Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trump validates his contempt for clean air, water

Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg
Once when the super-developer appointed today Scott Pruitt, oil industry front man and climate change denier whose job will be to demolish the EPA.

Yes, demolish - - because in March, Trump kissed off the whole deal and said he'd do exactly what he's done with the Pruitt pick.
Trump promised to reduce the agency to "tidbits."
"We'll be fine with the environment," Trump told Fox News last year. "We can leave a little bit, but you can't destroy businesses."

Trump's EPA pick is climate denier, friend of dirty air

Trump's pick for US EPA administrator is Scott Pruitt, a corporatist, anti-environmental, and anti-Obama co-litigant partner with Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel - - an appointment which couldn't be worse for clean air, clean water and fair play for citizens.

The pick will make it easier for Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources to further ease back on clean air and water enforcement, knowing that Trump's corporate-obeisant EPA will forego regulation and green light more private control of these common resources.

President-elect Donald Trump is planning to pick Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA, putting one of the agency's most hostile critics and a skeptic of climate change science at its helm, sources close to the transition said Wednesday...
Pruitt has also been a leading critic and challenger of the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, also known the Clean Water Rule, which has drawn fierce attack from energy, agricultural and development interests. Trump has cited that regulation, which increases the number of streams and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act, as one of his top targets when he takes office...
Scott Pruitt by Gage Skidmore.jpg
His LinkedIn biography boasts that he is “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” and says that as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association he “led the charge with repeated notices and subsequent lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their leadership’s activist agenda and refusal to follow the law.” 
Pruitt has also been a critic of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the law put in place by Congress a decade ago that requires oil refiners to blend corn ethanol and other biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply. EPA implements the rule.
This isn't putting the fox in the hen house. It's hiring the fox to burn it down:
Trump names Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general suing EPA on climate change, to head the EPA

Clarke not picked by Trump; focus must shift to jail deaths

Because a retired US general, and not Milwaukee's ultra-rightwing Sheriff David Clarke, will be named by Donald Trump as Homeland Secretary designee, it's good to read that there is a growing consensus atop Milwaukee County government that the four recent deaths in the jail Clarke administers should be investigated by an outside authority.

Time's a-wastin'.
David Clarke by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Let's get busy.

Big WI CAFO ginormous manure yield

I noted yesterday that Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources could approve several major water-demanding and environmentally-destructive projects - - including a 26,000-feeding operation in NW Wisconsin, a high-end golf course slapped into a rare sand dune-and-artifact rich nature preserve adjoining and intruding into Kohler Andrae State Park south of Sheboygan along Lake Michigan and a massive dairy operation in the state's central sands Wood County ironically named Golden Sands by the family of Walker donors proposing it.
One recent news story gives you an idea of how not-so-golden that Wood County site could become, and why local officials there, anticipating a DNR green light, are trying to enact some local land and water use controls:
The proposed Golden Sands Dairy would house 5,300 animals, and produce 55 million gallons of liquid manure and 25,000 tons of solid manure each year...
The town has been involved in legal action with the Wysocki Family of Companies, owner of Golden Sands, since 2012...
The new ordinance points to groundwater monitoring wells near the existing Central Sands Dairy in Juneau County, which is also owned by Wysocki.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Walker donor's feedlot, water use plan at DNR decision point

[Update] This is an especially-detailed update by the Milwaukee Journal's Lee Bergquist on a proposed major dairy expansion by the Wysocki family - - major Walker donors, as has been reported separately.

I'd noted the dairy development, among several big projects across the state which, if approved, would eat up big tracts of land and require huge withdrawals of groundwater.

[Update - - here's the estimated annual manure yield.]

And which are primed for approval by Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources which he put under the control and thumb - - with a litany of negative environmental and democratic process setbacks - - of former GOP state senator/DNR critic/developer/McDonald's manager Cathy Stepp.

And don't forget - - Big ag gave legislators and the Walker administration their marching orders: We want the water, on our terms.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

New alarm over WI's deficit/pothole-plagued roads

While GOP Gov. Scott Walker - - he whose early backing for the $6.4 billion SE WI freeway system rebuild and expansion without the necessary funding in hand is the main reason the state transportation system is buried in debt and chaos - - and State GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos point blaming fingers like divorcing parents over spending sprees and unpaid bills the kids will inherit, Team Walker says the FUBAR is getting worse. 
The share of roads in poor condition will double, debt payments and the state's stream of cash for road and highway projects will barely grow, a state official told lawmakers Tuesday. 
By 2027, the share of state roads in poor condition would double to 42% while the money available to address those growing challenges would increase at only one-quarter the recent inflation rate, state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb testified to lawmakers Tuesday.
The SE WI expansion and rebuilding includes 127 new lane miles and many wider ramps - - adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the bottom line, thus slowing down or starving completely other projects statewide and aid to local governments for road repairs which, if left unfunded, only raise local property taxes, so-called vehicle 'wheel taxes,' and motorists costs in blown tires, broken shocks and damaged axles. And nerves.

Remember, these are the same fiscal conservative phonies that are also looking for a second round of state park and trails fee increases from the people to shore up the DNR's intentionally-slashed shrinking budgets because Walker ideology diminishes public service and mission even if it means everyday folks have to pick up the tab.

So get ready for either increased vehicle and licensing fees, or gas taxes, or, more likely, deep service cuts across the board so the road-builders will get their politicos contracts and Walker can retain his phony, ideologically-and-perpetual-campaign-related 'no/never-tax-increase pledge' - - already violated in his first budget - - (though parks fees somehow don't count).

WI lawmakers see harm in Stepp's park fee plan

Democrats on the Wisconsin Legislature's budget-writing committee have raised questions in writing to Wisconsin DNR Secretary and Scott Walker chief 'chamber of commerce mentality' implementing tool Cathy Stepp about her proposal to continue raising state parks fees and offer corporate sponsors signage or other perks in the parks following the Walker administration's earlier elimination of state operating support for the state park system:

"...we are concerned that this approach to continually increase fees for Wisconsin families and sell out our parks to private companies is short-sighted and will not be sustainable," the legislators said, in part.

I will reprint the letter at the end of this posting, but first point you to two items for context:

*  I'd noted Stepp's plan last week:

The 'chamber of commerce mentality' Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources which agency Secretary, former developer and McDonald's manager Cathy Stepp - -
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
- - Scott Walker and their fee-happy, fake-friends-of-the-working-family GOP legislative allies have foisted on our formerly progressive state are looking to a) again raise state parks fees and, b) raise more money to replace the tax dollars they stripped from the DNR budget by, c) selling signage space so sponsoring corporations can welcome you to your favorite state park or trail.
Imagine setting up camp or heading off into the north woods with a billboard greeting or sendoff from the good folks who want to sell you triple-decker bacon burgers, gasoline, weedkiller, or ED pills.
*  And remember that Stepp recently blew off legislators of her own party as well as the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau by declining to answer questions about about the state's wastewater treatment planning - - a pattern of non-compliance echoing Walker and DNR disregard of the US Clean Water Act for five years.

With that in mind, here is the legislators' letter, dated yesterday:

December 5, 2016

Secretary Cathy Stepp
Department of Natural Resources
101 South Webster Street
Madison, WI 53703

Dear Secretary Stepp,

We recently received your agency’s report outlining potential revenue options to address the budget shortfall facing the Wisconsin State Park System for the 2017-19 State Budget. We appreciate the opportunity to review the revenue proposals in this report.

During the 2015-17 State Budget when the Republicans serving on the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) voted to remove all state funds from the State Park System we voiced many concerns, including that the cut would result in a structural budget imbalance in the Parks Account. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) highlighted at the time that increases in fees would not sustain the 28% cut in funding and estimated a structural deficit of $1.4 million in the Parks Account. Due to this estimate being based on prior years, we would like to request updated numbers on actual revenue and park attendance from the DNR for 2015-16 to better examine the impact of the revenue options you proposed.

In providing potential revenue options for state parks going forward, your report includes important considerations including recreational and camping use trends, future population demographics, technology and modernization. However, many of these considerations seem to be in conflict with each other with the funding decisions recently made. For example, increasing the number of campsites with electrical hook-ups will require increased state funding. This is in addition to the fact that the state is already tens of millions of dollars behind in deferred maintenance projects and upgrades. Acknowledging the importance of investing in the modernization and quality of our state parks while at the same time eliminating state funding seems counterintuitive. 

In addition, your report also ignores any discussion of the impact of the increased financial burden on access and overall attendance. The revenue options you propose make up the shortfall by putting an additional burden on Wisconsin families that for decades have been able to enjoy our natural resources and heritage without significant financial constraint. By continuing to raise fees you are making the State Park System accessible only to those who can afford it. Do any of the revenue projections provided consider lower attendance?

Your report proposes an increase in campsite fees up to an additional $5 a night, increasing admission prices up to $5 a day, and electrifying more campsites to increase per night costs. Continually increasing fees in this way could deter more and more families from camping and spending time in our State Parks. You stated that “the park system works to draw new customers to camping and outdoor recreation.” But, how many times can you raise fees before it becomes unaffordable for Wisconsin families?

Your report also proposes merchandizing the state parks by securing intellectual property rights through trademark and copyright patents in sponsorships and advertising. Selling our state park names and brands to private companies is a mistake that other parks have already made and one that we should not consider in Wisconsin. When this was brought up last budget cycle, the LFB gave examples of California and Virginia where self-sustaining parks did not work and pointed to a National Conference of State Legislatures report that stated, "Although revenues from park admission fees, camping fees, golf course charges and restaurants can help fill the gaps, outside of certain very popular parks, they are not enough to make parks self-sustaining."  This is especially true if you consider the modernization upgrades that future demographics desire and the deferred maintenance that will need to be funded in order to maintain the quality in our state parks that make them a destination.

These recommendations are troubling because Wisconsin’s State Parks attract millions of visitors and contribute more than $1 billion annually to the state’s economy. State parks increase tourism and provide economic benefits to surrounding communities through visitor spending on gas, food, lodging, recreational equipment and guide services. The decision to eliminate all state funding appears to be driven by ideological principle rather than good economic and fiscal policy. Considering the economic and quality of life benefit to state residents, a strong case could be made for additional state investment in our parks that does not discourage access by individual users. Given the mandate from Governor Walker to make our State Park System self-sustaining, we are concerned that this approach to continually increase fees for Wisconsin families and sell out our parks to private companies is short-sighted and will not be sustainable.

Thank you again for taking the time to read through our concerns on the DNR’s revenue options for the Wisconsin State Park System.  We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to reviewing updated numbers on actual revenue and park attendance from the DNR for 2015-16.


LENA TAYLOR                                                                                JON ERPENBACH
State Senator                                                                                      State Senator
4th District                                                                                           27th District

CHRIS TAYLOR                                                                              GORDON HINTZ
State Representative                                                                         State Representative
76th District                                                                                        54th District

cc:       Governor Scott Walker
Joint Committee on Finance, Co-Chairs

Many jobs moved to Mexico by WI firms

[Updated from 12/5] Just for the record:

* Thermo-Fischer Scientific, Two Rivers, added to this list:

*  Polaris.

*  Manitowoc Crane.

*  Badger Meter.

*  Eaton Corp. - - three times, even after loans from Scott Walker's WEDC big business piggybank.

*  Rexnord (headquartered in Milwaukee).

Monday, December 5, 2016

Walker, WI GOP backwater boosters ahead of curve

The Washington Post notes that red states are headed for self-inflicted decline:
Under Trump, red states are finally going to be able to turn themselves into poor, unhealthy paradises
May I say that Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans have been hard at work doing exactly that since they took power in 2011 - - remember that Walker delights in preaching havoc wreaking as a governing style - - and it's working! 

And they had to break the rules to turn us from Progressive Wisconsin to Wreakhavocstan. 

Ponder the decline and its rotten fruit:

*  From 2014:

You could not find a stronger indicator of Wisconsin's emerging backwater status and unflinchingly callous political direction under Scott Walker than his blockade of a minimum wage increase and dismissal of the need to even have it - - while 20 other states and the District of Columbia will increase it on January 1, 2015.
* From 2015:
Ugly data show Wisconsin at cusp of zero-growth
A couple of days ago, when analyzing policies of Walkerite Republicans that make Wisconsin unattractive, I'd written:
It would not surprise me if Wisconsin's population gain slows or plateaus as a result of these punitive, small-minded and overtly hostile GOP programs, guaranteeing Wisconsin's long-term status as a low-wage, slow-to-no-new job growth entrepreneurial and lifestyle backwater.
*  Also from 2015:
Wisconsin's middle class has taken biggest US hit:
How much evidence do you need to grasp the damage our 'Midwestern nice" presidential poseur-in-chief has added to Wisconsin's stalled economy through punitive, trickle-down fiscal 'planning' - - damage he heaped on top of a national recession recovery that is bypassing the state on his watch?
Report: Wisconsin worst in nation on shrinking middle-class
Wisconsin stifled by Walker's wasted, ideological tenure
Imagine if Walker and the ideologically-driven party, perpetual campaign, stage-managed Legislature, courts, agencies and media they control had put the same energy and resources they spent cutting education, dismantling collective bargaining, obstructing wind and solar development, preventing state residents from voting or playing favorites with public assets into honestly listening to people and crafting an inclusive, expansive, forward-looking agenda.
*  And more recently, from 2016
Walker-led WI economy stalled, unattractive, reports shows
[Updated from 10/29] Well, if as Republican Gov. Scott Walker did with ideological and partisan-power retaining motivations  - - you slash the state's cornerstone UW system budget and attack its historic mission - - the very attributes which drew students and faculty to the state - - and you  neglect and degrade the state's urban centers, and Wisconsin's environmental legacy and desperately-needed and ignored transportation alternatives which attract young millennials and families and entrepreneurs - - and you intentionally diminish women's right to choose, and unfettered voting, and honest public policy approaches to clean air, fresh water and climate change - - then of course your economy and state image will stall and decay as people look elsewhere while rejecting the unappealing product you put out every day as a matter of policy and intent, a new comprehensive report confirms.
*  And since declining public health will mark the red states' decline, there is this recent Wisconsin lowlight:
Walker evades clean drinking water law

SE Wisconsin apartheid is suburban money-maker, regional embarrassment

Thanks to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative reporters for exposing the shameful realities of complex ownership connections between an upscale absentee landlord who lives in the tony Village of River Hills where there are very picky construction guidelines covering types and colors and angles of materials, landscaping, lighting, tennis court and swimming pool set up and screening, etc., and run down, out-of-code rental units that landlord, a securities industry leader, owns in the City of Milwaukee's lower-income and heavily-minority central city.

I've argued for years that there are outside regional forces and inequities at work - - and, yes, apartheid is an accurate label for some of that, and the term found its way into a piercing Journal Sentinel op-ed a few years ago - - which contribute to Milwaukee's central city poverty and resulting social and economic problems rippling statewide; the Journal Sentinel story today puts a face on the condition, the victims and on one of the beneficiaries.

Today's Journal Sentinel story is part of a longer series.

Well done.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Why Paul Ryan rationalizes Trump talk

When Ryan says this:
'Who cares' what Donald Trump tweets if problems are fixed'
A portrait shot of Paul Ryan, looking straight ahead. He has short brown hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a red and blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background is the American flag.
What he really means is:
I don't care what he says so long as he adopts my budget 
Which is not as far-fetched as you might think, reports 
You Heard It Here First: Trump May Not Propose A Budget Next Year
Well, maybe this is the solution:
Hey, look, how about Ryan's budget? 

10 reasons why WI Democrats think Walker, GOP are cheats

[Updated from 12/3] It is not surprising that GOP Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his allies are suing to stop the legal recount of votes in the Presidential election, and also are sure to rewrite state law to further restrict access to the recount process, as Walker and his party have co-opted, bent or broken Wisconsin voting and redistricting laws, and obstructed public access to the ballot box with restrictions later ruled unconstitutional.

Little wonder that Walker and GOP reactions to the ongoing recount look self-serving, even shady, given their long-running pattern of gratuitous abuse of the democratic process, including at least these ten eleven twelve (thanks to a sharp-eyed reader with a sharper memory) documented actions and events that date all the way back to his scandal-ridden, failed 1988 Marquette University student government campaign:

*  When he was Milwaukee County Executive, running for Governor and no doubt prepping for his 2015 run for President, Walker used public funds to underwrite self-promotional motorcycle tours that took him, and his name and image, far from Milwaukee.

*  At the same time, Walker secretly used public staff, Milwaukee county office space and other taxpayer-provided resources to raise his profile, organize partisan events and raise money for his gubernatorial campaign, and other GOP candidates - - moves which eventually led to convictions of six Walker staffers, associates and campaign donors in what became known as John Doe I. 

Walker won the gubernatorial election.

*  As Governor, Walker and his party pushed through a very restrictive voter ID law with known partisan overtones and with admittedly partisan objectives aimed at suppressing voting in minority and college communities which vote heavily Democratic.

*  Forced into a recall election in 2012, Walker raised and received millions of dollars in campaign funds routed through a third party advocacy group at his direction which led to another prosecutorial investigation into known as John Doe II.

Like the events which led to John Doe I, Walker and his funding and organizing methods were an additional weight in his favor on the scales. Walker won the recall election.

* Walker has since signed a bill into law written by his party which ended the use of John Doe investigations into allegations of political corruption.

*  During the 2012 recall elections, the Republican Party openly ran Republican candidates as fake Democrats in Democratic primaries to monkey-wrench the electoral process. 

*  [Update] - - GOP State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, an enthusiastic supporter of the GOP's 2012 fake Democrat candidacies maneuver, this spring wrote a bill which Walker signed into law to help protect the GOP's majority from an election challenge by a popular Democratic office-holder.

The bill prohibited sitting Wisconsin county executives from serving simultaneously in the legislature. It was a maneuver to discourage Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a Democrat, from running for an open Senate seat.

Harris ran for the State Senate seat, and lost.

*  Walker signed into law several restrictions to early voting in Wisconsin that were so partisan and undemocratic that a Federal judge had to void them.

*  Separately, another Federal judge determined that the Republicans' redistricting of the Legislature drafted in secret using state employees and public computer equipment inserted out-of-sight into private law firms, and which has for years helped Walker and the GOP to expand their majorities and push through their agendas, was knowingly and illegally crafted to disenfranchise Democrats.

*  Wisconsin GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel, a close Walker and Republican legislative ally, sent election monitors during the November, 2016 elections disproportionally into Democratic-leaning precincts.

*  Schimel's actions echoed the intimidating posting of billboards paid for by a GOP financier and major Walker donor in minority neighborhoods warning against election fraud - - though there had been no record in those neighborhoods of voting fraud in those areas.

All of which makes Walker's talking point of having made it "easier to vote and harder to cheat" in Wisconsin elections - - undermined by these illustrative examples and testimonials and the ten points above 
- - a disturbing, self-serving lie.

Climate change impact proven in Lake Superior

Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has assigned no priority to the realities of climate change and scrubbed items and information links about climate change from DNR webpages, but there is now scientific proof that a warming climate is fueling a first-ever discovery of algae deep in Lake Superior
Smoke stacks from a factory.
- - the deepest and coldest of the five Great Lakes. 
“This is the first detection of a biological impact from climate change on the Great Lakes ecosystem,’’ said Euan Reavie, paleolimnology specialist for UMD’s Natural Resources Research Center, one of nine scientists from six states and provinces who collaborated on the project.

Reavie studies the history of algae by taking samples out of the sediment at the bottom of the lakes. He and other researchers found cyclotella have been increasing for decades right along with the temperature of all five of the Great Lakes. 
“The signal is consistent over a broad area, over all the Laurentian Great Lakes’’ that climate change is spurring the change in cyclotella, Craig Stow, scientist for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the News Tribune. Stow was one of the principal researchers in the study.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

WI DNR blows off the US EPA. Again.

While finding the time to stump for Trump, and hire more corporate insiders, and blow off state regulators, and rewrite agency procedures so polluting industries can police themselves, Cathy Stepp - - 
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR 
- - atop the DNR again thumbs her nose at the clean water standards and the US EPA - - which just completed an on-site review in Stepp's Madison offices of the DNR's nearly six-year failure to enforce the US Clean Water Act in Wisconsin - - by failing to pass on to local water systems the EPA's advice in February about upgraded procedures for testing for lead, we learn today.
Nine months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned against flushing water systems before testing for lead, the state Department of Natural Resources has not yet passed that advice on to public water systems in Wisconsin.
I'm guessing that Stepp and Walker figure that Scott Walker will appoint an insecticide plant manager or oil company CEO or feedlot manure producer to run the US EPA so Wisconsin can go about leaving the business of clean air and water to the pollution lobby.

In Trump's America, lock them up

Looks like we're getting a new Republican party symbol and it matches their Glorious Leader's hair color:
File:Contemporary orange-white striped prison uniform.JPG
*  A key Trump operative wants the New York Times editor jailed:
Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi on Thursday called for the New York Times’ executive editor to be jailed for releasing some pages of the President-elect's tax returns.
*  A potential Trump Cabinet nominee who supervises a county jail where four people have recently died wants a critic from his local board of supervisors to be jailed
"...send this idiot to federal prison so justice can be served."
*  And Trump himself is still whipping up the crowds who want to imprison Hillary Clinton three weeks after he won the Presidency: 
Hundreds of supporters of President-elect Donald Trump resurrected the “lock her up” chant at his first rally after defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.
Before Trump took the stage, the audience erupted into the chant that was a staple at rallies across the country during his campaign...
After Trump took the stage, the crowd cheered and chanted the line again after he said "We did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary, didn't we?" 

Ex-developer lauds WI DNR's business practices

Former McDonald's manager, developer and current 'chamber of commerce mentality' WI DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp - - 
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
- - is trying to assure the public that the reorganization she released last week which continues Scott Walker's agency privatization and allows industrial-scale feedlot operators to write their own operating permits will be nothing more than, well, business as usual, media are reporting.
"I do want to assure everybody there's nothing in this plan that rolls back or weakens or loosens environmental regulations or standards," Stepp said on the Wisconsin Public Television interview program "Here and Now." It's not about that. It's about how we do the business we do, not the actual what it is that's getting done on the ground."
While you are getting a handle on Stepp's definition of the agency's mission as "the business we do, not the actual what it is," here is a deeper look at how the Walker-Stepp philosophy is actually wrecking the agency's historic public service mission.

Also - - as you try to see just where your constitutional right to clean water has been dispatched in Stepp's 'the-regulated get-to-do-it-for-themselves' code adherence, consider that under the Steps 'plan' the Wisconsin Supreme Court should be allowed to hand over the writing of its ethics codes to the Justices' big campaign contributors so the donors can still have their cases heard without recusals.

What - - the Justices already did that? This business-as-usual 'chamber of commerce mentality' in post-John Doe, Republican-and-one-party-ruled Wisconsin is government wide.

That's how the party in power in Wisconsin and their hired hands do 'the business they do and the actual what is...'

Put another way: don't worry, be happy. The party of business is letting business write its own business-as-usual ticket.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Look for higher fees, business billboards at WI state parks

The 'chamber of commerce mentality' Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources which agency Secretary, former developer and McDonald's manager Cathy Stepp - - 
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

- - Scott Walker and their fee-happy, fake-friends-of-the-working-family GOP legislative allies have foisted on our formerly progressive state are looking to a) again raise state parks fees and, b) raise more money to replace the tax dollars they stripped from the DNR budget by, c) selling signage space so sponsoring corporations can welcome you to your favorite state park or trail.

Imagine setting up camp or heading off into the north woods with a billboard greeting or sendoff from the good folks who want to sell you triple-decker bacon burgers, gasoline, weedkiller, or ED pills.

For which the donating corporations would get a tax write-off, or as it's called over in accounting - - a win-win.

On, Wisconsin - - continuing downward:

WI DNR reorg. closes that 'chamber of commerce' loop, Part 5

This is all particularly relevant now that Stepp wants to change the rules and allow big water users and other permit applicants to self-regulate by writing their own permits, thus dictating the terms of their operations as well as any post-permitting enforcement even if the public's land and water is at stake.
Little wonder, then, that the golf course the Kohler Co. is planning to build on a nature preserve adjoining Kohler Andrae State Park along Lake Michigan south of Sheboygan includes incorporating between four and 19 acres of parkland, and that the proposal is being reviewed by the DNR without a formal permit application by the company.
And when I read this line in the Wisconsin State Journal's account of today's DNR reorganization which hands out deregulatory and privatization favors to big ag, feedlot operators, forest insiders and others, I said, out loud, "case closed."
"From what we've seen we have been very supportive of the plan," Lucas Vebber, director of environmental and energy policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. 
And it dovetails with Stepp having said at her presentation this morning, I'm told - - that she had "run the organization" from her first day on the job "with as much private sector business perspectives as we could infuse into government.”

After all, she had waxed sentimentally about the good old days when she could move around her McDonald burger-flippers a lot more easily than civil servants and union members she was stuck with at DNR:

As reported by The Wisconsin State Journal:

Stepp recalled her days as a McDonald’s restaurant manager as she talked about how state employment rules have hobbled the DNR. Stepp said she could quickly mobilize her fast-food employees when a busload of customers arrived unexpectedly, but the DNR can’t react that nimbly to retirements.
Earlier posts about the DNR's reorganization were posted on Nov. 30th - -  here,  herehere, and here

As predicted, Walker, GOP want to limit WI recounts

I'd said in a recent post that it wouldn't take long for Wisconsin Republicans to roll back recount rights because Gov. Walker and his one-party legislative and judicial allies are all about limiting various rights in order to maintain their control and continue to reward the special interests and partisan advocates who keep Walker & Co. in power:
Gov. Walker has thrown in his ultra-partisan and self-serving two cents, blasting the recount which is allowed under state law (until Republicans restrict it in the next legislative session - - just watch)...
And as his allies are trying to block the ongoing recount of the November 8th presidential balloting, Walker weighed in with a signal, as has been his M.O., before a hammer drops, right on schedule:

Gov. Scott Walker said Friday he would consider limiting the ability of candidates to ask for recounts in Wisconsin...Walker did not provide specifics on what kind of changes to the law he would consider.