Monday, January 15, 2018

Paul Ryan, hollow man

If they give out a "hollow man" award inspired by T.S. Eliot:
We are the hollow men    We are the stuffed men    Leaning together    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!    Our dried voices, when    We whisper together    Are quiet and meaningless    As wind in dry grass    Or rats' feet over broken glass    In our dry cellar
may I nominate these words from the Trump-enabling Paul Ryan:


Today we remember a great man and his work. We read his sermons. We recall his sacrifices. We give back. In doing these things, we raise our gaze and renew the spirit in which we serve one another. Such is the calling of .

Florida brings out the best GOP Presidential denials

Must be the sun:

The Sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory - 20100819.jpg

Nixon long ago in Orlando.

"I'm not a crook." And for good measure, "I have never obstructed justice."

Trump this weekend in West Palm Beach:

"I am not a racist."  And for good measure, "I am the least racist person you ever interviewed."

Milw. Co. bus lines cut; Foxconn gets free gaudy roads and more

The discriminatory, anti-urban fiscal insanity bred by Foxconn Fever comes into sharper focus:

*  Glitzy, WI-paid Foxconn-related transit ads on Illinois transit, hundreds of millions of WI transportation dollars for Foxconn-related roads, but in Milwaukee County, buses to industrial parks and other routes have been slashed for lack of funds that wouldn't even show up in the $4 billion ticketed for Foxconn:

The Milwaukee County Transit System plans to eliminate three bus routes with low ridership in March and shut down six others by mid-year to meet $882,586 worth of cuts in the system's 2018 budget approved by the County Board.
*  The Walker-boosting, Foxconn-related ad package the Governor wants to spend in Illinois and elsewhere could cost state taxpayers $7.8 million - - enough to fund those nine chopped Milwaukee County bus lines - - for nearly nine years.

But transit  - - whether Amtrak, light-rail, streetcar, Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter train and/or everyday bus services - - 

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. Gov. Scott Walker proposed such a move in his last budget and Vos said it had the support of Assembly Republicans, but it failed to make it through the state Senate.
- - has never been a priority of our big-spending, highway-happy, pothole-inducing, state trooper-chauffeured Governor and his party. 

And this sad, sick, transit-killing, anti-urban discriminatory story has been repeated and told and retold for years:
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2017

Another day, another report verifies region's dying transit

There's always money enough to write studies about the transit-deprived Milwaukee region
Milwaukee County Transit System logo.svg 
but never enough money or political will to solve the problem.
That why you will find the same old song in the same old hymnal just updated by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, (SEWRPC), as VISION2050.
 

Waterway pollution in WI skyrockets during Walker, GOP reign

Walker says he's taking Wisconsin in the right direction, but if that leads to state waters, don't smell, drink or fish it, his own data show.

Don't miss a chance to remind him, and your neighbors.

Let's agree it's a battle to keep up with all the cuts by Walker, the GOP Legislature and compliant Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources big business obeisant management to the agency’s mission, staffing, budgets, and science that are designed to reward polluters and more easily degrade the state's environmental legacy and obligations.
It's hard to track and keep straight all the legislation and executive actions since early 2011 that are intentionally undermining public health and enabling contamination and filth for profit in Wisconsin - - from wetlands filling to shoreline construction to green-lit groundwater contamination from big feedlots to new toxic sulfide mining permissions to proposed rollbacks in air quality to already-implemented, freshly-tolerated, algae-breeding phosphorous discharges into state waterways that all belong to the public.

And mentally underline "phosphorous" as you read on and focus 
on just two facts:

*  There has been a doubling under Walker of the number of polluted waterways in the state since he was sworn-in in 2011. 


*  And there have been more than eight times as many waterways - - 804 - - newly added to the official polluted lists - - government likes the sanitized label "impaired" - -  than the 96 waterways improved enough to be removed from the lists. 


Read through the links and data bases in the information below - - and, remember, the numbers are Walker's and are on his administration's web pages (until they go the way of the DNR's scrubbed climate science page, perhaps).

So when Walker comes to your town for your vote, and you see your lake, or river and stream segments on his lists, ask him why.

And why the summary numbers are diving in the wrong direction statewide.

And what he's done lately to make your waters more drinkable, fishable, swimmable, and boatable.

After all, who gets a contract extension, in baseball or politics, if you're batting .125?

*  Here is a link to the official DNR 2012 list, which covers the last year of the Jim Doyle administration and the first year of Walker's, and text from the DNR's  summary: 

Every two years, Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to publish a list of all waters that are not meeting water quality standards. The existing Impaired Waters List includes more than 700 rivers, streams and lakes. In the 2012 list, updates include 147 new waters to the list. Twenty-eight waters were delisted, including three streams that have been successfully restored: German Valley Branch in Dane County and Eagle and Joos Valley Creeks in Buffalo County.
*  Here is the DNR link to the 2014 list. Again, the trends were not good:
In the 2014 list update, DNR added 192 new waters. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. A significant number of new listings were also based on poor biological condition. Read more about specific restorations and/or search and learn about Wisconsin’s impaired waters with the Impaired Waters Search Tool. [How to use the Search Tool]
Using the search tool, I count 23 deletions.

*  More lopsided data on the DNR list for 2016 in favor of pollution: 
In the proposed 2016 list update, DNR proposes to add 225 new waters. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. A significant number of new listings were also based on poor biological condition. Ten waterbodies are proposed to be delisted.
*  Same story in the 2018 list
In the proposed 2018 list update, DNR proposes to add 240 new water segments. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. Thirty-five waterbodies are proposed to be delisted. 
So allowing for some portion of the total to have taken place in one year of the Doyle era, and also allowing for some late changes, the cumulative numbers in these reports which encompass most of Walker's tenure show the addition of 804 newly listed polluted waterways to the "more than 700" cited in the 2012.

The additions, 804, outpaced deletions, 96, by a ratio of more than eight-to-one, and leaves Walker with about double what he inherited.


Furthermore:
Impaired waters in Wisconsin are affected by a variety of pollutants. The top three are: mercury, total phosphorus and sediment... 
While natural erosion produces nearly 30 percent of the total sediment in the United States, erosion from human use of land accounts for the remaining 70 percent. In agricultural watersheds, the most significant source of sediment is tilled fields....Improperly managed construction sites also contribute significant amounts of sediment to local waterways; up to 25 times that of agricultural lands (Chesters, 1979) and 2,000 times that of forested lands (EPA 833–F–00–008, R 12/2005 [PDF exit DNR])... 
Phosphorus has long been recognized as the controlling factor in plant and algae growth in Wisconsin lakes and streams. Small increases in phosphorus can fuel substantial increases in aquatic plant and algae growth, which in turn can reduce recreational use, property values and public health.
  • Many lakes and streams are listed as impaired due to phosphorus pollution or sediment, decreasing their recreational value and economic impact.
  • Dozens of waters statewide experience harmful algal blooms fueled by the nutrient and last year, 35 people in Wisconsin reported human health concerns and the death of at least two dogs due to blue–green algae.
  • Department of Health Services Blue–Green Algae [exit DNR]
  • Smelly cladophora fueled by phosphorus washes ashore Lake Michigan beaches. 
  • Recent statewide stream assessment data suggests that thousands of streams may have excess phosphorus levels. In addition to decreasing the dissolved oxygen that fish and other aquatic creatures need to survive, such excess phosphorus causes major changes in lake and stream food webs, which ultimately result in fewer fish and fish predators.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Walker can again weaken rural WI water safety rules

Here is another alert about the expanding reach of the 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR that Scott Walker instituted on his Day One and has relentlessly expanded across the agency and state government.

I'd earlier noted that at the upcoming, January 24th meeting of Wisconsin Natural Resources Board - - the DNR's oversight agency - - the DNR was asking for permission to raise fees at popular state parks and also help allow the proposed Kohler golf course to obtain and control for private purposes adjoining state park land and rewrite road  access on its terms.

Note that the deadline to request permission speak at the Board meeting in Madison - - location, time, procedures, here - - or to submit a written comment on any Board agenda item is 11 a.m. January 19, through this email address: laurie.ross@wisconsin.gov 

Now thanks to the Wisconsin State Journal's ag watchdog reporter Steven Verburg, we're learning that at the January 24th meeting the DNR is seeking the Board's approval to perhaps finally address through rule-making the persistent groundwater contamination

linked to manure spreading practices used by cattle-feeding operations, including by the expanding and ineffectively regulated large dairy operations known as CAFO's, in a swath of Wisconsin counties with porous soils, including the CAFO-besieged, DNR-dismissed, groundwater-fouled Kewaunee County

The State Journal's Verburg explains that if the Board approves the proposed and controversial new rules, Walker can modify it and/or send it to the Legislature, but both the Legislature and Walker have a history of bending groundwater and ag policies towards the 'regulated' industries, and the state's dairy lobby is likely to fight the new rules as too restrictive.

You may remember that a coalition of the state's largest ag interests sent the Legislature a hand-delivered demand for water privatization rights that the DNR and Attorney General basically swallowed whole.

And you may also remember when the DNR tried to toughen water pollution rules for the dairy industry in 2016, Walker alerted the special interest and the proposal was weakened on the industry's terms:
After Scott Walker's office alerts farm lobby, clean water regulations scaled back
Walker's interference on behalf of the special interest is part of a long and wide pattern that rewards donors, enables polluters and keeps citizens and advocacy groups at further disadvantage.

Given that it's an election year, I'd predict Walker sides with industry but offers some palliatives, like bottled water deliveries to which no one apparently subscribed, or his signature insincere assurances instead of strong public health and safety guarantees.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Federal lawsuit detours around sweetheart WI/Foxconn fast-track

You may remember that Walker and his GOP legislative allies included a unique fast-track for Foxconn state court legal matters to the Walker/corporate friendly State Supreme Court.

About which I wrote a few months ago:
Set aside the significant environmental and socio-economic issues raised by an unprecedented binge of sprawl development on rural land filled with wetlands near Lake Michigan; the loan payback schedule is pretty ambitious for a project described as three times the footprint of the Pentagon.
A deal that is sure to attract litigation over probable private property condemnation, unique environmental permit exemptions and special judicial favors awarded to Foxconn by the deal...
How big is Mount Pleasant's legal staff, and what kind of travel or outside attorneys' budgets does it have?
Here is a complete archive of the Foxconn deal.
Fast forward to earlier this week:

Foxconn and local governments which have moved quickly to seize property 

for the project may have a harder time shucking off this lawsuit because it raises Federal civil rights issues, and will be heard by a Federal court. 

As I recall, this important reporting by the Journal Sentinel's Bruce Vielmetti ran as an inside sidebar to a larger story. 
A dozen residents who would lose their homes to the Foxconn Technology Group project have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Village of Mount Pleasant and its president.
Kudos. 

Gov. Pothole's tweet spins from admitting WI roads 2nd worst in US

Walker must have polling data showing that voters and motorists know the facts: Wisconsin's roads on his watch have deteriorated from roughly in the middle of the pack, to 4th worst, to 2nd worst.

And on Walker's watch, Wisconsin motorists pay an average of $673 in annual vehicle repairs due to the crumbling roads, so kiss goodbye the small tax savings he's allegedly delivered to drivers.

While hundreds of state taxpayer millions for new roads are committed solely in the SE corner of the state to buttress billions Walker has pledged as Foxconn subsidies, and to make the drive there for Illinois commuting workers just a little more pleasant.

How else to explain this misleading tweet that contains his routine finger-pointing while never mentioning the axle-breaking, tire-popping road-repair non-partisan and industry-produced data and conclusion:
Wisconsin faces infrastructure challenges of its own. For example, driving on roads in need of repair in Wisconsin costs each driver $637 per year, and 8.7% of bridges are rated structurally deficient. Drinking water needs in Wisconsin are an estimated $1 billion, and wastewater needs total $6.33 billion. 157 dams are considered to be high-hazard potential. The state’s schools have an estimated capital expenditure gap of $836 million. This deteriorating infrastructure impedes Wisconsin’s ability to compete in an increasingly global marketplace. 
But if you read the tweet carefully, Gov. Pothole acknowledges that his past budgets didn't have - - and why not? - - the level of  road-repair funding he's now rushing to tout and back-fill in an election year:
 21 hours ago21 hours agoMoreGovernor Walker Retweeted Wisconsin DOT 
Eight years ago, the previous Governor & Legislature had raided the state transportation fund. Today, we’ve invested $24 billion into transpo over 8 years & our ’17-‘19 budget gives local govs the largest increase in road & bridge aids in more than a decade.
 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hey, Wisconsin, this is what Fox News thinks of you

Cited in this Friday Washington Post media roundup, this is how Wisconsin came to the mind of Fox’s “The Five” host Jesse Watters:
Wis-capitol.jpg
“This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar,” he said. “If you’re at a bar, and you’re in Wisconsin, and you think they’re bringing in a bunch of Haiti people, or El Salvadorians, or people from Niger, this is how some people talk. Is it graceful? No. Is it polite or delicate? Absolutely not. Is it a little offensive? Of course it is.”
Except Trump is the President.

Maybe Gov. Walker will defend our state against such ugly stereotyping that says we're The Dog Whistle State?


Nah:

I also see nothing in response [to Trump's "shithole" smear] on either of Scott Walker’s Twitter feeds. I guess the brain trust’s polling isn’t done yet.

Ryan whitewashes Trump's racism; Walker silent.

As I said yesterday, Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan's official Speaker photo. In the background is the American Flag.
is one of Trump's leading GOP apologists and enablers, and today Ryan further degraded the office of House Speaker which puts him two heartbeats away from the Presidency by summoning up zero courage confronting our racist President's destructive, ugly language.

"Very unfortunate...unhelpful..." is what Ryan could come up with. Those worthless adjectives cribbed from an online Thesaurus better cover a soaked newspaper or forgotten doctor's appointment. 

It’s how a teacher might talk to a parent at conference time if a six-year-old was taunting a classmate on the playground.

I also see nothing in response on either of Scott Walker’s Twitter feeds. I guess the brain trust’s polling isn’t done yet.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ryan, Walker, et al, own our vulgar, racist President

Just another Thursday in the un-American nightmare Presidency brought to us by complicit, enabling party-first Republican leaders
Paul Ryan's official Speaker photo. In the background is the American Flag.
in swing-state Wisconsin, and elsewhere: 
President Trump on Thursday balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and African countries, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than people from places like Norway, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.
And didn't the unfit, unstable Trump just prove the thesis of Michael Wolff's book?

DNR urging easy transfer of park land for golf course

For Wisconsin's intentionally-underfunded and vulnerable state parks, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board's January 24th meeting promises to be consequential.

Yesterday I noted that the Board, (NRB), which oversees many Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources operations, will be considering a DNR plan to raise fees at some of the most popular state parks.

Today I'm also learning that at the same meeting the DNR will ask the Board to approve changes in the way a state park's master plan can be amended.

The move is laden with jargon and bureaucratic language, but it appears designed to let the proposed controversial Kohler golf course south of Sheboygan change traffic patterns into and even acquire public land within the adjoining, popular Kohler Andrae State Park along the Lake Michigan shoreline, according to preservationists organized as Friends of the Black River Forest.
"There should be no change of rules which enables a private company to use our State Park land. For something as serious as changing rules which will allow all of our State Park lands to sell off, the public deserves an open hearing with more notice and information. It is our land," the group says on its Facebook page.
When do we discover that state parks' naming rights will be sold to businesses to make up for the loss of state operating funds Walker and GOP legislators stripped from everyday park operations? 

How soon will you drive into Buddy's Big Bacon Burger Park? Take a hike on the Acme Insecticide Walking Trail?

If Kohler can tear up his woodland-and-wetland-and artifact-rich nature preserve


and have state land next door it wants - - and, by the way, this move to have the Board further goose along a private business project that senior DNR management, the Governor, his Department of Administration and a compliant City of Sheboygan are all green-lighting - - further signals the project is a done deal, a fait accompli rapidly heading for a pro-developer/Walker donor win.

And, I suppose, to the courts, too.

So where does this march of Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR and the state GOP's pollution policies stop?

Here is the Board agenda, and the item, #2.B.6, which would make it easier for a state park's master plan - - read:Kohler Andrae State Park - - to be amended for private advantage, as well as information about how to register to speak and/or send comments on the issue. 
The public is welcome to attend a Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) meeting. The NRB also provides opportunities for citizens to testify and to submit written comment about issues that come before the NRB. See complete information on public participation at Board meetings.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

DNR wants $1.1 mil. net boost in camping, parks fees

According to this item on the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board January 24th meeting agenda, the DNR is proposing that some camping and admission fees be raised while others would remain the same or be lowered, but the net increase through so-called "demand pricing," including boosts at popular destination sites like Peninsula and Devil's Lake State Parks would net the state another $1.1 million in 2018.

Note: meeting date, above, corrected to January 24th.

Remember that Walker and the Legislature with the cooperation of former DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp stripped previously routine operating funding from the state parks' budgets.

Can naming rights concessions for corporations or sales of ‘low performing’ parks be far off?

So Walker delivers tax cuts, but the state gets your money back in fees. She’ll games.

A view at Devli's Lake State Park, from the DNR:
A view of Devil's Lake near Balanced Rock

NC is the tax haven? So how did it lose Foxconn to WI?

I noticed in this conservative prescription for Wisconsin policymakers a call for more tax reform because states like North Carolina were leaving Bucky in the dust: 
State policy-makers deserve credit for recent reforms that allow billions of dollars to remain in the private economy. But other states such as North Carolina have enacted comprehensive tax reforms over the past few years, leaving Wisconsin at a disadvantage.
Just for the record, North Carolina couldn't get close to Wisconsin in a head-to-head contest over which state could offer the biggest state tax breaks and subsidies, ever:
RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina promised tax breaks and other incentives worth more than $570 million to attract a Foxconn electronics plant that could employ 8,800 people, but the state lost out to Wisconsin’s five-times-larger offer, documents released Monday show.
Wisconsin beat North Carolina, and others, to set this mark:
The total incentive package is 10 times larger than anything ever approved in Wisconsin and would be the biggest state subsidy to a foreign company in the United States.
Here's one updated blog archive about Foxconn that began in July. 
 


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

WI hunters continue to risk their dogs to wolves

The DNR doesn't disclose how wolves came into contact with these hounds, but no doubt owners let the dogs run off-leash and into harm's way. Two were Walker hounds:
Treeing-walker-coonhound-standing.jpg

Hunting Dogs Injured in Forest County

Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves injured three hunting dogs in Forest County on 01/07/18.  The attack occurred in the Town of Wabeno.  More information and a caution-area map are now available on the gray wolf webpage


Hunters are reminded to use the caution-area maps on the DNR website (dnr.wi.gov, keyword "wolf depredation") to help reduce conflicts.
In Wisconsin, dog owners whose animals are injured or killed by wolves can apply to the DNR for up to $2,500 reimbursement for each animal harmed. 

Media inquiries slow the Foxconn eviction machine

Props to the Journal Sentinel for forcing Foxconn to behave like a somewhat more reasonable corporate citizen.
After starting proceedings to evict four Sturtevant families from their homes with the minimum time notice allowed by state law, Foxconn Technology Group reversed course following a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel inquiry about the situation.
Not surprising that the company would run roughshod over people since Walker's only-for-Foxconn subsidy bill allows the company to bulldoze and abuse the land at will

As I predicted in a recent post in my Foxconn Fever archive:
Undercovered Foxconn questions demand answers. Again.
*  Prediction: illegal work shifts won't be the only ugly story you read about Foxconn practices in the coming months and years.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Wolf poaching bill threatens outdoors' funding. Sane law enforcement, too.

Over the weekend I wrote about a wolf-killing free-for-all bill which gets a public hearing Wednesday at 10 a.m. in 412 East State Capitol.

The only killing associated with the bill should be the bill itself.


This horrible representation of what has happened to the legislative process in the blatantly-gerrymandered, anti-government, GOP-dominated Legislature would ban - - basically on an uninformed whim - - decades of established, commonsense, scientific, law enforcement, financial and wildlife managerial goals, actions and programs implemented cooperatively and through long, hard work by state, tribal and federal scientists and officials with the help of volunteers statewide.

Wisconsin is killing its wolves 
This is the twisted states-rights Wisconsin Idea which GOP legislators would be promoting to citizens statewide, from taxpayers to police officers to local officials to school children if this bill becomes law:
Choose the laws you want to follow
Why not post the message on those Welcome to Wisconsin billboards?
You can poach wildlife here, however you want
The non-partisan Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau in its analysis of the bill shows how the bill would withdraw Wisconsin from enforcing federal law and a federal judge's 2014 order banning wolf-hunting:
This bill prohibits a law enforcement officer from enforcing a federal or state law that relates to the management of the wolf population in this state or that prohibits the killing of wolves in Wisconsin. 
The bill prohibits the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from expending any funds for the purpose of managing the wolf population in this state other than for the purpose of making payments under the endangered resources program to persons who apply for reimbursement for certain damage caused by wolves or protecting private property, including domestic cattle from wolf depredation. 
The bill prohibits DNR from taking any action to inform or support federal law enforcement officers regarding the enforcement of any federal or state law relating to wolves. 
A citizens' group, Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is urging attendance at the Wednesday hearing.
Contact your Wisconsin state representatives CLICK HERE
The GOP-led wolf-killing lobby would never propose such a consequential break with other federal rules, law enforcement obligations and funding eligibility which routinely pours make-or-break dollars into everyday life in Wisconsin for National Guard units, police departments, roads, highways, bridges, nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, and surplus milk and cheese purchases from Wisconsin producers, to name but a few.

Why this exception?


And certainly those legislators would never do anything to jeopardize federal millions which keep wildlife and recreation programs afloat here, right?


Wrong. 


Intended or not, the funding loss for hunting, angling and hiking programs in Wisconsin is huge consequence should this bill pass.

I strongly recommend the dispassionate, factual and scientific analysis of the bill by Wisconsin's Green Fire, a non-partisan, non-profit organization of natural resource and environmental experts and scientists which explains the multiple legal and financial problems which could result were the bill to become law.


In a nutshell:
Law enforcement strives for public confidence that they enforce all laws fairly and evenly. This legislation requires that they look the other way on wolf violations, effectively sanctioning illegal behavior and eroding public support for law enforcement. 
And here are the counter-productive financial implications for every Wisconsinite who hikes, fishes, or hunts deer and other species:
This legislation would jeopardize Wisconsin’s ability to receive federal Wildlife Restoration Grants commonly referred to as Pittman Robertson (PR) funds...Wisconsin’s eligibility for these funds is contingent on DNR having the legal authority to properly manage wildlife populations within the state. It is likely that the USFWS [United States Fish and Wildlife Service] would need to review WDNR’s ability to properly manage Wisconsin’s gray wolf population. A negative finding would result in Wisconsin’s loss of these important [Pittman Robertson] PR-funds.
Pittman-Robertson grants, Wisconsin’s share of the federal excise taxes on hunting equipment, are used to monitor wildlife populations, undertake research, and manage wildlife habitat for a wide range of species. In 2017, Wisconsin received over $19 million grant dollars which was nearly 14% of the total revenue to the state’s Fish & Wildlife Account. Loss of these grant funds would require DNR to lay off staff and eliminate wildlife management activities.
Additionally: 
Prohibiting enforcement of laws relating to wolf management (such as illegal killing of wolves) by Wisconsin law enforcement officers will impact state, and in some instances, tribal conservation wardens, county sheriff deputies and local police officers. The following are some of these potential impacts...
  1. 1)  Officers take an oath of office to enforce the law; this proposal would put law enforcement officers in the position of selectively enforcing laws.

  2. 2)  The language in the bill prevents officers from "knowingly" enforcing or "attempting" to enforce the law. These terms are subjective and leave a gray area for interpretation by officers and the public. For instance, it would make investigations very difficult when an offense involved both wolves and other species.

  3. 3)  This inability to enforce laws will create complex violation scenarios in which DNR would be restricted from taking action. Such as:

    1. a)  Violators avoiding prosecution for hunting/trapping violations for other species by claiming to be in pursuit of wolves. 
    2. b)  Poison baits set to kill wolves that are also harming domestic pets, livestock or other species of wildlife. 
    3. c)  Use of trap and snare types that are not legal for use in Wisconsin. 
    4. d)  This legislation would also prohibit an officer from coming to the aid of a federal warden enforcing a wolf-related law. 
    5. e)  Law enforcement strives for public confidence that they enforce all laws fairly and evenly. This legislation requires that they look the other way on wolf violations, effectively sanctioning illegal behavior and eroding public support for law enforcement.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

WI's GOP conservation opponents want legalized wolf poaching; hearing Wed., 1/10

Here comes the Wisconsin wolf-killing caucus again.

Despite a drop in confirmed losses of livestock and pets to depredation by wolves, the anti-DNR tag team of GOP State Sen. Tom Tiffany and GOP State Rep. Adam Jarchow are leading an effort to end all prohibitions against wolf hunting in Wisconsin and stop any DNR scientific or law enforcement role in wolf 'management.'

I wrote about this "whiff of vigilantism and secession" in November when the proposal surfaced, and, regrettably, it is coming up for a committee vote next 
Wednesday, January 10th, at 10 AM, in Room 412 East of the State Capitol.

The committee, Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage, is chaired by Waukesha County State GOP Rep. Joel Kleefisch, the highest-profile hunting enthusiast in the Legislature   and original lead proponent of recent state-approved, dog-assisted wolf hunts.

Fuller history, here:
How the Wisconsin wolf hunt came into being three years ago speaks volumes about the victory of politics over science over public-interest conservation policy-making.
It's an ugly history about a reality that is at odds with the state's strong environmental traditions - - a partisan, politically-prescribed failure visible elsewhere in deliberately-weakened enforcement, fresh pollution and other abuses now routine across the state's waters, land and air since Republicans and their corporate sponsors took control of the Legislature and the rest of state government in the Walker era...
Remember that the wolf-hunt was implemented by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources quickly at the Legislature's behest, and in part by the agency through its "emergency" rule-making authority that shortcut obviously important assessment of all the issues - - a ploy that allowed the controversial use of dogs against wolves in the hunt and in pre-hunt, disruptive hunting dog training sought by special hunting-and-gun interests.
Dogs in wolf-hunting - - which puts both animals in fighting positions - - is a Wisconsin-only practice among the states.
Except there was no emergency facing the DNR, as noted at the time - - except if that's how you define it to please the conservative, pro-Walker special interests that pushed for the hunt defined by little science and few restrictions.
The pending wolf-poaching bill should not be seen in isolation, as it is being pushed by the same special interests and some of the same GOP legislators who gave Foxconn permission to fill wetlands and alter the landscape at will, fast-tracked the toxic, sulfide mining bill to Walker's desk, want to privatize state wildlife and greatly restrict the authority of DNR wardens and open a million acres of state-protected wetlands to developmentsince what's good for Foxconn will now sought by the private sector statewide.

And these special interests and their legislative bellhops want break up the DNR to bury its mission, legacy and accumulated expertise, wisdom and practical science which, like the water and the wildlife and clean air are being given away and otherwise degraded belong to all the people.

You can't correctly call this wrecking crew "conservatives." They are for conserving nothing, for passing along nothing. 

To them, from Walker on down, they are exploiters, destroyers of the commons, seizing and consuming what is not theirs to filch.

Why don't these public sector nihilists be consistent, return their taxpayer-paid salaries and resign?

Wolf hunting in Wisconsin has been barred by a federal court since 2014, and earlier sanctioned Wisconsin wolf hunting seasons and practices raised a host of questions.


Wisconsin was the only state in the US to allow dogs in the hunt, and allowed kills which exceeded the quotas which had been established, according to this news story.

Here is the heart of their bill
This bill prohibits a law enforcement officer from enforcing a federal or state law that relates to the management of the wolf population in this state or that prohibits the killing of wolf in this state. The bill also prohibits DNR from expending any funds for the purpose of managing the wolf population in this state other than for the purpose of making payments under the endangered resources program to persons who apply for reimbursement for certain damage caused by wolves and prohibits DNR from taking any action to inform or support federal law enforcement officers regarding the enforcement of any federal or state law relating to wolves. 
gray wolf
An Associated Press account of the bill late last year said this:

The Republican lawmakers — Reps. Adam Jarchow, Mary Felzkowski and Romaine Quinn, along with Sen. Tom Tiffany...said...in a memo to their colleagues seeking co-sponsors that wolves “have taken over northern Wisconsin.” “They are depredating our deer population, killing livestock and attacking family pets,” they said in the memo...
Online DNR records show that so far this year there have been 39 confirmed wolf attacks on hunting dogs, cattle, sheep and one pet dog. The DNR recorded 76 confirmed wolf attacks in 2016.
The DNR has also debunked the belief that wolves are causing a shortage of deer available to Wisconsin hunters, noting that winter weather and collisions with vehicles kill many more deer than do wolves.

Fresh facts, analysis and expert commentary, here:
Wolves obviously eat deer. According to most experts, an adult wolf will consume the equivalent of 20 adult-sized deer annually.
But when compared to other sources of deer mortality in Wisconsin, wolves rank down the list...
The leading causes of deer mortality in the state, as Wisconsin wildlife managers have long said, are human hunters and severe winters.
Also undermining the claims that wolves are ruining the deer hunt: the DNR late last year noted that despite a increase in the size of the Wisconsin deer herd, fewer hunters were participating, according to the Journal Sentinel:
In the last 35 years, the only year with a lower nine-day gun kill was 2014, according to DNR officials. 
The harvest that year was 192,111.
The 2017 deer kill was down despite a statewide herd that was likely larger this year, according to DNR preseason forecasts. 
So the question is: Will Wisconsin, without data or science or argument to back unrestricted wolf hunting further extend its status as a wolf-hunting outlier and risk federal funding that supports many hunting, fishing and wildlife habitat programs as the state has withdrawn operating and staffing funds from the DNR budget to approve state-sanctioned wolf poaching?

I strongly recommend reading an analysis of the bill by GreenFire, a voluntary, non-partisan organization of Wisconsin conservationists, as the organization is highlighting consequences of the bill which go beyond obvious problems with its frontal attack on science and the DNR in the name of wide-open wolf-shooting:
This legislative proposal would eliminate DNR research, monitoring and management of gray wolves not directly related to wolf depredation until federal delisting occurs. Scientific work that would be eliminated includes annual wolf population monitoring and winter population estimates, radio-collaring of wolves, and monitoring of diseases in the wolf population. Research into wolf monitoring cost efficiency and improved population estimate procedures would stop. This legislation complicates the work of law enforcement officers, raises the risk of future litigation with Wisconsin’s Chippewa Tribes over co-management status, and could jeopardize Wisconsin’s continued eligibility to receive federal Pittman-Robertson funding: 
This legislation would jeopardize Wisconsin’s ability to receive federal Wildlife Restoration Grants commonly referred to as Pittman Robertson (PR) funds. If enacted, the legislation would prevent enforcement of the illegal killing of wolves, as well as scientific population monitoring and management by DNR. Wisconsin’s eligibility for these funds is contingent on DNR having the legal authority to properly manage wildlife populations within the state. It is likely that the USFWS would need to review WDNR’s ability to properly manage Wisconsin’s gray wolf population. A negative finding would result in Wisconsin’s loss of these important PR-funds.
Pittman-Robertson grants, Wisconsin’s share of the federal excise taxes on hunting equipment, are used to monitor wildlife populations, undertake research, and manage wildlife habitat for a wide range of species. In 2017, Wisconsin received over $19 million grant dollars which was nearly 14% of the total revenue to the state’s Fish & Wildlife Account. Loss of these grant funds would require DNR to lay off staff and eliminate wildlife management activities.
To date the DNR has invested staff resources and funding in citizen science initiatives cited in this paper. These programs help reduce the costs of wolf monitoring and management. Lack of continuity in citizen science training will reduce the effectiveness of volunteers and would increase start up costs in the future. 
You might also read one of many studies showing that wolves as the top predator improve the broader health and stability of the ecosystem.