I've noted several times on this blog - - here, or here, and elsewhere - - that enabling with fast-tracked legislation the gouging in Northern Wisconsin of a 22-mile-long open-pit iron ore mine disregards the legal standing, cultural interests and history of the region's earliest residents - - the Bad River Band - - and conflicts with environmental and inter-governmental concerns, broadly defined.
Not to mention conflicting with a Great Lakes water management compact signed into law by Wisconsin, seven others states, two Canadian provinces, the Canadian parliament and President George W. Bush - - after the Congress approved it, too.
Here is a succinct, accessible analysis of the legal and environmental thicket - - and other red flags have been waving and signalling, for months - - that Governor Walker and his legislative allies are plunging into, hell-bent, on behalf of special interests.
The Bad River watershed covers 700,000 acres. One could lose a lot of political battles and capital there.
Which is, why, perhaps some staffer with at least one semester of media and political training must have handed Walker a pre-interview 3"x5" card the other day that block-printed the suggestion "backtrack a bit on mining," as Walker appeared to give ground - - not his usual play - - when he commented on an outrageous provision in the Assembly bill that basically fixed the permit approval in advance: the elimination of the mining permitting process' sole hearing where witnesses are put under oath and cross-examined.
But a few pandering words do not address the larger issues and deeper opposition that the Bad River Band has raised and communicated directly in a meeting with Walker.
I'll let some of Walker's earlier words and deeds frame our wary approach.
Begin by noting what the State Journal included towards the end of its report on the Walker meeting with the Band, and other tribes:
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a statement that the governor met with tribal leaders as promised and listened to their concerns. He declined to elaborate, saying only that discussions likely would continue at Walker's regular quarterly meeting with the state's tribes next month.Now - - go back to Walker's signature stance with regard to public unions and collective bargaining. This headline pretty much summed it up, and nothing changed even after the unions said they would accept all the economic demands Walker was making.
[Bad River Band Chairman Mike] Wiggins said representatives from the state's other 10 tribes joined the Bad River at the meeting in a show of support. He said the governor listened to the tribes, but didn't commit to anything.
And he elaborated on that mind-set when he thought he was talking to a leading conservative funder, but instead was being taped by Ian Murphy, a blogger, and the State Journal supplied a transcript:
...if they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years ’cause I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County and won, even in a county where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered politically, and, ’cause I don’t budge...
And my sense is, hell, I’ll talk to them. If they want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I’m used to that, I can deal with that. But I’m not negotiating.Take him at his word and deed. He does not negotiate, cave or budge. He likes the power. And winning.
Final thought: With the WMC pushing the Assembly bill so hard, do you really expect a fair hearing when if and when it reaches the State Supreme Court from Justices Mike Gableman, David Prosser and Annette Ziegler who each owe so much of their election victories to the WMC?