Friday, May 31, 2019

WI Republicans will raise gas taxes by a different name

Fee-fi-fo-fum. I smell a tax using different facts.
GOP isn't considering gas tax increase but may boost fees, Wisconsin Senate leader says
Wisc Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.jpg

Walker's Post-Defeat Relevancy Tour stops in VT

Loved this story about Walker taking his Post-Defeat Relevancy Tour to Burlington, VT. My late father was born there, some relatives remain in Vermont. Hi, cousins!
Hundreds turn out in Burlington to protest former Wisconsin governor Walker

A WI GOP legislator explains why local roads' potholes will remain

Legislators love to cut ribbons and please the road-builders - - not the pothole fillers so much, or people who drive into what became known in Wisconsin as Scottholes before a costly trip to the repair shop

 - - so along with $252 million spent on I-94 across the Foxconn zone to soothe Robin Vos' ego and pave his future - -  here's to $133 million down the drain, along with land, trees and common sense.
 May 13
"It was literally 20 years ago that they wanted to start this project, now we're FINALLY here." Check out my full interview on the Highway 23 expansion with here:

And earlier, here:
 May 9
It is so rewarding to see the construction plans for expanding WIS 23 finally take off after years of effort. I applaud all the lawmakers who have tirelessly advocated for WIS 23’s expansion over the past 20 years.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

More green, all caps: MMSD will make MKE's KK River A-OK

The MMSD is showing local, state, federal and non-profit partners what environmental leadership is all about:

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is confronting failed policies and fast-arriving climate change with modern planning and publicly-spirited stewardship by announcing a major restoration of the long-neglected Kinnickinnick River
In all, more than seven miles of fish-unfriendly concrete installed in the early 1960s is being removed. Land will be set aside in strategic spots to serve as natural storage pools when storms and melting snow engulf the tiny river. 
I walked along some of that ugly, obstructing concrete 'channelization' west of S. 27th Street near Oklahoma Ave. in March - - and the sooner the river can be returned to its natural state, the better. Take a look: 

Walker's latest Medicaid, education tweets; more self-serving manipulation

When Walker starts talking numbers, add a layer of waterproof gear for the approaching B.S. storm.

Having tried to boost his Twitter following with shade tossed at Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Octavio-Cortez, the desperate-for-relevancy-and perpetually-campaigning-for-something/anything Scott Walker is now trying to bait Bernie Sanders.

Wisconsinites know how parsed and disingenuous are these boasts, so don't tall for it, Bernie:

More ...everyone living in poverty [in WI] is now covered...during the past two years, we provided the largest actual dollar investment into public schools in WI history...
* We know that Walker made deep, damaging and ideologically-inspired cuts to public school funding, and only in the later years began to back fill the reductions because the gubernatorial campaign he lost in 2018 was looming.

If someone hacked into your bank account and began pay you back, would you appreciate his self-promotion for that 'generosity?'

* We also know that Walker has turned down hundreds of millions of dollars in available Medicaid dollars, and his legislative lackeys are going to continue that moral and medical madness:

Vos tweeted, on accepting Medicaid expansion: 
Those federal dollars to which Wisconsinites have contributed would have extended insurance to poor people still living "in poverty," as Walker so blithely puts it - - but who who are earning just a tad above the official poverty definition and Walker's wordsmithing - - a move which also would have begun to reduce costs laid on state taxpayers, too.

Everyday Wisconsinites, who, by the way, now pay larger shares of the state's income taxes thanks to Walker and Trump tax breaks aimed at or darkly manipulated for corporations

These Walker tweets show again that he loves to play with numbers - - whether  medical and education dollars, or wetland acres or Foxconn projections, covered here - - while disregarding the actual people or their surroundings - - all pawns in his game - - which his intentionally corrupted and self-serving math help penalize.

And worse, wants bogus credit for making situations better which he actually helped aggravate.

The master of stone-cold callous calculus.

Celebrate Sheboygan-area land, park and water preservation Sunday, 6/2

Soon they'll be calling Sheboygan "Synchronicity City."

Friends of the Black Forest - - the grassroots group making progress in a battle to save a forest, rare dunes, wetlands and state park public acreage from bulldozers and profiteers - - will gather in the Town of Wilson Village Hall just south of Sheboygan Sunday June 2nd to celebrate a court win for conservation.

And for fair government and five years of inspiring land, park and water preservation work against great odds.
FRBF Thank You and Planning Dinner, Sunday, June 2, 2019
3 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Town of Wilson Village Hall. Salad supper and beverages at 3 p.m.
Hosted by Friends of the Black River Forest and Sierra Club Great Waters Group

Meanwhile, a few days later, some of the very people who back or goosed along the ruination of that forest, the rare dunes, the wetlands and public land within a state park for high-end golf course construction will join a different gathering in Sheboygan days later.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

For a Foxconn gravy train seat, expand the eligibility menu

Props to the Journal Sentinel's Rick Romell for disclosing how firms run far from Wisconsin are getting Foxconn contracts:
Foxconn awards contracts to 'Wisconsin' firms with headquarters in Connecticut and England
In January, I noticed this information in BizTimes Milwaukee too. 
Foxconn general contractors based in Rhode Island, Germany
Looks like not much has changed. On, Wisconsin. Er, Connecticut...Germany...

Here's a link to a Foxconn archive frequently updated over the last two years. 
with items like this
Walker's job plan: import Chinese workers to Foxconn
So because we're adding flexibility to 'certainty' in the Walkerite/Foxconn/'Wisconsin-First' Guide to Wordsmithing,' and if a 'Wisconsin
'firm' can be headquartered in England or Germany or on the dark side of the moon, I think we need to expand the definition of Wisconsinite to make it easier to jump to the head of the Foxconn hiring line - - assuming that someday actual hiring - - in earnest - - will begin.

I suggest that anyone is automatically a Wisconsinite for WisConn [Team Walker's preferred, paradoxical phrase] hiring purposes if they meet at least two of these 'If you wanna be a Sconnine' criteria:

* Have eaten twice at any two of the many custard stands

airport carry-out counters, pizzarias and burger joints Walker features shills for on his Twitter page

*  Book and board the full Walker's 2019 Hawaiian Karaoke Cruise and a Foxcnnn senior management position is waiting for you as soon as the trip is over. (Documentation required. Photo ID required.)

* Has been to at least two of these Wisconsin destinations: Lambeau Field, Borchert Field, Mitchell Field, Marshall Fields or a Mrs. Field's cookie kiosk. 

* Has hit a Wisconsin Scotthole: double points if it led to big, bold cursing over a tire blow-out. 

Again, save your receipts. Don't make us waste a good Pants on Fire rating that might waft off the Foxconn site any old day:
Pants on Fire: Robin Vos, Scott Fitzgerald blame Tony Evers for Foxconn changes

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The WI GOP can keep tap water thick and brown

10 p.m. update: As predicted, the Wisconsin Republican Grand Old Pollution party's Legislative budget-writing committee deeply slashes Evers' clean water funding. Downplays groundwater pollution. Continues the DNR's crippling. Refuses to recreate its Science Bureau which ex-Secretary and Walker demolished. And hopes to further empower the big dairy CAFOs by assigning their 'regulation' to the more friendly state ag department, which was on Walker's to-do list.
WI special interests expect certainty and the pollution party is there to help.

Regardless of the GOP's studious disregard for mounting dairy closures and oversupply which has been the party's carefully-constructed policy:
Of course, Walker's priority is serving the big dairy operators' agendas, including environmental deregulation, that would help them increase their market share:
State records show that one day before Walker’s October speech in Trego, in northwestern Wisconsin, the governor’s office received detailed plans from the Dairy Business Association on legal requirements and strategic options to move the program. 
I'd noted those depressing, going-out-of-business trends in Wisconsin, here and also here: 
Walker no friend to Wisconsin family farmers. Or their water.
And regardless of how long people in the manure zones have waited for clean water:
Nancy Utesch, a long-time Kewaunee County clean water activist, sent along some comments and an update some months ago:
We in Kewaunee County share a commonality with Juneau County residents who are being poisoned through agricultural practices. 
We asked the US Environmental Protection Agency for an investigation into the cause and source of well water contamination in our 2014 Safe Drinking Water Act petition, but the EPA has yet to address it. 
Walker gave Big Dairy a pass, so many Wisconsinites still drink contaminated water - - and GOP legislators just might keep the taps running brown:
Big dairy operations urge GOP to block fees for Tony Evers' clean drinking water plan
A lobby group representing the state's largest dairy operations on Tuesday urged lawmakers to reject Gov. Tony Evers' budget proposal to increase fees that pay for state regulators who protect drinking water from farm pollution. 

Runoff from an animal feeding operation in CAFO-heavy Kewaunee County. 

Pollution favor for Foxconn, others not justifiable, feds say

Today's subject is blight. And who uses it to spoil the natural and political environment. And why.

Remember the phony "blight" assigned Mount Pleasant properties in the Foxconn zone so they could be quickly acquired and torn down?

We're learning anew that real blight took root in government actions which included unscientific and unjustifiable air pollution exemptions 
Smoke stacks from a factory.

which would add to the airborne river of lung-damaging filth in a region already polluted by politicized contaminants, like partisan arrogance, reckless spending and Soviet-style, government-first land grabbing.

The Chicago Tribune lays it out:
Trump EPA backs away from smog breaks for Foxconn, Indiana steel mills
When the Trump administration exempted parts of the Chicago area last year from federal limits on lung-damaging smog, it delivered a huge financial break to steel mills, chemical plants and other industries that are some of the region’s biggest polluters.
Scott Pruitt, who at the time headed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, also freed the Foxconn Technology Group from spending millions of dollars on pollution-control equipment as it builds a new electronics plant in southeast Wisconsin, just north of the Illinois border in an area with some of the region’s dirtiest air. 
Exposed in court, Federal attorneys are conceding that Trump's EPA under dedicated EPA mission destroyer Scott Pruitt knowing eased air pollution standards so certain Chicagoland counties close to Lake Michigan and north to the Foxconn site could save money while adding smog to already unhealthy air.

That the now-departed Pruitt - - done in by scandalously wasteful and inappropriate spending and staff assignments - - had included the Foxconn site in his regulatory rollback as a favor to fellow Republican Scott Walker had been reported, but now the Trib and others have published information sprung loose from the EPA by document requests showing scientists there knew data and policies were being dirtied up.

As one scientist said in a document provided to The New York Times:
“I do not see a sound technical basis for the areas we are being directed to finalize in Wisconsin,” Jennifer Liljegren, an E.P.A. physical scientist involved in the decision-making, wrote to colleagues in an email dated April 11, 2018. “I will need the wordsmithing of the legal and policy experts if we are really going to do this — I am still in disbelief.”
Props to Clean Wisconsin, along with the Sierra Club for provoking the disclosures, as Twitter tells us:
Emails released Friday to and show that EPA scientists raised strong objections to a 2018 decision by Scott Pruitt, who was head of the agency at the time, to exempt most of southeastern Wisconsin from federal limits on smog.
These disclosures should give Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' DNR more reason to suspend the four air pollution permits Walker's DNR had so quickly granted to the company.

I've been compiling a Foxconn archive on this blog for two years: this link will take you to it.

And speaking of blight, big money and bad process all 'round...

The quarter-billion sprawl-inducing highway expansion through the Foxconn zone - - where some of the region's best farmland along with flood-abating wetlands are being bulldozed and paved - - is a miles-long concrete blot which will generate its own air pollution tonnages.

And 'was won' by Walker for Foxconn and his fellow, GOP power-grabbing local politician Robin Vos while state roads and bridges were allowed to deteriorate.

That grotesque gift of pavement to special interests - - again at public expense - - is technically not an actual highway to nowhere since Chicago commuters can enjoy it toll-free when they cross the state line, but the highway 'upgrade' adds to the unprecedented waste, hackery and failure which has put Foxconn on the map in Wisconsin.

Final thought.

Walker 2020. Seriously? Wasn't eight years long enough?

Monday, May 27, 2019

'Certainty' alert, as WI GOP cuts needed school funding

Hey, school districts, who do you think you are, Foxconn?

It was a cinch that Wisconsin Republicans would propose allotting to state schools but a fraction of what communities know is needed - - and what Tony Evers - - an education expert and the people's choice for Governor  - - had recommended.
A key provision in Evers' funding plan would change the state's formula for funding schools to provide more money to schools that educate students who live in poverty — a change that would benefit Milwaukee Public Schools. Nearly 90% of the district's students live in poverty. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Wednesday that proposal is off the table.
In fact, everyone knew it was a certainty that the GOP-controlled legislature would throw out Governor Tony Evers' urban-student-teacher-friendly education funding plan.
'It's an injustice': MPS advocates see missed chance to address poverty as GOP scraps Tony Evers budget
As I noted a few years ago with about 20 examples, when you hear "certainty" from a Wisconsin Republican gripping the levers of powers - - 

Alberta Darling at Ann Romney rally.JPG

 - -  it means someone with less power is about to get screwed, as the Senate budget-writing co-chair recently affirmed on Twitter.

Our school districts asked for a reliable and predictable funding plan. I hope Governor Evers will give school districts the certainty they need and not play politics.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Dishonesty is WI GOP leaders' reflex. Dysfunction is their goal.

OK, GOP leaders, we get your sore loser funk. Scott Walker isn't Governor anymore. No more loyalty sessions in the Capitol's East wing; you have to follow his Bad Food and Pity Pot Tour on Twitter, like the rest of us.

But your repeated distortions and dishonesty - - whether through 'bad information,' partisan mendaciousness or plain stupidity - - in the wake of his defeat only reinforce dysfunction, guaranteee gridlock and drag politics to a toxic level.

So we see what you're doing, and good government requires you to knock it off.

* State GOP Senate President Roger Roth got things started after the election when he lit his pants on fire by claiming his party's the lame-duck power grabs were not intended to do exactly what they were crafted to accomplish:
Roger Roth incorrectly says lame duck bills didn’t take any power from governor or attorney general 
Roth said lame-duck laws didn’t take any power away from the incoming governor or attorney general, contradicting even the explanation from other leaders in his party... 
The lame-duck bills transparently limited Evers’ and Kaul’s power on numerous fronts, including appointments, spending and rule-making. 
Roth’s claim is not only wrong, it’s ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire.
* Today's example from the Journal Sentinel shows the GOP is still at it:
GOP leader Robin Vos falsely claims Gov. Tony Evers made troops wait for greeting
Vos later said 
Robin Vos speaks at Racine Tea Party event (8378614585).jpg
he'd gotten bad information; in other words, he passed on something he found in the muck between breathless gossip and flat-out b.s - - but unrepentently managed to repeat the heart of the lie in his 'apology.'
Vos abandoned the claim Friday after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported his statement was false."It appears what was reported to us was wrong," Vos wrote in a Friday tweet. "Glad that @GovEvers did the right thing and didn't make them wait as we were told he would." 
Of course Evers did the right thing: you were the one who didn't.

* The only thing that separates this garbage from what then-GOP Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch did to Mandala Barnes, the Democratic who beat her in the November election, was the timetable. Vos' 'apology' came after one day because of media scrutiny, while Kleefisch's ear-splitting dog whistle alert to her base that there was an African-American on a statewide ticket festered for two weeks: 
Lt. Gov. Kleefisch apologizes to opponent over flag flap
Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch has apologized to her Democratic opponent for repeatedly claiming that he kneeled during the national anthem despite his denials...
Kleefisch tweeted two weeks ago and said again on Monday that someone had told her they saw Barnes kneel during opening ceremonies of the Wisconsin State Fair this summer. But she offered no proof.
* But back to Vos, who, with sidekick and partner is manure-spreading Scott Fitzgerald, worked hard to poison their relationship with voters, business and Gov. Evers with this blatant falsehood in January, fact checkers reported:
Pants on Fire: Robin Vos, Scott Fitzgerald blame Tony Evers for Foxconn changes
Months later, and undaunted, Vos and Fitzgerald were still at it:
Foxconn initiated steps to change state contract, Gov. Tony Evers says
Like Vos, Fitzgerald has pilloried Evers for wanting to make changes to the Foxconn contract without mentioning his talks with Woo. Last week, Fitzgerald accused Evers of seeking "a one-sided attempt to reopen the contract." He did not say why he viewed the move as one-sided in light of Evers' claim that Foxconn is the one seeking changes.  

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Wisconsin man gets one retweet in an hour

[UPDATE] Make that one retweet in three five hours. And six snarky replies. Ooof+
 1 hour ago
Scott Walker 
We are ready! Go @Bucks…

Silly Wisconsin Republicans act out in the Capitol

You see a headline like this - - 
State budget leader: GOP lawmakers strike $500M deal on school funding
- - and you think, great news, Republicans 

Republican Disc.svg

are finally acknowledging that Gov. Evers rather than a GOP shadow pretender is prevailing on the school issues former educator Evers knows so well.

Then you read the story and see that the 'deal' is only among members of The Tweedle Dum/Tweedle-Dumber Axis of Ignorance - - so, literally, no big deal. It'd be like, "spread the news, Trump struck a deal with Jared. Or Vladimir."

And speaking of Republicans and State Capitol doings, note that a GOP legislator has decided that the rules about carrying guns in the building do not apply to him.
GOP lawmaker displayed holstered gun to Democratic aide in area of Capitol where weapons are banned
The legislator, Shae Sortwell, a Republican from Manitowoc County, allegedly said the restriction was 'silly.'

By the way, "You silly-billy" or The Silliness Defense is usually heard on the pre-school playground, along with "I'm telling mom, you tattletale," "I hate you," and "No, you're the crybaby" - - less often from lawmakers where they do things like debate laws and pass budgets and other grown-up chores.

The rule about toting guns in the Capitol - -  which is actually part of a silly law apparently written for sillier little people without grown-up titles, was noted when a different Republican state legislator packing his semi-automatic Glock 26 on the Assembly floor made news in 2012:
Wisconsin Assembly leader Bill Kramer said he’s been carrying a concealed weapon during floor sessions, the AP reports...
Kramer told the AP he obtained a permit under Wisconsin’s concealed carry law, which went into effect in November. That law allows people who obtain a permit and go through training to carry concealed weapons in the state capitol as long as no sign is posted saying weapons are not permitted...
The Republican also admitted he’s not the only lawmaker carrying a weapon to work.
Kramer did not run for re-election after losing his leadership position and eventually being found guilty of two counts of misdemeanor sexual assault.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Foxconn works overtime, plugging empty values

Foxconn pulls back the curtain on one of its insubstantial Wisconsin operations; the picture is petty and the style is Trumpian.

Message also delivered to main street Green Bay, Mount Pleasant neighbors, Wisconsin taxpayers, downstream Illinois communities and future workers:
Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn sues Flats on the Fox over unpaid fees for parking spaces
Cooperate? Navigate? No, Litigate! With eyes and wallets focused on the small picture:

So get off my lawn and don't step on my driveway, or I'll see you in court.

A nearly-two-year-long Foxconn archive is here
[Updated continuously from June, 2017] This archive with more than 320 posts, and even more links and references track, explain and unmask Wisconsin's public awards of $4.5 billion in state and local funds, plus waivers of routine judicial and environmental reviews, for a promised now- cancelled perhaps back-on-again-but-smaller?? Foxconn factory development that would require a massive daily diversion of Lake Michigan water and produce nearly 800 tons of air pollution emissions annually over Racine County open space, farm and wetlands.

Predictions of big 2020 turnout mean greater GOP ugliness

Stories predicting 2020 blue wave voting will sharpen the elbows Republicans will throw to save cult leader Trump, his loyal party bellhops and their special-interests' favor dispensing machinery.

So we will see more voter suppression tactics, like blocking automatic voter registration in toss-up Wisconsin. As Scott Walker might have put it, 'In Wisconsin, we made it harder to vote and easier to cheat the system.'

Republicans will continue their defiant defense of gerrymandering to hold ill-gotten legislative powers and leadership positions - - 
Robin Vos speaks at Racine Tea Party event (8378614585).jpg
WI GOP Assembly Speaker and lame-duck power broker Robin Voe

- - and we'll witness fresh, plentiful spending on fear-mongering ads to save Walker-designated Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly in April just like those coughed up from the right in the last Wisconsin Supreme Court race to seat blatantly partisan 'Justice'-elect Brian Hagedorn.

Because voter suppression and power preservation is a two-level/two-fisted game that is easier to win if you make the rules and can change them at will.

You batter your opponent with one hand and use the other to dig deep for the cash that saves your friends, thus yourself, too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Great Lakes protection conference set for Sheboygan. Fore!

The water justice Gods are smiling on Lake Michigan.

Sheboygan and its waterfront will be showcased next month when the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is holding its annual conference there june 5-7th
Join us in the City of Sheboygan, the Spirit on the Lake, for the 2019 Annual Conference
Each year, during our Annual Conference, we tackle issues and obstacles that face the health and conservation of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and their communities. It is our mission not only to educate and protect our member mayors from threats that arise from water pollution and damaging weather events but also to defend the greatest source of freshwater in the world from invasive species, pollution and depletion.
 Our conference theme this year is Living Blue: Transforming Waterfronts and the three pillars of the conference are social and community engagement, economic growth and sustainable strength in waterfront communities.
Yes, Sheboygan has made notable progress cleaning up its river and harbor.

But let's look a little broader along the lakeshore to understand there's probably no better spot on Lake Michigan right now for a conference "to defend the greatest source of freshwater in the world..." than the very city recently expanded through a controversial annexation to goose along the destruction of a nature preserve, wetlands and other water-dependent resources - - 

247-acre nature preserve/potential lakeshore golf course. Steve Back photo.
- - until plaintiffs prevailed and a judge said 'no.' 
In the decision, the judge found that the project will require deforesting over half the site and significant regrading, resulting in changes to wetland and site hydrology...the permit application must be denied.” 
The judge also found that the DNR lacked sufficient information to conclude that the project would not harm water quality associated with chemical and fertilizer applications, and that some of Kohler’s submitted information was unreliable or incomplete.   
Also note this related news item:
Ozaukee Press Editorial
"The DNR’s granting of the permit was so contrary to scientific evaluation of the threat to the environment of an extremely sensitive area of ridge and swale wetlands that it fed accusations that the decision was politically motivated." "The land... home to a system of wetlands and sand dunes that is so rare it is said there are few places like it in the world. The habitat it creates is so valuable to endangered animal and plant species that it is protected by state and federal law."