Saturday, October 31, 2020

COVID transparency greater at UW than in WI GOP Capitol offices

There are unacceptable and potentially life-threatening differences in official accountability for COVID transmission depending on which end of State Street is controlling the message.

I understand why there is so much attention paid to the COVID-19 outbreak in the UW football program.

“I just got a report this morning, today we are at 10 staff, 12 players, a total of 22,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said Saturday on ESPN’s “College GameDay.” 

I do not understand why so little attention was paid statewide to the COVID-19 outbreak in the GOP-led State Legislature just a mile from the campus up State Street - and to the Republican's lack of transparency and accountability  - which mirrors the party's obstruction of COVID-control measures and a failure to convene for more than six months.

Wisconsin Republicans have been facing an outbreak among lawmakers and aides. But they don't want to talk about it.

Denial of science on top of policy failure on top of special interest massaging on top of extended vacations during a pandemic 

is bad enough, but a coverup in the State Capitol is simply unacceptable.

While the push against all odds to restart UW-Madison football has been difficult to observe, at give props to UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez at least for candor.

Trump upends 100th environmental standard (now actually 125)

A regrettable update from July 15, 2020: the number is now 125:
A Washington Post analysis has found that as Trump’s first term winds to a close, he has weakened or wiped out more than 125 rules and policies aimed at protecting the nation’s air, water and land, with 40 more rollbacks underway.
While it's impossible to tear yourself away from what Trump says - look no farther than his hour-long use Monday of the White House to launch an illegal, partisan rant against Joe Biden - it's more important to absorb what Trump does.

Including his constant attacks on the environment for the benefit of donors and polluters who make money by degrading the people's land, clean air, fresh water and personal and community health.
The New York Times has compiled a must-read-and-save list of the 100 Feeral environmental laws, rules or policies on the books which Trump has upended, watered-down or killed.
All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality each year, according to energy and legal analysts.
Such as his extremely consequential shattering of protections and procedures in the long-standing National Environmental Protection Act, (NEPA).

The key law has for decades since Richard Nixon signed it provided protections for people, communities and public resources which are inflicted by highway expansions, wetland draining, mining and pipelines operations, and is a major lever against climate change.

Importantly, NEPA guarantees a role for public participation and citizen comments which can change plans and guarantee that tax money raised from all the people is not spent in a harmful, reckless or discriminatory, favor-laden way.

I expect there will be litigation to stop what Trump wants to do. His defeat in November should put a stop to his NEPA wrecking ball and full-scale war on the environment.

It's not a coincidence that Trump cares nothing for what is spewed into the air and enables the spread of the invisible and deadly COVID-19 virus by undermining the simple wearing of masks.

Polluted air, infected air do not register as priorities for our most privileged, insulated, self-absorbed - yet most important - public official.

And his contempt for the environment with corporate favors added on top was presaged in Wisconsin by the special legal and environmental exemptions Walker and the GOP-dominated legislature granted to Foxconn, with wetland filling, productive and accelerated road-building and lost climate change mitigation being a few of Foxconn's early impacts.

In fact, Walker modeled the very pro-polluter agendas being rushed through by the President whose Wisconsin re-election Walker chairs.

Were Trump re-elected, and the US Supreme Court eventually gave his move a green light, I could imagine a local impact in Milwaukee; a perhaps faster-tracked expansion of I-94 past Story Hill between the Marquette and Zoo Interchanges which Gov. Evers suddenly set back into motion. 

Opponents of the project which was even too costly and cumbersome for ex-Gov. Walker to ram through are again raising all the right objections in what will be an exhausting drain on scarce funding and organizing energy to save even a modicum of environmental protection and justice.

3 p.m. update: I'm pleased to add this statement from the Environmental Law & Policy Center, headquartered in Chicago:

NEPA Rollback Rejects Climate Reality, Endangers Public Health 

President Donald Trump announced final National Environmental Policy Act revisions in Atlanta press conference on Wednesday 


“President Trump is weakening and undermining NEPA, which is America’s cornerstone environmental law, instead of celebrating NEPA’s effectiveness on its 50th Anniversary,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “NEPA requires governmental agencies to fully and fairly consider better, smarter and healthier alternatives to big development projects and fully address their environmental impacts. 

“The Trump Administration’s new rule rejects the realities of climate change, and it endangers safe, clean water and healthy, clean air for people and our communities. This shortsighted action of restricting public participation and valuable environmental reviews will result in more troublesome projects going forward with unnecessary harms to people, public health, our communities and environment.” 

Science: Recent Trump rallies likely sickened 30,000, killed 700

We know that Dr. Bleach it prefers magic and miracles to science - except when he's getting the latest and greatest medical care at Walker Reed -  but Wisconsinites who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Green Bay Friday alongside fellow mask-free death wishers imitating the cult leader sure could have benefited from the science in this story before they decided to head for the Trump show with their MAGA hats on: 

Stanford study estimates that 18 crowded Trump rallies ultimately resulted in 30,000 coronarvius cases
The study, released Friday by Stanford economics professor B. Douglas Bernheim and three doctoral students, examined rallies staged by Trump between June 20 and Sept. 30 and looked at the trajectory of cases in the counties in which they were held. 

And folks who attended Trump's Super-Spreader rally in Janesville 14 days ago 

should definitely get a COVID-19 test, lest they, and unaware friends and  family members end up in the ledgers showing Wisconsin heading for 2,000 COVID dead and 221,000 sickened before The Day of the Dead ends Monday night. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

NY Times reports Ron Johnson as key Trump power-abusing ally

A long and worrisome report in The New York Times - 

The Day After Election Day

- says Ron Johnson has repeatedly tried to push the FBI into political service on Trump's behalf, including getting dirt on the Bidens before the election

The F.B.I. has been under siege since this past summer, according to a senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The White House is using friendly members of Congress to try to get at certain information under the guise of quote-unquote, oversight, but really to get politically helpful information before the election,” the official said. “They want some sort of confirmation that we’ve opened an investigation,” for example, into Hunter Biden, “which, again, the F.B.I. doesn’t confirm or deny whether it’s opened investigations.”

This official said that Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, “sends letters constantly now, berating, asking for the sun, moon, stars, the entire Russia investigation, and then either going on the morning talk shows or calling the attorney general whenever he doesn’t get precisely what he wants.” The urgency, two F.B.I. officials said, ratcheted up after Mr. Trump was told three weeks ago that he wouldn’t get the “deliverables” he wanted before the election of incriminating evidence about those who investigated and prosecuted his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Not a surprise to us here in Wisconsin

Ron Johnson, serving Trump, intensifies the corruption of a Senate Committee


- as I'd noted six weeks ago - 

With GOP Majority Leader McConnell's blessing, Wisconsin's leading taxpayer-paid wastrel has ginned up the dirtiest of last-ditch distractions to save Trump's death-infested and dying presidency.

The Wisconsin Senator who voted against the issuance of all witness subpoenas during Trump's impeachment 'trial' and for the acquittal of a dangerously incompetent incumbent President has just engineered as chair of the Homeland Security Committee within weeks of the 2020 election the subpoena of dozens of Obama administration officials to aid Trump's re-election and further enable Trump's above-the-law-below-the-belt behaviors.

- but the country and political reporters should enter it in Johnson's permanent record, since he's no longer committed to keeping an-oft reported 2016 pledge to call it quits after the end of his second term in 2022.

And as I noted in June:

Trump operates above the law. Ron Johnson helped with that.

As Trump continues to throw the country into repeated and dangerous, pre-election constitutional crises, it's worth revisiting Ron Johnson's blanket blasé excuse-making that kept Trump from being removed after his impeachment. 
Johnson: Finding That Trump Broke Law Not Relevant In Impeachment Trial 


Current and former Trump administration officials are worried about what might happen on Nov. 4.

Walker hearts Trump over 'hard-working taxpayers' they fleeced

Trump gets a late-campaign suck-up Tweet from our defeated ex- Governor over their joint, socialism-for-the-rich play to siphon $4.5 billion from hard-working Wisconsin taxpayers: 

Scott Walker @ScottWalker 1h @realDonaldTrump Thanks for being back in Wisconsin and for fighting for our hard-working taxpayers!

More, here, and here:

GOP attacks 'socialism' - while shoveling state benefits to wealthy allies


To reward more Foxconn failure is financially & morally repulsive

There are two ways to look at Foxconn's latest bid for even more Wisconsin taxpayer money.

1. The first is through the narrow, legalistic but important lens of contract compliance, and good for the Evers administration for doing just that in its latest effort to deal with the unprecedented financial and environmental debacle Scott Walker, GOP legislative leaders and the WMC dumped here.

2. The other way to view Foxconn's demand for money it has not earned through its early and often over-promising and under-performing is common sense money-management in an unprecedented crisis.

COVID-19, along with mass illness and death, is also spreading record-breaking job loss, small business failures, and devastating cuts in budgets from everyday households to city halls - big and small.

That Foxconn wants more millions of scarce public dollars in this uniquely tragic and stressed political and financial environment is beyond unconscionable.

Especially money that was committed and converted hurriedly into policy and law without any consideration for the environment, and environmental justice and the needs of long-neglected communities and families of color.

Wisconsin should continue to say "no" to Foxconn's demand for having failed the contract compliance standard, and underscore it with the moral imperative that makes the case and sharpens the view through lens number two.  

More about Foxconn is at an archival link covering the last 40 months, here.

From NBC Nightly News, 7/21/19
And it is not a coincidence that you will find one of the state's most reckless GOP politicians having playing a crucial and negative role in the major public health and public financing calamities facing Wisconsin right now:

Robin Vos looms over twin WI debacles; a devastating pandemic & more Foxconn fiasco

It's not a coincidence Wisconsin is roiled right now by two major negative stories - the worsening COVID-19 catastrophe - 

Record-shattering 4,591 coronavirus cases as state catches up on reporting; record 218 COVID-19 hospitalizations

- and the FUBAR Foxconn fiasco in Mt. Pleasant - 

Three years later, the factory — and the jobs — don’t exist, and they probably never will.

- and that GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos played key roles in launching both of these realities into Wisconsin homes and an exhausted political environment.

Basically, Vos's role in these twin failures speaks volumes about the dangers of power concentrated in a key state position held by an ultra-partisan who keeps betting badly with other people's money and lives that he and his corporatist ideologies know better.  

Pandemic math, Van Wanggaard's Covidometer and the unflattened curve

You may remember that three weeks-and-a-day-ago on October 8th, Racine's GOP State Senator and unofficial lead state COVID shoulder shrugger Van Wanggaard said Wisconsin's cases could multiply ten-fold and he still wouldn't support a statewide making order.

Let's hope we never get a chance to find out if Van Wanggaard was serious or merely workshopping some stand-up material for his caucus's first meeting perhaps after the election following a seven-month, taxpayer-paid hibernation.

But it's worth noting that in the 22 days since Van Wanggaard thumbed his nose at mass illness, Wisconsin's positive cases exploded to 214,996 from 141,830 - an increase of just over 50%, according to the state's COVID dashboard. (Also reproduced below)

And Van Wanggaard's party is still fighting Gov. Evers' moves to tamp down those numbers.

I wonder if Van Wanggaard also knows or cares that the current state data show Wisconsin's COVID case count only needed four and a half months for a ten-fold jump since the June 10th tally of 21,593, and that figure is ten times larger than April 4th's total of 2,112.

The GOP-led Wisconsin Legislature last passed a bill on April 15 when the state COVID dashboard displayed 3.721 cases statewide, and now Wisconsin has close to 60 times that number. 

And let's not forget that the right-wingers on the Wisconsin Supreme Court killed Evers' 'Safer-at-Home' order extension on May 13, when the state data dashboard had tallied 10,902 COVID-19 cases. Since then, cases haven't just leaped ten-fold - they increased by a factor of about than 20, and victimized regular folks, too!

Which is why the chart from the state's COVID data dashboard below represents the opposite of a flattened curve, despite what Trump has falsely said about successfully rounding the bend or flattening the curve despite equally horrifying national numbers to which Wisconsin's reckless right-wingers have contributed mightily.

Wisconsin's COVID-19 reporting began with 32 cases on March 15; I wonder if Van Wanggaard would have said a week before spring began that he wouldn't support a state masking order even if Wisconsin's COVID-19 case load before Halloween were to increase by a factor of 6,700?


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Wolves to lose federal protections, MN media reporting

I'd said yesterday that a move to drop federal protections for wolves 

Wisconsin is killing its wolves

was likely coming, so get ready, Wisconsin and the DNR, because Minnesota media are reporting the announcement is being made there today.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday will announce a new rule to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states.

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, is slated to make the announcement at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife refuge in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The move will hand wolf management back to individual states and tribal governments, allowing each state to decide if hunting and trapping should be allowed to cull wolf numbers. 

This has been a Ron Johnson project for years

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Is coronavirus confusion muddling Trump's many metaphors?

Trump got fancy drugs to beat down his COVID infection, but his inability to stick with one simple talking point to falsely claim victory over the virus suggests a) he knows he's lying, b) COVID is still corrupting his clarity and muddling his metaphors, and c) all the above.

Because so far he's claimed in the face of a worsening pandemic, a contaminated White House and in a mere eight months a death toll almost 80 times the 9/11 tally that the country is:

turning the corner, or rounding the final turn, or rounding the corner, or rounding the turn and rounding the corner, and even rounding the curve, the corner and the bend (all on Sept. 4) at the same time.

An alternative explanation: Trump's iPad is playing this on a loop:

"She'll be coming around a mountain when she comes."

Yipes. I'm downright disoriented, because these dizzy directions have un-squared circle and Devil's Triangle written all over them.

Consider that some of his words are inadvertently accurate because they take us right back where we started from, and others are on point because if you round a corner, and drift like the country has been doing under his 'leadership,' you'll get hit head-on. 

I think this is why Biden says Trump has gone around the bend.

Japan has 20+ times WI's pop., about 10% fewer COVID deaths

The State of Wisconsin has 5.8 million people, while the nation of Japan has more than 22 times as many with 126 million.

Japan's COVID-19 death count is 1,730, having just added seven more, while Wisconsin just added 71 more deaths and hit 1,896.

But there's good news: someone who had reported for duty in Wisconsin some months ago has had a Eureka! moment about

this whole COVID thing.

WI anti-science man notices that pandemic thing

The same Robin Vos who made turned himself into a 'perfectly safe' national laughingstock by claiming in world-ending garb

that COVID-19 didn't really threaten anyone, and who fought Evers in court and media while the pandemic rampaged through Wisconsin has shape-shifted into an incumbent under siege a few days before election day that something's not working here

'What we’re doing now as a state isn’t working': After state hits 5K new cases, Robin Vos calls for new coronavirus action

Correct you are, sir. But it's more of who's not working, which would be you, as the recess you called for nearly seven months to satisfy partisan special interests, re-election obligations and your party's ideological pathology only aided and abetted your obstruction of the Governor's COVID-19 prevention orders and COVID-19's out-of-control here.

Vos must think everyone is as uninformed and flat-out stupid as he is, but that's what happens when an intensly-self-serving gerrymander hatched in secret keeps the power-hungry and anti-science party in control.

And which also helps an appreciative, opportunistic pandemic flood hospitals with patients and gift funeral homes with a growing customer base.

Two good reads about wolves, and related big things

Everyday people along with those who have made it their lives' work see a relationship between COVID-19 and the need for greater respect for wildlife with which we share the planet:

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread around the world at lightning speed, killing hundreds of thousands of people and infecting millions. A growing body of research, including research by Conservation International scientists, points to a direct link between the destruction of nature and disease outbreaks — spotlighting the role of protecting and restoring nature in preventing future pandemics.

I that vein, I'm passing along two fresh, wide-ranging reads with the same enthusiasm that accompanied there recommendations:

I am the wolf and so are you

Wolf biologist predicts support for wolves will continue to grow

Wisconsin is killing its wolves
Wolves have recovered in Wisconsin. Will the Trump administration green- light their renewed killing here? 

I noted last year that Trump was moving against wolf protections - 

Remember, wolf 'delistment' or 'harvesting' 
Wisconsin is killing its wolves
means wolf killing, principally with head shots delivered to wolves already-snared in leg traps.

So note that the deadline had been May 15, but the Wisconsin DNR has posted a new federal comment closing date of July 15, because the feds have extended the deadline.

- as he has stomped broadly on endangered species, climate science, and the environment - here's a list of his 99 environmental rollbacks so far - so don't be surprised if he approves nation-wide wolf killing in the closing days of his term and further buries the long-ago trashed GOP 'principle' of local control by obstructing any science-based, state-by-state approach.

And because I've followed these issues for years, I thought I'd also repost one related, myth-busting item that continues to be downloaded here since 2013: 

Q. Do Wolves Take As Many Deer As Some WI Hunters Believe?

[Updated] A. No.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

WI GOP COVID-19 enablers have best day yet

Biggest daily tallies of hospitalizations, illness and deaths yet. A partisan, preventable calamity. Take a bow, Fitzgerald, Vos et al, 

you've got the record.

The state Department of Health Services reported 5,262 new cases and 64 deaths Tuesday, both records far above any previous daily counts. The death toll now stands at 1,852.

There were 1,385 people hospitalized due to the virus in Wisconsin, including 339 in intensive care units. Both were all-time highs.

Chutzpah is taking public pay for a job evaded while seeking a bigger one

As I recently noted, the re-election TV spot which safely-gerrymandered GOP State Sen. Alberta Darling is running about 'fighting for you' in Madison while coasting towards 200 days of fully-paid vacation is what Mark Twain might have had in mind when he came up with phrase "damnable lies." 

But hand that trophy for Shameless Self-Parody over to Wisconsin State Senate GOP boss Scott Fitzgerald -

Wisc Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.jpg

- who, despite also being off the job during the same killer pandemic Darling is ignoring, is pitching himself in a radio spot as worthy of a bigger job in Congress because he 'knows how to get the job done."

You could only do this in a tightly-gerrymandered state like Wisconsin, where GOP legislators met behind closed doors in off-site offices to help draft maps which allowed them to pick their own voters - after first signing pledges not to discuss what they were doing

They did this with taxpayers' money and used more of it to pay private attorneys to [unsuccessfully] keep it all secret.

Republican lawmakers had fought to keep the documents confidential, but they relented after a three-judge panel found their arguments frivolous.

Speaking of knowing things, we know, but apparently Fitzgerald does not know or care, that knowing and doing are two different things, and in a pandemic that has produced than 212,000 victims, 1,825 deaths and a wrecked economy in Wisconsin, that the difference makes more than a half-year of destructive dereliction of duty while on the public payroll even more disgraceful.

Though Fitzgerald and Darling have set a high bar for ironic idiocy - and don't count out soon-to-be senior GOP Congressional representative Glenn Grothman - there's still time for GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to walk off with first place before Nov. 3rd if he can get that 'Vote for me because I dress for success' TV commercial on the air.

Trump to WI doctors: Drop dead.

With Trump set to gather his supporters at an election event in Wisconsin again Tuesday, a coalition of doctors has asked him in the name of public health to stop holding rallies:

Doctors in Wisconsin are calling on President Donald Trump not to hold rallies with large crowds because of coronavirus concerns ahead of a scheduled rally on Tuesday in West Salem, Wisconsin.

The Trump campaign replied with the signature sensitivity that has characterized its concerns for 8.7 million American pandemic victims and 226,000 of them who have already dropped dead:  

“If people can protest in the streets, if people can gamble in casinos, if people san [sic] riot and burn down buildings then certainly people can gather peacefully under the first amendment to hear from the President of the United States,” said Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump's 2020 campaign.

For the record, La Crosse County has reported more than 4,200 cases of COVID-19 

and 290 new cases in the last seven days - while in those seven days the county's death toll jumped by a third from 15 to 20, according to the latest data compiled by The New York Times.

Additionally, USA Today has reported that COVID-19 cases jumped in at least counties which hosted Trump rallies, and Marathon County, Wisconsin is on the list:

The president has participated in nearly three dozen rallies since mid-August, all but two at airport hangars. A USA TODAY analysis shows COVID-19 cases grew at a faster rate than before after at least five of those rallies in the following counties: Blue Earth, Minnesota; Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Wisconsin; Dauphin, Pennsylvania; and Beltrami, Minnesota.

But, again, the Trump campaign knows better about these matters than do doctors, excluding, of course, those at Walker Reed Medical Center who 'cured' Trump of COVID-19 with a regimen of medications not available to the average COVID-19 sufferer 

Monday, October 26, 2020

MJS says Johnson hasn't ruled out '22 Senate bid. In '16, he did.

Time for some fact-checking as the 2020 election season closes out and 2022 is already in the news. 

SuperTrumpista and current WI GOP Senior Senator Ron Johnson 

told a local Baraboo, WI paper in 2016 that he would not run for a third term, the Capital Times reprinted it, and so did the nationally-available publication The Hill with attribution:  

The Wisconsin Republican told the Baraboo News Republic that the 2016 battle would be his final Senate election fight and that he would not run for a potential third term.  

The announcement — confirmed by Johnson's campaign — potentially sets up an open seat in 2022 in Wisconsin, if Johnson can win his current rematch election against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) next month.

So why did The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel add this line to today's story about Democrat Tom Nelson filing for the seat -  

Johnson, of Oshkosh, has not said whether he will seek a third term.- 

- when Johnson sat in the Baraboo paper's office and pledged not to run again

Sen. Ron Johnson says he won't seek 3rd term if reelected in November

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson speaks Thursday during an interview at the Baraboo News Republic office. 

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Thursday if he wins re-election over challenger Russ Feingold in November, he would step down at the end of his second term.... 
Johnson said he is driven by a desire to use his knowledge as an accountant and manufacturing business owner to fix issues facing the state and nation, not to seek reelection. He made the comments during an interview at the Baraboo News Republic office before traveling to Reedsburg to speak with supporters.

Update - this information was added to the story:

Johnson was first elected in 2010. Initially, he said he would serve only two terms but last year he said he hadn’t decided whether to run for re-election, run for governor or get out of politics entirely.





Feds 'hit' WI plant with wrist slap for huge COVID outbreak

The federal government has routinely distorted, disregarded and even abandoned  - 'We're not going to control the pandemic' - traditional public service missions to better line up with and serve Trump and GOP family values [sic].

So it is not surprising that the US Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration, (OSHA) sanctioned a Brown County meatpacking plant owned by the Brazilian-based/world's largest meatpacker with a penalty of $13,494 for unsafe working conditions that led to 348 documented cases of COVID-19 - which computes to a puny wrist slap of $38.77 per victim: 

OSHA fines JBS Packerland for failing to implement safety precautions during COVID-19 outbreak that sickened more than 300 
The outbreak at JBS was among the worst at a single facility in Wisconsin. Workers argued the company responded too slowly to the pandemic while encouraging them to work with offers of free T-shirts, ground beef and toilet paper.

Imagine finding out that the US government places the value of a COVID-19 hit to your physical well-being and psyche at under $40 bucks. 

That's less than the cost of two $20 KFC Fill-up meals or twenty gallons of gas.

Another way to measure the barely detectable impact of the penalty:  $13,494 for 348 documented cases of COVID-19 is slightly less than the cost of treating one COVID-19 patient in Wisconsin, experts report

COVID-19 treatment costs about $14,500 per person, new study says


Large numbers of workers in some Wisconsin meat-packing plants are foreign-born.

Perhaps the penalty assessed by OSHA would have been bigger if more of the stricken individuals were people whom Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack had termed "regular folks" when she was deciding whether Gov. Evers emergency 'Safer-at-Home' order to slow the pandemic was to be extended. (She wrote the 4-3 decision that killed the order.)

WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos separately blamed cultural and lifestyle choices made by immigrant meatpacking workers - not a word about corporate practices - for the spread of the coronavirus in his district. 

“I know the reason at least in my region is because of a large immigrant population where it’s just a difference in culture where people are living much closer and working much closer,” the Rochester Republican said of an outbreak in Racine County. 

The Rochester Republican's comments prompted Latino groups to call for Vos' resignation.



Sunday, October 25, 2020

If Foxconn shelves mfg., WI should shelve air, water permits it gifted

Since Foxconn hasn't made any of the whiz-bang products it touted - 

Exclusive: Wisconsin report confirms Foxconn’s so-called LCD factory isn’t real

The building ‘may be better suited for demonstration purposes rather than as a viable commercial glass fabrication facility’

- and Walker's DNR had fast-tracked the air pollution and Great Lakes diversion permissions the company said were essential to the manufacturing which now looks even less likely - isn't it time for Wisconsin to remove Foxconn's special wetlands-fill abilities, restore integrity to the DNR's environmental oversight obligations and suspend those permits, especially the approval of a Great Lakes diversion which was always a dubious ask under the Great Lakes Compact?

DNR approval of Lake Michigan water diversion for Foxconn challenged

A history of the diversion approval is here, courtesy of Midwest Environmental Advocates: 

The State of Wisconsin has exempted the Foxconn project from several state environmental regulations, including the law requiring the State to prepare an assessment of the overall impact of the project on the human environment (referred to as an Environmental Impact Statement). However, Foxconn will still need to obtain a number of permits and approvals from the DNR before it can begin operating:

Approval to Divert Great Lakes Water:

The DNR approved the City of Racine’s application to divert up to 7 million gallons per day of Great Lakes water to Foxconn’s manufacturing plant and the surrounding area. The DNR decided that the proposal meets the strict standards for granting an exception to the Great Lakes Compact’s ban on diversions.

To simply the issues: does a so-called 'demonstration' facility need the special legal, air, land, water, and regulatory exemptions which a factory that was politically-created-and-touted by Trump and his partisans as The Eight Wonder of the World theoretically could require?

Here is one archival blog post with 15 items which examines the permits, their histories, and some implications, including this April, 2018 posting

WI DNR adds quick Foxconn water diversion OK to quick air pollution approvals

Though nothing of substance can't be done to unwind the whopping, high-powered electrical grid upgrades added to the site which the PSC spread widely across everyday electrical customers, or put back together lost prime ag lands

Cabbage fields on the Foxconn site, 2017

and bulldozed homes, or to the state transportation budget that expended hundreds of millions of dollars sprawl-inducing widened interchanges, new lanes and ancillary roads in serving a shrinking "campus" that was supposed to alter a low-density environment.

Here is a link to an archive on this blog that was begun in June, 2017 and is approaching 400 posts:

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Vos wins a water steward award. And now for the rest of the story.

Wisconsin's GOP-run Legislature will soon end its seventh-month of intentional inactivity while the rampaging pandemic is killing a Wisconsinite every thirty-minutes and sickening 175 people here every hour.

So it's good to know that that GOP Assembly Speaker and high-profile FTV (Friend of The Virus) Robin Vos has an opponent - Joel Jacobsen - who is so well-funded that career-politician Vos by his own admission has been forced into a first-ever paid-ad campaign to hold on to his sweet taxpayer-paid gig:

Vos (R-Rochester) is the target of an onslaught of more than $300,000 in digital and TV ads and mailers by Democrats and their allies, who are suggesting that the longtime legislative leader is vulnerable. 

In response, Vos has purchased some $70,000 worth of cable TV ads to defend his record and attack his opponent, something that he said he has never done in his 15-year political career.

But, not to worry- we learn via his official taxpayer-supported Twitter feed that Vos had some good news lately, too:

He's an award winner!

And was able to tweet on October 15th as election season rolls to a close that a prize patrol had come through: 

Thank you for the recognition. I'm proud of the work done by the Speaker's Task Force on Water Quality to to protect, preserve and promote clean water in #Wisconsin. #WisconsinWater

Quote Tweet
Wisconsin Water Alliance
Congratulations to @SpeakerVos for being named an Outstanding Water Legislator of the Year by the Wisconsin Water Alliance. Thank you for leading efforts to address the pressing water issues facing the state! #Wisconsin #WisconsinWater

Now, you ask, along with only 'named an Outstanding Water Legislator' and not The Water Legislator of the is it possible that Vos could win this award and also have served as a key Walker water-carrying ally when state waterway pollution skyrocketed, phosphorous discharge rules were weakened, toxic mining laws were rolled back, big feedlot inspections were reduced, rivers like the Little Plover were damaged and rural kitchen taps kept running brown?

River Alliance of Wisconsin photo

In fact, the mutual and vigorous mutual backscratching between Vos and the state's biggest ag and dairy special interests at the public's expense has there for all to see:

As Wisconsin's GOP legislature goes to war with the Evers administration over long-overdue ag manure-control rules, let's have a records check.

Manure runs onto Kewaunee County. Could easily be in the Central Sands counties, or to the west.

As an addendum to posts on this blog about GOP objections to WI livestock siting rules which have stalled and appear to have cost Gov. Evers his Ag department secretary nominee, I want to add some relevant correspondence, below. 
It's a letter signed by WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and WI GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
It makes clear they are attacking the proposed rules, and Ag Secretary-nominee Brad Pfaff, and, by implication, Gov. Evers on behalf of industrial scale feeding operations known as CAFOs - a special interest with a history of air and water pollution - consequences which, coincidentally, will be aired at hearings next week.
Remember that major ag special interests, regardless of what runs to the land and into the water, have enjoyed special relationships with Walker, the DNR, and legislators (see the hand-delivered marching orders they received, here), and it appears that Evers is being steamrolled, regardless of the 2018 election.

And then you remember that the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign in 2017 showed us that the innocently-named Wisconsin Water Alliance represents big groundwater users with a board stacked with Walkerites, righty activists and business bigwigs.

A new group that says it supports policies to protect the state’s waters appears to be a front group with ties to powerful business, agriculture and manufacturing interests.

And the Alliance's President is Mike Huebsch, who was GOP Assembly Speaker before Vos.

So this 'award' is really just the output of one of Wisconsin's overlapping conservative networks enabling Vos to pose as a friend of the environment in his campaign's closing days.

Which some would call fake news.

Thank you for the recognition. I'm proud of the work done by the Speaker's Task Force on Water Quality to to protect, preserve and promote clean water in #Wisconsin. #WisconsinWater
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Wisconsin Water Alliance
Congratulations to @SpeakerVos for being named an Outstanding Water Legislator of the Year by the Wisconsin Water Alliance. Thank you for leading efforts to address the pressing water issues facing the state! #Wisconsin #WisconsinWater