Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment. Part 12. Taxpayers pay kleptocracy thrice.

This 21-part retrospective series I'd promised will run with daily updates, ending prior to the Nov. 6 election. This is Part 12.

What's triply-unfair, wrong and plain larcenous is that the war on the environment which Walker and chief sidekick GOP AG Brad Schimel are carrying out for their special-interest donors and allies is being paid for by Wisconsin taxpayers. Again and again and again.

I should add this post to an earlier one about Walker taxes.
The many ways Walker is in your wallet
* The first billing hits when state and local taxes are collected and used to pay the salaries of Walker's special-interest 'chamber of commerce mentality' managers, Schimel's lobbyist-and-ideologue-friendly staffers and other insiders who keep getting bigger and better positions at the public trough. 

*  The second billing hits when taxpayers have to hire their own lawyers (even before Foxconn!) to fight those taxpayer-paid state and local government officials who serve as GOP donors and special-interests' bellhops: 
Such is life in Wisconsin - - whether it's to save the Bad River watershed in the Northwest from open-pit mining, destructive golf course construction along the Lake Michigan shoreline near Sheboygan, or drinking water supplies long-contaminated by feedlot runoff in Kewaunee County in the Northeast - - because right-wing GOP Gov. and corporate servant Scott Walker has installed "a chamber of commerce mentality" atop the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 
Here's the bigger picture.
This time the familiar pattern repeats itself because the DNR hurriedly approved a big sand mine where there are wetlands and rare stands of timber, and environmental groups are going to court to force the DNR to do its job on behalf of taxpayers and the environment spelled out here by the DNR itself.
This photograph by former Kohler Andrae State Park superintendent Jim Buchholz shows an early morning jogger where where Walker-run state agencies have said Kohler interests can build for their privately-owned golf course a road and maintenance/storage building. Taxpayers trying to prevent that loss have hired their own attorneys to fight the taxpayer-funded state agencies willing to part with state owned and maintained public parkland.
*  And the third hit takes place when Walker goes to court with his government-paid lawyers on behalf of his special-interest agendas, or when Schimel joins the self-serving, self-perpetuating tag team, and taxpayers face new policy expenses or social costs transferred from the rich to the middle and working classes.

If courts weaken clean air standards as Walker and Schimel seek, for example, you go more frequently to your cardiovascular specialist, or your child's asthma doctor. If Schimel helps an out-of-state fossil fuel company, you pay for their cleanup in dollars and dirty water.

If he and Walker succeed in their joint efforts with the DNR and Natural Resources Board to defeat the people's private counsel and move public park land (photo above) to the Kohler project, some of the cost of that loss is deducted from each Wisconsinite's share of the public trust that's privatized.

Moreover, I point you to a stunning expose by Madison attorney Christa Westerberg about the ideological privatization of the Wisconsin Attorney General's operation which should be front-and-center in every mainstream media outlet in the state: 
Christa Westerberg: AG Schimel's office working nationwide for private interests
Recently, 45 former Wisconsin assistant attorneys general signed a letter criticizing Schimel for “blatantly politicizing” the office of attorney general and failing to discharge its duties. Schimel’s campaign spokesperson dismissed the letter as written by “activists,” though the attorneys who signed it had served under both Republican and Democratic attorneys general. Is it really “activist” to ask your attorney general to spend tax dollars fighting for Wisconsin citizens, instead of defending private businesses and interest groups that can afford their own attorneys? 
This was not always the case. What Schimel is doing with the state's power and public attorneys is a departure from a bi-partisan norm.

And let's lay responsibilities where they truly began - - at the feet of former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson.

Tommy began the dismantling of what was a nearly-three decades long Wisconsin Department of Justice effort to somewhat balance all the business sector's legal assets in the state with a small group of public sector attorneys.

That modest operation was called the Wisconsin Public Intervenor's Office. It was to the people's advocate on environmental cases in Wisconsin and expertly advised public officials on fair and transparent policy-making.

GOP Governor Warren Knowles and legislatures through the years supported the office, but Thompson bowed to demands of his special interest allies and stripped the agency of funding and independence. And was finally disbanded in 1995.

Milwaukee-based environmental lawyer Jodi Habush-Sinykin has written an excellent history of the office, and the implications of its loss, here.

And here is the coda to this private, partisan conquest of the Wisconsin public trust that is supposed to guarantee clean air, fresh air and unspoiled land for the common good here:

Tom Dawson, one of the remaining public intervenors, remained on the Department of Justice staff as a career prosecutor after the angry was disbanded.

Some months ago, Schimel demoted and forced Dawson out in favor of a hand-picked right-wing ideologue from its national bullpen to help move Schimel's pro-business agendas forward.

Noted on my blog here, and again here, when Dawson's replacement, David Ross, was selected by Schimel ally Scott Pruitt to run a section of Trump's US EPA. 

And just to make sure anyone else in state government didn't get the message, Schimel used other DOJ staff lawyers to investigate Schimel for having given an interview about a case. Dan Bice of the Journal Sentinel just told that story.

And since he had to hire his own lawyers to fend off Schimel's probe, you could say that Dawson has had to pay a 4th time for the Walker-inspired, Schimel-implemented attack on Wisconsin's environment.

Part 11 of the series ran Tuesday, October 23, 2018.


Anonymous said...

Here is one for you to look into: Why is Schimel able to use the state web site of the DOJ for campaign purposes????

On Oct 19 he posted that he, the great american hero (I added that phrase), has sped up the process of investigating crime. This is not even a true statement.

Please look into this. You have a lot of connections and maybe the dirty rat bastard should have charges filed against him. As a public employee I certainly could not pull that crap and neither can he. He is a common dirt bag criminal campaigning on an official Wisconsin website.

Anonymous said...

Propaganda Alert!

All day Scott Walker's BFF Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been catapulting pro-Walker propaganda at their website with this remarkably dishonest disinformation: "Lessons from Presidential Set Stage for Walker Run.

No surprise here - Walker's political career should have been over when he killed a boy by withholding critically needed funds to fix a parking structure - it is only via mass amounts of MJS promoting Walker's talking points as news that he has been lifted to higher and hire offices. Here are the facts that MJS is whitewashing to promote their boy:

1. Walker lied in 2014 when he stated he would finish term - he was planning on a White House run immediately after being re-elected

2. Even Walker knew his embarrassing national fail undermined his credibility here - yet BFF is now proclaiming it to be the very foundation of winning a 3rd term

3. There we no lessons learned - Walker continues to promote himself at the expense of Wisconsin's fiscal integrity. He has loaded the state up with record amounts of debt and interest payments, because he will jump ship again before the fiscal disaster he has created hits the fan.

4. The only lesson that was there to be learned, and Walker ignored it, is that America dies not want a moron in the White House that has nothing more to say about his candidacy then he has "A wife, 2 kids, and a Harley."

The truth about Walker's presidential run, which MJS will not tell you, is that kur boy made a pig of himself swilling beer like the 2-fisted slobberer at County Stadium, cutting in restaurant lines, and refusing to pick up after himself.

What is rightly another disqualifying Walker truth, his failed presidential bid, is being falsely fluffed up by MJS as a reason to vote for him - outrageous lie, but just another day of pro-walker trip for his biggest promoter.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

In addition to whatever we've spent on that Solicitor General BS, the most recent Fiscal Report shows that taxpayers paid more than $1.75 million for "Special Counsel" in FY 2018. More than double what was budgeted.

Almost all of that was for BS GOP actions such as the ACA lawsuit, fighting the Clean Power Plan and protecting the GOP's gerrymander.

If you needed another reason to vote Josh Kaul and Tony Evers, there you go.

Anonymous said...

The lies at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel never cease, always promoting Scott Walker. Today's print edition gives the illusion of two balanced articles about Scott Walker and Tony Evers. Like everything else in Scott Walker's BFF MJ ass, this is another lie.

When you open this rag you discover that Scott Walker has actually been given a full-page of Shameless self-promotion. They are trying to whitewash Scott Walker's presidential run, and hide the fact that he lied to us in 2014. Walker had no intention of serving his full term and he knew this going into the race.

But it gets worse. On the inside cover, MJS has another entirely bogus and misleading PolitiFact. They are rehashing statements Tony Evers has made about Scott Walker and health care. This statements, in context, are reasonably accurate. But Milwaukee Journal Sentinel manufacturers a mostly false claim by insisting it was not precise enough. It is a lie to claim that this statement by Tony Evers is mostly false when it is 100% accurate when describing the health insurance Market that Tony Evers is trying to address.

But it continues to get worse. Today's print edition of MJS falsely uses the Scott Walker talking point which is a riff on Donald Trump's anti-immigration racism. If you listened to the debate, you know that Tony Evers supported driver's licenses for all immigrants, to keep the public safe. These people are here, they have jobs, and they have vehicles. They need drivers licenses to demonstrate they know the rules of Wisconsin's roads. They need drivers licenses to be able to get insurance, which is mandated by Wisconsin law. Dreamers need to be able to complete reasonably good educations, because they are here and we need them to be able to join us as productive members of society.

But Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does not tell you any of these facts. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel could have done a PolitiFact rating on Scott Walker's recent anti-immigration statements. These statements would have to be rated as mostly false to pants on fire lies. Instead, MJS is printing lies about Tony Evers and they are publishing what could be Scott Walker press releases promoting his campaign as objective verifiable news.

Please get out and vote, because Wisconsin's media is trying to discourage you. The right wing Echo chamber that blankets are state knows that Scott Walker cannot successfully run on his record. They are publishing lies and these lies are being cast across the state.

If you want change nationally and in Wisconsin, it is critical to get out and vote for Democratic candidates. One-party Republican rule is fascism.