Beware Walkerites bearing jobs.
And always look past the gift-wrapping.
Remember that Scott Walker began his first year as Governor by offering the infamous "Budget-Repair Bill," his so-called "modest proposal" which was meant to wipe out 50 years of public employee collective bargaining.
Justifying the deception, Walker falsely claimed he had campaigned on that anti-union plan, only admitting the truth when challenged, under oath, before a Congressional committee.
But the pattern was established. Make stuff up, spin it and stick with it.
It was an exercise in Power Politics 101, backed by majorities in both legislative houses and a compliant, 4-3 pro-business and conservative majority on the state Supreme Court.
A coordinated use of government - - ironically by the small government crowd - - to expand government intervention in the marketplace and also into local affairs, directed from Madison - - all to serve special interests, without apology for tactics, dissembling or outcomes.
Which brings us to the special legislative session Walker has called, purportedly on job-creation, though phrases like "wetlands and habitat restoration" ominously show up in the legislative materials.
At one level, this is pure campaign-mode public relations - - a bells-and-whistles show to make it appear that something is actually being done about joblessness - - coming on the heels of Walker's so-called job summits around the state these past few weeks.
And those were more cotton candy for TV cameras and campaign brochure photos than for producing any real results or acquiring genuine input from the props - - those clutches of hand-picked business execs and state officials gathered around a table.
These dog-and-pony shows and the special session, too, are aimed at making us forget that Walker has twice intentionally cost the state thousands of jobs and related business expansion when his satisfying real estate developers and road-builders came first, to wit:
* He forfeited $800 million in federal rail funding that would have created work on a new, Midwest Regional High-Speed Amtrak line connecting Milwaukee and Madison, and paid for other rail improvements with spin-off white-and-blue collar jobs and development opportunities.
* He also forced the cancellation of several wind farm projects in the pipeline worth hundreds of millions of dollars by deliberately tying them up in new regulations and construction uncertainties - - thus sending well-paying technical, construction and maintenance jobs in a cutting-edge sector elsewhere, particularly to neighboring, competitive Illinois, which also received some of the rail money Walker refused.
So the special session - - theater aside - - seems aimed at providing cover for bills to give business a freer hand to fill wetlands and weaken existing environmental protections - - a sure-fire, pre-Walker recall fund-raiser gimme pitched to conservative, corporate activists like the Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce and the Club for Growth/Americans for Prosperity.
And, in particular to smooth the way for easier private control of public waterways and land for everything from open pit mining to development to pier-building.
(And by the way, if you want to know what this pier-building issue is all about, check out this recent example of how existing waterway usage, protected by the state law and the constitution, is already flouted.)
The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and others are trying to peel back the camouflage - - remember "Budget Repair" - - covering the special session and bills being written under the guise of "wetland and habitat restoration:"
"The portions of these bills we have seen are reminiscent of what we saw in the mining bill introduced earlier this spring," says Anne Sayers, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters' program director. "Clearly, something is going on here."With good reason, Sayers' group and others will gather at the Capitol Wednesday to press for clean lakes and trout streams, healthy woods and wetlands and - - a real jobs agenda for tourism-rich Wisconsin - - and demand transparencyand accountability from the legislature:
Specifically, the summary for the "wetland and habitat restoration" bill -- an actual bill has not yet been finalized and made public -- says it would "provide more consistency with the Army Corps of Engineers by mirroring federal guidelines and regulations."
The Army Corps allows for developers to build on isolated, or essentially inland, wetlands. State law currently does not allow for such a practice...
The second piece of proposed legislation that advocates say is designed to make it easier for mining to occur in northern Wisconsin concerns environmental standards for piers, wharves and other structures. A phrase in the bill summary released by Walker states the bill will address "the placement of deposits and structures on the beds of navigable waters and the removal of materials from the beds of navigable waters."
"The Republicans will say this is a piers bill," Sayers says. "But to build a strip mine, you have to dig. That creates a lot of dirt and earth that contains mercury, which will then run into Lake Superior..."
Wednesday, October 19th
State Capitol, Room 425 S.W.
12:30pm-4:30pm Citizen Training and Lobby Meetings
More details, here.
We've seen Walker hide the true nature of a major legislative move, so be super wary.