Monday, May 22, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Right-wing GOP Gov. and public resource privatization champion Scott Walker may have launched his most hypocritical re-election ploy to date by Tweeting (below) an invitation to Wisconsin State Parks - - including Copper Falls State Park
which would have been trashed had the miles of open-pit iron mining Walker tried to dynamite into that watershed not been blocked - - after killing in his 2015-'17 budget all state operating funding for those parks while raising park admission and camping fees.
This is not the first time that Team Walker has pitched a visit to Copper Falls State Park as if the mining push never happened.
And, for good measure, Walker is including another round of park fee increases in his proposed 2017-'19 budget, setting up the need for corporate naming rights and other private-sector perks on public land.
I mean, this takes the cake:
Posted by James Rowen at 2:34 PM
* Milwaukee County has been included in a suburban-and-exurban weighted regional planning commission which had to be forced by advocates and public pressure in 2009 to update by 2013 its 1975 regional housing plan.
Nearly 40 years between studies and recommendations.
* Note also that the Legislature in 1955 froze the City of Milwaukee's borders, land-locking the city and making it easier for suburbs to expand independently and enforce discriminatory zoning, housing patterns and job development patterns.
More here and here:
I have long felt that descriptions of Milwaukee as 'the most segregated city in America' missed the fundamental reality that the Journal Sentinel story makes clear: it is the region that is segregated; wealth creation in that region is regularly sparked by politicians and power brokers more interested in diverting public resources to suburban highway expansion and job growth than in providing equitable development, public transportation and equal opportunity to Milwaukee and its heavily-minority, lower-income central city.
My point has long been this:* The State Legislature led by GOP Racine County State Rep. and now-Assembly Speaker Robin Vos legally barred the creation of service-sharing state regional transit authorities.
Waukesha County opinion makers also balked, Waukesha County government refused to join a transit authority with Milwaukee County and for good measure even eliminated a bus line connecting Milwaukee workers to Waukesha job opportunities.
One local expert, having studied these issues for years, wrote in an extensive, 2012 report:
..the political climate of Milwaukee’s suburbs has also played a role in maintaining this entrenched pattern of racial segregation. The historical legacy of housing discrimination and resistance to desegregation in Milwaukee and its environs has been well established in the literature.* Referenced again, and again, on this blog, including this 2013 post, for example:
* The Public Policy Forum noted many of these realities in a 2002 study:
* The Brookings Institution's John Austin took note of the penalties of legacy discrimination in a major 2007 study which I noted on my blog at the time:
"The lack of housing diversity here suppresses the housing market, promises to accelerate the concentration of poverty, undercuts the local economy, segregates educational opportunities and undermines the wealth-building potential for thousands of families," said Jeffrey Browne, forum vice president and research director.
He also has data about racial separation in southeastern Wisconsin and across the Great Lakes region that is deeply disturbing, but, again, offers an opportunity for change that would be good for the entire region's economy - - if leaders here have the political will to break from the past.* And why did it require litigation by the ACLU of Wisconsin after years of struggle against entrenched government opposition to force the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to add temporary bus routes to the billion-dollar-plus Zoo Interchange construction project - - a brief respite from the concrete-heavy, pro-suburban, publicly-financed transportation planning and spending in the Milwaukee region that for years has been fought by the ACLU and other organizations:
Kudos to the civil libertarians who have doggedly pursued social and economic justice from the State of Wisconsin, the Department of Transportation and others in southeastern Wisconsin on behalf of minority, low-income and urban residents:
The state Department of Transportation did not follow federal civil rights rules for at least seven years, a yearlong investigation has found.
An American Civil Liberties Union attorney applauded the decision by the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Civil Rights as a step toward holding state transportation officials accountable for how their actions affect minorities.
These matters and the struggle for rights and fairness by advocates have been tracked on this blog repeatedly.
Several Milwaukee area groups have made available their detailed comments to state officials during the recent testimony phase of the Zoo Interchange project planning.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:26 PM
Saturday, May 20, 2017
DNR approves sand mining project with large wetlands loss
This blog has followed this issue for years, as corporate control of public resources like water drive the Walker 'chamber of commerce mentality'/ intentional DNR-weakening/ Wisconsin GOP playbook, - - now assisted at the request of the GOP-run Legislature by a unsurprisingly favorable give-the-water-away opinion from GOP attorney General Brad Schimel.
And has accelerated special interests' access with state government assistance to water that began in the early days of Walker's rule:
Walker was sworn in as Wisconsin Governor on January 3, 2011 - - five days after announcing his selection of [developer and DNR-basher Cathy] Stepp to run the DNR - - and nine days later he suspended the review of a wetland filling permit application so one of his campaign donors could more quickly begin building a project near Lambeau Field...
A year later, Walker signed in front of cheering Realtors at their convention a bill which weakened environmental protections for wetlands.
As to campaign donations and environmental issues in the state?
The pattern continues to this day - - both the fillings and the campaign donations - - as recent stories and records show:
An out-of-state investment company wants to build a sand mining and processing plant in Jackson and Monroe counties that would eliminate about 17 acres of pristine forested wetland, according to plans being reviewed by state and federal regulators.The project is sought by Meteor Timber, a company owned by Atlanta, Ga.-based Timberland Investment Resources. A Timberland executive and attorneys with Weld Riley, an Eau Claire law firm that represents Meteor, contributed about $23,000 since January 2010 to Republican and Democratic legislative and statewide candidates.
* Major Walker campaign donor Herb Kohler is working with the DNR on a plan to allow Kohler to turn a 247-acre wooded/wetland/artifact-rich nature preserve into a golf course along Lake Michigan.
The plan would even require four acres of an adjoining, popular state park to be included in the privately-owned, high end golf course project...
Also, the DNR, with assists from Wisconsin's corporately-attuned GOP Attorney General and State Supreme Court majority whose campaign committees have received millions of dollars in donations from Walker-sympathetic business and conservative advocacy organizations, has loosened the rules governing high-volume well pumping permits which supply water to diary and farming and frackers sand operations - - but which can deplete nearby waters, as is well-known.
* Records show Walker's campaign has received more than $30,000 from two of the most recent big-volume ground water permit winners:
One of the permits was granted to James Wysocki, of Bancroft, for a well located in Pine Grove in Portage County. Wysocki and several members of his family own the Wysocki Family of Companies, which operates large vegetable and dairy farms.
The owners of the Wysocki Family of Companies contributed about $31,000 to Walker between January 2010 and August 2016...The consequences of Walker's destruction of a science-based DNR are documented and known.
The consequences of over pumping groundwater are known and documented.
The consequences of using massive amounts of water to irrigate more acreage and support dairy cattle and contaminate drinking water are known and documented, and props to Kewaunee Cares and Midwest Environmental Advocates for taking a stand.
The campaign contribution connections are known and documented.
So now the end-game in our one-party state is in sight as state power may allow big volume groundwater permits to be handed out like party favors and, if the legislation is approved, be transferred and held forever in the owners' - - not the public's - - control.
Downstream neighbors, drinking water quality, effects on the environment, impacts on the water table and, through enabled, inevitable runoff into Lake Michigan - - all be damned.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:58 PM
But while Governor Clueless touted for election-year credit on his Twitter feed a CEO magazine's feel-good-opinions-about-Wisconsin - - noted yesterday, here - -you won't find him tweeting about this data-driven, 50-state comparative business ranking showing Wisconsin frozen in the 50th spot - - again - - in the always-significant business category: entrepreneurial, start-up activity.
And you'll never see him acknowledge that Wisconsin has the second-worst roads in America or comes in 12th on a well-water contamination index.
On a 'brain-gain ' index, Wisconsin ranks 44th, with only PA, NY, NJ, OH, CA and MI attracting fewer new residents with college degrees than Wisconsin:
Wisconsin has one of the lowest shares of non-native college graduates that relocated from other states. Consequently, Wisconsin must instead ask itself is what can be done to attract college educated people from outside Wisconsin?The data and study were culled from this UW-Madison site.
Wisconsin would likely rank higher on the Kaufmann start-up business activity index if the state were attracting more out-of-state college grads who wanted to start businesses here, yet years of Walker's heavily-ideologcal approach to attracting business - - deregulation, tax breaks, "Open for Business" billboards, a Wal-er-created (but still-dysfunctional) business development state agency and a compliant legislature embracing the same failed tools - - are not moving the needle.
And Walker has cut or diminished state science staffing as well as
climate science information and other public environmental priorities statewide, as I note throughout this summary post - - so why would people with science degrees think about Wisconsin as their career-friendly new home?
I know several experts who came to Wisconsin years ago specifically for science careers after graduating from colleges and universities in other states who have told me they would not move here now because Walker has so decimated a respect for facts, science, and the teaching professions.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:23 PM
Posted by James Rowen at 12:19 PM
Today's offering, though incomplete, is supported by hundreds of references and links that point readers to right-wing GOP's WI Gov. Scott Walker's long-standing self-promotion and corporate servitude at the expense of the public interest.
* This most recent post about Walker's service to private interests is being continually updated:
Walker keeps delivering special interest privatization, favors* This recent post tied together many of Walker's failed business-related moves:
That's some failing business you're running, Governor* This 2017 post about Trump's special interest focus following the Walker pattern:
Get used to more corporate control of Wisconsin, US environment* This 2016 post focused on Walker's destruction of the Wisconsin DNR:
Inside the WI DNR: poor morale, fear, despair over lost mission* This 2016 post gathered together John Doe probe news and an earlier disclosure of Koch interests' Walker grooming that dates to 2007 and has been studiously ignored by Wisconsin media:
Blockbuster Doe filing reminder of Walker disclosures past
* This 2015 post was a broad summary of Walker's history principally intended for out-of-state readers:
Walker facts little-known outside of Wisconsin* A related 2015 post examined whether Walker deserved his claim to being 'midwestern nice':
National media often fail Scott Walker reporting* This 2015 post focused on Walker's service to donors:
Walker, Wisconsin's GOP serving donors, escalate war on science* This 2013 post summarized Walker's ruination of Amtrak expansion and the rail transit industry:
In job poor state, Walker derailed Wisconsin's emerging rail industry* This 2013 post followed the Wisconsin GOP's plans to evade the state constitution's water protections known as the Public Trust Doctrine:
Ultimate GOP Environmental Target in Wisconsin is the Public Trust Doctrine
Posted by James Rowen at 11:38 AM
Friday, May 19, 2017
Walker donors are being well-served by the DNR he recast as a "chamber of commerce mentality" agency.
Not coincidentally, many of the state's large and often-polluting animal feedlot operations are running while state regulators look the other way on expired permits, giving their owners an inspection-free/open-ended permission to operate without regard to public impacts.
* And private contractors will soon be allowed to draft permits for those same big feedlot operations and other businesses 'regulated' by the DNR.
* Don't forget Walker's re-election budget includes new transfers of hundreds of millions of public dollars to private and choice schools whose advocacy organizations have long been Walker supporters.
* And that Walker's systematic draining of all state operating dollars for Wisconsin state parks will force more user fee increases, perhaps even private sector naming rights' purchases.
Looking forward to a night at Acme Insecticide State Park or JumboBurger Nature Preserve?
While Walker's colossally-failed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has thrown money at Walker donors and failed to keep accurate books - - and is a winner in Walker's pending, re-election budget for fresh millions and restored lending authority despite earlier accounting flaws - - a state audit released today into the agency's continuing miasma showed it failed to meet legal requirements for tax credit financing and still could not prove with data that it actually creates and/or retains jobs.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:54 AM
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Together they'll team to develop strategies to not only prepare locally for the effects of the changing climate, but also to better identify ways to reduce carbon emissions and promote further development of solar and clean, green energy production.
"Growing seasons are longer, ice is on the lakes many weeks shorter, we now have more ice instead of snowstorms in winter and we're seeing heavier rains more frequently in spring and summer."
Parisi announced today he has selected Keith Reopelle, a well-respected expert in the field of clean energy, environmental sustainability, and climate change, as the first director of the new Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change.
The website also pays tribute to former online resources once offered by the state and federal governments on climate change that have since been taken off line.
Parisi noted the new council will be well-served by the extensive intellectual resources available through the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:51 PM