Et Tu, Wisconsin?: Following in the Footsteps of Florida, the Badger State’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands Bans Discussion of Climate Change for State Agency

WisconsinSealBy Elaine Magliaro

Eric Roston (Bloomberg) reported earlier today that discussing the subject of climate change is now “out of bounds for workers at a state agency in Wisconsin.” Roston said that “any work related to climate change—even responding to e-mails about the topic” is verboten.


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.

Roston said that the measure would only affect “a small number of Wisconsin state workers…” He noted, however, that it “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.”

Caitlin MacNeal (TPM) said that “Adamczyk may have targeted the public land board’s discussion of climate change…due to his issues with the board’s executive secretary, Tia Nelson.” Nelson is the daughter of the late Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson. MacNeal noted that “Adamczyk went after Nelson in January, trying to mandate a performance review for Nelson and remove her name from the board’s letterhead.”


Wisconsin Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, a Democrat, sits on the board with Adamczyk and Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican. In a previous meeting, La Follette said antagonism toward Nelson came close to the “edge of an irresponsible witch hunt.”

La Follette—who voted against the ban—“lamented that it would keep staff from discussing how climate change could impact the land the agency oversees.” In a conference call on Tuesday, La Follette said, “Having been on this board for close to 30 years, I’ve never seen such nonsense. We’ve reached the point now where we’re going to try to gag employees from talking about issues. In this case, climate change. That’s as bad as the governor of Florida recently telling his staff that they could not use the words ‘climate change.'”



Wisconsin Bans Public Lands Staff From Discussing Climate Change (Talking Points Memo)

For Some Wisconsin State Workers, ‘Climate Change’ Isn’t Something You Can Talk About: Even answering e-mails about global warming is out (Bloomberg)





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3 Responses to Et Tu, Wisconsin?: Following in the Footsteps of Florida, the Badger State’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands Bans Discussion of Climate Change for State Agency

  1. Ingannie says:

    Yes, I heard about this. What next? Our poor state. It’s not the first time this Walker administration tried to censor free speech. No signs were allowed in the rotunda of the Capitol building starting about a year or so ago. People were getting arrested for wearing T shirts with a protest message. These people are fascists.

  2. I expect Adamczyk will not last long even in Walker’s environment — the guy comes across as too simple-minded and petty to stay out of trouble long, and now the MJS is on his case. Snippets from MJS:

    State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk in recent months has raised issues large and small at the Board of Commissioners of Public Land, which operates a trust that provides funding for school libraries and makes loans to municipalities and school districts.

    Since he was elected treasurer in November, he has sent dozens of emails and made numerous calls to get details about the board’s operations.


    On Nov. 13, a week after Adamczyk was elected treasurer, he wrote to Nelson asking that the names of elected officials not appear on the board’s letterhead.

    Nelson responded Dec. 9 that she could do so with board approval but that the change would not save money.

    Responded Adamczyk: “I am ok with printing of the BCPL letterhead with ONLY the 3 statewide ELECTED officials names listed on the top.”

    Nelson responded that it’s common for state agencies to list their secretaries on letterhead and the practice had been in place for her office since before she headed it…

    “Commissioner Adamczyk said he felt ‘passionately that the name Tia Nelson should not be listed,'” the minutes say.

    Adamczyk sought to remove Nelson’s name from the letterhead, but [the other two board members] would not go along with the idea. On Tuesday, Adamczyk said in an interview the letterhead “isn’t that big a deal.”


    At Tuesday’s meeting, the board took up a host of other issues raised by Adamczyk, including the board’s subscription to The New York Times.

    “First and foremost, this is completely unnecessary,” Adamczyk wrote in a Dec. 22 email to Nelson. “We live in Wisconsin and we don’t need a subscription to this publication.”

    via New state treasurer causes stir over global warming, New York Times.

  3. Elaine M. says:


    Thanks for the excerpt from and link to that article!

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