Friday, October 28, 2016

4th death in 6 months at Milwaukee jail run by Trump booster

Will the fourth death in six months at the Milwaukee County jail run by outspoken GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump booster and frequent Fox News conservative mouthpiece David Clarke be enough to force Clarke off the campaign trail and speaking tours and spend more time managing the facility?

Clarke runs as a Democrat but behaves like a Republican.
David Clarke by Gage Skidmore.jpg

One inmate died of dehydration; that death has been ruled a homicide, and reports indicate some water in the inmate's cell had been shut off.

As the Journal Sentinel reported:

The death of an inmate in the Milwaukee County Jail has been ruled a homicide, four months after corrections officers reportedly cut off his water supply for an extended period of time.

The cause of death was dehydration, with other significant conditions including bipolar disorder, according to autopsy results released Thursday by the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office....

Testing after Thomas died revealed "profound dehydration," according to the medical examiner's office.

Scott Walker Trump endorsement, Day 100

While others have withdrawn their Donald Trump presidential endorsements based on his words and deeds, Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker has not

Walker made his endorsement on July 20 - - "absolutely," he said," one hundred days ago. And counting.
Image may contain: 2 people

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Militia acquittals in Oregon raise ugly questions

The acquittals of armed white secessionist protesters, including Ammon Bundy, below - - 

Ammon Bundy January 23, 2016.jpg
- - by an Oregon federal jury after the takeover, occupation of and damage to a US Wildlife facility raises all sorts of issues:

*  Will this embolden Trump partisans who have talked openly of insurrection should Trump lose the Presidential election?

*  How can you square this with the mass arrests being visited upon Native Americans and their supporters at the site of the North Dakota pipeline?

The double-standards are blatant and disturbing and dangerous and wrong, wrong, wrong. 

National media reports show Wisconsin GOP-led voting suppression

[Updated from 3:26 p.m., 10/26] State officials ordered by federal judge to find ID-seekers improperly turned away at DMV offices; federal election oversight sought.

[Updated from 5:30 p.m., 10/25] Our intentionally-corrupted state with Scott Walker at the helm is leading the news today. 

From The New York Times:

MADISON, Wis. — It seemed a clear victory for voting rights advocates in July when a federal court invalidated much of Wisconsin’s restrictive elections law, concluding that it discriminated against minorities by requiring voters to produce photo ID cards that blacks and Latinos too often lack. The remedy was straightforward: Henceforth, the state was to “promptly issue a credential valid as a voting ID to any person” who applied for one. 
But this month when Treasure Collins visited one of the Wisconsin motor vehicle offices that issue IDs, she found something entirely different.
And today, separately from a story spreading across the Internet originating with discoveries made by One Wisconsin Institute and published in The Nation:
A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW–Green Bay Because ‘Students Lean More Toward the Democrats’
Walker policies and allies are throughout these stories.


Updated with past articles

*  Behind closed doors, Republicans were giddy over voter ID's partisan opportunities.

*  In a separate interview, Glenn Grothman, a former Wisconsin GOP state senator promoted to the US Congress said the voter ID law would help a Republican presidential candidate win Wisconsin this November.

And Wisconsin Republicans and their allies have acknowledged using suppressionist laws and tactics for partisan benefit:

Deep in a trove of leaked documents made public this week was the latest example of Republican candor over voter ID laws — this time in Wisconsin.
There, as a tight race for election to the state’s Supreme Court came to a close in April 2011, conservative leaders wondered aloud how to respond should Justice David Prosser Jr. — a reliable opponent of legal challenges to the agenda of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican — go down in defeat.
A senior vice president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce, Steve Baas, had a thought. “Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number?” he wrote in an email on April 6 to conservative strategists. “I obviously think we should.”

Kohler golf course opponents want answers from DNR Sec. Stepp

Readers of this blog know that there is a plan by the Kohler Co. to convert into a high-end golf course a water, dune and woodland-rich nature preserve bisected by the Black River near Sheboygan along Lake Michigan - - 
- - and that one of the issues raised by opponents is the review of the plan by the Scott Walker-directed 'chamber of commerce mentality' Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources without requiring the company to submit a formal permit application.

The plan even includes turning over for golf course operations at least four acres of land in the adjoining Kohler Andrae State Park - - a request likely to find a friendly reception at the DNR where, as we speak, thousands of acres of state land under DNR ownership - - public land, your land - - is being offered for sale.

While other big corporate operations like water-hogging, manure-and-pollution producing big feedlots and heavily-polluting frac sand mines are given kid-gloves' permit reviews and continuing 'oversight.

Just today, Wisconsin organizations are seeking federal intervention over health hazards posed by frac sand mining, made worse in Wisconsin by the DNR's inaction:

Groups ask EPA to object to DNR approval of frac sand permit
Mining operation air pollution permit approved without Clean Air Act compliance


CONTACT:         Sarah Geers, Midwest Environmental Advocates Staff Attorney, (608) 251-5047 x 5
Stacy Harbaugh, Midwest Environmental Advocates Communications Director,, (608) 466-6321
Bill Davis, Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter Director,, (608) 256-0565
Lynette D. LeGarde, Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature Chief Communications, (715) 284-9343 Ext. 1160

MADISON, WI – On behalf of the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a petition this week with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requesting formal objection by the federal agency to an air pollution permit approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The grassroots organization Friends of the Black River Forest, one of several groups around the state which has taken on the burden of environmental preservation which Walker's DNR has intentionally forfeited, has continued to question the project and has asked DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp - - again - - for a meeting. Here is the text of the organization's request. 

GOP-inspired voter interference still roiling Walker-led WI

Scott Walker and his party's voting suppression tactics made state and national news earlier this week, and it's clear their sleazy, win-at-all-costs-using-state-power tactics are going to make headlines right up to the November 8th elections.

*  The same federal judge who rolled back many of the more egregiously-restrictive ballot access barriers which Walker and his party wrote into the law - - and let's give major props right now to One Wisconsin Institute for winning the that federal ruling and also for uncovering shady Green Bay voting suppression which also made news nationally this week - - has also ordered Walker's DMV to track down voters wrongly turned away by officials' paperwork game-playing when seeking those onerous voter ID's Republicans unnecessarily made a voting prerequisite.

*  And state Congressional Democrats, correctly worried that GOP-sown confusion over ID's and other election-day  procedures will gum up the works at polling places have asked federal monitors to observe the Wisconsin election procedure to guarantee voters' rights and a fair election.

Let's hope the feds put lawyers here on November 8th so election rigging is limited only to Donald Trump's 3:00 a.m.Tweets.

(Disclosure. I am a retired One Wisconsin Institute board member and played no role in the activities mentioned above).

Scott Walker Trump endorsement, Day 99

While others have withdrawn their Donald Trump presidential endorsements based on his words and deeds, Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker has not

Walker made his endorsement on July 20 - - "absolutely," he said," ninety-nine days ago. And counting.
Image may contain: 2 people

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

For a moment, the forgotten Bobby Jindal rocked

It won't be long before American school kids' history textbooks devote a section about the demise of the GOP as a national party to the early 21st century transformational seer Bobby Jindal.
Bobby Jindal, official 109th Congressional photo.jpg
Yes, that Bobby Jindal, who did indeed drive the Louisiana budget into the ground during two terms as an incompetent Tea Party-inspired Republican Governor.

The same Bobby Jindal who in 2016 himself behaved stupidly by clumsily chasing after Presidential primary traction he did not and will never have, then cemented his own stupidity into GOP lore by endorsing for President the even stupider, more deplorable and totally unqualified and unelectable Donald Trump whom Jindal had called "unstable."

But...Jindal's analytical, predictive genius shone brightly for the ages across the political environment on a single day in January, 2013, and for which historians and the rest of us will fairly give him his due.

That was January 24, 2013 - - after his party had blundered to a Presidential election loss in 2012 and incumbent Democrat Barack Obama whom the GOP had insanely vilified and obstructed had been sworn in for a second term - - and Jindal, with a measure of courage and an economy of language rarely seen in a profession of self-absorbed, talk-forever windbags had publicly urged the GOP to "stop being the stupid party."

Jindal had nailed it, but his warning went for naught, as his party - - in the very next Presidential cycle - - nominated a-beyond-merely stupid Donald Trump - - the woman-molesting, war-mongering, immigrant-trashing, tax-evading, democracy-wrecking Donald Trump also backed by a squad of repulsive media shills, surrogates and best friends like one-time Klansman Wizard Donald Duke and Newt Gingrich and Rudy Guiliani and Sean Hannity and others - - who joined together in a burst of coordinated stupidity to demean and further drive Hispanic, Muslim, African-American and female voters far, far from the Republican Party in the current election and years to come.

While many GOP elected officials like Scott Walker endorsed Trump and refused to take the endorsement back as Trump & Co. got more repellant.

So thank you, Bobby Jindal. 

For a moment, you rocked.

DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp early voice for DNR land sales

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel outdoors writer Paul Smith, in covering the continuously controversial sale of public land by the DNR, noted today:
It should be noted this was the Legislature's idea, not the DNR's.
It's not clear on whose behalf the Legislature was acting, however.
It's a subject I have also reported on repeatedly, and, in fact, just yesterday, too.

And though the link to an industry publication I'd cited and quoted is no longer active, I had copied out enough of it in a 2015 posting that showed Stepp was more than a mere supporter of the idea - - she encouraged it - - so her agency should not have been surprised that the GOP-led Legislature followed through with a directive she and her staffers would need to implement.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
In that posting, I was criticizing the Journal Sentinel editorial board for emphasizing the Legislature's creation of the plan, as if the DNR, with its hands tied, was only going along with a bad policy when the record showed DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp had backed and encouraged such a plan years earlier:

So I had written:

When selling DNR land was raised in 2011 before the Legislature codified it, [DNR Secretary Cathy] Stepp told a dairy industry meeting that she was all for it so long as the parcels were not environmentally sensitive:
MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said Nov. 29 she would listen to a proposal to sell DNR-owned land as a way to infuse cash into the agency's budget. 
Speaking at the Dairy Business Association's Business Conference, Stepp responded affirmatively to a proposal by Emerald dairy farmer John Vrieze, who suggested that DBA members across the state should come up with a list of properties that are not environmentally sensitive that the DNR could sell and return to the tax roll.
Stepp was put atop the DNR by Scott Walker to bring what he called "a chamber of commerce mentality" to the agency's management, and Stepp, a former developer, had and continues to do just that. 

New WI DNR land sales have timber, streams, trails, hunting perks

[Updated] It was just yesterday that I again posted information about purportedly-surplus public lands sales in Wisconsin authorized by the GOP-led State Legislature - - a policy still drawing substantial opposition - - and today from the Wisconsin DNR run since January, 2011 with a 'chamber of commerce mentality' management team installed by Scott Walker and implemented enthusiastically by agency secretary and former developer Cathy Stepp - - 
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
- - comes another email notice about a new round of listings, so feel free to check them out. I noticed that several include trout stream frontage, snowmobile trail crossings, timber cutting and hunting opportunities.
Fifteen of these approved properties are now being offered for sale and have been posted for bid as Auction #16825 on [EXIT DNR].  The bidding process for these parcels will close Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 starting at 10 a.m. 
Parcels available for purchase are located in Adams, Bayfield, Florence, Green Lake, Iron, Langlade, Price, Walworth, Waushara and Vilas counties, and range from 4.3 to 122.6 acres.  All properties are accessible by a state, county/town road or easement.  
For more information regarding the department’s land sale program under Act 20, visit and search keywords "land sales."
Here are two examples:

181c.jpg70 +/- Acre Wooded Parcel w/Snowmobile Trail Easement(s) near St. Germain WI

- Address: 
Juve Rd, St Germain, WI 54558 
- Property Details: The Northern Hardwood stand on the parcel provides habitat for forest interior bird and animal species and management has been done to improve the timber quality on the parcel. There are three snowmobile trails approximately 3,225 feet long intersecting the property, which are maintained by the St. Germain Snowmobile Club. This parcel is accessible from Juve and Pedycort road, with three vehicle pull off locations along snowmobile trails which the public uses to access the property.

192c.jpg82.2 Acre Wooded Parcel w/Stream Bank Easement near White Lake, WI
- Address: Near Miller Lane, White Lake, WI 54491 
- Property Details: This parcel is accessible through an access easement to Miller Lane. An easement conveyance requirement that extends 66 feet from each stream bank which will allow public access and spans the entire length of the stream on this property will be part of the QCD required by DNR at closing. The property is forested lowland and has approximately 5,000 feet of two-bank frontage on Dalton Creek, a class one trout stream.

Walker's Trump endorsement, Day 98

While others have withdrawn their Donald Trump presidential endorsements based on his words and deeds, Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker has not

Walker made his endorsement on July 20 - - "absolutely," he said," ninety-eight days ago. And counting.
Image may contain: 2 people

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More questions raised about WI DNR's sale of public lands

[Updated] Remember when the Wisconsin Legislature told the Department of Natural Resources to designate 10,000 acres of public land to sell off - - ostensibly to raise some revenue - - and former developer & current agency Secretary Cathy Stepp's 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR eagerly swung into action?
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
Back then, reports indicated sales could pick off small, disconnected and otherwise underutilized parcels:
Most of the land in the first sale is isolated and not located in property boundaries where there is high public use...Other parcels are landlocked, with no current public access.
It turned out that some of the acreage was primo waterfront property and at least one big Walker campaign donor almost got a sweetheart deal before whistles were blown.

Little wonder that the DNR is easing regulation on or soft-pedaling reviews of donor-run industrial-scale feedlots and a controversial high-end golf course along Lake Michigan which could be allowed if the DNR says OK to take a piece of an adjoining state park.

Anyway, the sales are continuing and people's attention has shifted to other things, but someone with knowledge of central Wisconsin land use and values raised an interesting question by focusing on another prime DNR parcel listed for sale in Waupaca County, where land with good hunting is in short supply and can sell for $6,000 an acre, and even $6,800, for the best hunting acreage.

The source's question: why should high-income residents get to buy such nice acreage which now belongs to the people?

Here's a link to the current sales information and the specific parcel, FL1312, describing a nearly 39-acre site with trapping and hunting opportunities, four parking stalls, additional improvements and even a trout stream running through it.

At $6,000 an acre, the possible selling price is close to a quarter-million dollars - - and who knows, perhaps more - - if my source's knowledge of property values there is accurate.

And while I have no reason to doubt the acreage value, and if it were off by say, 10% or even 25% - - the parcel's sales price is going be beyond the reach of most Wisconsin residents whose per capita annual income is about $27,900, and about $28,600 in Waupaca County, census data show.

Sound fair to you?


My source further explains how removing hunting land from DNR/public access makes other problems worse:
The growth of the deer herd in that county is out of control. The lack of public hunting land is part of the problem. 
Private owners control so much land in Waupaca County that the DNR will never get the herd reduced as owners love high deer densities. 
So they just shoot big bucks and refuse to shoot does.  
Waupaca's deer herds of 80+ deer per square mile result in more car crashes and the risk of CWD spreading.  
The DNR's policy of reducing public hunting opportunities will just make the problem worse.
Sound smart to you?

In WI Senate race, deep differences on environment, climate change

I'd noted yesterday the climate change denial history of incumbent Wisconsin US GOP Senator Ron Johnson, and a friend suggested I post something laying out the contrast between his positions and beliefs and those of challenger Russ Feingold, the Democratic candidate and former Senator trying to reclaim the Wisconsin seat.

Good suggestion, so let me put up a link to Feingold's voting record and related items, and then a link here to this comprehensive piece from Huffington Post, with this excerpt:

Johnson is a true denier. He has a 100-percent record of voting against clean air in the database, earning him the “dirty-air villain” title, and a mere 7-percent lifetime score on the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard. Johnson has consistently voted against action on climate change, against clean energy and in favor of the Big Polluter agenda.
Johnson does not accept the science of climate change. His Senate website states, “Man-made global warming remains unsettled science,” despite the fact that 97 percent of scientists agree that recent warming is very likely due to human activities. Johnson is so far outside the mainstream that he’s even claimed sunspots are the cause of global warming.
Feingold an Environmental Champion
By comparison, Feingold earned a 95-percent LCV score for his 18 years in the Senate. Feingold consistently voted in favor of environmental protection, was a leader of the opposition to Arctic drilling and voted against the Bush-Cheney energy bill.
As a Great Lakes senator, Feingold showed particular leadership of water issues. Year after year, Feingold sponsored the Clean Water Restoration Act, to preserve Clean Water Act protections for millions of miles and acres of streams and wetlands. It’s the same issue that President Obama addressed with a new clean-water rule just this week, a rule that theSenate will likely try to kill soon. So far, Johnson hasn’t added his name as a cosponsor, but he’s expressed concerns about the rule, and this may soon provide a stark policy contrast between the two Wisconsin politicians.
Feingold on Climate Change
When it comes to climate change, there’s a stark contrast as well. Feingold accepts the science and has consistently voted and spoken out for action.
Feingold has said, “Climate change is real and we need to address it.” In 2003 Feingold sponsored so-called “4P” legislation, which would have used the Clean Air Act to reduce four pollutants at coal-fired power plants, including carbon. When the Senate was working on a comprehensive climate plan in 2009, Feingold was part of a group working constructively to ensure that states like Wisconsin — which are heavily dependent on energy-intensive manufacturing and coal-fired electric power — would reap the benefits of climate action. Feingold opposed efforts like those from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would have undone the EPA’s endangerment finding and stopped efforts to address carbon pollution, explaining that “the Murkowski resolution would have stalled our march toward energy independence through more efficient vehicles, alternative fuels and renewable energy, all of which can spur new American jobs.”
With Wisconsin predicted to suffer a wide range of climate impacts on its agriculture and forestry industries, on its coastal and urban communities, and on the health of its residents, the state needs a leader who will work to act on climate.

Rigging ballot access in Green Bay, WI discovered

Ballot access cheating was proposed by officials who were out to depress certain votes in Green Bay, Wisconsin, The Nation reports - - and while the story echoes GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's wild accusations about voting fraud, the plan was to use the election-staging power of the city clerk's office to cut down UW-Green Bay student balloting because a GOP state legislator had asked, and the clerk believed the kids were voting Democratic.

Documents cited by The Nation, unearthed by One Wisconsin Institute, show the clerk asking state election officials if she could refuse to open an early balloting site on campus:
 “UWGB is a polling location for students and residents on Election Day but I feel by asking for this to be the site for early voting is encouraging the students to vote more than benefiting the city as a whole,” she wrote on August 26 in an e-mail to David Buerger, counsel at the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. “I have heard it said that students lean more toward the democrats…. 
You see- - there's made-up voting fraud, and there's real election fraud that begins with GOP Gov. Scott Walker's pushing unneeded voter ID, then GOP legislators drafting redistricting maps in secret, then passing GOP-inspired limitations on balloting hours so restrictive that a federal judge had to remove them, then creating the blatantly partisan Green Bay ballot box blockade plan to keep certain people from unfettered voting - - and in Wisconsin, the ruling Republican Party has mastered using state power all of these mechanisms of election obstruction.

Or rigging, as Donald Trump might call it.

It's more than a little ironic that the local clerk involved in the Green Bay ballot access mess was appointed by the city's GOP Mayor who, separate from the student balloting scandal, has recently pleaded guilty to a series of campaign finance law violations.