Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lakeshore Counties Ozone Again At Unhealthy Level

Here we are, again, and this atmospheric abuse has multiple consequences.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Advisory for Ozone (Orange)

Start Time: 6:00PM CT Saturday, June 30, 2012
End Time: 1:00AM CT Sunday, July 1, 2012
Counties: Kenosha, Milwaukee


Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health Concern Colors
When the AQI
is in this range:
...air quality conditions are: symbolized
by this color:
0 to 50 Good Green
51 to 100 Moderate Yellow
101 to 150 Unhealthy for
Sensitive Groups
151 to 200 Unhealthy Red
201 to 300 Very Unhealthy Purple
301 to 500 Hazardous Maroon

MN Paper Discusses Duluth Storm, Climate Change

It seems that conservatives go ballistic anytime this blog puts up posts or discussions about climate change and Midwest storm events - - recent example, here - -  but I'm glad to see the mainstream media evaluating the recent Duluth deluge in the same terms - - "change models predicted heavier rain events" - - I'd used a few days ago and in 2008 about 2003 data, too.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The rain that flooded Duluth last week also flushed an unprecedented quantity of dirt, pollution and bacteria into Lake Superior -- enough to make experts worry about the long-term environmental consequences on the largest and clearest of the Great Lakes.

One day after the storm, sediment runoff made the lake opaque for miles along the shore, local researchers say. Satellite photos show a wide swath of mud streaming into the lake from the Duluth harbor almost all the way to the Apostle Islands. "We don't know what's going to happen because we've never seen this," said Elizabeth Austin-Minor, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Minnesota Duluth's Large Lakes Observatory.
Understanding the lake's new dynamics is important because major rain events are occurring more often...

Between 1958 and 2007, the Upper Midwest saw a 31 percent increase in "intense" rainfalls -- those 1-in-100 storms -- compared to previous decades, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The rainfall in Duluth last Tuesday and Wednesday, measuring from 7 to more than 10 inches across the city, was in some places nearly twice what is regarded as Duluth's 1 percent-chance rainfall.

Climate scientists say big rainfalls, particularly from intense thunderstorms, are a symptom of ongoing climate warming. (Warm air holds more water vapor than cooler air.)
Brown said his quick review of data from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group shows that rainfalls of more than 2 inches have come and gone in a decades-long cyclical pattern for Duluth. The number was high in the late 1800s, then dropped in the 1930s, but has been rising steadily again since the 1960s.

But, compared to the last century, the landscape around Lake Superior now has far fewer forests and far more farm fields and cities, making it much more vulnerable to erosion, he said.
I put a version of this at my Journal Sentinel Purple Wisconsin blog, too. 

Racine Recount/Lawsuit Strategy: Deny Dems Senate Majority

For as long as possible.

The GOP gives no quarter.

Now There's An Anti-NIMBY Movement: YIMBY - - Read On...

Another example of cities and people of good will embracing change:
"Yes in my backyard."

YIMBYs unite!

The term YIMBY is all the buzz in New York City, but it is echoing beyond the city limits, too.
The idea has roots in the suburbs of Long Island, where relatively affluent towns have long protested the development of affordable housing.
The group known as YIMBY Long Island has helped build a quiet but powerful movement across Long Island supporting the development of new, low-cost residences and housing.
Their battle cry: “All communities on Long Island must provide a diversity of housing options for their residents and provide affordable housing.”

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Wonder If Chief Justice Roberts Sees The Irony?

Roberts saved the Affordable Health Care Act, but had opened the floodgates with the Citizens United decision so billionaires could organize and unseat Obama - - and undo the Act

Here's a report about a fresh $10 million donation from Newt Gingrich's angel for the Koch brothers anti-Obama effort

Great Lakes Carp Prevention Study Finally Funded

Well, better late than never.

Important Great Lakes Hearing Set For Milwaukee July 12

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Public Hearings Regarding Regulation of Great Lakes Water Levels
As you prepare for a big holiday week with Victoria Day in Canada and the 4th of July in the U.S., make plans to attend International Joint Commission public hearings and provide your views regarding the findings and recommendations of the International Upper Great Lakes Study.  From July 9 through Jully 17, there will be 13 public hearings.  Visit the hearings website to find more information about the report and to comment online.

In the U.S., hearings will be in:
  • Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan (July 10)
  • Duluth, Minnesota (July 10)
  • Port Clinton, Ohio (July 11)
  • Fish Creek, Wisconsin (July 11)
  • Holland, Michigan (July 12)
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin (July 12)
In Canada, meetings will be in:
  • Sarnia (July 9)
  • Thunder Bay (July 9)
  • Sault Ste. Marie (July 14)
  • Little Current (July 15) 
  • Parry Sound (July 16)
  • Midland (July 16)
  • Collingwood (July 17)

The Study Board's report, Lake Superior Regulation: Addressing Uncertainty in Upper Great Lakes Water Levels, focuses on the formulation and evaluation of options for a new regulation plan.  The report also addresses restoration and multi-lake regulation as alternative approaches for dealing with extreme water levels beyond those addressed by Lake Superior regulation alone, and considers the important role that adaptive management can play to help the interests better anticipate and respond to extreme water levels in the future.  Your comments at the public hearings will help the Commission decide on a new regulation plan and recommendations to governments.  Please, make plans to participate.  Comments will be accepted at the hearings, by mail and email and online through August 31.

For Red WI Senate Candidates, Red-Baiting, False Speaking

As a group, Republican Senate candidates in Wisconsin of late are struggling with the truth.

*  "False and ridiculous" is how PolitiFact rates Mark Neumann's "pants on fire" allegation that Barack Obama and his team are socialists. Neumann's overall PolitiFact record - - click on any candidate's highlighted name - - has more on the false side of the ledger than the true.

*  You've had veteran candidate Tommy Thompson set his pants on fire the other day for repeating PolitiFact's 2010 Lie of the Year about the federal government takeover of health-care.

Yes, Tommy's PolitiFact record is 50-50 true/false, generally speaking, (as is Jeff Fitzgerald's PolitiFact score sheet, too), but Tommy isn't trending true; his only two fully true-rated scores date tothings he said in 2007.

It's been that kind of GOP primary.

Campaign newcomer and hedge fund manager Eric Hovde is inexperienced also with speaking factually. He has no PolitiFact finding with the word "true" among three statements vetted to date.

Though give credit where it's due: Hovde beat Mark Neumann to the use of the socialism slur - - Hovde's target was Democratic opponent Us Rep. Tammy Baldwin - - so you could say Neumann is following the party line with Hovde in charge of revisionism.

It's been that kind of GOP primary.

Here's Hovde's entire PolitiFact scorecard:

Since President Barack Obama took office, "you have 1,700 employees just at the Department of Transportation" earning over $170,000.

"The failed economic policies" of President Barack Obama, the Democrats and the Federal Reserve "are making gas prices higher while America’s economy is running on fumes."

Says Obama health reform law denies millions "access to affordable insurance."

 Oh - - the score sheet for Democratic candidate US Rep. Tammy Baldwin?

Two of three on the true side.

EPA Online Tool Offers Comparative Air Pollution Data

I've been posting about air quality and Wisconsin notification procedures, and in my research found an EPA online tool for learning more about air quality and pollution state-by-state, comparatively (you can chart them three at a time), or county-by-county.

Through the linked sites, you can also sign up for email alerts, and other information.

Talk Radio Today Not Following Its Advice After Walker Recall Win

There was one message to the Left from Right after Walker's recall win - -you lost, move on.

I'm not hearing that today in the wake of President Obama's win at the Supreme Court yesterday.

Ryan Budget Would Cost Wisconsin Aid In Billions, 26,000 Jobs: IWF Report

The non-profit research organization Institute for Wisconsin's Future provides this information about the Paul Ryan budget:

If Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s approach to budgeting became U.S. law, Wisconsin would lose about $3.3 billion in federal spending in the next two years, with a resulting loss of about 26,000 full-time jobs.
Medical assistance programs would suffer most under the Ryan budget, with $1.7 billion cut in 2013 and 2014 compared with current law. That’s enough to keep more than 400,000 adults off Wisconsin’s BadgerCare program.
Income security programs—including food stamps, child nutrition and housing assistance—would lose more than half-a-billion dollars in 2013-14. Over 70,000 households would lose food benefits next year.
Those are conclusions from a new IWF analysis of Ryan’s budget: Which path leads to prosperity? The report details both the statewide impact and the effects on each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.
See IWF’s web site:
To stay up-to-date with IWF activities, like us on Facebook
They Ryan budget has been endorsed by Mitt Romney.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Walker Doe Emails: Drip, Drip, Drip...

It looks like the Milwaukee County DA is using email evidence to ratchet up the pressure on a key defendant in the John Doe probe into potential misconduct by staffers or operatives in or near the Scott Walker Milwaukee County Executive's office in 2010.

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf filed a motion this week seeking to amend a criminal complaint against Rindfleisch to show massive email evidence of her alleged fundraising contacts while at her job as policy adviser and deputy chief of staff to Walker in his final year as Milwaukee County executive.
The additional evidence shows the charges against her "were not innocent mistakes and were part of an intentional and knowing plan to conduct ongoing campaign activity," Landgraf states.

Among the additional evidence he wants to include are contacts Rindfleisch had with campaign aides to Brett Davis, then a Republican Assembly member and lieutenant governor candidate, and fundraising hosts.

Landgraf says he wants to use the information to help provide additional context of previously charged misconduct or else add eight more counts against Rindfleisch. She already faces four felony charges that each carry maximum penalties of six years in prison and a $40,000 fine.
This is the second time in a few days that this trove of emails is in the news:
Responding to claims they had leaked information on the John Doe investigation involving some of Gov. Scott Walker's aides, Milwaukee County prosecutors say two disclosures came from attorneys for one of the defendants.

Michael Maistelman, a lawyer for defendant Timothy Russell, sent an email to radio talk show host Charlie Sykes on Jan. 22, tipping off Sykes to the likelihood that two other former Walker aides would be charged that week. Those aides, Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch, were charged four days later.

Feds Confirm Under Walker, WI Last In Midwest Job Growth

Depending on how you look at, Wisconsin is either 37th or 41st nationally in job growth under Scott Walker, but dead last among Midwestern states.

He responds with typical deflecting jabber:

Asked at a news conference Thursday about Wisconsin's below-average job growth last year compared with other states, Walker said:
"I think while we've seen positive job growth last year and we see it continuing this year, for us one of the biggest issues was the uncertainty. We talked about uncertainty of the (federal) health care plan. We certainly had uncertainty when it came to recalls." 

More WI Counties Now Under Pollution Air Alert

As far inland as Dane, having spread westward from yesterday's notice:

Advisory for Ozone (Orange)

Start Time: 4:30PM CT Thursday, June 28, 2012
End Time: 1:00AM CT Friday, June 29, 2012
Counties: Dane, Jefferson, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Sheboygan


Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health Concern Colors
When the AQI
is in this range:
...air quality conditions are: symbolized
by this color:
0 to 50 Good Green
51 to 100 Moderate Yellow
101 to 150 Unhealthy for
Sensitive Groups
151 to 200 Unhealthy Red
201 to 300 Very Unhealthy Purple
301 to 500 Hazardous Maroon

J. B Van Hollen Just Became Most-Hated WI Republican...By WI Republicans

The GOP Attorney General dares tell Scott Walker that Walker must enforce the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court found the law constitutional on Thursday, but Walker, a Republican, has vowed not to implement it until after the November elections. Walker said he is hoping the next president and Congress will repeal President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”

Nearly 30 states, including Wisconsin, joined a federal law suit to challenge the law, alleging it was unconstitutional.

Van Hollen, a Republican, handled Wisconsin's participation in the federal lawsuit, which was dismissed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

Van Hollen said Thursday that Walker is obligated to follow the law according to its deadlines, according to a report by The Associated Press.
Mark Belling eruption scheduled at 3:08 p.m. It's happened before.

And Belling had this to say about Van Hollen in January, 2009:
If J.B. Van Hollen were an item in a clothing store, he’d be the coat rack. The Wisconsin attorney general’s tenure has been marked by an absence of any indication of Van Hollen’s existence. The only act of consequence to come from Attorney General Furniture was his lawsuit aimed at forcing a state agency to comply with federal election laws. Even that effort was half-hearted at best and wasn’t resolved until after the election was over...

Van Hollen runs for re-election next year. It will be hard for his Democratic opponent to attack him for anything. That’s because he hasn’t done anything...

Van Hollen, [defeated State Supreme Court candidate Randy] Koschnick and others who talk conservative but walk liberal do not advance the interests of anything we believe in. Carrying their water is nothing more than selling out.

In The Health-Care Ruling, Women Tipped The Majority

All three women Justices were among the five affirmative votes.

Little wonder: health-care rates in the US discriminate against women, and more women than men are raising low-income children and managing kids' health in single-parent families.

The Roberts Court Is Not The Prosser Court

An early thought on the US Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling today upholding the Affordable Health Care Act, with Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, providing the key fifth vote:

Roberts saved the Court from a damaging partisan, ideological stain had the decision been 5-4 the opposite way, with Roberts joining the other conservatives and serving up, in an election year, another routine, rightist, pro-Republican reflex.

What Roberts did was more than affirm Pres. Obama's signature piece of legislation. Roberts proved the Court can break out of a rigid ultra-conservative template that produced Citizens United, for example, or that lined up 5-4 to validate Bush's win over Al Gore.

So now we have a less predictable, more open-minded US Supreme Court.

This is what we do not have in Madison, where the Wisconsin Supreme Court has lapsed into partisan and ideological predictability.

Everyone knew that there would be a 4-3 vote to allow Walker's anti-union Act 10 to become law - - where David Prosser delivered the majority, GOP-serving decision and thus reinforced the court's current ideological reputation.

An appearance that seems headed for more validation as the court is headed towards a procedural move - - multiple recusals - - that could allow Prosser to avoid a hearing on pending ethics complaints arising from an alleged altercation with Justice Bradley as the Act 10 ruling was being considered.

Chief Justice Rpberts in Washington has stepped forward as the Chief Conciliator: in Madison, whom among Prosser, Roggensack, Ziegler and Gableman - - a group that owes its allegiance to the WMC - - is willing to play that role?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Polluted Air Welcomes Summerfest; Walker DNR Now Holds Back Information

If the Wisconsin DNR hadn't ended "air quality watches" under new Walker administration procedures about publicizing dirty air conditions as they build to unhazardous levels, people making plans to hoof it across the Summerfest grounds on opening night might have thought twice about it.

But the DNR, since this March 11, 2001 email, now issues an "air quality advisory" only after conditions are already at an unhealthy stage:


As of March 15, 2011, the Wisconsin DNR will no longer issue Air Quality Watches for ozone and particle pollution due to limited staff resources and the potential increase in the number of air quality notices under proposed revisions to federal air standards.

In the past, an air quality watch was issued when conditions were favorable for pollutants to reach unhealthy levels.
So today, Bucky, you're advised that ozone, a component of smog from tailpipe and smokestack emissions, is at an unhealthy stage for seniors, children, people doing outdoor exercises, and others with lung problems, such as asthma:

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Advisory for Ozone (Orange)

Start Time: 5:30PM CT Wednesday, June 27, 2012
End Time: 1:00AM CT Thursday, June 28, 2012
Counties: Dodge, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Kenosha


Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health Concern Colors
When the AQI
is in this range:
...air quality conditions are: symbolized
by this color:
0 to 50 Good Green
51 to 100 Moderate Yellow
101 to 150 Unhealthy for
Sensitive Groups
151 to 200 Unhealthy Red
201 to 300 Very Unhealthy Purple
301 to 500 Hazardous Maroon

So If The Supreme Court Tosses The Insurance Mandate, Or More...

The GOP gets an ideological win - - Big Government Bad - -  but loses everyday people who have pre-existing medical conditions that could cost them or their dependents their health care coverage, solvency and lives, and people whose adult children are currently on the parents' plan until age 26, and people who might hit a lifetime coverage limit, and so on.

The GOP wins Tea Party devotees who hate anything with President Obama's name on it, plus one-percenters who run private health insurance companies.

Take your pick.

For the GOP's ideologues, a Supreme Court decision that unwinds or overturns the law is short-term win of sorts, and long-term loss for the GOP because dealing with health care coverage costs and gaps is now a GOP problem to fix.

If the mandate or substantial parts of the Affordable Care Act are upheld tomorrow, Obama can say his policies were validated.

SEWRPC Recertification Hearing Deja Vu - - 2008-2012

[Update: Here is a wonderfully-detailed record of the 2004 input session, which the 2008 and 2012 sessions echoed. Hat tip, Gretchen Schuldt.]

In several posts over the last few days, I wrote about the quadrennial federal hearing that was to take place Tuesday evening in Milwaukee where the public could weigh in whether the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission should retain its federally-funded and sponsored transportation planning and spending authority.

At the hearing, I decided at the last minute to make a few remarks about the Groundhog Day similarity of many of the previous comments earlier in the evening to complaints aired at the 2004 and 2008 iterations of the same meetings and processes, and I asked the federal reviewers (at least two raised their hands when I asked if they had been present at the 2008 session) why they thought there was so much comment carryover, and thus so little action on transit and other social justice issues people were raising.

Today I went back to the final recertification report the feds issued to SEWRPC after the 2008 session, and offer below the reviewers summary (see p. 11, pdf) of the main points citizens raised in 2008.

Certainly the first eight of ten categories of comments as the feds summarized them validates the point I made last night that we've heard it all before.

I wish I'd copied it out and simply read it the meeting, but will send this posting as a written comment. That deadline is July 16th, at this site:

Anyway, here's what the reviewers heard in 2008 (and again last night):

The predominant comments relating to the SEWRPC transportation planning process can generally be characterized among the following themes:

*  Non-representative Commission structure;

*  The population or interests of the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are underrepresented;

*  The Commission lacks minority and low-income representation in decision-
making structure, therefore, not equitably representing its constituents;

 * Planning process provides inadequate consideration or support for mass transit improvements and favors road expansion;

*  Lack of public involvement relating to Commission’s public participation process.
* Decisions are not responsive to the public input received;

*  SEWRPC has not made meaningful efforts to investigate and address the needs of low income and minority communities in their planning process;

*  Concerns with the Commission’s support to expand I-94 and I-43 to eight lanes within the City of Milwaukee;

*  Commendable work done to improve the bicycle facilities in the region. There was some concern expressed regarding a number of bicycle accidents that have occurred; and  

* Recognition for SEWRPC involvement with the newly formed transportation coalition that is working on trying to achieve a dedicated source of funding to meet the needs of mass transit in the region.

Gas Prices Are Falling; Where's The GOP Praise For Obama?

It was just a few weeks ago that Mitt Romney and the Righty Choir were assailing Barack Obama for being responsible for escalating gas prices.

The Republican presidential candidate, speaking in an interview with Fox News, said he "absolutely" believes Mr. Obama is responsible for high gas prices, contending that "he has not pursued policies that convince the world that America is going to become energy secure, energy independent."
Well, I could swear I saw the President driving away from a gas station in his Batmobile on W. National Ave. yesterday afternoon where he'd finished lowering the price for unleaded regular to $3.23-a-gallon.

That's down half-a-buck from where The-Station-Manager-In-Chief had pushed it during the spring of an election year, just for some counter-intuitive political sport with his Kenyan super powers on full display.

I keep looking for the follow-up stories quoting Romney praising Obama for bringing the prices down.

Anyone seen it?

Nothing For Climate Change Deniers To Read Here; For The Rest Of You...

[Update 11:05 a.m. "Epic" fire at the edge of Colorado Springs, south of Denver.]
The good news is that it won't be as bad in the Rockies as it was during Paleolithc times, when there were fewer breweries, swimming pools and magacities demanding water and air-conditioning.

Regardless, consider that much of Colorado is in a long drought combined with a stretch of record-breaking heat, and with huge fires, presaged by this 2010 report:

An unprecedented combination of heat plus decades of drought could be in store for the Southwest sometime this century, suggests new research from a University of Arizona-led team.

To come to this conclusion, the team reviewed previous studies that document the region's past temperatures and droughts.

"Major 20th century droughts pale in comparison to droughts documented in paleoclimatic records over the past two millennia," the researchers wrote.

During the Medieval period, elevated temperatures coincided with lengthy and widespread droughts...

"We're not saying future droughts will be worse than what we see in the paleo record, but we are saying they could be as bad," said lead author Connie A. Woodhouse, a UA associate professor of geography and regional development. "However, the effects of such a worst-case drought, were it to recur in the future, would be greatly intensified by even warmer temperatures."
How bad is it in Denver, and eastward, in June?
The Mile High city soared to 105 Monday afternoon, its hottest June temperature on record and tied for its hottest all-time temperature. Today, it hit 100 for the 5th straight day, tying the record for most consecutive days at 100 or better. It has set or tied record highs on an amazing 7 occasions this month.

Not far away, in Colorado Springs Monday, the mercury reached at least 100 for a second straight day for only the second time on record (previous instance: June 23-24, 1954)
Heading east into western Kansas, several locations established June monthly heat records Sunday and Monday.

According to CapitalClimate, on Sunday monthly record highs were reached in the towns of Goodland (109, tie with June 18, 1936), Hill City (114, tie with June 30, 1933), Tribune (109, tie with June 23, 2012, also an all-time high), and Colby (111). On Monday, Colby broke its June record set the previous day, hitting 112...

The record-breaking heat even made it as far as Arkansas where Little Rock spiked to 105, tying its June high temperature record. (Source: CapitalClimate)...

All told, 107 record high temperatures were set Monday across the Lower 48. Of these, AccuWeather meteorologist Bill Deger said at least 6 locations in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado established all-time heat records.

The heat is coming east
Steadily, the heat will bleed eastward in the coming days.

Following The Voter ID Murky Legal Money

Now this story about free lawyers for Wisconsin legislators seeking to get into a legal case to validate the Voter ID law now currently blocked by injunctions is really getting interesting.

Robin Vos' explanation that he didn't want to know who was paying to get him intervention in a lawsuit over Voter ID?

Are you kidding me? This is the chair of the Joint Finance Committee and likely Assembly leader next year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

SEWRPC Hearing Had Groundhog Day Feeling

Transit users, community activists and advocates for transportation spending fairness in the SE Wisconsin region spoke in favor Tuesday evening of a genuine regional transit system and a Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission more attuned to an urban needs during a public comment session that is part of a quadrennial federal review SEWRPC needs to pass to retain some federal planning and project authority.

The federal reviewers listened, took notes and even let speakers go a tad over the time allotted to each speaker. The meeting was held at State Fair Park: written comments can be submitted until 7/16/12 at:

It was a focused, intelligent and informed meeting, but with a certain "Groundhog Day" (the movie) feel to it.

Addressing the meeting is Brian Peters (l), Housing Policy Advocate at IndependenceFirst
That's because the same themes - - too much spending on highways in the region that principally serves white and upper-income residents; diminished transit services that penalizes lower-income minorities, who then find growing transit-related limitations on their housing and job opportunities; the disproportionate suburban presence on the SEWRPC board (zero commission representatives for City of Milwaukee residents, though taxed for SEWRPC); the lack of a SEWRPC Milwaukee office while SEWRPC's Pewaukee offices are not service by transit, etc. etc. - - were presented just as earnestly at the 2004 and 2008 input meetings, after which incremental changes in SEWRPC practice and realities were recommended or instituted.

So it's good to create a record with the hope that someday, a bureaucrat or policy maker in the Federal Transit Administration or the Federal Highway Administration will look at the cumulative, repetitive record and whip SEWRPC into shape.

On Walker's Act 10, New Berlin Flunks The Math

Walker's punitive Act 10, as implemented by the deeply-red City of New Berlin in Waukesha County, will cost it one-third of its teachers including some who are leaving career positions for less pay but more respect.

Can you think of another academic situation where a 66% score is something to tout?

Recommended Public Input Session On Water Map Not Held

Nearly four years ago, I asked the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission for records pertaining to the drafting of the now-controversial water supply service territory map that the City of Waukesha had included in its application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water.

What came back, other than a copy of SEWRPC's request for such a map, was one memo about it from the SEWRPC official who decided what the map should include.

Note at the end there is a recommendation about the "need" for a public input session on the map, but no such session by SEWRPC was held.

There does need to be a public input opportunity for the water supply service area. Thus, our policy of holding public input meetings for sewer service areas should probably be carried over.
SEWRPC Staff Memorandum

TO:    Files

FROM:    Robert P. Biebel

DATE:    October 1, 2008


Wisconsin Act 227 (Act) includes the following broad provisions:

Contains Wisconsin’s ratification of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact. 
Regulates water use in the Wisconsin portion of the Great Lakes basin until Congress consents to the Compact. (The section of the law covering the provision is now of limited applicability given the approval by Congress this month. Only actions that have been taken between State approval and Congressional or Presidential approval may apply.) 
Implements the Compact in Wisconsin when the Compact takes effect.
Establishes a new State requirement for water supply planning.
The Act contains a number of provisions which are directly relevant to the SEWRPC water supply planning and, to a lesser extent, comprehensive planning, including diversion limitations and related requirements, water conservation program requirements, and water supply service area delineation and water supply planning. This memorandum summarizes the sewer service area planning provisions of the Act.
The Act establishes a new requirement of water supply service area planning. By not later than December 31, 2025, all municipalities (not just those in the Great Lakes basin) making a water withdrawal to service populations of 10,000 persons or more must have a water supply service area plan approved by the WDNR. This requirement has a more immediate impact on those communities seeking a new or expanded withdrawal or diversion involving the Great Lakes basin, since the application for such requires a water supply plan. Under this requirement, the term “water supply service area plans” are analogous to local sewerage facility plans. 
The water supply service area plans are to include inventory of sources of supply, forecast of demand, identification and cost-effectiveness analysis of options for supplying water, environmental and economic analyses, implementation steps, and an analysis for how the plan supports, and is consistent with, any applicable comprehensive plans and approved areawide water quality management plans. This requirement for water supply service area is intended to be similar to that required for sewerage system planning. The WDNR is to develop rules establishing how this water supply planning process is to work. The WDNR is expected to start work on these rules in the next three to six months.

The Act specifies that for the purposes of the water supply plans described above, an areawide water quality planning agency designated by the Governor under the WDNR’s areawide water quality management planning rule, Chapter NR 121 (which guides the planning of sewage systems, etc.), shall delineate the proposed water service supply areas for all of the public water supply systems in the planning area for which the agency is designated. These areas must be consistent with the applicable approved areawide water quality management plan for the planning area. These agencies may also provide regional needs assessments and other regional water supply planning information to persons preparing public water supply system water supply plans. The process for conducting these regional activities may wind up being the same as the process for regional water supply planning for a groundwater management area designated under State law governing groundwater withdrawals.

The WDNR is to develop rules establishing how this water supply planning process is to work.

A copy of the pages of the Act relating most directly to water supply service area plans is attached hereto as Exhibit A.

The pending request from the Waukesha Water Utility for a water supply service area delineation is apparently directly related to the above requirements for SEWRPC to provide the delineation of the service area for use in a locally prepared plan to be developed by the Utility to support its application for a Lake Michigan diversion. The water supply service area delineation should consider the currently approved sewer service area and the longer-term 2035 regional water supply service area. Because of the consistency requirement in paragraph (3)(c)8, it may be best to mirror the sewer service area plan with exceptions for places like Wales. It may be possible to include a few added areas which have been included in the regional water supply plan. However, the planning horizon is to be 20 years.

There does need to be a public input opportunity for the water supply service area. Thus, our policy of holding public input meetings for sewer service areas should probably be carried over. It would also be desirable to include the environmental corridor concepts similar to the sewer service area plans.

*   *   *

As the smaller communities included in the map - - the City of Pewaukee, and the Towns of Delafield, Genesee and Waukesha - - were not consulted prior to the map's creation, I don't recall any public comment process for the definition of the map and the delineation of the service terrority.

They hve been discussed in meetings on Waukesha's application, but that's been after the  the map's publication.

If And When The Full Walker Doe File Is Released...

We are going to learn a lot - -  a lot - -  about how conservatives in Wisconsin govern, organize campaigns and retain power with talk radio as an integral strategic cog.

John Doe Update: It's Broader Than We Knew

Hat tip to the Cognitive Dissidence blog for reading and analyzing newly-available files.

Further updates:

From WisPolitics: Michael Maistelman tipped off WTMJ-AM radio talk show host Charlie Sykes that Wink and another aide, Kelly Rindfleisch, were likely about to be charged. Maistelman, an ethics specialist, has long represented Russell outside the criminal proceedings. Krueger joined Maistelman’s firm to take over as lead criminal defense attorney after two others stepped aside.

“Russell’s complaint is also remarkable by virtue of the fact that he need not look far to learn why the investigation may be ‘not-so-secret’,” Landgraf writes.

Landgraf also filed a response to a defense motion to suppress John Doe evidence.

A hearing on the motions is slated for July 11. The trial, expected to last two days, is scheduled to begin Sept. 9.

See the filings here and here.

- By Marie Rohde
More from the Journal Sentinel:
Responding to claims they had leaked information on the John Doe investigation involving some of Gov. Scott Walker's aides, Milwaukee County prosecutors say two of the leaks came from attorneys for one of the defendants.

Michael Maistelman, a lawyer for defendant Timothy Russell, sent an email to radio talk show host Charlie Sykes on Jan. 22, tipping off Sykes to the likelihood that two other former Walker aides would be charged that week. Those aides, Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch, were charged four days later on Jan. 26.

Russell held jobs as Walker's deputy chief of staff and housing director while Walker was Milwaukee County executive. Wink was Walker's constituent services aide and Rindfleisch was a policy adviser and later a deputy chief of staff.

Sykes and other backers of the Republican governor have accused prosecutors of illegally leaking information on the Doe investigation, which was launched more than two years ago.
Sykes' ended his show this morning complaining about "selective" email disclosures by the DA's office.

Fresh Walker Double-Talk On Mining

After the defeat of the mining bill, the AP reported:

Walker says he's asked former Bucyrus International CEO Tim Sullivan to bring mining experts and conservation leaders together to see if there's a way to get the mine near Ashland approved. He predicts modified legislation could be considered by the end of the year.
Lee Berguist reports in today's Journal Sentinel:
A business group is trying to jump-start talks on mining legislation with behind-the-scenes discussions and the expertise of an international consultant.

The Wisconsin Mining Association has hired Behre Dolbear Group Inc. to analyze Wisconsin's mining laws...

The chairman of the mining association is Tim Sullivan, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Bucyrus International, who was appointed by Walker in February as a special assistant for business and workforce development...

A spokesman for Walker emphasized, however, that Sullivan is not the governor's point person on mining. "Mr. Sullivan is not doing any work for the governor as an adviser on mining," spokesman Cullen Werwie said.

Justice David Prosser Figures Out How To Rise Above The Law

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is expanding the size of his bio asterisk.

Monday, June 25, 2012

File Under #It'sNotWorking For Wisconsin

While Walker was making nice in Illinois today, we discover his administration dropped the ball on central Wisconsin's behalf.

Sacramento beats out Fond du Lac for 500-2,000 jobs.

A major call center is opening in the Sacramento area next month, an economic development boost that could bring around 500 jobs by year's end.

The employer, Advanced Call Center Technologies LLC, said it could eventually hire up to 2,000 Sacramentans.

Today's announcement represents one of the biggest boosts to the beleaguered Sacramento job market since the start of the recession in 2007.

The company will open in the old Price Club warehouse on Watt Avenue, an 87,000 square foot facility north of Interstate 80, sometime in July.

The Sacramento location beat out four other cities being considered by Advanced - Kansas City, Kan.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Fond du Lac, Wis.; and Weldon Springs, Mo.

Read more here:

Antonin Scalia, King Of The Activists

Too bad he missed the Confederacy. He'd have loved its enshrinement of states rights.

As he said in his solitary dissent

If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State. I dissent," Scalia concluded.

IL Transportation Exec Calls For Full Federal Transit Funding

We don't hear or see effective advocacy like this for balanced transportation from our Wisconsin highway-happy road-builders.

Even SEWRPC Says Waukesha Transit Disconnects Restrict Milwaukee Hires

I had noted a few days ago the long record of transit disconnections by Waukesha County to Milwaukee - - a timely report because Milwaukee was planning for a water diversion negotiation with the City of Waukesha, and transit availability for Milwaukee low-income residents looking for housing and job opportunities outside Milwaukee is a key criteria that Milwaukee wants water buying communities to meet.

How bad are these disconnections?

Even the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, isolated in a Pewaukee office park in western Waukesha County has said scarce, now disappearing transit connections for Milwaukee residents make it hard for the agency to meet its workplace diversity goals.

SEWRPC affirmative action reports, such as the 2006-2007 installment, noted transportation-related hiring hassles facing its own agency workers outside Waukesha County, but couched the problems in tentative bureaucrat-speak..."may be...could be a disincentive to potential job applicants, and even threw in this post-recession hoot: "Moving to Waukesha County in order to take a technical or clerical job at the Commission is an option which may be available to some."

A second factor regarding the difficulty of hiring nonwhites may be lack of public transportation. The time and expense of commuting to the Waukesha area could be a disincentive to potential job applicants from Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha Counties—particularly in view of the pay levels attendant to most of the Commission technical and clerical positions. The Commission worked with Waukesha County in 2005 to reinstate transit services between Milwaukee and Waukesha County to help fill this gap. Moving to Waukesha County in order to take a technical or clerical job at the Commission is an option which may be available to some.
But now the problem is deeper: In its 2011-2012 Affirmative action report - - click on the pdf at the bottom of this SEWRPC page - - SEWRPC says:
Transit services have -- at least temporarily -- been terminated by Waukesha County to the Commission’s primary work place in the Waukesha area. Today 33 percent of Commission employees commute from Milwaukee County residences.
So here's a suggestion.

SEWRPC should step out of its role as subject, and observer, and say at its re-certification hearing Tuesday evening at State Fair Park's Thompson Center that from its own workforce experience, transit connections are getting worse in the region.

It should get up and say what is common knowledge in the SEWRPC seven-county region:

*  Transit is a dwindling priority in the region, though spending on new highways as recommended by SEWRPC is booming.

*  SEWRPC and its federal transportation funding partners, despite vocal citizen testimony about harmful transit inequities across the region at the 2004 and 2008 quadrennial federal reviews, are not advocating effectively for lower-income Milwaukee County residents looking for good jobs and fair housing in SEWRPC's region.

The current SEWRPC affirmative action report continues to say that the agency's transit plans recommend better regional transit, but transit plans have been ignored in SEWRPC's own Waukesha County backyard, by the admission of the current Waukesha County comprehensive plan to which Waukesha water planners steered Milwaukee for a report on regional transit.
•    A lack of a dedicated regional institutional structure for a high level inter-county transit system. The County and Region has a mass transit plan in place, but there is a lack of a comprehensive regional mass transit institutional structure and a dedicated source to fund it. 
*  Transit has been outright attacked in the region, led by State Rep. Robin Vos a legislator from Racine County, a SEWRPC County.

Wisconsin legislators, with the full support of the Waukesha County delegations, used the 2011-2013 state budget to wipe out cooperative, cross-jurisdictional Regional Transit Authorities, which affirmed the anti-transit, anti-Milwaukee position taken by Waukesha's County Board when it refused to join such a body that could have more closely aligned services with Milwaukee.

As the Freeman, Waukesha's largest newspaper had already argued:
First of all, while we are fine with regional partnerships and cooperation, we remain firmly against Waukesha County being part of a regional transit authority.

It doesn’t make sense and is not in the interest of Waukesha County residents to establish a regional transit authority that has the power to raise your taxes and will have aims that mostly benefit Milwaukee.

Tuesday Is Your Chance To Talk SEWRPC And Social Justice To Federal Monitors

Officials from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration will be in Milwaukee to hear from you as part of the agencies' performance review for the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, (SEWRPC), on Tuesday from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Tommy Thompson Youth Center at the WI State Fairgrounds.

I posted some information about this a few days ago, but below you will find a little history and a few more points that citizens can make to help highlight how SEWRPC's record on environmental justice and fair transportation funding in the region can be improved.

Every four years, the federal government has to certify that a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) like SEWRPC is following federal laws, including civil rights and environmental justice requirements. As the MPO for seven counties in Southeastern Wisconsin, SEWRPC makes recommendations about transportation, land use and natural resource issues, and sets priorities for federal funding of projects. 

For example, SEWRPC wrote and recommended the $6.4 billion regional freeway reconstruction and widening plan: several billion dollars has been spent or committed, while transit in the region is shrinking. 

And SEWRPC's regional water supply recommendations dove-tailed with the City of Waukesha's proposal to divert Lake Michigan water - - Waukesha's water utility general manager and principal architect of the diversion plan was a forceful member of the SEWRPC advisory committee that drafted the regional SEWRPC plan as adopted.

SEWRPC, however, often has failed to address concerns of minority and low-income residents; these every-four-year federal re-certification review meetings and the status-quo affirming reports they produce have left activists feeling short-changed.

After SEWRPC got lambasted repeatedly at its 2004 re-certification hearing, the 2008 re-certification public session was intentionally anesthetized into a more tepid 'open house format - - but citizens who wanted their comments heard by the entire assemblage and not just a stenographer in cubby holes forced the organizers as the meeting began to open up the meeting process.

The 2008 report was delayed a year, yet produced no significant social justice policy or program initiatives.

So activists again need to come out Tuesday and tell these federal officials, with the SEWRPC staff sitting in, that SEWRPC has to work harder to make sure under-served and urban communities get a fair share of our region’s transportation public-dollar spending: 

We need more transit, more job access, more access to affordable housing. 
Key Points
*  SEWRPC Should Use More Federal “Highway” Funds to Expand Transit: 

One important provision in federal transportation legislation allows for the use of certain federal-aid highway program and federal transit program funds for either highway OR transit projects.  This is referred to as flexible funding… In urbanized areas with populations greater than 200,000, MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organization, like SEWRPC) are responsible for considering ‘flexing’ funds to meet local planning priorities.

SEWRPC should “flex” the funds to expand transit and meet environmental justice needs in Southeastern WI.

*  SEWRPC Should Set Priorities for County & Local Road Projects that Emphasize Civil Rights and Environmental Justice Criteria:  

SEWRPC is responsible for creating our region’s TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan).  Through the TIP, road and highway projects in the seven county region are prioritized for federal funding.  Many MPO’s around the country consider environmental justice criteria in their TIP priorities, but SEWRPC does not. Factors that could be considered include:  1) Does the community that the road project is in provide transit for low wage workers to access jobs in that community? 2)  Does the community have a job/housing imbalance as defined by the SEWRPC Housing Study? 3) Is the project to build new roads or to repair existing roads?  

SEWRPC should include these kinds of criteria in deciding which local and county road projects have highest priority.
SEWRPC’s Lack of City of Milwaukee Presence: 

At SEWRPC’s 2008 re-certification, recommendations were made that SEWRPC develop a greater City of Milwaukee presence, with office space here. This recommendation was made to better engage low-income, minority and persons with disabilities into SEWRPC’s planning decisions and policy recommendations.

It appears no effort has been made towards this.  We should continue to push for this change.
SEWRPC’s Governance:

SEWRPC is run by an appointed Commission of three representatives from each of the seven counties in SEWRPC’s region, and two-thirds of the appointments are made by the Governor.

This sets the tone for ALL of SEWRPC’s planning and policies.  For example, Ozaukee County has 10% of the population of Milwaukee County, but the same number of votes on the commission.  

Milwaukee County has about ¾ of the region’s low income and minority residents and 85% of the region’s African-Americans, but only 14% percent of votes on the commission.  This represents a SERIOUS environmental justice issue for SEWRPC and our region.

Until this issue is resolved, SEWRPC will not be able to truly represent the need of our region

NOTE: it is important to recognize that this governance structure is determined by state statute and only a change in state legislation will fix it. 

An issue I've covered for years.

(Written comments also can be submitted until 7/16/12 to:

Will Walker 'Fix' Wisconsin's Not-Broke or Broken Pension Fund?

Given the uproar Scott Walker created with his dropped bomb known as Act 10, it has been assumed for months that the study he ordered to improve the Wisconsin Retirement System was another plan to somehow strip Wisconsin state employees of their pension rights, benefits or retirement financial assumptions.

Or perhaps recommend that employees or retirees be allowed to find a private sector broker or adviser or manager to facilitate some added 401-K options and whip up some fees.

Who knows - - except to always keep up your guard when Walker and his people are doing some planning.

Now comes a national assessment ranking the Wisconsin plan the best, most solidly managed, so the report Walker ordered up is even more highly anticipated.

The Pew Center on the States last week found that only Wisconsin out of the 50 states has enough money set aside to meet its current obligations to pay the pensions that have been promised to public employees. Wisconsin is also the only state in the country to receive a "solid performer" ranking from Pew for both its funding of pensions and health care obligations for retirees.
After he won the recall election, Walker said he was not promoting right-to-work legislation because he didn't want another divisive distraction.

A reasonable person would assume that messing with the state pension plan would fall into that category, but remember that Walker called his Act 10 surprise a "modest proposal."

And "progressive," too.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How The Waukesha Water Map Can Be Altered, And By Whom

Last Thursday, I asked the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission whether the proposed diverted water service area as the Commission had mapped it for Waukesha's diversion application could be altered.

It seemed a reasonable, timely question, as Milwaukee officials want the service territory map made smaller by removing neighboring communities that Waukesha had included - - one, the Town of Waukesha has not yet given its approval for inclusion - -  and Waukesha has said SEWRPC had a "process in place" to add or remove municipalities or parcels from the map.

So I posed the question to SEWRPC Executive Director Ken Yunker, and below is the answer he emailed Friday afternoon.

As with so many SEWRPC/Milwaukee/suburban issues, Milwaukee is getting the short straw.

In a nutshell, the answer from SEWRPC is "yes" to whether the map can be changed, and "yes" if the addition or deletion is at the behest of Waukesha or one of its water application suburban clients, but I see no "yes" offered as an option to a selling community, like Milwaukee.

Who knows? Maybe this is a question for legal advisers, municipal attorneys and ultimately the courts? I'm waiting for Yunker to answer a follow-up from me about whether Milwaukee can make such a request, and will go ahead and post what I got back from planning manager Yunker on Friday:

Under State  law and draft State rules, this service area is to be delineated by SEWRPC, as the areawide water quality management agency for the seven county Southeastern Wisconsin Region, and submitted by the water utility to the WDNR for approval as part of the water utility’s water supply service area plan.
That plan is to include approvals of the governing body of each city, village, and town within the water supply service area. Thus, it would only be reasonable to conclude that the WDNR, City of Waukesha, and each of the other communities within the Waukesha water supply service area could request that the delineation of the service area be reconsidered.
Further, under State law and draft State rules, the water supply service area plan must be consistent with the areawide water quality management plan, or more specifically, the delineated water supply service area must be consistent with the approved sanitary sewer service area. Therefore, any request to reconsider the planned water supply service area would also entail a similar reconsideration of the planned sanitary sewer service area.
The planned Waukesha sanitary sewer service area includes beyond the City of Waukesha those adjacent developed areas that are served by private onsite wastewater systems. Such inclusion would allow for the provision of the most cost-effective sanitary sewer service if problems arise in the future with failing onsite systems in the future.
Similarly, the planned Waukesha water supply service area includes beyond the City of Waukesha those developed adjacent areas that are served with individual wells. Such inclusion would allow for the provision of the most cost-effective municipal water supply if problems arise with failing individual wells on a significant scale.
Consideration of any change in the water supply service area, and attendant sanitary sewer service area should address the cost-effectiveness of an alternative future sanitary sewer system, including treatment plant, as well as an alternative future water system, and address all requirements in State Administrative rules, including WDNR approval.

PolitiFact Burns Tommy's Health Care Claim

Tommy Thompson should be glad we have good government management of some health care coverage in America - - he's been eligible for Medicare  for the last few years - - so he can get treatment for the "pants on fire" scorching on health care issues he just took from PolitiFact.

As I said Friday, Tommy will say, do and become anything to be US Senator, but today he got burned for it.

DNR's Mining Webpage Behind The Times

If you click on the Wisconsin DNR's web page on metallic mining, or on the Penokee/Gogebic Deposit tab, you'd never know an iron mine proposal near Ashland and the Bad River reservation had gone down to a bruising defeat in March.

Penokee/Gogebic Deposit

Location: Iron and Ashland counties
The Penokee/Gogebic deposit is generally defined as the 21-mile western end of the 60-mile long Gogebic Iron Range, which stretches east to west from Lake Gogebic, Mich., to Mineral Lake, Wis. The deposit is steeply dipping (between 40 and 90 degrees north, averaging 65 degrees) and contains 20-30 percent iron in the form of magnetite. Because the iron ore in this deposit is of lower grade than the natural hematitic ores previously mined in northern Wisconsin, the ore must be concentrated and processed into taconite pellets prior to shipping to a smelter.

Most of the surface and mineral rights are currently owned by the LaPointe Iron Company, which has optioned potential development of the deposit to Gogebic Taconite, LLC. The mining company is currently focusing potential development on a four-mile stretch between the Tyler Forks River and Ballou Creek. If developed, it would be an open pit mine.

The DNR issued Gogebic Taconite an exploration license in spring 2011 and performed a site inspection for the installation of eight boreholes in April 2011. The DNR also issued a storm water permit in June 2011. Drilling was scheduled for June 2011, but the company suspended all exploration activities and the boreholes were not completed.
But the company made it clear on March 6th it was pulling out, leading to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp's partisan news releases and talk radio attacks on State Senators who failed to approve a bill that Gogebic Taconite worked on with GOP legislators and administration officials and said it needed to proceed.

None of this history is on the DNR web page - - which says at the bottom it was last updated on February 27 - - more than a week prior to the company's very public withdrawal.

The last time I pointed out there was outdated material on the DNR's pages - - covering multiple climate change initiatives at the state and federal levels - - the agency took them down and left a single link to a report.

Isn't there a better way to keep these pages current?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

DNR, Waukesha Water Led Blog Readership Last Week

Environmental politics was the readers choice last week. Many thanks:

Walker Stuck Milwaukee County With Multi-Million Wage, Legal Bills

Like a home seller leaving behind a hidden termite nest in the foundation, Scott Walker walked away from Milwaukee County government in 2010 and left the next administration a multi-million dollar mess to fix:

$4.1 million in wages Walker illegally withheld from County employees through mandatory furlough days he had no authority to order, plus responsibility for a yet-to-be-calculated legal tab run up in the last two years by employees who won restoration of the lost wages, the Journal Sentinel reports.

His imperious behavior - -  on top of eight years managing County finances into the ground - - hurt individual workers, and now all County taxpayers, but Walker is now ensconced in the Governor's Mansion and beyond local accountability.