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.
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.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.
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?
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.