Thursday, December 14, 2017

GOP's true 'principle': reward owners, screw consumers

When you hear Republicans hail elected officials' control of policy-making boards and commissions, grab the kids and run.

*  Case in point: Republicans and Donald Trump have relentlessly attacked the Elizabeth Warren-created Consumer Financial Protection Board for its:

uniquely independent role in government—which has long been a sticking point for conservatives...
* And are hamstringing it further with a newly-installed Trump leader.
Trump pick to head consumer protection office at work despite legal challenge
Official Portrait of President Donald Trump.jpg
* On the other hand, when a board majority of appointed, anti-consumer policy-makers running a separate regulatory agency - - the Federal Communications Commissioners - - set in motion today the likelihood of higher Internet rates and tightened public access without Congressional approvalTeam Trump loved the FCC's independent decision.
Trump's FCC votes to repeal net neutrality
Because has nothing to do with anything as quaint as a principle about decision-making, and everything to do with tilting government power and revenue away from consumers and towards Republican special interests.

Karner Karma, and more, in WI DNR publications

Karma is thriving inside the Wisconsin DNR, so enjoy it along with me.

You may remember that developer and former GOP State Senator Cathy Stepp successfully auditioned through a snarky, anti-science blog op-ed for the DNR Secretaryship she enjoyed for nearly seven years before Donald Trump moved her to a bigger sandbox to pollute:

Those of you that haven't had the pleasure of peeking behind the scenes of our state agencies like DNR, Health and Family Services, etc...need to know how some of the most far-reaching policies come down on our heads...suffice it to say that many of these great ideas (sarcasm) come from deep inside the agencies and tend to be reflections of that agency's culture
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. 
Now let me point you to the DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program 2017 Annual Report, a lovely document touting many positive DNR staff and volunteer initiatives statewide.

Among more than a dozen success stories is this one which would give Stepp heartburn:   

Wisconsin has more Karner blue butterflies than anywhere else in the world, and NHC continues restoring habitat for this endangered species. For example, a 34-acre area of Coon Fork Barrens State Natural Area is now exploding with lupine and other plants critical for Karners following a recent prescribed burn; butterfly numbers increased at this site too. 
With restoration projects planned through this fall/winter, Karners will gain more than 900 acres of improved habitat, which will also benefit a host of other species, by the end of 2017. 
Lycaeides melissa samuelis (cropped).jpg

And while the Governor and his GOP-run Legislature want business to be able to fill wetlands and dig mines near rivers and streams, the report highlights many examples of land preservation that invites hikers and tourists to enjoy an enriched environment:

BOOSTING HABITAT ON PRIVATE LANDS 
MONKSHOOD UNCOVERED 
NATURAL AREA ADDITION BENEFITS RARE SPECIES
And it's hard to miss the contradiction between the DNR management working hard - - comment deadline is Friday, so weigh in - - to help a Walker donor to tear apart a wetland/woodland/artifact/dune-rich 247-acre nature preserve right next - - and even intruding into -  - Kohler-Andrae State Park - - and this feature item in the Natural Heritage Conservation Program 2017 Annual Report:
WISCONSIN HAS THE NATION’S LARGEST AND OLDEST SYSTEM OF NATURE PRESERVES
and more of them got the help they needed in 2017 as NHC field staff controlled brush and invasive plants, conducted prescribed burns and arranged timber harvests on a record 12,445 acres. 
Such management is particularly important for maintaining Wisconsin’s best remaining prairie and oak savanna and barren remnants and providing refuge for the endangered plants and animals that depend on such habitat. 
By the way: while you can enjoy the report online, I have to mention that I first saw it as an insert in the December 2017 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine - - the publication which Walker and then-DNR Secretary tried and failed to kill.

Which led to an increase in subscriptions, and no doubt wider distribution of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program's work, goals and 2017 Annual Report, to new readers, like me.

Karma. 




Ryan retirement as Speaker would be win for humans everywhere

[Updated]hope this is accurate, and may a progressive Democratic blue wave roll and fully wash from the Congress a corporatist elitist who's been dreaming of killing Medicare and Medicare since his wastrel college kegging days:  
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has informed some of his closest friends and family that he plans to step down as House Speaker following the 2018 midterm elections, according to a report in Politico.
Of course, it would be the height of selfish immorality for Ryan to ram through his beloved tax cuts for the rich at the expense of everyone else, and then quit as Speaker for his reward from the donors he served, but that's the GOP for ya.

Paul Ryan's official Speaker photo. In the background is the American Flag.



Chemical biz insider won't be USEPA chemical industry regulator

Some good news, as first the GOP-run US Senate forces the withdrawal of two horrible Trump judicial nominations, and then sanity and ethics stopped a conflicted appointment to a key Environmental Protection Agency position.

The EPA nominee's calls for reduced safety standards and his ties to the polluting industry he was set to regulate were too much for Republicans:
Michael Dourson, chosen by President Trump to lead the EPA’s chemicals office, has withdrawn his nomination after Republican senators said they would join with Democrats to oppose him...

Watchdog groups...announced this month a joint investigation to determine if Dourson has violated ethics rules by advising the agency before being Senate confirmed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Walker's train ad stupidity and hypocrisy, part three

I remember when Louisiana GOP Governor Bobby Jindal implored Republicans "to stop being the stupid party."

And just two days ago, NBA legend Charles Barkley challenged Alabama voters to "stop looking like idiots."

So has Scott Walker gotten the message?

The question arises in Walker's taxpayer-paid effort (laid out this small series' parts one and two) to lure Illinois millennials and transit commuters to work in or move to Wisconsin, and in that pitch - - 

- - I see dissonance, ignorance and brain freeze.

Because while Walker, his ideologically-run agencies and super-partisan GOP legislative allies have officially obstructed, killed or will further curtail:

 *  rail and transit services and;

 *  clean air oversight and 

 *  solar and wind initiatives and 

 *  wetland protections and

 *  programs and projects for bikers and pedestrians.

There is reporting and polling data showing that Millennials favor:

 * water conservation and 

 * clean energy and

 * hiking, biking and camping and

 * sustainability in their retail choices and 

 * public transit as a choice and and because its good for the environment.

On the Jindal/Barkley test, give Walker an "F."

Brave WI DNR expert speaks out for clean air

Props to a courageous public servant inside Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR for calling attention publicly to one of the WI GOP's many pro-corporate, pollution-enabling initiatives:
A bill supported by Republicans and business groups that would do away with state regulation of hazardous air pollutants has an unusual critic — a Department of Natural Resources expert who says the measure would weaken health protections in Wisconsin.
"Is that what you want — more emissions of hazardous air pollutants being emitted?” Jeff Myers, an environmental toxicologist for the DNR, asked lawmakers last month.
And it's disgustingly accurate that the reporting calls the expert's opposition "unusual," given that he is an environmental toxicologist in the very agency where such public service activity had been been correctly focused before Walker began wrecking the agency.

It's only unusual because Walker has handed over DNR management to the dirty air and water lobbies, with the support of the Legislature and Attorney General  who already has a record of going easy on air polluters.

So little wonder that corporately-obeisant legislators would follow Schimel's lead and continue to weaken clean air management in the public interest, just as they are doing with groundwater, rivers, lakes and streams.
Smoke stacks from a factory.  

Editing some truth into Walker tweet spin

When Walker self-servingly and disingenuously tweets:
12:22 PM - 12 Dec 2017
Yes, you read your property tax bill right. We eliminated the state portion of your property tax!...
Please add the phrase:
And shoved the burden onto Mayors, executives, boards, councils and your local tax burden. #campaigngarbage,#re-electionbs,#youknowwhatrollsdownhii.

  

Post-Moore, Ryan, Walker free to be regular callous GOP selves

OK, Roy Moore is back under the bridge, so Paul Ryan,
Paul Ryan's official Speaker photo. In the background is the American Flag.
Scott Walker, and the rest of the 'regular' Republicans in Wisconsin and elsewhere can return to their traditional values - - drug-testing, voter-suppression, minimum-wage enforcement, corporate-water carrying and across-the-board women-dissing - - in close coordination with Misogynist-in-Chief Donald Trump.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

WI GOP aims new, bigger dagger at wetlands & environment

Because the US Supreme Court might order more equitably-drawn Wisconsin legislative districts and thereby threaten GOP domination, Gov. Walker and his allies are accelerating their war on public resources to get their ideological friends and donors what's grabbable right now.

So next week the GOP-controlled State Legislature - - regularly in league with Walker, Attorney General Brad Schimel, and the corporate special interests which underwrite all three branches of state government - - including the State Supreme Court - -  officially rushes to open between 500,000 and 1,500,000 acres of state-protected wetlands 


to permit-free private development - - and if there are negative consequences to the public interest, or to downhill or downstream users, or to constitutionally-guaranteed public rights to clean and accessible water - - the GOP does not care:
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two legislative committees have scheduled a joint hearing on a Republican bill that would allow developers to build on state wetlands without a permit. 
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform have scheduled the hearing for Dec. 21 in the state Capitol.
This is in addition to;

* The recently-rushed deal for Foxconn which allows the state-subsidized private company special exemptions to Wisconsin law and process to fill wetlands, build on lake beds and reroute  streams without permits or routine environmental reviews;


* The recently-rushed approval to allow metals' mining in Wisconsin which uses cyanide to to separate gold, silver, copper and other metals from rock, but which also produces toxins, including sulfuric acid;


* The recently-held assembly-line sham hearings to further ease already-weakened 'regulation' of industrial scale animal feeding/manure producing/groundwater-contaminating operations;


* The continual diminution of the DNR under Walker;


Note on the blog's website a State Supreme Court admonition against fills of waterways that can permanently harm the landscape and which the state is legally-bound to protect for all the people:
"A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin Supreme Court in its 1960 opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC and buttressing The Public Trust Doctrine, Article IX of the Wisconsin State Constitution.


Comment on Kohler golf course proposal by Friday, 12/15

An important reminder from the grassroots conservationists at Friends of the Black River Forest:

You can register your opposition to the taking of some state park land acreage 

and an adjoining nature preserve's wetlands, habitat, dunes and woodlands for a privately-owned, high end Kohler golf course.

This is the proposed project being goosed along for a Walker's donor through the coordinated efforts of Walker's ;chamber of commerce mentality' Wisconsin DNR, its hearing processes, and the parallel manipulation of the state's annexation processes in the development's favor.

Send your written comments for the record which will be incorporated into any future hearings, reviews or litigation, to:

DNRKohlerProposal@wisconsin.govor by U.S. mail to Jay Schiefelbein, Wisconsin DNR, 2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay, WI 54313-6727.  

Find more info here.


Comments must be received by Friday, December 15th, and I wouldn't wait until 11:59:59 p.m. that day to hit "send."

Monday, December 11, 2017

Meet your WI environmental champs - - Gov. Walker, Sen. Tiffany

I'd written some posts here and here about the bill Walker signed today throwing Wisconsin and its waters wide open to mining we can describe as cyanide in, metals, sulfuric acid and pollution out.

I'd put it the issues into context, advanced the story, put it aside and began to turn to other issues - - and then I saw the AP reported that "Walker believes that mining can be done without harming the environment."


Oh?

And then I read this remark by State Sen. Tom Hazelhurst, [R-Hazelhurst], the bill's lead Senate sponsor: 
"If any company wants to come here to Wisconsin, they're going to have to live with our high environmental standards."
"Our high environmental standards?"

Please, Senator: Who should we believe - - you, or those nerds over at, um, Scientific American?
How Scott Walker Dismantled Wisconsin's Environmental Legacy
Because those experts know what we know, having learned it the hard way - -  like those poor souls with contaminated wells near inspection-free, de-regulated big dairy operations - - over the last seven years; that Walker, wingman Tiffany and their allies in the GOP-led Legislature and in the GOP-led Attorney General's Office and in the GOP-water carrying DNR Secretary's office have been lowering Wisconsin environmental standards to an ineffective fraction of what they had been.

Just a few examples:


* Tiffany was at the center of, and defended, the industry-written, donor-greased iron mining and environment-wrecking bill which made numerous changes to lower, weaken and disrespect environmental rules and procedures, among others. 

“If the law is challenged and ends up in court, the judge needs to know it was the Legislature’s intent to allow adverse (environmental) impacts. That way, a judge can’t find fault if the environment is impacted, [Tiffany said].”
Tiffany made the admission after being asked Thursday in an interview with the Cap Times how Republicans could continue to claim the mining bill doesn't risk environmental harm when:
  • It specifically changes the wording of existing state permitting law from “significant adverse affects (to wetlands) are presumed to be unnecessary” to “significant adverse affects are presumed to be necessary...
  • The land above the rich vein of iron ore contains hundreds of acres of wetlands, numerous pristine trout streams and several small tributaries that feed into the Bad River. The Bad River wends its way to Lake Superior through the Bad River Indian Reservation, which includes culturally and economically significant rice beds.
“We are simply being honest,” Tiffany says. “There will be some impacts but they will be limited. Changing the word 'unnecessary' to 'necessary' lets the judge know it was the Legislature’s intent that there will be some adverse impacts.”
*  And we'd have cleaner water delivered by the high environmental standards Tiffany claims if the GOP-led legislature hadn't rolled back and weakened the rules limiting phosphorous discharges into rivers and streams - - a blow to clean water that has led in recent years to an escalation of Wisconsin waterways so polluted that they end up on official lists of impaired waters.

Documented here and here and here.


*  And let's not forget that the rollbacks in environmental rules which Walker and Tiffany and their party have inflicted on the land, clean air and water in Wisconsin have taken place with the unapologetic and enthusiastic participation of special interests who stand to benefit from what they can appropriate from the people.


One example, among many. Do you remember when the rules were rewritten in 2012 to allow development close to waterways, and how the Wisconsin Builders Association bragged about the measure and the inside connections they were working

Here is a key paragraph from the WBA newsletter - - remember it when you see the predictable editorials urging its passage after a few tweaks:
The key to this bill passing is to get some minor technical changes in committee and make sure the bill is not “watered down” (no pun intended!) during the process.  WBA staff professionals will continue working with members, local staff members and the legislature to pass a strong wetlands bill before the end of the legislative session.
*  And don't forget that if Walker and his legislative allies get their way, a million more acres of wetlands in Wisconsin will be handed to developers who can build on them at will.

That's a million in addition to whatever Foxconn gets to fill and build on without any state review or permit, cheered on by the GOP's monied, lobbyist-heavy Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce battering ram.

High standards?

Don't insult our intelligence. 

Toxifying mining bill gets Walker OK today, pollution to follow

Walker opens a new and toxic front today in his relentless war on water and the environment.

That's because within a controlled airport setting this afternoon, our GOP Governor and reliable corporate tool will reward special interests with a bill signing that hat opens Wisconsin land, rivers and streams to metallic mining that uses cyanide and produces sulfuric acid as a byproduct.

Also being damaged - - The Wisconsin State Constitution - - which guarantees in Article IX that the waters of the state belong to all the people for their access and appreciation, and that the state must side with the public when those rights are violated for private gain.

It's important to understand that Walker has been at this for seven years, having stopped in his first few days in office a wetland filling review for a developer-donor and issued an executive order signaling environmental protection rollbacks.

Here's a recent summary piece about that, among many on this blog:
Walker's been for filling Wisconsin wetlands since forever.

Seriously. Since his very first Executive order.
And for specific wetland acreage eyed by a donor developer right after Walker was sworn in nearly seven years ago.
So of course now's the right time for the right under Walker to get even busier removing wetland protections - - and offering more take-the-water privileges for mining companies and large ag businesses - -  what with a possible GOP-deflating Wisconsin redistricting being ordered by the US Supreme Court.
It's pretty clear that soon all businesses in Wisconsin will get Foxconn-like privileges to fill wetlands, reroute streams, build into lakes and on to lake beds, evade environmental reviews - - and get state subsidies to boost their bottom lines.

Full Foxconn archive, here.

It's another step in the Republican demolition of our state's history and signature, unique appeal.

Goodbye, Gaylord Nelson, Aldo Leopold and John Muir.

Walker and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce are taking what is not theirs to appropriate, transfer and sell off.
--------------------

[Previous blog updates from 12/8 and 9/'17 - - Walker will sign the bill Monday in Rhinelander, mixing re-election campaign talking points about jobs with meaningless rhetoric about protecting the same environment he has systematically damaged since his first few hours in office.]

[From 12/8/17 with information about sulfide mining, as the term doesn't indicate clearly the risks:

Metallic sulfide mining (aka hard rock mining) is the practice of extracting metals such as nickel, gold and copper from a sulfide-rich ore body. Sulfides are a geologic byproduct of mining in this area, and by exposing sulfides to the air and water in our atmosphere, sulfuric acid can be created — threatening to poison the nearby water, environment, and communities."]
And here's the bigger picture: 
------------------------ 
Walker's office had indicated he'd sign the bill that lifts a moratorium on sulfide mining in Wisconsin - - - - and information emailed to me at my request on November 30th by Donnie LeBarre, a communications assistant in the Governor's office, indicates that Wednesday, December 13 is the deadline for signing such recently-passed bills.
I did some research on your question regarding why recent bills did not automatically become law after six days of being passed. According to information from the Wisconsin Legislature’s “How a Bill Becomes Law” guide, the six day window applies to the date the Governor receives the bill, and not when the bill passes the legislature. Here’s the relevant passage from the guide: 
“The Legislature informally furnishes the Governor’s staff with copies of the enrolled bill for analysis. When the research is completed, the Chief Clerk’s office delivers an official copy of the bill. If the Governor does not request a bill, the session schedule joint resolution sets a deadline when all bills must be sent to the Governor.” 
This final deadline for the Governor receiving bills is December 7, meaning all bills must be signed/vetoed by December 13 or else they become law. However, the Governor can request bills individually and sign them earlier.
So, essentially, the bills haven’t automatically become law because the Governor has not received them yet, and he can specifically request ones he plans to sign. 

 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

WI mining bill signing deadline on horizon

[Updated from 12/8 and 9/'17 - - Walker will sign the bill Monday in Rhinelander, mixing re-election campaign talking points about jobs with meaningless rhetoric about protecting the same environment he has systematically damaged since his first few hours in office.

[Updated from 12/8/17 with information about sulfide mining, as the term doesn't indicate clearly the risks:
Metallic sulfide mining (aka hard rock mining) is the practice of extracting metals such as nickel, gold and copper from a sulfide-rich ore body. Sulfides are a geologic byproduct of mining in this area, and by exposing sulfides to the air and water in our atmosphere, sulfuric acid can be created — threatening to poison the nearby water, environment, and communities."]
And here's the bigger picture: 
------------------------ 
Walker's office had indicated he'd sign the bill that lifts a moratorium on sulfide mining in Wisconsin - - 
Menominee River | Tom Young
Land along the Menominee River sacred to the Menominee tribe along the WI-MI border is targeted for mining by a Canadian firm
- - and information emailed to me at my request on November 30th by Donnie LeBarre, a communications assistant in the Governor's office, indicates that Wednesday, December 13 is the deadline for signing such recently-passed bills.
I did some research on your question regarding why recent bills did not automatically become law after six days of being passed. According to information from the Wisconsin Legislature’s “How a Bill Becomes Law” guide, the six day window applies to the date the Governor receives the bill, and not when the bill passes the legislature. Here’s the relevant passage from the guide: 
“The Legislature informally furnishes the Governor’s staff with copies of the enrolled bill for analysis. When the research is completed, the Chief Clerk’s office delivers an official copy of the bill. If the Governor does not request a bill, the session schedule joint resolution sets a deadline when all bills must be sent to the Governor.” 
This final deadline for the Governor receiving bills is December 7, meaning all bills must be signed/vetoed by December 13 or else they become law. However, the Governor can request bills individually and sign them earlier.
So, essentially, the bills haven’t automatically become law because the Governor has not received them yet, and he can specifically request ones he plans to sign. 

Chicago-Racine gravy train doesn't stop in Green Bay

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.

Over a decades-long payoff period. Hopefully.

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.

Here is a single blog post with more than 100 archived items following the Foxconn story.




Saturday, December 9, 2017

Saving County Grounds' Sanctuary Woods gets national notice

I post information from time to time about grassroots efforts to save remnant acres, such as the Monarch Butterfly Trail and Sanctuary Woods on the Milwaukee County Grounds - - public resources which have yet to fall to road-building and various projects green-lit by Milwaukee County, UW-M and other powerful institutions.

This local struggle is among several nationally noted by Landscape Architecture Magazine

Here's a good piece from Urban Milwaukee about the issues, and it includes another nice photo, like the one above, by Eddee Daniel.

So hat tip to the preservationists.

Boo to the polluters, privateers and spoilers of the public trust.

Friday, December 8, 2017

From the WI DNR on climate change, crickets

When it comes to climate change, Bucky's denial is even deeper than Donald Trump's and Scott Pruitt, the US EPA's fossil fuel-embracing boss.

Here's how and why.

We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of this blog discovering that the Wisconsin DNR had scrubbed climate change science and related links from its web pages.

So I asked DNR spokesman James Dick and new agency Secretary Dan Meyer by email several times over the last ten days or so if, given the Trump administration's recent acknowledgement of the human role in climate change, the DNR intended to repost what it had deleted.

I'd included this paragraph and link in my emails to the DNR officials to a story in The New York Times about the Trump administration's action:
The Trump administration released the government's latest climate change assessment which concluded that climate change is human caused. Here is a link to that reporting which also includes a link to the assessment.
However, I got no response to my emails. Not even a 'no comment.'

Sure does seem relevant to Wisconsin, what with severe storm damage occurring frequently while state and local governments at its behest are also committing $3.74 billion in subsidies to Foxconn so it can build in a flood prone county.


Image result for racine wi flooding images photos

Sanitized magazine continues devaluation of Walker's DNR

You may remember that after substantial public pressure, the Wisconsin Legislature quashed GOP corporate bellhop Scott Walker and then-DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp's sneaky plan to scrap Wisconsin Natural Resources, the agency's century-old, 100%-subscriber-supported bi-monthly magazine. 

Seems that the magazine had gone too far off a key Walker/GOP message by  acknowledging climate change, but something of a compromise, and the magazine was saved, sort of.

I thought it important at the time - - and still do - - that the printed word and the magazine be retained since Walker and his 'chamber of commerce' water-carriers have to be confronted in the public interest at every turn, and they won't be in power forever.

So it's unsurprisingly par for the course that recent issues magazine issues have had a lot of pretty pictures and soft features rather than useful reporting about real issues facing the agency and the public - - like the exploding number of impaired waterways in Wisconsin by the DNR's own count, the impending introduction of acidic mining statewide, or dangerous groundwater contamination near industrial-scale animal feeding operations already weakly-'regulated' by the agency, or the accelerating push to let businesses fill wetlands.

Here's an update on the magazine.

*  There will be four "seasonal" issues. See the subscription renewal offer I've photographed, below.

*  The redefined magazine still bears the same name, but is being marketed with an intentional tilt to recreation and tourism; maybe Walker will next try and offload the magazine to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism the same way he intends to move big dairy regulation to a more friendly and promotional Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection.

*  Bottom line: the slimmed-down, vanilla-flavored magazine is another reflection of the DNR's watered-down message and mission under Walker, additional proof that  the distribution of timely, newsworthy facts and figures to the general public is not a priority - - whether in the DNR's magazine lite, through sham hearings, in delayed warnings about unhealthy air quality or devalued climate change websites scrubbed of their essential, scientific  content.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

In WI, the far-right is at war with itself

It's the Dairyland version of "Alien vs. Predator," or "Mothra vs. Godzilla."

In this corner, we have the conservative, Bradley Foundation-funded law firm Wisconsin Institute for Liberty and Law, WILL, which is suing to block the way local taxpayer funds are being used to finance a project in Eau Claire.


And in the opposite corner, we have the conservative and regal Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. 

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and suit\
His office is jumping in against WILL.
At issue is whether local economic incentives can result in cash payments to a private developer or company — which in the Eau Claire case include $1.5 million, but in the Foxconn case total $100 million.
The state is seeking to intervene in support of the Eau Claire project in a lawsuit brought by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of local taxpayers who say Eau Claire abused Wisconsin's tax incremental financing (TIF) law...
In a court filing this week, state Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin warned that the plaintiffs in the Eau Claire case seek to invalidate "a common feature" of Wisconsin’s TIF law: "cash grants paid to developers to help finance projects that promote economic the development...
The right hand in Wisconsin seems not to know what the other right hand wants, so enter Brad Schimel's Solicitor General. 

By the way, as I noted earlier, does Wisconsin really need a Solicitor General?
Schimel, by the way, has imitated [EPA administrator Scott] Pruitt's operation in Oklahoma by setting up within the Wisconsin Attorney General's office a new unit of hard-right lawyers under the supervision of a grandiosely-titled Solicitor General, to sue the federal government.

Midwest Environmental Advocates posts Foxconn issues page

The public interest law firm Midwest Environmental Advocates is tracking the Foxconn project, here:
Latest News
The Foxconn deal is covered frequently in the media, with latest news ever-evolving. This page is up to date as of December 4th, 2017.
The proposed site of Foxconn’s plant in Mount Pleasant received final local approval from Racine County and Village of Mount Pleasant officials in early December 2017. This local approval included creation of a tax incremental district, which heaped local subsidies on top of the massive state incentives already offered by the State. 
The Foxconn deal appears set to move forward, and Foxconn is supposedly “exploring plans for a ‘zero discharge facility’ that could greatly reduce the use of Lake Michigan water at the factory.” 
This news comes after Governor Scott Walker and Foxconn CEO Terry Guo signed the contract on Friday, November 10th, which was approved by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation days earlier.
Though Foxconn has received initial necessary state and local approvals, citizens and public interest groups should still closely watchdog state and federal permits that Foxconn will need to obtain. Opportunities still exist for public input to ensure that Foxconn is complying with state and federal laws that still apply.
This will be an important site to follow - - and I will add its webpage to my Foxconn archive, here - - given the project's potential pollution risks to farm land, wetlands and nearby Lake Michigan.