Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Walker as state-failure expert? Yes. As workers' friend? No way.

The New York Times could not have picked a more appropriate politician to put his name on an op-ed about 'failed state bureaucracies' than Scott Walker - the now-ex Governor of the State of Wisconsin who failed to win re-election after Donald Trump had carried the state just two years earlier.

Note Walker's rightist, boiler-plate ideological dig at "bureaucracies," as if he didn't direct them, put his allies in their management positions, politicizes them through reclassifications - 
Walker give himself more power to fill high state positions 
and tailor their programs through budget and staff cuts, revenue transfers, tax policies, and so on.

Set aside - but never forget - his op-ed's camouflaged shilling for GOP-aligned, right-wing, states-rights groups which have hired him that he's wrapped in a preposterous, pretend bond for workers - 

Don’t Bail Out the States
Instead of propping up failed state bureaucracies, the federal government should support American workers.
- and remember that Wisconsin is where Walker froze the state's mandated hourly minimum wage at the rock-bottom rate of the entirely of his eight-year reign at $7.25.

* And had that poverty-enforcing pay rate legally-defined as a "living wage."

* And sprung surprise Act 10 cuts to teachers, nurses' and other public employees' pay, benefits and union organizing rights. 

Commenters on that post said they and others had left their teaching jobs for better pay or more respect in in Illinois and Minnesota schools. 

One commenter reminded readers that Walker had treated most state workers the same way. 

* Followed by further cuts in private-sector take home earnings enforced through a so-called 'right-to-work' law - and a related reduction in prevailing union-scale wages paid on public projects.

*  And went out of office having mortgaged the state budget for (to date) non-existent high-tech manufacturing jobs pledged by the Taiwanese firm Foxconn.

So let Walker's record of failure by the bureaucracies he directed speak for themselves, and remember, these policy deficits or rollbacks were all intentional to produce the very deficits designed to turn right-wing Republican talking points about what government can't do into self-fulfilling, donor-obeisant prophecies:

* Walker minimized, ignored or hamstrung his own agencies' clean water policy and legal practices left rural land and drinking water wells contaminated with harmful manure pollution:

Data show what people in Kewaunee County and the Central Sands region who live near the industrial-scale Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, already know:
Their drinking water is contaminated:
WI Central Sands the next Flint? Kewaunee County already soaks up that honor.
And, yes, new litigation has been filed by dozens of residents in Juneau County - - but did you know that a delayed and diverted 2012 case brought against a Kewaunee County CAFO was successfully re-routed by former Attorney General Brad Schimel through the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to Waukesha County?
Where Scott Walker sent him through a post-defeat, 11th hour judicial appointment!
* Walker would not direct his Department of Natural Resources to adequately confront the spread of chronic deer wasting disease, thereby imperiling the health of the state's deer herd, the integrity of the state's image and the rural economies which rely on it.

Noted in this early 2018 posting, and in subsequent reporting.
Also noted, in 2017: even less testing for the disease since Walker came into office.
Unfortunately, CWD testing in Wisconsin has plummeted in recent years because of budget cuts and the end of in-person deer registration in 2015. 
From 2002 through 2006 the Department of Natural Resources averaged 25,858 CWD tests annually. Soon after, lawmakers like former Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, slashed CWD funding, causing CWD tests to average 9,053 from 2007 through 2010, a nearly three-fold decline. 
Since 2010, the DNR has averaged a record low 5,545 CWD tests annually, even while documenting record CWD cases, including 447 in 2016.
* Walker gave large agricultural and industrial operations more freedom to release harmful phosphorous into state waterways, thereby doubling the number of impaired lakes, rivers and streams which are less able to sustain fish populations, please tourists, attract anglers and reliably guarantee clean drinking water downstream:
There are now twice the number of polluted lakes, rivers and streams in Wisconsin, and the principals culprit is algae-promoting phosphorous being released with greater ease after Walker led the effort to roll back phosphorous-dumping restrictions.
Waterway pollution skyrockets in Wisconsin during Walker, GOP reign
* Walker had his DNR managers remove vital climate change science from a public website - an official denialist position which kept the state unprepared for precisely the predicted heavier rains in the region's climate change modeling.

The result - many Wisconsin communities, as I wrote in August, 2018 towards the end of Walker's governorship, kept facing repetitive, destructive and fatal floods during his tenure:

Wisconsin was hit earlier this year by flooding that scoured away cars, pavement, and land. Now it's happened again.
We've also got Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' management that scrubbed away important information about why the flooding is likely to get worse, having ignored expert, public warnings about insufficient stormwater management and funding since 2003.
The rains in SE Wisconsin did stop and the flooding from Dane County to Ixonia to Watertown to I-43 in Milwaukee County is receding, but water levels will continue to rise and more rain is in the forecast.
So I wonder: is there a bigger picture to this?, since parts of Wisconsin - - Watertown, 2016Racine County, 2017, Racine County, 2008, Madison, 2018, historic flooding in NW Wisconsin in 2018 and 2016  
etc.  - - have been hit by rains routinely labeled heavy, historic, worst ever., and so on.
Flooding which will no doubt continue because Walker systematically encouraged wetland filling statewide, beginning literally in his first few hours as Governor.

* Followed by Walker's successful push towards the end of his second term for a dirty air exemption for SE Wisconsin to align his pro-polluter WI DNR with  justice system favors for Foxconn.

Let Walker talk about failure all he wants.

We'll remind others why he's the expert.


Katrina said...

Wow. This is a comprehensive list of Walker's failures. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

Irrelevant Scott Walker of late with the pandemical Wash Times Moonies rag is trying to place himself in the mainstream media the same way trumpy is getting serious attention as a cable-news clown. You don't expect to find misinformation, disinformation and conflict of information in the New York Times, but there it is with Walker's name on it.