Thursday, November 27, 2014

WMC veteran to steer WI DNR response to Obama clean air initiative

Read and absorb the 19th paragraph, past the snide, dirty air enabling stance taken by the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce in this story about President Obama's healthy air initiative:
Patrick Stevens, director of the DNR's division of air and waste management, said his agency may offer comments to the EPA after his staff analyzes the proposal.
I think we can bet those comments on the proposal (US EPA posting) will not be a thank-you note for a plan that aims to keep children's lungs and the atmosphere free of ozone and other pollutants.
EPA to issue rules on smokestack greenhouse gases soon

Stevens had served as the WMC's environmental spokesman and worked with other trade groups before joining Scott Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" group running the DNR.

I wrote this in January, 2011, a few days after Walker's 2011 swearing-in:
First it was the [builder's association] trade group's former executive director, Matt Moroney, getting the [DNR] deputy position.
Now Pat Stevens, the builders' former general counsel, gets a senior regulatory management position as head of the agency's air and waste division.
From the Builders' website:
"Pat Stevens is General Counsel for the Wisconsin Builders Association.  In addition to providing WBA with legal services, Pat staffs the WBA Legal and Building Code Hotline, which is available to all WBA members.  He also manages WBA’s Builders Legal Action and Research Fund, which funds legal actions and research projects that are of interest to the housing industry.  Moreover, he is extensively involved in regulatory, legislative and policy matters on behalf of the association."
Stevens has had stints with the road-builders and the WMC, too.
Stevens, on behalf of the WMC, has called federal clean air standard enforcement in Wisconsin wasteful and intrusive, labeled earlier proposed clean air policy-making "draconian," and defended the Walker administration's lackadaisical approach to implementing clean air standards.

So I think we'll see the WMC and DNR line up their technical comments, with Walker then carrying the dirty message in his State of the State speech and appeals nationally for Tea Party and far-right support for 2016.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Added citizen pressure in WI against tar sand oil pipelines

An op-ed by activist Mary Beth Elliott in the Madison Capital Times about the proposed expansion of Enbridge tar sand crude oil line 61 across Wisconsin should get the attention of the Dane County Board.

The more work like Ms. Elliott's, the more the word is spread, the less likely are these destructive scenes.
KARK 4 News, Arkansas tar sand oil pipeline break
tar sands pit
Tar sand oil excavation in Canada for piping to US

Though the right bashes healthier Michelle Obama school lunches...

I'll bet you won't hear one gripe from those anti-Obama, anti-government Tea Party Republican ideologues and uninformed talk show hosts in Wisconsin over the USDA's just-announced protectionist purchase of state cranberry over-production
Cranberry bog.jpg
to help supply federal school lunches and other pee-in-a-jar welfare programs.

This item is also posted at Purple Wisconsin with a better headline:
Emperor Obama propping up rural WI marketplace, buying excess farm produce

WI DNR should close this season's wolf hunt now

Since the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board and Department of Natural Resources set this season's wolf kill quota at 150, and hunters and trappers have reported 146 wolves killed - - while the two previous years' kill was allowed by the DNR to exceeded the allowable quotas - - the agency should close the hunt now to prevent another overkill.
Wisconsin is killing its wolves

WI open to new damaging water plant, ineffective eradication plan

Who is surprised in this era of lax WI DNR enforcement and disdain for science that a new invasive plant species has been found in a Wisconsin lake, and Michigan officials who have been battling it say the WI DNR's method of getting rid of it is known to make the problem worse?

Wrong-Way Walker, literally.

How the WI rightwing echo chamber works, 'B'Gosh

So it was about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday when a caller to AM 620 WTMJ righty radio talker Charlie Sykes asked during an open-question segment why Oshkosh Truck Corp. was opening a $100 million plant in Mexico, and what did Gov. Walker think about that?

The plant will employ 1,000 people, at the same time the company is reducing its Wisconsin workforce.

Sykes confirmed that the Mexico investment was coming because the company had divined its new plant could make more money in Mexico than in the US, said he didn't know what Walker thought about it, and pivoted to a non-sequiter - - an attack on Pres. Obama for proposing new air pollution rules that Sykes, citing business sources, claimed would be huge job-killers.

Thereby taking the company, Walker, his failed, 250,000 news jobs-creation pledge and purported focus on opening the state for business off the hook.

That's how the right's PR machine operates in Wisconsin.

Don't forget Ron Johnson's role in Bill Kramer scandal

Misdemeanor pleas, jail and alcohol treatment have resolved felony charges of sexual assault against Wisconsin State Rep. Bill Kramer, (R-Waukesha).

The incidents had occurred after a GOP fundraiser in Muskego in 2011, but only came to light after unrelated accusations of inappropriate behavior by Kramer towards two other women became publicly known following a Washington, DC fundraiser earlier this year, according to the Journal Sentinel.

It is worth noting that US Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI), did not notify the authorities when he learned of the 2011 incident. The victim was a member of his staff.

Had the 2011 incident been reported, Kramer's subsequent wrong-doing after the 2014 Washington, DC fundraiser might have been prevented, and his receipt of alcohol treatment might have begun to his benefit earlier.

Johnson also had nothing to say when the Kramer story broke, the Journal Sentinel reported:
Johnson declined an interview request, and a spokeswoman for the senator repeatedly declined to comment from Thursday night through Friday evening.
Kramer was formerly the GOP Assembly majority leader. He did not run for re-election this fall, and was allowed to remain in the Legislature until January, 2015 because his plea deal reduced the felony charges to misdemeanors.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Milwaukee suburbs' turn to fight the WisDOT bulldozer

We'll see if West Allis and Greenfield have better luck than the City of Milwaukee has had when they try to get WisDOT to look at history, real traffic data and damage to the municipalities' tax base.

Their goal is to prevent the unnecessary widening of Highway 100 and the loss of taxable property in the corridor.

About latest Walker Doe document dump, color us inured

More John Doe I evidence was released today showing the systematic evasion of the Wisconsin Open Records law and flagrant merging of campaign work with public business by the Scott Walker Milwaukee County Executive's office as he ran for Governor.

Old news to us oldsters here. Maybe fresh media and legal eyes will make hay out of the disclosures, but at this point it seems as if Walker spent wisely on a legal team and Teflon by the carload to skate through Doe I relatively unscathed.

And as he said often, charged with no crime.

I think Walker's shady, 2012 campaign financing has more political staying power, especially since his personal participation in some of it was documented.

And $700,000 in one dollop is a lot of benefit to have slipped into your campaign through a third party by a business - - GTac mining - - which you're helping with sweetheart legislation worth billions of dollars over several decades.

If John Doe II is allowed to run its course, it would politically trump Doe I and Tuesday's lamentably repetitive emails.

David Clarke makes Fox News show even dumber

Hard to do, but the publicity-dependent Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke took time off his crime-fighting duties and managed to lower the bar on Fox News:
"When I heard the president call for calm after the rioting started, I questioned his sincerity because some of his political strategy of divide and conquer fuels this sort of racial animosity between people," Clarke said. "And so, I think when he called for calm after the rioting started, I believe it was done with a wink and a nod."
The host, knowing stupid when he heard it, did not respond. 

To recap: the DA, in secret, convicted Michael Brown, freed Darren Wilson

That's some Grand Jury work.

By a prosecutor.

In what is known as the Show Me State.

Give the respected journalist Ezra Klein's VOX piece a read.

Scott Walker pal - - GOP hero - - Ted Nugent mouths off about Ferguson

Scott Walker has said how thrilled he was to meet this man:

Big business tightens grip on Wisconsin government

Add another squeeze in the paid stranglehold big business has around all three branches of Wisconsin government:

Newly-elected Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has named a leading state business lobbyist/lawuer as the office's top appointee, so look to Schimel, having been backed by big energy donors, to follow through quickly on his campaign promise to sue the US EPA to roll back clean air rules governing coal-fired emissions.

Here's who's to be Schimel's top aide, according to the Journal Sentinel:
[Andrew] Cook is a contract lobbyist with the Hamilton Consulting Group and currently represents Walmart; Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business lobbying group; 3M; Aggregate Producers of Wisconsin; Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity; Association of Wisconsin Surgery Centers; the holding company for Enterprise Rent-A-Car; Lockridge Grindal Nauen, a law firm with offices in Minnesota and Washington, D.C.; Manitoba Hydro; Marathon Petroleum Company; Xcel Energy; Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, a group that successfully pushed legislation making it harder to bring civil lawsuits; Wisconsin Defense Counsel; and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association.
Cook is also the president of the Madison chapter of the Federalist Society, an influential national group of conservative lawyers.
So the polluters and opponents of livable wages have another key power-broker at the helm.

A: Because Vos, suburban GOP need a stunted Milwaukee

[Updated Tuesday, 11:40 a.n., from Sunday 5:29 p.m.] Q: What is wrong with these people?

Robin Vos, the GOP assembly speaker from the Racine County Village of Rochester, threw cold water on state partnership participation in funding an NBA arena in downtown Milwaukee.

His ostensible excuse, which among reasonable adults was too stupid to even consider?

The new owner/investors of The Milwaukee Bucks had motored on over to Milwaukee's airport to greet a recent visitor, a certain Barack Obama, a/k/a The President of the United States.

Also a Democrat. The horror!

Disregarding that Wisconsin Republicans had sloganeered that the state was open for business, that these basketball team owners had spent a half-billion dollars on the team, and had pledged to pony up a couple of hundred million dollars more to kick start the arena funding, and were looking to attract another billion or so bucks to make The Milwaukee Bucks and the downtown something of a world-class showcase.

Downtown Milwaukee? All dressed up? Not in Vosland.

Update - - Nice to see papers stateside, now including the La Crosse Tribune, slam Vos for his pear-brained arrogance.

So while you're sorting through his embrace of the ridiculous, remember also that signs are pointing to Republicans using their Legislative majority to quickly change the rules governing local financing tools to block Milwaukee from beginning to fund a streetcar system which would not only tie together and boost a number of major downtown office and housing developments, but could also move Bucks' fans and others easily to and from multiple downtown venues.

Update - - And props to Mayor Tom Barrett for refusing to back down on the streetcar issue - - and thus on pledging to fight for local control and transportation funding fairness - - by refusing to turn over the city to suburban interests that would keep Milwaukee's economy stalled so the out-city areas can more greatly prosper.

Republicans have a deep, ideological and fetishistic fear about transit vehicles that run on rails and carry more than one occupant per car:

*  They have from the outside barred Milwaukee for nearly 20 years from reaping rail transit's jobs-and-development potential.

*  Vos led the more recent killing of regional transit authorities, lest any rail virus work its way into precious suburban territory.

*  He killed the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter train line even though it would have served his Racine County constituents, alleviated some of the traffic congestion on their stretch of I-94, and offered commuters what conservatives claim is always the goal: a choice.

*  And Vos' boss Scott Walker blocked the Amtrak extension from Milwaukee to Madison even though federal funds had been set aside to cover 100% of its construction.

That self-defeating partisan sop to Walker's Tea Party base and talk radio echo chamber also made sure that no NBA fans in Madison could ever board a Bucks' express into Milwaukee, or that no Amtrak train would carry Badger fans in our region the other way to games or events.

Or bring people on any number of everyday family, business, university, civic, cultural, entertainment or other trips between Milwaukee and Madison.

Like I said, you gotta wonder what's to be gained in our economically flat, jobs'-deprived state by cutting and stifling growth, connections and commerce - - "progress" - - in and between our two largest cities, but principally here in Milwaukee?

Now the answer:

Suburban, Republican conservatives, whether talk radio hosts or legislators or this particular, peculiar Governor need a scapegoat city - - a city they are willing to tie in knots and under-performance through double-standards and traps to validate their stereotyped, skewed vision of cities, and especially Milwaukee, as inferior to their 'successful,' whiter, often wealthier suburbs and exurban towns.

It's as old as Tommy Thompson's "stick-it-to-Milwaukee" sales pitch in favor of a regional Brewers' stadium tax for which he needed and won critical out-state support for passage.

And don't forget that Vos helped end Milwaukee's residency rule for its taxpayer-paid employees - - over Milwaukee's objections - - rolling over the long-time GOP principle of local control and helping move middle-class taxpayers to the suburbs. Maybe even to the Village of Rochester or elsewhere within Vos' district.

A jazzy Milwaukee downtown, with a new entertainment complex built around an NBA franchise energized by new players, with people moving around town on modern light rail all weekend long from condos and apartments and parking ramps and hotels to the arena  - - then to clubs and watering holes - - then the next day to museums and galleries and restaurants to the Lakefront and then to the Amtrak station or the airport defeats the conservative narrative that you're supposed to be afraid of cities, and avoid them.

New Urbanism actually threatens aging or remote suburbs. Millennials, young marrieds and empty-nesters often prefer urban - - walkable neighborhoods, lofts, coffee shops, nightlife and a rail pass - - not commutes in cars to cul-de-sacs, in many cases.

In the Robin Vos/Scott Walker's political world, a city like Milwaukee that is already landlocked by a special 1950's state law works best if it doesn't have too many new options - - which is what cities are really all about.

Vos and Walker prefer a negative relationship with Milwaukee - - which becomes a positive for them at election time when power is taken and used to reward friends and donors.

Walker put his finger on this truth in the upscale Waukesha County community of Oconomowoc Lake towards the end of his 2012 recall campaign when he whipped up the crowd by saying you don't want Wisconsin to "become another Milwaukee."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Allegation of inappropriate behavior in latest We Energies rate increase

Opponents of the controversial increase in solar power fees that the Wisconsin Public Service Commission just awarded We Energies are complaining that a Walker PSC appointee inappropriately communicated with and advised the company:
A solar industry group appealing a decision to impose the most expensive solar fees in the U.S. said a Wisconsin regulator violated rules barring communication about pending cases.
Ellen Nowak, a regulator for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, and Wisconsin Energy Corp. (WEC) Chief Executive Officer Gale Klappa participated in a panel together at a utility industry conference in June. Her discussions with Klappa at the conference should have disqualified her from voting on a pending rate case, said Bryan Miller, a co-chairman of the Alliance for Solar Choice.

Tell them them to cut off the alcohol lobbies, too.

Since, as we know, it's not just Legislators who need to be swayed:

Fed up with drunken driving? Push lawmakers to do more

Pipeline op-ed, Tweet, graphic of the day

Strong op-ed about the Wisconsin pipeline that is also Tweeted about n the map below.

From the Eric Hansen op-ed:
Four county boards, representing counties along the pipeline route (Jefferson, Dane, Wood and Walworth) — have passed resolutions requesting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conduct a full review of Enbridge's plans.
Now is the time to stand up for clean water, common sense and an end to ill-advised proposals to expand tar sands crude oil shipments. Insist that your elected local, state and federal representatives ask questions and challenge permits for tar sands projects. Future generations will thank you. For more information, go to
And the Tweet, written separately:

Crude oil pipeline construction across America.

Perfect weather for Milwaukee's light rail...

5:23 p.m.update - - Police urge caution during commute as crashes mount
The rain that kicked off the week switched to snow Monday, making for slick spots during the afternoon commute in Milwaukee. | Updated: 5:19 p.m.

Rain, then relatively light but blowing snow Monday, right on schedule, so it was a day to leave the car at home, and if you're at a downtown office building to head after work for the light rail stop, given this:

Oh, wait a minute - - I forgot that right-wing legislators from outside of the city have worked with anti-urban talk radio hosts serving conservative suburban Milwaukee listeners - - even presumably many of those were were tied up in today's multiple 'freeway' system crashes here and here and here  - - to block urban rail since the late 1990's.

So, regrettably, the forecast for the rest of the week is for snowy and politicized commuting in light rail-free southeastern Wisconsin, where this kind of weather can run into early May.
The first snowfall of winter for Milwaukee usually arrives in November, although a rare snowstorm can show up in October. 
The season's last snowfall typically happens in April, yet snow in May does occur occasionally. 
Milwaukee is normally free of snow every year from June to September.

Decoding Walker

His recent tweet  - - below my decoding - - actually means: 

'GOP must focus on fighting the minimum wage, cutting upper-income & corporate taxes, boosting Koch brothers oil position, sending public school tax dollars to voucher schools and cutting Medicare and Medicaid - - as I campaign for more power '

GOP must focus on jobs, lower taxes, energy plan, education reform, welfare reform & repealing ObamaCare-as well as fighting abuse of power

Getting Waukesha's water diversion plan right, with the right questions

It was more than five years ago that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gave thumbs up to the City of Waukesha's precedent-setting and controversial plan to divert water out of the Great Lakes basin, with this admonition:
The city needs to get this right...
Yet over the weekend, the paper editorially acknowledged that the diversion application is stalled at the Wisconsin DNR - - an agency certainly not noted these past four years for dragging its feet on business-friendly proposals - - and backed Waukesha's intention to ask for another two years to win the necessary approvals and begin building what it had pledged, under a court decree it signed, to have completed with open taps by June, 2018.

Maybe the editorial board needs to ask some tougher questions of Waukesha's water planners about their transparency, expertise, strategy and spending, and about Waukesha's refusal to consider a plan "B," since it is up to Wisconsin, seven other Great Lakes states, two Canadian provinces and Canadian First Nation tribes under the Congressionally-approved/US President-signed/Canadian government-ratified Great Lakes Compact and law to review the Waukesha diversion application.

This is the way that Waukesha City Administrator Ed Henschel was quoted in The Freeman last Thursday:
Henschel said in [a recently-disclosed] memo that the city isn’t pursuing a “plan B” at this point. 

“The application shows that a Lake Michigan water supply is the only reasonable  water supply option,” Henschel said in the memo.
Under the Compact, if one US Great Lakes state Governor says "no," the Waukesha plan roll of the dice would remain stalled, and without a satisfactory but time consuming delay, perhaps sunk forever.

So why no "Plan B," since it's there for serious consideration without the Compact's complexities through greater conservation, added deep well filtration and some use of local shallow aquifer and Fox River supplies.

Even the robotically-pro-business, environment-dismissing Scott Walker has to understand that breaking the Compact and ordering a diversion on behalf of his deepest red voters would be a continental and global catastrophe in an era of growing water scarcity.

If Walker were to go it alone, it would be today Waukesha, tomorrow Las Vegas, the day-after -tomorrow Phoenix, Los Angeles - - and by ocean-going tanker ship, Asia.

Don't laugh: It was a Great Lakes water-to-Asia tanker plan that led the Great Lakes states and the Canadians to set the Compact into motion and protect these waters from unwise and unsustainable diversions.

Details of the city's flawed plan, and its hurry-up-and-wait water history, here.

WI DNR could block judge's water conservation ruling

Don't rule it out, as the environmental record of the current administration is abysmal:

Cathy Stepp is the pro-business Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and she could 'review,' and perhaps negate the impact of a recent independent judicial ruling that aimed to correct "massive regulatory failures" by placing some moderate controls on pollutants released at one of the state's large dairies:
After the DNR Secretary characterized the judge's decision as "editorializing" about whether the DNR is using its authority under the law to protect water, and with the attorney for the dairy both claiming victory and asking for a review by the DNR to override the court's decision, the two-year fight for clean water near the Kewaunee County CAFO may not be over yet. 
More here; also discussion of the judge's ruling and findings of :massive regulatory failure" by the DNR, here:
An administrative law judge says “massive regulatory failure” led to groundwater contamination in a dairy farming region and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must use its powers to prevent further pollution.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, Judge Jeffrey Boldt ordered the DNR to modify a discharge permit for Kinnard Farms, an industrial-sized dairy farm in Kewaunee County, by requiring the operation to install at least six monitoring wells. Two of the wells should be on fields where manure is being spread, Boldt said. He also ordered the agency to cap the number of cows allowed on the big dairy, though he did not specify a maximum.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Journal Sentinel editor impressed by German solar, wind energy commitment

Though opinion editor David Haynes cannot say the same for Wisconsin regulators. His findings are a good read.

Senior GOP Senator to GOP House: Respect!

South Carolina's GOP US Senator Lindsey Graham offers GOP version of 'Solidarity Forever.'

GOP-led Benghazi report is 'full of crap'

And if trains in July WI collision carried explosive crude oil?

What 'only' resulted in injured workers, a 4,000-gallons diesel fuel spill, local evacuations and many wrecked cars and locomotives near Slinger earlier this year could have been catastrophic if volatile tar sand or Bakken shale crude oil had been the cargo  - - which now routinely flows across Wisconsin, often unannounced to authorities.

Cargo which has led to events like these:
train derailment
Consider yourself warned, Bucky

About a new WI DNR wetlands approach

Let's just be assured that this added method of wetlands restoration isn't to enable faster permitting for wetlands-killers, like the proposed iron ore mine in the Bad River watershed near Lake Superior or the planned upscale golf course along alongside and into Kohler Andrae state park south of Sheboygan.

Given new laws and priorities adopted by the Walker administration and implemented by a DNR run with a "chamber-of-commerce" mentality" that disregard science, minimize environmental inspections and enforcement, ease wetland protections, limit citizen involvement along the way and make business development a DNR goal, the agency can't be trusted to launch a plan for wetland restoration without people wanting to know why a wetland - - any wetland - - needs restoration or remediation in the first place.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cue the denials, as warmer climate enables lake effect snows

So say some climate experts, not buffaloed:
“This is definitely one of the strongest lake bands that we’ve experienced,” Judy Levan, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Buffalo, said. “It’s definitely in the top five.”

And it’s something Buffalo could face more often in a warming world. Rising global temperatures are also warming the Great Lakes and keeping them ice-free longer during the cold season...
In general, this is the time of year that Buffalo sees its major snows. That’s because this is the time of year when the air-lake water temperature contrast is likely to be highest, before winter gradually cools the lakes and eventually causes them to freeze over, cutting off the moisture supply.
But as the world warms, the period where cold late fall and early winter air overlaps with warm waters could grow longer because waters in Erie and the other Great Lakes are warming. That’s keeping them ice-free for longer in the season, which means the air has more opportunity to blow over and create lake effect snow.

New multi-purpose Milwaukee library shows how a city works

Market-rate apartments above.
I'd earlier put up a note and poster about the dedication today of Milwaukee's new east branch library, and will post below a few photos of the magnificent addition to the neighborhood. The city will be adding five more such facilities. Here's a link to the first, opened on the Northwest side in 2011 (click on the center of the photo box). Full disclosure: my son Sam McGovern-Rowen is now working full-time on these projects.
People dove right in.

Airy, open, art-filled. Coffee welcome!
Browser the Lion dispensed hugs.
Swipe your card, check out a laptop computer.

Fake outrage over Milwaukee civilian police staffer's outside consulting

Talk radio was kvetching over some paid consulting work that Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn's chief of staff is doing on his own time occasionally in Pittsburgh.

You know what?

So what.

The critics don't like Flynn - - who approved the brief consulting arrangement - -  or Mayor Barrett, so this is being framed as something to fret about.

AM 620 WTMJ's Jeff Wagner, for example, wondered if it was double-dipping.

Which it is not.

But while we're on the subject of who may not be sitting at his or her desk giving full attention to their assigned tasks - - did the critics care that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke spent considerable time in California working on a Master's degree?

Do they care that Gov. Walker has spent and continues to spend days, weeks, and months continually and cumulatively on the road these last four years campaigning and fund-raising, and preening for media?

OK - - Clarke and Walker are elected officials, and they more or less make their own schedules, but don't those jobs entail substantial responsibilities which require an approach that goes beyond phoning it in, literally?

And some of the micro-managers and finger-waggers in town who think they've spotted something scandalous about all this are, mind you, the same people who pushed hard to let Milwaukee police officers move out of town.

I guess one employee's freedom of availability and scheduling is another person's dereliction of duty.

And here's a question:

Will Flynn's internal critics complain loudly enough to put their own second-jobs in retail, or, gasp - - consulting - - or in security work, etc., under the microscope?

And, you know, it's possible that Flynn's aide will come back to Milwaukee after his brief, vacation-day trips to Pittsburgh with some fresh ideas to plug into Milwaukee, as if he'd been attending workshops or seminars, rather than leading them.

No charge.

Don't miss today's green library opening on Milwaukee E. side

And, some day, there will be a light rail stop as the North Ave. corridor continues to expand with housing, UW-M dorms, the Whole Foods, St. Mary's Hospital and the restaurant/bar/movie scene right there.

Hot shots

Photos from WIDNRTV, DNR and Scott Walker's campaign twitter feed.

  • \ 
  • 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

    Embedded image permalink

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    GOP panel probing Bengazi misconduct finds no Bengazi misconduct

    Well, all Republicans except the hapless Ron Johnson can move onward to immigration conspiracy theories...
    WASHINGTON — A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.  
    Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

    Obama not grateful enough for government internship

    Boehner setting him straight about Reagan, Bush precedents.

    Walker's attacks did not deter this well-known WI company

    Despite his campaign repeated, high-profile attacks, nice to see this:
    Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle announced today that it will occupy a 250,000-square-foot industrial building in Johnson Creek that is being built by Brookfield-based Briohn Building Corp.

    Trek will move its global distribution center from Oconomowoc to the Johnson Creek building, which will be fully operational by the end of 2015. The new building, located at 425 Resort Dr., will be 50 percent larger than the Oconomowoc facility.

    Facing deficit, Walker will slash and trash services

    So that Mary Burke's campaign statements about the looming state deficit do not upend Scott Walker's plan to steer the nation on Wisconsin's right direction, look to Walker and the GOP legislature which serves him to cut deeply into every program statewide with the exception of lobbyist-controlled highway building, lost causes at the WEDC and politicized, private school vouchers.

    If not, headlines like these will let conservatives in Iowa and New Hampshire see Walker's fraud:
    Wisconsin faces projected $2.2 billion budget shortfall

    Is WEDC still giving away nice stuff along with bad loans?

    As we say goodbye to yet another departing WEDC senior official - - my scorecard is getting really messy tracking the turnover - - I wonder if the agency is still serving as secret Santa to employees and conference attendees, noted earlier: and perks were rung up willy-nilly on bank cards or handed out on whims. 
    From iTunes cards to Badger football season tickets to Wisconsin Memorial Union chairs worth nearly $300 each.

    On the Milwaukee streetcar, amen to Journal Sentinel's support

    [Updated, 1:40 p.m.] The editorial gets it right. Let's get moving, as all the phony objections over utility costs raised by ideological Walkerites have been resolved.

    And boo to political opportunist and perpetually-grouchy Ald. Bob Donovan for begging Republican State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, (R-Brookfield) to butt in and monkey-wrench part of the streetcar system's financing plan with a hurry-up, stick-it-to-Milwaukee-again rewrite of state Tax Incremental Financing law to disallow streetcars system to be built using some TIF dollars.

    What's the difference between financing development  - - a big box complex or shopping mall or housing development in the suburbs with TIF funds (google Pabst Farms) - - and development in a city through construction of a development-supporting transportation system?

    Didn't a big project in Kooyenga's suburban district just get the benefit of a whopping, expanded TIF district - - all to lure and subsidize the location of an upscale out-of-state department store?

    Noted here also a while ago - - to make the point that right-wing politicians like Kooyenga regularly talk about smaller government and a free-market economy but are all to willing to back and benefit from big government's big development tools.

    There's even yet another huge, TIF-financed project getting ready for launch in Kooyenga's backyard that will take the last green space off the Blue Mound Rd. corridor?

    The right had blocked the streetcar project earlier by interfering in an internal Milwaukee development and transportation plan by applying a double-standard - - while routinely spreading the cost to all taxpayers when utility lines were rerouted in road projects, Walker's majority on the Wisconsin Public Service Commission intervened on behalf of a Bradley Foundation-supported petition and barred the spreading of utility rerouting lines for the Milwaukee streetcar to all utility ratepayers.

    A variation on the right's 'Highways, yes, rail transit no' agenda that has mucked up Milwaukee transit options for almost 20 years to protect and enhance suburban growth, and is being continued by the Walker/Robin Vos attack on transit/more billions of borrowed and tax dollars for highways statewide.

    So now the anti-city caucus wants a new double-standard: expanded TIF rules for suburban development, but irrational restrictions on TIF in Milwaukee.

    This hypocrisy is blatant and infuriating, as it stunts development in a city already hemmed in geographically by a special state law that forbids Milwaukee from annexing a square-inch beyond borders landlocked since the mid-1950's.


    Walker's failing WEDC akin to Chicago Bear's offense

    Another key turnover.

    The agency which Walker created and chairs, but couldn't produce even half the jobs Walker promised in his first term has had eight people serve in its top three positions.

    And Walker thinks he has the administrative skills to run the country?

    More evidence that Walker is not ready for prime time

    Attention, all media, Republicans trying to conjure compassion for Latino, Asian and other immigrant families, and voters with strong ties to current or recent immigrants: Scott Walker in his typically awkward syntax told national media Thursday that immigration is some sort of sideshow:
    “You have fallen into the trap that the president of the United States has done,” Walker said, “to talk about an issue that’s probably not in the top 10 of most voters in America.”

    No seats left on the Wisconsin Ship of Fools

    Remember when Walker said in a recent debate that his "plan" was to serve a full four year term?

    Predicted and labeled, right here, on the spot, as bogus - -  because a plan is not a promise. (also see, Walker, 250,000 jobs, promise broken).

    A broken promise further undermined today by yet another resignation atop his failing jobs agency, which he chairs.

    Now Walker's "plan" is proven bogus, here, in Walker's own words and by his actions.

    So...fool me, once, shame on me. Fool us all twice, start checking for cabin space on the good Wisconsin Ship of Fools.

    The bigger picture, here.

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    Why what Obama just did is so outrageous

    It says right in the US Constitution and on Tea Party websites that no Kenyan-born, African-American Democrat is allowed to issue deportation exemptions and immigration reform orders that are similar, notes the AP, to those issued by American-born caucasian Republican Presidents like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. 

    Walker hopes early trial balloon avoids these snags

    [Updated, 8:02 p.m.] Here's why Walker is laying down his preposterous presidential marker even as the dust continues to settles after his Nov. 4th gubernatorial win.

    *  He knows some Wisconsin voters and editorial board supporters will be irked by his limitless opportunism and obvious disinterest in the job they just handed him - - on the heels of suggesting, (wink-wink), he had plans only to serve as Governor.

    By early next year those hurt feelings will be forgotten, so better for Team Walker to get that messy breakup out of the way now.

    *  He needs to road-test and edit his numbing, canned robotic talking points and absorb some drama training to overcome his off-putting nasality and juvenile winking. Imagine that meeting Vladimir Putin, or leading national mourning after a major calamity.

     * And, most importantly, he needs to practice rebutting the hardballs likely to come his way from national reporters interested in these dozen subjects, rose starters:

    "Walker secret router," "Amtrak, wasted millions," Kelly Rindfleisch, "Walker ultrasound, "Tim Russell, "state airplane misuse," and "GTac mining $700,000."

    Not to mention "Walker original Tea Party Wisconsin."

    This one, "Walker false PolitiFact" may break the Internet.

    And this one is there for the picking: "Walker meeting."

    Also "Walker Marquette dropout 2.59."

    And, of course, "Walker John Doe."

    Which on this blog alone locates 152 links. Such as this one.

    Though world to end tonight, no run yet on survivalist supplies

    [Updated] The world is still on its axis. The President gave a great speech. Both scripture and George W. Bush have been quoted. Simply put, for many immigrants, no more deportations! Now it's up to the right in the US House of Representatives to pass a decent bill, as the Senate has already done].

    Righty radio is winding up a few days of doom-and-gloom before President Obama's speech tonight about The Surrender to Illegal Aliens, yet local stores report shelves still stocked with water, milk, eggs, cheese curds, t.p., batteries, food drying kits, ammo, Pepto-Bismol, wine boxes, 12-packs and comic books, so what gives?

    Another hint that there may bet be tomorrow: none of the major networks is carrying the speech live.

    Legal analysis of O'Donnell Park sale posted on two sites

    You can read Atty. William Lynch's analysis sent to Milwaukee County both at today's index on and, updated, on this blog, too.

    Here is the intro:
     At  its November 6th meeting, the County Board delayed consideration of the proposed sale until its December 18th meeting by a vote of 14-3.  The Board expressed uncertainty about the County’s role regarding future use of the property by requesting a legal opinion from County Corporation Counsel on that matter.  

    They did so with good reason. There is much confusion about the legal consequences of the proposed sale. The big question is whether the public will have any legally enforceable right to public use and enjoyment of O’Donnell Park or any of its facilities. In short, the agreement provides for almost none.  If the County Board approves this sale, O’Donnell Park will no longer be a public park. It will be fully the buyer’s private property.

                The County Executive is proposing sale of the entire park complex--all of its land, structures and facilities. This is a proposed sale, not what some have characterized as a “public-private partnership.” When you sell your house you do not become a partner with the buyer.  After closing, you have no say whatsoever about how the new owner uses the property.

                Unless the County and NM agree to legally binding provisions for a continuing role for the County, the County will have no role in determining O’Donnell Park’s future. The corporation that owns the property and subsequent owners will have the sole right to determine its future use. 

                The proponents of the sale have submitted over 300 pages of materials, but only the “Purchase Agreement” and the three-page “Operation Contract” have legal significance for future use of the property. It is the specific language in them--not the statements, representations or promises made to encourage supervisors to vote for the sale--that will be legally binding. The Purchase Agreement and Operation Contract provide that no representation or agreement “not expressed in this Agreement shall be binding upon the parties…” 

    The promises and representations made by NM’s CEO and the County Executive (or their surrogates) will not be enforceable.  For example, there is no wording in the proposed agreement that NM will maintain and enhance O’Donnell Park as a public park, as NM’s CEO asserted in a recent Journal-Sentinel op-ed.