Thursday, October 31, 2013

Environmental Groups Want Water Meetings With Greater Public Input

The City of Waukesha Water Utility has scheduled four public meetings in SE Wisconsin about the city's plan to divert water from Lake Michigan, but the meetings will not have the comprehensive, wide-open format that regional and state environmental organizations believe will provide the public with maximum input.

Input that would better inform decision-makers in Waukesha and all eight Great Lakes states whose unanimous approval is needed before a diversion would occur.

Here is the letter recently sent to Waukesha by the organizations:

Clean Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Milwaukee Riverkeeper,  River Alliance of Wisconsin, Waukesha County Environmental Action League, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation
Dan Duchniak 
Waukesha Water Utility 
115 Delafield Street Waukesha, WI 53188 
Dear Mr. Duchniak, 
Thank you for agreeing to hold public meetings on the City of Waukesha’s revised application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water. We feel it is critically important for the public to hear from the Waukesha Water Utility about the revised application. 
We also hope that these meetings will provide a meaningful opportunity for public dialogue on the implications of the proposal and the potential alternatives reviewed in generating the proposal. 
To that end, we request that you structure the format of the meetings to include an opportunity for questions from the audience and responses from the presenters on behalf of the City / Water Utility as part of the plenary presentation at each of the four planned meetings. 
While allowing for questions and answers in more of a one-on-one format after the presentation has value, it does not allow for the true public conversation needed to foster understanding of this complex proposal. 
It is very important that other members of the public be able to hear the questions and concerns of their peers as well as the responses to those inquiries from Utility/City staff and/or contractors. 
To reiterate, we are requesting that the Water Utility modify the meeting format to allow for interactive questions and answers from the audience as part of the plenary presentation at each of the four planned meetings. 
In addition, we would request that all the questions, comments and responses be recorded for the public record and shared with the DNR. 
Please inform me in writing by November 1 of your response to this request. 
Thank you for your consideration. 
We hope you will support making this an open and informative process for all those who participate at the four meetings and/or through the DNR’s written comment process extending through December 2. 
On behalf of the Compact Implementation Coalition, 
Ezra Meyer, Water Resources Specialist Clean Wisconsin 
Cc: Eric Ebersberger, Department of Natural Resources 
Compact Implementation Coalition 

GOP Legislators In WI Have New Invite For Jim Crow

OK - - here's the Wisconsin GOP's latest plan to road-block voting: Some poor people won't have to show an ID at the ballot box, but their ballots get a special mark since we all know that poor people are the most likely to cast a fraudulent ballot.

How do we know this?

Because two donors who've given Scott Walker almost $50,000 put up some billboards in Milwaukee told us, remember?

So welcome back, Jim Crow, or as others have put it,  James Crow.

What is it with these Republicans?

Why is their agenda about restricting or denying rights, whether to women's reproductive health care, or to voter registration or balloting, or to public union membership, or to public services altogether by shutting down the government?

Though The Odds Favor The Dealer, Walker "Diving Deep" On Casino

I'll leave it to you to figure out why a Walker spokesman would be saying the boss is "diving deep" on the casino decision - - does he like what the river dealt? - -  but remind me: when is that next campaign finance report due?

WI Wolf Kill Hits 181; 70 To Go, Trappers Dominating

The DNR says the wolf hunt toll has hit 181, and published reports indicate majority Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap
have been killed by trappers:

It was reported that 101 of the wolves registered through October 24 had been taken by trappers – that came to 80 percent of the kill. Hunters using guns had taken 26 animals... 
During the first wolf hunt last year, trappers took 53 percent of the wolves, or 117 animals.
And to the commenter CJ: I prefer these images and news:
Caption: Grey Wolf , Credit: Photo by Retron via Wikimedia Commons.  Photo in public domain.Image by: Photo by Retron via Wikimedia Commons. Photo in public domain.   

Daily Show Riff On Southern Marriage Inequality Applies To WI, Too

That was a funny, heart-warming and educational segment on The Daily Show Tuesday night about which deep southern state, neighboring Alabama or Mississippi, has the worst legal barriers to marriage equality.

But don't forget that Wisconsin isn't much different because it embedded into its State Constitution bans on same-sex marriage and civil unions, too.

And while laws in Alabama and Mississippi were similarly discriminatory, Wisconsin wins the Northern bigotry race hands-down with next-door Minnesota.

POLITICO Says Walker Among Minor-League VA Surrogates

Walker is seen as divisive so gets no respect in POLITICO for his planned visit and lifeline to Ken Cuccinelli's sputtering Virginia gubernatorial campaign - - noted here yesterday - - right down to the 'I-just-sat-on-a-Whoopee-cushion' photos the website ran with this article:

The demise of the Republican surrogate
Walker, the Wisconsin governor, will make two stops with Cuccinelli on Saturday. He is popular on the right for taking on unions in a blue state and then beating back a recall, but his trip risks giving Democrats an opening to argue that Cuccinelli will govern in a similarly divisive way. McAuliffe promises a bipartisan cabinet and a knack for deal-making.

Mining Conflict Claims Scientist

Round one goes to GTAC mining, which alleged a government researcher was biased:

A geologist with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey who found himself in the middle of a controversy over a proposed open-pit mine in the north woods says he's resigning after enduring weeks of on-the-job pressure over a rock containing asbestos-like material found at the mine site. 
Let's hope round two doesn't go to asbestos. It doesn't discriminate between the lungs of pro and anti-mining downwind and downstream. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rep. Kleefisch Withdraws Bring-Your-Gun-To-School Bill

State Representative, phantom Assembly floor voter and gunpowder devotee Joel Kleefisch, (R-Oconomowoc), did get Wisconsin's extra bloody wolf hunt up-and-running last year - - (Note his infamous wolf "marinating" Freudian slip) - - but has been misfiring lately.

He couldn't find enough support for his Sandhill crane ("rib-eye of the sky") hunting bill and now had to holster his off-the-cuff proposal to let anyone with a concealed handgun carry permit walk into a school packing heat:
Kleefisch said he met with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on Wednesday, and they agreed to pull back the legislation. He said he needed more time to talk to law enforcement, educators and gun rights advocates.
Seems like Kleefisch likes to shoot first - - legislatively, at least.

He even pushed a plan to allow expanded deer bow hunting as a way to reduce deer/vehicle collisions.

And I leave you with these words from his recent WisOpinion op-ed when the first Canadian geese were coming into range on the eve of the 2013 state hunting season:
Once that's underway, it takes a Philadelphia lawyer to keep up with the barrage of opportunities for Wisconsinites to enjoy our state's fantastic outdoor heritage and even put food on the table… 
My wife Becky is taking the online hunters' safety course and has her field test soon. Let me tell you the course on the web is fantastic. I have been watching it with her and it is thorough and a great refresher for the seasoned hunter.  
Finally, don't forget to take advantages of reduced license fees. These are available to first-time hunters or those who recruit three first time hunters, trappers, or anglers.  
So, if you're as serious as camouflage face paint and sleeping in a hermetically sealed scent free capsule before the hunt, or just want an excuse to get out and smell the freedom of gunpowder in the morning be sure to be safe and have a great hunting season. 

Walker To Campaign For Anti-Woman VA Gubernatorial Candidate

Note that Scott Walker is headed for Virginia with other Tea Party celebs to campaign for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, POLITICO reports:

Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Ron Paul will campaign with Ken Cuccinelli in the final days of the Virginia governor’s race, sources told POLITICO. 
The Wisconsin governor will spend Saturday with the Republican candidate for governor in Spotsylvania and Prince William counties.
It fits: Cuccinelli opposed reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act; Walker said he was fine with forced ultrasounds - - noted forcefully by's Joan Walsh - - and used his budget to reduce women's access to medical care at Planned Parenthood clinics.

Unsettling Data For Sen. Sunspots

Heartland voters view climate change as a serious issue and want federal regulation to help control it - - which should worry an anti-government Tea Party ideologue like Ron Johnson who disparages the EPA and thinks climate change is caused by sunspots, a Hart survey shows:
Sixty-five percent of voters polled say that climate change is a serious problem. Seventy-four percent favor the EPA’s proposed regulations to limit the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can release into the air, with no difference between those in Obama states and Romney states. Hart reports that “48 percent say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed new regulations. Only 17 percent said learning that a candidate opposed the regulations would make them more likely to vote for that candidate.”
The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is organizing to bring climate change realities to Johnson's attention, and realities about Johnson's positions and beliefs to voters:
You know it. I know it. The U.S. military, NASA, and 97% of climate scientists know it. But somehow Senator Ron Johnson just doesn't get it. He says he doesn't see the connection between carbon pollution from human activities and climate change, even when the impacts to our health, economy, and climate are already being felt. 
As a member of Congress, Senator Johnson has the power to do something about the climate crisis before it's too late. But instead, he chooses to block common sense conservation initiatives by reasoning that global warming is just "sunspot activity" and carbon pollution "gets sucked down by trees and helps the trees grow.

From The Base, Belling's Barbs For J. B.

Conservative afternoon WISN-AM radio talker Mark Belling has told his SE Wisconsin listeners or Waukesha Freeman readers that J. B. Van Hollen is a wimp, a country club Republican, a "sellout" and the worst GOP Attorney General in the country.

So I would use Belling as a barometer for Van Hollen's chances to move into Gov.Walker's seat with the party's backing should Walker quit after one term.

You can work you way to some Belling's barbs, here.

For example:

If J.B. Van Hollen were an item in a clothing store, he’d be the coat rack.

AP's Wolf Hunt Truth-In-Reporting

This AP story about the Wisconsin DNR closure of certain wolf hunting zones does not contain the agency's sanitizing words "harvest" or "harvested," and uses instead the factually descriptive terms "kill" or killed" four times.

The Wisconsin DNR news release announcing the wolf hunting zone closures uses the agency's preferred "harvest" or harvested" terms thirteen times. Tthe words "kill" or killed" do not appear.

Additional information, here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Van Hollen Abandons Walker; Not A GOP Succession Plan

Remember the notion floated out by some moderate Republicans that Wisconsin's GOP Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen had announced his intention to retire to position himself to run for Governor when Scott Walker packed it in after one term to run for President?

I said the WI GOP base would never go for it.

I think you can pretty much discard that Van Hollen-after-Walker scenario after thinking through Van Hollen's move to side with state media seeking the release of documents likely to put Walker in a negative light. Or worse.

As a part of a criminal appeal, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is seeking to make public a host of records from a secret investigation of aides to Gov. Scott Walker.
Van Hollen may run for another office some day, and, if so, surely would hope that editorial boards would remember he'd favored document release and disclosure, but I don't think that office is Wisconsin Governor as Scott Walker's replacement.

Mass Shooting Update: Six Dead In SC

US gun freedom noted earlier today has six more consequences:

Multiple people dead in Greenwood County, South Carolina, shooting

Recent Mass Shooting News You May Have Missed

Murder binge in Texas:

Five dead at four locations after shooting spree in Texas town

A massacre in Arizona:

Phoenix family killings may have been spurred by barking dogs, cops say

Police, Deputy targeted in broad daylight in New Mexico:

Shootings hit law enforcement fraternity hard

And prior to these incidents:

Eric Holder: Number of mass shootings tripled

2013 WI Wolf Slaughter Slows; Fresh Bait Needed

Hard to conclude otherwise, as the current march to the pack-decimating 251 gun and trapping kill

is not matching the bloody pace of the 'harvest's' first two weeks, DNR data show.

Tuesday evening update: Current kill is 168.

Wednesday evening update: 178.

Or the slowdown is deliberate, as dogs might be allowed in the hunt after 12/2 and if kill quotas are still open? 
Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap

By the way, here is how the DNR describes this killing in an email today announcing the closing of one hunting zone:

“Our ultimate goal is to harvest 251 wolves, distributed across the landscape,” said [senior DNR wolf specialist David] MacFarland. “The harvest zones are a tool by which we attempt to direct the harvest to achieve desired outcomes. The quotas concentrate hunting pressure more in areas with higher potential for conflicts, allowing for higher population densities in core habitat where potential for conflict is lower. This is our second season, and we continue to learn information about harvest success that will be valuable in future management decisions.”
Tools. Outcomes. Management decisions. We may as well be reading about widget production per assembly line machine.

WI GOP Would Poison State Constitution With Abrahamson Vendetta

Even the Wisconsin Constitution and selection of Supreme Court Justice aren't off-limits to Republican manipulations to choke off even-handedness and tradition and further make Wisconsin a bastion of angry, rightist practice.

Scott Walker Is No John Kasich

We know that Scott Walker is no Mark Dayton, the Minnesota Democratic Governor whose state has created a home-grown health insurance exchange with prices on average 88% lower than the inadequate alternatives Walker has intentionally imposed on Wisconsinites.

But who'd have thought the conservative Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich would speak out with a defense of the poor and government safety nets?

And shames by contrast Scott Walker-the-former-Eagle-Scout who has also refused to accept federal Medicaid dollars and tossed 92,000 Wisconsinites off their health care coverage.

Commentator Bill Kaplan has a good posting on this subject, which is featured today on the Cap Times state debate round-up.

Groundwater Forum In Madison This Evening

Couldn't be timelier:


Wisconsin's Groundwater Policies and Irrigation

5:30 - 7:00 PM

Cookies, coffee and tea available beginning at 5:15 PM

What? Walker Challenged On Facts?

How could anyone challenge the veracity of a politician whose statements have been rated true by PolitiFact 11% of the time?

Well, the unthinkable has happened, reports the Journal Sentinel:

Scott Walker opponents dispute details in upcoming book

Monday, October 28, 2013

Urban Wilderness Documentarian Records 'Progress' On County Grounds

Thanks again to Eddee Daniel for his diligent documentation of what has become of the public, open space formerly enjoyed as the Milwaukee County Grounds. A sample:

View of Discovery Parkway looking north toward Swan Blvd.

The Certainty Of Pro-Mining Editorials, Legislation

I read this recent Journal Sentinel editorial blog posting - - Sand mining bill needs adjusting - - and I thought, I've seen this movie before.

It was nearly two years ago, when the iron mining bill surfaced, and the Journal Sentinel editorial board had this to say - -  Yes to an iron ore mine; no to a bad Assembly bill

You know with certainty that when the sand mine de-regulation bill emerges from its "adjusting," the key corporate-first priorities originally inserted by special interests and their legislative operatives as the bill's core - - its raison d'etre - - will remain intact.

That is why they named the bill the Regulatory Certainty Act

Which calls for greater regulatory (wink-wink) authority vested in the Wisconsin DNR - - and don't be fooled by this sudden burst of GOP statism; Walker has stacked the upper echelons of the DNR with transfers from the builders and other powerful private sector interests whose task is to deregulate from within.

It's not for nothing that Walker went out of his way to appoint a DNR Secretary, Cathy Stepp, with her "chamber-of-commerce mentality." 

That'll embed you some certainty when it comes to mining permitting and all its related regulation de-regulation opportunity.

And speaking of certainty - - the latest special interest and GOP buzzword for government-by-room-service - - where is the certainty for citizen fairness and a leveled playing field?

Where is the certainty that clean air, fresh water and public budgeting is not give over and away to these sand and iron mining businesses at the expense of everyday people living downstream and downwind?

Why does State Senator Tom Tiffany, (R-Hazelhurst), keep introducing bills to reward mining interests - - the sweetheart sand mine de-regulation bill, the unsuccessful effort to close northern forest land where iron mining might someday occur, and the iron mining bill itself 
that earned this truth-in-journalism headline in The Capital Times:

Mining bill author admits it will cause environmental harm
My position: If you hand over legislating, and regulating to special interests and lawmakers who know their bills are going to harm the environment, you will get a polluted environment - - and that goes for the political environment, too.

The Journal Sentinel can do better than calling for "adjusting" another bad bill. 

And it could begin asking why there is so much certainty in the legislative process on behalf of the same special interests.

Regional Planning For 2050: Weigh In Tuesday

Transit activists and others interested in regional planning and policy-making may want to bring their data and opinions to this SEWRPC public event:

10-29-2013 - 05:00 PM
Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee, Wi 53202

Bill De-Regulating WI Mining Rests On Internal Trick

All hail the Wisconsin Republican party, The New Statists, and their legislating tricksters.

Exhibit "A" - - Their outrageous special interest bill to strip local governments in Wisconsin of their ability to regulate sand mining that plays fast and loose with language, too.

The bill - - which may get a mild re-write before a full-scale legislative push in 2014 while retaining its essential statist grabbiness - - says local governments can control mining through zoning.

But many towns with these water-sucking, dust-creating, traffic-snarling mines in their midst have limited or zero zoning powers, and state legislators know this.
The measure would affect counties and all types of municipalities, but would have have the greatest impact on towns. About 240 townships do not currently have zoning authority, and many of those are in western Wisconsin where sand mining has proliferated in recent years, according to the Wisconsin Towns Association.
Republicans in the Walker corporatist era keep saying that all they and their business enablers want is the kind of regulatory "certainty" that only the state government can provide.

You didn't hear that line when Democrats ran state government; then the GOP was all about local control - - because that's where the people know used to know best.

Like people in Milwaukee. Or on a pre-Act 10 municipal/union bargaining committee.

And you still don't hear it when it comes to education and school policy, and the role of the State Department of Public Instruction, an office Republicans have not yet captured for a fresh infusion of their special kind of certainty.

Like a DNR now run by corporate insiders, for example.

The push to de-regulate sand mining is shameful situational, unprincipled and big money special-interest legislating.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

When Law Caters To Polluters, You Get A Polluted State

[updated from Saturday] Wisconsinites fighting sweetheart deregulating of sand and iron mining in Wisconsin through industry-written bills goosed through the Legislature by special-interest, willing GOP captives should take a look at the literal mess created by official obeisance to polluting businesses in oil rich North Dakota.

North Dakota, with its amber waves of grain, and also the subject of a thousand feel good stories about booming shale oil drilling, employment, prosperity, soaring housing prices, business certainty, etc. etc. etc. And also...

Where, it turns out, there have been 300 hushed-up oil spills in just the last 21 months, but none disclosed by state agencies because spill reporting is not required by North Dakota state law:
There's one spill in particular that seems to have grabbed the AP's attention: a massive — 865,000 gallon — oil spill from a Tesoro Logistics pipeline in the state last month, which covered several acres of a nearby farm. That spill raised some substantial questions about the ability of private oil companies to detect and correct infrastructure problems before something bad happens. It turns out that it also took the state 11 days to say anything about the spill, only doing so in response to questions from the press. 
This is what happens when you turn government, land, air and water over to industries hostile to the environment and public regulation.

This Wisconsin newspaper story and headline summed up the industry-influenced iron mining bill, which could lead to consequences for the Bad River watershed as North Dakota farmland near fracking sites and pipes:
Mining bill author admits it will cause environmental harm
And the same legislator, State Sen. Tom Tiffany, (R-Hazelhurst), said the sand mining de-regulation bill he has introduced was written with industry input. Define input! 

Nuke Waste Storage Close To Lake Huron...

File under "what could go wrong?"

Saturday, October 26, 2013

C'mon, Be Honest...

When you heard about officials coming to Wisconsin to look into 'slipperiness,' you thought John Doe 2.0 and not the Bradley Center floor, right?

WI Wolf Hunt Kill Exceeds 2012 'Harvest' By 10%+

Shooters, and trappers allowed to plant scented bait, have now killed 134 wolves in Wisconsin, reports the DNR - - exceeding the 2012 toll of 117 on the way this year to 251.
Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap 
The updated DNR kill data is here.

And the final tally of wolves killed in Wisconsin this year will no doubt exceed the legal 'harvest' of 251 when those also killed by vehicles, illegal 'shoot-shovel-and-shutup' hunters, or by farmers or law enforcement officers legally after livestock killings are counted.

In 2012, 126 wolves killed outside of the legal hunt were known to the DNR, bringing the known wolf death toll in Wisconsin last year to 243, records indicated.

Pipeline Plans Proceed, As Do Costly Spill Cleanups

Tar sand and fracked crude oil pipeline companies are pressing for expansions from Canada to Texas, and across Wisconsin, too, but why should those permissions be granted when several major inland spills are still being cleaned up, with pollution effects, repair and environmental costs lasting years?

The controversial Canada-Texas pipeline plan, known as Keystone XL, will cross the largest underground water supply in the US  - - but the ongoing contamination from a serious pipeline break in a North Dakota wheat field should ring alarm bells about the dangers ahead if Keystone is allowed to open and flow.

Another consideration in the 'what-could-go-wrong-calculus' - - human errors that accompany and exacerbate such spills, like the Exxon operator delays that let crude oil pour unnecessarily into Montana's Yellowstone River after sensors had detected the break.

Likewise - - delayed shut-off work and reporting worsened the recent pipeline spill on and under a North Dakota wheat farm that left more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil to clean up.

And the Wisconsin expansion is being sought by a company - - Enbridge - - with a long history of pipeline breaks and environmental damage in and outside of Wisconsin. The 2010 break in an Enbridge pipeline that contaminated the Kalamazoo River in Michigan is nearing a remediation tab of $1 billion.

Enbridge spilled 50,000 gallons of oil in Wisconsin in 2012.

More about Enbridge's plans to triple the Wisconsin flow - - is here:

An increase in crude oil production in Canada and North Dakota is driving a major crude oil transport company to upgrade its infrastructure in Adams County and other parts of Wisconsin, according to a spokesperson from Enbridge, Inc.

Becky Haase, stakeholder relations specialist, said in a phone interview the improvements to Line 61 will increase its capacity from 400,000 barrels per day to 1.2 million barrels per day.
Regrettably, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has endorsed the Wisconsin pipeline expansion.

Even a relatively less calamitous and lower-profile inland gasoline pipeline break like the one that damaged the Jackson marsh and water systems northwest of Milwaukee in Washington County, Wisconsin shows the difficulties and costs presented by an inland pipeline rupture.

Just because the Canadians are willing to moonscape parts of Alberta and risk their rivers for tar sand oil extraction doesn't mean the US should bear the environmental burden of getting the oil all the way to Houston for processing and shipping to Asia.

Inland spills are called the "new monster," (sights and sounds here).

President Obama should veto Keystone.

The Daily Show Could Produce WI Voter Suppression Segment

Wisconsin GOP legislators pushing voting restrictions would make good guests, like this now ex-GOP official in North Carolina.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Access Blocked To Bogus Walker Ad About Barrett's Extreme Environmentalism

When Walker made the claim in an ad, few could have imagined its level of diversion and falsehood, given that, as Governor, Walker and his legislative allies have, or are trying to deregulate wetlands, groundwater protections, open-pit mining, frac sand mining, shoreline and riverbank protections - - and has put industry insiders at the helm of the DNR where polluters get their wrists slapped.

Want to see that Walker ad now?

You can't: access blocked.

Once it was good enough to air in a campaign.

Now, apparently not.

What does that tell you? To me it cries...

'National campaign clean up!'

From Fracking To Pipelining To Open Pit Mining...

You should ask the question now being confronted in Canada after a massive pipeline spill:

What could go wrong?

Despite Growing Use Of Groundwater, WI Wants De-Regulation

You'd think growing use of state groundwater would push officials to look at conservation strategies, but, as you know, state legislators want to make it easier for big users to use even more.

Without local controls.

Though with ALEC-inspiration.

Good Citizen Action podcast, discussion, linked here.

WI Citizen Action Timely Podcast

Health care, WEDC, John Doe 2.0 and a public water rip-off tied to deregulating frac sand mining in Wisconsin.

That's a full podcast.

NY Times Touts Great Milwaukee Hang-Outs

The travel feature "36 Hours In" stops in Milwaukee and recommends Boswell book store, the new Clock Shadow Creamery,  Zafirro's pizza and the incomparable Leon's custard stand, along with predictable destinations for art, brats, beer tours and the like. Text, photos, here.

WI Wolf Hunt, Fact And Fiction

Readers know there have been frequent postings on this blog about the Wisconsin wolf hunt, now in its second year. Here is additional sunlight on the matter:

*  Wisconsin increased its permitted wolf kill this year to 251 from the 117 reported in 2012. Neighboring Minnesota probably did the same, right? 


Listening to experts, Minnesota drastically reduced its 2013 quota:

The [MN} DNR has cut the number of wolves that hunters can kill from 400 last year to 220 this year.  
*  So why is Wisconsin going in the other direction, with baiting and trapping allowed along with firearm killing to hit increased quotas? 
Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap 
One reason: Fewer wolves mean more elk, and that could mean Wisconsin's elk hunt might finally get under way in 2014

*  Some hunters support the wolf hunt because they believe wolves are depressing the number of deer available to be killed in the annual deer hunt. 

The DNR says that's misleading:
It is important to place in perspective the impact of wolves preying on deer. Each wolf kills about 20 deer per year. Multiply this by the number of wolves found in Wisconsin in recent years (800), and approximately 16,000 deer may be consumed by wolves annually. This compares to about 27,000 deer hit by cars each year, and about 340,000 deer shot annually by hunters statewide. 
*  Additionally, the same WI DNR website notes the deer favored by wolves are not prime targets for hunters:
Ironically, studies have shown that wolves have minimal negative impact on deer populations, since they feed primarily on weak, sick, or disabled individuals. 
*  Finally:   Do those 117 wolves 'harvested' last year by hunters with Wisconsin permits represent the sum total of wolves killed in the state last year?

No: Along with illegal kills, depredation control, and collisions with vehicles, the state recorded 243 wolf kills in 2012, DNR records show - - more than double the 'harvest.'

The DNR  supplied some data under Open Records about the illegal kills:
Sex - - 10 males, 10 females.
Counties - - Bayfield, 3. Chippewa, Price, Taylor and Douglas - -  2 each. Sawyer, Burnett, Wood, Eau Claire, Walworth, Oconto, Adams, Jackson, Dane - - 1 each. 
Cause of death - - Illegally shot, 15. One each as: Illegally shot; Illegally killed; Illegally shot as coyote; Illegally killed shot /arrow?; illegally killed-trapped, shot.

The WI GOP Will Not Like One 'Colleague's' Environmental Pragmatism

The other day we noted the moderating pragmatism of GOP State Senator Dale Schultz, (R-Richland Center), on school names and mascots.

On Thursday, Schultz stood up for local control - - and public health, safety and resource protection - - of mining in the face of a thoughtless, GOP-induced special interest takeover.

But Schultz - - who had the temerity to oppose the environmentally-toxic iron mining bill - - offends Tea Party and harder-edge Republican ideologues who are lining up a primary opponent from the right because the majority party cannot stand the presence of a dissenter.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Walker's WEDC Opens State To Business Criticism

Bad enough that Wisconsin will not meet Scott Walker's signature 250,000-New-Jobs campaign pledge, but a national report now says the privatized public agency he set up to create jobs was doomed from the start, The Capital Times reports:

A new national report is harshly critical of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., using WEDC as an example of the inherent risks with so-called “public-private partnerships” being used in a growing number of states.
WEDC says it replaced a state agency - - the Department of Commerce - - that wasn't working well, but where is that documentation? Did Commerce lose track of millions of dollars of loans, pass out money without authorization, or standards? 

Did Commerce award funding to businesses for projects that had already been completed, or route funding to corporations whose executives were large Walker campaign donors?

Walker wanted to prove that the private sector knows best, but a punishing state audit
said otherwise. In a May posting, I quoted and described some of the audit's key findings:
From page 4 of the audit:

Program Administration

WEDC did not have sufficient policies to administer its grant, loan, and tax credit programs effectively, including some statutorily required policies. It had no policies for determining how to handle delinquent loan amounts. In other instances, WEDC did not consistently follow statutes or its existing policies when making awards.

We reviewed files for 64 awards that WEDC made in FY 2011-12 and found that WEDC made some awards to ineligible recipients, for ineligible projects, and for amounts that exceeded limits specified in its policies.

WEDC lacked invoices or other contractually required documentation showing that authorized costs were incurred for 7 of 29 grant and loan awards that we reviewed. 
In addition, four contracts executed through the Jobs Tax Credit program allocated four businesses a total of $906,000 in tax credits for job creation and employee training that had occurred before the contracts were executed.

While gifts and perks were rung up willy-nilly on bank cards or handed out on whims. 
From iTunes cards to Badger football season tickets to Wisconsin Memorial Union chairs worth nearly $300 each. 
And there have been continuing problems with high-profile loans that have produced zero promised jobs. 

How can Walker take this record to a national audience and claim to be a problem-solving executive?

[The study of WEDC and Walker donors cited above was produced by One Wisconsin Now. I sit on the organization's non-profit board and played no role in the report's research or publication.]

Bad River Band Presents Ten Mining Questions To WI DNR

Hat tip to the Woodsperson blog for summarizing a 19-page letter and offering links to the full document:

In an extremely well written and cited letter to Mr. Larry Lynch of the Wisconsin DNR, Cyrus Hester of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians’ Department of Natural Resources, listed ten areas of concern about Gogebic Taconite’s bulk sampling plan. 
The concerns range from possible air and water contamination to endangered animals and plants to a question about GTac’s option rights...
The overall message of the letter, it would seem, is that GTac’s bulk sampling plan is too vague and lacks enough information to allow an informed permitting decision.  The Tribe is asking that GTac be required to produce that information before a decision is made by the WDNR about the types of permits required by the plan. 
Full Letter Available 
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Best Line About GOP's Faux Obamacare Rollout Outrage

Belongs to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, (D), as told to Ed Schultz today, and I'm paraphrasing:

Woman at restaurant: The food here is terrible. 
Man at restaurant: And the portions are so small.
And Paul Ryan, calling it a fiasco? After repeatedly trying to kill it, along with allies like Scott Walker, who made the federal site more complex by refusing to create a state site? Stop with the hypocrisy.

Feed A Wolf, Trap A Wolf, Shoot A Wolf

The rules governing the Wisconsin wolf hunt allow hunters and trappers to set out up to ten gallons of feed or bait at a site, including "liquid scent."

Some sport.

You can read the rules, here. And bear-baiting no doubt attracts wolves ready to protect the bait and lose their life doing so.
Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap
The wolf hunting rules also demonstrate how language masks the realities of the hunt.

Killing wolves is a "harvest."

And trappers "dispatch" their snagged prey.

Ten Days Of WI Wolf Killing Exceeds Entire 2012 'Harvest'

The DNR now says that hunters and trappers have already killed 120 wolves in the first ten days of the 2013 hunt, exceeding the entire 2012 toll of 117.

What a sport. The 'harvesters' are allowed to set out up to ten gallons of bait. (see rules). And how big will the killing get next year, possibly aided by tracking dogs?

Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap

New Water Source Spotted In Wisconsin

Paul Ryan's alligator-cry-me-a-river tears over Obamacare rollout flow into the state's political environment.

Bill Kraus' Walker-Won't-Run Posting Is A Head-Scratcher

Bill Kraus might be on to something predicting that Scott Walker won't run for re-election, as Walker definitely has The Presidential Bug, but suggesting that Attorney General J. B Van Hollen is the heir apparent?

No way. The GOP base sees him as moderate and squishy. The base would prefer Rebecca Kleefisch, among others.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Walker's ALEC-Linked PSC Chair Pitches Private Water Services Role

One of Scott Walker's first appointments was Phil Montgomery - - former GOP legislator, Koch interests' donation beneficiary, and ALEC big-wig - - to the chairmanship of the Public Service Commission.

From which Montgomery told a group of utility and other private sector officials last week that cooperation, regionalism and more private-sector funding and influence is the route to future Wisconsin water utility operation and management. 

Montgomery - - more on his prior ALEC work - - said his talk was an "everything on the table" approach.

I put his remarks in the category of a trial balloon - - Walkerite code echoing their talk about the 'tools' and 'certainty.' When you hear it, batten down the hatches.

Why Is Wisconsin The Only State That...

* Treats first-time-caught drunk driving (except if a child is on board) as a no-jail, mail-in-your-fine ticket?

*  Made legal the use of dogs in wolf hunting (currently enjoined by an appellate court)?

*  Pays bear hunters up to $2,500 for hounds killed in the hunt, or by a wolf?

Are we a life-is-cheap, oh-so tradition-bound state, or it a matter of powerful hunting and alcohol industry lobbying having its way with too many legislators afraid of their own shadows?

One clue: Even loyal GOP foot soldiers like Mequon State Rep. Jim Ott and River Hills State Sen. Alberta Darling, having cited horrific drunk-driving episodes that cry out for reasonable reform, are unable to get hearings and floor votes on tepid of OWI legislative changes, such as at least deterring and criminalizing drunk driving at about twice (0.15) the legal blood alcohol content limit of (0.08).

You can argue that the status quo is all about honoring Wisconsin's good-time drinking and hunting traditions, but look to another tradition - - special-interest influences - - first.

Blood In The Woods; WI Wolf Kill Hits 110

The DNR reports that 110 wolves have been shot to death, or trapped and then shot and killed, in a season barely a week old.

And remember when hunting lobbyist and former Redgranite GOP State Sen. Bob Welch predicted that without dogs, not one hunter would be able to kill a wolf?

Bob Welch, executive director of the Wisconsin Hunters Rights Coalition, an organization that was active in lobbying for the season and also in authoring the legislation creating the hunt, said hunters who cannot use dogs won't kill wolves.

"I think it would be very unlikely you'd even get one," Welch said.
Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap
The only merciful news in this disgraceful misadventure is that dogs were to have been permitted for the first time in the hunt after Dec. 2, and it looks like all this year's killable wolves will have been 'harvested' by that point.

The dogs would have added a new element of terror to wolf packs, and inevitable confrontations would have led to dead hunting dogs, too.

The dog issue is also still in the courts.

This year's permissible 'harvest' is substantially higher than last year's, but with license fees cut by in half by Walker in his budget to just $49, and perhaps greater awareness of where the wolves den - - and the use of bear bait that attracts wolves, too - - I'm sure the bear and wolf hunt lobbies will press for an even higher kill next year.

Walker and his legislative allies are bringing certainty to Wisconsin wildlife.

What: Walker Appointees Contemptuous Of Law?

Who'd have thought these people were capable of this?

A Dane County judge found Gov. Scott Walker's employment relations commissioners in contempt of court Monday for repeatedly defying the judge's finding last year that Walker's signature labor law was unconstitutional.
My read: Walkerites believe the State Supreme Court will backstop any behavior, so it's basically 'up yours, District Courts, administrative procedures, local controls, etc.'

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wisconsin's State-Sanctioned Wolf Hunt Allows Trapping

So the state allows this - - followed by a gunshot to finish the kill (rules, here) - - for sport hunting.

This photo, "amputation in the wild," has been posted, to make the point:
Steel trap wolf leg

Your 'harvest at work.' And the current toll, says the DNR - - your tax dollars at work, is already 97.

Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap

Public Pressure Working; WI Frac Sand Mining De-Regulation Stalling

Protests and scientific concern about a plan to prevent local governments from regulating mining - - in other words, a give away of clean air, water, and public health protections - - has been shelved until next year by GOP leaders.

The Assembly will wait until this spring to take up a bill to limit local government restrictions on the state’s burgeoning sand mining industry, its top leader said Tuesday.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he supported the proposal but thought it would take more time for the bill to have a public hearing and work through any questions that are raised.
A Senate hearing is sill scheduled:

State Capitol Building
Room 411 South
9:30 a.m.

So - - keep up the pressure. Demonstrations being planned for Thursday at the Capitol should stay scheduled and hearing atendance is vital.

Local control is basic to democracy.

One person observed: "It would be so beautiful if people would wear red and blue to show that this is not about partisan politics, this is about democracy."

Dale Schultz, Ostracized GOP Moderate, Looking For School Name/Mascot Compromise

It is regrettable that the Tea Party and run-of-the-mill Walkerite Republicans are running this man out of the State Senate.

Quickened WI Wolf Kill Closing In On 2012 'Harvest'

Up to 95 now.

Last year's kill was 117: this year's can be as high as 251.

Based on science, MN cut it's 'harvest.' Wisconsin threw out the science and ramped up the killing.

Bloody sick. Remember, traps are OK, too. Image, here.

gray wolf

Sen. Sunspots Facing Informed Electorate Backlash

RoJo's climate change message is NoGo:

A conservation group says its polling has found that voters have a dimmer view of politicians, like Johnson, who continue to deny that humans are a major factor in climate change.




New John Doe Or Old, Walker Will Know Nothing

It's been his pattern for 25 years beginning with his ethically-messy losing campaign for Marquette University student body president, so this new probe will be treated the same way: 'I know nothing...I have no information...I wasn't even born yet...' etc.

Through later campaigns, his County Executive years and as Governor, too.

The pattern documentation, is here.

And a sample from that posting:

A few months ago, Scott Walker told the AP he didn't have a clue about the John Doe probe. Here's how the Eau Claire paper framed the story when running it: 
Walker says he knows nothing of investigation
"We don't know what exactly is involved," Walker said Friday when asked about the raid after a public event at Milwaukee's General Mitchell Airport.
"As far as what I know is what I've been reading in the press. I don't have any more information beyond that." 
*  Then a few weeks ago, Scott Walker drew another blank when the Journal Sentinel asked about where he thought the John Doe was headed, and he commented in this story:

Walker says he has met man jailed in investigation

In response to a question about those around him, Walker went on to say that he believed his aides - some of whom have come under scrutiny from authorities - had acted correctly as well.

"I'm not aware of anything, particularly for people working for me right now. There's nothing brought to my attention that would be a problem," Walker said.
A list he updated when he said didn't know anything about Scott Suder and Sportsmengate.

And he'll go into denial mode on the new probe revealed by Dan Bice.

And this is why you would not buy a used car from him.