Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Looks Like Walker's Wisconsin To Suffer Yet Another "Mass Layoff" Event

Wisconsin led a 12-state Midwest region in so-called "mass layoff" (50+ employees) events in January, a federal survey found, and it looks like another one was announced today.

This is the second in two days, based on a cursory review of some state media.

More details, here.

Can Sen. Dale Schultz Save Wisconsin From Assembly's "Rancid" Mining Bill

Give the Republican Senator from Richland Center credit for being the one member of his party willing to resist an Assembly mining bill - - a bill so badly conceived that it was called "rancid" by the Journal Sentinel editorial board - - and refuse to sell out the public, its clean water and rights to participate in the review of mining permit applications.

Imagine the pressures on Schultz: call or email him and thank him for holding firm.

Madison Office

Room 122 South
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882


(608) 266-0703 Or
(800) 978-8008


(608) 267-0375


District Telephone

(608) 647-4614

Walker Signs Wetlands Filling Bill Before Special Interest Crowd

Give Walker credit for dropping all pretense about governing in the public interest by signing the bill that weakens wetlands protections in front of a gathering of realtors.

Look to him signing the eventual easy/enabled mining bill at the Hurley offices of GTAC, the mining company that helped write the Assembly version of the bill and which has given Walker and other mining proponents campaign donations.

While Fitz Ferries DC Cash Back Home, A Citizen Opponent Emerges

Kudos to Fort Atkinson's Lori Compas for leading the historic petition drive effort to recall the powerfully out-of-touch Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and then agreeing to run against his arrogance and money.

Fitzgerald's response, other than dubious signature challenges: a vacation with his best legislative pals from maneuvering on behalf of an out-of-state mining company by jetting off to DC for an event tonight at a major lobbying firm to raise money at a $1,000-a-ticket.

For that kind of money, the chocolate truffles better come dipped in 24-karat gold.

One Word On Scott Fitzgerald's $1,000-A-Ticket EliteFest Tonight

What a snob.

Radio Funny Man Michael Feldman Has Tweet Of The Day


what are the odds some throwing up in santorum camp?
 10:17 AM - 29 Feb 12 

More On Rick Santorum's Home-School Subsidy

Article with links about Santorum's sweet, under-covered home-school deal: live in Virginia during his US Senate service for Pennsylvania, but home-school some of the kids in a Pennsylvania "virtual" school and reap $100,000 in benefits - - the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the cost was $33,000-a-tear - - from Pennsylvania taxpayers

As various media outlets from Mother Jones to the Washington Post have reminded us in recent weeks, Santorum’s record as a home-schooler is ambiguous at the very least, and arguably hypocritical. From 2001 through at least 2004, when Santorum was serving in the Senate and living full-time in Loudoun County, Va., five of his children were enrolled in an online charter school based in Pennsylvania — a public school, albeit an unusual one — with computers, curricula and other educational services provided at taxpayer expense. According to the Penn Hills Progress, a newspaper in Santorum’s suburban Pittsburgh hometown that broke the story at the time, the local school district had spent approximately $100,000 educating the senator’s so-called home-schooled children, although they lived neither in the district nor in the state.

Santorum owned a modest three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot house in Penn Hills (and reportedly still does), on which he paid about $2,000 a year in taxes. But owning a home is not sufficient to prove residency, and public records, neighborhood testimony and common sense all suggest that Santorum’s constantly enlarging family — his kids now range from age 3 to age 20 — never actually lived there. (At the time of the Penn Hills Progress investigation, Santorum’s wife’s niece and her husband were registered to vote at that address.)
Appearing to live in Pennsylvania was distinctly advantageous for the Santorums, because state law required school districts to pay 80 percent of the online charter-school tuition for local families who chose it. (No such law pertained in Virginia.) The Penn Hills district challenged Santorum’s local residency, and the ensuing dispute only ended when the senator withdrew his kids from the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. Since 2006 the Santorum kids have reportedly been registered as Virginia home-schoolers.

When Penn Hills tried to bill Santorum for $72,000 that the state had withheld from the local education budget to cover the senator’s kids’ online tuition, he refused to pay. In the end, the Pennsylvania department of education was forced to refund most of that money to the local district. In other words, the Santorums presented themselves to the world as home-schoolers for at least three years, while Pennsylvania taxpayers picked up the bill for their kids’ education — and they actually lived in a different state. For a private citizen, this would have been an embarrassing ethical lapse, but somewhat short of criminal misconduct. For a politician whose reputation rests upon issues of character and integrity, it’s considerably more damning.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Romney Wins; Stock Speech, Plus An Entitlement Grasp

And he just said we "deserve" Canadian oil.  Full quote:

"I'll get us that oil from Canada that we deserve."


Not a gaffe. Just an opening into the way his mind works.

I hope everyone heard that.

Catholic Voters In MI Going For Romney Over Santorum

Snobby remarks about JFK and contraceptives have consequences.

Romney Win In Michigan Will Hurt Walker

It will hurt Walker because it solidifies an underlying truth about Walker and the powerful people who want him to remain in office; that the GOP is the party of Wall Street and the 1% - - privileged people who can access, raise and spend unlimited of dollars millions through SuperPACs, or in Walker's case, special recall or legal defense funds to win and hold power at any cost.

Karl Rove Says Romney Will Win Michigan By 4-6%

Yes, I'm watching Fox News. Rove says a lot of Democrats did cross over and voted for Santorum. Maybe so, but cross-over voting is stupid.

Hey, Rachel Maddow: No Fair!

She just said Newt Gingrich staying in the race is the GOP's "existential question."

Amazing Romney Fact, From Howard Fineman On MSNBC Tonight

As the votes are being counted, Fineman says Romney has already spent $65 million campaigning.

Scott Fitzgerald, Pals, Jetting To DC For Some Scott Walker-Style Money

Happy Leap Year, Republicans and Friends!

$1,000 will get you into a big-time DC lobbying firm's door Wednesday night, so that mining bill and other state business will have to wait a day. More details, here, but the heart of it is below.

Wisconsin Night in Washington DC
You are cordially invited to attend a reception in support of the 
Republican Party of Wisconsin 
With Hosts:
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald 
Joint Finance Co-Chair Rep. Robin Vos
along with
Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald; Assistant Leaders Rep. Scott Suder and Senator Glenn Grothman; and 
Joint Finance Co-Chair Senator Alberta Darling

Ring Up Another Mass Layoff Event In WI For Scott Walker

Wisconsin led a 12-state Federally-defined Midwest region in "mass layoff" events in January - - job losses of 50 people or more - - and now the Walker administration racks up another by closing car emission testing stations in Southeastern Wisconsin at the cost of 62 jobs, and having a vendor use as yet-unnamed service stations or oil change shops to perform the tests, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Two Wisconsin Courts Going In Different Directions

Federal Judge J. P. Stadtmueller - - a Reagan appointee to the bench in Milwaukee, by the way - - ripped GOP legislators and attorneys for their secrecy.

He was commenting on how the Legislature conducted its recent redistricting, and noted it was outside the Wisconsin tradition.

...we have had enough of the charade and mischaracterization. I don't mean to impugn either you or anyone associated with this case, but as they say, the facts are the facts. What has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency, secrecy, and at the end of the day, as the court has commented earlier, it may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but appearances are everything, and Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing.
A few days later, the Wisconsin Supreme Court - - through its 4-3, conservative and pro-Republican majority - - voted, like bureaucrats or private consultants, to close many of their discussions that are routinely carried out openly.

"To sit out here and philosophize about issues is really not the best use of our time," sniffed Justice Patience Roggensack, leading the charge to retreat to chambers.

Seems a majority of the state Justices, more focused on power, have little use for Stadtmueller's "openness and fairness and doing the right thing."

Which is pretty much the definition of justice, don't you think?

The Wisconsin high court is moving from choke holds to Roggensacking,

Volumes spoken.

Officials Want Fresh $207 Million For A Suburban Freeway Mini-Extension

This is what passes for planning in Our Land of Highways.

* The Milwaukee-area bus system is on life-support.

* The commuter train through the South suburbs to Racine and Kenosha is dead, snuffed by talk radio and Legislative Republican led by the railophobic, transit-authority-averse Assembly Rep. Robin Vos, (R-Burlington).

*  And many area streets, maintained by cash-strapped municipalities, have potholes so deep they need Environmental Impact Statements and building permits for repairs...

*...Yet South suburban leaders are asking for another $207 million in our deficit-ridden- toll-free, gas-tax dependent state to extend I-794 six miles - - at $34.5 million/per-mile - - past the airport (this is over-and-above the $6.4 billion regional free[sic]way improvement [sic] plan) just to cut five minutes off a daily commute on some local streets to or from Milwaukee.

And some of these leaders want the 794 rammed all the way south to Illinois, even though taxpayers are paying - - right now - - $1.9 billion to add a lane to I-94 just a few miles away also to the Illinois border from the south side of Milwaukee.

Call Walker's Fraud and Waste Task Force. If this isn't grand-scale public finance excrescence, what is?

Because how many taxpayer-paid corridors with lanes, medians , shoulders and ramps do these people and their leaders want, and why?

Is there no limit to their self-serving entitlement, their taxpayer-financed greed and largess larded on to the road-builders bottom lines?

You can ask the planners, and some of the local and state officials who want all this spending some questions at a public Town Hall-style meeting tonight beginning at 6 p.m., in the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 901 15th St., but we all know how these projects go: a so-called advisory committee stacked with government officials makes a recommendation to build - - as has already taken place in this case - - and once the public has been allowed its turn at a meeting with nice graphics, story boards and hand-outs - - but without sworn testimony - - the project moves towards implementation and funding with little or no follow-through on changes in favor of transit, biking or other alternatives.

This is not comprehensive, land-use-based planning.

It's road-building addicted madness - - enabled, as always, by the reliably-highway-compliant Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - - as I interpret the Journal Sentinel from the link above:

Of the 118 acres that would have to be acquired, 41 acres are considered primary environmental corridors, 27 acres are wetlands and 20 acres are parkland, the study says. But in many cases, the parkland, wetland and primary environmental corridor designations overlap, noted Ken Yunker, the planning commission's executive director.
Oh, good. The lost environmentally-sensitive wood and wetlands may drop into mere double-figures - - so a burn-off of precious resource capital handed down over generations won't be so bad after all - - like the erasure of County Grounds public space for a research park and engineering college buildings on the western edge of Milwaukee.

Class A felonies against the land and legacy, reduced to Class B or C crimes against conservation and the commons.

What foresight. What stewardship.

And don't worry your pretty little head over those filled, paved, concretized wetlands in the way of highway-building progress, Mother Nature.

Under Walker's new 'Pave-A-Wetlands, Hug-A-Developer Act' promoted by the Wisconsin Builders Association, the lost wetlands will be mitigated (read: artificially-replaced-or-enhanced-new-and-improved-and-better-than-the-stupid-old-original) somewhere else in the state.

Could be Lincoln County, could be Grant or Vilas County, could be anywhere.

That works, right?

And about that parkland? It's a drop in the bucket. A tree falling in the forest.

Twenty acres?


And hey: Let's be honest. Parks are for the riffraff. They're so 1930's and 40's. Doesn't everyone these days have a backyard, with a white-washed picket fence, a picnic table and a leafy maple or two?

Though ye suburbanites now might need a taller fence, or one of those publicly-financed lovely sound-barriers to block out the noise from the new lanes and roads in Our Your Land of Highways. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Walker Could Manage Santorum's No-Snob Club

Marquette University dropout Scott Walker might be saying, "told ya."

How Wisconsin Lost Its Public Legal Advocate For Conservation

As the state eliminates wetland protections and hurtles closer to allowing mining in a watershed known for wild rice harvesting, you might want to read this article (pdf format) about the 28-year legacy of public environmental legal work and public policy advocacy that Tommy Thompson ended during his tenure as Governor.

Jeff Wagner Brings Out AM 620 WTMJ Ghouls

Afternoon WTMJ-AM righty talker Jeff Wagner played to the base of his conservative base this afternoon by wondering aloud about the possibility of "intent" in Milwaukee's rash of co-sleeping deaths.

His producer then teed-up the callers, the first of whom said investigators should check to see if parents had taken out life insurance policies on the dead kids.

These talkers know how to stir up the worse emotions and 'thoughts' of the audience.

Glenn Grothman's Repeal Of "Equal Pay Act" Heading For Walker Signature

Solid and shocking account of how far to the right, and backwards, these Republican radicals are dragging the State of Wisconsin.

Grothman displaying his priorities at Joint Finance mining hearing, 2/18. Rebecca Kemble photo.

Does Walker Say This Stuff With A Straight Face?

In an interview with Yahoo News, Walker predicts he will be outspent in the recall campaign, then extends this fiction by claiming "a money gap" that does not exist:

Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor, braces for recall election, proclaims controversial law is working

By David Chalian | The Ticket – 4 hrs ago

Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin who is battling an effort to recall him from office, told Yahoo News that his controversial law that ended many collective bargaining rights for public-sector employees and sparked protests from labor unions and their allies one year ago is accomplishing his goal...

His campaign and allied groups have already spent more than $7 million on his effort to keep his job, but Walker expects to spend less than his opponents.

"I think I'll be woefully outspent," Walker said in explaining why he believes the recall election will be tougher to win than his 2010 race. "So, in terms of being confident, I'm cautiously optimistic. The reason for caution is if we're able to break through the money gap and get our message out to compete with all this money from out of state interests, then I think we can win."
Outspent? With the Kochs and other right-wing deep pockets in your corner?


David Koch, the conservative financial angel, recently told the Palm Beach Post newspaper that one of his advocacy groups had already sent Walker's anti-recall effort $700,000, and he'd do more to help:
Asked about his efforts to sway public opinion, Koch acknowledges his group is hard at work in places such as Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is facing off with public unions and grappling with a likely recall vote.

"We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years," he says. "We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more."

By "we" he says he means Americans for Prosperity, which is spending about $700,000 on an "It's working" television ad buy in the state. It credits Walker's public pension and union overhaul with giving school districts the first surpluses they've seen in years. The unions and the left see things differently.

A year ago, a blogger posing as David Koch famously prank-called Walker and goaded the governor to say it would be "outstanding" if Koch would fly him to "Cali" as a reward for crushing the public unions. The Koch brothers' conglomerate, Koch Industries, holds regular political meetings in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and the events have attracted the likes of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

At the time of the prank call, Koch told The New York Times, he didn't even know the Wisconsin governor's name. He knows it now.

"What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He's an impressive guy and he's very courageous," Koch says after a benefit dinner of salmon and white wine. "If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power."

Walker Concedes Signatures Issue, But...

...With this guy, there's always a "but" - - keeps alive his documented pattern of dissembling by claiming he didn't have enough time to check the recall petitions.

Walker's people know there are more than enough valid signatures, but are incapable of simply saying it because they have a playbook that says do nothing to suggest weakness.

Editorial Conflates Both Parties On Redistricting, But Without Evidence

[Originally posted 2:51 p.m., Sunday, 2/26]

 This line in Sunday's Journal Sentinel editorial on the GOP redistricting now before a three-judge panel should have been backed up with facts, edited or deleted:

For all the sanctimonious whining about the way the Republicans have operated, Democrats would have done everything in their power to ensure their success at the ballot box - just like the GOP did.
"Everything in their [Democrats'] power...just like the GOP did."

The line follows this unsubstantiated remark to the judges by assistant attorney general Maria Lazar, as the editorial recounts it after saying "poor Lazar" had to defend her GOP clients with a straight face:
Noting that the last time legislators and the governor approved maps, Democrats controlled the Capitol, she said: "Had the Democratic Party held the majority and the governor's office (last year), a similar legislative process would have been implemented, as it was in 1983."
C'mon - - toss Lazar or the GOP legislators a bone, but don't go so far overboard.

I got to the newspaper in 1983, and I'll acknowledge it if I am wrong, but I don't recall reporting or disclosures then about Democratic legislators who were made to sign confidentiality oaths at private attorney offices in order to see their district maps, or about records forced into public view by judges and court orders, etc., because so much of the GOP's recent effort was not just carried out in secret - - it was meant to stay that way.

One of the GOP legislators' attorneys last week was even required by the court to give a deposition about the redistricting process: what does that tell you about how far from business-as-usual this redistricting procedure had strayed?

The editorial correctly slaps the GOP for its scuzzy process - - as did the judges (see the chief judge's strong statement, here) - - so the point stands on its own.
In ordering GOP legislators to turn over documents to a group of Democrats, the judges (two of whom were appointed by Republican presidents) wrote:

"Without a doubt, the Legislature made a conscious choice to involve private lawyers in what gives every appearance of an attempt - albeit poorly disguised - to cloak the private machinations of Wisconsin's Republican legislators in the shroud of attorney-client privilege. What could have - indeed, should have - been accomplished publicly instead took place in private, in an all but shameful attempt to hide the redistricting process from public scrutiny."
And I'm not taking issue with the word "sanctimonious" aimed at the Dems: that's a fair perspective if you want to make that subjective judgement - - but there was no need to try and balance the editorial's criticism with a hypothetical, unsubstantiated assumption aimed the other way - - even if you want to argue, as does the editorial, that a neutral process is needed to replace the current partisan process.

A process to which the GOP objectively added unique debasement - - and again, look no further than what Judge J. P. Stadtmueller had to say in just one of his public remarks about what the GOP had done and was continuing in pre-trial activities:
...we have had enough of the charade and mischaracterization. I don't mean to impugn either you or anyone associated with this case, but as they say, the facts are the facts. What has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency, secrecy, and at the end of the day, as the court has commented earlier, it may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but appearances are everything, and Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing. 
I appreciate the need for fairness and balance in reporting, and editorial writers are free to pile on all the adjectives they want - - after all, they are writing an opinion piece - - but editorials don't need to artificially create middle ground without facts to fill it in.

Where The Heck Are Wisconsin's Job Data For January?

I'm wondering when Wisconsin's monthly jobs' numbers for January will be released.

[Monday Update: I regret missing news reporting about the January data coming out in March, and a link on the DWD website with the entire schedule. Rather than take down the item, which causes confusion, I will add the information (following several comments about this Sunday) and a link to the DWD release date information for the year. - -]

Recent federal figures showed Wisconsin leading the Midwest in new individual jobless claims and "mass layoffs" (50+ workers at a time) events for January - - data I posted.

No sign of them on the Workforce Development site - - it's virtually the end of the following month. Usually they are out by now, no?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Santorum Was A Precocious Little Constitutional Scholar

From ABC News:

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said today that watching John F. Kennedy’s speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston in 1960 made him want to “throw up.”
In 1960, Santorum was two-years-old.

On Mining Issue, State Rep Cory Mason Vs. State Rep. Mary Williams

I offer for your weekend edification two short videos about the Assembly's flawed mining bill, - - which the Journal Sentinel, a supporter editorially of changes to existing mining law, has labeled "rancid."

As things sand now, the GOP Senate leadership, with its 17-16 majority, wants to approve the Assembly bill but does not have the votes because one moderate Republican, Dale Schultz, (R-Richland Center), has said he will not vote "yes" and have "R" stand for rancid.

On one hand, State Rep. Mary Williams, (R-Medford), et al.

On the other hand, State Rep. Cory Mason, (D-Racine).

Score on transparency, passion, facts, language, sincerity, big picture/little picture focus.

Waters Near Proposed Iron Ore Mine Win International Wetlands Recognition

From the Facebook page Friday of Mike Wiggins, Jr., Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa - - the same people with sovereign treaty rights kept from the table as the GOP-led Legislature rushes to approve an iron-ore mining bill drafted with industry assistance that will harm water quality in the Bad River watershed:

World-class!! The Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs joined the shortlist of world class wetlands this week when our piece of heaven was listed as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. This is the first tribally-owned Wetland of International Importance in the United States. Frank, Eldred and I attended doings at the Wisconsin Wetlands Association Conference in Lake Geneva. Thank you to the people of Bad River, our BR Natural Resource Dept and others for the preservation and protection that made this possible.
The US has signed the Ramsar Convention. From its website, this is the agreement's description and mission:

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and the Convention's member countries cover all geographic regions of the planet.

The Ramsar mission

The Convention's mission is "the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world". 

The Convention uses a broad definition of the types of wetlands covered in its mission, including lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans.

The Wise Use concept

At the centre of the Ramsar philosophy is the “wise use” concept. The wise use of wetlands is defined as "the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development". 

"Wise use" therefore has at its heart the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources, for the benefit of humankind. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Two WI Republican Newsmakers In One Wonderful Photo

Rebecca Kemble photo
Your tax dollars at work in the State Legislature.

Rep. Mary Williams, (R-Medford) - - who would not say who wrote the mining bill she managed as a committee chair (see video) - - and Rep. Joel Kleefisch, (R-Oconomowoc) - - who wants a hunting season in Wisconsin for Sandhill cranes, or as he calls them, "the rib-eye in the sky."

Here they are seen taking testimony on allowing the hunting of grey wolves.

State Sen. Grothman Gives Full Attention To Mining Bill At Finance Hearing

Congratulations, West Bend: Your GOP Senator Glenn (center) distinguished himself at the 2/18 all-important mining bill hearing:
Rebecca Kemble photo

This Blog Should Load Faster

After a second complaint about slow-loading posts, I took some advice and deleted several graphic elements that I'd embedded on the left margin, and one person with previous problems reports they are resolved.

Truth In A Bumper Sticker, For Wisconsin And Beyond

Redistricting, Mining And Legal Matters Top-Rated Here Last Week

Here's feedback for readers about last week's leading posts, and thanks for driving up the numbers:

Feb 24, 2012

Feb 22, 2012

Feb 18, 2012

Feb 20, 2012,

Feb 23, 2012

Redistricting Case Argument Ended Friday; Decision In A Few Weeks

So ends the courtroom phase of our education about the making of Wisconsin's legislative district maps - - perhaps set in stone for a decade, or not - - with a three-judged Federal panel now deciding if the maps are Constitutional.

A tip of the hat to the court for having forced out documents and discussions and methods held and carried out secretly by Republican legislators and their attorneys - - secrets intended to be kept locked away from the public for partisan reasons.

If legislating is like making sausage, this legislators' process and product were, to quote last Saturday's editorial Journal Sentinel about a separate piece of GOP legislating - - the Assembly's mining bill - - "rancid."

Overhaul the state's mining regulations: We aren't fans of the Assembly bill to relax mining laws, and we think Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's in-your-face power play to try to shove that rancid piece of legislation down the throats of Wisconsin's citizens was ill-advised. But there is still time to push through a reasonable bill. All it would take is a little reasonableness on the part of Fitzgerald and his brother, Jeff, the Assembly speaker. Yes, we think that's possible. Hundreds of jobs in the economically depressed North Woods are at stake. There is no reason to destroy the village to save it, Mr. Majority Leader.

Good News About Transit On Regional Planning Website, But...

Not at the website put up by SEWRPC - - the public, taxpayer-paid planning agency for the transit-deprived, highway-rich Milwaukee/SE Wisconsin region.

Nope - - you gotta look to the Chicago commission site for this valuable information, included in its always newsy weekly email update.

On February 23, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives leadership indicated it may revise its five-year transportation reauthorization proposal, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act (AEIJA).
SEWRPC does not send out such weekly updates.

Doesn't have a "news" button.

Hasn't issued a topic newsletter for four months or a new publication in two months.

Remember this the next time SEWRPC demands to be taken seriously on transit issues, or complains about suggestions that its focus is highways over transit.

Wisconsin Reports Most "Mass Layoff" Events In Midwest, In January, Says Federal Data Report

[initially posted 12:50 a.m., updated 8:40] The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 78 "mass layoff events" (50 or more workers laid-off) in Wisconsin for January, 2012, the data show - - the largest number of such events in the twelve-state Midwest region.

And 6.014 new unemployment compensation claimants - - also the most among Midwestern states.

In both categories, we're unfortunately ahead of bigger states, like Ohio and Michigan.

I expect that by Monday or Tuesday we'll have the actual net job gain or loss data: the six prior months for Wisconsin have all been in the minus category.

PolitiFact had been charting the month-by-month job picture, but since the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has yet to release January numbers, the chart only covers 2011

And the 250,000 new private-sector jobs Walker promised in his 2010 campaign?

Not happening.

Looks like Team Walker has its new campaign song, Tom Petty notwithstanding.

Remember When Waukesha County Clerk Hit The Wrong Buttons On Her Dang Computer...

Though Kathy Nickolaus was supposed to have election-night reporting correctly in her sights - - let's hope she doesn't confuse "safety on" with "safety off."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Walker's Denials About Tampering With State Pension System Fall Flat

And why is Scott Walker having trouble being believed when he says he has no plans to change the state pension system?

Poor baby: can't a hard-working chief executive get some love?

* Well, for one thing, his budget required a study of the system, even though it is fully-funded and nationally-respected. And that fed into recollections that he:

*  Withheld his "bomb" to demolish collective bargaining, the called it a "modest" proposal.

*  Has had 28 of 42 statements rated by PolitiFact as "mainly false," false," or "pants on fire."

A batting average of .667 false doesn't get you much respect outside of those Annual Liars' Contests like the one sponsored in Burlington, WI.

(Note to staff: Schedule Walker there, pronto.)

Plus, he's managed to rack up six straight months of net job losses statewide, and created a new budget deficit larger than what he faced when he came into office and said we needed to attack it with the so-called Budget Repair Bill, which also included his "modest" changes to collective bargaining - - so any route into the multi-billion-dollar pension system or reducing its cost to the state would be attractive to Walker and his anti-worker, budget-strangling team.

So his credibility on the issue is zilch, and rightly so.

Does GOP Prefer No Mining Bill To The Assembly's Suicide Pact?

Some people think so, but I suspect the Assembly/Fitzgeralds would swallow a compromise bill that retains the citizen hearing provision now in the permitting law if the approximate $2-per-ton reclamation fee on the mining company is lowered or waived.

After all, even Walker, who has no use for citizen involvement, had said he didn't think keeping the hearing was a deal-breaker.

Maybe they can schedule the hearing after the permit is approved, or have it limited to an hour, or only open to people with approved ID?

Care to watch how Walker/Fitzgerald allies comport themselves with regard to some of the Assembly bill's critics/skeptics, and see how your tax dollars for these legislators' salaries and expenses are being spent? Videos, here.

GOP Redistricting Moved Many Thousands Of Voters Unnecessarily, Court Told

Testimony in the civil rights trial in Federal Court in Milwaukee brought against GOP legislators indicates that voters were moved in and out of districts en masse without justification, the Journal Sentinel reports:

In drawing new election districts last year, Republican lawmakers shifted huge numbers of voters into new districts, in one case moving more than 700 times the number of people needed, according to court testimony Thursday.

They could have left the 60th Assembly District in Ozaukee County largely alone because it was underpopulated by just 10 people. Instead, they moved 17,595 people out of the district and put 17,963 people into it. In all, the shift moved 719 times as many people as was necessary, testified Ken Mayer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist.

The moves also had profound effects for the Latino neighborhoods on Milwaukee's near south side, he said.

There, the new batch of voters in the 8th Assembly District "would simply overwhelm the voting power of the Latino community and severely diminish their ability to elect the candidate of their choice," Mayer testified.

To set the right population levels in the district on Milwaukee's near south side, lawmakers needed to add about 2,800 people. But instead they pulled almost 23,000 people out of the district and added about 25,600 people to it.

The result: Almost half of the people who used to be in the district no longer are, Mayer said. Similar shifts occurred in the neighboring 9th Assembly District.

"They were both in my view radically reconfigured," Mayer testified.

The Romney Campaign: Bad Staff Work, Ridiculous Candidate

Scheduling an event in depressed Detroit's nearly-empty 65,000-seat NFL stadium? Where the candidate says his wife drives "a couple of Cadillacs?" After seven years of running for President, this is what is being offered as GOP "front-runner?"

Santorum and Obama should issue a joint news release of thanks.

In Redistricting Case, State Lawyer Arrogates, Not Litigates

It's amazing how the GOP legislators in Milwaukee Federal Court over their redistricting plan and process are being represented - - on our dime:

After being forced by a three-judge Federal panel to release documents in the redistricting case, after having an attorney for GOP legislators deposed about the withheld documents, after being fined for filing frivolous motions, and after being repeatedly tongue-lashed from the bench about poor procedures - - a "charade," and out-of-character for Wisconsin, according to the panel's chief judge - - an Assistant Attorney General actually had the temerity in Federal Court yesterday to lecture the three-judge panel about the relative insignificance of procedure.

As reported by Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel:

The panel hearing the case - two of them appointed by Republican presidents - repeatedly has admonished GOP lawmakers for the secretive process they used to draw the maps.

But [Assistant Attorney General Maria] Lazar argued on Thursday that the judges must concentrate on the maps themselves, rather than how they were drawn.

"The process of legislation is not on trial," she said.
That sure looks disrespectful to me - - and hardly the way to get past all the earlier statements and actions from the bench that practically shout out that process is pivotal when it comes to writing laws about voting and representation in a democracy.

Nothing about how the case has unfolded shows the judges will respond positively to that bit of unwanted arrogance - - and citizens should be further outraged at this display of wasted taxpayer dollars on top of all the fees paid to private attorneys and GOP legislators whose secret processes has landed them in Federal Court.

Lazar must have missed this statement about process from the bench Tuesday by Judge J. P. Stadtmueller, the chief of the three-member panel:
..we have had enough of the charade and mischaracterization. I don't mean to impugn either you or anyone associated with this case, but as they say, the facts are the facts. What has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency, secrecy, and at the end of the day, as the court has commented earlier, it may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but appearances are everything, and Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing. 
Seems to be a Wisconsin GOP trend of late.

And risking a bit of apples-to-oranges-criciticism: ask Ryan Braun if process is unimportant when it comes to things legal.

Testimony In Redistricting Case Shows Special Interests Were At The Table

The Journal Sentinel notes just how selectively secret were those redistricting meetings that GOP lawyers and staffers had organized out of the public view:

Also Thursday, a filing with the federal court showed the Republicans' redistricting team met with Realtors and other groups about drawing maps around January 2011, shortly after the GOP took control of the statehouse.
Those groups spend heavily to elect Republicans.

Jim Troupis, an attorney for the Legislature, said in a deposition the Realtors were at the meeting and that he believed also present were a bankers group and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's large business lobby.

Troupis discussed the meeting during an eight-hour deposition that occurred Thursday night and was filed with the court Friday. He did not describe in detail what was discussed.
The meeting with the groups occurred just months before the redistricting team had most Republican lawmakers sign secrecy agreements promising not to discuss the maps with anyone.
Add that to earlier disclosures that information about the redistricting was communicated to the General Counsel of the Republican National Committee and with a high-ranking member (former GOP Assembly leader Scott Jensen)of a major national conservative advocacy group, among others - - disclosures forced out by the judges once they learned that key records had been withheld by the legislators' attorneys.

Hungry For Grilled Crane, Joel ("Rib-Eye") Kleefisch Makes The NY Times

Not for his voting scam, but for his dopey proposal to shoot cranes.

Federal Judge Redefines Political Obligation In Wisconsin

"Openness and fairness and doing the right thing."
Write that down: it should be the new State of Wisconsin motto.

It is ironic to the nth degree that J.P. Stadtmueller - - appointed US Attorney in Milwaukee in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan, and then elevated to the US District Court bench by Reagan in 1987 - - has clearly enunciated in the current political environment the perfect frame for the recall efforts against Gov. Walker and Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald, and more importantly, for all political campaigns, public policy work, and taxpayer spending in the state - - from now on.

I am sure Stadtmueller had in mind only the obfuscatory tactics used in the redistricting case by GOP legislators and their attorneys in mind, but his admonishment in open court Tuesday from the bench to an attorney for the state can fairly be applied to other public policy and procedural issues - - across, and regardless of, partisan lines - - because Stadtmueller gave it broad reach:
...we have had enough of the charade and mischaracterization. I don't mean to impugn either you or anyone associated with this case, but as they say, the facts are the facts. What has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency, secrecy, and at the end of the day, as the court has commented earlier, it may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but appearances are everything, and Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing.
*  Openness and fairness and doing the right thing - - completely contradicted by Walker's dropping a bomb withheld during the campaign for Governor on collective bargaining rights  after his swearing in, and;

*  Absent from the Assembly's mining bill drafting in secret, then released without sponsors, ith further exclusions of public participation in the process to come, and;

*  Absent from then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's office operation, where prosecutors allege the presence of a secret email system used to facilitate illegal campaigning on public time and with public resources, and'

Absent from Scott Walker's continuous claims that his 2011-'13 budget did not raise taxes, when it raised two taxes, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau - - and cost low-income residents and the working poor money from their already stressed lifestyles and budgets while upper-income earners and some businesses got tax breaks.

What we need to do is promote and reclaim the legacy that the no-nonsense Stadtmueller so eloquently and precisely summed up in one simple sentence of a mere eighteen words - - The Stadtmueller Standard - -  that should be sworn to by public officials, applied by policy watchdogs, and be bold-faced in school books here, permanently:
"Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Racine Legislator Flubs Tribe's Name, Proves He's Recall-Worthy

The man is Van Wanggaard, an actual elected State Senator, who doesn't even know the name of the Native American group whose land and waters would be directly affected by the mining bill he claims is his.

And you wonder why his party looks so bad in this mining issue (video of more GOP legislators, here) - - maybe Van Wanggaard would have been better informed if the Ojibwe hadn't been shut out of the process - -  and why he deserves the recall election headed his way, according to this report:

Senator Van Wanggaard held a mini-town hall today in Racine County Wisconsin and during his question and answer session, Wanggaard began talking about the mining bill and how it would create jobs in Wisconsin.
As you will see in the video, he seems to be very proud of his bill. It is around the 4 minute mark in the video, Senator Wanggaard states that mining will be coming up very shortly.

It was then he was asked this question from a member in the audience "Did you at all work with the sovereign nations when you were writing this bill?"

Van Wanggaard replies "Sovereign, you mean the Indians?"

Questioner:"The tribes."Van Wanggaard then replies "Absolutely."

The Senator then recognizes the camera and points out the fact "And you are taping me I know."

Van Wanggaard continues "We had several of the Indian tribes, the uh bad land, let’s see is it bad water?" The audience then interjects "Bad River."

Van Wanggaard: "there you go, the Bad River tribe actually had a chat with me about it."

The audience member injects again, "Oh so they were in on the planning?" in which Van Wanggaard replied, "oh well, I don't know if they were in on the planning, I'm not on the mining commission."

Then later in the volley of questions the senator was asked if he would vote for the bill, after a moment of dodging the question, Van Wanggaard tersely replies "Am I going to vote on it? It's my bill!"
Oh - - and here's another video of a mining supporter at work in the Assembly.

Wetlands Destruction Act Moves To Walker For Signature

I know it's hard to keep up with all of special-interest depredation this Legislature has unleashed on Wisconsin's law, traditions and natural resources, but you can add to this list of horrors a bill pushed by the Builders Association - - its members or insiders hold three of the top positions now at the DNR, including Secretary and Deputy Secretary - -  the Realtors and the WMC to ease filling and building in or at the edge of wetlands to your score sheet.

Romney's SuperDuperSuperPAC $$: Cautionary Tale For Wisconsin Voters

We've seen Romney's Bain Capital-linked SuperPAC help the candidate reclaim a lost lead to Gingrich within the week between the South Carolina and Florida primaries, and his money bomb in Michigan may turn the tide there against Santorum in a short time, too.

Money does count in politics and elections, and negative ads work - - which is a reminder that the millions Scott Walker has already collected, and the additional funds promised by the Kochs and others are realities to be reckoned with and not discounted as the recall elections loom.

Journal Sentinel Offering Solid Coverage Of The Redistricting Trial

The Journal Sentinel's Patrick Marley is closely following the case. I hope the paper's new pay wall does not keep you from reading the details. Here is a tidbit from the story that gets updated as things move on:

Redistricting 'radically reconfigured' districts, expert testifies

Republican legislators moved 18 times as many voters as necessary in Latino areas, UW-Madison political scientist says

In drawing Assembly districts in Milwaukee's Latino neighborhoods, Republican lawmakers moved 18 times as many voters as necessary, according to court testimony Thursday.

The new batch of voters in the 8th Assembly District "would simply overwhelm the voting power of the Latino community and severely diminish their ability to elect the candidate of their choice," testified Ken Mayer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist.

To set the right population levels in the district on Milwaukee's near south side, lawmakers needed to add about 2,800 people. Instead, Republicans pulled almost 23,000 people out of the district and added about 25,600 people to it.

The result: Almost half of the people who used to be in the district no longer are, Mayer said. Similar shifts occurred in the neighboring 9th Assembly District.

"They were both in my view radically reconfigured," Mayer testified.

Foul! Watch State Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R) Vote For An Absent Colleague

Voting fraud?

Get the man from Oconomowoc a Sandhill crane rib-eye steak.

How The GOP Undermined Its Redistricting Case

The case that began today in Federal Court in Milwaukee about the constitutionality of a GOP-managed bill that created new legislative district maps for the next decade pits allegations by Democrats and minority communities of politically-inspired and improper bill drafting against assertions by Republicans that the bill and maps were created fairly.

It has become known that redistricting work took place, though publicly-funded, in private attorneys' offices near the State Capitol into which GOP legislative leaders' staffers were moved, and Republican legislators who were invited to those offices to review maps and boundaries proposed for their districts had to sign agreements requiring them to keep quiet about what they'd seen seen.

Secrecy was paramount, as was strengthening incumbents' status.

The problem the GOP will have making the case that the mapping was not politicized is underscored in a June 21, 2011 email from Jim Troupis, one the GOP attorneys, written to staffers for the Assembly and Senate leadership about the redistricting work.

In the email, Troupis explained that he had been briefly unavailable in Madison because he'd been in Washington, DC: the email is one of dozens forced into public view by the Federal judges hearing the case who decided some email records had been improperly withheld by the GOP's attorneys during what is called "discovery" prior to the case finally being heard.

The forced disclosures show how far from Madison redistricting details were being delivered to certain partisans while being withheld from the public:

Wrote Troupis:

"I did meet with the General Counsel to the RNC and reported to him on this and other issues."
RNC is the Republican National Committee.

The bill and maps were made public weeks later.

Other documents forced out by the judges showed that former Republican Assembly Majority Leader Scott Jensen - - now a school choice advocate with a national conservative policy and funding organization - - was contacted about the process.

And additional emails showed that the drafters knew their proposed maps would disenfranchise tens of thousands of state residents when they were to be moved into districts without a regularly-scheduled State Senate election.

Must-See Video Of WI Assembly Members Dodging Mining Bill Questions

You want to see your State Assembly members in action - - ducking questions from a citizen, literally going behind closed door as they did when they wrote the mining bill, then calling the police to stop the questions?

Here's the video.

Wisconsin GOP Playbook's First Rule: Never Apologize, Admit Error, Take Responsibility

Republican Strategy in 2012 has one essential, all-purpose rule:

Never admit error, apologize or take responsibility - - Arrogance in motion. Examples:

*  Redraft legislative maps that were drawn up by Republican leaders in secret, as suggested twice in two days by a panel of three Federal Appeals Court judges?

Nope, said the GOP, we'll take our chances with a trial - - before the same judicial panel that has repeatedly admonished (one sample) the GOP and its lawyers for pre-trial tactics.

*  Reconsider the Assembly's "rancid" mining bill - - that adjective was the pro-mining reform Journal Sentinel's Saturday editorial term for the Assembly measure - - in favor of a bi-partisan compromise drafted by two State Senators?

Nope, said Assembly Republican leader Jeff Fitzgerald, sparing his brother Scott, the Senate GOP leader, the possibility of having to concede that the Assembly bill was indeed "rancid," as well as the trouble of working with two Senators - - Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), and Robert Jauch, (D-Poplar) - -  who were trying to introduce some civility, respect for Native American treaty rights, open-legislating and core Wisconsin water protection tradition (and law) into the process.

* Apologize for dropping the bomb, which is how Scott Walker described his en-collective-bargaining plan and bill to the fake Koch brother in a taped phone call (transcript and audio, here)?

Nope. All Walker has said that the call was a stupid thing to have done (and gotten caught at), and that he didn't lay a proper foundation for the plan - - political responses, not apologies from the heart.

* Accept responsibility for your staff after they've been charged will illegal activities that benefited him, or the GOP? Let what is called "the deck" on a newspaper story - - that's the bold-faced line under a headline - - in this Journal Sentinel posting inform you of Scott Walker's approach:

Governor says actions of ex-staffers not his fault

Being a GOP leader, legislator or contractor these days means never having to say you were sorry.

Which is an honest approach, because they are not sorry.

What's the recourse? The recall process.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

GOP Offers Seats At The Table...But Not To Ojibwe Tribe

There's a double-standard enforced by Republicans when it comes to bringing people in to share in decision-making - - and I won't even go into detail about the redistricting mess blowing up in Federal Court in Milwaukee over secretive-map making where paid attorneys and friendly, outside advisers had a hand in the drafting. reports tonight:

Walker signs executive order to reduce regulatory burden on small businesses

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an executive order to further empower the Small Business Regulatory Review Board to determine the economic impact of rules on small business and increase the flexibilities state government must give employers when complying with regulations...

...Walker said.  “Giving small business owners a seat at the table when discussing state regulations will help get buy-in for rules and regulations from employers, assist state agencies in promulgating rules that are realistic, and ultimately grow jobs in Wisconsin.”
But when the Assembly was writing a pro-industry mining bill behind closed doors - - of course, with the mining company at the table - - the Assembly never offered a seat to the Ojibwe Bad River Band whose lands and waters are directly affected, and whose treaty rights need to be respected.

Rep. Jeff Stone, (R-Greendale), said he had no obligation to be that inclusive (video).

And Rep. Mary Williams, (R-Medford), the chair of the committee that 'wrote' the mining bill...
Photo of Representative Williams
...said legislators had deigned to discuss matters with some Bad River officials - - though where is unclear - - but to the Band, through The Wisconsin State Journal she said, in effect: 'tough luck and move on, since if we let you at the table, we'd have had to let everyone else in, too':
Mary Williams, R-Medford, who chaired the Assembly committee that helped write and conduct hearings on the mine permit bill, said Bad River officials were invited to testify at hearings on the legislation. Some Republican legislators also spoke with tribal officials outside of the hearings, she said, although the tribe wasn't directly involved in authoring the legislation.

"I'd be willing to bet that lots of people would have liked to have had seats at the table," Williams said. "It didn't happen. But that's in the past. I do understand how they feel."
Some great video here of Stone, Williams and others ducking questions about the bill's actual authors, as the door to Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald's office is closed in the face of the questioners - - who are then told to leave by Capitol Police.

And you wonder why the Journal Sentinel last Saturday editorially called the bill "rancid?"

Milwaukee Harbor's New Wind Turbine Is Up

Saw it this afternoon. Nice project for energy generation and demonstration purposes. Thanks to Tom Content for the story w/photo.

GOP Opts For Redistricting Trial, And Walker Will Further Enrich Related Outside Counsel

As expected, GOP legislators decline the judicial panel's strong suggestion that redistricting work continue - - in the open - - and prefer a trial to examine the Constitutionality of their secretive redistricting work, and there's more mind-boggling news, according to the Journal Sentinel:

Walker is green-lighting more taxpayer-provided dollars to some of the outside attorneys, with the eventual bills allowed to rise to more than $1.3 million.

Workplace Discrimination Gets Official Wink Of Approval In Wisconsin


By ending financial awards that compensated victims of workplace discrimination and sent a deterrent message to arrogant employers.

After all, job creators need just the right environment in which to work their magic.

It's another blow to fair play, and worker and minority rights - - begun a year ago when Walker dropped his "bomb" on public sector collective bargaining: Wisconsin's far-right Legislature finished approvals Tuesday for a bill that will end court-ordered financial awards to victims of workplace discrimination.

Walker and his legislative allies are pushing every pro-1% bill in sight - - before recall elections - - to lock in shifts in the playing field advantage towards corporate power and against workers and members of groups historically with less power.

GOP Legislators Get 2 More Hours Court Cogitating Time

2 P.M. Is The Witching Hour For GOP Legislators In Federal Court

That's the deadline for letting the judges know whether the GOP wants to begin re-drafting the redistricting maps they drew up in secret, or go on with a trial to determine if the redistricting passes Constitutional muster.

WI Wildlife Federation Lauds Mining Bill Compromise

George Meyer, a former DNR Secretary, explains the advantages of the mining compromise already dissed by mining industry captive and US Senate candidate Jeff Fitzgerald, (R-Horicon), the Assembly's Republican leader:

Contact: George Meyer, Executive Director, (608) 516-5545

 New Bipartisan Mining Bill: Tight Permit Deadlines, Retains Public Input and Protects Environment
Poynette: In a rare moment of bipartisan lawmaking, Senators Dale Schultz and Bob Jauch introduced the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act to reform Wisconsin’s existing mining laws to address the concerns raised by Gogebic Taconite relating to permit processing deadlines.
Critics of current Wisconsin mining law have indicated that current mining applicationscan  be delayed by the Department of Natural Resources which leads to regulatory uncertainty and additional costs to mining applicants.

The bill sets forth a period of eighteen months for DNR to make final decisions on permit. Permit processing timelines by the States of Michigan and Minnesota and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers run between a minimum of two years to four years. The Schultz-Jauch bill provides the opportunity for the mining applicant and the DNR to reach agreement to extend the permit processing time to take into account unpredicted events affecting permit processing.
The proposed Mining Reformed Act retains a contested case hearing provision that is normal in other DNR regulatory decisions. 

This allows citizens, the mining applicant and the DNR to formally review all the mining information presented in support or opposition to the mine and to ask questions of expert witnesses under oath on how they reached their professional judgments on the mine. 

To address the concerns of the mining company that a contested case could delay mining decision making, the time frame for making the contested case decision is placed within the eighteen month permit deadline, thereby providing permit timeline certainty to the applicant.
The proposed Mining Reform Act does not weaken current environmental law protection.

Gogebic Taconite has stated publicly that it does not need to have environmental standards lowered. The Assembly mining bill, AB 426, exempts iron mining companies such as Gogebic Taconite from many Wisconsin environmental standards.
Finally, the bill provides necessary upfront mining impact funds to local communities affected by a mine without raising taxes on the mining company.

State Journal Writer Highlights Mining Bill's Ignorance Of Ojibwe Treaty Rights

Finally: a mainstream media focus on Obijwe treaty rights blown off by Assembly and Senate leaders who put together mining bills with far greater attention paid to the demands of an out-of-state mining company.

I'd been hammering away at this matter for weeks ("Fitzgerald's Fiasco"), so to Ron Seely at the State Journal, thank you for this, and the rest of your piece:

Armed with its status as a sovereign nation and powerful treaties with the federal government, the Bad River Chippewa tribe has the legal muscle to do what Democratic opponents of an iron mine proposed for northern Wisconsin have so far been unable to do: halt or delay the project.

Those powers, say experts on Native American law, appear to have been both underestimated and misunderstood by proponents of the mine, including Republican legislators who have been criticized for failing to consult with tribal members as they work on a bill to streamline permitting for the mine.

"All of us are going to get an education in federal Indian law," said Larry Nesper, a UW-Madison scholar in Great Lakes Indian law and politics.

Will Mining Bill Get Done By 2/29? $1,000-Per-Ticket DC Fundraiser Could Conflict

The powerhouse DC lobbying shop founded by current GOP Governor Haley Barbour is making sure more big money gets to Wisconsin.

Hat tip to CogDis for the low-down.

From the invite:

Wisconsin Night in Washington DC
You are cordially invited to attend a reception in support of the 
Republican Party of Wisconsin 
With Hosts:
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald 
Joint Finance Co-Chair Rep. Robin Vos
along with
Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald; Assistant Leaders Rep. Scott Suder and Senator Glenn Grothman; and 
Joint Finance Co-Chair Senator Alberta Darling

Federal Judges Swat Away GOP Concern; Put Lawmakers Under Pressure To Act

The three-judge Federal panel hearing preliminary issues Wednesday morning in a Milwaukee courtroom to determine if GOP Legislative redistricting maps drawn in secret are Constitutional brushed aside legal chaff tossed out by the Republicans' lawyers.

The judges asserted their authority and gave the lawmakers a few more hours to decide whether to begin redrawing the maps right now, or to proceed with a quick trial on the Constitutional questions - - and that sure looks like a win for those alleging the redistricting embedded disenfranchisement and violated minority voters' civil rights law.

Reporting details, here:

This is the second time in two days that the Court has laid down high-pressure decide-now-deadlines - - suggesting that the judges don't like the maps as drawn, or the processes by which the drafting took place.

Yesterday, continuing a series of tough words, orders and even an earlier fine for filing frivolous motions - - the chief judge in the case delivered this admonishment to one of the attorneys for the state:

...we have had enough of the charade and mischaracterization. I don't mean to impugn either you or anyone associated with this case, but as they say, the facts are the facts. What has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency, secrecy, and at the end of the day, as the court has commented earlier, it may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but appearances are everything, and Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing.
To be candid, we have seen everything but that in the way this case has progressed. Not because of anything that you did...or anybody else, but the facts are the facts, and so we're going to get to the bottom of the facts so that the judges who are called upon to discharge their function have all of the information before us that will result in a fair, just and complete opinion.
That's what this case is all about. So to the extent that additional discovery is required, it's going to happen.
Rather than clutter up the text here with links, I will say that there were four more-or-less-continuous blog posts yesterday here on these issues, just fyi.

Major Financial Services Corporation Rates Wisconsin's State Economy 34th Nationally - - Dropping 14 Spots

More bad review for the Wisconsin job market since Walker's budget was approved:

From the February monthly "State Monitor" report by BMO Capital Markets, comes this analysis for Wisconsin, in part:

Labor market... Employment has been falling since mid 2011, with nonfarm payrolls down in six straight months through December, or a cumulative 1.3% since June. Aggressive government spending cuts have been a major factor, with government employment sliding 2.5% y/y after falling precipitously since July. Meantime, construction employment hit the lowest level on record (dating back to 1990) in November, offsetting strength in leisure & hospitality jobs.
The ranking loss among the 50 states was third sharpest.

And this trend has been reported before.

Republican Arrogance On Full Display In Madison, Milwaukee

* In Madison Tuesday, on a bi-partisan, compromise mining bill drafted in the State Senate, Assembly leader Jeff Fitzgerald, (R-Horicon), said "no."

He prefers the anti-environment, anti-clean water, anti-public participation bill [Sic] his house wrote in secret with the help of industry representatives, and that is the favorite of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, a special special interest group that wants - - demands - - the whole ball of wax in one year, so has the legislative leadership on a short leash this session.

And "compromise" is not in his vocabulary, despite clear language in the state constitution's Public Trust Doctrine that puts the highest environmental priority on water management in the public, not private, interest.

How bad is the Assembly bill and efforts to turn it into law?

 The Journal Sentinel, which supports some mining reform, took an editorial shot Saturday at "Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's in-your-face power play to try to shove that rancid piece of legislation down the throats of Wisconsin's citizens..."

* In Milwaukee Tuesday, attorneys for GOP legislators said "no" to a three-Federal panel that had suggested the Legislature rewrite a redistricting plan GOP lawmakers crafted in secret - - except when their state-paid attorneys wanted advice from outside, conservative advisers also consulted secretly.

The chaff they threw out: A State Supreme Court ruling from the early 1950's might bar the Legislature's do-over, but there was skepticism from the judicial panel about the argument, and this is probably not the end of this thread.

A trial was to have begun today to determine if the GOP-drafted-in-secret redistricting plan unconstitutionally reduced the voting power of minorities and disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters statewide by moving them into districts without a normally-scheduled State Senate election.

The GOP and their lawyers refused to take a strong hint from the judges about the redistricting plan as it stands; the judges have already forced the GOP attorneys to release records withheld from the public and the suit's plaintiffs, and fined the GOP attorneys $17.500 for having muddied the case and its schedule by filing motions the judges said were frivolous.

Late Tuesday update: The trial may move forward Wednesday, or be delayed. But do you want to know what an iJudge J. P. Stadtmueller sounds like when reacting to news of the piecemeal disclosure of documents he'd ordered be released, and to other actions by the defense in this case? From the court transcript:

...we have had enough of the charade and mischaracterization. I don't mean to impugn either you or anyone associated with this case, but as they say, the facts are the facts. What has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency, secrecy, and at the end of the day, as the court has commented earlier, it may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but appearances are everything, and Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing.
To be candid, we have seen everything but that in the way this case has progressed. Not because of anything that you did...or anybody else, but the facts are the facts, and so we're going to get to the bottom of the facts so that the judges who are called upon to discharge their function have all of the information before us that will result in a fair, just and complete opinion.
That's what this case is all about. So to the extent that additional discovery is required, it's going to happen.
Prediction: voters will say "no" to this capture of state politics through recall elections by voting against radical legislators and Scott Walker, whose agenda these arrogant Assembly and Senate officials are serving, and "yes" to new, inclusive, fair-minded replacements.

Polling shows about only a third of Wisconsin residents want major changes in existing mining law, putting the GOP leadership and Walker at odds with a strong conservation ethic in the state.