Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gun In The Home = Domestic Shooting

Data show that guns in the home are far more likely to used by family members against each other, rather than against intruders for self-defense.

Current Milwaukee case in point:

A 27-year-old Army veteran who police say fatally shot his wife Sunday during a quarrel at the home they shared with their young daughter contends the victim committed suicide.
I have cited this data before. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Guardians Of The Wisconsin Idea Should Abandon Tainted Mining Measure

I'd written last week that the GOP mining bill vote will be a make-or-break-moment for state legislators and for the state's reputation, too.

I was focused at the time on the damage the bill would let loose on the environment, the public's constitutionally-protected water rights, and guarantees in long-established treaties with Wisconsin's Ojibwe people - - all of which should be respected, not dismissed.

I wrote:

Scott Walker's industry-written mining bill will fill wetlands, pollute rivers, undermine a large body of Wisconsin environmental law and revive a bad old national story and shame  - - the willful disregard of treaties with Native Americans. 

Hang your head, Miss Forward: your state is rushing to enable miles of open pit iron ore mines in a depressed iron ore market - - operations in Minnesota and Michigan are being cut back - -  principally to validate conservative ideologies and burnish GOP fund-raising letters and TV ads, and less to promote jobs - - given the losses that will occur in the region in tourism and outdoor recreation...

Given its flaws, this bill should never have been drafted, should never be given serious consideration other than its condemnation, but it's on a fact-free, anti-science fast track and thus will soon present legislators with one of those once-in-a-career "Aye or Nay" moments:

How do you vote and how do you want to be remembered, "Aye or Nay," on replacing the pristine Penokee Hills near Lake Superior at the headwaters of the Bad River with an enormous open pit mine?
But in the last few days, there have been stunning revelations about pro-mining/anti-environmental preservationist campaign donations amassed in a torrent by GOP legislators and Gov. Walker - - by a 610-to-one dollar advantage over environmental donations - - along with equally-jaw-dropping documentation of the mining company's role in writing the version of the bill speeding through the Legislature for Walker's signature.

So let's add editorial writers to those facing a make-or-break moment, and whose role as public-interest watchdogs requires their speaking against a willfully-broken and profoundly-corrupted political process.

Isn't it time to unambiguously abandon this bill and demand an end to further auctions of public resources, state history and The Wisconsin Idea for private gain and one-party, partisan advantage? This is what the State Historical Society had to say about the Wisconsin Idea:
Progressive Republicans, in contrast, believed that the business of government was to serve the people. They sought to restrict the power of corporations when it interfered with the needs of individual citizens. The Progressive Movement appealed to citizens who wanted honest government and moderate economic reforms that would expand democracy and improve public morality. In their crusade for reform on a state and national level, Progressive Republicans were led by Robert La Follette, Wisconsin's governor from 1901 to 1906, and U.S. Senator from 1906 to 1925.

In Wisconsin, La Follette developed the techniques and ideas that made him a nationwide symbol of Progressive reform and made the state an emblem of progressive experimentation. The Wisconsin Idea, as it came to be called, was that efficient government required control of institutions by the voters rather than special interests, and that the involvement of specialists in law, economics, and social and natural sciences would produce the most effective government.

Dismissive Talk Radio Name-Calling On Mining Bill Disclosures

WTMJ-AM's afternoon righty radio talker Jeff Wagner had this reaction to the disclosure today that an out-of-state iron mining company benefiting the most from a bill weakening Wisconsin environmental laws was allowed a hand in writing the current draft speeding to approval:

"No kidding."

And for anyone complaining about it:

"Absolute idiocy...Give me strength!"

Through several platforms, Journal Communications - - Wisconsin's largest media company - - serves up this fact-free, biased name-calling 24-hours-a-day.

Fresh Shaming For GOP/Mining Company

How far has Wisconsin fallen, or been dragged by the corporate water-carriers now in power?

One Wisconsin Now proves that Gov. Walker and GOP legislators let the mining company help write the environmentally-disastrous, treaty-busting mining bill being rushed to a vote:

Drafting records for the open pit mining legislation (accessible here and here) Assembly Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1, obtained by One Wisconsin Now reveal that a preliminary draft of the legislation was shared with the mining company, weeks before being made available to the general public. A series of seven e-mails entitled "GTAC requests" contain numerous changes to the bill suggested by the company, many of which appear to have been made by the legislative leadership in charge of drafting the bill.
 The Journal Sentinel picks up the story:
Gogebic Taconite, which had an initial hand in writing a controversial mining bill now before legislators, continues to play a key role in writing the latest draft of the bill...

Details in the latest drafting notes were made public on Tuesday by One Wisconsin Now, a liberal group, which was critical of the Gogebic's influence in the legislation.

"You didn't see any members of the public, you didn't see Republican leaders asking environmental groups how the bill should be stronger," said Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now.
So I ask again, media - - where is your outrage?

Illegal Wisconsin Bear Hunts Bring Criminal Sentences

I had noted this story about illegal killing of bears in Wisconsion in a Journal Sentinel op-ed some time ago and want to close the loop with this news story about the outcome.

Four men who had been the subject of a six-year undercover investigation by state and federal authorities have been convicted of charges related to illegal bear hunting in northern Wisconsin.
Greed and ego lets people do terrible things to living creatures, since the state already sanctions and encourages a large so-called "harvest" of Wisconsin black bears.

You'd think that the 4,400 bears killed legally last year in Wisconsin - - and the number has been higher - - would be enough to satisfy the need and opportunity for what some call "the ultimate family sport" in our state.

Apparently not - - and, by the way, the bear hunting lobby is pushing for the use of dogs in the wolf hunt, as is currently permitted in the bear hunt.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Barrett And Clarke On CNN Tonight. What Happened?

11:00 Summary - -  Clarke was exposed as having little residential 911 responsibilities in the the city, regardless. And Clarke looked as lost as was his argument when Morgan wanted to know how many homeowners had used weapons to defend themselves, and Clarke had no data. So Clarke came off as someone on a PR tear, but without much reason for it.


Feel free to weigh in, as this goes on...

You can access Sheriff Clarke's Arm-Yourself radio ad, here.

8:24 - - Well, we're still waiting for these guys to make their remarks. We did get to hear AZ Gov. Jan Brewer come out against gun confiscation - - which Morgan told Brewer no one is proposing - - and got to hear Brewer tell Morgan knives and swimming pools kill people, too.

#Walker and bows and arrows, remember?

8:28 - - OK, after the break. I hope Morgan asks Clarke how many City 911 calls his agency takes. I've heard 1%.

8:31 - - Clarke! No cowboy hat.  Disappointed. He says he's not afraid to engage the citizenry? Who accused him of that.

8:33 - - Barrett skewers Clarke over jurisdiction. It's the city coppers who show up and Clarke is responsible for the freeways. And Morgan accuses Clarke of putting on a "Hollywood voice." Zounds!

8:34 - - Clarke is exaggerating his responsibilities. Barrett's got his angry face on.

8:35 - - Morgan asks Clarke for statistics about the # of people in Milwaukee who defended themselves with guns and Clarke says he has no idea.

8:36 - - Morgan is not letting Clarke speak. This is not going well. Talk radio will do another post-debacle Tea Partier rescue, a la Ron Johnson, but Clarke isn't enjoying this.

8:41 - - Now Barrett is up. Barrett cleans up Clarke's misinformation about furloughs, and responses. And tries to refocus on the larger issues - - an internet, off-the-books gun sale that led to the mass killing at Avena spa. Barrett wants better background checks.

8:43 - - Clarke is bringing up the beating Barrett took near State Fair. Does he think that Barrett should have been packing?

8:45 - - Clarke will not answer a direct question about background checks.  Runs on about local crime. Great PR for the city, Sheriff.  Ego is served!

That's it. 

Walker Says He Has Concerns About Electoral College Changes, But...

Are you lulled into complacency by his 'thinking'?

Remember, this is the same guy who said said Act 10 had kept all collective bargaining rights "intact."

And has had only 40% of his statements vetted by PolitiFact rated true at any level, with more ratings on the false side, like this one:

Walker's fresh Pants On Fire falsehood today [Monday] sent me back to check the full record. It'd been a while.

Well, if only 40% of your ratings have the word "true" somewhere in the finding because you dieseling on like you were still in talk radio, echo-chamber fact-free mode, I guess you're doing really well.

What? CPAC Now Scheduling Moderate Speakers

The annual CPAC gathering of right-wing fringe politicos has booked some moderate from Wisconsin!

UWM Looking For New Way To Further Devalue County Grounds

Having already deforested land it controls on the Milwaukee County Grounds for  road-building to serve its even-more park-free Innovation Park development, UW-M now wants another after-the-fact innovation added to the deal:

Reducing the parcel's price to be paid to the County set years ago to help save historic buildings there.

Unless the County caves, those buildings might be demolished.

Talk about disregard for public assets, and raising bad faith to an art form.

Stupid Hears Stupid, Now In Jail

Sheriff Clarke's Arm-Yourself ad gets first FUBAR.

Woman arrested for firing gun claims Sheriff Clarke told her to protect herself

Mining Interests Drowned State Capitol, Legislative 'Process' In Cash

Wisconsin legislative Republicans are rushing companion Senate and Assembly bills to votes on February 6th that will enable iron ore mining in Wisconsin by weakening review procedures and environmental protections.

I doubt by February 6th that legislators will have finished compiling, let alone reading, the voluminous public testimony from last Wednesday's 12-hour public hearing on the measures, or the many comments sent in by email.

Assembly mining committee chair Mary Williams, (R-Medford) described the task ahead in an email to me Monday when responding to an an email I'd sent last week checking to make sure my comment had been received:

Subject: RE: Comments in Opposition to mining bills for the hearing record. Thank you. 
To: "James Rowen"  
Date: Monday, January 28, 2013, 1:13 PM 
Your email was received.  We are still working our way through the thousands of emails and registration slips. 
But tell me how any legislators can vote for this bill after the non-profit watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, using public records, issued this damning report Monday:
Madison – Special interests that back loosening mining regulations for a Florida company that wants to dig an open pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin have contributed $15.6 million to the Republican-controlled legislature and GOP Governor Scott Walker who are likely to approve mining permit changes in the coming months. 
The Democracy Campaign review also found the campaign contributions made by mining deregulation interests swamped those of mining deregulation opponents – environmental groups – by a ratio of $610 to $1. 
Environmental groups which oppose the Republican mining proposal introduced in mid-January contributed only $25,544 to legislators between 2010 and June 2012 and to the governor between 2010 and April 23, 2012.
Do hearings have any real value? Are they taken seriously by legislators, or are they pro forma Kabuki theatrics that let legislators check off a box on a bill-writing form in the state that Walker opened for business?

Thunderstorm In Milwaukee As We Speak

Climate change deniers will call talk radio in a few hours and deny they heard this January thunderstorm underway right now that will raise havoc with buds and bulbs and plants and trees before the temp. goes to zero in 48 hours.

Multiple Millions From Mining Interests Stain, Shame Wisconsin's Capitol

No wonder the Legislature is rushing the bill to the Governor.

Legislators and the Governor collected $15.6 million from pro-mining/environmental-standard weakening special interests between 2010 and early 2012 - - with Joint Finance Committee member Sen. Alberta Darling, (R-River Hills) alone hauling down $467,000 - - while environmentalists in favor of maintaining current mining and water law spent $25,500, according to media reports based on Wisconsin Democracy Campaign WDC) data.

The other day I had this to say about this disgrace, and it's even more true as news filters out about this unprecedented torrent of special-interest money - - hat tip to the non-partisan, non-profit WDC - - staining the Capitol and Wisconsin state history:

Scott Walker's industry-written mining bill will fill wetlands, pollute rivers, undermine a large body of Wisconsin environmental law and revive a bad old national story and shame  - - the willful disregard of treaties with Native Americans.   
Hang your head, Miss Forward... 
Every lawmaker voting "aye" on the mining bill earns permanently the description laid upon Martin Sheen by Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse Now."
"You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ron Johnson To Hurricane Sandy Victims: Go Freeze

Votes "No" with 35 other Republicans - - McCain, Hatch, and others - - on the balance of Federal storm aid to Sandy storm victims still without heat, businesses without roofs, towns without roads, and so on, the record shows.

As I said when he pulled this stunt in the last Congressional session, God forbid he has to look for East Coast votes should Wisconsin suffer floods, storms, fires or other catastrophes after which all Americans have traditionally sent aid.

Righty Talkers Keep Leaving Out Key Hillary Clinton Phrase

They say she said of Benghazi at her hearing last week "what difference does it make," but they leave out part of her rhetorical question and the point she was trying to make to clueless Ron Johnson - - "What difference, at this point, does it make..."

Big difference.

Ron Johnson Finds Meaning In Rand Novels, Flea Market Statuary

Tea partier Ron Johnson is guided by 18th-century politics, 1950's niche novels and flea market detritus. And who thinks we're not really free anymore, as he tells the story to other Ayn Rand devotees - - except to demean a sitting US Secretary of State who deals with the real world, not the fictional globe on Atlas' shoulders.

Remember - - this is a US Senator we're talking about. They ratify treaties, approve federal budgets, judicial and Supreme Court nominees, but let him explain his fixations as he told them to his fellow Randians:
The story behind that is a friend of mine, Ben Ganther, who’s a small business owner and owner of a construction company, called me up one day. And there was this big old statue on the side of the road for sale and it was Atlas. It had the world - - it was obviously the Atlas Shrugged symbol.

And he said he was thinking about buying it, and I said, yeah, absolutely, I’ll pay for half of it. So he bought it up right away. And because he’s a contractor, put it up in the front of his business on a really nice stand, nice little patio around it, lights - - he puts Christmas lights on it in the wintertime.

On PolitiFact, Walker Usually In False Categories

Walker's fresh Pants On Fire falsehood today sent me back to check the full record. It'd been a while.

Well, if only 40% of your ratings have the word "true" somewhere in the finding because you dieseling on like you were still in talk radio, echo-chamber fact-free mode, I guess you're doing really well.

Though I suspect you'd be unhappy if your kids brought home that kind of report card and expected a pat on the back for the score.

And I'd throw the red flag and ask for a review of one "True" finding that should have been disallowed because it was way too trivial for PolitiFact's consideration in the first place:

The one awarded him for knowing that Wisconsin is called The Badger State because early miners like the one on the state flag burrowed into the ground to make a living.

Like badgers.

I'll bet that State Capitol tour guides tell visiting school children that story. It's on a par with knowing that we make a lot of cheese here, or that Wisconsin has an NFL franchise that plays in Green Bay and is not named the Bears.

Gov. Archer Fabrication's Pants Are Flaming, Again

Internet trolls pound away on their word processors in anonymity and their know-nothing cousins routinely call right-wing talk shows and blather on after gun mayhem to 'argue' that baseball bats and hammers and cars kill people, too.

So why don't you ban them, huh?

Well, Gov. Walker got into that NRA-scripted 'don't blame-the-weapon' act the other day, and had a full-blown talk radio 'say-anything-you-want' moment when he said there had been a bow-and-arrow murder near a Wisconsin school.

But...oops...that never happened, PolitiFact documents:

"We just had someone last week in Neenah near a school kill someone with a bow and arrow."

Scott Walker on Thursday, January 10th, 2013 in a news conference

Talking gun control and Sandy Hook, Gov. Scott Walker says person was killed near a school with bow and arrow

Pants on Fire!

A Word In Support Of Harry Reid On Filibuster Changes

I can't join the bashing on Twitter and Facebook that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had taken last week for deciding against bring the so-called nuclear option on filibuster reform to the floor for a vote.

Reid knows that nothing is forever in politics, and the Dems might want the 60-vote filibuster threshold maintained if they were to lose their majority. Could happen, you know, and how would it feel to be hoisted on that petard?

And how would it look right now if, on the one hand, Dems are effectively marginalizing and beating down the GOP for changing the rules to suit their partisan interests (also plenty of Wisconsin examples, here) from adding Voter ID's, to cutting voting hours, to ending same-day voter registration, to shifting Electoral College vote allocations away from traditional raw vote totals - - all self-serving and condemnation-worthy GOP process rigging  - - while also changing the Senate filibuster rule to to get benefit from their current Senate majority?

Reid instead settled for some concessions from GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and yes, I know McConnell quickly sent out a fund-raising letter crowing that he'd won, but McConnell would have raised more money if the allegation was that Dems had gone all dictatorial in the Senate and had overturned historical process for short-term gains, etc.

If the GOP doesn't keep its end of the bargain, then perhaps the Dems, if they retain a majority, go nuclear on the first day of the next session because the GOP proved it couldn't be trusted.

Reid understands the Senate isn't the OK Corral they run over in the House. The Senate is and is supposed to be different, (read: deliberative, hence reasonable).

And Obama will need McConnell's help to get bills over to the House to force that body to take a stand on controversial matters.

If you've nuked the opposition in the Senate, what help might the vanquished offer?

I think Reid did a smart thing knowing it would be unpopular in some quarters.

I'll also bet that there are Dems in Congress and The White House who are quietly relieved they are not embroiled in a huge brawl today over process that, frankly, no one really wins.

David Clarke Arm-Yourself Ad Nets CNN Interview Monday

Sheriff, seeking publicity; Mission accomplished.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Journal Sentinel Editorial Leans Away From GOP Mining Bill, But...

After much back and forth on the merits and gaps in an iron mining bill being rushed to adoption by the GOP-controlled state legislature, the Journal Sentinel editorial board finds too many flaws in the bill (written by mining insiders) to support it - - and, in its own words, "leans toward" (now there's a modifier) an alternative proposal by Democratic Senator Tim Cullen, (D-Janesville) unless the GOP bill is repaired.

And calls the mine "necessary."

The editorial is weak tea, and, additionally, two problems in the paper's argument stand out:

*  There is not a word in the editorial about the bill's specific impact on, or the position taken against it by the Bad River Band of Ojibwe, whose waters and wild-rice culture are close downstream from the proposed mine site.

This is a significant piece of the issue, as the Ojibwe have treaty-conferred sovereign status and rights that should be right up there in the discussion.

* The editorial mentions the length of the mine - - but more description is needed. This is to be an open pit project four miles long, and 700-to-1,000 feet deep and a half-mile wide that would replace a range of pristine hills at the headwaters of the Bad River close to Lake Superior.

Gov. Walker keeps linking the proposed mine to the state's mining heritage as stitched into the state flag - - back to a 19th-century era of smaller, hand-hewn mines that predate today's modern, mountain-top removing through blasting, drag-line excavating and over-sized truck hauling.

The location and scope (the ore runs for 22 miles) and context of the project, if more fully and fairly discussed, should do more than suggest leaning towards a different bill.

Or calling it "necessary."

It screams for outright denunciation.

The paper is right that the bill has too many flaws - - and the editorial does a good job of laying out how the bill creates special and unacceptable exemptions from environmental law and protections - - but what the paper wants is a mine sited where the Penokee Hills stand just upstream from the Bad River Band's lands and waters.

When all is said and done, the editorial still backs a large-scale hammering of a square peg into a round hole.

The iron ore in question and the mine site proposed are fatally incompatible with their location.

What Walker, Pro-Mining Legislators Are Ignoring

The Bad River Band already has the power to establish the standards for water quality that flows through its reservation, and where its waters sustain its wild rice beds.

To clarify, and emphasize: It's not up to the state, or the mining company, to set these water quality and usage standards.

The Journal Sentinel's Lee Bergquist spelled this out in 2011.

The Bad River band of Lake Superior Chippewa said Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency had approved its application to set standards for water quality on tribal waters. 
The approval also allows the tribe to impose limits on water uses on others outside the reservation who live upstream... 
One aspect of the regulations allows the tribe to ensure that the quantity and quality of water from upstream sources do not affect the health of wild rice – a matter of cultural importance to the Bad River.
Any GOP legislator listening?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Corporate Wisconsin Seems Determined To Trash Lake Superior

Just as Northern Wisconsin is confronting this potential reality - -  release of acidic runoff draining from proposed iron mining through the Bad River to Lake Superior, - - the same area could soon see oil tankers docking with oil fracked from North Dakota shale as well as heavier tar sand crude ripped from the boreal forests there.

As quickly as you can say "Exxon Valdez," kiss the Big Lake goodbye.

The Great Lakes hold 20% of the planet's fresh surface waters - - and the entire Great Lakes basin is suffering increased toxic contamination as we speak:

Surface water pollution is up in the Great Lakes Basin, despite a downward trend overall.

According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of pollutants released into surface waters in the Great Lakes Basin jumped 12 percent in 2011. At the same time, toxic surface water discharges fell by 3 percent nationwide.

New Mexico Legislator Didn't Get Bobby Jindal's 'No-More-Stupid" Memo

The bill, abruptly withdrawn as stupid (and for some tweaking, maybe), would have forced raped women aborting the resulting fetuses to face evidence tampering felony charges.

Walker's $2/Week Tax Break Rooted In Old John Cusack Film

"Two dollars!"

A long-time fan of the blog suggested we reference John Cusack's classic movie "Better Off Dead" to connect readers with the true value of Scott Walker's Better Off Dead $2/week tax break plan.

And a bonus for political junkies and film buffs alike: the movie, I find, has plenty of transportation elements - - all the better to help us also understand that Walker's better-off-dead/dead-on-arrival plan to pay for a highway-building binge would more than eat up that $2/week tax cut through new gas and road-use taxes and multiple licensing and registration fee boosts.

Here's a few minutes from Cusack's movie that are worth at least $2 in viewing pleasure and political capital.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sen. Ron Johnson Wins Media Accolade

Washington Post Award. Nicely-done, Senator!

Worst Week In Washington
A weekly award honoring inhabitants of Planet Beltway

Who had the worst week in Washington? Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Sheriff Clarke's 'Grab-Your-Gun' Radio Spot Audio

Ready, aim, showboat.

And ignore reality.

Guns In The Home Again Turned On Occupant

This time, in Madison.

Data show guns in a home are far more likely to be used in suicides or domestic homicides than for self-defense.

Someone should get this data into David Clarke's pro-gun PR campaign.

Waukesha Freeman Could Clarify Today's Water Story

The Freeman had this top on its water story today:

Town of Waukesha will not participate in city’s water app
Special to The Freeman 

TOWN OF WAUKESHA – The Town Board continued to wrangle over a number of issues at its regular meeting Thursday, with emotions and contention running high at times during the three-and-a half hour session.

But one agenda item that brought the board into unison was a decision not to participate in the city of Waukesha’s quest for water through Lake Michigan. 
The Town Board voted not to participate in the Great Lakes water application process, a pivotal move that will likely solidify boundaries between the town and city moving forward.  
But the board also voted on a map that would allow town residents, many of whom currently receive and sewer service from the city, continued access to the city’s services. 
However, these two accounts are less confusing (and I apologize for the way different fonts have reproduced below). First, from my blog this morning:

Town Of Waukesha Accepts Limited Inclusion Into City Diversion Application
[Revised at 11:00 a.m.] The Town of Waukesha voted at its Thursday night/early Friday a.m. meeting to allow the inclusion of defined, mapped portions of the Town in the City of Waukesha's application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water. 
Portion of Town of Waukesha placed in city's future water service area
By Don Behm
of the Journal Sentinel
Jan. 25, 2013 12:05 p.m.
Town of Waukesha -- A northern slice of the town will be included in the City of Waukesha's future water service area and become part of the city's request for Lake Michigan water, under a resolution approved unanimously by the Town Board. 

Priebus Re-Elected RNC Chair After Party's 2012 Loss; Michael Steele - - Not So Lucky

They still like him. Not Michael Steele.

Go figure.

David Clarke Urging Citizens To Arms Themselves

Somehow the budgetarily-challenged Milwaukee County Sheriff found the funds to air a sternly-worded radio spot (I'll post a link later) that urges citizens to get "in the game" arm themselves for self-defense until the law can show up after your 911 call.

Charles Bronson Redux.

The spot is more a way for the media-savvy Clarke promote himself, and also to take a swipe at Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele - - who has cut Clarke's budget - - and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn - - who is actually more responsible for law enforcement in the City than is Clarke.

The Sheriff's main responsibilities are traffic and county park patrolling.

Town Of Waukesha Accepts Limited Inclusion Into City Diversion Application

[Revised at 11:00 a.m.] The Town of Waukesha voted at its Thursday night/early Friday a.m.  meeting to allow the inclusion of defined, mapped portions of the Town in the City of Waukesha's application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water.

The Town Board action basically matches up its water and sewer service maps with the city's, which is what the DNR and regional planning commission have sought.

The Town vote removes a barrier to the City's completion of a Great Lakes water diversion application now in the hands of the DNR, and is said to offer protections for the integrity of the Vernon Marsh, where City wells could influence water levels, and also provides other protections and clarity to the Town against some potential City annexations.

The key point is that the Town and City will agree on which limited, mapped and designated areas will be included in the application as potential recipients of diverted water.

Though including mapped portions of the Town into the City's application underscores the City's intent to send some diverted water outside of its borders - - setting up a possible barrier to the application's approval by the other seven Great Lakes states.

All eight states must approve a diversion of water outside of the boundaries of the Great Lakes, and both the City and Town of Waukesha are outside of the Great Lakes basin.

GOP Consolidating Power, One Rule Change At A Time

The GOP, once righteously opposed, as one its leaders said, to changing the rules to suit the players, is pushing a power-grabbing policy, procedural and political playbook. Before you know it, the public will be shut out, as will the other party.

*  Republicans didn't like those pesky public hearings that had to be held when a state agency was creating administrative rules that have the force of law in Wisconsin - - so in the early days of the Walker administration, GOP legislators at his behest eliminated the public hearings and moved rule-making approvals to - - where else? - - Walker's office.

Daddy knows best.

*  Republicans don't like the single public hearing now required by law prior to the DNR's decision on a mining permit, so the mining law being rammed through the Legislature as we speak retains the hearing - - it just moves it to a spot in the process after the DNR makes a decision.

(All this nicely dovetails with environmental rules the GOP changed last year to more easily permit the filling of wetlands. Call that certainty.)

*  Long-standing rules in Wisconsin governing a citizen's obtaining unemployment compensation don't suit Walker, so he is getting them changed. Toughened, they say. Somebody must be cheating.

*  Like those phantom, phantom voters whom the GOP wants to discourage with new Voter ID rules.

*  Republicans don't like the authority historically placed in Wisconsin law with the independently-elected Wisconsin Secretary of State - - a constitutional position - - permitting that office-holder to take up to ten days to publish and officially launch a bill approved by the Legislature.

Why? Because the current Secretary of State is Doug La Follette, a Democrat, and he had the temerity in 2011 to take the entire ten days to publish Walker's union-busting Act 10.

The hell with that balance of power, that independent inspection of the dotted "i's" and crossed "t's," so State Sen. Glenn Grothman and Sworn Enemy Of Kwanzaa and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (R-West Bend), has introduced a bill to eliminate the Secretary of State's law-publishing authority and force that office to publish bills within 24 hours of approval.

*  Republicans hate that the Wisconsin Constitution designates the most senior Associate State Supreme Court Justice to be its Chief Justice because that has meant veteran liberal Justice Shirley Abrahamson has been Chief Justice for a long time.

So the GOP is moving forward with a complex legal and referendum process to change the constitution and let the justices more frequently elect a chief just to strip Chief Justice Abrahamson of her powerful leadership position on the Court and in the rest of the state judicial system. As with the Secretary of State's prerogatives - - these Republicans do not like checks, balances, and power centers outside of their control.

After all, special interests have invested heavily in the GOP and there expectations need to be met, and served.

*  And so, after Democratic voters in Wisconsin (Paul Ryan smeared them "urban voters," and many signed up and voted on election day, as the law encourages) voted heavily in favor of a second term for Pres. Obama in November, Walker said he wanted to get rid of that apparently effective same day voter registration process - - then backed away from it.

For now - - but do not confuse this as evidence that there is a new, moderate Walker (oldsters will remember the new Nixon) since it looks like the GOP has an even bolder way to steal the state for GOP Presidential candidates:

*  Walker has said he's open to reapportioning electoral college votes by Congressional district - - where the GOP has embedded itself a solid majority through gerrymandered, incumbent-protected redistricting - - so is open to overturning the long-standing, winner-take-all method.

Just to help Republican office holders and the special interests they serve.


Look out.

This is part of a fast-moving national power play.

If you can't win elections, just fix them.

Mining Interests Donated Heavily To WI GOP Legislators

Remember - - these are the very people (hat tip, Rebecca Kemble) - - who are getting ready to deliver this bill to Gov. Walker, and fast. In less eight weeks:

Shortly after 9pm last night, Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) abruptly adjourned the one and only public hearing on a controversial mining deregulation bill after being called out as the second largest recipient of campaign donations by groups that lobbied for a similar bill last session.

Of the nearly $1 million in campaign donations to 20 Senate and Assembly mining committee members by interests backing mining deregulation, $74,000 went to Sen. Tiffany, according to Victoria McMurray who cited Wisconsin Democracy Campaign finance records.
Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) was the biggest recipient, cashing in nearly half a million in campaign contributions, while Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) came in third with $52,000 in donations.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Surprise! Ron Johnson In Damage Control Mode Today

Wisconsin's Tea Party and sunspot-afflicted Senator Ron Johnson took a well-deserved media beating over demeaning and uninformed remarks he aimed at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Capitol Hill Tuesday - - (and really, why waste a seat on the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee on someone like Johnson if he won't even attend the briefings?) - - so today Johnson began to walk back (modern parlance for apologize, sorta) his comments.

Even though the state's #1 AM radio station gave Johnson a second helping of free air time this morning to help him remove the foot he had inserted into his mouth.

It wasn't a fair fight to begin with: the inexperienced Johnson, who went from the top job position in the family plastics business into politics because he thought Fox commentator Dick Morris was speaking directly to him through the Tee-Vee (true story!) - -  against battle-tested Hillary Clinton: Yale law, Watergate hearing staff, First Lady, US Senator, Presidential candidate, Secretary of State, most admired woman in the world - - 11 years running.

VA Just The First To Rig 2016 Electoral Votes For The GOP

Virginia Republicans waited for one African-American state legislator to go out-of-state - - to the Presidential inauguration - - and passed a no-hearing, quickie redistricting law that had it been in place in November would have helped award Mitt Romney most of Virginia's 13 electoral college votes though he lost the state by 149,000+ votes.

Look for Wisconsin and other GOP-led swing states to follow suit with election-fixing new laws designed to make GOP presidential losers into winners by ending rigging the awarding of electoral votes.

Founding Fathers Validated: Bearing Arms, Looking Good

Manicured nails, a pistol and a perm gave customers higher-caliber confidence:

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (Reuters) - A convicted felon pleaded guilty to dealing in hundreds of firearms without a license from his wife's beauty salon using the promotional slogan "where beauty and bullets collide," authorities said on Thursday.

Sykes Says New Road Fees And Taxes Are DOA. Hmm...

Where have I seen that before?

Yipes, here, on this blog:

These are ideas will go nowhere because the GOP will balk.

Or collectively be required to turn in their "No New Tax Club" badges issued by a Grover Norquist.

And that per-mile-driven tax is DOA because it requires reporting to The Guvmint the very kind of personal, financial and behavioral information that will lead to car confiscation.

WI Legislators Ignore Falling Iron Ore Demand, Mine Closings Nearby

Conservatives disbelieve science and data, whether the subject is evolution, climate change, and the female reproduction system.

In light of the massive open pit Wisconsin iron mine being enabled by GOP state legislators pushing an industry-written bill, you can add disregarding information about iron mine closings in nearby states and longer-term falling demand, as documented here:

...commodity forecasters are predicting the longest bear market for iron ore in 20 years.

Sykes Finishes Up His Ron Johnson Rescue Segment, As Predicted

Talk radio is so predictable. RoJo got his minutes, took softballs, made no news. Though Sykes saying Hillary Clinton "lied under oath" might get some attention.

Mining Votes Will Make Or Break Wisconsin, and Leaders' Good Names

Scott Walker's industry-written mining bill will fill wetlands, pollute rivers, undermine a large body of Wisconsin environmental law and revive a bad old national story and shame  - - the willful disregard of treaties with Native Americans. 

Hang your head, Miss Forward: your state is rushing to enable miles of open pit iron ore mines, in a depressed iron ore market - - operations in Minnesota and Michigan are being cut back - -  principally to validate conservative ideologies and burnish GOP fund-raising letters and TV ads, and less to promote jobs - - given the losses that will occur in the region in tourism and outdoor recreation.

Knowing that a mine is years - - if ever - - away from approval and opening in the coming bear market in iron ore, where is the Walker administration's comprehensive Plan B for northern Wisconsin?

Or a realistic, doable Plan A?

Given its flaws, this bill should never have been drafted, should never be given serious consideration other than its condemnation, but it's on a fact-free, anti-science fast track and thus will soon present legislators with one of those once-in-a-career "Aye or Nay" moments:

How do you vote and how do you want to be remembered, "Aye or Nay," on replacing the pristine Penokee Hills near Lake Superior at the headwaters of the Bad River with an enormous open pit mine.

"Nay" votes against the bill will be affirmations by genuine public citizen/legislators honoring inherited legacies and histories they have sworn to protect - - from natural resources to open government to fair play and inclusive policy.

Every pro-mining "Aye" vote, however, does the opposite and reveals which lawmakers are willing to put the interests of out-of-state mine owners over official Wisconsin oaths, shared values and histories - - including the letter and spirit of this language in Article Three of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which helped establish relationships with native people already here and paved the way for Wisconsin's inclusion into the United States of America:

"The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity, shall from time to time be made for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them."
A lawmaker voting "aye" for the bill is saying, 'to hell with all that.'

And 'I want to clear cut the Penokees, blow a pristine mountain range to smithereens, gouge out miles of open pit scars and release tons of acid runoff into publicly-held rivers, lakes, streams and the Bad River Band's treaty-protected water, wild-rice food supply and culture.'

"Aye or Nay."

How say you?

Every lawmaker voting "aye" on the mining bill earns permanently the description laid upon Martin Sheen by Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse Now."
"You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Key Paragraph In Mainstream Media Mining Hearing Report

Wisconsin State Journal reporter Ron Seely gets to the heart of the matter:

But it became clear during the hearing that despite proponents' claims to the contrary, the GOP mining bill does change and in some instances reduce environmental protections that exist in current mining law.

Look For WI Talk Radio Ron Johnson Rescue

Wisconsin's institutionally-senior but intellectually-junior US Senator Ron Johnson suggested Wednesday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had faked her emotional responses at hearings about the Benghazi tragedies - - was been criticized in Wisconsin media for his degrading and demeaning behavior.

At first, she tried to respond to him with patience and grace, noting there were four Americans killed and others injured, which took the first priority. Johnson persisted with pressing his question; Clinton finally got fed up and let him have it.
National writers took note and gave the decision to Clinton, too:
Clinton raised her voice.
 “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” she shouted at the lawmaker. Waving her arms and then pounding the witness table with her fist, she continued: “Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Johnson stopped interrupting as Clinton continued. “It is, from my perspective, less important today looking backward as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice,” she said.
Johnson didn’t attempt a rebuttal. “Okay, thank you, Madam Secretary.”
Look for righty radio talkers Thursday to come to his rescue, perhaps bringing the Senate's most-sexist member on the air to let him redefine his encounter with the world's most-admired woman - - 11 years running.

Let's Not Forget: The Wetlands 'Reform' Law Enables The Mining Bill

This "freshening" was warned about one year ago:

Journal Sentinel Trusts Developer/DNR Complex To Protect Wetlands
The Wisconsin Builders Association the other day was crowing about the wetlands deregulation bill its current and multiple former insiders had helped write.
 Regrettably, the Journal Sentinel editorial board has bought in deeply - - trusting the wolf that has moved into the hen house.
The thrust of the editorial: "DNR officials told us this week that the bill retains fundamental protections."
How, exactly, has this DNR management team earned that trust?
Note that the editorial board a) acknowledges that the state has lost half its wetlands, even though b) "the regulatory framework for development in and near wetlands often can be needlessly cumbersome and difficult..."
So why should the outcome under a system of eased regulations, faster permitting and other freedom for the wolf be anything other than accelerated losses of the wetlands that remain?
A similar dynamic is underway with the mining bills - - the Senate version is being written by the same State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), who told the editorial board that all he was doing with the existing wetlands' regulatory process is a little "freshening up."
At the same time, the regulatory framework for development in and near wetlands often can be needlessly cumbersome and difficult, especially for projects that have a minimal impact on a wetland area. The law could use some "freshening up," as state Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn), one of the bill's authors, put it.
Freshening can mean reviving by adding water.
Can you talk about "freshening" a process that, through quicker building in and near wetlands, actually eliminates some wetland acreage or degrades the quality of the water that remains?

Unprepared Ron Johnson Shows The Country What WI Already Knew

Our tea party Senator Ron Johnson emerges from his total, two-year absence and shows he is not yet prepared for prime time.

Hillary Clinton takes him to school.

RoJo also accuses her of pre-mediated emotion. You know those women. All sneaky and emotional!

Key Mining Hearing Tweet Of The Day

By not inviting the Army Corps of Engineers to testify, legislators continue to ignore regulators, science in push to pass bill.

Higher WI Gas Taxes, New/Increased Fees Pushed, But...

As I've predicted on this blog, a state task force is recommending higher gas taxes, increased vehicle license and registration fees and a new per-mile-driven annually-collected personal tax - - all to subsidize a new binge of road-building.

These are ideas will go nowhere because the GOP will balk.

Or collectively be required to turn in their "No New Tax Club" badges issued by a Grover Norquist.

And that per-mile-driven tax is DOA because it requires reporting to The Guvmint the very kind of personal, financial and behavioral information that will lead to car confiscation.

Bad River Band Explains, Again, Objections To GOP Mining Bill

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has consistently opposed the GOP-backed mining bill that threatens the Penokee Hills, the Bad River watershed and the Band's treaty-protected water, land and way of life.

Its statement released Tuesday on the eve of Wednesday's legislative hearing couldn't be more explicit.

Here is the statement, in its entirety. Legislators and Gov. Walker should read it carefully.

Bad River Band Concerns with Mining Legislation ContinueProposed Changes in Mining Regulations Pose Risks to Public Health, Resources FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 22, 2013
 CONTACT:  Mike Wiggins, Jr., Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, (715) 292-7236
Cherie Pero, Bad River Band Citizen, (715) 292-9331
Dennis Grzezinski, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Senior Counsel, (414) 530-9200
Glenn Stoddard, Stoddard Law Office, Attorney at Law, (715) 864-3057

ODANAH, WI – Today Tribal leaders of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior continued to express their concerns that a proposed mine in the Penokee Range poses serious risks to people’s health and drinking water and is a threat to the rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other natural resources in the Bad River watershed.

“With a nearly identical companion bills as last session, it is clear that the leadership of the Wisconsin legislature still doesn’t understand that the Penokee Hills cannot be mined without adversely affecting our clean drinking water and our way of life,” said Mike Wiggins Jr, Chairman of the Bad River Band. 
“AB 1 and SB 1 was obviously written by and for an out-of-state mining company and will be rushed through the legislative process without formal meetings with Tribal leaders, adequate public hearings, or meeting the ten principles we set forth in September 2011 for future changes to Wisconsin’s mining laws.  
As a people and as a sovereign nation, the Bad River Band strongly opposes AB 1 and SB 1 and we ask the Wisconsin Legislature to reject this legislation once and for all. ”

“If enacted as introduced, AB 1 and SB 1 will significantly weaken environmental protections applicable to iron mining,” said Glenn Stoddard, an attorney who serves on the legal team representing the Bad River Band on mining issues. Stoddard outlined some of the major problems with the legislation. Changing the law:
·         violates Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine which protects our rights with shared water,
·         infringes on federally recognized Chippewa treaty rights,
·         reduces meaningful public and scientific input before a permit is issued by the DNR,
·         eliminates citizen suits as a means of enforcing a permit after it has been issued by the DNR,
·         and creates a more complex and less efficient process for review of a potential iron mine, because Wisconsin will not be able to effectively coordinate its review with federal agencies. 
Penokee Range: Geography, Topography and Importance 
The Penokee Range, extending through 25 miles of Ashland and Iron counties, is significant to the clean water, environment and culture of the Bad River Band and other northern Wisconsin residents. The surface and groundwater originating from the Penokee Range is in the recharge zone of the Copper Falls Aquifer, on which many residents rely for clean drinking water. Seventy-one miles of rivers and intermittent streams flow through the proposed mining area, emptying into Lake Superior. These waterways are a part of an internationally important migratory corridor; birds and other wildlife depend on area wetlands for survival.    The Kakagon Bad River Sloughs—16,000 acres of wild rice, grasses, sedges, trees, streams, and open water located along the southern shore of Lake Superior--depend on the surface and ground water that originates in the Penokee Range to sustain the largest and healthiest full-functioning estuarine system remaining in the upper Great Lakes. 
These wetlands have a cultural significance for the Bad River Band and support the largest natural wild rice bed in the Great Lakes in which members of the Bad River Band have harvested wild rice for generations. Legislation Serves Out-of-State Mining Interests to Extract Iron Ore from the Penokee Range 
“It seems the primary purpose of the proposed mining legislation is to convince Gogebic Taconite to develop an open pit iron ore mine in the heart of the Penokee Range,” said Bad River Tribal Council Member Frank Connors Jr. 
 “But despite promises from politicians and mining companies, this mountaintop removal cannot be done without polluting our water. This is our land. This is where we live. We can’t just pack up and move.” 
The majority of the Range is owned by RGGS Land and Minerals, Ltd. of Houston, Texas, and LaPointe Mining Co. in Minnesota. Together these companies control a 22-mile, 22,000-acre stretch of the Penokee Range from southwest of Hurley to about six miles west of Mellen. 
The Cline Group, out of Florida, secured an option to obtain the mineral rights held for this property, and created a subsidiary called Gogebic Taconite to propose a 4 1/2 mile long open pit iron ore mine, what the company says is the first phase of an eventual 22-mile strip of open pit mining. 
For Gogebic Taconite to get to the iron, a vast amount of overlying rock must be removed, some of which contains heavy metals and sulfides. In the Penokee Range, a recent report from Lawrence University researchers estimate a mine 4 miles east-west and 1000-foot deep would generate at least 434 million cubic yards of waste (over three times the volume of Lake Monona). 
The overlying rock contains sulfide (sulfur-bearing) minerals (primarily pyrite), which when exposed to air and water create sulfuric acid harming people, fish and plants. The report builds on the considerable work done by geologists in the past, which is documented in the literature at: 
10 Principles for Any Changes to Wisconsin’s Mining Regulations 
The Bad River Band opposes the proposed changes to the state’s mining regulations in AB 1 and SB 1. For this or any changes in Wisconsin’s mining regulations, we can agree to ten basic principles for changes that would protect the environment and cultural resources for future generations:
 1.    Exclude any project proposal that has the potential to cause acid mine drainage.2.    The burden of preparing and submitting a complete application should be entirely on the permit applicant.3.    Provide adequate time for the DNR, the public, federal agencies, and affected Indian tribes to fully review and participate in the process.4.    Maintain existing wetland protection standards and the federal/state partnership in the environmental review process.5.    Correct, don’t weaken, the DNR’s federal Clean Water Act implementation.6.    Allow contested case hearings with full participation by citizens, including Indian tribes.7.    Mining legislation must not preempt local control.8.    Allow citizen suits to make sure permit provisions and legal restrictions on new mines will be enforced.9.   Require consultation with Indian tribes by the DNR as part of the permitting process.10.  Participation in contested case hearings should be paid for by the permit applicant or state.
With over 7,000 members, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located on an over 124,000-acre reservation in an area within Ashland and Iron Counties on the south shore of Lake Superior (known by the tribe as Gichi Gami). 
The Ojibwe people have a long and rich heritage throughout the Great Lakes region and at Odanah on Lake Superior prior to European traders, missionaries and settlers. Treaties signed by eleven Ojibwe Tribes ceded territory in the region, including what is currently the upper one third of the State of Wisconsin. 
Learn more about the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians on their website,


Democratic Mining Alternative Proposed; GOP Will Ignore It

Give State Sen. Tim Cullen, (D-Janesville), credit for trying to push a mining bill that would leave current environmental protections in place, but Walker and Legislative Republicans are committed to the industry-crafted bill they have the votes to pass that weakens those standards even if they conflict with federal laws and the state constitution.

Such is the state of the state these days,

Re-Reading Mike McCabe's Blog Post On Mining Interests

McCabe did a good job nearly a year ago, and his research is certainly is a good introduction to the mining bill up for a hearing of sorts Wednesday at the Capitol. An excerpt:

The Democracy Campaign first started noticing large campaign contributions from mining interests to Wisconsin politicians just over a year ago, long before the mining bill was introduced. All of the money came from out of state. Roughly a quarter of the donations came from West Virginia mining magnate Chris Cline. The rest came from associates of Cline's. Some of those associates are at Cline Resource and Development. Others are with a company called Foresight, which is majority-owned and led by Cline. Still others are with a law firm Cline does business with. The remainder are other mining executives who've done business with Cline.

Environmentalists claim the mining bill being pushed in Wisconsin was written by the mining industry and would gut existing safeguards. The legislation certainly is Chris Cline's dream. And its approach to permit streamlining and environmental deregulation does bear a striking resemblance to the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council's model legislation known as the "Performance Based Permitting Act" and "Groundwater Protection Act."