Monday, January 31, 2011

Milwaukee County Fleet Going Green, And Saving Green, Too

35 hybrids enter the county vehicle fleet. Very cool.

About Pro Bass: Getting "Pro" In The Process

It's well-known by now that a business development in Green Bay has run into trouble after the prospective tenant - - a big national fishing equipment outfit - - said with some logical consistency it didn't build stores on wetlands.

What's fascinating is that there was a process underway to determine, under Wisconsin law and procedures, if there was a way that the wetlands issue could be addressed so the store could be built with all parties, and all interests - - public and private - - satisfied.

But Scott Walker, eager to look as pro-business as possible, and get a positive jobs count going towards 250,000, made an end run - - pesky procedures ! - - and proposed a special bill to terminate the process and thus declare the site acceptable by legislative fiat.

As if that is the way to determine whether a wetlands should be filled, even for a nifty development.

That's when the project began to unravel.  It was the political equivalent of the bad Brett Favre throwing unsuccessfully into triple coverage: of course that play will fail.

So give Walker a thumbs-down for mishandling what was a delicate and important but resolvable issue, and give a thumbs-up to the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, which is trying to get the parties around a table, and to Bass Pro, for not wanting to fill a wetlands or be on the wrong side of some messy and unnecessary PR.

Walker and his new DNR team could have been the convener of a rational process, but that would have required professional governing skills that Team Walker does not have, preferring ideology to openness, and politics to persuasion and process.


Wildlife Federation Trying To Find Bass Pro Shop Development Solution

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation released a statement about the Bass Pro Shop siting dispute in Green Bay.

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

January 31, 2011

Contact: George Meyer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation: 608-516-5545

Wildlife Federation Asks Bass Pro Shops to Still Come to Wisconsin; Requests Governor, DNR, Developer and Wetland Association to Find Acceptable Solution

Poynette: Today, Jack Nissen, (Dousman), sent a letter to Bass Pro Shops CEO, Larry Whitely, indicating the Federation’s strong support for Bass Pro Shops to open a retail store in the Green Bay Titletown develop. Indicating that of the 160 hunting, fishing and trapping clubs belonging to the Federation, over 30 are located within 50 miles of Green Bay, Nissen wrote:

“The Federation greatly admires Bass Pro Shops and the quality products that it provides to sportsmen and women. We also admire Bass Pro Shops very strong conservation ethic. We were not surprised with your statement last week indicating the policies of Bass Pro Shops to restore wetlands and not to degrade or fill wetlands in your development projects. Your Founder, Johnnie Morris, has been a long-time national conservation leader and this legacy has continued in the policies of the Bass Pro Shops organization.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and its members strongly desire that Bass Pro Shops open a store in the Green Bay area, preferably as part of the Titletown Development being promoted by the Green Bay Packers. The Federation is encouraging Governor Scott Walker, the Department of Natural Resources, Mr. John Bergstrom and the Wisconsin Wetlands Association to reach an agreement which will allow a store of your caliber to be built in the Titletown Development.”

In a second letter to Governor Scott Walker, DNR Secretary, Cathy Stepp; Developer John Bergstrom; and Becky Abele, Wisconsin Wetlands Association’s Executive Director, Jack Nissen, WWF President, asked that Bergstrom, the Wetlands Assoication and DNR enter into “good faith” negotiations to resolve the dispute of the location of a Bass Pro Shop store in Ashwaubenon. Nissen indicated:

“The development of a Bass Pro Shop in the Titletown project is a resolvable issue. This issue can be resolved by Mr. Bergstrom, Ms. Abele and the DNR entering into good faith negotiations with all options on the table. We would strongly urge that the Village of Ashwaubenon be included in the discussions. Far more complex development issues have been resolved in the past by having DNR and all other parties to a dispute, sitting down around a table and working in good faith to find a solution that is in the interest of all parties and Wisconsin citizens. We know that the Wisconsin Wetlands Association has been seeking such discussions since August, 2010. The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, on behalf of its members, stands ready to assist in such discussions.”

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is the state’s largest conservation organization representing 160 hunting, fishing, trapping and forestry-related organizations with a combined membership of over 100,000 people. The Federation, headquartered in Poynette, Wisconsin, is dedicated to conservation education and the advancement of sound conservation policies on a state and federal level. For further information contact George Meyer, Executive Director at (608) 516-5545.

Renew Wisconsin Provided Wind Siting Chart

Here is the website of, the Madison renewable energy siting coalition providing the information in the posting below.

Walker's Siting Restrictions Threaten $1.8 Billion In Wind Projects, Below

Cory Liebmann Shows That Jeff Stone Is No Moderate

Nicely done.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Did The Gulf Oil Spill Turn Out "Pretty Well?" Comment On The Comment

Take note of the second reply by "Anonymous." It is more than the comment of the month. It might be the all-time jaw-dropper in the nearly five years of my blog's activity, posted here today:

Actually: here's the whole thread:

Anonymous said... 
Since when were railroads, wind mills and biomass (burning wood) considered to be cutting edge economic technology? The most efficient fuel remains to be oil. You just poke a hole in the ground and pump it out. Try pushing your car for 20+ miles and you will soon learn how much work one gallon of gasoline can do. Carbon dioxide emissions are a valuable plant food and since we aren’t wasting growing space with windfarms, or solar arrays we have more room for agriculture or natural ecosystems. The BTU’s produced by an oil well compared to the land required to sustain it has a much higher efficiency rating than any of the so-called “green” technologies.
James Rowen said... 
All the technologies you dismiss have been continually refined and improved. And they operate more cleanly than burned oil or oil-based operations, and are not sold to us by people who are killing our soldiers. And how did that stick a hole in the ground approach work in the Gulf. Plenty of issues to contend with that you are blowing off.
Anonymous said... 
Actually the gulf of Mexico turned out pretty well. If that was the greatest environmental disaster in the history of our country then I would say that we are doing pretty well and if we would develop the oil resources in our own country we wouldn’t need the mid-east. Our dependence on the middle east is a direct result of the environmental movement and other fabricated "issues".
James Rowen said... 
The Gulf worked out pretty well? I haven't heard anyone living there or nearby say that.

Sensenbrenner, While Attacking Federal Spending, Still Pushing Waukesha Water Earmark

US Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, (R), nitpicks President Obama's "investment" strategy, and continues to blast government spending.

I wonder how he squares that fundamental Republican/Tea Party rhetoric with his support for a cool $100 million federal subsidy that will principally help Waukesha afford its Lake Michigan diversion infrastructure?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Push Walker On Innovation, But Don't Omit His Errors

A leader in Wisconsin's technology business sector urges Scott Walker in the Sunday Journal Sentinel op-ed pages to embrace industrial innovation.

That's a sound idea.

Even better, author Tom Still notes those industries in which the state can intersect with Pres. Barack Obama's green and cutting-edge economic planning.

But then Still leaves out information disclosing that Walker has already:

a) killed a federally-funded modern Amtrak and Midwest High-Speed Rail connection in the state and the related high-speed train manufacturing jobs associated with it;

b) proposed restrictions to wind turbine siting that threaten hundreds of millions of investment dollars and growth in this burgeoning, alternative energy sector;

c) ended the construction of a wood-waste energy plant in Madison, switching away from that renewable, innovative fuel source to natural gas.

All were supported by former Gov. Jim Doyle, and all were touted conceptually by Pres. Obama in his State of the Union message, but nixed already by Walker.

Modern rail, biomass fuels and wind power offer cleaner air and less dependence on foreign and fossil fuels, along with green jobs and all the spin-off, white-collar, R & D and supplier employment for which every city and state is competing.
Walker's actions appear narrow, even closed-minded, and contradict his campaign and post-election messaging under the "jobs, jobs, jobs" slogan.

And his actions could send both the wind turbine and train manufacturing jobs to Illinois, which already got a portion of the federal train construction funds that Walker rejected.

Don't take my word for it, though these conclusions have been all over this blog for weeks: Let the LaCrosse Tribune make the case.

Or another paper far from the liberal, green neighborhoods in Madison or Milwaukee: The Northwestern, in Oshkosh.

Or an industry coalition.

Urging Walker to go green and innovative is a good and important message to deliver in print to the Governor, but there's nothing lost by a supportive voice telling Walker he's dropped the ball three times already, so how's about a new game plan?

The Right Says We Can't, Won't, Shouldn't Change

Hey: Where can I get a new needle for my 45 rpm record player? And who has the keys to Grandpa's Bel Air?

Inertia ain't much of an agenda.

Glenn Beck's Jewish Problem

Sounds somewhat familiar 'round these parts.

Cabals everywhere. Read more.

And more.

Wrist Slap For Willing, Illegal Gun Supplier

Long-term community service for victims of urban gun violence might have been a better sentence than 30 days in the pokey and probation for an elderly suburbanite twice caught selling handguns he said were untraceable.

To an informant claiming to be a felon who could not buy guns legally and who told authorities he knew that earlier  illegal sales had taken place.

I had said I would follow this case.

Plale-Walker Connection Provoking Serious Questions

This Capital Times editorial, citing investigative reporting and a time line by the Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice, puts a frame and spotlight on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's appointment of former Democratic State Sen. Jeff Plale to a $90,000-a-year state job after Plale left the legislature earlier this month.

A bit of background...

Paper That Backed Walker Slams His Wind Power Meddling

The Oshkosh Northwestern says Gov. Scott Walker needs to rethink his job-killing wind power restrictions.

In fact, the Northwestern has said it twice in 48 hours.

The paper says Walker's plan is not well-thought out,and will harm a new industry while giving neighboring states an advantage.

When the paper endorsed him for Governor,  it said: "We need a governor who will ask questions at state agencies and institutions about how we can do things fundamentally differently because our state is stuck in an economic rut that runs deeper than a recessionary cycle."

I doubt the Walker plan to wreck the wind power industry is what the paper meant by doing things in a bad economy "fundamentally differently."

Buyer's remorse?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wisconsin Is Open For Bigotry: Republicans To Reinstate Indian Mascot Names

"On, Wisconsin" has become "Oh, Wisconsin!"

A little fresh bigotry by endorsing race-based nicknames and mascots, here, not to mention other outbreaks here, and here, and soon we'll be the heart of the new Confederacy.

By the way: It's regrettable that Elkhorn State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R), is among the sponsors of the bill to permit Indian names again to be used by school sports teams.

Some history and context here.

[Fresh background for doubters, added, here.]

What is the point of going out of one's way to offend?

Isn't it enough that some tribes or native people have made that clear?

Haven't we beaten them down far enough?

Another of the co-sponsors is New Berlin's State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R), whose chief of staff has compared DNR employees to Nazis, and suggested some liberals are "matzo-skinned."

So no surprise there.

But Kedzie? His official website notes:

"A trademark of Senator Kedzie’s legislative career has been his ability to build consensus among generally polarized groups.  This strength has led to the passage of prominent legislation, which is gaining national and even international attention.
What a disappointment: the GOP bloc in the legislature has really moved to the right, and the moderates have caved in.

Wauwatosa Is Poaching Milwaukee Jobs With Misapplied Federal Tax Credits

The cleverly-tapped but misapplied federal tax credits assisting the Eaton Corp. headquarters move from Milwaukee's depressed 30th St. Industrial corridor to upscale Wauwastosa in a County-created research park has to be seen as Southeastern Wisconsin's jobs-poaching tipping-point.

And it comes on the heels of Wauwatosa's planning with UWM and County government to turn over public land for an engineering school and business innovation center far from UWM's East side Milwaukee campus.

As I have been saying, there is too much official meddling and deal-making pulling jobs and tax base out of land-locked, lower-income, minority-majoruity Milwaukee.

Using federal tax credits aimed at job-creation in low-income areas and using them to move jobs from low-to-high-income areas, based on a census tract quirk - - hat tip to Tom Daykin at the Journal Sentinel - -  should raise some eyebrows in federal justice agencies.

And get a larger discussion going about whether there are any rules or even standards to be applied to  development in the region.  Right now, it seems like jobs follow those with the savviest lawyers, advisers and financiers.

Land use or economic equity" Nowhere to be seen.

These are textbook cases of negative regionalism, inter-governmental hostility and failed economic justice at Milwaukee's expense.

Badge Of Honor: Sykes Fears Abele

Sykes knows that Abele is no Scott Walker.

Walker, Still On That 52-47% High, Set Up Wetlands Fill To Fail

Most people in Wisconsin had no inkling that a developer wanted to fill in a small wetlands near Lambeau Field, and were unaware that a DNR permit had been issued to move it along - - but when Scott Walker decided to amp up his war on regulation and rule-making and skirt the rest of the process with a special bill for the developer, the wetlands hit the fan, and now the projected new tenant - - a destination fishing and outdoors supplies store - - says it is withdrawing.

In other words, the last type of retailer that needs a wetlands controversy on its plate.

As the company said, "we don't build on wetlands."

Memo to Scott Walker: just because you have the power to do things doesn't mean that's the best way for something to happen.

Update - - the land eventually went to the Packers who allowed Cabela's to build the store.

One New Governor - - Not Walker - - Slapped For Rule-Making Power Grab

Interesting that the new Republican governor of New Mexico got slapped for messing with the state's rule-making procedures.

Walker's proposals are even more imperious, and are correctly called a "power grab" by the state's largest daily - - the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - which had endorsed his gubernatorial candidacy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ron Johnson Already Selling Out His Core Supporters

It took less than a month for new Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson to spin around, backtrack and sellout:

The Washington Post notes that Johnson is among the high-profile Tea Party candidates who got elected with that movement's support, but now is afraid to attend its caucus.

Tea Party?

Never heard of it.

Tom Daykin Disclosed Tax Credit Flim-Flam For Research Park Project

I had noted recently various actions by governments that were draining Milwaukee of employers and jobs. My point was that it is hardly the unseen hand of the free market that guides the economy, planning and development.

The impetus for my commentary was the disclosure that the Eaton Corp., an old-line industrial occupant in the central city's long-depressed 30th St. corridor, was moving to a site in the Milwaukee County-sponsored Research Park located in relatively high-income Wauwatosa.

As I had written:

"Economic development in Milwaukee is being willfully undermined by other government officials and public bodies.

* Gov. Scott Walker killed the rail line between Milwaukee and Madison, thus wiping out the train assembly portion at a manufacturing plant opened by Talgo, Inc., in Milwaukee's economically-depressed 30th St. corridor. Talgo announced it will move its assembly business to a more rail-friendly state in 2102 to serve a growing US market for high-speed trains...

* The Eaton Corp, a long-time presence in the 30th St. Corridor, is said to be considering relocating to the Milwaukee County Research Park on the County Grounds in Wauwatosa. That would move 145 jobs to the suburbs and blow another hole in central city development."
Tom Daykin, the Journal Sentinel's business development beat reporter, today has begun to disclose just how outrageous that move may be, as he discovered that federal "New Market" tax credits designed to spur job creation in low-income areas are being applied to Eaton's move to Wauwatosa - -  so 145 jobs and future expansion would move the other way with this misapplied federal grease.

Expanded story, here.

This is a scandal.

Jason Haas For Milwaukee County Supervisor, Dist. 14

Though I don't live in the district, I am glad to support the candidacy of fellow urbanist and blogger Jason Haas in the special election to replace former Milwaukee County Board 14th District Supervisor Chris Larson.

Larson is now in the State Senate: Haas will offer sound vision, hard work and effective, continuing representation in County government.

His website is here.

Walker Signs Partisan, Politicized Legal Damages Bill To Reward Corporate Supporters

This bill has less to do with frivolous or unfair claims and settlements and all to do with a partisan, pro trade groups' swipe at Democratic trial lawyers on behalf of major industries and their trade groups.

Corporate interests rewarded: What a charade.

Stop The Impending Poll Tax In Wisconsin

There is talk that Republicans in the legislature will jam through a Voter ID process in Wisconsin that could require the purchase by some voters of an ID card.

Whether it's $28, $18 or 18 cents, you can't make people pay to vote in America.

Of which Wisconsin is still a part.

So far.

A poll tax or fee for voting is flatly illegal, blatant, state-supported voter suppression - - and even the WMC toadies on the State Supreme Court will have to agree

Vermont: Where Corporations May Soon Be Denied Personhood

Remember that atrocious US Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations, as if they were people, to freely give their spending money to political candidates?

What was to be next: Corporations marrying, voting, worshiping a higher power (no Almighty dollar jokes, please)?

The good people of Vermont have had enough, and are beginning the process to dehumanize corporations.

Details, here.

In Obama's Shadow, Walker's Extreme Politics Revealed

What a contradiction: an upbeat, eminently reasonable President Barack Obama speaks to the Congress and the nation Tuesday night about creating jobs through modern train construction and clean energy innovation - - then within hours, finds himself in a Wisconsin political time warp, where new Gov. Scott Walker has canceled both a federally-funded train between the state's two largest cities and a proposed, biomass generating station in downtown Madison, too.

Additionally, Obama then tours a wind turbine plant in Manitowoc, yet Walker is proposing what has been called the most restrictive wind turbine construction law in the country: Illinois would like to have Wisconsin's new wind turbine businesses, as it got a portion of Wisconsin's rail funding and could get the train maker that had set up an assembly factory in Milwaukee in just the last few months.

Green jobs? Not in Wisconsin.

Jobs for political and industry insiders?

Now you're talking: Walker has installed people at the helm of the state Department of Natural Resources who have close ties to the very businesses that have fought the agency over regulations designed to balance private property ownership with the public interest and trust.

Wetlands are also now eligible for filling in a new, Walker deregulated scheme, with more rule-making headed for a simpler Walker check-off: independent reviewers need not be consulted.

Walker's assault on rule-making and the DNR are outside the mainstream of Wisconsin history and principles, and erase the separation of powers, too.

His attack on new, green businesses, the cleaner air and water they would create and the jobs they will add is motivated by pure special interest obesiance.  It's dense and small-minded, a petty sop to road-builders, fossil fuels and real estate interests that donated to his campaign.

He's handed a powerful, old-boys network the keys to the castle, and with the President in town, what an embarrassment for the state where Gaylord Nelson and John Muir and Aldo Leopold made their marks.

So Obama leaves with a Packers jersey presented by our Governor: Oh, the fun and games and photo ops for Walker - - paling around with the President whom Walker wants to defeat, but what an contrast in substance, maturity and sheer heft arises when their attitudes and achievements are seen side-by-side, with Walker getting what he deserves, but what we don't: the short end of the stick.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Right Wing Talkers And Their Jewish Problem

Why do these guys have stereotypes so close to the fore?

Out With The Old Special Interests! In With The New Special Interests

And conservatives in Wisconsin think things have changed.

Nope - - just the people pulling the strings.

Let me quote the authority on this bit of political wisdom - - Cathy Stepp, the new Secretary of the wetlands-easy state DNR and the embodiment of special interest infiltration of the state government, who came out with it on a righty blog after leaving the State Senate to build houses in Racine.

But still righteously honked off at Democrats back at the Capitol and in the agencies whom she said were not bending the rules her way:

"Change the Rules to Fit the Players."

So today, it's a small wetlands near Lambeau Field that a big shot wants as a sporting goods store site.

Tomorrow, something bigger - - maybe with an impact on a trout stream or a lake where that sports' store tackle and gear will be of lesser use.

All irreplaceable.

Made so by reformers.

Spare me.

Obama To Visit Wind Turbine Maker: Will Walker Visit, Too?

I cannot imagine Scott Walker will accompany Pres. Obama on his tour of a wind turbine plant, given that our new Governor intends to drive a stake through the heart of that industry in Wisconsin - - and drive the jobs to Illinois.

Obama Visit Will Highlight Walker's Illinois Job Creation

Via Daily Kos.

And, yes, Walker is showing up.

Looks like it's planned as insubstantial (Walker will give Obama a Packer jersey, LOL, :), which is about right.

Update: Obama is also visiting a wind turbine plant. Walker is killing that industry with Draconian siting restrictions.

This is too bizarre.

More Focus On Walker's Radical Grab For Power

As posed earlier on this blog, Walker's grab for rule-making powers now in the hands of the legislature is being seen more widely as a foolish, costly radical reach.

A radical move like others he has made that are outside the mainstream and the Wisconsin Idea.

You'd think that Republican legislators now in the majority would balk at this because they are giving up some of their authority, and also because Democrats will again win the governorship, leaving Republicans in the legislature then with no one to blame but their short-sighted predecessors.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bigotry Rushes In

The Journal Sentinel has got to get rid of a free-for-all-comment section that operates under different rules than its letters-to-the-editor department - - names published, addresses and other contact information verified - - because so many stories about African-Americans in this town get instantly poisoned.

That story linked above  - - "Holloway names Pratt interim county exec" - - was posted at 9: 16 a.m.

Sample comments:

When does Michael Mcgee get out??
Affirmative action in full swing. Its funny, holloway seems to only apoint members of the black community to posts.
Maybe Oprah could be the next public appointee in Milwaukee?
A corrupt politician appoints an incompetent one.

And somehow, this is called leadership.

Welcome to Mogadishu on Lake Michigan.
Ghetto politics.

Hours later, they're still at it:
I thought he would name Kanye West...
Thugs taking care of thugs in the hood.

And, yes, there were voices of reason:
As a white male living in Milwaukee, I feel ashamed of some of the comments on here. To call out these men because of the color of thier skin is absurd. I consider myself a republican and don't agree with thier political views, but we should be blind to what they look like and focus more on what they stand for and the work they do in office.

If Holloway or Pratt were white and had the same political views would you have the same resent towards them..I would guess not.

Open your eyes people! This is 2011 and not 1963

Regardless, enough is enough.

I Turned Off Paul Ryan, But Olbermann Tweeted Bachmann

Ah, the Internets:

Keith Olbermann
Apparently it's over. Now somebody tell Cong. Bachmann
Keith Olbermann
Comforting part about her speaking to an invisible cameraman named Murray is that nobody's heard a word she said
@ She's speaking to her imaginary friends and imaginary audience
Keith Olbermann
Seriously, somebody at the Tea Party needs to run on the stage, grab her, and POINT TO WHERE THE CAMERA IS
Keith Olbermann
Did the Tea Party not spring either for a Camera Red Light or a combined camera-teleprompter? It costs $3 extry
Keith Olbermann
MICHELE! Hey! Yoo-hoo! CONGRESSWOMAN! We're the ones in the MIDDLE
Keith Olbermann
Here's another question: why isn't Rep. Bachmann LOOKING AT THE DAMNED CAMERA?

High-Speed Rail? Clean Energy? Wind Power?

Obama touts in his State of the State speech what Scott Walker has already dismissed in Wisconsin, the State on the Sidetrack.

2014 can't come fast enough.

Will The DNR Stop Providing These Bad-For-Business Health Facts?

Advisory for Particle Pollution (Orange)

Start Time: 9:00 AM CST Tuesday, January 25, 2011
End Time: 6:00 AM CST Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Counties: Brown, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Jefferson, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sauk, Washington, Waukesha


Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health ConcernColors
When the AQI
is in this range:
...air quality conditions symbolized
by this color:
0 to 50GoodGreen
51 to 100ModerateYellow
101 to 150Unhealthy for
Sensitive Groups
151 to 200UnhealthyRed
201 to 300Very UnhealthyPurple
301 to 500HazardousMaroon

For More Information:

Daily Air Quality Hotline - 1-866-324-5924 (1-866-DAILY AIR)

Water And Costs: Big Issue In Michigan and Illinois; Obscured In Waukesha

Is Lake Huron a cost-effective solution for one Michigan community's new water supply?

Similar considerations in Illinois over a Lake Michigan supply: it's money, money, money.

For Waukesha? Well, the city says the estimated preliminary cost of what it says is the cheapest new supply alternative is $164 million - - but it's just an estimate, there might be some federal funding offsets, etc.

Regardless, it says Lake Michigan is the best and cheapest new supply option: all others are ruled out.

Or, not so fast, as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has told the city it has a lot more comparative analysis to do, with attention paid to water rates.

A suggestion: plug the money issue front-and-center into the Waukesha discussion, as often and in as much detail as possible.

On this point, credit should be given to Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima, who's been willing to take the heat for raising questions about the process by which the city's water utility and Common Council approved an application for Lake Michigan water, and the content of the application itself.

Scrima opened a July 23rd public letter on the subject with these opening and closing paragraphs. The bold-facing is in the original:

"A large number of Citizens have raised questions about the Lake Michigan option and remain unconvinced that it is either the best solution for Waukesha or least expensive option...

"Only by working together can we arrive at a solution which best allows us to live within our means, protect our environment and pocketbooks, and keep our identity and independence."

Whitney Gould, Via Horne

Nice piece. Awesome graphic.

Misperceptions Cloud Milwaukee-Area Waters

A survey released today by organizations throughout the region indicates that people are concerned about water quality, but do not know that everyday runoff from rural land, or their own homes, city parking lots and roads is now a bigger water pollution problem than industrial or sewage overflows.

Hence, people are unaware of the progress made to stem easily-seen sources of water pollution, but also do not know that their own individual or group actions, when added cumulatively to those of others, can have a big impact on water cleanliness, the economy and the region's environmental health.

Bottom line: there is a lot of educational work to do to bridge the gap in our area between the importance of water and how best to build on successful programs that protect it.

My take: 

Media will report on dramatic sewer overflows, for example, and talk radio will inflame listeners about them for political purposes, but it is harder and less attractive from a story-telling perspective to get into a discussion about the relationship between water pollution and de-icing chemical runoff from one's front steps. or ash trays dumped in parking stalls.

The survey was developed in partnership with the Public Policy Forum, which analyzed and summarized the data from 388 households from six counties across the Kinnickinnic, Menomonee, and Milwaukee River watersheds.

Sweet Water, a public-private regional partnership, and the Public Policy Forum released the survey findings at events today; the full report is available at

“While these results show that we must reach out to residents in our area with information about their role in water quality improvements, we are very encouraged by the percentage of our neighbors willing to lend a hand in improving our rivers and lakes," said Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin, a key partner in Sweet Water's efforts.

Additional highlights: 

Just 4% of survey respondents affirmed that water was important to economic vitality - - so most of the public does not connect water quality to the value of water industries in the Milwaukee area, or to tourism or development along the Milwaukee riverfront.

Most respondents view the effectiveness of local government actions to protect water quality as at least somewhat effective. They view as very effective regulations to protect and restore wetlands, requiring natural vegetation along river and stream banks, prevention of erosion during construction, and efforts to remove or prevent invasive species in protecting water resources.

With the majority of the respondents reporting that environmental organizations are the most trustworthy source of information on water issues, these groups have an opportunity to improve residents understanding of the issues facing our water resources and the importance of their role in helping to protect our waters.

That seems especially important - - and speaks to the challenges ahead - - given these findings:

"...roughly half of respondents feel actions such as river/beach clean-up days, reducing pesticide use, using water-efficient household appliances, cleaning up pet waste, and river/ wetland restoration projects are very effective ways to protect local water resources (Table 6) Actions seen as less effective include use of rain barrels and using less water at home during major storms.

"Respondents also were asked whether they currently perform any of these actions and, if not, whether they might be willing to do so. In general, most respondents are willing take action to protect local waterways (Table 7). The actions they are willing to take are not necessarily those they deem most effective, as shown in Table 8.

"For example, despite seeing participation in river and beach clean-up days as a very effective action, less than half of respondents say they do so, or are willing to do so.
Actions that do align with perceptions of effectiveness include two aimed at reducing non- point pollution: reducing use of pesticides/ fertilizer and reducing use of salt.

"In addition, using water-efficient appliances at home is seen as both effective and doable.
Actions seen as both less effective and less doable include two that would combat non-point source pollution in stormwater runoff (reducing yard waste and using rain barrels) and one that would combat sewer overflows (repairing sewer lateral lines)."

The survey, primarily funded by a Wisconsin Coastal Management Program grant with additional support from the Joyce Foundation and other partners, will inform 2011 public outreach efforts of Sweet Water and its partners, aiming to boost public understanding of issues facing our rivers and Lake Michigan and promote the positive impact residents can have in protecting our water resources. The survey received additional financial support from Sweet Water, American Rivers, and Badger Meter.

Sweet Water, the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc., is a nonprofit organization created in 2008 as a partnership of local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, academia, and neighbors working collectively to improve the water resources in the 1,100 square miles of Greater Milwaukee Watersheds.  The five Sweet Water watersheds include the Kinnickinnic, Menomonee, Milwaukee, Oak, and Root.    

Walker Again Spurs Job Growth In Illinois

Illinois got some of our rail funding and now Scott Walker is driving the wind energy business there, too.

He said he'd create 250,000 jobs, but we thought he meant in Wisconsin.

Via Twitter, however, Walker lets us know he's got his fans:

Governor Walker
Just spoke 2 the statewide Chamber of Commerce - WMC. They r pumped up about our Jobs Plan!

Republican Jeff Stone Goes Negative In Early County Exec Campaogn Literature

"Help us save Milwaukee County from

99 days of runaway Holloway!

Volunteers are needed now"

Those are the top three lines in an authorized "get to know me" (his phrase) Jeff Stone campaign postcard that came to the house today.

That didn't take long.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Information About Area Water Resources, Public Attitudes, Released Tuesday

There are two events Tuesday where information about area water resources and public attitudes will be released and discussed, including:


Breakfast Briefing:

When: January 25 at 7:30 a.m.

Where: Library of the University Club at 924 E. Wells, at the corner of Prospect and Wells. Inside parking is available.

What: The Public Policy Forum and Sweet Water will present survey findings regarding Milwaukee area residents’ knowledge, opinions, and attitudes concerning water resources.

The breakfast briefing will be presented for Sweet Water, Public Policy Forum trustees, Sweet Water steering council members, and key partners and friends.

Presentations will by made Robert Henken of the Public Policy Forum and Jeff Martinka of Sweet Water, with introductory remarks by Nancy Frank, Sweet Water; Steve Hiniker, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin; and Rich Meeusen, Badger Meter.

A continental breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m., the program will begin promptly at 8:00 a.m., discussion/Q and A to conclude by 8:45 a.m.

Milwaukee Rotary Club Luncheon:

When: January 25 at noon

Where:  War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive.

What: Jeff Martinka of Sweet Water will present the findings of the survey for Milwaukee Rotary Club luncheon program.  Introduction will be by Robert Henken of the Public Policy Forum.

Background: The public survey, primarily funded by a Wisconsin Coastal Management Program grant, with additional support from the Joyce Foundation and other partners, will inform 2011 public outreach efforts of Sweet Water and its partners, aiming to boost public understanding of issues facing our rivers and Lake Michigan, and promote the positive impact residents can have in protecting our water resources.

The survey was commissioned by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, and developed in partnership with the Public Policy Forum, which analyzed and summarized the data from 388 households from six counties across the Kinnickinnic, Menomonee, and Milwaukee River watersheds. 

For further information, contact: Kate Morgan, 414-416-6509


Tars Sands Oil, Having Marked Wisconsin, May Go Transnational

National story here, Wisconsin antecedents, here.

Whether pipeline leaks, or the gargantuan amounts of groundwater needed to blast away the sand, the old lesson is clear: oil and water do not mix.

Financing Problems Continue To Plague UWM Business Center In Tosa

Tom Daykin reports that a County Board committee approved a two-year delay to UMW's private-sector funding arm that continues to struggle with fundraising to get the innovation center slated for the County grounds underway.

Some background, here - - and, as I have written several times - - it seems the private sector presses government hard for new facilities, like the Water Council's planned offices on a publicly-owned parcel near the Harley-Davidson Museum, but donors don't follow through.

Gov. Walker Twittermania

Ten  Eleven Packer Tweets, already? Really?

Some URL problems reported, so I will post the Tweet texts, which have grown to 11 since the blog item went up.

Governor Walker
Early meetings in Capitol. Now off 2 cabinet (where I brought my @ jersey to show what I'm wearing @ the food pantry).
Governor Walker
Congrats 2 Murphy, Thompson, McCarthy & rest of the @ team 4 an outstanding year! Let's bring home the Lombardi trophy.
Governor Walker
Had a nice Packer party @ our house w/family & friends including our parents & my brother & nieces - all wearing Green & Gold!
Governor Walker
Feb 6th is our wedding anniversary so only ask 4 the @ 2 win that day (Nov 2 was my birthday...c a pattern here?).
Governor Walker
Shields is the player of the game!!!
Governor Walker
Raji. Raji. Raji. Raji!
Governor Walker
What an amazing 1st half! The @ look outstanding.
Governor Walker
14-0. The @ R marching on Soldier Field!
Governor Walker
What a SCORE by A-Rod! Perfect series. @ R on fire.
Governor Walker
Got my @ jersey on (84 is an old Walker #) & ready 4 the BIG game:
Governor Walker
This will get youu pumped up about the Packer/Bear game before heading out the door for church: