Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WI Republicans, Citing 'Local Control,' Prefer Dangerous Intersection Design

After blowing up local control and home rule when it comes to employee residency, regional transit connections, worker contracts, Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail, municipal budgets and water rights near a Northern mining site, Wisconsin Republicans are rediscovering the principle to get rid of...wait for it...roundabout intersection designs.
The Horror Revealed

Aerial view of a roundabout.
(Aerial view of a roundabout, as shown by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.)

And, like crop circles, they are already here. By the hundreds! Can we dig them up? Is there a jobs program in it? Can WEDC get involved?

Though experts agree that roundabouts reduce accidents and their severity when compared with straight-through intersections with 90-degree turns that your great-grandparents preferred in the old-timey, data-free past.

WisDOT has even posted some of the stupid science about the performance of roundabouts that right-wing Republican legislators are rightfully turning away from:
  • 52 percent reduction in fatal and injury crashes
  • 9 percent reduction for all crashes
The fury from the right lane of state politics had been building since radio talker Mark Belling and New Berlin GOP State Senator Mary Lazich first had trouble negotiating roundabouts' mysteries.

Why not get rid of drivers' licenses, stop signs and traffic signals, and just say in Wisconsin you have the Tea Party-verified, God-given right to drive where and how you want?

It's way too complicated, as you can see from these frightening graphics posted by that center of anti-car European propagandizing - - Arizona:
Right Hand Turns
Left Hand Turns
Drivers making right hand turns need to get in the right hand lane and use turn signal following pavement markings and signage.
Drivers making left hand turns need to get in the left hand lane and use turn signal following pavement markings and signage.
Going Straight Ahead

Drivers going straight ahead should use the same lane that they entered in.

Mainstream Media Plays Catchup

The New York Times, via Reuters, posted this story at 7:42 p.m. EST Wednesday evening:

Florida Man, Mistaken for a Robber, Shot in His Driveway by Police

Waiting For Scott Walker To Say He's 'Not Unlike' Abe Lincoln

After all, both are/were Republicans.


And is he also even more 'not unlike' Scott Skiles, Scott Baio, and Scott Podsednick?

Iron County Backs Away From Camp Site Challenge To Mine Opponents

Cooler heads prevail.

Iron County officials decided, for the moment, not to press for the ouster of mine opponents from a site on public forest land near the proposed GTAC iron mine, according to media reports.

The ouster mechanics were sent to a committee where, presumably, the plan dies a deserved, procedural death.

The pressure to shut down the camp was a losing proposition for the public peace, for good government and for mine supporters, especially.

Legally, it was likely that the Ojibwe would prevail in court, given that their treaty=protected rights to lands they ceded to the authorities decades ago were going to trump an Iron County ordinance laying out forest camping permit procedures.

The treaties may be old, but they have been validated by federal courts. And they are profoundly significant to all parties, as they helped establish the State of Wisconsin and the region's economy.

For those enormous benefits, the Ojibwa retained access to the lands they ceded - - access they were exercising with the establishment of the camp.

Rousting the campers would have brought ugly PR raining down on local officials who would have appeared as little more than GTAC lackeys blind to the bigger picture.

So a confrontation was averted, at least for now, and everyone has had a lesson in Northern Wisconsin land use and rights.

And that's good for all parties.

About That Awesome Walker/Wisconsin Income Tax Cut...

Despite the hoopla and Hosannas from libertarian ideologues and harder-edged Tea Partying government-haters, the presidential-dreaming Walker state income tax cut is so small per capita that it only puts an extra $87 a year - - less than seven extra quarters a week - - into the pockets of Wisconsin workers who make $45,000 a year.

I'm told a nice bottle of beer at Lambeau Field or Miller Park is now in the $8 range, making the Walker tax cut something of a flat event, fiscally-speaking.

The kicker in all this: the geniuses in Walker's administration chose not to do the detail work needed to make the cut automatic with the recent state budget approval, so people won't see their windfall until 2014.

Walker regime M.O. - - talking points and press releases first, details later.

More, here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Old Friend Mickey Kienitz Produces Must-See Madison Video

A hot urban development issue is in the hands and lens of veteran Madison photojournalist Mickey Kienitz.

How Hispanic-Hater Congressman Steve King Can Stay In Office

An incumbent like Iowa's Steve King enjoying district lines enclosing a constituency that's 93% white and that skews a bit older helps keep him burrowed in the US of Representatives and freer to call Hispanic kids drug mules with thick calves.

King's district has marginally more Hispanics, but he seems undeterred by those numbers.

UW President Position Opens Up: Steve Nass, Call Walker ASAP

Oh, man: Steve Nass' dream job just opened up.

Does he have Walker on speed dial? He's gotta talk to Walker before they give that job to some stupid educator. That's the whole problem with the UW, right there.

And who exactly is Nass?

Dave Zweifel has summed it up:

The man whose hobby is bashing the University of Wisconsin whenever and as often as he can...
Details about the vacancy, here.

Does State Senate President Ellis Really Need That Time Warner Meeting?

Did anyone inform Ellis that you can work your way by phone to a tech through a 17-step voice mailbox who can explain how to reprogram the remote?

But did you tell them this is what you did to it?
mike ellis
So do they really need a meeting?

Walker Thought Residency Waiver Paid Off His Debt

Memo to police, fire unions - - Choose your allies carefully:

Scott Walker opens door to limiting police, firefighter unions

Awaiting Scott Walker's FDR-Inspired Agenda

Scott Walker's bold self-promotion yesterday that he was the new FDR - - and all the time you thought Walker was the new Nixon, as Nixon expert John Dean has noted - - must mean Walker will lay out the New New Deal at the Governors association meeting in Milwaukee later this week.

Unless this was just a moment of ego gone awry, or Walker free-styling, I don't see any other explanation for the timing of Walker's ultra-pompous, Presidential-dreamin' declaration.

And that's doubtful, also because Walker's administration and pronouncements are managed with such unparalleled discipline that even the death of a child at a Milwaukee County facility when Walker was the County's chief executive did not escape his self-interested micro-management, documented here.

So: what can we expect, Roosevelt-wise, from his new devotee?

Roosevelt's domestic agenda was driven by government-run public works agencies, so what better way to get close to hitting Walker's faltering 250,000 new jobs pledge than big new public works programs statewide?

Granted, thousands of Amtrak construction jobs available during what would have been the Madison-Milwaukee "Hiawatha Line" extension were sacrificed before Walker discovered FDR's How-To-Govern manual, but Wisconsin could use a Roosevelt-type Civilian Conservation Corps to clean up the mess left at the iron mining core drilling sites, and at that frac sand spill into the St. Croix River last year.

Since the DNR won't regulate the booming sand operations, the new civilian conservation workers will have plenty of work, with others in reserve to deal with the inevitable tar sand pipeline oil spills once Enbridge gets permission to double its flow capacities across the state.

Walker had stripped money from his budget to help Milwaukee deal with the foreclosure crisis, so what better way to announce a Roosevelt-style Home Owner's Loan Corporation than during the Governors' tour of foreclosed homes that Roosevelt has inspired Walker to save?

Roosevelt also began the Federal Housing Administration, and, Lord knows Wisconsin needs a big infusion of affordable housing. Walker can have a big impact in this area, with lots of jobs for construction workers an added benefit.

And surely Roosevelt's creation of the Social Security Administration will lead Walker to announce that he's changed his mind about accepting federal Medicaid funds. Healthier low-income people of all ages will help Wisconsin's economy, and so far, 20 Wisconsin counties want Walker to firm up his Rooseveltian credentials by taking the money.

A good start to erasing our post-Walker reputation as a cold-hearted, cold-weather state.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Iron Mine Conflicts With Tribal Law, Legal Expert Says

Thanks to blogger Mike Leon for gathering this expert opinion at MAL Contends for this newsy update:  

Indian Treaty Law Expert: Adverse Effect on Treaty-protected Species Dooms Mine
Charles F. Wilkinson, arguably the leading legal expert on native American treaties who literally wrote the book on Federal Indian Case Law, and wrote and edited numerous other treatises on federal Native American law, offered his comments on the Lac Courte Oreilles' efforts to halt the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine in an e-mail received moments ago.

Walker Flips Off FDR, American History

I can guarantee Walker knows nothing about FDR, but has found a cute new way through limitless self-promotion to stick it to those whom FDR devoted a career:

Gov. Scott Walker likened himself on Monday to Franklin D. Roosevelt —both reformers suspicious of public sector collective bargaining powers — in an address to representatives of government research groups gathered in Milwaukee.
"I'm not unlike Franklin Delano Roosevelt," Walker said.
Tomorrow, because he has been to Lambeau Field, Scott Walker will be "not unlike" Vince Lombardi.

Imitation Being The Sincerest Form Of Flattery, So...

The Solidarity Singers were complimented today, though singing Righties bearing Twinkies emphasized the artificiality.

And If Ryan Braun Were In Politics...

The conventional wisdom is that Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun's use of performance enhancing drugs was wrong and bad, but lying about it was as bad, or worse.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin's largest newspaper, editorially urged Major League Baseball and the team to give Braun and anyone else in the same circumstance a lifetime ban.

But I am fascinated that the same newspaper endorsed Scott Walker in the 2012 recall election even though its own reporters had already begun documenting a year earlier the Walker penchant for false speaking.

"I campaigned on (the proposals in the budget repair bill for Wisconsin) all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years." 
Scott Walker on Monday, February 21st, 2011 in a news conference 
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he campaigned on his budget repair plan, including curtailing collective bargainingFalse.

And it kept on happening.

Gov. Scott Walker says $247,000-per-job CAPCO program was approved by former Gov. Jim DoylePants on Fire!:
Our conclusion
In the wake of a story about poor jobs results of a state-sponsored program, Walker sought to pin the blame on his predecessor, Jim Doyle. 
But he was off by five years, two governors -- Thompson and successor Scott McCallum -- and one political party 
As governor, Doyle didn’t have anything to do with approving the CAPCO bill. But as an Assembly member, Scott Walker did. Pants on Fire.
So why do we hold our Governor to a lower standard than the Brewers left-fielder?

Apples and oranges, you say? Well, ask yourself which position has the most impact on our collective life?

By the way, Walker's pattern has not changed, so expect to see it emerge in his pre-Presidential primary campaign now in full swing. 

Here's a very recent example of his "Mostly False" use of crucial jobless data:

Scott Walker says success in office reflected in 2-point drop in unemployment rate from time he decided to run for governor

Mostly False
PolitiFact continues to rate Walker's statements "Mostly False," "False" or "Pants on Fire" in a majority of cases.

Sprawl Causes Waste; Two Separate Reports From The Field

From Paul Krugman's assessment of the heavy sprawl costs in big cities, to a second story of similar consequences in a small Maine town.

Pipeline Spills In Canada - - Two, Daily, For 37 Years - - Inform Keystone XL Decision

As the Obama administration considers allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the US with greater volumes of tar sand oil, and a catastrophic new toxic waste spill from tar sands operations seeped into Canadian forests for weeks unabated, the full record of Canadian pipeline breaks became known:

A recent Global News investigation found that over the past 37 years, Alberta’s extensive network of pipelines has experienced 28,666 crude oil spills in total, plus another 31,453 spills of a variety of other liquids used in oil and gas production — from salt water to liquid petroleum. That averages out to two crude oil spills a day, every day.
Note also that Enbridge, another tar sand pipeline operator with a record of spills in Wisconsin and Michigan, wants to expand its capacity in Wisconsin. 

In Canada, Two Pipeline Spills A Day - - For 37 Years

I put this up on Facebook Sunday night in light of yet another a tar sands oil spill In Alberta, Canada:

A recent Global News investigation found that over the past 37 years, Alberta’s extensive network of pipelines has experienced 28,666 crude oil spills in total, plus another 31,453 spills of a variety of other liquids used in oil and gas production — from salt water to liquid petroleum. That averages out to two crude oil spills a day, every day.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fresh Reporting On Mining Site, Treaty Rights,

Putting the treaties into perspective. As I said, welcome back, Ron Seely.

When It's Convenient, Walker Uses Milwaukee

With the nation's governors about to convene in Milwaukee, Gov. Scott Walker is taking a break from his cross-country Presidential junketing - - and there's more to that, here - - to spend a few days closer to home and finally has said something nice about the city he loves to hate.

Not that it is coming easily, as the Journal Sentinel writes it:

"It's kind of cool, that for a couple of days beginning in August, it's all going to be right here in Wisconsin, in Milwaukee," Walker said in an interview.
Like a movie's establishing shot, Walker correctly locates Milwaukee in Wisconsin, though note that Wisconsin is the first locale out of his mouth.

It's probably hard for Walker to articulate the word "Milwaukee," since, as you will recall, Milwaukee is where the County District Attorney sent several of Walker's appointees to prison for various on-the-job crimes perpetrated just a few feet from Walker's then-Milwaukee County Executive office.

Or where Walker, after supporting budget cuts to city public schools, threatening to de-fund urban transit, pushing for partisan barriers to the ballot box, fresh obstructions to health insurance for the low-income, and dangerous limitations to reproductive healthcare for poorer women - - not to mention championing obliteration of cities' home-rule powers covering public employee contracts and residency - - is now polling a City of Milwaukee approval rating of just 30%.

Walker eventually mouthed to the Journal Sentinel some nice things about several Milwaukee institutions that all, by the way, enjoyed some winners-and-losers' public financing.

In fact - - Jeepers!! - - Walker sounds like a surprised Milwaukee tourist himself as he rattled off a few things Milwaukee's "got,' (though as we will see in a bit, he hardly has been consistently supportive):
"Just bringing people to Milwaukee, literally people from all across the country, to see firsthand some of our great attractions will be a huge benefit, because it kind of opens people's eyes that we have a world-class ballpark, got a great lakefront, got the Harley-Davidson Museum. I just think there is tremendous value in that regard that kind of changes people's perceptions," Walker said. 
In social outings, the governors will visit all those venues, walking onto the field at Miller Park, getting a chance to to ride Harleys, and feeling the breeze outside Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin.
Visiting media or the Governors might want to understand that Milwaukee "got" the Harley-Davidson Museum in large part due to the hard work of Milwaukee Tom Barrett.

A point I do not think Walker will help his audience 'get.'

And our inquiring visitors could amble a few blocks farther West from their downtown meeting site to Marquette University - - the school from which Walker dropped out - -  and where early Walker campaign rule-breaking during a student election helped GOP government misbehavior expert John Dean to conclude that Walker was "more Nixonian than even Nixon."

The inconvenient on-the-record truth about Walker's relationship with Milwaukee dates to the 2011 recall election against Tom Barrett, the true Milwaukee advocate among the two.

That's when Walker, the divide-and-conquer specialist, was busy rounding up every suburban, smaller town and rural anti-Milwaukee voter, or as it's also known, Basic Statewide Wisconsin Republican Election Strategy.

Walker went to the upscale Waukesha County exurban and virtually-all white stronghold of Oconomowoc Lake to delivered the fear-driven message eaten up by the GOP base that he didn't want Wisconsin to become another Milwaukee.

Richard Nixon famously said he wasn't a crook.

Don't let Walker suggest he's always been Milwaukee's friend.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Conservatives Will Be Upset, In A Roundabout Way

I have to chuckle when I read that even in the Walker era, Wisconsin continues to install more traffic roundabouts, the Journal Sentinel reports.

The Right around here is about as fixated on roundabouts as they are on ObamaCare, Solidarity Singers and Food Stamps because they prove that bureaucrats and other Big Guvmint bosses are tampering with their rights - - in this case, their God-given Natural American Freedom Right to make old-fashioned right turns or drive straight-through intersections after idling away gasoline behind slowpokes at lights and or stop signs.

Righty radio talker Mark Belling and State Senator Mary Lazich, the pride of heavily-Republican New Berlin, have screamed the loudest.

You may remember Sen. Lazich from some of her earlier highlights - - like making prank calls felonies in Wisconsin("Do you have Prince Albert in a can?" Well, you're going to the slammer if you do!)

She's written that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation was on a "roundabout rampage" - -  and, separately, a "roundabout binge" - - but apparently no one even at the Walker-run WisDOT can hear her. 

Something about stupid safety data and other efficiencies - - real European stuff, like man purses and mimes.

Or local control, a rock-ribbed Republican principle - - except when it comes to residency rules, public employee contracts, ground water protection, frac sand air quality, treaty-protected lands, and other trivialities.

Anyway - - one side note. The Journal Sentinel says roundabouts are some sort recent foreign import to the US:

Common in Europe, roundabouts first came to the U.S. in the 1990s and to Wisconsin in 1999. 
Not actually true: traffic circles, as they are sometimes called, are common in East Coast cities, like Boston and DC.

I grew up near one of these horrors in the Maryland suburbs, yet managed to learn as a 15-year-old student driver to navigate it. Though circular, it did not pose a major learning curve, and didn't have politics.

Moreover, major boulevards in Washington, DC, like Connecticut Ave. are absolutely infested with them, yet the city survives.

Dupont Circle in Northwest DC seems to be thriving:

Translating Scott Walker

In a Denver, CO keynote speech to conservatives, Walker called for broader GOP outreach.

That means mandating forced, medically-unnecessary ultrasound procedures on pregnant women.

He also called for reform from the state level.

That means either unmonitored loans from and spending by the scandal-ridden state jobs agency he created and chairs, or more public subsidies to private schools.

And he called for going where the people are.

That means spending a lot of time campaigning out-of-state.

Walker Meeting With The People - - In Colorado, Indiana, And Elsewhere

Walker is enjoying his part-time gig as Wisconsin Governor and WEDC board chairman, with plenty of free time to pile up chits for his 2016 presidential flyer and 2014 gubernatorial fund-raising.

The Capital Times lets you track Walker's out-state travels through a very useful public service website.

Which you can pair with the Shepherd's fine accounting of Walker's high-on-the-hog campaign spending.

Unstoppable Tar Sands Oil Leaking For Months Into Canadian Forest

Is this really a surprise?

As new evidence is revealing that the blowout of a tar-sands well has been causing oil to leak for over four months — contaminating a large area of Canada's Boreal Forest and killing animals — a new report reveals that Alberta's regulatory system to prevent and enforce tar-sands operations is lax and failing.

How To Save A Local Bayview Wetland Remnant

Writer and photographer Eddee Daniel has the prescription:

How important are a meager six acres of wetland surrounded by industrial and commercial developments just off the Kinnickinnic River near the port of Milwaukee? As the last remaining wetland in an estuary where wild rice marshes once covered the entire confluence of Milwaukee's three rivers and several miles into the Menomonee Valley, I believe they are important enough to save and protect...

...there is an opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue at an upcoming public hearing. Here are the details:
Public Open House
re: Bay View Wetland restoration and sustainable development project.
Location, time date and place: 
Thursday August 1, 2013
4:30 to 6:30 pm
Presentation at 5:00 p.m
Port of Milwaukee, 2323 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive
(alongside the CARFERRY ROAD northbound ramp to the Hoan Bridge.)
You can see an aerial view of the Grand Trunk site by clicking here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

WTMJ Radio Talker Bashes Overeating, Then Announces Free Cream Puff Six-Packs

The illogical, self-destructive world of Milwaukee righty talk radio got even nuttier this afternoon.

620 WTMJ-AM talker and recent, on-air weight-loss boaster Jeff Wagner finished a segment about obesity being a life-style choice and generally not a disease for health insurance purposes, then segued right into announcing that next week he'd be giving away, for free, 620 six-packs of Wisconsin State Fair Cream Puffs.

[Monday, July 29 clarification, 4:20 p.m. I listened to the podcast of the segment of the Wagner show referenced in this posting, and have made the following changes to the wording in the above sentence: substituting the word "obesity" for what had originally been "Type II diabetes" and, for further clarification, I have added the word "generally" where it appears. Wagner's focus was on obesity. The lack of clarity in the posting was mine.]

Beginning at 6:00 a.m. for, presumably, some of the very over-eaters he'd criticized moments earlier.

I'm not passing along the date and location, because why contribute to a riot in the free-stuff-loving-greater-Milwaukee area?

Announce you are handing out more than 3,600 free cream puffs around here, and - - trust me - -  people will camp out for them the night before.

In fact, Wagner touted this year's giveaway as being more user-friendly than earlier giveaways because no coupon this go-round would be needed.

Just drive up and claim your calorie-laden whipped cream six-pack.

Journal Communications and its Broadcast Group are clueless about how much of their corporate reputations have been sacrificed on the alter of right-wing talk radio.

More evidence of this credibility collapse:

Minutes after Wagner had concluded his 1:30 p.m. segment with the cream puff debacle, the station ran a promo for the company's sponsorship next week, with its new Right Wisconsin platform, of an appearance by right-wing schlockmeister/shockmeister Ann Coulter.

"News radio?"


Waiting For New Michele Bachmann Statement On Death Panel

The headline on this story says why:

House ethics panel reviewing conduct of Bachmann, 3 other reps

Mike Ellis Should Know Better

Granted the life-long legislator is not used to running opposed, but I can't remember a more shameless and unsophisticated trolling for favorable media coverage than State Sen. Mike Ellis' siding with Journal Communications in its spat with Time Warner.

I love seeing Republicans accuse Democrats of using public power to pick private sector winners and losers, but then do exactly that when they see political opportunity.

Ellis even invokes the Green Bay Packers in the demands he makes on Time Warner.  We rule Ellis out of order:

mike ellis
Ordering pro-choice legislators to their seats, Ellis broke his gavel base.

Scott Walker Is Losing The Moral War At The Capitol

He loses every time the police handcuff and haul away a harmless senior citizen for singing in the Capitol rotunda.

Few leaders have been well-served by making mass arrests, and grey power will negate the state power he is abusing in an increasingly failing state.

Milwaukee County Bus Contract A Public Investigator Story?

I don't think the story about the wording of a County request for proposals to potential bus service vendors deserved coverage in a Journal Sentinel spot usually reserved for disclosures about consumer scams, or worse.

Frankly, I don't see what the fuss is all about.

The County says that rather than cutting the available funding to vendors from the get-go, it offered a fixed amount of funding and wants savings from efficiencies plowed back into services.

I'm guessing that if the County said to vendors, 'here's a reduced sum, stretch it further into more services,' the vendors would have responded negatively, or refused to bid.

Then the story would have been, 'County bid process falls flat.'

What comes to mind is a friend's car buying experience several years ago. He had a budget and could afford to spend $20k on a new car. He thought it was a reasonable sum and hoped there was a decent car out there, at that price, which he could use in the city and on long road trips he'd been planning.

Then he went to dealers and said 'this is what I have. What can you provide?'

At first, dealers weren't interested, but then a Toyota dealer offered a new four-door Camry for $20,000.

Granted, the car didn't have hand-sewn Corinthian leather floor mats or whisper-quiet wipers that went on automatically when a raindrop hit the windshield, but it had automatic transmission, a nice CD/stereo, air conditioning and other features that kept that car in heavy use, for years.

His process was fair and productive for all parties.

Back to my point: Lots of information about government and business doesn't rise to the level of story publication. Even if it's about the County bus system.

In Failed State, Scott Walker Confronts The Enemy

They're in their 80's.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another Republican Elected Official Smears Hispanics

The GOP continues its pattern of minority-bashing, as Iowa Congressman and political melon-head Steven King called Hispanic children drug mules, and worse

"For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that — they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” the honorable gentleman said.
The GOP congressional caucus has a special contempt for Hispanic voters. Just a few days ago, House Republicans made sure they sent Hispanics this unmistakable and historic message:
After blocking for months the nomination of Thomas Perez to serve as President Obama's Secretary of Labor - -making Perez the sole Hispanic in the current Cabinet - - the GOP agrees to let the appointment be approved, but only after a more historic slap, reports the LA Times:
Perez was confirmed 54 to 46, to become possibly the first Cabinet secretary to win no votes from the opposition party, according to the Senate Historical Office.

NY Times Piece On Chinese Takeover Of Smithfield Omits Mention Of Cudahy

I figure the Journal Sentinel will add the local link if it runs, or amplifies this story.

While the Times mentions some of the US labels to be acquired when Smithfields Foods is sold, the local brand Patrick Cudahy didn't make the cut.

'Justice' In The New Wisconsin; Double Standards, Multi-Barrels

Political power growing out of the barrel of state-carried or sanctioned guns is the new GOP method of governing.

From the State Capitol to the Penokee Hills,

Argued at the Purple Wisconsin site. (Earlier bad link fixed.)

Join the comment party there.

Sounds Like A Karl Rove Apology

    1. Many say economic recovery far way off:

Lisa Kaiser Tracks Scott Walker, Traveling Man Traveling First-Class

A hat tip would be insufficient, so here is a major shout of praise and gratitude to the Shepherd's indispensable Lisa Kaiser for culling the high and low lights from Scott Walker's voluminous campaign finance report.

She tracks Walker campaign spending, from high-flyin' private jets to a Hooters. First -rate public-interest journalism, here.

ObamaCare Explained In Concise, Animated Video

The folks at The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation have put together a simple video that goes a long way towards understanding the important details in ObamaCare. 

Good use of accessible media, via You Tube:

About Permits & Licenses In Wisconsin; Double Standards Galore

Men from Arizona not licensed to work as security guards in Wisconsin were allowed to carry assault weapons at mining sites in Northern Wisconsin. They were not arrested.

People camping to raise awareness near the mining sites are being threatened with arrest because they may not have adequate permits - - though Native Americans have the right under treaties to assemble and use the area they ceded to the US Government to create the State of Wisconsin and the region's modern economy.

People singing in the State Capitol in Madison (many of whom are seniors) were considered a threat to law and order, and were arrested, again, on Wednesday, because they did not have the proper permit; people with licenses to carry concealed weapons were not considered a threat and were allowed to enter the State Capitol.

Where legislators are working on a bill to ban people altogether from the Northern Wisconsin mining areas even though much of the land involved is either owned by local governments (the public) or has guaranteed public access in exchange for tax breaks to the owners subsidized by other people's taxes.

Also to be off-limits: access to lakes, wetlands and streams in the mining area, though the Public Trust Doctrine in the State Constitution guarantees that Wisconsin waters belong to everyone and access to state waters cannot be denied. There are no private waterways in Wisconsin. Period.

The mining company has said it intends to bring back the para-military guards once their licenses are in order. Presumably their job will be to keep people out of the sites, the waters and the lands ceded to the public (the state) by Ojibwe bands.  Presumably also barred.

So everyone will be singing from the same hymnal.

Warming Planet, Ice-Free Seas Mean Bigger, Faster Fossil Fuel Burn

Even though it benefits the Russians, conservative American climate change deniers are dancing at this stick in the collective environmental eye:

In addition to making it easier to ship to Asia, the receding ice cap has opened more of the sea floor to exploration. This has upended the traditional business model of using pipelines to Europe. Thawing has proceeded more slowly in the Arctic above Alaska, Canada and Greenland, but one day what is happening in Russia could happen there

Warming Planet, Ice -Free Seas Mean Easier Fossil Fuel Access

Even though it benefits the Russians, righty trolls and other climate change deniers are dancing at this stick in the collective environmental eye:

In addition to making it easier to ship to Asia, the receding ice cap has opened more of the sea floor to exploration. This has upended the traditional business model of using pipelines to Europe. Thawing has proceeded more slowly in the Arctic above Alaska, Canada and Greenland, but one day what is happening in Russia could happen there.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

As Long As We're Talking Baseball...

I find it interesting that the official auction page on is continuing to offer a recent Ryan Braun authentic game-worn jersey for sale and has listed it, unlike others, with a relatively-high "reserve," or minimum price that an opening bid of $500 didn't meet.

Other Brewer team jerseys are listed with non-reserve opening prices of $200.

I saw an item about the Braun jersey earlier today on, but now I can't find it.

Here is the auction page and a shot of the Braun jersey.

Negro Leagues Tribute Jersey - #8 Ryan Braun Game-Used Milwaukee Bears Jersey
image for listing #12713112
High Bid:
(Reserve NOT Met)
$ 510.00
Number of Bids: (Bid History) 2
Bid Increment: 10.00
Opening Bid: $ 500.00 USD American Dollars
Quantity: 1
Opening Date: 07/23/2013 9:00 EDT
Closing Date: 07/29/2013 18:00 EDT
Listing Type:

Politician With Jailed, Law-Breaking Staffers Bashes Braun For Rule-Breaking

You can't make this stuff up.

WI Officials Finally ID Looming Crisis

60 singers spotted converging on State Capitol:

Louisiana Lawsuit Echoes Penokee Hills Crisis

Louisiana officials are going to Federal court - - and yes, soak up the Red State vs. Big Guvmint ironies - - to force energy corporations to pay many billions of dollars for destruction of wetlands.

The “unnatural threat” caused by exploration, the lawsuit states, “imperils the region’s ecology and its people’s way of life – in short, its very existence.”

Substitute Northern Wisconsin for Southern Louisiana, iron ore for fossil fuels, the Bad River/Lake Superior watershed for the Mississippi River/Gulf Coast, and barrier island vegetation for wild rice - - and the similarities are to be appreciated, not nit-picked or shelved.

Louisiana officials may be criticized for waiting so long to act, but at least they are doing something affirmative for legacy, land and water preservation - - which is where the official connections to Wisconsin end abruptly.

With new laws, and a disregard for the environment and indigenous culture, Wisconsin officials are now 'imperiling a region's ecology and its people's way of life,' with tribal leaders, activists and their attorneys filling the breech.

Let's hope that years from now, tribal leaders, activists and attorneys do not have to file a last-ditch, Louisiana-style lawsuit to stem the damage and rescue what's left of the Penokee Hills that were excavated, poisoned, filled and abandoned by the mining company and its government enablers.

Mike Ellis Stirs Up An Opponent

GOP Sen. Mike Ellis usually runs unopposed, but this will get you a campaign:

mike ellis
Ordering pro-choice legislators to their seats, Ellis broke his gavel base.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

For WI Celebrity, The Evidence Is Damning, Ethical Changes Demanded

I don't see how any Wisconsinite can ever look at the guy, or think about all the promise without feeling let down, because we all expected better.

Tough day for the entire organization, employees and fans rooting for success. The headline tells the story.

High-Caliber Fun FOR Deer, Wolves?

From the Beloit Daily News, July 18, 2013:

She said the DNR is working to rebuild trust with the hunting community and to keep outdoors activities fun, whether for deer, fish or wolves.
Though Stepp has been the FunMeister at the agency for a while. Per her color-coded 2011 Halloween email:
this message is sent to all DNR Central Office staff, Darwin Road staff, and Regional Directors:
Come and join us for our 1st annual Halloween Progressive Potluck  
How does it work?
Staff on each floor will be designated a food type to bring....Everyone will need to go floor to floor to get a balanced meal (unless you are in the mood for only dessert and you can just stay on 7th floor…)
And Costume Challenge!
Central Office has challenged the Regions to a costumer competition. We are asking each bureau and office to take a picture of their staff in costume and forward it to Laurel Steffes. Pictures will be included in the next e-digest. 

Waukesha Tone-Deaf On Water, Again

Though maybe it's got friends in high places...

I've commented here before that Waukesha seems oblivious to how water utility statements about Waukesha's controversial plan to divert Great Lakes water could grate on the sensibilities of residents in the seven other states and two Canadian provinces who get to help decide whether Waukesha gets water from a shared and stressed ecosystem.

Fresh case in point - - and remember - - the application is incomplete after more than 40 months ago, the Wisconsin DNR still has to draft, release and take comments on what will be a complex legal and scientific Environmental Impact Statement, and the other jurisdictions regionally will review the plan in detail, but Waukesha says it will go ahead and begin hiring system designers now:

The Waukesha Water Utility, however, is running behind schedule because it has taken longer than anticipated to reach this point, said Dan Duchniak, Waukesha Water Utility general manager. That means the utility will likely hire engineers to start designing the massive water supply project before it receives final approval from the governors of the eight Great Lakes states, he said.
Before it receives final approval...cart before the horse??...unless the winks have been winked and the nods nodded, as this line in a Waukesha Freeman story on July 17 about the diversion plan suggests that under DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, the agency has become more cheerleader and less a neutral, regulatory watchdog:
She said that the DNR’s job is to help Waukesha develop an application that could be approved.
Related materials, here.

Stepp Steps Up Love For Iron Mine

In the same Beloit Daily News interview where she says this about a proposed iron ore mine: 

Gogebic Taconite wants to excavate an open pit mine south of Lake Superior, which has been a concern to environmentalists worried it could pollute the area’s rich natural resources, and has culminated in protests around the site. Stepp stressed that the DNR has not granted approval for the project, although the agency would work with Gogebic Taconite to assist them in the permit application process.
She also says:
“We are a permitting agency rather than a prohibitive agency,” Stepp added.

WI DNR Sec. Stepp Spends 'Much Of Her Time' Talking To WI Tribes

From the Beloit Daily News, last week:

With all that is on the DNR’s radar Stepp said she spends much of her time in discussions with Native American tribes, covering a variety of topics including mining as well as wolf hunting and walleye fishing.
With an increasing wolf numbers, the DNR has been working to manage the population while respecting the spiritual connections the tribes have to the animals, as well as other activists’ concerns, Stepp said.
She said the DNR is working to rebuild trust with the hunting community and to keep outdoors activities fun, whether for deer, fish or wolves.
And meeting with tribes or taking their spiritual considerations into consideration translates to a need for rebuilt trust with hunters. 

Wow: Can you get anymore two-faced than that (but document all those meetings, because someone might want to check the record) so the next day, so perhaps this is the reason that the DNR sent around this email - - the second of its kind in recent months - - which read, in part:
From: Lamers, Holly J - DNR On Behalf Of Shea, Allen K - DNR
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2013 3:53 PM
Subject: New Tribal Tracking Process for All Staff

... •     All staff are required to document and track meetings with our tribal partners. 

•         In an effort to make tribal meeting reporting easier and more efficient, we have created a Tribal SharePoint site...

•         This new system is effective immediately. We request you use this instead of the reporting form (#1400-031), which will eventually be removed.

Thank you in advance for your support in helping the agency properly track our tribal interactions!
Al Shea
Office of Business Support and Sustainability Director
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Madison, WI 53703
In December, DNR staff also got this message, which read, in part:
From: On Behalf Of Moroney, Matt S - DNR
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2012 11:12 AM
Subject: Tribal meetings -- reporting process and form

... In order to be more efficient in documenting our interactions we have developed a standard reporting form. Please complete this form...A “meeting” is a face-to-face interaction. It does not include a telephone conversation or interactions at public meetings. Thanks for your cooperation and  support!...

Matt Moroney
Deputy Secretary
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
(608) 264-6266

Humor In The Walker Tenure

As I've noted on his blog often, when you see Walker and transparency in the same thought, something is afoot:

So, again - - after lost grants at the Scott Walker-created-and-chaired state economic corporation, plus a scathing audit, demands for genuine investigations, fresh disclosures about a big CEO raise after a merry go-round of coming-and-quitting senior officials, there is this priceless headline:

Governor signs WEDC transparency bill

Madison is 77 Square Miles That's, Well, Square

A stuffy Madison Common Council proves the joke's on them.

[Link corrected from original 7/21 posting.]