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Environmental, Lee Stedman, Wausau

Local Watchdogs: Citizens for a Clean Wausau

Out of concern for current environmental challenges and a lack of government action against potentially harmful projects in their area, an intergenerational mix of volunteers from throughout Wausau have come together in solidarity.

Citizens for a Clean Wausau formed in 2018, adopting the mantle of “citizen watchdogs,” and stressing the need to maintain an observant eye over former and current polluters in the Wausau area. The group operates through a steadfast dedication towards promoting local action through a thorough commitment to research, communication, and education. [1]

Most notably is the group’s steadfast dedication to exposing soil, air and groundwater pollution linked to Thomas Street’s infamous Wauleco Site:

  •  On January 21st a report released information indicating sewer samples taken on January. 8th by the Wausau Water Works, revealed wastewater contamination by pentachlorophenol in four of six manholes on the city’s west side. Residents have repeatedly expressed concern over the state of soil and groundwater toxicity. [2]
  • Penta is toxic to human health, leading to impacts on the kidneys, liver, eyes, skin, respiratory tract, and immune system through short-term ingestion and acute inhalation. [2]
  • On February 26th, Citizen’s for a Clean Wausau issued a request to the DNR for further testing to be done on the manholes in the area of the Thomas Street neighborhood. [3]
  • On March 11th Citizen’s for a Clean Wausau was commended by members of the DNR and DHS during a Wausau Parks & Rec meeting for the vital role their documentation and research on improper wood burning by SNE Corp and Wauleco has played in their investigations. [4]

Despite investigations, on June 18th, Citizen’s for a Clean Wausau released a video exposing illegal drainage into the Wisconsin River by private contractors working in the Thomas Street area. The issue was immediately addressed by the Wausau Public Works. However, the next day, evidence of illegal drainage was again found. [5]

You can stay up to date with Citizens for a Clean Wausau by following them on Facebook.


Written for Intellegere Project by: Lee Stedman


References:

[1] http://cleanwausau.com/

[2] https://www.wsaw.com/content/news/DNR-opens-investigation-into-Wauleco-owned-site-in-Wausau-504514481.html

[3] http://cleanwausau.com/citizens-for-a-clean-wausau-submits-request-to-dnr-for-more-manhole-testing/

[4] https://wausaupilotandreview.com/2019/03/11/dhs-dnr-citizens-group-input-crucial-to-riverside-park-recommendations/

[5] https://waow.com/news/2019/06/24/runoff-into-the-wisconsin-river-from-thomas-street-construction-is-raising-concerns/

Environmental, Lee Stedman

Community or Con: The Foxconn Manufacturing Crisis

Since being contracted in 2017 to receive more than $4 billion in incentive packages from the state of Wisconsin, Foxconn, a global LCD manufacturing giant, has garnered a great deal of local and national notoriety due to concerns over its potential environmental, economic and political impacts.

Over the last several months, skepticism over the original deal’s promises has continued to grow amidst a series of recent—and controversial—updates on the project, located in Mt. Pleasant, WI just off the I-94:

  • On April 17th Foxconn CEO, Terry Gou, announced that he would be stepping down from his position in Foxconn in order to focus on a recently announced campaign bid for Presidency of Taiwan. [1] Gou took part in the original negotiations of the deal alongside President Donald Trump and Gov. Scott Walker. [2]
  • Land seizures implemented to drive the creation of Wisconn Valley have left hundreds of acres of farmland cleared and more than 70 homes removed. Of the original residents, only homeowners, Kim and Jim Mahoney, and an unnamed farmer remain. [2]
  • Newly released emails acquired by the non-profits, Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin, illustrate concern and opposition between top EPA scientists over a 2018 decision made by former EPA head, Scott Pruitt, to lessen and waive federal smog regulations. The decision has thus-far saved Foxconn and several other companies millions in pollution-control requirements. [3] [4]
  • On June 10th, a Wisconsin state administrative judge ruled in favor of the City of Racine’s request to divert millions of gallons of water from Lake Michigan for Foxconn’s manufacturing processes and other unspecified residential uses. The original request was challenged on behalf of several environmental groups by the Midwest Environmental Advocates. [5]

Despite growing fear in Foxconn’s current construction plans and leadership, many residents in Racine County remain hopeful in the promise to create 13,000 Wisconsin-based jobs.


Written for Intellegere Project by: Lee Stedman


References

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/world/asia/terry-gou-foxcon-taiwan-presidential-race.html

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/foxconn-tore-up-a-small-town-to-build-a-big-factorythen-retreated-11556557652

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/24/climate/epa-pruitt-wisconsin-foxconn.html

[4] https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-foxconn-indiana-smog-trump-epa-20190516-story.html

[5] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2019/06/10/judge-rules-favor-racines-bid-provide-water-foxconn/1414171001/

David Hewitt, Elections, Oshkosh, Uncategorized

Oshkosh Mayoral Race

On April 2nd 2019, Oshkosh voters will get to choose their mayor for the next two years.  Presently, there are three candidates on the ballot headed for a primary run-off on February 19th 2019. With the deadline for nominations having expired on January 2nd 2019, the confirmed candidates on the ballot are as follows:

  • Incumbent Mayor Steve Cummings.
  • Current deputy Mayor Lori Palmeri.
  • Local pub owner Nathan Stiefvater.

On Thursday January 31st 2019, all three candidates presented themselves at a candidates’ forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Winnebago County.



Cummings, seeking his third two-year term in the role opened the forum with a declaration of intent to continue with his work, stressing that:

We must stay on a progressive path while remaining fiscally responsible and not go backward, not one single step.” [1]

Cummings made a point of emphasizing the impact of bringing in private investment over the last 24 months, referencing the Oshkosh Riverwalk as a prime example. [2]

Palmeri has been deputy Mayor of Oshkosh since 2018 and seeks to take over from her boss. Palmeri is stressing the need for the voters of Oshkosh to have a choice and has stressed her pragmatism and community inclusiveness.

Stressing her record in the areas of affordable housing and urban development and regeneration she says:

I have demonstrated the ability to look at issues from both sides” [3]

Stiefvater is the self-confessed dark horse in this three-way race.  As the owner of a downtown Oshkosh pub, he identifies the importance of engaging with the community and also as an advocate for small businesses in the area. [4]

With just the three candidates, the primary of February 19th 2019 will of course narrow the field down to just two and with Stiefvater the outsider, the likelihood is that it will come down to a Cummings v Palmeri showdown on April 2nd 2019.


Written for Intellegere Project by: David Hewitt, MIS, BSc


References

[1] & [2] https://youtu.be/YSxR1TgKRjk

[3] & [4] https://oshkoshherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Oshkosh-Herald-January-9-2019.pdf

 

Uncategorized

Tony Evers’ First State of the State

On January 22nd 2019, Governor Tony Evers delivered his first “State of the State” address as newly elected Governor of Wisconsin.  After years of now ex-Governor Walker’s highly contentious policies, Evers had the opportunity to showcase his new agenda with his State of the State speech.  While Evers has pledged to work on a bipartisan basis, it is likely he will have a struggle on his hands in terms of selling many of his plans to the Republican opposition.

Here is a summary of what Evers held forth in his address. [1] & [2]

  • Evers announced that he would withdraw Wisconsin from ex-Governor Walker’s state-wide challenge to the legality of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – one of 20 states that had previously pledged to do so.
  • Emphasizing the importance of affordable, quality healthcare throughout the state and making the “Healthy Communities Initiative” a priority with the Department of Health Services as well as expanding Medicaid to benefit an additional 76,000 Wisconsinites to have medical coverage.
  • Evers has long maintained his focus on the need for all Wisconsinites to have affordable healthcare, with a particular focus on preventative healthcare. As part of his successful election platform, Evers vowed to use federal dollars available for Medicaid expansion – something that his predecessor, Republican Scott Walker, declined to do. [3]
  • A commitment to return to two thirds funding of public schools in Wisconsin as well as an emphasis on ensuring that special needs education is sufficiently funded with an investment of $600 million.
  • Evers’ urban initiative programs will also focus on helping minority students by expanding early childhood education and summer school grant programs. “What’s best for our kids is best for the state” said Evers during his speech.
  • Such programs were also key features of Evers’ electoral campaign strategy, with a particular focus on public education, stressing the importance of investing in early childhood education, childcare and the refinancing of student loans to more affordable, reasonable rates. [3]
  • Implementing the long-needed lead-free water service pipelines program while declaring 2019 to be the “Year of Clean Drinking Water.”
  • A five-fold increase in mental health funding and support for K-12 students in Wisconsin.
  • Evers vowed to tackle the state’s transportation funding crisis by appointing a bipartisan stake-holder task-force, headed up by Secretary-designee Craig Thompson.
  • Thompson has been described:

    “…a powerful influencer of transportation policy with more than 400 business, labor, local governments and other transportation service providers. Thompson has been an outspoken advocate for raising the gas tax and increasing license fees to fund road projects.” [4]

  • A ten percent tax cut for individuals earning up to $100,000.00 a year and for families bringing in up to $150,000.00 a year. To fund that, Evers proposed to cap the Corporate Tax Credit – a generous tax break for those filing more than $1,000,000 a year.

Evers’ speech laid out clearly his vision for the future of Wisconsin, backing up his earlier campaign promises.  Whether the Republican controlled statehouse shares that vision remains to be seen.


Written for Intellegere Project by: David Hewitt, MIS, BSc


References

[1] https://fox11online.com/news/videos/live-gov-evers-2019-state-of-the-state-address

[2] http://www.wtmj.com/news/read-governor-tony-evers-state-of-the-state-address/986357930

[3] https://tonyevers.com/plan

[4] https://madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/what-can-tony-evers-really-do/article_710213e5-3250-5b60-8aa8-42839b1ee006.html

 

 

David Hewitt, Elections, Madison, Mayoral, Uncategorized

Madison Mayoral Race

On April 2nd 2019, the voters of Madison, WI will get to choose their mayor for another four years.  The deadline for candidates to submit their nomination papers and details has now closed.

There are six candidates, from a variety of backgrounds, which have thrown their hats into the ring.  The primary election runs a few weeks prior to the election proper, on February 19th 2019, with voters having a good-sized field to deliberate over.  Here’s who Mad City voters will have to choose from.

  • Maurice Cheeks. Running on a platform of addressing social and economic inequality, Alderman Cheeks has served in public office since 2013.  “What we need is a mayor that is committed to maximizing opportunities for everyone in every neighborhood and fighting for a better future for all our residents.”  [1]
  • Nick Hart. A local comedian who has previously run for the office of mayor, Hart brings his own unique take on running again, with a particular emphasis on engaging with those who tend to stay out of the political process.  He states on his website that “I’m not getting involved in municipal politics for money, obviously.  I’m getting involved because I’m interested in new ideas, and I’m running for mayor to exercise my civic duty.” [2]
  • Tariana Pettaway. Pettaway is running as a non-partisan candidate, and is now on the ballot as a write-in candidate only.  Pettaway, Madison’s first racial equity coordinator, fell afoul of the signature endorsement requirements needed for running for office but still wishes to remain on the ballot.  [3]
  • Satya Rhodes-Conway. The first candidate to announce themselves running for mayor, former alderman Rhodes-Conway is the current managing director for the Mayors Innovation Project.  Rhodes-Conway states on her site that she is “…ready to lead on climate, racial equity, housing, transportation, and other issues that matter to working families.” [4]
  • Raj Shukla. A candidate with a particular emphasis on the environment and economic sustainability, Shukla is executive director of River Alliance of Wisconsin.  He is running on a platform of a social and environmental responsibility, including affordable housing and transportation. [5]
  • Paul Soglin (incumbent). Returning to the mayoral office for the third time in 2011, racking up 22 years in the office, Soglin is arguably the most recognizable of all the candidates.  Unsurprisingly then, some refer to him as “Mayor for Life.” [6] Soglin’s website notes a “…lifelong dedication to social justice, equal rights and, and making government responsive to the people it serves…”  [7]

With the candidates now confirmed, the voters of Madison have just over a month to make up their mind when it comes to the primary vote on February 19th.  Madison has a long history of mayoral elections with variety – 2019 is proving to be no different.


Written for Intellegere Project by: David Hewitt, MIS, BSc


References

[1] https://madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/madison-ald-maurice-cheeks-announces-run-for-mayor/article_81763210-e8a1-58b1-879b-0aac87c719e9.html

[2] https://www.nickhartformadison.com/

[3] https://ballotpedia.org/Toriana_Pettaway

[4] https://www.satyaformadison.com/

[5] https://madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/raj-shukla-environmental-advocate-enters-madison-mayor-s-race/article_81938c55-d7ba-559d-bb08-b29882c156e8.html

[6] https://madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/timeline-the-life-and-career-of-madison-s-mayor-for/collection_0757194c-de0e-11e4-b651-53a24819cc8e.html#1

[7] https://www.soglinformayor.com/about