Saturday, August 4, 2018

Schimel joins Walker in dismissing basic land, other public rights

[Updated] There are times - - and I've catalogued a lot of them in the more than 11 years I've been writing this blog - - when something takes place in what is left of the once-progressive state of Wisconsin that really amplifies what's been lost and rises to the level of true outrage.

Here are three such disgraceful environment-destroying examples (and certainly there are more, involving sand mining and CAFO runoff and wetland destruction) - - one from a few years ago up north and two more surrounding the Foxconn project and golf course complex Kohler wants to build along the Lake Michigan shoreline 
247-acre nature preserve might yield to golf course construction. Steve Back photo.

next to and inside Kohler Andrae State Park - - that span most of this decade, regrettably have much in common and underscore the damage Walker and his lieutenants are inflicting on Wisconsin's land, air and water.

* I remember feeling a combination of fury and despair on a cold day in  December, 2011, when I saw dozens of Bad River tribal members and their supporters arriving at a State Fairgrounds building from far northwestern Wisconsin to speak at a hearing against a treaty-destroying, groundwater-toxifying, landscape flattening pro-industry iron mining bill.

The same legislators who had forced these citizens to travel at their own expense many hundreds of miles in cold-weather round-trip were the same legislators who had allowed the single mining company which would benefit from the bill to help write it at their convenience behind closed doors.

I wrote about this denial of people's humanity, their rights and substantive due, democratic process on Friday, December 16, 2011:
I posted some strong words about the disrespectful hearing on mining that the Wisconsin Assembly foisted on the public Wednesday:
I have attended public meetings for roughly 40 years - - often as a journalist or public official - -  and I have never seen a hearing as flagrantly disrespectful to citizens and policy-making, and to the entire notion of The Wisconsin Idea - - broadly defined as Wisconsin government existing to serve the people  - -  as the State Assembly committee session held at State Fair Park Wednesday on the fast-tracked mining bill.
That one lowered the bar to ground level.  
Everything about that event and what had led up to it - - the way the bill was drafted, the way it twisted and perverted public processes and priorities to suit the needs of one out-of-state company at the expense of the public interest, and then the thoughtlessly inconvenient hearing principally designed to give an entire chain of wrongs the thinnest coating of fake credibility and insincere respectability - - was an abomination.

Made worse when we found out years later that the mining company had routed to the Walker recall campaign a secret payment of $700,000, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Progressive reported.

*  Flash forward to what we learned just Thursday from Friends of the Black River Forest, the citizen group trying to prevent the chain-sawing and flattening  of a 247-acre nature preserve along the Lake Michigan shoreline into a high-end golfing complex.

Among the multiple insults - - see this post - -  to the land, groundwater, wetlands, habitat, dunes, native artifacts, wildlife and more that the project planned by another Walker donor would inflict is the transfer of publicly-held acreage in the adjoining state park approved by both the DNR and its oversight agency, the Natural Resources Board.

So the developer, another big Walker donor, can construct a building in the park to store and access equipment, mix fertilizer, park vehicles, etc. right here
Photo of some of the very land within Kohler Andrae State Park to be transferred by the state for proposed Kohler Co. golf course vehicle storage, fertilizer mixing and other private purposes. Image courtesy of former park superintendent Jim Buchholz.

- - and a road to get to it - - at the company's convenience.

Read public testimony about this outrage from the former superintendent of the state park in question, here.

The group wants the public land transfer blocked; on Thursday it was revealed that Wisconsin GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel, channeling all the disrespect the Walker administration heaped on the Bad River people and all the pro-business favoritism the Walker era has substituted for due process and citizens' rights across the government, and especially in the operation of the DNR, has filed a motion to have the group's complaint dismissed without further ado.

Because Schimel - - the people's lawyer, paid for by income taxes collected from the citizenry - -  is arguing that citizens have no right in Wisconsin to seek judicial review of the award of public parkland to a developer, the group says:
Schimel's reasoning, simply put, is that Wisconsin residents are not entitled to ask a judge to review a state agency’s decisions because they have no interests in state parks. According to Schimel, statutes and rules governing state parks "are not designed to protect the recreational and aesthetic interests of the public." 
Say what? 

Talk about the completely deplorable attempted removal from the public by the public's lawyer of its right to object when public resources are not managed and maintained in the public interest. 

You cannot get a more thorough and willful abandonment of the public sphere for privileged private interest than that.

And as I've noted before, and it's germane to the Kohler case, Schimel is tight with Walker on site-enabled land grabs.

*  And here's a similarly devastatingly outrage: the use of state power to declare productive farmland and perfectly appealing and functioning homes as 'blighted' so a multi-billion-dollar multi-national corporation headquartered in Taiwan can build on that property a factory subsidized by the state to the tune of $3 billion public dollars.

And also at the expense of clean air standards and Great Lakes diversion rules.

Much of that is covered in this post, and certainly in this 13-month continuing archive of posts about the Foxconn project.

[Two8/4 Updates: 1. Note also that Schimel on Walker's behalf has sued the now completely-compliant-and-conflicted EPA over its enforcement of clean air standards - - those having just been weakened to serve the Trump-Walker-Pruitt-Schimel tag team in the Foxconn zone and beyond. 2. And Schimel had described Pruitt as a friend and colleague who'd follow the law, and had shared also a personnel pipeline.

Speaking of sharing, Walker and Foxconn have shared photo ops and announcements galore this campaign season, and while Foxconn's Taiwanese managers cannot donate to Walker's campaign, the project contractors sure can.

What Foxconn, the state park land grab and the mining bill all have in common is the Walker administration's eagerness, enabled by one party rule at the Attorney General's office, other state agencies and the Legislature to move public resources and rights to corporate control for private gain and the further embedding of that one-party's rule.

Sound anything like a democracy you'd recognize? 

And a final thought about these unsupportable outrages and corruptions of government of, for and by the people, and about the leader of this one-party gang in our state who is asking for yet another four years at the helm.

It's been entertaining to see our Russian-speaking, alleged-spy-befriending Governor having displayed so much contempt for basic democratic processes take to Twitter and campaign by red-baiting some imaginary opponents - - 
Jul 30 ore With all the talk from the left, take a look at what people do when they have a choice between Communism and capitalism...
But did those people subject to eviction from their homes and farms in Mount Pleasant for the Foxconn development fast-tracked by Walker and his literal and political bulldozing allies know that a) it was Capitalism's enemy V. I Lenin who is credited with saying that 'to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs,' and, b) ever figure that the 'chamber of commerce mentality' Walker would be their scrambler?


Anonymous said...

I was just thinking this same thing. Any project connected to a big donor is fast-tracked, or the laws are changed or the DOJ weighs in by twisting existing law into something unrecognizable. Poor Wisconsin. All this didn't even result in jobs that pay family supporting wages. Thanks for this eloquent summary.

James Rowen said...

You are welcome. Thank you for being a reader here and for stay committed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you James, for all your hard work at your blog.