Thursday, November 14, 2019

WI's Great Lakes' diversion record aired unfavorably in Canada

I've noted Wisconsin's repetitive approvals for diversions of Great Lakes water,
Lake Michigan gale
Milwaukee shoreline, Lake Michigan 
and one Canadian water conservationist's complaints about that has hit media there.
Ontario, Quebec should be represented on IJC water compact
While the complainant does confuse the Waukesha and Racine-for-Foxconn diversions, he's right about a) our state's diversion-happy record, and b) his observation that Canada - - (despite earlier objections) - - has virtually no say in how Great Lakes the share with the US can be diverted because the overarching US-Canadian Great Lakes Compact as written assigns Canadian provinces an advisory role only.

And if Canadians don't like this part of Scott Walker's legacy, imagine if he'd gotten to build the US-Canada wall he promoted during his mercifully brief 2015 Presidential campaign flop. 
The Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker said on Sunday that building a wall on the US northern border with Canada was “a legitimate issue for us to look at”.

R. Kleefisch joins 'right-to-work' outfit

The Right in Wisconsin takes care of its own. Or should I say, continues in her case.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (cropped).jpg
Note a story not getting enough discussion, though it has implications for 2022 WI gubernatorial maneuvering. Heads up, Robin Vos.
Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is joining the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin as its jobs ambassador, a role promoting careers in the construction trades.
ABC describes itself in an op-ed worth the read
That is why we at Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin promote merit-shop construction....
This is why we at the ABC of Wisconsin support right-to-work laws, and oppose discriminatory union-only project-labor agreements and anti-competitive price fixing (prevailing wages). And in that open competition, union and non-union firms can (and often do) work together to deliver safe, high-quality construction projects.
Others out-of-work Wisconsin Republicans finding recent soft landings from Rightist friends include Sean Duffy, Brad Schimel, Scott Walker...

The burbs enjoyed free city services, amenities. Now residency sweetens a 1-sided deal.

Longtime Milwaukee journalist Mike Gousha notes the negative impacts for Milwaukee in the wake of Republicans' 
Alberta Darling at Ann Romney rally.JPG
River Hills GOP State Sen. Alberta Darling helped unlock suburb residency for City of Milwaukee workers

self-serving salting of conservative suburbs with City of Milwaukee workers.

He says city workers are leaving in "droves."

Throw that in with all the city services (water, sewer, streets, building inspection, plowing, police, fire, parks, health...) provided to suburban commuters to one-sided residency win for the burbs at Milwaukee taxpayers' expense.

As well as another example of governments acting to the detriment of Milwaukee, land-locked by state law and hemmed in by numerous public actions policies that work to the detriment of the state's largest city, and one with a majority-minority population.

I'd noted the predictable imbalances and partisan beneficiaries of the residency 'reform' boondoggle often on this blog.

Such as this 2015 post:
Residency moves to WMC/WI Supreme Court
The attack on Milwaukee residency's rule was the brainchild of anti-city, Republican suburbanite right-wing talk show favorites, like State Senators Alberta Darling of River Hills and Wauwatosa's Leah Vukmir - - reliable water carriers for the Milwaukee Police Association and their members who, for years, wanted to be able to move out of the city which paid them to protect its residents and property..
The suburbanites' legislative districts and home values directly benefited by the mandated-from-Madison end of the residency rule - - robbing the city of the option to negotiate it - - as Milwaukee public employees moved to the suburbs with solid middle-class salaries and job stability provided by Milwaukee taxpayers.
And, of course, there is Walker, who loves to stick it to the city that made his life miserable as he used the office of Milwaukee County Executive to launch his bid for higher offices.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Johnson urges inaction on vaping

You thought he couldn't do worse for people and the country than carrying water for Trump on Ukraine, but RoJo has added eased vaping

to a bucket list without end. Or morality.
Ron Johnson sends letter to Donald Trump urging him to abandon rules for vaping flavors
Please don't trouble special-interest obeisant Johnson with facts reported Nov. 8th: 
Federal health officials have identified vitamin E acetate in the lung fluids of 29 people sickened in the outbreak of dangerous vaping-related lung injuries. The discovery is a “breakthrough” that points to the oil as a likely culprit in the outbreak that has sickened more than 2,000 people and killed at least 39, a top official said Friday.
But wait: Johnson's got a history with vape store operators and their customers:
A vaper voting bloc?
Vocal vapers point to Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson's shocking election victory in 2016 as proof of their power.
Johnson became a folk hero on vaping websites after pushing back on proposed Food and Drug Administration vaping regulations. 
Final point: Don't let years of credit due Joel Kleefisch go up in smoke:

New vaping rules might give Joel Kleefisch the vapors

As the US Food and Drug Administration moves against the health hazards of e-cigarette vaping let's not forget - - noted here - - that Wisconsin State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, (R-Oconomowoc), in his inimitable style, has long been a vaping defender via news release:
Vapor devices contain nicotine without the tar, old mattresses and rat poison contained in tobacco cigarettes and cigars. In the body, nicotine has virtually the same effects as when caffeine is consumed...
Right in Lake Country, the electronic vapor device industry is booming at Johnson Creek Enterprises...Businesses like this have opened the door to a flourishing industry that's mission is providing consumers a choice other than smoking tobacco products... 
It's not governments job tell people of the legal age that they are not allowed to partake in a legal activity... 
The nanny state needs to stop interfering in our daily lives. It's no longer a matter of whether there will be efforts for government to step in and start up the vapor patrols. 

Mandated large-lot, single-family building codes get a court date

For your 'why-things-are-the-way-they-are' file.

Litigation has been filed in Federal Court challenging the legality of zoning in River Hills that prevents multi-family housing. The story is behind the Journal Sentinel's paywall, for now. 
The problem, according to a new federal lawsuit, is that River Hills' approach of zoning the entire village for large-lot single-family homes violates state growth management law and the federal Fair Housing Act.
I have been writing for years about the larger consequences and context for this reality - - from exclusionary zoning to Interstate construction that served commuters and further uprooted and blocked Milwaukee central city residents from housing, neighbors, businesses and opportunities - -  
I-94 Ribbon Cutting Waukesha 1958

- - and I want to note that large-lot home building codes got on the books in other Milwaukee suburbs, like Mequon in Ozaukee County, and Chenequa in Waukesha (See Chenequa zoning code, p. 13), which helped keep Milwaukee isolated and fueled the government-led regional segregation that is too often reported as a City of Milwaukee-only phenomenon.
SE WI segregation fueled by governments which need to address it
Eight years ago, I posted excerpts of a powerful Journal Sentinel op-ed about it all, and I commend it to you, in full.
The price of covert apartheid

Evers can't play in Scott and Robin's clubhouse

Scott and Robin's clubhouse sports a shiny new new yard sign again shouting 'NO'  - - this time to Gov. Evers and the state's electorate.

To understand why they have no intention of ever saying yes tp 'won't you be my neighbor,' I recommend an insightful column by veteran State Capitol watcher Steve Walters in which explains that GOP leaders Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos fired Evers' ag secretary Brad Pfaff to teach the new Governor a thing or two about the Legislature.
The vote fired Pfaff and sent Evers this blunt message: You don’t see the Legislature as an equal branch of government; you never served in it, and don’t know how it works. But Republicans control the Legislature.
In other words, the legislature is Scott and Robin's clubhouse, and they have a solemn duty to remind Evers that he will forever remain at the door and on probation.

So he better a) learn all their association's secret handshakes, arcane, even unwritten traditions, pliable rules and b) be ready when hit up to pay the tribunes their demanded tribute.

Until then, Evers gets a time out and state farmers failing in jaw-dropping numbers can go suck lemons, to reprise a Wisconsin Republican 'principle.'

That essence of Scott and Robin Preeminence Power Manual, their 'How-To' about Legislative process and priorities and pecking order, has been captured in their short video, here.

Two more points to remember:

* The people of the state decided that Evers, not Walker was to Governor through January, 2021 no matter how many times Scott and Robin meltdown or scheme to undo that fact.

* And while Scott and Robin demand that Evers show them respect, don't ever forget that they denied it to the legislator Jimmy Anderson, because, you know, he's a Democrat whom they claim had committed the political sin which Robin and Scott would never have been flaunting for a year and openly on the public stage:


Robin Vos heard of cuss words, and aw, jeepers!

From a man whose party has slashed public education spending, frozen the minimum wage, cut food aid to low-income citizens, and just withheld assistance to the homeless - - including veterans and children - - we finally learn what activates this man's moral compass:

Robin Vos speaks at Racine Tea Party event (8378614585).jpg

Swear words?

This is beyond pathetic. Swearing and calling people names certainly isn't becoming of any elected official much less the Governor. Time for him to admit it was a mistake and stop this behavior.
Quote Tweet
Patrick Marley
.@GovEvers calls GOP senators 'bastards' for 'stupid and amoral' vote -- via @DanielBice

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Crap is debated, tabled in SW WI County where it's also in some water

Rest easy, reporters and Lafayette County public employees: the County Board there appears to have sidetracked efforts to prosecute journalists for daring to report about the crap in the water - - - - as I had - - and has also set aside any plan to punish public employee who talked to the media about such matters.

The county's back-tracking took place Tuesday night, but not before the Board chairman said the crap that really bothered him was the way clean water issues were raised by Democrats.
The meeting was marked by confusion and sharp words, with Board Chairman Jack Sauer threatening to throw out critical members of the public, complaining about Facebook posts and accusing attendees of being Democrats. 
"I’m tired of your crap at these meetings," Sauer told one attendee.

Manure flowing in Kewaunee County. Other contamination has roiled Lafayette County on the other side of the state.

Jimmy Carter puts Trump, his WI acolytes to shame

The contrasts between Republican and Democratic behavior at the state and national levels are painfully obvious.

For example, and as he's done often, the indefatigable Democratic ex-President Jimmy Carter is giving us another life lesson.

At age 95, Carter appears to have survived a second brain surgery - - and two recent serious falls - - and may yet return to teaching Sunday school and building homes for the poor.

While our current Republican President is in a nation-shaming fight for his political life, aided by battalions of sycophants trying to preserve their own privileges and Trump's ability to make more money from his incumbency.

That Carter voluntarily gave up control of his family's peanut business when he was elected to avoid any conflicts of interest, while Trump and his family continue to soak up money from campaign donors and foreign governments, highlights the differences between Trump and Carter and also between what motivates the two parties.

Meanwhile, Trump's GOP defenders, including Wisconsin's GOP Senator Ron Johnson, have reduced their defenses of Trump's self-interested extortion of Ukraine - - just as as they have excused his unhinged, coarse, racist and demagogic corrosion of American democracy - - to a shallow and policy-free justification simple enough for Trump's stamp-of-approval:
Because we're Republicans
But I see broader, systemic differences between the two parties and their leaders which shows that the Carter-Trump divide - - which is really about official policy and public practice for whom - - is not unique to how the two Presidents have behaved.

When Scott Walker was running Wisconsin government, his mantra and agendas were rooted in:
"I wanted someone with a chamber of commerce mentality."
You could see that message over and over again, whether the issue was keeping the hourly minimum wage at a rock-bottom $7.25, or enabling livestock operations to let the manure flow, or starving transit services and delaying road repairs while borrowing billions to build new superhighway lanes that rewarded special interests and further subsidized favorites like Foxconn.

You could that see that endemic arrogance expand after Walker was defeated when his legislative lieutenant partisans protected his legacy 'achievements' and added to their own power through lame-duck one-sidedness.

And since have played dominance games with a paralyzed, wheel-chair bound Democratic colleague, run the legislature with brutish partisanship and even fired an Evers cabinet nominee out of thin-skinned, partisan pique while putting off during a cold snap a vote until spring on life-saving assistance to Wisconsin's homeless.
The Republican-run Senate refused last week to discuss or vote on Assembly Bill 119, which would have provided $500,000 more annually to homeless shelters. The bill is one of eight popular and bipartisan proposals approved by the GOP-led Assembly. 
Why would they do that? 

To demonstrate and enforce their new Wisconsin GOP catch-all talking point that builds on Walker's empathy deficit and displays their own payback-fueled cockiness:
 Because we can.
In fact, you can watch the Trumpian GOP in action right here, as Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald shuts down in a matter of seconds a special session called to debate gun safety measures. 

I see in that video Trump's patented walk-away from reporters to his waiting helicopter, or in Walker's refusal to take the stage the night he lost to Evers and concede in public, or in Wisconsin GOP leaders' various declarations of #Never and 'No' to basic public health and safety needs.

Which takes us back to Trump and how US Senate Republicans plan to save a President who has freely worked hard for his donors, Russian dictator Putin, Turkey's dictator Erdogan, Jared Kushner's real estate empire and Rudy Guiliani's other 'clients.' 

All of which he can do because he has apologists and enablers in the right-wing media machine, and in pathetic copycats at the local level and higher in Wisconsin, including 2020 re-election co-chair Scott Walker, or the hopelessly self-parodying Ron Johnson, and now to home-grown autocrat wannabe Congressional water-carrier Scott Fitzgerald, who, all together, repeat:
Because we're Republicans, and because we can
Meanwhile Jimmy Carter just wants to build more homes for Habitat for Humanity.

Which side are you on?

Monday, November 11, 2019

EPA to negate certain non-disclosure agreements. Trump should do the same.

Trump's lobbyist-run, polluting-enabling

transparency-mocking EPA has figured out yet another way to undermine and discard science
A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study’s conclusions. E.P.A. officials called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently...
The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place. 
Other than noting the overriding b.s. factor and risk posed to every American by this dangerous proposal, I'm guessing the same wide-open disclosure practice will be not be applied similarly - - that is, immediately and retroactively - - to Trump's unprecedented, ego-protecting non-disclosure agreements

Vos's words could jam Foxconn's future

Talking point pomposity could land Robin Vos & Friends in a Foxconn irony vice.

Because, a) WI GOP Assembly Speaker Vos helped foment a massive forfeiture of  taxpayer dollars over what he called 'a sweetheart deal' and 'bad contract' for expanded Amtrak service, but b) later led a charge to route even larger taxpayer sums to Foxconn which others have said looks to them like a record-setting sweetheart deal for a bad contract. 

Read on. 

There has been a spate of reporting about the expanding costs to taxpayers caused by then-GOP Gov. Scott Walker's ideological, campaign-boosting, anti-Milwaukee intentional damage to Amtrak transit service, jobs and development in Wisconsin.

Please take note of the recent excellent work on these matters by Wisconsin Public Radio, here and here,.

I have written extensively about these matters over the years, including a summary post, here, and later, big-picture reviews, here and here,
Two Amtrak passenger rail trains assembled years ago in Milwaukee remain in an Indiana storage yard. Their use for federally-funded rail service to Madison and beyond was blocked for political purposes by then-GOP Gov. Walker. His legislative allies helped make the blockade and other barriers to rail transit permanent.
Which brings me to the Monday story on the subject which is still behind the Journal Sentinel's pay wall, and while I will praise the paper for memorializing a quote with which the story ends, let me first add these comments:

* Though Walker is everywhere these days as a radio talk show host, conservative columnist, self-serving interview subject and daily Twitter commentator on everything from 'socialism' to cheese curds, Walker does not appear with a fresh quote in the Journal Sentinel's story - - a story which would never have been written had he not politicized and derailed the Amtrak expansion.

Walker had posted his boastful, 2010 throw-down to President Obama over the funding on a now-defunct campaign 'NoTrain' website, though I'd copied and posted its smarmy, key document, here.

And when it has served his purposes, Walker was only too glad to promote his campaign against what he called, ha-ha, the Obama administration's "obsession with creating a much slower version of European rail."

I campaigned for 18 months on stopping this train line and earlier this month was able to deliver on the promise I made to taxpayers.
So it's regrettable that Walker did not opine in the Journal Sentinel story day on the now-more-than $80 million mess he created, and about the jobs, business spinoffs and interstate connections he erased on his way to gubernatorial win at the expense of development, jobs, cleaner air and transit options in Wisconsin.

* But the Journal Sentinel story does end with words worth referencing the next time that Republicans like Robin Vos get giddy about underwriting Foxconn's subsidized hiring-and-planning-fade.

At the time, Republicans defended the 2012 decision not to fund the [Amtrak] maintenance facility, which triggered the lawsuit. 
"I do not believe that it is my responsibility to just turn the blind eye and say because someone before me signed a sweetheart deal for whatever political reason they chose to do it, it’s not my job to fulfill a bad contract to do something that is a bad decision for the state," said Republican Rep. Robin Vos of Rochester, who at the time was co-chairman of the budget committee and now is Assembly speaker. 
"Sweetheart deal...political reason...fulfill a bad contract...bad decision." 

Stop it, Stand-Up Robin. You're killing, and it's killing me.

Because Vos helped Walker put state and local taxpayers on a $4.5 billion hook for Foxconn's foibles, flops and fantasies, including more than $1 billion in public costs that have nothing to do with job creation, a study showed.

So maybe post the ending of the Journal Sentinel story on Facebook, Twitter and your refrigerator in case Vos and Co. continue to laud that even bigger 'sweetheart deal' he ramrodded.

Here are Vos' words again, should he and they hit the fan:
"I do not believe that it is my responsibility to just turn the blind eye and say because someone before me signed a sweetheart deal for whatever political reason they chose to do it, it’s not my job to fulfill a bad contract to do something that is a bad decision for the state," said Republican Rep. Robin Vos of Rochester, who at the time was co-chairman of the budget committee and now is Assembly speaker. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

RoJo says he's 'sympathetic' to Trump's Ukraine ploy

Why WI GOP Senator and man who can't keep his mouth shut

Ron Johnson, knowing he'll be a juror in a Trump impeachment trial - - and perhaps a witness, too - - continues to go on Sunday news shows and tout his core ignorance and biases for Trump is beyond me. 

Sen. Ron Johnson says he's 'sympathetic' to Trump rationale for freezing Ukraine aid
Doesn't Johnson remember the blowback he got after making a fool out of himself on another Sunday show a couple of weeks ago? 

How did The Washington Post define Johnson's situation

Sen. Johnson, ally of Trump and Ukraine, surfaces in crucial episodes in the saga
...testimony from two blockbuster witnesses in the impeachment probe places Johnson at episodes that will be critical in assessing whether Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political favors....
Johnson’s knowledge of key events could make him a person of interest to House impeachment investigators, as well as complicate his role as a juror in a trial by the Senate, if one occurs....
Experts said that even the appearance of a conflict of interest would be problematic for a senator during an impeachment trial but declined to comment specifically on Johnson’s case.