Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Walker lugs hand-made baggage on uphill, rutted re-election road

I see on Scott Walker's 2018 campaign trail all sorts of fissures and obstacles of his own making. 

1. Let's start with the big one. His endorsement of Donald Trump at the GOP's 2016 convention. Highlights of Walker's now-brutally ironic anti-Hillary Clinton remarks, here.

Also brutally ironic: That Walker's preferred candidate got us into a tariff war with Canada that is hurting smaller, family-run Wisconsin dairies.

Somehow Walker got away with being surprised that Trump would then levy more tariffs on imported metals that would hurt Wisconsin manufacturers - -  and this was before more tariffs which Trump announced on exports to China that could hurt Wisconsin farmers.

Is Walker surprised that Trump's tariff tiff with Canada is helping produce what is now called a crisis for family-run Wisconsin dairies?

2. His failed pledge to create 250,000 private sector jobs in four years

Walker naively thought national growth, plus state tax cuts he crafted which are the magic beans right-wing ideologues addictively chew everyday, would combine to make him look like a wizard. He was wrong.

3. His beloved, union-busting Act 10 is going to a problem for Walker for several reasons - - including the sneaky way he withheld the plan during the 2010 campaign - - despite his claims to the contrary - -  then launched it as "the bomb" dropped on an unsuspecting public employee workforce, and added the label "modest, modest" to this deceptive and instructive chapter in the Walker autobiography.

But mostly remembered for the years of corrosive, ugly "divide-and-conquer" politics it embedded into the state's political life with Walker as the source.

4. His relentless attacks on wetlands, clean water and conservation legacies statewide which everyday citizens, and sporting and recreational organizations know are sops to special interests, nothing less.

Just a part of Walker's dismissal of his rural, smaller-town base.

5. Backing the unappealing Michael Screnock for a seat on the State Supreme Court, where his assignment would have been to solidify the court's pro-business, Walker-obeisant majority. 

Screnock's had dutifully served Walker in Act 10 litigation, and worked for a law firm that helped Republicans craft gerrymandered legislative districts so blatantly undemocratic that it awaits a final constitutional ruling by the US Supreme Court after being ruled unconstitutional by two federal courts.

The win by the more-progressive Rebecca Dallet was as much a rejection of Screnock as it was for Walker's little scheme to further pack the court with partisan bellhops.

6. And do not overlook Walker's parallel contempt for law and fair play as his Screnock ploy was flaming out when he refused for days as required by statute to call special legislative elections to fill one Assembly and one State Senate vacancy.

Vacancies which he created by naming GOP incumbents to cushy state jobs.

Talk about bad politics, horrible timing and Divide-and-Conquer governance on steroids.

7. And speaking of bad politics and horrible timing, what else can you say about his proposing and quickly signing after the Florida school gun massacre a $100 million school safety plan that does not mention the word "gun" - - just as Walker's generous donors at the NRA would have it.

8. And last, but not least, there is Walker's full embrace of Foxconn.

Boy, where to start? The project which he personally and secretively negotiated, and upon which he's essentially bet his governorship with taxpayers' chips will give away to a single company - - with no roots in the state - - unprecedented levels of taxpayer subsidies and exemptions from routine environmental review, permit obligations and protections which other firms now are going to expect because Walker is already offering.

Millions in state highway money is being diverted to serve the site while Wisconsin's rutted roads continually are near the bottom in repair rankings.

And Middleton State Sen. John Erpenhach pointed out yesterday that while Foxconn is set to cost state and local taxpayers $4.5 billion, the Senate legislature adjourned without passing a bill that had universal legislative support to fund $50 million in rural economic development - - a sum equal to about 1% of what will be shoveled Foxconn's way.

It's worth remembering that while Foxconn says it wants to begin construction this spring, there's a long history around here of big projects that came in glitzy wrapping which hid sliding timetables and broken promises.

Two words: Zoo Interchange.

And: I-94/EW.

Or: Waukesha diversionNot a pipe laid or drop of water delivered yet. Remember these documented delays despite Waukesha claiming to have produced so-called complete diversion application eight years ago, which shovels in the ground absolutely promised - - by June, 2013?

Speaking of Great Lakes diversions, Foxconn's bid for a Lake Michigan water is raising regulatory issues of its own. For now, we're not quite talking Waukesha 2.0, but there there objections from other Great Lakes states, so stay tuned.

Nor do I see a walk in the park for Foxconn's bid for multiple air emission permits which could produce staggering new levels of several known pollutants.

This all belongs to Walker. His project. His 'must-haves' on his timetable.

By the way, the approval by the Governor and Legislature of law, contracts, benefits and other privileges for Foxconn without any employment preferences reserved for local residents in a city like Racine with deep unemployment was and remains flat-out immoral.

Think about it: Foxconn's employment could benefit Chicago, where Walker is busy with taxpayer-paid promotions, but could bypass Racine, as the Journal Sentinel recently noted.

Yet Foxconn could release huge new levels of unsafe air pollution on area residents - - in the same way that subsidized road-building moved jobs to the suburbs and away low-income and minority communities in Milwaukee while leaving behind adverse air quality and other environmental problems which have been long-litigated and repeatedly raised.

And documented by the US Centers for Disease Control:
In the United States, it is widely accepted that economically disadvantaged and minority populations share a disproportionate burden of air pollution exposure and risk (26,27). A growing body of evidence demonstrates that minority populations and persons of lower socioeconomic status experience higher residential exposure to traffic and traffic-related air pollution than nonminorities and persons of higher socioeconomic status (5,28–31). 
Two recent studies have confirmed that these racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities also exist on a national scale. 
Which brings me back to Act 10 and the other issues documented in this post, which all show how Walker will invest time and state money in ways he thinks will strengthen and propel his career, prop up his allies and serve their partisan and special interests.

But where is the outreach to everyone else?


Anonymous said...

The story that seldom gets told about Waukesha and water is that the officials there knew about their water problem before they allowed much of the explosion in single family homes and industry. They gambled/mismanaged and now want to be bailed out.

James Rowen said...

That is correct. I have posted that documentation and I will look for it tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

They needed a source of water that met the drinking water standard for radium. They could have installed treatment for less money but as you point out, they couldn't produce enough to support expansion. They used the radium as an excuse to apply for great lakes water. I was told that they couldn't use great lakes water "beyond the city limits" but as they are annexing land, I don't think that will slow down growth or water use.

James Rowen said...

Here is a history of Waukesha's growth by annexation, illustrating your point.

James Rowen said...

Closing the loop. Many thanks. https://thepoliticalenvironment.blogspot.com/2018/04/blog-comment-triggers-review-of.html

Where's the ethics? said...

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! Waukesha never needed another source of water. Court order Waukesha cx 000004 only requires Waukesha to meet the Clean Drinking Water Act and Wis Statutes NR 281 to be Radium compliant. Waukesha was almost forced to install HMO filters on it's remaining non-compliant wells. Instead they played the "declining aquifer" card claiming they needed Lake Michigan water. However, they concealed their internal well records showing the deep aquifer had begun to recover from both the DNR and it's lawyer, the DOJ. Getting off the deep aquifer was not for the benefit of the city of Waukesha growth, it was for the benefit of the remaining Waukesha County communities and their now unfettered urban sprawl at the full expense of the city of Waukesha residents. Why do you think the deal with Milwaukee was signed in the office of the Waukesha COUNTY Business Alliance?