Monday, September 2, 2013

Bill To Close WI Forests Gets Sham 'Hearing' Wed.

[Update: The bill passed the committee on Thursday, as predicted, on a 3-2 GOP party-line vote.]

A State Senate Committee stacked 3-2 with GTAC Republican mine backers Alberta Darling, Tom Tiffany and Glenn Grothman will hold a 'hearing' [Sic] Wednesday morning in the State Capitol on a bill to let GTAC close off access to 4,000 acres of forested land around the potential mine site currently open, by law, to hunters, hikers and neighbors.

Here is the schedule:
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
11:00 AM
300 Southeast Capitol building
The bill would allow the mining company to wall off the forest even though the owners get a tax break for keeping it open.

A few days ago, the company forbade access to a wetlands expert working for the nearby Ojbiwe Bad River band which wanted to catalog water resources that could be impacted if the mine is approved.

Some background, here.

Like other hearings and pro-company legislative processes favors provided by Walker and his legislative allies on iron mining bills since 2012, the Wednesday 'hearing' is just another sham because the skids have been greased and the outcome is not in doubt:
[Co-sponsor State Sen. Tom Tiffany] plans on moving the bill quickly through the Senate. There are public hearings scheduled for Wednesday and a committee vote on Thursday. Tiffany hopes to have a floor vote in the Senate by the end of September. 
The committee is operating as a subsidiary of the mining company, as is the entire GOP legislative membership in both houses, save for one GOP State Senator - - farmer, conservationist and party pariah Dale Schultz, (R-Richland Center).

Some other guarantees Wednesday:

* Tiffany will carry the company's water. He's been doing that for GTAC, and Walker, for some time, the record shows:
  • David Storey, lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite, sent e-mails to then-Rep. [and now State Sen.] Tom Tiffany, and Walker policy adviser Eileen Schoenfeldt that discussed forming a "response team" to combat negative PR once the final mining bill was released. Read the emails here:
    I took a look at the emails among Storey, the Governor's staff and Tiffany; towards the end of the file there is a request for a meeting with Tiffany and then a thank-you from the lobbyist to Tiffany for getting "on board." 
*  Republican senators will inflate one regrettable, minor confrontational moment three months ago between a mining crew and protesters into a full blown Al-Qaeda attack.

*  Look for State Sen. Alberta Darling, (R-River Hills), to carry that load. To survive a 2011 recall election, Darling accepted more than $475,000 from donors backing more mining in Wisconsin.

And that, my friends - - in a State Senate race - - is not chump change. Furthermore, it helped the GOP retain for Walker and the company a pro-mining, special-interest driven Senate majority.

*  GOP Senators will disregard all testimony from the public about the loss of open access to the land.

In this era of Republican and special interest joint management at the Capitol, public input is a disposable nuisance, especially when giving away resources to a GOP-friendly private entity has been wired.

From just last week:
State D-N-R Secretary Cathy Stepp has given her final approval to a controversial grant to encourage more Wisconsinites to go hunting-and-fishing. Stepp had the final say on the matter, after the Sporting Heritage Committee voted 4-to-1 earlier in the day to give the two-year, $500,000 grant to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation.
The panel heard a lot of testimony about the grant, almost all of it in opposition to the award. Critics said the group has no experience in training sportsmen, and its members had political ties to majority Republicans at the State Capitol.
*  GOP State Senator Glenn Grothman will overtly ignore citizens who made the 600-mile round trip from and near the Bad River reservation to Madison (as he did when he traveled north to Mellen not too long ago and insulted a farm family near the proposed mine site: (text and video).

But during testimony Wednesday, policy-maker and bill co-sponsor Grothman may be:

A. Distracted by popcorn (video);

B. Distracted by thoughts about things he does not understand.

C. Distracted by his phone.
Bored by official business...


CJ said...

Will GTac still have the managed forest protections for tax benefit if this is passed?

Anonymous said...

Glen Grothman: an overgrown child.