Steve Hanson's blog

Robert McChesney interview with John Quinlan

John Quinlan has been running a series of interviews on his site Forward Forum - this is his most recent interview, with Robert McChesney.  You may know him from various media-related books and forums - most recently he has written a book with Wisconsin's own John Nichols called  People Get Ready and John interviews him here.

Like the County Fair? Love 4H? Big Changes Coming to UW Extension

Kathleen Vinehout
Like the County Fair? Love 4H? Big Changes Coming to UW Extension
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“We can’t do more with less,” UW Extension Regional Director Julie Keown-Bomar told people gathered at a recent Menomonie meeting. “We have to do less with less. We cannot be the same cooperative extension service that we used to be.”
The news hit hard. Downcast eyes, people with hands over their mouth, and long pauses after Julie asked the group for questions.
Julie explained how budget cuts forced UW Extension administrators to rethink their commitment to 100-years of county-based services. Wisconsin has a valuable partnership between the UW System and local counties.

Spending the Weekend Watching Game Film

Kathleen Vinehout
Spending the Weekend Watching Game Film
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
When the game is over the coaches go into the film room to see where the breakdown was in play execution. The best game plan in the world is not any good if the team does not execute it.
The “game film” for the State of Wisconsin was recently released. This is a good place to start for anyone evaluating the state’s performance.
Every year the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) conducts a review of state agencies. Known as the Single Audit, auditors examine Wisconsin’s financial accounting of federal dollars.
State computer systems are a bit like the football team’s offensive line. These systems do the grunt work so the star players can score.


Ballot Box

It's that time again. Time to go out and vote. Time to go out and put yourself behind the candidates of your choice. Despite the legislature in Wisconsin doing everything it can to make voting difficult, it's still your greatest chance to make a difference to how your country, state, and local governments will be run.

This is a particularly important election. Everyone is caught up in the presidential election, and that's mighty serious, but keep in mind that the elections that affect us all most directly are the down-ballot votes. We have an opportunity to direct fundamental change, so don't be that person who didn't care enough to go out and vote.

In this election we have a lot of choices - who should be in the final election for president. Who shall be on the state Supreme Court for the next 10 years (this one is crucial - you can pick someone who has espoused vile views, who is in the pocket of special interests, and who has shown herself to be strongly partisan, or you can vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg, someone with judicial experience and temperament who wants to help clean up the mess in our Supreme Court). You can vote for (as a friend of mine once put it) Ron Kind-Of-A-Democrat or Myron Buchholz, a local political activist. 

Perhaps most importantly, all over the state there are elections for local officials of all types - school board members, county board members, city council members, and more. These are the small-town unsung heroes of our democracy - make sure you check out who is running in your area, and go vote. These offices make a difference in our lives every day. 

My Weekend at Bernie's

Or -- Feel the BRRRRRRRRN!

Nope, this isn't going to be a story about trying to pretend a dead guy is alive -- it's a story about going to see Bernie Sanders.

This morning I set off to Eau Claire from Uppitywis Central to go to the Bernie Sanders Town Meeting. I thought that those of you who have not had the experience might like to see what it's like. It was a day of frustration and exhileration. The drive over was terrifying. I've made the trip from Downsville to Eau Claire a disturbing number of times, but this was the worst trip I've ever taken. The very light snowfall overnight mixed with cold temperatures and one hell of a gusty wind storm to make for terrible driving conditions. The little country road to Eau Claire was slippery and it was often impossible to see anything due to the blowing snow across the prairies. My little car kept getting blown around, and a few times I thought I was going to head off into the ditch. People at the rally told me there were a lot of cars in the ditch on their trips. The trip took almost twice as long as normal, so I arrived somewhat later than I had planned.

I took the footbridge across the river and was greeted by - a gigantic line. I expected a pretty good line, but this was a little more than I expected:

The line went quite a way up the hill on the right - the arena is quite a way to the left.

Full Speech: Bernie Sanders Rally in Eau Claire, WI (4-2-16) Bernie Sanders Rally at Zorn Arena

Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Requires an Education Campaign, Which the State Hasn't Funded

Originally published on ProPublica

Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Requires an Education Campaign, Which the State Hasn't Funded

by Sarah Smith ProPublica, March 24, 2016, 9:53 a.m.

On April 5, when voters cast ballots in Wisconsin's Republican and Democratic primaries, the state's controversial voter ID bill will face its biggest test since Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011. For the first time in a major election, citizens will be required to show approved forms of identification in order to vote. The law mandates that the state run a public-service campaign "in conjunction with the first regularly scheduled primary and election" to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable.

But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign. The result is that thousands of citizens may be turned away from the polls simply because they did not understand what form of identification they needed to vote.

This is why we can't have nice things in Wisconsin

Although we've all understood the management changes at the DNR have changed the attitude of the state toward the environment, it's interesting to see Cathy Stepp explain her disdain for her employees, for the environment, and what the previous attitude of the DNR was. Earth Day --- apparently those old geezers are hippies. Here we see Secretary Stepp explaining that her employees are curmudgeons, discussing once again how she is trying to make the DNR more like the private sector, and that the DNR is now becoming reponsive to everything but the environment. 

Hat tip to James Rowen for pointing this out, but I thought you'd like to see it for yourself. This is how the head of the DNR sees her job and the challenges involved. It also sheds a lot of light on her attitude toward government.

Denison Best Practices Forum - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The Next Well that Goes Bad May be Yours

Kathleen Vinehout
March 23, 2016
The Next Well that Goes Bad May be Yours
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“I feel like the state failed to protect the people,” Stacy told me. “Nobody really cares because it’s not affecting them.”
Stacy is one of several Lincoln Township residents in Trempealeau County who lived through two years of well problems. An industrial sand mine and processing plant set up shop in the neighborhood.
Mine owners wanted to avoid county zoning rules. The owners negotiated with the cities of Whitehall and Independence – some say pitting one city against the other – to annex the mine into Whitehall and the processing plant into Independence.
The residents of Lincoln Township were left out. They had no voice in the rules placed on the mine and processing plant by the City Councils.
The mine negotiated with Whitehall to provide water for sand processing. Industrial sand mine processing is a very water intensive process. The city’s pipes were unable to handle the high pressure needed to pump water miles away to the mine. Residents told me the city tried to drill a well just for the mine but couldn’t find water.
The mine needed water to operate. Locals said the mine made a deal to use an old nearby agriculture irrigation high capacity well to supply water to the sand processing plant.


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