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Doyle may change mind on DNR selection process

Gov. Jim Doyle might change his mind about letting the head of the state Department of Natural Resources be appointed by the agency's own board.

Former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson took over that power in 1995. And some Democrats have tried ever since to give it back to the DNR Board, saying politics should have nothing to do with wildlife regulation.

Doyle has long agreed and has said he would sign the change if it ever got to his desk.

But Monday, Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "We have to reevaluate and rethink, really carefully, about decreasing the authority of the governor."

That comment surprised former DNR secretary George Meyer, who now heads the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

He said Doyle agreed as recently as a month ago to let the DNR Board approve its own secretary as long as lawmakers promise to act faster on the governor's other appointments. That the change doesn't come until 2011, after his current term.

The state's largest business group has long opposed the change.

Scott Manley says the DNR makes major environmental decisions and the agency is more accountable when the governor appoints the leader.

Meyer says the business lobby has a better chance of influencing environmental laws when the governor does the appointing - a comment Manley calls cynical.