Just a reminder that the GOP-run legislative budget committee
|Budget committee Co-Chair State Sen. Alberta Darling, (R-River Hills)|
A forum, news site and archive begun in February, 2007 about politics and the environment in Wisconsin. And elsewhere.
|Budget committee Co-Chair State Sen. Alberta Darling, (R-River Hills)|
Posted by James Rowen at 9:15 PM
Here's a reminder from this blog posted in 2017 that dates to 2012:
...it's hard to chalk up the reported rant against Kwanzaa by State Sen. Glenn Grothman, (R-West Bend), to anything other than gross ignorance and intolerance:
Calling it a holiday that "almost no black people today care about," state Sen. Glenn Grothman is characterizing Kwanzaa as a false holiday conjured up by a racist college professor and perpetuated by hard-core liberals."Why must we still hear about Kwanzaa?" the Republican lawmaker from West Bend asked in a press release. "Why are hard-core left wingers still trying to talk about Kwanzaa — the supposed African-American holiday celebration between Christmas and New Year’s?"
Here's a fuller account:
Senator Glenn Grothman calls for Kwanzaa to be “slapped down”
Grothman, a Republican lawmaker from West Bend issued the press release during the week of Kwanzaa, calling it a "supposed African-American holiday celebration between Christmas and New Year's..."Dr. Karenga is a racist separatist who wanted to destroy the country in 1966."
In 2014, while making his successful run for US Congress, a reporter asked Grothman how he knew that few black people cared about Kwanzaa.
...he [Grothman] told me that he had "polled 20 black people at random" at airports in Los Angeles and Phoenix.
Over 230 years ago on January 16, the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson, passed the Virginia General Assembly. For this reason, since 1993, every President of the United States has issued a proclamation to designate January 16 as Religious Freedom Day. Religious Freedom Day not only commemorates the passage of the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, but calls our nation to forever protect the unalienable right to religious freedom for all people.
Many of America's first settlers came to the United States to flee religious persecution. That is why our Founding Fathers sought to create a nation in which individuals and families could practice their chosen religion freely, without government interference. Like our Founding Fathers, I believe it is vital to ensure that all Americans enjoy the right to exercise their chosen religion. Tragically, those that would prefer an America where prayers are only spoken in private, school children grow up ignorant of the basic facts of various religions and militant special interest groups can force individuals to violate their conscience in the name of false tolerance, are gaining strength in our society.
Still, there is hope for the preservation of religious freedom in the United States. In honor of Religious Freedom Day 2020, nine federal agencies under President Donald Trump's leadership enacted rules to safeguard the constitutional rights of religious organizations. These rules will provide for the undue defense of First Amendment freedoms, the removal of regulatory burdens on faith-based institutions and the establishment of programs that ensure religious organizations are treated fairly in all circumstances. There are also provisions to ensure that religious and non-religious organizations receive equal consideration when applying for federal grants. With these rules, preserving the right to religious liberty in Wisconsin's Sixth District and throughout our great nation is more than possible.
I am thankful that the Trump Administration continues to work to maintain the integrity of our Constitution’s guarantee of religious liberty for you and your family. Likewise, I will always fight to protect your right to religious freedom in Congress. Ultimately, it is my hope that the religious freedom that our country was founded on endures for every generation to come....
Knights of Columbus
While many people claim we live in a society that embraces diversity and tolerance, prejudice and bigotry remain towards certain groups of people. For example, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), at the end of 2018, used their official roles to try to bring down a judicial nominee for being a member of the Knights of Columbus. Likewise, similar statements attacking the Knights have arose [Sic] from my fellow Members of Congress....
Posted by James Rowen at 2:31 PM
Federal legislators are permitted to park for free at Reagan National, in garages and lots used by passengers. Records obtained by the I-Team under the Freedom of Information Act show members of Congress used the free parking benefit hundreds of times in 2015, costing taxpayers more than $132,000.
"While it may not seem like a major perk, it is still one of the coveted benefits of being a member of Congress," said David Williams of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.And had run a private business (in which he retains some interests) which twice received millions in publicly-subsidized low-interest loans.
...a separate $75,000 federal grant...went to the company that was the precursor to Pacur. Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies Inc. received the money in 1979 to build a railroad line to the company, which was renamed Pacur several months later.And let's not forget Johnson's more recent vote
Sen. Johnson is a ‘no’ on the tax bill. He says it hurts businesses (like his own).And throw in his empathy-free penchant for cruelty and you've got a worthy competitor to tail-gunner Joe McCarthy as Worst Wisconsin Senator, Ever.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:07 PM
Tiffany claimed federal regulation of the wolf population has led to attacks on livestock, driving down production, leading to dairy farms going out of business.
Our definition for Pants on Fire is "the statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim." That fits here.- - and, separately and simply shamefully contemptuous, here - -
WI GOP State Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald has made his most important public appearance ever. Screenshots don't do justice
to the arrogance of his outrage, but the video posted by Madison TV station NBC15 of Fitzgerald's contemptuous, cowardly adjournment in mere seconds of a special legislative session called to debate better citizen protections against gun violence will live forever as 'How a Bill Does Not Become a Law.'- - make them perfect representatives of the a cartoonish
Posted by James Rowen at 12:32 PM
Remnants of Indian Prairie and the feeling of this sacred and ceremonial place remain today. To Indian people whose land all of this was, Kletzsch Park/Indian Prairie was and still is a special place. In Indian Prairie, and at two other places in the Milwaukee River watershed, early inhabitants constructed pairs of huge cross mounds. Four great intaglio effigies found no where else in the world were constructed in Indian Prairie....
In 1850 Menomini people lived in villages near today’s Good Hope Island. Through periodic burning, they maintained the oak savanna, remnants of which still exist as the bur oaks along the river. They came here to build conical mounds from the varied and rare soils still found in Kletzsch Park. They came to tend garden beds of which traces still exist. They forded the river in the shallows at Good Hope Island. They tended fish traps in the river. They witnessed sturgeon spawning in the shallows. A morning’s walk away were the berries of the lake shore forest, the wild rice beds of the river mouths, and myriad ducks and geese.
Though the county-led Kletzsch Park project team is trying to improve river health and access — and these are worthy goals —they are ignoring the feel of the place and the history of the place. Just as good medicine strives to treat the whole being without causing harm, so should fish passage promote the area’s whole complex ecology without harming the trees and the bank.Months of opposition and education had convinced the County to leave the oaks alone - - though as Bergland points out, the area is an inter-connected-and-dependant whole - - so the projected harm to the riverbank and the Indian Prairie still faced strong and informed grassroots objections.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:06 PM
Court of Appeals reverses key PolyMet permits, orders DNR to hold contested-case hearing
In a 36-page decision released Monday morning, the court sent the dam safety permits and permit to mine awarded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource to PolyMet in late 2018 back to the DNR and said the agency must hold a contested case hearing, which would require an administrative law judge to examine additional evidence and testimony on the project. Then, with information from the contested-case hearing in hand, the DNR must decide whether to reissue the permits.But nearly at the bottom of a more-than-20-paragraph story, there are these important few lines - -
Separately, PolyMet's national pollutant discharge elimination system, or NPDES, permit, which regulates water discharged from industrial activities, remains on hold after an August order by the Minnesota Court of Appeals after it was revealed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requested the Environmental Protection Agency refrain from commenting on a PolyMet draft water permit until the public comment period ended.And at final highlighted "refrain from commenting," we see this - -
EPA Union: Leaked email from MPCA [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency] suppressed EPA's PolyMet concerns
The American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, which represents the EPA’s Region 5 employees in Minnesota, sent news organizations a copy of an email sent by then-MPCA Assistant Commissioner Shannon Lotthammer to EPA Region Chief of Staff Kurt Thiede on May 13, 2018. In the email, Lotthammer asked Thiede and the EPA to wait on commenting on a PolyMet draft permit until the public comment period ended....
“By asking EPA to submit its comments after the public comment period, in whatever form, MPCA was attempting to suppress those comments from public review,” Nicole Cantello, president of AFGE Local 70, said in a news release accompanying the leaked email. “This suppression is completely inappropriate and allowed those comments to remain secret.”The Kurt Thiede referenced is the same Kurt Thiede just appointed to lead the EPA's Region 5 office after his boss, former WI DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp
Posted by James Rowen at 12:41 AM
Posted by James Rowen at 5:45 PM
So now we live in what I call a ho-hum state. Our big businesses get most of what they want — more loopholes, lax regulation, income tax credits. As a result, we've fallen from the days we were once called a "shining star" among state governments to just another member of the pack.I've used the term "backwater" to describe where we're at, and why - - here and here, for example - -
Walker, WI GOP backwater boosters ahead of curveand more recently, here:
Vos & Fitzgerald like their backwater state
This one-party governing-by-cruelty-and-obstruction will keep Wisconsin in the grip of petty hacks and business bellhops smugly content to keep the state stuck in a backwater while the country moves ahead.
Call it the elitism of the mediocre, a win for the dullest, lowest common denominator.
Electric vehicles are on their way in big numbers: the GOP can't think of anything to do about that except adding extra fees on electric and hybrid cars and resisting broad expansion of charging stations.
Vos and Republicans bear heavy responsibility for blocking regional transit authorities and killing passenger rail in southern Wisconsin big populations centers. These legislators, willing captives of the road-builders and fossil-fuel interests, don't have to care about transit: the Legislature covers their mileage to and from the Capitol in per-diem payments established by leadership, and pays for their driving around their districts, too.
And as a party, Republicans have been between disinterested in and hostile to solar and wind power, again sending a message to younger workers, families and entrepreneurs that this is the wrong place to put down stakes.
Only a backwater state will say 'yes' to assault weapons and 'no' to transit and green energy, but that's the way Vos and Fitzgerald like it because they've figured out a way to keep their hands on the controls.Back to Zweifel, as the clear conclusion to his column - -
Wisconsin did succeed in getting rid of Scott Walker — at least for now. But a new governor with a Legislature that continues to thumb its nose while the rest of the country passes by can't do it alone. - -- - is that a turnaround lies with voters come election time.
|Zweifel says Vos and his GOP allies have made Wisconsin a "ho-hum state." The answer is to give them the 'heave-ho.'|
Posted by James Rowen at 1:27 PM
SUNDAY, JUNE 8, 2008
Posted by James Rowen at 7:31 PM
"I wanted someone with a chamber-of-commerce mentality, Walker said.'"2. Stepp's snarky, snotty public contempt for the agency she led until Trump topped her for top regional positions at the EPA - - words since deleted, but copied out here:
For example, people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA.
So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with...3. Stepp's subsequent further dismissal of the DNR's value and role:
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, a former homebuilder, recalled at one agency listening session how an employee told her that “clean air and clean water, that those were our customers. And I said, ‘Well, the last time I checked, they don’t pay taxes and they don’t sign our paychecks.’“4. The list of demands for ground-water control by private interests during the Walker-Stepp years that was hand-delivered by business groups to legislators' State Capitol desks:
...its bold-faced language and the weighty array of powerful logos at the top tell the story:
An urgent communication to all Wisconsin legislators
We are at a crossroads. It is imperative that the legislature assert its authority and bring certainty and sanity to the regulation of new and existing high capacity wells in Wisconsin.
However, we cannot accept any legislation that would create new, stifling regulations or establish regulatory uncertainty as to how DNR and the state will approach new well applications moving forward.
Wisconsin Loses 818 Dairies in 2019, Largest Decline in State History
As of Jan. 1, 2020, Wisconsin had 7,292 licensed dairy farms. On Jan. 1, 2019, the number stood at 8,110. In the last decade, the state lost 5,637 dairy farms, a decrease of 44%. That also suggests the rate of dairy farmer loss has more than doubled the last few years.* Skyrocketing waterway pollution, according to continually updated DNR records:
...in the 2018 list:
In the proposed 2018 list update, DNR proposes to add
240242 new water segments. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. Thirty-five water bodies are proposed to be delisted.
...the cumulative numbers in these reports which encompass most of Walker's tenure show the addition of 804 newly listed polluted waterways to the "more than 700" cited in 2012.
The additions, 804, outpaced deletions, 96, by a ratio of more than eight-to-one, and leaves Walker with about double what he inherited.
A DNR web page last updated in 2015 says the causes of these impairments are known, and the implications are serious.
Impaired waters in Wisconsin are affected by a variety of pollutants. The top three are: mercury, total phosphorus and sediment...3. Multiple, repetitive stories about residential well water pollution in Kewaunee County, and the central sands region, and, of late, in Southwest Wisconsin.
Tests: More Wisconsin wells contaminated with fecal matterSo about that 'chamber of commerce mentality' as a guide to public policy, let me leave you with a few more reminders:
One of the basic methods for the state to do its water trustee job as the constitution requires for each and every person in the state when a development proposes disrupting or harming state/public waters is through a site study called an Environmental Impact Statement to provide facts for the best blueprint to inform the smartest construction work legally possible.
But a spokesman for the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce testified at the hearing Thursday that the group supported a controversial item in the Foxconn package as proposed - - no surprise - - by Gov. Walker that would exempt the massive, precedent-setting project's construction construction and operation from having an Environmental Impact Statement prepared, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Lucas Vebber, general counsel and director of environmental policy at business lobbying group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, told the committee that environmental impact statements were "burdensome" and "essentially a book report.”* Speaking of which:
4th IL agency concerned with flooding opposes Foxconn environmental waivers* In September, 2018, this blog said this:
See flooding off Foxconn site. Heads up, downstream!
Foxconn flooding poured downstream to mainstream media; 3 takeaways* In March, 2019, this blog said this:
Why N. IL is nervous about Foxconn, wetland fillingHere is one blog post with 31 months of Foxconn items
A Foxconn Fever Primer.
The Friends of the Black River Forest had challenged a 2018 DNR decision that found the loss of just under 4 acres of sensitive wetlands and shoreline forest was acceptable under state law, if protective steps were taken.
But Administrative Law Judge Mark F. Kaiser said the agency failed to follow state requirements for projects involving wetlands loss, and that the steps taken by Kohler to assuage the losses were inadequate.A permit to fill rare wetlands in Monroe County to facilitate the operation of a proposed frac sand mine:
In 2017, the DNR issued a wetland fill permit despite objections — obtained by WPR through an open records request — that showed staff felt pressured to approve the permit despite what staff called a lack of basic information from the company about how it would mitigate the wetland destruction.
The Ho-Chunk Nation, Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin challenged the DNR’s permit through a contested case hearing and in May of 2018, an administrative law judge overturned the Meteor Timber permit saying the agency lacked important information and didn’t prove it could mitigate the loss of the rare wetlands.
Posted by James Rowen at 3:29 PM
Factory farm runoff contaminates creek in St. Croix River watershed, killing fish
Manure from CAFO in Willow River region flowed off field where it had been spread.
“This is fourth time in less than four years that the Wisconsin DNR has been involved with improper spreading or spills at Emerald Sky Dairy,” said Virginia Drath, a resident of Emerald. “What will it take to change their behavior? Are the fines not large enough to impact their practices? This is so frustrating for neighbors to see violation after violation and nothing changes.”
Posted by James Rowen at 12:33 PM