Feb 27, 2015

Scott Walker Disqualifies Himself from Consideration of GOP Nomination

Scott Walker compares Wisconsin families to ISIS at CPAC
in National Harbor, Maryland
Let me be perfectly clear: I’m just pointing out the closest thing I have to handling this difficult situation (ISIS) is the 100,000 protesters I had to deal with,” Scott Walker told reporters. Asked if he regretted the statement, he said, “No.” (DeFour, Wisconsin State Journal)

Scott Walker has disqualified himself from consideration for the American presidency by comparing protesting Wisconsin families to ISIS in a question-and answer session.

National media ought to look into why Scott Walker avoids townhall-style question-and-answer sessions. Walker is a lightweight who can't think on his feet, and has a pedestrian understanding of public policy and no understanding of foreign policy.

Reports Craig Gilbert from the CPAC from National Harbor, Maryland:
An animated Scott Walker told a huge gathering of conservative activists that his battle with protesters in Wisconsin shows he has the mettle to take on ISIS as commander-in-chief.

"I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threats from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil," Walker said.

"We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," said Walker, who drew repeated cheers from the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering that draws thousands. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
This is typical Scott Walker of course, viewing Wisconsin families with whom he disagrees as terrorists and enemies.

The DNC put out a statement saying, “If Scott Walker thinks that it’s appropriate to compare working people speaking up for their rights to brutal terrorists, then he is even less qualified to be president than I thought"

So I say again Scott Walker can't handle policy questions.

This is why some progressive writers want Walker to be the GOP nominee and are trying to impose gravitas on the billionaires' minion who is afraid of interviews outside race-baiting Milwaukee hate radio and CPAC. (MacGillis, The New Republic)

As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Dan Bice put it two years ago: Scott Walker is not an "ideas guy," suggesting someone as error-prone as Walker who can't think on his feet "could earn him the distinction of being the Gov. Perry of the 2016 campaign." (Dan Bice chat transcript on Thursday, April 18, 2013) (Mal Contends)

I tell you as one who was at these rallies, at one with my young nieces, Scott Walker comparing families with the most cold-blooded terrorists in the world is disqualifying for a number of reasons all of which lay bare the fact of Scott Walker's limited ability.

Walker four years ago said he considered planting agents provocateur among the citizens protesting the Wisconsin budget bill. This ought to be have provided a hint into who Walker is.

Scott Walker Is Unfit

One - Wisconsin families are not terrorists. This should not have to be said, then again Scott Walker is Scott Walker. (DeFour, Wisconsin State Journal)

Even The National Review bashed Walker for this latest exercise in imbecility. Writes Jim Geraghty: "That is a terrible response. First, taking on a bunch of protesters is not comparably difficult to taking on a Caliphate with sympathizers and terrorists around the globe, and saying so suggests Walker doesn’t quite understand the complexity of the challenge from ISIS and its allied groups. ... [Protesting citizens] they’re not ISIS. They’re not beheading innocent people. They’re Americans."

As Alec MacGillis writes in Slate: Protesters "were armed with signs and earmuffs, not swords and balaclavas."

Two - An elected representative does not "take on" the citizenry. This is America, he or she listens, gives people a hearing and then deliberates and makes policy.

That Scott Walker does not understand this foundation of democracy in the United States and that citizens are not ISIS make him unfit for office. Wisconsin families are not ISIS, not even close.

Feb 26, 2015

Scott Walker Is More Fraud than Serious Presidential Candidate

The New Yorker's John Cassidy pulls no punches in how he feels about about a potential Scott Walker presidency.

"Let’s stipulate up front that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster," [Cassidy] writes in the opening paragraph of his Tuesday column in The New Yorker, "The dangerous candidacy of Scott Walker." (Slinger, The Capital Times)

Odious, destructive, yes. More dangerous than even the once-in-a-lifetime, Bush-Cheney 2007-09 Great Recession, the neocon Iraq invasion and occupation?

Yes.

In fact, Walker is working to transform Wisconsin into Mississippi.

Scott Walker is a frontman for plutocrats, chickenhawks and statist extremists, and who can blame The New Yorker's Cassidy for looking askance at fascism bubbling up from the Midwest?

Work against fascism or lose America and civil rights
But America has been here before. And won.

Scott Walker, as demonstrated by any interview with follow-up questions, is a Sarah Palinesque lightweight who can't handle policy questions.

And the man has no conscience. (Milbank, Washington Post)

Want to know why Scott Walker with the self-proclaimed "big and bold" ideas declined to hold even one townhall-style question-and-answer session with the Wisconsin people? (Mal Contends)

Walker can't handle policy questions.

This is precisely why some progressive writers warn Walker ought not be underestimated in his faux presidential run. They want Walker to be the GOP nominee and are trying to impose gravitas on the billionaires' minion who is afraid of interviews outside race-baiting Milwaukee hate radio. (MacGillis, The New Republic)

As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Dan Bice put it two years ago: Scott Walker is not an "ideas guy," suggesting someone as error-prone as Walker who can't think on his feet "could earn him the distinction of being the Gov. Perry of the 2016 campaign." (Dan Bice chat transcript on Thursday, April 18, 2013) (Mal Contends)

What does Scott Walker who is not an "ideas guy" do? Portray himself as a big and bold ideas guy as he takes the Koch brothers/ALEC agenda as his own.

What is Scott Walker really up to? Two things, and not one is a serious run for the presidency.

One - Walker's presidential run is a cover for past criminal deeds, and shame on Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm for cowering before the Koch brothers and other plutocrats when Chisholm knew perfectly well the John Doe I evidence showed Walker is guilty of misconduct in public office when he served as Milwaukee County Executive.

"We already know that Walker was fully aware of what was going on with the secret router and the illegal politicking that had been going on. In fact, Walker not only knew about it all, he was directing it!" (Cognitive Dissidence) Walker faces another criminal investigation now being adjudicated before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Two - Scott Walker is simply on an elaborate fundraising campaign with his national base accumulated during the Recall election.

When Walker is defeated early in the nomination process in his reputed run for the GOP nominee for the presidency, he'll bow out and call for GOP unity for plutocrat Jeb Bush, finish out his term and be a frontman for rightwing welfare.

Though he would have worn out his welcome in much of Wisconsin, Walker can retreat to the segregated white homeland inside the WOW counties outside of the greater Milwaukee urban area.

Cashing in on his radicalism and selling out the state of Wisconsin, Walker will have done well with the plutocrats ala Sarah Palin.

Feb 25, 2015

WKOW-TV in Madison Offers GOP Line on Small-d Democracy

Worker from Fitchburg, Wisconsin -
Image from Citizen Action of Wisconsin
One hopes Wisconsin citizens film and record every action of the untrained and unrestrained GOP Capitol Police today

Since when is petitioning our government a threat?

WKOW-TV (Madison, Wisconsin) keeps up its breathless reports on citizens protesting the Senate Bill 44 [Right to Work bill].

"Capitol police will be ready for them," referring to Wisconsin citizens coming to the state capitol, a "public forum that has been at the center of public discourse in the State of Wisconsin since its completion in 1917." (U.S. District Judge Conley, Opinion and Order in Kissick v. Huebsch and Erwin (July 2013))

Continues Conley in his preliminary injunction stopping Scott Walker's palace guard, aka the Capitol police from preventing free speech: "As explained in its official nomination for designation as a National Historic Landmark, which was granted on January 3, [2013] 'The soaring rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol is designed to induce Whereas some statehouses are maintained apart from the urban fabric, the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda functions, both literally and symbolically, as a city center and is fully utilized as a public space to which all have claim.'"

Not only are Scott Walker and the Republicans trashing labor rights and private contracts in service to the Koch brothers, they are trying to trash the First Amendment in the process, again, and local broadcast 'news' like WKOW-TV is buying in.

One hopes Wisconsin citizens film and record every action of the untrained and unrestrained GOP capitol guard.

Wisconsin Says 'No' to Anti-worker Law; GOP Says 'Yes'

Scott Walker and Republicans are following the out-of-state rightwing moneyed interests, ignoring Wisconsin.

Worker from Fitchburg, Wisconsin - Image from Citizen Action of Wisconsin

Feb 24, 2015

Voting Rights Advocates: "Unthinkable" DMV Clerks Decide Constitutionality of Voters

If Republicans and Scott Walker get their way, DMV clerks will make the decision on whether 10,000s of Wisconsin citizens get to vote, exercising the clerks' "discretion in a constitutionally sufficient manner." [Frank v. Walker, p.36]

Election law expert, Rick Hasen, says Wisconsin voting right activists make a persuasive case for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Wisconsin photo voter ID case, Ruthelle Frank v. Scott Walker and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Wisconsin v. Barland.

Hasen notes the timing and disposition of the Wisconsin voting rights case facing the U.S. presidential elections next year, and the five-to-five split of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit pitting Judge Easterbrook's opinion with Judge Richard Posner's.

"This case comes to the Court with an extensive trial record, an exhaustive district court decision, and a pair of diametrically opposed Seventh Circuit opinions by Judges Easterbrook and Posner." [p.11 of Reply Brief]

If the Supreme Court does not grant cert, the GOP-passed bill signed into law by Scott Walker would become effective.

From Wisconsin voting rights activists' Reply Brief filed today:

...The district court identified other problems with the saving construction [by the Wisconsin Supreme Court]. A voter applying for photo ID “must still provide ‘[w]hatever documentation is available which states the person’s name and date of birth,’ and then the [DMV] administrator, in his or her discretion, may accept or reject ‘such extraordinary proof of name and date of birth.’” App. 197a (quoting Wis. Admin. Code § Trans. 102.15(3)(b), (c)). To guide DMV clerks, the Wisconsin Supreme Court offered “this cryptic instruction: ‘the administrator, or his or her designee, shall exercise his or her discretion in a constitutionally sufficient manner.’” Id. (quoting NAAC, 851 N.W.2d at 279). It is unthinkable that the right to vote could depend on the “constitutionally sufficient” exercise of discretion by a DMV clerk. See Louisiana v. United States, 380 U.S. 145, 153 (1965) (voting rights “cannot be obliterated by the use of laws ... which leave the voting fate of a citizen to the passing whim or impulse of an individual registrar”).  [p. 14]

Fitchburg Mayor Blasts GOP Anti-worker Legislation, SB 44

Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff joined a united front of progressives and other working-family groups to oppose the GOP's free-rider legislation, known as the right to work bill being pushed by Scott Walker.

The bill is called Senate Bill 44.

"I am deeply concerned about the state legislature considering right to work legislation this week. This measure will have a lasting and detrimental impact on Fitchburg's working families. Throughout our nation’s history, unions have made our nation stronger by empowering middle class families," said Pfaff in a statement. "As a former member of two public employee unions, I personally know the positive economic impacts they bring. Instead of taking up this controversial measure, I encourage lawmakers to focus on legislation that will make key investments that help working families like raise the minimum wage, expand worker training programs and restore funding to the University of Wisconsin system."

Rallies are planned at the state capitol today at Noon, as civil rights and working families groups pressure GOP legislators.

The Wisconsin Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform is holding a public hearing today at 10:00 a.m. on SB 44.

The right to work legislation is supported only by Wisconsin Republicans and is unanimously opposed by Wisconsin Democrats.

For years, Scott Walker said publicly he had no interest in supporting right to work legislation, (WPR) while behind closed doors was taped saying he would "divide and conquer" Wisconsin working families and support so-called right to work as he discussed his political future with billionaire, Diane Hendricks in 2011. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) Video is below:
Wisconsin AFL-CIO: Statement regarding the call for an extraordinary session of the Legislature to take up "Right to Work" legislation.

"Right to Work rings a false promise for Wisconsin. Right to Work will not create jobs and will lower wages for all workers," said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “Every worker suffers when states enact anti-worker Right to Work laws. Rushing this legislation through in an extraordinary session is a slap in the face to our democracy.” “Right to Work is wrong for all workers and the entire middle class. Right to Work cripples the fundamental right of every American to join together, stick together and have a meaningful voice in the workplace,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “The Republican leadership has decided to pursue an ideology over the needs of Wisconsin families. Right to Work legislation is part of a national anti-worker agenda that won’t bring one job to our state or help a single family put food on the table. Instead, it’s an attempt to end unions as we know them. It’s time for the Republicans to close the ALEC playbook, say no to out-of-state extremists and start thinking about the people they’ve been elected to serve—Wisconsin’s working families.”

Feb 23, 2015

Bad Night for Racists at the Oscars, and in Madison, Wisconsin

Musicians John Legend and Common won an Oscar last night for their beautiful Glory from Selma.

Locally, racists at the Madison, Wisconsin Meadowood Neighborhood Association used the weekend to applaud the arrest of a black man for pot-related charges, as the prison-industrial state and the concentration of black men into prisons and jails continues unabated.

One thing that can bring Scott Walker and law-and-order democrats together are hate-inspired neighborhood associations like Meadowood, cheering on the arrests of Wisconsin black folks.

"Wisconsin’s prisons now house about eight times as many inmates as they did in 1970, and the state has the dubious distinction of incarcerating a higher percentage of black men than any other state. Walker’s strategy on prison-related issues exposed his fundamental political approach," notes Roger Bybee in AlterNet.

Typical Madison, Wisconsin entries to the neighborhood associations like Meadowood on Madison's southwest side read: "Our Neighborhood Community Police On (sic) the Job.‏" Arresting black people. Vile.

Black Lives do matter, on the southwest side not so much, and the work for equality and civil rights continues from Ferguson to Madison.

From last night at the Oscars:

Stewardship Among Farmers Is Degraded to a Moral Outrage

Update: See Scott Walker leads Wisconsin Republicans in Lies, Deceit, Corruption and Revenge.

Big Ag factories have propelled the rural-based Gannett Co newspapers to run investigative pieces on the destruction of Wisconsin waters, a trajectory that would be accelerated by Scott Walker's new budget and its unprecedented attack on the Wisconsin environment and the Great Lakes. (Sierra Club, John Muir Chapter)

Nice work. See Budget cuts affect manure spills, runoff mitigation (Rodewald, Green Press-Gazette).

Now, if we can just get Gannett Co newspapers to stop their endorsements of the polluters' political allies in the editorial page.

Bernard Starzewski who lives near Manitowoc in eastern Wisconsin connects the dots on the betrayal of Wisconsin by Big Ag and the Republican Party.

By Bernard Starzewski

I would like to commend Gannett for an excellent series of reports and commentary regarding the environmental debacle in Kewaunee County. In the 1980s I was the first farmer to participate in the Wisconsin Fund to implement manure-run off control in the Manitowoc river water shed. At that time I had 65 cows which by today's standards is hardly a farm at all. What was then a common ethic of stewardship among farmers has now degraded to a moral outrage.

Our politics have betrayed us.

We have bought wholesale into the notion that we are somehow better off by allowing the moneyed interests to decide what is best for us and that prosperity is gained from simply turning them loose. Nowhere is that more evident than in Kewaunee where there is overwhelming support for ultra-conservative Wisconsin politicians State Rep. Andre Jaques (R-De Pere) and State Sen. Frank Lasee (R-(Apparently lives outside the district he is supposed to represent) who then return the favor by giving these operations a pass over the obvious interests of their constituents.

As that crew attempts to patch Walker's broken budget the victims in Kewaunee will find much company in their misery. Regionally, six warden positions out of the Green Bay office have been left unfilled resulting in a 70% decrease in tickets issued. Eighteen more in DNR's science bureau are to be cut representing 31% of their personnel. With hamstrung science and crippled enforcement the entire state will soon join them.

Republicans are responsible for attempting to remove over 14,000 acres from the public domain, a prime goal of the Dairy Business Association whose members include the very Kewaunee farms that are destroying the water there. Some of that public land and water includes the Besadney nature preserve and fish station that supply much of the salmon eggs that support the Lake Michigan sport fishing industry. One of the largest CAFO farms there virtually surrounds the nature preserve.

Unless we begin to connect the very real dots between our collective loyalty to these politicians the situation will continue to decay. They are the tributaries to this river of filth which now threatens to inundate the entire state. That's not prosperity trickling down, its BS.
---
A version of this letter appeared in HTRNNews.com (Gannett Co).

Feb 22, 2015

Scott Walker Runs for Special Interests, Targets Wisconsin Families


One-quarter of the Wisconsin electorate can reelect Scott Walker, but the rest of Wisconsin cannot make him act for the common good vis a vis Walker's campaign financiers and special interests.

Having cast his destructive intentions against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the University of Wisconsin System, this anti-public-minded, dishonest ideologue is playing the role of candidate for the GOP nomination for the U.S. presidency, demonizing President Obama in questioning Obama's faith as a Christian this weekend, saying, "I don’t know" if Obama is a Christian at a Party event in Washington. (Liebenthal, Crooks and Liars)

Though Walker's spectacle is merely a prolonged fundraising campaign for the anti-intellectual Walker whom more sensible Republicans in the rest of the nation reject, Walker can and is inflicting much damage to Wisconsin as he races across the country from fundraiser to fundraiser.

Latest outrage is Walker's proposed budget, a radical social engineering and fundraising document that Walker refused to run on during his reelection campaign, and the free-rider, anti-worker, anti-family legislation (aka right-to-work bill pushed by the Koch brothers) that would lower the wages of honest, hard-working Wisconsin families disconnected from Walker's concerns.

Writes One Wisconsin Now in an email this morning:
Here are the facts about how Wisconsin will look if we enact their law:
  • Wisconsin workers like you and I will make as much as $6,000 less a year on average;
  • Wisconsin public school students will have $3,400 less per student for their education;
  • Wisconsin will have more people in poverty and a higher infant mortality rate; and
  • Wisconsin will have even higher unemployment.
Wisconsin can’t afford this attack on our families. We have to stand united against this. We will be working around the clock to fight back. We’re already digging in on additional research we will share with you and the media as soon as it’s completed.
Meanwhile, Walker's sell-out of our precious waters continues as Walker acts for the interests of Big Ag polluters against families in rural Wisconsin.

From Protect Wood County, fighting a proposed massive factory farm in central Wisconsin that would direct millions of tons of liquid waster into the waters and air:

Wisconsin State Budget Disaster

Where do I even begin my discussion of our proposed state budget? The potential cuts and dismantling of our proud Wisconsin heritage is beyond believable, yet we are faced with the clear indication that the budget will pass with little tweaking from our elected officials unless we act now.  Look at the budget from any angle and it's all the same: this budget is bad. Bad for our natural resources. Bad for what we hold dear. Bad for Wisconsin.  In short the following areas are of immediate concern and need to be voiced loud and clear to everyone in Madison.  Below are quick bullet point regarding sections of the budget. For a comprehensive look as to why these proposed cuts are bad look HERE for additional explanation provided from the League of Conservation Voters.

    REJECT Governor Walker’s proposed budget directive to turn the DNR Board into a solely advisory council.

    REJECT Governor Walker’s directive to specifically target DNR staff cuts among scientists, educators, and communications specialists.

    REJECT Governor Walker’s directive to eliminate the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education and Wisconsin Environmental Education Board.

    REJECT Governor Walker’s directive to place a moratorium on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and divert funding away from the mission of the program.

    REJECT Governor Walker’s directive to eliminate capacity grants to conservation groups.

    REJECT Governor Walker’s directive to reduce the state’s share of the County Conservation staffing grant. Establish funding at the original base of $9,379,800 annually.

    REJECT Governor Walker’s directive to reduce the state’s share of funding levels for nutrient management plans in the budget.

This of course is not all that is bad with the budget.  Myself being a public school teacher could go on for hours about the cuts proposed to public education and our university system but that is for another email group. To view the budget in its entirety see the attached links - Budget in Full and Budget Brief. Contact state reps now and voice your concerns.

LRB 1446

Thank you to all who responded to our call for assistance and wrote our WI representatives regarding LRB 1446.  Our purpose was to encourage legislators to NOT sign on as a supporter of the proposed legislation.  Even if you did not get a chance to write your state representatives prior to the sign-on deadline we ask that you still take the time to write and show your opposition to the proposed legislation.  Although those who signed onto the bill are promoting it as a bill for the Family Farmer it is no such thing.  It is opening the doors wide for large scale agriculture to buy up land with high capacity wells and use them at their discretion without triggering DNR review. If you missed my first email regarding this subject it is attached HERE for your convenience.

LRB−0995/2

LRB 0995/2 is a piece of legislation we can actually get behind and support!  Sen Mark Miller contacted me last week to discuss his Groundwater Management Bill LRB 0995/2.  This bill is in direct contrast to typical water bills we observed coming through our legislature in previous sessions.  It is very important that we again write ALL our state representatives, those that answer to us, and those that do not, and encourage support of LRB 0995/2.

To assist those who struggle with letter writing I again have formed a few options for you to copy and paste into an email.  Please be sure when filling out the signature lines that you include your full name, address, and phone number. Without this information your letters are discarded.  To read the proposed LRB 0995/2 in its entirety click HERE

Feb 20, 2015

Scott Walker and Big Ag Polluters Have Enemies

Stephen Babcock milking a cow -
From UW-Madison's History
of the Wisconsin Idea
Stephen Babcock milking a cow
Stephen Babcock milking a c
Update: See Why we protect our water.

For politicians like State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) and Gov. Scott Walker running political interference for the Dairy Business Association (DBA), the DBA's water and air-polluting dairy and swine operations (Concentrated (Confined) Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)) make political enemies.

That the enemies work to protect Wisconsin families' health, the environment and property values is of no apparent consideration for the DBA (Big Ag in Wisconsin).

Some of major players protecting Wisconsin include:
Worth noting is what Scott Walker proposes for the DNR, local control, the UW System and the Wisconsin Idea: Destruction.

These institutions and ideals of democracy would be eviscerated if Scott Walker, the DBA and political cronies like Krug get their way.

Worth noting repeatedly is Scott Walker's enemies tend to be targeted by legislative and executive action.

Opposition is mounting. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the GOP is after the "Stupid Vote," its only hope. See Damon Linker, The Week.

Feb 19, 2015

Bayfield County Board Approves One-year Moratorium on CAFOs

Chequamegon Bay in Lake Superior; worth protecting, says
Bayfield County Board last night
Bayfield County message to proposed Iowa-based CAFO owners: "Leave, don't consider coming back and take your pig [shite] with you," as Wisconsin lives in fear of a CAFO moving next to their residence or farm, advised by Iowa farmers that stopping the proposed Badgerwood LLC CAFO before it begins is the only solution

The Bayfield County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a one-year moratorium on livestock facilities licensing in Bayfield County at a packed court room in northern Wisconsin last night. (Mullen, Ashland Daily Press)

Outside frigid temperatures didn't deter the heated meeting inside that led to police removing some residents shouting down speakers. (Northland News Center (Granite Broadcasting Station)

The moratorium is the most significant political blow to the proliferation of Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operation (CAFOs) in Wisconsin, and the first major victory to stopping a CAFO in Wisconsin.

The northwest region of Wisconsin has been spared the siting of water-polluting CAFOs, largely due to the tourism and recreation and the popular regard for pristine inland lakes and streams, ice caves, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Chequamegon Bay and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior. (Mal Contends)

"The one-year moratorium states a Large Scale Livestock Study Committee will be made up of 6 elected officials and three community members," writes Mullen of the Ashland Daily Press.

The proposed pollution of habitat in the Native American ceded territories in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan would also have to be litigated before large polluting operations such as proposed CAFOs and a proposed open pit mine are allowed under federal Native American Treaty law, (Mal Contends, citing Wilkerson et al in reference to Getches, Wilkinson, Williams and Fletcher, Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law, (American Casebook Series, West Academic Publishing)) due to public health and environmental consequences, including the surface water and aquifers.

Said Gordon Stevenson, runoff chief for the DNR (2001-2011), in an email last year: "Manure management is essentially the same as it has been since the Middle Ages; untreated manure is disposed untreated on the landscape. We have already seen severe public health consequences from these practices and I am certain that we will see more. Much of Wisconsin’s environmental protection efforts with agriculture center on nutrient management planning. Many of my former colleagues have labored long and hard to persuade farmers to adopt the NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Standard. The problem is that 590 is not a water quality standards, it as an agronomic standard that seeks to optimize crop production. Plus evaluation of a farmer’s compliance with that standard is somewhere between difficult and impossible."

Hobie Fishing Products Manager, Morgan Promnitz, holds his
first ever smallmouth bass — a six pound giant from
Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay. Great Lakes smallies grow
slowly. A fish this size from Lake Superior or Lake Michigan
may be over 20-years-old. They deserve special care.
Remove the hooks quickly and carefully while minimizing
time out of the water. Take the time to revive the fish fully —
either at boatside or in the livewell.
Photo by Josh Lantz. (National Geographic)
Difficult and impossible are not sufficient assurances for residents of Bayfield County who want to protect the water, including Lake Superior which comprises 10 percent of the Earth's fresh water, and the economically vital tourism industry.

The Bayfield County victory for clean water advocates comes as Wisconsin State Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) and Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) have introduced the Water Sustainability Act.

The Act would stem the avalanche of high capacity water well permits given to CAFOs under the Scott Walker administration with no consideration for the consequences, a bizarre stance that was ordered illegal by a Wisconsin administrative law judge last year.

"The goal of this legislation is to appropriately manage our water resources so the reasonable use doctrine is fully realized; that every person has a right to use water but not to the point where it threatens the water supply," said Senator Miller.

Said a resident of Ashland, speaking on background so he/she can investigate more closely the intentions of the CAFO owners, "The message to Iowa-based Reicks View Farm regarding their proposed CAFO: Leave, don't consider coming back and take your pig [shite] with you."

Wisconsin residents, Frank Koehn and Neil McClelland, traveled to Iowa on a week-long trip and found many Iowa residents living near Iowa swine CAFOs advising that a CAFO not be sited in Bayfield County.

Koehn and McClelland recently submitted their report the Bayfield County Board.

Write Frank Koehn and Neil McClelland:

Greetings from Reicks’ Country Iowa (Lawler, Jericho, Spillville, Protivin, Alta Vista, New Hampton, North Washington, Saude)

To the Bayfield County Board

This is a report from the second day of our week-long excursion in Iowa CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) country.

We have met with local residents in restaurants, libraries, gas stations, convenience stores, bars, county government buildings, etc. in order to attempt to get a picture of the local area.  Some of these have been individual encounters, others meetings arranged through word of mouth. We’ve appreciated the openness with which the local residents have spoken to us. We were surprised to find that hog farmers, their employees, and the families of these individuals have been very willing to discuss the topic of CAFOs. Many shared information with us concerning the history of the area, their work experiences, their own farming practices and those being employed by owners of CAFOs. Overall there has been a growing consensus and sentiment, the majority of residents wished that CAFOs had not been implemented. The majority of discussions focused on the following issues that have impacted the area.

We were surprised to find many Iowans had knowledge of Bayfield County.  Some had already investigated maps of the area surrounding the proposed farm.

Hog farmers warned us to be judicious about the implementation of a large-scale hog operation in close proximity to a wetland. Their opinion was quite blunt “it’s not possible”; either there exists a thriving aquatic community, or an industrial agricultural community, never both. 

Iowa farmers believe that stopping the proposed Badgerwood farm before it begins is the only solution. So far we have been warned that Reicks View Farm (RVF) will not stop with only a single facility, and would soon be expanding. This is a determination made by Reicks’ neighbors as result of RVF’s past practices.

Canadian pigs are imported as “feeder pigs” at a weight of about 10 pounds.  The proximity of the Badgerwood CAFO to Canada may be attractive to expanding and/or enhancing this operation. These little “feeder pigs” are currently being imported to Iowa. Installing a CAFO operation in upper Wisconsin may grant RVF a cost advantage.

Smell: Reports of negligible odors surrounding CAFO facilities have been greatly exaggerated. Admittedly we have not been able to tour the inside of one of these operations. However, we have stopped outside a few dozen different sites; some of these operations lacked significant odor, others were merely tolerable, most were distinctly noticeable. Locals stated that the winter air reduces degree of air pollution from CAFOs; spring and foggy weather exacerbate the air pollution.  They all agreed that no matter what CAFOs stink and hog shit stinks.

“Pig Dust” is a problem that develops within facilities. There were statements from family members of the RVF employees that respirators are not readily available. The concern is for the employees’ health. 

Disease

As with human[s], close confinement of large populations can have negative health impacts. The pigs’ high concentration of waste and proximity to one another contributes to the spread of disease.  

Real Estate values for properties are partially evaluated based on proximity to CAFO facilities. Appraised value within a two-mile radius of a CAFO drops. Those within a single mile drop even more so. Many residents find their properties become unlivable due to stench. Rural residents and small farm owners live in constant fear of CAFOs being installed nearby.

Pig manure may be spread within close proximity of someone’s home (we’ve heard reports of 750-1250 ft). In the past it was common practice for farmers to leave their neighbors a buffer of land surrounding living quarters. This mentality is most often lost in large-scale industrial farming. 

Manure Injection

Disposal of manure through the injection process has been problematic. A common practice is to saturate soils with liquid manure, which may rise to the surface. Usually the manure cannot be contained to surrounding areas.  The storage requirements exceed the capacity of nearby acreage.  Pig poop then gets moved to other sites for injection. However, manure injection is dependent upon the season. When the ground freezes hog farmers are usually unable to inject waste under the soil. During these periods manure accumulates in holding tanks under hog facilities. These pits may be insufficient and often fill completely. At this point farmers are forced to move manure to other areas. Liquid manure from CAFOs is sometimes pumped into trucks and then transported to another CAFO facility for storage. 

Farmers in Iowa employ a system of drains and drainage tile to control irrigation. This system allows runoff to be drained to areas of lower elevation. This is particularly useful when it rains. The excess water could result in damage to crops. The tile is laid three feet under the soil. Drains are inserted in depressions to funnel the water into the drain tile and away from valuable cropland. 

The conflict between manure injection and drainage tile is twofold. First, the manure may only be injected into the upper 3 feet of topsoil without interfering with tile. Second, rainfall after recent injection results in manure being carried through the drainage tile. This water then ends up in drainage ditches and is carried into rivers and streams. Concentrations of E. coli and other contaminants increases after extended periods of rainfall. 

It needs to be noted that manure is often transported by truck to fields for injection at night. CAFO operators hope trucks will be less noticeable under cover of darkness. However, despite the time of day residents report the obnoxious smell of pig manure as the trucks drive by.

Seasonal Employment

Like much of American agriculture a system of seasonal employment has developed around the CAFO industry. Migrant labor often is turned to because of the cost incentive. Lower wages and subsistent living conditions become standard practice in an industry based on cutting corners.  We’ve heard reports that South African workers are employed seasonally as well as Mexican Americans. Work visas are offered to laborers coming out of South Africa to work on large farms in Iowa. Most Iowa residents were more concerned about the wage and living condition disparity of these workers more than loss of jobs. 

Feed

The proposed Badgerwood facility would require feed and lots of it. Iowa farmers speculate that the feed may be imported from Iowa, the Twin Ports or from some other foreign area. Outside of Jericho, RVF runs their own feed operation. They still purchase from other local suppliers, but their industry has grown to the point of supplying a percentage of its own food.

Road Problems

The feed, manure, and hogs all require transportation. All of these resources are transported on public roads. While it is the actions of private companies that wear out roadways, it is the duty of local towns to restore these roads. We received reports that the heavy equipment results in major damage to local roads. Residents complained of wear to roadways, excessive dust, and truck traffic. These roads often cannot be closed because of the needs of livestock. Once a CAFO is operational a moral responsibility to provide feed and remove manure requires that roads remain open.  

Conclusion

In closing, our meetings have been open; farmers and community members were very willing to express their concerns and disgust with CAFOs. At this point Iowa counties, communities and people feel powerless against agricultural industry. As in Wisconsin, local town governments have been stripped of decision-making power and State government is unwilling to take action.  Iowa’s DNR is ineffective in protecting water resources from CAFOs.  EPA Region 7 is no better. Some farmers told us they have lost pride in farming due to CAFO operations. It is no longer the mom and pop operations many think of when imagining farms. The individual farmer’s way of life has been destroyed

Reports of inedible fish due to runoff from farming activity are wide spread. Many rivers and streams no longer have fish that are safe to eat. A community member who is a long time gardener expressed her concerns as to the decrease of bee, birds, and insect populations in the past 30 years.  Many long-term residents expressed dismay at the depletion of forest land and are very nostalgic about the life they once enjoyed. Now they live in fear of a CAFO moving next to their residence or farm. 

More to follow, and special thanks to the Iowa farmers who are appalled at the notion to bring pigs to such a water rich and sensitive environment. All were amazed by the immediate threat posed to Lake Superior, the wetlands, and watersheds. 

Respectfully submitted by,

Frank Koehn and Neil McClelland

Feb 17, 2015

Wisconsin Answers Proposed Polluting Swine CAFO in Bayfield County

Update - Water, air quality concerns heighten conflict between pig farms and environmental advocates (Pitt, Associated Press)

'We have to decide the resources we’ve so generously been given are not endless and deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. Bayfield County is no place for a swine CAFO from Iowa.'

 As Scott Walker propose gutting scientific analysis in DNR policy making as well as eviscerating the DNR, a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) has Wisconsin residents wondering why befouling waters is even being contemplated.

The Midwest Environmental Advocates has a piece out today explaining the situation in far-northern Wisconsin.

CAFO Q andA with Bayfield County Resident Rallying for Clean Water

This month, we spoke with Mary Dougherty, a resident of Bayfield County, who has been burning the midnight oil to rally her community around protecting their abundant, clean drinking water. Reicks View Farms, a concentrated animal feeding operation in Iowa, has proposed establishing a CAFO in the Town of Eileen in Bayfield County. Local residents have expressed concerns about the proposed Badgerwood CAFO and the enormous amount of manure waste the operation would produce.

On January 27, Midwest Environmental Advocates wrote a letter to Mary expressing concerns about the location of the proposed CAFO near important surface water, its potential to impact ground water, the need for the county to get the best data on how the CAFOs waste manure will be stored and disposed of or spread on area land, and how the county should be proactive on water monitoring, getting the full details of the proposal before approving permits, and how it should lead by protecting public health first.

On Wednesday, February 18, the Bayfield County Board will vote on a proposed two-year moratorium on permits for industrial livestock operations. The county's board of health unanimously voted in support of the proposed moratorium and over 3,000 signatures of local residents and others from Wisconsin, Minnesota and around the country has been submitted to the county board.
This is why Mary is involved.

What are you working to protect? What makes Bayfield County special?

Lake Superior. It’s not only a regional resource but a global one. It requires very careful consideration when we discuss what types of industry are suitable in the Lake Superior Basin and all of our interconnected waters. The proposed Badgerwood concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, would have 26,000 hogs and produce 6.5 million gallons of liquid manure. It does not belong in the Fish Creek Watershed, less than eight miles from the Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior. The risk of pollution and threats to our health are just too great for the water my children and my community depend on.
But I am also trying to protect our water for a future, global community. Some 7.125 billion people are walking on this planet right now. The sum total of the populations of Ontario, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin is 34.65 million. In essence, those of us who live near Lake Superior - less than .0049 percent of the world's population - are the direct stewards of 10 percent of the planet's fresh water.

How do we handle such a weighty responsibility? By being leaders who work to protect and conserve the waters in the Lake Superior Basin. By holding all economic development and industry to a high level of scrutiny. At some point, we have to decide the resources we’ve so generously been given are not endless and deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. Bayfield County is no place for a swine CAFO from Iowa.

We know that swine CAFOs are having problems in other states with a viral epidemic. What about human health?

The threats posed by CAFOs to air quality, water quality and human health from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses are numerous and well-documented. Dr Keeve Nachman, PhD John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, estimates that the 6.5 gallons of liquid waste from the Badgerwood CAFO is the equivalent to a city of 50,000 people. That’s over three times the population of Bayfield County. There is one crucial difference between a city with 50,000 people and a CAFO with 26,000 hogs: cities treat their waste and CAFOs spread it on farm fields.

The City of Ashland, less than 10 miles from the Badgerwood CAFO site, gets its drinking water from the Chequamegon Bay. It's not an unreasonable conclusion that the agricultural run-off from the CAFO will find its way into the Bay. When you consider the Des Moines Water Works is suing three up-stream counties in federal court to force them to clean up the waste that drains from factory farms and reaches rivers used for drinking water, this conclusion seems plausible, if not likely.

It's important to note that CAFOs are a self-regulating and self-reporting industry. Typically a DNR staffer will visit the facility once every four years when a WPDES permit comes up for renewal. Ken Johnson, who heads the DNR’s water division, told WisconsinWatch.org that the agency relies heavily upon self-reporting and citizen complaints when it comes to water quality and degradation. “I know people would like us to have an inspector out there every time somebody spreads,” Johnson said. “But we don’t have the staff or the inclination to do that. It would be very expensive to do that.”

After the American Public Health Association’s reviewed evidence of the health and economic impacts of CAFOs and wrote “evidence, albeit less certain, indicating impacts on children and CAFO neighbors from exposure to large concentrations of manure and their subsequent emissions of dust, toxins, microbes, antibiotics and pollutants in the air and water,” the Association resolved in 2003 that it would: Urge federal, state, and local governments, and public health agencies to impose a moratorium on new Concentrated Animal Feed Operations until additional scientific data on the attendant risks to public health have been collected and uncertainties resolved. Since then, the number of CAFOs have continued to increase and we can look to places like Kewaunee County, Wisconsin to see how too much factory farm waste is damaging people’s drinking water.

Why should we entrust our public health, clean water, air and land to CAFO operators whose main concern is their bottom line? If we look around the state, and country, we see that our invaluable natural resources are not in the right hands and the regulatory agencies tasked with protecting us are under-staffed and unable to do their jobs. Moratoria, like the one currently before the Bayfield County board, are a way to have our local elected officials take time to think about what’s at stake for the health of our community.

What’s next? Can people still make a difference here?

We are in the very beginning stages of assessing the risks the Badgerwood CAFO poses to our community as well as developing a strategy for active civic engagement in the process. I can guarantee that Bayfield County concerned citizens will be engaged every step of the way: from requesting an Environmental Impact Study from the DNR, to hosting educational community events, to setting up water quality monitoring around the CAFO site and the farm fields leased by Badgerwood for spreading manure, to monitoring Badgerwood when they are injecting the manure and making sure the standards in the Nutrient Management Plan are being followed.

We are learning that the proliferation of CAFOs in Wisconsin has created a statewide network of communities who are actively engaged in protecting themselves from the negative consequences of factory farming and we are getting even more connected to share ideas and strategies as we move forward.

Do you need to be an expert in water quality help or to be involved?

This isn't a fight against a factory farm; it's a fight for where we live and the values that are important to us: clean water, strong communities, our rural heritage and a healthy environment. We are encouraging not only environmental advocacy but also civic engagement. There is still room for the voice of “we the people” in our political system, but we have to show up, take an interest, and get involved!

The price of admission to the civic and political arena is simply show up and get involved. Start where your interests are, speak up for what you believe in, and help create the future you want. The beautiful part of this whole process is realizing that we have far more in common than we think. Our role, as committed members of Bayfield County, is to help create a bedrock of commonality that all questions about our future are filtered through.... just like the healthy watershed we are working to protect.

- Mary Dougherty lives in Bayfield Wisconsin with her husband, 5 children and three dogs. She's a water-loving, good food eating, even better wine drinking photographer who believes that civic engagement, vigilance and stewardship are critical as we move towards a world where water scarcity will determine the health and viability of communities.

She started a photography project called Words for Water in response to the CAFO issue facing her community. It's a gathering place for people who value the Lake Superior Basin and its fragile ecosystem. She asks the question, "what are your words for water?" in order to capture the essence of what we, as a community, value about Lake Superior and the land, streams, rivers and watersheds that feed it.

Feb 16, 2015

Scott Walker—Evasive and Dishonest

Scott Walker's evasive style and refusal
to answer questions is SOP
Update: Conniving may be a better word to describe Scott Walker.

"As much as Walker jauntily yearns to go big, his proposed budget is filled with provisions that are small and conniving.

"Walker’s central organizing principle is to permanently cripple Wisconsin government at every level and to undermine public education by manufacturing a budget crisis despite an improving economy. Simultaneously, he is burdening future leaders with unknowable financial crises once Walker is done exploiting the state to bolster his tea party credibility." (Fanland, The Capital Times)
 ---
Scott Walker is trying to project an image of a big and bold leader making decisive calls in his fundraising campaign disguised as a presidential run.

Serious minds in the Republican Party know better than presenting Scott Walker as the Republican Party nominee for president of the United States, so Jeb Bush will get the nomination.

It comes as no surprise to most people in Wisconsin that Scott Walker's top aides, friends and appointees were convicted of an array of felonies and misdemeanors in the public integrity investigation known here as WalkerGate I (or John Doe I). (Bice, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

The scandal saw Walker's aides plead guilty to an array of crimes including misconduct in public office, embezzling from military veterans and their families, and revealed a secret email-router system Walker and aides used to campaign on the premises of public office.

Walker refused to answer the question if Walker personally used the system after being asked on GOP-friendly Fox News by Chris Wallace last year, though released emails show Walker did use the illegal system.

As Chris Wallace put it to Scott Walker:
In one email that was released this week, your then chief of staff Thomas Nardelli, let’s put this up on the screen, writes campaign and county workers that you wanted to hold daily conference calls, 'to review events of the day or of a previous or future day so we can better coordinate sound timely responses,' and in another e-mail county administrative director Cynthia Archer suggests that colleagues should use a private e-mail account. 'I use this private account quite a bit to communicate with SKW,' that’s you, 'and Nardelli, the former chief of staff.

Question: if county workers were doing nothing wrong, why should they be using a private e-mail account?
Walker ran away from the question, prompting the following exchange:
WALLACE: Did you have your own private e-mail account?

Scott Walker: It’s one of those where I point out district attorney has reviewed every single one of these issues.

WALLACE: But sir, you’re not answering my question.

Scott Walker: No, because I’m not going to get into 27,000 different pieces of information. (Isreal, ThinkProgress)

Actually, Wallace's question is: Did Scott Walker have his private [and illegal] email account.

The answer is 'yes,' and Walker should have been prosecuted.

The evasive, shifty Scott Walker is typical.

Walker used his taxpayer-financed position as Milwaukee County Executive to secretly run for governor, first gearing up for his run in 2006, aborting it, and then running successfully running in 2010.

Now, Walker is attempting to abort WalkerGate II (or John Doe II), another public integrity investigation, looking into Scott Walker's Recall, a criminal scheme and campaign funded by dark money and illegal campaign coordination, (Marley, Bice and Glauber, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), as WalkerGate II cases have reached the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Walker proposes that four GOP-friendly judges on the Wisconsin Supreme Court get to decide their own ethics (eliminating of the Judicial Council, already stacked with Walker-vetted ideological appointees) as prosecutors and constitutional law enforcement officers ask that justices recuse themselves now that consolidated John Doe II cases are before the Court. (Fischer, PRWatch)

We need honest jurists committed to the rule-of-law to hold accountable corruption and criminality in our public officials.

Don't look for candid or even responsive answers from Scott Walker when asked about his public conduct.