Aug 23, 2016

Judges Reject Republican Move to Keep Wisconsin Obstruction Laws

A federal appellate panel has rejected a Republican, (Wisconsin DoJ), challenge to the judicial order stopping the enforcement of seven Republican-enacted voter obstruction laws in Wisconsin.

This means numerous Republican voter obstruction schemes will not be in effect for the period leading up to and including Election Day. The ruling is a defeat for anti-voting rights Republicans. Voter ID remains in effect.

The case is One Wisconsin Institute v. Thomsen, (U.S. District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin (Case 15-cv-324) (Moritzlaw).

Election law expert, Rick Hasen reports:

The 7th Circuit has just denied a request for a stay in the second voting case involving WI rollback of early voting etc.

This ruling is from the same panel that granted the stay in the affidavit voter id case (Judges Frank Easterbrook, Diane Sykes, Michael Kanne). If Wisconsin could not convince these judges to order a stay in this case, there is no hope of going to the 7th Circuit en banc. The only hope would be an emergency stay request at the Supreme Court. Given the closeness to the election, the state would have to move very soon for the Court to even consider such a stay. Even then, getting over the 4-4 ideological split seems iffy.  If you can’t get Easterbrook, you likely can’t get Kennedy.

The fact that the court denied the stay without issuing an opinion could be a sign that the court recognizes the urgency of the time.  An opinion can come later when there is an appeal on the merits. It could be a sign that the issues raised by Wisconsin [Republicans and only Republicans] are frivolous.

Hasen notes the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports Wisconsin "'[A]ttorney general [Brad Schimel] is reviewing Monday’s decision, said Johnny Koremenos, a spokesman for Schimel.' That shouldn’t take too long as it is one sentence long, (Election Law)."

Writes Mark Joseph Stern in Slate: "As election law expert Rick Hasen notes, the same panel’s willingness to let Peterson’s ruling stand is rather revealing. Even for these conservative-leaning judges, it seems, Wisconsin’s race-based early voting cuts go beyond the pale. And thanks to their willingness to peer beyond the Legislature’s laughably pretextual justifications for disenfranchisement, thousands more Wisconsin voters will be able to cast their ballots this November."

Pretextual implies deceit. Lot of that going around from Wisconsin Republicans.

Aug 22, 2016

CAFO Fighters Preparing for War in Wisconsin During Aug Dog Days

August is no time to begin a campaign or a marketing project, says cliched wisdom.

Actually, it is time, and clean water activists are working overtime to define two Wisconsin state assembly races in time for Labor Day.

From Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors this morning:

Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors is also a solid
supporter of the "Its Your Water Wisconsin" campaign
being promoted by the River Alliance, Wisconsin Lakes Group,
and The Central Sands Water Action Coalition.  

If you believe in the value of our water and need to protect it,
support this simple and specific Declaration of Principles
for Wisconsin's Water which can be found on the
Its Your Water Wisconsin  webpage.

Once Legislators come back into session a document 
will be shared with them showing the massive number of
supporters from across the state who are advocating for our
Wisconsin Waters.  Let your voice be heard - sign on today!

Its Your Water Wisconsin - Sign-on Form
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is election season. As irritating as this can be, it will be followed immediately by a legislative session which is sure to see a tremendous amount of water bills presented right out out the gate. We need to start preparing NOW for the actions needed come January.

Building a statewide network of like minded individuals is essential as there will be state budget and legislative issues we will be forced to address. Having a united voice of thousands statewide is a much stronger force than a few hundred from our local area.

Listed [at right] are two different ways we can be unifying our voice across the state to advocate for clean air and water.  Please consider signing onto each campaign and registering your voice for protections of our Natural Resources.

JUST A REMINDER!

Tonight - Monday August 22nd at 6:30PM is our Monthly Update Meeting.  Hope to see you there!
--
Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network Coalition
Protect Wood County & Its Neighbors has partnered with SRWN, [Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network Coalition], in creating a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to protecting the economic, social, and cultural vitality of rural communities as well as the land, air, and water we depend on for happy healthy lives. 

Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network Coalition, (SRWN), is looking for both citizen individuals and community groups to join our network to assist in sharing our messages promoting environmental and social change.  Please share the news with any local groups you are connected with and encourage them to register their support. 

Together we will create a statewide network with a voice Legislators can no longer ignore.

Aug 20, 2016

CAFO Champ Rep. Scott Krug Hit with Suit Demanding Clean Water Emails

A journalist in Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit asking for water-related emails showing correspondence between the office of State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa, Wisconsin) and constituents.

In an Open Records request, Bill Lueders, asked for requested material in an electronic form to make the predictable document dump searchable. The request asks for emails from January through April 8, 2016, the Associated Press reports, and covers a period during which Scott Krug pushed an anti-clean water measure opposed by constituents.

Krug is politically opposed by members of the clean water citizen group, Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors. Many in the citizen group regard the Republican Krug as running political interference for the Republican Party and Gov. Scott Walker's agenda to dismantle state protections for clean and safe water.

During the January-to-April 8 period covered in Lueders' request, Krug introduced legislation opposed by Protect Wood County and other citizen groups, (Mal Contends).

Citizens mobilize in Wood and Adams counties Wisconsin
to stop massive factory farm in central Wisconsin,
and to protect clean water
Wisconsin Assembly Bill 477 and Senate Bill 291 were introduced in the 2015-16 Wisconsin Legislative Session. The requested Jan-April timeframe by journalist Lueders is within the session's duration, continuing through early 2017.

Residents of Wood and Adams counties clashed with Krug, noting his introduced measure, (Assembly Bill 477), would have facilitated unpopular developments in central Wisconsin.

These opposed changes include the increased drawing of groundwater through high capacity wells, the poisoning of ground and surface water, the operation of the unpopular Wysocki factory farm, the plummeting of property valuations, and a threat to communities' recent attempt to promote central Wisconsin as a tourism and recreational mecca.

David Gorski is challenging State Rep. Scott Krug
in Wisconsin's Assembly District 72.
Clean and abundant water issues will define the race between Krug and clean water advocate, David Gorski, the Democratic Party nominee for Wisconsin's 72nd assembly district race.

Writes Bruce E. Dimick of Saratoga in Wood County, testifying in opposition to Senate Bill 291 on October 13, 2015 before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy:
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.  My name is Bruce Dimick; I am from the Town of Saratoga Wisconsin, and am a member of the Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors organization. I have read SB 291 and was pleased by some aspects of the bill, but troubled by others.

One of those problem areas is the method used to identify a Sensitive Resource Area (SRA). I was a member of Representative Krug’s Citizen Advisory Groundwater Group when language similar to what is found in SB 291 was presented by Representative Krug with respect to Sensitive Resource Areas. I forcefully argued against this convoluted approach then, and I do so again today. To my knowledge, no one on the committee endorsed this approach, although many of us were in favor of the concept of Sensitive Resource Areas, or carve-outs.

Approval for a Sensitive Resource Area, (SRA), designation would, according to some estimates, take at least 10 years, during which any high-capacity wells that are approved for an area would be allowed to operate. By the time the SRA designation could be achieved much of the damage would already be done. Why work reactively when a proactive approach makes so much more sense both environmentally and economically?

In order to really understand the hydrogeology of an area like the Central Sands, you almost have to live there for a number of years, especially if you are from a more typical clay-loam environment.  We raised our family north of Appleton in the heart of dairy country during the ‘70’s and 80’s. This was typical clay-loam country like the country I grew up on in Northeastern Ohio. When we eventually moved to Saratoga, with its almost total lack of topsoil and all sand it took some getting used to. Without spray irrigation, our area is good for growing pine trees, but not much else.

One way to conceptualize the Central Sands area is think of it as a big tub full of sand filled almost to the top with water. All the water is connected. Streams, lakes and ponds are merely reflecting the local water table. As an example, we have a small dug pond on our property that has no typical inlet or outlet. Yet it is full of clean water and fish year round.  The ground water flows through our pond, slowly but continually, on its way to the Wisconsin River via one or more of the trout streams in the area.

The Central Sands area has been the subject of countless hydro geological studies done by the UWSP as well as the USGS and has already been identified as an environmentally sensitive region. The sensitivity of this aquifer is well documented, including a 2003 designation by the state legislature when groundwater management areas were identified.

The SRA designation should be made by the legislature proactively, now, just as it was in 2003 when groundwater management areas were identified.

If the entirety of the Central Sands area were designated as an SRA up front, then that would be a great improvement to this Bill.

I would ask the committee to go through a likely scenario for the Town of Saratoga if this bill is passed without modification. Saratoga home owners and small business’s are already being stressed by the threat that the aquifer supplying the residents of the town will be severely damaged. Housing prices have already plummeted, some by as much as 40-50%, and that is if you are lucky enough to sell your home. We are all dependent on private wells. The two wells on my property are 12’ sandpoints and our water tests unbelievably clean.

So if SB 291 becomes law without modification, and the Wysocki Family of Companies sinks their proposed 33 high capacity wells and lowers the water table as expected, many residents will have to construct new deeper wells.  And by the way, deeper does not always mean better. In areas like ours, the best water is frequently found near the top. Sand is a great filter.

Property values will continue to deteriorate and new houses will not be built in our rural residential community. Anybody that can move out, will move out. Perhaps a few hearty souls would prevail and eventually Saratoga and surrounding areas would be designated as an SRA after 7-10 years. The chances at that point of actually shutting down Wysocki’s 33 high capacity wells seems remote at best.

The damage will have been done and a rural community and its small businesses will suffer.

From the Associated Press, Aug. 19, 2016:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A reporter has filed a lawsuit demanding a state lawmaker turn over more than 1,000 pages of records in an electronic format.

Bill Lueders, a reporter and president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, filed the lawsuit Friday in Madison. He alleges he asked Rep. Scott Krug's office for correspondence with constituents over water issues from January through April 8.

The lawsuit alleges Krug's office released more than 1,000 pages even though he asked for the material electronically so he could search it easily.

Krug, a Nekoosa Republican, says he hadn't seen the lawsuit but insisted his office complied with the open records law. He said he thinks the lawsuit is politically motivated since Lueders gave it to reporters first.

Lueders says he only wants compliance with the law.

The Krug-David Gorski race is considered a prime pick-up opportunity for the Democratic Party.

Aug 19, 2016

Wisconsin Republicans—Dirty Tricks, Racists and Voter Obstruction

Updated - "Our campaign has had to deal with millions of dollars in misleading, negative ads from the Koch network, but this is a new low. Republicans are getting desperate, and they've resorted to the dirtiest tactic in their playbook: sending a spy into our campaign headquarters. This person came into our campaign headquarters using a fake name, a fake story, and even a fake Facebook page to try and cover their tracks," says Sarah Lindstrom, Volunteer Coordinator for the Russ Feingold U.S. Senate campaign in an email this morning.

Republican dirty tricks combined with one of the most ambitious voter obstruction projects in the nation reveal two things: The nature of the white Republican party in Wisconsin, and the desperation of the white party.

Signing off for the weekend.

Wisconsin, be advised, even the most basic right, voting, is under assault.

Scott Walker is quoted in the Capital Times today, saying Republican-enacted restrictions on early voting are needed after these restrictions were struck down in late July as unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge James Peterson in One Wisconsin Now, Inc. v. Thomsen.

Peterson held a trial and after hearing evidence, testimony, and argument found these early-voting restrictions to be discriminatory. This is an extraordinary opinion, but in white Wisconsin the significance is lost on the politcal culture.

"Those were reasonable changes at the time ... ," Walker said, not specifying why these restrictions were reasonable in 2011, or explaining if these restrictions are not needed now in 2016, then what has changed.

Getting a straight answer out of Scott Walker, or a racist bureaucrat in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, is never a good bet.

Aug 17, 2016

Dem VP Nominee Blasts Wisconsin Voter Obstruction

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine paid a surprise visit to Milwaukee and blasted Republicans in Wisconsin for voter obstruction.

"Your state officials here have been trying to put barriers up to participation. They’ve been trying to close down participation, rather than open it up," said Kaine, (Marley, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

I wonder if Kaine and the Democratic Party know how bad it's become.

Local municipal voting districts are staffing up Party-named, out-of-district Republicans to administer elections at the polling place in an effort to control another level of government for the specific benefit of the Republican Party, and with the intent to obstruct unwanted voters, especially brown, black and young voters.

This writer has voted at Fitchburg Fire Station, Number 2, for some 15 years, working as a sworn election inspector, (contract employee), for some nine years, and I was prevented from voting for 35 minutes facing a gauntlet of four hostile, white election inspectors.

Never seen anything like it, but I'm guessing I will in November.

As noted in these pages, our state has some 3,583 voting precincts.

In 2011, Wisconsin Republicans decided to name their polling workers across the state, (Barbour, Wisconsin State Journal.

No Republican need live in the district of the polling place at which they are assigned to harass targets of opportunity.

Take some 3,500 voting sites, harass and obstruct non-Republicans across the state and Republicans have a decent suppression regime, if they can frustrate and obstruct even two people in each district.

Local municipal clerks, bureaucrats and typically not the brightest bulbs, will go along.