Saturday, August 18, 2018

Wisconsin landscape flooded with water, dismissal of science, too.

Wisconsin has been hit again by flooding that scoured away cars, pavement, and land. 

We've also got Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' management that scrubbed away important information about why the flooding is likely to get worse, having ignored expert, public warnings about insufficient stormwater management and funding since 2003.

The rains in SE Wisconsin did stop Friday and the flooding from Dane County to Ixonia to Watertown to I-43 in Milwaukee County is receding.

But you wonder: is there a bigger picture to this?, since parts of Wisconsin - - Watertown, 2016, Racine County, 2017, Racine County, 2008, Madison, 2018, historic flooding in NW Wisconsin in 2018 and 2016

 etc.  - - have been hit by rains routinely labeled heavy, historic, worst ever., and so on.

And, yes, it's summer and we get storms, but you're also reading about record-breaking heat and climate change, so you ask, what can the Wisconsin experts tell us?

A lot, as they said a lot about it all on the Wisconsin DNR's Great Lakes and Climate Change page, so there you have it: 

Climate Change and Wisconsin´s Great Lakes 
Earth's climate is changing. Human activities that increase heat–trapping ("green house") gases are the main cause. Earth´s average temperature has increased 1.4 °F since 1850 and the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. 
Increasing temperatures have led to changes in rainfall patterns and snow and ice cover. These changes could have severe effects on the Great Lakes and the plants, wildlife and people who depend on them. 
While no one can predict exactly what climate change will mean for our Great Lakes, scientists agree that the following changes are likely if climate change patterns continue. 
  • Increased summer and winter temperatures will cause increased evaporation, lower lake water levels and warmer water, resulting in reduced habitat for cold water species and a loss of critical wetland areas.
  • Decreased winter ice cover will also contribute to increased evaporation and lower lake water levels which could have severe economic consequences for our valuable shipping industry, lakeshore recreation, and coastal businesses.
  • Changes in rain and snowfall patterns (including more frequent and severe storms) could change water flow in streams and rivers and increase stream bank erosion and runoff pollution.
The good news is that we can all work to slow climate change and lessen its effects.
But did you notice I wrote "they said" - - as in past tense - - because the DNR hasn't said that since 2016.

That science about "Human activities that increase heat–trapping ("green house") gases, " and "Earth´s average temperature has increased 1.4 °F since 1850 and the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 1998," is gone.

And the wording about "more frequent and severe storms" is gone, too - - as I disclosed in December, 2016 and have continuously updated.

In fact, they even took the phrase "climate change' out of the page's title, so this is how its few sentences are labeled now:

The Great Lakes and a changing world
And isn't the world always changing?  Clever, no?

So while the page has been rendered useless and striped of its context by heavy-handed, Team Walker ideological editing, and even some valuable links have been deleted, too - - here's what it looks like today - - the warming and the flooding continues.

And this purposeful, ideological dismissal of climate changeiand science itself extends to the beaten-down DNR science staff - - what few remain.

You can see why Illinois downstream from the massive Foxconn excavation in Racine County has concerns about flooding - - and rightly so - - since Wisconsin keeps  sending are incautious and dismissive signals - - from easy wetland filling on the Foxconn site to the dismissal of data and guidance which might help keep Wisconsin's rivers in their banks.

Full Foxconn archive, here.

Friday, August 17, 2018

What GL water preservation Compact?, as new Foxconn-based water deal to spur development

They might as well rename the Great Lakes Compact, a water conservation protocol written and approved with very restrictive diversion exceptions, the Foxconn/Great Lakes-Diversion-for-Development-Agreement, per this Journal Times report:
Economic development
$100 million Foxconn water deal proposed; goes next to city
Full Foxconn archive here, including news of expanding objections over the diversion's undermining of the Compact's preservationist, public-health-and-safety origins.
From the shoreline, looking east across Lake Michigan 
The new deal highlights the diversion's sprawl-and-developer-friendly intentions and underscore the opponents' case.

N. IL worries about Foxconn flooding. Are the planned runoff basins adequate?

Flash flooding in several Wisconsin counties Friday morning draws attention to fresh concerns in Northern Illinois that massive roofs and paved surfaces headed for the Foxconn site in Racine County could lead to damaging runoff downstream.

I'd reported last year that Racine County has documented flooding problems; bulldozing and building there on thousands of acres of precipitation-grabbing farmland,
and on wooded areas with established root systems, and also on rainfall-absorbing wetlands exempted from everyday Wisconsin preservation requirements could increase the volume and velocity of downstream water flows during ever-more frequent heavy rain events in a warming climate:
The '100-Year Flood' Concept Is Showing Its Age
Aside from the impacts of climate change, factors that impact how rainwater behaves in the landscape are always changing as well. A three-inch rainfall today and a three-inch rainfall 50 years ago may have very different results. Urban development and its ever-expanding shell of paved surfaces causes more rainwater to run along the surface of roads rather than seep into the ground, increasing strain on storm sewers. Changes in geology, river systems and other characteristics of the landscape, whether natural or caused by humans, will also influence where water ends up.
"If we have an increase in urban development in a river system then you're going to get larger floods happening more frequently," said Colin Belby, a professor of geography at UW-La Crosse who once worked for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Even with the best available intentions, requirements and expert practices worked into plans and managed going forward.

Correspondence among officials provided by SEWRPC under Wisconsin's Open Records law indicate that stormwater management planning will complywith Village of Mount Pleasant ordinances.

Records as of April indicated that Foxconn on its site intends to construct five stormwater management detention basins covering a total of 62.5 acres - - two basins in the western portion of the site in the Des Plains River watershed and three in the eastern portion of the site in the Pike River watershed.

I haven't finished reading all the documentation.

Like the skies, this is all something to closely watch.

Here is a complete archive of posts about Foxconn over the last 14 months.

For the record, the Walker regime in Wisconsin has targeted climate change, climate science, the Great Lakes Compact and an independent DNR on behalf industry and donors, leaving the environment and its waters degraded and widely exposed.

Walker's love for big road-project red ink dates to 2003

Wisconsin has had enough trouble fixing the roads in a fiscally-sustainable way under Scott Walker and his merry band of road builder-obeisant legislators without media forcing readers to weave around who's responsible for the detours. 

Case in point.

When I saw this Journal Sentinel story and headline Thursday - - 
Scott Walker, Tony Evers aren't spelling out their plans for Wisconsin roads
When it comes to roads, GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tony Evers are keeping their plans to themselves.
- - I posted it on Facebook, commenting while irked:
Of course, one [Walker] is the nearly-eight year incumbent whose party has controlled the Legislature and WisDOT budget since 2011, and one [Evers] is a challenger nominated just three days ago, but go on with this irrelevant equivalence.
So let me point out for the record, again, that since 2003, Scott Walker has been promoting unrestrained spending on expensive new 'free'way lanes in Southeastern Wisconsin - - a pattern of fiscal irresponsibility which to this day, (Foxconn) dominates highway spending statewide and is responsible for both hundreds of millions of dollars in annual borrowings for added lanes and wider ramps and gaudier interchanges as well as related shortfalls producing starved transit and neglected pothole Scotthole repairs.

Walker has been so deep mixing and stirring the fiscal mess that has created the nation's second-worst-rated-roads that he and former BFF Assembly GOP Speaker Robin Vos nearly had to have mom and dad take their cell phones away because they were being such bad boys playing the road-mess-blame-game online.

A game to which State of Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers was not invited. 

So let's not start equating newly-minted gubernatorial candidate Evers with Walker and his buddies who have been in charge of roads and WisDOT budgets since 2011.

Plus: Here is one summary post about some of Walker's lesser-known history which I've written about on my blog over the years that makes the Journal Sentinel look ridiculous for conflating Walker's responsibilities with those unfairly assigned to Tony Evers' who was only nominated the Democratic gubernatorial candidate on Tuesday:
MONDAY, JUNE 22, 2015

Walker motion in 2003 tripped off SE highway overspending

[Updated, 6/22] Out state Republican legislators still griping about out-of-control highway spending in Southeastern Wisconsin - - check the record in this item reposted from last week: 

Walker led the charge for unsustainable overspending on highways in SE WI that you now don't like.

The Wisconsin Legislature is grappling with a state highway budget unsustainably bloated by reckless borrowing and overspending on the so-called SE 'free'way system - - a problem that has helped stall the entire state budget process while preposterous presidential hopeful Scott Walker keeps skipping out to campaign from Iowa to New Hampshire and beyond.

So it's important to remember that Walker - - as Milwaukee County Executive - - played a key role in 2003 on a SE regional planning commission advisory committee which voted, without a companion financing plan, to recommend to state highway planners that Wisconsin add to the SE 'freeway' system the maximum number of new lanes among the alternatives considered - - 127 miles of lanes instead of 108 - - in what ultimately became a $6.4 billion package.

Walker's motion added an estimated $750 million to the ultimate price tag and also increased the number of structures and land removed from the tax base. 

Though the price tag of the still-incomplete-and-still-unfunded Zoo Interchange has come down from its original projection, other segments of the seven-county system have not begun or may be delayed, further driving up their estimated costs - - all of which are in 2003 dollars.

The regional planning commission - - SEWRPC - - often turns major projects over to advisory committees - - and in this case, the full SEWRPC commission accepted the recommendation and forwarded it to WisDOT, which, in turn, accepted it as the unfolding blueprint for billions in SE WI highway work that continues to be underfunded.

[Update] Following the vote, The Milwaukee County Board passed a resolution opposing the expansion of the freeway system, per Walker's motion, and Walker vetoed it. Fifteen members of the Milwaukee Common Council, nearly its entire membership, sent SEWRPC a letter also opposing the costly expansion and noted Walker's resolution veto.

I attended the advisory committee meeting where Walker made his accepted motion for the full lanes' expansion that added 19 miles of construction cost, and I wrote about it for this blog in June, in 2009: at the highlighted link, begin on page 7 of the advisory committee's report for Walker's motion and comments in the minutes, with the final vote at the end of the committee report.

Also for the record: then-Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, Milwaukee Common Council President Marvin Pratt and several others voted no. Call them the taxpayers' true friends, unlike Walker, then-Waukesha County Executive Daniel Finley and others, including private sector special interest representatives.

This are the key sentences from the meeting minutes with regard to motions and votes:
Mr. Walker moved to amend the motion such that the final plan would include the provision of additional capacity on 127 miles of the regional freeway system – specifically, adding to the 108 mile recommendation the widening to eight lanes of IH 94 between the Marquette and Zoo Interchanges and of IH 43 between the Mitchell Interchange and Silver Spring Drive, as proposed in the preliminary recommended plan....
Chairman Drew asked if there was any further discussion or possible amendments to the main motion. There being no further discussion or proposed amendments, Chairman Drew asked for a roll call vote on pages 14-19 of Chapter VII as amended to include the provision of additional capacity on 127 miles of the regional freeway system and to recommend that the WisDOT present to the State Legislature and Governor a financing plan before proceeding to the reconstruction of each freeway segment. On a vote of 15 ayes to 8 nays, pages 14-19 of Chapter VII as amended were approved. Messrs. Buestrin, Cook, Drew, Dwyer, Finley, Kehl, Melvin, Miller, Norem, Sheehy, Speaker, Walker, White, Wirth and Ms. Jacobson voting in favor of pages 14-19 of Chapter VII as amended. Messrs. Fafard, Holloway, Leonard, Millonzi, Norquist, Pratt and Ms. Estness and Ms. McCutcheon voted against pages 14-19 of Chapter VII as amended. Mr. Matzke abstained from the vote. 
From my 2009 blog item: 
Remember when the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission spent $1 million of highway planning money to pencil in all this freeway reconstruction and expansion - - $6.4 billion dollars' worth - - but didn't include a financing recommendation to pay for it?
Not our job, the planners said.
But they sent on to WisDOT, which never met a highway plan it wouldn't share eagerly with their true constituents - - the road-builders - - a plan recommending building 127 miles of new lanes and all sorts of purported safety improvements, wider exits and other gee-whiz concrete amenities.
The SEWRPC advisory committee on this plan even overruled the SEWRPC staff and recommended adding 19 miles of new, controversial lanes in Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee, even though the additions forced the demolition of an additional eight businesses and 36 homes.
Tax base? Homes and businesses? All expendable. Collateral damage. Highways first, you know.
The prime mover in this extra dollop of multi-million dollar construction excess, and tax base demolition? 
Milwaukee's County Exec and resident faux fiscal conservative - - Scott Walker. You can read his motion and argument in the meeting minutes, here.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Multi-state coalition joins challenge to Foxconn's Lake Michigan diversion

A four-state arm representing scores of non-partisan League of Women Voters chapters joins other groups objecting to Wisconsin's hurriedly-approved plan to divert Lake Michigan water
From the shoreline, looking east across Lake Michigan 
to suit one business' needs. 

This is a significant expansion of the effort to force the Great Lakes governors to preserve Great Lakes water, ensure waste water treatment and breathe life into the eight-state, ten-year-old, but now-undermined Great Lakes Compact. 
“Today, the League of Women Voters-Lake Michigan Region joins the appeal of the proposed Foxconn water diversion from Lake Michigan. The proposed diversion is based on a mistaken interpretation by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of the Great Lakes Compact and undermines the very important protections the Compact contains. The withdrawal of Lake Michigan water outside of the watershed basin for solely commercial purposes is impermissible. Additionally, the quantity and quality of water proposed to be returned to the basin has the potential to harm the great resource that is Lake Michigan,” said Krista Grimm, President of the League of Women Voters-Lake Michigan Region.
The League of Women Voters-Lake Michigan Region is an inter-league organization consisting of over 48 local League chapters in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan as well as their respective state Leagues. The LWV-LMR is a non-partisan grass-roots advocacy and education organization with a mission to protect and promote the environmental quality of Lake Michigan and the Lake Michigan basin.
Here is a complete archive of blog posts about the Foxconn project, and one post focusing on the diversion issue. 

'Dark store' tax revolt, consequences for GOP, could spread from West Allis

Ask Wisconsinites what comes to mind about West Allis and they're likely to say "State Fair."

Today, it could also be "tax revolt."

Because low-key, generally-conservative West Allis voters said in an advisory referendum Tuesday by a 91%-9% spread that they wanted the under-the-radar tax loophole known as 'dark store' slammed shut on behalf of everyday homeowners and small businesses.

Also called 'the Walmart loophole,' it allows major retailers get their property taxes cut as their stores and facilities were dark, or closed, regardless of their age or profitability.

I wrote about this loophole in 2016, but ever since there has been only crickets from Walker, while his special-interest water-carrying lieutenants who control the Legislature killed no doubt with his wink-and-nod a bi-partisan effort to get rid of it last year, as Wisconsin Gazette reported.
Earlier this year, state Sen. Janis Ringhand’s bill, A.B. 386, attempted to close the loophole in Wisconsin and was supported by over 60 bipartisan co-sponsors and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. But in the final days of the session, Assembly Leader Robin Vos and Senate Speaker Scott Fitzgerald blocked Ringhand’s bill and tried to push a “compromise” supported by business interests that, according to the League, was “worse than current law.” 
Because of Vos and Fitzgerald’s last-minute bait-and-switch, nothing was done to address the dark store tax loophole. 
Here's a bit of my 2016 posting, below, that is relevant today given Walker's fresh round of campaign-tinged-and-timed-2018 sales tax holiday and rebate check handouts:
Because while Walker wants gimmicky one-time sales tax holidays and child credits as election-year tricks, the GOP is enabling its big business supporters and donors to get their property tax assessments cut permanently... by failing to close the so-called "dark store" loophole:
...a tax loophole that lets big-box retailers reduce their property taxes at the expense of homeowners and small get ahead of the curve, call our legislators and spread the word about how major manufacturers get breaks, too;
Data from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue show that 136 companies obtained reduced assessments for more than 200 manufacturing facilities around the state between 2012 and 2016.
At least 84 companies appealed their assessed value to the department in 2017. Many of those cases are pending.
Among the largest losers:
► Manufacturers in Milwaukee County reduced their assessed values by more than $18 million, the most of any county.
► Outagamie County had the second-biggest reduction, losing $14.5 million in assessed value.
► Brown County lost more than $11 million...Oneida County lost nearly $4.5 million and Marathon County lost more than $2.5 million in taxable property.
So when these after-the-fact reductions are lobbied-and-lawyered-through, local governments which need the revenue to pay for public safety, schools, or road repairs again either have to do more with less, or max out unpopular local taxes rates and fees.

Leaving state officials free to pose for holy pictures about cutting taxes while, in fact, they knowingly push the political costs onto local officials and the financial costs onto everyday taxpayers.

If I were handling the Evers-Barnes schedule, I'd immediately get West Allis on the calendar and push the issue into speeches ads about the true costs of Walker and his party's hostility to tax fairness and transparency.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Should Walker be in these official DHS tweets?

This is the official Wisconsin Department of Health Services twitter feed. Anyone vetting these postings for possible political content, overlap?

Nice messages, to be sure, but does Walker need to in them?

 Aug 6
ICYMI has declared August Breastfeeding Month in ! Breastfeeding for the first 6 mos of a baby's life has health benefits for baby AND mom. Learn more: so everyone lives their best life.

And Aug. 3:

  1. 1:38

Foxconn profit falls on 'soaring' costs. Are robotics far behind?

Waiting for a Walker tweet in response, post-custard slurping, of course, to this not-so-great news:
Foxconn Profit Below Forecast on Soaring Operating Costs, Shares Fall
I know: send in the robots and use the related tech on which Foxconn is currently investing $4 billion to reportedly replace every one of its workers, and cut those costs. 

Thousands of acres like this cabbage field in Racine County shown here in 2017 are now in an area now designed 'blighted,' available to be seized by local government for Foxconn's use and 'development' with public funds. Bulldozing is underway.
Full Foxconn archive, here

Walker's defects, disqualification explained in these twelve posts

Scott Walker should be replaced as Wisconsin governor by Tony Evers. Why, in  twelve reads:

*  Character counts.

*  To completely serve Trump, Walker gives Wisconsin business and jobs the boot.

*  Skyrocketing waterway pollution in a once-green clean state tell the story.

*  Why Walker is not the education Governor.

*  Why Walker is the pothole/Scotthole Governor, but not the transit Governor.

*  Walker was the highway deficit king even before he was Governor.

*  Insiders disclose the harm he's done to the formerly-credible, science-based DNR.

*  Walker's disregard of the state constitution's Public Trust Doctrine and related damage to Wisconsin's environment is ideological, intentional, extensive and perhaps irreversible.

*  Foxconn Fever - - fourteen months of Foxconn posts - - or how to give away a generation's worth of other people's money.

*  Walker is the special interest/public sphere-be-damned Governor; the Kohler golf course case study.

*  Despite national media flubs, Walker was never 'midwestern nice' or 'scrappy.'

*  Dilettantism is a flaw, not a virtue.
Image result for scott walker photo fishing