Archive for April, 2013
On this “frac” Earth Day April 20 in Gays Mills
On Earth Day just one year ago, the Center for Investigative Journalism identified 41 facilities operating or proposed in the state. This summer 87 are operating or under construction, with another 20 facilities in the proposal stage.
Gays Mills, the site of Earth Day, in Crawford County where the first frac mining permit was approved in the Town of Bridgeport” on March 24th allowing the 120 acre mine site on 305 acres to go forward.
View Larger Map
Don’t miss the “ART-RAGEOUS Earth Day Kickapoo Rendezvous”
Converge and Rendezvous in Gays Mills on on April 20 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
12:00 – Trails and green building – Julie Henley
12:30 – Weeds to Wild Flowers – Tim Eisele
1:30 – Frac Sand Mining – Juliee de la Terre & Kelvin Rodolfo
3:00 – Aldo Leopold’s “The Geese Return” Dennis Kern and Time Contant
3:30 – First Nations Speak: All Our Relations – Bill Greendeer
4:00 – The Midwest Mining Rush and Conflicts over Tribal Sovereignty – Al Gredics
5:00 – Q & A discussion
5:30 – Environmental Integrity and the Imagination – Alvin Felch
6:30 – Time Constant music
Al Gedicks teaches sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and is the author of Resource Rebels: Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations.
“The proposed mine involves extracting taconite by removing about 650 feet of overburden and creating a narrow pit around 4 miles long, up to 900 feet deep and a quarter mile wide. The overburden would be dumped in massive tailings piles along the northwest side of the Penokee-Gogebic Range and at the headwaters of the Bad River Watershed.”
Bill Greendeer, a Ho-Chunk, Clan of the Deer member, speaking on frac sand mining and quoting the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Resolution in opposition to frac sand mining. Bill spoke at the in opposition to the Bridgeport mine and he will speak at the on Earth Day in Gays Mills.
Alvin’s work is the center of the exposition for the Gays Mills Art Collective gallery, but it promises to be much more than a stagnant exposition. It promises to be more of performance. Alvin will move before and around his intricately carved figures of greed, corruption, and conscienceless consumerism as they form a triangle before his original painting of a megalopolis of burgeoning wealth and power. His expression of imagination is accompanied by the musical tunings of Roger Time as Alvin leads viewers deep into the caverns of greed and imbalance – an imbalance which can only lead to… a surprising end.
An ART-RAGEOUS Earth Day
The ART-RAGEOUS Earth Day Kickapoo Rendezvous is happening at the Gays Mills Art Collective Gallery located in the new Mercantile Center in Gays Mills next Saturday April 20.
Camping and Lodging
You can camp or lodge in the area and enjoy the whole day.
Fracing – a mining procedure and a political strategy
The process is called “hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling”. Frac sand is mixed with high volumes of water and toxic chemicals and forced into the shale, where it holds open fissures allowing the oil or gas to be extracted.
The industry is employing a similar process politically by forcing high volumes of promises of jobs and money into the economic cracks of rural towns and villages across Western Wisconsin. The skirmishes of each small township, village, and community are fought in isolation of one from the other yet, when you look at the mining industry’s tactics, promises, and the known outcomes – a remarkably similar story emerges.
If you will take a tour through a few of these small and isolated places, where frac mining at different stages of development has impacted the politics and lives of real people, you begin to see the large picture.
Bridgeport is a town in Crawford County, Wisconsin, United States
The population was 946 at the 2000 census. Wiki
Bridgeport is in the early stages of a frac sanding mining proposal and is a good example of how the promises, tactics, and politics come to play in most all of the early stages of any mining operation’s entrance into a small community.
Creating fissures in the Democratic process
First the mining interests attempt to find a power welding person who can gain a financial interest in a mine. In Bridgeport this person is Rodney Marfilius who owns a parcel of land sited for a frac sand mine and also is a supervisor on the the town board. Obviously, Rodney would not be a hard sell since he would get the check. Although he abstained from voting on the final approval on March 24th the other two board members voted in favor of granting a reclamation permit allowing the 120 acre mine site on 305 acres to go forward.
Public input and discussion was limited or non-existent in the lead up to the vote on the mine approval and other measures to discourage the voice of Democracy of the people of Bridgeport were taken such as posting a meeting notice the bare 24 hour minimum required by law and limiting public discussion for those who were alert and able to attend the meeting on such short notice. In Bridgeport a planning commission meeting proceeding the board meeting allowed no public comment. A three hour board meeting prior to the vote failed to address issues and questions of concerned citizens in opposition to the mine. In the end, the final vote was taken at a 20 minute meeting with the County Sheriff present to forcibly eject anyone who dared break the “no-speak” rule.
Tactics of subversion, obstruction, and rule bending are a common practice as mining interests inject themselves into rural communities. In Baron County Stacey Neuman was elected to Barron County Board of Supervisors last April. Soon she found her way on to two committees that are the sifters and shakers of the frac mine controversy – the Agriculture and Zoning committees. When Neuman was elected, she lived in the district she represented, as required by state law. Shortly after the election, Neuman sold her home in the district and moved out of the district to Rice Lake to live with her dad/step dad. Of course, the move should nullify her office on the County Board, but not in her case? (pictured left is Neuman’s “legal residence” in Barron County)
Maiden Rock is a village in Pierce County, Wisconsin, United States
The population was 119 at the 2010 census. Wiki
Unlike Bridgeport, Maiden Rock has been home to mining over a decade. The company Fairmount Minerals bought the underground operation in 1996. Controversy over the operation came to a boil with Fairmount’s request for conditional-use permits, filed in late 2010, to expand the mine from 789 to 1,696 acres. Since then the quiet little town has been torn apart and citizens concerned at the mine’s expansion have learned how money and politics can drill into hearts and frac minds with public relation videos that make frac mining appear the best thing since Smokey the Bear and Snow White.
The Fairmont Minerals video below begins with beautiful shots of clean water and majestic wild life.
Perceptions of the company’s efforts vary greatly and appear to have split the village into two camps: People who support the mine and people who wish it would just go away.
Maiden Rock, Bridgeport, Baron County, and a host of other villages and rural communities are all Davids who are fighting the Goliath of the mining industry. The green and quiet countryside so vital to the rural quality of life in which they have chosen to raise their children seems to evaporate overnight. One of the most frequent quotes you will hear from all of new and expanded frac mine sites is, “You won’t believe how fast it happens!”. The quiet country road outside their window is suddenly filled with trucks, their coffee cups vibrate on the kitchen table as another blast rocks the house all hours of the day and night, and they watch their children come off the bus with new fears of the unknown – is the water they are drinking tainted, is the air they breath poisoning their young lungs with carcinogenic silica dust?
The answers to these questions is “unknown”. This has all happened so fast, but if we take a trip South we will discover new and strong evidence is beginning to surface that supports the worst fears of parents near frac mine sites.
Wedron is an unincorporated community in LaSalle County, Illinois, United States.
Wedron is located along the Fox River northeast of Ottawa. Wedron has a post office with ZIP code 60557 Wiki
Suspected polluter Fairmount Minerals
Fairmont Minerals is the same mining company that the people of Maiden Rock are fighting in Wisconsin. The same company that produced the video above featuring all the healthy wildlife and clean water.
Concerns are growing over contaminated groundwater in a small northern Illinois community. Residents in Wedron report a strong gas odor coming from their spigots.
Small town attracts big name
Stephanie Thompson (pictured below holding a milk jug of her tap water) “This is what they expect us to bathe our kids in?”. “We always had bad water. It smelled bad and tasted kind of funny. But the smell of the gasoline didn’t happen until 2009,” Thompson said.
She first reached out to local officials and the EPA, but was not satisfied with the help she was getting. A few years ago, Thompson contacted Erin Brockovich, who drew fame after the landmark case involving Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California. Brockovich joined to form a team including an environmental scientist and a lawyer.
The federal EPA says it has done some testing of private well water in Wedron, found elevated levels of benzene in a handful of wells, and in the soil. But it says more work needs to be done to pinpoint an exact source.
This July, U.S. EPA and Illinois EPA collected soil samples from 18 locations in Wedron using a special drilling rig called a geoprobe that can collect samples beneath the surface. The results of the soil sampling also showed elevated levels of the VOCs benzene, chloroform, ethylbenzene, and xylenes. This investigation also identified several potential sources of the groundwater and soil contamination. In addition, U.S. EPA conducted an investigation this August at the former Hoxsey gas station to determine if underground tanks or piping are still present. The owner of the property has agreed to conduct an excavation to determine if any underground storage tanks remain on the parcel.The EPA EPA report on Wedron ground water
It all happened so fast!
The EPA began testing wells in 1983 or 30 years ago to finally assemble evidence of ground water pollution in Wedron. Even though a direct link to frac mining is yet to be proven conclusively, the Fairmont mining operation is the only industrial site within miles of the tainted wells.
The frac sand industry has grown fast, and no government agency has an up-to-date list of all of the mines and processing plants in Wisconsin. A year ago, the Center identified 41 facilities operating or proposed in the state. This summer 87 are operating or under construction, with another 20 facilities in the proposal stage.
60 new sites operating or under construction in little towns, villages, and communities in Western Wisconsin bearing names like Blair, Maiden Rock, Bridgeport, Hixton, Glenwood City – where handfuls of farmers and small town folk are fighting their local battles with some of the largest mining corporations in the country. The up hill battles are being waged far from the media centers of Milwaukee or Madison. The small town fears and concerns will not be found in the mainstream but in the small county newspapers or blogs and face book.
One big blow
The fight to test the ground water in Wedron began 30 years ago. Over 60 new mining sites and proposals have sprung up in Wisconsin in the past year…even though we don’t know the long term effects of silica sand dust on our health or what effect deep drill into our ground water supply may have in 5, 10, or 20 years.
Where, oh where is all this get-rich-quick Wisconsin sand going? It is off to bigger, better, and more ominous sites for an unknown future.
The guns — Glock and Sig Sauer handguns, as well as a Bushmaster .223-caliber assault rifle — The Bushmaster is a type of semi-automatic weapon that was first used by American troops during the Vietnam War and which can fire up to six bullets a second. According to firearms expert Ronald Scott, a former head of the Massachusetts State Police’s firearms lab, the rifles can be obtained relatively easily by “people with the legal right to buy them,” but said the weapons are designed for combat. “There’s really no other use for them,” Scott said. [Source]Gun Source
The Glock, made in Austria, and the American-made SIG Sauer can fire up to five bullets a second at a velocity of 1,200 feet a second.Weapons
Washington, D.C. Office
386 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Ron Johnson Face Book Page
Names:“Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Anna, Dylan, Madeleine, Katherine, Chase, Jessie, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison. God has called them all home.
For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of our memory.” — President Barack Obama
“Every child you encounter ………….
is a divine appointment.”
Wess Stafford, President, Compassion International
“Ron Johnson represents Nobody” – Chris Mathews
Ron Johnson threatens to take the comment made by by Chris Mathews of MSNBC after the Benghaz hearings to new levels. Johnson embarrassed himself and the state by his inappropriate and unstudied statements when questioning then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He had not done his homework, admitting that he had not read the report on the incident before launching into a pointed attack against Clinton. Now, he stands with the Senators who threaten to deny the parents of the fallen Newtown children and the vast majority of Americans who support background checks, a vote. He will choose to avoid debate on the issue of gun violence and block an up-or-down vote.
After Chris Mathews aired the clip of the exchange between Johnson and Hillary, he reiterated an evaluation which, no doubt, struck a cord that Wisconsin progressives have been chewing on since November 2010 – “how do these guys get elected?”. And Chris doesn’t know the 10th of it, since his national focus spares him the weekly workings of Johnson’s doppelgänger Scott Walker. Mathews final comment in the video speaks to the political stature of both winners of the 2010 election of fools – “they don’t represent anyone”.
The wealth pipeline just sprung a leak
Thinking of wealth as a dark liquid like oil that flows unseen through a pipeline network connecting banks, brokerage firms, and investors is a real time and apt analogy this week when when three major oil spills have brought a stink to the air in Canada, Arkansas, and Texas. The stinky, poisonous, sludge of wealth has just sprung a huge leak that is spilling the hidden secrets and the slimy greed of the elite into our neighborhood of consciousness – like the truth.
The leak records from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
“A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over.”
Dozens of journalists sifted through millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists into offshore secrecy
The leaked email shows that the majority of wealthy clients holding covert funds in companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways are scattered throughout the world. The identities include American doctors and dentists and middle-class Greek villagers as well as families and associates of long-time despots, Wall Street swindlers, Eastern European and Indonesian billionaires, Russian corporate executives, international arms dealers and a sham-director-fronted company that the European Union has labeled as a cog in Iran’s nuclear-development program.
The elderly, veterans, and the middle class are expected to tighten belts?
The leak of the thousands of illegal off shore accounts is hard proof of tax evasion crimes that have been known by Washington legislators for years. Yes, the same legislators who continue to deny any revenue from new taxes for the rich and the same legislators who allowed the irresponsible sequester to take hold.
The wealthy are characterized as “makers” not “takers”. The secret files prove the opposite in many cases. Not only are these secret account holders “takers”, but they are thieves and scoundrels who are shirking the responsibility of paying their fair share, they are bending the rules and stealing from the masses of people to make up for their crime.
Hiding money in off shore accounts is a crime, but what makes the crime even more dastardly is that it is exposed at a time when the wealth of the wealthiest has grown by leaps and bounds while the net worth of the bottom 90% has shrunk to a point where it does not even register a mark on a distribution of wealth graph. This inequality of wealth, opportunity, and ability to pursue happiness is so hard felt that a video exposing the facts about this inequality has struck a cord of truth for over 5 and half million people who have viewed it:
Wealth Distribution in America
The Reality of what we think the wealth distribution is in this country is not even close to what it actually is.
The wealth distribution is terribly out of balance. The playing field to gaining greater wealth is a mountain to climb for the middle class. Meanwhile the holders of the wealth, that is supposed to trickle down to create balance, is being horded away illegally in off shore bank accounts so those in the middle and the bottom are forced to pay the share that the wealthy do not. Do you think this has anything to do with the divisiveness that has brought local, state, and the federal government to a stand still?
This inequality, this injustice is what the protesting, screaming, and solidarity singing in the Wisconsin Capital Building is all about. The continuous protest, the Walker recall election, the move to preserve public education and the right of middle class workers to hold a voice in wage and salary negotiations are all actions to bring the lopsided distribution of wealth and power into balance.
The “Makers” are the real “Takers”
Among nearly 4,000 American names is Denise Rich, a Grammy-nominated songwriter whose ex-husband was at the center of an American pardon scandal that erupted as President Bill Clinton left office.
A Congressional investigation found that Rich, who raised millions of dollars for Democratic politicians, played a key role in the campaign that persuaded Clinton to pardon her ex-spouse, Marc Rich, an oil trader who had been wanted in the U.S. on tax evasion and racketeering charges.
Records obtained by ICIJ show she had $144 million in April 2006 in a trust in the Cook Islands, a chain of coral atolls and volcanic outcroppings nearly 7,000 miles from her home at the time in Manhattan.
The trust’s holdings included a yacht called the Lady Joy, where Rich often entertained celebrities and raised money for charity.
Rich, who gave up her U.S. citizenship in 2011 and now maintains citizenship in Austria, did not reply to questions about her offshore trust.
James R. Mellon
Another prominent American in the files who gave up his citizenship is a member of the Mellon dynasty, which started landmark companies such as Gulf Oil and Mellon Bank. James R. Mellon – an author of books about Abraham Lincoln and his family’s founding patriarch, Thomas Mellon – used four companies in the BVI and Lichtenstein to trade securities and transfer tens of millions of dollars among offshore bank accounts he controlled.
Like many offshore players, Mellon appears to have taken steps to distance himself from his offshore interests, the documents show. He often used third parties’ names as directors and shareholders of his companies rather than his own, a legal tool that owners of offshore entities often use to preserve anonymity.
Reached in Italy where lives part of the year, Mellon told ICIJ that, in fact, he used to own “a whole bunch” of offshore companies but has disposed of all of them. He said he set up the firms for “tax advantage” and liability reasons, as advised by his lawyer. “But I have never broken the tax law.”
“I just heard of a presidential candidate who had a lot of money in the Cayman Islands,” Mellon, now a British national, said, alluding to former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Even as the world economy has stumbled, the offshore world has continued to grow, said Henry, who is a board member of the Tax Justice Network, an international research and advocacy group that is critical of offshore havens. His research shows, for example, that assets managed by the world’s 50 largest “private banks” — which often use offshore havens to serve their “high net worth” customers — grew from $5.4 trillion in 2005 to more than $12 trillion in 2010.
The anonymity of the offshore world makes it difficult to track the flow of money.
A study by James S. Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey & Company, estimates that wealthy individuals have $21 trillion to $32 trillion in private financial wealth tucked away in offshore havens — roughly equivalent to the size of the U.S. and Japanese economies combined.
Just like an oil spill the money pipeline leak stinks to high heaven
“Periodically, the stench gets so bad somebody has to get out there and clap the lid on the garbage can and sit on it for a while,” Blum said. “There’s been some progress, but there’s a bloody long way to go.”
Budget will help move Wisconsin forward
By Scott Walker
April 2, 2013
What a difference a few years can make. In 2011, we inherited a $3.6 billion budget deficit. Today, we have a surplus.
Scott Walker wrote an editorial (he called it a column) in the Journal Sentinel to highlight and underscore his achievements in office. As with most of the self evaluations brought forward by the Walker administration, it was printed without comment or clarification leaving the reader to do the job of the press – you know things like investigative analysis or clarification of fact. The editorial was printed as though it
were a factual review of Walker’s administrative success.
The Wisconsin Media holds responsibility for the political divisiveness in our state. Where are the facts? When did the responsibility for fair journalism drop from the discussion of editorial boards? What is the result when journalism fails to clarify and analyze the facts? We get thrown into the maze of confusion, mis-quote, and obfuscation that clouds the truth or the facts which are imperative for a Democracy to function. What’s more, the political pundits and spinners are counting on the press to drop the ball, to print what is fed them by publicists with the result that the message with the money gets all the bang for its buck. When independent analysis and clarification are dropped from the public discussion the media becomes complicit in the spread of loose facts, misinformation, and promotes a mass ignorance that leads to the emotionally charged divisiveness where the facts are lost in an unending emotionally charged squabble. This is the real tragedy of Wisconsin Politics, and the media must take responsibility for falling down on the job by allowing itself to become another Walker Administration “tool”.
So this Walker “column” “Budget will help move Wisconsin forward” appeared in the Journal Sentinel and is being used as an example. The editorial page editor who presented the case of Scott Walker without journalistic review is David D. Haynes.
DAVID D. HAYNES, Deputy Editorial Page Editor, specializing in business and economics issues. He has worked at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (and its predecessor the Milwaukee Sentinel) since 1994. He was senior editor for business news from 1997-2001 and later coordinated special projects and led the newspaper’s team of education reporters. A journalist since 1980, he previously worked in a variety of reporting and editing posts at newspapers in Indiana and Massachusetts.His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org Meet the Editorial Board and staff
TRUE until proven FALSE – Reporter: “It’s not my job.”
The “column” has been clarified and analyzed point by point in rebuttal article in the Green Bay Progessive Fact Check Shows Self Serving Scott Walker Editorial Ignores Reality
How many times have we read, seen, and heard the opening statement of the Walker “column” in the course of the last two years? The words were used in his election campaign, they were reiterated as a reason for his first budget, they re-echoed through his recall election fight, and here they are again as he prepares for a 2014 re-election bid.
Do these words mean that the budget is balanced? No. It is another Walkerism – a half truth – a dangling part truth that sounds good to voters, and without a further and deeper look the statement is true! It sounds like it is working. How many times have we seen these words as the lead story, the pitch of a campaign ad, or the headline of a story in the major Wisconsin Newspapers? Yet, how many times have you seen any clarification or analysis of the back story of these words as they continue to appear and reappear as mantra of success for Walker’s “reforms”? For most of us the answer is never. For two years this claim has been allowed to stand as truth by most of the mainstream media in Wisconsin. Shame on you.
The accounting of budget numbers from one administration to another is an old political trick used by democrats and republicans over the years to make their conservative or progressive policies appear “to be working”. Most people have no idea what the budget statements mean without clarification or investigation by the press. In the most recent “column” or any of the other instances where the mantra has been repeated, how many times has the press sought to clarify or define what is implied in the numbers?
Here is one instance where the accounting principles behind various deficit/balance statements were explained with clarity. Wisconsin Public Television’s “Here and Now” does a great job of explaining the difference between Walker’s “structurally” balanced budget and “real” balanced budget; using generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
The video is about 5 minutes long, but it is time well spent if you “Stand with Walker” or are a veteran of “Recall Walker” – you need never be confused by the budget balance hat trick again!
Watch Capitol Insight on the status of Wisconsin deficit on PBS. See more from Here and Now.
IF Walker was a true “reformer” he would have stuck to his promise
If you “Stand with Walker” as a reformer, you have been sold out. As the video points out, Walker was all for requiring generally accepted accounting principles to balance every state budget. In fact, the promise was prominent on his web site during his campaign for governor”
Require the use of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to balance every state budget, just as we require every local government and school district to do.Walker for Governor Web Site 2010
When an honorable reform of requiring (GAAP) to balance every state budget proved to be politically inexpedient to Walker, he abandoned his promise. His choice was to abandon the reform so he could make the statement in his “column”:
Overall, our budget ends with a $23.1 million surplus, and the capital budget has less overall spending and less bonding than Gov Jim Doyle’s last budget. In other words, we have a balanced and prudent budget to help move Wisconsin forward.
No matter which side of the progressive/conservative fence you are on, you now know that the statement is “true” only based on Walker’s willingness to abandon true reform in favor of settling back into accounting principles that can further his personal political goals and make him look good on paper.