Friday, December 19, 2014

Walker will use wolf ruling to 'stand' with base, 'stand up' to feds

Walker will find a way to manipulate for personal advantage his voters in his Tea Party gun and hunting base by opposing a Federal court ruling Friday reinstating protection of wolves in Wisconsin and several other states.

He did it with the failed effort to continue same-sex marriage discrimination, with the Amtrak funding he blocked, and separate federal Medicaid funding he turned back, and is poised to use food stamp and other aid recipients as drug-tested foils and fodder despite the failure of a similar program in Florida - - all to fuel his Preposterous Presidential Pratfall Tour.

Walker has a range of options to stand with his gun and hounding lobbies and friends, from news releases to Fox TV appearances to a state-authorized and wasteful legal appeal, but trust me, Walker will not let the opportunity pass.

Expect him to throw in his opposition to new US EPA clean air rules, somehow linking a federal court ruling on one thing to an agency ruling on something unrelated.

And the wolves, or the environment they help maintain?

Purely expendable.

For now, WI DNR suspends wolf hunt, dog-tracking

A "disappointed" WI DNR says a news release received by email this evening that it is abiding by the federal court ruling today reinstating wolf protections, though is studying it with its lawyers: Here is the DNR statement:

David Clarke channels J. Edgar Hoover over tonight's downtown protest

Here's the text of Sheriff David Clarke's red scare news release - - the graphics and top line text did not copy easily - - his office sent out prior to today's protest disruption in downtown Milwaukee. 

Sheriff Clarke’s Statement Regarding Protest Tactics
Milwaukee, WI – Today, Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. made the following statement:

“The information sharing model developed after the 9/11 attacks taught
enforcement the importance of involving the public in our effort to create a two-
way street to enhance public safety. That sharing of information has to flow up, down and across the spectrum that now includes the public. 

My homeland security education has taught me that when information sharing is necessary, more is better than holding back.

With that preface, I want to alert the public of information that has come to our attention regarding the potential of disruptive tactics. A credible source has informed us that several anarchist groups led by outside persons, are gathering in the Milwaukee area to plan disruptive activities both before and after the decision by Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm regarding the Dontre Hamilton case. 

The information indicates that the groups have exploited the tragic situation involving the death of Mr. Hamilton, to destabilize daily activities of law-abiding citizens in public and private spaces open to the public. This includes the use of blockades on the interstate system and around other roadways to prevent law enforcement from responding quickly to emergency situations. 

These leftist groups use the tactic of hiding among legitimate peaceful protestors to conduct their illegitimate campaign.

We are asking members of the public to report any activities like those described to law enforcement as soon as possible and to provide detailed descriptions of any actors involved.

We will use all resources available to maintain law and order.

When additional credible or actionable information becomes available we will share it with the public.” 

WTMJ-TV just said the Hamilton family just shutdown the freeway

Steve Chamraz, at about 6:06 p.m. - - a little overstatement, don't you think, as you were reporting tonight's freeway disruption.

Sheriff David Clarke said it was the work of out-of-town anarchists. So which is it - - the family, the out of town agitators who infiltrated the group, or perhaps the people themselves?

From Clarke's news release:
I want to alert the public of information that has come to our attention regarding the potential of disruptive tactics. A credible source has informed us that several anarchist groups led by outside persons, are gathering in the Milwaukee area to plan disruptive activities both before and after the decision by Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm regarding the Dontre Hamilton case. 
The information indicates that the groups have exploited the tragic situation involving the death of Mr. Hamilton, to destabilize daily activities of law-abiding citizens in public and private spaces open to the public. This includes the use of blockades on the interstate system and around other roadways to prevent law enforcement from responding quickly to emergency situations. These leftist groups use the tactic of hiding among legitimate peaceful protestors to conduct their illegitimate campaign. 
We are asking members of the public to report any activities like those described to law enforcement as soon as possible and to provide detailed descriptions of any actors involved. 
The station's on-line story about 60 arrests so far.

New scorecard, please; another top WEDC official quits

With yet another top WEDC resignation announced at the end of a Friday and the weekly news cycle, it's getting harder to track all the resignations at the agency Walker conjured, and chairs, to bring forth about half the 250,000 new private sector jobs he promised to create.

Apparently his plan is to reach the promised 250,000 new jobs mark by making as many top WEDC appointments as possible.

Or Walker's been watching Seinfeld reruns: Another workplace success! Ding, ding, another Lloyd Braun sale.

Stupid activist judge ruins WI hunters wolf sport kill

Big news: Wisconsin's especially bloody, science-free and dog-assisted wolf slaughter might have seen its last season:
A federal judge has overturned an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. 
The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. 
Even worse, the judge, Beryl Howell, had served as an assistant US Attorney and narcotics section chief during the Reagan years and as an appointee to a federal sentencing commission during George W. Bush's administration before being nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama. 
Wisconsin is killing its wolves 

Heads gonna role at WI jobs agency

Imaginary Walker operative to WI Department of Workforce Development:

"How many times have we said it: Jim Doyle and Mary Burke were responsible for the loss of jobs here. Since when do we blame "the recession?"

In its monthly report, the agency added: "The numbers, while preliminary, suggest Wisconsin for the first time has recovered all private-sector jobs it lost during the deep national recession."
Chastened Workforce official:

"But no one in the administration ever admits error."

Imaginary Walker operative:

"That's the boss' prerogative. It's always Doyle's fault: Amtrak, unemployment, the Kenosha casino delay: just Google it. Keep it simple. Tattoo it on your forehead: Always blame Doyle."

Vos attack on GAB speeds decline in official WI ethics

I am glad the Journal Sentinel included in an editorial today the important role in ethics oversight played by the Government Accountability Board.

Election, lobbying, and campaign reporting and regulatory supervision are activities often associated with the GAB, but it's important to remember that enforcement of the state's ethics code for state elected officials falls to the GAB, and, as the editorial says, it would be a bad idea to undo the GAB's non-partisan structure and put it under the parties' direct control as threatened by GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

Two months ago, I wrote that the GOP was looking for broad, embedded advantage:
Now they're after partisan control of elections, lobbying law and official ethics, too. 
Making no secret of the plan. 
How much one-party rule will other elected officials and editorial board watchdogs in this state tolerate as Wisconsin is permanently consigned to the backwaters?
Ultimately, the decision is Scott Walker's. He can shut down Vos' mean-spirited power play and ploy with a phone call, but I suspect Walker will let Vos play it out, leaving Walker free of any taint until he signs into law what he will claim with a straight face is the will of the Legislature.

You would think that Vos' plan would be rejected on its demerits, its blatant self-interest timed to coincide with the GOP's unilateral control of state government and the incomplete investigation into Walker's campaign with outside groups which were not supposed to be coordinated.

Actually, the timing of the attack on the GAB is about as wrong as Vos could get it: aren't the already-revealed secret big-dollar coordinated donations slipped into 2012 GOP recall campaigns, the big-donor written 'code of ethics' covering the Wisconsin State Supreme Court and the heavily-secret redistricting plan controlled by GOP legislative leaders enough evidence Wisconsin needs more and not less independent ethics, campaign and election supervision?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

WI ski hill expansion requires state park acreage

They want to expand little Granite Peak into a world-class ski experience - - and will the DNR fork over 150 acres of public park land to make it happen?

Interesting that this is on the table just as Milwaukee County declined to sell a very small park parcel.

As is a proposal to convert a privately-owned nature preserve along Lake Michigan south of Sheboygan into a high-end golf course, including the transfer of some public acreage from Kohler-Andrae State Park for a road and equipment storage.

Though the legislatively-mandated plan to have a willing DNR sell 10,000 acres of public land is being implemented.

Fresh evidence of road-builder power in Wisconsin

Despite shortfalls in both general program and transportation revenues, Scott Walker's administration is refusing requests from three GOP legislators to shelve the construction of a $200 million palace in Madison where transportation officials can plan the next generation of overbuilt Wisconsin roadways.

This comes on the heels of a plan by Walker to eliminate a government/citizen panel that for many years has acted as a buffer against legislators who could bypass open discussion of road-building and spending by slipping a highway project into last-minute budget writing. The road-builders have a grip on state government, which is why they will get more contracts and nicer digs in which to see plans through to completion.
US 51 southbound ramps and County K roundabout.
With less public input, you get more of this

As I'd said, WI kills wolves to bring back elk hunting

I'd written that one of the reasons Wisconsin started a new and especially-heavy wolf hunt was to get rid of a natural predator of elk and institute yet another hunting season here - -  and Wisconsin officials are now announcing the large-scale introduction of elk from Kentucky.

So I repost this from eighteen months ago:


Resources Board Boosts WI Wolf Kill; A Possible Explanation

Updating information about Wisconsin's wolf hunt from a couple of days ago, and keep this other magnificant animal in mind, too:
Collared cow

County Board rejects O'Donnell Park sale, for now

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has narrowly turned down a plan to sell O'Donnell Park and its parking structure to Northwestern Mutual - - an issue laid out on this blog through guest writings by thoughtful opponents nearly a month ago.

Is this the end of it? I doubt it, given the players and broader development context involved.

Big projects which involve public sector permissions often run into initial opposition, then a final approval. I'm thinking of Miller Park siting and financing proposals, the initial plan for what is now Discovery World on the lakefront, the Potawatomi Casino deal, the controversial rebuilding of the Edgewater Hotel complex in Madison, and separately, an arts and civic center in there.

So it would not surprise me to see a reconfigured O'Donnell Park plan, with more money, public access guarantees and other public benefits added to swing a close "no" vote to "yes."

New focus on animal cruelty prevention; a Wisconsin application?

Interesting that federal authorities are set to give animal cruelty elevated attention through vigilant data reporting and collecting; I wonder if anyone will encourage a closer look at some hunting and hound-training practices permitted in Wisconsin, including dogs in the wolf hunt - - a Wisconsin-only permission - -  along with metal leg traps,  and the use of live, caged animals as hound-training bait.

I quote from lesser-known WI DNR policies referenced in the link, above
A hound dog training license allows you to purchase, possess and use captive raccoon or bobcat for dog training purposes, and use captive black bear possessed under the authority of a captive wild animal farm license for dog training purposes. 
In addition, rabbit/hare, coyote and fox may be purchased, possessed or used for dog training purposes if held in a permitted hound dog training enclosure… 
Captive raccoon, rabbit/hare, coyote, fox, bobcat or bear possessed for dog training purposes shall be treated in a humane manner and confined under sanitary conditions with proper and adequate space, shade and freshwater...  
Any coyote or fox injured during a dog training exercise shall be submitted to a veterinarian for treatment at the owner or operator’s expense, or euthanized and shall be reported to the department within 24 hours. Primary and transportation enclosures shall meet the requirements in § NR 16.30 to 16.38, Wisconsin Administrative Code...  
Captive bear, bobcat and raccoon, if lawfully obtained, may be used for dog training and trials, provided: 
  1. Any bear is also possessed under authority of a captive wild animal farm license. Bear, bobcat and raccoon, when not being used for trailing purposes, are housed in accordance with s. NR 16.30 and 16.38. 
  1. (See separate DNR informational pamphlet on Captive Wildlife Pen Specifications & Transportation Standards for details.) 
  2. The bear, bobcat or raccoon is kept in a cage at all times...
  1. When the cage is elevated in a tree or on a pole for training or trial purposes, the cage shall be raised a minimum of 10 feet off the ground. All individuals except the owner of the captive animal, the owner's designee or the dog handler shall be kept at least 4 feet from the cage...
  1. Dogs shall be kept a minimum of one foot from the cage at all times by restraint, cage design or barrier fence except where the cage is covered by solid material, which prevents all physical contact between the dog and the captive animal. The one foot minimum distance does
    not apply to raccoon training or trials with the use of roll cages.. 
  1. Roll cages may not be used for dog training with bear or bobcat. 
  1. Training & Trialing periods:  a. The length of time that captive wild bear, bobcat or raccoon may be used for training exercises may not exceed 12 hours within a 24-hour period. b. Captive wild bear, bobcat and raccoon shall be provided with a minimum of 8 consecutive hours of rest within a 24-hour period.
  1. c. A bear, bobcat or raccoon used for training, may not be housed in an enclosure that does not meet the primary enclosure standards in s. NR
    16.30(4), Wis. Adm. Code for a period of more than 72 hours. 
Captive rabbits/hares, coyote and fox, if lawfully obtained and possessed, may be used for dog training and trials... 

Walker saddled again with poor job-creation numbers

It will be fun to watch Wrong-Way Walker out on his Preposterous Presidential Pratfall Tour touting his "bold' performance when for the umpteenth time the key federal numbers show private-sector job growth in Wisconsin lagging the nation.

This time the fresh data cover a federally-measured rolling twelve-month period and show  Wisconsin was 32nd among the states in job growth, and was creating jobs at somewhat more than half the tally that would have been needed if that 250,000 new jobs promise was anything more than a bumper-sticker printed by a consultant.

Call it more proof that there is little content in his "whole theme of things."

SEWRPC annual banquet could fund 9,000+ meals for the poor

Food for thought:

Feed America Eastern Wisconsin is one of the leading meal providers to seniors, families, laid off workers and other disadvantaged people. It says every dollar spent through its food relief programs can provide five meals at 20 cents a meal:
These programs are truly on the front lines of hunger relief serving families, children, individuals and senior citizens all wondering where their next meal will come from. These are people and families making tough choices, such as choosing between paying their rent and buying food. These people are a recently laid-off worker whose bills have stretched her budget so that there is little or no money left for food. These people are senior citizens living on fixed incomes who spend what limited money they have on their prescription medication, leaving nothing left for groceries.
Guided by the group's formula as a guide - - and note that its territory overlaps the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission  - - the cost of this year's taxpayer-provided private club dinner for SEWRPC Commissioners, some senior staff and invited guests of $1,848.85 could supply more than 9,000 meals to people in need.

In response to a question which I have posed before about the annual dinner, SEWRPC Executive Ken Yunker provided this updated information to me by email Wednesday about this year's dinner for twenty-three attendees:

As noted to you in previous years, the dinner which follows the Commission’s December meeting is an awards dinner and gathering for SEWRPC Commissioners. The dinner honors the service of those Commissioners who have left the Commission in 2014 and those Commissioners who have served the Commission for 10 years and 25 years. The dinner helps build relationships and understanding among the Commissioners from the Region’s seven counties. The dinner is attended by current SEWRPC Commissioners, former Commissioners who left the Commission in 2014, and select SEWRPC staff.
Commissioners spend many hours reading and reviewing reports, directing and advising staff, meeting and consulting with local officials from their Counties, and attending Commission, Commission Advisory Committee and other Commission-related meetings including public meetings and hearings. Their only compensation is $50 per Commission meeting. The dinner and gathering was held on December 3rd at the University Club. The cost was $1,848.85.
I also note that this year's dinner tab was about twice the $995 cost from SEWPC's taxpayer-supplied annual budget of the 2009 event and about 80% above the $1,080 average expense to put on the dinners over a five-year span, according to data supplied by SEWRPC.

Milwaukee County taxpayers contribute the largest amount of funds among the seven counties - - Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha to SEWRPC's annual budget, records show.

The agency 2015 budgetcalls for a Milwaukee County contribution of $808,715, or 34% of the $2,370,000 from the seven counties' contributions through their respective county boards, according to a chart on p. 13 of the SEWPRC budget.

With other revenues, including state and local grants, SEWRPC will spend about $7.5 million in 2015: its budget, the Milwaukee County dollar contribution and its percentage share relative to the other six counties' is relatively similar to the funding breakout in this 2008 posting about SEWRPC.

And look: I know the SEWRPC commissioners give up many hours at meetings which are spread across a multi-county region. And plenty of agencies have annual parties or other events to honor hard work and have a good time.

But dinner at a private club strikes me as unnecessarily lavish, and somewhat tone deaf, given SEWRPC's public mission and funding.

Footnote: I know SEWRPC isn't going to change its practice. Tall commissioners serve by appointment of various other officials; here are no elections to the Board, so there's no one to vote out of office to protest the annual freebie.

And I also know the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors will continue routinely sending SEWRPC its annual gob of taxpayer money - - the agency, through seven counties' property tax sharing, and other funds, is 100% government supported - - that includes my share that is peeled right of the property tax bill I paid this week, but I can keep focusing light on the issue, and I can also send Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin a donation.

Which I did Wednesday afternoon.

Fund Development
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin

1700 W. Fond du Lac Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53205

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Walker serves Jeb Bush a side order of word salad

Our man Walker - - fresh from swiping at an intern and mumbling something incomprehensible about Cuba being no Saudi Arabia - - tossed out Wednesday afternoon yet another of his patented and expanding list of syntax-challenged, off-sounding statements.

Today's wacky wording was in response to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's bold move towards a 2016 presidential campaign declaration.

Yet Walker's Preposterous Presidential Pratfall Tour seems have left potential rival Bush, shall we say, unintimidated.

Today's Walker grapple with the English language wasn'
t the part about not following Jeb Bush's lead and emptying his official email cache for all to see - - Doe D'oh, are you kidding?

It was this part:
You look at his [Bush's] past as governor and the stuff he talks about, he often has a whole theme of things he does. And I think it's as simple as that."
Simple as what, exactly? 

Walker, to staff: Google Cuba, ASAP. No, not Cuba City...

Poor, self-inficting wounding Walker.

He thinks he has to respond to President Barack Obama as part of The Walker Preposterous Presidential Pratfall Tour, and this time the subject was restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba -  - and though he did not say Mojito!, take a look at the mess he made of a single follow-up question about US relations with Saudi Arabia, with its substantial civil liberties' deficits.
Asked if he believed Saudi Arabia was a free and open country and what he made of the United States' relationship with that country, Walker said: "They're making a few moves right now but those are things that can be easily altered, at least in terms of Cuba. In terms of Saudi Arabia, we haven't — those are things I guess folks at the federal level would ultimately have to comment on in terms of whether its consistency or not. The difference I think with Cuba is that's a policy the United States has had for some time. To change that, I think there has to be substantial change in terms of the positions that the Cuban government has."
In other words, in terms of knowing anything, he doesn't. 

And if you thought that I-94 'zipper merge' was a pain...

Heading for Mayfair this weekend from Milwaukee? Find another route.
Scott Walker's WisDOT - - with discretion galore - - tells us that its 'improvements' on westbound I-94 require it be zipped closed for 31 hours this weekend - - including all day Saturday - - from Miller Park to the Zoo Interchange. Not that it's an important weekend for Mayfair Mall...

That intern is wrecking everything in Walker's office again

True to form, Gov. Never-Mistaken offers up a lower-level scapegoat instead of saying, ''I'm sorry,  or 'my bad' when an error is made on his watch, in his name, for his political benefit, or in his own words on major policy and performance matters.

The latest culprit: Interns! Turns out they do more than swipe extra doughnuts.

* When Walker's name was found at the bottom of his now-infamous letter addressed to a leading member of Milwaukee's Jewish community that substituted the word "Molotov" for the congratulatory phrase "Mazel Tov", Walker gestured down the food chain as far as his finger could point:
"It's quite possible that was done by an intern or someone on staff who never actually sent the letter off," Walker said Tuesday.
*  The workplace chupacabra bedeviling Walker operations had also struck when the page-count of high-profile jobs plan released by his 2010 campaign was inflated to contain one more page than opponent Tom Barrett's more detailed plan by displaying Walker's document in giant type. (A side-by-side comparison, here.)

You'll have to settle for that example, as the Walker campaign has removed the item from its website.

Walker didn't take responsibility for the deception, but did slap down a junior campaign aide who called attention it. Problem solved.

*  You know - - those cut-ups! What the kids won't do today, like the "overzealous political associates" the Journal Sentinel board said were at the heart of criminality unearthed by prosecutors at Walker's 2010 County Executive offices. Some of whom are or about to be interning in various correctional settings,

*  Not long ago, Walker made a national list in The Washington Post of public officials who shunted off responsibility on an embarrassing underling:
A campaign staffer, who had previously been an intern, sent a fundraising appeal for the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) asking people to give money to Walker’s reelection rather than go shopping on Black Friday for their kids. The staffer also had a series of offensive tweets on her personal account. Explanation: “We didn’t know about them. I think like most employers, we don’t spend time going back trying to find out years and years ago what people may or may not have said in social media,” Walker said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The staffer was fired.

Eric Von, on race, police shootings, and "what's the problem?"

Milwaukee commentator Eric Von put this item on Facebook Monday, and with his permission, I'm passing it on:
First my apologies for such a long post. But it is well worth your time to read and continue to search for more data that hopefully, will result in a more factual debate when we engage those who say "what's the problem?"
These truths may also lead us all to a better place in this society.
I share the following not to enrage but to enlighten, in much the same way as I attempted to do when I did "that radio show", as some refer to it. (Smile!) 
However, if you are enraged, the next step, as I see it, is to step up and do something to change the trajectory of the events that have so outraged us for far too long. What to do? Well, that's up to you, only you know what your heart can sustain.
I came across a fascinating and well done report by an organization called Pro Publica, "an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest." (
Let me be the first to say, what they have compiled is not new news. But it is detailed and inasmuch, provides those who need it undeniable evidence of a pattern of behavior by police departments in cities coast to coast.
This is data extracted from the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Report which uses information submitted by SOME police departments that bother to report...some, apparently, more diligently than others.
Use the aforementioned email address to read the entire report if you are so inclined. I'll share with you a portion of what I read this morning that moved me to pen this long post: 
There were: 
*1,217 REPORTED DEADLY POLICE SHOOTINGS from 2010-2012; *Blacks, ages 15-19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million while just 1.47 per million White males in that age range died at the hands of police.
*For the years, 2010-2012, young Black men were 21 times as likely as their White peers to be killed by police.
*The age of Black boys killed by police is astounding...there were 41 teens 14 years or younger killed by police from 1980 to 2012...27 of them were Black, 8 were White, 4 were Hispanic, 1 Asian.
Lastly, I leave you with this, in that time period, there were 151 instances in which police noted that teens they had shot dead had been fleeing or resisting arrest, 67% of those killed in such circumstances were Black.
That disparity is even starker in the last couple of years: of the 15 teens shot fleeing arrest from 2010-2012, 14 were Black.
Again, read the entire report at It's well worth your time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Doe cases back in the spotlight

Since I am the eternal optimist and believer in all things being connected, I am pleased to see that the Wisconsin Supreme Court, with its ethical smudges and donor conflicts of interest just a Google click away, has agreed to hear and rule on three John Doe cases it had delayed considering for a year or so.

The good news in all of this that these issues that highlight Wisconsin's fall from grace to farce will be available for examination by the national political and law media as The Scott Walker Preposterous Pratfall Tour moves to Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond.

Walker will need miracle to undo Molotovgate

We had a bit of fun a few days ago with Scott Walker's untutored inability to discern the difference between "Mazel Tov," a Hebrew and somewhat mainstream term for "congratulations, and the word "Molotov," which usually explosively precedes the word "Cocktail." 


What was especially amusing was that Walker's knowledge deficit was revealed by One Wisconsin in the Capital Times on the heels of one of his campaign visits to Las Vegas to woo the billionaire gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major, prior Walker campaign donor, who happens to be Jewish.


Republican pols often enthusiastically and one-dimensionally solicit Jewish community support through bombastically pro-Israeli rhetoric - - but data in a piece about Ted Cruz's fumbled ethnic entreaties also shows the tall climb Walker faces to win meaningful Jewish support:

It turns out that Jews are among the most progressive voting blocs in the country. According to a comprehensive Pew Research poll conducted last year, 82 percent of Jews believe homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with 57 percent of the population overall.  By 54 to 38 percent, Jews would prefer a larger government that provides more services to a smaller one that provides fewer; only 40 percent of the overall population favored a larger government, while 51 percent supported a smaller one. A whopping 89 percent support a woman’s right to an abortion, compared with 54 percent of the population overall.

WI GOP has new way to screw the jobless: Don't take their calls

More than three years ago, Republican legislators played an ugly little game with people in the state who were out of work and eligible for unemployment assistance:

Delay the checks.

Now Gov. Walker and his bureaucrats - - knowing the percentage of those in the state without work long-term exceeded the rates in most other states - - were all along employing a new, more hidden method of screwing the jobless:

Not taking their calls. By the millions. At state call centers. For years.

Milwaukee streetcar approval delayed

The Milwaukee Common Council, with opponents using a one-time parliamentary maneuver, delayed for a month consideration of the long-stalled Milwaukee streetcar approval.

Embedded image permalink

The handful of opponents include Council conservatives, like Ald. and mayoral candidate Bob Donovan, and, inexplicably, near southside and Bayview Ald. Tony Zielinski, whose constituents are transit-oriented.

In fact, Zielinski's newsletter praises the development and transit connections for a functional and artistic bus stop he promoted in his district at an intersection where there is a growing concentration of restaurants, shops and other popular, pedestrian-friendly businesses near apartments and other residences:
At the intersections of S. Kinnickinnic, S. Howell and E. Lincoln Avenues, the ArtStop is the product of a unique partnership between the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and Business Improvement District #44. 
With its unique artistic design, the ArtStop shelter will strengthen the already distinctive and bustling business district, and it will also be a significant aesthetic improvement over a somewhat dilapidated bus shelter that has been at the location for years.
Alderman Tony Zielinski said that he felt the triangle at the three-way intersection needed a functional public art bus shelter, which has been dubbed the ArtStop, to maximize the economic and aesthetic potential of that business district.
Exactly as streetcar stops would work along the route.

The streetcar line would be built using available federal transportation project funds and revenue from a routine financing mechanism called Tax Incremental Financing, (TIF), which uses a portion of property taxes from new developments planned along the streetcar route.

It is possible that Republicans in the legislature that are tied to the road-builders' lobby, who like to use Milwaukee as a partisan punching bag and no longer give even lip service to "local control" might use their one-party, state power authority and amend state law just to bar TIF contributions to transportation projects - - though TIF gives municipalities wide latitude to spur development - - and kill the streetcar plan.

For example, TIF was used to insert $24 million into the exurban development at Pabst Farms in Western Waukesha County so that streets and other transportation-related services could be added to the residential and commercial projects being built on converted farmland.

Similarly, Brookfield is getting ready to convert another farm into a retail development and use public financing to lure an upscale development to the project - - much as the Milwaukee TIF could nail down important development from the downtown to the lakefront - -  so the double-standards that have kept Milwaukee land-locked and economically-stunted continue.

On I-94 west, leaving Milwaukee, at 3:00 p.m. Monday

I reported last week that WisDOT  believed that local motorists would get used to the I-94 lane closing/merging miracle"zipper" the agency is using to move traffic through the 'improved' the no-light rail Zoo Interchange. Or find a new route. So I was, at the stroke of 3:00 p.m. on Monday, just past Miller Park with the construction 30 blocks or so to the west, heading for the zipper.

Climate change deniers say burn more carbon

The climate change deniers fronted a non-scientist on behalf of Big Energy in Washington, DC to promote a transparently self-interested message: burn more coal, oil and gas - - and as we they get richer someone will figure out solutions to the consequences and future energy needs.

Sound like anything you've heard before - - at, perhaps. a certain Department of Natural Resources - - where a "chamber of commerce mentality" is 'guiding' clean air, water and wildlife 'management'? A mentality headed for national exposure through a Presidential campaign?
EPA to issue rules on smokestack greenhouse gases soon
Or where a certain Wisconsin Attorney General-elect being sworn in next month who says his first action as a non-scientist will be to sue the US so more coal can be burned, and who's has hired an energy industry lobbyist as chief of staff to run the office?

As they say, there are no coincidences.

Milwaukee Common Council has streetcar items on Tuesday agenda

Show your support for the proposed Milwaukee streetcar this morning at Milwaukee City Hall, Common Council chambers, third floor, angenda items 33-35.
Banned in Milwaukee
Streetcars are popular nationwide. These are running across the Twin Cities, MN

Monday, December 15, 2014

Again, a tone-deaf "tip" from the WI DNR

We've seen the agency send out a "Clean air tip of the week" by email that parodies the real world and the DNR's Walkerite tendency to ignore, or undermine it, and this week's - - in light of Walker's pro-utility attack on solar energy and the DNR's related assault on clean, green technologies - - continues this twisted pattern.

This one could be labeled 'count the solar panels Walker prefers go away.'

Clean Air Tip of the Week

For the week of December 14, 2014:
"While traveling this holiday season, keep busy with this car game...count the number of solar panels you see. These panels can be installed on homes, buildings, in a field, or attached to a road sign. More road signs and traffic signals are being designed to use solar technology to power the lights. For more information, visit US DOT [exit DNR]."

Walker kills 70-mile-Amtrak line, has state buy 70-mile freight line

New front in Robin Vos attack on UW/Madison: tenure

And as with his ideological water-carrying on right-to-work wage-theft legislation, UW system teaching loads and other attack proposals - - it's all about timing and tactics, not substance - - because he and Walker know what's best.

And what they know best is how to run certain people out of Wisconsin.

Paul Fanlund says Walker has mastered resentment politics

There is important reporting and analysis today by Madison Capital Times editor Paul Fanlund about Scott Walker's exploitation of resentments against Madison and Milwaukee.

Consider, for a moment, what it means to have as your signature goal and achievement the exploitation of resentments for personal gain. How empty but destructive is that?

And note that as Walker eyes the Presidency and like-minded, far-right opponents in his way, his talk-radio-fueled exploitation of resentment is getting more overt.

Already here, a divide-and-conquer and calculating national demagogue in the making.

WI taxpayers paying iron mining firm permit costs

On Sunday night I wrote a posting about the money Wisconsin taxpayers are shelling out to pay bills created by Walker and the GOP's right-wing methods and ideology:
Attention WI taxpayers: Your Governor's ideology is costing you $$
And just a few hours later, the Journal Sentinel posted on-line a story that, while outrageous, should surprise no one in a state where Walker intentionally installed a "chamber-of commerce mentality" atop the DNR and turned a science and environmental protection agency into a donor-friendly, business-first, people-last corporate tool:

The story: taxpayer dollars and other fees under the control of the DNR are being used to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of permitting expenses incurred by GTac, the mining company that legislators let help write a sweetheart iron mining bill for Northwest Wisconsin. GTac also shoveled a secret $700,000 into Walker's 2012 recall campaign, legal documents disclosed.

I'll have to pay freshly-aggrieved and enlightened Wisconsin hunters and anglers whose license fees are paying the company's costs, not for fish restocking or education programs, to my ever-growing list of Wisconsinites disrespected and manipulated by Walker and his crew.

For people living in the threatened Bad River watershed, this would be like losing their homes to an arsonist, then having the authorities bill those who were burned out to pay for the arsonist's time and materials.

Death from above, on The Road to Sprawlville, Chapter 59

You may have missed it last week, but for a couple of reasons I absorbed the breaking news and the follow-up reporting about a private jet crashing into a house near an airfield in Gaithersburg, MD - - a Montgomery County community outside of Washington, DC - - killing six people.

I kept up with the story because aviation safety and accident investigations was a beat of mine when I was at The Milwaukee Journal. These events can produce important findings that make planes and passengers and people on the ground safer, and I have no doubt that this crash will produce information that will be good for the public.

I also am paying close attention to the crash because I grew up not far from where the plane missed its landing and demolished a Gaithersburg house.

But when I knew Gaithersburg it was the country, a destination for a Sunday drive.

When i was kid growing up about 25 miles away, Gaithersburg had a few thousand people. Now it's got 65,000 - - a transition from semi-rural to Sprawlville - - with subdivisions and high rises and office parks and Interstate highway ramps and a mean rush hour like the rest of DC metroplex.

And, apparently, it has a little "airpark" with a runway lengthened to handle twin-engine private jets right in the middle of all that encroaching 'progress.'

I doubt they will close the airpark. That's not the way that developers and their enablers in town and village and city halls roll.

And even if they did, it's six lives too late.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Attention WI taxpayers: Your Governor's ideology is costing you $$

Wrong-Way Walker and his Wisconsin legislative allies would have you believe they are strict conservatives who save you money, but look a little closer at what their ideology and tactics cost you and me:

* Hundreds of millions of dollars billed to Wisconsin taxpayers because Walker, preferring to pick a fight with President Obama, rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid coverages. It's the same kind of politics-first move he made when he blocked federal Amtrak expansion (see item below) - - pleasing his right-wing base, but costing the public money and services.

*  Defending challenges to the secretive redistricting scheme Republicans had trouble getting past a federal judge, as well implementing the even-more-secretive Act 10 "bomb" dropped on public employees cost together ran up legal bills of more than $3 million.

*  Walker and outgoing Attorney General J. B.Van Hollen fought what they knew was a losing legal battle against a tide of tolerance of same-sex marriage, and after the Walkerites' predictable courtroom losses, a legal bill is due the winners' lawyers of over a million dollars

And that's on top of the numerous hours of state lawyers' time not available to other cases or issues.

* Claims are also piling up against the state by freight lines for some rail line improvements made, but mooted, by cancellation of the Madison-Milwaukee Amtrak passenger line that Walker made the centerpiece of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

And those claims pale in comparison to the potential cost to taxpayers of a lawsuit brought against the state by Talgo, the company which the state awarded a contract to assemble and maintain passenger trains Walker prevented from operating here:
After the state of Wisconsin commissioned the trains from Talgo in 2009 for the Hiawatha line between Chicago and Milwaukee and ultimately spent $52 million on them, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican administration clashed with the company, canceling a maintenance contract and disputing testing costs in 2012.  
The state halted payments, eventually leading Talgo to end the contract. 
Talgo then sued the state in Dane County Circuit Court, asking a judge to declare that it properly terminated its contract. The suit is ongoing, but if Talgo wins, it will keep the trains and the tens of millions of dollars the state already has paid the firm. 
However, Lester Pines, Talgo's attorney, said there was no dispute that Talgo owns the trains, and he expects the lawsuit to be resolved soon. The company has an obligation to try to sell the trains and mitigate its damages from the state's alleged breach of contract, he said. 
"The state breached the contract and doesn't want the trains," Pines said. "They're Talgo's trains, and Talgo is the damaged party."
Taxpayers also lose when they are forced into court to fight voter suppression, or have to hire attorneys to force a state agency like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to do basic water law enforcement job because the DNR puts Walker's 'chamber-of-commerce' environmental disregard over the public interest.

Cheney says US water-boarding was beneficient

Your tax dollars at work, spent by people in the Party of Lincoln, to put that smiley face on American Exceptionalism:

*  Former Super Veep and chief US ghoul Dick Cheney says Made in America water-boarding was so exceptional [sic] that it got results [sic] without being torture [sic]. Amazing!

*  Karl Rove says the forced rectal feeding program carried out in our name while he was a senior deputy to President Bush was good medicine for what ailed prisoners - - akin to a Meals on Wheels home nutrition program for detainees.

*  US House leader John Boehner famously said prisoners being held permanently without trials at Guantanamo - - "Club Gitmo,"a phrase coughed up by Rush Limbaugh - - had more "comforts" than many Americans:
I don’t know that there’s a terrorist treated better anywhere in the world than what has happened at Guantanamo. It is — we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build a facility that has more comforts than a lot of Americans get.
Five-star rated on the CIA's secret Yelp! website.

Rove defends Bush by exposing him

The headline pretty much tells the story:
Karl Rove Says Bush Knew About CIA Interrogation Program, Defends Rectal Feeding

The Glenn Grothman holiday countdown clock is ticking

Really, where does the time go? I took a look at the calendar and realized that there are only twelve days left until the Washington media can rightly ask incoming Wisconsin Congressman and cultural critic Glenn Grothmann how he feels about the approaching first day of Kwanzaa.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gov. Molotov strikes again

Poor guy, our Gov. Molotov. Or is Gov. Malaprop?, since now he's confusing The Bible with a Chinese proverb.

Sorta like thinking Col. Sanders actually served in the French Foreign Legion, mais oui?

Actually, in fairness, Walker was trying to get across that his reading of The Bible says it's only a fish without a bicycle and that hasn't been drinking can lead a horse to the river.

Actually, it was talker Jeff Wagner, not justice protesters, jumping the shark

[Updated 9:00 p.m.] There is a hilariously unintended consequence to the ingrained cheapness that reflects the intellectual poverty on AM 620 WTMJ talk radio. 

Station management's money-saving/no-imagination practice of re-broadcasting its right-wing talk shows - - even though events have overtaken or flat-out blown up the content - - features weak or uninformed commentary that's turned embarrassingly stale or wrong when it hits the airwaves a second time.

A phenomenon noted here, earlier.

Anyway, there was a wonderful example Saturday evening of how the station's penny-pinching can produce a self-inflicted fact-checking wound as the station aired in its 5:00 - 5:30 p.m. segment a re-broadcast of a Jeff Wagner show from Wednesday  - - about Tuesday's news.

But first - - take note of this news story I downloaded through the national news tab on the 620 WTMJ home page when I got home Saturday night with Wagner's canned talk on my mind:
The families of more than a half-dozen black men and boys who have been killed by police addressed thousands of protesters who marched in Washington, D.C., Saturday, demanding Congress adequately tackle police brutality...
Protesters gathered Saturday in other cities too. Thousands marched up Fifth Avenue in New York City, holding signs that read, "Black Lives Matter" and "Who do you protect?" And hundreds shouted the same messages in Boston, where they also staged "die-ins" and blocked traffic, according to New England Cable News. 
OK: back to the Wagner re-broadcast, which was from his Wednesday show about a Tuesday news story he'd seen and read about the arrest of one person at City Hall who had been protesting the lack of charges in the Milwaukee police shooting of Dontre Hamilton downtown months ago.

Walker said he was tired of seeing "story after story after story" about these and similar protests - - both locally and nationally - - and predicted diminishing interest and  participation in the demonstrations because he believed they had "jumped the shark"

That's a cliche about the moment when something has run its course. It has its roots in an episode of the sitcom "Happy Days," set in fictitious Milwaukee, when Henry Winkler as "The Fonz" water-skied in his iconic leather jacket, jumped over a shark - -  and disillusioned viewers began to desert the show.

Wagner was sure that the protests had jumped the shark and it was time for everyone to move on, projecting his disconnection from and weariness with the story onto protesters who were and are still protesting making the story and a movement newsworthy.

As I said, WTMJ radio was re-telling us this while events as recorded in today's Washington Post suggest that it's Wagner, not the protesters, who've jumped the shark:
Thousands of demonstrators streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday, shouting “Black lives matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” to call attention to the recent deaths of unarmed African American men at the hands of police...
The Washington march was one of a wave of demonstrations across the nation. Separate marches were held from San Francisco to New York, including a Millions March and rally near New York University, and a demonstration before the nationally televised basketball game between two top teams, the universities of North Carolina and Kentucky... 
Thousands of protesters crowded New York’s Fifth Avenue on Sunday for the first large-scale, organized protest in the city since a grand jury on Staten Island declined to indict a police officer for the death of Eric Garner.
The crowd reflected the diversity of the city, if not the high-income neighborhood in Manhattan’s West Village. “I’ve never seen something so beautiful,” said Josh Toney, an African-American man in his 20s. “Seeing the Asian community, seeing Union workers, seeing people who probably don’t even speak English.”
And since Wagner often talks about subscribing to and reading closely The Chicago Tribune, he might be further irked to see a big story there Saturday about the national protests and the Chicago iteration, too.

Update: And, oh, damn, there goes the Journal Sentinel Saturday night, too:
The march in Washington coincided with demonstrations across the country, from iconic Fifth Avenue in New York to the streets of San Francisco and the steps of the Boston Statehouse - mostly peaceful protests although about two dozen people were arrested in the Massachusetts capital for disorderly conduct…
Organizers had predicted 5,000 people at the Washington march, but the crowd appeared to far outnumber that. They later said they believed as many as 25,000 had shown up. It was not possible to verify the numbers; Washington police do not release crowd estimates.