COVID Emails with State Rep Part 3

Hopefully, you have kept up with the progression of my emails to my State Rep over the COVID actions taken by the State of Wisconsin.  And once again, allow me to remind you I am a fan of my State Rep. He is a good man.

I was pointy-headed in my previous response to my State Rep. His reply below has bit of tone to it also. I expect this in a citizen-representative dialogue. I presume he does, too.

Here’s his reply on Friday May 15th:

We aren’t asking for help, we’re asking for the Governor to recognize that there is another co-equal branch of government that he should work with when making decisions. After talking with leaders from other legislative bodies throughout the country, our Governor is one of the few that chooses not to include us in his decision making process, let alone inform us before taking actions.
Did the Governor have the authority to make unilateral decisions for the first 60 days under his order? Yes. But that doesn’t mean he gets to continue to do whatever he wants, but just through his secretary. You say the law is clear that he could continue to do so, but the Supreme Court disagrees.
We have been asking the Governor over and over to meet to negotiate on how best to re-open. He has refused time and again to do so. We’ve asked to look at taking a regional approach to re-opening – he’s rejected that too. We’ve asked him for the metrics he’s using to make almost daily and sometimes odd changes when it comes to who gets to open or stay closed — once again he doesn’t tell us. 
There is no point in passing a plan to regionally re-open or ease restrictions when it still has to clear him, which is why we’ve asked him to meet. At this point, I believe XXX County officials are much more capable at setting guidelines for our area than the administration, and they do have the authority to do so. Blaming one side or the other for the spread of a virus which is based upon actions taken by individuals is sad. I didn’t expect that kind of rhetoric from you.
As you can see, my State Rep is disingenuous again about metrics and knowledge. He has re-framed what the legislative leadership did and is doing. He says there is no point in passing a plan when it has to clear the governor anyway. This is true of everything the legislature does so this isn’t a valid reason for not creating a plan at all in the three weeks it took for the ruling.  A plan which could have been sent IN ADVANCE to the Department of Health Services in order to prevent turning the State of Wisconsin into “shambles”.
I sent my reply to my State Rep yesterday. Here is what I said:
With respect Representative XXX,
Since January 2019, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has blocked Palm’s nomination (RC: Andrea Palm is the head of the Department of Health Services). Some Republican leaders have called for her resignation. An up-or-down vote should have occurred but it has not. That is on the leadership of the Senate.
You can imagine that there might be a reluctance to include Republican leadership in discussions that the law clearly allows. As you recently wrote to me “State law is clear: Governor Evers can use DHS to take drastic action without consultation with the Legislature.”  And the Wisconsin Supreme Court obviously thinks that Section 252 of the Wisconsin statutes does not mean what the Wisconsin legislature intended when it was passed. Shame on them.
In your recent email, you brought up the issue of not knowing what metrics were being used and what plans there were and yet the Wisconsin Outbreak web site is full of metrics and information. That website is a good example of government transparency.
Anyone following the crisis knows that Wisconsin’s Bounce Back Program is showing four out of six favorable indicators for re-opening Wisconsin. The state process is working under the leadership of Palm and the Governor.
And yet, the Republican leadership demanded a seat at the table. To get a seat at the table, Republican leadership broke the darn table.
There was nothing wrong-headed about Palm’s approach. In fact, Republican leadership requested the Wisconsin Supreme Court wait six days after reaching a decision so they could negotiate with the Governor. They were rebuffed by the Supreme Court. What kind of leadership says the order is illegal and Palm is destroying Wisconsin and then says but wait six days before you stop the plan?
This duplicitous maneuver was rejected. The Supreme Court effectively said “You petitioners said it was broken and harmful. Why wait?”
The Republican leadership merely wants the ability to say No. It is power. Adolescent power to say no to the things they don’t like. That is not caring for the people. It is taking care of oneself.
XXX, you are still my guy. You are a good person and we need good people in government.
Please do not say things like “At the entrance of the Governor’s Conference Room in the Capitol, the ceiling is painted with the motto “The will of the people is the law of the land.” It’s time Governor Evers understands what that truly means.”
This wasn’t about the will of the people. It was about the will of the Republican Party being thwarted by state law.
The evidence is clear.
I apologize for using the inclusive “you” in my email… I did not intend to direct personal responsibility to you for the consequences of breaking the table to take a seat.
It is clear Republican leadership broke a working process that not only flattened the curve but had placed Wisconsin in a very favorable position for re-opening.
The results of breaking that process will be evident in the next two weeks. The Republican Party will have some explaining to do about “unintended consequences.”
Hopefully, there is a skilled carpenter who can create a new table.

COVID Emails With My State Rep

As you may have read in earlier posts, I was irritated my State Rep had brought partisan politics into a pandemic. I admire my State Rep and do not wish him ill.

It buggers me completely why elected officials  BETWEEN elections. Is there some reason why they feel compelled to shove Party politics into everything he talks or writes about? Can’t they simply be EVERYONE’s State Representative in his District?

You can imagine my reaction when my State Rep sent out his monthly newsletter to me and said this:

“Right now the legislature is reaching out to the Governor once again, to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters. Unfortunately, Governor Evers wanted to wait until after the Supreme Court decision.”

I expressed my displeasure with the tone of that paragraph. The Wisconsin Supreme Court had ruled the StayAtHome order invalid and the leadership of the legislature did not have a plan to replace it. The leadership had three weeks inbetween to prepare something but didn’t.

As you can see, my State Rep’s tone shifted from language like:

“He must tell us what statistics he is using to measure our progress and decide what actions to take…He must tell us what actions his Department of Health Services (DHS) is taking proactively to reduce the harm of this pandemic…He must explain why he is refusing to re-examine what kinds of businesses must stay closed and how he is making those decisions…He must explain what he plans to do with the approximately $2.2 billion that Wisconsin will receive from the federal government’s stimulus package.”

The tone shifted from knowing to doing. From “tell us” to one of “to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters.

It’s obvious this lawsuit was no longer about keeping the legislature informed but it was really about giving the legislature a political position to negotiate the pandemic response. The authority and responsibility for public health crisis is spelled out in Wisconsin Statute 252 on Communicable Disease. It is all on the Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health Services.

My State Rep is disingenuous when saying “ask him to negotiate”. In fact the lawsuit accuses the Executive branch of government in this way:

“Purporting to act under color of State law, an unelected, unconfirmed cabinet secretary has laid claim to a suite of czar-like powers—unlimited in scope and indefinite in duration—over the people of Wisconsin,” reads the GOP complaint. “Per her decree, everyone in the State must stay home and most businesses must remain shuttered (with exceptions for activities and companies arbitrarily deemed “essential”).”

The complaint also reads:

“By the time the Secretary sees fit to lift her decree (be it in five weeks or eight months), many Wisconsinites will have lost their jobs, and many companies will have gone under, to say nothing of the Order’s countless other downstream societal effects,” the complaint argues. “Our State will be in shambles.”

Irritated once again, I fired off a second email to my State Rep. As I said, I was irritated by the tone of that paragraph and by the Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the StayAtHome order. (which was in accordance with State Statutes)

I said the following:

You wrote: “Right now the legislature is reaching out to the Governor once again, to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters. Unfortunately, Governor Evers wanted to wait until after the Supreme Court decision.”
Should we voters infer the Republican Party that said the renewal order was illegal (even though the DHS clearly has the authority to do what it did under Section 252 of the Wis. Statutes),  should we infer the Republican Party does not have a plan to open Wisconsin safely and needs help from the DHS?
Takes balls to muck things up  and then ask for help.
Where’s the Republican Leadership plan for managing the pandemic?
Every COVID case from now on is a result of your support for politicizing the pandemic management.
I might remind you of this as the Wisconsin COVID cases rise in XXX County.
The law was/is clear who has the authority to manage communicable disease outbreaks and Republican leadership had to muck this up by making it political.
I might remind you that you should not fix what ain’t broke. And…You broke it, now You own it.

As you can see, I was irritated at the tone in that paragraph. I placed the blame for future outbreaks of COVID-19 in Wisconsin clearly on Republican leadership.

When the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated the StayAt Home order, there was nothing in the legislature to take its place. Shame on the Legislature. Shame on the Supreme Court.

The good people of Wisconsin were abandoned by the Supreme Court and the legislature.

The not-so-good people of Wisconsin celebrated in bars and restaurants and have now become anonymous carriers of COVID-19.

 

Covid Emails with State Rep

My first COVID email to my State Rep was non-partisan. He replied with a partisan email and I was irritated that he did. I sent him the following:

With respect, Representative XXXXX
The moment you used the word “Republican” below, I knew you weren’t on my side. I knew you didn’t care about the people of your District or the State of Wisconsin. Instead you care about your partisanship and you care about making Governor Evers pay politically for his decisions.
I am sick to death of legislators making every damn thing about politics and the optics of a situation. We have a crisis and you put partisanship above leadership. You put partisanship above compassion. You put partisanship above your representation of the common man in your district.
I don’t want you to do anything.Forget my first letter completely. You go do what your handlers want you to do.
I haven’t given up on you yet but every once in a while you might want to nip the Republican hand that feeds you. Remind them you are a Wisconsin dog first and a Republican dog second.
With respect,

 

COVID Email Reply From State Rep

Here is my State Rep’s reply:

Thank you for your thoughts on Governor Evers’ extension of his Safer at Home order through May 26. These are truly unprecedented times, and input from the district on this issue has been incredible.

Wisconsinites care for our neighbors, and even if we were worried, we listened to the Safer at Home guidelines to make sure that we kept each other safe. The fact that our hospitals are still mostly empty is testament to everyone doing their part in a difficult time. However, the actions we needed to take have had consequences that have impacted all of us – economic insecurity, mental health crises, and the grief of not being able to see our loved ones.

A crisis needs leadership, and the extension of this order does not show the kind of forward thinking that will bring Wisconsin out of this crisis successfully. Governor Evers owes every Wisconsinite some explanations:

·         He must tell us what statistics he is using to measure our progress and decide what actions to take.

·         He must tell us what actions his Department of Health Services (DHS) is taking proactively to reduce the harm of this pandemic.

·         He must explain why he is refusing to re-examine what kinds of businesses must stay closed and how he is making those decisions.

·         He must explain what he plans to do with the approximately $2.2 billion that Wisconsin will receive from the federal government’s stimulus package.

From day one of this crisis, Republican leaders have offered our help and our goodwill to the Governor. We passed a bill to ensure that he has the tools he needs to bring Wisconsin out of this disaster. We have recognized that we must all work together for the good of the state. Instead of working with us, he has stonewalled us, refusing to discuss his plans or give us insights into what he thinks it will take to re-open Wisconsin’s economy.

Now, Republicans must consider our options. The Senate has not yet confirmed DHS Secretary-Designee Palm, and it should seriously consider whether her actions have merited the position. We also demand that the Governor explain himself and his goals: even if we are not “out of the woods,” we need to know what the road map looks like.

State law is clear: Governor Evers can use DHS to take drastic action without consultation with the Legislature. However, we cannot and will not accept silence and arrogance when people in our districts need action.

Please know that I am working with my colleagues daily to explore every avenue we have to push back against the Governor’s overreach and make sure that we are putting all of our citizens first. At the entrance of the Governor’s Conference Room in the Capitol, the ceiling is painted with the motto “The will of the people is the law of the land.” It’s time Governor Evers understands what that truly means.

Sincerely,

StayAtHome: Emails with Wisconsin Rep

Four weeks ago I sent my State Representative and my State Senator an email protesting the extension of the Wisconsin StayatHome Order. My State Representative is a good man whom I’ve met several times and he replied promptly. I haven’t yet heard from my State Senator.

The next few postings are about the content of those emails.

Email #1:

With respect, Representative XXXXX
Why is Wisconsin shuttering ALL of its citizens for another month?
One size does not fit all. What is good for Milwaukee County (with a population density of 3,800 people per square mile) does not work for Barron County (with a population density of 52 people per square mile).
If you live in Barron County, you are already shuttered in place.
Can we get a break, please?  After four months of an invasive pathogen, our county has had 6 cases of confirmed COVID-19. Zero deaths. We have already flattened the curve by living here.
Look, we have to learn how to live with this disease. It will be around for three more years minimum. Here’s what should be talked about:
a) Counties with less than 100 people per square mile and a low infection and death rate should have a much more open lifestyle. The more people per square mile, the more restrictions should be in place.
b) every building the public enters should have a sanitation station and signage that says all who enter must sanitize. Same as when they leave.
c) every building the public enters should have a posted “public area sanitation plan” for people entering to decide if that plan is sufficient for their safety.
d) Face masks should be required by anyone, everyone, within 50 feet of a building that the public enters. If you are in the woods or parks or outdoors jogging, no face masks are required if you are with family members. If you are in the same places with strangers, then face masks are required.
e) If a person wears a mask and gloves, no social distancing requirements are required but they are encouraged.
f)  Protect all nursing homes and places where healthcare workers are present. Everyone wears PPE ( gloves, masks, disposable garbs), a sanitation plan is posted, a screening process is utilized for those who wish to enter.
g) Workplaces: sanitation plans are required. Masks and gloves and sanitizing stations available for employees and may be required PPE by management.
h) Counties with more than 500 people per square mile and a high infection rate should have shuttered-in policies for non-work hours. Counties with more than a thousand people per square mile should have 24-hour shuttered-in policies.
i) Meetings and gatherings of non-family and non-colleagues: Sanitization stations, sanitization plans, masks, gloves, and in some cases garb.
j) Neighbors and children playtime: Give some guidance on this, please. Sticky kids (snotty, dripping, drooling, leaking) cannot play outside. All kids come in and change clothes and wash up before roaming the house. Home sanitization plans make a lot of sense. Why not develop them?
The issue isn’t to prevent any possible case of spreading the virus, the issue is to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease while living a normal lifestyle.
Tell the rest of the legislature to start treating people like adults. Give us the plan, give us alternatives, and get the heck out of the way so we can live our lives in peace and freedom.
Protect the elderly and the immune-compromised. Why is that so hard to do?
Let’s get people back to a somewhat normal lifestyle. You and your legislative friends can move mountains, can you also make some plans to live with this disease until there is a cure and a vaccine?

Removing local control over the siting of cell towers

Goodbye local control over the siting of cell towers in Wisconsin.State statute 66.04040 removes all vestiges of town or municipality control unless the political unit of government has zoning authority. This removes almost all towns and some villages from local control over the siting of cell towers. It vests some authority to the county but limits that authority severely.

Ok, so why is this happening? Why is the Wisconsin state legislature removing local control over so many items?

#1. The frac sand industry took a shellacking when the travails of the Town of Cooks Valley with the frac sand industry became public knowledge. Using blogs and the Wisconsin Town’s Association as megaphones, the word quickly spread to town officials that if you want to control your destiny, you better adopt ordinances to control the industry before it comes to your town. Numerous towns enacted protective ordinances modeled after Cooks Valley’s to ensure they did not lose air, water, or lifestyle quality in their towns. The frac sand industry sought to fight the issue in court and the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled with the towns and against the industry.

#2 It is so much harder to get the Supreme Court to invalidate laws than anything else so crafty industry professionals began lobbying legislators  to enact legislation that removed town authority and placed authority in state laws. When state laws pre-empt local towns from taking any direct action against the industry companies, it forces towns to sue the state government if towns want any power at all. The advantage to industry is that state authority and legislators are a defense against town action. Good gig if you can get it. And they did.

#3 People want to be let alone but today’s industries terraform the surroundings into inhospitable places to live. From high capacity wells that drop the local water table to farmland run-off that causes a loss of aquatic plants and an increase in algae blooms, local people are tired of industries creating problems that cannot be solved locally.

#4 The transmission of useful information through social media to local officials means that industries no longer have years to operate with invisible/hidden tactics that take advantage of small town officials who once were not aware what was happening 100 miles away.

So the cell tower industry chose to pre-empt local control and establish state authority for the application and siting of cell towers. A smart move on their part to limit the ability of local authority to do anything about it.

2. If a political subdivision has in effect on July 2, 2013, an ordinance that applies to a class 2 collocation and the ordinance is inconsistent with this section, the ordinance does not apply to, and may not be enforced against, the class 2 collocation.

3. A political subdivision may regulate a class 2 collocation only as provided in this section.
4. A class 2 collocation is subject to the same requirements for the issuance of a building permit to which any other type of commercial development or land use development is subject.
The passage above from 66.0404 says precisely what it means: 1. If a local town already has an ordinance , this law negates that ordinance. 2. The local town is not permitted to get creative in how it controls the siting of cell towers, its power is limited to what the statute specifically gives it.  3. Local officials cannot create a new requirement for cell tower ‘permit applications’ different than any other commercial development or land use permit applications.
Sneaky law. It snubs local authority like a red-headed step child.
Too late to do anything about this attack on local control. Barron County’s cell tower ordinance has been killed by 66.0404 and the only thing that Barron County can do now is write a pablum-oriented ordinance in compliance with state law.
Forget the fights about abortion and immigration, our liberty is at stake. I have said many times that local control is being usurped by the feds and by the state. At the federal level, we are the Federal States of America instead of the United States of America. At the local level, we are simply becoming vassal political units with the responsibility to carry out state mandates and no authority to create ones ourselves.This loss of freedom and liberty to choose for ourselves is what makes the current state of affairs so heinous.
The Freedom to Choose is the foundation of liberty. Controlling the list of what we can choose from is tyranny and oppression.
We are up the river without a paddle if this momentum to remove local authority continues.
When the feds centralize power over the state and the state centralizes power over municipalities, nothing good can come from it.

 

My Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Constitution Daily had an article that said this:

It actually was a then-new form of technology that both Justices Harlan and Black were dealing with in that 1967 case: Katz v. United States.  The FBI had developed the capacity to install, surreptitiously, a listening device on a public telephone booth, and a suspect who used that booth to place illegal bets – Charles Katz — argued that he had closed the door of the booth behind him, and thus expected to shut out the world when he telephoned.

The Supreme Court agreed (with only Justice Black dissenting), and declared that the Fourth Amendment “protects people, not places.”  From that time until now, the court has relied upon Justice Harlan’s formula about privacy expectations and society’s acceptance (or failure to accept) those expectations as it continues to interpret the Fourth Amendment.

In a 1979 case – the one that Judge Leon, in the quotation above, was discussing — the court ruled that society did not accept as a reasonable form of privacy the records that a telephone company keeps of calls that its customers make  The customers, it decided, voluntarily gave up to the telephone company the information about whom they called.  So, the court said, the police could use that data to track down suspected criminal Michael Lee Smith..

The Supreme Court statement that said the Fourth Amendment “protects people, not places” is asinine on the face of it. Can one separate the person from the place when talking about unreasonable searches and seizures? There is a linkage between the two whether the Supreme Court believes it or not.

People have the right to be anonymous in public places as assuredly as the government has a right to protect its secrets in public committee hearings. To deny the former while embracing the latter is hypocritical and condescending.

My expectations of privacy are:

1. My communication is not monitored, stored, reviewed, nor analyzed by any government person or tool unless one of three conditions are occurring: a) I am conducting my business with the government or its agencies and there is a need to corroborate or give credence to my assertions of fact, b) someone I may know is under investigation and I am a “friend of a friend”. If so, then a fuller and broader review of my actions/knowledge is warranted, c) I am under investigation myself for my actions.

In the first instance, my permission is required, in the second the government’s review cannot exceed 30 days without obtaining a warrant and the third instance always requires a warrant.

In the first instance, information retrieved that is outside the nature of my business is to be destroyed (and unrecoverable by others) within 30 days. In the second, at the end of a 30-day review, all information is destroyed unless a warrant has been issued to investigate me for crimes. In the third instance,  information gleaned that is not presented at trial, or is not directly related to the investigation, is destroyed within two years and is unrecoverable by others.

My expectations for personal privacy include the monitoring cameras in public places like highways, streets, public venues, and business security cameras for open-to-the-public events.I should not be identified and my movements not traced unless as part of an active criminal investigation with John Doe warrants issued. Unless they are registered as part of an active investigation, original videos (and copies of same) of any public place should be destroyed within one year of their creation.

These are reasonable expectations of privacy. I am the person the Fourth Amendment was referring to. Not my home, my car, or my telephone booth. Any place that I am, so is the Fourth Amendment. It is like a force field that repels government intrusion of me, what I am doing, and where I am going. It covers my interactions with the world from telephones and internet usage as well as conversations at the local bakery.

More opposition to taking away local control

Wisconsin Towns Association (WTA) voted Monday to oppose SB 634 that seeks to take local control away from small towns and villages.Please contact your state senator and send him/her an email today. The Wisconsin legislature is trying to ran this bill thru just like they tried the last one a few weeks ago. Your email will help prevent this from being forced through. Tell your Senator that you oppose SB634 and that small towns should retain local control over nonmetallic mining operations.

Here are just a few of the problems with SB634 per the WTA:

While Sec. 1 through 9 of SB 632 and AB 816 provide language to codify the doctrine of “diminishing assets for non-metallic mining,” the bill expands the doctrine beyond “single ownership” of a parcel to contiguous land “under common ownership or control” of the person who owns the land or controls the land on which mining was occurring, to include “leasehold interests.” This language is of great concern to people living in the proximity of industrial sand mines in Wisconsin, because unlike the traditional gravel pits on 40 acre parcels or adjoining 40s, industrial sand mines are in the hundreds of acres even exceeding 2,000 acres in some cases. It is our belief that the diminishing asset rule created by the court cases did not contemplate the use of leasehold interests for the size of industrial sand minds that exist today, that would be allowed to be “grandfathered in” under the diminishing asset rule as written by these bills.

Section 10 on page 7 and 8 of the bills would still allow towns and villages to adopt licensing ordinances but these ordinances would apply only to nonmetallic operations that begin operation after the adoption of the ordinance. Pre-existing nonmetallic operations would not be subject to new ordinances. The biggest concern about this section is that if a town or village adopted a licensing ordinance, they would not be able to amend that ordinance as it applies to any new operations that started after the original ordinance was in place. This is of concern in relation to industrial sand mining because as new technology and health impacts may be identified, if the original ordinance does not address these new issues the ordinance can not be amended to apply to existing nonmetallic operations. We believe there needs to be recognition that if new technology and health concerns arise in the future that local governments should be allowed to amend their ordinances to incorporate reasonable regulations that will protect public health and safety.

In Section 10 at lines 12 through 23 of SB 632 and AB 816 these bills would apply the diminishing asset protections to “off-site nometallic mineral processing facilities” and “off-site transportation facilities related to nonmetallic mining.” This is a vast expansion of the court doctrine that originally decided upon facts of a gravel pit on two forty acre parcels. The expansion of “off-site facilities” goes beyond what is necessary to protect nonmetallic mining in this state. In addition, according to Legislative Counsel’s comments, lines 22 and 23 of page 8 of the bills will require that any existing ordinances of “off-site facilities” must have been written separately from the nonmetallic mining ordinances that may have been written in the past. This is a new standard which has not been contemplated until this bill was introduced. This will dramatically limit towns, villages, and cities in regulating existing “off-site facilities.”  Lines 18 to 21 on page 8 even extend these protections to “off-site facilities” at the time the application for such a site is submitted. Many of these “off-site facilities” have never been contemplated by local governments, thus these bills will in effect limit any new ordinances or amendments to regulate these “off-site facilities.”

On page 10 of SB 632 and AB 816 at Sec. 17, lines 10 through 12, there is language to give registered nonmetallic reserves the same grandfathering protections as the court doctrine of diminishing assets. While registration of nonmetallic mining has been in the law since 1997, these bills will give such protections to possible nonmetallic mining sites that may not open for nearly 20 years out. By that time, again, new technology and health impacts may warrant updated ordinances, which these bills prevent for even the sites that only have been registered, but not even opened. Also the word “prevent” on line 11 on page 10, could be problematic, because it appears to allow new ordinances to apply to registered nonmetallic reserves that have not yet opened, but it will raise the question whether a licensing ordinance “prevents” the operator from operating on the registered land. Some companies have already said that limitations in some ordinances such as hours of operation, birm requirements, blasting requirements will “prevent” the site from operating economically to the optimum. The term “prevent” will invite litigation on whether a company is prevented from operating or only being regulated to protect public health and safety.

SB 632 and AB 816 in our opinion go beyond what the court doctrine enunciated in the earlier court of appeals decisions intended. The expansion of the doctrine to licensing ordinances and “off-site facilities” is beyond what the courts would hold as it applies to industrial sand mining as is occurring in Wisconsin at this time. These bills are not needed to protect the nonmetallic mining industry, in particular the industrial sand mines of the state. No existing ordinances have prevented any industrial sand mines from operating once approved.  We ask the legislature not pass SB 632 and AB 816.

Call or write your state senator today. Go HERE.

Thanks for taking action on this important issue.

Reasonable Citizen

The Pledge of Allegiance

How often do you say the Pledge of Allegiance? I say it at least once a month but usually more often. It is part of the culture when working in small town government.

Many of us know that the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Christian socialist in the late 1800s  and that the words “under God” were added in 1954 through a Joint Resolution of Congress. There is a great history about the Pledge and well worth reading.

What I did not know are the groups that have objected to the Pledge from the beginning. The Jehovah Witnesses thought it was idolatrous to salute the flag and pledge allegiance. The Unitarians accept the Pledge prior to 1954 but not since the words “under God” were added. And, of course, the atheists object to anything that recognizes – or acknowledges – a higher power than themselves.

Of interest though is this:

A bill, H.R. 2389, was introduced in Congress in 2005 which, if enacted into law, would have stripped the Supreme Court and most federal courts of the power to consider any legal challenges to government requiring or promoting of the Pledge of Allegiance. H.R. 2389 was passed by the House of Representatives in July 2006, but failed after the Senate did not take up the bill. This action is viewed in general as court stripping by Congress over the Judiciary. Even if a similar bill is enacted, its practical effect may not be clear: proponents of the bill have argued that it is a valid exercise of Congress’s power to regulate the jurisdiction of the federal courts under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, but opponents question whether Congress has the authority to prevent the Supreme Court from hearing claims based on the Bill of Rights (since amendments postdate the original text of the Constitution and may thus implicitly limit the scope of Article III, Section 2). Judges and legal analysts have voiced concerns that Congress can strip or remove from the judicial branch the ability to determine if legislation is constitutional.[32]

Because of the Pledge of Allegiance, some wanted to take away the Constitutional right of the Supreme Court to make any ruling about the Pledge. That has to be the highest order of irony around.

You don’t have to say the Pledge of Allegiance if you don’t want to. It is a free country. But if you do say the Pledge then say it loud, with pride, and emphasize every word of it. I only want people who believe in the Pledge (and believe in this country) to actually say it. It has more power coming from believers than from those coerced into saying it. If others do not believe it, then let them be silent. I don’t want to hear what they have to say anyway.

Reasonable Citizen

The Battle for Local Control of Sand Mine Regulation is underway…

Wisconsin Sen. Vinehout speaks out about Wisconsin Senate Bill 632. This is the second attempt to strip power from local communities and control what happens through lobbyists in Madison….-Reasonable Citizen

Sand Mine Bill Strips Local Powers, Community’s Ability to Say “No”

Should communities be able to prevent development of sand mines? Can communities set rules if sand mine operations are inadequate to protect nearby residents?

A new “communities cannot say no to sand mines” bill is making its way through the Legislature. The bill introduced by Senator Tiffany, chair of the Senate Mining committee, appears on the fast track. It could be up for final passage in both houses less than two weeks after it was unveiled.

The bill freezes in place the public health, safety and welfare protections for a community as they relate to existing sand mines. If this bill becomes law, the locals wouldn’t be able to write and enforce a new ordinance on any permitted mine during the life of that permit – as long as 25 years.

Much can happen in 25 years.

Local people who have written ordinances say it appears nearly all local ordinances would be invalid under this bill. That’s because the bill also requires ordinances relating to approval of sand mines be split apart from ordinances relating to the trucking of sand from the mine and processing of sand.

Most existing ordinances address the regulation of the actual mine as well as sand processing and transportation.

The combination of freezing in place rules affecting existing sand mines andinvalidating most local ordinances will throw sand mine regulation into legal chaos. The bill creates a huge legal gray area on exactly which ordinance the sand mines would have to follow – the one made invalid by the bill or the new one rewritten to comply with the bill, or none at all.

Finally, this bill sets up a back-door process by which mine owners can avoid new restrictions and open a mine anywhere as long as they register the mineral deposit with local officials.

Changing a little known part of the statute written when comprehensive planning was put in place, this bill would stop a local community from saying ‘no’ to a mine owner who registered his mineral deposit.

Owners or those leasing property where a mine might be developed would be able to register that property with the town or county and have the existing rules for sand mines “locked in” at the time of registration for a period of up to 20 years. In addition locals could do nothing to prevent the mines’ operation.

Many residents from the Town of Dover in Buffalo County wrote me saying the bill seeks to get around recent actions. One landowner explained (and I paraphrase) in the last 10 months Dover officials held more than a dozen public meetings including a community forum attended by a quarter of the town’s population. Last July, in a unanimous vote, town officials recommended the county deny a permit for a 400-acre mine. In October, town officials adopted Village Powers. In January 2014, town officials adopted a Comprehensive Land Use Plan. In February, they adopted a sand mine ordinance resembling that of the Town of Cooks Valley.

While the Town of Dover was doing this work, the four owners of the mine quietly registered their mineral deposits with the county Register of Deeds. A Dover resident wrote: If Senator Tiffany’s bill is passed, it would make all of the work that our town did to protect itself of no avail. Thousands of dollars have been spent by the town, as well as by landowners, so the voice of the town’s people may be heard.  Where do you find democracy speaking and being respected in this bill?

If this bill passes, Dover and other local communities can never say ‘No’.

Just because an underground mineral deposit exists does not mean humans should extract it – at the expense of all of the wealth that exists above ground.

This bill is far more dangerous than its earlier cousin. It will set precedence for every other mineral deposit in Wisconsin. Do we want sand mining next to Lake Delton?

Industrial mining has its place. But it is a place that must be determined by the people who live in that neighborhood. Taking away the community’s ability to say ‘no’ is taking away local control.