Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Wisconsin Motto: Sit Down, Shut Up, Go Away, Dry Up

Wisconsin democracy is taking a cumulative beating at the hands of power-hungry Republican legislators who imitate Scott Walker's imperious style.

*  Wisconsin GOP Senate President and anger management dropout Mike Ellis had a 'sit down and shut up' tantrum that went viral last week.
mike ellis

The long-time Republican from Neenah had his gavel-damaging tantrum after Democratic Senators objected to GOP parliamentary maneuvering that cut off debate and quickly approved a bill forcing unnecessary ultrasound procedures on women seeking legal abortions.

*  Women sitting in the Assembly galleries in a subsequent session were then thrown out and arrested because they dared to take Ellis literally and sit with tape over their mouths - - proving again that the party in power is driven by a pathological need to control and shut people up and out of decision-making and participation - - from the personal to the professional to the political.

*  Exceeding Ellis' vanity and insecurities, Walker personally shut up a 20-year-old UW Platteville student who'd signed a Walker petition two years ago.

There are other examples, with more to come.

* GOP Legislators drafted the original version of the controversial mining bill, with industry input, in secret - - much as they had written their legally-deficient, gerrymandering redistricting plan, too - - and were arrogant enough to make it known they intentionally kept the Bad River Ojibwe Band away from the table even though the Ojibwe hold treaty-protected land and water rights, live just a few miles downstream from the proposed open-pit mine and polluted, waste rock dumping sites, and need clean water to grow wild rice that has defined and sustained its culture.

*  The budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance, with a 12-4 GOP-and-thin-skinned-majority, had already used the state budget to say get out to an investigative journalism non-profit project it didn't like that works with the UW-Madison School of Journalism.

*  And the finance committee, at the 11th hour and without notice, slipped into the budget bill another shut up and go away provision - - this one undermining state constitutional protections for water, and your rights to it, that date to 1787.

I'd suggest you read what even the DNR says about all that - - about long-standing constitutional protections for water and the state government's obligation to defend your rights to it - - before the shut up crowd shuts down that page on the DNR website because it says too much, preferring the talking-point spin offered by the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce on behalf of industrial-scale water users.

The budget amendment made by a Sheboygan assemblyman who declined requests by this blog to be interviewed about it will prohibit a citizen, a business, a homeowners association, a municipality - - anyone - - from challenging the DNR's issuance of a permit to drill a high-volume (100,000 gallons a day or ore) well on the grounds that it would overburden the aquifer and harm nearby wells, streams, rivers or lakes through "cumulative impacts."

In fact, this is what the DNR says about its obligation to take "cumulative impacts" into project review consideration to defend your right as a Wisconsin citizen to water:
The [state supreme] court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions. "A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)
But soon, if the common sense cumulative impact of multiple wells is your issue - - be you a property owner, drinking water supplier, farmer, angler, or boater - - sneaky legislation will make sure you keep your concern, your science, your data, your opinion to yourself.

Or, as Mike Ellis would say, 'you're out of order. Sit down, shut up and dry out.'

But before you go to your room like a good boy or girl, raise your voice through an action plans run by the River Alliance of Wisconsin - - here - - and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

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