Thursday, July 19, 2018

Democrats, are you listening?

A poll-tested political plank is right in front of you.

People hate their Scottholes.
Northern, Western Wisconsin Residents Have Dismal View Of Roads In Latest Survey.


Rural innovation, from Wisconsin to England

Some interesting reading about good ideas I knew nothing about.

5,000 Wisconsin farms are recycling tons of plastic.
Old silage plastic is getting a new life, thanks to a plastics recycler based in Arkansas. Revolution Plastics’ has recycled over 40 million tons of ag plastic since launching its recycling program in Wisconsin two years ago... 
“The post-consumer resin, which is made from the silage plastics from Wisconsin can go into trash can liners, construction film, agricultural film, polytube irrigation, just a number of things it works great in,” [business operations director Price] Murphy says.
And in England, the green energy company Ecotricity - - 

An Ecotricity wind turbine at Green Park Business ParkReadingEngland, generating electricity for ~1000 homes.

- - can supply power from renewable sources including electricity that is free of animal byproducts. You can read more about how we make our green electricity here.
Why should you switch to vegan energy?
You don’t have to follow a vegan diet to switch to vegan energy – there are other reasons to make a change:
  • Cut your carbon emissions. Energy, transport and food production account for up to 80% of our personal carbon emissions. By switching to vegan energy, you’re doing one of the biggest single things you can do to cut your carbon footprint.
  • Support ethical energy production. If you switch to vegan energy, you can be sure your energy bills don’t support factory farming or the unethical treatment of animals. Instead, you’ll get animal free, 100% green, ethical energy.






Campaign sing-along. "Maria! I've just met a girl named Maria..."

You see a photo, I see a campaign ad soundtrack. Leonard Bernstein, meet Scott Walker. And Maria.

Maria!
I’ve just met a girl named Maria
And suddenly that name
Will never be the same
To me

Torshin, Walker, Butina

More Walker-Butina photos

We'd seen some, but here are others, and they originated on a Walker PAC website, just for the record.
Former NRA president David Keene introduces Maria Butina and Alexsandr Torshin to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, April 2015.

Groups working to slow politically-driven Foxconn bulldozing

When he was Milwaukee Mayor, John Norquist used to wryly observe that there were only two stages to WisDOT's highway planning before the orange barrels went up. "It's too soon to know," followed by "It's too late to do anything about it."

When it comes to Foxconn, Walker and his allies, with their 2018 campaign schedules driving the process, just skipped to the last step and sent in the bulldozers, the route paved politically by over-promising, fast-tracked subsidies, gaudy propagandizing photo-ops, environmental exemptions and, if they were to need it, seizures or productive land and finely-maintained homes under a twisted definition of blight removal. (see photo of what can be called blighted, and seized).
Cabbage fields on the 'blighted' Foxconn site, 2017

Enter a court filing and related actions aimed at putting the cart behind the horse where it belongs. 
The filings ask a court to put a hold on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ diversion approval during the ongoing legal challenge. 
Additionally, the groups requested that the city of Racine hold off on beginning any construction work on new water infrastructure related to the proposed diversion of water from Lake Michigan.
You can access a full year's postings about Foxconn, here. 

As I've said on this blog many times, it's wrong that so much private money has to be spent Wisconsin these days to battle with taxpayer-funded agencies and officials to get public policies serving the public interest, but until there are ballot-box wins, this will remain the case.

So props to the activists trying to restore sanity, fairness and fiscal health into a corrupted and polluted political environment. 

Where you can't drink the WI water. Or step in it.

Wisconsin's clean waters are increasingly blue-green, brown and unhealthy.

9:00 a.m. update 7/19/18 - - I'd posted this  at 8:47 p.m. with a reference to Narinette County water contamination, but now there is this added reporting:
A Wisconsin company that makes fire suppression foam says it has found more evidence of toxic compounds polluting water in ditches near one of its operations in Marinette — the latest indication that some of its chemicals could be flowing into Lake Michigan
* Widespread well water contamination reported in Juneau County.
Testing of  more than 100 water wells in a rural area of Juneau County found 42 percent of them had high levels of nitrates and nitrogen, making the water unsafe to drink, a groundwater specialist said Tuesday.
Add that to:

*  Fecal contamination in Kewaunee County groundwater, recently described as "disgusting."
One evening in October 2016, as [Erika] Balza and her husband were getting ready for bed, they turned on the faucets. Out came dark brown water that smelled like manure. "I mean, that's just disgusting," Balza says. 
CAFO runoff in Kewaunee County
*  Groundwater contaminated with dangerous chemicals in Marinette County near Lake Michigan.

*  The doubling of impaired waterways in Wisconsin under Walker.

*  The persistent dead zone in Lake Michigan and a blue-green algae outbreak in 2016.

*  Lake Michigan dead zones, 2017 update.

*  Blue-green algae outbreaks in 2018.

*  Two years of raw sewage contamination tolerated in Eau Claire waters.

* The precise make-up of Foxconn's industrialized wastewater which will have begun as a multi-million-gallon-per-day Lake Michigan diversion is unknown.

So maybe Walker thought it was a meeting of the National Russian Association

[Updated from 7/18/18] So we're getting more of Walker's typical 'don't ask me! I know nothing' behavior.

Thought he still has nothing to say about the Trump's-Putin FUBAR bear-hug in Helsinki, he has broken his silence about how he managed to get his picture taken with an alleged Russian spy who seemed enamored of his 2015 Presidential bid and who herself has managed to get herself charged by the US government for operating in the country as an unregistered foreign agent.

Walker finally said he remembered meeting the woman at an NRA convention back when he was polling strongly prior to the Iowa caucuses


MSNBC screen shot, 7/18. Russian connected banker/pol Alexander Torshin to Walker's right, and arrested alleged Russian spy Maria Butina to Walker's left.
only because other people have pointed it out now, that he doesn't remember speaking Russian to her (as she does), and doesn't know anyone who's been contacted by the authorities in the matter, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Walker might as well say he thought he was at a National Russian Convention, looking for a pen pal.

His denials and disinterest are a variation on his frequent absence of an opinion, whether it be about immigrant kids being snatched from their parents at the southern border, or on, say, evolution.

Frankly, a lot gets past Walker.

A few years ago, I noted some of the issues Walker said he knew nothing about, including whether being gay was a matter of both or choice and if President Obama was Christian.

Or if he knew anything about the John Doe probe, or, at the time, about whether his campaign for student body President had broken any rules.

Or, if he had talked to mega-donor Diane Hendricks about a divide-and conquer strategy.

You see the pattern.

Elsewhere I noted that Walker didn't know if he had signed recall petitions against Sen. Herb Kohl and Sen. Russ Feingold, and didn't know anything about a patient at a Milwaukee County facility starving to death when he was County Exec.

Walker defends withholding Mental Health Complex report

"I don't know what's in it, so it's hard for me to say" if it should be released, Walker said. His administration had nothing to do with the report being withheld, Walker said.
Then, as now, don't bother asking. He knows nothing. 


So exactly where is Schimel's claimed leadership "against opioid abuse?"

Wisconsin's GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel's campaign Twitter account has at the top of the feed a permanent, "pinned tweet" which includes a promotional video and this text. 

May 17
MoreWe launched our first digital ad of the cycle. Brad Schimel is leading the nation in the battle against opioid abuse.
Square that claim with these facts.

*  This story posted nine weeks prior to Schimel's Tweet details skyrocketing opioid overdoses in Wisconsin: 

Emergency room visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 109 percent in Wisconsin from July 2016 to September 2017, the highest spike among 16 states closely tracked, federal health officials said Tuesday. 
The ER data show trends in the opioid abuse epidemic before deaths do, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the study.

* And as for joining other states in litigation against opioid manufacturers
Schimel Won't Join Lawsuits Against Trump Immigration Policy, Opioid Makers
*  Leaving the litigation leadership to local officials in Wisconsin, even in Waukesha County where Schimel had served as District Attorney before being elected Attorney General.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Maybe Walker though it was the National Russian Association

[Updated from 7/18/18] So we're getting more of Walker's typical 'don't ask me! I know nothing' behavior.

Thought he still has nothing to say about the Trump's-Putin FUBAR bear-hug in Helsinki, he has broken his silence about how he managed to get his picture taken with an alleged Russian spy who seemed enamored of his 2015 Presidential bid and who herself has managed to get herself charged by the US government for operating in the country as an unregistered foreign agent.

Walker finally said he remembered meeting the woman at an NRA convention back when he was polling strongly prior to the Iowa caucuses
Torshin, Walker, Butina
only because other people have pointed it out now, that he doesn't remember speaking Russian to her (as she does), and doesn't know anyone who's been contacted by the authorities in the matter, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Walker might as well say he thought he was at a National Russian Convention, looking for a pen pal.

His denials and disinterest are a variation on his frequent absence of an opinion, whether it be about immigrant kids being snatched from their parents at the southern border, or on, say, evolution.

Frankly, a lot gets past Walker.

A few years ago, I noted some of the issues Walker said he knew nothing about, including whether being gay was a matter of both or choice and if President Obama was Christian.

Or if he knew anything about the John Doe probe, or, at the time, about whether his campaign for student body President had broken any rules.

Or, if he had talked to mega-donor Diane Hendricks about a divide-and conquer strategy.

You see the pattern.

Elsewhere I noted that Walker didn't know if he had signed recall petitions against Sen. Herb Kohl and Sen. Russ Feingold, and didn't know anything about a patient at a Milwaukee County facility starving to death when he was County Exec.

Walker defends withholding Mental Health Complex report

"I don't know what's in it, so it's hard for me to say" if it should be released, Walker said. His administration had nothing to do with the report being withheld, Walker said.
Then, as now, don't bother asking. He knows nothing. 



Why Trump's right at home when private land seizures loom

There was a missed opportunity at the Foxconn ground-breaking.
Not Trump's first eminent domain rodeo

Understandably, because reporters and GOP operatives alike know Trump has no self-referencing sense of humor - - (Google Trump, Seth Myers, Barack Obama).  

But someone perhaps on the cusp of retirement should have asked Trump as he and Walker and Ryan and Co. gazed at nicely-maintained farmland and homes available for seizure through eminent domain if he was having a Coking flashback.

No, not that coking. 

Vera Coking.

Who was a strong-willed, law-abiding homeowner who refused to sell her New Jersey home to Trump so he could tear it down for limo parking at his now-defunct New Jersey casino.

And fought in court the deployment of eminent domain on his behalf by the government so he could have her private property.

For the record, Ted Cruz remembered Vera Coking.

Also for the record: she won her case, though Trump and his businesses succeeded in other government-sponsored grabs of private property for his use.

A nice summary of how his eminence has employed eminent domain is here.

Three more things for you to read on the subject.

1. This update on local efforts to prevent eminent domain seizures of perfectly fine agricultural land and well-maintained homes enabled by a blight designation - - noted here in 2017 - - laid down by the Village of Mount Pleasant.

2. A conservative law and policy outfit's concern over the Mount Pleasant matter, here, suggesting that Goliath hasn't won yet and David may have more friends than he knows.

3. My year-long Foxconn archive, here, to which I will add today's installment.

Major I-system truck crashes pile up in SE WI

This morning, a truck crash has closed much of the Marquette interchange.

Yesterday's afternoon commute south of Mayfair was blocked in both directions for hours by a truck rollover.

How many times have you heard the traffic reporters lead with that kind of news?

Coincidence, or something else?

Bad drivers?

Bad design?

Bad luck?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trump's EPA rethinks coal ash rules. We add some other modest proposals.

Trump's post-Scott Pruitt EPA, now run by a former coal industry lobbyist, is releasing new, rollback rules that will ease restrictions on coal ash storage even if it's close to water. 
The rule will allow coal ash impoundments that are at risk for leaks — including ones within five feet of groundwater or in wetlands or seismic zones — to continue operating beyond April 2019, when they were slated to close. Instead, they may remain open under the new rule until October 2020.
Now before everyone goes ballistic, let's look at the upside.

For one thing, EPA has been working on carbon sequestration.

So if people ingest some coal ash in their drinking water like the people in Kentucky and North Carolina whose water was contaminated by coal ash, well, the rule change just might kill those two birds, and beyond, with one coal-black stone, no?

Team Trump could expand its use of people as convenient carbon sequestration units by looking at pelletized or finely-ground coal ash (a powdered chocolate substitute, or just add water, and stir) as a nutritional replacement for some of the food aid Trump wants to reduce.

Remember, your body is about 18% carbon, and some coal ash samples contain as much as 23% carbon by weight, so there you go - - and good on the Trumpians if they do the math and craft the policies and don't let good carbon go to waste.

Bonus idea: Coal ash can be added to concrete, so why not build the entire Southern border wall with awesome tonnages of coal ash repurposed? #MAGA.

Admittedly, these are just few modest proposals, and for that inspiration I want to thank both WI GOP Governor Scott (Jonathan Swift) Walker for his history of  "modest, modest" proposals, and journalist Bill Lueders for memorializing it.

You burn coal, you get coal ash, and then what?






Those unintentional, incidental species takings; incidental for what?

When I see these official DNR notices like this one about permitting a so-called "incidental taking" of a rare, endangered lizard- - 
Slender Glass Lizard photo.
- - or this earlier notice of an allowed taking of Monarch butterfly habitat, I always think that for the living things 'taken,' I'll bet it was anything but incidental - - even if the state says the taking isn't going to be intentional.

I know, I know, the rules say the taking can be taken if the taking doesn't threaten the species, but take a moment and think about it being called incidental when it comes after all the analysis.

You can make you own mind. Here's the statement, in full:
Incidental take notice for Columbia County
By Central Office July 11, 2018
Contact(s): Stacy Rowe, 608-266-7012
MADISON - The extension of a gas main along State Highway 23 in Columbia County may result in the "incidental taking" of a rare lizard under a permit the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.
Alliant Energy's project involves the extension of gas main pipe north of Wisconsin Dells. The gas main consists of approximately 23,000 feet of 2- and 4-inch plastic gas main. Construction timing is expected to be three months beginning August 1, 2018. The area subject to this incidental take permit consists of approximately 2,990 feet along the south side of Highway 23 going east from Business Park Road. The pipe will be installed using a combination of vibratory plowing, boring and directional drilling techniques. The project includes an estimate of 20 4-foot by 6-foot bore pits to get the gas main under roads, driveways or other obstacles. A maximum of 3.31 acres could be impacted along the entire project route; however, the total soil disturbance is expected to be significantly less due to existing sandy soils, size of pipe and installation techniques.
The presence of the state endangered slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. The gas main will be installed during the an active season for the lizard, and DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some lizards.
Department staff concluded that the proposed project is not likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival or recovery of the species within the state, the whole plant-animal community of which it is a part or the habitat that is critical to its existence.
The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Permit. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the slender glass lizard are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Stacy Rowe (608-266-7012 or stacy.rowe@wi.gov). The department is requesting comments from the public through August 10, 2018 regarding project-related impacts to the slender glass lizard. Public comments should be sent to Stacy Rowe, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or stacy.rowe@wi.gov.

Note to aspiring candidates: Be careful of whom you greet in Russia, reposted

[Updated from 1:54 - - Walker is still not taking questions, leaving it to his campaign to bob-and-weave.]

[Updated from 1:35 p.m.] P.T. Barnum is said to have observed "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

Scott Walker might disagree with that, given this Monday evening Washington Post column.


It references Walker back when he was riding high in 2015 presidential polling - - first place in Iowa!! - - and crossed paths with a certain Maria Butina, the now-federally-charged alleged Russian agent:
Another criminal allegation against another Russian national who was involved in the 2016 election was announced Monday by the Justice Department... 
April 24, 2015: Butina attends the NRA convention in Nashville. There she and Torshin meet Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), who reportedly greets her in Russian...
July 13, 2015: Butina attends the launch of Walker’s presidential campaign. 
Here's a fuller account in the Cap Times, complete with a photo from a Walker-boosting PAC.
Torshin, Walker, Butina

And, like the entire issue of Trump's embrace of Putin, Walker isn't taking any direct questions.

Note to aspiring candidates: be careful whom you greet in Russian

[Updated from 1:52 p.m. Walker is still ducking the issues, leaving it to spokespeople to respond.]

[Updated from 1:35 p.m.] P.T. Barnum is said to have observed "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

Scott Walker might disagree with that, given this Monday evening Washington Post column.


It references Walker back when he was riding high in 2015 presidential polling - - first place in Iowa!! - - and crossed paths with a certain Maria Butina, the now-federally-charged alleged Russian agent:
Another criminal allegation against another Russian national who was involved in the 2016 election was announced Monday by the Justice Department... 
April 24, 2015: Butina attends the NRA convention in Nashville. There she and Torshin meet Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), who reportedly greets her in Russian...
July 13, 2015: Butina attends the launch of Walker’s presidential campaign. 
Here's a fuller account in the Cap Times, complete with a photo from a Walker-boosting PAC.
Torshin, Walker, Butina

And, like the entire issue of Trump's embrace of Putin, Walker isn't taking any direct questions.

Monday, July 16, 2018

From Walker, about Trump and Putin, Walker says nothing

Trump is silent on Putin. And Walker is silent on that.

[Tuesday update: Walker still hiding behind spokespersons.] 

Despite unprecedented condemnation at Trump's abasement before Putin today (see below), and the indictment of an alleged Russian agent whom David Clarke and Scott Walker had met, the supremely intimidated Walker still has nothing to say about it:

“I’ll leave that up to federal folks," Walker said during a stop in Sussex, according to WITI-TV (Channel 6). "That’s not in my jurisdiction."
Or put it this way: Walker's no Newt Gingrich.

Of course, Walker is always tweeting the important, self-referential, campaigning stuff:

  4h Investments like Foxconn benefit all corners of the state – involving workers from nearly all of Wisconsin’s counties and moving our state forward.
And: 
 8 hours ago8 hours agoMoreHad a great chance to travel our beautiful state this weekend on our annual motorcycle ride.  
-----------------------------------------------
From earlier 7/16/18

Trump's groveling fealty at his master Putin's feet today, 
Vladimir Putin (2017-07-08) (cropped).jpg
and unpatriotic shrug at Russia's illegal interference in American democracy, has at least forced Trump apologists like Wisconsin's Paul Ryan and Ron Johnson to issue a few words of rebuke.

So give Trump and credit for helping firm up Mueller's credibility in the eyes of some leaders of the suicidally-weak, credibility-free Republican Party.

I haven't yet seen anything on these uniquely historic matters from Scott Walker, and don't expect to, since, you know, these federal issues fundamental to American democracy have nothing to do with him and his busy hand/shaking,  dessert-gorging schedule.

And, besides, he's surely busy today helping Foxconn find another potential job-bearing site to prove that Foxconn is a statewide benefit beyond the 11 football-field size, wetland-filling, pollution-belching, language-bending 'ecosystem' it says it is creating on Mount Pleasant farmland.

Because, you know, bad poll numbers have got to spun, especially if they describe what could be Walker's ruinous Scotthole.

And, yep: Walker's latest tweet is something Foxconn could have easily done its own, without the Governor. Because, you know, bad poll numbers have got to be spun.
 22 minutes ago22 minutes agoMore
Foxconn’s investment in Eau Claire is more proof that our reforms are having a positive impact on our state. We need to move Wisconsin forward and keep this momentum up!