Saratoga Concerned, Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors, and other affinity groups have amped up work this Summer targeting the Fall general elections.
Saratoga Concerned revealed the first of its Candidate Questionnaires this morning.
After some five and one-half years of fighting the proposed Wysocki factory farm, the reach and power of Saratoga Concerned has grown.
The organization now is a practical political player.
Saratoga Concerned has become sufficiently powerful that even incumbent State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa, Wisconsin), who runs political interference for the Wysocki corporation and other Big Ag polluters, dares not skip the group's 13-question Candidate Questionnaire.
Krug is a no-show for several other citizen groups' forums and questionnaires, including traditional good-government non-profits such as the League of Women Voters.
Krug and the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party for the 72nd state assembly district, David Gorski's, answers are reproduced verbatim below.
From Saratoga Concerned:
Saratoga Concerned 72nd Assembly District Candidate Questionnaire
As explained in our most recent Newsletter, both candidates for the 72nd Assembly District, current Representative Scott Krug, and challenger David Gorski have completed our Candidate Questionnaire. Over the next few months, we will be sharing their answers to the 13 questions asked in our Special Edition Newsetters.
We warned both candidates to directly answer the given question clearly and to avoid talking around the subject matter, as we believe the constituents of the 72nd deserve nothing less than straight, direct, honest, answers from both individuals.
At the close of each question, you will find our FactCheck and Scorecard section where we will briefly comment on our determination if the question was answered directly and fact check any information that was questionable, misleading, inaccurate, or warrants further explanation for clarity. Enjoy!
Saratoga Concerned Question One
Nitrate poisoning of our groundwater is a major issue facing all of Wisconsin.
Given the background of the Public Trust Doctrine, what legislation would you propose to allow agriculture to continue while protecting the general public from increasing Nitrate levels?
The well compensation program needs more updating. We increased the compensation amounts and we have to keep working on the qualification method for families.
This session I worked with Senator Cowles and Rep Kitchens on Senate Bill 168 which will better provide for safe and clean drinking water to residents in areas where contaminated wells and failing septic systems lead to challenges. The bill will allow for an increased grant amount for well replacement from $9,000 maximum to $12,000 maximum. The bill also creates better options to municipalities and residents alike to replace failing septic systems that can also elevate nutrient levels in groundwater.
I also worked on an amendment to a democrat bill this session to allow owners with wells containing nitrates over 40ppm to be compensated under the program. My amendment would have made sure those with 20ppm instead of 40ppm would be eligible for this compensation. I think the combination of qualification and compensation amounts will lead to a program that will allow agriculture to continue and keep residents feeling more certain that they can access clean and safe drinking water no matter what happens.
DAVID GORSKIFactCheck - None necessary for this question
Response: Agriculture is a leading industry in Wisconsin and very important to the overall health of our state economy. It is in the best interests of all in our state to resolve the issue of rising Nitrate levels.
I would propose legislation that would better enable our county Land and Water Conservation offices and the DNR to improve nutrient management plans and help farmers with expertise and funding to implement better groundwater and watershed protections.
Additionally, we need to hold polluters accountable for damages done to private wells, streams and lakes. Our state has recently passed a law that provides financial assistance for residents who need to redrill their wells due to high nitrate levels. This is good, but it pushes the cost of pollution clean up onto the taxpayers. We also need polluters to pay for the cost of clean-up.
As the Wisconsin Public Trust Doctrine states, Wisconsin waters belong to all of us, and we only have a reasonable right to use these waters. So, while we all have the right to use state waters, we also have the responsibility to protect them.
Krug - Non-Answer
Provided details on compensating residents with contaminated water. Did not answer the direct question of what legislation he would propose to protect citizens from increasing nitrate levels
Gorski - Answered the question directly
Saratoga Concerned Question Two
In the 2017 legislative session, State Representatives considered legislation (AB544) that would legalize the purchase of water utilities by out-of-state corporations and change existing law to make public referendums on such purchases optional instead of mandatory. This was done against massive public outcry. The proposal eventually failed.
What is your stance on the privatization of Wisconsin’s water as proposed last legislative session?
There was no bill passed in the 2017 session. I feel that if a referendum remains a requirement residents can make the choice on a local level if a private company should manage their local utility.
I clearly remember when AB 544 was being debated. I was shocked that AB 544 was even being considered. Obviously, many other Wisconsinites felt the same way, and the authors of this bill got the message. My guess is the authors of this bill were hoping that the public was not paying attention.
The Wisconsin Public Trust Doctrine clearly states that water belongs to all Wisconsinites. Allowing in-state, out-of-state, or foreign private parties to gain ownership of our water supply violates the spirit of the Public Trust Doctrine.
I understand that some cash-strapped communities with poor water quality may not have the resources to effectively treat their water. These communities may need to contract with companies to effectively treat their water and make it potable. However, in these cases, it must remain mandatory that community members decide if they want to have a private party profit off their water. So, having a referendum on this issue needs to be mandatory.
Additionally, I see this as just one more attack on local control and democracy. The more public input we have, the more democracy we have.
Correction - Water Privatization bill was pushed during the 2016 Legislative session
Assembly passed the bill Jan. 12 and a Senate committee approved it on a Jan. 28. It did not make the Senate floor for a full chamber vote.
Rep. Krug voted in favor of this bill which did include the option of a referendum as he stated in his stance above
Stipulation included - no referendum would occur unless opponents gathered signatures of 10 percent of voters
Both candidates answered the question directly.