From the man who is pushing the destructive, mega-open pit mine in Northern Wisconsin forests:
Saturday, May 31, 2014
The Wall Street Journal editorial page has once again spanked Gov. Scott Walker for allegedly contemplating a settlement deal with John Doe prosecutors.
The conservative newspaper labeled Walker's response to its earlier warning shot "disingenuous" and "the oddest reaction." (Search online for "Walker's Too Clever Reply" for the new editorial.)
Posted by James Rowen at 5:45 PM
Wisconsin Congressman and 2012 GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has been warning against citizen dependency on government.
It's a Scott Walker refrain, too, as he and fellow taxpayer-paid careerist Ryan define and defend The American Dream which provides them privilege and paychecks. Said Walker:
Cross-posted at Purple Wisconsin.
Friday, May 30, 2014
[Updated, 2:35 p.m.] Waukesha, defacto capital of FitzWalkerstan, is the new, go-to county for right-wingers with lawyers.
And speaking of lawyers, do we correctly assume that The Wisconsin GOP & Friends has stopped undermining trial lawyers these days?
Posted by James Rowen at 2:09 PM
[Updated, 11:25 a.m.] Needed: Serious stewards of water in Wisconsin where Earth Day was founded, and where the State Constitution mandates public access to clean water, but also where there are new and growing threats to water quality and its enjoyment statewide, including:
* A massive open-pit iron mine in the pristine Bad River watershed close to Lake Superior.
* Clear-cutting on public land at the Milwaukee County Grounds.
* Multiple frac sand mines near the Mississippi River.
* An expanded mega-dairy - - one among many - - near Green Bay. Or this one.
* Another sailing season of coal-ash dumping by a big ferry into Lake Michigan.
* A tripling of tar sand crude oil pipeline capacity north-to-south in Wisconsin.
* And now, a golf course to replace wetlands and forests along the Black River, and the Lake Michigan shoreline, near Sheboygan.
The big water picture has become murkier since I wrote this May, 2013 summary of threatened Wisconsin waters.
Especially since Scott Walker has deliberately turned the DNR and its regulatory role over to officials with, as he put it, "a chamber of commerce mentality."
Their target - - the state constitutional water rights protection known as The Public Trust Doctrine, though the Walkerites, afraid to go straight at the constitution, are instead draining it less directly.
Little wonder that big businesses, the super-rich, and modern day land barons in Wisconsin want to manipulate ground and surface waters for their own narrow and special interests.
As I said, serious stewards, water advocates are needed here, and now.
One excellent source of information is Midwest Environmental Advocates, a public interest law firm.
Apply at your local town hall, common council, environmental organization and political campaign office.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:30 AM
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Amazing news out of Cobb County! The new Braves ballpark is a political shitstorm and a mockery of the democratic process. That's not the news. The news is just how transparent of a sham this all is. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
At a packed public meeting, county commissioners approved a series of seven legal agreements with the team, and several community agencies that will be involved in building, operating and paying for a new $622 million ballpark in the Cumberland Mall area. The meeting was over within two hours, and the commissioners approved the deals without questions or debate.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:04 PM
The ideologically-far-right Wisconsin US Sen. Ron Johnson voted against federal funding for water projects from Superior to Milwaukee - - Big Government, Bad! - - so is Waukesha wasting its time begging Johnson to support its pitch for a very un-Tea Party-like $50 million federal earmark to pay for part of Waukesha's proposed Lake Michigan water diversion scheme?
Remember when the City of Milwaukee needed $90 million+ to extend its water intake pipe farther into Lake Michigan and begin ozone disinfection treatment to make sure drinking water from the Milwaukee Water Works was free of cryptosporidium?
Milwaukee didn't run to the Congress for a handout, as Waukesha is doing - - Waukesha wants grants, mind you, not loans - - with the help of paid lobbyists to carry Waukesha's water in DC.
No - - Milwaukee funded the upgrades on its own.
But back to the Tea Party Republican Johnson's opposition to federal water funding.
Is it based on principle, or is it geographically or politically situational enough to keep Waukesha's bid afloat?
Though the question may be moot when Johnson gets the boot in 2016.
Posted by James Rowen at 8:59 PM
The final, physical evidence left the station today, explains the Journal Sentinel, after Walker had begun to sidetrack and banish it...
|The first two built-in-Milwaukee/banned-in-Wisconsin trains ended up serving people in the Northwest.|
Wisconsin politicians seem to be focusing on stamping out Amtrak.
Despite polling data that show the public wants rail transit in Wisconsin.
Posted by James Rowen at 4:32 PM
The veteran investigative journalist Bill Lueders offers a strong report about influences on Wisconsin hunting policies:
In February, the state’s Wolf Advisory Committee took a surprising stand against a controversial state program that compensates the owners of dogs killed by wolves while hunting other animals...
At the February meeting, committee member Al Lobner, president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, opposed ending the payments. Attendee Melanie Weberg, a semi-retired teacher, says Lobner warned the group, according to her notes, “This is not a threat; be careful of what you do or this could get ugly.” She considered it a threat.
At the committee’s next meeting, in late April, DNR administrator Kurt Thiede told members they should not be making recommendations that require statutory changes, like ending these payments.More context and a route to other posts on these issues, here.
|Powerful bear hunting groups benefit from a unique WI program that pays them for hunting dogs lost to wolves during various hunts. They also back wolf killing quotas challenged as unsustainable by some conservationists, wolf advocates and scientists.|
Posted by James Rowen at 3:00 PM
The Eagle Scout who boasted that he'd lived a political life defined by transparency responds through the lamest of vehicles to a tough editorial in The Wall Street Journal that challenged his principles.
Here is his very parsed and unresponsive news release.
Of course, Walker's people, let alone the boss himself, were not available for clarification.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:05 AM
Wisconsin GOP Senator, clean water opponent and master of irrelevancy Ron Johnson was one of only seven US Senators to recently vote "nay"on federal funding for a host of water quality projects nationally, including cleaning up the Burnham Canal on Milwaukee's Southside.
For the record:
Sen. Tammy Baldwin's office says the package will benefit the Neenah Foundry plant in Neenah, which makes drinking and wastewater infrastructure accessories and products. It also allows the City of Milwaukee to move forward on restoring the Burnham Canal and transforming it into a wetland. Other funds will go toward funding a Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to be shared by Duluth and Superior, Green Bay and Milwaukee...
Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte says his group is pleased with the bill's passage because it encourages the sustainability of Wisconsin's agricultural export programs...
Meanwhile, only seven Senators voted against the legislation, including Wisconsin's Ron Johnson. He says there are a number of provisions in the bill that he liked, but said since the entire draft was lacked with 'adequate reform and an effective prioritization process' he could not support it.
"The important provisions did not outweigh the bill's serious flaws," Sen. Johnson said. "In addition to increasing government spending far in excess of the deal that President Obama and Congress agreed to in December, the bill did not adequately reform a broken system that fails to effectively prioritize federal spending and Army Corps of Engineers projects."
Posted by James Rowen at 7:00 AM
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
[updated 11:51 p.m. Wednesday] Ouch. This could be the ultimate proof of Scott Walker's opportunistic, 'me-first' mentality:
Gov. Scott Walker's campaign may be negotiating with prosecutors as part of a secret investigation into the 2012 recall campaigns involving him and other candidates, according to an anonymously sourced opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal...
Until now, the newspaper's editorial page has defended Walker against what it says is an unconstitutional violation by prosecutors of his campaign's free speech rights. In Wednesday's editorial, the newspaper attacked Walker, alleging that his attorney was negotiating with prosecutors at a time when they are facing legal setbacks.
"Sounds like Mr. Walker has to decide whose side he's on — his own, or the larger principles he claims to represent," the editorial reads.And it's at times like these when it helps to remember this Scott Walker famous/infamous line:
When he says he believes in government transparency, it's not just a campaign slogan, Walker said.
"I don't just say that, I've lived it," he said.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:51 PM
Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday defended Republican initiatives to curb violence in Milwaukee, a day after gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke charged that GOP lawmakers "take voter suppression more seriously than the violence suppression."Walker wants credit for signing a bill to fund a crime-fighting program, ShotSpotter:
Walker...noted that he signed bipartisan legislation to fund the Milwaukee Police Department's ShotSpotter program that verifies and pinpoints the location of gunfire.But...Walker first withheld the funding:
The details, as reported by the Journal Sentinel:
ShotSpotter: The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee rejected an attempt to restore $445,400 from a community policing grant for the Police Department's ShotSpotter program. Walker had not included the money in his budget.Then Walker signed it, but at a lessened level.
So, advantage Burke on a day when Walker got called out in The Wall Street Journal for opportunism.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:01 PM
Waikesha's stalled application for a Lake Michigan water diversion in the hands of the DNR since spring of 2010 need further work by the City.
The agency posted on its website a letter it sent last week ago asking the City to review its plan to return treated waste water to the lake via the Root River and the Racine harbor.
Racine officials have strenuously objected to the plan, as the Root River floods in residential areas. Even recently.
You can read the letter, here and a notice of the letter, here.
The DNR could wait until after the November, 2016 election to finish its review, at which time it would schedule hearings before sending to seven other Great Lakes states for their separate reviews.
A diversion could be approved if all the Great Lakes Governors assent.
Waukesha has said it hopes to find federal funding to defray some of the full project's estimated $206 million construction cost and minimize the hit to local water rate payers.
The cost had been estimated at $78 million as late as 2009.
The application has already generated skepticism in Canada, where officials will play an advisory role to the states.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:11 AM
Converting 247 acres of nearly-pristine woodland to a golf course requiring large amounts of water and fertilizer would raise a lot of issues about Sheboygan-area land use near and along Lake Michigan - - and the questions are already being raised locally - - so I expect we will be hearing more about this:
A golf course [Herbert] Kohler is planning to build on 247 acres of Kohler Co.-owned land just north of Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan County would meet all the requirements to host a U.S. Open, according to architect Pete Dye.
Much of the country is embracing a tolerant, welcoming approach to human relationships and same-sex marriage - - and thus to equal rights, too - - but the Wisconsin Supreme Court is looking backward.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Posted by James Rowen at 9:35 AM
The Journal Sentinel summarizes some of the environmental concerns surrounding Enbridge's plan to triple crude oil pipeline shipments across the state.
Note the Wisconsin groundwater just below.
Given the WI DNR's pro-business/Walkerite direction, it feels like a fait accompli, especially since the DNR shows no sign of wanting to write an up-to-date environmental impact statement analysis.
Some history here, including the terrible record of the company proposing the Superior-to-Delevan line expansion.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Had occasion twice this week to go to the Urban Ecology Center on the East side at the Milwaukee River, and just wanted to underscore how valuable and pleasurable are the building, grounds and trails.
I''ll bet there are few cities the size of Milwaukee with such a terrific institution - - now grown to include two additional facilities in the Menomonee Valley and Washington Park - - and simple, powerful mission:
Address; 1500 E. Park Place Milwaukee, WI 53211. 414-964-8505
Our Mission The Urban Ecology Center fosters ecological understanding as inspiration for change, neighborhood by neighborhood.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Posted by James Rowen at 10:30 AM
Clearly the problem is that the law doesn't work.
It's just too easy to get guns and ammo galore in America.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
The website Buzzfeed.com said Milwaukee was one of 14 places in America you should pick up and move to:
But Gov. Walker, after laying waste to Milwaukee as its County Executive-running-for-Governor-against-the-city-in2012, warned voters his opponent would turn Wisconsin into "another Milwaukee."
The Milwaukee which Walker still dismisses and ignores on the state's tourism website.
Right. You wouldn't more of what Buzzfeed showed the world:
The unsung gem of the Midwest, this little city offers everything from an eclectic music scene to the House of Harley-Davidson.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:54 PM
Here's are updates on the student loan crisis and its growing significance in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race from Scot Ross, Executive Director, One Wisconsin Now.
From OWN's website:
In Wisconsin the response to the crisis from Gov. Walker has been silence and indifference interspersed between the largest cuts to public education in state history and hiking UW System tuition to the tune of $200 million plus for students attending over his four-year term.
Meanwhile the Republican controlled legislature gave borrowers the opportunity to offer their support during public hearings on the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act (Senate Bill 376 and Assembly Bill 498). But when it came time to count the votes, Republicans voted along party lines to keep the full legislature from having the opportunity to debate and vote on the bill.
The good news is there appears to be new hope on the horizon. Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has included some of the common sense solutions from the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act in her newly released "Invest for Success" jobs plan.
Ruth Conniff, editor of the Progressive Magazine posted this story yesterday citing the most recent public polling in the Mary Burke-Scott Walker race (46-46 among registered voters) and declaring: "The student loan debt issue could decide the 2014 election." (http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=42784&sid=ab36d644248dca56c6f0c3eb1db18e38)
Later, Ruth was on "The Ed Show" and talked about our work and made the same point, echoed by Ed in a segment devoted to student loan debt's impact on the race. (http://www.msnbc.com/the-ed-show/watch/wisconsin-youth-sees-through-walkers-agenda-263689283623)I'd add that it's more than a bit ironic that while Walker and his budget are looking at more red ink, so I guess debt management and austerity are just for little people.
(Disclosure: I am on the OWN C-3 board.)
Posted by James Rowen at 9:12 AM
Picture a sea-level rise equalling the surge from a permanent Superstorm Sandy, says a prominent, "registered Republican" climate scientist:
Last week, we learned from two separate research teams that the ice sheet of West Antarctica, which comprises just one relatively small part of Antarctic ice overall but contains enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by some 10 or 11 feet, has been irrevocably destabilized. \
Scientists have long feared that of all the planet's great ice sheets, West Antarctica would be the first to go, because much of it is marine-based—the front edge of the ice sheet is bathing in increasingly warm water, which is melting it from beneath.Then add in Greenland, also at risk, and you get more than twice as much sea level rise.
Then...I guess you call Pat Sajak and say the puzzle has been solved.
Posted by James Rowen at 8:30 AM
Friday, May 23, 2014
The West Bend, Wisconsin State Senator, Kwanzaa-hating, caulking expert and misogynistic Tea Party candidate for the Congress of the still-united United States of America gets ink for his Congressional campaign by announcing a Memorial Day hold on campaigning. Though he will walk in a parade, he further announces.
Yes - - nothing says 'Out of respect, I'm not going to campaign for a day' like telling reporters about your non-campaigning campaign plans.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:50 PM
On equal rights, public spending and moral example, you choose the leader:
The ideologue, with public money to burn:
Madison — Anticipating the state could soon lose its attempt to uphold Wisconsin's gay marriage ban, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen took the unusual step Friday of asking a federal judge to immediately block her own decision if she does strike down the ban.
Normally, lawyers wait until a judge enters a decision before asking for a stay. Van Hollen's motion seems to concede the state will lose the case, at least initially.The pragmatist, same week, with public and political capital to bank:
Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage was overturned by a federal judge Tuesday in a decision that legalizes same-sex marriage throughout the Northeast. Pennsylvania's Attorney General Kathleen Kane says she won't appeal.
Posted by James Rowen at 2:00 PM
This is a moving feature piece in the NY Times about overcoming ethnic slurs in modern America.
But as I asked the other day, and not for the first time - - why does the NFL tolerate and help market the name of its Washington DC pro football franchise that is racist slur against Native Americans.
And why did the State of Wisconsin, with the signature of Gov. Scott Walker and the support of a majority of the Legislature, use the law to help local school districts retain images, logos and nicknames that degrade Native Americans?
It's an appropriate topic to consider over the Memorial Day weekend, as Mike Wiggins Jr, the Bad River tribal chairman reason in a guest posting yesterday:
The United States interest thereby becomes the Bad River Tribal Nations and vice versa as it pertains to survival and health. Treaties and trust responsibility cement the formality of this mutualism between us.
Our anishinabe ogitchidaa (warriors, veterans) serve as a prime example of where these interests become one. During times of War, Native Americans always had the highest percentage of service per demographic group. In short, when the United States is threatened, Anishinabe Ogitchidaa have always been there in force.
Our veterans who serve believe in their Tribal Nations, believe in the United States and believe in freedom. Our veterans who sacrificed all believed in the possibility of a good long life for those they loved and ultimately a better World within their Nations...
Trust responsibility, the transfer of Spirit with the bigger U.S. Nation, and our Ogitchidaa…..tell me that the words “national interest” translate to the United States and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
It is in everyone’s interest for our Nations to protect our homelands and our people's.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:00 PM
Here's a short course in how the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, (WisDOT), is wasting public highway dollars by the millions while ignoring safer and less-costly alternatives.
Often these battles are fought in cities, where neighborhoods oppose expensive, polluting new Interstate highway lanes and ramps that overwhelm densely-populated areas.
But the subject of today's guest post is the financial, environmental, legal and public safety mess known as the Highway J/164 expansion-and-boondoggle (map, here) - - a battle in the out-suburbs and exurban hills of Waukesha and Washington Counties west and northwest of Milwaukee County - - and it's getting more and more media attention.
There have been some excellent accounts lately in The Capital Times, and the Shepherd Express.
A coalition of groups, suburban homeowners and farmers firmly opposed WisDOT's plan and initial re-construction to widen miles of two-lane highway in the Highway 164/J corridor that runs north through Washington County off I-94 in Waukesha County into a piece of the Kettle Moraine.
I've been posting their views since 2008.
The expansion will also add a wide median (that's how you build-in capacity for even more lanes later) along with limited, inconvenient access points - - so the opponents followed the process and Civics 101 by asking the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, (SEWRPC) - - a frequent WisDOT ally with an unelected board - - to reject the plan.
But SEWRPC, as is its pattern, ignored the views of thousands of petition signers, and thus began WisDOT's spending and bulldozing - - and ongoing litigation, too. More history, here.
It's a familiar story to Milwaukeeans who have had to fight the WisDOT/SEWRPC/road-builder alliance for years over similar highway expansion in the Marquette Interchange to serve suburban commuters.
And now, as we speak, over the possible addition of more noise, pollution, lanes, ramps and elevated bridges in the narrow, urbanized I-94 corridor near Miller Park, the Story Hill neighborhood and three cemeteries there, too.
Today is right day for this history lesson, as WisDOT has the entire SE Wisconsin region detoured, delayed, diverted and other disgusted with orange barrels illustrating the state's refusal to use the longest-lasting highway building materials, hence our Memorial Day weekend congestion.
Jeff Gonyo leads the HJCJ Coalition; here is a first-hand account of what he, concerned citizens and the Waukesha Environmental Action League are facing:
Posted by James Rowen at 10:44 AM