Iron County Progressive


A Message from State Senator

Chris Larson

t’s a rare event that only comes around once in a hundred years. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has identified a new species: The Wausau Squatter. No, it’s not some new type of waterfowl, it’s a new breed of Wisconsin Republican politician exemplified by DNR Board member Fred Prehn, a Wausau dentist who moonlights as an antique arms dealer among other things.

On Sunday, it will be exactly 1 year since Prehn’s term on the Natural Resources Board expired, yet the Wausau Squatter not only remains on the body, he has cast the deciding vote to block any groundwater standards for PFAs in Wisconsin, and to set the public drinking water standard at over 3 times the level recommended by scientists (70 ppt instead of 20 ppt).

But wait, you might say - didn’t Governor Evers appoint a replacement? Why yes, yes he did. Sandra Naas, an eminently qualified candidate, was appointed over a year ago but the obstructionist GOP State Senate has refused to give her a public hearing, much less an up-or-down vote. So here we sit (pun intended), one year later, with the Wausau Squatter undermining the safety of our water thanks to a Republican legislature that loves nothing more than to undermine Governor Evers at the expense of the people of Wisconsin.

One organism by itself does not a species make. There’s always the potential that the Wausau Squatter is some sort of genetic mutation, unable to be replicated in the wild. Sadly, that’s not the case. Dozens of Evers appointees remain in limbo for no apparent reason other than politics. Think of it as the Mitch McConnell strain of cynical politics: hold as many seats open until your side is in the Executive office, functioning democracy be damned. Luckily, we don’t have to let them get away with it.
Some, like DHS Secretary Designee Karen Timberlake, are able to go about their business pretty much as they normally would, save for the title of “designee,” and the worry that at any moment Republicans could call a vote to remove her.

Others, like appointments to the UW Board of Regents and Wausau Squatter replacement Sandra Naas are forced to sit on the sidelines while obstructionists with expired terms are allowed to squat indefinitely as Republicans attempt to run out the clock on the Evers governorship.

We can’t let them get away with it! Legal proceedings are already underway, but the most surefire way to hold Republicans accountable for the Wausau Squatter and other forms of obstruction is to ensure that Governor Evers is re-elected, and for Wisconsin Democrats to outrun the rigged maps to save the veto by preventing a two-thirds Republican majority in both houses.

I’m up for re-election this fall, and we know that every seat matters to protect our institutions and prevent people like the Wausau Squatter from having their way.