Aug 20, 2014

Wisconsin Environmentalists Punch Through on Protecting Water

Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter
When Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC) is so frightened of being exposed as a fraud and avowed enemy of the environment that Krug says he will file a libel suit against MAL Contends for pointing this out, you know the consciousness of the Wisconsin people on protecting our waters has expanded.

As Tribal leaders in northern Wisconsin meet with the EPA this week to stop the proposed "largest open-pit iron ore mine in North America" that would flow directly into the Lake Superior watershed, in central Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Friends of the Central Sands whom Krug and Scott Walker rightly fear politically, has put out a powerful video on declining water levels in Wisconsin (see below).

In south-central Wisconsin, the Center for Investigative Journalism has a new piece out by Kate Golden on the dangers cow manure presents to drinking waters aquifers: Poisoning our waters.

Big Ag, and any operation dumping cow manure into the environment, are poisoning Wisconsin citizens by draining water through the accelerated use of high-capacity water wells, encouraged by the Scott Walker administration's DNR, and sending back liquid cow manure into the environment.

"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," notes Rebecca Kimble in The Progressive Magazine (March 2013).

From Wisconsin Friends of the Central Sands:

Aug 19, 2014

Wood County Health Dept Closes Multiple Beaches as Ecoli Breaks Out

Beaches closed in Wood
County suggest a problem
politicians will ignore
Update II: Update on Scott Krug's threat to file a libel suit; Krug backs off with a whimper.

To no one's surprise, Scott Krug's threat to pursue legal action has proven to be as credible as his claim to be working for the interests of clean water and the environment.

Krug is refusing to answer his office phone at his capitol offices, several writers contacting Krug, have said.

Krug is motivated by two things in his ill-considered libel suit threat: Stunning ignorance of libel law; and an appalling incapacity to say 'No' to Scott Walker and ALEC on Big Ag's liquid cow manure runoff gifted to the people of Wisconsin with all of its pathogens and toxins vectored into our waterways and aquifers.

With the support of the Gannett Co news and editorial editors at the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, the rightwing Krug is still trying to portray himself as a champion for clean water and the environment.

Krug faces a head-on challenge in the November general election from Dana Duncan, a disability rights attorney from Nekoosa, who has made Duncan's opposition to a massive proposed concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) a centerpiece of his campaign.

Krug continues his support for the CAFO, and Scott Walker's policies at the DNR that encourage the CAFO.

Update: See also State Rep. Scott Krug finds Madison freelancer's blog post libelous (Jessica VanEgeren, The Capital Times), and Idiot WI state senator is idiot, does not understand defamation (Crooks and Liars).

"The Wood County Health Department has announced the immediate closure of White Sands Beach, Red Sands Beach and Nepco Beach due to high counts Escherichia coli, commonly known as E.coli," reports Deb Cleworth of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune. "Routine beach samples collected on Friday prompted the closure, according to a news release from the health department. The samples exceeded the maximum E.coli level considered safe — 235 colonies per 100 milliliters of water. The tested counts registered at 6,400 to 6,500 cfu/100 ml."

No one can say they have not been warned.

Citizens' groups such as Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors and citizens such as Gordon Stevenson, Chief of Runoff Management for the Wisconsin DNR from 2001-2011, among many other folks have been sounding the alarm for years.

I asked Stevenson over breakfast earlier this month how he would go about quantifying and verifying that the "carrying capacity" of cow manure runoff of two Wisconsin regions has been exceeded in the Central Sand Plains (central Wisconsin) and the Green Bay and Fox River Valley watersheds. 

Stevenson told me to "look at the water," and proceeded to explain how lakes, streams and ponds can be measured for pathogens, including Ecoli, and we will eventually see "Dead Zones" of lakes become Dead Lakes because of oxygen deprivation and toxic pathogen saturation.

We see this Do-Not-Swim, Beaches-Closed condition all over Wisconsin now (Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

Wisconsin folks can look up their local bodies of water and see how they fare at the Department of Natural Resources' Impaired Water list, but the site is poorly designed and not user-friendly.

Meanwhile, policymakers in the Wisconsin Legislature and Scott Walker front for the polluters, toe the GOParty line and destroy community control of Wisconsin municipalities like the Town of Saratoga and the City of Nekoosa in Wood County.

As Erin Brockovich said recently, "Public Health must and always should be a priority," pointing out that Phosphorus runoff directed into lakes is horrible public policy.

The poisoning of our waterways of course does not happen without political protection of the polluters for whom public health is a nuisance to the special interests for whom politicians work.

In the Wood and northern Adams counties where the beaches are now closed, State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC) still plays his cynical, corrupt game providing political cover for the 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—which means your families' health is the cost of doing business.

Scott Krug says he will sue me for libel for pointing out the above, absent a retraction. [No retraction is coming for this child badly in need of adult supervision.]

Krug claims his independence and says he has "dealt DBA (the Dairy Business Association) and WMC (Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce) a big loss," in an email to Wisconsin citizen, Donald Ysted, copied below, taking credit for killing SB 302, which would have changed the law regarding the DNR procedure for granting high-capacity well permits but had strong opposition in the State Senate.

Krug is lying, and would not cross his patrons, WMC, who "recently [in 2012] honored Representative Scott Krug with the prestigious Working for Wisconsin Award at Heartland Farms Inc. in Hancock." (WMC, October 2012) Heartland Farms is a potato growing operation, big contributors to Scott Walker, and an avid opponent of local control.

"A Legislative Fiscal Bureau report in June identified 64 measures the (Republican) legislature and the governor have approved since 2011 that force communities to pay for state mandates or seize their authority to make decisions about public health, environmental, land use, transportation and other matters," notes Michael Buelow in the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign site (August 6, 2014). Krug followed the Party line on the votes listed by Buelow.

In 2009, Roger Bybee sounded the alarm about concentrated agricultural feeding operations (CAFOs): "John Peck (of Family Farm Defenders), only half-joking, suggests Wisconsin's longtime slogan, '"America's Dairyland,' may need to be updated. The new slogan: 'The Land of 10,000 Animal-Waste Lagoons.'" (Isthmus)

Five years later, we have to say we should have listened.

Meanwhile, citizen activism continues.

Donald Ystad, the candid citizen from Nekoosa, Wisconsin, forwarded the following email exchange as Scott Krug works for the polluters while Krug pretends to be fighting them. [Email addresses omitted.]

From: Scott Krug
Date: Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 10:08 AM
Subject: Re: FW: Citizen Ystad Hits Sacred Cow, the Dairy Business Association, as Wisconsin Lakes Perish
To: Donald Ystad
Cc: , Nancy Koch, Criste Greening, Rhonda
Don

"The elephant" is obvious. DBA (Dairy Business Association) will try to do many things you may not like for many years to come.

 
If the goal of this group is to push away someone who has already dealt DBA and WMC a big loss you are succeeding. You know my record and you know where I stand.
 
I wish I could understand why some believe a minority party rep can solve all the area problems. It just doesn't make sense.
 
Criticism is part of the process, I'm more than happy to take my lumps when deserved, helps me learn from mistakes and become a better legislator. I won't stand for outright lies simply because there is some truth surrounding them.
Scott
 
 
On Aug 18, 2014 8:36 AM, "Donald Ystad"  wrote:
Scott,

I wondered what your reaction would be when I forwarded his (Mal Contends) blog post to you. Your response regarding this issue is what I question about you as my Assemblyman, Scott.  No mention of the fact that he's right about the DBA trying to take away a community's right to regulate pollution of their waterways.  Instead, you totally ignore that and focus on his supercilious comment about you and Walker.  I've seen that before when I've e-mailed you requesting support to bring in other agencies to help preserve our recreational/tourism area here.  You totally ignore the elephant in the room and focus on some trivial comment.  While no one really believes you are scheming with Scott Walker to pollute our lakes, many believe the Walker administration and those connected with him side with ag way too often where our environment is concerned.  And that's why our lakes and groundwater are suffering.  You've seen the recent blue/green algae warning for Nepco Lake.  Your award from the League of Conservation Voters makes you the "best of the worst", so to speak.  With a lifetime conservation voting record of 38%, you have the best Republican record, but it's far from a good conservation voting record.  And, as a voter concerned for my recreational area, that is what concerns me. (emphasis added)
So, your sharing the threat of the party going after Mike Leon for his post does nothing for me.  I continue to be torn regarding whether I'm better off with a questionable representative of the party in power, or a strongly supportive representative of the currently weaker party.  Time will tell.
Don Ystad


On Sun, Aug 17, 2014 at 8:56 PM, Scott Krug wrote:
We've informed Mr. Leon of the libelous nature of his forwarded blog post and we will be persuing legal action.
Scott Krug
On Aug 17, 2014 8:45 PM, "Rep.Krug" < wrote:

________________________________________
From: Donald Ystad
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 10:22 AM
To: Rep.Krug
Subject: Fwd: Citizen Ystad Hits Sacred Cow, the Dairy Business Association, as Wisconsin Lakes Perish


An example of what you are up against.

Don

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike Leon
Date: Sun, Aug 17, 2014 at 10:13 AM
Subject: Citizen Ystad Hits Sacred Cow, the Dairy Business Association, as Wisconsin Lakes Perish

Aug 18, 2014

ALEC Stooge, Rep Scott Krug Says He'll File Libel Suit Against MAL Contends

State Rep Scott Krug says he'll
file libel suit against this site
for pointing out Krug's
anti-environmental and
pro-CAFO political planks
Update II: To no one's surprise, Scott Krug's threat to pursue legal action has proven to be as credible as his claim to be working for the interests of clean water and the environment.

Scott Krug is motivated by two things in his ill-considered libel suit threat: Stunning ignorance of libel law; and an appalling incapacity to say 'No' to Scott Walker and ALEC on Big Ag's liquid cow manure runoff gifted to the people of Wisconsin with all of its pathogens and toxins vectored into our waterways and aquifers.

Updated - Top ally of the Big Ag and polluters running scared, as he works in service of Scott Walker's plan that toxifies lakes, streams and aquifers

Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug (Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC) says he intends to file a libel suit against MAL Contends because MC points out that Krug is an anti-clean water, ALEC stooge who knows less about caring for the environment than he does about libel law.

Krug sent an email to MC last night (Sunday) in which Krug writes: "The post forwarded to me is libelous and we will persue (sic) action."

The Krug email was followed by a similar email to clean water advocates living in Wood and Adams counties, at least some of whom serve on the Citizens Groundwater Advisory Group, an informal group that Krug put together as a PR job to convince people that Krug is actually against the siting of a massive concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) in central Wisconsin, and that Krug really, really cares about the environment.

Monday afternoon Krug sent an email to Donald Ysted of Nakoosa in Wood County.

Writes Krug: "Criticism is part of the process, I'm more than happy to take my lumps when deserved, helps me learn from mistakes and become a better legislator. I won't stand for outright lies simply because there is some truth surrounding them."

Lies and "some truth" do not typically make for compelling libel actions.

Krug is scared because the proposed massive CAFO is about as popular with his constituents as a warm glass of liquid cow manure.

Krug will face Dana Duncan of Port Edwards who has made safeguarding Wisconsin's waters a centerpiece of his campaign, and is unflinching in his opposition to the proposed CAFO.

Early this afternoon, Krug responded to an email from me and wrote: "Do you intend to retract the following statements? 'And cynical, corrupt politicians are providing political cover for the polluters.'
'Instead Krug is 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.'"

To which I responded: "Of course not. By the way, truth an excellent defense against defamation accusations."

Still waiting to see if Krug is really dumb enough to file a libel suit or if an attorney wises the kid up.

Aug 17, 2014

Citizen Ystad Hits Sacred Cow, the Dairy Business Association, as Wisconsin Lakes Perish

Nepco Lake in Central Wisconsin in the Past
[See picture below for the present]
Update II: Running scared now, Scott Krug's Capitol office is dodging phone calls, picking up only calls preceded by *67. One staffer reached this morning after hitting *67, with an apparent IQ of 90ish, said Krug's office is "unaware of the situation" regarding Krug's stated intention by email to sue for libel.

Interesting. Below is the email from Krug (with the email address omitted):

From: Scott Krug (xxxxxxxxx@gmail.com)
Sent: Sun 8/17/14 8:52 PM
To: malleon@live.com
   
The post forwarded to me is libelous and we will persue action.
#
Update: State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids) is threatening legal action against me for "libel," Michael Leon, citing the below post.

Krug alerts me, and several of his constituents, last night that in an email with the subject heading, "Really," that: "The post forwarded to me is libelous and we will persue (sic) action." Scott Krug's email is indicated as having been sent to me Sunday night: "Sun 8/17/14 8:52 PM."

Krug refers to an email forwarded by Don Ystad, citizen of Rome in northern Adams County, in which Ystad sends the URL of this piece.

Krug sent an email to Ystad (dated Sun, Aug 17, 2014 at 8:56 PM) reading: "We've informed Mr. Leon of the libelous nature of his forwarded blog post and we will be persuing (sic) legal action."

Attempts this morning to reach Krug by email, and by phone at his campaign and office in Madison have been unsuccessful

Stay tuned.

As for Rep. Scott Krug, Mal Contends makes the following statement: Scott Krug should study the elements of a civil action under libel law. Bring it on, Krug, if you dare.
---
"We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." - Aldo Leopold

The last three years in Wisconsin citizen groups have emerged across the state to protect community control in defense of Wisconsin families and vital resources such as clean water.

"Right here in our local Lake Nepco -
Attack of the Blue/Green Algae.
Our reps, both local and at the state level,
better start getting a clue!
Water worries everywhere!
Nepco Lake for E. Coli and blue-green algae.
Just kayaked in the nastiest water EVER.
We must fix these issues." - Rhonda Cain-Carrell
Outside of the Citizens Concerned about the Proposed Penokee Mine (Facebook) (and the Penokee Hills Education Project), among the most articulate groups of Wisconsin citizens are the folks fighting a proposed massive concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) factory farm that would directly impact four counties in the Central Wisconsin Golden Sands region: Wood County, Adams County, Portage County and Juneau County.

Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors; Friends of the Central Sands (Facebook) and Rome and Saratoga Friendly (Facebook) know well the danger dumping literally millions of tons liquid cow manure into Wisconsin waterways and drinking water aquifers.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources under the administration of Scott Walker wants to stand by and watch as the acceleration of the death of Wisconsin's 15,000 lakes continues from the existing practice of dumping cow manure into the environment.

Exaggeration? I wish.

And cynical, corrupt politicians are providing political cover for the polluters.

Scott Walker is allied with Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC) who is supposed to be protecting his constituency from being poisoned.

Instead Krug is 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.

Unconscionable.

Don Ystad of Rome, Wisconsin has this to say in an email sent to politicians, DNR personnel and fellow citizens:
Here's why I have an issue with Big Agriculture: Our communities have banned residential use of phosphorous fertilizers, and we implemented enforced testing of septic systems every three years to reduce the possibility of phosphorous leaching into our waterways. We monitor the transfer of unwanted aquatic species from lake to lake and we have enacted a shoreland protection ordinance to further protect our waterways from runoff. And here we have the Dairy Business Association petitioning their members to reverse the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) change to NR 150, allowing communities to establish their own ordinances to limit runoff into waterways. We have 7 years of hard evidence showing flows from upstream agriculture entering our lakes have 4 times more phosphorous than anywhere else in our lake.

I've learned to mistrust the various agriculture interests touting their concern for the environment, whether it's the Wisconsin Potato growers telling me they are not to blame for our water issues, or the Wisconsin Vegetable growers claiming they practice water conservation while they submit record numbers of high cap well permit requests. They have proven that their only desire is to have unfettered access to the public's water, with no control over how they treat the land. Their claims to be 'the stewards of the land' ring hollow with those of us watching the decline in our environment. I understand that there will always be greedy business people to take advantage of our rights. What I don't understand is why some of our agency heads and politicians allow themselves to be influenced by these self serving Big Ag interests at the expense of our environment and their own constituents. Maybe they need to read the many newspapers around our state to get a sense of the groundswell of public opposition.

I'm a citizen and I vote, as do the concerned citizens blind copied here. [emphasis added, and text edited slightly for clarity]
Mr. Ystad and his fellow citizens are right on all points.

Obtuse Wisconsin politicians like Scott Krug and Scott Walker should listen for a change.

Said Krug's general election opponent, Dana Duncan of the Village of Port Edwards: "CAFOs are to agriculture what Sweatshops and child labor are to manufacturing."

Duncan ran his primary election campaign, emphasizing the need to protect Wisconsin waters from CAFOs and other polluters.

Safe, clean drinking water should be a foundation of the state of Wisconsin, it used to be.

Aug 16, 2014

Mindless Menace of Violence Goes On and On

"We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort."
-- Robert F. Kennedy at the Cleveland City Club; April 5, 1968

Difficult to imagine a country united in a common effort when one major political party, the Republican Party, inflicts onto the body politic a constant barrage of racial taunts to demonize black and brown (and now female) Americans.

The effort of the Republican Party to marginalize and prevent entire segments of American society from voting, from working, from organizing, going to good public schools, and even controlling their own bodies is an effort that must be defeated.

When I read Julia Ioffe's piece in The New Republic on the reaction of white citizens of Olivette, Missouri (15 minutes from Ferguson) applauding deadly police action, disrespecting whole communities and emitting hate after the police murder of a black 18-year-old, I was not surprised.

Without continually sounding racist dog whistles, the Republican Party apparently believes it can not survive as a power center.

The GOP is a toxic presence in American society, and needs to be named as such.

"We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government," said President Obama.

Nothing could be further from the truth, we are not united.

Behind the scenes the Scott Walkers, the Tea Baggers brag to billionaires on GOP schemes to "divide and conquer" working families. (Nichols, The Nation; May 2012)

Even blocking voting remains a high GOP priority.

GOP hate radio thrives with no Republican dare crossing it.

Violence solves nothing; but violence would hardly be contemplated if Republican hate were marginalized instead of people.

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by his assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.
Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot
to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some looks for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is now what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something.

Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

TNR Piece on White St. Louis Co Racists—A Model of Hate and Ignorance

St. Louis, Missouri is the seventh most segregated urban area in America, as segregation remains a common feature of American cities, made more destructive in Ferguson, Missouri by the persistence of the racist police force and in a phrase: Stupid, white people living in St. Louis County.

Traveling to the mostly white Olivette, Missouri (15 minutes from Ferguson) Julia Ioffe of The New Republic caught up with some stupid, white people eager to speak, revealing attitudes that animate the police homicide of a Michael Brown in Ferguson (located some 42 miles northwest of St. Louis).

Writes Ioffe of her visit to a strip mall in Olivette populated by all-white patrons:

It was a stark contrast to Ferguson, which is two-thirds black. Olivette is almost the exact opposite, at over 60 percent white. St. Louis, and the little hamlets that ring it, is one of the most segregated cities in America, and it shows.

Here in Olivette, the people I spoke to showed little sympathy for Michael Brown, or the protesters.

"It's bullshit," said one woman, who declined to give her name. When I asked her to clarify what, specifically, was bullshit, she said, "All of it. I don't even know what they're fighting for."

"It's just a lot of misplaced anger," said one teenage boy, echoing his parents. He wasn't sure where the anger should be, just that there should be no anger at all, and definitely no stealing.

"Our opinion," said the talkative one in a group of six women in their sixties sitting outside the Starbucks, "is the media should just stay out of it because they're riling themselves up even more."
"The protesters like seeing themselves on TV," her friend added.

"It's just a small group of people making trouble," said another. ...
---
And on and on.

In Olivette, segregation is not a problem, it's a solution. The taking of a life by the police: So what, plenty more black people where Michael Brown used to live.

Aug 15, 2014

Scott Walker Takes Credit for Manufacturer's Job Expansion Occuring Under Jim Doyle

Scott Walker breaks jobs promise
Update: See also One Wisconsin Now: "The latest television ad from the floundering campaign of Gov. Scott Walker purports to feature 'real people' who allegedly got their jobs via the trickle-down economic policies of the Walker administration. The ad provides no identifying information about these individuals, and the Walker campaign has refused to provide additional information in response to media inquiries. According to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross, Walker’s broken promise on jobs and his campaign’s track record of using paid actors and outsourced clip art in ads makes questions of about the veracity of the latest ad well founded."
---
Jud Lounsbury at Uppity Wisconsin has the latest Scott Walker lie, this one in a new Walker TV spot claiming credit for jobs created by a Milwaukee suburban manufacturer during the administration of Gov. Jim Doyle.

Don't look for a retraction from Scott Walker, a noted pathological liar, still refusing to face the people of Wisconsin in even one town hall-style, question-and-answer session to explain why Walker's failure to deliver on his campaign pledge to create 250,000 new jobs is the fault of ... someone else.

In the Spring, Walker took a new tract and said he was just aiming high, (Spicuzza, Wisconsin State Journal) not promising, despite the fact that the 250,000s jobs promise was unequivocal and repeated incessantly during the 2010 campaign.

Walker will be likely to hit only half of 250,000 jobs by November.

Even the Republican-spinning Politifact column of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (James B. Nelson) admits Walker has a "ways to go," calling the promise "stalled" today.

This is RepublicanSpeak for Walker Jobs Promise Broken.

Walker's new campaign site on "Scott Walker on Jobs" now omits mention of the 250,000 new jobs campaign promise.

On August 7, Stu Rothenberg of Roll Call changed the rating of the 2014 Wisconsin governor's race from Leans Republican to Pure Tossup.

One can see why the Republican Party's corrupt attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, and Walker are working feverously to get permission from the federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to reinstate the GOP's voter obstruction law, the photo voter ID law, still enjoined from being enforced after being found violative of the United States Constitution and the Voting Right Act by U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in April 2014.

Appellate briefs for Van Hollen and Walker's motion are due next Tuesday, August 19.

Police Kill and Assault No One in Ferguson, Missouri Last Night

Wonderful news out of Ferguson, Missouri last night: Police killed and assaulted no one.
  • Police arrested no journalists
  • Police assaulted no journalists
  • Police destroyed no filming equipment
There was even no expressed hostility from the out-of-control group of "excessively armed and undertrained wannabes," (Nick Wing, Huffington Post) dangerous hicks playing war with "(j)et-black rifles leveled at unarmed citizens (backed by) mine-resistant vehicles once used to patrol the roadways of Iraq and Afghanistan (now) rumbling through small town America," while drawing overtime pay. (Gibbons-Neff, Washington Post)

Under orders from Gov. Jay Nixon, the Missouri State Patrol displaced the murderers of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the accomplices of the St. Louis County police.

The first night I felt safe, said one human in Ferguson. (Reilly, The Huffington Post)

Today, police even IDed the perp: "Officer" Darren Wilson, six-year veteran of the openly racist police force.

Police forces are composed of self-selecting officers in America.

For many police, especially forces in small-town and rural America, the emphasis is on force and authority and not public service.

Understandable when the psychology is that of an untrained occupying force in enemy territory.

Been reading more of former Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief David Couper, mentioned on the Rachel Maddow Show in its lede segment (Ferguson an object lesson in bad policing, 08/15/2014) last night.

The Maddow segment features footage from the PBS film (Two Days in October (Robert Kenner)) and commentary from a retired thug in the Madison Police in 1967, Prof. Maurice Zeitlin and Mayor Paul Soglin. Worth checking out in video below; history and humanism ought always be instructive, especially from police:

Aug 12, 2014

Election Day in Wisconsin and Police Intimidation

Election Day (primary) in Wisconsin witnessed a City of Fitchburg Police squad make a traffic stop on King James Way, outside of the polling place at Fire Station #2.

The squad proceeded to park some 100 yards away from the front door of the election polling site on King James Way for about an hour to the voiced approval of the A.M. shift Republican Chief Election Inspector, a gentleman named Dale.

What's problematic is that the King James Way ward is heavily African-American, and any car or pedestrian attempting to gain entry to the polling place from King James Way would have to encounter a police squad outside this polling place.

I don't why a police officer chose to site his squad outside a polling place on Election Day morning, likely innocent with no intent or mischievous motive.

But the reactions by a City of Fitchburg chief election inspector, to a Dane County official to a Wisconsin GAB official contacted speak volumes: They had no Earthly idea why an armed and sustained police presence outside a polling site presents any problem or concern to any community of interest.

One need not wonder why Dane County bureaucrats are derided as provincial.

"Wisconsin allows police to be in a voting place during voting hours. However law enforcement officers cannot coerce or intimidate voters, or access voter lists or individual ballots. Report any intimidating police presence immediately," advises the civil rights action think tank, the Advancement Project.

In Wisconsin, as in other states, the Republican Party war against the wrong kind of person casting a vote continues.

Today, a light turnout in an unusually timed August Partisan Primary Day [typically the Wisconsin Partisan Primary Day is in September], makes the practical effect of the armed police and a conspicuously sited squad car negligible.

However, in November as the African-American vote turns out, Republicans are pulling out all dirty tricks to obstruct as many voters as possible.

Only a white Republican could not understand why police present a threat by their very presence to the African-American community used to harassment while driving, walking, or shopping.

Let's not include voting on this list in November.

A friendly stop for a chat by a police officer is always welcome on Election Day, but a prolonged presence is an ingredient in intimidation, and should be guarded against, exposed, and challenged.

Aug 10, 2014

Wisconsin Water Threatened, Scott Walker Provides Protection for Polluters

Clean, safe water - Worth protection
Update:  See Algae formed from vast quantities of nutrient runoff from Wisconsin farms overwhelm countless Wisconsin lakes (Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

"There are approximately 160,000 public drinking water systems and more than 16,000 publicly owned wastewater treatment systems in the United States. Approximately 84 percent of the U.S. population receives their potable water from these drinking water systems, and more than 75 percent of the U.S. population has its sanitary sewerage treated by these wastewater systems."

The Water and Wastewater Systems Sector is vulnerable to a variety of attacks, including contamination with deadly agents, physical attacks such as the release of toxic gaseous chemicals and cyber attacks. If these attacks were realized, the result could be large numbers of illnesses or casualties and/or a denial of service that would also impact public health and economic vitality. Critical services such as firefighting and healthcare (hospitals), and other dependent and interdependent sectors, such as Energy, Food and Agriculture, and Transportation Systems, would suffer negative impacts from a denial of service in the Water and Wastewater Systems Sector."
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

If one were to alert the media of intentions to inject into local waterways and aquifers over 150 pathogens including E coli, Listeria, Salmonella and super Bacteriaone would hope a federal investigation utilizing all federal protection assets would be mobilized.

Unfortunately, for Wisconsin—America's Dairyland—we have homegrown sociopathic extremists right here in our midst: They're called mega farmers, CAFO Dairy owners (for concentrated agricultural feeding operations) and they are carrying out attacks against our water.

They do not care how many people will be poisoned by the millions of tons of their cows' waste dumped into the environment as though it were an infinite sewer; or even if a four-year-old girl and her family were to be poisoned by E coli and nearly killed as occurred in 2004 in Kewaunee County in northern Wisconsin when manure-borne E coli from a local CAFO struck a family.

Anybody, any CAFO, any farmer, who dumps untreated wastewater into the environment should in the words of Gordon Stevenson, DNR chief for regulation runoff from 2001-2011, be treated as "Public Enemy Number One."

People have warning about this for years. Last year, the state's largest paper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, called for an open discussion of the topic.

Its an election year in Wisconsin and dumping massive amounts of cow manure will not become a topic in America's Dairyland; candidates for governor are avoiding this sacred cow like a swim in a liquid manure lagoon.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's project of turning the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) into a machine inserting "certainty" into corporations' (specifically Big Ag) plans to devastate the water, the air and the land has been largely completed, damn the consequences to families' health, the environment, tourism and recreation.

The Wysocki Family of Companies (a big CAFO operator hiding in plain site) is smiling, suing local communities in central Wisconsin and working with the DNR to finalize its plans to build a massive CAFO in the Town of Saratoga abutting four counties in central Wisconsin.

Citizens there don't like it. The Wysocki corporation doesn't care.

For this type of polluter, the EPA is the enemy; the Army Corps of Engineers is a nightmare, and the Clean Water and Air Acts are dangerous.

Aug 9, 2014

Minnesota, Illinois GOP Guv Candidates Say They Will Follow Scott Walker

Even as Wisconsin under Scott Walker brings up the rear in job creation in the Midwest, Republican candidates for governor in both Illinois and Minnesota say they want to follow Scott Walker.

Under fire from stories reporting GOP gubernatorial nominee, Bruce Rauner, hit the fundraising circuit this week at his ranch in Montana, following revelations that Rauner hid personal investments by funneling holdings into the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes, as first reported in the Chicago Sun Times(Dave McKinney).

Scott Walker's political trajectory is headed downward even in the face of a mediocre Democratic opponent who largely avoids campaigning in face-to face encounters with the Wisconsin people, just not as much as Walker.

Today's brand of Republicans look at Scott Walker and like what they see.

Aug 6, 2014

Desperate Scott Walker Asks Appellate Court to Kill Fed Injunction Against Voter ID

Updates II: See The Wisconsin Supreme Court Is Not Conservative (Fischer).

Update: See also Firestone, New York Times: "An enduring Republican fantasy is that there are armies of fraudulent voters lurking in the baseboards of American life, waiting for the opportunity to crash the polls and undermine the electoral system. It’s never really been clear who these voters are or how their schemes work; perhaps they are illegal immigrants casting votes for amnesty, or poor people seeking handouts.  Most Republican politicians know these criminals don’t actually exist, but they have found it useful to take advantage of the party base’s pervasive fear of outsiders, just as when they shot down immigration reform. In this case, they persuaded the base of the need for voter ID laws to ensure 'ballot integrity,' knowing the real effect would be to reduce Democratic turnout."
---
Rick Hasen and Josh Gerstein have the story.

Scott Walker is running the numbers on his reelection and he is scared, so desperate that he wants to keep as many people away from the polls as possible.

Hence, Wisconsin's corrupt GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed a new motion for Scott Walker asserting that the federal court's April 2014 "injunction purports to permanently enjoin a voting regulation that is designed to preserve the right to vote of all eligible Wisconsin voters," notes Gerstein.

Though Scott Walker and Van Hollen have produced zero instances of in-person voter fraud, Van Hollen asserts anyway that in-person voter fraud is "real."

And so is the Devil whom Justice Antonin Scalia fears.

Evidence is a bad thing in the minds of Walker and Van Hollen.

Van Hollen and Walker both publicly refuse to comment on the mountain of evidence presented at trial last year that showed 100,000s of people would be disenfranchised by Act 23, the GOP's voter obstruction law now enjoined.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman recognized this evidence on fabricated notions of voter fraud and real people whose right to vote would be destroyed, writing, "The evidence at trial established that virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin. The defendants (Scott Walker et al) could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past." [pp 11,12]

Erin Brockovich Hits Dumping Phosphorus, Cow Manure into Water

Unless one believes Wisconsin waters
are sewers with infinite carrying capacities,
our new moto on our car tags
should soon be: America's Pathogens
When one hears the terms: Toxic algae bloom, discharging nutrients into water, Do Not Drink the Water and big agricultural interests okay with this tragedy, Wisconsin—America's Dairyland and the Dairy Business Association come to mind; not just Toledo, Ohio and Lake Erie.

Big Ag in Wisconsin shouldn't be okay with this situation.

No matter where you live, the land and water are not sewers with infinite carrying capacities.

Erin Brockovich comments yesterday on the Toledo, Ohio situation suggestive that Wisconsin's current Do-Not-Swim mandates will soon become Do-Not-Drink-the-Water mandates across the state (especially in areas such as the Central Sands) as one day after lifting the do-not-drink-the-water warning, "Toledo’s mayor on Tuesday urged residents to conserve water for the remainder of the summer as the toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie remains a threat to the city’s drinking-water supply." (Rosenkraus and Harris-Taylor, Toledo Blade)

The toxic algae blooms in lakes are a direct result of an overabundance of Phosphorus from cow manure runoff into the water and as Gordon Stevenson—who served as runoff manager of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for some 10 years (retired in 2011)—points out the "carrying capacity" of Phosphorus in the Golden Sands and Eastern Wisconsin regions are on the verge of being exceeded which will result not just in "dead zones" found now but in dead lakes.

Town of Nekoosa resident, Don Ystad who owns a home on Lake Camelot in the Town of Rome, Wisconsin, said the "tremendously high phosphorous content" already has rendered lakes in northern Adams and Wood County on the DNR's Impaired Water list, which the DNR under Scott Walker designed to be user-unfriendly. [Check the site out, there is no list.]

And when the carrying capacity of the region Ystad (Central Sands) lives is exceeded, the groundwater is next.

Ystad and 1,000s of residents in central Wisconsin in Wood, Portage, Adams and Juneau counties are working to stop the inception of a massive concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) in central Wisconsin that would dump some 50 million gallons of liquid cow waste per year into the environment, with no wasterwater treatment.

That the equivalent of what a "city with a population of 106,000 people" produces every single day, notes the Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors website, only cities with 106,000 people have wastewater treatment plants.

Writes Erin Brockovich:

"I have received hundreds of questions concerning the water quality issues in Toledo, Ohio over this last weekend. The algae bloom clearly visible from outer space is of complete and utter concern to me as we continue to evaluate the practice of discharging nutrients into our drinking water supplies from a myriad of agricultural interest. Clearly these dangerous practices must stop. The health and safety of the greater Toledo community was and will ever remain in jeopardy if these practices are allowed to continue. This is not the first time this water supply has been put in jeopardy. While the City of Toledo under the leadership of Mayor Collins did an incredible job in dealing with this problem the facts are the city must be better prepared to deal with this problem when it is only certain to return. The City has approved a capital improvement plan to address over $314 million in needed upgrades at the Collins Park Water Treatment plant but has only spent $28 million to protect public health. The treatment plant should have had the granular activated carbon in use at the time of the algae bloom which would have protected the public. Instead the City only deploys granular activated carbon after an emergency. Public Health must and always should be a priority."

Someone should tell this to the Dairy Business Association before we can't drink our own water.

The Dairy Business Association whose members self-consciously dump cow manure into our environment should rightfully change their "feeding the world" PR message to "Poisoning the water."

Enabling politicians in Wisconsin such as State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC) Scott Walker [and too many Democrats as well] should take a trip back to Wood County or Adams County or Juneau County, grab a few mason jars and fill them up with liquid manure from existing CAFO manure lagoons, bring the jars back and keep them on their desks, if they have no problem with liquid cow shit.

Aug 4, 2014

Silence from Wisconsin Pols on Big Ag's Pollution of Water

News that Ohio's fourth largest city issued a 'Don't Drink the Water' mandate, citing phosphorous concerns caused by runoff of Big Ag brought forth a swift reaction from Wisconsin politicians running for governor: Silence.

"We now have enough evidence on CAFOs [concentrated agricultural feeding operation ] – Agriculture’s lack of responsibility – destruction of our water quality and quantity. Wisconsin will become the next Ohio if you do not take action soon. We are fighting this problem as residents of Wisconsin, it would be helpful if our government would fight with us instead of against us. We believe in Wisconsin water quality and quantity to attract tourism and businesses, when will our representatives?" said Nancy Koch, a resident of Saratoga, Wisconsin.

Koch and the citizen group Protect Wood County are fighting a proposed, massive concentrated agricultural feeding operation CAFO in central Wisconsin by the Wysocki Family of Companies that would produce the same overabundance of phosphorous and other toxins that caused the drinking water poisoning in Ohio.

"Family" is an ironic term by this corporation that is deliberately poisoning Wisconsin residents.

And politicians including Scott Walker's presumptive Democratic Party opponent, Mary Burke, have thus far proven themselves silent accomplices.

Two exceptions: Dana Duncan and Tom Rayome, the two Democratic candidates running for the 72nd Assembly District primary election on August 12 in the district encompassing in large part the site of the proposed massive Wysocki CAFO. See Democrats: We’ll stand up to CAFOs, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.

Duncan or Rayome will face Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids), a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and ally to Scott Walker. Both ALEC and Walker are heavily financed by Big Ag.

Don't hold your breath for a Mary Burke press release blasting ALEC, Walker and Big Ag; issues such as the health of Wisconsin citizens and the environment appear to be beneath Burke as well for reasons surpassing explanation.

Aug 2, 2014

Wisconsin Citizen Don Ystad: Factory Farms-CAFOs Threaten Tourism, Recreation and Groundwater

Wisconsin tourism, vacation home
destinations under assault
Socially Responsible Agricultural Now Demands

Politicians do disservice to Wisconsin allowing petty politics to interfere with what is best for our state

Update II: News this weekend: Ohio's Fourth Largest City Issues 'Don't Drink the Water' mandate, citing phosphorous from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants. Phosphorous run-off in Wisconsin remains an issue, with citizens demanding the Department of Natural Resources protect the water.

This dreadful situation is as predictable as snow in Wisconsin.

"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 2011.

Update: See also Republican Party's unprecedented attack on local control and Home Rule in Wisconsin. Wisconsin's Home Rule Constitutional provision is found here.

By Don Ystad
Nekoosa, Wisconsin

Governor Walker, agency heads, politicians, and concerned citizens,

I feel like a nay sayer, sharing these articles about the threat to our recreational area.  I'm normally an upbeat guy, but when I see a scenario so similar to ours where [concentrated agricultural feeding operations] CAFOs have come in and ruined a vibrant community like Rome and Saratoga, I cringe.  Susan Turner is a member of HOMES [Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards] and was involved in the successful fight in Galena, Illinois, where they turned back the Bos dairy CAFO.  Here [below], (Ms. Turner) shares her communication with a resident of Yakima Valley, Washington, where CAFOs caught them unawares and devastated their recreational area.

We have the benefit of witnessing the unfortunate experience of areas like Yakima Valley, Washington, and Kewaunee, Wisconsin, where CAFOs have moved in and destroyed existing recreational/tourist areas.

That's given us the ability to override the false claims of the dairy CAFO proponents with actual hard evidence that shows how destructive these industrial farms can be to existing recreational, residential areas.

For our local, county and Madison representatives, it is not anti-agriculture to recognize the value of the existing recreation and tourism here in Rome and Saratoga [in Wood County] and say, 'this is not the right place to site a CAFO.'  Even my farming relatives see the sense in that. 

Looking at it strictly from what's good for our state,  the revenue and growth from recreation and tourism in the Rome and Saratoga, Wisconsin area far outweigh any gains from the proposed CAFO. 

Take a step back from the politics of this situation and ask yourself, 'what is best for the state of Wisconsin?  Another CAFO sited, or the preservation and growth of an existing, vibrant area, poised to be the golf mecca of the Midwest?' 

Think existing class A trout streams,  existing lakes surrounded by 5,400 properties, two existing golf courses at Lake Arrowhead, the new Wisconsin Trapshooters Home facility, Dyracuse recreational area, TriNorse ski jump, and the new Sand Valley Golf Club just begun, all within a few miles of the proposed CAFO.  Weigh that against the proposed CAFO with it's 49 high-cap wells and manure enough to fill Lambeau field up to the cheap seats four times over.

You do a disservice to the citizens of Wisconsin to allow petty politics to interfere with what is best for our state.  Judging from the frequent news articles appearing statewide, citizens are growing tired of the abuse to our groundwater and the one-sided playing field regarding our environment.  Incidentally, this e-mail will reach nearly 1,000 blind copied citizens.
[edited slightly for clarity]
#
From: Susan Turner
Date: Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 8:20 PM
Subject: Re: Ruined Tourism in Yakima Valley/ RFK Jr.

There were so many good people who came to warn us with our battle.  It gave us the ability to paint pictures with words regarding pollution.  There were so many people who did not believe the pollution would be real- these people would write or call me and tell me to stop scaring people and that this is not true.

I kept writing the newspapers- even when the hate mail poured in.

The Journal-Standard

Posted Mar 03, 2010 @ 05:36 PM

Helen Reddout from Yakima Valley, Wash., presented at the HOMES public meeting held at the Galena Convention Center. She will be featured as one of the characters in the upcoming book, “Animal Factory” by David Kirby.

She complimented how beautiful Galena is. She said her beautiful Yakima Valley was known for its tourism until the industrial dairies moved in. She said it only takes one big mega dairy. Now there are 75.

She watched with a heavy heart as dairies under 100 cows went out of business. Headlights are used during the day because the heavy dust impairs visibility. The stench is so bad, you are trapped. Pollution flags are used so parents, students and schools can take precautions. No more outdoor swimming, barbecues, fishing. This goes on for 19 miles.

She spoke of promised economic development and state of the art facilities while showing photos of manure stacked three stories high, manure ponds full, and fields burnt out from over saturation complete with fly swarms.

“I really love your county. It reminds me of what my valley was like 30 years ago. I miss that so much.”

She then urged HOMES to fight even harder because we have an “elephant trying to get through the door. Once the first one gets through, there is no stopping the stampede.” Helen didn’t fight until it was too late. This is our chance to keep the door shut for the love of Jo Daviess County.
Susan Turner- Warren, Illinois
#

To the Editor: Mega-dairy opponents gain support

On March 26, 2010 at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gave an inspiring speech to more than 1,700 people. Members of Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards wore StopTheMegaDairy.org shirts to let others know that we are in a battle for clean air and water.

One woman reading our HOMES brochure gave us advice on locations to place this information. “This is such an urgent situation for so many.”

One man said he works at a dairy owned by one of A. J. Bos’s friends. “Why were we fighting him?” We explained that the proposed operation was improperly sited, that the origin of the Apple River was to have manure storage built on top, regulations by multiple departments are not being upheld, and that five state experts are being ignored about the karst geology and design standards. He was relieved. He was afraid we were anti-animal-agriculture. The HOMES people in line were farmers, livestock owners, farm hands and consumers who buy direct from their farmer.

Another woman (from Wisconsin) shared the nightmare of being trapped in her home because of air and water pollution from a 2,300-head hog CAFO [(Concentrated) Animal Feeding Operation]. Manure is sprayed in the air and over applied to the field and gets in the river that runs by her property. Limited to the use of her property, she hides inside from the stench. She was in line to plead for the help of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. This is why HOMES is in appeals.

Susan Turner
Warren, Illinois

U.S. DoJ Statement on Wisconsin and Ohio Voter Obstruction Laws

The fight to protect voting rights in Wisconsin is now in federal hands as the Wisconsin Republican Party's four members on the state Supreme Court have dismantled impartiality and the rule of law in favor of corruption and service to Republican campaign finance contributors.

Welcome to Mississippi's Supreme Court.

Scott Walker is working on moving the rest of the state into Mississippi territory in policy areas ranging from public education to environmental protection as Walker's presumptive Democratic Party opponent, Mary Burke, avoids an issues-based campaign ignoring grassroots citizens' groups, and more broadly Scott Walker's pernicious social engineering project.

From the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice:
 
Attorney General Eric Holder announced today [Wednesday, July 30, 2014] that the Justice Department has submitted filings in voting rights cases in Wisconsin and Ohio.  The department’s involvement in these two cases represents its latest steps to enforce the remaining parts of the Voting Rights Act against restrictive state laws, following up on the department’s lawsuits last year against similar measures in Texas and North Carolina.
 
In the Wisconsin case, the department filed an amicus brief in Frank v. Walker and LULAC v. Deininger, supporting an earlier ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin that struck down Wisconsin’s strict photo voter identification requirement due to its effects on minority voters under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and because it unduly burdens a substantial number of voters in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.  In the Ohio case, the department filed a statement of interest in NAACP v. Husted, a challenge by a civil rights group to a state law curtailing early voting and same day registration.   The department’s brief contests the state of Ohio’s incorrect interpretation of the standards set forth by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
 
“These filings are necessary to confront the pernicious measures in Wisconsin and Ohio that would impose significant barriers to the most basic right of our democracy,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.   “These two states’ voting laws represent the latest, misguided attempts to fix a system that isn’t broken.   These restrictive state laws threaten access to the ballot box.   The Justice Department will never shrink from our responsibility to protect the voting rights of every eligible American.   And we will keep using every available tool at our disposal to guard against all forms of discrimination, to prevent voter disenfranchisement, and to secure the rights of every citizen.”
In the amicus brief filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the department argues that the district court reached the correct decision by finding that Wisconsin’s voter ID law, known as Act 23, violated the Fourteenth Amendment, because it imposes unjustified burdens on a significant number of voters, and violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, because it has a discriminatory result on African-American and Hispanic voters.   In addition to finding that Act 23 would result in minority voters having less opportunity to participate in the political process relative to other members of the electorate, the court found that the state’s claimed interests in combating voter fraud and promoting electoral confidence did not justify the significant burdens Act 23 imposes on substantial numbers of voters who lack a qualifying ID.
 
In the statement of interest filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the department makes clear that Section 2 prohibits the state of Ohio from imposing any voting qualification, prerequisite to voting, or any standard, practice or procedure that would result in the denial or abridgement of the right to vote on account of a person’s race, color or membership in a language minority group.  The filing also makes clear that in its own filings in the case the state of Ohio has incorrectly interpreted its requirements under Section 2.   The department did not take a position on any of the other claims in the case.
 
“The United States Department of Justice today affirms its clear position that, under Wisconsin’s Act 23, minority voters have less opportunity to participate in the political process,” said James L. Santelle, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.  “The amicus brief that we are filing not only supports the trial court’s findings but also reflects the department’s continuing focus on ensuring that the franchise remains fully available to all qualified voters.”
 
“Wisconsin's proud history is one of expanding the opportunity to vote,” said John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.   “I'm honored to file this brief with the United States Department of Justice seeking to ensure that this great Wisconsin tradition is reaffirmed, and that every Wisconsin citizen has an equal opportunity to participate in democracy.”  
 
“This office remains committed to preserving the rights of every Ohio voter,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.   “Making sure that courts continue to carefully examine voting restrictions, such as the ones recently imposed in this state, is an important part of that effort.”
 
In the year since the Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula that determined which jurisdictions were subject to preclearance under the Voting Rights Act in Shelby v. Holder, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act remains one of the department’s most powerful tools to protect voting rights.   Last year the department used Section 2 to file two lawsuits against the state of Texas to stop the newly enacted discriminatory voter ID law and and to obtain a ruling that the state engaged in intentional discrimination in adopting its 2011 redistricting plans.  In North Carolina, the department used Section 2 to sue to stop a number of provisions in an election law that imposes strict voter ID requirements, restricts early voting, eliminates same-day registration and refuses to count otherwise valid provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct.  The suit alleges that the challenged law was motivated by a racially discriminatory purpose and will result in African-American voters having less opportunity than other citizens to participate in the political process.  All three cases are ongoing.

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