Friday, April 20, 2018
Apparently there's no deadline on cheap talk by Walker about tariffs Trump triggered on dairy exports to Canada a year ago.
Trump Vows to Back U.S. Dairy Farmers in Canada Trade SpatHaving endorsed Trump for President from the podium at the 2016 GOP convention, Walker knew he only had to snap his figures to get Trump's attention:
* He talked to Trump about it on the phone, according to this report, and followed-up with the rare, triple-exclamation pointed Tweet:
Walker said he spoke with Trump Monday and Tuesday about the dairy crisis.
“It was great to talk to you this morning,” Walker told Trump on Twitter after the conversation. “Thanks for supporting WI dairy farmers!!!”
* Wait, there's more: Walker even signed a letter to Trump:.
Walker issued a joint letter to Trump with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday. The move comes as 75 Wisconsin dairy farms won't have buyers for their milk beginning May 1st because of the restrictions.* And issued a 'standing up for Wisconsin dairy farmers' news release detailing calls he'd made and assigned to others.
Things are moving in reverse:
Wisconsin now leads the nation in small farm bankruptcies.
As dairy crisis crushes farmers, Wisconsin's rural identity in jeopardyAnd when Trump surprised Walker with even more harmful tariffs, Walker "respectfully" asked Trump to stop - - Trump added even more tariffs.
And just to close this leadership loop, the GOP-controlled State Senate, without explanation, just adjourned without taking up a targeted appropriation for rural economic development that zipped through the Assembly on a bi-partisan basis.
So 'Nothing to see here!!!'
Posted by James Rowen at 12:14 PM
Thursday, April 19, 2018
I've written repeatedly here since 2007 about the special interest attack on Wisconsin's environment and previous Governors' records by Scott Walker, including the legacy left by Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, and old-school GOP Gov. Warren Knowles.
And how people have to spend their own money fighting both special interests and the taxpayer-funded DNR to try and get environmental justice.
[Environmental] lawsuits are a good sign that citizens are not going to accept the one-sided and dirty hand this administration is handing them - - another example is the strong citizen opposition to the proposed Kohler golf course along Lake Michigan and on a nature preserve for which the DNR already has a thumb on the regulatory scales - - but it's wrong that the state can default its clean air and water obligations which forces people to spend money from their own pockets to do the state's proper job.And about how this all got jump-started when then-GOP Governor Tommy Thompson upended the long-standing public prosecutorial Office of the Public Intervenor which had been created with bi-partisan backing.
(You might check out this 2012 posting which includes a link to a definitive 2004 Marquette Law Review article on the matter by Midwest Environmental Advocates Atty. Jodi Habush Sinykin, too.)
This final blow in this costly and intentional assault on in the public protection dike which Thompson created, and Walker has exploited, was thrown by GOP AG Brad Schimel when he removed in 2016 Tom Dawson, the last of the early public intervenors still on duty, so Schimel could fully staff what is essentially a pro-industry boutique law practice inside the Department of Justice.
All very Scott Pruitt-ish, and by design.
Now thanks to the good folks who have created an online archive of works by late environmental writer, Madison radio personality and progressive stalwart George "Papa Hambone" Vukelich - - my ally and mentor, too - - I pass on this gem from yesteryear.
The 4-13-95 column below is from Isthmus of Madison and was based on an interview with former WMC President Paul Hassett back before the WMC became just another reflexive big funder of far rightwing candidates and causes.
I know the image is a bit hard to read, but the boxed quote sums it up:
"Tommy Thompson's decision to eliminate the public intervenor's office is wrong," says Paul Hassett.And From the heart of the column:
"The public intervenor's office is the only state agency that can function over other state agencies. It's a watchdog over the Department of Natural Resources, it keeps the DNR on its toes. Well, you remove the watchdog and you force people into court; the costs money, and the cases stretch into big, long cases that can on for two, three, four, five years."And the kicker:
"In my oldest dreams, I could not envision Warren Knowles making a power play like this."I'll pass along a better image if I can get it.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:54 AM
Of course, RoJo has little to lose since he's said he's not running for re-election in 2022, but Trump might not care if he makes a de-nuclearization deal with Kim Jong Un while Sen. Sunspots had been on the record ranting about "the nut cases" in North Korea.
Johnson was always on firmer ground when all he needed to do was repeat his best words like
' 'sconsin doesn't s'port 'bamacare cuz 'sbad fer freedom an' 'th 'constution an' biggest threat in my lifetime...'
Posted by James Rowen at 10:13 AM
For the record, let it be known that GOP/Tea Party Sen. Ron Johnson - - 'representing' a state bordering two of the five Great Lakes and which is already suffering documented damage from invasive species to beaches, water intake pipes and fisheries - - amplified his contempt for science and history by voting with the shipping companies.
And when asked to explain his vote, Johnson, through an aide reading a prepared statement, completed the rare obfuscatory quadfecta by jamming the bureaucratic buzzwords "interstate commerce...federal standard...more appropriate...regulatory patchwork" into a single, issue-ducking comment:
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson voted the opposite way, having — through an aide — described the issue "as an interstate commerce issue where a federal standard is more appropriate than the current regulatory patchwork based on state land borders."So let's add it to the Wrong Johnson Archive.
"Sunspots" Johnson does have a way with words; we remember his earlier eloquence on environmental matters, so, to be fair, I must give him credit for perhaps believing he was saving Wisconsin and the Great Lakes from something inspired by North Korea. Or Stalin:
...on WRJN 1400 radio in Wisconsin, the longtime climate-change denier said liberals and progressives, like socialists and communists, “want to control everything.
“The whole climate change debate gives ― and there are all kinds of quotes from adherents of and promoters of climate change ― the reason they’re doing it is it’s such a great opportunity to control, you know, pretty much, government, and control your lives,” he said.
“I mean, again, I don’t know why they want to do it. There’s an arrogance of power there that they’re utopians, that they really think they can create heaven on Earth, and where it’s failed in the past, those people like Stalin and Chavez and the Castros, the nut cases in North Korea ― by the way, if you want equal results, go to North Korea, you have equal misery.”
“The arrogance of liberal progressives,” he added, “is that they’re just a lot smarter and better angels than the Stalins and the Chavezes and the Castros of the world, and if we give them all the control, and they control your life, they’re going to do a great job of it. Well, it just isn’t true.”
Posted by James Rowen at 8:51 AM
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
And on keeping contaminating phosphorous out of Wisconsin waters.
And on racial issues.
While Scanlan now teaches law in Vermont - -
- - she's staying connected to local issues, such as the relevance of the Public Trust Doctrine to the proposed diversion of Lake Michigan water for Foxconn.
And now she's published an essay in The Guardian about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Congress and the law which transcends mere state and watershed boundaries:
Facebook and the other tech monopolies dwarf the power of the state, transcend national boundaries, and require new thinking and structures to thwart their tyrannical impact on people’s lives.
Why did senators ask Zuckerberg if he was open to regulation? Why did they structure hearings that prevented critical interrogations?
When Congress is in a “Mother may I?” mode with a monopoly that has enabled foreign propaganda to influence the US presidential election and exposed the data of at least 87 million Facebook users, something is seriously wrong.Happy to keep promoting what Melissa Scanlan has to say.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:52 PM
Citizen concerns along these lines were expressed at a recent public hearing and, additionally by other Great Lakes states, so this week's call for a wider diversion review is an important public policy suggestion:
Posted by James Rowen at 12:19 PM
This solid report in Urban Milwaukee lays out the city's plan to restore the Bay View wetland and add water and trail access for public enjoyment.
At a press conference Tuesday, Benji Timm, a project manager with the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, called the site a “jewel” in the harbor district. Restoring the jewel will mean improving and protecting critical habitat for the spawning of Northern Pike, for threatened species like the Butler’s Garter Snake, for breeding and migrating birds and numerous species of native plants.
And once the wetland is restored, Timm said, it will have a trail system through the property and canoe and kayak launches on the Kinnickinnic River.It's a welcome respite from the relentless permissions granted by the state under Walker's GOP thumb to fill wetlands statewide by the tens of thousands of acres, serve a sand mine, a high-end golf course and, worse, to heap environmental favors including large-scale wetland filling for Foxconn.
Remember that Walker has been the rule-breaking, wetland-filler-for-insiders since he took office more than seven years ago.
You could not ask for a sharper contrast between politicians' mindsets and agendas as we approach Earth Day on the 22nd than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's intention to add value to a neighborhood through improvements which work with the landscape and Walker's commitment to adding value to his donors' and special interests' bottom lines through bulldozing and dredging that furthers his 'chamber of commerce mentality' assault on the public trust and state law.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:47 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
The Republican Party was founded on March 20, 1854, in Ripon, Wisconsin, but came to turn far away from the party of Lincoln when Tricky Dick Nixon embraced his whites-first, caustic, callous so-called Southern strategy.
The no-longer so-grand Grand Old Party then put itself in the ICU when GOP insiders capitulated to Trump, anointed him at their 2016 convention and, well, you know the rest.
And I think you can declare it dead by suicide today, April 17, 2018, with this development:
McConnell: I won't put legislation to protect Mueller on Senate floorIn other words, Mitch McConnell - - echoing House doormat Paul Ryan - - to Trump:
'You want Mueller, Dear Leader? Come and get him.
Fineal thought: If you think it's too harsh to say that the GOP is no longer the party of Lincoln, and you weren't convinced by the anti-urban voter ID laws and gerrymandering fromWisconsin to North Carolina to Texas, consider this maneuver also coming to the US Senate floor under McConnell:
The Senate is poised to vote this week to rescind a five-year old Obama-era policy warning auto lenders against allowing minority borrowers to be charged more than their white peers.
Posted by James Rowen at 8:54 PM
- - by allowing them to escape through flushing from ocean-going freighters' ballast water tanks.
But that is precisely what the big-business obeisant US Senate is poised to do.
"The measure exempts ballast water from the Clean Water Act, and that’s a real problem because the Clean Water Act is the best protection for our waters that we have,” said Rebecca Riley, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“The stakes could not be higher,” the National Wildlife Federation said in a news release that said a vote on the measure in the U.S. Senate could come as early as Wednesday. “The passage of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act will be ‘game over’ in our efforts to effectively protect U.S. waters, businesses, and communities from invasive species.”The current rules took years to produce; this blog has covered the issue since 2009, and Wisconsin experts were involved because - - at least prior to The WMC/Walker PollutionFest Two-Term Tour - - knowledgeable people of good will fought hard to stem what had already been unleashed in the Great Lakes and possibly leave a better eco-system behind.
Invasive species have already cost the Great Lakes states dearly, so this is a step in the wrong direction:
Aquatic invasive species, brought in primarily via the ballast tanks of ocean-going ships, have caused irreparable harm to the Great Lakes ecosystem and cost the region billions of dollars since the late 1980s. To improve balance and stability, ships take in or discharge water in their ballast tanks when cargo is loaded or unloaded. In doing so, they also take in all kinds of live critters that, when discharged somewhere else, can pose a serious threat to native species and ecosystems. Invasive species are costing the Great Lakes states more than $200 million each year already.See Dan Egan's fine book on the matter - - The Death and Life of the Great Lakes. As reviewer Robert Moor writes:
The book notes that the striking clarity of the Lake Michigan water masks deep trouble facing the Great Lakes, Moor writes.
"I learned that the reason the lake had become so clear was that it had been invaded by a dastardly pair of bivalves — the zebra and quagga mussels — which had hitched a ride on a shipping barge from either the Black or Caspian Seas and then quietly but ceaselessly colonized the lake," Moor says.And since I do not believe in coincidences, it's great that Egan's book is featured this month on public television.
When we think of invasive species threatening the Great Lakes, most of us think of the ugly face of the Asian carp. But in “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes,” journalist Dan Egan tells us there are other invasive species posing immediate dangers, including the quagga mussel, which is sucking Lake Michigan dry.Maybe some of the Senators or their staff will see the programmed realize that the Great Lakes need more protections, not less.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:17 PM
Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday used his veto power... extend the sales tax holiday from two to five days, between Aug. 1 and Aug. 5, when he signed legislation in Waukesha that also provides families with school-age children a $100 tax rebate per child.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:59 AM
Monday, April 16, 2018
Scott Walker pledges to serve a full third term if re-elected and says he wouldn't go to Trump administration
He "committed" to the same thing on the eve of his 2014 re-election before he jumped into the Presidential nominating race.
"My plan is if the people of the state of Wisconsin elect me on Nov. 4 is to be here for 4 years….it’s a position I’m committed to.”Looks like someone is having his own memory-free "Mission Accomplished" moment.
Sources: C-SPAN, video, Walker-Burke debate, 25:30 mark, Oct. 10, 2014
Posted by James Rowen at 5:12 PM
Foxconn is applying for at least four permits to emit large tonnages of air pollutants annually. Those emission have been compared to the operation of a large paper mill, and the state is busy trying to weaken air quality standards and monitoring in the area.
Comments may be faxed (920-424-4404), e-mailed (firstname.lastname@example.org), or mailed (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Attn.: Jonathan Wright, Northeast Region Air Program, Oshkosh Service Center, 625 E County Road Y, Suite 700, Oshkosh, WI 54901-9731).
The permit paperwork is lengthy and complex; the comment period remains open through the end of the business day, April 16, according to the DNR.
Remember, what goes up comes down, and Lake Michigan is right there.
...an independent analysis of the permits was headlined "Foxconn could increase Racine County's emissions by six percent, and said, in part:
The four facilities, to be built in phases over the next several years, could combine to emit 229 tons per year of nitrogen oxides, 240 tons of carbon monoxide, 52 tons of particulate matter, 4 tons of sulfur dioxide and 275 tons of volatile organic compounds.
There’s only one facility in the state – the Verso Corp. Wisconsin Rapids paper mill – that emits at or above the levels Foxconn is proposing across all five pollutants.
Posted by James Rowen at 4:58 PM
GOP State Rep. Joel Kleefisch - - spouse of tea partying Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and the State Capitol's leading proponent of marinating wolves and legislating sandhill cranes into 'rib-eyes in the sky' with - - ahem - - less than full disclosure about his bill's origins - - is leaving the Wisconsin Assembly.
And, yes this a big step in the right direction for good government in Wisconsin.
We already have a Governor and legislature who let a mining company led by a major donor help write for itself a self-interested sweetheart bill that rolled back environmental protections and citizen involvement in permitting, and we didn't need legislators like Kleefisch willing do the same thing - - twice - - for another GOP donor who had an interest in favorable divorce settlement bill-writing.
The times they are a-changin.'
Posted by James Rowen at 11:55 AM
Sunday, April 15, 2018
On Meet the Press Sunday morning, lame duck Ryan's words confirmed that he is a chicken, too.
Ryan said Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation and he doesn't think Trump will fire him. But he also doesn't endorse legislation to protect the special counsel from being dismissed
Posted by James Rowen at 4:19 PM
has a rich state and regional history of executive branch leadership on water issues.
In fact, Michigan Republican Gov. John Engler vetoed a Waukesha-style diversion of Lake Michigan water for Lowell, Indiana - - under a set of rules no longer in force - - because he thought the diversion would set a harmful precedent.
That stewardship is hard to see from this side of Lake Michigan today:
Flint’s mayor, Karen Weaver, said she was informed of the decision only moments before it was made public.* But Michigan is allowing Nestle's to increase its withdrawal of spring water to 400 gallons per minute from 250 for bottling under the geographically-challenged "Ice Mountain" label- - for which it pays only a $200 paperwork fee, no per-gallon charge or taxes.
More at this new documentary, here.
Some residents near the Michigan bottling plant worry about their water source being depleted -- not to mention all the plastic bottles being produced.
The documentary also highlights the town of Waukesha, Wisc. It sits outside the Great Lakes watershed, but was granted permission to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan. A similar debate surrounds a giant electronics factory planned in another part of Wisconsin, so that issue is not going away.
The documentary poses some big questions: "Who’s watching over Great Lakes water? Are the laws strong enough to protect the region’s drinking water supply? Should global corporations have the right to use Great Lakes water to make big profits?"* Michigan has also granted three of four permits needed for the operation of a controversial, potentially-polluting sulfide ore mine for Aquila Resources on the Michigan-Wisconsin Upper Peninsula border very close to the Menominee River.
Opposition to the mine is led by Native Americans - - so, again, Michigan finds itself aligned against its minority citizens but favoring major corporations which want more control over water.
These matters do not take place in a vacuum.
Pro-industry Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had Tea Party support; remember that Wisconsin Gov. and failed water steward Scott Walker claimed to have been "the original Tea Party in Wisconsin" when it was politically-advantageous to tout that history.
So this is what you get when you put corporatist, Tea Party politicians in charge of overseeing shared, life-and-death resources:
Backers of a new Wisconsin law to allow the same kind of mining in Wisconsin which Michigan is close to green-lighting say the same mining company could open the same kind of operations here.
[Hazelhurst GOP State Sen. Tom] Tiffany has previously said he believes there are exploration companies prepared to start work in Wisconsin if the bill becomes law. He said he expects Canadian companies Highland Copper Company and Aquila Resources would have an interest in the state's mineral deposits.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:46 PM
I want to salute former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager who sadly passed away yesterday by posting this link to one of her opinions brimming with relevance and scholarship.
As Wisconsin contemplates granting the City of Racine a diversion of Great Lakes water to supply the Foxconn project with the bulk of a requested seven million gallons from Lake Michigan daily, I suggest you her 2006 opinion and analysis of Great Lakes water management, goals and diversions - - an opinion not widely reported by media or widely distributed at the time.
I've noted the opinion on this blog more than once, and also Lautenschlager's strong environmental ethic I posted about in 2007 which she promoted after she'd left office:
Former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager blasts [in a Capital Times op-ed no longer online] Wisconsin officials for their "do nothing" policy in the wake of Indiana's permission to British Petroleum allowing its Whiting, IN refinery to increase polluted dumping into Lake Michigan.
Lautenschlager is right about Wisconsin's curious and disappointing silence - - something I had noted on this blog almost two weeks ago.
And Lautenschlager mentions the rush to push Lake Michigan water to some Waukesha County suburbs.
While Attorney General, Lautenschlager issued a 20-page opinion saying the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources did not have the authority to approve any diversions of Lake Michigan water without the approval of the other seven Great Lakes states.
I have several times on this blog pointed to Lautenschlager's opinion - - here is the first mention - - and said repeatedly that its existence has been ignored by mainstream media.Lautenschlager's opinion was released before the Great Lakes Compact now in force won its approvals in 2008.
And while the current Compact and earlier agreements in force at the time Lautenschlager wrote her opinion have some dissimilarities, all the official documentation and language connected.
Her discussions of decades of US-Canada agreements to manage the Great Lakes which the two countries share - - and especially her supporting scholarship about the need for diversion caution by the DNR, and for oversight of water guided that is guided by conservation, and for the significance of the Public Trust Doctrine which predates the Compact and guarantees the people's fundamental rights to water - - are all powerfully instructional and relevant right now because Wisconsin in the Scott Walker/Attorney General Brad Schimel era has been debasing the Public Trust Doctrine and the value of water conservation while pursuing yet another controversial Lake Michigan diversion, this time for Foxconn.
It is huge loss for Wisconsin that Peg Lautenschlager is gone at the far-too-young-age of 62, but we are fortunate that she left us a rich, publicly-spirited legacy, of which this opinion is but a sample.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:51 AM
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Let's look at few.
* There's this one posted April 10th on the GOP Wisconsin Governor's taxpayer paid website:
We believe welfare should be more like a trampoline and less like a hammock.The statement was made in support of part of a multi-city tour
|Walker signing one of his hammock-flipping measures in Milwaukee|
during which Walker signed several campaign-year welfare 'reform' measures.
Though he seems to have lifted it much of it from his ally, House Speaker/Quitter Paul Ryan, circa 2012:
“But we don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives,” Ryan added.Don't forget that Ryan had found hammock-riders in America's inner cities:
“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said.And former GOP State Senator and Walker backer Glenn Grothman, as he prepared to take his sat in the House Congress in Ryan's caucus had spotted what sounded like hammock-occupying single-mothers living off welfare 'bribes,' too:
* So maybe Walker will trade that shabbily-manufactured hammock slogan for the kind of old-timey-Ronald Reagan welfare queen inspired demagoguery we recently saw on the Wisconsin Governor's official Twitter feed:
Our welfare reforms also set common sense asset limits on public assistance so people with big mansions and fancy cars don’t get welfare checks while hard-working taxpayers have to pay the bills.
"My belief is we shouldn't be paying for them to sit on the couch, watching TV or playing Xbox," Walker told cheering Republican campaign volunteers last week in West Bend.* And he can always reprise the infamous one-liner he got off before the crowd in Oconomowoc Lake during the 2012 recall election:
People do not want to see Wisconsin "become another Milwaukee," Walker said.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:06 PM