Thursday, June 21, 2018

About Trump, Walker silent no more, because...

A Trump/Walker/Foxconn fund-raising extravaganza is in the works.

Wonder if, by coincidence, that came up at today's Walker/Foxconn/White House visit, lunch and related agendas?

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker joined with other governors for a lunch meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump.
Walker’s spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg said the governor was in Washington on Thursday to participate in a U.S. Department of Commerce meeting with Secretary Wilbur Ross and Foxconn executive Louis Woo to talk about why companies should invest in Wisconsin. 
And we know what Walker didn't bring up
Seized kids? A Craven Gov. Walker shrugs, bails
His staying mum on southern border forced child-parent separation avoided follow-up possible separation - - from Trump's $100,000 donors.

Walker should read state report on climate change hazards, mitigation, planning

[Updated at 5:00 p.m. with a timely report from the Michigan UP, where people are actually doing something about this 'new normal.' And across the border in Canada, more action: 
Thunder Bay, Ontario didn’t think adaptation and mitigation for climate change should be a priority until a massive 2012 storm destroyed 5,000 homes and left the wastewater treatment plant under 45 feet of water. 
The disaster prompted the city to embark on a strategy to become a climate-ready city.]
Walker toured flood-ravaged NW Wisconsin Monday night and made emergency declarations for the area.

Similar story in 2017.

And in 2016.

Summarized here.

Does he ever wonder why he's making the same trip to deal with the same consequences, or if the matters need more attention than Boy Scout campground cleanup practices which he said made up his climate change action plan?

If only there was someplace he could read up on the issues: 
EPA has been warning about climate change flooding - - since 2003.
Like a website put up by his own state government:
WI DNR scrubs climate change information from its website
Or by other Great Lakes states, including some also run by Republican Governors:
Unlike WI, other Great Lakes states not deleting climate change information
Finally - - has he ever read his own Emergency Government agencies' (WEM) latest and detailed update in a continuous process that plans for hazard identification and mitigation to reduce repeat disasters? 

The Journal Sentinel laid it out in the wake of the disclosures that Walker's DNR had scrubbed climate change science and links from its web site.

Heck, I'll even copy out a key section or two so he doesn't have to sift through on his next disaster tour flight the lengthy state report:
4.4.2 Climate Change in the State Plan
While there remains some debate about the cause of climate change, there has been a documented change in weather patterns over time in Wisconsin. In the past 50 years, average statewide temperatures have increased by about 1.1°F. It is also likely that the state will see more extreme weather events.Section 3 of Appendix A, Thread Hazard Impacts and Risk Assessment (THIRA), further discusses national and statewide climate change projections and mitigation potential. Because a change in climate has the propensity to affect the severity and extent of the natural hazards addressed in the THIRA, the potential impacts of climate change are addressed in each natural hazard section.

As a state-level agency, WEM does not do bricks-and-mortar mitigation projects; that is a local responsibility. 

However, WEM has the opportunity to influence and encourage local mitigation efforts through training, technical assistance, and resource allocation. To reflect this, WEM has included several new action items in the Mitigation Strategy in Section 3 of the Plan. They encompass a variety of approaches including, but not limited to, the following:
  • Incorporating information on planning for future conditions into trainings
  • Incorporating Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities into the scoring system for project
  • Updating WEM’s local mitigation plan review document to include criteria on the assessment of changing future conditions, including weather patterns.

    4.4.3 Climate Change in Local Plans

    WEM Mitigation staff looked at all approved local and tribal plans from 2011 through 2016 and all plans in process for which a draft has been submitted.
Figure 4.4.3-2: Inclusion of Climate Change in Local Plans by Type of Jurisdiction
Because of the relatively small sample size, it’s difficult to draw meaningful conclusions, but overall it seems that generally over time more plans are starting to include climate change. Additionally, it appears as though countywide plans are the least likely type to include climate change even though quite a few of them do. As more plans in the state are developed and updated, more data will be available to use to paint a more accurate picture...

Figure 4.4.3-3 shows which communities have fully included, mentioned, and not included climate change in their local mitigation plans. Many communities along the Lake Michigan coast have included it. Notably, three counties that did not include a discussion of climate change mentioned it in relation to the impact to lake levels and coastal erosion. The state mitigation plan also describes the impacts climate change could have on coastal hazards.

With the exception of the Fox River Valley in Brown County and the surrounding area, the major population centers and areas of the state experiencing the most growth (Madison/Dane County, southeast counties, St. Croix County, Eau Claire County) are covered by mitigation plans that include climate change.
Many communities around the state are engaging in other planning and activities in preparation for climate change:
  • The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the leader in mitigation in the Milwaukee area, commissioned a Climate Change Vulnerability Analysis in 2014. The study looked at likely climate-related impacts through 2050.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Science Services compiled the La Crosse Area Climate Adaptation Study in 2013. The Study involved community engagement and suggested future steps. One of the suggestions was to incorporate adaptation into local mitigation planning.
  • The City of Madison and Dane County are both engaged in climate change planning. Madison developed a Climate Protection Plan that describes climate change and looks at current and potential future impacts the City’s practices have on the environment. The Dane County Climate Change and Emergency Preparedness report, prepared by the Climate Change Action Council, discusses climate risks and identifies adaptation opportunities and strategies to increase resilience. The Action Council is led by Dane County Emergency Management.
    The trend toward including climate change in local plans parallels the direction of the state plan. WEM Mitigation staff will continue to look for ways to inform and support local communities in their planning efforts and will work with communities to understand their concerns and challenges in planning for and implementing long-term, cost-effective mitigation measures.

Foxconn could be Walker's disabling campaign Scotthole

As Walker ignores Wisconsin's crumbling roads and fixate on and finances all things Foxconn - - and highways to serve it - - fresh polling suggests Foxconn could be his biggest campaign Scotthole.

The latest Marquette Law School poll shows that a strong majority of people beyond SE Wisconsin don't think their local businesses will benefit from the Foxconn project, and more people than not statewide see the Foxconn's $4.5 billion public subsidies as a bad bet.

So what we have here, fiscally, is a generation's worth of public assistance pledged in the name of a doubtful public by a Governor who has failed to close the political side of the Foxconn deal with voters who could send him packing in less than five months.

So people have had almost a year to digest the Foxconn deal and it's leaving a bad aftertaste. 

Advantage, Democrats? We'll see.

I have been writing about these issues for months, including this March post:

The signs have been evident for months and summarized at this post since July, because Foxconn at Walker's direction will tax people and state budgets for decades, is upending state road spending, throwing out long-standing environmental standards, will emit air pollution, heavily taxes local governments near the site, comes with no transit or housing components for the projected thousands of workers, needs a Lake Michigan water diversion which raises substantial supply and discharge problems, etc. etc... 
In July, 2017, I pointed out some of the obvious risks staring Walker in the face as he began adding big highway spending from statewide coffers to ballooning billions for Foxconn: 
In round numbers, there are about 360,000 people in various cities, villages and towns in the counties of Racine and  Kenosha, and also about 600 people in the Jackson County Town of Northfield on the other side of the state, and all of them have a vested interest in the $3 billion from various public funding pots which Walker and his fellow Republicans want to throw at Foxconn...
Note, however, that Walker tossed 250 million borrowed dollars into the $3 billion deal for Foxconn via the state budget whenever it's approved to hurriedly complete the over-built, under-funded reconstruction and expansion of I-94 though Racine and Kenosha Counties which Vos had been demanding even before Foxconn made the news...
$250 million could have repaired most or all potholes on our state's rutted and poorly-ranked roads, which is why it would be useful to ask the good people of cash-strapped Northfield, Wisconsin across the state from Vos' district where the main road has crumbled back to gravel what they think about Walker and Co. throwing around staggering amounts of public highway borrowing which all the people of the state will have to repay.
And speaking of what local folks think, remember that Walker's break-the-bank, bet-the farm Foxconn plan also will require unnamed municipalities gaining some or all of the electronics firm's buildings to contribute to-be-determined local financing through the borrowing procedure known as Tax Incremental Financing, or TIF.
Through TIF, a municipality borrows to construct streets, sidewalks, street lights, parking and other enhancements for a development, then repays itself with the fresh property taxes a project (hopefully) generates...
The catch is that until the borrowing is paid off over years and decades, that increment - - the project-spurred tax payment growth - - must go to pay down the TIF loan payments and does not flow to local governmental services, like schools, police, fire or public health program costs...
As, later, I noted in December:
Expect Walker to deny, distract over $30 mil. Foxconn road
Walker is using our money to bet his re-election on convincing taxpayers far from Foxconn's site in SE Wisconsin that what's good for Mount Pleasant there is good for Mount Horeb, Mount Hope and Mount Calvary, too:
Taxpayers paid for a thinly-veiled Scott Walker re-campaign visit to Green Bay last week, as our right-wing Governor and Foxconn bellhop keeps trying to convince taxpayers far from the Racine-to-Chicago Foxconn gravy train that they will benefit from the $3 billion in public subsidies collected from taxpayers statewide that Walker is shoveling to Foxconn at the expense of programs and growth in all 72 counties...
Send Walker back when the winter thaw leaves Brown County with a few thousand new potholes that can't be repaired because I-94 near the Foxconn site needs another lane
As I noted two months ago
Given Walker's fevered love affair with all things Foxconn, you'd have thought he'd have cut a ribbon when road-graders launched the first of hundreds of millions of dollars of Foxconn-related roadwork this week on a two-mile upgrade of frontage road along the Racine County project's site.
But Walker can't highlight the lavish road spending he's ordered for Foxconn right in the middle of pothole season without drawing attention to the road projects statewide Foxconn will drain of funding or push farther down the priority list - - and which will inevitably get more expensive through inflation, or be forgotten altogether. 
As I wrote in mid-January
The [state electoral] turnaround can happen in November...
I'd argue that of late he's taking his successes for granted and following a counter and potentially self-destructive path - - the Politics of Indifference - - when it comes to much of his base, and to basic governance, Walker transfers hundreds of millions of dollars in state transportation funding, plus billions in state tax breaks to the Foxconn project in the Southeastern corner of the state while roads statewide have deteriorated to the second worst in the country... 
Progressives and grassroots activists and Democratic opponents should be able to defeat Walker's Politics of Indifference with passionate organizing, clear-mindedness about the role of government and an agenda of equity, honesty and empathy.
And because potholes, polluted water, rampant wildlife disease, subsidies for multi-billion dollar foreign businesses, short-changed schools and parks with higher admission fees while donors get all the parkland they want isn't the Wisconsin we want.
And as I added last weekend: 

So I'm glad to see this strong story in the Wisconsin State Journal that suggests that indeed the times are a-changin' because there's something clear happening here:

Unease growing in Wisconsin GOP base over environmental rollbacks
Since taking over state government in 2011, Republicans have eased pollution enforcement, sold off public lands, rolled back protection of ground water, curtailed Department of Natural Resources scientific research, and silenced DNR experts who once were free to publicly comment on legislative proposals...
But Republican-leaning hunters and anglers have begun debating whether the changes have gone so far that they are threatening the lakes, streams and access to hunting land that have made the state great, said Rodney Sempf, a middle school teacher in northeastern Wisconsin who loves to hunt and fish.
I've argued that Walker's contemptuous enabling of widespread and continuing environmental pollution harms traditional Wisconsin values and treats his voting base with a contempt which would catch up with him:

Walker's politics of indifference ignores base, basics
A full archive of Foxconn posts is here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Walker's silence on family separation policy explained

His staying mum on southern border forced child-parent separation avoided follow-up possible separation - - from Trump's $100,000 donors.
Trump's coming for Foxconn, Republicans and a $100,000 premium-ticket GOP fundraiser. 
Trump has a round of these huge-ticket events lined up.

There was even a David Clarke sighting at a big-dollar American First Action PAC bash last night at Trump's DC hotel, though the reference was less-than flattering because Clarke was mentioned among high-paid consultants who "grumbled about"... 
excessive payments to consultants, according to two people involved in the discussions.
America First Action has made hefty payments to consultants with close ties to Mr. Trump, including $184,000 to the firm owned by Brad Parscale...
America First Action also paid more than $69,000 to a firm owned by David A. Clarke Jr., the former sheriff of Milwaukee County. On Tuesday, he roamed the hotel lobby, dressed in a white cowboy hat.

Trump removes obstacle to Great Lakes & ocean oil drilling

And on top of everything else negative in Wisconsin, and nationally, there's this
President Trump is repealing a controversial executive order drafted by former President Obama that was meant to protect the Great Lakes and the oceans bordering the United States.
In his own executive order signed late Tuesday, Trump put a new emphasis on industries that use the oceans, particularly oil and natural gas drilling, while also mentioning environmental stewardship.
From the shoreline, looking east across Lake Michigan
Oil drilling platforms would be a great addition to the Lake Michigan shoreline off Milwaukee's east side, no?

Two WI communities to lose a combined 220 jobs, but...

Wisconsin Republicans are already working on a safety net for 220 employees at two businesses being closed in Madison and Janesville.

The Foxconn factory in Mount Pleasant!

Only a 200-mile round-trip there by car - - 
Cabbage growing on the Foxconn site, 2017
- - from Madison, and a shorter 120-mile turn-around to and from Janesville, if - - and it's a big if with a challenge, Foxconn gets the Lake Michigan water the City of Racine wants to send the company as if Foxconn were a 'residential' customer.

Inquiries about Amtrak service from Madison, or regional transit from either city to the greater Racine area can be directed to principal Amtrak foe Scott Walker or to Assembly Speaker and lead legislative transit opponent Robin Vos.

Yes, the Foxconn plant is to be built in Vos' district; perhaps he can find some way through that contradiction in the works of Winston Churchill which these days have Vos' fuller attention. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Seized kids? A Craven Gov. Walker shrugs, bails

Walker is one of Trump's persistent enablers, so no one in WI will be surprised
Gov. Scott Walker refused to take a position Tuesday on the Trump administration's policy of separating families after illegal border crossings and ignored calls to pull Wisconsin National Guard troops off the southern border.
Of course, he's always got time to Tweet about his favorite burger, custard or the cold brew he enjoyed on the 16th in the mansion we provide him and his family.
89 degrees and on the water with a cold Summer Shandy!

The WI/Walker/Schimel/Scott Pruitt alliance gets deeper

[Updated from 6/19/18 with the addition of Kurt Thiede, a 4th senior WI official, joining the Trump administration. Thiede is at US EPA.] 

There's more evidence that Wisconsin is the policy shop and personnel pool for Trump deregulatory valet and blatantly pro-corporate US EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.
Scott Pruitt official portrait.jpg
* Pruitt last year hired Scott Walker's DNR Secretary and lead corporate cudgel Cathy Stepp, eventually naming her EPA's Great Lakes regional director.

* Kurt Thiede, Stepp's deputy, joined her in Chicago as Chief of Staff in February.
The move of Stepp and now Thiede to the EPA comes at a time when Foxconn Technology Group has started to submit environmental permit applications to the DNR for a massive industrial complex in Racine County.
*  Pruitt also hired a GOP AG Brad Schimel staffer, David Ross, to a EPA's key water post. I'd written about Ross and that move, here.

But wait, there's more.

Remember the story in January about Atty. Anna Wildman, a former Wisconsin CAFO lobbyist named by Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel to replace Ross and oversee the AG's environmental unit?

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s appointment of a lawyer and former dairy industry lobbyist to lead the environmental protection unit of the Justice Department has drawn objections from the leader of a public interest law firm and concerns from a former secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.
Well, she's already gone.

To the EPA.

And a job under the afore-mentioned David Ross, Pruitt's Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Water. 

Dave Ross is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 
Dave has more than 20 years of experience working on water issues in both state government and the private sector.  
Prior to joining EPA in January 2018, Mr. Ross worked as the Director of the Environmental Protection Unit at the Wisconsin Department of Justice. 
Wildeman is now EPA's Deputy Assistant Administrator, according to this EPA web page. 
Anna Wildeman, Deputy Assistant Administrator 
And here's what's managed at EPA's Office of Water:
What We Do 
The Office of Water (OW) ensures drinking water is safe, and restores and maintains oceans, watersheds, and their aquatic ecosystems to protect human health, support economic and recreational activities, and provide healthy habitat for fish, plants and wildlife. 
OW is responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, and portions of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Ocean Dumping Ban Act, Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, Shore Protection Act, Marine Plastics Pollution Research and Control Act, London Dumping Convention, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and several other statutes. 
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Office of Water works with the ten EPA regional offices, other federal agencies, state and local governments, American Indian tribes, the regulated community, organized professional and interest groups, land owners and managers, and the public-at-large. 
OW provides guidance, specifies scientific methods and data collection requirements, performs oversight and facilitates communication among those involved. 
OW helps the states and American Indian tribes to build capacity, and water programs can be delegated to them for implementation.
And the Office Water runs these, too: 

Our parents said it couldn't happen here. It is

[Further Updated]: 

Trump says immigrants will "infest" the country. 
Critics of Trump’s language argued that it was dehumanizing to use a term traditionally used for pests. 
The conservative Bill Kristol put it best: 

Trump’s statement that immigrants will “infest our Country” probably sounds better in the original German.
[Updated with Walker's no comment today, at bottom] These things had better wake us up.

Trump calls news media 'The enemy of the People.' 
President Trump, in an extraordinary rebuke of the nation’s press organizations, wrote on Twitter on Friday that the nation’s news media “is the enemy of the American people.” 
Even by the standards of a president who routinely castigates journalists — and who on Thursday devoted much of a 77-minute news conference to criticizing his press coverage — Mr. Trump’s tweet was a striking escalation in his attacks.
Asylum Seekers Reportedly Turned Away At US Border 
In recent months, migrant children have been separated from parents, immigration judges have been ordered to speed up cases and federal prosecutors have been instructed to seek criminal charges against anyone who crosses the border unlawfully. 
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg
Trump uses xenophobia to rile up his base again 
The president's yet another example of the xenophobia he uses to galvanize his white, working-class base. He is showing once again that he lacks both the humanity and perspective that we expect in a president.
 Trump Defends White Nationalist Protesters: "Some Very Nice People, on Both Sides." 
Speaking in the lobby of Trump Tower...a combative Trump defended his slowness to condemn white nationalists and neo-Nazis after the melee in central Virginia, which ended in the death of one woman and injuries to dozens of others, and compared the tearing down of Confederate monuments to the hypothetical removal of monuments to the Founding Fathers.
Blumenthal: End 'inhumane, immoral' border policy on children
 “We are at a moment of reckoning and they must show the backbone and moral compass” to change it, he said. 
He said it is reminiscent of dark moments in American history, such as when Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II.
Listen to Children Who've Been Separated from Their Parents at the Border 
The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.
Sessions cites Bible in defense of separating children from families 
In his remarks, Sessions hit back at the "concerns raised by our church friends about separating families," calling the criticism "not fair or logical" and quoting Scripture in his defense of the administration's tough policies.
"Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution ... I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes," Sessions said. 
Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims so far 

In the 466 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

That’s an average of nearly 6.5 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. Slowly, the average number of claims has been creeping up.
Indeed, since we last updated this tally two months ago, the president has averaged about 9 claims a day.

GOP candidates are now mimicking Trump's authoritarianism. That's ominous
Around the country, Republicans embroiled in tough primaries are increasingly emulating President Trump — by echoing his xenophobia, his veiled racist appeals, his attacks on the news media, and even occasionally his calls for imprisoning his political opponents.

Wisconsin National Guard troops head to southern border 
Walker's spokeswoman didn't immediately reply to emails Monday. 
"By not immediately condemning (separating children from parents) and reversing course, Scott Walker is putting his political allies in the Trump administration ahead of doing what's right," said TJ Helmstetter, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Because Walker will say anything to get re-elected...

He says he's the "pro-education" Governor.

Right. Everything in his record screams 'pro-education,' and then some:

He's always been the pro-teacher, public employee Governor.

Whose Act 10 left collective bargaining intact [Sic].

And, remember, it was just a set of "modest, modest requests [Sic]."

From Governor 'Midwest Nice.'

And he's also been the never-cut-school funding Governor.

The always-honest friend of higher-education Governor.

And friend of the printed word, like all pro-education officials.

The pro-blue-collar worker Governor.

Who created those promised 250,000 new private-sector jobs right on time.

He's also the pothole-fighter.

The poverty-fighting Governor.

The champion of local control.

And the pro-women's-health Governor.

As he's been the friend of the small dairy farmer Governor.

Foe of chronic deer herd wasting disease Governor.

And the small-business startup Governor.

Also, the tight-fisted principled-conservative steward of the people's money Governor.

In part due to his wise acceptance (not) of federal funds.

The take-me-at-my-word Governor.

Like he was about his college records and early departure from Marquette U.

Because he's the no-dark-money Governor, wink-wink.

And champion of free and open elections-Governor.

Also, the pro-science Governor.

Especially climate change science.

And like all pro-education governors, would not downgrade children's climate science teaching.

And would never remove air pollution alerts which are vital for kids and seniors.

He's also is the wetlands-champion Governor.

Fighting for public resources over special-interest favors.

The smooth-roads Governor.

Because he's also not the finish what you sort on time Governor, nor:

The clean air Governor.

The clean rivers Governor.

The clean drinking water Governor.

The pro-sobriety Governor.

The save-the-state-parks Governor.

The opioid-fighting Governor.

The pro-DNR governor.

The recycling Governor.

Because, after all, Walker's consistently been the never-tell-a-lie Governor.