Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Vos's latest COVID controversy reprises gratuitous 2019 grandstanding

Though the Wisconsin state legislature knows how to hold on-line/virtual meetings that can reduce potential transmission of the COVID19 virus - and here are more than 500,000 more reasons to do just that - GOP Assembly Speaker 

WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in protective equipment while claiming in April that it was "incredibly safe" to go out into the pandemic and cast an in-person April election ballot.

and COVID19 coddler Robin Vos has ruled that all Assembly activities will be in-person, and heck, forget your mask, too.

In-person Assembly attendance mandatory, but masks optional

For Vos, this business of mandating in-person Assembly attendance in the face of health risks is nothing new.

Back in pre-COVID 2019, Vos felt his authority to mandate all representatives' in-person attendance in  official settings was being disrespectfully challenged by Middleton State Rep. Jimmy Anderson, (D). 

Anderson, you may remember, was left permanently paralyzed after a drunk driver crashed into his family's car years before his election to the Assembly.

And mandatory in-person participation meant Anderson required being driven for meetings to the Capitol and sitting for long periods in a wheelchair. 

So Anderson subsequently sought some relief from the daily disruption and pain through electronic attendance - like through a speaker phone - but Vos would not agree to the exception.

The nerve!

Worse, Vos thought it was all a plot to make him look bad at the very moment Vos deserved recognition:

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, in an interview on WISN-AM, accused Rep. Jimmy Anderson of trying to make Vos look bad just before he became president of the National Conference of State Legislatures last week, 10 days after the Anderson story first broke.

Because who hasn't heard of that organization and doesn't know just how big a deal its presidency is?

Vos finally relented after months of grandstanding - yes, he actually aimed that word at Anderson though it was easily argued that Vos was the grandstander.

All of which created some unflattering national publicity about Vos's purported 'priorities,' like this story which ran in a Florida paper:

"I think it's disrespectful for someone to be asking questions over a microphone or a speakerphone when individuals are actually taking the time out of their day to come and testify in person," Vos told the Journal Sentinel. 
Anderson said it's "absolutely ridiculous" to say accommodating someone with a disability would somehow be disrespectful to people.

And there was a threat of litigation -

Assembly GOP allow Democrat in wheelchair to call into meetings after disability group threatens lawsuit

- under the Americans with Disabilities Act before Vos relented. 

But Vos wrapped his grudging accommodation - which Anderson blasted  - into self-directed-self-serving-rule-making unrelated to Anderson's situation that provided Wisconsin's Republican legislative majorities with fresh infusions of partisan power.

The full story of Vos's power trip in the face of Anderson's completely-reasonable request is here, and,  here also is a fine summary piece about the Walker, Vos and Fitzgerald lame-duck power-grab at the expense of the incoming Democratic administration in late 2018.

In case anyone has forgotten about that.

Oh, there is actually video of what inspires Vos's behavior.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Vos: 'incredibly safe' to go outside, followed by 500,000 more COVID cases

Wisconsin had tallied 2,578 positive cases of COVID19 according to state data when WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said on April 7th -  

- that it was "incredibly safe" to go outside.

Want to know how incredibly bad a forecast that was?

The New York Times is currently reporting below that Wisconsin has totaled more than a half-million positive COVID19 cases, and more than 99% have been reported since Vos made his incredibly dumb declaration. 


Cumulative, confirmed cases reported by state officials put the COVID19 tally somewhat below the New York Times total. See an end note for an explanation.

Regardless, Wisconsin became a so-called hotspot for the disease this fall and both the Times and state COVIF19 totals represent enormous suffering. 

No wonder Vos won't really engage with Gov. Evers at this very late date on an action plan to fight the virus. 

It's probably too embarrassing since we're approaching  one-in-ten Wisconsinites among our 5.8 million people having been infected by COVIF19, and experts have said the spread of the disease extends well beyond reported cases

The undercount is a result of inconsistent protocols, limited resources and a patchwork of decision making from one state or county to the next.


*Note: COVID case tracking data and reporting varies by organization. Variances are due to differences in methodology, time of day and other factors.

COVID tallies reported by the Times are based on data supplied by Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project, among other sources,.and are usually higher than those reported by the state. 

The state health department case tally on December 27th was 470,818- the Times' number is 508,580.

The state's data collection relies on in-state reports and posts confirmed case numbers, as it explains, here.

The US Centers for Disease Control website dashboard map currently lists Wisconsin's COVID case count at 506,022.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Trump plays Santa to WI Republicans

[12/27/20/update: Trump stopped effing with people and signed the bills. What a louse.] 

Trump is holding hostage all government operations including the Defense Department - and notably the pandemic aid bill - thus holding hostage also the well-being of countless Wisconsinites and more millions of Americans, too.

Inflicting pain on out of work, out of food and out of luck Americans is exactly what the entire WI Republican Congressional caucus wanted

All of Wisconsin's Congressional Republicans voted against second COVID-19 relief package

One callous and ultra-wealthy notable -  

- was so enthusiastic about sticking it to his home-state constituents that he did it twice

Ron Johnson twice blocked stimulus checks

And so Americans are getting their final, unwanted and especially-toxic lesson in Trump's nasty four-year tutorial.

Which continues to feature twisted self-centeredness that enriches his family, pardons loyal felons, and entrenches dictator friends.

And, as he closes out his uniquely ugly Presidency, amplifies the American Carnage-dystopia he previewed in his inaugural address that he's now aiming at his real enemy - the people.

Especially citizens whose votes he wanted canceled out of wounded ego and pique. And as protection against the legions of prosecutors and process-servers who will be lining up at the gates of Mar-a-Lago to deliver their own New Year's greetings.

But let's not forget that using state power to divide and sabotage the people and destroying clean air, fresh water and public lands as policy and more broadly wreaking havoc on democratic values were core Wisconsin Republican strategies Walker employed for eight years here and displayed nationally in September, 2015.

What flattery for Walker that he might have been Trump's mentor:

Scott Walker vows to ‘wreak havoc’ on Washington. As if that would be a good thing.

“To wreak havoc on Washington, America needs a leader with real solutions,” Walker will say. “Political rhetoric is not enough — we need a plan of action. Actions speak louder than words. I have a plan to move this country forward. To wreak havoc on Washington, America also needs a leader who has been tested. I have been tested like no one else in this race. We passed those tests and now, I am ready to lead this exceptional country.” 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Vos could turn the Assembly into SuperSpreaderCentral

WI GOP Assembly Speaker and stylin' hypocrite Robin Vos - 

WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in protective equipment while claiming it was "incredibly safe" to go out into the pandemic and cast an in-person April election ballot.

- is now going to force his colleagues to attend in-person sessions - 

Speaker Vos Demands In-Person Assembly Sessions, Despite Putting Members’ Health at Risk

- after a nine month vacation he also enforced even though the COVID19 pandemic kept getting worse and just recorded its most deadly day yet in Wisconsin.

So along with ignoring the best medical advice available about avoiding indoor meetings - consider that the State Supreme Court which gave Vos what he wanted in May when it killed Gov. Evers' 'Safer-at-Home' extension continues to meet online - Vos expects the Assembly to keep a lid on the virus in the Capitol.

Even though GOP Assembly staffers and members already tried but failed to keep a lid of a different kind on a COVID outbreak of their own making.

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

Also being ignored by Vos: Sage advice from a Republican who framed his dying party's major problem:

BOBBY JINDAL: The GOP 'Must Stop Being The Stupid Party'

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

You pay them $3,300/weekly, they balked at your 1-time $600 check

The same Wisconsin GOP congressional members who regularly protected Trump when he pandered to Putin and fueled the pandemic just further stained their forever-reputations.

Most self-respecting officials at least try to avoid being on the wrong side of double standards.

Particularly if the people being dissed or clipped happen to be constituents who may be out of work or coughing up blood in the ICU.

But Wisconsin's political environment has been damaged since Walker and the Tea Party took control in 2011 and handed E-Z passes to Congressional seats gerrymandered by their Wisconsin State Legislative colleagues who also had comfort levels unaffected by normal human deterrents like conscience or shame.

Taxpayers pay members of Congress $174,000 annually - which is just just over $3,300 weekly though sessions can run Tuesdays-through-Thursdays - and also fund office expenses and perks - including travel - which average between $1.3 million-to-$3.47 million annually - but all of Wisconsin's GOP Congressional delegation including this self-dealer


voted against the COVID and stimulus funding package approved Monday night which will send one-time $600 checks to many taxpayers.

Though greater US unemployment, poverty and hunger have accompanied the pandemic and were worsened by Executive branch failings and Trump's ego-driven blundering, other countries have been providing greater assistance, NBC has reported.

For the record, Wisconsin's GOP Congressional delegation also voted "no" in lockstep on the previous COVID aid bill in March.

No extra credit is awarded for consistency.

One more thing: If you think you're done paying for Johnson's 'service,' think again: he will be able to draw a generous pension in the range of $60,000 per year, which is the current rough average being paid out now annually to more than 600 retired members of Congress, according to this 2018 official report.

Monday, December 21, 2020

From mascots to redistricting, Walkerism is the regressive force

The good news is that high-profile professional sports' teams are finally abandoning their racist appropriation of Native American images for nicknames and logos to help sell hats.

Native American sports mascots turned real people into flimsy props. Good riddance to them all.

The bad news is these offensive practices will linger in Wisconsin because rightwing politicians who cling to a discredited past intentionally threw fresh barriers in the way of progress seven years ago just this past weekend.

And it is no surprise that along with other missed opportunities  - from cleaner rail transit to greener, renewable energy to medical services for women and low-income citizens - it was the regressive and repressive hand of Scott Walker that directed state power to put people down and keep the state stalled and sidelined.

“Sadly, racially based mascots remain an unhealed wound for countless Native Americans who endure being portrayed as something less than human,” said Joseph Wildcat Sr., president of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. “Any and all Native mascots, regardless of intent, portray us as sub-human.”

The Wisconsin Indian Education Association mascot and logo task force reports that 65 Wisconsin high schools had once used a race-based "Indian” sports team identity, but that number has been reduced to 28 school districts over the years.

And don't forget that Walker 

privately signed the bill which hardened the misuse by taxpayer-paid public institutions of Native American names and images.

Note also for the record that Walker won preposterous word-salad praise for signing the bill from its author Steven Nass for moral leadership [sic] - 

“Gov. Walker showed great leadership by indicating his personal preferences on this matter would not supersede the input from all interested parties,” Nass said. “Even though he will sign AB 297 into law, he is providing moral direction to all sides to achieve greater understanding and more dialogue in a less confrontational manner.”

And that Walker further preposterously cloaked his no-cameras-move in equally bizarro-world language that conferred free speech rights on school boards tells you all need to know - 

Walker, a Republican, signed the measure privately Thursday afternoon. He released a statement saying he's worried current law infringes on free speech. A person's right to speak doesn't end just because what they say is offensive, he said. The best approach is to educate people about how some phrases and symbols are offensive when used as nicknames and mascots, he added. - 

about the nasty 1950's miasma that keeps Republicans privileged and empowered through donor-enhanced gerrymandering which the GOP is already litigating to enforce for at least another decade

The move [June 3rd] Wednesday was brought by former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen with the help of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. It seeks to put in place new rules to try to ensure the state Supreme Court — instead of a federal court — decides any redistricting litigation. 

Both sides believe that would favor Republicans because conservatives control the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

A guide to WI's right-wing COVID-coddling

Soon this singularly awful year will be over and optimism about COVID19 vaccines - along with flat-out, coast-to-coast exhaustion - could dull the memory of what we've gone through.

So I want to gather examples of what some Wisconsin right-wing politicians and officials actually did and said while everyday citizens with less power and fewer resources were - and continue to be - overwhelmed, sickened, impoverished and killed by COVID19.

This updates a similar item posted November 9th.

Note that the COVID19 data cited below is taken from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services' COVID19 dashboard website.(Also note that COVID19 for Wisconsin published daily by The New York Times is gathered differently and consistently shows higher numbers.)


* Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos - on the eve of what would be the Legislature's fully-paid eight-month-plus vacation - said on April 7th "you are incredibly safe to go out," and headed outside swathed in personal protective equipment

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, wore a mask, gloves and other protective gear as he sought to assure voters it was "incredibly safe" to vote in person for Tuesday's election amid the coronavirus pandemic.... 
Vos' message was strikingly disconnected from his PPE-heavy outfit, in which the speaker looked more like a surgeon than one of the state's most powerful politicians. Vos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

By that day, April 7th, there had been 2,578 confirmed cases of COVID19 in Wisconsin and 92 deaths. On Friday, December 18, the confirmed cumulative case number in Wisconsin had soared to 451,676 and the confirmed death toll to 4,345.

* On May 5th, The Wisconsin Supreme Court - meeting virtually and respecting COVID19 distancing guidelines -  heard arguments in a case brought by GOP Legislative leaders to overturn Democratic Gov. Tony Evers 'Safer-at-Home' order extension. The Justices overturned the Evers order several days later by a 4-3 vote.

During the May 5th argument, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack (the Court is officially non-partisan, but has a 4-3 majority which usually supports conservative and GOP positions) opined that a highly-publicized outbreak of COVID19 in Brown County (the Green Bay-area) meatpacking plants which employed large numbers of migrant workers in close quarters had not hit "regular folks."

The food and commercial workers union called it "shocking and deeply offensive that Roggensack would suggest that workers in meatpacking plants aren't 'regular folks' who deserve protection."

On May 5th, state data showed a total of 1,966 confirmed COVID19 cases and 13 confirmed deaths in Brown County. Using the latest, December 18 data, those Brown County numbers had soared to 25,042 confirmed cases and 155 confirmed deaths, with both categories having jumped by more than by a factor of 10.

* Speaking of factors of 10 and other COVID multipliers,  Racine GOP State Senator Van Wanggaard, an opponent of state masking orders, explained on October 8th to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel why he wouldn't budge off that position.

He said he wouldn't back a mask requirement even if COVID-19 becomes 10 times worse than it is now. Wisconsin now has an average of 2,300 new cases per day — an increase of 180% over a month ago, according to the state Department of Health Services....“Nobody should be dictating to me when I have to wear a mask.”

On October 8th, state data showed Racine County had a total of 3,611 confirmed COVID19 cases and 78 confirmed deaths. On December 18, those numbers had soared to 16,452 confirmed cases and 236 confirmed deaths. 

So not a ten-fold increase, thank goodness, but substantial increases nonetheless.

* On August 3rd, GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald urged the Senate to overturn a statewide mask-wearing order issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. 

I just said I think it’s a mistake,” Fitzgerald said of the mask order. “I think things are going well right now. People are complying if they want to.” 

On August 3rd, the confirmed COVID19 case number in Wisconsin was 55,328 and the death toll was 949. By December 18, the confirmed case number had soared to 451,676 and the death toll to 4,345.

The State Senate never took up the measure, has remained on hiatus since mid-April and Fitzgerald has since been elected to Congressional seat safely gerrymandered for Republicans by the GOP-led Legislature. 

Which brings us to Wisconsin's senior GOP US Senator and all-in Trump enabler Ron Johnson. 

* In the very early days of the pandemic on March 18 - note that Wisconsin did not report deaths until March 20th, state data show - Johnson was sugarcoating COVID19 risks and framing the issues in business-like/balance-sheet statistics, as The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

"...97 to 99 percent will get through this and develop immunities and will be able to move beyond this. But we don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu,” Johnson said.

Johnson acknowledged that coronavirus has a far higher fatality rate than the seasonal flu, but said, “getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population (and) I think probably far less,” he said...

By the way, 3.4 percent of the US population is more than 11 million people. 

* Months later on Monday, October 13 and having personally recovered from the virus, Johnson said he still opposed masking orders and repeated his position that COVID19 "is not a death sentence." 

The Associated Press provided some context

As of Monday, more than 152,000 people in Wisconsin had tested positive for the virus, with 1,474 deaths, according to the state Department of Health Services...Wisconsin has seen a surge in cases in recent months, and has been one of the top five states in the country for new cases per capita.

The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Wisconsin also hit a record high on Monday at 950, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.... 

Johnson reiterated his opposition to Wisconsin’s mask mandate, issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. A judge on Monday upheld the order, rejecting attempts by the Republican-controlled Legislature and a conservative law firm to overturn it.  

* And if you think Johnson's affinity for statistics right now is, empathy-free and cold-blooded, rest assured that he volunteered an answer for that just yesterday on October 18. 

That's when media nationwide, including Newsweek, reported Johnson had twice last week killed $1,200 federal government support checks aimed at alleviating some of the damage that COVID19 has done to people, families, business owners and the country, writ large: 

'I'm Not Heartless': GOP Senator Defends Blocking Stimulus Checks Twice in One Day



Friday, December 18, 2020

Foxconn moves to the 'flexibility' zone from 'Wisconn Valley'

I call attention to the five-alarm word "flexibility" in this tell-all headline the Journal Sentinel placed on the news that Foxconn is 'willing' to forego some of the record-breaking subsidies Scott Walker and a compliant Legislature 


larded on the company - full archive, here - that's been busy bulldozing prime ag lands, local budgets and people's homes without creating a faint shadow of what was repeatedly underwritten and promised:

Foxconn willing to agree to fewer tax credits 'in exchange for flexibility'; new agreement 'within reach'

In a statement, Foxconn said the company “is optimistic that an amendment to the WEDC Agreement is within reach. In response to market conditions that were unforeseeable three years ago, Foxconn formally came to the table with WEDC in August 2020 with a desire to lower taxpayer liability in exchange for flexibility that continues to incentivize future business development and job creation in Wisconsin.”  

Because when you hear 'flexibility' - or its dreaded twin buzzword "certainty" from people whose doors are open to special interests and deal-making with your money - hold on for dear life, because "flexibility" is just a five-syllable camouflage for rewrite that changes history and buries accountability.

As plenty of people have discovered in the flexibility-free and flattened 'Wisconn Valley,' as Walker had called it before irony died there, too, reported The Verge in a signature piece

Residents were pushed from their homes under threat of eminent domain and dozens of houses bulldozed to clear property Foxconn doesn’t know what to do with....Foxconn would spend the next two years jumping from idea to idea — fish farms, exporting ice cream, storing boats — in an increasingly surreal search for some way to generate money from a doomed project....It has been a baffling ordeal for the people who thought they were building the Silicon Valley of the Midwest — “Wisconn Valley,” Walker called it...."

And before I forget, let's remember that the initial Foxconn announcement in 2017 that was followed by several more statewide through 2018 was choreographed with Walker's campaign in mind - 

*  In May, Walker toured the state announcing Foxconn contracts with Foxconn officials in tow.

*  Then Walker was at the Foxconn groundbreaking last month, a few hours after a huge-ticket GOP fundraiser in Milwaukee with Trump.

*  The next day, Walker and Foxconn bigwigs were in Green Bay announcing a Foxconn project there.

*  Now we learn that Walker will make an announcement in Eau Claire - - in a vote-rich, swing area where Walker has spent time very recently - - about another Foxconn project.

-  so I'd say he and the company had enjoyed a certain special flexibility that at least initially served both well. 

But taxpayers' and Mt. Pleasant residents interests? Not so much.

Now let me give you some earlier examples of this particular 'f' word:

* Take Walker's intention in 2012 through his corporately-obeisant DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to enforce "flexibility" on people living in the watershed  he wanted to flatten and dig up for a destructive iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin that local opposition and an inflexibile water table ultimately blocked:

Open pit mine neighbors: Your 'flexibility' is demanded

This is the key to DNR Secretary and Scott Walker cheerleader Cathy Stepp's pro-mine and partisan argument:

It [the bill] does, however, recognize that the ore body is located where it is. As a result, some flexibility is needed to change the landscape to get at the ore deposit.

*  Speaking of the DNR, I also remember when Milwaukee-area building executive Matt Moroney opposed the adoption of the Great Lakes water management Compact because it didn't offer business enough flexibility. 

Scott Walker eventually named Moroney to the position of Deputy DNR Secretary, then to the Governor's staff and later to the Department of Administration as the state's point person on the Foxconn project.

Moroney's efforts to water down the Compact and to remake what is basically a water management and conservation agreement into more of an economic development document were not successful - - State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin), led a failed state's rights campaign against the Compact:  
Wrote Moroney: 

" The homebuilding industry does not believe the case has been made that it is necessary to manage the quantity of water being utilized from the Great Lakes to the extent that the compact does at this time. The compact is far too limiting in its standards and approval process for water use by straddling counties. Mr. Dahl, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, indicated in his presentation that the Army Corps does not even factor into its forecasting of lake levels the municipal use and other “minor” diversions. Such impacts are so trivial to other factors like evaporation and temperature. As a result, it is our belief that a little more flexibility for water diversions in states that border the Great Lakes is desirable for continued economic growth."

* And in 2018, when some tax credits echoing what Foxconn received were being debated and eventually directed Kimberly-Clark's way by Walker, I'd noted how company had used a similar gob of subsidies, and I included that in a list of other GOP 'flexibilities' and their ideological  outcomes in Wisconsin:

Give Walker extra credit for boosting the Trump tax cut which Kimberly-Clark said it was using to finance its plant closings

Chief Financial Officer Maria Henry said on a conference call that savings from the recent federal tax cut would help fund the cost reductions. It "provides us the flexibility" to do so, she said.

Which brings us back to that favorite Walker concept and cudgel - - "flexibility" - - seen when justifying the undermining of UW tenure to upending local controls and public employees' personal budgets under Act 10
And when opposing federal health care changes, a demand for gubernatorial "ultimate flexibility."

"I just still think there's some more work to be done," Walker told reporters. "Our ultimate goal as governors, certainly my goal, is to have ultimate flexibility." 

Or when he's after the right to drug-test the poor in exchange for food stamps as a "flexibility" necessity.

President Donald Trump’s administration “has indicated, throughout the administration, interest in working with states to provide flexibility,” Wisconsin Department of Health Services spokeswoman Julie Lund said. 

* Here's one more that shows how 'flexibility' is an all-purpose GOP sop to special interests, not the public's interests, writ large: 

A few years ago, former GOP state legislator and now Congressman (willing to throw out more than 200,000 of your ballots) Tom Tiffany endorsed yet 'flexibility' to help feed special-interest road-building

The GOP State Senator from Hazelhurst - - friend to iron mines and frac sand mines and foe of town and local resource and planning controls who has admitted that he recommended successfully the slashing of more than a dozen DNR science positions in the just-approved state budget -- has a July 31 e-update that highlights his winners and losers: 

"More flexibility has been established for road projects with the repeal of the "Complete Streets" statute. Communities will no longer be forced to build pedestrian paths if they believe them to be too costly of unnecessary."

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Lakeside golf plan - including state land - advanced in Sheboygan

The City of Sheboygan, having annexed the site in a power move to box out opposition in the neighboring Town of Wilson, gave a preliminary permit approval Tuesday evening which could lead to the construction of an upscale golfing complex in a pristine, heavily-wooded nature preserve on the Lake Michigan shoreline that will also take acreage in the adjoining Kohler Andrae State Park.

Ongoing litigation prevents the immediate use of the permit.

Here are items for your review:

* There is a story about the Sheboygan Plan Commission's Tuesday approval at The Sheboygan Press website. 

* There are years of posts and links at the website of Friends of the Black River Forest, the grassroots organization doing battle for political fairness, conservation, environmental justice and the broad public interest. 

A sample, here

* I have posted about this project often - here, for example - 

Few projects with the exception of Foxconn which have had the blessing of Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality DNR and other taxpayer-funded public agencies - - the AG's office, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, which is supposed to give independent oversight guidance to the DNR, local officials and annexation officials at the state DOA - - have outweighed the state's disregard for the environment and fair play more than the golf course proposed adjacent to and grabbing acreage inside a popular state park...
Below is information from a September, 2018 summary post:
I have been reporting on the golf course plan and its opposition by the grassroots organization Friends of the Black River Forest since 2014.
* Here is a more recent item, with a view of some of the actual state park land ticketed for bulldozing and private construction -
* And another post which included sections of the project's environmental impact statement which detailed the harm in store for wetlands, woodlands, dunes, and wildlife habitat.

* More analysis, here.

A further mind-boggling insult is that the Wisconsin DNR remains joined with the developer in a lawsuit that seeks to bar citizens (opponents of the plan have created "Friends of the Black River Forest"- FBRF) from challenging the land: 

DNR and Kohler Company fight residents' right to challenge a state agency's actions
So basically the state - that's the people, you and I - is arguing that the people can be barred from contesting the disposition of public land which is there for the people's use -  than 400,000 annually, according to recent DNR records - and which, in this case, is park land literally within a stone's throw of the people who have filed a legal contest. 

The bigger picture and baffling disappointment is that this entire matter and the way it has been moved along has not been a bigger issue statewide. 

To be clear, this is not an isolated local matter.

What is happening is that taxpayers who have already paid for local and state government operations are with their own time and money trying to force governments to do their most fundamental jobs, and about which there should not be this kind of dismissive and discriminatory second billing to taxpayers:

1. Protecting the people’s rights to water, park land and wildlife - all of which are in the public domain.

2. Providing governance that puts the public interest and opportunities for all people ahead of catering to the already-privileged, as I noted in earlier posts:

...the Natural Resources Board is working towards redoing the master plan for Kohler Andrae State Park to accommodate the proposed golf course, including land transfers, road-building, traffic access, etc. 
But that wasn't really the beginning of what I've called on this blog the DNR's smoothing of the proposal for its eventual permitting and construction. 
*  Working your way through the DNR web page, you will find this link to a pdf file containing substantial email traffic among numerous DNR officials and staffers about the project dating to March, 2014 - - including agency review of an earlier Kohler development since abandoned involving the same company and dating to 2011. 
On page two, you will see Kurt Thiede, then a DNR manager who is moving to the US EPA regional office in Chicago as Deputy Administrator to his former DNR boss, Cathy Stepp, asking DNR staff for maps and design suggestions for locating a golf course building within the adjoining state park. 
On page 50 of the pdf file, a Kohler representative asks Walker for his assistance obtaining for the project some so-called "innocuous" acreage in the adjoining state park. 
No wonder the former Kohler Andrae State Park supervisor said he like a few acres for a hot dog stand there if the DNR wanted to so easily hand over state park land 
In 2015, I posted about another known Walker-Kohler contact: 
Consider the power imbalances in that battle with the well-connected industrialist and golf course magnate Herbert Kohler: 
Kohler is asking the DNR for an easement of 3.8 acres for its golf course operations. The company had sought as much as 20 acres from adjoining Kohler-Andrae State Park. An early version of the course showed that Kohler wanted to build several holes on state park land... 
Kohler, a financial supporter of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, spoke with staff from the governor's office, the DNR and the Department of Administration in late April about the easement, Walker's spokeswoman, Jocelyn Webster, said in an email. 
"Mr. Kohler raised the issue," Webster said in a separate email. 
Between 2009 and 2013, Kohler Co. employees contributed $42,254 to Walker's campaign fund, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political donations. Nearly all of that amount was directly from Herbert Kohler. 
DNR Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney also has "participated in a conceptual meeting with the Kohler Co. on the golf course" that included Herbert Kohler, said DNR spokesman Bill Cosh. 
*  Note also that the Wisconsin Department of Administration helped the company quickly win the annexation of the project site to the City of Sheboygan, so add the DOA to the DNR and the National Resources Board to the roll call of state agencies facilitating the project. 
Think about all the hours of public employee time committed by the DNR, the Natural Resources Board, the DOA and the Governor's Office to getting one private business's plan for a privately-owned golf course aimed at upscale users through permitting and construction. 
I'll bet the cost in public dollars could have funded some real progress towards perhaps cleaning up some of the many, multiplying waterways added to the impaired list on Walker's watch.

So, ask yourselves - if the Sheboygan construction permit is implemented:

* Which state park is next for disassembling to serve a private business that will provide recreational opportunities which are out of the reach of everyday Wisconsin taxpayers, especially minorities whose incomes lag behind white residents, according to this June, 2020 report

Adding one more log into a bonfire of evidence about racial inequity in Wisconsin, the state's economy ranked last in racial equality among all 50 U.S. states, according to a new study of wealth and employment gaps between Black and white residents.

* How many Wisconsin citizens will be locked on the outside looking in while government caters to those who already have a disproportionate share of wealth, power and access to public sector resources and decision-making before people demand fundamental change to the way Wisconsin continues to be run?

* A better way to say it is: how many Wisconsin citizens will it take to grasp what minorities have long had to deal with before fairness and equities are the rule -and not litigated, grudging exceptions like this one that tireless advocacy for transit options forced on government that routinely does not share resources and opportunities equally:

Lawsuit settled: DOT to ease congesting during Zoo Interchange construction

The terms of the settlement were negotiated in court-sponsored mediation. The suit was filed in 2012 by Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope.