Mar 24, 2017

Wisconsin Republicans Block Hearing, Debate on Bill That Would Deplete Ground and Surface Waters

It's called industrial agricultural irrigation, but it's
the pumping of millions of gallons of water that
is combined with millions of tons of cow manure
and vectored onto Wisconsin communities.
Whole communities face economic and
social degradation
as Wisconsin Republicans now
disregard swaths of the population. In fact,
Republicans are actively pursuing policy that will
effect consequences devastating to entire regions.
Data: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Credit: Kate Prengaman/
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Madison, Wisconsin — No need for a public hearing, no cause for a debate, just pass the death by a 1,000 straws bill that will allow virtually unfettered access and control of Wisconsin aquifers by the Big Ag industrial interests who also control Wisconsin's legislative Republicans.

"State Senate Republicans plan to vote next week without a public committee meeting or debate on a controversial bill that would further loosen regulation of high-capacity wells that are linked to low water levels in lakes and streams," reports Steven Verburg in the Wisconsin State Journal.

The bill is Wisconsin Senate Bill 76, (Assembly Bill 105), and has drawn wide opposition in numerous communities, including small farmers, small businesses, recreation and tourism activists and clean water activists facing a hostile Republicans state government.

The news of the Republicans' new closed-to-public stance follows by some two weeks the release of a "critical state audit that found a drop in enforcement activity and other problems in the wastewater program for factories, municipalities and large farms," as reported by Lee Bergquist in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

One public hearing last week drew a wide attendance. Republicans look to discourage citizen participation to protect public waters.

"Last week, a nine-hour public hearing drew more than 60 speakers for and against the proposal to eliminate environmental impact reviews of wells when they are replaced, repaired or sold. Those are the only times the state evaluates how an existing well pumping millions of gallons from the aquifer is affecting other water users," notes Verburg.

In Wisconsin, Republicans are controlled by special interests to a degree that many communities' leaders— municipalities where populations are mobilized against Big Ag—acknowledge on background delaying Republicans will allow legal challenges to proceed with increased public awareness (Saratoga for example). Put another way, only by stopping hostile Republican government can communities protect themselves.

From the Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network (SRWN) group:

Wisconsin is a mecca for recreation and tourism. Allowing the passage of SB76/AB105 would land a direct blow to the thriving tourism industry upon which many of our rural communities depend.  Those who travel to Wisconsin will be forced to find alternate vacation destinations to boat, fish, and recreate as lake levels continue to be drawn down.

SB76/AB105 will guarantee the continued drawdown of many lakes, trout streams, and residential wells if passed by our current legislature.  Unlimited permits are unprecedented in Wisconsin and pose a serious and immediate danger to our waterways and our residents.  Periodic review of high capacity well permits is essential to protect our waters.  

The transfer provision in SB76/AB105 is of greatest concern and encourages elected officials to purposefully and directly ignore the state’s Public Trust Doctrine, which states the waters of Wisconsin belong to all of us. Transferring water rights with the sale of a property is in direct conflict with that doctrine outlined within our state’s Constitution. Transfer wording should be deleted entirely from this bill.

As Wisconsin residents, we depend and trust our elected officials to enact legislation that will ensure our surface and groundwater will be here for our children and grandchildren to use and enjoy.  Moreover, we have property rights and hold our representatives to the expectation that they will protect our interests over big industry donors who are attempting to buy preferential legislation.

Numerous scientific studies predicted reduced surface and groundwater due to overpumping from high capacity wells. Statewide, lakes, streams and wells are drying up and we are demanding legislative action to protect our water NOW. Do not vote to pass legislation that will make Wisconsin water issues worse and directly impact our tourism and recreational industry. SB76/AB105 will not stop or prevent further damage to the families of Wisconsin… it ensures the damage will continue.

Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network (SRWN) is a statewide coalition of thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations dedicated to preserving the environment while maintaining the health and economic vitality of rural communities. We are concerned about Wisconsin’s water resources and support sustainable water use. We cannot support legislation that gives Wisconsin’s water to the highest bidder at the detriment of the citizens.

Mar 22, 2017

Republican Voter Suppression in Wisconsin Hits Voter Turnout

Madison, Wisconsin — From Republican poll workers, hostile municipal clerks to the Republicans' transformation of "Wisconsin election law," (One Wisconsin Now. v. Thomsen, (p.2)), Republicans worked every angle to obstruct voters and suppress voter turnout.

The years-long voter suppression project continues.

The results are impressive.

Wisconsin traditionally has the highest or near the highest voter turnout.

From Matthew DeFour in the Wisconsin State Journal, (Madison):

Wisconsin’s voter turnout in the November presidential ... declined the second-most from 2012, according to a new report by Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project. 

The ongoing effort by Republicans at the local polling place targets minority and young voters systemically, to be treated with disrespect and hostility. [This Latino writer, working as a poll worker in 2016, pointed out the voter obstruction effort repeatedly since 2011. The response is hostile city of Fitchburg, Wisconsin officials called the police after an August 2016 phone call and contrived a bogus disorderly conduct citation now being adjudicated in municipal court. Resolution is expected in May.]

As a 10-year-plus election inspector, I can tell you this anti-democratic dynamic is widespread and growing.

The anti-democratic phenomenon is the result of the Republican Party changing election laws to usurp control of the voting place, but is difficult to measure in social scientific research such as Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project's.

Most people are not aware there are phone numbers and election officials whom one can contact after witnessing or experiencing voter obstruction.

Illumination of this misconduct depends on poll workers and voters recognizing a hostile polling place is illegal and then speaking up. If you speak up, in accordance with the Wisconsin Elections Commission's advice, you run the risk of a bogus disorderly conduct citation.

This is voting in Wisconsin today.

Mar 21, 2017

Gorsuch the Statist Activist Lies to Begin Day Two

"I am heartened by the support I have received from people who recognize that here is no such thing as a Republican or a Democratic judge. We just have judges in this country," intoned Judge Neil Gorsuch on Day Two of his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Wow. Gorsuch must be the real deal—an intellectual jurist who modestly wishes to ascertain the law and facts in hearing federal litigation.

Don't believe it. The hearings are a blunt exercise in partisan power as blatant as exists in American society. And federal litigation is a means of Gorsuch imposing his religious, authoritarian politics.

Gorsuch is a statist activist looking to degrade the liberty claims of Americans, and he has reproductive rights and the 14th and 15th Amendments in his sights, for starters. Gorsuch will receive the vote of all Republican senators, and face the opposition from nearly all Democratic senators.

Discrimination claims, claims for liberty against incursions by the police and all manner of government, the entrenched private power of the corporation against the individual, Gorsuch would repeal decades of legal protection for Americans as a hostile Trump administration looks to inflict trauma onto American citizens.

The Fourth Amendment looks to die a quiet death if Gorsuch wins confirmation.
Consdier Justice Lewis Powell, writing for a unanimous Court in 1972, denouncing the Nixon administration’s electronic surveillance, warrantless-wiretapping program not just on Fourth Amendment grounds, but as a betrayal of the sovereign rights of citizens in a democracy to criticize their own government:

"History abundantly documents the tendency of Government - however benevolent and benign its motives - to view with suspicion those who most fervently dispute its policies. Fourth Amendment protections become the more necessary when the targets of official surveillance may be those suspected of unorthodoxy in their political beliefs. The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent. ... The price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power. Nor must the fear of unauthorized official eavesdropping deter vigorous citizen dissent and discussion of Government action in private conversation. For private dissent, no less than open public discourse, is essential to our free society."

Gorsuch represents the ideological brand of statists who look at civil liberties claims with suspicion and hostility, and Justice Lewis F. Powell, (no civil libertarian), would today never have been nominated by a Republican president, so radical has become the anti-people party.

Mar 18, 2017

A Small Wisconsin City Sees Democratic Party Opposition to the Grassroots, Again

Fire Fighters Local 311 endorses Jason Gonzalez
for mayor in Fitchburg, Wisconsin,
(Gonzalez for Fitchburg)
Fitchburg, Wisconsin — Jason Gonzalez is running for mayor of this progressive city, rising from the ferment of grassroots citizen action working to preserve a way of life.

Affordable housing can still be found here.

The City is guiding a sizzling real estate market as Dane County, Madison, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison keep producing high-tech start-ups, responsible for a large chunk of economic growth in the Badger state's private sector.

"Buyers are ... struggling in cities such as ... Madison, Wisconsin," notes Prashant Gopal in Bloomberg News. Struggling as in having trouble finding listings, prompting a construction boom.

An alderman, Gonzalez would be the first Latino mayor in this city in which blotches of white supremacy stain City Hall and the polling place.

Facing these challenges of social justice and a growing economy in this liberal region, Gonzalez has amassed a broad coalition—including progressives, the AFL-CIO, and social justice activists—in a campaign to oust an incumbent mayor who literally brags he wants to raise property taxes 9 percent on local working class families.

So from the people who delivered Wisconsin to Donald Trump and inflicted Gov. Scott Walker on the country, the gang that can't shoot straight (aka the Democratic Party of Wisconsin), is supporting the incumbent mayor, Steve Arnold, and rejecting working class families and grassroots activists supporting Gonzalez.

The Party apparatus needs to listen to citizens more and worry less about kowtowing to the donor class and doling out political patronage. When there is an organic grassroots movement with sound objectives, join it; do not oppose it.

Wisconsin Democrats, specifically the Party hacks, could mess up a sunny, 70-degree Wisconsin day in April.

Early voting has begun for the election held on April 4.

Mar 13, 2017

Fitchburg Wisconsin Mayor's Race Heats Up

Fitchburg Wisconsin mayor goes negative on progressives
and neighborhood activists in mailer delivered March 13, 2017

Sitting mayor attacks residents and activists: Is this the new normal?

Fitchburg, Wisconsin — A corporatist, anti-grassroots mayor is running for reelection in a small liberal city in southern Dane County.

The mayor is Steve Arnold and he is running scared.

Three weeks out from the April 4 Election Day, Arnold is going nuclear-negative, a clear sign of increasing rejection from progressives and neighborhood activists who are opposing him and his bizarre sock-the-working class campaign.

Arnold has a text-heavy mailer out that accuses his many opponents and Fitchburg residents of "lies," and features a nine-point list of negative, false and incoherent attacks.

After the Feb. 21 primary in which Arnold was rejected by 61 percent of voters, Arnold said he would change "tactics a bit" in his campaign, (Girard, Fitchburg Star).

Changing tactics. It would appear that Arnold's opponent, Jason Gonzalez, who is running to become the City's first Latino mayor has so upset the autocratic and heavy-handed Arnold regime that going negative, to Arnold's way of thinking, is the only way to hang onto his seat. Twenty days out from Election Day and the incumbent goes negative. Not a good tactic for this city.

It would also appear that the lessons of 2016 fall on deaf ears: Listen to the grassroots and the people, not the hacks and Party establishment.

Fitchburg Wisconsin Mayor Steve Arnold targets progressives and activists