Monday, July 5, 2021

Vos provides rare honest look at GOP goals, state vision

I often note the hypocrisies, twisted language and outright misbehavior and lies foisted on Wisconsin taxpayers.

* Like the claim that Foxconn with massive public subsidies is creating a manufacturing "ecosystem" - while bulldozing, paving over and polluting an authentic, Wisconsin-to-Illinois ecosystem-  

Wetlands being filled in, silt spilling into Des Plaines River due to Foxconn development, Lake County study finds

- which includes streams, wetlands and prime agricultural land.

* Or the belief validated to date by the Wisconsin DNR and its oversight board that a portion of a popular lakeshore state park should be transferred to a private-sector developer/major GOP donor for what it calls "minimalist-design world-class [golf] course reflecting the company’s decades-long commitment to sustainability"- but which state records show would cut through rare dunes, Native American relics, wetlands, migratory bird habitat - and an estimated 50,000 trees.

* Or the notion propagandized through amber-waves-of-grain word-smithing that hunters "harvest" wolves -  while those particular 'hunters' in fact released truckloads of dogs that chased and snared hundreds of wolves in leg traps before receiving kill-shots to the head - pregnant females among them:

“These animals were killed using packs of dogs, snares and leg-hold traps,” Kitty Block, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said on Tuesday. “It was a race to kill these animals in the most cruel ways.”

Note also that the next wolf 'harvest' mandated by a state law adopted by conservative legislators not interested in conservation is being overseen by that same DNR policy board whose chairman is refusing to give up his seat though his Walker-appointed tenure has officially expired.

Which adds a new chapter to the Wisconsin right's penchant for power-abusing-and-grabbing at the expense of tradition, science and and fair play. 

In fact, there is fresh evidence Monday that February's wolf 'harvest' was actually a species-threatening slaughter here, data show

Again, who's loyal to ecosystem stewardship for the public in Wisconsin, and who sees the natural world in their temporary care as collections of separate fiefdoms or commodities reserved for the most self-centered or well-connected here?

* Which brings me to the bragging by GOP Assembly Robin Vos about his about statewide "clean water task force" - 

- while he actually let his caucus strip away funding to replace hazardous lead drinking-water pipes in Milwaukee.

And obstructed actions intended to battle harmful, industrial 'forever chemicals' from getting into state waterways.

And supported the expansion of already under-regulated industrial scale animal feeding operations though it has been shown time and again that such operations regularly leave feces and toxic nitrate deposits in rural Wisconsin residential wells

Yet, I want to give Vos and his party credit for some welcome budgeting and policy transparency when they recently cut state funding for transit operations by a flat 50% in just two cities - Madison and Milwaukee which are controlled by Democrats - while exempting other municipalities from that meat-axe approach.

While at the same time mandating the state spend one billion dollars to widen a three-mile stretch of interstate highway which borders several heavily minority city neighborhoods as it connects westward to higher income and whiter Waukesha County suburbs.

That's called shouting the normally quiet parts about dividing-and-conquering despite equal protection over a stadium-quality microphone.

Even though without Milwaukee and Madison's contributions to the state budget, the rest of Wisconsin would go into quality of life and public service meltdown.

Vos's refreshingly transparent budgeting also:

*Clarifies core Republican antipathy towards big cities, and to the lower-income or people of color who live there - as Walker made clear while campaigning in Waukesha County while Governor:

 "'People do not Wisconsin to "become another Milwaukee," Walker said.'"   

* Further amplifies the fundamental Republican practice in Wisconsin which uses law and taxpayer dollars to isolate lower-income or minority workers - as Walker did with the Federally-funded Zoo Interchange project - and keeps them disconnected in Milwaukee from housing, recreation, schools and jobs in the suburbs.

* And cleared away some of the fiction that Wisconsin has a "Department of Transportation" - a label which deceptively suggests the agency is a provider of a broad array of programs that approaches "transportation" with user equivalency - when Wisconsin basically has a State Highway Department which principally serves a politically-connected politicians-and-road-builders' complex that secondarily handles some pesky bus, rail, bicycle and pedestrian programs which the Legislature generally starves.

A mutually-beneficial political-and-business system which occasionally has some Democrats' participation, as I have noted.

But as I wrote in 2014, if it were all up to Vos, transit in Wisconsin would have already been removed from the Department of Transportation budget, and placed in the state's general budget from which Republicans regularly excise people programs while regularly using it as a favor bank for businesses and upper-income tax filers, as recently as last week: 

The Assembly late Tuesday passed the $87.5 billion Republican-authored 2021-23 biennial budget, which cuts taxes largely on businesses and the wealthy more than $3 billion, lifts a UW tuition freeze and rejects many of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ top priorities.

Vos would have buried transit in a losing, rigged bi-annual free-for-all alongside countless other competing tax-supported programs which Vos and company regularly diss and strangle - because those programs are "social" in nature:

Robin Vos, the GOP WI Assembly Speaker, thinks transit funding should be removed from the transportation fund:
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has pushed for public transit to be funded through the state’s general budget instead of the DOT, saying he considers transit a social program....
This is part of the GOP plan to define "transportation" as roads and highways - - facilitated with the just-approved state constitution highway lobby dream amendment to dedicate gasoline tax revenue to their version of transportation. 

And were the GOP-led Legislature to fund and promote something "social," like clean water or transit or expanded Medicaid, Republicans told us last year what would come next:

Wisconsin Republicans Warn Of Anarchy, Socialism At Annual State Convention

Vos and Friends have given us some rare truthiness, so be social, and pass it on because the 2022 elections will be here before you know it. 

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