I heard WTMJ radio afternoon host John Mercure disclose his "scoop" Wednesday afternoon - - that there was to be a training plan for minority youth in Milwaukee added to the mining bill, to which Milwaukee Democratic Senator Tim Carpenter had purportedly agreed, then backed away from right before the final vote that failed Tuesday, and that the mining company and GOP senators believed they had a done deal on the training plan with Carpenter to save the bill.
Without having talked to Carpenter - - and neither did Mercure - - let me say this:
* Even if Mercure's story is accurate (and so far, no one has knocked it down), and even if the training plan was conceived with only the best of intentions by all parties - - there's no way it could have helped move the bill forward, because as a last-minute carve-out revealed late in the game to Carpenter's caucus, it would have only reinforced the toxic and correct perception that, from the beginning, the mining bill was crafted - - like the controversial redistricting scheme, too - - with too much hidden effort.
Hindsight is 20-20, but imagine what perspectives and considerations for many parties might have been in the bill if the process to draft it had been genuinely open and inclusive, not secretive and self-interested.
Remember that the bill was written by the Assembly behind closed doors, but with the company at the table, the proceeded with botched hearings and continuing exclusion of the Bad River band whose lands and waters border the mining area.
* And if one legislator could win a last-minute advantage for his or her city and district to get the bill over the hump, surely other legislators, from Racine County to Iron and Ashland Counties might wonder: "Where's our special benefit? We have unemployed young people who need technical training for jobs, too?"
* And what was the plan to get kids from Milwaukee hundreds of miles north for work and residency?
I suggested Tuesday after the bill failed that in the wake of vote, comprehensive, ground-level economic development planning statewide could help take the sting out of the debacle:
Some free advice to the other side:That would be a better Act II in the mining and legislating drama than more acrimony and finger-pointing.
* Take people and the land more seriously.
* Don't jam the public.
* Stop writing legislation - - whether for mining giveaways or self-serving redistricting maps - - behind closed doors.
* Work with local residents on serious, comprehensive economic development plans, from the north woods to low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee and Racine.