Jul 31, 2014

Wisconsin Voter ID Law Upheld Four-to Three in Repudiation of Wisconsin Voting Guarantees

Appalling, corrupt decision dispels myth of impartial Court

The photo voter ID decision is posted on Wisconsin Supreme Court page.

The law remains unenforceable due to a federal injunction in two consolidated federal cases against the law.

Other major decisions issued today can be found here at Court page.

There can be no doubt that Wisconsin Republican Party's de facto four partisan justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are either removed from the reality of 100,000s of Wisconsin citizens or more likely just issued a corrupt partisan decision, salvaging the photo voter ID law.

Wrote Justice Patience Roggensack in the four-three opinion: "In the present case, we conclude that the burdens of time and inconvenience associated with obtaining Act 23-acceptable photo identification are not undue burdens on the right to vote and do not render the law invalid."

Wisconsin's Constitutional guarantee to vote is so expansive that in the 19th century, it took a Constitutional amendment to mandate registration of voters.

The point is that "state constitutions explicitly grant the right to vote to state citizens," as Joshua A. Douglas notes in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Thankfully Wisconsin's two U.S. attorneys (the top law enforcement officials in their respective districts) along with U.S. Attorney General Holder have defended the right to vote against this Republican voter obstruction effort.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson' dissent reads in part: "Today the court follows no James Madison--for whom Wisconsin's capital city is named--but rather Jim Crow," noted the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin in a statement..

Writes Abrahamson: "Act 23's photo identification requirements severely burden eligible voters without being narrowly tailored to achieve the state's compelling interests of reducing voter fraud and increasing voter confidence in the outcomes of elections.  For that reason, Act 23 is an unconstitutional election regulation, and I therefore respectfully dissent."

The rationale of Act 23 is to block as many Democratically leaning voters as possible from casting votes.

“Rather than blocking thousands of eligible citizens from voting, we should be working to ensure that our elections are free, fair and accessible to all eligible Wisconsin voters,” said Andrea Kaminski of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin in a statement.

This is a result-oriented decision that purposely misapplies a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Crawford v. Indiana and ignores the guarantee to vote in the Wisconsin Constitution, and the long history of case law recognizing this guarantee.

Never in Wisconsin judicial history has there been this type of corrupt decision that attacks the foundation of the state of Wisconsin as a political entity.

Jul 30, 2014

Three Huge Civil Rights Rulings to Be Released Thursday Morning in Wisconsin

Update: In other legal news, another of Scott Walker's attempts to grab power, Walker's judicial ally's halting the John Doe probe looking into the criminal scheme of which Walker was central, is set to be heard in oral arguments on September 9 before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa halted the John Doe probe in early May in Eric O’Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth, Inc. v Francis Schmitz.

Also, the U.S. "Department of Justice today intervened in the ACLU of Wisconsin voting rights case, filing an amicus brief in opposition to the voter ID law," the ACLU reports.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is poised to make three historic rulings on Photo Voter ID (Act 23); Act 10 curtailing freedom to form public workers' unions; and the law codifying right of same-sex couples to receive domestic partner benefits. (Stein, Ferguson, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

The cases are:
  • League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Inc. v. Scott Walker, et al. combined with Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Scott Walker
  • Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Scott Walker
  • Julaine K. Appling, et al. v. James E. Doyle, et al
All of the cases represent part of Scott Walker and the right wing's legislative attempt to codify the authority of their temporary partisan majority in the legislative and executive branch to take away rights and political power of disfavored citizens.

The cases' opinions can be found at the "Today's Released Supreme Court Opinions" link on Thursday between 8:00 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. Central Time, barring any technical difficulties, according to a clerk reached at the Wisconsin Supreme Court this morning.

Most observers predict the Court will strike down the photo Voter ID law because of Wisconsin's expansive protection of the right to vote.

Act 10 curtailing the right to form public unions will likely be upheld by the four-three right wing Court majority.

And I have no idea what the Court will do with the domestic partnership statute signed into law by Gov. Jim Doyle on June 29, 2009.

Jul 29, 2014

Mary Burke: Cash and Cow Manure

Mary Burke: You DON'T want
liquid cow manure in your drinking
water? Send me money, idiot, or
vote for Scott Walker—he cares
about your issues less than I do.
"In the 1980s, Wisconsin had a half dozen Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), all poultry. We now have about 250 CAFOs; 220 of them are dairies. Recent applications to the DNR for dairy CAFOs are approaching cattle populations of 10,000 head each. That’s a far cry from the forty-cow family-run dairies of 25 years ago. In terms of a very common measure of water pollution potential, biochemical oxygen demand, the organic pollution potential of a 10,000 head dairy is equal to 180,000 people. That’s bigger than the city of Green Bay. Green Bay has a waste-water treatment plant. CAFOs do not. A 10,000 head dairy produces enough manure to fill up Lambeau Field where the Packers play all the way to the top of the cheap seats on the fifth story bleachers,… four times a year," said Gordon Stevenson, a 26-year veteran of the DNR where his last assignment was serving as the Chief of Runoff Management until his retirement in January of 2011.

Updated - Mary Burke's challenge to Scott Walker is, as every politico knows, conditioned on money and getting out the vote in numbers resembling the 2008 and 2012 presidential races against the 2010 midterm turnout when Scott Walker was first elected.

In 2008, Wisconsin had the second-highest voter turnout in the country at 72 percent, second only to Minnesota (McDonald. George Mason U.).

In 2010, Wisconsin's voter turnout was 52 percent, the fifth highest in the country (McDonald. George Mason U.).

In 2012, Wisconsin again was second to Minnesota in voter turnout, reaching 73 percent (Sullivan, Washington Post).

The 2008 and 2010 voting electorates present a difference of 825,755 Wisconsin voters, people whom Scott Walker and the Republicans wish would sit out the November 2014 election as well, though many of Scott Walker's election-rigging attempts have been declared unconstitutional.

As Jonathan Alter reported and wrote later in his seminal book, The Center Holds, Obama and His Enemies (Simon and Schuster, 2013), the Obama campaign utilizing its high-tech veritable wizards compiled voter Obama support scores on the 180 million American voters (p. 107), and successfully demolished Mitt Willard Romney in 2012, in significant part by using social media, Facebook, Tumblr and so on to reach supporters and persuadable voters.

Mary Burke brought in some of the same top talent in the political world (Glauber, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), including top Obama-2012 strategists so it stands to reason that Burke is not ignoring innovations in using social media in reaching voters to up the turnout rates to 2008 (and 2012) levels.

"(Jim) Margolis and others with the Obama team were credited with running an effective media campaign. They used analytics and data to reach voters in ways beyond television ads," noted the  Journal-Sentinel's Bill Glauber, and Alter.

The campaign techies don't get mentioned in the press but they're there and are critically important in the Mary Burke campaign.

This explains in part Mary Burke's disdain for retail campaigning and the lack of feedback to voters' stated concerns. Burke thinks she can win with just techies and money. There are many grassroots issues that the Democratic party and Burke need to address.

You won't find Burke's team, and certainly not Burke, talking to Wisconsin folks about backyard issues like the health of their families or local community control under assault by the Walker administration and the corporate interests to which Walker is beholden.

Geez, your water and the air you breathe are being poisoned by concentrated agricultural feeding operations (CAFOs) or factory farms' liquid cow manure; tough shit, get it? Tell it to someone who cares.

Mary Burke better start caring because the 10,000s of Wisconsin people affected by the pathogens being directed into waterways, streams, lakes, and aquifers trump any political allegiance to Scott Walker or the not-Scott Walker stand-in of the Democratic Party.

Backyard [literally in the case of the Scott Murray family of Juneau County (Seely, Golden; Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)] local issues like drinking water and the tourism dollars of a clean environment trump any politician, and in strength apparently escaping notice of the Mary Burke campaign.

CAFOs are all about not creating jobs, not using workers, using whatever natural resources they want to use, and dumping cow manure with its pathogens onto communities, and the Wysocki farm corporation (quietly deploying CAFOs around the state) does not ask for permission from communities.

CAFOs do what CAFOs want, secure in the knowledge that the Scott Walker administration with its new politicized Department of Natural Resources will follow the Walker administration always, period, and grant permits for CAFO to run adjoining communities right into the sewer.

"In the 1980s, Wisconsin had a half dozen Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), all poultry. We now have about 250 CAFOs; 220 of them are dairies. Recent applications to the DNR for dairy CAFOs are approaching cattle populations of 10,000 head each. That’s a far cry from the forty-cow family-run dairies of 25 years ago. In terms of a very common measure of water pollution potential, biochemical oxygen demand, the organic pollution potential of a 10,000 head dairy is equal to 180,000 people. That’s bigger than the city of Green Bay. Green Bay has a waste-water treatment plant. CAFOs do not. A 10,000 head dairy produces enough manure to fill up Lambeau Field where the Packers play all the way to the top of the cheap seats on the fifth story bleachers,… four times a year," said Gordon Stevenson, a 26-year veteran of the DNR where his last assignment was serving as the Chief of Runoff Management until his retirement in January of 2011.

These CAFOs are a statewide issue and need to be dealt with systemically rather than being left to individual towns and communities to handle on their own. Politicians for statewide offices should know this.

Jul 26, 2014

Town of Rome Sends DNR Letter to Kill Massive, Proposed CAFO

334 Halberds Court;
Rome, Wisconsin
The Town of Rome, Wisconsin is an idyllic community in northern Adams county offering residents and retirees a scenic country life, peace and quiet and recreation in central Wisconsin.

This peace, in fact the future of the Town and surrounding region is imperiled by a proposed massive dairy CAFO (concentrated agricultural feeding operation) that would deliver pathogens into the water, land and air of the Central Sands.

The proposed CAFO is called the Golden Sands Dairy CAFO, now under consideration from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Citizens groups are fighting back, including Protect Wood County and Rome Saratoga Friendly (Facebook). [These groups are still waiting on presumptive Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee, Mary Burke, to issue a position paper protecting the water and Wisconsin families from CAFOs, and to make this a priority in her campaign, and failing that at least issuing a public statement calling for stopping the poisoning of the region.]

Local governments are not waiting, and are making their voice heard by the DNR, what used to be an independent agency but under Gov. Scott Walker has become a corrupt arm of corporate interests that no longer give an impartial hearing to "environmentally-motivated opponents of frac sand mines, big dairy expansions and mountain-top removal iron mining in the Bad River watershed," as Jim Rowan writes.

Time is not on the side of the conservationists and those working to protect natural resources.

"The ecological carrying capacity on at least two of Wisconsin’s agricultural landscapes has been exceeded: that includes much of Northeastern Wisconsin as well as the Central Sands. These landscapes are literally bleeding excess nitrogen and phosphorus into groundwater and surface water," said Gordon Stevenson, a 26-year veteran of the DNR where his last assignment was serving as the Chief of Runoff Management until his retirement in January of 2011.

CAFOs typically take the cow manure mixture, store some of it in lagoon and spray the rest of the toxic brew:

Below is the letter submitted to the DNR by the Town of Rome Board of Supervisors in Wood County:
July 24, 2014

Mr. Russ Anderson
WDNR Environmental Review Coordinator
3911 Fish Hatchery Road
Fitchburg, WI 53711
RE: Golden Sands Environmental Impact Statement

Dear Mr. Anderson,

The Town of Rome is located two miles south of the proposed CAFO, and borders the cropland on which the manure will be spread and where many of the forty high capacity wells will be located. Rome has 2741 full time residents, and has 4262 residential properties with improvements, many of which are vacation homes. Rome is a recreational and retirement community. Many of the full time residents bought property as a weekend retreat, and then moved here after retirement. They chose Rome because it was a quiet community with clean water, clean air, and an abundance of natural resources in the area that provided many recreational opportunities. This continues to be why many people buy in Rome.

The proposed CAFO now threatens the environment that brought people to the Town of Rome.
Experience has shown that there are many environmental issues surrounding other CAFO operations in Wisconsin, and in the Midwest. There are air quality issues which should be controlled by the State and Federal air quality standards, but are difficult to monitor and enforce. The odor from the Factory Farm operation, and from the fields where the manure is applied is not controlled. Manure odor is very offensive to most people, and it will easily travel into Rome when the wind is blowing from the north or west.

There is a new campground less than two miles from the CAFO being built by the Wisconsin Trapshooting Assn (WTA) on the site of their world class trapshooting complex. Their operational plan calls for attracting campers even when there are no trapshooting events. The income from the premier quality campground which will have 204 drive-through full hookup sites is needed to fund the operation of the complete facility. The presence of the manure odor, and the noise of the 24/7 operation will have a negative effect on attracting campers to make the campground successful. The WTA is projecting an investment of $4.9 million into this project which includes a “Learning Center” for use by schools statewide for educational events. The annual income from the campground, shooting facility, and Learning Center is projected to be $1.4 million per year, which will be jeopardized by the CAFO being located so close.

The Town of Rome is going to be the site of the Sand Valley Golf Resort which is under construction now. This will be mega golf facility that will draw visitors from around the country and world to play their links style courses. The developer chose the Town of Rome because of the rural area away from industrial development, the abundance of open rolling terrain, natural resources for other recreational activities, and clean air and water. Their long range business plan calls for developing five courses, lodging facilities, and full service club houses at an investment of $100 million. When finished, this operation will employ hundreds of people in well paying positions. Even though the facility will be located in southern part of Rome, many of the guests will be arriving from the airports to the north where they would see and smell the CAFO as they arrive. This will be another major source of income for local residents and businesses, as well as tax revenue for the Town, County, and State. The successful operation of this facility would be jeopardized by the CAFO.

The proposed 6000 acres of cropland with forty additional high cap wells will have a negative effect on Rome’s lakes and groundwater. Private water wells around other CAFO operations and near high concentrations of cropland have experienced increased nitrate levels, and contamination from the chemicals and pesticides used to the point where the well water is not safe to drink. Ground water levels have dropped as witnessed in the Plainfield and Plover areas. The Rome Town Board passed a resolution last year opposing the method that the DNR uses when issuing high cap well permits, because they are not considering the cumulative effect of multiple wells in the same area. This was forwarded to the Governor and State officials with no response.

There are about 3500 private wells in Rome with 1500 located within the three mile radius of the proposed high cap wells. In addition, the Rome Water Utility serves 1300 customers in the Lake Camelot area from their wells located 2.3 miles from the proposed high cap wells. Engineered studies have shown that there is a three mile cone of depression of ground water levels around each high cap well.   Many of the 1500 private well owners stand a good chance of having their wells contaminated, and/or dried up when the ground water levels drop.  They would then have to drill deeper wells, and/or purchase expensive filtration equipment to have safe drinking water. The cost to each property owner could be $3000 to $5000 or more. This could easily have a cost of $4.5 to $7.5 million to Town residents within the three mile radius of the high cap wells. The nitrate contamination would go beyond the three mile radius which would affect even more wells.

The same issues will threaten the Rome Water Utility wells. In 1995, the Water Utility found that two wells were contaminated with nitrates from the agricultural area east of Rome resulting in the wells being taken out of service. A new well had to be drilled at a cost of $600,000. Since 2006, another new well was drilled and the filtration equipment updated at a cost of $1.6 million. If the Water Utility’s current wells become contaminated with nitrates, the cost of the necessary filtration equipment will be over $2 million, plus the waste disposal for the nitrate residue would be about $40,000 per month, or $480,000 per year. These costs would need to be charged back to the Water Utility customers.

In addition to the air quality and ground water issues, some Town of Rome residents will have to contend with additional noise from the Factory 24/7 operation, and the additional 24/7 truck traffic through Rome. Rome would no longer be a quiet place to live.

A number of residents have already stated that if this CAFO is allowed, they will be selling their property as they did not move to Rome to live under these conditions. They want to sell their property before the value of Rome property drops as a result of the CAFO. Residential property in the northern part of Rome will see the greatest impact. There are numerous papers written documenting that the value of residential property within three miles of a CAFO declines, some places have been as much as 30%. As more properties are put on the market, all Town property values will be affected. There will be fewer buyers that want to buy in Rome, and put up with the air, water, and noise issues. When the supply exceeds the demand, property values drop. A good example of this was when the Town’s residential property values dropped $190.4 million (26%) from 2009 to 2013. This was because there were a lot of properties on the market, and nobody was buying. This will happen again if the environment that brings people to Rome is compromised by air, water, and noise issues. The 2014 assessed value of the residential property in Rome is $574.4 million. Even a modest 5% decrease in property value would be $28.7 million loss. A 10% decline would be $57.4 million. Rome expects to see very little additional revenue from the CAFO, and the 25 farm hand employees that the CAFO will employ, so the economic impact to the Town of Rome will be all negative. When you look at all of the factors, this could easily be over $50 million when you factor in the lost to the tourism industry, to businesses, both local and county wide, to the construction industry, and less jobs available. How will the Town of Rome, Adams County, and the residents be compensated for that loss?

In conclusion, this CAFO is proposed to be located in the middle of two residential communities. This is the worst possible location for this kind of operation.  Consideration needs to be given to the fact that a private party wants to make a huge profit at the expense of the Town residents, both Saratoga and Rome. There are areas in central Wisconsin where there is open land with very few residents per square mile, and located many miles away from residential communities. If this type of operation is going to be permitted, that is where it should be located, not in Saratoga. We agree that the agricultural and dairy industries are a vital part of Wisconsin’s economy, but the tourism and recreation industries also contribute many dollars to the economy. There needs to be a compromise reached to share and preserve our natural resources. In order to preserve wild life habitat, control soil erosion, and clean the air we breathe, there needs to be limits established to control the amount of forestry land that can be converted to cropland in any given area.  We ask the Department of Natural Resources to take on the responsibility that has been assigned to them, to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources, especially clean water and clean air.


Town of Rome Board of Supervisors,

Jul 25, 2014

Two Things About Mary Burke—One Is Good

A good thing to be against
Mary Burke is not Scott Walker, and this is Burke's best asset.

Mary Burke is not a politician, and this is Burke's worst defect.

A good politician, the type of person who works for her fellows is difficult to find today.

So, we have Mary Burke.

Back in March, when Republicans were screwing over cancer victims (mostly veterans) suffering from Mesothelioma, Burke's campaign team decided the best way to help was silence. After a time, Burke did throw out a sentence, a good one.

Then, in July, Burke decided she was against Mesothelioma and would repeal the Act Republicans passed into law. This took four months.

Folks in central Wisconsin—who are working against the siting of a concentrated agricultural feeding operation CAFO that would inject liquid cow manure into the environment, including the streams, lakes, and peoples' homes—asked me earlier this week why Mary Burke takes so long to get behind something she should be championing.

They have contacted the Burke campaign numerous times, and are still awaiting a reply.

Nancy Koch [no relation] of the citizens' group, Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors told me, she feels like Burke is giving her and her people the "brush-off."

What's Burke's deal?

I told Koch and her friends I have no idea, and that I'm not sure Mary Burke particularly cares about people in central Wisconsin.

Jul 23, 2014

Central Wisconsin Assembly Dem Primary Race Centers Around CAFOs

Democratic Party primary for District 72 in central Wisconsin.
Primary election is on August 12
Several citizens' groups in central Wisconsin are working to stop a proposed massive concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) Factory Farm that would border four Wisconsin counties in the Golden Sands region that is a heavy tourism and recreational destination.

Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors: Rome, Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa, Saratoga, Wisconsin Rapids have drafted and received responses to its candidate questionnaire of the two candidates vying for the nomination of the Democratic Party in the 72nd assembly district—Dana Duncan, a seventh-generation Wisconsinite from Port Edwards, and Tom Rayome, a city council member from Wisconsin Rapids.

The winner of the primary will face State Rep Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC), a Scott Walker ally and member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that determines how Krug votes on major bills of interest to ALEC.

Rome and Saratoga-Friendly
Krug has been a cheerleader for the transformation of the Department of Natural Resources in the Scott Walker administration.

"[U]der the direction of Secretary Cathy Stepp, a homebuilder and politician, the DNR’s role in protecting natural resources has been turned inside out ... [into an agency] ... streamlining regulations to make it easier for companies – a.k.a. polluters - to do business." (Kimble, The Progressive)

Both Democratic Party candidates blasted the proposed CAFO, and called for a new DNR that is independent from the Scott Walker administration.

From Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors:

Dear Friends,

As I reported in my last email update the dreaded WI political season is upon us. Round 1 of information gathering focuses directly on our Democratic candidates as they first are facing a primary run-off on Aug 12th.  Once the primary is over the same type of questioning will occur between our Republican and Democratic candidates vying for the 72nd Assembly seat.

Below you will find the questions posed to the candidates with responses copied exactly as written.

Question 1 - What is your stance on the increased number of high capacity wells to the Central Sands area? 

Dana Duncan -  I would oppose any future legislation that will limit, interfere with, or compromise the DNR's authority to regulate high capacity wells and make the best possible decisions on a total environmental impact basis. I would also oppose any law that places time limits on impact studies to be completed by the DNR. Furthermore, I would support the repeal of Motion 375 which prohibits citizens from challenging high capacity well permits based on cumulative impact. Moreover, I would support allowing the DNR to practice adaptive management, increasing stream protections, or expanding Groundwater Management Areas.

Tom Rayome - I am against the increased number of high capacity wells proposed in the Central Sands area.  I am concerned about the affect that will have on surrounding wells, ground, and air pollution from the proposed CAFO.

Question 2 - With tourism being a large part of the Wisconsin economy, how big a factor is it to your campaign?

Dana Duncan - Tourism is the largest industry in Wisconsin and is our potential future. Everything should be done to promote and protect that portion of our economy. A priority should be set that all other businesses should be considered as far as an impact on tourism.

Tom Rayome - It is a very big part of my campaign.  Tourism has already become and is getting bigger in Central Wisconsin.  We have to protect our water and air for this to continue.  Regulations have been relaxed too much for the sake of high water useage businesses while hurting the environment, surrounding properties, and people.  This goes for mining as well.

Question 3 - What are your thoughts regarding the appointed position of the Department of Natural Resources?

Dana Duncan -  I believe the DNR should be a wholly independent agency separated from the partisan politics of the legislature and the Governor's office. I believe we should amend the Wisconsin Constitution and have the DNR commissioner become and elected position like that of the State Superintendent of Schools.

Tom Rayome -  I believe the DNR Secretary should be appointed by the NRB.  They would be less likely to be influenced by politics in the management and protection of the states natural resources.  I also believe a DNR Secretary appointed by the governor would not be held as accountable.  The Secretary of the DNR should not be a cabinet position.  The DNR must be an independent agency.

Question 4 - What is your vision for economic growth of Wisconsin?

Dana Duncan - Wisconsin's economic growth will continue to be based around and involve tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture. However, the key to our future is water. It's the 21st Century's version of oil in that it is our most precious and treasured resource. As California, Arizona, and other such states continue to have trouble meeting their fresh water demands of their citizenry. This holds the key for all three areas of growth. Therefore, water must be actually managed and protected to ensure this future.

Tom Rayome - To bring together people and businesses from all walks to see how we can live in harmony with recreation, industry, etc. without harm to the environment.  This can be accomplished with the right regulations in place.

Question 5 - What environmental bills do you plan to present if elected?

Dana Duncan - I would like to present an adaptation of the Minnesota law which has set a CAFO-specific ambient air quality standard for hydrogen sulfide and establish a program for monitoring compliance. I would also include legislation ending "open-air lagoons", standards for holding facilities, and standards for the treatment of manure. Moreover, as I indicated before, I would present legislation to separate the DNR from the control of the Governor's office.

Tom Rayome -  For sure it is to make sure we have the right regulations in place when environmental issues come up.

If we destroy our land and resources what kind of tourist area will we have?

Question 6 - What are your thoughts regarding the proposed establishment of a CAFO to a highly recreational and residential area in your potential district?

Dana Duncan - It could cause detrimental harm to the area and destroy economic growth. As I stated in my open letter in the Daily Tribune in June. I do not believe CAFOs have any value to our communities or our state as they are the equivalent to agriculture as "sweatshops" and child labor are to manufacturing and have no business being in Wisconsin and I would act to remove them all if possible. I fully support the efforts of Protect Wood County and the Rome and Saratoga Friendly business initiative as well as the Saratoga Town Board in fighting this incoming threat.

Tom Rayome -  A recreational and residential area is much more preferred by me compared to a huge CAFO coming in and buying thousands of acres of land.  It's bad for the environment, the residents don't want it and it would hurt the tourism in the area.

Question 7 - You will most likely be facing a Republican run Senate and Assembly. What current contacts do you have in Madison or within the political environment that will assist you in being a successful representative? 

Dana Duncan -  I expect to receive the endorsement of Clean Wisconsin within the week. I will be using them as a resource for information, legislative language and to join with other endorsed Assemblyman to fight for our environment. Furthermore, I would be a member of the legislature, (even with not being in the majority or possibly having an opposing party Governor) both the rest of the legislature and Governor's office would be areas that I would have access to.

Tom Rayome -  Some of the contacts and people I have worked with over the years include: Sen. Julie Lassa, Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink, Rep. Katrina Shankland, Rep. Peter Barca, Rep. Chris Taylor,
Rep. Evan Goyke, Ed Garvey, Marlin Schneider, Dave Obey and Russ Feingold.
[Note: No endorsements of the candidates by the above people or Protect Wood County have been made.]

Don't forget to vote in the primary August 12th.  Once our Republican and Democratic candidates are determined we will again question each potential representative in a variety of important areas such as the environment, education, and much more.

Stay tuned for Round 2!
Below are two maps; one of the proposed Wysocki CAFO operation abutting four counties (Wood, Portage, Juneau and Adams counties) at left, and the map of the proposed Sand Valley golf resort in northern Adams county, at right. Note the proximity (some three miles) between the two planned developments where they abut on the Wood and Adams county border, a short distance from the Town of Rome (a vacation home region with several small lakes).

Wysocki Proposed CAFO

Jul 21, 2014

Wisconsin Conservation Group Fighting Proposed Factory Farm Are Not Screwing Around

Increasing opposition to proposed
massive CAFO in Wood County
in Wisconsin - Photo by
Mary Captain-Braund
Update: Reader points out the Facts about CAFOs site (Wisconsin John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club). Excellent summary of the health and environmental devastation wrought upon Wisconsin families by CAFOs, begging the question: Why isn't every candidate for elected office blasting CAFOs? Stay tuned for answers.
The citizen groups in central Wisconsin fighting a proposed massive concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) are now listing area businesses joining the fight at Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors: Rome, Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa, Saratoga, Wisconsin Rapids.

Anyone doubting the political and economic muscle of this citizens group is not paying attention.

Long on facts, short on polemics and non-partisan, 100s of people are alerting the Wisconsin DNR and the secretive Wysocki Family of Companies that buying up land to create a massive CAFO is unacceptable, no matter how jealously Scott Walker's DNR and local Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC) protects this enterprise.

So furtive is Wysocki that Bloomberg's Buinessweek profile does not even list CAFOs in its profile of Wysocki.

The Wysocki corporation does not know or does not care, but you do not threaten the health of families and children, and you never shite on your neighbors, to borrow from Saratoga, Wisconsin resident, Rhonda Cain-Carrell.

And Wysocki actively working against local community control is not going over well.

This writer has covered grassroots movements for some 25 years and I can tell you I have never seen a more organized, determined group of people in my life.

From Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors Rome, Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa, Saratoga, Wisconsin Rapids:

The business owners on this list appreciate the business from the people of Rome and Saratoga and support us in our efforts to preserve our recreational community and prevent the potential damage to our lakes, wells and streams from the proposed factory farm in the Saratoga/Rome area.

Please patronize these businesses that have come out in support of their Rome and Saratoga area customers and oppose the Golden Sands CAFO proposed for Saratoga. E-mail romesaratoga@gmail.com if the business you normally frequent is not listed here.

Visit our Facebook Page for more information.

All businesses on this list are a part of Rome and Saratoga Friendly.

Jul 20, 2014

Wisconsin Gov Race, World Class Golf Resort and the Politics of Cow Manure

Citizens groups in Wood County Wisconsin and
surrounding region oppose CAFOs and
aerial liquid manure spraying
Photo by Martha Karris of
Rome and Saratoga-Friendly
in Wisconsin (Facebook).
A dream golf resort is under threat by liquid cow manure and a proposed massive factory farm in central Wisconsin as Scott Walker's DNR rubberstamps dangerous Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and high capacity water wells that could drain area waterways and ruin the golf site as another area CAFO has done to residential homes  

Updated — "If Sand Valley’s first course — which is expected to open in 2017 — is a success, then Keiser and his team will consider adding subsequent golf courses, with a total of five courses possible" (emphasis added), reports Melanie Lawder in an exclusive interview with golf developer, Mike Keiser, appearing this weekend in the Wisconsin Rapid Daily Tribune.

The report by Lawderfollowing a series of pieces appearing in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (D’Amato) and Wisconsin State Journal (Moe) touting Keiser's recruiting of famed golf course architects to design numerous courses at the planned golf resort in the Golden Sands region in central Wisconsin at the bottom of an ancient glacial lake—has in the writer's nut graf (or why-readers-care graf) cited above an important word: "If."

No one wants Keiser to fail to achieve his dream that may make Wisconsin one of the top summer golf destinations in the world, the Journal-Sentinel's D'Amato notes.

But there is one rapacious and pathological entity that doesn't care about Mike Keiser's dream, Wisconsin's environment, or the health of Wisconsin families: The Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operation (CAFO) inflicted by the Wysocki Family of Companies [specifically the Golden Sands Dairy, LLC and Ellis Industries Saratoga, LLC created by Wysocki in 2012 to avoid zoning rules] onto innocent families. I'll come back to that.

Writes the State Journal's Moe, citing D'Amato's breaking the story in 2013: "A Chicago businessman (Keiser) who turned the tiny coastal town of Bandon, Ore., into one of the world’s premier golf destinations is planning to build a similar multi-course resort on sand dunes that formed the bottom of a prehistoric lake in what is now Adams County."

Onto the one skunk making an appearance in the Sand Valley resort dream.

Make that one disgusting waste product from 1,000s of cows, some 150 pathogens, and the corporate neighbor from hell: The Wysocki Factory CAFO Farms (which act like the Koch Brothers) of Central Wisconsin.

In 2012, Wysocki quietly formed two LLCs to avoid coming zoning changes, and subsequently sued the Town of Saratoga in Wood County when the Town refused to grant new building permits. The case is still open.

Wysocki's MO is to buy up land quietly, and then spring its CAFO operation on the local populace and elected officials, with the help of the new Scott Walker-altered Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rubber stamping high capacity well permits and other CAFO permits in a process that is supposed to protect area waters and the environment generally. The families in these small rural towns depend on getting their drinking water--all of their water--from the local groundwater aquifers, all of which are susceptible to seepage and drawdown from CAFOs in the central sands area.

"Between 2003 and the end of 2010, Wisconsin will have permitted 200 mega-dairies to open or expand but has never turned down a permit application or revoked a permit, even after repeated environmental violations," notes the Food and Water Watch organization. Clearly, this situation was not helped by Scott Walker's transformation of the Department of Natural Resources into a do-anything that helps potential Walker campaign contributors approach to protecting natural resources.

Siting a CAFO in the central Wisconsin sands area is in a word: Crazy.

The central sands are the worst place outside of downtown Milwaukee to site a CAFO because of the soil-sand susceptibility. "According to the Wisconsin Soil Survey provided by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, our soil properties are identified as Plainfield Sand, by soils scientists. "The Plainfield series consists of deep, excessively drained, sandy soils on outwash plains. Available water capacity is low to very low, and permeability is rapid."

For a region that hypes its recreational value for tourists, a massive CAFO is without question destructive.

"I can't imagine what this would be like for the new Trapshooting complex [Wisconsin Trapshooting Association] that happens to be working for national accreditation. These folks are right next to the proposed CAFO (site)," said Rhonda Cain-Carrell of the Town of Saratoga, Wisconsin. "And another of my concerns is that Mike Keiser is working to build a world-class golf resort, people would fly in to the Wisconsin Rapids airport and basically drive through the epicenter of this proposed CAFO where liquid manure-spreading irrigation and a 50-million gallon manure lagoon are right next to the highway. How would that look, and smell? Then, you consider the pathogens that are going into the environment. ... And make sure you write 'proposed' CAFO, because this Golden Sands operation isn't going to happen."

Protect Wood County did an analysis of campaign contributions to Scott Walker using data supplied by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The data show contributions of over $700,000 from Big Ag (Big Agriculture) since 2011 directly to Scott Walker campaign committees.

It is a political truism in Wisconsin that Scott Walker has Big Ag's back. It remains to be seen how fervently the Democratic Party opposes Big Ag in the face of Big Ag's damage inflicted onto the Wisconsin people—not necessary a disqualification of political support.

Already, other area CAFOs in central Wisconsin have experienced damaging incidents, all of which are feared to occur should the massive Golden Sands CAFO begin operations.

A recent fire occurred near the existing manure lagoon, silage storage (chopped hay and corn) and the methane digester through which manure is trapped in the Central Sands CAFO in the Town of Armenia in neighboring Juneau County. Could have been bad.

Groundwater contamination and manure irrigation (which are foreseeable consequences of these types of operation) are proven bad, occurring next to neighboring houses forcing the buying-out of residential homes.

Just another risk CAFOs ignore, says Cain-Carrell.

In the foreground, notice the manure coming out of the end gun and
drop sprayers. The background center pivot irrigation system is
pumping water. Photo by Rhonda Cain-Carrell.
Then there's liquid cow manure that sticks, and won't go away.

Cow manure irrigation is the normal operating component of CAFOs, and especially the Wysocki conglomerate.

A Wood County resolution passed last week in a committee vote banning the aerial applications to spread manure, a practice banned now in 10 counties in Minnesota.

"The issue is spraying manure through industrialized irrigation equipment, said Criste Greening, a Saratoga resident who spoke in favor of the ban. One type is similar to a residential sprinkler system and sprays the liquid manure through a traveling gun. A second kind uses a type of distribution pipe that pivots around a central point to spread the liquid manure." (Karen Madden, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune).

The Scott Walker administration reportedly contacted local Wood County officials last week and said it wanted the manure ban resolution killed in committee in another Republican attack on local community control.

Walker looks very vulnerable in central Wisconsin because of his dismantlement of the DNR as an independent agency.

Notes Rebecca Kimble in The Progressive (March 2013):
The prize for Wisconsin’s most Orwellian agency goes to the once-great Department of Natural Resources. It might as well be the Ministry of Truth itself. Once known as among the best environmental protection and stewardship agencies in the nation, under the direction of Secretary Cathy Stepp, a homebuilder and politician, the DNR’s role in protecting natural resources has been turned inside out. Now the name of the game is streamlining regulations to make it easier for companies – a.k.a. polluters - to do business.

In Walker’s first year in office he turned the DNR into an 'enterprise agency' with 'increased operating flexibility to enable the agency to improve customer service and business support.' This shifted staff and resources away from monitoring, oversight and compliance with environmental regulations and created the Office of Business Support and Sustainability at a time when two major threats to clean air and water were ramping up: Frac sand mining and massive Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) with thousands of head of livestock.
The Protect Wood County citizens groups (and others in the area) say they have been in touch with the Mary Burke campaign, and that they remain non-partisan, but note Burke's people appear "very sympathetic."

Attorney Dana Duncan of Port Edwards, Wisconsin challenging a sitting legislator says opposing the Wysocki CAFO operation is a major campaign plank, along with local control targeted by the Walker administration.

"Dana wants to return much of the local control that has been taken away by the current state leadership and help empower local municipalities and small communities to have a say in what happens in their area. Dana believes that we should make strides to reverse the policies of the last four years that have tried to consolidate power at the state level and work to assist communities to be able to make the best and most equitable decisions for them," reads Duncan's webpage. "Dana believes that protecting our water quantity and quality in Wisconsin are essential for maintaining our quality of life, but also if we want the type of economic growth that Wisconsin deserves. Water is one of our most precious resources and is the oil of the 21st Century and must be protected as such. This means protection from threats like Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or from the over abundance of high capacity wells that are drawing down the aquifers. Dana stands for denying any further expansion of CAFOs in Wisconsin and to limit overabuse of the watershed through too many high capacity wells. Dana supports common sense approaches like a moratorium on all high capacity wells until we receive all of the environmental impacts studies, making the DNR an independent agency again so that the position would no longer be used as a partisan tool, and for establishing locally controlled water boards that would work with an independent DNR to maintain their water quantity and quality."

Duncan is running against incumbent Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids) — a Scott Walker loyalist and member of the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that is a corporate bill mill.

Krug, says one Protect Wood County citizen, "has been jerking us around because he knows he's in big trouble running for (re)election."

Meanwhile, the groups with active citizens numbering well into 100s say they have hired an attorney looking into federal remedies from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, should as is expected the DNR roll over for Wysocki, with the predictable consequence of devastating the Central Sands region as a recreational community.

Writes Julie Kreutzer of Wisconsin Rapids in an email going around the region, reminding folks that people live here now.

Everyone here talks about the recreational community.  Well for us it's not recreational, it's where we live!  My husband has cancer and is now on disability.  We won't be able to live here on our 40 acres anymore if the farm comes in. The property right next to us would become crop land.  The pesticides, herbicides, manure they spray would be very harmful to him.  The water quality, the air quality, stress are detrimental to his health.  No one is listening to the health issues we have here in Central Wisconsin with all the cancer.  It IS a matter of life and death for us.  Add to that the loss of property value.  Now the main bread winner in our home is no longer working, and when we try to sell our home we won't get the value we put into it!  Even if I sell my home right now!  The farm isn't even here yet!   Who's going to help us?  Will we get subsidized?   I've been a resident of this area all my life along with my dad, my grandparents, and my great grandparents who originally settled in Rome!  We will leave  if the CAFO comes in, we will be forced to.  We won't buy a home in Wisconsin again.  Can't trust that anyone is looking out for our well being.  I have brought this information to all the town meetings, DNR in our township etc.  Just saying it again hoping someone will hear.
Citizens are reaching out to career DNR staffers whom they believe are more amiable to listen, per Wisconsin statute and case law, speaking to the socioeconomic and health effects of the proposed CAFO, including:
Decline of property value - Many have already felt the impact of this. Homes in Saratoga recently sold between 75-100 thousand dollars below the asking price simply due to the threat of the dairy.  If you know what your home was worth prior to the dairy announcement and have an estimate of what it is worth now, it is great solid information to include.

    Property Taxes Increase - The proposed farm would be taxed at a significantly lower rate than personal property owners, less than a dollar an acre ... who do you think will be making up the difference?

    Significant Road Damage - The vast majority of roads in Saratoga and Rome do not have underlying road base that can support the weight of the constant heavy machinery and truck traffic it will be made to support. Again, who do you think will foot the bill to maintain and fix these roads?

    Increased Health Concerns and Medical Bills - the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that there is an average of a 25% increase in children with asthma that live next to an industrialized agriculture facility or its fields.  It is also highly dangerous for individuals suffering from allergies and/or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Any and all medical conditions that would require additional medical attention effects a families income and are valid socio-economic impacts.

    Increased Financial Burdens - Living next to fields sprayed with manure STINKS.  Residents in such positions are forced to keep their windows closed and air conditioning units running 24/7.  Hanging clothes on the line outside in the fresh air will be a thing of the past. Both of these factors directly effect a residences pocket book by higher electric bills and unnecessary wear and tear on personal appliances.

    Water wells running dry - If the High Capacity Well permits are granted and they start pumping the estimated 7.3 billion gallons of water annually, there is a very high likelihood that numerous wells will run dry.  YOU as a homeowner are solely responsible for this cost.  A drilled well is estimated to cost between 7-12 thousand dollars.

    Water Contamination - Nitrates in drinking water are not to exceed 10 mg/L. If higher than the standard of 10, detrimental health impacts can occur.  We all know that a main side-effect of industrialized agriculture is extreme spikes in Nitrate levels in our groundwater. One way to address excessive Nitrates in drinking water is the purchase of a Reverse Osmosis machine (which at times still cannot filter the water enough to make it drinkable again).  Reverse Osmosis equipment can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the filtration needed. Again ... who do you think pays for this device?

    Small Business Owners - If you are a small business owner there is no doubt you are concerned with maintaining your customer base when faced with potential air and water quality issues.  Please be sure to document how your business will be detrimentally effected by the proposed dairy.  Will you be able to stay in business if your campers all smell of manure?  Will customers be able to eat out on your patio if manure drift is landing on the tables?  Can you continue a restaurant or campground if Nitrates in your water exceed 10 mg/L? What will happen to the Saratoga and Rome economy if businesses start shutting down?
Below are two maps; one of the proposed Wysocki CAFO operation abutting four counties (Wood, Portage, Juneau and Adams counties) at left, and the map of the proposed Sand Valley golf resort in northern Adams county, at right. Note the proximity (some three miles) between the two planned developments where they abut on the Wood and Adams county border, a short distance from the Town of Rome (a vacation home region with several small lakes).

Wysocki Proposed CAFO

Scott Walker Running away as He Seeks Reelection

"He started down a trail which I did not understand. He was speaking in off-English, in words which seemed one half notch off true meaning. He spoke earnestly, affably, but with one foot out of bounds."

This sounds precisely like a description of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker quickly issuing a statement to a reporter not allowed follow-up questions.

This is a man who won't face a group of Wisconsin citizens to answer questions and address concerns, yet one who proclaims himself "unintimidated" with airs of presidential ambition as he runs for reelection amid the investigation of the largest political scandal in Wisconsin history of which Walker is at the center.

The quote is from Jimmy Breslin's How the Good guys Finally Won:  Notes from an Impeachment Summer (1975. Viking Press, Inc). (p.9), describing John Ehrlichman after Ehrlichman was found guilty of four counts of criminal offences.

Scott Walker is more of a lightweight than Ehrlichman, but possesses the same criminal mind, determined to escape accountability.

Stay tuned.

Early this weekend, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board asked to intervene in the John Doe probe, on hold as Wisconsin law enforcement has appealed a ruling issued last spring by the rightwing Federalist Society federal judge, Rudolph Randa, halting the investigation.

In an under-reported development, Brendan Frishcer broke a story last week, that new "documents indicate that just weeks after the first subpoenas were issued in Wisconsin's 'John Doe' criminal campaign finance probe in October 2013, senate Republicans had begun working to change state law to legalize the activities under investigation."

Jul 16, 2014

Catholic Church, GOP Double Down on Misogyny, Protection of Predator Priests

Cardinal Timothy Dolan transferred church funds
into a separate trust in order to protect them
from clergy abuse lawsuits
Update: "Let's see if I got this straight about the Hobby Lobby decision. The owners are Christians who have certain religious beliefs. If I, as a Jew, were to apply for a job at Hobby Lobby, would they have the right to deny me a job because my religious beliefs are different from theirs? Would Hobby Lobby deny me the right to not work on Saturday or take off for the Jewish holidays? No, they would not be able to do that because it is discrimination. So why can they deny me access to birth control that I believe in? Whose religious rights are being denied?" (Lisa Cass, The Capital Times)
In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision attacking contraception coverage, the Catholic Church hierarchy and Republican Party are moving to block pro-women legislation in the U.S. Senate and maintaining Church policy of protecting predator priests. (Rachel Zoll, AP)

Weeks back, Pope Francis met with six victims of abuse, comparing the abuse of children at the hands of Catholic priests to the performing of a satanic black mass.

"Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you," Francis said during his homily, according to a text released by the Vatican. "And I humbly ask forgiveness I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves." (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests]

Talk is cheap.

A leading advocate for survivors of Catholic priests, Patrick J. Wall of Jeff Anderson and Associates of St. Paul, Minnesota, expressed a show-me attitude towards the Pope's stated commitment to holding bishops accountable for covering up crimes against 1,000s of children.

"If the Holy Father does not fire the Bishops and Abbots who have been complicit in covering up child sexual abuse by the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Religious, then he simply is a Jesuit using roman tactics of smoke and mirrors," said Wall in an email.

Wall is a former priest and monk from Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, yesterday it was reported a, "canon lawyer alleging a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has made her most detailed claims yet, accusing archbishops and their top staff of lying to the public and of ignoring the U.S. bishops' pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse"

Jennifer Haselberger, who spent five years as Archbishop John Nienstedt's archivist and top adviser on Roman Catholic church law, also charged that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment." (Zoll, AP)

Archbishop Timothy Dolan (2002-2009) is not shaking with fear about being held accountable for his cover-ups and attacks on survivors in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, aided by a corrupt federal judge, Rudolph Randa, and a sitting U.S. Senator, Ron Johnson who lobbied for Republicans in 2010 blocking a proposed Wisconsin bill that would have abolished time limits on civil lawsuits over child sex abuse by Catholic priests.

Senate Republicans are likely to filibuster the bill overturning Hobby Lobby, a decision by the five rightwing Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jul 12, 2014

Wisconsin, Indiana Marriage Equity Cases Fast-tracked by Appellate Court

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney's marriage
sustained by appellate court
fast-tracking marriage equity cases in
Indiana and Wisconsin
Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney
Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney

ACLU of Wisconsin: "We are disappointed that (Scott) Walker, (J.B.) Van Hollen, and the other defendants are turning their backs on equality - but we will fight on."

Civil rights history is unfolding fast in the heartland as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ordered two right-to-marry cases be consolidated and fast-tracked.

The liberty and equality of American citizens are being acclaimed in federal courts across the country against the bigotries of religious and partisan interests still presenting arguments against marriage equity with no apparent rational basis.

Less than two weeks after an order by the federal appellate court that an Indiana couple be allowed to stay married in light of one of spouses facing terminal cancer [other marriages were stayed], and one day after Wisconsin's attorney general appealed a U.S. District judge's June declaration and injunction against Wisconsin's gay marriage bans, a three-judge appellate panel ordered Indiana and Wisconsin litigants to file briefs by August 4th and that the Indiana and Wisconsin cases be consolidated.

Meanwhile, ACLU of Indiana "(a)ttorneys on Friday asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to step in on behalf of hundreds of same-sex couples who were wed before a federal appeals court stayed an order striking down Indiana's gay marriage ban," reports Charles D. Wilson (AP). "The letter by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana asks Holder to issue a statement that the federal government will recognize the marriages as he did in Utah and Michigan, which would make Indiana's couples eligible for federal benefits for married couples."

Against near unanimous Republican Party opposition, marriage equality for same-sex couples is moving rapidly through the courts and the U.S. Supreme Court will likely take up several cases and rule definitively next term whether individuals have a right to marry under the equal protection, due process and liberty interests under the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

"The panel that sped up the case consists of Judges Richard Posner, Ann Claire Williams and David Hamilton. Posner and Williams were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and Hamilton was appointed by President Bill Clinton," note Patrick Marley and Dana Ferguson (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

The Seventh Circuit's jurisdiction consists of Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

Posner, an outspoken public intellectual, is widely regarded as one of the leading legal minds in the country in the appellate court noted for its outspoken and brilliant jurists.

The two cases are Indiana's Baskin v. Zoeller (consolidated with Officer Pamela Lee v. Pence, filed by Indiana Equality Action on behalf of first responders seeking equality for their marriages and Midori Fujii v. State of Indiana) and Wisconsin's Walker v. Wolf. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel document)

The arguments of 'this is what I believe' and 'I don't like gays' increasingly are being struck down by federal courts across the county as having no rational basis or legitimate purpose buttressing state gay marriage bans after last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

"The federal [DOMA] statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity," Justice Kennedy wrote. "By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment [protecting the liberty of the individual]." (Liptak, NYT)

Injuring gay Americans is the official policy of a major American political party and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that would inflict hate onto the LGBTQ community using the vehicle of the state.

Jul 11, 2014

Wisconsin's Corrupt Attorney General's Quest to Block Marriage Equality

Wisconsin has a wide collection of Republican officeholders today making national headlines that would do Mississippi proud.

There's Wisconsin's "dumb Ron Johnson," a U.S. senator who likes to run political interference on behalf of child molesters.

Wisconsin's crooked and extremist governor, Scott Walker who is so afraid of the Wisconsin people, he has failed to hold one listening session, after campaigning his would be the most transparent and open administration in Wisconsin history. "I attended a (Mary) Burke question-and-answer meeting in Waunakee," writes Nila Frye in a letter to the editor in today's Wisconsin State Journal, making the score: Burke: Many; Walker: Zero.

Wisconsin's fake budget numbers guy, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), who is scaring away Republicans as he explains why Social Security and Medicare are un-American.

Then there is Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a corrupt jurist who went to court in 2008 claiming all of the state bureaucracies' databases' names of Wisconsin residents had to exactly match as a precondition to vote. Seriously.

Van Hollen's charge now, in his mind, is to defend all manner of unconstitutional laws such as the Wisconsin same sex marriage ban and the GOP photo voter obstruction law.

Van Hollen foolishly declared in June there would be "legal repercussions" for county clerks marrying couples after U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb held Wisconsin's ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional in Wolf v. Walker.

Now, instead of allowing marriage equity to proceed, Van Hollen along with Scott Walker announced yesterday they are appealing Judge Crabb's decision, despite widespread and growing sentiment for marriage equality. (Marley, Ferguson; Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

In typical Walker and Van Hollen fashion both Republicans do not have the courage of their bigoted convictions, and both officials refrain from explaining why denial of two people of the same sex getting married is constitutional.

Had Walker and Van Hollen not appealed, Judge Crabb's declaration and injunction against enforcement of gay marriage bans would have gone into effect.

Van Hollen can read case law, and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has fast-tracked a similar case from Indiana where the appellate Court ordered Indiana on July 1 to allow one couple to marry because one of the spouses has terminal cancer.

"It is time for the State of Indiana to leave Niki (Sandler) and Amy (Quasney) in peace and not subject them and their marriage to any more stress and uncertainty as this case proceeds," Lambda Legal staff attorney Paul D. Castillo said in a statement.

Congratulations to Ms. Sandler and Ms. Quasney.

Shame on the bigots and their infantile rants.

Equal protection under the law is the Republican nightmare, and the outgoing J.B. Van Hollen leaves behind a legacy of partisanship, corruption and obstruction of the right to vote and even get married as his legacy.

Jul 8, 2014

Retired Wisconsin Resident Blasts Nightmare CAFO Factory Farm

The Golden Sands region of Wisconsin -
To be saved, or destroyed by CAFOs

Update II: "Numerous businesses in Rome are concerned. These include the golf courses, trap shooters, snowmobile and ATV groups, and restaurants and bars," said a citizen of Wisconsin Rapids.

Update: "On July 16, 2013, the Wisconsin Trapshooting Association celebrated the Grand Opening of the new Shooting Complex in the Town of Rome, Adams County." Wonder how these guys like drained lakes, befouled waters, and the smell  and health effects of tons of cow manure.

Central Wisconsin tourism under assault by massive factory farms (CAFOs)

'Thanks to James Wysocki's dishonest half-truths, I have been afforded the opportunity to learn about the horrors of CAFOs, and the damage they do to the environment.'

Patt Pisellini is a retired resident of the town of Rome in Wood County, Wisconsin.

Was retired.

Residents, tourists, and other visitors to the central Wisconsin "Golden Sands" region describe the natural beauty of the region, typified by the Wood County's parks, rivers, many lakes, and county forest land, and wildlife. And groundwater.

Ms. Pisellini's retirement has been cut short by the invasion of the massive Wysocki corporation factory farm or (CAFO) concentrated [formerly "confined"] agricultural feeding operation, that likely will dry up many area lakes, and befoul the streams, lakes, groundwater and several adjacent watersheds with some 150 pathogens, a predictable consequence, much worse than what the sociopathic Wysocki already inflicts onto Wisconsin.

Pisellini is speaking out, along with many area residents of Wood County and the surrounding region.

And Ms. Patt Pisellini has not even addressed the health catastrophes of CAFOs, but James Wysocki (registered agent of numerous CAFOs) doesn't care; he lives far away from his CAFOs and the massive CAFO he proposes for Wood, Portage, Adams and Juneau counties in central Wisconsin.
"The present system of producing food animals in the United States is not sustainable and [CAFOs present] an unprecedented level of risk to public health and damage to the environment ... ."
Robert Martin, Director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production

By Patt Pisellini, resident, Town of Rome, Wisconsin

Thank you Jim Wysocki, for giving my retirement a purpose. 

Thank you for relieving me of the monotony of relaxing on the beach and enjoying the ambience of the pristine waters of Lake Sherwood (Rome, Wisconsin). 

Thank you for eliminating the chore of taking our pontoon out for an afternoon of fishing ad quiet conversation. 

Thank you for taking me away from the mindless evenings spent watching television, and replacing them with hours spent at my computer doing research, days spent sitting through legislative meetings, and endless hours listening to testimony stemming from lawsuits attempting to prevent CAFO projects like yours from destroying our groundwater.

Thank you for replacing the boredom of just sitting in my porch swing and doing nothing, with tension filled days, and sleepless nights filled with worry of what could happen if your CAFO project is allowed to continue.

Thanks to your thoughtlessness, I don’t have to spend my days puttering in my garden, playing with my grandchildren, or sitting on my patio chatting with neighbors.  

Thanks to your lawsuits (Wysocki sues local governments and elected officials who try to stop his CAFOs), and legislative lobbying, I have been able to utilize a costly education in public policy analysis that I probably never would have had the chance to use. 

Thanks to your callous disregard for the environment, I will no longer need to appreciate the beauty of a simple walk in the woods; discover the intricate markings on a butterfly’s wing; or listen to lilting sound of songbirds in the trees.

I won’t have to work so hard to save endangered species living on the 8,000 acres of forest you plan to destroy - they’ll be gone forever - replaced with endless miles of manure-covered crops.

Thanks to your dishonest half-truths, I have been afforded the opportunity to learn about the horrors of CAFOs, and the damage they do to the environment.  Without your potentially poisoning proposed project, I might have languished in the thought that my home was safe, my health was secure, and my grandchildren were protected.  Thanks to your mean-spirited attempts to demean me and my friends as “environmental activists”, I have developed a new pride in the work we are doing to educate the public on the importance of preserving and protecting nature.

This has been quite an adventure.  

In all my 70 years of life, I have never seen such selfish, self-serving attempts to surreptitiously rewrite laws designed to protect our God given right to water.  

Because of your complete disregard for people, I have discovered the power of love can bind a community together.  Without the fear and intimidation,  I never would have made so many good friends in neighboring towns, and met so many wonderful environmentalists willing to work long hours to prevent the damage your dairy may do.

Thank you for all you’ve done, and I sincerely hope and pray you are compensated in kind, in your retirement.