Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bluster Is Not Leadership

Wisconsin's Republican candidates for Governor, predictably, rail about the cots of rail, but never about the cost of freeways (sic) - - which are never free and which are far greater.

When Politicians Shouldn't Twitter

From Scott Walker:

Speaking 2 WI Dental Assn. Thankfully I brushed this AM before I left the house!

Blogger Predicts Waukesha Will Love High-Speed Rail


Gore Making Sense On Climate Change

A blueprint for moving forward.

Race Is Still Our Great Failure

Marquette University faculty member Martin Scanlan has written a solid essay on school segregation in Milwaukee, and the Journal Sentinel wisely put it above the fold in Sunday's Crossroads. I recommend it highly.

Racial inequities continue to hold Milwaukee back - - a reality that is long-standing and oft-noted - - with experts including the Brookings Institution's John Austin, author of seminal work "The Vital Center," noting that the Milwaukee area and other Great Lakes urbanized areas are deeply segregated, and thus economically self-destructive. (Read his 2007 Milwaukee speech).

Here's the relevant section:

"We’re the most segregated cities in the country. We have the biggest splits -- we have the most segregated big cities in the country in our region in terms of black/white segregation -- in our region. So, it’s us, it’s Milwaukee, it’s Detroit. This hurts us economically in several ways. It hurts our reputation, certainly, and I can speak from our experience in Michigan. The Detroit area -- attractive? Split by race? You know, I’m not going there. Think of the lost human capital and potential that you have, when so many are trapped in concentrated poverty-- Milwaukee’s actually in the top 10% of the nation in terms of the largest number of African Americans living in concentrated poverty. They’re folks who aren’t connected to the economy, who aren’t contributing -- that’s an economic drain. It’s a reputational drain; it’s an economic drain; it’s a huge problem. And it’s our problem in the region."

More evidence?

The virtually all-white nature of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission that I wrote about in 2002 is only marginally better today - - and SEWRPC's heavily-white committee memberships and staffing, along with planning and spending tipped disproportionately towards white suburbia and beyond, is now the subject of two civil rights complaints filed with federal agencies by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.

And a separate complaint along similar lines was filed over widening I-94 from Milwaukee to the Illinois border.

It's demoralizing that our region is such a racial backwater, and that public officials, incapable of doing the right thing, have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era with litigation, or by determined citizen demands.

SEWRPC created a social justice task force, at the behest of federal overseers and local activists, but fought its members over adding socio-economic considerations to a regional water supply study already underway for five years.

That add-on analysis, underway right now, needed more struggle to get started.

Underscoring the truth of the headline the Crossroads staff put on Scanlan's article:

"Decades later, still separate and unequal"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I liked Jim Bunning More When He Was A Pitcher

As a US Senator, the Baseball Hall of Famer is a joke, and now, with flimsy justification, is filibustering and blocking an extension of jobless benefits. points out the audacious hypocrisy involved, and The New York Times notes that Bunning's antics allow Democrats at an advantageous moment to cast Republicans as negative and filibuster-happy.

Do We Want Cleaner Energy, Or Not?

Wind turbines in the Great Lakes run into turbulence.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Madison's Liberal Publication Slams Doyle Over DNR

The Madison Capital Times - - Madison's long-standing liberal news outlet - - is now an online publication; its editorial slamming Gov. Jim Doyle over a legislative veto that cemented direct political leadership of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is another indication of the broad gulf between Doyle and a big chunk of his Democratic constituency.

More evidence, here. I regret seeing this development.

Another Set Of UWM Meetings Scheduled On Water Study

The consultants running UWM's socio-economic analysis of water policy in the region have released a meeting schedule for March, below:

Tuesday, March 9th 7pm
Heartlove Place
3229 N. MLK Drive

Thursday, March 11th - 7pm
Frame Park Schuetze Recreation Center
1120 Baxter Street

Monday, March 15th - 7pm
Goodwill Waukesha
1400 Nike Drive

Thursday, March 18th - 6pm
Independence First
540 S. 1st Street

Climate Change With Glacial Implications

Massive Ice formation is on the move.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rising Water Rates In Waukesha Is Hardly Surprising

I'm not sure why Waukesha residents are expressing surprise that their water rates would rise under what is called the cheapest of the alternatives for obtaining a new water supply - - $164 million, with the City of Milwaukee sending treated water from Lake Michigan through Waukesha's new pipeline and returning wastewater in Wauwatosa's Underwood Creek.

As I said a couple of months ago, it could get expensive to live in Waukesha.

Yet the realization that nothing comes cheap these days was apparently the takeaway from a public session Thursday night in Waukesha on the subject: that the new supply and system, even if reduced in cost through hoped-for federal grants, will still require a hefty increase in rates.

In other words, the proposal raises a lot of questions and issues.

Current ratepayers might want to ask about the cost-effectiveness and per-capita expense of sending the water to the new 17+ square miles of service territory that the city intends to carve out to its west and south.

That is the same question that will ultimately be asked and answered in a broader context by the seven other Great Lakes states because all eight must approve Waukesha's diversion application.

And asked in a related way also by Milwaukee, should it choose to sell Lake Michigan water to Waukesha: is Waukesha's quest for Lake Michigan water in the best interests of the region's overall social justice, financial and natural environment- - that is, beyond the goals of Waukesha's major businesses and the County Chamber of Commerce?

Major Water Conference Friday At Marquette U.

2010 Public Service Conference

Water & People

presented by Marquette Law School

Friday, February 26, 2010
8:30 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.

Alumni Memorial Union Marquette University
14th & Wells Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
View a campus map.

Milwaukee RiverfrontThe Law School’s 2010 public service conference, “Water and People,” will be held February 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. in the AMU Monaghan Ballroom. Cameron Davis, senior advisor to the United States EPA administrator for Great Lakes Restoration, will deliver the keynote address, “Water and People: How to Rehabilitate the Great Lakes as a Global Resource.” Additional panels and presenters will address water issues in Wisconsin, development and the environment, regulation, and water ethics. Marquette employees and students can attend for free. Cost is $40 all others. CLE applied for.

Registration for this event has been closed.

From the Great Lakes to the Upper Mississippi River watershed, Wisconsin is home or adjacent to more fresh water than many countries in the world. Increased pressures for the use of this natural resource, entrepreneurial designs to harness its value, and creative measures to preserve its availability have brought together a diverse coalition of interests.

This conference will explore the development of a water ethic in Wisconsin and its influence and limits in achieving multiple interests: economic development, environmental protection, irrigation, recreation, and potability.

8:30 – 8:45 • Breakfast & Registration

8:45 – 8:55 • Welcome
Joseph D. Kearney, Dean and Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School
Master of Ceremonies: Mike Gousha, Distinguished Fellow in Law and Public Policy, Marquette University Law School

8:55 • Introductory Video – What Does Water Mean to You?

Ripples of a Water Ethic in Wisconsin
Curt Meine, Ph.D.9:00 – 9:30 • Curt Meine, Ph.D., Director of Conservation Biology and History, Center for Humans and Nature

9:30 – 10:30 • Panel Discussion
Jeff Crawford, Attorney General, Potawatomi Nation
Jame Schaefer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology, Marquette University
Tom Dawson, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School

More than sixty years ago, Wisconsinite Aldo Leopold sketched out an ethic for land conservation. Abundant in our state, fresh water has a special place in Wisconsin’s ethos. Wisconsin's rich water law tradition and the history of progressive and collaborative efforts to protect water resources serve as a possible foundation to build upon Leopold’s ethical principles and Wisconsin’s public trust doctrine. How might our society balance the demand for water today by public and private, agricultural and industrial, rural and urban interests?

10:30 – 10:40 • Break

Surface Tension: The False Dichotomy Between Economic Development and Environmental Protection
10:40 – 11:00 • Todd Ambs, Water Division Administrator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

11:00 – 12:00 • Panel Discussion
Lynn Broaddus, Ph.D., Director of Environment Programs, The Johnson Foundation
Art Harrington, Partner, Godfrey and Kahn, S.C.
Shane Judd, Water Conservation Manager, The Kohler Company
John Andersen, Jr., President, Greenleaf Advisors LLC

Numerous Wisconsin businesses have embraced a strong regulatory framework and developed profitable industries. At the same time, they have identified a “triple bottom line”: economic performance, efficiencies in productivity, and environmental responsibility. Wisconsin is poised to become a leader in freshwater technologies and to explore the water-energy nexus. How does the present regulatory environment affect private sector innovation in managing water resources? How can environmental advocates, regulatory agencies, business, and agriculture work together more effectively to ensure that water is available and used in a purposeful fashion?

12:00 • Lunch

Water and People: How to Rehabilitate the Great Lakes as a Global Resource
12:15 – 1:00 • Keynote Address
Speaker: Cameron Davis, J.D., Senior Advisor to the United States EPA Administrator for Great Lakes Restoration

Water for All? Water Ethics in the Context of Environmental Justice
1:15 – 2:30 • Breakout Sessions
Flowing from a water ethic is the consideration that water is a valuable resource not equally available to all people. Water quantity, water quality, and water access are all under pressure. Who should have access to water and to whom does water belong? Who should pay for water and how should water treatment be priced? Who is disadvantaged by water regulation? How does the recently enacted Great Lakes Compact and Waukesha’s likely diversion application test these questions?

  1. Water Pricing: Balancing Utility Costs, Consumer Interests, and the Environment
    Moderator: Jayme Montgomery Baker, Director, Wisconsin League of Young Voters
    Panelists: David Sheard, Assistant Administrator, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Maureen Taylor, Executive Director, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization,Carrie Lewis, Superintendent, Milwaukee Water Works

  2. Access to Water & The Great Lakes Compact
    Moderator: Karen Schapiro, Executive Director, Milwaukee Riverkeeper
    Panelists: Peter McAvoy, Vice President of Environmental Health, Sixteenth Street Community Health Center
    Michael Jones, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Miller Coors, Karyn Rotker, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Wisconsin, Todd Ambs, Water Division Administrator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

  3. Ground Water Use & Land Planning
    Moderator: Ken Genskow, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Wisconsin
    Panelists: Robert Biebel, Special Projects Engineer, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, Lori Grant, River Protection Manager, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Robert Nauta, P.G., Hydrogeologist & Owner, RJN Environmental Services, LLC

  4. Water Quality & Infrastructure
    Moderator: Thomas McElligott, Partner, Quarles & Brady LLP
    Panelists: Kevin Shafer, Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District,Betsy Lawton, Staff Attorney, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Nick George, Executive Director, Midwest Food Processors Association, Jim Baumann, Bureau of Watershed Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Opening the Spigot to Success: Examples from Other Jurisdictions
2:45 – 4:00 • Panel Discussion
Stewardship requires good ideas, hard work, and balanced public policy. Water quantity, water quality, and water pricing issues are addressed in innovative ways by these four jurisdictions. What can Wisconsin learn from others attending to water law and policy?

  1. Scalable Water Pricing for Conservation
    Gina Jackson, Customer Service Manager, Irvine-Ranch Water District, Irvine, California

  2. There is no such thing as Nonpoint Pollution: Fixing Stormwater
    Robert Zimmerman, Executive Director, Charles River Watershed Association, Weston, Massachusetts

  3. Water Centric Planning in Canada
    Glen Pleasance, Water Efficiency Coordinator, Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario

  4. Small Scale Success: Water Quality & Treatment
    Douglas Malchow, Extension Educator - Water Resources Center, University of Minnesota Extension

Go With the Flow: Reflections on Water and People
4:00 – 4:45 • Panel Discussion
Moderator: Matt Parlow, Associate Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School
Panelists: Bradley C. Karkkainen, Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School, andDavid M. Uhlmann, Professor from Practice and Director, Environmental Law and Policy Program, University of Michigan

Considering today’s discussions regarding Wisconsin’s water ethic, how might Wisconsin continue to move forward? How can Wisconsin showcase itself as a freshwater leader and a worldwide water hub? What might Wisconsin learn from recent reports, recommendations, and examples from other jurisdictions? Professor Parlow will moderate a panel of water law experts who will reflect on the future of water in Wisconsin.

4:45 – 5:30 • Reception

Scott Walker, Making Stuff Up

He's getting heat for his absurd claim that, if Governor, he would create 250,000 jobs.

Says the AP:

"If Walker were to achieve his goal of creating 250,000 jobs, he would erase virtually all unemployment in the state. There were 250,900 unemployed people in the state in December 2009, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development."

More information from One Wisconsin Now, here.

New Push Coming On Climate Change Legislation

The Washington Post has the details.

I Am Reposting The Comment Link To UWM's Social Justice Study For SEWRPC

The UWM Center for Economic Development is taking comments at this link for its study on the socio-economic consequences in the SEWRPC water supply study.

Health Care Summit Shows GOP Obstruction

I've watched all of the health care summit so far.We have Democrats often saying "we're close" to agreement, and Republicans saying the opposite, or not agreeing.

And I don't intend to live blog the entire day's telecasts, but John McCain [The Washington Post's The Fix agreed later in the day...] finally got to talk and failed to rise above the kind of snippy partisanship that was and continues to be his downfall.

Democrats should just use reconciliation and adopt their already approved bills, because Republicans do not want national health care reform.

A late afternoon observation: Can you imagine George W. Bush having called, or moderated, this kind of discussion?

Poverty Accelerating In Madison

Mike Ivey has produced a strong piece in the Capital Times about escalating poverty in Madison. I learned a lot reading it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Key Meeting About The UWM/ County Grounds 'Plan': Detailed Account

Milwaukee County First posts the details.

Today's Snowy Commute No Problem On The Train

Wasn't it great that commuters heading out of Milwaukee in today's snow burst could take the light rail to their destinations?

Just kidding...but those of you who were headed west to Waukesha County should remember that it was your then-County Executive Dan Finley and the County Board in the late '909's that killed a transportation planning process that would have added light rail and highway improvements, too.

Another Tough Shot At Doyle From Wisconsin Conservationists

Earlier today the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation blasted away at Gov. Jim Doyle and his sustained veto of legislation to return the appointment of the Department of Natural Resources Secretary to the DNR board.

Now it's the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, weighing in, below, and giving more evidence of the regrettable split between Doyle and a big piece of his constituency.


Despite overwhelming support and 200 conservationists present in the Capitol, the measure to override Governor Doyle’s veto of AB 138 – The Independent DNR Secretary Bill - failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority required. The final vote count was 58 'ayes' and 38 'nays' - a bipartisan majority of the Assembly stood-up for conservation yesterday, but a small minority of legislators sided with Governor Doyle and killed the bill.
First, we want to thank YOU for all you've done in recent years, months, weeks and days to move this issue forward. We couldn't have gotten this far without you.
We are extremely disappointed that the Assembly chose not to listen to the overwhelming public support for an independent DNR Secretary. It’s time Wisconsin brought integrity back to natural resource decision making, and yesterday a historic opportunity to do that was lost. By not overriding this very popular bill, the legislature has not restored the faith of the people in one of the most important institutions in our state.

Governor Doyle cemented his anti-conservation legacy when he vetoed this bill.

Yesterday, members who supported Governor Doyle’s veto tied their legacy to his.

We applaud the members of the Assembly – Republicans and Democrats alike – who stood up for natural resources yesterday. For those who did not, we know they will continue to hear from the sportsmen and women, environmentalists and others in their districts who believe this is an imperative step for protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources.
Kerry Schumann, Executive Director WLCV
Take Action now and THANK your representative for their courageous“yes” vote in favor of the veto override:
Deadline for responding: Please take action by [Friday, March 5].
Voting in favor of the veto override were : Barca, Benedict, Berceau, Bernard Schaber, Bies, Black, Clark, Colon, Cullen, Danou, Dexter, Fields, Garthwaite, Grigsby, Hebl, Hilgenberg, Hintz, Hixson, Hraychuck, Hubler, Jorgensen, Kaufert, Krusick, Mason, Meyer, Milroy, Molepske, Mursau, Nelson, Nerison, Parisi, Pasch, Pocan, Pope-Roberts, Radcliffe, Richards, Ripp, Roth, Roys, Schneider, Seidel, Sheridan, Sherman, Shilling, Sinicki, Smith, Soletski, Spanbauer, Staskunas, Tauchen, Toles, Turner, Van Akkeren, Van Roy, Vruwink, Mary Williams, Ziegelbauer, Zigmunt
Voting against the veto override were: Ballweg, Brooks, Davis, Fitzgerald, Friske, Gottlieb, Gunderson, Gundrum, Honadel, Huebsch, Kerkman, Kestell, Kleefisch, Knodl, Kramer, Lemahieu, Lothian, Montgomery, Murtha, Nass, Newcomer, Nygren, Al Ott, Jim Ott, Petersen, Petrowski, Pridemore,Rhoades, Steinbrink, Stone, Strachota, Townsend, Vos, Vukmir, Wood, Young, Zepnick, Zipperer
Paired Votes: Annette Williams (for) and Fred Kessler (against) - Excused Members - Scott Suder, a cosponsor and a past supporter of the bill, did not vote due to his active duty deployment in Afghanistan.

Wauwatosa Slowing Down UWM County Grounds Expansion

I am hearing that a big turnout at Wauwtosa City Hall last night forced city officials to slow down their review of the UWM engineering school complex slated for the County Grounds - - and at the expense of a global treasure, the Monarch Butterfly preserve.

Override Vote Reveals Political Power Basics

Call the DNR override vote yesterday one of those defining moments in Wisconsin politics: big business still calls the shots at the Capitol.

George Meyer, former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and a principal force in the unsuccessful effort to remove that position from gubernatorial control, lays out the facts, here,

Meyer was around when then-Governor and his legislative lieutenants hijacked the appointment from the Natural Resources Board to make sure the agency better served the needs of the business community.

So under a politicized and weakened DNR, we have easier permitting for construction near waterways, for example.

And the DNR has decided (been told?) to proceed with Waukesha's Lake Michigan diversion application review - - the precedent-setting application under the Great Lakes Compact - - without having written the very administrative rules that would have defined what an application or review process must contain.

Little wonder - - as it was Wisconsin's DNR, I have been told - - that pushed the notion during Compact-writing negotiations that a community like Waukesha could be eligible to divert water entirely out of the Great Lakes basin if it was within a county that somewhere touched the Great Lakes basin boundary.

In other words, a political line on a map would trump geography - - and perhaps a political advantage could be scored.

If a Republican wins the Governor's office in November, you might as well move the DNR - - what little will be left after the agency goes through an ideologically-inspired diminution - - over to the WMC's offices a few blocks away because that's where policy and program will be directed.

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation Comment On DNR Override Vote Loss

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

February 24, 2010

Contact: George Meyer, Executive Director, 608-516-5545

Governor Doyle, 38 State Representatives Reject Wisconsin Sportsmen and Women on DNR Secretary Appointment Bill

Poynette: Yesterday, Governor James Doyle and thirty-eight Wisconsin state representatives rejected the request of 270 hunting, fishing, trapping, forestry and other conservation and environmental groups to restore the appointment authority of the DNR Secretary back to the Natural Resources Board.

While the State Assembly voted by an overwhelming 58 to 38 margin to override Governor James Doyle’s veto of AB 138, the bill that would have restored the appointment authority to the NRB, a two-thirds majority was required because of Doyle’s reversal of his fourteen year support for the Board appointment. Doyle had repeatedly indicated such support to sports groups and individuals when he ran for elections. When the change was made to a Governor’s appointed system, then Attorney General Doyle called it a “wholesale attack on the way we protect the environment.”

In the last week before the vote, big business interests, such as the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Wisconsin Builders Association, the Wisconsin Realtors and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau lobbied state representatives heavily and the two-thirds majority to override the veto was lost. These groups and others opposed to the override contribute heavily to Doyle and the thirty-eight representatives that voted against Wisconsin sportsmen and women. As an example, it has been reported that these interests contributed $4.14 million to Doyle since 2003. Doyle’s aides including a DNR employee were actively lobbying against the override in the State Capitol yesterday.

Approximately two hundred blaze orange clad hunters, anglers trappers and other conservationists were at the Capitol to show their strong support for the veto override.

The following thirty-eight state representatives actually looked those sportsmen and women in the eye and voted no on the veto override.

Republicans Voting Against the Override: Ballweg, Brooks, Davis, Fitzgerald, Friske, Gottlieb, Gunderson, Gundrum, Honadel, Huebsch, Kerkman, Kestell, Kleefisch, Knodl, Kramer, LeMahieu, Lothian, Montgomery, Murtha, Nass, Newcomer, Nygren, Al Ott, Jim Ott, Petersen, Petrowski, Pridemore, Rhoades, Stone, Strachota, Townsend, Vos, Vukmir and Zipperer.

Democrats Voting Against the Override: Steinbrink, Young and Zepnick.

Independent Voting Against the Override: Wood

Democrat Paired Against the Override: Kessler

A special thank you to the following 58 representatives who resisted the heavy lobbying by the business interests and the Governor and voted to support Wisconsin sportsmen and women:

Republicans Voting for the Override: Bies, Kaufert, Meyer, Mursau, Nerison, Ripp, Roth, Spanbauer, Tauchen, Van Roy, and Mary Williams.

Democrats Voting for the Override: Barca, Benedict, Berceau, Bernard Schaber, Black, Clark, Colon, Cullen, Danou, Dexter, Fields, Garthwaite, Grigsby, Hebl, Hilgenberg, Hintz, Hixson, Hraychuck, Hubler, Jorgensen, Krusick, Mason, Milroy, Molepske, Nelson, Parisi, Pasch, Pocan, Pope-Roberts, Radcliffe, Richards, Roys, Schneider, Seidel, Sheridan, Sherman, Shilling, Sinicki, Smith, Soletski, Staskunas, Toles, Turner, Van Akkeren, Vruwink, Ziegelbauer and Zigmunt.

Democrats Paired for the Override: Annette Williams

Republican Scott Suder, a cosponsor and a strong supporter of the bill did not vote due to his active duty deployment in Afghanistan. We greatly appreciate his service and support.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is the state’s largest conservation organization representing 168 hunting, fishing, trapping and forestry-related groups. The Federation is dedicated to conservation education and the advancement of sound conservation policies.


Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Endorsed For President

By whom, you ask?

By none other than fringe-righty talk show host Michael Savage, whose endorsement was carried late Monday night on his syndicated AM 620 WTMJ radio.

Continuing his monologue, Savage said he wanted Mitt Romney to run with her as Veep.

Bachmann is one of the goofier Republican members of the US House of Representatives.

You can watch her forever on YouTube highlights.

By the way, she did call into the Savage show to say she has no plans to run for President.


Wisconsin Republicans Stand Up for Indian Mascots

The GOP, embracing stereotypes, becomes one.

Apparently, Russ Decker wants to make bigotry a bi-partisan disgrace, as the afore-linked Journal Sentinel story carries this line:

"The bill may face difficulty in the Senate, which like the Assembly is controlled by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Weston) said he was "not really focused" on it and noted the legislative session is winding down."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DNR Veto Override Fails

As I predicted, the override failed.

What Does Talk Radio And China's Curling Team Have In Common?


Strong Washington Post Editorial On Climate Change

The paper calls remedial climate action global climate insurance.

DNR Override Vote Today

Legislators will vote today to override Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's veto of a bill that would return the appointment of the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to the DNR board.

The change in the selection method was engineered during the Tommy Thompson administration so Tommy could wield direct political control over the agency, and Doyle had earlier pledged to support the selection process reversal if he became Governor.

After becoming Governor, Doyle changed his mind - - and chief executives usually do not surrender political powers without a fight.

Returning the appointment to the board would give the Governor indirect control over the selection because Governors appoint DNR board members.

Environmental and conservation groups, having pressed for the change with bi-partisan and independents' suppport, lay out their case, here.

Getting two-thirds of the legislature to vote to override is a steep hill to climb: Democrats, with majorities in both houses, will still be loathe to slap the Governor with a rare override despite much unhappiness with how the Governor has managed the DNR.

I predict a close vote, with the override failing.

Regardless of the outcome, the split between Doyle and those pushing the appointment-change bill is evidence of a deep division between the Governor and many of his natural constituents over political style, resource management and development policy.

Green Jobs At the Cleveland Grassroots

The City of Cleveland is home to a working model for green jobs.

Cartoonist Pinpoints Global Warming Hoax

Tom Toles gets it right.

(Earlier link mistake fixed.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free Lobby Day Tuesday


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, February 22, 2010

Contact: Diane Farsetta, 608-886-4757; Jennifer Nordstrom, 718-290-6399

Strong grassroots opposition to nuclear provisions in state climate bill

Carbon Free, Nuclear Free lobby day draws people from around state

MADISON – Citizens from across Wisconsin will meet with their state legislators on Tuesday, Feb. 23, to support existing state restrictions on new nuclear reactors, and to ask lawmakers to strengthen the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act. That bill would remove the requirement for a federally licensed nuclear waste repository before more nuclear reactors can be built in Wisconsin.

Forty-five people will participate in Carbon Free, Nuclear Free Wisconsin lobby day, which is sponsored by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin, Peace Action Wisconsin, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Nukewatch, Coulee Region Progressives and Down River Alliance. Participants are traveling to Madison from La Crosse, Racine, Milwaukee, West Bend, Luck and other communities around the state.

During the public hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act and at events around the state, concerns about the bill’s pro-nuclear provisions have been apparent. At a public listening session earlier this month in Ashland, “much of the crowd’s concern centered on the possibility of increased nuclear power generation in the state and waste generated,” reported the Ashland Daily Press. More than 500 people from around the state – representing 32 of Wisconsin’s 33 state Senate districts – have signed the Carbon Free, Nuclear Free petition calling on legislators to keep the state’s existing restrictions on new nuclear reactors.

“While the Clean Energy Jobs Act would do much to further energy efficiency and renewable energy, its nuclear provisions put Wisconsin communities at risk of becoming de facto nuclear waste dump sites,” said Diane Farsetta, coordinator of the Carbon Free Nuclear Free campaign of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

“The high-level radioactive waste the reactors produce would be stored at the reactor sites, which is not a safe or permanent solution. It’s bad enough that nuclear waste is already stockpiled at Kewaunee, Point Beach and the closed reactor at Genoa,” said Farsetta. “It makes no sense to allow more reactors to produce more waste when we have no way to dispose of it.”

The citizen lobbyists with the Carbon Free Nuclear Free coalition are asking that all nuclear provisions be removed from the Clean Energy Jobs Act. “The rest of the bill is about clean, renewable energy, which we support,” said Jennifer Nordstrom of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are safer, cheaper, faster and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.”

Further information: 1-608-250-9240;


Next CNU Annual Meeting Is In Atlanta

Details here.

A Primer On Nuclear Waste

Xoff provides data and links after a know-nothing Wisconsin legislator distorts the issues.

Tommy The Health System Profiteer

More reasons why he won't dare run for US Senate.

Hat tip: One Wisconsin Now.

Check The Photos Of The Gun-Toters Rally

Photo #3 is Pulitzer-worthy.

Wauwatosa Meeting Tuesday On County Grounds/UWM Plam

Wauwatosa residents get a chance to ask questions about UWM's plan to convert significant acreage on the Molwaukee County Grounds to an engineering and innovation center. Details below:


Wauwatosa City Hall, Tuesday 23rd at 8 pm

7725 W. North Ave. (76th & North)

Some relevant questions:

Why is the Monarch Butterfly habitat plan being separated from the UWM Proposal and are we being shut out of future discussions?

If this habitat plan is approved by Wauwatosa will we still be able to improve and enhance these concepts as promised by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors?

The Monarch Habitat is more important than ever. Their numbers are at an all time low, there is devastating flooding in their over wintering sites, and the continued loss of habitat will be the demise of this once common butterfly.

Aurora Opening Pabst Farms Hospital; Let's Remember Its Cost-Control Pledge

Aurora has opened its glitzy new hospital in the Pabst Farms development just south of I-94.

Let's remember that for years, Aurora has said the new facility - - just three miles from a competitor - - would not drive up already relatively high medical care costs in SE Wisconsin, where Aurora is the major provider.

Unlike GOP Candidates, Biz Times Stays On Track

Milwaukee Biz Times Executive Editor Steve Jagler separates fact from GOP high-speed rail fiction.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

GOP Will Join In Health Summit If Dems Disband

Pretty much the GOP price for bi-partisanship.

Dirty Air Today In Milwaukee

Air Quality Advisory for Particle Pollution (Orange)

The Wisconsin DNR has issued an Air Quality Advisory for Particle Pollution (Orange) effective 11:09 AM Sunday, February 21, 2010 through 10:00 PM Sunday, February 21, 2010 for Milwaukee county. [Daily Air Quality Hotline - 1-866-324-5924 (1-866-DAILY AIR)]

Sign up to receive e-mail notifications of DNR Air program updates for Air Quality Watches & Advisories, Air Matters Newsletter, Air News, and the Clean Air Act Task Force.

Manage Your DNR Subscriptions:
Add new subscriptions, delete subscriptions, and manage your profile.

If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact Other inquiries can be directed to the DNR.

101 S. Webster Street • PO Box 7921 • Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7921 • 608-266-2621

EPA Releasing Great Lakes Rescue Plan

Big plan, though may be too late to stop the Asian carp.

More to come.

The Road To Sprawlville, Chapter XXXV: An Expensive Excursion Around Madison

As the City of Madison grows and grows, its residents are noticing how much of the annual budget goes into new roads and the funds needed to maintain them.

Sure, the city captures some tax base at the edges, and jobs accompanies that growth, but the city has to supply its new land mass with municipal services, and roads, along with police, fire, lights schools and sewers, are right there at the top.

That's not to say that there should be zero growth at the borders, but the more that growth can be focused where infrastructures is in place, the fewer new tax dollars have to be poured into road construction and repairs.

Independent DNR Veto Override Takes Place Tuesday

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters reminds everyone about a major environmental vote in the Legislature on 2/23:

State Representative will vote to override the Governor's veto of the Independent DNR Secretary bill. Have you done your homework?

  1. Call your state Representative. Ask them, "Will you vote to override the Governor's veto of AB 138?" Don't accept any excuses!! Their vote very well could be the one that determines whether Wisconsin will manage natural resources based on science or politics.

  2. BE THERE on Tuesday, February 23rd. We need to PACK the Capitol with conservationists on the day of the vote. Overriding a Governor is serious business and your presence will demonstrate that we are taking it VERY seriously. Get more details here.

  3. Contact Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. Let us know how the conversation with your Representative went. Your reports back have helped us guide this campaign every step of the way. With more information, we can be sure to make the most of our limited time left. While you're at it, let us know if you'll be able to join us on Tuesday the 23rd for the big vote.

Milwaukee County Received $34.1 Million From Walker-Bashed Stimulus

Read into this summary piece in Sunday's Journal Sentinel and do the math: Milwaukee County's bus system and airport have received $34.1 million in funds from the federal stimulus - - bashed by Scott Walker, the County Executive/GOP gubernatorial front-runner, who wins Gold, Silver and Bronze for flips on accepting these funds.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Anger Mismanagement

Being out of power is not a pretty thing to watch.

Gary D'Amato's Gold Medal Column

It's always a pleasure to post a link to fine writing.

When Referencing Turkeys, Candidate Embraces Self-Parody

Thanks to Whallah! for first posting it, and then to writer and blogger Emily Mills for re-posting with satirical editing a campaign video created by a Republican candidate for Wisconsin Lt. Governor that is pitch-perfect self-parody.

Follow the link to Mills' handiwork and enjoy.

My take: it reminded me of turkeys fighting and that's about it.

Regional Struggles Flow In Waukesha County

While there is growing turmoil about a possible City of Waukesha water agreement with Milwaukee, the long fight over merging the two municipal Pewaukee's continues unabated.

You'd think that Greater Pewaukee would be the center of regional cooperation in the area, as its home to the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Commission, and Phil Evenson, its former executive director and now a SEWRPC consultant on such matters, is chairing the two Pewaukees' merger committee - - but apparently to no avail.

So it goes west of 124th St., where the notion of sovereignty - - defending your turf, against all enemies, foreign, domestic, imaginary - - gets thrown around a lot in Waukesha County politics.

It got invoked at the public meeting in Waukesha's Common Council chambers in late January when the Lake Michigan water diversion plan got rolled out.

Fears were expressed that Waukesha would get strangled in entangling alliances if the water sale with Milwaukee called for socio-economic cost sharing, in some as yet-to-be-defined fashion.

You hear whispers that the tap could be turned off, or water rates be sent into the stratosphere.

There are claims that a water deal with Milwaukee could trade away Waukesha's birthright - - and that comes from the candidate who ran first in Waukesha's just-completed Mayoral primary.

Repeated again, here.

And it was only two years ago, when the Great Lakes Compact was under discussion, that State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin), melted down on the Senate floor over the so-called sovereignty issue.

For a moment, I thought British were coming! Maybe in league with Milwaukee - - a new axis of evil.

In fact, Waukesha Alderman and water commissioner Rick Tortomasi closed an op-ed in the Waukesha Freeman last Saturday with this rhetorical flourish:

"Lastly, let me assure our citizens that I believe the current Waukesha Common Council would NEVER approve a water agreement with any community that would jeopardize Waukesha’s sovereignty! "

So tell me: Is there something in the water out Waukesha way that makes some politicos think they are auditioning for "Braveheart?"

Obama Forces Organizing Again In Milwaukee

Monday night. Details here.

Wisconsin Cleaning Up More Power Plants

Wisconsin is going to get its state-owned power plants into Clean Air Act compliance.

Hats off to the environmental activists who forced the state to do its job, beginning with the Charter Street plant in Madison.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Waukesha Mayoral Vote Total Was A Mere 13%

Primaries historically have low turnouts, and this week's Mayoral contest in Waukesha, with just over 13%, was no exception.

So the two candidates headed for the April 6 general election - - incumbent Larry Nelson, and upset primary winner Jeff Scrima - - will have dual-track strategies for the next five-and-a-half weeks: sway primary voters who cast ballots for the three candidates who did not survive the primary and bring in those voters who sat out the primary.

In primaries, candidates turn out their base voters. That is why Larry Nelson is in trouble, as an incumbent has to have a base of more than 24% to get re-elected.

Nelson has to hope that newcomer Scrima's base can't be expanded much above the 35% he won in the primary.

Wisconsin's Binge Drinking Culture Is KIlling Kids In La Crosse

Another victim of the state's love affair with over-indulgence.

And La Crosse, in municipal denial, can't muster up the funds or the will to fence off river access.

Western Water Deal May Save Salmon

Intelligent policy-making out West.

Scott Walker: Old-School Sleaze

Private plane to a road-builder fundraiser in Florida.

Yeah, there's your reformer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Will Righty Railphobes Embrace Fee-For-Driving? It's Coming...

There's a spirited discussion underway by people commenting on an earlier blog posting about high-speed rail, with conservatives predicting the need for big operating subsidies.

I would predict that these same people will scream the loudest when the state adds tolls to certain stretches of interstate and then goes all the way to fee-for-driving, with a mandatory bar code or reader, like an I-Pass box, on your car registering use and a monthly bill or credit card debit coming your way.

These systems are already in use in congested spots or time slots, like rush hours, or in downtown London, and Singapore.

So why not on I-94 in the Zoo Interchange, or on Madison's Beltline, or on a bridge in Green Bay?

Let's ask the question.

If there was a collection for the full cost of driving - - road repairs, policing, plowing, rebuilding, and, God forbid, the broader impacts such as dirty air and lung disease, for example - - the costs would greatly exceed the thirty-some cents now paid as the gas tax.

Do the anti-rail folks want to step up and pay the full cost of driving?

The gas tax, onerous as it is in Wisconsin, where it is the second-steepest in the nation, does not pay all the drivers' bills, thus requiring additional subsidies that communities (people ) pay through property taxes, and what the state and feds (people) throw in every year in additional fees and the income tax.

Ingrate Righty Talkers Blast McCain

You think liberals and Democrats have their disagreements - - Evan Bayh being exhibit A these days?

Check out how some of the loudest righty talkers are blasting John McCain. You'd think his having given them Sarah Palin would rate a lifetime pass.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More Horrible Stimulus Projects Afflict Milwaukee

I assume Scott Walker will blast this terrible use of stimulus funds.

Chicago Trib Columnist Misses The Mark

I doubt they'll be laughing down Chicago-way when the first Asian carp smacks a boater in the face.

The Trib's news columns are dealing with the facts.

Will Local Media Note Rep. Ryan's Two-Faced Stance On The Stimulus?

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (R) showed up in yesterday's blockbuster piece in The Wall Street Journal among members of Congress who had blasted the stimulus while also seeking some of that funding for their districts.

This is the key graf:

"Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who called the stimulus a "wasteful spending spree" that "misses the mark on all counts," wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in October in support of a grant application from a group in his district which, he said, "intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs." A spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan said the congressman felt it was his job to provide "the basic constituent service of lending his assistance for federal grant requests.'"

Will the Wisconsin media follow-up?

Slowing Down Saves Fuel And Reduces Emissions - - Same For Land, Sea And Air

Interesting piece about ships cutting fuel burn and emissions by slowing down a bit - - which is a known phenomenon for motorists and can apply to aviation, too.

Sometimes a simple fix is all you need to make a real impact.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Anti-Milwaukee Challenger Wins Waukesha Mayoral Primary

Anti-Milwaukee politics - - and a disdain for regionalism - - are among the issues driving Waukesha politics towards isolation in the region and perhaps even towards more expensive water supply options.

At $164 million, consultants have told Waukesha that the Lake Michigan diversion option is the cheapest of the three best water supply alternatives.

Milwaukee also offers the best quality water and closest Lake Michigan source - - which is why Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson has said Milwaukee would be Waukesha's preferred supplier.

City of Milwaukee policy requires cost-sharing above and beyond water rate charges to help Milwaukee defray socio-economic costs it carries regionally, and disproportionately - - and though negotiations between Waukesha and Milwaukee are far down the road, Nelson's opponents made it clear they didn't want anything to do with paying Milwaukee a penny more for water than basic user charges set by the state..

As to Nelson's second-place finish, with just 26% of the vote, it's important to remember that in primaries, a challenger can come out on top in February only to discover that he or she had brought out a maximum, protest vote - - and can't win the April finale.

On the other hand, with three of four votes primary cast for someone else, Nelson has a huge hill to climb.

Nelson may find himself struggling in the first wave of conservative taxpayer anger rising in the political process.

The City of Waukesha, after all, is the county seat in a very conservative area.

Friends in Waukesha have been telling me for sometime that there is considerable unhappiness with Nelson over the water utility's spending on diversion consultants - - in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers, lobbyists, PR specialists and scientists.

Including a last-minute switch of engineering consultants a few months ago after years of work by a different firm.

And the water utility, on which Nelson sits, and with members of his choosing, has long been run autocratically, some Waukesha residents have argued.

People also say that a failed effort by Nelson to convert a city park on the Fox River downtown into a privately-run baseball operation also aggravated a wide spectrum of voters.

So it's just not the water issue that led to Nelson's distant second-place primary finish.

If Nelson can't win another term, and Waukesha swears in real estate developer Jeff Scrima as Mayor- - an opponent of a cooperative water deal with Milwaukee - - the city there will still have to find a suitable and affordable water supply solution that meets a 2018 legal deadline.

Puts into perspective all those years the city wasted fighting the federal clean water standard.

Diversity Undermined In Waukesha Schools

The Waukesha School Board is looking hostile to diversity.

Right-Wing Talk Radio Still On The Rail Attack

620 WTMJ AM talkers Sykes and Wagner jacked each other up at the programming noon hand-off over high-speed rail coming to Wisconsin.

To 'bolster' their case, Sykes read an email from Scott Walker, the GOP gubernatorial candidate who gets more free airtime in these parts than the Packers, that questioned who will pay for the train's operating costs.

Questions never asked when it comes to the operating costs of highways - -including repairs, patrolling, plowing - - and then the inevitable replacement or expansion.

I'm guessing that the talkers and Walker sense they are on the wrong side of the issue, as the rail plan projects 4,000 new jobs.

Marquette Holding Impressive Water Conference 2/26

Check it out:

2010 Public Service Conference

Water and People

Friday, February 26, 2010

There is still time to register for the 2010 Marquette University Law School Public Service conference: Water and People.

Read law professor Matt Parlow’s blog entry about the conference. Visit the website to review the line-up of speakers.

Water Ethics. Economic Development. Environmental Protection. Great Lakes Restoration. Environmental Justice.

Water Pricing. Water Access. Water Quality. Water Infrastructure. Regional Planning. Water Law and Policy.

Join us and add your voice to these issues which are vital to our future.

Register today – breakfast, lunch and a reception included.

Also: here is the brochure.