Monday, September 30, 2013

Other Governors Truthiness Exceed Walker's, Records Show

The fact-checking service PolitiFact operates in 10 states vetting political statements; our Gov. Scott Walker, on a percentage basis, has more statements rated negatively than eight of the nine other Governors reviewed, PolitiFact records show (see "states").

Walker's record: of 76 statements vetted, 42, or 55% were rated either "False," "Mostly False," or Pants-on-fire."

As we have noted often on this blog, why does Walker have such a problem with honest speaking, and why do major newspaper stick with him?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, elected a year earlier than Walker, has had 81 statements vetted, only 28, or only 34%, fall into the negative categories.

Many of the 10 governors are rated negatively 30% and 40% of the time. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island has the highest negative percentage, 63%, and is the only governor with a higher negative aggregate than Walker's 55%.

Chafee has had only 11 statements vetted, Walker has 76.

Even Rick Perry, the memory-challenged Texas Gov., and an incumbent since late 2000, has a better percentage record than Walker's, and is in the more positive categories a majority of the time, PolitiFact finds.

Florida's GOP Governor Rick Scott, taking office as did Walker in January, 2011, makes for a good comparison.

PolitiFact finds Gov. Scott in "Mostly False/"False"/"Pants on Fire" territory 33 times, or 35% of 95 statements vetted.

Lobbyist Connection Makes Suder A Greater Scott Walker Problem

How long before Scott Suder 'resigns' his PSC post?

Outstanding investigative work by the Journal Sentinel unearths questionable ties between lobbyists and Suder, the former legislator who crafted a wired grant for United Sportsmen before Walker promoted him to a plum job at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission:

The lobbyist for a self-described sportsmen group offered free fishing excursions to then-Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder just days before an affiliate of the group secured a now-canceled $500,000 grant from the state, newly released records show.

Also scheduled to be on the Aug. 22-23 trip were a lobbyist and a former lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. The former NRA lobbyist, Darren LaSorte, is also a board member of the foundation affiliated with United Sportsmen....

The trip came a week before the United Sportsmen Foundation won a $500,000, two-year grant from the state to promote fishing and hunting....

By the time of the trip, the group knew it was the only one that had applied for the grant.
There are many lobbying/legislating/governing networks in and around the Capitol. This one linking state policy-making and conservation activities with implications for state land, air and water resource management - - Suder will have a hand in PSC water activities, too - - will cause problems for Walker, the PSC and DNR, I suspect.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tea And Alcohol Do Mix On Capitol Hill

They're driving us off the cliff and OWI, too: talk about a House/GOP/John Boehner fail:

House Republicans spent hours on Capitol Hill Saturday as a government shutdown loomed, but that didn't stop some of them from having a little weekend fun.

Reporters tweeted that they could see -- and smell -- several Congressmen enjoying a drink while working...
Time for an intervention.

No One Wants Government Shut Down? Really?

The Journal Sentinel is carrying this story:

US bracing for government shutdown no one wants
This story and headline say it better:

Tea Party to Republicans: Shut Down the Government, or You're a Sellout

Forbes Ranks Wisconsin Low For Growth

41st best state for business, to be exact. And way behind our neighbors:

Minnesota (No. 8), Iowa (No. 12) and Indiana (No. 16) were the top ranking Midwestern states in the 2013 report....
Minnesota, whose Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton has been in something of a border war with Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, jumped 12 places in the ranking, the biggest improvement of any state.
First it was those socialist federal reserve system bankers throwing cold water on Walker's assertion of stronger growth, and now that lefty rag, Forbes, chimes in. Can't a guy with a growing nose get a break? 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Ted Cruz/Scott Walker/Dr. Seuss Connection

The Philly Fed does not like Walker,
Or that WMC ad's phony talker.
They do not like his tainted spam,
They do not like his data sham.
So thank you Philly Fed, hot damn,
For outing this fresh Walker scam.

Where Is That Walker/WMC Ad?

The Federal Reserve in Philadelphia said it was misleading.

Don't see it at YouTube, or on the WMC's page, or at another YouTube URL.

Wonder if it was spiked, or undergoing 'review?'

Sunday/Monday A.M. Update: Commenter are supplying good URL's. Must be a technical problem on my end. Thanks.

Federal Bankers' Fact-Checking Says Walker Misrepresents Their Data

His false-speaking has no limits: officials at the Federal Reserve in Philadelphia have called out Governor Embarrassment for misrepresenting their data, asserting, among other things, that he twisted jobs numbers into non-existent, self-serving ratings.

Speaking of ratings, I assume that makes Wisconsin number one in Governors taken to that woodshed?

Top officials with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia are warning Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and others that they are misusing a monthly index produced by its top economists.

Walker in recent speeches has been touting figures from the “Philly Fed,” claiming they show Wisconsin’s economy as No. 2 in the nation. WMC has been using the same number in a series of advertising buys, thanking Walker for putting the state on the road to prosperity.
Honest to God, Walker really has a problem with the truth - - PolitiFact has found 77% of Walker's review statements no better than half-true.

By the way, where is that WMC ad? Pulled?

After Walking The New Arboretum, Head To Audubon Center To See Goats In Action

I'd posted an item yesterday about visiting the new arboretum near the Urban Ecology Center along the Milwaukee River...

So once you've done that, head up north to the east end of Brown Deer Rd. to the Schlitz Audubon Nature, Center where 95 goats have been brought in to chew away invasive plants. We ran into the herder who owns the animals. Really nice guy. All in all, cool project.

Better hurry: the goats are going back to Richland County in a few days. On the trails, follow the signs with arrows pointing to "Goats."

More Climate Change Data Released

From the UN:

The new report is a 36-page summary for world leaders of a 900-page report that is to be released next week on the physical science of climate change. That will be followed by additional reports in 2014 on the most likely impacts and on possible steps to limit the damage. A draft of the summary leaked last month, and the final version did not change greatly, though it was edited for clarity. 
Going well beyond its four previous analyses of the emissions problem, the panel endorsed a “carbon budget” for humanity — a limit on the amount of the primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, that can be produced by industrial activities and the clearing of forests. 
And, separately, here's one practical observation from an Alaskan village melting:
A U.N. panel on Friday said with 95% certainty that the effects of climate change are real and largely man-made. To which pretty much everyone in Shishmaref, Alaska, said ...Well, duh.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cap Times Moves Wolf Hunt Story Along

More publicity puts state payments for dogs killed in bear hunt by wolves on the front burner.

More, here.

Iron Mine Is Unpopular In Ashland, Iron Counties

Polling shows significant opposition to the proposed iron ore mine in the very counties whose land, water, air quality and peace of mind would be most impacted. Anyone in the DNR, legislature interested:

Ashland residents showed stronger opposition to the mine than Iron County residents. Still, the majority of those queried in both counties opposed the mine. 
In Ashland County 68% either absolutely or generally opposed the mine. In Iron County, 55% either absolutely or generally opposed the mine.

OK - - Time To Switch Brands

Well, he said people can eat someone else's pasta, so no more of this:

Check Out New Milwaukee Arboretum; Official Opening Saturday

Just off the Oak Leaf Trail past the Urban Ecology Center at the river. We checked it out earlier this week. Gorgeous project, right in the heart of the center. Just look for the arch, where the finishing touches were being being applied Thursday.

Grand opening is Saturday. Details, here.

Walker On The Pity Pot

Still evading any responsibility for bad economic planning, useless but ideologically-correct tax cuts, a failed WEDC, and thousands of lost train and rail line construction jobs he terminated. What a fraud and a loser:

One day after a federal report showed that Wisconsin is creating jobs at a pace that's about half the national rate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the uncertainty of last year's special gubernatorial recall election stunted hiring in the state.

Fresh Posting About Paying WI Hunters Who Lose Dogs To Known Predators

Moved the issue to Purple Wisconsin:

Wisconsin bear hunters are again losing dogs to encounters with wolves - - some deaths occurring during training runs into so-called "wolf caution" areas publicized by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - which raises some questions:

* Why isn't sending dogs into fatal encounters with powerful predators whose DNA tells them to protect their young, territory, pack or lives treated as animal cruelty?

* Why does Wisconsin continue to pay up to $2,500 per fatally-mauled dog, when it is the hunting hound owner's choice to use the dog in that fashion? You'd think if any payment were involved, it would as a fine paid to the state - - maybe to fund an educational program - - and not a payment from the state to a hunter who has sacrificed a dog.

What Happens In Wisconsin Does Not Stay In Wisconsin

Newspapers and other traditional media out-of-state reported that GOP legislators in Wisconsin are writing legislation to make it easier for school districts to retain race-based names and team logos.

A quick Google search early Friday morning showed coverage of our state's retrograde insensitivity in Pennsylvania, Iowa, California, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Arizona.

This report in New Jersey was typical: 

Nicely-done, GOP image-builders.

State Payments For Dogs Killed In WI Bear Hunt Has Little Support

Bear hunters release their dogs into a dangerous hunt - - even into known wolf caution areas during bear-hunt training - - and can receive up to $2,500 from the state if a bear or wolf kills a do. That's a testament to experienced lobbying.

Aside from constituting state-sanctioned and subsidized cruelty, the payment practice has been found to be unpopular. From a 2009 study:

In Wisconsin (USA), gray wolf damage payments grew notably over 28 years and eventually undermined budgets for conserving other endangered species. We measured attitudes to compensation among 1,364 state residents, including those who voluntarily contributed funds and those likely to receive compensation, and we interviewed elected officials about the politics of payment rules.

Most respondents endorsed compensation for wolf damages to livestock—even when wolves are no longer endangered—but opposed payments for wolf damage to hunting dogs on public land. Most donors opposed killing wolves and over one-fourth unconditionally rejected a wolf hunt.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stepp's Wild Deer Plan Shot Down; Maybe Her Last Straw?

How many missteps can Cathy Stepp step before Walker and his people decide she's an unredeemable liability?

Walker Signaled Corrosive Political Control Right After 2010 Election

The Journal Sentinel editorially says "Too much politics imposed on Wisconsin DNR."

Let's further connect the dots. The DNR's politicized dismissal of science and neutrality - - obvious during the mining debate - - began with Scott Walker's installing the overtly-partisan homebuilder Cathy Stepp at the helm:

 “I wanted someone with a chamber-of-commerce mentality,” [Scott] Walker said.
In 2011, the paper cut DNR management a lot of slack, but enough was enough, I said in 2012:
A year ago, the Journal Sentinel suggested that Scott Walker's plan to 'streamline' and remake the DNR deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Gov. Scott Walker's plan to streamline the state Department of Natural Resources is a good idea - as long as it doesn't weaken environmental protections.

I disagreed.  Because that's not the way Walker and his corporate crowd rolls.

Walker's Four-Year Job-Creation Plan Is Many Years From Success

A sagging bridge is Wisconsin is the new state symbol, and it's not the only visible failure around here.

Wisconsin created about 25,000 jobs in a recent, 12-month period, or one-tenth of what Scott Walker boasted he could achieve by the end of one term.

Scott Walker's Bridge Inspection Fail Leads CNN Website

Wherever our Governor is today raising money, he may spot this when he goes online.

'Instead of a bump, it's a dip'

A 400-foot section of a bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin, suddenly shifted, forcing police to close off the span that carries Interstate 43 over the Fox River. "There's a part that's sagging," a motorist told 911. FULL STORY

Letters To State Papers Oppose Dogs In Wolf, Bear Hunts

People are speaking up about the suffering inflicted on hunting hounds allowed into Wisconsin's bear hunt, and which will escalate if dogs are allowed in the wolf hunt.

This letter, with important public opinion data, appeared in the Cap Times, and a separate, powerful letter fron a veterinarian was also published in the State Journal:  

Broken and crushed legs, sliced-open abdomens and punctured lungs. Dogs lying mangled and dying on the surgery table -- all in the pursuit of sport. 
If these dogs were pit bulls used for dog fighting or Labradors used for bird hunting they would be protected under our state humane and animal cruelty laws. Unfortunately, these dogs are bear hounds used for bear hunting and are exempt from protection.

Legislature's Bigotry Caucus Enabling Native Mascots, Nicknames

Always stirring the pot, low-wattage GOP Republican legislators are moving to legally-embed Native American nicknames and mascots at Wisconsin schools despite objections that the practice is at best insensitive, at worst racist. The retrograde, pandering details are here.

Journal Sentinel Chronicles Demise Of Wisconsin's Global Warming Goals

Sad, but true. Fine job by Lee Berguist and Tom Content:

Only a few years ago, fighting global warming was a front burner topic among state policy makers. 
But the issue has been largely ignored in Wisconsin since 2010 with the collapse of legislation that would have required a big shift to renewable power

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Far More Wolf Attacks On Hunting Dogs In WI Than In Michigan

A spate of hunting hound deaths after encountering wolves, including several in or near known wolf 'caution' areas as dogs are being trained for the upcoming Wisconsin bear hunt raises a lot of questions about our state's hunting practices; here's why experts say the dog death toll is much lower in neighboring Michigan:

Joseph K. Bump, a Michigan Tech wildlife ecologist; Dean Beyer Jr. and Brian J. Roell from the Michigan DNR, and students Chelsea Murawski and Linda Kartano report their findings in the April 17, 2013 issue of the Public Library of Science (PLOS) journal PLOS ONE.
The researchers analyzed and compared a variety of factors in Michigan and Wisconsin, from regulations on bear baiting and compensation for hunting dog attacks to statistics such as the ratio of hunters to wolves and percentage of hunters using dogs to hunt bear.

They found that the neighboring states, with similar wolf and bear populations and similar numbers of bear-hunting permits issued per wolf, report dramatically different numbers of wolf attacks on hunting dogs.

Wisconsin’s relative risk of attack is two to seven times higher than Michigan’s.

Bear baiting begins earlier in Wisconsin and lasts longer, the scientists note. “The longer you bait, the more opportunity you provide for wolves to discover and potentially defend bear-bait sites,” says Bump.

“Most hunters release their dogs at bait sites, and the longer the bait has been around, the more likely hunting dogs are to encounter territorial wolves who have found and are possibly defending the bait. So it appears that baiting is an important factor.”

Wisconsin also compensates dog owners $2,500 per hunting dog killed by wolves. In fact, the Wisconsin DNR data show that compensation for wolf attacks on hounds costs the state more than it has spent for wolf attacks on any other category of domesticated animal, including calves, missing calves or cattle.

Michigan does not compensate dog owners for wolf attacks.

“Compensation can have multiple effects,” Bump points out. “ It is a reporting incentive, but it also creates an incentive for abuse. The net effect of compensation is far from clear, and it is an important factor to study further.”

Sagging Bridge In Green Bay Shows Poor Walker WisDOT Priorities

Billions of fresh dollars for more lanes across the I-system in SE Wisconsin, and the imbalance in state highway spending shows up in a sagging Green Bay bridge.

The Journal Sentinel just the other day noted that Walker signed a budget that cut millions from state highway and bridge maintenance funding:

The state has struggled for a while now with how to pay for new capacity while properly maintaining current infrastructure. Gov. Scott Walker maintained the state's $32.8 million local bridge assistance program, which funds 80% of repairs on municipal bridges, in the last state budget.

But the budget did cut $51 million from the state highway rehabilitation program, which funds highway and interstate repairs, including bridge work, over the next two fiscal years. That may have been short-sighted.

Hat Tip, Cap Times, For Re-Posting Blog On DNR Dog Payment

Much appreciated:

Political Environment blogger James Rowen wonders why the State Department of Natural Resources is paying bear hunters for dogs that are killed in the hunt. So far, 23 hunters have been given up to $2,500 per dog for the loss of their dogs, which, Rowen insists, shouldn't be allowed in the bear hunt in the first place.

It's An Image-Buster, Not A Real Filibuster

But thank goodness Ted Cruz has taxpayer-subsidized health insurance, should he get dehydrated.

DNR Starts Dialing For Dollars, Competing With Non-Profits

That next dinner-time phone solicitation might be DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp on the line. You'll know it if you hear 'Join in the Excitement!...Give Now. Enjoy Forever.'

What's next? Tin Cups?
Spare Change
Peruse yet another DNR all-staff email from the boss, verbatim. Employees might wonder if higher-ups will be keeping track and awarding merit bonus points; the public might say, 'well this is what happens when you cut fees (wolf-permits halved this year) keep paying up to $2,500 to bear hunters who sacrifice their hounds in known wolf caution areas:

From: Lamers, Holly J - DNR On Behalf Of Stepp, Cathy L - DNR
Sent: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 7:12 AM
Subject: Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund - Join in the Excitement!
Good morning everyone! 
I am excited to announce the launch of the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund. The Fund is an endowment that was created so that all citizens, residents and non-residents, can enjoy their favorite hunting lands, hiking trails, fishing spots and bird watching locations forever. 
Wisconsin has a long standing tradition of recognizing and appreciating our natural resources. It is part of our legacy. This Fund will provide the means for preserving and enhancing the state’s public lands, waters and wildlife. It is our collective responsibility as caretakers of Wisconsin’s natural resources to support habitat management on the 1.5 million acres of publicly owned forests, prairies, wetlands, streams and lakes. One agency cannot do this alone.  
Legislation signed into law last year provided the DNR with the authority to request voluntary contributions from our four million citizens who purchase annual services from us, such as hunting and fishing licenses.  Funds collected will create a habitat management endowment, which will directly benefit our state’s public lands and the natural resources they support. The work done thus far has been a true partnership between the Natural Resources Foundation (NRF) and the DNR. The NRF will manage and oversee the endowment.   
Let us continue the tradition of managing Wisconsin’s precious resources by getting the word out about the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund so that the natural resources that we are enjoying today can be cared for and cherished forever. Whether you make a direct donation yourself or you encourage others to contribute to the future of Wisconsin’s habitat management, think about what you cherish most about Wisconsin’s outdoors. Give Now. Enjoy Forever. 
Cathy Stepp 
WI Dept of Natural Resources 
Madison, WI 53703 
(608) 267-7556

One Hilarious WI Political Understatement

The speaker is State Rep. Jeff Stone, (R-Greendale). The subject, in a groveling op-ed, is the scandal-ridden WEDC, Scott Walker's baby:

WEDC admittedly experienced some management issues during the transition into its role as the state's new economic development organization.
Other details, here

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hunting Down The Comment Of The Day

About the state paying hunters up to $2,500 who lose dogs to wolves in known "caution areas:"

Anonymous said... 
Here’s an novel idea…...any hound hunter who has a dog killed after he chooses to turn his pack of hounds loose in a “wolf caution area”, gets a hefty fine. Let’s say $2,500., for causing the intentional death of his dog. 
September 24, 2013 at 4:57 PM

About Sheriff Clarke, Dems Want Truth-In-Labeling

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's malleable party affiliation comes under fresh attack:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., who runs as a Democrat, was appointed by a Republican governor, endorses Republican political candidates and once wrote a piece on becoming a member of the GOP....

But now Clarke, who is up for re-election in 2014, is taking his support for the Republican Party a step further by appearing as the keynote speaker at a recent GOP fundraiser....

Clarke's appearance has Sachin Chheda, the chairman of the Milwaukee County Democratic Party, calling on the sheriff to switch his partisan affiliation. The speech, Chheda said, proves that Clarke is a Republican.

"He doesn't want us, and we don't want him -- so if he wants to be re-elected, he should man up and run with the GOP," said Chheda, who is managing the campaign for Clarke foe Chris Moews, who lost in 2010.
By the way, the Vets For Moews is hosting a fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Wauwatosa's Cranky Al's, 6901 W. North Avenue.

I love the destination's description:
Why Cranky? The official answer is method of operation, you know, hand cranked doughnuts. Ask me, I say definitely disposition! Come visit us and see for yourself.

What you see is what you get at Cranky Al's. A great cup of coffee that doesn't give you a belly ache, great doughnuts and pastries by day, and great pizza at night.

Wisconsin Pays Bear Hunters For Dogs Killed By Wolves. Why?

The State of Wisconsin allows bear hunters to use dogs in the chase. Bear hunters are even given maps, public information and common-sense warnings by the DNR to avoid letting their dogs train and run to their death near bear bait sites or known wolf rendezvous areas (read the comments) - - but the DNR still pays up to $2,500 for any dog killed by a wolf.

What's the message and justification there?

To date this year, 23 dogs have been killed by wolves in Wisconsin, records show.

Secretary Cathy Stepp
DNR Secretary Stepp With Future Sport Prey

Details from the DNR's website, here, and from one recent news story:
Wolves have killed 16 dogs being trained to hunt bears so far this season, including five in the past three days....
When wolves attack dogs in hunting or training situations on public land, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources creates "wolf caution areas" to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs.
Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site....

Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites and will attack other predators, including dogs, that get too close to the rendezvous site or the pups.

Wisconsin pays hunters up to $2,500 per dog for dogs killed by wolves.
Using dogs in wolf-hunting is tied up in court, but no doubt state payments for dogs torn to pieces by predatory wolves would dramatically increase, were it allowed.

Norquist Talking Freeway-Free San Francisco

I would expect former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist would find a sympathetic audience for this plan aired last week in a city that understands the perils of elevated freeways and values the relationship of pedestrian-friendly transit, like its cable cars, to urban real estate:

“It’s time to start talking about a freeway-free San Francisco.”
Norquist, the former Milwaukee mayor who took a freeway down in his tenure, flew into SF for a panel discussion held last night called “Freeways Without Futures,” where he made the case that freeways have only degraded the value of cities where they’ve been built, and that cities that have removed or avoided building the structures have generally thrived because of it.

Walker, GOP Score Political Points By Keeping People Sick

This from the Eagle Scout - - and being imitated by callous Republicans running the US House:

 Gov. Scott Walker's administration is notifying 92,000 Wisconsin residents this month that their BadgerCare health coverage will run out at the end of the year, requiring them to buy coverage through new and potentially more costly federal marketplaces.
The national drop-dead message, here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

SportsmensGate Clean-Up, Step One

And so the political white-washing begins:

The president of a controversial sportsmen's group that won and then lost a $500,000 state grant resigned Monday from a state hunting and fishing council.
Still on the hook - - Scott Suder for cooking it into the budget, and Scott Walker for promoting Suder to the PSC staff before they both hit the fan.

WI Legislature Aims To Give Away Groundwater Held In Public Trust

It's the latest episode of fast-tracking the giveaway of a Wisconsin public resource - - this time state groundwater held in trust for all the people.

A hearing is set for Wednesday at the State Capitol in Room 300 SE at 11 a.m.

Text of the bill and its regulatory changes, here.

Furthering the assault by the GOP on the Public Trust Doctrine - - part of Wisconsin's Constitution and historic, water-based identity.

The WEDC Isn't Walker's Only Sop To Business

The DNR is operating its own Commerce division, too:

Office of Business Support & Sustainability
Solar panels at a Middleton business 

The DNR provides many avenues for business owners to work with the agency in growing and sustaining Wisconsin's economy. We will help you succeed with your business endeavors through partnerships between our public and private sectors, time sensitive coordination with state government and innovative programs that can adapt to your business sector's very diverse needs.

The Office of Business Support and Sustainability is the agency's one-stop shop for business assistance. The office's mission is to work across programs to create the business climate that yields better environmental and economic performance. We're building capacity through sectors and engaging businesses and communities....

Business sector support

Sector development specialists are DNR staff who work with specific industrial or commercial sectors. They serve as the first point of contact for those businesses, providing coordinated technical and compliance assistance across all DNR divisions and programs.
  • If you are not sure who to contact, or do not see your specific sector information below, please email us and we will respond to you promptly.
Sector development specialists work to improve environmental and economic performance by clarifying requirements, facilitating flexible approaches to requirements and enabling practices that improve profitability and market performance. Improved environmental and economic performance is pursued through various strategies including pollution prevention, waste minimization, energy efficiency, supply chain management, green chemistry, market development and many others. The sector specialists will also work with a business or sector to address trends important to business retention and market development related to environmental performance.

US Gun Facts, According To British Media

The editors at The Guardian see it this way:

The annual toll from firearms in the US is running at 32,000 deaths and climbing, even though the general crime rate is on a downward path (it is 40% lower than in 1980). If this perennial slaughter doesn't qualify for intercession by the UN and all relevant NGOs, it is hard to know what does. 
To absorb the scale of the mayhem, it's worth trying to guess the death toll of all the wars in American history since the War of Independence began in 1775, and follow that by estimating the number killed by firearms in the US since the day that Robert F. Kennedy was shot in 1968 by a .22 Iver-Johnson handgun, wielded by Sirhan Sirhan. 
The figures from Congressional Research Service, plus recent statistics, tell us that from the first casualties in the battle of Lexington to recent operations in Afghanistan, the toll is 1,171,177. By contrast, the number killed by firearms, including suicides, since 1968, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI, is 1,384,171. 
That 212,994 more Americans lost their lives from firearms in the last 45 years than in all wars involving the US is a staggering fact, particularly when you place it in the context of the safety-conscious, "secondary smoke" obsessions that characterise so much of American life.

Nice Profile Of A Leading Wisconsin Conservationist

You could call this The Zen of George Meyer:

The emergence of a group called United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Inc., which had ties to Republican insiders, appeared for a time to muddy the message of sportsmen on key conservation issues, sometimes backing legislation that the WWF voiced concerns on. 
"I suspect United Sportsmen is probably history in this state," Meyer says.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Props To Former Gov. Jim Doyle On Great Lakes Compact 5th Anniversary

Hard to believe that it's been five years since the Great Lakes Compact, and a companion implementing bill to further protect this unique freshwater resource, were approved by the Wisconsin Legislature and signed into law by then-Governor Jim Doyle.

It occurred to me that this is a good time to note that without Doyle's focus - - and certainly he was working with a grand coalition of grassroots supporters and legislators on both sides of the aisle, so there is plenty of credit to be spread around - - the Compact would not be law in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes could well have been under further pressure for diversions just when climate change, invasive species and multiple sources of pollution were further pressuring the entire Great Lakes ecosystem.

It's worth remember that when the Compact and companion state enabling legislation was being considered at the Capitol, ultra-conservative state's righters and nascent Tea Party ground troopers were were busy trying to block the Compact from approval and implementation.

The obstructionists in Wisconsin were led by State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin), even though her home community was poised to receive a diversion of Lake Michigan water under the Compact's planned procedures. The opposition was that irrational - - an audio sample.

Lazich aligned herself with Ohio opponents, as did former State Rep. and now-Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, and then-Racine County State. Rep Scott ("Gundy") Gunderson, now the number-three official - - Executive Assistant  - - at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Wrote Lazich on her blog in 2008 (the original link may not be good any longer, but I'd copied out the text, below):

Let’s work with Ohio to improve the Great Lakes Compact
By Mary Lazich

Friday, Feb 15 2008, 12:55 PM 
For months I have been recommending that Wisconsin refrain from approving a Great Lakes Compact that is flawed and should instead work with officials in other states that share my concerns, like Ohio to achieve a strong document.

That is why I am encouraged to hear that Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch and State Representative Scott Gunderson have written a letter to the President of the Ohio state Senate, Senator Bill Harris, stating they want to collaborate with the state of Ohio on changes to the Compact.

Representatives Huebsch and Gunderson correctly state they desire a strong Compact to protect the waters of the Great Lakes, that private property rights must be protected, and that one state should not have the power to impact the economic development efforts of another Great Lakes state.

I support Speaker Huebsch and Representative Gunderson in this endeavor.
By the way, Gunderson works with another former Wisconsin Compact opponent, Matt Moroney, an attorney and former Milwaukee metro area building industry official who is DNR's number two official - - Deputy Secretary.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, also from the building industry, has at key moments shelved her agency's neutral, honest-broker role (taking a partisan, pro-mining stance, for example) and suggesting that it was the DNR's role to get Waukesha's diversion approved rather than holding the application to a rigorous legal, fiscal, and environmental review.

Imagine being a career DNR scientist right now tasked to vet the Waukesha diversion application under the Compact's rules with that crew looking over your shoulder.

I'd posted many of Lazich's statements here to establish the record and illustrate why, when the Compact's approval by the Legislature had stalled, Doyle moved to take control of the process from a study committee chaired by the ineffectual State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn) and lead by more direct executive action.
Without Doyle's focus - - he was also chairman of the Great Lakes Governors Council at the time - - I think it's fair to say that the Compact might not have cleared the opponents' roadblocks.

And the Compact might not be in operation today preserving Great Lakes water from raids by far-away communities.

A bad national economy and the growth of Tea Party subsequently helped convince Doyle not to run for a third term in 2010  - - the same dynamic that helped Tea party/GOP candidate Ron Johnson defeat incumbent US Sen. Russ Feingold and Republicans take control of both houses of the Wisconsin legislature.

And though Doyle has kept a low profile since, environmentalists should remember his role in moving the Great Lakes Compact on to the books.

And that he tried to bring to Amtrak expansion and its jobs to Wisconsin, plus a much-enhanced open space Stewardship fund cut in the last two budgets - - all initiatives dismantled or ruined by Walker for his special-interest corporate friends who prefer selling and privatizing public lands, filling wetlands and widening highways to the exclusion of public-interest governance.

Had the approval and implementation of the Great Lakes Compact fallen to Walker and his "chamber-of-commerce mentality DNR, it would have fallen, period.

Wisconsin Gazette Questions Walker Obstructing ObamaCare

Nice job on a complex issue:

In addition to turning away the money for Medicare expansion and throwing poor people off health care, Walker refused to set up a state insurance marketplace, raising an outcry from consumer advocates, doctors, nurses, health insurers, business groups and other stakeholders. Instead, he’s forcing Wisconsinites to go through a federally-created marketplace....
Even those who understand the political gamble Walker is making with Wisconsin’s health care have a hard time understanding how he can morally justify working to deny health care accessibility to the poor and middle class. 
Some pundits say Walker doesn’t understand the risk he’s taking just a year after Democrats succeeded in casting Republicans as the party of the prosperous. 
Other Republican governors understand, and that’s why they’re climbing on board with Obamacare. 
Lori Lodes of the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning think tank that supports the law, put it this way: “They can’t risk pursuing a partisan agenda that would turn down taxpayer dollars and deny their constituents health care.” 
In Michigan, where Snyder faces an uphill re-election fight and there is disagreement in his party about the law, the governor has argued that receiving an estimated additional $1.4 billion in federal money to bring roughly 500,000 residents under health coverage makes economic sense. 
Ohio’s Kasich, also faced with a difficult re-election road, promotes expanding Medicaid as a moral issue.... 
Other Republican governors who have agreed to the Medicaid expansion include Jan Brewer of Arizona, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota. Arizona, where Brewer isn’t seeking re-election, and North Dakota are Republican-leaning states; New Jersey, where Christie is running this fall, is considered Democrat-leaning.

Water And Social Justice; Waukesha Gets A Mention

Interesting piece with provocative questions from the moderator of a recent Wingspread conference:

When I think of social justice in the Great Lakes, and the Milwaukee region in particular, the first thing that comes to my mind are the many industries and jobs that are built on access to water: brewing, mining, paper manufacturing, power generation, shipping, tourism, research and more. And then I wonder about who has access to the profits, wealth and skilled employment that those enterprises bring. Is that wealth equitably distributed? 
Do all sectors of our regional society benefit reasonably equally from the money machine that the Great Lakes represent? Based on who I see at Water Council events versus who lines up for a free meal at The Guest House, I hypothesize that the answer is "no...."   
And when our failing infrastructure leaves the poorest residents of Milwaukee with disproportionately high water bills, is that social justice? When water gets turned off because of failure to pay, and people lose custody of their children, as has happened in Detroit, is that social justice...?  
As moderator, I tried repeatedly to bring the conversation back to social justice, but as I cast my line over and over again, the closest we could come was when Waukesha’s application for a Great Lakes diversion came up toward the end of the discussion. There are many aspects to this heated issue, but one that gets very little consideration is who will pay for the pipeline and pumps if they are built and then not needed? 
Technology is changing so rapidly that Waukesha already has options that it didn’t have five years ago. Other cities are pioneering the use of recycled water and grey water. Household appliances continue to become much more water efficient, and native landscaping is becoming more prevalent, leading to a national downward trend in water use.  
Waukesha’s application is predicated on significant growth in water demand, but other regions of the country are experiencing flat or declining water use, even as population grows. How will this play out in Waukesha? What if the pipeline is obsolete shortly after completion? Will that debt affect everyone equally? Is there a social justice angle to the diversion application?

Walker's State Budget And Insider Trading

SportsmensGate is now a permanent part of the Scott Walker legacy. It should be treated as insider trading, with an abuse-of-public funds enhancer.

Former State Rep. and Assembly leader Scott Suder used his position on the Joint Committee on Finance to insert at the close of its work on the 2013-'15 state budget an amendment creating a $500,000 grant for hunting and fishing promotion tailored for one non-profit group - - United Sportsmen of Wisconsin - - an outfit allied more with partisan GOP political work than outdoor recreation.

Suder's amendment directed that after the end of this budget cycle, the grant would renew at $450,000 every two years - - in other words, a guaranteed funding stream of taxpayer dollars for which no other group could qualify, and which would, after a few years, run into seven figures.

Ask your average non-profit if they would like such a deal.

Walker signed the budget without vetoing the grant, the DNR moved to disburse the funds, Walker lined up a $94,000-a-year plum Public Service Commission regulatory position for Suder who'd decided to leave the Assembly for far greener pastures; Walker ended the grant only after the Journal Sentinel revealed that the group had misrepresented its non-profit status, and more politically-damaging details about the group and the budget amendment were disclosed.

But Walker denied knowing about the grant's seedy beginnings - - a shoulder shrug fitting the 25-year Walker 'I know nothing' pattern - - when confronted with embarrassing information.

This is more than pants-on-fire. It's caught, pants-fully-down.

Make no mistake about it: this was an effort to use inside position to divert public dollars and subsidize a group of political operatives who were backing the party in power.

Under the cover of recreation and conservation activity.

Subsequent actions by GOP legislators to bar further inquiry into how the grant got into the budget only reinforce the belief that Walkerites in the government were cheating the taxpayers and are trying to hide the facts.

Remember the damage-control ordered in 2010 when Walker was County Executive, his GOP campaign for Governor was in full swing (with political operatives working illegally out of his own office suite on County time) and a boy was killed by falling concrete in a County-owned garage?

Said Walker's campaign chief at the time, in an email directive to County employees the day of the fatal accident:

"make sure there is not a piece of paper anywhere that details any problem at all."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mean-Spirited House GOP Pushing Party To Irrelevancy

The party of angry white people grasping for a mirage of the 1950's has lined up the US House of Representatives against food aid, health insurance, and immigration reform. The poor and people of color are the repeated targets of those with a disproportionate share of power and privilege protected by self-serving gerry-mandering.

They and their Tea Party foot soldiers may continue to hold these House seats, but unless they can jam through disenfranchising voter suppression schemes state-by-state they will never win the White House again.

Tom Lynn's Moving Video About The Bad River

Former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photographer Tom Lynn has made a short, solid, moving video about the Bad River watershed and the threat to it posed by the iron mine.

Included is amazing audio from President John F. Kennedy about the watershed's value.

Here's the video's link.

Under Dan Warren, Waukesha Water Utility Has Spent Big On Draft Water Plan

I posted some numbers on Friday about the escalating estimated cost of hooking up the City of Waukesha Water Utility to Lake Michigan water - - $78 million when the water utility was drafting the diversion application in 2009 to a $183 million estimate more recently disclosed by utility officials.

The utility says it is the final stages of preparing its delayed, much-revised application draft for delivery to Wisconsin reviewers at the DNR; additional reviews and hearings are on tap for the application in seven Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces if the DNR decides the application is ready for prime time.

To reach this point, the utility has, for years, spent heavily on application technical consultants, on public relations experts and lobbyists both in Wisconsin and in Washington, DC, and lawyers.

Along with utility staff time, the administrative costs associated with the application are surely past the $1 million mark - - the meter has been running for years - -  and more expenses, including possible litigation, will be incurred as the application moves along.

The president of the utility as it has become absorbed in the application is Dan Warren, a pivotal figure in Waukesha-area public and private-sector concerns.

Warren has served on the water utility commission for more than 20 years; he was instrumental in bringing on Dan Duchniak - - the second of Waukesha's 'two Dans' who've been honchoing the diversion strategy - - as utility general manager.

Warren's current term - -  and perhaps his last, observers said last week - - expires at the end of this month, which would coincide with the application's final draft delivery to the DNR.

Warren also sits on the Waukesha school district board, and is project manager at Pabst Farms, the western Waukesha County planned community built on open space between I-94 and downtown Oconomowoc but which has not lived up to some initial expectations.

The State of Wisconsin did expand access to Pabst Farms by fast-tracking the construction of a "full-diamond" interstate interchange for the development, in part to deliver customers to a long-promised regional-destination retail mall that was never got built.

One dispute over the retail development at Pabst Farms recently led to litigation between Pabst Farms  and the City of Oconomwoc; neither Pabst Farms or the water diversion plan - - both big projects with lots of moving pieces and hurdles - - have exactly enjoyed smooth sailing these past few years.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Complicit In Sportsmen's Grant Scandal, Walker Vows To Fight Fraud Elsewhere

I almost feel guilty pointing out the phoniness in this blatantly politicized Scott Walker two-step, but let's let him help his puffed-up rhetoric about rooting out waste in public assistance programs - -

"We don't want to in any way keep people from getting assistance that is warranted, that they're legitimately qualified for, that they need at the time, but that shouldn't be our overriding focal point," Walker said. "It should be on hitting that balance...and making sure we're good stewards of taxpayer dollars."
- - then go back to his unwillingness to second-guess Scott Suder, his newest PSC senior staff appointee and former GOP State Assembly leader for sneakily shoveling $500,000 in taxpayers' dollars to a bunch of political allies-cum-sporting promoters, and make just this one little edit (italicized) in his quote above:
"We don't want to in any way keep sportsmen's groups from getting assistance that is warranted, that they're legitimately qualified for, that they need at the time, but that shouldn't be our overriding focal point," Walker said. "It should be on hitting that balance...and making sure we're good stewards of taxpayer dollars."

Register For Talk By John Dean, Noted Nixonologist And Scott Walker Observer

Former White House Counsel John Dean is giving a free public speech in Madison - - "Crossing the line: Watergate, the Criminal Law, and Ethics" - - under the auspices of the UW Law School on October 4th.

It's the annual Robert W. Kastenmeier lecture, and you can register to attend through a website, here.

Interest is predictably high; the sponsors have already moved the event to a larger venue, so I'd suggest registering promptly.

Dean, now a author and political commentator, helped blow the whistle on criminal behavior in the administration of former President Richard Nixon in the first of all the scandal "gates" - - and has been more recently in the Wisconsin media after talking to Capital Times editor Paul Fanlund last year about Scott Walker:

“His style struck me as strikingly Nixonian, so I began reading more about him,” Dean said in an email.

“As I said in my column, I find Walker more Nixonian than Nixon, meaning that Nixon did not always live up to his reputation, but Walker never seems to fall short of the Nixonian standard. … Walker is a power-abuser like Nixon.”

Dean continued, “I had hoped that Watergate would end Nixonian politics, but as Dick Cheney showed as vice president, some long for the pre-Watergate abuse of power standards.” (Cheney was also a youthful GOP aide in the Nixon era.)
Dean's remarks have sent me back more than once to his important book, Conservatives Without Conscience - - a good read before his Oct. 4th talk.

Start Your Holiday Shopping Now With This Penokee Hills Calendar

Buy one or more, pass them on with the website, too, and help save these resources:

WisDOT Talks Hippos And "Boxes," Shows Zoo Interchange Traffic-Free

My copy of the official WisDOT Fall 2013 "Zoo Interchange Newsletter" came in the mail.

It's not on the official WisDOT Zoo Interchange website yet, perhaps because the agency doesn't have the capacity to digitize such a wasteful, misleading and distorted load of you-know-what.

"Hold on to your hard hat, construction is in full swing on the Zoo Interchange!"

Did WisDOT run this by another office funmeister, Cathy Stepp?

And who outside of conservative interns volunteering on campaign staffs would pile this many buzzwords in a single sentence?

"These are critically-needed freeway projects that contribute to the quality of the statewide system providing the mobility that people and businesses need to be successful."

Then there are the graphics accompanying maps in the newsletter's six glossy pages, including:

*  A half-page colorful rendering of the "redesigned Watertown Plank Road interchange" - - or what appears to be a huge complex floating in a green sea (grass?) for the launching and landing of inter-galactic freighters, perhaps on the planet Pandora. Amazingly, there is not a vehicle of any kind anywhere. Congestion, solved!

* A quarter-page "rendering of the railroad bridge over I-94." Blue skies, a few puffy clouds, four spiffy, squeaky-clean box cars on a bridge and, again, not a single car or truck on the new freeway below. So tell me again why are we building all these new lanes?

*  A two-inch tan box with this "RAILROAD FUN FACT: "The existing railroad bridge over I-94 weighs over 1.2 million pounds -- about the same as 200 hippopotami." Accompanied by a cartoon of a hippopotamus. And by the way, who computes the big item weights in units of hippopotami?

*  Finally, WisDOT introduces us to a clunky new way of thinking about the local roads as opposed to  "mainline freeway." OK, I get the difference.

But WisDOT wants us to think of local roads as "the box."

"The Zoo Interchange project is more than just the core in the middle. It is a combination of mainline freeway from Burleigh to Lincoln, and 124th to 70th; and local road and service interchanges in between. 
"In 2013/14, WisDOT is starting with the reconstruction of local roads to get them ready for traffic during and after freeway construction. Think of it as "the box" of local roads around the core of the interchange. 
"This "box" of local roads will keep area traffic flowing during the major freeway construction."
Just drop all those box references. The sentences make perfect sense without them.

The Road To Sprawlville, Chapter 56: Middleton Touting Unsewered Project As "New Ruralism"

There's an awful lot in this installment of our blog series tracking sprawl development in Wisconsin that will make your head spin. Call in the serious planners and the English teachers.

The City of Middleton bought a golf course to protect a border from annexation by neighboring Madison and to discourage development near a prime fishing stream.

Now Middleton, saddled with the golf course, wants to let a developer put in 104 houses with septic systems, not sewer hookups, on part of the property under the butchered slogan "New Ruralism."

That's the second unfortunate phrase in this story; the golf course is called Pleasant View - - but if the development goes through, the vistas off Pleasant Valley Rd. touted on the course website get a lot less pleasant:

Situated on hills approximately 300 feet above Lake Mendota, Pleasant View Golf Course provides a panoramic view of the City of Middleton and Madison. 
Classic sprawl into green space at the edge of good fishing waters and lacking hookups to municipal sewer lines is, regrettably, neither new or rural-friendly.

Water pollution is just one failed septic tank away - - and constructing 104 homes is never easy on the land and water.

All in all - - a clumsy turn of a phrase at the expense of "New Urbanism," which centers on sustainability, and a worse use of municipal powers.

The Road To Sprawlville - - we began this in 2007: an example - - has rarely hit such potholes.

Props to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin for sounding the alarm.

[Full disclosure: I worked for Paul Soglin in the 1970's]

For The Record, Waukesha Water Plan Estimated Cost Up 135%

Roaming around on The Google yesterday, I stumbled on something I wrote in 2009 about Waukesha's probable (and still pending Great Lakes water diversion plan):

Final thought:

Waukesha estimated Monday that its water pipe from Milwaukee, and return flow pipe to Wauwatosa, will cost $78 million.

Put that up on your refrigerator and see [whether] that number grows.
Fast forward to last October:
The water pipeline project to and from Oak Creek will cost Waukesha $183 million to build, according to the Waukesha Water Utility.
Now I recognize there's a measure of apples-to-oranges issue there, since the original estimate was based on Waukesha buying water from closer-by Milwaukee, and returning it back to Lake Michigan via Underwood Creek - - schemes requiring less infrastructure than Waukesha's final plan to pipe in water from Oak Creek and return it down the Root River in Franklin to Racine's harbor.

Cost estimates for the Milwaukee supply were in the $164 million-$175 million range, and for Oak Creek as high as $261 million, all according to this report.

Such are the vagaries of trying to write the first out-of-basin Great Lakes diversion application under the 2008 US-Canadian management Compact - - an application yet to be submitted in final draft form to the DNR by Waukesha despite numerous false starts and missed, self-imposed deadlines dating back more than three years.

By the way, The Journal Sentinel had reported the 2009 estimate, too:
City officials began rolling out their long-anticipated bid for Great Lakes water on Monday with a glimpse at its possible costs.

Switching the city's water supply to Lake Michigan rather than groundwater wells would cost $56 million in initial construction costs and another $5.3 million a year in operating costs, Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak said Monday.

Building a pipeline to discharge treated wastewater to Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa so it would flow back to Lake Michigan, as required by a Great Lakes protection compact, would cost another $22million plus $499,000 a year in operating costs, Duchniak said....
Total price: $78 million to get started and nearly $5.8 million a year to operate the system, according to estimates revised since the city's original 2002 water supply study, Duchniak said.