Uppity Wisconsin

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Cranberry Creek CAFO Hearing

A hearing was held today about the re-issuance of the WPDES permit for Cranberry Creek Farm. Cranberry Creek is asking to expand from approximately 2000 cows to over 7000. May testified at the hearing today, raising various issues with the state of the permit application, while also questioning the wisdom of a farm fo that scale in an area that is already suffering from groundwater degradation.

This is the second application that has been filed for the farm. The first was contentious because it seemed in many areas to be incomplete or inaccurate, including listing other properties for manure spreading for which no agreement had been made.

We went out and videotaped the testimony today - it is long, but you will find that many of the people testifying were well prepared and convincing.





Are Waters in Wisconsin Meeting Water Quality Standards?

By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“The bottom line is: Are waters meeting water quality standards?” George Meyer told the Audit Committee at a recent hearing.
 
“[Wisconsin is] adding hundreds of impaired waters every year,” Mr. Meyer added. “It’s because of discharged nitrates and phosphorus.”
 
“Regulations and laws are only as good as enforcement.” Mr. Meyer said. “In the last few years [there has been] a substantial reduction in enforcement actions both in the wildlife area and the environmental area.”
 
Mr. Meyer knows about enforcing laws to protect our natural resources. For eight years, he served as the DNR Secretary under Governor Thompson. His 30-year DNR career also included ten years as head of the department’s enforcement efforts. He now runs Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, a nonpartisan coalition of nearly 200 conservation groups.
 
The Audit Committee was examining the findings of the Legislative Audit Bureau’s review of ten years of permitting, monitoring and enforcement of wastewater discharge. DNR is responsible for monitoring water discharged from about 350 industrial permittees and 650 municipal permittees and about 250 large farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs) – mostly dairies.




Paul Ryan - Granny Killer

In the new age of Trump politics, you can count on a lot of alternate truth. Much of it comes from the "Wisconsin Miracle" wrought by our governor and the likes of Paul Ryan. We are about to find out if we are going to take the somewhat flawed Obamacare and replace it with the totally nonfunctional Trumpcare. If this happens we by and large have Paul Ryan to blame. 

Where to start? The last time I saw the bill it appeared that the projections of taking 24 million people off of health insurance had prompted Ryan and his cohorts to declare "Only 24 million?  We can do better than that. Hold my beer." Attempts to placate the far-right wing of the GOP have resulted in plans to even more severely cut back on Medicaid. The supposed plan to help out seniors from the huge increases in health care costs they will somehow have to survive has amounted to throwing in an inadequate amount of funding, and throwing the whole mess over the wall for the Senate to figure out. 

In the long term of course the whole problem with this bill is that it is unsustainable. By throwing out mandatory insurance, the plan suffers from not forcing young and healthy adults to buy in to the system, therefore making the entire system unstable. Republicans have long warned about an impending "death spiral" from Obamacare. The replacement bill almost guarantees that the death spiral will happen. 





Broadband Expansion: Rural Wisconsin Needs the Real Deal

Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“All we seek is help to get the basic broadband services that you all take for granted,” Justin Fortney from Clifton Township in Pierce County wrote to me.  “It has been frustrating for us families to watch the digital revolution pass us by…We often…pack the family into the car and drive to a relative’s house or commercial business to use their Internet.”
 
According to the federal government’s most recent information, Wisconsin ranks last in the Midwest in both rural and urban broadband access with only 44% of rural folks accessing download speeds of 25 Mbps.
 
Both federal and state governments responded with grant programs to expand broadband but there are problems with assuring that residents actually receive the promised services.
 
With much fanfare, Governor Walker recently announced his plan to add money for broadband to schools and rural areas. Later, Senator Marklein released a different bill. The Senator’s bill was voted out of his rural affairs committee and is headed for final passage soon.




Don’t Get Rid of the Treasurer

by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Early in his term, Treasurer Matt Adamczyk (pronounced eDOMchek), was asked to sign a paper. The paper captured his signature.
 
Mr. Adamczyk recently testified at a Senate committee hearing saying, “My signature and the signature of the Secretary of Administration’s appears on state checks.”
 
But Mr. Adamczyk never sees any of the checks with his signature and never performs any functions overseeing payment of state bills. And he doesn’t want to oversee state funds. Instead, Mr.




Ethics Lawyer Files Complaint Against Reince Priebus

In our email this morning:

On Monday, February 26th, Massachusetts ethics attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee
filed a complaint for misconduct against White House Chief of Staff Reince
Priebus with the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation. 

The complaint states
that it is based on “Priebus’ corrupt attempt to influence investigations
by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) into
criminal activity involving associates of Donald J. Trump (“Trump”) and
Russian government officials.” 





Audit Hearing Highlights Problems and Way Forward with Transportation

by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Deputies are trying to figure out what caused a bridge on a rural road west of Arcadia to collapse.” The WEAU-TV story broke the same morning as a recent Legislative Audit Committee hearing on the State Highways Program.
 
As horrifying as the bridge collapse was, the story highlighted problems locals, others and I warned about for some time. Summer storms and floodwaters weakened older roads and bridges. State funds for local construction and maintenance did not kept pace with costs.
 
The recent audit, conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB), shined a light on long-standing problems with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Many lawmakers, including myself, advocated for this audit because an analysis of DOT programs has not been conducted for many years.




Avery documentary finally getting some pushback

 By now we are all thoroughly familiar with the Steven Avery case, the Mischicot man and worker at a family-owned salvage yard who was convicted in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach just two years after his release from prison on a rape charge for which he was wrongfully convicted.

 The case became a national sensation with the airing of “Making a Murderer” on Netflix which made the compelling case that Manitowoc County, where the murder took place, framed Avery and his impressionable 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, because authorities held a grudge against Avery for his lawsuit against the county. Millions of viewers, whose only knowledge of the case was that series, reacted strongly to what they saw as another miscarriage of justice.





So Long, Ed

I was very sad to hear this morning that Ed Garvey passed away. Ed had been in a nursing home for the past two weeks, and died this morning after a long battle with health issues including Parkinson's disease. He had a long career in labor, notably working with the NFL teams through two strikes, and had run for public office both as Senator and as Governor of Wisconsin (though he lost both races). For many years he ran the Fighting Bobfest event in Baraboo and Madison, and the fightingbobfest.org web site. His ill health in the past few years demanded that he retire from those endeavors that he loved, and the festival is now carried on by The Progressive.

My main personal involvement with Ed was as one of the organizers of Fighting Bobfest North during the two years that it occurred. Ed was a fighter and a mensch. He will be sorely missed by me and the progressive community in Wisconsin. 





Searching for the “Reform Dividend”

Locals ask is ‘new’ money real?
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Overall, our common-sense reforms brought us here – to the point we have a significantly better budget outlook.” Governor Walker said in his recent Budget Address. “We call this the Reform Dividend. And wow, as the fiscal bureau pointed out, that’s a whole lot of money.”
 
What is the “Reform Dividend” the Governor spoke about in his budget address? Where is it? How much is it? An inquiring mind wanted to know.
 
Rita Brunkow from Mondovi asked me. “Do you know what this “Reform Dividend” is? Who’s reforming what and where is the dividend coming from?”
 
Rita did her homework, and before she emailed me, she wrote to the Governor.
 
“I asked what reform it came from and where the money (dividend) came from…I got back what appeared to be a short press release statement similar to what I had already read in the newspaper.”




For God's Sake, vote tomorrow

Yes, I know - it's a small, primary election. And it's incredibly important. It's your chance to make sure that our schools are supervised by someone who has shown himself to be a responsible adult who actually cares about our schools.  Your choice is between someone who clearly cares about public education in the state, or one of two people who strongly support charters and private education, the policies of Betsy DeVos, and who have been busy calling each other liars for some time now. Your choice, but I am voting for Tony Evers, and I suggest you do the same.





A Few Budget Details that Didn’t Make Headlines

By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Governors are a bit like salesmen,” I recently told a reporter. “They put good news in the headlines and bury bad news in the small print.”
 
Governor Walker recently released his two-year state budget. Amid much fanfare, he touted providing much needed money for schools, roads, and the UW. I went digging through budget documents released by the Governor. I knew there was more to the story.
 
First, I must say Wisconsin has one of the most opaque budgeting processes I have ever seen. For example, there is no clear table comparing actual spending in each fiscal year to budgeted spending.
 
We are still waiting for some details the Governor has not yet released. For example, his capital budget, which includes total proposed borrowing, is not yet available.




Increasing Funding for Voucher and Charter Schools Comes at a Big Cost

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New estimate by LFB shows funding parity price tag is over $100M

ALMA, WI - For many years, voucher and charter school advocates sought funding parity while rural schools struggle to stay open. Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) responded to a new analysis done by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau pegging the parity price tag at over $100M.

 

Senator Kathleen Vinehout commented, “I cannot sit idly by while voucher and charter school advocates ask for more money when my rural public schools can barely afford the basics.”

 

“Taking $100 million away from 867,000 public school students for 42,000 private voucher and charter school students is foolish,” said Senator Vinehout. “For the last three budgets, Republicans have given handouts to private voucher and charter schools at the expense of public schools. Legislators must not continue this trend with the new budget.”





Breaking News - DeVos confirmed

Betsy DeVos was just confirmed to head the Department of Education. As expected, the senate vote was a 50-50 tie, and Vice President Pence voted yes to break the tie. The senate is now moving forward on other confirmation votes.





School Funding: It’s about More than Money

by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Public education in Wisconsin should provide high quality learning for ALL children no matter who they are or where they live,” Eau Claire School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle recently told me.
 
Chris and education leaders across the state read with interest details of the Governor’s plan for our next state budget. Governor Walker gave money to a number of new initiatives and reaped the praise of some education leaders.
 
The plan picks and chooses among various proposals advanced over the last few years. Some new programs are funded and some existing programs get more money. The plan is a compromise.
 
However – as with any political compromise – we should know what is not included and what is not being done.
 




Paul Ryan Defends Trump - sort of

On this morning's NBC NEWS' Meet The Press with Chuck Todd Paul Ryan defended the position of the president on many issues, with just enough pull-back to make himself sound sane. It is interesting to watch the line that Republicans are treading at the moment as they need to defend the antics of the increasingly erratic president while remaining loyal to their party and still looking like they are the adults in the room. He starts by back-tracking on the Iran sanctions

CHUCK TODD:

Speaker Ryan, welcome back to Meet The Press.

PAUL RYAN:

Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's start with news of the-- of Friday. Iran sanctions, new executive order signed. There is wide support in Congress for more sanctions on Iran—

PAUL RYAN:

That's right.

CHUCK TODD:

That is clear. Let me ask you this, though. Would you like to see the beginnings of trying to get out of the nuclear deal?

PAUL RYAN:

Well, a lot of that toothpaste is already out of the tube. I never supported the deal in the first place. I thought it was a huge mistake. But the multilateral sanctions are done. So—

CHUCK TODD:

Done meaning you're not going to be able to put that back together--

PAUL RYAN:

Yeah, I don't think you're going to go back and reconstitute the multilateral sanctions that were in place.

CHUCK TODD:

Should we try, though?

RYAN:

So, I don’t think we-- I think we should expend our effort where it can pay off the most. And that's why I think what they're doing now does make a lot of sense. So I think the key is to rigorously enforce this deal. But also, remember, they're testing ballistic missiles. They're still the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Human rights abuses galore.

And so those are where I think we also need to ratchet up sanctions. I think what this administration is doing, which I agree with, is saying, "We have a new administration, and we're going to hold you, Iran, to account." This last administration did not do that. This new administration needs to do that. And I think that's what you're getting here.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there-- Where is the line here? Are you concerned that Iran might retaliate, and suddenly we're a part of the proxy war in Yemen? I mean--

PAUL RYAN:

But look what they were doing, we're appeasing them already. So it couldn't get worse--





The alternative to Scott Walker's Budget

Scott Walker is gearing up to present his new budget, which will be more of the same predictable stuff - tax cuts to the rich, small amounts of money to schools and broadband, which will only slightly make up for previous gutting of these items, and more.

We need to remind ourselves that there are alternatives.  Citizen Action of Wisconsin has an alternative budget for all, which you can read at the link below. It is a big shift in priorities from what we are doing now. I am including a video of Dr. Rober Kraig at Citizen Action, where he explains what went into making this alternative budget.





Scott Walker - Abuser

I used to have a friend who was in a terrible abusive relationship. Several times her boyfriend put her in the hospital, once having broken several bones in her face. Despite the pleas of all of her friends to leave this guy, she stayed. I'm not finding fault with her, lots of women in this situation stay, with a number of different reasons, though I suspect in her case it was a matter of astoundingly low self-esteem.

Why do I bring this up?  The story here is not that someone was abused - but the behavior of the abuser.  He knew exactly what buttons to push to keep this relationship going. He came to the hospital, was profusely sorry, always bringing a gift, something soft and cuddly and feminine like a teddy bear. She several times explained to me that he was incredibly good to her because he was always sorry for what he had done, and besides, they had amazing sex. I have to admit that I could never understand the concept of having amazing sex with someone who was physically and emotionally abusive, but this apparently works differently for other people.

Scott Walker as of late is coming to us with the ol' teddy bear. Because he senses we are getting restless. The state has suffered a fair amount of abuse at his hands.  Unions?  - Gone.  Schools? - Underfunded. Roads? - Barely passable, despite spending a wad of cash. But now the budget is suddenly flush ( well, in theory anyway) and we're making little tiny baby steps to get some of the money back. Our schools may get a little more cash, but only if we're all good girls and do like daddy says. We'll get some broadband money -- oh nowhere near what we could have had from the feds years ago, but taking our own tax money back from Washington would have been wrong.  They take it away in 100 dollar bills, and make up for it with loose change. The current administration is really good with the abuse, and they know that eventually we'll just give up and re-elect them because it's too dangerous to stand up for ourselves. And we don't even get great sex. 

It's time to walk out. CItizen Action of Wisconsin and several other nonprofits in the state are promoting an alternative budget. It is full of great ideas for shifting the state's priorities. Let's fight for change, and for getting people in Madison who care about us all the time, not just once in a while to convince us they still care.





Progressive Talk Radio in Wisconsin

Progressive Talk Radio returned to Wisconsin yesterday.

Mike Crute, one of the hosts of Devil's Advocates, recently purchased 1510 AM in the Milwaukee area, changing the format from Spanish-Language Sports to all-talk progressive radio. The station has limited coverage in the state (mostly the Milwaukee area) but is available via live stream everywhere.

A great deal of encouragement for this came from the Citizen Action Radio-Active project in Milwaukee, which has been monitoring right-wing talk radio in the Milwaukee area for some time now.

This is a commercial radio station, which means that to succeed they will need support from advertisers. If you are interested in supporting them as an advertiser, please just drop me a line on the contact form on the web site and I will get you hooked up with the appropriate people.

Current programming includes some of your favorites - Devil's Advocate, of course, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, and new programmers Earl Ingram and Leslie Marshall. Links for program guides, live streaming, and Facebook are listed below.





Hmm -- Indivisible Guide web site is down

Update --- Seems to be back up and running --- good deal.

I note that the Indivisible Guide seems to also be Invisible at the moment.  Their site is failing in ways that would lead me to believe that either they are just being overwhelmed with traffic or that they are under a DDOS attack.   SO --- if you need a copy of the guilde I DID just download a fresh version a couple of hours ago which you can download here.





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