If creating legislation is like making sausage, the shamelessly pro-industry mining bill served up last week by State Assembly Republicans on a party-line vote was made with extra helpings of contaminated offal and fatal levels of salmonella.
Thousands of hours of everyday peoples' time, and of taxpayer-paid state employees, all at incalculable cost, were willfully wasted by GOP Assembly members just to curry favor with business interests and stick it to environmentalists and Native Americans whom those legislators disrespect.
* The bill was written by Assembly members behind closed doors - - but opened to company officials with a vested interest in digging a 22-mile long open pit iron ore mine on pristine lands near Ashland that are perilously close to the headwaters of the Bad River.
|Pete Rasmussen photo|
* Then, after much criticism, the Assembly grudgingly set up a second hearing in Hurley, but that hearing was an overt and arrogant charade because the bill's basic tenets enabling the mine, minimizing permit review times and blocking rights to public participation in the process had been pre-arranged and locked in.
* So its approval in the Assembly - - with its pre-ordained give aways of public land, water, treaty rights and other legal provisions - - with all Republicans voting "Aye," and all Democrats voting "No," was a foregone conclusion.
This bill could have easily been coughed up behind the Kremlin walls in the pre-Gorbachev Soviet Union.
It was clear from the beginning of this bad but real-life theater that the Assembly bill was meant more to serve political agendas and less to dig a mine in Northern Wisconsin.
That fakery included helping the low-wattage, preposterous US Senate bid by Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and letting Assembly Republicans tout their dependability on de-regulation and privatization to business groups and conservative financiers - - but all of them knew the bill would be ash-canned in the slightly less-radical State Senate.
There the GOP has only a one-vote majority, with Republicans having lost two seats last year in recall elections successfully run against GOP arrogance.
And where four more GOP senators are facing likely recall elections this spring, along with Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Kleefisch - - so watch the special State Senate mining committee chaired by the occasionally moderate Neal Kedzie, of Elkhorn, put on its hazmat gear and dump the Assembly's toxic bill, and try something different.
Even delaying its bill-writing, and bill reconciliation processes with the Assembly until the onrushing recall wave has broken.
A couple of additional observations:
The Assembly did its crude, exclusionary handiwork literally in the face of the public rebellion against the Walker administration's secretive ways.
The Assembly was willing to ignore public health and legislate a giveaway of state waters and lands, as well as long-standing Ojibwe treaty rights, to a special corporate interest even in the face of the paradigm-shifting awareness raised by The Occupy Movement - - and much of that came in response to the effects of special treatment handed by lawmakers to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class in the Wall Street bailouts.
Even Newt Gingrich sees a political opportunity there at Mitt Romney's expense, but the Assembly plowed on. You cannot get more tone-deaf than that.
A self-interested GOP majority in the State Assembly that hears only its own voice, and that of talk radio and right-wing advocacy groups, has played into the hands of the Wisconsin grassroots recall movement.
It is propelled by motivated people stung and marginalized by secretive policy-making on behalf of the 1%.
And those people are pushing back, and hard, with success in sight.