Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump announces Presidential travel ban to Milwaukee

He's canceled this week's visit in the face of unvetted Facebook registrations to a demonstration page.
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg

Advocates explain why WI wolf hunt remains bad idea

I want to call attention to some recent publications showing why Wisconsin should not be granted permission by Congress to set its wolf hunt back in motion.

A Federal court halted wolf-hunting in Wisconsin and other states in 2014.
Wisconsin is killing its wolves  Blogger Rachel Tilseth points out that Wisconsin is the only state which had allowed the use of dogs in wolf-hunting, setting up inevitable and bloody dog-wolf confrontations:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, charged with overseeing the wolf hunt, has no rules in place that require hound handlers to report dogs injured or killed in the pursuit of wolves during a hunt. In fact, there is no monitoring or certification program whatsoever in place for the use of dogs in the wolf hunt; thus the state has little ability to hold hound hunters accountable for training or hunting violations or to prevent deadly and inhumane wolf-dog confrontations (e.g., hunters allowing dogs to overtake and kill rifle-shot wolves). These circumstances explain why Wisconsin stands alone: using dogs to hunt wolves is no better than state-sponsored dog fighting.
And Jodi Habush Sinykin reprised in a letter to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel some of the ways Wisconsin's wolf hunt had already been mismanaged:
Wisconsin relies, still today, on a 1999 wolf management plan so out of date that it takes no account of proven data or changed realities, including the Department of Natural Resources’ public survey results revealing increasingly tolerant attitudes toward wolves on the part of a majority of Wisconsin citizens.

Walker praises apprentice President's Muslim ban

I noted the other day somewhat tongue-in-cheek that right-wing WI Gov. Scott Walker had gotten it right in an early Presidential debate when he said Donald Trump would be an apprentice President.

It was Walker's one well-scripted anti-Trump zinger, and, of course, Trump proved Walker the apprentice Presidential politician by crushing Walker in the polls and forcing him out of the race before it really got started.

Walker had also opposed Trump's talk of banning Muslims from entering the country, but in classic Walker-dodge-the-issue-mode, our Governor has waited three days and then yesterday flipped on the issue by praising Trump's Muslim travel ban.

Walker hid until the initial wave of protests and demands of accountability had crested, then got his talking point in line with the "safety" concern the White House eventually rolled out though there were no imminent threats from the seven countries cited in Trump's sloppily-drafted and Imperious Executive Order, and no history of  terrorist attacks in the US by immigrants from the countries named.

Walker also needed to get on the right, right side of Trump before our Maximum Leader comes to Wisconsin later this week and shares the stage with Walker, and I'm sure Walker figures the immigration ban issue will die down to his advantage once Trump names his Supreme Court pick and the distraction diverts people's attention as part of the new chaotic normal.
    


Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump grabs starring role in new Nixon drama

[Updated] Trump has fired the Acting Attorney General. Cue the Saturday Night Massacre comparisons. Update - - Trump has now fired the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reportedly over the airport and Green Card hassles. Trump has only his own impulsiveness to blame for the mounting fallout.
Richard M. Nixon, ca. 1935 - 1982 - NARA - 530679.jpg

Write to WI GOP Sen. Johnson, get back a fake response

I know a person who took the time to write a specific, detailed, researched communication to Johnson
Ron Johnson, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
that urged him to oppose Donald Trump's nomination of Betty Devos as Secretary of Education and got back this generic, unresponsive and ultimately insulting response:
----------------------------------------------------------

Thank you for contacting me. 

Your views are important to me. I review and carefully consider constituent input and feedback as the Senate discusses, debates, and votes on issues. 

My objective is to identify, define, and prioritize problems that put America at risk, stifle economic activity, or result in ineffective and inefficient government and then find solutions to those problems. Your input helps me do my job more effectively. 

Thank you again for contacting my office. It is very helpful to hear the views of the people I serve. To date, my office has received more than 2,000,000 letters, emails and phone calls. My mission is to provide information to as many people as possible concerning the enormous financial and cultural challenges facing America. 

Please see my website at www.ronjohnson.senate.gov for additional information. It is an honor representing you and all the people of Wisconsin. 

Sincerely, 

Ron Johnson 
United States Senator 

Sean Spicer reflects Administration's ignorance about Jewish matters

In his briefing right now, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is slamming reporters asking about the Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation's omission of any mention of the Jewish people by attacking President Barack Obama's policies which Spicer alleges were anti-Israeli.
Sean Spicer.jpg
The Jewish people, writ large, and its history, are not the same thing as as the State of Israel, and its contemporary politics.

Many overlaps and connections, obviously, but it's ignorant to conflate them.

Dangerous governance by distraction

Trump's back-firing and illegal immigration orders are soaking up a lot of air time, and that's good, but look how it has overwhelmed other important matters, like the Russian hacking of the election.

And his conflicted and unqualified Cabinet nominees still facing confirmation votes, his blocking nearly-completed energy-efficiency standards for several mechanical systems and products, his failure to divest from his businesses and release his tax returns, his now-illegal DC hotel lease, the calamitous proposed import tax on Mexican goods, the outrageous pipeline approvals, and so on.

Who remembers the Access Hollywood tape and the dozen lawsuits it provoked?


And the same dynamic will play out when he releases his Supreme Court pick tomorrow.

Donald Trump official portrait.jpg
Then on to lifting the Russian sanctions, gutting the EPA, green-lighting Paul Ryan's looming budgetary attack on Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, the National Parks and so forth, further clogging media which Trump and new National Security Council power and white Nationalist, accurate  Steven Bannon are strategically undermining to make it harder to convey good, accurate information which people need to stay informed and organized.

And there are 207 weeks left in what might be just a first term.

Distraction by addition and governing through exhausting chaos neutralizes the senses. And democracy.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Scott Walker was right about the apprentice Trump

Without comment, giving credit where credit is due:
Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) attacked Donald Trump during the second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, saying that the reality show host would be an unprepared "apprentice" in the White House.
"We don't need an apprentice in the White House — we have one right now," said Walker, a reference to Trump's former role as host of NBC's reality show "The Apprentice" and a jab at President Obama.
"We don't know who you are, where you're going, we need someone that can actually get the job done," he added.
    

Cong. Sensenbrenner flushes civil rights legacy

He has stood for civil rights and against Patriot Act overreach, but fearing a Trumpian/Tea Party challenger in the next election cycle among his Waukesha County base now goes even farther to the right than even the Steve Bannon-driven and imperious Donald Trump to urge people with valid Green Cards to be barred entry to the country.
Sensibrenner.jpeg

Like the ultra-partisan and spineless Paul Ryan, huge disappointments.

Trump signaled his bigotry when he attacked these people

We curb our surprise when we remember how the brutally-ignorant Trump savaged this couple whose American Muslin Army Captain son gave his life for our country.

On Immigration crackdown, a weak Ryan is no Mitch McConnell

The flip-flopping House Speaker who fell into line behind Bigot-in-Chief Trump is clearly the Shame of Wisconsin today.
A portrait shot of Paul Ryan, looking straight ahead. He has short brown hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a red and blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background is the American flag.

Party of Lincoln?

Founded in Ripon?


Trump wants UK state visit, but fears Prince Charles

Today's must-read is this piece in The Times of London which lays out Donald Trump's ask for a state dinner at Buckingham Palace, with all possible pomp the Trump ego craves, but is warning his would-be hosts he does not want to be confronted either by crowds of protesters - - such is the burden of the New Most Hated Man in The World Who Done It To Himself - - or by Prince Charles, a dedicated climate change activist.
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg
Trump is even afraid, reports this venerable and important newspaper, that the future King of England will ask him what no one dare says out loud.

"Have you read my book?"

Saturday, January 28, 2017

On climate science, WI DNR's Cathy Stepp out of step

Here's a sequence of events to add to your "What They're Missing About Climate Change" file begun, perhaps, when you learned that Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp had recently overseen the removal of climate change information from another of the agency's climate change web pages - - the one that covered Great Lakes climate change.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

Pay attention to the contrasting attention to detail below:


*  On December 12, 2016 the US-Canadian International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes management body created by a 1909 treaty, published, as if often does, some interesting reports. 


One was titled:
The State of Climate Change Science in the Great Lakes Basin
Climate change is posing significant risks to communities, health and well-being, the economy, and the natural environment. These impacts are expected to become more severe, unless concerted efforts to reduce emissions are undertaken.
Climate change effects are being experienced in the Great Lakes. Effects observed across the basin include warming temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, decreased ice coverage, and variations to historic fluctuations of water levels. For example, over the last 60 years (1950-2010), the Great Lakes basin has experienced an increase in average annual air temperatures between 0.8-2.0 degrees C (1.4-3.6 F), with this warming trend projected to continue, according to a 2015 State of Climate Change Science in the Great Lakes basin report...
Recognizing the potential impacts of climate change on Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health, Canada and the United States incorporated a Climate Change Impacts Annex in the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). The Annex is focused on coordinating efforts to identify, quantify, understand, and predict climate impacts on the quality of waters of the Great Lakes, and sharing information that Great Lakes resource managers need to proactively address these impacts. Implementation of this Annex is led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 
*  A second December 12, 2016 report, featuring Toronto and Milwaukee, was titled:
Great Lakes Cities Prepare for a Changing Climate
On the opposite end of the Great Lakes is Milwaukee, where officials believe the greatest threat from climate change is an increased risk of severe storms causing major flooding. Milwaukee suffered “100-year storms” in 2008 and 2010 that caused stormwater and sanitary sewer system back-ups and subsequent backflows into people’s homes. Erick Shambarger, environmental sustainability director for Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office, said the city put together a “flooding study task force” following the 2010 storm – recognizing that severe storms are on course to become more frequent in the future. Milwaukee’s sewer infrastructure isn’t built to withstand storms of that magnitude, he said. 
The city is tackling the problem in multiple ways. Milwaukee has implemented a “Green Streets Stormwater Management Plan,” Shambarger said. That means any time a street is reconstructed due to pothole or pavement issues, it is inspected to see what sort of infrastructure would work there to contend with major rain events...  
The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has its own project to help deal with flood risks with the County Grounds Basin, a way of containing heavy amounts of rain in a specific area to avoid floods. The $90 million project can retain and store 315 million gallons of water during a severe storm, bringing excess water from the Underwood Creek into the basin by way of an underground tunnel... 
Elsewhere in the city, Shambarger said officials are considering converting unoccupied, abandoned and foreclosed properties into storm reservoirs, channeling that backflow floodwater to those properties’ basements to spare occupied homes...The basements would be covered with turf after the house is demolished so that it can better fit in within the neighborhoods. 
Shambarger added that Milwaukee officials also are interested in combating the “heat island effect,” where the pavement causes the area around it to get hotter than it would otherwise. This could include removing pavement, which in turn helps the stormwater runoff issue... 
Milwaukee has set up a Better Buildings Challenge to cut energy use in commercial buildings throughout the city, offering free assessments and loan financing to building owners that want to upgrade their properties. These can range from adding renewable energy sources to improving energy or water efficiency. Shambarger said the city also has residential programs to help homeowners purchase solar panels for their homes or to secure loans for energy efficiency upgrades, and is working to improve energy efficiency at manufacturing plants. 
“Everything we’re talking about is adapting to climate change, but that’s all in addition to work on energy efficiency and climate mitigation,” Shambarger said.
*  On December 22, 2016, I noticed and reported that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had the previous day heavily edited its web page on climate change and the Great Lakes by deleting all references to the human influences on climate change as well as all uses of the words "climate change" from the page.

*  On December 29, 2016, DNR spokesman James Dick verified the web page editing and said to Madison TV station WKOW, Channel 27 that the DNR knew climate change was no longer being debated among climate scientists:

"Yes, we are aware of that...," Dick said. 
*  On January 10th, Dick also confirmed that the DNR page had been edited following an inquiry from a conservative staffer at a central Wisconsin weekly newspaper:
The Lakeland Times reported that Wisconsin's environmental protection agency removed information saying humans and greenhouse gases are the main causes of climate change two days after the newspaper raised the issue with Secretary Cathy Stepp.
“After questioning from The Lakeland Times, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has changed its climate-change web page to reflect a policy of neutrality on its causes and effects, rather than embracing the dramatic manmade hypothesis the web page has touted since the Doyle administration,” the paper reported on Friday.
DNR spokesman Jim Dick on Monday acknowledged the paper raised the issue with [Secretary Cathy] Stepp during an interview.
"The Lakeland Times reporter did bring that particular Great Lakes web page to our attention during a phone call on other matters," Dick said in an email. "We reviewed it and decided to update it as we’ve stated in previous statements."



On Walker's watch, Lincoln Hills is a humanitarian crisis

When it comes to the state-sponsored nightmare that has been festering at Wisconsin's Lincoln Hills youth prison, what language suits you?

Humanitarian crisis too harsh?


Given the power differential between the state and underage inmates, I don't think so.


Even Fox6 TV called it "cruel and inhuman punishment" when posting information about a federal lawsuit filed in response.

Now there is reporting of the details surrounding a suicide attempt at the female unit at the youth prison that has left a teenage-girl in this state facility with permanent jnjury:

By the time a guard at Copper Lake School for Girls got to her cell, Sydni Briggs was hanging by a homemade noose slung over a door hinge... 
Guards and a nurse performed CPR on her for at least 20 minutes while they waited for paramedics to arrive at the troubled juvenile prison in Wisconsin’s rural north. 
Briggs survived but emerged from a months-long coma with serious brain damage.
Do you remember this disgusting story about conditions in the state's youth prison which we the taxpayers pay for?
Lincoln Hills youth had toes amputated after run-in with staff
The allegations have been horrendous and are getting worse:
...teenagers sentenced to serve time at the state’s youth prison in Irma face being taken to a cell no larger than about the size of a gas station bathroom, outfitted with a single metal bed and metal toilet. There’s one window in the cell’s door, as wide as the inmate’s face, that looks across a hallway into another cell. 
Food is slid through what could be a mail slot. 
In some cases, inmates at the youth prison have spent weeks at a time in isolation, according to current and former inmates and staff. The official policy limits confinement in isolation to 60 days. 
That practice, along with alleged overuse of pepper spray and mechanical restraints, violates inmates’ constitutional rights, according to a federal lawsuit brought this week by four current and former inmates of the state’s youth prison, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin
And are not new - - with the Governor having been notified about these terrible conditions being inflicted upon juveniles in a state facility, at taxpayers' expense - - in 2012!
Retired Racine County Circuit Court Judge Richard Kreul was caught off guard when he heard a 2012 letter he sent to Gov. Scott Walker about a sexual assault at Lincoln Hills had surfaced. 
That surprise turned to outrage after learning the governor never saw the letter and that years passed until investigations into problems at the Irma youth prison began. 
“I guess the expression would be, ‘They swept it under the rug,’” Kreul said this week in a phone interview from his home in Texas, where he moved after retirement.
Sexual assaults. Injuries leading to amputations. Now a horrifying suicide attempt.

Against or suffered by youngsters.


Why should it take a federal lawsuit to bring this nightmare more fully to public attention, and to the authorities to bring the nightmare to a close?

Does Walker have to be confronted with deaths there - - as have victims, their families and Milwaukee County taxpayers who endured four deaths last year in Sheriff David Clarke's jail - - before some serious remedial action is taken, or ordered?


Enough.

   


Living in Trump, Inc.

Donald Trump's executive orders green-lighting controversial oil pipelines simultaneously devalued privately-owned Great Plains farmland and jeopardized the massive underground water supply there and also stole Native American land and water rights in North Dakota in the same week we learned that the Trump 'Winter White House' resort has doubled its membership fee to $200,000.

He's America's CEO. And the company is not publicly-owned.
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg

GOP Walker, AG, press fake governance

Wisconsin's phony law-and-order Republicans, having been caught by a federal court drafting and implementing unconstitutionally-drawn Legislative district maps, will now use more taxpayer money to try and convince the US Supreme court that the scheme that helped keep them in power since 2011 should be allowed to continue.

These are the same far-right ideological partisans that, like their new Maximum Leader in the White House, conjure a counterfeit narrative about in-person voting fraud as a way to restrict ballot box access and gain and retain power, but themselves are the self-serving beneficiaries of a fraudulent redistricting process  - - ripped by a different federal court at the time - - now declared in violation of the highest law in the land.


If fake news upsets you, get outraged by fake governance.
   


Friday, January 27, 2017

WI DNR features outdated annual report

Calendar and data checks needed.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a web page carrying biographies of Secretary Cathy Stepp - - "accomplished deer hunter" - - and her deputy that also includes a highlighted link to its 2013 Annual Report - - the only document with its own link on the page in a box titled "About the DNR."


Why that report is still there, or why the page it's on hasn't been updated since Nov. 1, 2015, is anybody's guess - - and we recently learned when the agency scrubbed its climate change web page that it can edit its web pages quickly and with intention - -  but that Annual Report contains some outdated and inaccurate material that undermine Stepp and her agency's credibility.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
Just a few examples:

*  In a section heavy with deer hunting information, the report says:

License sales steady (over 633,600)
But The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently said the DNR had reported a substantial drop in 2016 deer license sales despite a relatively-larger herd:
Notably, hunter participation also was down. The agency sold 598,867 gun licenses, a 40-year low and the first time the number has dipped below 600,000 since 1976...
The 2016 deer kill was down despite a statewide herd that was likely larger this year, according to DNR preseason forecasts.
*  And while the report touts state deer herd management, a Green Bay columnist in September, 2016 highlighted this well-known issue which hits a contrary note:
DNR glosses over Wisconsin's CWD problem
* On a page titled "Environmental achievements," there is this text with photos:
Hired two new staff to work on environmental compliance for industrial sand mining 
Leads to faster permitting and better oversight
But a late 2014 report had this discouraging headline:
New report finds majority of frac sand mines committed environmental violations
and a separate, late 2105 report included this information:
[Chippewa Falls activist Pat] Popple and other residents say the state isn’t doing enough to monitor the mines. Roberta Walls, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Industrial Sand Sector Specialist, declined to comment for this report. According to a presentation she provided in place of a comment, the state had only fully completed 68 compliance inspections out of the state’s 129 facilities as of June 2015.
“They don’t have enough people,” Popple said of the Department of Natural Resources, which has been routinely cut under Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. “They simply don’t have enough people to go around and oversee [the mines].”
No offense to the hard-working DNR line staff, but it's widely known that the booming frac sand industry has outpaced DNR management's focus, and that the DNR suffers from deep staffing and funding cuts and other problems introduced ideologically by Gov. Walker and the current top agency managers.

*  Final example: the report claimed progress in preventing phosphorous from entering waterways statewide and highlighted two rivers - - the Sheboygan and Lower Fox - - which had notable water quality improvements, but more recent information on a DNR web page about so-called impaired waters notes trends in the opposite direction:

Every two years, Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to publish a list of all waters that are not meeting water quality standards. In the proposed 2016 list update, DNR proposes to add 225 new waters. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. A significant number of new listings were also based on poor biological condition. Ten waterbodies are proposed to be delisted.
*  And there's more, like celebrating the state park system while the DNR is likely to raise fees for a second straight year and is looking for corporate sponsorships to backfill Walker's total withdrawal of state operating funding, and look at this contradictory wolf kill data for 2013 that rhetorically makes the out-of-quota killing of six animals disappear:
  • Able to close down harvest zones effectively
  • Quota: 251, Harvest: 257  
Like I said, I don't know why the 2013 Annual Report is still highlighted by the agency, but even its own information and more materials published by a broad spectrum of sources since 2013 undercut what the DNR continues to feature on a page dedicated to telling you who is running the department.






Thursday, January 26, 2017

4/22 - - Earth Day. 4/29 - - People's Climate March.

Don't like dirty air and its warming impact on the planet?
Smoke stacks from a factory. 
Looks like we'll have a way to make that clear, and that message can be delivered in Madison right where Scott Walker's hand-picked "chamber of commerce mentality" DNR Secretary had climate science and climate change material scrubbed off official climate change webpages.

Call it Earth Day+:

A coalition of multiple organizations is seeking to mobilize crowds in major cities to demonstrate against President Donald Trump’s environmental policies.
It’s the latest action following the Women’s March on Saturday, which, if the Metro’s trip count is any measure, had a bigger showing than Trump’s Inauguration in Washington, D.C., a day earlier.
On Wednesday, the Sierra Club, one of the organizations that’s involved, announced it will sponsor a “People’s Climate March” on April 29, 2017, in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere around the country.

Scott Walker shallowness update

Posted without comment.
  1. Final score of game made me feel about as bad as listening to a Meryl Streep acceptance speech.

Voting fraud, per Trump, traced to 1st family, White House

The Donald
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg

said people registered in more than one state were part of the massive voting fraud he claimed had tainted the election he won.

Now we're up to four five members of Trump's family or inner circle registered to vote in two states.

How soon before he leads "the feds" on a White House tour and says, "lock them up!"

Wisconsin's road-building con again revealed

So a state audit finds Wisconsin is vastly over-spending on road projects because the estimated costs were low-balled and now we can't pay the bills.

I find nothing surprising about it: Wisconsin's road-building record has long been a scandal.


Two days ago, on January 24th, in a posting about Wisconsin failing to make an apparent first cut of Donald Trump-prioritized infrastructure projects in line for federal financing, I wrote this lede:

Too bad Wisconsin right-wing GOP Gov. Scott Walker set back rail manufacturing in Wisconsin, blocked the Milwaukee-Madison Amtrak extension and has no comprehensive state transportation plan except over-scheduled, under-financed 'plums' now-stalled - - poorly planned projects set in motion unsustainably to please his road-builder and legislative pals.
And in June, 2015, I put this lede on a post:
Data has been available for a long time exposing Wisconsin's lobbyist-driven plan to over-borrow-and-spend on wider highways the public doesn't want or need or can afford (think I-94 from Miller Park to the man-made mess known as the Zoo Interchange or the projected expansion of I-39/90 from Rockford to the Wisconsin Dells, for just two among many examples).
And a few months earlier, I'd noted, how many times do you have to ask?
Again, and again.
And not just near Milwaukee, as the battle goes on against State Highway 23.
But props to citizen blogger Gretchen Schuldt for taking the time to discover how the agency is using data to unleash the bulldozers and inflate state debt:
The “large urban freeways” WisDOT cites to justify its east-west I-94 expansion project carry an average of just 34% of I-94′s traffic load, according to WisDOT data.
Similarly, Jeff Gonyo and his fiscally-conservative suburban and rural allies who have been trying for years - - with some success in the courtroom - - to block the wasteful and unjustified expansion of State Highway 164 in Western Waukesha County north into the hills of Washington County brought their energy and facts to a recent state budget hearing:
And in November of 2014, barely able to contain myself, I wrote:
Understanding the Walker/GOP/road-builder complex spending binge
To fully appreciate Team Walker's recklessly wasteful 'plan' to beg, borrow and otherwise tax you for the fresh billions that make all the road-builders' dreams come true - - to the year 2032! - - imagine that your selfish, estate-plundering drunken uncle has just presented you with a holiday wish list and scheme to keep himself satisfied, solvent and soused for the foreseeable future by diverting the lion's share of the family's already-debt laden assets into a trust which he manages, and can spend, at will.
My point being: this is nothing new.

People like former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist for whom I worked between 1996 and 2004 fought for years against bloated WisDOT over-spending and over-building during gubernatorial administrations of both political parties, and even offered unsuccessfully an alternative plan crafted by city engineers to cut nearly $400 million from the roughly $8o0 million finally spent on the expanded Marquette Interchange and that also cost the city mightily in lost taxable property. 


And I have recounted often on this blog - - an example, here - - that the Marquette was just the first step in a $6.4 billion (in 2002 dollars) Southeastern Wisconsin Freeway rebuilding and reconstruction plan which will add with all its maintenance and related costs going forward 127 new mile lanes across seven counties - - a road-builders' dream 


written by the sprawl-inducing and suburban-tilting Southeastern Regional Planning Commission through a $1 million WisDOt grant without, as Norquist pointed out, any financing plan.

The seven-county proposal motion moved out of a SEWRPC fait-accompli project advisory committee on a motion made by then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker


Which is why I titled a 2009 analysis of that reality "Freeway financing shell game exposed."


SEWRPC also gave its blessings in writing to the more expensive Marquette Interchange option.


Which is why I wrote in 2008:

It is a closed loop, planned and implemented by and with state and federal dollars spent in Southeastern Wisconsin predicated on the either/or scenario.
Highways, yes. $6.5 billion worth between 2004-2030.
Rail and other transit, no new dollars...
This imbalance in planning and spending on transportation is embedded because the lobbies for highways are stronger, better-positioned and richer than are the advocates for transit.
Wisconsin's debt-ridden highway spending is a multi-agency, perpetual private-public con, and it is completely fair politically that the burden for resolving it falls to Scott Walker - - though he is likely to pass on the pain to taxpayers, their children and numerous public services that will be starved of needed funding so the big con can be made to disappear.