[originally posted, 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 6:] Unable to convince all 17 members of his caucus that the ugly mining bill he supported should become law, and facing the possibility of an historic recall election in the spring, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has again taken control of the process - - a losing move - - by moving it from the Senate Floor where it was voted down Tuesday to a committee he chairs - - Senate Organization - - where he and his lobbyist allies can keep the bill warm while they plot their next - - and losing - - moves.
So the spin cycle goes into high gear, along with continued finger-pointing away from the mirror the GOP should be staring at, since this fiasco began with the Assembly's secretive process and continued through Fitzgerald's demolition of the special committee he appointed to create the compromise, bipartisan bill he scuttled in favor of the special-interest turkey he he followed to its 17-16 demise.
I would predict the following from the Fitzgerald/Walker Republican camp:
* Participation in an amped-up PR strategy coordinated by the mining company, the WMC, friendly unions and the Governor that will distort a false jobs vs. the environment dichotomy and turn it against the bill's opponents.
* Threats by the company to take their mining plan elsewhere.
* More visibility by the Governor - - who wants a win on the bill because he, too, is facing a recall election, and the possibility of more bad employment data later this week and through the spring.
Walker will urge the company to set aside their exaggerated threat to leave, playing faux leader and peacemaker, and he will claim the mining bill is a silver bullet solution for the state's jobs crisis, when, in fact, a mining permit - - if the company submitted and won an application - - would face still face considerable state, federal and legal obstacles putting approval many years away.
* A special session called with fanfare and hot-off-the-press news releases by the Governor, within days - - all theater - - reminding folks of his last last special session on jobs that got us some pro-gun and other extraneous, ideologically-motivated/no-jobs' legislation.
That non-performance drained the drama from special sessions, so now our expectations for results are pretty low.
I'd rate the success of these transparently-political ploys as very low, especially if opponents stay united and focus on their strengths: respect for the the state's clean water heritage, respect for public participation in policy-and-decision-making, and respect for Native American treaty rights.
The 17 votes against the bill are solid, in part because the Assembly bill and its roll-out were so bad, while Fitzgerald's cancellation of the Senate select mining committee, its work and bill drafting compounded the Assembly fumbles because Fitzgerald's moves were so ostentatiously clumsy, imperious and anti-democratic.
Furthermore, Walker and Fitzgerald, and their allies in both houses look like the politically-obsessed industry pawns that their actions have underscored.
Proponents of the bill and this particular mining proposal have no one to blame for their failure Tuesday than themselves.
Some free advice to the other side:
* 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.
Update, Tuesday, 10:07 p.m. - - As predicted:
March 6, 2012Update, Tuesday 11:50 p.m.
Statement by Gogebic Taconite, LLC President Bill Williams on State Senate Rejection of Mining Reforms:
Senate rejection of the mining reforms in Assembly Bill 426 sends a clear message that Wisconsin will not welcome iron mining. We get the message. GTac is ending plans to invest in a Wisconsin mine. We thank the many people who have supported our efforts.
For Further Information Call: Bob Seitz, Arrowhead Strategies, LLC at 608-310- 5323
To which the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters responds:
For Immediate Release: March 6, 2012
Contact: Anne Sayers, Program Director, 608-208-1129 (direct), 608-658-0186 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters' Executive Director Kerry Schumann on GTAC's announcement that they are leaving Wisconsin:
"Gogebic Taconite's announcement that they are leaving Wisconsin confirms that the company was never interested in responsible mining.
Further, it illustrates Governor Walker's eagerness to place polluting special interests above Wisconsin's working families. His failed leadership led Gogebic Taconite to believe that they could change the law, so they alone could pollute Wisconsin waterways with deadly chemicals, silence the voices of our citizens and shift the costs from the mining company to the taxpayers.
Responsible mining requires companies to work with stakeholders and minimize environmental impacts. That's the Wisconsin way and Wisconsin voters know it. The bi-partisan Senate vote to reject the open-pit mining bill was a victory for Wisconsin families and clean drinking water."