Friday, September 30, 2011

Scott Walker And The Doe

He takes an affirmative step in that direction.

Seems as if there's karma going on he can't buck.

Oh, deer.

Small Government Freshman Senator Johnson Grasps After Bigger Government Position

For a tea partying guy who says we have too much government, Ron Johnson wants to add a new title and responsibilities to that of US Senator.

This is a little like telling everyone to go on a diet while you're eating at a fancy buffet everyday and auditioning for pastry chef.

Walker Saves Big Job-Creator Announcement For A Friday

$444 million in Medicaid cuts will help state funeral directors, florists.

One Wisconsin Now, 1 - - Walker's $50-Per-Admission Jobs Meeting, 0

So says PolitiFact, regardless of the Walkerites' spin.

Water Under Pressure, From The Arctic To China To Lake Michigan

When it comes to priceless resources, our finite waters are said to be the next oil.

Then why are we doing next to nothing to be good water stewards - - from China to the Arctic, to Canada, to Lake Michigan, to Lake Superior, to Wisconsin wetlands and all the way to the great, Great Plains' Oglalla aquifer - - and why are we tolerating business and governments' disregard for environmental risks, the damage that is coming and is already underway?

Lifelong Lake Michigan Advocate Sounds Fresh Alarm Over Disappearing Fish

(First posted, 8:31 p.m., Thursday, September 29) 
There have been media reports and concerns expressed about the invasive Quagga Mussel and its destructive presence in Lake Michigan, but Jim Te Selle, a shoreline property owner and President of the 30,000-member Coalition of Wisconsin Great Lakes, has raised a fresh alarm with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources over the future of Lake Michigan trout and salmon fishing.

Here's what he sent the DNR last week, and below that, a further explanation he sent me by email Thursday evening:
From: Jim Te Selle 
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 4:39 PM
To: Stephen Galarneau [ed. note - - Director, DNR Office of the Great Lakes]
Subject: Loss of the Great Lakes Trout and Salmon fishery
As you know we had a significant die-off of alewives all around Lake Michigan this summer. It was probably caused by ideal alewife hatching conditions in 2010, which produced a large crop of year-old fish in 2011. 
But because of the cold weather we had this spring, many of the young fish died, causing the big die-off. But there's another reason - the food chain in the lake has been so depleted by mussels that there simply wasn't enough food for these young fish to survive, and they starved to death. 
The conclusion I draw from this is that the situation in the lakes is far more critical than we thought. We need the alewives to support the trout and salmon, but if the alewives can't survive, we're going to see the sport fishing drop off severely and probably end altogether in 3 - 4 years.
It's already happened in Lake Huron, so it's just a matter of time before we see it here. My guess is that 2012 will see a reduction in the trout/salmon catch, after what's been a very good season this year. 
Meanwhile, the mussels are thriving, blanketing the bottom of the lakes and consuming the tiniest members of the food chain. In other words, they're cutting off the food chain at its roots. 
I don't propose to know exactly why this is happening but I'm fairly sure Mother Nature is not the culprit. We are. And because of our state's budget, it'll be at least seven years before we can effectively stop the flow of phosphorus into the lakes.
I had a chance to discuss this with Harvey Bootsma [editor's note: home page added, here] a few days ago, and I think he'll support what I'm saying. But feel free to correct me if I'm wrong in any of this, Harvey.
My idea that you call a conference of people such as Harvey from around the lakes and spend a few days seeing if we can't at least understand the process we're dealing with here, and the sooner the better.
We need a strategy to reverse this process and bring the lakes back to something Mother Nature would approve of.
A pleasant note to end this e-mail - if there's nothing in the lakes to eat, the Asian carp won't come here.
I asked Jim to expand on this a little, and this is what he sent me:
I'm not a professional in this field, but an observer who grew up on Lake Michigan and loves it.
I've lived through the lampreys, the alewives, the salmon, and now Asian carp [and]...who loves the lakes and is becoming more and more concerned that in spite of webinars, groups, meetings, brochures, promises, good intentions, and a lot of talk, not enough is being done to keep them from becoming watery deserts.
We need someone to lead the restoration effort - a strong leader who answers to the public and not a government agency; a person with the experience and concern to manage what is becoming a huge project; and a person who can develop a plan with measurable objectives which the leaders of our two governments are committed to attain.
And we need that person NOW.
Earlier this summer I had seen a letter of Jim's in the Journal Sentinel from the perspective of a concerned grandparent about the health of the lake, and reprinted it, here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can You Tear Yourself Away From "Jersey Shore" For A Minute To Consider This...

The earth is going to get a lot hotter (see: Texas, Russia wildfires, for example) without Arctic ice to reflect sunlight. That's what it does.

City Of Milwaukee Expands Recycling, Simplifies Collection

Great news, as Milwaukee no longer requires separating paper, plastic and metal in recycling collection, and adds additional plastics and other items to the pickup.

The change is effective immediately. No new curbside cart is required.

Details here.

Hard not to notice that the City is going one way on environmental protection while the state is going in the opposite direction.

And that cities are good for the environment, from their density-induced transit to savings on water use (no big lots to sprinkle), and now to upgraded recycling saving land-fill space.

And remember when Walker wanted to end state support for recycling altogether, only to be overruled by legislators who got an earful from Mayors, citizens and recall-motivated voters?

A good outcome and getting better.

Easing Mining Laws Puts Wisconsin At Odds With Powerful Opponents

The Ashland Current has published the most detailed mainstream media account of the legal, scientific and procedural objections made by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians to the efforts of state legislators and Gov. Walker to fast-track mining permit approvals.

You can read the paper's account and a full text of the Band's statement, here.

I wonder if the Walker administration and its legislative lieutenants read and fully absorbed it.

The Band's full statement gives get a better sense of the depth and sweep of the opposition, and the legal challenges facing the state if it proceeds against the Band on behalf of mining companies who want the permit procedure streamlined and eased.

And you wonder if these state officials also have read the US Army Corp of Engineers communication about the broader consequences of meddling with existing mining procedures?

Attention has been diverted a bit this week by a power struggle between Democratic and Republican leaders over the composition of a special legislative committee to draft a plan to speed up the permitting process.

Republicans hold the balance of power, and are willing to stamp on tradition and stack the committee with certain Democrats, and while the GOP is using a heavy-handed tactic, their approach appears legal.

The goal and tenor of the work of the committee has already been telegraphed by its chair, State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), who said when he was appointed chairman that the goal was to write a bill that would attract mining applications.

And there are no citizen members, so the direct participation of the Bad River Band, and environmentalists, are formally shut out of the bill's drafting.

Frankly, there seems no reason for any opponent to work in a group where the membership has been rigged to produce a foregone conclusion for a special interest, and where the people running the show and pulling the strings seem oblivious to information communicated in writing by both federal officials and the Band.

Another Win For Milwaukee Workforce, and NW Side CDC

Another salute to the crew there.

The honor roll is getting long.

And longer.

So...Republicans Acknowledge Government CAN Create Jobs

The headline and lede to the story say it all.

Walker calls special session on jobs bills

Sun Prairie - With the state and national economy still struggling, Gov. Scott Walker announced Wednesday a second special session on jobs legislation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Belling or Roenicke? Who's The Baseball Expert, And Who Has The Thin Skin?

1130 WISN-AM's grumpy late afternoon talker Mark Belling spent much of his 5-6:00 p.m. segment Wednesday reprising what he said was one of his worst sports-related moments, ever.

Turns out he had a bad night at a sports bar (unnamed) after the Brewers Tuesday night win over the Pirates.

Seems his drinking buddy (unnamed) kept undermining Belling's worrying as the Dodgers blew a late-inning lead to Arizona (this prevented Milwaukee from clinching home-field advantage) to the point that, as Belling told the audience numerous times today "I nearly killed someone" last night.

Belling said he got so upset with his buddy's jinxing the outcome that he stormed out of the bar, leaving $45 change from a $50 bill for his final beer order on the counter.

Today, that anger morphed into anxiety, as Belling sees Arizona as an unstoppable juggernaut and worries Milwaukee might end up playing them in the playoffs.

Belling then went on to second-guess the Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke for how he's setting up his pitching tonight (Zach Greinke on three days rest) to save Yovani Gallardo for game one of the playoffs.

Belling predicted other Roenicke moves tonight with the line-up, such as resting starters, would backfire and cost the Brewers dearly in the unfolding playoffs.

Apparently, Roenicke does not understand what Belling says is clear: that this is the most important game of the season, and Belling urged the team's General Manager Doug Melvin to call Roenicke and tell him to manage the game differently.

[Update: Greinke's line tonight: 6 innings, five hits, four strikeouts, one walk, one earned run.] 

We'll see by the end of the game which of these baseball savants knows his stuff.

[Further update: Final Score - - Brewers 7, Pirates 3/Roenicke 96, Belling 0.]

Belling began his program swearing he never reads any negative commentary about his show, even in an email, so there's no chance he'll see this or any comments.

But what thin skin for a guy who makes his living ripping other people.

I note that Roenicke takes questions at a news conference after every game, win or lose, and his handling of second-guessing is more or less second-nature.

Waukesha's County Clerk Not Criminally Charged, But...

The embattled Waukesha County Clerk didn't mean to break the law when she held back some election results on the night of the State Supreme Court race, but you can't chalk up her shenanigans that night to a rookie's mistake.

She's a long-time office-holder who has been chastised for running her office arrogantly, so we'll see if either the voters of the County or the clerk herself will make the changes that are long overdue there.

More From The Right's Fact-Free Zone

The other day our local right-wing talkers were in a lather about the White House's censorship of a Ford Motor Company TV spot - - that didn't happen - - but it sure did make for exciting conservative chatter.

Sykes and Wagner had it threatening Ford's very existence.

Now we're getting to the bottom of MuffinGate.

Call it Birther Lite, except it has a cumulative effect on voters now conditioned by the right's media machine to think the worst of Obama.

Talk Radio Civil Discourse Failure Of The Day

There's no reason for 620 WTMJ-AM righty radio talker Charlie Sykes this morning to call State Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) "Red Fred," except that he can.

Note that it comes in the middle of Sykes criticizing State Sen. Lena Taylor, (D-Milwaukee), for what he called her uncivil remarks at a hearing on the Voter ID bill yesterday.

Milwaukee County Exec Determined To Save Transit

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele inherited a failing bus system pushed to financial free-fall by now-Gov. Scott Walker, but with some skillful planning and teamwork, he's buying some time until more sustainable fiscal supports can be found.

Here's hoping his plan contained in the 2012 proposed County budget is adopted and keeps things patched together.

Milwaukee County absolutely has got to have a successful transit system, or the region's corrosive unemployment and segregation are going to get worse, not better, as recent data have shown.

In "Broke" Wisconsin, New Interchange, Road To Serve Pabst Farms Mall Never Built

Still some nice corn growing out in Pabst Farms between the Interstate and some of the project's residential and commercial developments, but...
Remember the Pabst Farms "upscale" mall that would be accessible from a new, full diamond interchange off I-94 in Western Waukesha County? The road work is proceeding and the area will have a new grid, and there's still no mall, but the powers that be have insisted on this project, for years, though the marketplace has been singing a different tune.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wisconsin GOP Senate Leader Handpicks Democrats For Bipartisan [Sic] Mining Committee

So much for working together, as the Senate's GOP leader finds the Democrats he wants for the fast-tracking mining law-writing committee.

Gov. Eagle Scout (Walker) May Tilt Recall Process Towards His Own Survival

A compliant legislature is offering Scott Walker the chance to take more control of the state's recall machinery just as the process is about to be aimed squarely his way.

The move would allow Walker to halt a policy developed by nonpartisan election officials that, at least in theory, could make it easier for groups to gather signatures to recall the governor, as well as legislators from either party.

"You have given the governor control of the chicken coop, so to say," Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) told Republicans...
Under the changes Republicans are considering, Walker would also get to decide whether universities can put stickers on their identification cards that would make them so they could be used for voting.
Whether Walker grabs these powers from the Government Accountability Board - - and what a conflict-of-interest that would be - - will be the first test of his core values since he asked the public's indulgence on ethical matters, citing his upbringing in a pastor's home and attainment of Eagle Scout rank.

Paul Ryan, Message Machine

An authority no less than The New York Times says a recent Paul Ryan riff was a "minor masterpiece of image calibration."

In the span of two dozen sentences, Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, mentioned the Bible, or rather a beginner’s version of it, which he said he was reading aloud to his 6-year-old son. He mentioned his truck and his appetite for hard rock, thus establishing automotive and musical affinities that balance his wonkier, number-crunching bona fides. He mentioned hunting — with a bow, no less.

Then came the capper. He mentioned his talent for what I’d like to call venison charcuterie, just because he so clearly wouldn’t. “I butcher my own deer, grind the meat, stuff it in casings and then smoke it,” he said, making clear that Sarah Palin in all her moose-eviscerating glory has nothing on him.

And thus his self-portrait as an outside-the-Beltway guy’s guy with grime (and maybe guts) under his fingernails was complete, and he had discharged one of the more ridiculous obligations of the contemporary politician. He had asserted that he was just like the rest of us, even though there’s no such thing as one uniform us and if there were, it would be buying its Bambi sausages in bulk at Costco. 
You may not like Ryan or his politics, but he's got message skills you should not under estimate.

Hat tip, Xoff.

Transit Cuts Imperil Jobs, Especially For Those Without Cars, Studies Find

The Journal Sentinel is reporting on a recent UWM study about the relationship between transit and employment.

I had posted the study a little while ago. It needs the widest possible distribution, as tens of thousands of local residents, principally in the Milwaukee central city, are on the harder edge of that relationsip because their lower-income status includes having no access to an automobile.

A recent SEWRPC update on its regional housing plan given to its Environmental Justice Task Force on September 22nd puts the figures this way:

9% of the Region's households do not have a vehicle available.

That figure increases to 13% in Milwaukee County and 20% in lower-income areas within the City of Milwaukee.

Scout's Honor?

Walker clears himself, and his proof is a bit self-serving:

"I know that throughout my career - first in the Legislature, then as county executive and now for the last 10 months as governor - I live by the standards I got from my parents," said Walker, whose father was a Baptist minister. "Certainly, they got me to the rank of Eagle Scout, and I continue to have that kind of integrity."
So how did he rise to #1 in Wisconsin PolitiFact ratings including the word "false?"

On at least one issue, twice.

Then there is also this from The Marquette Tribune:
Walker attended Marquette from 1986 t0 1990, but never attained a degree (see page 5). His sophomore year, Walker ran for president of the Associated Students of Marquette University (ASMU, the former title for Marquette Student Government). He was accused of violating campaign guidelines on multiple occasions.

The Tribune reported then that he was found guilty of illegal campaigning two weeks before his candidacy became official. Later, a Walker campaign worker was seen placing brochures under doors at the YMCA. Door-to-door campaigning was strictly prohibited.

Walker initially denied this but later admitted to the violation, which resulted in lost campaign privileges at the YMCA.

In the run-up to election day, the Tribune’s editorial board endorsed Walker’s opponent John Quigley, but said either candidate had the potential to serve effectively.

However, the Tribune revised its editorial the following day, calling Walker “unfit for presidency.” The column cited Walker’s distribution of a mudslinging brochure about Quigley that featured statements such as “constantly shouting about fighting the administration” and “trying to lead several ineffective protests of his own.”

The revision also expressed disappointment in Walker’s campaign workers reportedly throwing away issues of the Tribune after the endorsement was initially made.

Walker dismissed this, saying he had no knowledge of what his supporters did, according to a Tribune article from February 25, 1988.

Oil Shale Boom Leads To Natural Gas Waste, Air Pollution

What a metaphor over North Dakota, 24/7. Frack it, then waste it.

Lives Are Endangered When Tea Partiers Get Power

When the next pipeline fireball erupts, Rand Paul can dump some tea on it.

When Conservatives' Fortunes Sag, Haul Out Some Old-Fashioned Welfare Bashing

The Walker administration has hit a bad patch again, what with officials having their homes raided, computers seized, reputations immunized, and focus John Doed - - to say nothing of a recall movement heading Walker's way (what is his magic number again?) - - so what better way to flip the news and cause a distracting commotion for the entertainment of the base than a little old-fashioned, over-reacting welfare-bashing.
Some Social Development Commission board members said Monday they were surprised to learn the state has threatened to terminate part of the agency's $24.8 million Wisconsin Works contract if it doesn't correct continuing problems and complaints in providing emergency assistance to needy families...
If the plan does not satisfy the state, or if there are any more complaints, the emergency assistance portion of the grant will be terminated, said the Sept. 12 letter from Kristiane Randal, administrator of the state Division of Family and Economic Security...
The emergency assistance program provides money to needy families with children who meet poverty income guidelines, especially families facing eviction and possible homelessness because of a financial crisis.
It's so easy

Because the poor are not organized to fight back with the same PR machinery that a Governor and his administrators control.

And winter is approaching, so throw the fear of God into the unemployed, the homeless and struggling parents - - not with a reasonable request for plan improvements, but with an ultimatum, in writing, for a fix in one working day.

That'll teach 'em what compassionate conservatism is all about, score some political points at the same time, and continue the fiction that our economic problems have more to do with poor people, not hedge fund manipulators, real estate sharpies and job-creators sending work to low-wage countries.

These Walkerites are big fans of Ronald Reagan's, and he's the one who set the poor-bashing bar high with his "welfare queen" whopper:
Over a period of about five years, Reagan told the story of the "Chicago welfare queen" who had 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards, and collected benefits for "four nonexisting deceased husbands," bilking the government out of "over $150,000." The real welfare recipient to whom Reagan referred was actually convicted for using two different aliases to collect $8,000. Reagan continued to use his version of the story even after the press pointed out the actual facts of the case to him.  
Scapegoat found. Problem solved.

Perry Plays The Dirty Air Card - - Transparent, Despite The Smog

Texas Gov. and GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry urges President Barack Obama to suspend clean air regulations that will help the country recover from hazardous air pollution to which Texas contributes disproportionately.

The new clean air rules are designed to significantly reduce smog and soot pollution by requiring 27 states, including Texas, to decrease smokestack emissions.

The new guidelines apply to sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which mostly come from coal-fired plants.

Texas has 19 coal-fired power plants -- more than any other state -- and plans to build nine more. It is one of the few states still adding coal-fired plants and releases more air pollutants than any other state. Most other states are building generation plants that use sources other than coal, particularly natural gas.
Clearly, Perry has failed to manage the issue in his own state, which also happens to be sitting on 30% of the country's supply of cleaner-burning natural gas, making it the nation;
s largest natural gas producer.

Pretty transparently-political move by Perry, whose ugly debate performances make him increasingly unacceptable to moderate Republicans and tea party fringe-dwellers alike.

Compared Worldwide, Milwaukee, Madison Air Relatively Clean, But...

There are new international air quality data bases on the web. You can download them here. (Go to "Urban outdoor air pollution database, by country and city," top right, for two separate tables of comparisons.)

Little surprise that cities in newly-industrialized India, for example, or less-developed countrues with inefficient vehicle exhaust systems and smokestacks have less healthy air.

Let's just say we're way better on an air quality scale than Ulan Bator, far better than Paris, somewhat better than Pittsburgh and Houston, but we don't do as well as other US cities with industry such as Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Dallas, Denver, or New Orleans, for example.

And yes, I know some of our pollution comes from Chicago, where the air is dirtier than ours, but let's own our situation.

So - - room for improvement.

City Doesn't Run The Schools, But Its Libraries Can Augment Them

Which is just what Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett proposes to do with 2012 budget increases for library hours and services. Aldermen should support it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Three Cheers For Brian Williams

He asks Scott Walker some tough questions on a national broadcast.

I know blogs and emails had gone Williams' way about Walker leading up to the show, and he delivered.

Koch Brothers Vow To Defeat Obama - - While Their Wealth Has Soared Under His Presidency


Koch Brothers Love Chris Christie; No Walker Invite

You can listen to recordings made at this summer's Koch Brothers' secret seminar near Vail, CO, where million-dollar donors to Obama's 2012 defeat got their props, and where teacher-basher Gov. NJ Gov. Chris Christie and others jetted quietly in to receive theirs, too, but apparently no Scott Walker.

Maybe one audio tape of a fake Koch brother call took Walker off the "A" list?

And with their wealth soaring 43% since 2010, you wonder why the Kochs aren't demanding to be his campaign co-treasurers?

Fitzgeralds, Worried About Student Votes, Schedule Hearing Out Of Ethics Concern

The Legislature's Leading Fitzgerald brothers, nervous that student ID's may become valid as Voter ID's through some trick with official stickers engineered by the non-partisan, judge/schemers who make up the Government Accountability Board, have scheduled a legislative hearing to look into this clearly unacceptable possibility.

It may be that to vote in Wisconsin next year, college students must bring to the polls the 'free' (read: $28 state ID), and:

Color photos of at least three of the following - - Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Glenn Beck and Robert Welch, Jr.; a copy of Atlas Shrugged, (hardbound preferred, and printed in the USA), or, alternately, Surviving The Coming Crash With Rental Real Estate and $5,000 Gold; a copy of their high school diploma, at least one hall pass from junior high school, a copy of their elementary school class photo, and, of course, their birth certificate - - certified, notarized, bronzed - - and make sure it's the one with the footprint.

Dialing For Dollars: Why House Republicans Do What They Do For Business (And To Us)

This sop to business may die in the Senate, or be vetoed by President Barack Obama, but the Tea Party-driven Republican House of Representatives did approve a bill last week that clamps down on the EPA.

One amendment to protect the Great Lakes was defeated, with all House Republicans voting against the amendment, according to the author, a Minnesota Democrat.

Which brings us again to Paul Ryan, House Budget Committee Chair and newly-designated national Republican Party fundraiser, and if you don't see the connection between that appointment and the GOP's legislative and regulatory catering to big business, you are not paying attention.

Seventeen States Want Tougher Action To Keep Asian Carp Out Of Great Lakes Watershed

The pressure is growing against the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago, and the electronic barrier set up by the US Army Corps of Engineers isn't going to relieve the political push.

FitzWalkerStan Leaders Announce Diplomatic Assignment

Foreign policy updates:

FitzWalkerStan has a diplomatic corps [see bold-faced emphasis added] (and who knew?) and there is a $50 visa fee, good for one day only.

REBECCA KLEEFISCH Lieutenant Governor


Governor's Small Business Summit to be held at Lambeau Field, Home of the World Champion Green Bay Packers

Madison – Lt. Governor Kleefisch today announced that Governor Walker will host Wisconsin’s Small Business Summit to be held at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on November 1st from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, Home of the 13-Time World Champion Green Bay Packers.

Governor Walker will speak about his efforts to improve Wisconsin's business climate and get our state’s fiscal house in order to help create new jobs and retain existing employers.

“Small businesses are the engine of our state’s economy and continue to drive our economy forward,” said Governor Walker. “As we deal with the effects of the global economic downturn, my administration is committed to listening to our small businesses and entrepreneurs on how we can create a strong partnership between the private sector and state government to promote job creation and stimulate our economy.”

The Governor’s Small Business Summit will give small business owners tools they need to help their businesses succeed featuring educational workshops and access to Wisconsin’s business resources and leadership.

The event will provide opportunities to connect with key state leaders, industry peers, and offer a chance to network, learn and exchange information, and much more. The goal of the Governor's Small Business Summit is to engage small business owners in a conversation about the future prosperity of our state and what our state leadership can do to help businesses succeed.

"This will be a unique opportunity for small business owners to meet the new leadership team in Governor Walker's administration involved in job creation at key state agencies in Wisconsin, "said Lt. Governor Kleefisch.

“The cabinet secretaries who have been actively involved in improving our state's business climate by streamlining processes, simplifying regulations and improving communications with stakeholders will be actively involved in the day's events."

Lt. Governor Kleefisch has been designated the "Jobs Ambassador" in Wisconsin [emphasis added] and has hosted a series of small business roundtables with small business owners to listen to challenges they face while doing business in Wisconsin.

Speaking about the Summit, Lt. Governor Kleefisch noted, "Small businesses are on the front lines of Governor Walker's efforts to spark an economic recovery in Wisconsin, to create good paying jobs and to get our state back on the path to prosperity.

Working together, we intend to spend the next four years helping our small businesses succeed so they can create jobs and opportunities for Wisconsin families."

Individuals interested in attending should register on-line at by October 25th or contact the Office of Lt Governor Kleefisch for additional information via email:

The registration fee is $50 which includes breakfast and lunch. -End-
19 East, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53702    (608) 266-3516    Fax: (608) 267-3571

House GOP To Tornado, Flood Victims: Drop Dead

The same nasty band of Tea Partiers that depressed the economy over a fake debt crisis this summer has again spooked and manipulated the spineless John Boehner - - this time paralyzing the government over disaster relief - - regardless of how many Americans suffer as a consequence in washed-out, blown-over homes, businesses, neighborhoods and communities.

The politics of cruelty.

Months Later, The Record About Waukesha Water And Growth Is Clarified

Last year's discussion about a possible Lake Michigan water diversion to the City of Waukesha got a little-noticed clarification in the record after UWM consultants hired by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, (SEWRPC) had released a water and related issues of economic justice.

In digging through minutes of recent meetings of SEWRPC's Environmental Justice Task Force. (EJTF), I noticed a section in the January meeting minutes, and because I missed that meeting due to illness I add the information to the documentation about water, Waukesha and social justice that is gathered and archived on this blog.

The bracketed ID information is mine to help out readers with names and titles, and I have turned a reference to a newspaper story into a link to a URL:


Ms. [Adeline] Greene [SEWRPC Commissioner, EJTF Chairperson]...asked if there were any questions or comments on the September 2, 2010, meeting minutes. 
Mr. [Kenneth] Yunker [SEWRPC Executive Director] noted that revisions in response to comments from [Attorney] Ms. [Karyn] Rotker of the ACLU were underlined on pages 7 and 8 of the meeting minutes. 
He then suggested that the word “diversion” be inserted into the revision on page 8 so it would read “Mr. Yunker reminded the Task Force of [UWM Professor and consultant] Mr. [Joel] Rast’s comment at the July 8, 2010, EJTF meeting that the science indicating that groundwater supplies are of adequate quantity and quality would make it difficult for the City of Waukesha’s diversion application to be approved.”
 Ms. Rotker stated that she agreed with the revisions to the meeting minutes as they relate to her comments.
Mr. [Brian] Peters [ETJF member] noted Professor Rast of the UWM Center for Economic Development (CED) had written a letter to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in response to an article titled, Commission Report Backs Waukesha Lake Water Bid. Mr. Peters noted that the letter was not published by the paper and asked that the letter be acknowledged because Mr. Rast’s comments are important as they relate to an accurate description of the Socio-Economic Impact Analysis of the Regional Water Supply Plan. 
Mr. Yunker stated that staff was unaware of the letter and suggested attaching the letter to the September 2, 2010, meeting minutes if Task Force members were in agreement (see Attachment 2, which will also be added as Attachment 5 to the September 2, 2010, meeting minutes). 
Ms. Santos Adams [EJTF member] suggested that the letter be distributed to Task Force members in attendance for their review. 
 Ms. Rotker provided copies of the letter to Task Force members.
The Task Force unanimously agreed to attach the letter to the September 2, 2010, meeting minutes.
 Here is a pdf link to Rast's unpublished letter as posted by SEWRPC, with these key sentences about what Rast calls an "important clarification:"
"The consensus by geologists who have studied this issue extensively is that Waukesha's groundwater supplies, if properly managed, are sufficient to support planned development through the year 2035. Waukesha may prefer Lake Michigan water to its current supply, but it does not need Lake Michigan water to realize its development plans through the year 2035."  
Bottom line: Lake Michigan would be a supply choice by Waukesha, but not necessarily a no-alterbatives' option - - and that is a critical threshold for a diversion application's approval under the regional water management plan - - Great Lakes Compact - - to which Waukesha's application is made.

SEWRPC's Justice Task Force - - No Meeting Quorum Since January, Records Show

Though a dedicated core of the thirteen-member Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission's Environmental Justice Task Force plugs away on vital water, housing and other socio-economic issues, meeting minutes show that the Task Force has not mustered a quorum since its January meeting, records show.

At last week's meeting there was an interesting discussion and document distribution about housing, but only a handful of members were there - - making it the third in a row, along with the March and May meetings where less than a majority of members were present.

The agency's management has got to reach out to the groups and municipalities who have supplied members and urge them to make sure their members are attending, or commit to replacing those who have not been attending with new people who can and will.

Citizen participation was a crucial component of an effort to force SEWRPC to create and deal with the EJTF..

Posts on this blog about it date to 2007, with more that followed, and continued, because these issues are intractable and the EJTF is about the only open public policy body in the region where social justice is regularly discussed.

The work of the EJTF can be thankless, and is no doubt time-consuming for citizen-volunteers, but the agency has got to step up and make sure this group can meet the community's needs and expectations.

Conservatives, Like Scott Jensen, Could Change The Death Penalty Debate

The Washington Post's E. J. Dionne has an interesting commentary about how pro-life conservatives could make a compelling case against the death penalty.

When I wrote a series about capital punishment for the Journal Sentinel, I remember that then-State Rep. and Assembly leader Scott Jensen was one of those opponents.

Here's a link  - - I can't copy and paste the text, as it's a basically a page photo - - to the jump page that contained his remarks. That installment ran in the middle of an eight-day series.

I have no idea what the former Town of Brookfield Republican representative thinks about the issue now.

The execution of Troy Davis last week puts the matter back in the news; Eugene Kane wrote about it Sunday, I weighed in a couple of times, too and I suspect we'll eventually see a bill from hard-edged conservatives in the Legislature to re-instate capital punishment in Wisconsin a century-and-a-half after its abolition.

I hope not. It has no place here, or elsewhere.and

So Do We Promote Him To Senator? The Internet Remembers Tommy Thompson's Failed Anthax Crisis Management

As former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson gets set to take a crack at one last big public sector job - - US Senator - - it's worth remembering then-US Health and Human Secretary Thompson's performance under pressure when the country faced an anthrax attack.

Some people may have forgotten the events, and others may have missed it.

The story was reprinted from Newsday:

In Washington, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson
officially had announced the ailing [Bob] Stevens' anthrax case to a nation whose
nerves were still very much on edge from the Sept. 11 attacks. He said of
Stevens' infection that it "appears that this is just an isolated case" and
"there's no evidence of terrorism..."
Stevens' Oct. 5 death brought grim urgency to a CDC investigation that
spanned four states through which he had recently traveled. And it brought the
world's media, numerous state and federal agencies and the White House into the
Thompson once again faced the media, saying the anthrax case was probably
of natural origin, based on something Stevens picked up from drinking from a
South Carolina stream. Anthrax is not a water-borne organism, however, and the
secretary's comment would haunt his department, undermining its credibility for
Thompson, a former governor with no scientific or medical training, issued
orders that all information to the public and media come from his office,
barring government scientists and health experts from providing expert advice
or information.
Here's more about Tommy's management and public information FUBAR, as The Washington Monthly asked at the time:

Spin doctors: Tommy Thompson is not a bioterrorism expert. So why does he play one on TV?

Thompson was, of course, quickly proved wrong. The truth about Stevens's case soon emerged--four more people were killed by anthrax-laced letters sent by a bioterrorist still at large--and with it the embarrassing fact that the Bush administration had essentially botched the job of communicating with the American people.

Famous for its message discipline, the White House had insisted that its HHS secretary be the lone voice on bioterrorism. Yet, from the outset, Thompson had made a host of elementary errors, suggesting, for example, that Stevens might have contracted anthrax by drinking stream water, something health experts and science reporters immediately knew to be false, given the symptoms he displayed.

Such misstatements quickly eroded Thompson's credibility. But reporters had no one else to turn to.

"The feds basically put a gag on the local officials and the state officials, too," recalls Sanjay Bhatt, medical reporter for The Palm Beach Po,. This gag order extended to CDC officials, as well. "All questions were directed to Atlanta or Washington, and for about a week we didn't get any response from either to our questions, which we submitted both in writing and over the phone"

During the first weeks of the largest biological terror attack in U.S. history, when the need for accurate public-health information was at a premium, government experts were effectively silenced.
Time magazine weighed in, too, but I doubt it'll be highlighted in Tommy's campaign bio if he runs for the Senate:
Stevens was an avid outdoorsman, so maybe he picked up a few spores in the wild--perhaps, as Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson famously suggested at a press conference, from drinking water out of a stream.

Thompson's theory never made much sense. It's hard to imagine any scenario by which buried spores could emerge from the ground, mix with drinking water and then lodge in someone's lungs.

And sure enough, a sweep of the American Media building quickly made clear that Stevens had come into contact with anthrax at work, not play. Traces of powdery spores were found on his computer keyboard, in the company mailroom and, ultimately, throughout America Media's Boca Raton, Fla., offices.

Someone had deliberately sent the microbes into the building.
Just so you know...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Urban Rail To The Rescue In The DC Suburbs

I grew up in the DC area as the monstrosity known as Tysons Corners sprawled into reality, and now it looks like urban rail can help fix it.

When Republican Kids Imitate Their Elders, This Is What You Get

A not-so-funny college bake sale, though I am sure Rush and his local mini-clones will slap the kids on the back:

-- Campus Republicans at the University of California Berkeley have cooked up a storm of controversy with their plans for a bake sale.

But it's not your everyday collegiate fundraiser they've got in mind. They've developed a sliding scale where the price of the cookie or brownie depends on your gender and the color of your skin.

During the sale, scheduled for Tuesday, baked goods will be sold to white men for $2.00, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1.00, black men for $0.75 and Native American men for $0.25. All women will get $0.25 off those prices.

"The pricing structure is there to bring attention, to cause people to get a little upset," Campus Republican President Shawn Lewis, who planned the event, told CNN-affiliate KGO. "But it's really there to cause people to think more critically about what this kind of policy would do in university admissions."

Lewis says it's a way to make a statement about pending legislation that would let the California universities consider race or national origin during the admission process.

But the young Republicans have been on the receiving end of a fierce backlash. Reaction has been so negative they've been forced to cancel their customary lunchtime tabling duties, according to KGO.

Why Michele Bachmann's Call For Zero Taxes Is Great Idea

So, that means there'd be no money to pay her salary?


Add Something New To Walker's Tool-Kit

So he didn't cut workers' wages, too?

Let's not give him too much credit for picking one hammer over another, or a knife over a double-bladed axe.

But still earned "false" ratings for his explanations. And the most for any Wisconsin political figure this year.

New tool suggested.

Brian Williams Can Get Serious Tomorrow

Brian Williams had fun and games a while ago with Jimmy Fallon slow-jammin' the Madison union news, but Monday the NBC anchor should play hardball with our man Walker.

Out-of-staters - - Meet John Doe.

And Scott Walker.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rick Perry Becomes Frank Costanza

On "Seinfeld," Frank Costanza explained that he preferred his bare Festivus pole to the traditional Christmas tree in part because he found tinsel "distracting."

Not that there's anything wrong with it, but Rick Perry, an actual major state governor and Republican Presidential candidate, has come out against "pastels."

Look for him next week to campaign against trapezoids, foods that are not available in nuggets and the letter "t."

Can Scott Walker Avoid The John Doe Probe During His Monday NBC Appearance?

It's common for newsmakers to field questions they may consider off-topic from reporters.

Call it an occupational hazard of elected office, or celebrity.

You see it in interviews all the time, and a prepared public figure would even expect it:

"Senator," or "Mayor" or whomever..."since you're here, can I also ask you about..."

It establishes a record and news can result.

So aren't NBC's Brian Williams and Kate Snow obligated to ask Gov. Scott Walker during Monday's NBC education segment about the Wisconsin John Doe probe?

I think Walker is the only Governor right now with a spokesman immunized before a John Doe, a former top aide the recent object of an FBI residential raid, and a contributor convicted in Federal Court for illegal campaign contributions.

Bit of an update.

Reader Feedback For The Past Week - - The Ten Most-Read Posts

A nice mix in the top ten. Thank you, readers:

Sep 19, 2011,

Sep 22, 2011,

Sep 20, 2011

Sep 17, 2011, 

Sep 23, 2011,

Sep 20, 2011

Sep 21, 2011,

Sep 20, 2011,

Sep 20, 2011, 

Sep 6, 2011,

Wisconsin Highway Article, In Words And Pictures, Says It All

I posted the photo below yesterday, and for today, from the same piece, comes a one-sentence truism that explains Scott Walker's rejection of high-speed rail from Milwaukee to Madison, and the Government/Road-Builder/Sprawl Lobby Complex:

"Completion" is a misnomer, of course. The eternal dynamics of highways, with deterioration starting the moment of dedication to public service, probably applied more to Interstates than any other roadway.
I-94 Ribbon Cutting Waukesha 1958

Friday, September 23, 2011

Brewers Division Win Earns Walker A 12-Hour Pass Here

No politics Saturday morning, either. The mood around here is too sweet to be messed with.

Brewers 4, Marlins 1

Braun's homer helps Brewers clinch NL Central Division title

Walker's Office Shoveled 65% State Position Raise To Former Top Staffer

Doesn't much look like Personnel 101 or Standard Operating Procedure, but Walker, who usually doesn't know anything, sure has some explaining to do:

Madison - Three days after Cindy Archer was to have started her job as the legislative liaison at the state Department of Children and Families - and while she was already being paid sick leave for it - the agency interviewed someone else for the same job.

Department officials did not fully explain why they interviewed another person to be the legislative liaison. They did not respond to a question asking if they expected Archer to stay in the job for long.

Documents released under the state's open records law Friday also show the office of Gov. Scott Walker - and not the Department of Children and Families - offered Archer the job at up to 65% more than what the last person to hold the position made.

Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson never interviewed Archer for the nearly $100,000-a-year job, even though Anderson is responsible for appointing someone to the post.

Archer was granted the job just weeks before her home was raided by the FBI as part of a secret John Doe investigation of current and former Walker aides, dating back to when he was still Milwaukee County executive and running for governor.

The newly released records also show Archer was informed of the job offer on Aug. 19 - a day after she technically received it, according to state paperwork.
More context, here.

Not The New Frontier Walker Hoped: Wisconsin Is Open To Fewer Flights And Jobs

I heard Jeff Wagner on WTMJ radio this afternoon praising the "unflappable" Scott Walker for steering us through a rough economic headwind.

Could be that Gov. Unflappable has misread his instruments: the storm is leading to groundings.

And on the rail side, Walker has no one else to blame but himself.

Tar Sands Pipeline Has Deep Insider Lobbying Connections

The revolving door between government and industry gives the controversial Keystone XL pipeline tremendous access to decision-makers, The Washington Post reports.

Northwest Side Development Corporation Brings Good Business Coverage Back To Milwaukee

A great organization. Kudos to Business Development Director Sam McGovern-Rowen, the board and staff:

Is Neal Kedzie The Right Senator To Negotiate Native Americans' Mining Concerns?

State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), appointed head of a special state senate committee to write a fast-tracked mining bill, says he will be "respectful of Native Americans' request" in the process.

I wrote about this yesterday, but confess to burying the lede.

The Bad River band in northern Wisconsin has already said it opposes the planned iron ore open pit mine because of watershed pollution and other concerns.

Kedzie's pledge would carry more weight if he had not also been a leader in the fight to allow state schools to retain mascot images and names to which some Native Americans object.

Here's the headline on the story from a paper in Kedzie's district:

Kedzie joins effort to repeal race-based school nickname bill

Kedzie and ally Mary Lazich had a different set of priorities than concern for Native Americans' requests:
— State senators Neal Kedzie and Mary Lazich are working on a bill to repeal the law that allows challenges to race-based school nicknames.
The Mukwonago School District recently was ordered to end their use of the name Indians at the high school.
"The state is in much different hands now," Lazich told the Mukwonago Chief, referring to the recent election which led to the switch from a Democratic governor, Assembly and Senate to a Republican governor, Assembly and Senate.
Kedzie explained he thought the law was unfair to the school district, which bears the burden of being found guilty and then having to defend itself after the fact. He also said the debate over logos and mascots should be left to the district, not mandated by the state.
The bill died in committee.

The Road To Sprawlville, Chapter 50: Down That Nostalgic Wisconsin Road

In this chapter of our occasional series about sprawl's march across the state, a single 50's era picture featuring the beloved Miss Asphalt and Miss Concrete speaks volumes about Wisconsin, its decision-makers and their love affair with freeways [sic].
I-94 Ribbon Cutting Waukesha 1958

Thursday, September 22, 2011

WI Legislators Set Up Mining Committee, But Leave Off Citizens

Why don't they create a Legislative Council Study Committee instead of a Senate members-only body to get input into mining, science, employment and environmental issues?

Could it be that on those advisory committees, for more than 50 years, citizens have been strongly represented? provided a mechanism for the open and deliberative study of complex problems and the development of legislative solutions to those problems; and it involved private citizens in the legislative process.
That Senate Select Committee will be led by a member from Elkhorn whose pro-mining mind is made up, according to The Journal Sentinel:
On Wednesday, leaders of the Bad River band of Lake Superior Chippewa said they opposed the mine.

But tribal leaders also said they recognized that lawmakers would try to write new mining laws, and they said those changes should include environmental protections.
"The committee will be respectful of Native Americans' request," [State Sen. Neal] Kedzie said.
"But at the same time, we are not going to craft a bill that is destined to fail. We want to be able to get applications from mining companies."
One more thing: Kedzie would have more credibility on being "respectful of Native American interests" if he had not been leading the fight to allow school districts to keep their Indian mascots and team names.

More here.

Rick Perry Finally Gets Death Penalty Priorities Straight

Lethal injections in Texas's "Walls" death house to continue, but no more special last meals.

It's OK to throw away lives down there, but like the cafeteria monitors say, it's a sin to waste food.

Dishonesty Is The Opposite Of Governance; Walker Is Forcing His Recall

Still broke and $3 billion in debt? Really?

Below is today's "Pants On Fire" finding, but you can find the seeds of this behavior - - "But for Walker, a questionable campaigning strategy is apparently nothing new" - - as far back as 1988.

Today's PolitiFact blockbuster:

The Truth-O-Meter Says:
"Wisconsin is broke," and "state government is $3 billion in debt."
Scott Walker on Friday, September 2nd, 2011 in a fund-raising letter

Gov. Scott Walker says Wisconsin is broke and $3 billion in debt

The statements are false and ridiculous. Pants on Fire.
And here is a link to Walker's full, bizarre, falsehood-replete record

The system doesn't work with dishonesty as a management style, and his pattern is undeniable - - 23 of 34 statements analyzed have "false" or worse in the PolitiFact finding:

Walker's statements by ruling

Will Walker Own His 'Winning?'

There's no denying the breathtaking institutional damage from the bomb Scott Walker that dropped on collective bargaining, as it is reported that major Wisconsin public unions - - after a half-century or so of history and presence - - have chosen not to chase after recertification because Walker and the legislature intentionally used state law to make it recertification impossible (italics added below):

In March, Walker signed legislation ending all union bargaining for public employees except for limited negotiations over wages. Union employees can't bargain for raises larger than the rate of inflation unless approved by voters in a referendum.

The legislation also requires that unions go through yearly recertification votes to keep their official status rather than retain that status indefinitely after an initial vote creating the union as had done in the past. Unions can still exist without that official status, but government employers, such as schools and the state, don't have to recognize them or bargain with them over anything.

To win the recertification election, unions must get 51% of the vote of all the members of their bargaining unit, not just the ones who take the time to cast ballots - a much higher bar than state elected officials have to clear to win their offices.
And is it hubris, arrogance or political blindness that allows him to stick it to the very people - - and set aside policy activists upset about any or all of the myriad budget, legal, electoral and process issues that have also marked this tumultuous year - - who have more than enough reason to push for his recall.

I frankly don't know, but here from PolitiFact is just some of what I am addressing:

Walker lied about his intentions at the beginning of the uproar he initiated:

Says under his budget-repair bill, "collective bargaining is fully intact."

Scott Walker on Friday, February 18th, 2011 in a radio interview

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says his budget-repair bill would leave collective bargaining “fully intact”

Pants on Fire!
Lied about his strategy: 

"I campaigned on (the proposals in the budget repair bill for Wisconsin) all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."

Scott Walker on Monday, February 21st, 2011 in a news conference

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he campaigned on his budget repair plan, including curtailing collective bargaining

Falsely claimed it was the unions who were spreading disinformation about his plan:

Says many public-employee unions falsely told their Wisconsin members his budget-repair bill sought 12 percent to 13 percent of their incomes for health insurance premiums.

Scott Walker on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 in a television interview

Gov. Scott Walker says public-employee unions falsely told members that they would have to pay up to 13 percent of incomes for health insurance

And still, months later, can't tell a straight story about what he did:

"I asked the unions to pay into their own health care insurance ... and they said I was being unreasonable. I requested that they contribute toward their own pensions ... and they screamed it was unfair."

Scott Walker on Friday, September 2nd, 2011 in a campaign fundraising letter
Mostly False