News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What a little journalism can do

Begin with a reporter named Daniel Bice.  He works for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  As 

Daniel Bice
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, of union-hating fame, filled his administration (one might say stocked it), Bice noticed something fishy about a young man who had been appointed to a $64,000-a-year job as a bureau director in the Department of Regulation and Licensing in January.
A little later, the young man was promoted to a "$81,500-per-year job in Gov. Scott Walker's administration overseeing environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce," as Mr. Bice tells it.  

The young man, Brian Deschane, had very little work experience, no college degree, and two drunk driving convictions.   These facts apparently gave Mr. Bice a serious WTF moment.  He looked into the matter, viewed state records, which one can do in Wisconsin, and asked people about the appointment.  Deschane's father, it turned out, was an industry lobbiest who had directed a very hefty contribution into Scott Walker's campaign.   Bice wrote a column about it.

The column attracted a great deal of attention and was circulated throughout the U.S.  Gov. Walker then fired young Deschane, demoting him back to his original appointment.  Apparently, the position he was promoted from had been filled, so he ended up resigning his government job altogether.

 The real catch in all this is that when Deschane was promoted to the executive job, he was appointed over two highly qualified people who had applied for the job but were not even interviewed.   Mr. Bice reports: 

The first, Oscar Herrera, is a former state cabinet secretary under Republican Gov. Scott McCallum with a doctoral degree and eight years' experience overseeing the cleanup of petroleum-contaminated sites. The second, Bernice Mattsson, is a professional engineer who served since 2003 in the post to which Deschane was appointed and has more than 25 years' experience in state government.
As Republicans rail against "union thugs," which in party  parlance is any worker who looks for some rights and equity in the work place, the story about the appointments of Brian Deschane rips open the mask of fiscal responsibility so loudly claimed by Gov. Walker and reveals what he and his administration are really all about.
You can access the three articles Mr. Bice had written about the matter here.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States