Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Meet The Plutocrats

Thanks to Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel, we now know that a band of special interest insiders and their public-sector water-carriers teamed up and kept their mouth shut...for months...when writing a bill principally on behalf of a single mining company, but at the expense of the environment, public waterways and local communities' budgets.

Not to be overlooked: thousands of dollars in campaign contributions involving some of the very same people.


Seen the tooth fairy lately?

And if you think this kind of overlapping relationship and insider back-scratching takes place only among legislators, lobbyists, trade associations and executive branch officials, look across the State Capitol, and wince.

That's because we now find a State Supreme Court Justice casting votes in favor of clients represented before the Court by a major law firm that gave the Justice himself free legal representation - - in an ethics case, no less.

Does your average bear or Bucky Badger get this kind of consideration from law firms, senior judges, major businesses, key legislators and high-ranking state officials?

Remember way back in January, within days of his inauguration, when Walker prompted the legislature to pass a special bill to allow a Green Bay-area businessman and contributor to fill a wetlands near Lambeau Field to build a sporting goods store?

That was your first clue: the mining bill is the dagger.

People at that level of impenetrable, clubby influence apparently can meet, collaborate, legislate and/or adjudicate with their own agendas and needs foremost in mind, but if four of the rest of us decide to go to the State Capitol and hold up a sign protesting what feels like a coup d'etat, we might find ourselves jailed for violating our rulers' new rules.


Anonymous said...

I suppose it's easy to ignore the annoyance of the singing in the Rotunda when you're working on your keynote speech and deciding what to wear when you leave all this bullshit behind and go sit at the Cool Kid's table with Mann Coulter and Newt.


(It's Working)

tomkraj said...

It's a fundraising speech.

Anonymous said...

The old mining bill on the books was drafted in part in the early 80s by Jim Klauser, an attorney representing Exxon, for the proposed copper mine near Crandon. Peter Peshek who was then the Public Intervenor participated in this process.

This project was one of the first instances of the "consensus approach", bringing the stakeholders to the table to negotiate a way forward; the cynical view is the goal is really to write legislation that gives the corporation what they ultimately are after, a permit, and to avoid prolonged litigation.

(For instance, the water quality standards agreed to happened to coincide with the levels Exxon's experts said they could meet; the company agreed to a higher state mining tax.)

It's worth noting that environmental impact work is typically performed by outside consultants, chosen and paid for by the applicant. It's not like DNR has the manpower or the time to do this work but the results should come as no surprise.

BTW, after he left the public sector, Public Intervenor Peshek went on to join Klauser's old law firm.

Back then Exxon was apparently content to work through the "lengthy" review process. The new mine owners seemingly don't want to bother with even that window dressing thus the fast-track, special interest legislation. Welcome to "effective" lobbying in the 21 St century.

The Wisconsin way. Walker is just less subtle about it. Bears remembering as we watch Thompson's run for senate.