Speed and Secrecy versus Deliberative Democracy

Kathleen Vinehout
Speed and Secrecy versus Deliberative Democracy
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator.
 
“Well, aren’t you nice,” Mrs. Gifford responded. “You just made my day!”
 
Twenty-eight minutes before the vote on a bill that would make significant changes in high capacity well rules, the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism committee clerk came to my office and said that bill was removed from the list to be voted out of committee.
 
As he left our office, he passed Barbara Gifford and her husband Jim who came to ask me to vote against the bill. For the moment, it looked like the Giffords were successful.
 
Senate Bill 239 is one of three bills that would alter the way Wisconsin grants permits to drill a high capacity well – a well that pumps 70 or more gallons per minute of groundwater.  The bill prevents the DNR from reviewing existing high-cap well permits making them approved forever.

Yet another reason to replace Justice Bradley

Justice Rebecca Bradley

Apologize as she may, the articles Rebecca Bradley wrote while she was a student reflect the way she looked at life when she was young, and it is not clear her viewpoint has changed since, other than becoming more sophisticated about what she says in public. The Journal-Sentinel reports today that incumbent Bradley wrote "How sad that the lives of degenerate drug addicts and queers are valued more than the innocent victims of more prevalent ailments," in reference to people who were dying of AIDS. Although Justice Bradley states

"To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview," her statement said. "These comments have nothing to do with who I am as a person or a jurist, and they have nothing to do with the issues facing the voters of this state."

I have to wonder about the character and viewpoint of someone who develops such a jaundiced view of Americans so early in life. Add this in to her lack of judicial background and her apparent lack of interest in doing judicial work when she can work with conservative business groups instead, and you have a compelling argument against voting for Bradley in the upcoming election. JoAnne Kloppenburg has proved to have a much better judicial temperament and fairer view of the people of this state.

Open Government Traveling Show

Date: 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 (All day) to Thursday, March 17, 2016 (All day)

Residents across Wisconsin are invited to free events exploring the importance of open records laws, and how to use them to obtain critical information about the actions of government.

The eight-city “Open Government Traveling Show” by open government advocates comes in the wake of unprecedented attacks on open records laws from state lawmakers and others. The events will take place from Tuesday, March 15, through Thursday, March 17, as part of national Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of access to public information.

Budget Cuts to Education Cost All of Us

Kathleen Vinehout
 
Budget Cuts to Education Cost All of Us
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“We hired a great inorganic chemistry professor last year,” Mike, a UW-River Falls chemistry professor, told me. “Unfortunately she’s leaving in May for St. Olaf.” I visited St. Olaf in Northfield, Minnesota. They have a great chemistry department.
 
Mike told me his department used to have 15 professors. They now have 11 – soon to be 10. They plan to replace the person leaving but it’s getting harder to recruit and retain faculty.
 
The consequences of deep budget cuts to education are disparate but all around us.
 
Deep budget cuts to the UW system results in fewer course offerings and programs, larger classes and less staff. UW Extension is proposing to remove extension agents from many rural counties. The UW Madison Ag program announced the loss of the only dairy sheep program in the country. Faculty are moving on to greener pastures.
 
There is a similar story in K-12 education.

Be nice to the DNR or they'll stop talking to you

So it's bad enough to be in a state where representatives walk out of meetings if they don't like the questions, and where the Governor skulks around the state in secret and will only speak to those folks who are of a like mind. It's also deplorable to have the state government change our laws to become less responsive to citizens, and to change the civil service laws to allow more cronyism. But I'm genuinely shocked to find out that we have a state agency with a blacklist of citizens who are not to be responded to, apparently because they either were not nice enough or they asked too many questions.

National decline in infrastructure spending especially pronounced in Wisconsin

Only Six States Had a Larger Decline from 2002 to 2013

State and local governments have been neglecting to make investments in infrastructure according to a new analysis issued this week. The new study found that state and local spending on infrastructure, such as transportation, public buildings, and water systems, fell to a 30-year low in 2014, when measured relative to gross domestic product (see Figure 1). The drop-off since 2000 has been especially pronounced in Wisconsin.

Gov. Walker’s Robotic Message at Business Day in Madison

For Immediate Release                                                                                                               

February 25, 2016

Contact: Rep. Hintz                                                                                                                                        

1-888-534-0054

Gov. Walker’s Robotic Message at Business Day in Madison

"The American People Need to Have a Voice In the Process

Okay, it's not Wisconsin news but --- 

If I hear One More Republican say that the current president should not be allowed to nominate a Supreme Court Justice I'm going to bust a blood vessel. 

LIke this gem

When asked if they would start the process after the new president took office or if they would consider doing it in the lame duck session, Cornyn replied "No, after the next president is selected. That way the American people have a voice in the process."

I need to point out that the American People had a voice in the process.  It was called the 2012 presidential election. What Cornyn is trying to say here is one of the below:

  • It's only the voice of the people if it's funneled through a Republican president
  • It's only the voice of the people if it's funneled through a white president
  • Presidents have three year terms.  After that they might as well just pack up and leave

I'm not sure which he's saying.  Whichever it is, he's wrong.

When the going gets tough - Kathy Bernier walks out

Kathy Bernier

While at Monday's Breakfast with our Legislators meeting, Rep. Kathy Bernier was angered by board members who are frustrated with the current funding formula and budget for state schools. She walked out of the meeting after the suggestion was made that Minnesota is doing a better job of this than Wisconsin.

“We’re here to sit around and talk about challenges and suggestions, and I’ve yet to come away with a viable suggestion from those meetings (with Altoona, Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire),” Bernier said.

People Make a Difference Despite Haste at Capitol (Citizens stop action on water privatization bill)

Kathleen Vinehout
February 24, 2016
 
People Make a Difference Despite Haste at Capitol
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“What can we, as ordinary citizens, do to keep the legislature and the governor from passing/signing house bill 554? It scares the heck out of me,” wrote Claudia from Eau Claire.
 
“I know that Kathleen will vote against this terrible bill, but no doubt against the odds,” Sarah wrote from Eau Claire.
 
The “terrible” bill was AB 554, a bill that would allow out-of-state private corporations to buy public water and sewer utilities. The bill would eliminate a required public referendum to approve the sale.
 
There is good news for all the folks who wrote asking me to oppose the bill.

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