Thursday, October 31, 2019

Waukesha's Lake MI diversion creates fresh opposition - in New Berlin

[Updated from 10/31 with this separate story]:
New Berlin leaders oppose facility planned for Waukesha to tap Lake Michigan water

[Further updated with hearing set for Monday, Nov. 4th, at New Berlin City Hall.
Regional cooperation? Haven't heard much about that lately to our west, and there's fresh evidence that proximity does not neighborliness make.

It seems that the City of Waukesha's endlessly-controversial-and-oft-delayed plan for a Lake Michigan diversion 
On the shoreline 

and wastewater return via the Root River to Racine's harbor 'Waukesha's toilet' has created new grassroots opponents - - in New Berlin.

Residents there unhappily discovered that a park in their city is where Waukesha intends to build a water pumping station.  Nine acres would be taken for the facility, the Journal Sentinel reports:

The site was actually chosen by Waukesha County, which owns Minooka Park and ultimately approved the city's pumping station plan there, as did the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 
But New Berlin residents living along the project area have argued that the city and county made a bad choice, both from their perspective as residents and in not choosing an alternative location on land Waukesha already owns.
The story is currently behind the Journal Sentinel's paywall. I believe that wall protecting the story comes down in a day or so.

This latest turn of events reminds me of the way the DNR helped bully the Town of Waukesha into falling into line with the City of Waukesha's plan:
The DNR gives the Town 30 days to decide if it is in or out of the City of Waukesha's Lake Michigan diversion plan under the rules of the Great Lakes Compact. 
 As part of a years-long City of Waukesha-first regional narrative:  
A key component of the City of Waukesha's draft Lake Michigan diversion application - - the map for where the water could be distributed had included the Town of Waukesha - - which was not consulted about the map.
And more about that map, here. And here.

Trump: 'Donate if you know what's good for you, friend'

What kind of 'friend' sends this kind of email? Trump.
Head shot of Trump smiling in front of the U.S. flag. He is wearing a dark blue suit jacket, white shirt, light blue necktie, and American flag lapel pin.
My finance team just sent me the updated list of every American Patriot who has stepped up and contributed toward our End-of-Month fundraising goal. 
I noticed that your name was still MISSING from that list, Friend.... 
My team is sending me a list of everyone who does their part and donates before MIDNIGHT. I better see your name on that list, Friend.

Key GOP-controlled committee grants WI AG Kaul first hall pass

Cue the sound of one-hand clapping;  a GOP small-minded committee has graciously made a small nod to the Democratic AG who had the nerve to defeat a Republican incumbent in what is supposed to be a one-party Midwestern GOP fiefdom.
Wisconsin lawmakers for the first time under the lame-duck laws have given Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul the go-ahead to settle a lawsuit. 
An Attorney General allowed to settle a lawsuit.

Thank you, Sir Robin

for your party's act of kindness. 

If you like vaping, Wisconsin restaurants should be your destination

Because who doesn't like a dose of second-hand vaping aerosols with their pasta or prime rib? Read on.

There is fresh evidence of the perversity with which WI Republicans are running the State Legislature in the name of 'freedoms.'
You won't sit next to vapers in State Capitol hearing rooms, but key GOP legislators are fine with your sitting next them at your next fish fry.
Last week it was their pledge to protect their misinterpretation of Second Amendment freedoms by refusing to consider even discussion of reasonable gun safety proposals which polling show enjoying 80% support.

Opposition despite a blatantly mostly-false position, with the 'mostly-false' rating being a PolitiFact gift.

Today we learned that GOP legislators are refusing to hold hearings or move forward legislation to ban indoor vaping, with a key leadership role on the issue engineered by a legislator who owns a restaurant in which he wants diners to vape should they choose.
"I understand some people have concerns, but I believe this legislation is an overreach of state power," Sen. Duey Stroebel of Saukville told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a statement. "Ultimately, private property owners should have the freedom to choose if they want to allow or disallow the use of vapor products at their businesses."...

Stroebel won't hold a public hearing or a vote in the legislative committee he oversees to advance the legislation to the full Senate. Rep. Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander, who owns a supper club in northern Wisconsin, also doesn't plan to advance the bill in the Assembly's state affairs committee.

Airborne mercury? Trump and his EPA say more is better

Anyone dumping toxic materials is a menace who should be arrested.

Which is what got this illegal tire-dumper in trouble, and rightly so.

Arrests aside, people know they're not allowed to throw batteries and electronic devices away because the toxic metals they contain could end up in the food and water supply.

But releasing additional toxic materials into the public domain is exactly what Trump's mission-busting and pollution-boosting US EPA will enable by officially allowing coal-fired power plants 
Smoke stacks from a factory.
to release more airborne mercury and other heavy metals into the nation's lakes, rivers and streams - - waters irrigate farm produce, sustain fish which end up on dinner tables nationwide and move from the kitchen tap to baby's bottles to her veins, arteries and tissues :
The Trump administration is expected to roll back an Obama-era regulation to limit dangerous heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury from coal-fired power plants, according to two people familiar with the plans. 
With a series of new rules expected in November, the Environmental Protection Agency will move to weaken the 2015 regulation by relaxing some of the requirements on power generators and also exempting a significant number of power plants from even those requirements.
I have been tracking here this intentionally-damaging assault on water, the environmental and public health, and call attention to the known Wisconsin data:
Earlier [in 2018], I posted information which is still on a US EPA website about the extent of waterway impairment in Wisconsin as of 2016, including impairment caused by mercury, and I noted this at the time.
I was struck by the persistent presence of mercury and the growth of phosphorous contamination in the few categories I pulled out - - the latter not surprising because under Walker the state relaxed the time frame in which phosphorous discharges were to be addressed.
Here are some of the key data about known mercury contamination in Wisconsin - - and since we know what goes out of smokestacks comes down - - so you have to ask yourself in light of Trump's support for making it more likely that these and other numbers nationally will go up: Isn't this enough?

, Rivers and streams, Mercury.color.gif888.2

Great Lakes Shorelines, miles, 259.4.

Lakes, reservoirs and ponds acres, 284,275.

Bays and estuaries, Square miles, 6,067.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Robin Vos breaking climate change news? 'Probably' not.

Don't let the headline fool you.
Wisconsin GOP leader Robin Vos says climate change is 'probably' real
Because the reporting indicates the 'news' is more of his predictable, partisan 
Robin Vos speaks at Racine Tea Party event (8378614585).jpg

stupidity, spin and crap:
In addition to questioning whether global warming is happening, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also denigrated a climate change task force created by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers earlier this month. Vos told WisconsinEye that he believes it was created for political purposes. And he said that if the goal of the group is to “make people on the left feel better about themselves, that’s a nonstarter.” 
Evers asked the task force to develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in Wisconsin, which he called a “grave threat to the health, safety and economic well-being of people and communities.” The task force includes Republican and Democratic members of the Legislature and representatives of a broad cross-section of the state’s agriculture, energy, business, health, education and environmental interests.
A list of those leftists Vos smeared is here. Those corporate reps and others might take exception. 

Maybe some staffer can show this fact-based energy newsletter's October 30 highlights to Vos - - note the Midwest/Great Lakes regional emphases - - when he's not too busy pushing popcorn or sticking pins in his Tony Evers Voodoo doll:
October 30, 2019: Two new reports illustrate offshore wind’s potential, showing prices have dropped 32 percent in the past year and that the industry could provide more than enough clean electricity to meet global demand. Replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar has quantifiable health benefits and the Midwest stands to gain the most, according to new research. Honda will stop selling gas-only vehicles in Europe three years earlier than planned and Volkswagen aims to produce 1 million electric cars annually by 2022. GE and BlackRock have raised $250 million to fund a portfolio of solar projects through 2020.
Offshore wind could provide more than enough electricity to meet global demand. According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, the industry represents a $1 trillion opportunity and will grow 15-fold over the next 20 years. IEA’s report also shows a 40 percent overlap between offshore wind and oil and gas practices, underscoring the business opportunity for oil and gas majors to invest in offshore production. Also this week, new analysis from BloombergNEF shows global offshore wind prices dropped 32 percent in the past year, and 12 percent in the last six months alone. (The GuardianUtility Dive)

More renewable energy leads to quantifiable health benefits, including less asthma and heart disease, according to a new study. The study, led by Harvard researchers, puts a dollar amount on potential health gains from displacing fossil fuels with wind and solar generation in specific regions throughout the United States. The results show the most savings would occur in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes/Mid-Atlantic regions, with up to $113 per megawatt hour in health benefits, compared to about $28 in California. (Energy News Network)

Trump's dream juror spotted in Wisconsin

Every defendant dreams of having a close ally on the jury. 

So it's your lucky day, Donald Trump, because this ticked off Wisconsin man 
'And get off my lawn!'
just hauled out a version of the Robin Vos No/#Never open mind on the matter of recusal were Trump's trial to go before the US Senate:
Ron Johnson says his involvement in Ukraine will not cause him to recuse himself from a Senate impeachment trial 
"I would never even consider it."

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

This Halloween, Sean Duffy is sporting his Joe McCarthy mask

Give Sean Duffy credit: he's been studying up on another legendary Wisconsin loyalty expert

Joseph McCarthy adjusted.jpg 

- - Joe McCarthy.

It takes a special kind of Wisconsinite to earn this kind of coverage:
Former Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy faces criticism after questioning Lt. Col. Vindman's loyalty to U.S.
Vindman, who fled Ukraine at age 3, is a decorated veteran and received the Purple heart after being injured by a roadside bomb. He serves on the National Security Council and on Tuesday provided testimony in the ongoing impeachment inquiries surrounding President Donald Trump.
And to be in this special group
On Fox News and Right-Wing Web, Alexander Vindman Is Accused of ‘Espionage’
Because, you know, this guy:
Colonel Vindman, 44, grew up in Brooklyn, completed basic training in 1999, and carried out numerous overseas tours in the Army, including in South Korea, Germany and Iraq. In 2003, he was wounded by a roadside bomb and received a Purple Heart. He has served in multiple United States embassies and joined the National Security Council in 2018. 
So while RoJo is definitely Trump's Wisconsin bullpen ace, former log-rolling champion, reality TV show personality and ex-GOP Congressman Duffy is a late-season call-up who could throw an inning or two.
#FireSeanDuffy trends on Twitter as former congressman faces backlash for criticizing Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
The Washington Post has an expanded story
The fundamentally Un-American attacks on Alexander Vindman
On Tuesday morning, the rhetoric from Trump's defenders was more explicit....
On CNN, former congressman Sean P. Duffy (R-Wis.) suggested that Vindman’s birthplace was important.
“It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense,” Duffy said. “I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy.... 
(Of course, Ukraine’s defense is still U.S. policy.)
“...We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from,” Duffy continued. “Like me, I'm sure that Vindman has the same affinity.…He speaks Ukrainian. He came from the country and he wants to make sure they're safe and free."
Asked whether Vindman was looking out for America first, Duffy demurred. 
Final observation: What's gone haywire at CNN? Isn't one version of "Fox & Friends" enough?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Paul Ryan kicks off effort to help people he's already kicked

Paul Ryan will showcase himself with a new anti-poverty organization.

What's next: Scott Walker starts Wisconsin Friends of Rail Transit? 

Remember, Ryan is the guy who spent years in Congress using the tax code to widen the gulf between the wealthy and everyone else,

promoted cuts to anti-poverty programs, said inner-city people needed to be taught good character and discipline, calculated that 30% of Americans want a welfare state and told an interviewer that entire generations of urban men who didn't even think about working were responsible for their own destitution: 
Paul Ryan Claims Black Men Are Lazy And The Cause Of Poverty In This Country
During the interview, Ryan used thinly-veiled ‘code’ language to claim that black men do not want to work and are satisfied with being poor. He also stated that anti-poverty programs create a culture of laziness and that what we really need is for affluent white people from the suburbs to spend more of their time mentoring those in the inner-city...
We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with…you need to get involved, you need to get involved yourself, whether through a good mentor program or some religious charity, whatever it is to make a difference. And that’s how we resuscitate our culture.” 


RoJo role deepening in Trump's Ukraine scandal

Drip, drip, drip is the water-carrier's fate
Sen. Johnson, ally of Trump and Ukraine, surfaces in crucial episodes in the saga 
Johnson’s knowledge of key events could make him a person of interest to House impeachment investigators, as well as complicate his role as a juror in a trial by the Senate, if one occurs. There are no rules forcing senators with possible conflicts of interest to recuse themselves during impeachment proceedings, and Johnson, through a spokesman, declined to comment on what he would do. 
I doubt if you'll see Johnson on "Meet the President" defending himself; this is a job for Fox News.

And no doubt this will force Johnson to explain that messy July 4th trip to Moscow. For a Homeland Security committee chair, he's certainly in over his head.

Also: what's with all the Wisconsin right-wing pols and their shady overseas connections, including:


Make that Walker and David Clarke.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Two years in, Foxconn is a flop

The two-year anniversary of the signing of the Foxconn contract will arrive on November 17th

so before media turns their attention to Thanksgiving recipes, holidays sales and winter weather forecasts I thought it would be a good idea now to track and memorialize a key constant thread in the Foxconn story:

Promises - - broken, altered or not yet fulfilled - - after being spun-up and couched in the blighted language of campaign-friendly public relations, hyperbole, exaggeration and fantasy.

Here are a few examples in a list not meant to be complete, and that are organized in no particular order, but which use actual spoken words and numbers to help us remember who's responsible for how we got here and why there's little cause for optimism.

* Let me begin with the reporting Thursday that Foxconn would not be opening its promised "Innovation Center" in Green Bay, while similar centers around the state may never open that were vaguely defined and virtually unstaffed.

Much of the reaction to these announcements fell into the category of 'and are you surprised?' 

Because Wisconsinites have to come to see Foxconn as FUBAR.

* But let's back up a little and see how hyperbole, spin and sheer fantasy were used to promote the project from Day One.

Donald Trump initially called the project "The Eighth Wonder of the World" before a shovel full of dirt had been turned.

But it wasn't only The Great Condo Pitchman who raised expectations to these faux, fantastical levels.

* Walker himself, as if competing with Trump for air time, boxed quotes and top-line space also went rhetorically overboard, no doubt to fuel his doomed re-election bid and to make people forget that his previous campaigns' job-creation promises and economic development performance had flopped.

You remember, his repetitive pledges to create the gaudy round number of 250,000 new jobs in four years, but which took all of eight years to fulfill? 

A made-up number he further manipulated as "my floor, not my ceiling."

So Walker also stitched together strings of glossy adjectives at the White House Foxconn announcement to make everyone forget what happened to his earlier jobs creation shortfall.

* Look to his unedited remarks accessible at the "Walker" text and speaker tabs at this official White House link, here.

And Walker wasn't done, affixing his name to an amped-up op-ed in the Journal Sentinel a few days after signing the bill which he and his lieutenants shepherded through the Legislature to shovel nearly $3 billion in state funds to Foxconn (triggering also the outflow from local treasuries of another $1 billion plus):
Foxconn is a transformational, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Wisconsin
In addition to repeating the 13,000 jobs' pledge, the first-person op-ed used the words "massive," "outstanding," "big," "largest," (twice), "biggest," "transformational," (three more times), and "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," (again). 

Walker labels the entire affair with fresh buzz wordy construction - - "a new ecosystem" - - but irony is alive because we would find out that the authentic ecosystem on the project site would soon go through wetland-filling, prime ag land bulldozing and massive polluting stormwater runoff to which downstream communities in Illinois are objecting.

And Walker went global when he and Foxconn officials later signed the deal that implemented the sweetheart legislation.

"We're going to take the world over when it comes to high-tech technology like we're going to build ...right here in the state of Wisconsin," he said 
* But wait, there's more, because Walker bumped up the jobs pledge to "at least 13,000" in a July, 2018 tweet accompanied by video of those now disappearing 'innovation centers.'
Wisconsin landed Foxconn – and with it comes at least 13,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs throughout the state!  
* So where are we now, employment-wise? In 2018, the company created 178 full-time jobs.

* Hiring in 2019 and 2020 are also projected to fall short of earlier company estimates.

* I haven't seen data on how Foxconn is doing on a separate promise to hire 3,000 military veterans, but I did note that the very first hire the company had made was a vet who has already resigned.

Here are a few more questions:

* How's that hugely-hyped $100 million pledge to the UW-Madison coming? It's less than one-percent funded.

* Or that space-age multi-story data center to be built on the Mt. Pleasant site cleared of all the 'blighted' farmland homes? 

* And the various types and sizes of flat-screen LCD panels which needed all that diverted Lake Michigan water to produce?

Let's just say all those things are on-again-off-again-on-again, or something.

* Or what about the special, futuristic special lanes in the fast-tracked I-94 expansion serving the project site so driverless trucks can deliver flat-screen whatevers by 2021 to Mitchell International Airport?

While some infrastructure elements are said to in the ground, but look at all these caveats and time-line potholes
A Wisconsin DOT spokesman said his agency can’t say what types of new driving innovations will be in place when all eight lanes of I-94 open by Memorial Day 2020 or when work is finished in 2021.... 
In a statement, Foxconn did not provide specific timelines for the use of autonomous vehicles. 
Sound familiar?

You get the point. Promises made, expectations raised, reality bites and promises break. Lots of hype. Little follow-through. We'll get back to you in 2020, or 2021, or 2047.

Wisconsin taxpayers have been conditioned by the company and its shills to expect more disappointment, continuing under-performance and, like Walker's 250,000 jobs' pledge in a four-year term - - failure.

Which makes you realize that the blight that was said to be associated with the Foxconn project had nothing to do with the properties that were bulldozed, and had everything to do with the way officials used state power to bulldoze the language and bury truth.

In a transformational, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Foxconn jilts Green Bay

Foxconn is pulling the plug on its Green Bay "innovation center" and possibly at similar locations elsewhere, reports TV station WBAY, despite guarantees by our defeated Governor that Green Bay, thanks to him, was catching the Foxconn wave:
REPORT: Foxconn shelving innovation centers in Green Bay, other cities
"They are going to stay in the great state of Wisconsin, and other millenials like them are going come to the state of Wisconsin because we have some of the most exciting technology and innovation in the world and part of it's going to happen right here in Green Bay at this innovation center," said Walker at the [2018] announcement. 
By the way, I checked Walker's Twitter feed to see how he's taking the news, and, whew, he's managed to put all this unpleasantness behind him:

Beautiful morning in Washington
We have to understand that there's logic to the company's decision, since its Racine County facility apparently has already nailed down work in the exciting high-tech fields of airport coffee vending machines and home security systems.

Basically, there's only so much innovation to go around. 

And while Green Bay isn't getting its innovation center, remember these good news headlines you could put on any story about Foxconn and Green Bay:

* No quarter of a billion-dollar highway 'improvements' were fast-tracked for the project;

No perfectly fine homes and farms were declared blighted so bulldozers could quickly flatten them, and;

And no wetlands were filled, though pesky downstream snowflake communities are worried about runoff and pollution.

Plus, UW-Madison has already received seven-tenths of one percent of $100 million Foxconn had pledged, so comparatively speaking, Madison is looking pretty good and Green Bay needs to look at the bigger picture and not start sucking lemons.

A full archive on how Wisconsin residents came to underwrite more than $4 billion in gifts to lure the company to our state is here.