Saturday, October 28, 2017

Walker will float campaign on our water

Scott Walker's imminent 2018 GOP gubernatorial re-election campaign will be fueled by concessions of state power and public resources - - principally water - - to already-wealthy, dominant private interests.

One accounting shows a $50 million Walker/special interest haul, and counting.

Regrettably, this 2015 posting which updated a 2013 posting shows the problem has been building for years.
Wisconsin's Water Crisis  
The only differences between what Walker has inflicted on clean air and water, and the people's rights to them - - and Donald Trump's assaults on the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior lands and clean government? 

Trump's reach is broader and Walker has been at it longer. 

Regrettably, both of these Republican corporate tools are going to leave our water, land and democracy dirtier than when they found it.

And both told us precisely what they would do if elected.

Trump said he would break the EPA into little pieces; Walker said he wanted a "chamber of commerce mentality" atop the WI DNR when he appointed former developer and virulent DNR opponent Cathy Stepp to run that agency for nearly eight years.

And Walker? Within hours of his January, 2011 swearing-in, Walker blocked the review by the DNR of a wetland filling permit filed by a donor/developer so construction could begin on the donor/developer's timetable.

And Walker's intentionalconsequential and persistent diminution of the DNR's public oversight role, along with the transfer of state power and the people's resources to the private sector, continues unabated - - and also continues to define the goals of the regime Walker wants to direct for another four years.

Key examples:

*  The subsidy-laden, record-breaking Foxconn project - -  that $3-billion-taxpayer-dollar+ deal which Walker made in private with company officials - - is  his re-election's 'Campaign At The Public's Expense' Exhibit "A.".

He included in the deal unique exemptions for Foxconn at its projected rural Racine County site from routine Wisconsin environmental standards and reviews. 

He also inserted in the deal overrides of state constitutional protections known as the Public Trust Doctrine that bar in the public interest the filling of wetlands  and other actions which obstruct the free flow - - thus its use and appreciation - - of public waters.

Walker pushed the deal through the legislature and is willing to weather some bad press about keeping the final implementing contract with Foxconn secret in order to signal to all potential donors and well-heeded business and conservative advocacy groups that their interests are his interests and supersede the public's right to resources, and also the right to know.

*  The DNR has been working closely for several years to help smooth out a controversial bid by a Walker donor to launch the construction of a golf course in a nature preserve along Lake Michigan despite significant questions about rare dune preservation, wetland filing, the Public Trust Doctrine, fertilizer runoff and even the private use of acreage for building construction and pavement sought by the developer inside the popular Kohler Andrae State Park next door.

With the cooperation of the Walker-led Department of Administration which quickly approved the annexation of the Town of Wilson golf course site in a nature preserve to the City of Sheboygan - - suppressing the opposition - - and parallel cooperation on friendly changes to the park's master plan from the Walker-led Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, preliminary approvals for the golf course from the DNR can't be far off. 

(The US Army Corps of Engineers and US EPA still have to weigh in, court action is likely to follow.)

*  Walker donors also won the right to permanent high-capacity well withdrawals, though a court, citing the law and The Public Trust Doctrine, has blocked the giveaway as unconstitutional.

*  And speaking of donors, remember how a key Walker and Trump donor got the inside track on acquiring primo DNR waterfront land? That deal fell through after media sniffed it out, but entitlement for the 1% was certainly in the air.

So heads up, Lake Michigan shoreline defenders where the Town of Wilson borders just got redrawn to serve another Walker favorite, because in this state right now you have to fight the state from giving away what's not the state's to give away, and to pass on the state's legacy, too.

*  After years of minimal inspections and kid-gloves' enforcement which only ensured there would be manure runoff and well-water contamination by the expanding number of industrial-scale animal feeding operations known as CAFOs, Walker says that's not enough and has devised a new perk for major Ag interests:

The transfer by executive action, and without legislative hearings or approvals of  CAFO permitting from the DNR which the ingrates at Big Ag still sue - - and brag about defeating - - to another state agency which, by law, promotes and markets milk, cheese, meat and other produce.

Can you say :conflict-of-interest?"

*  Next up: more favors for mining companies. They're coming for your water, too.

Again, I urge everyone - - citizens, teachers, candidates, activists - - to read up on the Public Trust Doctrine and demand that Wisconsin politicians abide by it, because Walker is lining up taxpayer-paid agency actions with campaign messages which reinforce his 'chamber of commerce mentality' governance, all the while to pretending the Public Trust Doctrine, Article IX of the Wisconsin Constitution, doesn't exist.

Walker is trading our water for votes. Bartering public resources without asking for his personal and partisan advancement, though the resources Walker is dealing away belong to the people.

He is their trustee, not auctioneer, and we need to let him and his allies know it:
Professor Arlen Christenson, a Professor Emeritus of Law and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School as well as founding Board President of Midwest Environmental Advocates, lays out simply how the [Public Trust Doctrine] works.
“It holds that the state is the trustee of the waters of the state for the benefit of the people of the state,” Christenson said. “And so the trustee has a duty to care for, manage, improve and protect the water for the benefit of the citizens. It’s not as if the state owns the water, but the people are the beneficial owners of water, just as the beneficiaries of a trust


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What about the WEDC, where did the money go??
What amount of money was "given out"?
No accountability??
Some companies that were given money went out of business, or went bankrupt, or moved out of state....did they pay the money back?? you do not know??
No bookkeeping??
Let's see some reports on it all.