Working to preserve water, tourism and recreational destinations by opposing Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operations (CAFOs), residents in central Wisconsin have been busy for the last two years.
The Republican Party opened a new office in Wood County last week in Wisconsin Rapids (Cleworth, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune) to counter citizen action 39 days from Election Day.
"We just want to preserve our water; streams, groundwater, lakes. Don't we owe this as a responsibility to future generations," said Rhonda Cain-Carrell of the Town of Rome.
Republicans just want to preserve the millions of dollars it gets from the Factory Farm industry.
Cain-Carrell is a member of two citizens' groups, Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors and Rome and Saratoga Friendly (Facebook) fighting the proposed Wysocki CAFO that would be centered in the Town of Saratoga and abut four counties in central Wisconsin in a region known as the Golden Sands.
In just two years, the two groups have radically changed public opinion on the massive, proposed Wysocki CAFO that would dump millions of gallons of liquid cow manure into the environment, while sucking up ground aquifers (where folks get their drinking water) with 39 high capacity water wells (10 other well permits remain in limbo).
The sitting State Representative Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) after over two years of stringing along mostly Adams, Wood, and Portage county citizens suddenly issued a press release 74 days from Election Day saying he is now opposed to the siting of the Wysocki CAFO.
This is a testament to the political clout of the citizens' groups.
Krug wants to keep his gerrymandered seat after breaking his promise to only run for two terms in 2010, and the proposed CAFO is about as popular as, well, liquid cow manure.
Krug is so much in fear of the citizens' groups that Krug told one member, Donald Ystad of Rome in northern Adams County (and this writer), in emails that Krug would file a lawsuit against MAL Contends in August (VanEgeren, Capital Times) after I pointed out Krug is a "cynical, corrupt politician" providing political cover for polluters, and "assisting Scott Walker, Walker's DNR and the Dairy Business Association in their project in which one objective is to contaminate and literally toxify Wisconsin lakes and other waters."
Krug is a recipient of the Dairy Business Association's (DBA) 2012 Legislative Excellence Award. DBA is a massive dairy lobby in Wisconsin.
Krug repeatedly demanded that my conclusions be retracted. I told Krug in emails that truth is an absolute defense against defamation accusations, and I refused. Krug never followed through on his threats.
Some two weeks later, Krug flip-flopped and said in a press release that "it no longer appears this [CAFO] project is feasible in any form in an area that is so vulnerable for contamination. ... I ask the DNR to look into the E. coli outbreak [in area lakes from existing liquid cow manure by the Wysocki corporation] and deny the high capacity well permits" (VanEgeren, Capital Times).
Krug did not explain if the language "it no longer appears .... feasible in any form" suggested that at one point Krug felt the Wysocki CAFO was feasible. Neither did Krug explain why he changed his position.
Krug's opponent, Dana Duncan, has been an avid opponent against the CAFO since June 2012, when the town of Saratoga was informed of the Wysocki CAFO's plans.
"Our lifeblood is going to be tourism,” Duncan said. "I want this area protected for overall economic development and our health. It’s beautiful. I don’t want to see it end" (VanEgeren, Capital Times).
CAFOs have proliferated under the administration of Scott Walker and the DNR, which is charged with considering environmental impact. They have given out CAFO and high capacity water well permits like candy at Halloween, in accordance with Scott Walker's repeated statements.
"I will make sure the DNR treats Wisconsinites as customers, not criminals," then-candidate Walker said in 2010, saying the state Department of Natural Resources was "out of control" (Verburg, Wisconsin State Journal).
Walker's opponent, Mary Burke, rejects Scott Walker's unprecedented environmental makeover of the DNR.
"[Look] how far we’ve come since that terrible day (June 6, 2012) when Wysocki dropped his bomb on our communities. This is how we all found one another. For all of you, I’m grateful. We WILL win this thing. Thank you for all you do," said Cain-Carrell in an email to citizens of Adams and Wood, and area counties over the weekend.
The citizens of central Wisconsin have come far.
Scott Krug has not.
Krug takes orders and the higher-ups in the Republican Party reportedly sanctioned Krug's lip-service reversal on the proposed CAFO after an assurance to James Wysocki, the CAFO's CEO, that a change in policy would never get through the Republican caucus, and Walker would not change policy at the DNR.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' (R-Burlington) office refused to return a phone call after a message was left on this matter.
On October 6, Monday (6:30 - 8:30 P.M.) at the Wisconsin Rapids Performing Arts Center, Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors and Rome and Saratoga Friendly will co-host a candidate forum with Dana Duncan (D-Port Edwards) and State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa).
If you are in the area, I would advise not missing this one. An overflow crowd is expected.