Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Caterpillar Inc. said Tuesday it is moving engineering and technology jobs from its mining equipment headquarters in South Milwaukee to Tucson, Ariz...The company's mining machine division consists largely of the former South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International that Caterpillar acquired for $8.8 billion in 2011.Like so many mergers and takeovers, the real story after the hoopla is over and the golden parachutes and champagne bottles are popped open is the predictable downsizing that strips employees of their paychecks and communities of institutional memory, leadership, energy. and optimism
So let's review what was published on this blog in January, 2015:
I'd written about Caterpillar's rosy 2010 entrance into the Milwaukee labor market when it bought Bucyrus Erie, and Caterpillar was all smiles and assurances when the takeover was complete:
As we combine the proven strengths of each organization, we’re creating a unified team unlike any other in the mining industry.
Soon after Caterpillar took over Bucyrus in 2011, a worker was crushed to death by mining equipment not hooked up to safety specifics—the company's first workplace fatality in decades. Horrified co-workers couldn’t move fast enough to save Jeff Smith, 30, a popular fitness buff and musician in his spare time.
Workers at the plant realize that industrial accidents can happen at even the best-run plants, but they remember the cold response to Smith's death by the new Caterpillar management. Caterpillar brought in lawyers who refused to allow USW's investigative team into the building, resulting in a federal complaint that the company ultimately lost. The new managers also left it to the USW to provide comfort and financial relief to the family in its grief.
Caterpillar Inc. has laid off another round of employees at its southeastern Wisconsin operations, a company spokeswoman told The Business Journal Monday.
The Peoria, Ill.-based equipment manufacturer (NYSE: CAT) is cutting “support and management” positions at multiple locations, the Herald & Review newspaper in Decatur, Ill., reported....
[Caterpillar spokeswoman Rachel] Potts said the latest local layoffs are in addition to 260 production jobs cut in South Milwaukee during the summer.
No bottom in sight for mining equipment companies, workers
Caterpillar Inc., which has its mining equipment division in Oak Creek, has cut hundreds of jobs at its factories that manufacture some of the world's biggest machines.
More than half the company's blue-collar employees at the South Milwaukee plant, members of United Steelworkers Local 1433, are on layoff, said Ross Winklbauer, a Steelworkers subdistrict director.
Last week, Caterpillar announced another 25 layoffs here, which Winklbauer says brings the number of people off work to roughly 450, or about 55% of the workforce. The additional 25 layoffs are scheduled to take effect beginning Monday, the company said.Your "unified team unlike any other in the mining industry" at work.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:28 PM
The revision would reduce the average Lake Michigan water draw from a proposed, maximum 10.1 million gallons daily to 8.76 million gallons daily, cut the service territory by about 43% and thereby limit the use of diverted water to fuel development.The new map which excludes the towns of Delafield and Genesee and most of the town of Waukesha from the service area — was created April 27, a few days after Great Lakes Regional Body officials met in Chicago to the discuss the service area and Waukesha's original request to divert up to 10.1 million gallons of lake water per day by 2050.
Which is what the business community has been arguing - - for years - - and recently.
A revised service map does not address critics' concerns about Waukesha's need for the diversion and rejection of potential water source alternatives, nor does the map fully address critics' questions about using the Root River through the downstream City of Racine in another county as Waukesha's new discharge route for treated waste water.
It was clear since 2010 that the expanded service territory and its sprawl opportunities were going to be problems once the application made its way to the other states and provinces for analysis and a decision, but Waukesha and the DNR forged ahead and kept this obviously controversial portion in an already-controversial, precedent-setting diversion application.
The state Department of Natural Resources will require any municipality, including Milwaukee, selling Lake Michigan water to the City of Waukesha to supply its entire future water service area and not just the city, Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said Thursday in a letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Willie Hines.You have to wonder if Waukesha and the DNR are willing to back the new map before the Great Lakes governors vote in a few weeks on whether to approve Waukesha's application - - a unanimous vote of the governors is required for implementation - - or will Waukesha and the DNR try and negotiate further for a larger service territory, or go to court over the revision and basically put the entire US/Canadian Great Lakes protective Compact at risk?
If Waukesha and the DNR accept the revised map and reduced water ask, how much of the original plan was credible, how much was overreach and how much of the remainder is justifiable?
Posted by James Rowen at 11:32 AM
So how ironic is it that Jindal asked President Obama not to mention climate change during a 2015 presidential visit to Louisiana, but today we learn that the federal government is about to spend nearly $50 million in a first-of-its-kind expenditure to move Louisiana citizens from low-lying areas where climate change is elevating sea levels and forcing them off their land.
Ironic, and stupid, and expensive, and for the Louisiana residents losing their homes and roots - - tragic.
Posted by James Rowen at 7:54 AM
Monday, May 2, 2016
Walker adds to his 'I don't know list':
Let's put it this way; the more you know about Walker, the more you know that he doesn't know - - or will not give you a straight story: why else would his extensive PolitiFact file contain three times the fully "False" and "Pants on Fire" ratings than fully "True?"
Here's a comprehensive and documented list of Walker facts people outside of Wisconsin may not yet have heard about.And this new word-salady dodge is a keeper:
Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) struggled Friday to explain why the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has failed to recover any taxpayer money given out to companies that have outsourced Wisconsin jobs, despite past claims he'd asked them to do that...
"Again - that's a question you'll have to direct to them," said Gov. Walker. "The bottom line is the expectation, but if it's a company that - for legal reasons or otherwise - they'll have to answer the questions. They're the ones that handle that process."
Posted by James Rowen at 7:42 PM
A famed grizzly bear beloved by Yellowstone tourists shot dead, according to developing reporting:
Death at Yellowstone: Feds probe shooting of ‘Scarface,’ the park’s most famed grizzly
Beloved canine pets:
Multiple charges filed in Dane County dog killingsAn iconic African lion:
No Prosecution For Dentist Who Killed Cecil The LionA popular deer in Milwaukee County park:
Well-known buck killed illegally in county parkFamous California wolf:
Posted by James Rowen at 1:57 PM
The department celebrates Clean Air Month and a decade of Air Quality Awareness WeekThe real powers-that-be which are driven by power and ideological corporate influence are already taking the state in the opposite direction:
The president's climate change initiative known as the Clean Power Plan aims to cut CO2 emissions from existing power plants by about a third over the next 15 years. The plan formally took effect Friday morning, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker quickly followed through on his threat to sue to try to stop the rule.With a recent win for Walker and the state attorney general, with the obvious effects:
Posted by James Rowen at 1:00 PM
Posted by James Rowen at 12:41 PM
For filers earning $50,000 annually, the cut was worth $160 a year, or $3.08 a week/one-cup-of-coffeeshop-brew-money-in-your pocket.
For filers earning $300,000 annually, the cut was worth 8.17 more, or $25.13 a week/coffee-every-day-or-take-the-kids-to-dinner-every-Friday-night money.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:10 PM
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Note also that the Walkerites stonewalled the State Journal by withholding key documentation sought under the Wisconsin Open Records statute until long after the civil service changes were passed by both legislative houses and signed by Walker into law.
The personnel agency in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration privately blasted changes to the state’s civil service days after they were proposed, telling his office the overhaul would slow hiring, turn away qualified job applicants and trigger more lawsuits against the state, public records show...The newspaper should sue the agency and depose everyone remotely connected to such an unacceptable process to force some consequences and accountability on the administration and to see how high up this recklessness goes.
Also interesting that the author of the internal critique a) didn't sign it, b) isn't working for the state and Team Walker anymore.
Posted by James Rowen at 3:08 PM
Visceral enough on Walker's behalf for a fourth paragraph mention on page one in the Sunday Times!
But less than two weeks ago, Ted Cruz backer-Walker said he could support Trump for President.
So The Donald is good enough for you, America - - and the planet - - but too upsetting for The Walker.
Now that's principled.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:34 AM
Saturday, April 30, 2016
A man identified only as the “Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during a video interview with a Richmond news station which was published on Friday.Not the first time the Klan has found a home in the GOP tent, either.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:36 PM
Madison — Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and a supposedly independent conservative group were "one and the same," prosecutors told the U.S. Supreme Court in a filing this week seeking to reopen a probe of the governor's campaign that state courts shut down.Reminds me in many ways of the heart of this blog post from last year:
[Updated from 11:36 p.m., 4/29/16] Do not forget that an official of the Koch brothers' funding and organizing arm Americans for Prosperity said about 15 senior rightists came to Wisconsin in 2007 somewhere "on the shores of Lake Michigan" and threw their support long-range behind Walker.
A scenario referenced here several times after its disclosure at a March, 2014 conservative conference in Washington, DC and reported by Salon.com with the rest of the media's continuing silence:
“How did we do it in Wisconsin?” RNC Chair Reince Priebus asked Saturday morning. “The simplest way I can tell you is we had total and complete unity between the state party, quite frankly, Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party groups, the Grandsons of Liberty. The [Glenn Beck-instigated] 9/12ers were involved. It was a total and complete agreement that nobody cared who got the credit, that everyone was going to run down the tracks together...”
Panelist Luke Hilgemann, the current Americans for Prosperity COO who formerly led the Koch-backed group’s Wisconsin efforts, told the crowd that the 2011 [Walker inaugural] victory “started back in 2007 on the shores of Lake Michigan,” at a meeting of fifteen intrepid activists who’d “had enough of government overreach,” including then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.The filing also raises basic questions about the propriety of Justices DAvid Prosser and Michael Gableman ruling on cases tied to major donors which contributed to their election campaigns. Prosser announced last week his intention to resign with four years left on his current term. Walker will appoint a replacement Justice.
The connections between donors and the Court are also raised in the some groups drafting the Court current policy on recusals, noted earlier, here.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:05 AM
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Gov. Scott Walker's administration wants to shift multibillion dollar programs serving more than 55,000 elderly and disabled people from long-standing nonprofits to national for-profit health insurance companies.Having eyed some Wisconsiites' medical needs as a big-business profit center last year, too:
Here we go again - - another Walker surprise, 'because-I-can' budget bombshell - - this one upending thousands of families utilizing in-home Long Term Care assistance and routing some to out-of-state private insurance providers.
Posted by James Rowen at 2:04 PM
After years of rubber-stamping Scott Walker priorities like the partisan and anti-labor Act 10, a Voter ID law based on non-existent voter impersonation fraud, and the killing of a high-profile investigation that freed Walker from further inquiry and deeply embedded special interest money and campaign coordination in state campaigns - - and after years of Court conservatives' subservience to several of their major institutional campaign donors - - and after being at the center of a personal uproar on the Court and part of a process over adopting recusal rules which helped earn the Court a grade of "F" from a national rating service - - retiring conservative Justice David Prosser actually wrote these words to Walker as the Governor contemplates which GOP toady with which he can replace Prosser and serve free of pesky election requirements until the spring of 2020:
Justice David Prosser is asking the guv to pick someone "fully committed to the important mission of the judiciary" to replace him on the Wisconsin Supreme Court…"Such a person will understand that promoting the reputation and integrity of the institution is more important than the promotion of any individual," Prosser wrote.You might as well ask Ronald McDonald to begin serving McTofu.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:26 AM
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Johnson's obstruction is purely for partisan advantage.
As will be Walker's move.
So - - somewhat different processes, both deeply political - - but Johnson and his block-Obama pals are hypocrites if they do nothing but applaud Walker's partisan appointment when he makes it.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:21 PM
That's good news for the far right, as it leaves the ultra-partisan and reactionary GOP Gov. Scott Walker free to appoint to the state's highest court yet another young corporate tool to a long tenure.
A court managed by recusal rules the court let major donors draft.
Under state law, there can't be an election to fill the position for about four years,so the new incumbent will have served and gained advantage until 2020.
Walker promoted the far-right Rebecca Bradley to a State Supreme Court vacancy last fall after the sudden death of Justice Patrick Crooks.
Bradley won a 10-year-term outright earlier this month.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:03 PM
That's money the state could
Besides, having government offer educational information suggests government has credibility and something important to say, which is the opposite of the denigrate-and-mistrust/government misinformation message which the Walkerites are busy promoting.
Widespread voter participation directly threatens pro-corporate, anti-government authority.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:22 AM
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
HAYDEN, Idaho — A mom shopping at a Walmart store died Tuesday after her toddler, who was left in a shopping cart, reached into her purse andaccidentally discharged her handgun, authorities said.
Veronica J. Rutledge, 29, of
Blackfoot, Idaho, had gone to the store in this Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, suburb with four children in tow at mid-morning.
Her 2-year-old son, who was sitting in the shopping cart, reached into his mother's purse, causing the small-caliber handgun to discharge one time, said Lt.
Stu Miller, Kootenai County Sheriff's Officespokesman.
And now, Milwaukee, on a busy, familiar stretch of city highway north of Miller Park.
A 26-year-old woman was shot to death while driving in Milwaukee Tuesday morning and the shot came from a child in the back seat who somehow got hold of a gun.
The woman was struck once in the back as she drove south on U.S. 41/Highway 175 near W. Vliet St., at the southwest end of Washington Park, about 10:30 a.m., the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said.And who could forget the Waukesha County husband and wife who left their guns in different bathrooms near children in different episodes and different counties. Mercifully, no one was shot.
Update: It appears that the gun in the Milwaukee fatality slid onto the backseat floor from under a front seat where the two-year-old, not restrained in a car seat, managed to fire it. The car and gun belonged to the deceased driver's boyfriend, a security guard.
Posted by James Rowen at 7:55 PM
New Report Details Assault on Wisconsin’s Way of Life by Walker, Legislature
April 26, 2016
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign issued a report on Tuesday that covers 100 items approved by Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the legislature that have collectively assaulted Wisconsin’s democracy and the common good.
The report, “Walker’s Worst 100,” details measures approved since 2011 when Walker became governor and the Republicans took control of the legislature. These measures run the gamut:
Justice and the Courts
Public Education and School Vouchers
Taxes and Corporate Welfare
Voting and Elections
Collectively, these 100 items drew support from more than a dozen powerful special interests, mostly because the items signed into law benefited them at the expense of the general public. These special interests, including business, manufacturing, construction, real estate, energy, transportation, agriculture, and banking, contributed $14.4 million to the legislature, including $12.2 million to majority Republican lawmakers, and $32.2 million to Walker, between January 2011 and December 2015.
Posted by James Rowen at 6:40 PM
Scott Walker signs wetlands bill Scott Walker signs wetlands bill
Walker signed Senate Bill 459, which designates areas as specialized wetlands, allowing property owners to conduct more building activity in these areas.
The law will also allow dredging in artificial bodies of water, require disputes over piers to be handled by circuit courts, instead of through administrative hearings, and curb the ability of the Department of Natural Resources to block municipalities from constructing storm-water management ponds.Update - - the headline is corrected to just:
Scott Walker signs wetlands bill
Posted by James Rowen at 2:39 PM
While Kansas, the poster state for failed GOP economics, has stripped 15,000 of its citizens of their food stamps:
Kansas Governor Justifies Kicking 15,000 People Off Food StampsWalker's Wisconsin has nearly tripled Kansas' cold toll:
Report: 41,000 lost food stamps in Wisconsin last yearWhich brings this to mind:
FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2013
Scott Walker: Cutting Govt Aid To The Poor Is LoveAnd this, when it comes to food stamps and health insurance in Wisconsin:
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2015
Posted by James Rowen at 11:45 AM
Monday, April 25, 2016
Draft permit documents newly-posted by the DNR show that the the Central Sands CAFO operation in Juneau County - - one of the state's most controversial - - will be required through changes in its DNR-issued operating permit to install additional monitoring wells and other improvements on-site.
A public comment period about the Central Sands CAFO permit modifications, and a two-hour hearing on the matter will be held in the Necedah village hall on May 9th, from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
...a report filed in August with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that shows monitoring wells at Central Sands Dairy, in the town of Armenia in Juneau County, recently contained nitrate levels substantially higher than state drinking water standards.
...groundwater tests of four wells at Central Sands Dairy found nitrogen levels ranging widely — some far below state standards, but other tests that indicated nitrogen levels well above what the state considers safe.
More about those CAFOs and their common ownership, here:Tests in one well showed nitrogen levels at 77 parts per million in July, an increase from 60 parts per million in December. The state considers nitrate levels above 10 parts per million unsafe, particularly for infants...Testing also showed the presence of E. Coli in two wells, and levels of ammonium exceeding a lower standard of concern.
Central Sands Dairy LLC is a currently Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES)-permitted dairy Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. Its current WPDES permit became effective on January 1, 2012 and will expire on December 31, 2016. At issuance, the operation housed approximately 3800 dairy cows and 400 calves, or 5300 Animal Units. In response to concerns about potential groundwater impacts associated with the operation’s production area, the Department is proposing to modify the current permit to include requirements for Central Sands Dairy LLC to install a production area groundwater monitoring system...
Reasons: The Department is modifying the WPDES Permit for Central Sands Dairy to require additional groundwater monitoring for the reasons listed here. Additional information is in the attached report from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Program dated March 31, 2016.
A. The above listed submittals from Central Sands Dairy included new information that a septic system drain field exists immediately upgradient from the groundwater monitoring well nest CSD-1.
B. The Department has reviewed the production area groundwater monitoring results submitted to date, and finds that additional groundwater monitoring locations are needed to identify the source or sources of groundwater contamination. The monitoring results to date do not support, Central Sands Dairy's position that the causes are from off-site, and possibly from on-site limited facilities that the WPDES Permit does not regulate (a septic system drain field) or that are no longer in use (a feed runoff treatment infiltration strip).
C. Central Sands Dairy performed what it refers to as a "comprehensive integrity analysis" ofthe manure storage lagoon, which included emptying, cleaning, and inspection, and repair ofthe cracks identified. The Department believes most ofthe cracks were narrow enough that significant liquid leakage seems unlikely. Unfortunately, soil samples taken from below the cracks did not receive chemical testing to help determine if leakage had occurred. Also, Central Sands Dairy has still not acknowledged the groundwater found within 2 feet below the floor elevation at the time of repair, and the analysis also did not address this finding. This groundwater found was mentioned only in a field note, with no photos or resulting soil test results provided, and no other information or mention ofthis groundwater elevation was made in the analysis report (prepared by AECOM).
D. The Department and Central Sands Dairy have determined the digester floor elevation appears to not have the required minimum 2 feet from saturation, based on the groundwater level monitoring results from groundwater monitoring wells, and the digester design plans (no as-built record is available).
E. The Department does not agree that the manure lagoon and digester were in compliance with the minimum required separation to saturation specified by the NRCS 313 Standard in effect at the time of construction. (September 28, 2015, Non-Compliant Evaluation letter from the Department).
Also - - the number of CAFOs statewide has gone from 50 to more than 200 since 2000, according to DNR data:
Posted by James Rowen at 11:37 PM