Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The new red scare

Immigrants! The new bogeyman, declared Public Enemy #1 by the Republican red-headed megalomanic. Seen below with a supporter. Also - - I see the hand of Roger Ailes in that Mexican trip/photo op operation Wednesday.
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Hot potatoes piling up on WI DNR's partisan, polluted plate

I thought I'd post what's soon to immerse the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - the once-proud science and public health state agency now run with the pollution-protecting "chamber of commerce mentality" Scott Walker installed there to serve developers, campaign donors, corporate feedlot operators and other special interests - - while dissing the land, the water, clean air, and state taxpayers who still expect the DNR to follow, not disregard, law, Public Trust legacy and common sense.

*  Federally-ordered statewide compliance with the US Clean Water Act. This is a big deal, as the US Environmental Protection Agency told the Walker administration in writing five years ago that it was failing to enforce clean water standards in 75 issue areas.

The EPA referred to "numerous apparent omissions and deviations between Wisconsin’s current statute and [Clean Water Act] requirements.”

After years of foot-dragging - - I called it "Delay and Conquer" more than four years ago - -  especially when it came to keeping toxins out of residential wells near the big feedlots which Walker, the DNR, the GOP-run Legislature and the Attorney General have all intentionally de-regulated - -  the EPA hammer os coming down "imminenty' because of the great work by public interest attorneys at Midwest Environmental Advocates.

That's the non-profit law firm hired by aggrieved Wisconsin citizens paying have the public safety job done correctly which Walker, the GOP-led legislature and Attorney General Brad Schimel have together disregarded for partisan, political reasons.

*  Decision-making on the high-end golf course which Kohler Company wants to build in a Lake Michigan shoreline nature preserve filled with rare wetlands and dunes, Native American artifacts, wildlife and thousands of trees. 

As with some of the groundwater-depleting and runoff polluting feedlot expansions and other high-profile land transactions, a major Walker donor is involved and fair environmental procedures waived, as the DNR has proceeded with golf course project reviews in a taxpayer-paid smoothing process without a formal permit application in hand which the company would have to formally defend.

At some point, the DNR is going to have to decide whether to ask for that permit application: with DNR officials also on record saying they may allow some project permits to be written by the applicant and not by the agency - - the ultimate regulatory capitulation to donors and polluters - -  I could imagine Kohler eventually being allowed to write the final permit itself, since the DNR has already goosed the preliminaries along in the company's favor.

*  Decision-making on the precedent-setting 26,000-hog Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operation, (CAFO), complete with nine football field-size manure storage containers and spreading operations set on several nearby farm fields, which an Iowa pork producer wants to locate close to scenic Lake Superior Chequamegon Bay.

In this case, the company has filed a permit application, but time has gone by and the DNR has yet to complete and release an Environmental Impact Statement. Word is that the company has not sent the agency enough information to date; in any case, delay keeps the issue away from the November elections in a state where water rights and Walker administration favoritism to big business is finally breaking through.

*  Ditto for the stalled, so-called realignment of the DNR - - the latest iteration in redefining and downsizing the staff-and-budget-starved agency away from its historical mission.

The realignment - - and what a great, bureaucratic word: I wonder why AG Schimel didn't use it when it would have been so apropos - - was supposed to be announced in early August as employees were waiting to find out if their jobs or sections were to be eliminated, watered-down, or transferred to Walker administration Gulag outposts miles away to the edge of Madison in the similarly corporatized Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, or to a partisan redoubt in the Department of Administration, or to a far-flung DNR office up North (sorry if you need to sell your house, take the kids out of their school, but you're free to commute round-trip 400 miles...).

We'll know more when Walker announces his 2017-'19 budget - - with an eye on 
Walker, 2018 - - and if the past is any indication, the DNR will continue to lose money, staff, prestige and relevance, while the public loses Stewardship land access, and the use of state parks now stripped of state support (corporate naming rights are on the table: Goody!)

Though the real thing to keep an eye on is Walker, 2020, and maybe we're seeing the succession plan unfolding.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Another hunting hound - - 26th this year - - thrown by owner to WI Wolves

Another Black and Tan bear hound has been killed by wolves in Wisconsin's Bayfield County up North this year - - most of them in this month alone - -  says the DNR, which could be billed $2,500 by the owner. 

As I have explained many times on this blog, Wisconsin is the only state which allows bear hunters to 'train' their dogs by running them off-leash, regardless if they are being 'trained' in known wolf activity areas where bear bait attract predatory wolves bigger than the dogs.

Wisconsin is also the only state to operate the reimbursement program which hounders can access, even if they are out of staters, are repeat collectors, or are documented scofflaws.

Hounds can also be 'trained' against captive, caged animals, including bears. Read the details.

The 2016 killed hunting dog total is 26, with bear hound training set to end Aug. 31.

Take a look at the maps and the most recent one where these dogs have been killed 

1 dog killed (Black and Tan, male, 6 years)Bayfield depredation siteBayfield depredation location map [PDF]
and note the repetitive kill sites in Bayfield and other counties which some hounders are clearly ignoring.
Black and Tan Coonhound.jpg

Joel Kleefisch talks more WI Stewardship cuts, DNR budget ironies

Several days ago I suggested that Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker's next budget could be his worst, given his track record for politicizing DNR management, slashing regulatory inspections and enforcement programs, gutting science staff levels and serving GOP donors:
In his last budget, Walker proposed freezing for thirteen years all state land conversation purchases through a DNR-managed borrowing program, ended all state spending for state parks, and axed a swath of DNR science staffers to further his pro-commerce, pollution-enabling deregulation of the state's land, air and water. 
While the Legislature restored some of the land purchase borrowing, I'd expect more cuts to the DNR, and perhaps more movement towards selling park naming rights, or even park land itself to fulfill Walker's purported love for small government.
Enter yet another player with a reputation of opening State Capitol doors to favored insiders: Joel Kleefisch - - Oconomowoc GOP Assemblyman and spouse to GOP Lt. Gov. and Scott Walker-replacement-in waiting Rebecca Kleefisch.

Joel Kleefisch is the quintessential GOP/Tea Party hypocrite who rants about smaller government while holding down a government-paid job complete with taxpayer-paid, tax-free meal and mileage per diem accounts, and whose wife has an even bigger taxpayer-paid job, too.

Joel Kleefisch is quoted in an August 5th story in the Wisconsin Outdoor News about his telling a July conference he hoped State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos would name him the replacement after the November elections for outgoing Assemblyman All Ott, (R-Forest Junction), to chair the Assembly Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Committee.

That would give outdoors' enthusiast Joel Kleefisch greater authority over everything from hunting seasons - - he was the legislator who drove the now-suspended and especially-cruel, dog-assisted wolf hunt, is a big fan of the DNR's efforts to import elk for a herd big enough for a hunt someday, and who also really, really wanted to hunt what he called 'ribeye-in-the-skies' sandhill cranes - - to broader issues, like mining, shoreline development, public land sales, groundwater deregulation, and other 'resource' areas where private sector special interests have already won legislative or administrative concessions from Walker, his 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR and the Legislature. 

Also important about the published report - - I'm hoping to get a link for readers - - is what Joel Kleefisch had said about recent cuts to DNR science staffing - - which he defended as as basic legislative decision-making - - and possible further cuts to Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund land purchasing. 

On the one hand, Joel Kleefisch said scientific knowledge is needed - - so, yea, for that bit of common sense, though he also admitted "he doesn't have the science on CWD", so anyone else see the contradiction there?

He also said the next Walker budget might actually have an increase in science staff funding - - so, again, yea, for that - - but Kleefisch also said such an increase "may come at a cost to programs, such as stewardship," so boo to a signal that special interests who want to push development into land which could be saved for public purposes like access and storm water runoff and wooded-and-wetland hunting and fishing reserves still have Walker's budgetary ear.

Truth is that Walker and the Legislature should not have cut DNR science staffing and reduced Stewardship funding, and degraded DNR environmental responsibilities by folding them into an ideologically-managed business services division, especially given all the feedlot groundwater pollution controls and other public health water orders coming our way because of public pressure and "imminent" US EPA directives to fix five years of Walker's bobbing and weaving.

Kleefisch also said in the story that he intends to serve two more terms in the Legislature and then re-enter the private sector (he's a former television station reporter).

Maybe in four years, Rebecca Kleefisch will be Governor. Maybe that's the plan?

Regardless, the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Natural Resources has got to be seen as more than a legislative preserve for special interest water carriers like Joel Kleefisch - - since all the resources of the state, including its wildlife belong to all the people - - but I have little faith that Robin Vos can see that forest for the trees.
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Monday, August 29, 2016

Two more bear hounds thrown by owners to WI wolves

The state-enabled slaughter of bear hounds killed in Wisconsin during state-approved bear hunting training runs through known wolf activity areas continues bloodied and unabated with the reported death by wolves of the 24th and 25th hounds just this year - - and mostly in the last few weeks - - including a Black and Tan hound like the one below.
Black and Tan Coonhound.jpg
No other state allows this cruel, off-leash bear hound 'training,' or pays hounders up to $2,500 per dog lost to this cruel, species'-conflict 'sport,' even to hounders from out-of-state, or to repeat payment collectors, or even to scofflaws, thanks to the bear hunting and other gun lobbies which have the Governor and Legislature in their organizational back pockets.'

Mercifully the 'training season' ends Aug. 31, but the bear hunt begins a few days later, with packs of hounds being run through these wolf rendezvous areas to corner and tree bears, so there will be even more conflict between hounds and wolves, and hounds and bears, with  the likely bear toll by the end of the season at or above 3,000 'harvested,' as the DNR and hunters prefer to call it.

Wanna buy a mile of trout stream frontage? Call the WI DNR

Calling all Walker donors and true believers in his 'chamber of commerce mentality'-managed Department of Natural Resources:

The DNR, as Walker shrinks its mission and reputation, is eager to fulfill a legislatively-(wink-wink)-mandated sale of 10,000 acres of state property and has sent out an email again touting some sweet parcels it's put up for auction:

Here's one example, followed by a web link to the current crop of deals: 

27.2 +/- Acre Parcel near Elk Mound, WI w/Trout Stream Easement
- Address: County Rd H, Elk Mound, WI 54739 
- Property Details: Creek 17-11 flows through this parcel and is a high quality, coldwater, Class I trout stream that contains healthy populations of brook and brown trout. It is an important coldwater tributary for Elk Creek, which has an exceptional trout fishery and a high amount of angler use. An easement requirement that extends 66 feet from each streambank and spans the entire length of the stream on this property will provide adequate protection for this important resource. The property has approximately 5,296 feet of two-bank frontage on a tributary of Elk Creek called Crk 17-11, a class one trout stream. Much of the property is wetland and not wooded. There is a possible encroachment of an agricultural field on the property to the southwest. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reserves mineral rights pursuant to the provsions of Wisconsin State Statutes 24.11.

T_10051#16612-70 - State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natural Resources - Surplus Land Auction 
Ends: September 15, 2016 Starting at 10am Central (5 Min. Staggered Ending)  

  • (7) Surplus State Owned Real Estate Parcels located in Wisconsi

  • Allegations of veterans' neglect test Walker teflon

    Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker has, to date, escaped major political damage over abusive treatment of youthful offenders often sentenced from minority communities in SE Wisconsin and hidden away up north to fave money, but I think there will be greater reverberations from disclosures in a blockbuster story by the Capital Times today that veterans' medical needs at the King Home facility are being ignored by state officials even though the system is flush with federal funds.

    Maybe Walker can send long-time friend and veterans' expert Tim Russell to King to straighten it all out.

    More on this later.

    Sunday, August 28, 2016

    Anti-transit ideology, fantasy still rule region, Walker budgets

    [Updated] I want to add one more item to nearly two weeks' blogging that tries to expand the context in which citizens and opinion-makers and officials discuss the recent violence in and reporting about Milwaukee, including these blog items:

    * A summary post about the many intentional state and regional financial, policy and legal decisions over decades which kept the City of Milwaukee land-locked and its predominantly-minority residents segregated by race and income from regional housing, business development, job opportunities and transit in the wealthier, whiter surrounding suburban counties;

    A followup post focusing on then-Milwaukee County Executive and now Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's long disinterest in Milwaukee employment and hostility to the city and Milwaukee County's transit deficits and solutions.

    Then a blog reader reminder me of a post I'd written in February, 2007 about Walker and transit. 

    I was grateful for the reminder, as I sometimes forget what I've posted here - - there are more than 17,000 posts just since June, 2010, when Google began keeping score - -  but shame on me for not going back further in the archives to find something relevant.

    And relevant to more than the discriminatory disconnects and disregards and damage done to Milwaukee through public policy choices and spending that marginalize the state's biggest city.

    The story told in the posting sheds more light on the mindset - - a term used advisedly, and generously - - of Scott Walker which he'd tipped us to nearly ten years ago, and a good three years before he was elected Governor.

    A Governor who is willing to starve state transit, borrow to the hilt, ram through, despite denials and double-talk even more highway expansion on the west side where residents don't want it and please the road-builders with a blank check because he told us in 2007 he wants everyone in Milwaukee to own and drive a car.

    Even though before the Great Recession deepened, data showed that 23% of City of Milwaukee households were without access to a vehicle.

    As ludicrous is the poor en masse magically getting flush enough to buy cars - - does Walker - - he with the private transit taxpayers r\give him 24/7 since January, 2011 via state-paid cars, drivers, airplanes, pilots - - see the contradiction and his cause-and-effect responsibilities as he keeps the minimum wage frozen at a poverty-enforcing $7.25/hr? - -  given the upfront purchase, licensing and registration costs to owners, plus operating and maintenance expenses, the greatly expanded car ownership Walker fantasizes about does underscore his hostility to transit and 'justify' the added highway expansion he supports that would reward his road-building pals. 

    Talk about a win-win for ideologically-blinded free marketers.

    So if you still need a "Eureka Moment" to grasp who Walker is and to explain, shall we say, his 'philosophy' - - if his audible dog whistles about the poor, or his warning to upper-income exurban Waukesha County exurbanites about letting Wisconsin 'become another Milwaukee,' or his presence at a secretive and under-reported right-wing summit anointing him for leadership didn't already supply that nugget you needed to grasp who Walker really is, I give you the 2/24/2007 posting, in full below (and if I can get a link to the Journal Sentinel roundtable cited, I will pass that on, too):


    Scott Walker: County Executive of Fantasy Island 

    Politicians say the dumbest things when the spin machine is making too much noise in their heads.

    Case in point: Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who trashed Mayor Tom Barrett's recently-announced bus-and-trolley transit improvement proposal.

    In a County with a declining transit system organized around outmoded buses, why would the County Exec. dump on a plan that would benefit the system and the county, too?

    Here's what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Walker told the paper's editorial writers Tuesday about why he opposed transit improvements in the county he purportedly leads:

    "...Walker said he would like to grow the local economy enough so lower-income people don't have to rely on transit and could instead afford to buy cars if they chose."

    As a friend quipped to me Friday night, right - - so they can drive their cars to jobs in Waukesha?

    Walker even invoked the ghost of light rail, killed in Milwaukee by talk radio and the Thompson administration nearly a decade ago, to demagogue against Barrett's proposal - - which is not a light rail plan.

    I know Walker knows the difference, but when have the facts ever driven the local debate about transit?

    In Milwaukee County politics, talk radio sets the agenda, then Walker, knowing his lines, reacts with rigidity, fantasy and spin.

    There's a slogan you can write down and put on your refrigerator [echoing Walker's 2002 campaign mantra].

    Saturday, August 27, 2016

    Documenting Walker's hostility to Milwaukee jobs, development

    In the wake of GOP Gov. Scott Walker's pledge of $4.5 million in aid to Milwaukee's job-depressed north side after violence there two weeks ago, I noted on this blog that Walker in 2010 campaigned against and helped forfeit federally-funded Amtrak rail line expansion work worth more than $800 million which included train assembly and maintenance work underway and targeted at low-income north side Milwaukee residents.

    I also wrote several posts - - one summary, here - - pointing out that Walker has long been a champion of spending more than $6 billion on the freeway system in the Milwaukee area which keeps the region heavily segregated by race and income by routinely omitting transit upgrades that could help Milwaukee workers in a city land-locked by state law connect with jobs and other opportunities in the suburbs.

    I also want to remind readers of Walker's disinterest in and outright hostility to  Milwaukee job creation when he was a GOP state legislator representing suburban Wauwatosa and, later, as Milwaukee County Executive:

    * From his legislative perch, Walker sided with other suburban politicians and killed and helped kill a light rail system in Milwaukee that would have provided construction work, plus housing and business development at stations and along the rail corridors - - a job-creating phenomenon which has occurred in other cities when light rail was built and expanded.

    In 2008, I wrote:

    Years ago, Walker promised his handlers on local right-wing talk radio programs that he would stand rigid with them against rail - - in an anti-urban stance that earned him the nickname "Scott Waukesha."
    Walker told The Milwaukee Journal in a 1999 story that it would be OK with him if multiple, major transportation projects in a package that might include Milwaukee rail had to die together to keep light rail from being built...
    That transportation package did not produce urban rail of any kind, thanks to the stonewalling by Walker and his talk radio lieutenants - - but did lead to the rebuilding of the Sixth St. Bridge, the removal of the Park East Freeway spur, the construction of the Lakeshore State Park just off the Summerfest grounds, and the provision of seed money that jump-started the Marquette Interchange project.
    Here is the story [the link is now dead, but the quote is accurate] and the key quote is:
    "Building a limited light rail system could cost as much as $180 million. Diehard light-rail opponents, such as Waukesha County Executive Daniel Finley and state Rep. Scott Walker (R-Wauwatosa), immediately objected to spending any of the money on a rail transit system. Walker said he would be willing to sacrifice everything else in the package to stop light rail, because he fears the system would be expanded at taxpayers' expense."
    * The County had an economic development office into which Walker inserted Tim Russell, a long-time campaign gofer and and county staff aide, as the $83,000-a-year assistant manager.

    Walker tried to get the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to appoint Russell as the top economic development office administrator, but supervisors balked, so Walker created yet another job for Russell - - managing, against county ethics officials' advice - - a non-profit veterans organization embedded into county government.

    Russell later pleaded guilty to stealing from that organization and went to jail in the so-called John Doe I prosecution which used evidence seized from a secret email system Russell helped to install in Walker's county executive office suite.

    See this outstanding summary by David Umhoefer, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter. 

    * When asked twice during a 2010 gubernatorial debate with challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Barrett, Walker could not name a single job he had created in Milwaukee's central city.

    Obviously, it was not his priority. Getting elected Governor was.

    But ad the question been asked a little more broadly, Walker could have answered:

    I did find work for Tim Russell.

    Friday, August 26, 2016

    Walker's $4.5 million grant does not cover lost train work

    I'd said in a posting earlier today that I might have more to say about Scott Walker's post-Sherman Park violence $4.5 grant and other aid to Milwaukee he spelled out in the city coincidentally (?) as police shooting victim Sylville Smith's funeral Friday morning was unfolding, and I did want to get a couple of more things on the record:

    *  $4.5 million is a real, beneficial sum of money, if leveraged and invested strategically, and I am confident that all the officials and groups involved will do just that.  

    But here's how a local expert suggested looking at that sum of money: $4.5 million is a lot less than the value and multiplier impact of millions and millions of dollars in expanded Amtrak operations statewide, in good-paying Milwaukee-based, long-term train set assembly and maintenance jobs,

    train cab in production
    Assembled in Milwaukee's low-income, jobs-hungry 30th St. corridor, banned in Wisconsin, shipped to the Northwest, with future train business and expansion in Milwaukee and statewide barred by Scott Walker

    in several years of rail, train bridge and station construction or upgrades across the state, in future Midwest High-Speed Rail contracts. and in spinoff blue-and-white-collar consulting, supplier and technical work that were all lost to job-deprived Milwaukee neighborhoods when Walker intentionally cancelled the Talgo operation, and with it, a budding state train industry - - just for ideological, partisan and Walker's personal, political agendas.

    For goodness sake, $4.5 million is less than half of what the state had to pay Talgo just for breaking an initial, two-train set assembly contract - - and Talgo got to keep the trains!

    On which the state spent $50 million. 

    * Walker would have looked more sincere today had he simply come to the city and said, 'Milwaukee is part of the state, and the state is glad to be doing the right thing for the people in our largest city,' instead of setting up future political ads in which he could book-end tough-guy images of his National Guard activation of a couple of weeks ago with the condescending language right off his official Governor's webpage today that looks especially ironic in light of his Talgo/Amtrak factory and employment cancellation in Milwaukee, and the failure of his 250,000 new jobs campaign pledge now overdue by more than 18 months:

    "This is all about helping people move from government dependence to true independence through the dignity that comes from work.”
    As if Talgo assembly, maintenance and Amtrak construction and operations workers - - and people across the city and state engaged in productive and useful work already - - needed that reminder. 

    * Sidebar: Powerful language about the regions segregation that appeared in the Journal Sentinel's hard-copy edition today about Walker's grant, and which was also intact in early online editions has been edited out by this afternoon as the story developed today, but I had copied it into an earlier post today, and have placed them on my blog's face page, left margin, because the wording was spot-on truthful and worth memorializing.  

    Here it is, again:
    "Milwaukee and its suburbs are one of the most segregated areas in the nation, and the inner city has been devastated by the effects of lost manufacturing jobs and high rates of unemployment and incarceration
    "[GOP WI Gov. Scott] Walker, a longtime former resident of Wauwatosa, has related better to the conservative suburbs of Milwaukee than to its liberal urban core, first as county executive and then as governor."
    - - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 8/26/16

    Bigger picture reporting about Milwaukee region noted

    I may have more to say about the nuts-and-bolts of Scott Walker's grant of $4.5 million announced Thursday and discussed publicly Friday for job training and neighborhood improvements in and around Milwaukee's Sherman Park, but I was glad to see that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about the grant offered readers a bigger picture analysis - - a repeat topic on this blog - - about basic Milwaukee-area socio-economic realities that many media accounts routinely ignore.

    Said the Journal Sentinel:
    Milwaukee and its suburbs are one of the most segregated areas in the nation, and the inner city has been devastated by the effects of lost manufacturing jobs and high rates of unemployment and incarceration 
    Walker, a longtime former resident of Wauwatosa, has related better to the conservative suburbs of Milwaukee than to its liberal urban core, first as county executive and then as governor.
    I have long felt that descriptions of Milwaukee as 'the most segregated city in America' missed the fundamental reality that the Journal Sentinel story makes clear: it is the region that is segregated; wealth creation in that region is regularly sparked by politicians and power brokers more interested in diverting public resources to suburban highway expansion 

    and job growth than in equitable development, public transportation and equal opportunity in Milwaukee and its heavily-minority, lower-income central city.

    My point has long been this:
    The "hypersegregation" label applied to Milwaukee is regional, tolerated for decades.
    I reiterated that perspective in a series of blog posts in the wake of the Sherman Park troubles; an example, here:
    On Monday I posted some lesser known facts and history about race, economic justice and inequitable use of regional and state governmental power that have kept the City of Milwaukee poorer than its wealthier and whiter neighbors for more than 50 years.
    *  I added a link to the most recent budget of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - - the seven-county, state-created agency located in Western Waukesha County that makes recommendations for the region in such crucial development-related areas as land use, transportation, water distribution and others - - but on which the City of Milwaukee has no designated seat, no authority to name a commissioner and thus relatively less influence on commission spending and policy-making than its whiter, more affluent, more suburban and still-rural neighbors. 
    The six other counties outside of Milwaukee all have three commission seats, fewer minority residents and residents total than both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County - - yet while Milwaukee County with most of its residents living in the minority-majority city pays the largest annual share of the agency's budget...
    Media and others interpreting civil unrest in Milwaukee might want to dig deeper into a few issues: 
    *  Cities are creatures of the state in Wisconsin, and during the Scott Walker era, Milwaukee has lost state-supplied revenue - - the program dates back decades as a substitute for local income tax collections - - and also lost the ability to expand its budget above state-mandated limits.
    *  The "hypersegregation" label applied to Milwaukee is regional, tolerated for decades.
    The more accurate information we can get about the issues which confront us, the better are the chances of making progress on solutions. 

    Thursday, August 25, 2016

    GOP leaders, polling underwater, likewise campaign together

    Remember that Walker went from dropping out of the Presidential primaries in 2015 and urging others to also quit and coalesce around one #NeverTrump candidate to throwing in with and speaking for Trump at the RNC after candidates like Bush and Cruz who did quit the race declined to back Trump.

    A couple of self-interested, serial flip-floppers. The photo speaks for itself.

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    More data, maps reveal Wisconsin bear hunting cruelty

    Of the 23 bear hounds killed in Wisconsin this year when their owners unleashed them into conflicts with wolves, ten of the deceased dogs were Walker hounds like this one,
    one was a Walker mix and three additional Walkers were injured by wolves, according to data and maps posted online by the Wisconsin DNR.

    Note also that hound owners in Wisconsin are eligible for a $2,500 per killed hound - - details about the payments and other licensed hunting/training methods which have cruelty written all over them, here - - even if the hound died in a known wolf activity area which the DNR posts for all to see.

    Take a look at just one in a long list of maps the DNR has posted this year which show the location wolf-hound encounters which have led to eight dead hounds during bear hunt training this month in Bayfield County alone...

    8/13/2016Bayfield2 dogs killed (Black and tan, female, 2.5 years; Bluetick, female, 2.5 years)Bayfield depredation siteBayfield depredation location map [PDF]
    and decide whether hounders are consulting the DNR maps and if they are putting their dogs' survival first.

    The bear hunting season begins September 7th and ends October 11th, preceded by the training/running periods.

    Wisconsin ranks at or near the top in the number of bears killed in what the DNR and bear hunting lobbies call "a quality" experience - - though hardly for bears, wolves, dogs, other  Wisconsin wildlife which is all owed by the public, by the way, and people's peace of mind in the north woods.

    One organization, Wolves of Wisconsin Douglas County, is pursuing a legislative ban on bear hounding. Details,here:

    The sport of bear hounding  is not part of “fair chase” used in ethical hunting practices.  
    That’s why; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is beginning a campaign to legislatively end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin.  
    When this sport of pursing bear with dogs began in 1963 there were no wolves present in Wisconsin. Conflicts arise between bear hunters and wolves because bear hunters run dogs through rendezvous sites where wolves keep pups. Bear hunters are reimbursed $2,500.00 per dead dog killed by wolves forced to defend their pups from free ranging dogs in pursuit of bear. 
    Consult this 2015 post on The Political Environment for additional details about the situation in Wisconsin, including:
    Various DNR webpages reference the "thrill" of bear hunting or its "quality experience," and the agency's large carnivore expert told the Wisconsin Bear Hunter's Association in a pre-hunting season missive that the state provides a "high quality bear hunting experience." 
    For an adult, the license costs $49. 
    Speaking of bear hunting and dogs, another DNR webpage discloses that in the last few weeks, nine dogs training against bears have been killed by wolves; under a program unique to Wisconsin, the DNR will reimburse each hunter up to $2,500 per wolf-depredated dog. 
    Payments may go to repeat claimants, and scofflaws; by January, 2014, the amount paid out for bear hunting dogs lost to wolves was nearing $400,000, a comprehensive report had shown.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2016

    Walker's WI War on Education = drop in ACT scores

    Well done, anti-education Governor, who slashed the UW system budget and cut a billion dollars from public schools, K-12:
    Wisconsin ACT scores drop below national average
    Think Walker will take that fresh PR mugging, plus his big jobs promise fail, and our wrong-direction plunging pothole index on his 2020 Presidential tour, with stops upcoming in MD and VA?

    22nd, 23rd WI bear hound in '16 thrown to wolves, killed

    State-sanctioned animal cruelty - - a frequent topic on this blog because it illustrates some only-in-Wisconsin bloody behaviors and programs - -  continues unabated in the Wisconsin woods this year, where 23 bear hounds have been killed and five more injured by wolves, most if not all during so-called bear hunting training runs.

    Twenty hounds have been killed since July 5th.

    Plott hound, above. Four Plott hounds are among 23 bear hounds killed by wolves during so-called bear hound training this year, DNR records show
    The data with maps and depredation locations is collected by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which pays out to bear hound owners - - even to those who are scofflaws, careless, willfully ignorant of known wolf activity areas (check out the maps) and even to repeat payment collectors - - $2,500 per sacrificed dog through an only-in-Wisconsin payout program lobbied through the Legislature by so-called sporting organizations. 

    Hounds may also be legally 'trained' against bears in cages, with bears permitted in the training cages for up to 12 hours in a 24-hour period.

    Hounds may also be 'trained' against captive animals smaller than bears in so-called roll cages.

    These cages are permitted in so-called Dog Training Clubs, which the state licenses.

    Read the rules. It's your state, too.

    WI Women for Trump includes Jane Doe

    Clearly the non-existent Trump political organization did not Google the women it put on Trump's Wisconsin female support group, which is extra ironic since noted Scott Walker Internet specialist and First John Doe Domino Darlene Wink is on the list.

    But it's a gift to state and national reporters who seem to have forgotten about Walker's secret email system on public property and time which made it easier to cheat in the 2010 election and harder for his opposition to win.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

    Small "d" democratic win, GOP defeat in Wisconsin

    On the Wisconsin right - - from the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce board room to closed GOP legislative caucus meeting rooms to the Scott Walker Governor's Mansion dinner table to Brad Schimel's heavily-partisan, lobbyist-led Attorney General's State Capitol suite - - today, August 23, 2016 shall always be known as The Day Their Music Died.

    That's because after two federal courtroom defeats, the Wisconsin Republican establishment through the afore-mentioned Brad Schimel

    threw in the towel and ended the Wisconsin taxpayer-paid, government-directed, partisan-inspired opposition to…voting!

    Two liberal groups, One Wisconsin Institute and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, sued over those limits and a host of other election laws last year. This July, U.S. District Judge James Peterson sided with them and struck down the limits on early voting, saying they infringed on the voting rights of minorities.

    Schimel tried to block the ruling, but the appeals panel let it stand for now.
    So get the ID that is still required, and when early voting begins in your town, vote.

    And if early voting in your town is not on the agenda, get on the phone with your elected officials or show up at their offices and get it implemented.

    Next WI budget could be Walker's harshest yet

    [UpdatedPressure is building on GOP Governor Scott Walker to fix Wisconsin's rutted roads and solve the state's road-financing budget crisis.

    He's botched both by championing - - without the needed funding in hand - - a seven-county multi-billion dollar SE WI not-so-free freeway expansion and reconstruction plan while also starving local transit systems and pothole repair financing - - all the while refusing through an embrace of Tea Party orthodoxy to boost transportation budgets with either an increase in the gasoline tax or vehicle or driver license fees.

    But his road-builder campaign donors want the big projects fully built, as do Walker's GOP legislative cronies, so what's a politically-ambitious right-wing Governor to do and fix a billion-dollar mess of his own making?

    Well, look to his history as Walker gets ready to launch his 2017-'19 state budget, which will also be the state budget upon which he runs for re-election as Governor or the budget preceding another ineffectual run for President in 2020 -- or both:

    *  Walker will cobble together some funding through cuts in non-transportation areas and transfer that money to big highway projects. 

    His initial cut to the UW system, in the last budget was $300 million, reduced $50 million by the legislature. Don't be surprised if he goes after the UW, again.

    *  In his first budget, Walker ended state-financed recycling. The Legislature restored part of it. 

    In his last budget, Walker proposed freezing for thirteen years all state land conversation purchases through a DNR-managed borrowing program, ended all state spending for state parks, and axed a swath of DNR science staffers to further his pro-commerce, pollution-enabling deregulation of the state's land, air and water.

    While the Legislature restored some of the land purchase borrowing, I'd expect more cuts to the DNR, and perhaps more movement towards selling park naming rights, or even park land itself to fulfill Walker's purported love for small government.

    Except when it comes to the Lake Mendota mansion he lives in, the drivers and pilots he enjoys, nice benefits, unlimited time off to campaign nationally with state-paid security and a $12,000-per-month salary.

    *  Walker has slashed K-12 education, declined $550 million in federal funding to expand Medicaid, raised taxes on the poor to fund a tax cut for higher earners, booted tens of thousands of Wisconsinites off food aid, - - here and here - -  cancelled Planned Parenthood contracts and followed an ideologically anti-urban path - - take it from the city's leading history, John Gurda - - that has harmed Milwaukee, the state's biggest city where most of the state's poor people live.

    So I would expect him to target social service programming and what is left of the safety net in the state as a piggy bank to raid for highway spending that principally serves the wealthier, whiter Milwaukee-area suburbs which provide Walker with his electoral base.

    And just as he has transferred the responsibility for budgeting fairness and decision-making responsibilities to the Legislature, where some of his more Draconian proposals have been moderated - - the UW cut, the recycling and land acquisition abolitions - - Walker could make large trims to state shared revenue - - where funds are returned to municipalities and local governments in exchange for a prohibition on local income taxes - - and let mayors and city councils and county supervisors and school boards figure out how to provide the services Walker and his Legislature could punted their way.

    Update, 12:39 p.m. Veteran state government watcher Steve Walters predicts Walker will fund some road-building and repairs with a tax shift that trades vehicle fees or more pennies at the gas pump for a massive new tax cut for business.

    Problem is: another loss in revenue to local governments because of the way the tax Walker wants to end is distributed.

    More of that you-know-what rolling downhill, an old state budgeting screw-em trick.

    The bottom line is that Walker needs to serve his road-builder and business donors who are demanding bigger and better roads, while at the same time Walker needs to firm up his conservative credentials with one, possible two elections on his Ronald Reagan impersonation itinerary.

    For Wisconsin residents, that means a budget balanced on the backs of low-income citizens who have the least clout to resist it.

    And if some Democratic cities and Mayors and University towns feel the heat, a Walker-GOP-and-suburban win-win-win.