounds for workers at a state agency in Wisconsin. So is any work related to climate change—even responding to e-mails about the topic.

A vote on Tuesday by Wisconsin’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a three-member panel overseeing an agency that benefits schools and communities in the state, enacted the staff ban on climate change. “It’s not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries,” said State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, a Republican who sits on the board. “That’s what I want our employees working on. That’s it. Managing our trust funds.”

Adamczyk raised his concern at a public meeting on Tuesday that the board’s executive director, Tia Nelson, had spent on-the-job time working on global warming. Nelson did indeed work on climate change a bit in 2007 and ’08—at the request of the governor. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, who stepped down in 2011, appointed Nelson as co-chair of a global warming task force (PDF). “It honestly never occurred to me that being asked by a sitting governor to serve on a citizen task force would be objectionable,” she said.

Nelson is the daughter of Gaylord Nelson, the U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who established Earth Day in 1970. For 17 years before joining the public land agency, she ran the Nature Conservancy’s climate change initiative.

The measure affecting a small number of Wisconsin state workers follows an alleged effort by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to stop employees from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications.

Huffington Post:

The prohibition on “engaging in global warming or climate change work while on BCPL time,” said state treasurer Matt Adamczyk, a Republican who sits on the board, is nothing but an attempt to cut down on government spending. “It’s not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries,” he explained. “That’s what I want our employees working on. That’s it. Managing our trust funds.”

But others are suspicious of Adamczyk’s motives, to say the least, describing it as a “witch hunt” targeting Tia Nelson, the agency’s executive director, who committed the offense of working, on state time but at the request of then-Governor Jim Doyle, on a 2008 global warming task force that sought to “make Wisconsin a leader in implementation of global warming solutions.”

“Having been on this board for close to 30 years, I’ve never seen such nonsense,” said Wisconsin Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, who opposed the measure.

The funny thing about trying to dictate who should and should not be talking about climate change, of course, is that climate change is going to affect all of us. That includes you, Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: you boast of your work to “combat forest fragmentation, protect unique natural areas and secure public access to large blocks of northern forests”? Well, the U.S. National Climate Assessment raises some serious concerns about how those forests are going to fare in a warming world, with projected increases in insect outbreaks, forest fires and drought. The BCPL’s own website once had a statement reading, “global climate change is no longer debatable as a threat to ecosystems” — Adamczyk called Nelson out for “discussing that hot button issue.”How climate change will affect the land it oversees may not be the biggest issue this one, small agency is facing. But you’d at least think it would be something it would want to know.

5 Responses to “In Wisconsin, Say “Cheese”, but not “Climate””


  1. […] Obviously, for some politicians, in some states, "climate" has become an unwelcome topic. The increasingly popular answer? Ban it. Bloomberg: Discussing climate change is out of bounds for workers…  […]

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    No one has any interest in this post? Maybe it’s because I have a brother in WI and follow the craziness there a bit more closely, but this brought a smile to my face when I read it. Blatant and overt Repugnant politics in action in a state where that is getting to be the norm.

    Nelson, daughter of Gaylord, appointed by a democratic governor, and LaFollette, related to the famous WI Progressive, arrayed against ADAMCZYK, an incredibly stupid right wing toad. You couldn’t write a better script for an Adam Sandler movie (and Adamczyk is a bigger than Chris Christie type that would have been a perfect part for John Candy if he had bulked up a bit). The local take on it:

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/new-wisconsin-treasurer-makes-waves-in-role-on-obscure-state-board-b99429552z1-289233071.html

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/new-state-treasurer-lays-off-staff-to-fulfill-campaign-pledge-b99431743z1-289687781.html


  3. […] Obviously, for some politicians, in some states, “climate” has become an unwelcome topic. The increasingly popular answer?Ban it.Bloomberg reports: Discussing climate change is out of bounds for workers at a state agency in Wisconsin. So is any work related to climate change—even responding to e-mails about the topic. A vote on Tuesday by Wisconsin’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a three-member panel overseeing an agency that benefits schools and communities in the state, enacted the staff ban on climate change. “It’s not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries,” said State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, a Republican who sits on the board. “That’s what I want our employees working on. That’s it. Managing our trust funds.” Adamczyk raised his concern at a public meeting on Tuesday that the board’s executive director, Tia Nelson, had spent on-the-job time working on global warming. Nelson did indeed work on climate change a bit in 2007 and ’08—at the request of the governor. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, who stepped down in 2011, appointed Nelson as co-chair of a global warming task force (PDF). “It honestly never occurred to me that being asked by a sitting governor to serve on a citizen task force would be objectionable,” she said. Nelson is the daughter of Gaylord Nelson, the U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who established Earth Day in 1970. For 17 years before joining the public land agency, she ran the Nature Conservancy’s climate change initiative. The measure affecting a small number of Wisconsin state workers follows an alleged effort by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to stop employees from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications.Click headline to read more and access hot links–  […]

  4. Daniel Fox Says:

    We could just start substituting random words for terms like “Global Warming” and “Sea Level Rise”. It would make just about as much sense as “Atmospheric Redeployment” and “Coastline Resiliency”. If they don’t know what “Dinosaur Ukulele” means it’s their own fault!

  5. mbrysonb Says:

    I love the moralistic cover story here: those damn meddling environmentalists, wasting government resources while on the state payroll. Never mind that she was acting on the Governor’s request– he was a Democrat, and therefore illegitimate whatever the voters said when he ran for office (cf. Darth Cheney’s recent remarks about President Obama).


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