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Monday, April 29, 2013

Report: Paul Ryan's Janesville Listening Session


One word. Boring.

Congressman Paul Ryan's so-called "listening session" in Janesville was as uneventful and boring as the congressman himself. With around 70 constituents in attendance not counting security, staffing and media, Ryan came across sounding tired and monotonous using his old ideological templates of debt-fear and tax reform to spur economic growth.

One chart he presented, which I haven't seen before, showed interest on past debt as the greatest driver of future debt and Social Security as the least. This in turn prompted one constituent to ask why Social Security is included on the debt chart at all since the program has it's own dedicated funding source. Ryan went on to talk about how Congress is cashing in some of the IOUs to pay current beneficiaries and this is expected to get only worse. He did admit that Social Security is one of the most stable programs in the federal government.

No one seemed to pay any attention to the greatest driver - interest on past debt - that Reagan, Ryan and Norquist are largely responsible for. The congressman did say his tax reform will balance the budget and even PAY DOWN the debt. I won't even go there right now.

Another constituent asked Ryan what has he done in Congress so far for closing tax loopholes and what are his future plans for closing them. Ryan immediately said that's what his tax reform in his budget accomplishes. He didn't answer the exact question of course, but it left me wondering that since "tax reform" wasn't needed to open tax loopholes, why is it needed to close them?

Another constituent asked Ryan if he would have voted in favor of the gun background check bill that failed in the Senate. Ryan said he would NOT vote for it because he thinks, A) it was poorly written and B) it would lead to a national gun registry. In another question about banning employers from retrieving passwords of job applicants and employee's social media accounts, Ryan said he voted against it because there are laws already on the books protecting those privacy rights and that particular bill would not accomplish what it was hyped up to be. And on and on.

In the end, Ryan looks like he's just buying time hoping his shtick can hold up for another year or two under the eye of public scrutiny, but judging by the light turn-out from his hometown - I don't think so.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

When In Janesville, As Goes Paul Ryan




The Janesville Gazette posted a bizarre yet comical article (front paged it too) about Rep. Paul Ryans' "homecoming" dinner party hosted by the local red state low-wage conservative group, Forward Janesville. Titled "Hometown Pride," ol' regular guy Paulie is quoted describing a time last year when he was at a local Ace Hardware store in Janesville and spotted a grill he wanted to buy ...but couldn't afford ...well not exactly but he thought it was too expensive.

JG Excerpt:
On a weekend home, he spotted a grill at Ace Hardware that he wanted, but he thought it might be too expensive.

When he told Janna about it, she said, "When Mitt Romney does not pick you to be his running mate, you can get that grill."


Okay, we know Ryan was picked by Romney, so for his reward, he gets punished. Wait ...that ain't even right. It's just so bizarre that when in Washington, the congressman doesn't even blink sipping $350 bottles of wine at the swanky Capitol Hill eatery Bistro Bis, but when in Janesville ...this is too much. *facepalm* But it's worth a laugh at least for us regular people.

Anyways, have no fear folks. The Gazette reports that Ryan's colleagues in Congress took up a collection for the multi-millionaire congressman, contacted the Ace and bought him the grill he wanted.

Yes, Paul Ryan made them all laugh.

Speaking about a #nerdprom, Sarah Palin became unhinged as usual about the WHCD.

ADDITIONAL:

National Memo - Koch Brothers Bought Ryan nomination with $100 million Pledge

Friday, April 26, 2013

Letter Writer Says Middle Class Is Unaffordable. Walker Is Right To End It.


Titled by the Gazette, "Cullen was Right To Leave For Illinois" a letter writer to the Janeville Gazette said he was tired of hearing the attacks on Cullen and that the state senator did the right thing by leaving to help slow down the process. But then the writer switched gears and claimed he "came to see" that the problem was as big and difficult as Gov. Walker said it was. That a drastic solution was needed...

JG Letter Excerpt:
There were TV ads running saying this budget was an attack on the middle class. I realized that about the only middle class left was made up of public employees. We can't afford to support them in the style to which they had become accustomed. -- J.K.

At first I thought those statements may have been written with a deliberate counter effect in mind, that the writer was letting everyone know what's at stake and no one in their right mind would support the use of government power to eliminate the (at least what their perception is of) middle class. But I don't think so.

What in the world are these people thinking?

NOTE: The letter is not available on the open Web.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why Is Rock Absent Among Counties Asking To Overturn Walker's Rejection Of Medicaid Dollars?


County Leaders Ask Legislature to Overturn Walker's Rejection of Medicaid Dollars.

Green Bay Progressive Excerpt:
GREEN BAY - On a media call Monday, county officials from throughout Wisconsin pushed for the Wisconsin Legislature to overturn the decision by Governor Walker to reject billions in federal Medicaid funds for the state’s BadgerCare program.
Read more>>>

Here's the current list of counties introducing resolutions, in alphabetical order: Brown, Columbia, Dane, Dunn, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Lincoln, Marathon, Milwaukee, Oneida, Racine, Richland, Sauk, Vernon, Winnebago.

So where's Rock County?

I hate to bring such late breaking news, but the next Rock County Board meeting is - April 25th - and this is NOT on the agenda!!

No doubt, Rock County supervisors are ready and anxious to hear from their constituents. You can find your supervisor here and kindly ask them where is our resolution? Or attend the meeting in-person.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wall Of Emotion Drives Republicans On Gun Legislation


Headline - Gun Control Bill Hits a Brick Wall In Senate



Despite recent polls showing broad public support, 46 senators voted last week against a watered-down proposal to strengthen and expand existing background checks on gun sales.

So why was there such a great divide between the Republican party and the American majority will? One senator, Mark Begich, a Democrat from red state Alaska who voted with the majority of Senate Republicans said it boiled down to emotions. He said the emotions surrounding the debate arising from the recent events of gun violence was unconducive to policymaking, essentially causing people to make irrational judgment calls.

“It’s dangerous to do any type of policy in an emotional moment,” Begich said, as quoted by the New York Times. “Because human emotions then drive the decision. Everyone’s all worked up. That’s not enough.”

Begich received some harsh criticism from politicians and pundits on those remarks, but I think he's got a point.

Begich, in short order, explained that emotions stemming from the Newtown massacre was driving the national dialogue and the 54 who voted for it. I'll concede that. That's the way it should be providing those emotions were secured and unsolicited without tangible promises of personal gain or loss. For the 54 senators voting for the gun check bill, that appears to be the case. Just raw human emotions of compassion and goodwill towards our fellow man based on our natural drive to make things better in our imperfect world. But that left me wondering exactly which emotions were driving the 46 against the bill?

For that I turn to Ron Johnson, the slacker senator from our state of Wisconsin who was not only among the 46 voting against the majority will, but was also prepared to filibuster it the old fashioned way if necessary.

CapTimes Excerpt:
Among Johnson’s Wisconsin constituents, 81 percent approve of the measure, according to a recent Marquette Law School poll. It's even supported by an overwhelming majority of members of the NRA, whose leaders have gone to the mat to kill it.

So if the Newtown massacre or the majority will in his own state couldn't drive Ron Johnson's emotions to support the gun check bill - what drove him and many republicans to oppose it?

Democracy campaign Blog Excerpt:
Turns out the NRA reported spending more than any other outside special interest group to support Johnson's 2010 election victory over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold.

Four dozen SuperPACs and nonprofit groups representing the Democratic and Republican parties and an array of powerful special interests reported spending $4.7 million in the Johnson-Feingold contest. The NRA was Johnson's biggest benefactor and also spent more than any other outside group on the list - $1.18 million - or 25 percent of the total.

Aaaah. There it is. The love of gun lobby money appears to be the emotion driving Ron Johnson's vote while the fear of being primaried or challenged by gun lobby money drove Begich's emotions.

Love and fear - inarguably the two most powerful emotions driving the majority of our personal decisions are indeed inescapable human qualities. To expect Johnson or anyone else to have a special immunity to those emotions is an unreasonable expectation.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, they did however succumb to the personal gains and losses the wall of gun lobby money could pose to their senate careers based on their vote. On that count they failed. Miserably.

Think Progress - Republican Tells Victim's Mom he Supports Background Checks, Then Votes Against Them

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sen. Tim Cullen Named Legislator of the Year By Conservation Group




Here's a bit of good news for a local favorite. Sen. Tim Cullen was honored by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation for his tireless efforts on the state's controversial mining bill.

I'd also give Cullen my "State Defender" award - if I had one - on the same legislation when he caught the wrath from the GOP's chief scold and whip, Grover Norquist, for proposing a tonnage tax on mining companies for any extracted mineral resources taken from Wisconsin land. You might recall that Norquist came down like a sledgehammer giving a stern warning to any Wisconsin Republican who dare violate his debt-ballooning tax pledge by siding with Cullen. Gov. Scott Walker of course was among the first to fold like a cheap ironing board from the pressure.

WWF Press Release Excerpt:
Senator Tim Cullen was awarded the WWF Conservation Legislator of the Year Award due to his outstanding efforts on legislation revising Wisconsin’s laws regulating iron mining. After becoming Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Mining, he held over 20 hours of highly transparent public hearings, bringing experts from the mining industry, conservation and environmental groups, the University, business, the Department of Natural Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers to provide accurate scientific information on mining and mining regulation.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is comprised of 182 hunting, fishing, trapping and forestry related organization and is dedicated to conservation education and the advancement of sound conservation policies.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Area Legislators Schedule State Budget Townhall


Mark your calendars and please attend.

State Budget Listening Session with Sen. Tim Cullen,
Rep. Andy Jorgensen, Rep. Deb Kolste, and Rep. Janis Ringhand

Monday, April 22
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Blackhawk Technical College, Room 1400B
6004 S. County Road

Facebook - Source

Wisconsin DOA - State Budget Home Page

Monday, April 15, 2013

Local Taxpayers Can Raise Taxes On Themselves To Replace Lost Funding To Vouchers


The Janesville Gazette publishes Politifact editorials regularly in their Sunday edition that I usually totally ignore, but a personal jab in the title by the newspaper at a state legislator caught my eye. As you probably know, I'm not a big fan of Politifact to begin with.

Politifact's title to the story is "Rep. Sondy Pope says most public school students get less state money than private school students," which by the way they rate as "Half-True."

The Gazette no doubt reserves the right to title stories as they see fit. They re-title it to "Pope needs to go back to school on student-funding claim." It's like, where did THAT come from? I can see suggesting someone go back to school on a "false" or a "pants-on-fire" rating. But a half true? So I decided to read the full story and not only was it amusing, it turns out that Rep. Pope was speaking far greater truth than the titlers wanted to give her.

She said...

"The vast majority of our public school students are receiving less state support than their private voucher peers."

Politifact did their usual digging and found out that indeed yes, 81 percent of Wisconsin's public school districts "received less in general state aid per-pupil than the $6,442 amount guaranteed to choice schools if they spend that much." That's exact in quotes, but I highlighted keywords of the statement because according to the story, it matches her assertions that her statement is strictly directed at the state aid portion of school funding. Since state legislators hold no authority over the funding school levies from local property taxes, that just about aces it for her claim.

But Politifact dug a little deeper and to be frank, that's the way it should be.

However, after admitting that researchers have a difficult time with funding comparisons between the two types of schools, Politifact decides to reconstruct their investigation and change Pope's statement into something entirely different. Now the question is no longer only about state aid between the schools, but all the funding they could find including local property taxes and "categorical aid."

PF Excerpt:
If you included that categorical funding, fewer public districts would fall below the $6,442 level. About 67 percent of public districts -- not the claimed more than 80 percent -- are below the choice aid level...

Okay, 67 percent might not equate with "vast majority," but it's still a majority and it took a sideshow by Politifact to bring it down.

Later in the article, they cut down the percentage even further. But the real question should not be about trying to discredit what percent defines another person's "vast majority." It should be asking why ANY percent of public school districts are getting less than private schools in state aid in the first place.

It gets even better when Politifact explains how school funding works in voucher districts. They used Milwaukee and Racine as examples...THIS IS GOLD.

Here's how it works:

The state offsets a big part of its costs by reducing general aid to Milwaukee and Racine, and in turns allows them to make up the difference by raising local property taxes. MPS officials say, given the size of the reduction, they are compelled to raise the tax to protect education.

This property tax component is fiercely debated, because Milwaukee Public Schools levies for those funds but by law is not allowed to count those students for purposes of the state’s aid formula. The effect is a shift onto Milwaukee property taxpayers due to the lost state aid.

Don't stop ...keep going. But wow..."allows" them to make up the difference by raising local property taxes. Got that Beloit, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Sheboygan, Superior, Waukesha, and West Allis-West Milwaukee school districts? YOU ARE NEXT. If it's any consolation any one of us can substitute our own school district in place of MKE or Racine in the above paragraphs if Walker gets his way.

It is that argument Politifact uses to bring Pope's vast majority percentage down to 33% of public school districts getting shortchanged, but only after school districts effected by vouchers raise taxes on themselves to restore the funding! That is the other half of Politifact's reasoning to give Pope's statement a "Half True?" Good grief!! But the best is saved for last as we return to Politifact's conclusion on Pope's statement.

But the narrow way she sets up the comparison is both a virtue and a vice, creating a technically accurate statement that leaves too little room for important details necessary to explain such a complex comparison.

We rate her claim Half True.

What they seem to be complaining about is that she gave herself very little room - to be wrong - by making a narrow yet accurate statement. Pope basically said the glass is half full. They fill it to the top in an attempt to prove she's half wrong.

Then there's the Gazette's title. Just crazy.

ADDITIONAL: More tax shifts coming our way

Democurmudgeon - Freeloading Businesses Shift Tax Burden to Wisconsinites

Friday, April 12, 2013

Scott Walker: Cutting Govt Aid To The Poor Is Love


During an interview on Pat Robertson’s CBN, Gov. Scott Walker talked about the severe cuts he made to government programs on Wisconsin’s poor and working poor families.

According to Walker, he said the cuts show how much he loves the people of his state. Feigning compassion, he overplays his coldly calculating semantics when forcing out the words, “I love ...I love ...I love them so much, I don’t want them to be indebted to government for the rest of their lives."

The entire segment including CBN's narrative is throw-up-in-mouth viewing. Watch if you must, but you were warned.



On Twitter:
Walker said cutting off govt benefits to the poor is love. Then why does he hate WEDC recipients? #WIunion #P2 #WIright #700Club

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rock County: Wisconsin Enjoyed Higher Standards For Too Many Decades


Here is another gem from the documentary "As Goes Janesville." In the short segment below, you'll see Gov. Scott Walker taking part in a round table discussion with officials from the notorious economic development group, Rock County 5.0.

The action opens with Walker telling local officials about the major changes they can expect from his legislative budget proposals. The central players in this particular clip however are Beloit City Manager Larry Arft and Rock County Director of Economic Development James Otterstein as they identify the burdens of future economic development and suggest a remedy. The supporting cast are all the smiles and nods to what they had discussed.

The scene in the video is unedited from the original documentary. It needs little introduction or narration. However, it is easy to miss a single word or phrase that can dramatically change the context of what was said to that of what is heard. The original scene is followed by a short replay with subtitles and animation.



If you haven't seen the documentary "As Goes Janesville" by now, I urge you to get a copy and watch it - twice. It shows the mentality and wrongheaded plans of those working behind closed doors on economic development, not just in Rock County or Wisconsin, but in your own community as well.

Note: This posting is the independent perspective of its author and not affiliated in any way with the documentary or its creators.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Janesville Loses Its City Manager To California


It's official. After a six month search and some discussion about his compensation package, the City of Simi Valley (California) city council unanimously approved hiring Janesville's city manager, Eric Levitt, during their Monday evening council meeting. He is expected to start May 16.

VC Star Excerpt:
Eric Levitt, the chief executive of Janesville, Wis., was hired Monday night as the city manager of Simi Valley at an annual base salary of $200,000.

Besides the beautiful year-around weather of sunny southern California, Simi also has one other feature that Levitt never had in Janesville - a mayor.

Here's a little tip-off to how badly Levitt apparently wanted out.

VC Star Excerpt:
Levitt’s contract has no set length. He will serve at the discretion of the council.

Wow. A contract without a time frame. But I can't blame him. With a mayor in Simi Valley setting the tone and steering the wheel, Levitt will have a huge undue burden lifted off his administrative shoulders. Particularly so with the ongoing poisonous political environment everyone has to deal with in Wisconsin since the election of Scott Walker. With those burdens gone, Levitt should be able to focus entirely on municipal utilities, contracts and administrative duties and serve his new employers extremely well. It took a boatload of confidence on Levitt's part to accept that contract.

As one of very few local bloggers completely independent of the Bliss establishment media apparatus, I'm comfortable saying I've always considered Levitt a level-headed and capable administrator. In that capacity, he will be missed.

But for good or bad, his departure won't change anything regarding the direction Janesville has been headed in for the past 90 years. As I've repeatedly stated over and over again, Janesville never had any true leadership, at least not the kind of leadership that speaks for the community and is held accountable directly to the people. Janesville of course has no mayor.

We can however once again bet that the political phantoms haunting the city of Janesville will maintain their status quo stranglehold with their overblown pursuit for the next city administrator and start this ridiculous cycle all over again.

So all-in-all, nothing has changed.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Why Are Red States With Earliest Tax Freedom Days So Unhappy?


According to a University of Vermont analysis of tweets, the wine country towns of southern California rank among the happiest places to live in the United States. The study ranked the entire state of California as a top 13 happy state and Napa as the nation's happiest city. The university analyzed 10 million geotagged tweets gathered from 373 urban areas giving weight to happy terms and keywords most commonly used in tweets such as LOL, good, beautiful and, yes, happy.

The Vermont study also seems to confirm the idea that those with money tend to at least express that they're happy. The irony is, if I may call it that, is that many of those happy towns are also rich towns in deficit-prone blue states with late annual "Tax Freedom Days."

LA Weekly Blogs Excerpt:
Happiness within the US was found to correlate strongly with wealth, showing largest positive correlation with household income and strongest negative correlation with poverty amongst the census data sets used.

OK, now for the bad news. The saddest state they found is Louisiana, followed by Mississippi. Say what? That's right. The two saddest states in the union also boast of being ranked one/two in the country for the earliest tax freedom days according to the Tax Foundation.

It all seems so bizarre since many of these red state governors claim that a balanced budget and low taxes foster healthier economies and helps create jobs, prosperity and generally, an upbeat outlook.

But the university's tweeter study contradicts those mimes and confirm most of my suspicions about the race-to-the-bottom low-wage conservative establishment and their droning beatdown of the working poor and middle-class wage earners promoted mainly by republican governors. It's a dead-bang losing environment that practically feeds upon itself into a very sad and increasingly hostile constituency.

But to answer the contradiction, how could the two states with the earliest tax freedom days be listed at the top of sad, while deep blue "tax" states and their cities dominate the happy ranks? Our country's entire economic and social compact is built on acheiving success that is expressed from our own personal pursuit of happiness. So the question to the earliest tax freedom day red states with all of your low-wage conservative baggage is, why are any you even listed in the top ten of sad, let alone being ranked one and two?

SOURCE: University Of Vermont - The Geography of Happiness: Connecting Twitter sentiment and expression, demographics, and objective characteristics of place

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Tax Freedom Day Comes Earliest For Moocher Red States




Tax Freedom Day arrives the earliest for red state moochers and the latest for blue states. This should come as no surprise since up to half of the biggest mooching red state budgets (except Alaska) are paid for with federal tax dollars.

The ten states claiming the earliest tax freedom day are colored to match their vote from the 2012 presidential election.

March 29 Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) #1 worst moocher

March 29 Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) #2 worst moocher

April 2 Tennessee Gov. William Haslam (R) #6 worst moocher

April 3 South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) #21 worst moocher

April 3 New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) #7 worst moocher

April 4 South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) #4 worst moocher

April 5 Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) #3 worst moocher

April 5 Alabama Gov. Robert J. Bentley (R) #20 worst moocher

April 6 Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) #14 worst moocher

April 6 Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) NOT a moocher state

Some could make the argument that red state governors whittled their state budgets down enough to conversely balloon the portion paid by the federal government. That argument would hold merit except that red state governors are the first to preach about breaking the bonds of big government dependency and taking personal responsibility for oneself. That concept should extend to their respective state's fiscal draw on the federal government as well - but it obviously does not.

Secondly, I haven't included the tables showing the majority of red states getting back up to 160% for each dollar they pay into the federal government, while some blue states are lucky to get back half.

I'm not bashing the American fair share doctrine of helping out communities in need from those who can afford. The point is about the blatant hypocrisy celebrated by red states and their ideologues. They shout the loudest about enjoying early tax freedom days but never explain how easy it comes for them when somebody else is paying the tab.

Believe it or not:
Of the ten states most dependent on federal spending, all but New Mexico (7th) and New York which ranks 10th, voted for the Romney/Ryan presidential ticket. Of the ten states least dependent on federal dollars, all but two voted for President Barack Obama.

SOURCES:

2012 Presidential Electoral Map

Tax Freedom Day By State Map

Federal Aid To State Budget Map

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Public Schools Win Big In Mixed Election Results




Well, public schools got a nice reassuring boost in state-wide Wisconsin with the re-election of Tony Evers for State School Superintendent. On the other hand, Gov. Scott Walker's anti-education, anti-worker class war agenda was kept in place with the election of incumbent Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack.

Early on watching the Rock County vote tallies showing Fallone running 50/50 with Roggensack was a sure sign that Fallone wasn't going to overcome the heavy opposition from the state's GOP strongholds no matter what. This despite Rock County coming in a strong 70/30 for Evers.

Rock County generally leans strong democratic, but not landslide democratic just to make that distinction. Even with that forgiving quality, it doesn't make sense why Roggensack would pull to a draw here. Granted, she did not have the psychological baggage or the deeply partisan mean streak that Prosser carried, so perhaps it was that less damaging quality for Roggensack that made all the difference against Fallone. But the split support for Evers and Roggensack in Rock County doesn't make sense knowing the stakes are so high.

On the local scene for public schools in Janesville, the news was even better with the election of newcomer and teacher Cathy Meyers to the Janesville School Board. Meyers was also the top vote getter of the candidates.

School Board incumbent Karl Dommerhausen was also re-elected. Dommershausen, it should be noted, is somewhat of a pleasant surprise for local public school supporters. A self-described independent conservative who tends to favor republican causes, has recently made strong statements in opposition of voucher schools being advanced at the expense of public schools. That one clear message may have earned him his re-election in Janesville. Dommershausen and Meyers will join incumbent winner Kristin Hesselbacher to round out a strong defensive mix for the betterment of Janesville's public schools. Simply put, these three winning election is very welcome news.

The election news for the Janesville City Council was much less promising in my view. Two incumbents, Sam Liebert and Duwayne Severson will return to their respective seats on the council. They will be joined by newcomers Douglas Marklein, who by the way was the top council vote getter, and Brian Fitzgerald.

I wish I could say that at least one of the winning candidates will make the difference that is absolutely necessary to move Janesville into a 21st century economy. Unfortunately, I can't.

It is my view that the seven member Janesville City Council has fallen flat with mostly Forward Janesville/Rock County 5.0 collectivists splitting the decisions with tea party cutters, and its' only gotten' worse. The city has no leadership and no vision and it won't change anytime soon. It's off the rails and a real shame.

Former council member Yuri Rashkin made a last minute effort to return to the city council, but he ran as a write-in candidate and those campaigns, as valiant as they are, are unforgiving and extremely difficult to win. Rashkin came up short, assuming the 826 votes at 3.51% were all his.

SOURCE - Rock County Election Results

Post-election viewpoint from Yuri Rashkin.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Community Blames DNR For Having No Authority. Where Would Justice Roggensack Stand?




* REVISED POSTING *

Residents of Richfield, Wisconsin are angry with the DNR after the agency approved of high-capacity wells for a nearby industrial-size dairy farm.

WBAY Excerpt:
Residents say the state Department of Natural Resources did an incomplete environmental analysis. They want the DNR to deny the well permit. But the agency says state laws limit its authority to consider the cumulative impact of wells on nearby waterways.

Why they are angry with the DNR is an easy guess, but they are blaming the wrong folks. Thinking the DNR has authority in the matter is the Wisconsin of days gone by.

Unfortunately for the state, Wisconsin voters ushered in single-party rule under Scott Walker. Part of their sweeping agenda not only included dumbing down the state's sacred environmental standards to loosely held federal benchmarks, but it also included the gutting of state DNR powers the moment Walker was installed into office. The recent Geogobic Taconite mining bill knocked down whatever standards guided the DNR that had remained.

Granted, Richfield's mega-farm well permit applications were submitted before the mining bill was signed into law, but no one can say voters weren't warned beforehand about the mining bill's effects on the state's resources. The DNR was for all practical purposes - defanged. In addition, you don't have to reside near or be involved with a mine to be impacted by the new law. But few seemed to listen...

The Daily Page Excerpt:
The bill requires the DNR to approve water withdrawals in any amount, from any location, regardless of whether the withdrawal will cause lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, wetlands or wells to go dry. It allows the company to fill lake beds and dump wastes into sensitive wetlands, shorelands and floodplains. It exempts the company from meeting local zoning approvals. It removes the contested case hearing before the permit decision is made, which deprives the public of their right to have the company's claims and DNR decisions reviewed while under oath.

So what is our recourse now that it is state law? The folks in Richfield could file suit in local courts and with compassionate judges and a great amount of luck, could stall the permits with additional appeals until it reaches the State Supreme Court. But the costs are high, the time is long and the odds of that happening are near zero. Even if it did happen by some strange quirk, how would Justice Roggensack approach a decision for a final ruling on this issue?

Daily Union Excerpt:
Roggensack said voters could expect her to continue to uphold the legislative intent of the state Senate and Assembly.

So Roggensack promises to uphold the intent of the legislature because politics is more important than justice. And what does the legislature say regarding those newly enacted state laws governing water wells and waterways?

RNR Excerpt:
"If the law is challenged and ends up in court, the judge needs to know it was the Legislature’s intent to allow adverse (environmental) impacts. That way, a judge can’t find fault if the environment is impacted." -- State Sen. Tom Tiffany, (R-Hazelhurst)

And why does THAT matter?

Elections have consequences. Please vote Ed Fallone For State Supreme Court.