May 25, 2016

Ohio Voter Suppression Law Held Unlawful, Opinion Points Way for Wisconsin Voting Rights

Black folks just love the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments
of the United States Constitution. But will they ever get that
Republican Party-enacted state laws against voting are really
for the greater good of the country?
Thursday, May 26, 2106 is the last day of trial in One Wisconsin v. Nichol, a major voting rights case challenging Republican voter suppression laws in Wisconsin.

Yesterday, a voting rights case in Ohio, signaled what could be a major development for voting rights federal litigation, in favor of the voters against Republican efforts to obstruct voters held in disfavor by Republicans state legislators and governors.

The Ohio case is Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Jon Hustad (Case No. 2:15-cv-1802) heard by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson who issued his 120-page opinion finding a voter suppression law blocking an in-person early voting ritual in Ohio, Golden Week, to be in violation of the United States Constitution and Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Right Act is a law first passed in 1965 to enforce the 15th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

The Ohio case is heard in the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Writes Judge Watson:

EIP [early in-person] voting in homogenous black blocks was 4.316 times higher than homogenous white blocks in 2008… 4.4476 times higher in 2012… usage rates of Golden Week specifically were far higher among African Americans than among whites in both 2008 and 2012… In other words, in 2008, for example, ‘the rate of voting early in person during golden week is three and a half times greater in homogenous black blocks than homogenous white blocks.’

One Wisconsin v. Nichol 

In the Wisconsin voting rights case, a series of voter suppression laws enacted into law by Wisconsin Republicans since 2011 are challenged as violative of the Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution.

Argue the plaintiffs, One Wisconsin Institute and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, as noted at Election Law at Moritz:

Count I: Violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act
Count II: Undue Burdens on the Right to Vote in Violation of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Count III: Disparate Treatment of Voters without a Rational Basis in Violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Count IV: Partisan Fencing in Violation of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Count V: Abridgment or Denial of the Right to Vote on the Basis of Race in Violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendment
Count VI: Abridgment or Denial of the Right to Vote on the Basis of Age in Violation of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment

Wisconsin Republicans

Wisconsin Republicans in the politicized Wisconsin Department of Justice argue, (among other points), that because Wisconsin's photo voter ID law for example is popular in their view, it is also constitutional, a bizarre argument used in two federal voting rights cases by Wisconsin DoJ Republicans, (Mal Contends).

Wisconsin Republicans also argue present protestations at trial by municipal clerks—representing white, Republican suburbs in Milwaukee's hyper-segregated greater urban area—who said  Republican-enacted election laws help the adminstration of elections. The clerks did not explain how or why.

Wisconsin Republicans also argue that the high voter turn-out in the April 5 Presidential Primary disconfirms the voting rights advocates' challenge of GOP-enacted election laws. DoJ Republicans suggest laws designed to suppress the vote of the non-Republican-voting electorate should be judged on their effect on total voter turn-out and not individual classes of voters such as Latinos, blacks, and college students, a talking point rather than a solid legal argument, (MediaMatters). Consider the hypothetical. If most voters were able to pay a $10 fee to vote, would the successful overcoming of the $10 burden mean that such a hypothetical law is not a violation of the 24th Amendment outlawing polling taxes?

The vast minorities of blacks in Wisconsin live in Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin, (Wisconsin Dept. of Heath Services), or as Paul Ryan and fellow Republicans like to point out: The "urban" areas.

In Wisconsin, urban means Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine counties. Along with Dane County, these four counties comprise some one-third of Wisconsin's 2012 presidential election voting total.

The GOP stops enough 'urban' people voting, and they win.

Republican-enacted laws cut early voting from 30 days before Election Day to 12 days, cut the hours during which voters may cast early voting, (in-person, absentee voting), and restrict early voting to one location per municipality, in the name of uniformity. The city of Milwaukee with a population of 599,164 can only have one early voting location, just like the village of Lannon with a population of 1,092. Most blacks in Wisconsin are concentrated in Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin, and it's clear what Republicans aim to achieve: Voter suppression.

If U.S. District Judge James Peterson adopts the logic of Judge Watson, it is likely Peterson will find the Republican laws attacking early voting disproportionately affect minority voters, (2013 Wisconsin Act 146, for example.


The bench trial is scheduled to conclude on Thursday, May 26 and is being heard by U.S. District Judge James Peterson.

May 24, 2016

Wisconsin DNR and DoJ Give Citizens the Shaft

It's almost summer in Wisconsin. Vectoring millions of
tons of pathogen-laden cow manure in liquid and aerial
emissions into surface waters and aquifers
has the go-ahead from the Wisconsin Department of
Justice, the Department of Natural Resources and Scott
Walker, the titular and corrupt governor of Wisconsin.
Image: Midwest Environmental Advocates
Republican War on Wisconsin in Fifth Year

Non-enforcement of regulations against pollution and poisoning of Wisconsin rural communities serves polluters, and a secondary objective to drive socially aware families out of state

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Wisconsin Department of Justice (DoJ) refuse to act against water contamination by cow manure and pathogens in Kewaunee and Door counties, clean water activists noted this weekend. They say this non-enforcement stance is a statewide policy.

Kewaunee County residents, Nancy and Lynn Utesch, point to emails (below) sent and responded to by a Wisconsin assistant attorney general dated September 22, 2014.

In an email to Asst. Attorney General and Director of the Environmental Protection Unit with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Thomas J. Dawson, Nancy and Lynn Utesch reference a piece here entitled Sixteen CAFOs in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin Define Devastation.

The Utesches write in part to Dawson, "I do believe you should know the truth of what is going on--on the ground and in communities suffering from the ill effects of non-enforcement, non-regulations and fines that should be warranted for their reckless and dangerous behavior to citizens and the environment."

When something does finally happen, Mr. Dawson, it will be with the full knowledge of yourself, and the DOJ department, and through informative articles and information that the self-policing citizens are doing."

Something had happened days before in Kewaunee County in northeastern Wisconsin.

Reports Jim Lundsrum in the Door County Peninsula Pulse (Nov. 12, 1014):

A young family visiting Door County for a weekend in mid-September, [2014, days before the Utesches emailed the DoJ's Dawson], were the subject of a public health investigation when they returned to their Calumet County home and their four-month-old daughter came down with an illness that was identified as E. coli bacteria from a bovine source, [cow manure].

‘The department of health got involved. They asked me where I was. That was several phone calls, to try to narrow it down,’ said the infant’s mother (she asked that we not use their names).

It turns out the family had stayed that weekend at a West Jacksonport, [Door County], home now identified as in the area of concern for well contamination after a Sept. 8 manure spreading session that included spreading into a sinkhole. This was the Monday after torrential rains wreaked havoc and saturated the landscape. …

 ‘The department of health nurse said since the E. coli was combined with a campylobacter bacteria, that’s really indicative of a bovine source. They were able to track it to the source based on the type of bacteria in the water.’

The mother said she does not understand why manure spreading is not more regulated. …

‘Especially with the fractured bedrock and shallow soil. It doesn’t take much for it to get in the groundwater.’ …

For other reports and analyses of water contamination across the state, see "Manure spraying under scrutiny," (Seely, WisconsinWatch); and "Health Risks of Manure Spray Irrigation," (Kewaunee CARES).

In all, 17 people including the infant were sickened in one September 2014 incident from one near-CAFO that then became a CAFO-sized factory farm, Haberli Farms, in 2105, (Lundstrum, Door County Pulse). The DNR and DoJ conducted no investigation of the incident.

The September 2014 incident was followed by a report issued some 14 months later showing, "More than one-third of wells in dairy farm-intensive Kewaunee County were found to be unsafe because they failed to meet health standards for drinking water, according to a new study," (Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

Today, drinking the water or bathing in the water in Kewaunee County and in numerous other areas across the state is rolling the dice with your health, ("Bacteria in state’s drinking water is ‘public health crisis’ Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents are at risk of illness from waterborne pathogens in private and public drinking water supplies," (Seely, WisconsinWatch).

Asst. Attorney General and Director of the Environmental Protection Unit, Wisconsin Department of Justice Dawson replied to Nancy Utesch:

Ms. Utesch: As indicated in our letter to you of September 6, 2013 (attached), the DOJ enforces Wisconsin’s regulatory laws on referral primarily from the DNR. Our office has no independent environmental investigators or authority to prosecute violations except upon investigation and referral from DNR. Therefore, your concerns should be directed there. Thank you.

A request for comment sent by Mal Contends in a May 23, 2016 email, (below), to the DoJ was not met with a response.

Since 2011, the DNR has been radically transformed by Scott Walker and Republicans and turned into a vehicle to facilitate pollution instead of protecting natural resources, (The Political Environment).

Industry is not only free to pollute, it now free to plunder Wisconsin aquifers and surface water.

On May 10, 2106, Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel issued a formal opinion stripping "the ability of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to protect our waterways from wells that pump 100,000 gallons per day or more. This opinion ignores decades of legal precedent and sound science, and puts Wisconsin’s waterways at even greater risk of drying up," (Wheeler, The Capital Times).

Good news for industrialized, polluting agricultural operations such as Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy LLC in Kewaunee County, (Golden, WisconsinWatch).

Bad news for Wisconsin families.

"More streams, lakes, and wells will go dry at a time when these resources are already stressed, to the detriment of other property owners, recreational water users, and the environment. Citizens are already sick and tired of having to go to court and do the job the DNR should be doing to protect the state’s resources," said Christa Westerberg, attorney for Friends of the Central Sands, reacting to Attorney General Schimel's give-away opinion to Big Ag polluters, (Verburg, Wisconsin State Journal).
 --
Wisconsin DoJ, and Nancy and Lynn Utesch Emails notes reproduced below:
 ---
Johnnie,

Looking for a comment Re allegations of non-enforcement of regulated pollution events in Kewaunee County. Allegation is made by Lynn Utesch of Kewaunee County.

Utesch references emails, (from 2014), sent to and received from Asst. AG Thomas J. Dawson.

Utesch says:

- There is no enforcement of regulations Re CAFO pollution in Kewaunee County
- That the DoJ has been made aware of pollution events
- And includes an email from Dawson (below), reading in part: "As indicated in our letter to you of September 6, 2013 (attached), the DOJ enforces Wisconsin’s regulatory laws on referral primarily from the DNR.  Our office has no independent environmental investigators or authority to prosecute violations except upon investigation and referral from DNR.  Therefore, your concerns should be directed there."

Can you email me an on-the-record comment Re Utesch's allegations?

Thx!

Mike Leon

Michael Leon
Marketing and Public Relations Consultant
http://malcontends.blogspot.com/



Date: Sun, 22 May 2016 14:51:24 +0000
From: lnutesch@yahoo.com
To:
Subject: Fw: MAL Contends . . .: Sixteen CAFOs in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin Define Devastation

The non-enforcement going on in our communities, and the resulting pollution and contamination.  The DOJ is aware.
n


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Lynn Utesch To: "Dawson, Thomas J." <DawsonTJ@DOJ.STATE.WI.US>
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 4:47 PM
Subject: Re: MAL Contends . . .: Sixteen CAFOs in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin Define Devastation

Thank you Mr. Dawson. 

 I do not send you things to inundate you with information. 

 I do believe you should know the truth of what is going on--on the ground and in communities suffering from the ill effects of non-enforcement, non-regulations and fines that should be warranted for their reckless and dangerous behavior to citizens and the environment.  

When something does finally happen, Mr. Dawson, it will be with the full knowledge of yourself, and the DOJ department, and through informative articles and information that the self-policing citizens are doing.


Sincerely,
Nancy Utesch


From: "Dawson, Thomas J." <DawsonTJ@DOJ.STATE.WI.US>
To: 'Lynn Utesch
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 4:20 PM
Subject: RE: MAL Contends . . .: Sixteen CAFOs in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin Define Devastation

Ms. Utesch:
 
As indicated in our letter to you of September 6, 2013 (attached), the DOJ enforces Wisconsin’s regulatory laws on referral primarily from the DNR.  Our office has no independent environmental investigators or authority to prosecute violations except upon investigation and referral from DNR.  Therefore, your concerns should be directed there.  Thank you.
 
Thomas J. Dawson, Director
Environmental Protection Unit
Wisconsin Department of Justice
17 West Main Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7857
(608)

From: Lynn Utesch [mailto:lnutesch@yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 3:06 PM
To: Dawson, Thomas J.
Subject: Fw: MAL Contends . . .: Sixteen CAFOs in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin Define Devastation

May 23, 2016

California Democrats, Please Do Not Vote for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is a liar and hypocrite.

Virginia's White Supremacist Republicans Fight Voting Rights

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Republicans are fighting tooth-and-nail to stop the restoration of voting rights of 100,000s of mostly black Virginia citizens.

"Virginia's 1901-1902 constitutional convention, which set up poll taxes, literacy tests and disenfranchisement for felons as barriers for African-American participation," is cited by election law scholar, A.E. Dick Howard, professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, who consulted with Gov. Terry McAuliffe in McAuliffe's continuing efforts to restore the voting rights of Virginians, (Nolan, Times-Dispatch).

As long as black Americans can vote, white supremacists in the Republican Party across the nation will do their worst to impede voting rights, often employing the deplorable tactics of Jim Crow-era laws and state constitutions like Virginia's.

Notes Laura Vozzella in the Washington Post: "Virginia is one of only a few states that permanently disenfranchise felons, a practice that McAuliffe and other Democrats trace back to the Jim Crow era since it disproportionately affects African Americans."

Virginia offers one example.

Wisconsin is another.

From the Beloit Daily News:

... A trial was held this week in federal court dealing with Voter ID and various other elections changes enacted since 2011. The plaintiffs argue the changes, taken together, suppress the votes of minorities, young people and others, particularly in urban areas. Several expert witnesses presented the results of academic studies supporting that argument.

But perhaps the most interesting testimony came from a former Republican aide to a Wisconsin senator who later chose not to seek re-election when his term expired. The aide testified to being present in a closed Republican caucus when legislators originally discussed passing the Voter ID bill. He said senators were 'giddy' at the prospect of what such a law could do to curtail turnout among certain groups of citizens, predicting it would make it easier for Republicans to win future elections.
 Wherever black folks vote, and Republicans rule the state legislature, no voter is safe.

May 22, 2016

Sanders Takes on Dem Party Insiders as Clinton Candidacy in Free Fall

RealClearPolitics Aggregation of Polls
Shows Clinton in Free Fall
Hillary Clinton is now in free fall, and Trump leads Clinton in numerous polls' hypothetical general election match-ups, (RealClearPolitics), a spectacular development ignored to this point in corporate media coverage.

Bernie Sanders continues to wallop Trump in hypothetical general election match-ups, a fact that is blacked-out by corporate media, (RealClearPolitics).

For example, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Sanders destroying Trump in a head-to-head race, 50 to 39 percent, (RealClearPolitics).

Voters for Bernie Sanders have denied Hillary Clinton's campaign to amass enough pledged/won delegates to secure the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency.

So, Clinton has been forced to Plan B: Superdelegates—Democratic Party politicians and myriad insiders who pledged their fealty to Clinton last year in self-serving attempts to move up in the Party hierarchy.

Superdelegates don't vote until the Convention and are not bound to vote for any candidate.

A rigged primary system for Clinton includes the DNC front-loading the Democratic Party's primary calendar in an failed attempt to lock up the nomination for Clinton before the late July Convention.

Meanwhile, corporate media such as ABC News, Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN for example, disingenuously present the findings of their own polls as demonstrating Clinton has already won the nomination.

Clinton has failed to garner the necessary total of bound delegates.

"Never in the history of the Post-ABC poll have the two major party nominees been viewed as harshly as Clinton and Trump," write Dan Balz and Scott Clement in the Washington Post.

The facts that Clinton is not the nominee, and cannot obtain the necessary bound delegates to guarantee a win before the nomination do not deter the factually incorrect, biased and slanted statement that Clinton is a "party nominee."

Sanders and progressive Tim Canova

Sanders is calling for a political revolution and growing number of his supporters reject Clinton in the general election.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz maintains her loyalty to Hillary Clinton.

Sanders has endorsed Schultz' primary opponent, the progressive Tim Canova, against Rep. Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla).

Writes Sanders in email this morning:

So let me introduce you to Tim Canova, a progressive challenger who is running against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a Democratic primary in Florida this year.

Tim endorsed Bernie’s presidential campaign, and was inspired to run because of Wasserman Schultz’ support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His campaign is funded like ours, by lots of people giving small amounts of money.

And on issues like taking on Wall Street, making tuition free at public colleges, and reforming our broken campaign finance system, he is someone you can be proud to support. That's why Bernie is endorsing Tim's campaign ... .

This weekend Sander repeated his call to include the votes of all remaining state primaries and caucuses in consideration of whom the Democratic Party selects as its nominee for the presidency.

Sanders called for voters to ensure the general election is not a lesser-of-two-evils race, rather a clear choice between a progressive and the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

May 20, 2016

Hillary Clinton, Time to Bow Out and Take Wasserman Schultz with You

It's so much better for the Party if Bernie Sanders falls in line behind Hillary Clinton, say the commissars.

Is it possible for the two major political parties to be so out-of-touch? Right.

Clinton is an annoying troll and imperils the nomination of the stronger general election candidate, Bernie Sanders, against Donald Trump.

Clinton should leave politics, and Sanders and his supporters will clean up her mess.

Trump is going to be a more difficult proposition than the Democratic Party assumes.