Tag Archives: Penokee Hills

Iron mine is halted, but battle scars remain

In late 2011, Bill Williams stood on a ridge in the Penokee Hills, overlooking his company’s proposed site for a $1.5 billion iron ore mine. A reporter asked him about the environmental challenges posed by such a project.

Williams, president of Gogebic Taconite, batted the concern away. If a problem should arise, he told the reporter, “We have to engineer our way out of it.”

In late February, Williams announced that his company was dropping plans for the northern Wisconsin mine for now, saying the environmental challenges proved too great. That drew the mother of all “I told you sos” from Bob Jauch, a former Democratic state senator whose district included the mine site.

“I always had the impression that this company was not ready for this project,” Jauch says. He says it was focused more on the political process than on the challenges posed by the mine itself. And he rips Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers for having “genuflected to (the company) in blind obedience” to pass a mining bill that weakened state environmental protections.

Jauch says the bruising political battle over the mining bill “tore the community apart. It pitted neighbor versus neighbor. It destroyed relationships. And for what? All to come to the conclusion that this thing was never feasible in the first place.”

Tracy Hames, executive director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, says it was abundantly apparent that the number and quality of wetlands on the proposed mine site would be practically impossible to mitigate, as required under state and federal law. “This is an unbelievably special place.”

George Meyer, former secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources, agrees the wetland challenges and potential complications due to Native American treaty rights likely doomed the project from the start. Meyer now heads the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, which did not oppose the mine but fought the changes to the mining law.

In March 2012, the Legislature’s effort to retool this law failed when then-Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, refused to go along. In that fall’s elections, Republicans increased their control of the state Senate to 18-15, enough to overcome Schultz’s opposition. The bill passed in March 2013.

The nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign tallied more than $15 million in donations to state political campaigns from pro-mining forces between 2010 and mid-2012. Groups on both sides spent more than 14,000 hours lobbying on the mining bills between 2011 and 2014. And Gogebic Taconite funneled $700,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth, which helped Walker and other Republicans in the 2011 and 2012 recall elections.

Walker’s 2013 State of the State speech featured out-of-work union miners in hard hats representing some of the thousands of jobs he said the mine would bring. Now the promise of those jobs has evaporated, and the state is left with weakened protections.

“I think the credibility of the Legislature took a major hit, as did the governor,” Meyer says.

Williams told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that while his company had good relations with regulators under Walker, “there is probably still a subculture at the DNR, for lack of a better word, that is green.” He and Walker also blamed federal wetlands mitigation requirements; but these were in place earlier, when both were aglow with optimism about the mine.

Gogebic Taconite says it will continue to look into the possibility of a mine. And while declining prices for iron ore make that unlikely in the near future, Ashland County Board member Charles Ortman told the Ashland Daily Press this prospect is “never really gone for good, not until that pile of ore is gone.” He worries that there will now be a push to relax federal rules.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” he said, “but we saw what happened here, and the same

man who made that happen is now running for president.”

Bill Lueders is the Money and Politics Project director at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org). The Center produces the project in partnership with MapLight. The Center collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.


Wisconsin Conservative Congress majorities oppose taconite mine

Final results from 71 of 72 counties participating in the annual Wisconsin Conservation Congress spring hearings held on April 14 demonstrate significant statewide support for mining safeguards, according to a release from the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter.

The group reported on April 28 that overwhelming majorities supported resolutions opposing the proposed taconite mine in the Penokee Range, as well as for the repeal of 2013 Act 1 and to direct the state Department of Natural Resources to establish stronger air standards for frac sand mining to protect public health.

The three resolutions were approved by nearly or greater than 2 to 1 margins across the state.

The resolution opposing development of the proposed massive open pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills was approved in 28 of 32 counties where introduced, with a total vote count of 1,485 for and 732 against or 67 percent approval.

The resolution supporting the repeal of 2013 Act 1, the enabling legislation that removed many of the state’s mining protections, was approved in 19 of 24 counties, with a vote count of 1,138 in favor and 606 against or 65 percent approval.

The resolution directing the DNR to regulate cancer-causing frac sand mining dust (silica) to protect public health was approved in 23 of 25 counties, with a vote count of 1,190 in favor and 533 against or 69 percent approval.

Ashland and Iron county residents — home to the proposed Gogebic Taconite open pit iron mine – supported both the resolution to oppose the proposed mine and the resolution to repeal 2013 Act 1, the new iron mining law.

In addition, sevent of eight counties voted by a 73 percent majority to direct the DNR to update the silica sand mining study released in 2012. That study did not account for long-term and cumulative impacts from the exploding frac sand mining industry. 

“Just because Ashland County residents want jobs, that doesn’t mean we’re willing to give up our clean water, clean air, and quality of life. The state has not properly engaged the residents of Northern Wisconsin to find out what we want,” Michelle Heglund, who introduced for the resolution in Ashland County, stated in a news release.

“I think of Wisconsin as a conservation state, with a proud history of doing the right things to conserve its land, its water and its beauty. So when I look for the balance on one side I see an out of state mining corporation with enough money to write laws in this state, offering a few jobs for 40 years with a ton of pollution. On the other side I see pristine wild land with clear clean water feeding into the largest and cleanliest of the Great Lakes. A land that has sustained the Chippewa people for thousands of years. I agree with many in Wisconsin,” Cherie Barnes, a retired truck driver, said when she introduced the resolution in Rock County.

“The people have spoken and the results demonstrate overwhelming opposition to open pit iron mining and support for public health protections for sand mining. Support for repealing Gogebic Taconite’s iron mining law is strong and growing. The Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin state Legislature should heed these results and work to meet the public’s expectation that our natural resources and public health will be protected” added Dave Blouin, state mining chair for the Sierra Club.

Madison Action for Mining Alternatives, the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice and the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter worked together to develop the resolutions at the April 14 hearings.

Dark political money imperils Earth’s future

Political contributions designed to weaken environmental regulations can be difficult to track. They’re moved through a network of right-wing campaigns, foundations, think tanks and political groups.

Americans for Prosperity is  one of many such groups.

The State Policy Network is another, a web of 60-plus think tanks — or “stink tanks,” as they were called in a recent exposé by the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is yet another group. The organization of lawmakers, corporations and interest groups drafts and promotes “model” legislation on a range of issues. ALEC’s best-known laws are the anti-union, anti-voter and anti-immigration laws that were approved by legislatures around the country with the votes of lawmakers who receive huge donations from ALEC members. ALEC’s “stand your ground” model bill, a bonanza for the manufacturers of firearms and ammunition, is also well known.

But in 2014, ALEC is betting its seemingly unlimited supply of cash on a slew of measures aimed at weakening environmental protections, cutting renewable energy, increasing reliance on coal and dismantling energy efficiency standards.

ALEC’s “polluter agenda,” according to the Center for Media and Democracy, includes measures to:

• Oppose the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases from mobile sources.

• Give Congress the authority to block enforcement of federal protections on clean air and water and safeguards for mine workers.

• Create hurdles for state agencies attempting to regulate carbon gases.

• Oppose protections on carbon dioxide emissions.

• Prevent the EPA from overruling state permits for coal mining.

• Give legal protection to corporations against victims of lead poisoning.

• Privatize public water and sewage services and prohibit local governments from requiring contractors to meet labor standards.

• Oppose waste-reduction and mandatory recycling laws.

• Authorize state governments to open federal public land for oil, gas and coal exploration.

• Require that state environmental protections be approved by a corporate-backed panel.

• Criminalize environmental and animal-welfare activism.

ALEC, AFP and SPN all have ties to conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, whose preferred front groups have invested far more in the effort to deny, skepticize and belittle the significance of global warming than ExxonMobil, according to an analysis of information from Greenpeace, the Center for Media and Democracy and other sources.

“Like a play on Broadway, the climate change countermovement has stars in the spotlight — often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians — but behind the stars is an organizational structure of directors, script writers and producers in the form of conservative foundations,” said Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist and the author of a report on climate change denials published in Climatic Change. “If you want to understand what’s driving this movement, you have to look at what’s going on behind the scenes.”

What’s going on behind the scenes is wealthy polluters are investing in climate change denial and opposing environmental policies to protect their wealth and industries.

Koch Industries, a multinational group of companies invested in petroleum, chemicals, energy, gas liquids, asphalt and other polluting products, is the 10th worst air polluter in the United States, according to the Political Economy Research Institute. KI releases about 200,000 tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide annually.

And Koch Industries has a long record of environmental crimes and violations. Greenpeace offered a review: 

• A $1.7 million fine by the EPA and a $500 million commitment to correct pollution violations in seven states.

• Millions of gallons of spilled oil from Koch pipelines.

• A $25 million settlement in 2001 for falsifying records for oil collected on federal and Native American lands.

• A $20 million settlement in 2000 for falsifying documents relating to a major release of the carcinogen benzene.

• A 1996 explosion, caused by a leaking gas pipeline, that killed two people.

Influencing local codes

Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey woke up one day after the spring election with a sunny outlook on the results in Iron County.

There, on April 1, Victor Ouimette, Brad Matson and Karl Krall defeated incumbent supervisors on the county board. The three were among seven candidates branded by Americans for Prosperity as opponents of Gogebic Taconite’s plans for an open-pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills in northern Wisconsin. AFP has strong ties to conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, who own Koch Industries.

AFP invested in two full-color campaign mailings seeking to elect candidates in favor of the mine and to defeat those seen as opponents, although Krall and Ouimette had told news media they support the mine.

After the election, Hulsey pitched a proposal to create a Penokee Hills Conservation Area, noting that three people opposed by the Koch brothers won on Election Day.

“The Penokee Hills should be conserved forever, not strip mined by a big campaign donor,” said Hulsey, a member of the jobs and tourism committees in the Assembly. 

He argued that a conservation area could promote sustainable jobs, conserve recreational areas, promote sustainable forestry, protect drinking water sources, fisheries and wildlife habitat and also protect sacred Native American sites from destruction.

“Northern Wisconsin needs jobs now, not more arguing and lawsuits,” Hulsey said.

Proponents of the mine, which would be about 4 miles long and hundreds of feet deep, say it could create 700 long-term jobs. 

Opponents of the mine say the project, located about 7 miles south of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation, would pollute pristine rivers and local groundwater.

Republican lawmakers, led by Gov. Scott Walker, cleared the way for the operation by stripping down the state’s mining regulations. Now, to some degree, the project’s future will be determined at the county level, where the county board and Gogebic are negotiating over zoning regulations.

County board races typically don’t catch the attention of national political groups, and Americans for Prosperity’s interest in Iron County has environmentalists across the United States concerned that the Koched-up organization — and other national right-wing groups with records of distorting the facts and manipulating the science on environmental issues — will plant more campaigns on local turfs.

“This is trouble, if these guys are moving into our towns and cities and wanting to influence local codes and zoning regulations and land use plans,” said environmental activist Tom Geske of Madison. 

The Koch brothers are significant supporters of Walker and his gubernatorial bids. Before the recall election, David Koch told the Palm Beach Post in Florida, “We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.”

Rubber Dodo

Last fall, the Center for Biological Diversity, a national environmental group, took notice of the Koch brothers’ work and gave them an award: the 2013 Rubber Dodo.

“When it comes to pulling levers behind the scenes for those who wreck our climate, destroy wild places and attempt to kill our last remaining wildlife, the Koch brothers are in a class by themselves,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the CBD. “These guys are the poster children for despicable corporate greed. The Koch brothers get the 2013 Rubber Dodo for a terrible global legacy that could take hundreds of years to undo.”

The award gets its name for the dodo, perhaps the most famous extinct species on Earth after the dinosaurs. The bird evolved over millions of years with no natural predators and eventually lost the ability to fly. Having never known predators, it showed no fear of the humans who found it on Mauritius, or the animals that accompanied them to the island in the Indian Ocean in 1598. The bird’s trusting nature led to its rapid extinction — by 1681, the dodo had disappeared. 

Lesson learned?

Private militias, Capitol arrests spur outrage

Owners of a proposed open-pit mine in the Penokee Hills engaged a paramilitary force to guard the area after Native American  tribal leaders established an “education center” nearby.

The camp has drawn numerous environmentalists and protesters to the scene of the hotly contested project.

The Iron County Board recently postponed voting on a recommendation to pursue criminal or civil action against the campers. But county supervisors did agree to ask their forestry committee to take another look at the Penokee Harvest and Education Camp set up by the Lac Courte Orielles band of Lake Superior Chippewa near the site of Gogebic Taconite’s proposed mine.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, over the objection of Wisconsin’s 11 tribes and many citizens in the region, eased the way for the mining operation earlier this year by signing legislation that relaxed pollution and other regulations.

A website for the tribe describes the off-reservation camp on Iron County forest land as a place to “educate visitors and locals about geology, ecology, traditional lifeways and Anishinaabe treaty rights.”

In late May, after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved a permit for Gogebic to conduct exploratory drilling in the area, the camp population began to grow. Environmentalists responded to the tribe’s invitation to “come relax in the woods while giving your vacation a purpose.”

In July, the Iron County Board forestry committee recommended that supervisors take legal action against the camp. The county forest administrator complained that the camp violates a county ordinance requiring a permit to occupy the land for more than two weeks.

However, District Attorney Marty Lipske cautioned that under treaty rights – treaties of 1837 and 1842 – the tribe has special privileges on the forest land.

And representatives from the camp say they are staying, even if they received an eviction notice from the county. 

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services opened an investigation after receiving complaints related to Gogebic Taconite’s hiring of an Arizona firm, Bulletproof Securities, to police the area. The armed guards were assigned to protect the mining operations after conflicts with protesters that resulted in the arrest of one demonstrator said to be associated with Earth First.

On its website, Bulletproof Securities promotes its “strong record of accurately assessing risk and providing a security solution to control the risk rather than react to it” and promises experience in personal security detail, dealing with eco-terrorism and economic sabotage, border security, de-bugging, and armored vehicles services.

Gogebic defended employing the guards, but suspended their work after it was revealed that Bulletproof lacked a license to work in Wisconsin. Then, on Aug. 5, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Safety and Professional Services announced the firm is now licensed and the guards would soon return to the site.

Several Democratic lawmakers objected to the paramilitary-style guards, who were photographed in camouflage uniforms and masks, carrying semi-automatic weapons on public land.

Democratic state Sen. Bob Jauch called any aggression by protesters “idiotic,” but said nothing justified the hiring of a security force armed with assault weapons.

“The majority party in Wisconsin has a track record of not following the law, so it’s no surprise that their special interest friends were found acting in an illegal manner,” said state Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, referring to Bulletproof as “an out-of-state heavily armed, private paramilitary militia.”

Repressive dictatorship?

Sargent also took issue with the repeated arrests of peaceful protesters assembling daily at the state Capitol for the Solidarity Sing Along.

“I am appalled that the Walker Administration has decided to forcibly silence the voices of those who wish to peaceably assemblewwww in our state capitol,” Sargent said. “Time and again, Scott Walker has pushed policies that have inspired the people of our state to speak out. Whether it’s 20 people or 100,000, the right to free speech is not up for debate. It is enshrined in our state constitution.”

The Solidarity Sing Along dates to March 2011 and the massive protests against Walker’s push to limit collective bargaining and the rights of state workers, along with other items on the tea party agenda. Every weekday since, there has been a sing along at the Capitol at noon.

In late July, authorities began arresting the singers, citing them for demonstrating in the Rotunda without a permit. The arrests came five months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the Walker administration from requiring permits for demonstrations inside the Capitol for groups as small as four people.

On July 8, the judge in the case granted a preliminary injunction allowing groups of up to 20 people to gather without a permit inside the Capitol and a trial date on the merits of the ACLU case was set for Jan. 13, 2014.

ACLU of Wisconsin legal director Larry Dupuis cheered the judge’s action as a “huge victory for free speech.” 

But soon after the judge issued the temporary injunction, Capitol police began arresting protesters, whose songbook includes variations on “We Shall Overcome,” “This Land is Your Land” and “If I Had a Hammer,” along with some relatively new folk tunes, including “The Koch Song” and “Scotty, We’re Comin’ for You.”

The demonstrators, whose numbers have exceeded 20 people, refuse to get permits, maintaining they have a right to protest under the Wisconsin Constitution. Article 1, Section 4 of the document states, “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

After witnessing arrests on July 24, Sargent said, “What I saw today was something I would expect out of a repressive dictatorship, not the state I love to call home.”

Wisconsin Senate passes mining bill

The Wisconsin Senate has voted 17-16 – along party lines – for a controversial mining bill that critics say weakens environmental standards, won’t generate many jobs and threatens air and water in the pristine Penokee Hills.

One Republican, Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center, voted against the legislation, which was introduced to open the way for Gogebic Taconite to build an open pit iron-ore mine in northern Wisconsin.

Senate passage of the measure was hailed by the right-wing, anti-gay Wisconsin Family Action. The group’s president, Julaine Appling, claimed the legislation “legitimately and responsibly promotes independent Wisconsin families” and provides “environmentally responsible mining in our state.”

The Republican Party of Wisconsin also cheered the vote, with executive director Joe Fadness saying, “The state Senate has worked diligently to ensure that environmentally safe and fiscally sound mining legislation will become a reality here in Wisconsin.”

But the Senate’s action had plenty of critics who work at the Capitol and who serve as Capitol watchdogs.

State Sen. Dave Hansen, a Democrat from Green Bay, said, “Taconite processing from mining is the largest source of mercury in the Lake Superior basin. We all know the problems this creates for infants, children and adults. Lead and arsenic, two other contaminates from mining are both harmful to humans. And thanks to this bill it is much more likely that these types of chemicals will show up in our lakes and streams and in the drinking water of families up north.”

The Sierra Club refers to the mining bill as the “Bad River Watershed Destruction Act.”

Shahla Werner, director of the club’s John Muir Chapter in Madison, said state lawmakers were putting their hopes for job creation in the 21st century on 19th century technology while ignoring the opportunities with today’s clean energy technologies.

“Some senators are touting imaginary mining jobs while proposing weakening the Renewable Portfolio Standard or the wind-siting law, which have and will continue to create real jobs,” she said. “Wisconsin has a real opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs that protect clean air and water while employing local Wisconsinites.”

On the Web…

http://wisconsin.sierraclub.org/mining.asp 

Corruption in Wis. is so obvious that it’s blinding

It reads like a story from The Onion: “Mining company re-writes environmental rules for its polluting project.”

But it’s true. A billionaire Florida magnate and other business interests that stand to profit from a proposed mine in the Penokee Hills gave GOP Wisconsin officials at least $15.6 million. And in return, those officials allowed Gogebic Taconite to write the environmental regulations surrounding the project.

As a result, the mining bill now before the Assembly will:

• Prevent local residents from having any input into the project.

• Expose the state’s most pristine wetlands to arsenic, lead, and mercury.

• Allow Gogebic Taconite to contaminate groundwater with impunity.

• Let the mining company remove large quantities of water from lakes, rivers and streams already at historically low levels.

• Jeopardize Lake Superior, the largest and cleanest of the Great Lakes.

The fat-cat Republicans who support this heinous measure will grow even fatter from the project. They’ve convinced their tea party acolytes that the mine will bring a few hundred jobs to job-starved Wisconsin. It’s a lie. The few good jobs associated with the mining project will require expertise that’s not found in Wisconsin. Gogebic will bring in their out-of-state workers to fill those positions.

Besides, the state’s GOP leadership already has eliminated thousands of government, transportation and alternative energy jobs for the benefit of their moneyed backers. Now they say we have to permanently destroy a significant swath of our state for those same robber barons.

The proposed iron ore mine will leave an ugly gash covering as much as 21,000 acres in one of the state’s most beautiful regions and most significant natural habitats. It could destroy wetlands that are a sacred food source to Native Americans in the region, thus potentially breaking a long-standing treaty with the federal government. 

The state’s current Republican leadership has in fact done nothing to support job growth or the quality of life in Wisconsin. It has made economic decisions solely for the uber-wealthy, out-of-state titans of industry who will presumably finance Gov. Scott Walker’s 2016 presidential campaign. 

Walker has decimated our present and our future by appointing unqualified cronies to fill important business-development positions. His much-touted Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has been plagued by scandal, including the shocking disappearance of $56 million in funds.

Yet, under the terms of the GOP’s mining bill, 40 percent of the tax proceeds from the proposed mine will line the WEDC’s crooked coffers. Which of the governor’s friends will be the beneficiaries of that payday?

Instead of opening Wisconsin up for business, Walker has put it up for sale. In other states, most notably our neighbor to the south, officials have gone to prison for such pay-to-play schemes and malfeasance.

Yet as the criminal probe of Walker’s operations as Milwaukee County Executive drones on, Walker manages to avoid absorbing the stench of it, even as one after another of his former close associates are convicted.

Only a blind electorate would permit such transparently egregious behavior from elected officials. Maybe they’re blinded by the unusual transparency of it all.

Wis. corruption so obvious it’s blinding

It reads like a story from The Onion: “Mining company re-writes environmental rules for its polluting project.”

But it’s true. A billionaire Florida magnate and other business interests that stand to profit from a proposed mine in the Penokee Hills gave GOP Wisconsin officials at least $15.6 million. And in return, those officials allowed Gogebic Taconite to write the environmental regulations surrounding the project.

As a result, the mining bill now before the Assembly will:

• Prevent local residents from having any input into the project.

• Expose the state’s most pristine wetlands to arsenic, lead, and mercury.

• Allow Gogebic Taconite to contaminate groundwater with impunity.

• Let the mining company remove large quantities of water from lakes, rivers and streams already at historically low levels.

• Jeopardize Lake Superior, the largest and cleanest of the Great Lakes.

The fat-cat Republicans who support this heinous measure will grow even fatter from the project. They’ve convinced their tea party acolytes that the mine will bring a few hundred jobs to job-starved Wisconsin. It’s a lie. The few good jobs associated with the mining project will require expertise that’s not found in Wisconsin. Gogebic will bring in their out-of-state workers to fill those positions.

Besides, the state’s GOP leadership already has eliminated thousands of government, transportation and alternative energy jobs for the benefit of their moneyed backers. Now they say we have to permanently destroy a significant swath of our state for those same robber barons.

The proposed iron ore mine will leave an ugly gash covering as much as 21,000 acres in one of the state’s most beautiful regions and most significant natural habitats. It could destroy wetlands that are a sacred food source to Native Americans in the region, thus potentially breaking a long-standing treaty with the federal government. 

The state’s current Republican leadership has in fact done nothing to support job growth or the quality of life in Wisconsin. It has made economic decisions solely for the uber-wealthy, out-of-state titans of industry who will presumably finance Gov. Scott Walker’s 2016 presidential campaign. 

Walker has decimated our present and our future by appointing unqualified cronies to fill important business-development positions. His much-touted Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has been plagued by scandal, including the shocking disappearance of $56 million in funds.

Yet, under the terms of the GOP’s mining bill, 40 percent of the tax proceeds from the proposed mine will line the WEDC’s crooked coffers. Which of the governor’s friends will be the beneficiaries of that payday?

Instead of opening Wisconsin up for business, Walker has put it up for sale. In other states, most notably our neighbor to the south, officials have gone to prison for such pay-to-play schemes and malfeasance.

Yet as the criminal probe of Walker’s operations as Milwaukee County Executive drones on, Walker manages to avoid absorbing the stench of it, even as one after another of his former close associates are convicted.

Only a blind electorate would permit such transparently egregious behavior from elected officials. Maybe they’re blinded by the unusual transparency of it all.