Saturday, January 12, 2019

Vos, WI GOP to reinforce Walker's governing by malignant neglect

I heard the news today about state prison spending, and oh boy, and I was shocked. 

But it's important to understand that prison staffing is but one of many issues which Walker and his Republican legislative allies intentionally allowed to worsen while citizen needs were disregarded and their resources and reasonable expectations were harmed.
State prisons
Were you shocked to learn that low-pay and understaffing cost Wisconsin taxpayers $50.6 million just last year on top of more than $$4.3 million spent the same way the year before by the 'fiscal conservatives' in the Legislature and the Governor's office?

No wonder Walker refused during his eight years in office to visit a single prison; he might have had to talk to angry, overworked staff. Or inmates' families, let alone any actual inmates, for that matter.

Or the juveniles whom he consigned to the hellhole at Lincoln Hills to save some money - - no doubt eaten up in legal settlements, medical and other costs - - despite his having been warned as early as 2012 that juveniles were being mistreated there. Here is one summary post about that.

Walker had a special obligation to visit Lincoln Hills because it was his small-government cookie cutter idea after he took office to close the boys' correctional  facility in Wales - - despite having been recently remodeled at a cost of millions of dollars - - and move everyone up north, out of sight and out of mind, and out of the concerned eyes of families and perhaps prying media, too.

Deteriorated roads
The roads in Wisconsin were allowed to crumble, and motorists had to make more frequent tire and front end repairs because the Walker administration directed transportation money into the new and expanded highway projects favored by the road-builders - - while also starving local governments through budgeting restrictions of dollars that could have gone to street repairs.

Hence the insertion of the term "Scotthole" in the political vocabulary, and a physical and budgetary mess left to Tony Evers to manage with the 'help' of the very GOP legislative leaders who went along with Walker's 'don't fix-what-we have'/'embrace the road-builders'/'kick-the-can-down-the-Scottholed-road' program.

Chronic deer wasting disease
This disease has spread relentlessly through the state's deer herd while the Walker administration and the GOP-led legislature looked the other way and refused to strengthen policies and regulations aimed at better awareness and preventing infected deer from jumping the fence at commercial deer-shooting farms. A good summary article from late November is here
Rapidly growing numbers of cases of chronic wasting disease are appearing on deer and elk farms and hunting ranches in Wisconsin at the same time the state has pulled back on rules and procedures designed to limit the spread of the fatal brain disease among its captive and wild deer.
Drinking water safety
Walker, his administration and the GOP-controlled legislature have ignored the problems, stalled inspections and testing while enabling big dairy and agricultural polluters to acquire more groundwater for their operations.

While making it easier for big polluters to add back into the water table or the air contaminants that have left rural streams and wells suffering what we now know as "brown water events."

Vos has proposed a task force look into the matter and the CAFOs which are involved.
Here is one summary post: 
WI Central Sands the next Flint? Kewaunee County already soaks up that honor.
Vos doesn't need a new water quality task force. He's been sitting for years on top of a huge, powerful policy task force that can and should assertively deal with polluted air and water near CAFOs and other polluters. 

That task force is called the Wisconsin Assembly. It spends money and hires staff as fast as you can say 'Vos OK's more money and staff for Vos and his party, please.'

And jumps when and where Vos decides:
...there was a win by Kewaunee County opponents of a DNR-awarded permit allowing an expansion of one of the state's largest dairy cattle feeding and milking operations. 
That ruling was affirmed by a circuit court and is under further appeal by the DNR after GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel maneuvered it to a presumably more pro-business outcome in conservative Waukesha County...
Schimel's maneuver was among several he's undertaken to undermine grassroots proponents of clean water and tilt the scales of justice towards corporate interests.  
Including his issuance of a favorable opinion that granted large-scale groundwater withdrawals to big operators which they had openly demanded GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos deliver. 
While Wisconsin is abusing, over pumping and contaminating our groundwater, the Legislature's GOP Assembly Leader Robin Vos - - a leading Wisconsin corporate water-carrier - - is seeking an opinion from GOP Attorney General and fellow corporate water-carrier Brad Schimel that could turn over more groundwater to corporate control and away from public oversight...
And big business hasn't been shy about its demands, noted in October:
A pretty stunning memo was sent last week by multiple trade groups and corporate special interests to the State Legislature in advance of today's hearing about the fast-tracked Wisconsin water giveaway bill I wrote about yesterday that puts groundwater and downstream users' access in private hands.
Here is the full text of the Vos request.
Impaired waterways
Walker and the GOP-controlled unraveled years of bi-partisan, all-hands-on-deck negotiations and agreements aimed at reducing the release of contaminating phosphorous into state rivers, lakes and streams. 

The result has been the addition of hundreds of miles of newly-impaired waterways through choking and decaying weeds, algae blooms, and dead zones. 

The opioid crisis
Even after his defeat, Walker has continue to tweeted about signing 30 bills aimed at stemming the opioid crisis.
 @ScottWalker Jan 6MoreOUR LEGACY - To help deal with the addiction crisis, we signed 30 bi-partisan bills into law - including a prescription drug monitoring system that helped reduce opioid prescriptions by more than 30% since 2015.
It had been campaign talking point of his for months.

What he will never acknowledge is that counting up signatures on bills to pump up news releases and twitter feeds does not mean there was an effective approach with demonstrable outcomes addressing problems that accelerated on his watch
WI leads nation in increased opiod hospitalizations
Furthermore, by rejecting expanded federal Medicaid funding, and suing the federal government to overturn Obamacare which includes that expanded Medicaid funding, Walker and the GOP-Legislature are continuing to ignore the availability of resources aimed directly at helping low-income opioid victims.

Data show Wisconsin lags most states in Medicaid spending on treatment and recovery.

Vos' position on taking the expanded Medicaid funding? 

"No way. Never."

Walker repeatedly ignored problems that continued to fester and were left for the new administration to address - - with fewer administrative or legal remedies at its disposal, too.

Governing through malignant neglect is a practice that creates a legacy no normal or enlightened public official would seek, but then again, we're talking about Scott Walker and Robin Vos, his team's next at-bat.

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