Round two The quest continues WE Commentary 07/07/2012

Behre Dolbear & Company has been retained by the Wisconsin Mining Association to jump start the enthusiasm for GTac's proposal to mine in the Penokee Hills. The proposal has been on the table since January of 2011. Gogebic Taconite, GTac, made promises, tired to sell the idea of jobs and money, and generally raised havoc in Wisconsin’s government. On the one hand, this process has shown us just how little many of our legislators know about treaties, Ceded Territory, and watersheds, and the need to protect our water resources. WE also learned how money and lots of it influences politicians and policy makers to reject reality and succumb to the machinations and rhetoric of big business. The promises from January 2011 quickly became lost and legislation was proposed, AB 426, to provide loopholes, waivers, and variances to accommodate the needs of mining promoters. Our Governor and his party even attempted to overturn fifty years of a strong conservation ethic and legislation to meet then needs of investors, bankers, and manufacturers who only saw the millions and millions of dollars they could gain at the expense of clean water.

This greed even trumped the rights of the Bad River Chippewa Nation and the protections provided for their homeland by the treaties that defined Ceded Territory. Far too many politicians chose to ignore these documents and push ahead. Members of Representative Mary Williams’ legislative committee were unabashed in their belief that this mine held the key to Wisconsin’s future prosperity. Fueled by big money, the incessant pressure from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), Gogebic Taconite, equipment manufacturers and the high rollers from throughout the United States who want government for the rich our political system fell apart. As a result we no longer have a two party system – it has been replaced by a developing consensus behind closed doors. WMC tried to convince the public they knew what was good us. Expensive advertising giants were enlisted to sway the public’s opinion and this did not ultimately work either. Slogans were thrown around, this is not your Grandfather’s Mine, Job for Generations, Wisconsin is Open for Business, Mining is Our Heritage and we are subjected to the Consensus Document scenario.

This “consensus document” apparently is to be drafted by lobbyists and passed around the statehouse with the intent to garner enough support that the document could be easily turned into law with little or no fuss. Seems that at this point in time this may not be easily accomplished as it was thought to be a couple of months ago. Governor Walker’s point man in this process, Tim Sullivan has hired the world wide firm, Behre Dolbear & Company to orchestrate a “consensus document” that will loved by the mining industry, acceptable to Walker and his cronies, and a document that the Democrats can live with and still maintain their credibility. All of this will require secrecy and stealth – two attributes that may be impossible in Wisconsin. WE have more faith in our Wisconsin heritage and expect that one or more of our legislators will finally understand enough is enough and come clean. This will once again place the issue in the public domain where it belongs.

The Representative Mary Williams road show was convoluted by pandering to mining company interests, and dominated by the arrogance and ignorance demonstrated by Representatives Jeff Stone, Amy Loudenbeck and the rest of Mary’s Republican committee members. The smug attitudes, the treatment of citizens at hearings and the disrespect shown towards the Indigenous Nations must not be allowed to prevail again.

Views from the Water's Edge July 7, 2012