Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wisconsin is not the land of second chances

To its uncharitable chief executive with his inflexible and unflinching certitude, "pardon me" these days in Wisconsin is only relevant in a crowded check-out lane, but still funny in an NRA kind of way, the always political Walker notes:
One issue on which Walker stood firm was his refusal, alone among at least the past six Wisconsin governors, to grant pardons to persons convicted of crimes. He feels strongly that he should not be able to "discount" the workings of the justice system by exercising this power, adding that systems of redress are already in place for those wrongfully convicted.
Walker said he most commonly gets pardon requests on behalf of people who made some youthful indiscretion but turned their lives around and now want to be able to go hunting with their children. He wonders, "What about all those other individuals who may not have an advocate but who have equally turned their lives around?"
Besides, he noted, somewhat jokingly, individuals barred from gun possession due to felony convictions can still bow hunt.
We know Walker has confused his Bible quotin' with recollectin' Chinese proverbs, but he might want to look at this long list of Biblical quotes about forgiveness and second chances the next time he waxes philosophically.

Forgiveness has been around for a long time - - even before 2011:
Rembrandt – “The Return of the Prodigal Son

End-of-year grassroots' update: A report from Kewaunee County

I've asked some grassroots Wisconsin activists whose groups have been featured on this blog to send a year-end updates. 

For example, I posted earlier this week about an effort to protect Dane County wetlands from further development.

Here's a report from Kewaunee County, where people are confronting Concentrated Animal Feed Operations, (CAFO's), pollution impacts on land, water and air:
A Year of Success in Kewaunee County
The sentiment of a healthy discussion is appreciated but the views of Kewaunee County citizens are jaded at the moment. 2013 was a year of hell for our county as citizens watched as Hall's Calf Ranch was rewarded with a CAFO permit after years of polluting, CAFOs sued a township trying to preserve their water, a 76,000,000 gallon lagoon was installed, Dueschers CAFO was fined for years of violations, manure spray irrigation was proposed and 33% of our wells were found to be polluted. 

A quick flip through Restore Kewaunee archives led me to a December 2013 a posting that laid out what the plans were for 2014. Let's see how we did:

December 2014 a group of concerned citizens established Restore Kewaunee, a website, blog and social media effort specifically designed to bring attention to industrial agriculture's impact on health and quality of life in Kewaunee County.

On Jan. 14, 2014 the WDNR renewed the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit at Ebert Dairy Enterprises, LLC. The permit allowed for the use of irrigation equipment to land apply manure or process wastewater as part of WDNR funded research

A group of Kewaunee County citizens petitioned the DNR's decision which moved the research and postponed manure irrigation in our county.

The Kinnards Dairy permit hearing took place in February 2013 followed by a DNR slammed by Administrative Judge Boldt for his decision of implementing a cow cap and groundwater monitoring. Kinnard Dairy has now petitioned Kewaunee County Circuit Court to overrule Judge Boldt.

Spring 2014 concerned citizens ran three citizens for county supervisor positions. Lee Luft was elected which has helped add a voice of reason to a board girdled by dairy stakeholders.

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future wrote a letter on our behalf stating the health issues related to living in an area of dense agriculture activity.

Kewaunee Cares has complied three years of water sampling data which clearly points to runoff contributing to algae blooms and closed city beaches. Concerned city residents initiated the ordinance banning the spreading of liquid manure within Algoma city limits. 

Kewaunee County passed a winter spreading ordinance. 

Under the ordinance, farmers wouldn’t be able to spread manure on shallow soils, which the ordinance deems 20 feet to bedrock, between January 1 and April 15. Citizen attendance at health and land and water committee meetings is the only reason the depth to bedrock moved from 5' to 20' which is still not the recommended 50' stated in the 2007 KARST Task Force Report.

October 22, 2014 Kewaunee CARES became one of six groups to petition the EPA to ensure drinking water security. The EPA Administrator is given certain emergency powers as set forth in the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”).

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Boehner proves GOP Southern strategy adage

It goes something like 'We can wash our dirty linen in public when actual hooded sheets have not been located."

Karma has Boehner adding extra whitening to the spin cycle when defending his party whip.

Political Truth finally found in Walker email record

The Force was with today's John Doe document dump, The State Journal reports:
Scott Walker’s Milwaukee County staff had a code name for his gubernatorial campaign with which they secretly coordinated strategy and messaging nearly every day: “the dark side.”
Darksiders btm
Chief among those bandying the code name around: Fran McLaughlin, Walker's Milwaukee County Executive communications chief at the time.

McLaughlin now serves as media contact for Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr.

No references yet found to Scott Skywalker, and we're still plowing through the records to see if any operatives were called Boba Fett or IG-88.

There's definitely no Obi-Wan or Yoda there.

Concealed carry story, posted without comment

Except to note that these guns have safeties.

Walker increasingly undecided or uninformed

Hey, it isn't all the glamorous stuff like visits to Sheldon Adelson or appearances with other Presidential wannabes for our guy:

He's been sitting for year-end interviews this week and wants you to know he hasn't thought through running for President, wiping out private-sector union rights, endorsing or rejecting torture, or backing mandatory retirement ages for duly-elected judges and State Supreme Court in mid-term, as Bill Lueders reports.

Also on the cannot-clarify list: Specifics about immigration reform or diplomatic relations with Cuba, though Walker has bashed President Obama over both, as this summary post documents.

Or whether the 14-shot killing of Dontre Hamilton was justifiable.

So what's on Walker's full plate? Let's see what we can decipher from his Twitter account:

 · 5 hours ago
More year end interviews this morning.
Well, that closes that loop. 

Walker fought program chosen by another 92,400 Wisconsin residents

That would program would be Obamacare, which Wisconsin residents have chosen to enroll by the tens of thousands for a second year through a federal website - - because our reflexively anti-Obama Ideologue-in-Chief foolishly barred Wisconsin from making it easier for Wisconsin residents to sign up for health insurance through a state website paid for with available federal funding.

The two-year Wisconsin enrollment is more than 223,000, or more than the populations of the cities of Waukesha, Green Bay and Wausau combined.

Better get to DNR-touted state park before the bulldozers

The Wisconsin DNR lists Kohler-Andrae State Park and its peaceful trails and dunes among good sites for candlelight winter hikes.

It is a beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline state park, but if the influential Kohler company gets its way, the DNR will let it have acreage in park for a road and structures related to a high-end golf course planned on a Kohler-owned nature preserve, woodland, wetland and river route adjacent to the park.

Site and survey work on the preserve took place this fall, though no formal applications or permits have been filed.

Deciphering Gov. Molotov's proverbial stuff

We know Walker can read cue cards when being filmed for a TV spot, and we also know he can get his Biblical verses mixed up with Chinese proverbs after botching some pretty mainstream Hebrew.

But why can't he think clearly and understandably on his feet? Staff has prepped and rehearsed and filled him with one-liners and key words, but why does he have so much trouble when it's time to roll out the words? Examples:


You look at his [Jeb Bush's] past as governor and the stuff he talks about, he often has a whole theme of things he does. And I think it's as simple as that."
On how he would resolve the problem of the estimated 12 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, he said he’d “leave that up to the people who are running for federal office or in federal office to decipher.”
Asked if he believed Saudi Arabia was a free and open country and what he made of the United States' relationship with that country [as opposed to Cuba], Walker said: "They're making a few moves right now but those are things that can be easily altered, at least in terms of Cuba. In terms of Saudi Arabia, we haven't — those are things I guess folks at the federal level would ultimately have to comment on in terms of whether its consistency or not.
Forced to think on his feet, Walker stumbled in Friday's debate by saying the state doesn't have a jobs problem, when in fact it has several: job growth in the bottom one-third of the states, lagging national performance, and a pivotal 250,000 new jobs promise only 40% met.
A condescending and intellectually dishonest Walker is saying we you have a "work problem," so you lazy jobless people - - it's your fault if you haven't grabbed one of the low-wage jobs he 'created.'

But in an interview with the Journal Sentinel on Friday, Walker signaled he would be unlikely to take the full [Medicaid] expansion but was considering steps short of that to reduce the uninsured population in the state. 
"I think there's more than just a black or white," he said of a Medicaid expansion. "I think there's variations."
MADISON (WKOW) -- Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) says a liberal organization is "grasping at straws" by accusing him of rejecting the federal expansion of Medicaid as a favor to the insurance industry.  
But in denying the allegation, Gov. Walker's answers on the subject provided only more confusion...
Citizen Action officials believe there's no doubt Gov. Walker's made his decision to benefit the insurance companies who donated to his campaign.   When asked about that specific allegation Monday afternoon, Gov. Walker seemed to be at a rare loss for words
"Actually if you think about it, its just the opposite," said Gov. Walker.  "It means fewer people would be on insurance actually, the end...if there were...more people there they'd be under Medicaid.  It's not a, for us, it has no decision one way or the other."
To clear up that answer, 27 News specifically asked the Governor if he was saying insurance companies did not benefit at all from his Medicaid decision, even though it meant more customers for them.
"In the end, I'm saying you had people before that were on a wait list.  Those weren't folks that were affected one way or another by insurance out there. The fact is they weren't, to my knowledge, they haven't lobbied me personally or anybody in my administration on this," said Gov. Walker.

Good news for Obama further diminishes minor GOP player

Headlines like these suggest Republican Presidential candidates are going to have a tough time attacking President Obama, or as he's also known, "Time Magazine's Person of the Year."
U.S. primed to drive global growth
Scott Walker, for example, will have a tougher time explaining headlines like these:
Wisconsin's private-sector growth rate lags nation
As the going gets tougher and if you are a poseur like Scott Walker, all you can do is to to serve up more your unique blend of incoherence and word salad that proves you don't know what you are talking about:
Scott Walker criticizes Barack Obama on immigration, foreign policy
Walker, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, joined a lawsuit earlier this month seeking to block Obama’s executive action sparing as many as 5 million people living illegally in the United States from deportation. Obama announced the action in November, saying it was an important step to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.
“This is a dramatic overreach of his authority,” Walker said...
On how he would resolve the problem of the estimated 12 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, he said he’d “leave that up to the people who are running for federal office or in federal office to decipher.”
"Decipher?"  Does he mean "determine?" Or "decide?" Or "define?"

Hey, decipher that!

WI project would mine iron ore already facing glut

[Updated from Monday, 11:10 a.m.] I think you can draw a straight line from the iron ore market glut - - noted here earlier, too - - to the stalled GTac mine proposal in the pristine Bad River watershed in northwest Wisconsin.

Despite little new activity reported by the DNR at the site, there on the books sits the sweetheart iron ore mining bill that GTac and its insiders helped write - - along with a companion bill to limit access to publicly-subsidized forest land in the area.

Also on the record is the previously-secret $700,000 donation routed to Gov. Walker's 2-12 recall campaign by the company through a third-party, conservative advocacy ally.

The collapse of the Wisconsin's environmental and open government ethic mirrors the free fall in the iron ore price.

Updates: The iron mine issue has been covered repeatedly by the Stellareport blog created by northern WI Atty. Anthony Stella, Jr.

Also cited, here:

Check it out.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tosa man not sure if 14 police shots were excessive

Though the case has received national publicity, there is at least one local man who isn't sure he has enough information to decide if the Milwaukee police officer should have been charged criminally after killing Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed African-American, who'd been sleeping lawfully in a park.

I know it's an amazing coincidence, but the same man, a Wauwatosa resident, has been asked before about newsworthy events and couldn't offer an informed opinion. What are the odds?

Thumbnail for version as of 14:00, 17 July 2014

End-of-year grassroots' updates: a report From West Waubesa

I've asked some grassroots activists whose groups have been featured on this blog to send a year-end updates. I'll be running them this week. Here's the first about an effort in Dane County to protect Lake Waubesa from encroaching development:
On Nov. 13 the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) voted 6 to 6 on Fitchburg's application to bring its "Northeast Neighborhood" into its Urban Service Area (USA).  Since CARPC rules require a super-majority of 8 to pass such a request, it failed.  This was a huge victory, since the CARPC hardly ever rejects any applications. 
But the CARPC merely advises the Department of Natural Resources on Urban Service Area extensions; the DNR has the final say.  If, as expected, Fitchburg appeals the CARPC's decision, the DNR might approve the application or send it back to the CARPC for a second look.  
The West Waubesa Preservation Coalition has been fighting this proposed development for 9 years, and has mobilized hundreds of concerned citizens in Fitchburg and beyond.  Over 1100 people signed petitions against the project.  For those inside Fitchburg, a major concern is the risk to taxpayers of trying to develop too many areas at once.  Fitchburg currently has 1126 developable acres within its USA, and creating another set of infrastructure to maintain isn't fiscally responsible. 
And people all over the county have rallied to protect Lake Waubesa and the Waubesa Wetlands from the siltation, petrochemical pollution, and excess nutrients that would flow into it from a developed Northeast Neighborhood.  The research, testimony, and writings of wetland scientists Dr. Cal DeWitt and Dr. Joy Zedler have been key in showing people what's at stake.  (For more info, go to to: and watch the 20 min. video!)  The wetlands will only be safe when the developable part of the Northeast Neighborhood has been purchased and dedicated to nature-friendly purposes.
Phyllis Hasbrouck
Chair, West Waubesa Preservation Coalition 

Backwater Wisconsin

Capital Times editor Paul Fanlund rhetorically poses the question about whether Wisconsin is being dragged to the political backwaters by Walker and the right - - then answers his own question with a must-read scintillating historical and political analysis:

With which I agree:
You could not find a stronger indicator of Wisconsin's emerging backwater status and unflinchingly callous political direction under Scott Walker than his blockade of a minimum wage increase and dismissal of the need to even have it - - while 20 other states and the District of Columbia will increase it on January 1, 2015.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gaps in Journal Sentinel pro-wolf hunt stance

Journal Sentinel associate editorial page editor Ernie Franzen wants the courts to again allow wolf hunting in Wisconsin.

There are gaps in Franzen's argument:
"It seems to me that a state-managed hunt with quotas is a reasonable check on [wolf population] growth, albeit with some changes in the state law. 
But the quotas set by state officials have been exceeded in all three seasons since wolf hunting was re-authorized by the Legislature in 2012, and the Wisconsin DNR has let the quotas it announced be broken this year even though it was clear that another overkill was coming

Does this suggest that the DNR takes its quota-setting role seriously?
Wisconsin is killing its wolves

Franzen points out that the DNR is close to releasing an updated Wisconsin wolf management plan.

But the Journal Sentinel last fall ran an op-ed disclosing that the DNR had drastically remade its citizen wolf policy-making stakeholders group by removing nearly all those opposed to wolf hunting, leaving pro-hunting members of the DNR's selection with lopsided representation:
This year, the long-standing Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wolf Science and legislatively mandated Stakeholders Committees were wiped out by order of the DNR secretary. In their place, the Wolf Advisory Committee was created, membership "by invitation only" from the DNR Secretary. Twenty-five of the 26 members are wolf removal agents. 
Meanwhile, members of the Bear Hunters' Association instigated resolutions to cull Wisconsin wolves in 18 counties -- the same bear hunters who were instrumental in the expedited implementation of wolf hunting and trapping legislation, mandating the use of dogs on wolves, even though the majority of Wisconsin residents oppose the use of dogs on wolves, as demonstrated both in polls and in the Conservation Congress Hearings.
Although the Wolf Advisory Committee may have considered data presented by University of Wisconsin faculty, who have been barred by the DNR secretary from sitting on wildlife committees, the membership has not followed scientifically informed recommendations. They rejected the well-defended need for refuge areas. They also rejected the need for more conservative quotas. Additionally, they have rejected findings in social science, specifically the research of Dr. Adrian Treves and the Carnivore Coexistence Lab that indicates hunting does not "increase social tolerance."
DNR Secretary Stepp confirmed that the membership change was made to remove opposition.

Does that sound like the DNR takes citizen input seriously?

Wisconsin wildlife isn't owned by hunters or their lobbies. Wildlife belongs to all the people of the state; DNR's job as trustee is to oversee it in the broadest public interest, not to hand over undo influence to a few people interested in running up a kill.

Franzen wants to give Wisconsin officials the benefit of the doubt in this matter.

I don't think they've earned it, because in several key enforcement and management arenas, the DNR has turned a blind to science and environmental protection.

Franzen wants the court to revisit the ruling that ended the hunt.

No doubt the DNR will do just that.

Top PolitiFact reads reveal talk radio corrosive presence

Interesting that among the five most read Wisconsin Politifact analyses this year is a "false" rating for national blowhard Rush Limbaugh praising Scott Walker with bad jobless data and a "pants on fire" rating - - the only one on this top five list - - earned by US Senator and frequently fact-challenged Ron Johnson for an even worse claim.

Johnson sounded like one of those angry anonymous blog commenters when he falsely claimed that one of every four dollars spent in large federal programs heavily used by low-income citizens was lost to fraud: 

Speaking at a "pints and politics" gathering in January, Johnson said the average rate of fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps programs "is 20 to 25 percent."   
Improper payment rates are in the 20 to 25 percent range in the tax credit program -- but are 10 percent or less in the other three programs. So, even the average among the four programs would be far less than what Johnson claimed. More importantly, those are error rates; there are no figures on the rate of fraud, which is believed to be a small component of errors.
That kind of blather is typical Tea Party-tinged, anti-government talk radio propaganda, where hosts, guests and callers can toss out all sorts of wild claims into the ether with any challenge screened out.

Johnson - - who'd said the Senate would benefit from his private sector management and accounting skills - - has massacred the facts about government programs before.

Remember his false and doubled-down claim that then-incumbent Senator Russ Feingold was lying about his support for giving illegal immigrants Social Security benefits?

Also rated "false" by PolitiFact:

Johnson has pounded away at the issue in a radio ad, automated phone calls and on his website. In the Oct. 11, 2010 debate, Feingold answered Johnson’s charge flatly: "Well, of course I don’t support Social Security benefits for undocumented people. That’s just absolutely false."
Now, Johnson is denying Feingold’s denial, charging in a news release the three-term senator is lying about his own record.
Right-wing talk radio masquerading as news programming is heavily responsible for the ubiquitous distortion and disinformation served up for partisan and power-protecting  purposes to activate low-information, resentful voters.

Little wonder that Johnson is a regular on these shows in Wisconsin, as is Walker, where guests and their hosts who worship and imitate Limbaugh give the audience all the wrong stuff: ideology, bile and myth.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I do not understand trophy hunting

A legendary buck killed in Minnesota.

A legendary bear killed in Wisconsin.

A legendary wolf killed in Minnesota, or perhaps elsewhere - - prior to a Federal judicial ruling that wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin be returned to protected status.

I'd have thought it would be enough of a thrill to simply see creatures like these, then go on your way and leave them to live their lives.

I do not understand it. Serious comments welcomed.
gray wolf

Rape kits' DNA goes untested while dog poop DNA finds a market

I don't deny that unwanted dog poop is a problem - - we have picked up more than our share left behind on our city corner lot by anti-social pet owners - - but I will say that a culture that can afford DNA testing of wrongly-deposited pet poop has got its priorities seriously out of balance if at the same time thousands and thousands of rape kits containing potential DNA evidence remain untested in crime labs nationwide.
In the past, the federal government estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in police and crime storage facilities across the country in what is known as the rape kit backlog. Each kit represents a lost opportunity to bring healing and justice to a survivor of sexual violence.  
We cannot be sure of the total number of untested kits nationwide because most jurisdictions do not have systems for tracking or counting rape kits. Only three states—IllinoisTexas and Colorado—require law enforcement agencies to count, track and test their untested kits. There is no federal law mandating a nationwide movement toward tracking and testing rape kits, despite efforts by some members of Congress to pass such legislation.
Jurisdictions often cite lack of resources and personnel as the largest barrier to processing more rape kits. Another, less frequently acknowledged, cause of the backlog is unwillingness among many law enforcement agencies to prioritize and dedicate sufficient resources to sexual assault cases. Members of law enforcement frequently disbelieve or even blame victims of sexual assault. Despite data proving otherwise, many agencies also maintain the philosophy that testing a rape kit is only useful when a stranger committed the assault. Some do not fully understand the value of rape kit testing
Over the years, however, we have begun to see progress. Increasingly, states and local jurisdictions are beginning to recognize the value of testing rape kits. They are starting to count, track and test the untested kits in their facilities, and they’re seeing powerful results. For example, in New York City, where there had been a backlog of 17,000 untested rape kits before it was eliminated in 2003, city and law enforcement officials enacted a policy and developed a system to test every rape kit. The city’s arrest rate for rape has since jumped from 40% to 70%.
- See more at:
Props to "Law and Order" star Mariska Hargitay for using her celebrity to publicize the issue and help fund more testing nationally.

In Wisconsin, a recent news story pegged the number of untested kits at more than 6,000. 

Column opposes GOP ploy to fire Chief Justice Abrahamson

[Updated, 12:51 p.m.] I am glad to see Journal Sentinel Editorial Page editor David Haynes call out conservative Wisconsin Republican legislators for their power play aimed at shoving the duly-elected liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson off the court.

The notion that these GOP monkey-wrenching Legislators are only concerned about judges' ages is 100% b.s. while everyone can see it for what it is: a power play by the right to further assert their dominance on a Court it already rules.

Truth-in-advertising-their bill-writing is not these legislators strong suit.

The right can't beat the Chief Justice at the polls - - Abrahamson, the first elected female Wisconsin Justice and now the court's longest-serving member - - won her last race in 2010 in a 59-41% landslide when her age of 75 was well known.

So a scheming and dictatorial-minded GOP and the very corporate funders which had withheld support from Abrahanson's opponent in 2010 because they knew she was unbeatable have come up with end-run legal tampering to erase Abrahamson's 2010, fair-and-square victory,

I've been trying to raise the alarm about this obvious outrage, this Putinesque ploy- - last year....this year...again...

It's an assault on democracy. You don't change the rules in the middle of the game, and you don't undo elections by arbitrarily ending the term of an incumbent so you can further embed a party or an ideology, especially when its practice is to carry water for the state's most powerful, monied special corporate interests.

When did the GOP Legislature caucus become a political death panel, deciding when certain independent, non-partisan elected officials' careers shall end?

If the GOP has a central committee, it's taking the concept too far.

Glenn Grothman on climate change "stuff," Africa, homosexuality...

The Congressman-elect, in his own words:

In the same interview, Grothman attacked Secretary of State John Kerry for supposedly upsetting God when he denounced Uganda’s anti-gay laws. 

Not to mention...More pearls, from earlier posts, are here. And here. And here. And here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Comment period will soon close on new Wisconsin power line

From the organizers, and please note the deadline and comment format for an already contentious proposal and process:

= = = = = =  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  = = = = = = 


More than 90 percent of comments filed with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) on the Badger Coulee application oppose the high voltage transmission option, according to Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL) of Wisconsin.

“It is very clear that Wisconsin ratepayers are becoming aware of the capital debt and fee issues. Moms and small business owners are taking time to examine the non-transmission alternatives and telling the Commissioners they do not want to absorb billions of dollars in debt over 40 years when any potential need can be met with $19 million invested in energy efficiency and solar that produce guaranteed savings and emission reductions,” said SOUL secretary Rob Danielson.

Approximately 500 comments have been made on the application, including those spoken at recent public hearings or written during the current comment period, in addition to those submitted on the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The majority of ratepayers who’ve voiced opinions oppose the high voltage transmission  option, no matter of route. In their comments, they question need for the line, and raise economic, cultural, health and environmental concerns. Others have opposed building a high voltage line in their community, citing similar reasons.

During the four years since the Badger Coulee was announced, more than 2,000 Wisconsin ratepayers and 90 municipalities plus a dozen legislators have asked the PSC for a cost/benefit analysis comparing the build and alternatives options of the Badger Coulee application. Wisconsin law requires this comparison, and states that if an alternative is found more cost beneficial the PSC must choose it over the build option. 

Some of the people speaking at the recent hearings spoke on behalf of several people. These included Rudy Borntreger, at the public hearing in Cashton Dec. 10, who said he was speaking on behalf of 250 Amish families in the 13 districts of the Cashton Amish community. At the Dec. 9 hearing in the town of Holland, Prairie View Elementary School principal Patrice Gilbertson-Tronstad handed in letters from 177 families. 

“All Wisconsin ratepayers would pay for transmission expansion. With No Wires Alternatives officially on the docket, Wisconsin can head in a direction that will only add to the beauty of our state if we speak up,” Danielson said. SOUL of Wisconsin is aiming for 1000 one- line comments by Jan. 5, 2015. To comment, visit:

Written comments will be accepted up to Jan. 9 mailed to Comment 05-CE-142, PO Box 7854, Madison, WI 53707-7854 No emails will be accepted.  If you want PSC comment forms on paper, contact the PSC or or 608-625-4949.

Technical hearings on the application will begin Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. at the PSC Building, 610 North Whitney Way, Madison. The public can attend, but cannot speak, at these hearings. 

For more information, contact:
Joan Kent, Media Committee
S.O.U.L. of Wisconsin

PO Box 146
La Farge, WI 54639
Joan Kent <>

The GOP goal in Wisconsin - - certain people can move out

You could not find a stronger indicator of Wisconsin's emerging backwater status and unflinchingly callous political direction under Scott Walker than his blockade of a minimum wage increase and dismissal of the need to even have it - - while 20 other states and the District of Columbia will increase it on January 1, 2015.

And setting the bar highest? Activists in Portland or Berkeley?

Nope. Conservative South Dakota, where voters by referendum showed themselves far ahead of their elected officials by approving the biggest hourly increase - - $1.25. An extra $50 a week will buy a lot of calories for growing kids bones and brains, for diapers or gasoline or bus fare or winter heat.

And in Wisconsin, Wrong-Way Walker has cut some poor people's take-home pay by raising their taxes - - breaking a promise to raise no taxes - -  and he intends to further degrade those with the least through a mandatory, guilt-assumed drug test before releasing federal food stamp assistance he has also failed to fully expand.

I've said here that Walker is following a southern strategy of sorts to win what Capital Times editor Paul Fanlund brilliantly called the base GOP resentment vote, and I'm not kidding when I say Walker's ultimate goal is to use state power to force the poor - - and others - - to leave the state by any means possible so the GOP can seal control of the state's electoral votes.

The cold-hearted policies driving Walker's agenda reminded me of an interview I did deep in the segregated, poverty-afflicted Mississippi Delta in the late 1980's for The Milwaukee Journal when reporting from the nation's poorest county at the time  - -  Tunica, Mississippi.

Tunica had been brought to bear on the nation's conscience when Rev. Jesse Jackson publicized the plight of families living in shacks without indoor plumbing along the polluted, misnamed Sugar Ditch, and where I saw families still housed there without window panes or screens.

I interviewed the local public assistance director about the situation, and also about the minimal levels of aid over which he presided, and he told me that the county always was there for its poor residents by purchasing a one-way Greyhound bus ticket out of town to anywhere in the US for anyone on welfare who wanted to leave.

Walker and his compassionate conservative allies haven't gone quite that far, yet, but their policy and budget campaign against the poor can have the same effect.

Throw in forward-looking millennials, entrepreneurs, families and seniors who can choose to work, vacation or retire to states without government-sponsored hostility towards voting rights, pay equity for women, and health care for low-income residents, particularly females, unions and collective bargaining, public schools, same-sex marriage, transit, environmental protection, Native American culture and clean energy and you can see why people are beginning to call our one-party state Wississippi.

The unbearable certitude of Julianne Appling, buttinski

The Madison Capital Times is running an interview today with a leading Wisconsin opponent of same-sex marriage who feels comfortable verbalizing some stunningly self-important opinions about truth, history and other people's loves.

It is worrisome that someone with such frightening certitude has access to Wisconsin's leading right-wing political leaders who influence public opinion and write, interpret and enforce the law:
"There’s no right or wrong side of history," the president of Wisconsin Family Action says in her office. "History’s being made every single day. It’s not predetermined. I’m making history now. So are you. What I am concerned about is being on the right side of truth. I work hard to know what that is, and I don’t have to guess. It’s laid out for me. I don’t have to guess. And so, organizationally and personally, we’re concerned about staying on that right side of truth — and that is to promote this institution of marriage in a heterosexual format."
It takes full-on delusion and limitless narcissism to believe that you are the right side of truth - - especially as if there were one absolute that makes everything else a lie - -  when even this US Supreme Court has told you you're wrong.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

NY Times discloses Bucks' secret weapon; other uses?

Amazing find by The New York Times.
When two financiers purchased the Milwaukee Bucks for $550 million last April, they not only promised to pour more than money and new management into the moribund franchise, but also the same kind of creative and critical thinking that had helped make them hedge fund billionaires.
It was not enough to increase the franchise’s sales force or beef up the team’s analytics department — the Bucks were looking for a more elusive edge. So in May, the team hired Dan Hill, a facial coding expert who reads the faces of college prospects and N.B.A. players to determine if they have the right emotional attributes to help the Bucks.
Another subject for this technology:

WI tax cuts created a deficit, so get ready for the 'solution'

Ideology in, ideology out.

Expect Walker to 'resolve' the budget deficit he created through borrowings and tax cuts by submitting a budget balanced on the backs of low-income people and all municipalities downhill from state government that cut social programs, transit funding, and various aids to local governments and schools.

More here:

Hidden revenue report shows Wisconsin still in the budget ditch

With the acquittal in the killing of Dontre Hamilton taking up a lot of the interest of the media in Wisconsin’s largest media market, it allowed the Walker Administration to drop the report of the state’s November tax revenues on Monday. And as I figured, the reason they were hiding the numbers are because they're not good, as overall tax collections were down even more in November, and for the fiscal year as a whole. We’ll use the adjusted figures from the Department of Revenue, as they reflect end-of-the-month money that was earned in November, but wasn’t counted until December due to the 30th being over a weekend.
Wisconsin Gen. Fund Tax Revenues, FY 2014 vs FY 2015, YTD FY2014 $5.258 billion
FY2015 $5.113 billion (-2.8%)

NY Times Christmas gift shows Jeb Bush is no Scott Walker

Probable GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush's official emails from his Florida governorship that are analyzed in The New York Times this Christmas Day appear to be free of content and/or connections to an office management plan that utilized secret Internet routers and email strings, sub rosa coordination with campaigns and funders, staffers who exchanged racist jokes or stole veterans' program funds or worked illegally on public time for partisan candidates' fundraising and scheduling.

So far, no one's come up with a speech he gave warning people in Palm Beach to support him lest Florida become another Miami.

Or discovered a memo he read to his staff listing the The Top Ten Ways you can tell if you're probably a public employee. (Sample: "You have a Democratic Congressman's li[s permanently attached to your butt.")

Or a once-secret campaign donation routed through a favored third-party from a corporation he had encouraged to dig an open pit mine in The Everglades.

Don't get me wrong. Jeb has Right Stuff, but compared to rival Scott Walker, probably not the Right Stuff for the Tea Party/GOP 2016 base. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Myths busted: data show transit safer than driving

Banned in Milwaukee
In more ways than one, this Twin Cities light rail line is good for you

Though light rail and a streetcar revival have been barred, blocked, and banned in Milwaukee for nearly 20 years by GOP conservatives - - and their newest mantra is that transit is a "social service" - -  there's fresh data about transit's health-and-safety benefits to go along with economic and environmental/social advantages, too.

Read this fascinating study reported by the always-edifying
Looking at traffic fatalities per mile traveled in the U.S., analyst Todd Litman found that riding commuter or intercity rail is about 20 times safer than driving; riding metro or light rail is about 30 times safer; and riding the bus is about 60 times safer. Factoring in pedestrians and cyclists killed in crashes with vehicles, the effect is smaller but still dramatic: the fatality rate associated with car travel is more than twice as high as the rate associate with transit. Litman’s study was recently published in the Journal of Public Transportation [PDF].
Litman notes that most transit travel involves some walking or biking, which carry a relatively high risk of traffic injury. But those risks are mostly offset by the health benefits of physical activity. Living in a place with good transit has safety benefits as well: Litman cites research showing that cities with higher transit ridership rates tend to have lower per-capita traffic fatality rates.
Using FBI data, Litman also busts the myth that transit is linked to high levels of crime...Litman shows that on balance, people riding transit are less likely to be victimized than car drivers, passengers, and owners.
H/T Angie Schmitt.