Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fitzwalkerstan Rule, Tea Party Sabotage Are Lessons For Democrats

Democrats who are unhappy with Pres. Obama - - cited here  and here - - need look no farther than the authoritarianism and trickery in the Walker administration - - from fake treasury balances to fake recall candidates to frequent fake ratings on PolitiFact - - and the Tea Party's willful sabotagee of the economy to defeat Obama in the name of Grover Norquist and Jim Crow - - to visualize what life will be like if the Right takes control of the Presidency.

I have my share of complaints, like the slow pace of Afghan withdrawal, the agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts, and the abandonment of single-payer health coverage, but that doesn't mean I'm overlooking the positives of the last three years (national health care, good Supreme Court nominees, real progress on vehicle fuel economies), and I'm not supporting people who want a primary challenge to the President. 

If you are progressive, why go out of your way to weaken Obama? Republicans and talk radio do that 24/7, and have been calling for his failure since Day One.

You want Mike Gableman on the Federal bench, or as Attorney General, or Annette Ziegler or Diane Sykes on the US Supreme Court?  Don't laugh.

Dennis Smith at Health and Human Services? Robin Vos at Transportation, or Scott Fitzgerald at the Department of Labor?

The Right's think tanks, corporate advocacy groups, plus Tea Party and Republican organizations from Ohio to Alabama to Arizona could put together equivalent nominees' lists in 20 minutes.

It could happen.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

GOP To Obama: Save Our Bacon

Republicans are reaching out, and apparently the Tea Party Kool-aid vendors are not at the table, sez the NY Times:

WASHINGTON — The top two Republicans in Congress said Saturday that they had begun new talks with President Obama and their fellow Congressional leaders to try to find a way to end the debt limit fight that is threatening to throw the federal government into default in just a few days.

“We now have a level of seriousness with the right people at the table,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, said during a news conference he held with Speaker John A. Boehner. He said that Republicans were now “fully engaged” in discussions with the White House and that he expected a deal soon.

Plale The Aesthete!

Zounds: It must have been really ugly.

Feedback For Readers: Last Week's Five Most-Read Posts

Another busy week, another blend of politics and environmental issues:

Jul 20, 2011

Jul 26, 2011 

Jul 25, 2011

Jul 27, 2011 

Jul 26, 2011

Another Wisconsin Highway Expansion Challenged In Court

WisDOT is up to its old tricks again - - paving wetlands, shutting up citizens, wasting millions - - and now they'll have to justify their Highway 23 boondoogle in court.

Things didn't go too well for the road-building complex when they tangled with the Highway J Coalition in Washington and Waukesha Counties.

Dang federal laws and due process!

Cap Times Editor Minces No Words About GOP Sentencing Bill

Madison Capital Times editor Paul Fanlund does some old-fashioned reporting to come up with important information and conclusions about a new Scott Walker/GOP truth-in-sentencing [sic] law that goes after recidivist crime that does not exist.


The entire GOP framing, as with so many things in recent months, is somewhere on the continuum between a gross distortion and, well, an outright lie.

Given that the facts directly contradict the breathless GOP condemnation of the earned-release program, it's hard to know where to start...
It's good theater and, for Walker, apparently effective politics -- albeit the politics of distorting facts and demonizing foes. Wisconsin used to be so much better -- and smarter -- than this.
In fact, relapsing to bad behaviors (recidivism) is at the core of many recent GOP and Walker deceptions, false statements and, as Fanlund would put it, "outright" lies, so who's zooming who here?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Headline Of The Summer

Someone on the copy desk at the Washington Post nails it on top of a Kathleen Parker piece:

The Tea Fragger Party

Her piece is far better than my effort.

Ald. Murphy Slaps DNR Over No Water Hearing In Milwaukee

Good for Ald. Murphy.

I made the same observation on July 12th, when I first posted information about the DNR's hearing plans.

Undisclosed Legal Contract Proves State Wasn't Broke When Walker Said It Was

Scott Walker's problems with truth-telling began early, but some details are now just emerging back to the days when Walker was preparing to force budgetary and collective bargaining changes - - because the state was broke [sic].

If you're really broke, you don't have half-a-million bocks to hire a lawyer, unless, as in Walker's case, it's not your money. Reports Bill Lueders:

Gov. Scott Walker has agreed to pay a private law firm up to $500,000 for legal services regarding his controversial budget repair bill curbing public employees’ collective bargaining rights, a spokesman for the governor confirmed.

Walker signed a special counsel contract with the Madison office of Michael Best & Friedrich on Feb. 7, four days before unveiling the bill, public records show. The contract authorized payment at the rate of up to $300 an hour, to a total of $100,000.

Additional tasks, including two recent federal lawsuits challenging the bill, have since been assigned under the contract.  Cullen Werwie, spokesman for the Republican governor, said the contract was amended a few days ago and “the maximum was adjusted to $500,000...”
And you don't go on national TV shortly after you hire the lawyer at $300-an-hour, for dubious purposes, and still plead poverty.

Is The Waukesha Water Proposal A City Expansion And Regional Diversion Plan?

Is the City of Waukesha's application for permission to pipe in Lake Michigan water an effort to offer a new and improved water supply to its residents, or is it a plan to bring water to a larger region, stimulate growth there and also extend the City's presence outside its current borders - - and if it's both, will all eight Great Lakes governors agree to it?

The City of Waukesha is seeking to divert under the rubric of the Great Lakes Compact an average of 10.9 million gallons daily (up to 70% more during drought or emergencies) from Lake Michigan - - not just for its own needs, but also to serve portions of the City of Pewaukee and the Towns of Genesee and Waukesha.

A subject I've written about before.

Those additional, bordering municipalities are not separate applicants. They were included in a regional planning commission service territory map and wrapped into the City of Waukesha's diversion application by fiat, though recently Genesee has agreed to be part of the process.

Significantly, the Town of Waukesha has not.

Now that the Department of Natural Resources has completed a round of hearings on what should included in the scope of its pivotal review of the application - - with an eye towards an eventual review and approval under the Compact by all eight Great Lakes governors  - -  I again raise these points about the scope of the application itself:

*  If the additional municipalities were not part of the City's application, what is the amount of water the City alone would need to provide its residents with water that meets federal standards and puts the City in line with a compliance plan that must be in place by June, 2018?

*  What portion of that base amount of 10.9 million gallons of Lake Michigan water daily might be covered by improving its existing and effective conservation effort?

*  What percentage might be found by the City in other combined sources within its basin, and not the Great Lakes basin  - - cleaned deep well water, the region's shallow aquifer and new or expanded wells that induce water from the banks of the Fox River - - all examined to determine an amount to be sought through Lake Michigan diversion minus the preceding deductions?

I'll bet the entire withdrawal plan, and its related purchase issues with Milwaukee and possible return flow problems with the diversion's discharge into Underwood Creek would be less controversial locally and with the other Great Lakes down the road if the diverted water total sought were to come down.

And if the application's geographical reach were limited to the City itself and not the expanded service territory as drafted that raises a host of growth, annexation and related hot-button issues.

Tea Party? Looks More Like A Kool-Aid Session

When Wall Streeters and hedge fund managers crashed the economy at the end of George Bush's presidency - - where Dick Cheney, the real President, had said "deficits don't matter" - - people were furious as they watched their nest-eggs break.

"Who did this?," people asked, but there were few names attached to mug shots. People pointed fingers all the way back to the Clinton administration, and to agencies with funny names - - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - - and arcane financial instruments that only CPA's could decipher.

As Meltdown II approaches, at least this time we will have the identities of the villains - - Tea Party Members of Congress who follow The Teachings of Grover Norquist and Ayn Rand, and are seizing  the ship of state to deliberately scuttle it - - all to guarantee, they think, the defeat of Pres. Obama.

It's a political Jonestown.

Negotiations 101: Everybody Wins With New Vehicle Fuel Standards

The value of negotiations was lost on Scott Walker.

He chose authoritarianism instead, and is reaping the whirlwind.

Jon Huntsman, Conservative Conservationist, Can't Get The GOP Nomination

Jon Huntsman has some good things to say about science and environmentalism, which is why he can't get the increasingly reactionary GOP presidential nomination:
"We will be judged by how well we were stewards of those (natural) resources," said Huntsman, a veteran of three Republican administrations who until this spring was President Barack Obama's ambassador to China.

"Conservation is conservative. I'm not ashamed to be a conservationist. I also believe that science should be driving our discussions on climate change," he added.

Polling on the issue gives Huntsman little reason to embrace - or promote - his position or his moderate environmental record while governor on the environment explains where the GOP is on these issues.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's flip on environmentalism indicates where the GOP is on these issues:
Republican strategist Mike McKenna, who advises GOP leaders on energy policy and strategy, put it more bluntly. “Guys like Pawlenty now look like what they are — opportunists without authentic beliefs,” he wrote in an e-mail to National Journal. “That is why the issue is so damaging. It is totemic.”
 And Michele Bachmann knows how to stir up the GOP base when it comes to the environment:
In the GOP presidential debate two weeks ago, Bachmann called for limiting government’s scope by passing the “mother of all repeal bills” to target “job-killing regulations.”

“And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America,” she said during the June 13 debate in New Hampshire.

The Balloon-Stabber Is One Of Plale's Employees

More about the blood-letting at the State Capitol, complete with mug shot.

The alleged perpetrator works in the facilities management agency run by former Milwaukee State Senator Jeff Plale, fyi.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don't Dismiss The Gohmert Factor In House Debt Vote FUBAR

You can understand why House Speaker John Boehner can't find the votes for his debt ceiling/budget cut bill when you realize he has to deal with one Louie Gohmert and a bunch just like him in the Republican caucus.

You may remember the very popular Texan Congressman said the BP oil spill compensation fund was Nazi-inspired, and supported by "useful idiots," warned that "terror babies" (video here, Gohmert is in the second segment), were being bred by illegal immigrants to attack America, and is now saying that Pres. Barack Obama chose the August 2nd default drop-dead date to coincide with the presidential birthday.

Chicago Innundated By "Freak" System Now Becoming Routine

As we've said on this blog often, climate change is producing hot summers and more frequent, heavy rains.

Chicago got it again.

Remember, Milwaukee (and any climate change deniers in these here area codes): it's still only July.

House Republicans Hide Pollution Permissions In Appropriations Bill

You have to watch these people 24/7, or you'll get uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and more mountaintop blasting to extract the coal beneath - - and more.

Oh, That Claim About Wisconsin Creating Half The Country's June Jobs: False

PolitiFact rates it false - - big surprise, given how ridiculous it was - - though PolitiFact lets Walker off the hook a bit by attributing the lead falsehood to the GOP.

Anyway - - we'd been saying that for a few days, and early on, and also putting it into the context of Walker's penchant for falsehood.

It's no way to run a state.

Wauwatosa Speakers Rip Waukesha Wastewater Discharge Plan For Underwood Creek

Residents of Wauwatosa ripped Waukesha's plan to save money on the return flow portion of its Great Lakes water supply plan by dumping treated wastewater into Underwood Creek rather than through discharge piping to Lake Michigan, according to Jim Price at Wauwatosa Patch:

Ald. Dennis McBride of Wauwatosa's 4th District [said] forcefully that Waukesha was only trying to save money at anyone else's expense and that Wauwatosa could not afford even the merest threat of more flooding.
"Just to the east of here was a historic neighborhood that was wiped out by back-to-back 100-year floods," McBride said. "And it hasn't stopped. I hear all the time from my constituents, 'My basement is flooding,' the fears of more flooding.
"No one that I know has said to me, 'Please, Alderman McBride, please send more water down our creek, into our river.'
Their concerns are not new - - the DNR has indicated that the entire return flow issue is a weighty one - - and the Wauwatosans concerns immediately bring to mind two relevant items:

* What a Racine-area state legislator said when Waukesha was thinking of discharging its wastewater down the Root River, in his district:
"We're not Waukesha's toilet." State Rep. Cory Mason, (D-Racine) in The Journal Times, 2/3/08
* Whether Waukesha's intention to send some wastewater during heavy rain as something of a safety valve down the Fox River and thus away from Underwood Creek and down the Fox River, to the Mississippi River and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico - - but therefore also away from the Great Lakes basin - - will be permitted under the 2008 Great Lakes Compact.

Waukesha believes it will be returning enough water, including what infiltrates underground into its piping, via the Underwood return flow connection to satisfy the demands of the Compact  - - but it isn't clear whether the Compact's mandate for returning diverted water from Lake Michigan can be met by essentially blending in some water from outside the Great Lakes basin.

And since this application is the precedent-setter for all eight Great Lakes states, and each must assent to the diversion, giving Waukesha permission to permanently send some Great Lakes water out of its basin during heavy rains to prevent Underwood Creek flooding, it's not clear if that passes muster or meets the Compact's underlying water management goal.

So, you say: Waukesha has problems with importing diverted water from Lake Michigan to a greatly expanded Waukesha-managed service territory (including, perhaps, the Town of Waukesha, Genesee and part of Pewaukee) - - and also has political and compliance issues with returning most but not all of it via the Creek?

Not to mention the myriad problems posed by finding a willing lakefront city seller, probably and preferably Milwaukee?

Right: It's complicated, contradictory and filled with pitfalls. The word "problematic" comes to mind.

Which is one reason among many that this application is troubled, troubled, troubled.

Walker, Truthiness And WI Club For Growth Are Not On Parallel Tracks

This time, it's dancing away from their claim that Wisconsin netted half the new jobs created in the US last month. [Update: a claim which PolitiFact Thursday morning ruled "False." D'oh!]

As I've said before, I don't know how these Walker people sleep at night. If they're awake, they might want to call their pals at the Wisconsin Club For Growth and tell them their Wednesday email's got some problems:

...half the new jobs created in the United States during June were created here.
That’s not a typo.  The entire U.S. economy created a net 18,000 new jobs in June.  Wisconsin created almost 13,000 in the private sector and shed about 3,000 in the public sector for a net gain of about 9,500.
Walker & Co.'s unfamiliarity with the truth and basic standards of fact-based governing is really shocking.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Court Ruling Good For WARF, UW-Madison Stem Cell Researchers

And also good people who will benefit from their work, now cleared by a federal judge.

Memo To Walker, Boehner: Negotiations Actually Work

Note to our Governor, who refused to negotiate with unions before he squashed them, and to House Speaker Boehner, who walked out and refused to return Presidential phone calls - - negotiations produce settlements, even between resilient adversaries:

Automakers and the government on fuel emission standards.

NFL players and owners.

PolitiFact Tweaks Terminology, So False Is False

By swapping the label "Barely True" for "Mostly False" - - a good language clean-up, by the way - - PolitiFact brings clarity to its ratings, but leaves a pol like Scott Walker in brighter sunlight. 

Of 31 statements by Walker tested by PolitiFact, 20 now have the words "False" or "Pants on Fire" in the rating.

I grappled a bit with the early phrasing.

Blog Spammer Discovers Thesaurus

Though it did not come with an officer to collect lottery winnings or hidden loot in Lagos, I am much useful this spammer's fastidious, daunted sequence:

On a posting about downtown development, I killed this spammer's comment:

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New Face Of Wisconsin Republican Party: Puppy Mill Puppies

From the same party withholding unemployment assistance from people since April 16:

A Washington County Republican state legislator wants to ease regulations on puppy mills.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Don Pridemore, R-Hartford, would significantly raise the number of dogs that may be sold by dog breeders who don't have licenses from the state.

"Mass dog breeding through ‘puppy mills' is big business," Pridemore said in a Tuesday email seeking cosponsors
Possible bill titles: Wisconsin Needs More Puppy Mills Act; Man [Pridemore] Bites Man Act; Wisconsin Is Open To Puppy Mills Act; Republican Party Goes Crazy Act.

Pick your photo from this Wisconsin site, winter samples below:

These dogs will live out their entire lives out in the heat and cold, in these small wire pens.

Is this any way for Man's Best Friend to live?

...this is the way dogs will continue to be housed in Wisconsin Puppy Mills.
Photo taken in north central Wisconsin, Dec 2002.
Temperature was 12 degrees.
Please note that there was no way the little dog, whom you can just see sitting in that cage, could get inside out of the weather.

Reid Plan Boxes In Boehner, GOP; Money Or Partisanship On The Line

If the stalemate in Washington is really about money, Reid's plan, endorsed by Obama, is superior because its savings is larger than the Boehner version.

But Reid's plan has a longer horizon and takes decision-making past the 2012 election, which undermines the entire GOP goal since 2008: defeat the President.

In Senate Recall Debates, Dems Shine

Thanks to the Journal Sentinel for one site with multiple debate videos.

One Magnificent Animal's Death A Sad Commentary On 'Modern Life'

A cougar, in this day and age, walks from the Black Hills in Western South Dakota, across the Midwest, into Canada and all the way to the US East Coast  - - surviving who knows how much danger and hardship- -  only to be run over on a highway.

Thanks to Journal Sentinel reporter Lee Bergquist for the story and links to additional information.

Former BP Boss Overseeing Minnesota Project Safety. And Environment

Tony Hayward is getting his life back.


The oil company executive in charge at BP when its Deepwater rig blew up, killed eleven people and devastated the US Gulf Coast has a new job with Glencore, a major minerals company that is investing in a proposed Northern Michigan hardrock sulfide mine, it is reported :

Iron mining and northern Minnesota have gone hand in glove for a century. But the proposed PolyMet mine in Hoyt Lakes is a different animal. It is called hardrock sulfide mining. It will be going after copper and nickel and precious metals. It promises jobs in a job-starved part of our state. 
But there are two things you should know about hardrock sulfide mining. The first thing is that the Environmental Protection Agency says hardrock mining generates more toxic waste than any other sector of the U.S. economy. The second thing you should know is that the history of this sort of mining shows that when the metals run out, the companies decamp. The real pollution starts after they leave with the winnings, go broke, or sell out...
Across the country, hardrock mine operations have left state taxpayers holding the bag. The cost of the cleanup falls primarily on folks who had nothing to do with the pollution. After a bad experience, our neighbor Wisconsin made a rule that states that if any company wants to hardrock mine, it has to put up a bond that will cover the expense of cleaning up the mess the company is sure to leave behind.

This next sentence is not a joke. Tony Hayward has been hired by Glencore as the executive expert in charge of environment and safety.
I suggest reading the whole piece.

Stimulus Funding Helps Create High-Tech Jobs At Local Firm's Glendale Facility

The next time you hear an anti-Obama ideologue claim the Federal stimulus didn't create jobs, forward on this story about employment and technological advances at a stimulus-aided Johnson Controls lab in Glendale, Wisconsin - - and its connections with another facility in Michigan.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

As Great Lakes Diversion Review Begins In Wisconsin, Water Fights Out West Heat Up

An interesting coincidence: As Wisconsin's DNR holds its first public hearing in Pewaukee tonight on the scope of its review of Waukesha's plan to pipe in water diverted from Lake Michigan, The New York Times brings us up-to-date on how water is being fought over in the parched West.

In both situations, the watchwords and guidelines for people and governments should be caution, and mindfulness.

Google's Blogger Comment Function Is Hung Up

As my former Journal Sentinel colleague Whitney Gould would say - - patience, gentle readers...

The No-Compromise Way Is No Way To Run A Government

You will remember that Scott Walker refused to negotiate with unions that said they would agree to the financial concessions he wanted.

That's because he wanted the whole ball of wax - - terminating the political effectiveness of unions and removing them from the scene.

Now we have Republicans in Congress - - fueled by the same Tea Party fervor that put Walker over the top in Wisconsin with his 52% mandate -- refusing to negotiate with President Obama on the matter of adding revenues to a deficit-reduction approach that would increase taxes on the wealthiest two-percent of taxpayers.

Government represents the entire public, which by its nature is diverse.

One party seeking to use government to win everything will produce a stalemate, hard feelings, and blow back - - which is already happening in Wisconsin with recall elections aimed primarily at Republicans who endorsed Walker's methods.

Republican game-players in the Congress could well suffer a similar fate - - even so-called untouchables in safe seats, like Janesville's Republican Paul Ryan.

Milwaukee Approves Streetcars

Hot damn.

Big win for balanced transportation and urban growth.

Rail's losing streak is over.

Pres. Bush Got Debt-Ceiling Increase Votes From Anti-Obama Republican Leaders

Documentation for, and links to multiple Bush-era debt ceiling uppers by Boehner, Cantor and McConnell - - here.

Reagan was a prolific tax-and-borrower, too.

But for Obama - - the GOP changes the rules.

In Bizarro Wisconsin, Trains Must Be Stopped - - With Their Jobs Potential, Too

Republicans in Wisconsin just killed a third proposed train system.

The latest victim - - a commuter rail line connecting Lake Michigan cities Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha - - that had business support, but which was opposed by GOP ideologues in the state legislature.

Earlier this year, newly-elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker killed a federally-funded Amtrak extension from Milwaukee-to-Madison - - a funds forfeiture that required the Legislature to find $31 million in state funds for related improvements on the same line from Milwaukee to the Illinois border.

And in 1997, Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, his legislative allies and the GOP-dominated Waukesha County government killed a light rail system contemplated for Milwaukee.

All of these projects would have employed train equipment makers, mechanics, and engineers. Thousands of workers would have been hired to clear right-of-way, upgrade or lay track, and businesses would have located, expanded and thrived, along with housing development, around stations and on the routes.

In a state with persistent unemployment, purportedly opened for business by Walker - - except for any job related to a train.

Rail on.

The Republican opposition is rooted in several cynical realities.

*  Obeisance to road-building, oil company, and service station industry donors and lobbies. enabling the spending of unquestioned billions in tax dollars on new highways..

*  A similar loyalty to talk radio . Conservative elected officials do not want to stand accused by the talkers of being soft on trains.

To the talkers, rail is a club - - a vehicle, if you will - - to gin up ratings and create angst among conservative, suburban listeners over the possibility that city dwellers might ride into the suburbs seeking work, housing, schooling or maybe worse.

The late George Watts, an outspoken opponent of light rail, some years ago famously warned suburbanites against "strangers" who could use light rail to come unwanted into their communities, threatening property and children.

Without good transit connections, it's easier to maintain the racial and economic apartheid staining Southeastern Wisconsin and keep the suburbs lily-white.

Just Google any of the Milwaukee-area suburbs' profiles for the black/white disparities.

Here's an applicable census website.


Brookfield, in Waukesha County but just outside Milwaukee County - - 0.8% Black, 94.2% white.

All of Washington County: Blacks, 0.9%, Whites 95.8%

Delafield, in Waukesha County - -  44 Blacks out of a total of 6,858 residents, or about six-tenths of 1%.

I'm sure Republican conservatives are plotting last-ditch efforts to stop the downtown Milwaukee streetcar plan that is just about ready to leave the station [Tuesday mid-day update: the plan was approved 10-5 by the Common Council] - - because in the right-wing talk radio world, a land-locked, lower-income and minority-majority city like Milwaukee must not have any success, so modern rail transit is not allowed a base from which to demonstrate its value.

Wisconsin DNR Begins Important Hearings Tonight On Waukesha's Great Lakes Diversion Proposal

Forget those stage-managed dog-and-pony shows cobbled together by PR specialists that the City of Waukesha and its Common Council has put on in support of its plan to divert Great Lakes water to the City, Town of Waukesha and other nearby lands:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is beginning tonight a series of technical presentations and hearings to evaluate the applicability of the City's plan under state law and the eight-state Great Lakes Compact of 2008.

Tonight's meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at Waukesha County Technical College, Business Building, Lecture Hall B140 and B130, 800 Main Street, Pewaukee.

The complete, three-meeting schedule and some background information is below:

Key technical issues include Waukesha's legal eligibility for the diversion, plus the sufficiency of its water conservation methods and related plan to return most of the diversion as treated wastewater via Underwood Creek to the lake.

Waukesha would also have to have a signed water supply purchase contract with a lakefront community, as well as the approval of all eight Great Lakes states' Governors, before the lake could be tapped.

So there are fundamental political issues accompanying the application, too.

[Note: the Town of Waukesha has yet to officially decide if it wishes to be included in the application; the City of Waukesha included the Town in the application and proposed diversion map and area, accounting for roughly 10% of the proposed diversion's average daily draw and resulting discharge, but the Town was not consulted during the application's preparation, thus has not accepted the terms of a diversion, its obligations or benefits.]

The DNR has a website offering information about the application review process, including:

Informational Meetings/Hearings Locations: 

Tuesday July 26, 2011, Waukesha County Technical College, Business Building, Lecture Hall B140 and B130, 800 Main Street, Pewaukee, WI 53072 

Wednesday July 27, 2011, Hart Park, Riverview Room, 7300 Chestnut Street, Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Thursday July 28, 2011, Sturtevant DNR Service Center, 9531 Rayne Road, Sturtevant, Wisconsin 53177


5:30 pm – Open house (with displays, handouts and DNR staff available to answer questions)
6:00 pm – Presentation (brief overview of application and process), a Question and Answer period, followed by a formal public hearing


Any comments are welcome; however, comments are particularly requested on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the review criteria.
Written comments may be submitted until August 13, 2011 to:
Kay McConnell
DNR Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater
Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wisconsin Republicans Tell Unemployed To Stay On The Ramen Noodle, Cat Food Diet

They've made thousands of long-term unemployed Wisconsin workers wait and worry since April 16  - - 100 days today! - - for the distribution of available Federal unemployment insurance funds, so what's another couple of weeks to the well-paid, benefits'-smothered Republican state legislators who control both houses?

Attention Walker Administration Employees: Like Mom Said, Don't Run With A Knife

Or scissors or other sharp objects.

And you see this on those forensic crime-detection shows all the time: the guy with the knife accidentally stabs himself and leaves a blood trail.

And just what is a state official doing heading for a balloon-carrying peaceful protester with a knife, anyway? In the Capitol!

My Prediction On Walker's Signing Redistricting Missed By One Day, But...

I had said I thought he'd bury it on a Friday afternoon - - so I got it wrong by a working day - - but Walker does not completely disappoint, as he signed the Republicans' horrendously partisan redistricting plan quietly, and issued today a one-line release about his deed.

New Berlin To Get Housing That Working People Can Afford, But...

While congratulations are due the advocates on this one, it shouldn't have had been so hard to get done.

Some history.

And with a side of irony.

Legislator Brags About Killing Train Line Serving Constituent, Regional Commuters

Another big win for ideology and fantasy over pragmatism:

Robin Vos
It's official: Rail line from Kenosha to Milwaukee is dead - JSOnline

PolitiFact Finds Few Walker Statements "True"

Is this any way to run a state?

PolitiFact has examined 31 statements by Scott Walker and rated only eight of them, or 25%, as "True" or "Mostly True," its scorecard shows, with three more scored "Half True."

So  only 11 of 31, or 34%, are half true, or better.

On the other hand 65% of Walker statements investigated - -  20 of 31 - - were rated either "Barely True," "False" (his largest category, 40%) or "Pants on Fire."

So even giving Walker credit for statements half true, there is still a 2:1 split on the "Barely True" or worse side of the honesty equation.

I had been tracking this periodically, but had overlooked the PolitiFact summaries.

Worse for Wisconsin - -  I think it's part of a bigger picture for this Governor.

Since we are constantly told that government should be run like a business, can you name one business that would tolerate similar public behavior by its CEO, either when he was on the job or auditioning for it?
As of July 25, 2011, PolitFact has posted this:
Scott Walker's file:

Venal GOP Legislators Kill Another WI Rail Line, Steal Milwaukee Money

The city haters are handed another win by legislators spending billions on highways.

Urban Wilderness Blog Illustrates Underwood Creek/Waukesha Diversion Wastewater Issues

Excellent photos and text.

Excellent Ohio, Michigan Columns About The Great Lakes Compact

History, perspective and passion from Tom Henry, the Dean of newspaper writers focusing on the Great Lakes.

And from a Michigan writer on the same theme.

I had gotten into this particular issue - - Ohio Gov. John Kasich's veto of a particularly bad and permissive bill, about which our own Gov. Walker had said nothing, that green-lighted huge Great Lakes water withdrawals - - here.

Alberta Darling Running Against Jim Doyle

I'll have to take another look at that recall ballot, as recalled state senator Alberta Darling keeps mentioning Jim Doyle during a joint TV appearance with Sandy Pasch.  Darling says we can get by under the Walker budget she helped craft. Now there's more forward thinking.

Today Is No-Benefits Day #100 For Wisconsin's Long-Term Jobless; Thank The GOP

Wisconsin legislative Republicans (dutifully collecting their pay and $88-per-day-in tax-free expenses) also continue to play Good Cop/Bad Cop political State Capitol games over a one-week waiting period for Unemployment Compensation benefits to begin for citizens who have lost their jobs, so $88 million in available federal funds continues to sit idle, as it has since April 16.

Do they wonder why recall elections are underway, with more (Scott Walker, et al) coming?

Scott Fitzgerald Invited Obama Organization To The Recall Fray

There's a report that President Obama's organization is helping the grassroots recall campaign against Republican state senators.

This is hardly surprising.

Remember in March when Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the goal of the union-stripping in Wisconsin was to weaken and defeat Obama?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

More Review Urged For Western Wisconsin High-Capacity Well

Midwest Environmental Advocates, a public-interest law firm, is criticizing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource's evaluation to date of a high-capacity well in Western Wisconsin near Copper Creek, and is urging the agency to produce a full-scale environmental impact statement to better evaluate the project.

Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) stated that the agency's assumptions in its Environmental Assessment are "erroneous, unsupported and contrary to readily available data..."
According to MEA, approval of the well would be unlawful due to the inadequacy of the environmental analysis, failure to include conditions that "ensure that the well does not cause significant adverse environmental impact" and "failure to include conditions that will assure maintenance of flow conditions in Copper Creek 'such that the fish populations and critical habitat are not adversely affected...'"
Regulating such wells have been much in the news lately.

Details, below (And let me add this from another source about possible uses of the water.):

For Immediate Release
July 22, 2011

Save Copper Creek Submits Legal and Scientific Response to DNR on High-Capacity Well

Utica, WI - Midwest Environmental Advocates, a nonprofit environmental law center representing Save Copper Creek, has told the Department of Natural Resources that the agency's pending approval of a high-capacity well, two miles west of Mt. Sterling in the Utica Township in Crawford County, would be unlawful. Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) stated that the agency's assumptions in its Environmental Assessment are "erroneous, unsupported and contrary to readily available data."

MEA said that because the developer of the proposed well has not done the needed investigative work regarding the impacts of high capacity pumping, the Department has had to guess at the likely impacts of the well, and to make assumptions regarding the hydrogeology and biology of the area without the actual scientific data that is necessary to make reasoned decisions regarding well approval. 

MEA's conclusions are based on letters submitted to the Department from hydrogeologist Robert J. Nauta of RJN Environmental Services and UW-Milwaukee Biology Professor Timothy J. Ehlinger.

According to MEA, approval of the well would be unlawful due to the inadequacy of the environmental analysis, failure to include conditions that "ensure that the well does not cause significant adverse environmental impact" and "failure to include conditions that will assure maintenance of flow conditions in Copper Creek 'such that the fish populations and critical habitat are not adversely affected.'"

The input of the scientific experts should lead the Department to "change course" and collect additional data, perform additional analysis and prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement, according to the MEA letter.

MEA noted that both Mr. Nauta and Dr. Ehlinger had criticized the Department’s reliance on a single stream flow measurement taken in March versus measurements taken during low flow periods.  Dr. Ehlinger also noted the "complete lack of any factual basis" for the Department's conclusion regarding the ability of the fishery to recover if groundwater pumping harms the Copper Creek fishery.

Mr. Nauta and Dr. Ehlinger identified specific areas in which further investigation is needed, including an aquifer performance test, a groundwater model, an examination of trout age structure, and review by qualified cold water fisheries biologists and hydrogeologists.

The Department has indicated that it would issue an approval for this well some time after July 22, 2011.

Save Copper Creek (SCC) is a local group formed in May to fight the proposed high-capacity well.  The organization also submitted to the DNR more than 850 petition signatures opposing the well.

SCC is a project of the Kickapoo Cultural Exchange, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.



Bob Van Hoesen

Attorney Dennis Grzezinski
414 289-9200

Attachments include letters from MEA, Mr. Nauta and Dr. Ehlinger.

Some American Talk Radio Spreads Fear Of Muslims, Immigrants

The Internet, and You Tube, provide endless examples of right-wing fear broadcast on American outlets, so as events unfold with reports from Norway - - here's a fresh one - -  it's worth remembering that you can hear the echoes here, and here, too.

Why You Should Care About Warmer Weather

An excellent piece from The Washington Post with the world perspective.

Remember that climate predictions for the Midwest are for hotter - - with heavier rain events - - so there are costs and consequences for our part of the country, too.

State Rep. Robin Vos Wins Clunky Quote Of The Year Award

Or maybe it's The Grandiosity Prize: you be the judge.

Robin Vos is a Wisconsin Republican State Assemblyman from Burlington, the co-chairman of the budget committee, an opponent of commuter rail, former roommates with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, and the owner several businesses, including RoJo's, a popcorn-making firm - - but a talented wordsmith (or perhaps sagacious manager/editor of staff research?) he is not.

This is Vos' contribution to a long Sunday Journal Sentinel Sunday piece on the politics of rail transit:

"It is the job of every generation to be the Van Helsing who slays the vampire that sucks the taxpayers' blood - that is, the train," said state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), a leading rail transit opponent. 
The Grandiosity Prize is suggested by his Van Helsing reference. 

Van Helsing Poster    Pass the popcorn.

Minnesota Found Even More New Jobs Last Month Than Did Wisconsin, But...

Minnesota data suggests the employment is seasonal, so when the kids go back to school in the fall?

Minnesota's golf courses, hotel and restaurant owners led the way as the state added 13,200 jobs during June -- a healthy increase considering that the national economy added just 18,000 jobs last month...

For June, Minnesota's largest job gains were in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 8,000 jobs.

Trade, transportation and utilities added 5,000 jobs, mostly thanks to retailers.

Meanwhile, the construction sector shed 2,200 jobs in June despite warm weather and the usual rush of highway and bridge repairs. The lackluster housing industry continues to keep construction jobs scarce.
Wisconsin numbers and discussion, here.

Institute For Wisconsin's Future Answers The Question: Who Does Not Pay Taxes?

The first in a new online series. Kudos to my former colleague Jack Norman for all his workL

Who Does Not Pay Taxes logo

New IWF newsletter names corporate tax avoiders

Associated Bank pays no state income tax; M&I just a trifle

Associated Bank—the largest bank based in Wisconsin—made $2.6 billion in profits in the years before the recession, yet didn’t pay a penny in state income tax.

M&I, newly sold to a Canadian bank, paid less than 1% on its pre-recession profits, despite a state tax rate of 7.9%.

These are the big tax-avoiding corporations featured in IWF’s new publication, WhoDoesNotPayTaxes? 

This monthly newsletter will provide details on companies not paying their fair share of taxes, as well as related news on tax policy in Wisconsin.

The goal is to help close the loopholes these businesses use to avoid their fair share of taxes and to help create a broader tax base for Wisconsin. This would help both finance vital public services and keep tax rates down for those who do pay a fair share.

Look for more naming names in the next issue. Click here for more information on WhoDoesNotPayTaxes?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Will PolitiFact's Data Wizards Crunch Walker, or His Job Creation Numbers?

You'd think the Univac 6000 down at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 4th and State computer lab would already be running the numbers.

Walker, Boehner, Cantor Should Cringe Before This FDR Audio Clip

Oratory and truth.

Give it a listen - - it's short, powerful and relevant.

More Light Shed On Walker's Job Claim

I'd raised some issues, and I'm fascinated to read it this piece in The Freeman:

Job growth elsewhere gives context
to Wis. figures

July 23, 2011

MILWAUKEE - Gov. Scott Walker was correct this week in saying Wisconsin's net gain of 9,500 jobs last month was more than half the jobs added across the nation in that period - but looking at figures from other states makes the tally seem not quite as rosy.

While Wisconsin's monthly job numbers are generally released with little fanfare, Walker held a news conference Thursday to call attention to June's figure. He revealed that Wisconsin had added 12,900 private-sector jobs and lost 3,400 government jobs, for a net gain of 9,500 jobs.

Meanwhile, he noted, the U.S. recorded a net increase of 18,000 jobs for the month. All numbers are seasonally adjusted.

"In light of national job numbers ... our efforts in Wisconsin stand out," he said.

Comparing the Wisconsin and U.S. figures directly, however, could lead to a faulty inference — that the bulk of the new U.S. jobs were in Wisconsin. As it turns out, that's far from the case...

Feedback: Ten Most-Read Posts Here Last Week, And A Comment Milestone Approaches

Feedback to readers for the last week's participation. And sometime today, the comments will roll past 10,000. Thanks to all.

Rep. Gwen Moore Urges Tougher EPA, State Dep't. Review For Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

I got this email yesterday, July 22, 2011, from Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore, (D), about the proposed, and controversial transnational Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline:

Dear Mr. Rowen,
Thank you for contacting my office to express your opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. I appreciate your letter and would like to update you on the status of this project. 
The Keystone XL is a proposed pipeline which would begin in Canada and reach all the way to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The Administration, including the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others are currently reviewing a permit that would allow the pipeline to be built in the United States.
These agencies are expected to reach a decision by the end of 2011 as to whether the proposal, along with the associated risks, would be in our national interest. 
With the creation of a new pipeline comes the possibility for negative environmental impact in the surrounding areas. In order to properly maintain and secure the pipeline, the EPA has proposed that the State Department look into additional measures in order to reduce the impact of the pipeline.
For example, the use of increased ground level inspections of the pipeline could work to reduce possible leaks, especially pinhole leaks that may not be visible from commonly used aerial patrols.
The EPA has also recommended an increase in the number of valves for select areas of the pipeline. These more vulnerable areas would include the Ogallala Aquifer as well as water crossings that are smaller in width. 
Increasing valves in these vulnerable areas could decrease the risk of undetected leaks which may not be picked up by the current detection system.
There is also current discussion on the possibility of an alternative route and the EPA is reviewing the potential benefits of re-routing the proposal.
You may also be interested to know that last year, fifty of my colleagues sent a letter to Secretary Clinton urging that the Keystone proposal not be approved unless its potential environmental impacts were thoroughly reviewed.
In addition, the letter asked that other factors, such as greenhouse gas emissions and tar sands oil use, are effectively weighed before making the final decision.
Thank you for writing me on this important issue. I will continue to follow the course of this proposal and any changes made towards reducing its environmental impact while increasing energy efficiency.
Gwen Moore
Member of Congress
The Clinton-led State Department's actions on the proposal are lacking, according to this New York Times editorial.

And the break in a pipeline that carried the same type of heavy, acidic tar sand oil and the resulting pollution of the Yellowstone River in Montana is an unfortunate, but important, 42,000 gallon-warning about the proposed Keystone XL project.