Saturday, March 31, 2018

About that wildfire season the WI DNR says is 'heating up.'

The Wisconsin DNR says the wildfire season is "heating up."

More about that in a moment.

Academics have been studying the projected impacts of climate change and temperatures increases on Wisconsin forests for years
In the coming century, forecast climate changes caused by increasing greenhouse gases may produce dramatic shifts in tree species distributions and the rates at which individual tree species sequester carbon or release carbon back to the atmosphere. The species composition and carbon storage capacity of northern Wisconsin (USA) forests are expected to change significantly as a result. Projected temperature changes are relatively large (up to a 5.8°C increase in mean annual temperature) and these forests encompass a broad ecotone that may be particularly sensitive to climate change. 
The Union of Concerned Scientists sees a link between a warming climate and greater wildfire danger:
As the world warms, we can expect more wildfires
Wildfire seasons (seasons with higher wildfire potential) in the United States are projected to lengthen, with the southwest’s season of fire potential lengthening from seven months to all year long. Additionally, wildfires themselves are likely to be more severe.
Researchers and modelers project that moist, forested areas are the most likely to face greater threats from wildfires as conditions grow drier and hotter. 
And more studies show how a warming climate can put people in the path of fires:
The results highlight the fact that extreme weather conditions not only produce higher fire risk than normal weather conditions, but also change the fine-scale locations of high risk areas in the landscape...
You have to really dig into the DNR website to find discussion of climate change and forest health. A 2010 forestry plan still posted on a DNR webpage not updated since 2015 gets at some of it: 
Forests have significant and dynamic interactions with the atmosphere. Air pollutants can reduce forest productivity and diversity, especially in sensitive species and genotypes....
The largest and most essential of these interactions is the uptake and respiration of carbon dioxide. Our forests and other ecosystems process tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually. Carbon dioxide is captured during photosynthesis and most of it is returned to the atmosphere through respiration. A very small fraction (in the single digit percentiles) is captured in plant biomass and soils annually. Determining the amount of carbon stored in plants and soils can be difficult. Current estimates suggest as much as eight million tons of carbon dioxide is stored every year in our forest vegetation and soils. This capture or sequestration of carbon is, and will become even more, important as we seek to reduce Wisconsin’s net greenhouse gas emissions.
The remaining greenhouse gases (including methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride) have little to no direct effect on forests. However, potential changes in climate patterns caused by these gases, such as droughts, storms, and length of the growing season, could significantly affect forest communities...
Criteria pollutants, and especially greenhouse gases, have been shown to influence forests communities when assessed over decades and longer time frames...
Concentrations of the major greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous dioxide) in the atmosphere have varied over the millennia, but their concentrations have increased substantially with the fossil fuel combustion associated with industrial development and the land clearing associated with population growth and economic activity.
Carbon dioxide is an essential plant nutrient, but elevated atmospheric concentrations may lead to internal imbalances in tree nutrition, affect insect-disease relationships, and influence climate patterns... 
Major issues associated with atmospheric interactions include the following: 
Changes in forest communities, economic relationships, and recreational uses.
Changes to insect-disease relationships as well as fire and management regimes.
Reductions in forest productivity and diversity including changes in forest species composition, acute foliar injury, and effects on sensitive species and genotypes
Changes to physical processes such as water flow, elemental cycling, wildlife habitat, and associated forest values...
Greenhouse Gases – Greenhouse gas concentrations will continue to rise unless significant regulatory and voluntary efforts are made to reduce emissions at personal, state, national, and global levels. Increasing concentrations will contribute to climate change and will impact forest health and productivity. Effects are likely to be observed statewide and may be assessed as having positive or negative impacts depending on the specific parameter being measured. For example, certain species may become more prevalent or have greater productivity, while other species are diminished. Regardless, changes in the climate and our forests will alter traditional land uses, management activities, and recreational uses.
Criteria Pollutants – Ozone concentrations in the atmosphere and nitrogen, sulfur, and mercury emissions from regulated sources are anticipated to decrease as regulations on air pollution become increasingly restrictive at state and federal levels.
But you won't see Wisconsin's DNR focusing on the impacts of climate change because nearly all that information, links to outside agencies and related materials were scrubbed from the agency website, leaving a text like this without much context:
  1. As Wisconsin’s wildfire season starts “heating” up, Sec. Dan Meyer takes a look at some of the firefighting equipment ready to roll at the DNR’s LeMay Forestry Research & Development Center in Tomahawk.

New data show Walker's continuing Wisconsin jobs' fail

Turns out that Walker tweets and photo ops do not make Wisconsin an engine of growth.
 Mar 29MoreWisconsin is working like never before! Let’s keep it up! #WIForward 
The latest Federal employment figures show Wisconsin to be a regional laggard which actually lost 300 private sector jobs in February, added only a paltry 18,600 private sector jobs in the year from February, 2017 to February, 2018, and is still 20,000 private sector jobs below the 250,000 Walker repeatedly promised in his 2010 and 2012 gubernatorial campaigns to create by January,  2015, the Capital Times reports.

With a shamefully restrictive $7.25-per-hour minimum wage Walker enforces as 'livable,' and his promotion of hard-edged and ideologically-driven anti-education, pro-gun, anti-teacher, and pollution-enabling policies which many millennials and mobile young families find repellent, Wisconsin is going to remain an unattractive, minimal-growth place to open a business or put down roots until Walker and the right-wing regime he is directing is removed from power.


Friday, March 30, 2018

NY, Illinois raise questions about Foxconn bid for Lake Michigan water

Scott Walker's 2018 re-election could hinge on his beloved Foxconn project breaking ground in rural Racine County.

And the Foxconn operation will depend on receiving a daily diversion of 7 million gallons of water every day from Lake Michigan.

But serious objections to the diversion's wisdom and legality under the Great Lakes Compact were raised by citizens at a public hearing earlier this month.

Additional objections across the Great Lakes region were mentioned in this non-partisan media report; I also wrote that some objections are amplified by Walker's damage to Wisconsin's environment and his debasement of the Department of Natural Resources - - the state agency which will review and can approve the Foxconn diversion application, all discussed here
...the heavily-resisted push for a Lake Michigan diversion for Foxconn adds to Wisconsin's status as a Great Lakes environmental outlier.
Now we have additional reporting about those policy on today's Huffington Post website
A letter from New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation quoted the compact’s requirement that water diverted to nearby communities largely serve residential customers.
“Here, it is unclear that the proposed diversion is largely for residential customers,” the letter said. “The water is intended to facilitate the construction and operation of the future industrial site.” 
New York also questioned whether Wisconsin could unilaterally approve the deal, saying the compact’s general prohibition of new diversions “favors and potentially mandates” review by the other states bordering the lakes. 
A letter from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office said the utilities involved in the project haven’t made clear how they would treat wastewater from the Foxconn plant before ultimately releasing it back into Lake Michigan. They argue that Racine should not be able to exceed the amounts defined in its current permit for returning wastewater to the lake. 
Here is a link to a complete archive of posts about the Foxconn project I've been compiled since July. 

Awareness of Walker's water stewardship dismissal spreads to Great Lakes states

[Updated from 3/29/18: A friend who has been fighting full-time the battle for clean water in Wisconsin far longer than have I sends along this reminder:
The Legislature and the courts over many decades have made it clear that the DNR has a responsibility – - an affirmative responsibility -- - to enforce and protect the Public Trust doctrine. The problem we have now is the Legislature is the first defender of the Trust doctrine, and at the behest of special interests, is trying in many ways to chip at it. 
In years past the DNR would have been a strong defender of the Doctrine, but the Legislature is happy with the current situation now. Other citizens are left challenging legislative actions or Executive orders on Constitutional grounds, and on their own dime, and the DNR and AG and everyone in state gov't. is aligned against the citizens. And of course the action is in the Wisconsin Courts - - not a pretty picture.]
I'd noted that the heavily-resisted push for a Lake Michigan diversion for Foxconn adds to Wisconsin's status as a Great Lakes environmental outlier.

So give a read to this explanatory piece posted by the non-partisan, non-profit site WisContext about Wisconsin, the Great Lakes Compact and what could happen as Walker and Wisconsin claim that the Wisconsin DNR and state laws he has hamstrung and weakened can enforce the Compact's spirit and letter: 
There are already indications that other Great Lakes states are worried about the depleted and politically constrained Wisconsin DNR's ability to enforce environmental regulations. The Waukesha diversion agreement received unanimous approval from the eight governors, but Minnesota officials insisted on including language reaffirming other states' ability to hold each other to account under the compact.
If another state in the Great Lakes Basin becomes convinced that Wisconsin isn't properly enforcing the compact — whether in the case of Waukesha, Racine (and Foxconn), or any other withdrawal or discharge — it can raise a complaint. 
"Any Person aggrieved by a Party action shall be entitled to a hearing pursuant to the relevant Party's administrative procedures and laws," the Compact reads.
I'd noted the imposition of those conditions by the other states' diversion reviewers nearly two years ago; clearly some of the other states were not buying all the assurances over the Waukesha diversion which Walker and his DNR were selling at the time:
I'd felt the reviewers' evolving "findings" were not strong on enforcement of a possible diversion agreement at the very time that GOP Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel had just given GOP legislators formal advice that undermined long-standing water access and quality protections guaranteed in the Wisconsin Constitution.
And while GOP Gov. Scott Walker had been for years weakening environmental enforcement and state water stewardship responsibilities and actions in favor of special interests across the state.
And while he has cut Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource science staff, and reduced enforcement actions in favor of so-called voluntary self-enforcement by 'regulated' businesses instituted by the "chamber of commerce mentality" leadership he placed intentionally atop the agency.
All of which is well-known in Wisconsin, and also noted nationally.
Just to remind everyone, despite all Walker's sabotage of the DNR and state water policy, those waters, like Lake Michigan - - 

- - belong to all the people of the state, says the DNR

Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone

Wisconsin lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens under the state's Public Trust Doctrine. Based on the state constitution, this doctrine has been further defined by case law and statute. It declares that all navigable waters are "common highways and forever free", and held in trust by the Department of Natural Resources.

And as my friend, above, points out, the DNR's obligation to protect the public interest is long-standing, as the same DNR web page makes clear:
As a result, the public interest, once primarily interpreted to protect public rights to transportation on navigable waters, has been broadened to include protected public rights to water quality and quantity, recreational activities, and scenic beauty.(1) 
All Wisconsin citizens have the right to boat, fish, hunt, ice skate, and swim on navigable waters, as well as enjoy the natural scenic beauty of navigable waters, and enjoy the quality and quantity of water that supports those uses.(2)
Wisconsin law recognizes that owners of lands bordering lakes and rivers - "riparian" owners - hold rights in the water next to their property. These riparian rights include the use of the shoreline, reasonable use of the water, and a right to access the water. However, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court has ruled that when conflicts occur between the rights of riparian owners and public rights, the public's rights are primary and the riparian owner's secondary.(1)

What are Wisconsin's stream and lake access laws?
Wisconsin's Public Trust Doctrine requires the state to intervene to protect public rights in the commercial or recreational use of navigable waters. The DNR, as the state agent charged with this responsibility, can do so through permitting requirements for water projects, through court action to stop nuisances in navigable waters, and through statutes authorizing local zoning ordinances that limit development along navigable waterways.
The court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions. "A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist.  Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)

Sources: (1) Quick, John. 1994. The Public Trust Doctrine in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1. 
(2) "Champions of the Public Trust, A History of Water Use in Wisconsin" study guide. 1995. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Water Regulation and Zoning. Champions of the Public Trust [PDF].

Trump's brilliant dump of clean air, gas mileage standards

Great news: Trump's EPA is getting ready to rollback stupid guvmint-hatched rules that make car engines more efficient and their fuels less polluting.

For one thing, dirtier air pumped out in the US of A can help us take back the #1 air polluter-ranking from China. 

It's a slippery slope; America will suffer more losses if you let the Chinese steal one of our titles, like being first in making solar panels or building roads and schools in Africa - - and then where will we be?

This bold move by Trump shows that he's serious about always winning, and it gives the lie to lthe iberal myth that Trump has no vision or that his administration has no coherence.

Making sure by rule-making that Big Oil does its part to making American air pollution great again is the logical companion more to Trump's right-out-of-the-gate legislation that lets Big Coal dump mining waste into rivers and streams, keeping the water greatly polluted.

Look: Trump has said he has the best brain, the best people and the best words, so let's also acknowledge that he's making sure we'll have the best pollutants being spread the farthest on the water and the wind.

Hey - - coal, oil, they're both fossil fuels and burn real good, so let's not have any double standards about which gets freed up so the marketplace can decide which fossil fuel residues we breathe and drink, or will flavor our meat, fruits, vegetables and fish?

Side note: Trump's promotion of dirtier air and water dovetails perfectly with Scott Walker's statewide efforts to rollback protections for Wisconsin clean air and water, especially with Foxconn bringing its huge thirst for water and a 700+ ton annual air pollution emission needing a fresh pass from state and federal oversight. 

This kind of federal and state cooperation is what made up the dreams of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Koch brothers a few years ago.

Side note, #2: Throw in US EPA administrator and friend of liquified natural gas Scott Pruitt's dedication to getting more natural gas to market, and you've got the makings of a true, America First fuel-burning trifecta - - petroleum, coal and natural gas - - and a new and improved EPA with a "P" for pollution in the agency name, to boot. 

Unless buttinski Democrats keep holding Pruitt to some fake ethical standard that they say should keep the EPA administrator away from helping his liquified natural gas lobbyist-landlord sell more liquified natural gas in Morocco, a recent Pruitt junketing destination.

And because freeing coal, oil, natural gas and auto makers to do what they do best, Trump is keeping his promise to America and his base voters to wipe away Obama administration 'achievements.'

Trump said over and over again that he'd rid America of what was inflicted on it by a Kenyan-born President whom Trump and his investigators proved was pedaling a fake birth certificate from Hawaii - - which isn't even one of our 48 states.

And let's be honest: who out there won't like making extra trips to the gas station? 

Just this week I went out of my way to find Exxon/Mobil fuel to give poor old Rex Tillerson's battered income a boost, and I won't mind adding another stop there every few weeks if it's in the national interest, too.

Plus, building in extra gas stops on road trips this upcoming summer driving season will definitely help keep America's bacon burger and super-sized soft drink deficiencies under control. 

And when the kids start asking, 'are we at grandma's house yet?,' you've got a better answer: 'No, but President Trump says, 'who's ready for another tub of cheesy fries?' 

Give Trump his due and salute genius when you see it: He's taking us back to the 50's, whether to regain lost white power or to make our beloved gas-guzzlers King of the Road again.

And if Trump can figure out a way to get the coal-fired engine under the hood, bury all this un-American electric vehicle nonsense and have all Americans enjoy the joys of Rolling Coal:

President Trump, for life.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Walker follows 1 law, evades many, pollutes politics, environment

So Walker agrees to follow a law.  Don't get too giddy about that.

Let's not forget that Walker is busy dismissing or evading the US Clean Water Act in 75 policy areas - -  

- - and the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and emission standards for SE Wisconsin, the US EPA's presence in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State Constitution's 9th amendment establishing public water rights under the Public Trust Doctrine, women's rights to health care services and doctor-patient privileges, not to mention tenants' rights, the public's hearing rights, even when ordered protected by a judge - - and, more broadly, due process, equal protection and the principle of one-person, one-vote contemptuously, intentionally damaged, blocked or watered down statewide by his party's deeply odious, law-evading gerrymander.

WI law and order shocker; Walker abides by law, orders.

Walker and WI GOP Senate clown car driver Scott Fitzgerald grudgingly agreed to follow court orders and the special elections scheduling law after three judges said the law did not contain special exemptions for governors and legislators.

He hasn't been swatted down like this by the authorities since his failed campaign for Marquette University student body president was sanctioned for rule violations and then got thrashed at the ballot box after being caught emptying student newspaper vending boxes and throwing out the papers over a negative editorial. Details, here.

And speaking of schedules: special study sessions could be added to upcoming GOP caucus agendas covering topics that include: 

"Law and Order." "Representative Government." "Self-inflicted wounds." "Separation of Powers,""Contempt of Court," "Of the people, by the people and for the people." 

And "Ship of Fools."

Also - - don't forget all the other laws, rules and precedents he's evading, rolling back or dismissing, catalogued quickly, here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Walker updates: His loss is our win, but his wins hurt everyone.

Today's Walker/Wisconsin report card: some protection for voting rights, but not for wetlands and clean air.

So, a win for the people in the Court of Appeals on Walker's imperiously sickening bid for judicial cover as he flouts his obligation to fully enfranchise all Wisconsin voters by calling needed special elections.

Update - - He's not running to the State Supreme Court, where a 5-2 pro-Walker majority usually fights for the right to kneel first before his throne. Look instead like he’s counting on his Legislative bellhops to rewrite his obligation out of the law instead.

But, since he is the worst Governor in Wisconsin's environmental history - - losses today on two environmental fronts

* Removal of state protections for 100,000 acres of flood-preventing, habitat-rich wetlands, and;

* Approval for the Legislature's slippery withholding of air pollution data to promote more business-friendly-and-generated dirty air not far from the soon-to-be-even-more-heavily-polluted SE lakeshore region once Foxconn's 700+tons of emitted toxins hit the breeze.

New slogan for potential Illinois recruits for Foxconn, or residency nearby:
Come for the job, leave with some smog.

WMC $erially $prings into $tate $upreme Court races

The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce - - the same lobby which helped write the State Supreme Court's 'no fault recusal rule' - - springs into action by pouring money into the Wisconsin Supreme Court race on the ballot Tuesday to aid right-wing candidate Michael Screnock - - by bashing the opponent. 
Last week, the state’s largest business lobbying group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, launched a new television ad criticizing [[Judge Rebecca] Dallet for sentencing a man to two years in prison in 2011 for attempted sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl when the maximum sentence was 20 years in prison.
Remember, they've done it before, with millions of dollars, and bragged about it, according to a WMC posting:
WMC sprang into action to defend the Wisconsin business community from the high court’s rulings. WMC worked with lawmakers to pass bills to overturn the court’s rulings, including restoring caps on malpractice awards, limits on punitive damages and setting aside the guilty until innocent lead paint ruling. WMC ran an award-winning media and grassroots campaign to promote the legislation, and urge Gov. Doyle to sign the bills. But, Doyle sided with personal injury lawyers and vetoed the legislation. So, WMC set out to make sure this dark episode in our judicial history was not repeated. 
In 2007, WMC spent $2.5 million on issue ads educating the public about Justice Annette Ziegler and lawyer Linda Clifford. One WMC ad — Zero — highlighted the fact that Clifford had “zero” experience as a judge, while Ziegler was a judge and former federal prosecutor. Ziegler won handily. But, that only preserved the 4-3 activist majority because Ziegler replaced conservative Justice Jon Wilcox...
In 2008, WMC spent $2.25 million on issue ads about Justice Louis Butler and his opponent Judge Michael Gableman of Burnett County. One WMC ad — Loopholes — featured Justice Butler’s rulings that provided loopholes to protect criminal defendants. Butler had issued a news release embracing his nickname “Loophole Louie” and that became the centerpiece of the ad. Gableman won, and established a new conservative majority on the high court. 
The 4-3 majority has served to preserve new laws passed by the Legislature, such as Act 10, collective bargaining reforms passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Walker. The court has also deferred to the Legislature on many issues, refusing to serve as a policymaking court.

In 2011, conservative Justice David Prosser was challenged by liberal lawyer JoAnne Kloppenburg. Unions and trial lawyers spent millions of dollars trying to defeat Prosser to re- establish an activist high court majority, largely in the hopes of overturning the collective bargaining reforms. WMC spent $2 million on issue ads to fight back against the unions and trial lawyers to explain Prosser’s record. Prosser narrowly won the election, and thwarted that drive. WMC worked to pass historic lawsuit reforms that overturned the 2005 Supreme Court rulings — re-establishing limits on medical malpractice awards, punitive damage awards and repealing the lead paint ruling. 

Those 2 leg. vacancies Walker won't fill? He created them. In December.

About those two WI legislative vacancies Walker refuses to fill with special elections, which are actually routine.

Special elections he now also wants judges to stall:

The vacancies were not sudden or unplanned: 

Walker created both vacancies when he appointed the two legislators - - both Republicans - - GOP to $100,000+per-year state jobs to serve him.

In December - - meaning had he produced routine, timely orders, those vacancies could have been filled in regular 2018 balloting. We had a primary in February, and there's general election statewide next Tuesday.

Citizens in the impacted districts have already been without their representatives for four months.


On Walker, election suspensions: Outrage, yes. Surprise, no.

You can be outraged by Walker's refusal to schedule routine elections to fill legislative vacancies, but you cannot be surprised.

Because his full-on contempt for democratic procedure at the cost of governmental integrity for partisan advantage and donor benefit has been obvious for years - - despite his claims to be nothing but "midwestern nice."

*  He turned his County Executive offices and payroll in the Milwaukee County Courthouse into a Republican Party organizing and fund-raising operation.

Six people - - none named Walker but all working for or contributing to him - - were convicted of crimes after things about Walker's office and campaign activities came to light.

*  In his first few days as Governor, Walker unilaterally suspended an ongoing DNR permit review process so a campaign donor could move quickly to fill a wetland near Lambeau Field and bring in a developer to build on it. The Legislature followed up and approved a bill to make the permit review suspension state law.

*  Not long thereafter, Republicans in the Legislature sent staffers into private attorneys' offices near the State Capitol, and, behind closed doors, redrew legislative district boundaries. They used taxpayer dollars in large sums to so grotesquely gerrymander the Legislature against Democratic voters and fair play that the US Supreme Court may soon throw the whole thing out as unconstitutional.

*  Some years later, citizens fed up with wells persistently contaminated by runoff from big dairies in Northeastern Wisconsin while the DNR dragged its feet inspecting the operations per Walker's DNR policies that they exercised their rights under state law, asked for what is called a "contested case hearing" before an administrative law judge, and won a ruling for cleaner water.

The judge said state law gave the DNR the power to control groundwater quality  by limiting the size of dairy herds using its existing permitting powers in the interest of pubic health.

Cathy Stepp, Walker's DNR Secretary put there to implement what he said was "a chamber of commerce mentality," responded by saying she would not abide by it. And GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel backed her up.

Just as he later said in a response to a request by GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos that the DNR could approve in perpetuity permits for large groundwater draws like those which serve the kind of dairy herd operations whose runoff moves downstream into waterways and kitchen taps. 

*  Speaking of Vos, he has had the Assembly twice in recent days quietly pass bill amendments to allow a sand mine operator in Monroe County to fill a wetland and destroy a rare stand of oaks and other threatened habitat while one of those contested case hearings was challenging the approval and before the hearing's findings have been released.

The State Senate may add its OK to the special interest measure this week and Walker could sign it to void the contested hearing procedure, as is this administration's wont.

And how will the Walker/Legislative/DNR wrecking crew screw up the contested case hearing which opponents of the Kohler golf course/public land grab/wetland-filling-dune bulldozing/forest clear-cutting scheme have won and which should begin sometime later this year?

And given the special exemption from environmental studies, wetland protections and related permitting altogether which Walker and the Legislature have awarded to Foxconn on a larger scale - - and taking into consideration all the water-carrying Walker and GOP legislators did for the failed open-pit iron mine plan in the Bad River watershed which also involved secret company input into bill drafting and also into Walker's recall campaign financing, too - - who is surprised that other developers expect favors, too?

*  Plus, speaking of hearings, the DNR is planning to shove four very complex air permits into one evening hearing on April 3rd in Racine County where Foxconn wants to build facilities which will release more than 700 tons of pollutants into the air annually.

*  After just a few months ago similarly running five dairy herd operation permits through a one-day DNR hearing procedure where groundwater is already contaminated in Northeastern Wisconsin.

I could on and on here with reminders that the DNR, its oversight board and Walker's Department of Administration have all helped a Walker donor get permits, a sweetheart annexation and even the OK to acquire land inside popular Kohler Andrae State Park to flesh out the construction of a proposed high-end golf course on a large site which is now an undisturbed nature preserve.

Do you, everyday blog reader and state resident have this kind of sway over state programs, agencies and traditions?

Or I could reprise the Walker-and-GOP-Legislature's coordination of restrictive voter ID requirements, then their direction of people to DMV stations for the IDs, then their closing of, or cutting the hours at many of those stations, then their approval of laws reducing early absentee voting days and hours, then their moving fall primary elections into the summer when families and students particularly in Democratic-leaning college towns might be on vacation to further tamp down turnout and threats to GOP hegemony - - you get picture.

And speaking of coordination, remember when the very kind of campaign fund-raising and messaging coordination with so-called 'independent' committees was illegal in Wisconsin, and, noting the trouble those pesky laws caused Walker, the Legislature then passed a new law weakening campaign oversight and making that coordination legal? 

Levers of power manipulated. Problem solved. 

That's the same twist-the-law-to-give-Walker-and-his-party-an-advantage manipulation that the Legislature will approve in the next day or so to allow Walker to delay those special elections which he and his party are afraid an approaching blue wave which already cost the GOP a safe State Senate seat in NW WI this winter will wash away their GOP's majorities this year.

Manipulations which have allowed Walker to chirp his blatantly misleading, false and insulting slogan about having made it easier to vote in Wisconsin, but harder to cheat.

Manipulations Walker is continuing to shove into the debate through attacks on out-of-staters like former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder for litigating over the special election delays while again scooping up tons of out-of-state election cash.

Citizen rights. Voting rights. Environmental protections. Fair process. Dare we add, law and order? 

All are under taxpayer-financed, self-serving attack by Walker and his shameless Legislative allies so used to governing that they care not one whit about whether they are corrupting the land or public processes to remain in office.

Final thought: Looming is a huge national manipulation to embed forever right-wing authority and GOP office-holding by turning the non-partisan census operation into a Republican Party electoral lockdown.

The only way to get the state back on a moral, democratic path is to throw the bums out.

National media often fail Scott Walker reporting


I'm adding to this 1/14/15 posting Walker''s more recent 2018 history of election suppression and plans to add more air pollution, waterway contamination, and wetland losses to the environmental damage that Walker has enabled.]

National media - - with some exceptions - - are not bringing their investigative  "A" game to the Scott Walker story, leaving readers with an incomplete and inaccurate picture.

For example, The Washington Post on Thursday and The New York Times on Monday reported that Walker had left Marquette University during his senior year before graduating.

But this blog and other media, including the PolitiFact service at The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have reported that while Walker did leave school in his fourth year of enrollment, he was 34 credits, or just over two semesters short of completing what at that time - - 1990 - - was a full degree load.

PolitiFact also says Walker has said he was 15-17 credits short, helping to create the impression that he was closer to graduation than the record indicates.

Small point? No. The history of the issue shows Walker's unwillingness to give a complete and accurate accounting, and the reporting which may flow from one outlet to another gives Walker more credit (inadvertent pun) for personal achievement that he is due.

In fact, this Washington Post column barely scratches the surface, and by calling Walker "scrappy" in the same thought as his incomplete degree, we get a picture perhaps of a blue-collar or low-income kid who was out of his element at Marquette University.

When the facts are that Walker was a middle-class kid from a good high school who'd run and lost a troubled election campaign for student body President two years before leaving school, and had been working on a triple major.

Walker's unwillingness to lay out all the facts underscores a troubling Walker penchant: defaulting away from facts. Note that in his total PolitiFact file, "false" is his leading category.

Here's another example. RealClearPolitics today lets "sleeper" candidate Walker, "a preacher's son," bask in being called "nice."
In a recent interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Walker addressed those concerns. “Yeah, I’m nice. I’m midwestern nice. There’s no doubt about it,” he said.
No doubt about it?

Let's take a closer look at the multiple groups and people Walker has disrespected:

*  How many "nice" politicians cut record-breaking sums from school children's educations?

*  While even farther-right figures like Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, and Florida's US Senator Marco Rubio just last night on The Daily Show have lauded the value of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit because it puts money in the pockets of the working poor to keep them earning, Walker:

a) reduced that program in Wisconsin for many of its family beneficiaries, b) also increased other taxes on low-income Wisconsinites to cover revenue losses created by tax cuts aimed at businesses and higher earners, and c) denied he'd done any such thing, PolitiFact reported.

*  How many "nice" politicians campaign against the poor or jobless by stereotyping them as lazy people sitting on their sofas playing xBox?

*  How many "nice" politicians announce, out-of-the-blue, that a law should be passed quickly to force poor and unemployed citizens, based on zero evidence, to pass urine tests to get food stamps or unemployment benefits? After already delaying some jobless benefits to people hammered in the deep recession and making Wisconsin only one of our states that has recently elected to cut food stamps?

*  How many "nice" politicians block any increase in the poverty-enforcing $7.25/hourly minimum wage, refuse to even consider it and add they see no need for any minimum wage whatsoever?

*  How many "nice" politicians turn down Federal health insurance funding to cover as many poor people as possible, thereby also adding to the state deficit and costing the state jobs? Then say they turned aside the federal money because the federal government had previously reneged on health-care payments - - a statement PolitiFact ruled "false."

*  How many "nice" politicians agree that mandatory, medically unnecessary ultrasound procedures forced on women seeking legal abortions are " problem..." and have manipulated budgets and public opinion to close several women's health clinics across their states - - even at clinics where legal abortions were not provided?

*  How many "nice" governors sign, in private, legislation that makes it easier for public schools to retain their Native American nicknames and logos, while other states and institutions have decided it's less important to be offensive?

*  How many "nice" governors refuse to ever issue a pardon? Even to a veteran who'd made a single mistake, sought a second chance and found an unmovable, "nice" and unbearably narcissistic Governor saying no, never?

*  How many "nice" campaigning politicians withhold their plans to virtually end 50 years of public sector collective bargaining, mandate larger worker contributions to pension and health plans, falsely-claim they did not withhold those plans during the campaign and cannot cite any evidence to support that claim - - and, to boot - - refer to his sudden, "divide-and-conquer"  - - his phrase - - post-swearing-in action aimed at Wisconsin workers as "dropped the bomb."

*  How many "nice" incumbent governors read their staffs a nasty top ten list of ways you can tell someone is a public employee? Samples:
On a snow day when they say “non-essential” people should stay home you know who they mean. 
It takes longer to fire you than the average killer spends on death row. 
You think the French are working themselves to death. 
You know by having a copy of the Holy Koran on your desk your job is 100% safe. 
You have a Democratic congressman’s lips permanently attached to your butt.
*  How many "nice" politicians travel to an upper-income, virtually-all-white suburb (Oconomowoc Lake) near their state's largest, minority-majority and relatively low-income city (Milwaukee) and ask voters at a rally for re-election support so the state would not "become another Milwaukee."

Walker might sound nice compared to a more combative Chris Christie, or more openly misogynistic as Mike Huckabee, but Walker is as hard-edged and compassion-free as any of the GOP/Tea Party conservatives heading into the 2016 presidential campaign.

National media which paper over Walker's authoritarian character and inveterate false-speaking do their readers and the political process a disservice.

Final thought: I've given credit more than once on this blog to for its reporting about  a right-wing summit meeting in 2007 where Walker - - three years before his successful 2010 campaign for Governor - - was anointed by powerful interests to carry the conservative banner.

Where is the follow-up by other media on the story?

That meeting, fully-reported, should be the starting point for national political reporting about Scott Walker, and not a surface narrative reinforcing Walker as the-nice-Midwestern preacher's-son.