Sunday, December 21, 2014

Strong call to support the GAB

A very strong essay on the Journal Sentinel Sunday op-ed page by Andrea Kaminski of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin in support of retaining the non-partisan structure  of the Wisconsin Government Accountability is definitely worth a read.

Kaminski, the Executive Director of a mainstream group dedicated to honest government and fair elections, knows the history of the GAB and can spot a power play against the public interest when she sees it:

One of the best innovations in Wisconsin government was the creation of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board. Launched it 2008, it was formed by a virtually unanimous, bipartisan vote in the Legislature. The GAB was crafted in response to the caucus scandal which sent legislative leaders from both political parties to jail for campaigning on the taxpayers' dime...
We suspect the current calls for deform of the GAB are simply a partisan power grab at a time when one party has the majority needed to defang the agency's watchdog function and craft an elections agency that can be easily manipulated for partisan gain. In times of one-party rule, regardless of which party is in the majority, we need the GAB more than ever.
The campaign against the GAB - - basically a campaign to return to the bad old days of slipperier campaigning and legislating - - is the brain child of a current partisan leader,  GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

It would be like a prominent doctor coming forward to urge cigarette smokers who'd quit to light up again.

As a younger man, Vos had worked in the office of former GOP State Rep. Bonnie Ladwig, one of the legislators who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ethics violation in the caucus scandal referenced by Kaminski that led to the creation of the GAB.

Ladwig was forced to resign from the Assembly; Vos was elected to fill, and still holds that seat.

If any legislator should understand why the GAB was founded and needs to be protected, not defanged, it's Vos.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The ugly history surrounding Wisconsin's now-banned wolf hunt

A few more words about the merciful and unexpected end to the grey wolf hunt in the Upper Midwest, including Wisconsin, ordered by a Federal judge Friday.
Wisconsin is killing its wolves
A summary post about it, with several links, here.

How the Wisconsin wolf hunt came into being three years ago speaks volumes about the victory of politics over science over public-interest conservation policy-making.

It's an history ugly about a reality at odds with the state's strong environmental traditions - - visible elsewhere in politically-enabled weak enforcement, fresh pollution and other abuses now routine across the state's waters, land and air since Republicans and their corporate sponsors took control of the Legislature and the rest of state government in the Walker era.

Remember that the wolf-hunt was implemented by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources quickly, and in part through the use of agency "emergency" rule-making authority that shortcut some obviously important and careful assessment of the issues to allow the controversial use of dogs against wolves in the hunt and in pre-hunt, disruptive hunting dog training.

A Wisconsin-only practice.

Except there was no emergency facing the DNR, as noted at the time - - except the need to please the special interests pushing for the hunt with the fewest restrictions possible.

In fact, Cathy Stepp, the conservative, ex-GOP state senator and developer Scott Walker installed atop the DNR to implement the "chamber-of-commerce mentality" he wanted running an agency previously known for science-based policy-making, had mocked, condemned and harangued against what she claimed on a conservative blog had been the routine "hypocrisy" underlying rule-making during the Doyle administration.

Her words:

Those of you that haven't had the pleasure of peeking behind the scenes of our state agencies like DNR, Health and Family Services, etc...need to know how some of the most far-reaching policies come down on our heads.
The most crushing/controversial rules that businesses have to follow in our state are--most times--done through the "rule making process" of our state agencies. Without bogging everyone down with some really boring procedure talk, suffice it to say that many of these great ideas (sarcasm) come from deep inside the agencies and tend to be reflections of that agency's culture.
For example, people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA. So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with.
Remember also that to move the process along, compliant legislators were found to do what Big Hunting wanted.

Chief among the willing: State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, (R-Oconomowoc), a prominent, all-season hunter and husband of Tea Party activist and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

Joel Kleefisch was so eager for a wolf hunt that, as he was also promoting (unsuccessfully) a sandhill - -"ribeye-in-the-sky" - - crane season, he said he could smell the wolf meat "marinating."

His words. Former journalist at WISN-TV 12 in Milwaukee.

Amazingly, or perhaps not, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel got on board, editorially, suggesting that any problems created by the quick processes could be fixed later.

Among the consequences that rewarded the wolf hunt advocates at the expense of genuine, smart, science-based wildlife conservation and policy-making:

*  Wolf killing in all three seasons allowed to exceed by eleven the quotas set by the DNR and its supervising body, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.

*  The DNR's intentional scrubbing of internal opposition by remaking its wolf-advisory committee and giving nearly all seats to hunting proponents.

Also looking back at the editorial we find a companion op-ed by attorney and wolf hunt opponent Jodi Habush Sinykin, no doubt feeling her stance validated by the Federal ruling:

For years, we have worked together to safeguard the natural resources we hold dear, striving to ensure that the state - as the guardian of the public trust - adheres to science-based, ecologically sound management principles with respect to our shared waters and lands. This ethic must be applied equally to the management of our state's wildlife species because, without it, environmental stewardship falls prey to politics, a scenario that places all of our shared resources and natural places in jeopardy of mismanagement.
Case in point is the recently enacted wolf hunting and trapping law. Rushed through the legislative process with no notice to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife experts, no input from the state's Wolf Science Advisory Committee and no tribal consultation, the law prescribes a first hunting season for wolves. The law is drawing significant opposition from scientists, mainstream hunters and conservationists alike, owing to an excessively long, 4½-month season that allows hunting of breeding females and to the array of hunting and trapping methods viewed as out of line with traditional values of fair pursuit and public safety considerations.
I'll give final word about all this to WI DNR Secretary Stepp, using her own words with which she ended her infamous screed before Walker put her atop the agency against what she said had been the unwise, politically-inspired misuse of rule-making by the DNR when she had earlier despised it:
It's always the fine print in these things that have the heaviest hit. 
Just another example of the democrats game plan: Change the Rules to Fit the Players.
Shout it with me, now: HYPOCRISY, THY NAME IS DEMOCRAT.

Some freeway closures are better than others

Milwaukee County's showboating sheriff will probably search for more anarcho-infiltrators if a Saturday protest comes off this Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee. The disruption of traffic which began last night is a major, unfolding news story.

Interesting that there is another even bigger freeway closure in Milwaukee that began last night and continues until Sunday morning and it is not being reported as the end of the world.

Sheriff Clarke continues to milk last night's demonstration

Today, he held a breaking news live TV appearance. Last night, he issued a stir-the-pot red scare warning based on a secret source about anarcho-infiltrators sneaking into town.

Not sure what tomorrow brings. 

Props to Humane Society, others, for stopping wolf hunt

I put up several posts Friday after news broke about the immediate suspension by a federal judge of grey wolf hunting in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.
Wisconsin is killing its wolves 
Great work by organizations, attorneys and grassroots advocates .

This blog has covered the issue in depth; the archive through the search box on the upper left corner shows 172 posts about the politics and realities of Wisconsin's lobby-driven and especially cruel practice (leg traps allowed, along with pursuing hounds), and of the very early items from July, 2012 is on-point, given the ruling:

While a Journal Sentinel editorial wants the proposed Wisconsin wolf hunt green-lighted with policy outcomes autopsied after the fact, environmental legal advocate Jodi Habush Sinykin makes a good case that the hunt is being hurried to a cruel and sloppy start this fall.
Here was the heart of Sinykin's position, which is echoed in the court ruling Friday:
Rushed through the legislative process with no notice to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife experts, no input from the state's Wolf Science Advisory Committee and no tribal consultation, the law prescribes a first hunting season for wolves. The law is drawing significant opposition from scientists, mainstream hunters and conservationists alike, owing to an excessively long, 4½-month season that allows hunting of breeding females and to the array of hunting and trapping methods viewed as out of line with traditional values of fair pursuit and public safety considerations... 
Sinykin's argument was carried in the Journal Sentinel as a counter-point to the paper's quick and disappointing endorsement of the hunt - - which ran for three seasons and in each produced a kill beyond what the DNR had said were the quotas because this iteration of the DNR is heavily in thrall to gun and hunting special interests.

That influential role in WI DNR priorities by special interests is among the political reasons why I predict that Wisconsin will appeal the ruling. We'll see.

Here is an explanation of the case from the website of the Humane Society of the United States, a key plaintiff:

Federal Court: Great Lakes Wolf Hunting Ends Now 

Sport Hunting and Trapping of Wolves is Over 
Sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes region must end immediately, a federal District Court has ruled. The court overturned a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  
The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of wildlife protection groups, including Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the USFWS’s premature December 2011 delisting decision. The decision threatened the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining wolves to a small area in the Great Lakes region—where state politicians and agency officials have rushed forward with reckless killing programs that threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.
Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said, “In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations. We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks.”
In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species.  The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the “virtually unregulated” killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species. 
Following federal delisting, Wisconsin and Minnesota rushed to enact emergency regulations to allow the first public hunting and trapping seasons in the Great Lakes region in more than 40 years. The states authorized some of the most abusive and unsporting practices, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, electronic calls and the use of leg hold traps. Wisconsin’s wolf hunt ended this year after killing 154 wolves – 80 percent of them in leghold traps. And in Minnesota, 272 gray wolves were killed – 84 percent of the wolves in this year’s late season were trapped.
The Michigan legislature also passed three separate laws to designate wolves as a game species, in its zeal to allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves, and to undermine a fair election by Michigan voters on wolf hunting. However, in response to a referendum campaign launched by The HSUS and other animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes, the 2014 wolf hunt was canceled and voters in Michigan soundly rejected sport hunting of wolves in the recent November election.
Despite rhetoric from state politicians about wolf depredation of livestock, a new study of 25 years of wolf data has shown that hunting wolves may increase livestock losses.  Michigan lawmakers relied on false stories about wolves to push through a hunting season, and had to apologize for misleading statements. 
Today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia follows another ruling by the same court in September that rejected the USFWS’s decision to delist wolves in the State of Wyoming. The HSUS was also a plaintiff in the Wyoming litigation.
The plaintiffs in the Great Lakes lawsuit were represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section. 
Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397;

National website looking for "Golden Duke" nominees, Read on...

Talking Points Memo is looking for worthy nominees to categories which, as you can see by the criteria would seem to be tailor-made for our esteemed WI Governor or legislators, et al. Note the 12/21 deadline:

1. Best Scandal -- General Interest
2. Best Scandal -- Sex and Generalized Carnality
3. Best Scandal -- Local Venue
4. Craziest Campaign Ad
5. Best Campaign Gaffe
6. Outstanding Performance In The Art Of Trolling 

7. Weirdest Conservative Freak Out

These awards not only mean nothing without your participation, they're also a lot less fun. So we'd love for you to suggest nominees who you think are deserving. To participate, email talk (at) with "Golden Dukes" in the subject line. Nominations are due no later than Sunday, December 21.

Identify the person you're nominating and make your case in no more than 250 words. Why do they deserve to be inducted into the Golden Dukes hall of shame? Please note: Nominees have to be specific, real persons. Parties, issues, and groups are not eligible.
On Tuesday, December 22, we'll share with you the nominees. Then they're off to our esteemed panel of judges, who will pick their favorite. The final awards will be announced December 31.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Walker will use wolf ruling to 'stand' with base, 'stand up' to feds

Walker will find a way to manipulate for personal advantage his voters in his Tea Party gun and hunting base by opposing a Federal court ruling Friday reinstating protection of wolves in Wisconsin and several other states.

He did it with the failed effort to continue same-sex marriage discrimination, with the Amtrak funding he blocked, and separate federal Medicaid funding he turned back, and is poised to use food stamp and other aid recipients as drug-tested foils and fodder despite the failure of a similar program in Florida - - all to fuel his Preposterous Presidential Pratfall Tour.

Walker has a range of options to stand with his gun and hounding lobbies and friends, from news releases to Fox TV appearances to a state-authorized and wasteful legal appeal, but trust me, Walker will not let the opportunity pass.

Expect him to throw in his opposition to new US EPA clean air rules, somehow linking a federal court ruling on one thing to an agency ruling on something unrelated - - a conflation against a level of big government he and his core backers constantly scapegoat.

And the wolves, or the environment they help maintain?

Purely expendable.

For now, WI DNR suspends wolf hunt, dog-tracking

A "disappointed" WI DNR says a news release received by email this evening that it is abiding by the federal court ruling today reinstating wolf protections, though is studying it with its lawyers: Here is the DNR statement:

David Clarke channels J. Edgar Hoover over tonight's downtown protest

Here's the text of Sheriff David Clarke's red scare news release - - the graphics and top line text did not copy easily - - his office sent out prior to today's protest disruption in downtown Milwaukee. 

Sheriff Clarke’s Statement Regarding Protest Tactics
Milwaukee, WI – Today, Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. made the following statement:

“The information sharing model developed after the 9/11 attacks taught
enforcement the importance of involving the public in our effort to create a two-
way street to enhance public safety. That sharing of information has to flow up, down and across the spectrum that now includes the public. 

My homeland security education has taught me that when information sharing is necessary, more is better than holding back.

With that preface, I want to alert the public of information that has come to our attention regarding the potential of disruptive tactics. A credible source has informed us that several anarchist groups led by outside persons, are gathering in the Milwaukee area to plan disruptive activities both before and after the decision by Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm regarding the Dontre Hamilton case. 

The information indicates that the groups have exploited the tragic situation involving the death of Mr. Hamilton, to destabilize daily activities of law-abiding citizens in public and private spaces open to the public. This includes the use of blockades on the interstate system and around other roadways to prevent law enforcement from responding quickly to emergency situations. 

These leftist groups use the tactic of hiding among legitimate peaceful protestors to conduct their illegitimate campaign.

We are asking members of the public to report any activities like those described to law enforcement as soon as possible and to provide detailed descriptions of any actors involved.

We will use all resources available to maintain law and order.

When additional credible or actionable information becomes available we will share it with the public.” 

WTMJ-TV just said the Hamilton family just shutdown the freeway

Steve Chamraz, at about 6:06 p.m. - - a little overstatement, don't you think, as you were reporting tonight's freeway disruption.

Sheriff David Clarke said it was the work of out-of-town anarchists. So which is it - - the family, the out of town agitators who infiltrated the group, or perhaps the people themselves?

From Clarke's news release:
I want to alert the public of information that has come to our attention regarding the potential of disruptive tactics. A credible source has informed us that several anarchist groups led by outside persons, are gathering in the Milwaukee area to plan disruptive activities both before and after the decision by Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm regarding the Dontre Hamilton case. 
The information indicates that the groups have exploited the tragic situation involving the death of Mr. Hamilton, to destabilize daily activities of law-abiding citizens in public and private spaces open to the public. This includes the use of blockades on the interstate system and around other roadways to prevent law enforcement from responding quickly to emergency situations. These leftist groups use the tactic of hiding among legitimate peaceful protestors to conduct their illegitimate campaign. 
We are asking members of the public to report any activities like those described to law enforcement as soon as possible and to provide detailed descriptions of any actors involved. 
The station's on-line story about 60 arrests so far.

New scorecard, please; another top WEDC official quits

With yet another top WEDC resignation announced at the end of a Friday and the weekly news cycle, it's getting harder to track all the resignations at the agency Walker conjured, and chairs, to bring forth about half the 250,000 new private sector jobs he promised to create.

Apparently his plan is to reach the promised 250,000 new jobs mark by making as many top WEDC appointments as possible.

Or Walker's been watching Seinfeld reruns: Another workplace success! Ding, ding, another Lloyd Braun sale.

Stupid activist judge ruins WI hunters wolf sport kill

Big news: Wisconsin's especially bloody, science-free and dog-assisted wolf slaughter might have seen its last season:
A federal judge has overturned an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. 
The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. 
Even worse, the judge, Beryl Howell, had served as an assistant US Attorney and narcotics section chief during the Reagan years and as an appointee to a federal sentencing commission during George W. Bush's administration before being nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama. 
Wisconsin is killing its wolves 

Heads gonna role at WI jobs agency

Imaginary Walker operative to WI Department of Workforce Development:

"How many times have we said it: Jim Doyle and Mary Burke were responsible for the loss of jobs here. Since when do we blame "the recession?"

In its monthly report, the agency added: "The numbers, while preliminary, suggest Wisconsin for the first time has recovered all private-sector jobs it lost during the deep national recession."
Chastened Workforce official:

"But no one in the administration ever admits error."

Imaginary Walker operative:

"That's the boss' prerogative. It's always Doyle's fault: Amtrak, unemployment, the Kenosha casino delay: just Google it. Keep it simple. Tattoo it on your forehead: Always blame Doyle."

Vos attack on GAB speeds decline in official WI ethics

I am glad the Journal Sentinel included in an editorial today the important role in ethics oversight played by the Government Accountability Board.

Election, lobbying, and campaign reporting and regulatory supervision are activities often associated with the GAB, but it's important to remember that enforcement of the state's ethics code for state elected officials falls to the GAB, and, as the editorial says, it would be a bad idea to undo the GAB's non-partisan structure and put it under the parties' direct control as threatened by GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

Two months ago, I wrote that the GOP was looking for broad, embedded advantage:
Now they're after partisan control of elections, lobbying law and official ethics, too. 
Making no secret of the plan. 
How much one-party rule will other elected officials and editorial board watchdogs in this state tolerate as Wisconsin is permanently consigned to the backwaters?
Ultimately, the decision is Scott Walker's. He can shut down Vos' mean-spirited power play and ploy with a phone call, but I suspect Walker will let Vos play it out, leaving Walker free of any taint until he signs into law what he will claim with a straight face is the will of the Legislature.

You would think that Vos' plan would be rejected on its demerits, its blatant self-interest timed to coincide with the GOP's unilateral control of state government and the incomplete investigation into Walker's campaign with outside groups which were not supposed to be coordinated.

Actually, the timing of the attack on the GAB is about as wrong as Vos could get it: aren't the already-revealed secret big-dollar coordinated donations slipped into 2012 GOP recall campaigns, the big-donor written 'code of ethics' covering the Wisconsin State Supreme Court and the heavily-secret redistricting plan controlled by GOP legislative leaders enough evidence Wisconsin needs more and not less independent ethics, campaign and election supervision?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

WI ski hill expansion requires state park acreage

They want to expand little Granite Peak into a world-class ski experience - - and will the DNR fork over 150 acres of public park land to make it happen?

Interesting that this is on the table just as Milwaukee County declined to sell a very small park parcel.

As is a proposal to convert a privately-owned nature preserve along Lake Michigan south of Sheboygan into a high-end golf course, including the transfer of some public acreage from Kohler-Andrae State Park for a road and equipment storage.

Though the legislatively-mandated plan to have a willing DNR sell 10,000 acres of public land is being implemented.

Fresh evidence of road-builder power in Wisconsin

Despite shortfalls in both general program and transportation revenues, Scott Walker's administration is refusing requests from three GOP legislators to shelve the construction of a $200 million palace in Madison where transportation officials can plan the next generation of overbuilt Wisconsin roadways.

This comes on the heels of a plan by Walker to eliminate a government/citizen panel that for many years has acted as a buffer against legislators who could bypass open discussion of road-building and spending by slipping a highway project into last-minute budget writing. The road-builders have a grip on state government, which is why they will get more contracts and nicer digs in which to see plans through to completion.
US 51 southbound ramps and County K roundabout.
With less public input, you get more of this

As I'd said, WI kills wolves to bring back elk hunting

I'd written that one of the reasons Wisconsin started a new and especially-heavy wolf hunt was to get rid of a natural predator of elk and institute yet another hunting season here - -  and Wisconsin officials are now announcing the large-scale introduction of elk from Kentucky.

So I repost this from eighteen months ago:


Resources Board Boosts WI Wolf Kill; A Possible Explanation

Updating information about Wisconsin's wolf hunt from a couple of days ago, and keep this other magnificant animal in mind, too:
Collared cow

County Board rejects O'Donnell Park sale, for now

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has narrowly turned down a plan to sell O'Donnell Park and its parking structure to Northwestern Mutual - - an issue laid out on this blog through guest writings by thoughtful opponents nearly a month ago.

Is this the end of it? I doubt it, given the players and broader development context involved.

Big projects which involve public sector permissions often run into initial opposition, then a final approval. I'm thinking of Miller Park siting and financing proposals, the initial plan for what is now Discovery World on the lakefront, the Potawatomi Casino deal, the controversial rebuilding of the Edgewater Hotel complex in Madison, and separately, an arts and civic center in there.

So it would not surprise me to see a reconfigured O'Donnell Park plan, with more money, public access guarantees and other public benefits added to swing a close "no" vote to "yes."

New focus on animal cruelty prevention; a Wisconsin application?

Interesting that federal authorities are set to give animal cruelty elevated attention through vigilant data reporting and collecting; I wonder if anyone will encourage a closer look at some hunting and hound-training practices permitted in Wisconsin, including dogs in the wolf hunt - - a Wisconsin-only permission - -  along with metal leg traps,  and the use of live, caged animals as hound-training bait.

I quote from lesser-known WI DNR policies referenced in the link, above
A hound dog training license allows you to purchase, possess and use captive raccoon or bobcat for dog training purposes, and use captive black bear possessed under the authority of a captive wild animal farm license for dog training purposes. 
In addition, rabbit/hare, coyote and fox may be purchased, possessed or used for dog training purposes if held in a permitted hound dog training enclosure… 
Captive raccoon, rabbit/hare, coyote, fox, bobcat or bear possessed for dog training purposes shall be treated in a humane manner and confined under sanitary conditions with proper and adequate space, shade and freshwater...  
Any coyote or fox injured during a dog training exercise shall be submitted to a veterinarian for treatment at the owner or operator’s expense, or euthanized and shall be reported to the department within 24 hours. Primary and transportation enclosures shall meet the requirements in § NR 16.30 to 16.38, Wisconsin Administrative Code...  
Captive bear, bobcat and raccoon, if lawfully obtained, may be used for dog training and trials, provided: 
  1. Any bear is also possessed under authority of a captive wild animal farm license. Bear, bobcat and raccoon, when not being used for trailing purposes, are housed in accordance with s. NR 16.30 and 16.38. 
  1. (See separate DNR informational pamphlet on Captive Wildlife Pen Specifications & Transportation Standards for details.) 
  2. The bear, bobcat or raccoon is kept in a cage at all times...
  1. When the cage is elevated in a tree or on a pole for training or trial purposes, the cage shall be raised a minimum of 10 feet off the ground. All individuals except the owner of the captive animal, the owner's designee or the dog handler shall be kept at least 4 feet from the cage...
  1. Dogs shall be kept a minimum of one foot from the cage at all times by restraint, cage design or barrier fence except where the cage is covered by solid material, which prevents all physical contact between the dog and the captive animal. The one foot minimum distance does
    not apply to raccoon training or trials with the use of roll cages.. 
  1. Roll cages may not be used for dog training with bear or bobcat. 
  1. Training & Trialing periods:  a. The length of time that captive wild bear, bobcat or raccoon may be used for training exercises may not exceed 12 hours within a 24-hour period. b. Captive wild bear, bobcat and raccoon shall be provided with a minimum of 8 consecutive hours of rest within a 24-hour period.
  1. c. A bear, bobcat or raccoon used for training, may not be housed in an enclosure that does not meet the primary enclosure standards in s. NR
    16.30(4), Wis. Adm. Code for a period of more than 72 hours. 
Captive rabbits/hares, coyote and fox, if lawfully obtained and possessed, may be used for dog training and trials... 

Walker saddled again with poor job-creation numbers

It will be fun to watch Wrong-Way Walker out on his Preposterous Presidential Pratfall Tour touting his "bold' performance when for the umpteenth time the key federal numbers show private-sector job growth in Wisconsin lagging the nation.

This time the fresh data cover a federally-measured rolling twelve-month period and show  Wisconsin was 32nd among the states in job growth, and was creating jobs at somewhat more than half the tally that would have been needed if that 250,000 new jobs promise was anything more than a bumper-sticker printed by a consultant.

Call it more proof that there is little content in his "whole theme of things."

SEWRPC annual banquet could fund 9,000+ meals for the poor

Food for thought:

Feed America Eastern Wisconsin is one of the leading meal providers to seniors, families, laid off workers and other disadvantaged people. It says every dollar spent through its food relief programs can provide five meals at 20 cents a meal:
These programs are truly on the front lines of hunger relief serving families, children, individuals and senior citizens all wondering where their next meal will come from. These are people and families making tough choices, such as choosing between paying their rent and buying food. These people are a recently laid-off worker whose bills have stretched her budget so that there is little or no money left for food. These people are senior citizens living on fixed incomes who spend what limited money they have on their prescription medication, leaving nothing left for groceries.
Guided by the group's formula as a guide - - and note that its territory overlaps the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission  - - the cost of this year's taxpayer-provided private club dinner for SEWRPC Commissioners, some senior staff and invited guests of $1,848.85 could supply more than 9,000 meals to people in need.

In response to a question which I have posed before about the annual dinner, SEWRPC Executive Ken Yunker provided this updated information to me by email Wednesday about this year's dinner for twenty-three attendees:

As noted to you in previous years, the dinner which follows the Commission’s December meeting is an awards dinner and gathering for SEWRPC Commissioners. The dinner honors the service of those Commissioners who have left the Commission in 2014 and those Commissioners who have served the Commission for 10 years and 25 years. The dinner helps build relationships and understanding among the Commissioners from the Region’s seven counties. The dinner is attended by current SEWRPC Commissioners, former Commissioners who left the Commission in 2014, and select SEWRPC staff.
Commissioners spend many hours reading and reviewing reports, directing and advising staff, meeting and consulting with local officials from their Counties, and attending Commission, Commission Advisory Committee and other Commission-related meetings including public meetings and hearings. Their only compensation is $50 per Commission meeting. The dinner and gathering was held on December 3rd at the University Club. The cost was $1,848.85.
I also note that this year's dinner tab was about twice the $995 cost from SEWPC's taxpayer-supplied annual budget of the 2009 event and about 80% above the $1,080 average expense to put on the dinners over a five-year span, according to data supplied by SEWRPC.

Milwaukee County taxpayers contribute the largest amount of funds among the seven counties - - Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha to SEWRPC's annual budget, records show.

The agency 2015 budgetcalls for a Milwaukee County contribution of $808,715, or 34% of the $2,370,000 from the seven counties' contributions through their respective county boards, according to a chart on p. 13 of the SEWPRC budget.

With other revenues, including state and local grants, SEWRPC will spend about $7.5 million in 2015: its budget, the Milwaukee County dollar contribution and its percentage share relative to the other six counties' is relatively similar to the funding breakout in this 2008 posting about SEWRPC.

And look: I know the SEWRPC commissioners give up many hours at meetings which are spread across a multi-county region. And plenty of agencies have annual parties or other events to honor hard work and have a good time.

But dinner at a private club strikes me as unnecessarily lavish, and somewhat tone deaf, given SEWRPC's public mission and funding.

Footnote: I know SEWRPC isn't going to change its practice. Tall commissioners serve by appointment of various other officials; here are no elections to the Board, so there's no one to vote out of office to protest the annual freebie.

And I also know the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors will continue routinely sending SEWRPC its annual gob of taxpayer money - - the agency, through seven counties' property tax sharing, and other funds, is 100% government supported - - that includes my share that is peeled right of the property tax bill I paid this week, but I can keep focusing light on the issue, and I can also send Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin a donation.

Which I did Wednesday afternoon.

Fund Development
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin

1700 W. Fond du Lac Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53205

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Walker serves Jeb Bush a side order of word salad

Our man Walker - - fresh from swiping at an intern and mumbling something incomprehensible about Cuba being no Saudi Arabia - - tossed out Wednesday afternoon yet another of his patented and expanding list of syntax-challenged, off-sounding statements.

Today's wacky wording was in response to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's bold move towards a 2016 presidential campaign declaration.

Yet Walker's Preposterous Presidential Pratfall Tour seems have left potential rival Bush, shall we say, unintimidated.

Today's Walker grapple with the English language wasn'
t the part about not following Jeb Bush's lead and emptying his official email cache for all to see - - Doe D'oh, are you kidding?

It was this part:
You look at his [Bush's] past as governor and the stuff he talks about, he often has a whole theme of things he does. And I think it's as simple as that."
Simple as what, exactly? 

Walker, to staff: Google Cuba, ASAP. No, not Cuba City...

Poor, self-inficting wounding Walker.

He thinks he has to respond to President Barack Obama as part of The Walker Preposterous Presidential Pratfall Tour, and this time the subject was restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba -  - and though he did not say Mojito!, take a look at the mess he made of a single follow-up question about US relations with Saudi Arabia, with its substantial civil liberties' deficits.
Asked if he believed Saudi Arabia was a free and open country and what he made of the United States' relationship with that country, Walker said: "They're making a few moves right now but those are things that can be easily altered, at least in terms of Cuba. In terms of Saudi Arabia, we haven't — those are things I guess folks at the federal level would ultimately have to comment on in terms of whether its consistency or not. The difference I think with Cuba is that's a policy the United States has had for some time. To change that, I think there has to be substantial change in terms of the positions that the Cuban government has."
In other words, in terms of knowing anything, he doesn't. 

And if you thought that I-94 'zipper merge' was a pain...

Heading for Mayfair this weekend from Milwaukee? Find another route.
Scott Walker's WisDOT - - with discretion galore - - tells us that its 'improvements' on westbound I-94 require it be zipped closed for 31 hours this weekend - - including all day Saturday - - from Miller Park to the Zoo Interchange. Not that it's an important weekend for Mayfair Mall...

That intern is wrecking everything in Walker's office again

True to form, Gov. Never-Mistaken offers up a lower-level scapegoat instead of saying, ''I'm sorry,  or 'my bad' when an error is made on his watch, in his name, for his political benefit, or in his own words on major policy and performance matters.

The latest culprit: Interns! Turns out they do more than swipe extra doughnuts.

* When Walker's name was found at the bottom of his now-infamous letter addressed to a leading member of Milwaukee's Jewish community that substituted the word "Molotov" for the congratulatory phrase "Mazel Tov", Walker gestured down the food chain as far as his finger could point:
"It's quite possible that was done by an intern or someone on staff who never actually sent the letter off," Walker said Tuesday.
*  The workplace chupacabra bedeviling Walker operations had also struck when the page-count of high-profile jobs plan released by his 2010 campaign was inflated to contain one more page than opponent Tom Barrett's more detailed plan by displaying Walker's document in giant type. (A side-by-side comparison, here.)

You'll have to settle for that example, as the Walker campaign has removed the item from its website.

Walker didn't take responsibility for the deception, but did slap down a junior campaign aide who called attention it. Problem solved.

*  You know - - those cut-ups! What the kids won't do today, like the "overzealous political associates" the Journal Sentinel board said were at the heart of criminality unearthed by prosecutors at Walker's 2010 County Executive offices. Some of whom are or about to be interning in various correctional settings,

*  Not long ago, Walker made a national list in The Washington Post of public officials who shunted off responsibility on an embarrassing underling:
A campaign staffer, who had previously been an intern, sent a fundraising appeal for the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) asking people to give money to Walker’s reelection rather than go shopping on Black Friday for their kids. The staffer also had a series of offensive tweets on her personal account. Explanation: “We didn’t know about them. I think like most employers, we don’t spend time going back trying to find out years and years ago what people may or may not have said in social media,” Walker said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The staffer was fired.

Eric Von, on race, police shootings, and "what's the problem?"

Milwaukee commentator Eric Von put this item on Facebook Monday, and with his permission, I'm passing it on:
First my apologies for such a long post. But it is well worth your time to read and continue to search for more data that hopefully, will result in a more factual debate when we engage those who say "what's the problem?"
These truths may also lead us all to a better place in this society.
I share the following not to enrage but to enlighten, in much the same way as I attempted to do when I did "that radio show", as some refer to it. (Smile!) 
However, if you are enraged, the next step, as I see it, is to step up and do something to change the trajectory of the events that have so outraged us for far too long. What to do? Well, that's up to you, only you know what your heart can sustain.
I came across a fascinating and well done report by an organization called Pro Publica, "an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest." (
Let me be the first to say, what they have compiled is not new news. But it is detailed and inasmuch, provides those who need it undeniable evidence of a pattern of behavior by police departments in cities coast to coast.
This is data extracted from the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Report which uses information submitted by SOME police departments that bother to report...some, apparently, more diligently than others.
Use the aforementioned email address to read the entire report if you are so inclined. I'll share with you a portion of what I read this morning that moved me to pen this long post: 
There were: 
*1,217 REPORTED DEADLY POLICE SHOOTINGS from 2010-2012; *Blacks, ages 15-19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million while just 1.47 per million White males in that age range died at the hands of police.
*For the years, 2010-2012, young Black men were 21 times as likely as their White peers to be killed by police.
*The age of Black boys killed by police is astounding...there were 41 teens 14 years or younger killed by police from 1980 to 2012...27 of them were Black, 8 were White, 4 were Hispanic, 1 Asian.
Lastly, I leave you with this, in that time period, there were 151 instances in which police noted that teens they had shot dead had been fleeing or resisting arrest, 67% of those killed in such circumstances were Black.
That disparity is even starker in the last couple of years: of the 15 teens shot fleeing arrest from 2010-2012, 14 were Black.
Again, read the entire report at It's well worth your time.