It is a very good time to be Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, who continues to be on one of history's longest winning streaks. Last week, without a lot of fanfare, the John Doe investigation into the illegal political activities of Walker's office when he was the county executive in Milwaukee shut down without ever having laid a glove on Walker himself.
In all, Milwaukee County prosecutors brought charges against six individuals as a result of the probe, which was opened in May 2010. Of those, three were former aides to Walker while he was Milwaukee County executive, one was an appointee and another a major campaign contributor. No additional charges will be filed. Nettesheim said in an interview Friday that prosecutors reviewed thousands of documents and took testimony from hundreds of witnesses. In addition, Milwaukee County officials raided the homes of several former Walker aides and seized documents from others. The judge said the investigation had been all but dormant in recent months. The case had been kept open as a way to release documents tied to the criminal charges that already had been filed. "I realize the frustration on the part of some people with the length of the investigation," Nettesheim said. "But I'm satisfied with how it went." Nettesheim entered an order Feb. 21 concluding the probe, and the decision was made public after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm finished paperwork in the case...While Walker's county administration made some questionable hires, Walker himself avoided much taint. "Certainly, the governor comes out of this pretty much Clean Gene," said Jennaro, who has overseen past John Doe investigations.
At the same time, in a spectacularly rowdy nine-hour session of the state senate, Walker got a mining deregulation bill passed that will clear the way for the opening of a massive open-pit iron mine in the northern part of the state. It weakens worker safety rules and environmental protections and, most egregious of all, it transfers the financial responsibility for the mine's infrastructure to dozens of small Wisconsin towns that car barely afford to keep the streetlights on now. Some bills are sweetheart bills. This bill is free mimosas on the balcony at a hideaway in Cancun. And, of course, every effort was made to make the operation as opaque as possible. Not long ago, the Republicans in charge of the state legislature took over the process by which the media is credentialed to cover the activities of that same legislature. You didn't have to be Kreskin to see where that was heading.
(Full disclosure: Nicole Schulte is a friend of mine, and she shouldn't have flipped off Grothman. Bad Nicole! She should leave the job of flipping off Grothman to hundreds of random strangers on the sidewalk. Perhaps we should organize an Everybody Flip Off Glenn Grothman Day. Party!)
It's passing rare when the fix is so clearly in that the people behind the fix will admit it as openly as they did over this mining bill. The bill's proponents, some of the biggest outright 'ho's in the history of representative government, admitted quite openly that the project is going to turn some of the state's most valuable wetlands into chemisty sets.
Mason asks why the Department of Natural Resources' authority is expanded when it comes to permitting, but reduced when it comes to enforcement. In this video, Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) challenges the language in the bill that says, "adverse impacts on wetlands are presumed to be necessary," and the provision that allows mining companies to fill in streams, lakes, and wetlands with sulfuric acid producing mining waste.
And the more you look into what Walker's about here, the worse it looks.
This week Hansen raised a question about a proposal by Scott Walker buried in his budget to repeal a century-old law that prohibits foreign corporations and governments from controlling land in the state. He wondered if it was linked to the mining issue: "Throughout the mining debate we heard over and over again that Gogebic Mining, which does coal mining and owns the rights to the mineral deposit in northern Wisconsin, has no interest in actually doing the mining themselves, that they would prefer to sell the rights to someone else." Last year Walker travelled to Dallas to meet a contingent of Chinese investors, and he is scheduled to travel to China on a trade mission next month. Hansen worries that these visits are connected to the GTac project. His statement continues, "China is the world's largest producer of iron ore and as one of the world's largest markets they have the ability to affect supply and prices. China has also recently begun expanding its mining operations outside of its borders, including opening the massive Sino Iron project at Cape Preston, in Western Australia's Pilbara region."
So the company on whose behalf Walker and his pet legislature are trashing a century and a half of environmental protection and worker safety so that the company can gouge a hole one mile-by-four-miles and 1000 feet deep to dig for iron doesn't even want to dig out the iron itself. It wants the Chinese to do it.
(UPDATE: And the guy who wants to dig the pit already has something of a track record of poisoning things elsewhere. Nice job, Scott.)
The state assembly takes up the bill tomorrow starting at the ungodly legislative hour of 9 A.M. It is the last chance to stop the wholesale auction of Wisconsin to whomever wants to finance the continuation of Scott Walker's winning streak. Like I said, it's a good time to be Scott Walker. He's running for president. Depend on that.
Read more: Scott Walker Wisconsin Lawsuit Dropped - Wisconsin Gets What It Voted For (Twice) - Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/scott-walker-wisconsin-lawsuit-dropped-030613#ixzz2NO6fnmqE