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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
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Wisconsin environmental group urges state to reject Smart Sand application


Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is calling on the state to reject an application from an out-of-state frac sand mining company that is seeking status as a green company. The environmental group is calling on Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp, who was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker, to reject the application for "Green Tier" status from Smart Sand, Inc. The Green Tier program was created in 2004 to reward companies for superior environmental performance. To qualify, companies must have a demonstrated commitment to protecting the environment.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters says Smart Sand doesn't come close to qualifying. “Not only does Smart Sand not meet the Green Tier criteria, they are guilty of violating air pollution standards already. Awarding them with this special recognition would be nothing less than greenwashing. And that’s not going to sit well with Wisconsin citizens, past Green Tier recipients, or us,” said Anne Sayers, program director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

Nearly 2,000 citizens registered their opposition to the prospect of awarding Green Tier status to the frac sand mining company. The DNR claims it received more comments on this particular Green Tier application than any in the program’s 10-year history. Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters supporters alone generated 1,932 comments.

Smart Sand, according to environmentalists, has a processing capacity of over a million tons of sand per year on its more than 1,000 acres in Oakdale. In the two years the company has operated in Wisconsin, it has received a notice of violation for failure to comply with state air pollution standards.

Over 950 organizations commit to the People’s Climate March


Over 950 organizations are for the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, just ahead of the UN Climate Summit. The event is billing itself as “the largest climate march in history,” and from the hundreds of organizations that have pledged their support, it just may be poised to reach this goal.

Environmental organizations, social justice advocates, labor unions and faith groups are coming together to call for action on climate change. “This looks like an alliance of unusual bedfellows—labor joining hands with faith joining hands with national environmental groups,” Eddie Bautista, executive director of New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, told EcoWatch.

The list includes a number of the biggest names in environmental advocacy, including The Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund, the National Wildlife Federation and the Earth Day Network. Bill McKibben and 350 have been particularly vocal supporters of the march, and is planning to release a documentary just prior to the event. The documentary, called "Disruption," is about the urgent need for political action to fight climate change. The trailer also makes a pretty eloquent argument for the why the march matters:

Russell Brand: "When I was poor and I complained ..."

Teaching Controversy - How can we prepare our kids to participate in ... politics?


How can we prepare our kids to participate in the highly polarized world of politics?

In the volatile months leading up to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker winning a recall election in June 2012, principals in some schools in the state told teachers that they couldn’t discuss the historic event in their classrooms. At the same time, kids reported that their parents were getting into arguments at the grocery store and refusing to talk to family members due to disagreements about Walker’s decision to curb the power of state-employee labor unions. What was happening outside the classroom was exactly why teachers should have been permitted to talk about the issues and competing views in school, says Diana Hess, a professor of curriculum and instruction in the UW’s School of Education. Hess, a former high school teacher, has done long-term research in three states, including Wisconsin, on how middle school and high school teachers engage students in lively and respectful discussions about tough issues.

Civic education without controversial issues is “like a symphony without sound,” Hess wrote in her 2009 book, Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion, which cemented her reputation as a national expert on the subject. Hess says the key argument for civic education is patriotic: the role of schools has long been to prepare people to participate in democracy (see Jefferson’s letter to Madison, quoted below). “The challenge is that we need to prepare kids to participate in a highly partisan, polarized world, and yet, we need to do it in a nonpartisan way,” she says. “I call this the paradox of political education. And it’s really challenging.”

A telling example comes from Adlai E. Stevenson High School, north of Chicago, one of twenty-two schools in Illinois that the McCormick Foundation has recognized as Democracy Schools for their commitment to civic learning. Students there got together to advocate for “Suffrage at 17,” state legislation that would allow seventeen-year-olds to register and vote in primary elections.

McCormick’s other Democracy Schools got involved, submitting electronic witness statements and testimony from around the state, and Stevenson students went to the state capitol in Springfield to lobby their legislators in person. The bill was passed into law and took effect at the beginning of this year. Students in Democracy Schools spearheaded a massive voter-registration drive, with more than nine thousand students in the Chicago area alone registering to vote in the spring primary election. “To me, that’s a huge success story, and it’s what good civics looks like,” Healy says. “They’ll be lifelong participants in this process.”

Emphasis mine.

Wisconsin Is Open For Business

Rick Perry outlaws football in Texas!

BREAKING: After Michael Sam signed by Dallas Cowboys, Gov. Rick Perry outlaws football in Texas, rather than allow a gay player.


It's TOO SOON. Too soon after ISIS beheaded Steven Sotloff to talk about anything else besides invading all Muslim countries.

Eric Cantor got a job on Wall Street, though technically it’s only a formality since he’s been doing their bidding for years.

NRA: "The media is so biased they don't even mention all the times 9-year-olds HAVEN'T killed someone with an Uzi."

This is why the Republicans, despite always being wrong, still get the lion's share of airtime

Wisconsin Sen Kathleen Vinehout: Local Schools See Fewer Dollars ... "Voucher" Schools Win Big

from my email ...

School Bells Ring:
Local Schools See Fewer Dollars While Private "Voucher" Schools Win Big
by Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“How is it possible that private voucher schools can receive almost four and a half times the state funding per student as our public school district receives in equalized aid,” Pepin School Superintendent Bruce Quinton wrote me.

As a new school year begins, students and parents see changes; for example, increased meal costs, larger class sizes, retiring teachers not replaced and fewer teachers’ aides. There are fewer janitors and delayed maintenance; longer bus rides and fewer field trips; fewer music and art classes.

Many public schools are forced to do more with less because lawmakers who voted for the last state budget increased state tax dollars to private schools. Nearly half of Wisconsin’s public schools will receive less aid this school year than the last – including many of our local schools.

Eau Claire received the largest dollar amount cut statewide – over $2.3 million while Pepin and Alma received the largest local percentage cuts - over 15%. At the same time, state aid per pupil going to private ‘voucher’ schools reached its highest point in state history.

In his letter, Superintendent Quinton noted the difference between amounts of state aid for Pepin to that of private schools: for the 2014-15 school year Pepin receives $1,667 per student; public tax dollars to private ‘voucher’ schools are $7,856 per high school student and $7,210 per K-8 student.

“Pepin Area School District taxpayers will pay an additional $70,119 in taxes to educate children in other districts this school year,” Mr. Quinton wrote. “I cannot comprehend why taxpayers are willing to subsidize a private voucher school education system, especially when research indicates that private voucher schools perform at best as well as the public school system and in many cases below their public school peers.”

A memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing figures from the 2013-14 school year show that Pepin’s state aid payment per pupil was $4,559 less than the per pupil state aid payment made to private ‘voucher’ schools.

The effects of reduced state aid for schools are many and include lower salaries for staff. The Eau Claire School District learned their base salaries fall below the 50th percentile of the market’s base salaries. This makes it difficult to attract and retain top quality staff.

A study released by the Wisconsin Budget Project, an arm of Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, recounts the effects of several years of slim funds to local schools. “As the new school year approaches, Wisconsin schools face significant challenges, including class sizes that have grown faster than the national average, an increasing number of students living in poverty, and a reduction in state support for education.”

Fewer state dollars means higher property taxes as schools unable to make ends meet head to referendum.

Voters in Mondovi, Altoona, and Black River Falls face a fall referenda vote to raise property taxes to pay for building improvements or, for Mondovi, school operations. Voters in Black River Falls will decide, among other projects, whether to replace the ‘temporary’ trailers which housed elementary students for many years.

Voters in Eleva-Strum passed a referendum to exceed the revenue limit under threat of “massive budget deficits” that would lead to reduction in funds for a school psychologist, janitors, a library aide and a bus route. The district is also considering closing elementary schools in Eleva and Strum.

Resolving problems facing local schools will require a shift in state policy. A majority of lawmakers must realize Wisconsin cannot afford two parallel school systems. Without significant increases in taxes we cannot use state tax dollars for both public and private schools. One will suffer while the other thrives. We can see this happening already in the Milwaukee area.

State Superintendent Tony Evers proposed changes to the school aid formula that would address some of the difficulties facing rural schools. In addition to his proposed changes, sparsity aid - which I created in the 2007-09 budget - must be expanded. There is no other aid that directly assists suffering rural schools with no strings attached.

Public education is the key to prosperity. Our future depends on our investment in our children.


Somewhere north of $25 billion has been wasted on phony scandal investigations, government shutdowns and now this stupid lawsuit which is bound to fail. Fiscal conservatives, my ass.


How much have the Republicans cost the taxpayer, directly and in terms of hindered economic potential, since they took over the House in 2010? A few days ago, the price tag was announced for the Republican lawsuit against the president. House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., said the firm BakerHostetler has been contracted to represent the Republican House in the district court civil suit. According to the contract, the lawsuit will cost up to $350,000, billed at a rate of $500 per hour.


In 2011, the House Republicans engaged in a prolonged showdown with the administration over the raising of the debt ceiling, a procedure which, up till then, was largely considered a formality. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that the delay in raising the debt ceiling increased government borrowing costs by $1.3 billion in 2011. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence index plunged from 59.2 in July 2011 to 45.2 in August in the wake of the debt standoff and credit downgrade. The index didn’t recover to its July level until December.


From October 1 through 16, 2013, the Federal Government entered a shutdown and curtailed most routine operations after the Republican led Congress failed to enact legislation appropriating funds for fiscal year 2014. During the shutdown, approximately 800,000 federal employees were indefinitely furloughed and another 1.3 million were required to report to work without known payment dates. The financial services company Standard & Poors estimated that the shutdown, which lasted just over two weeks, cost $1.5 billion per day, took a total of $24 billion out of the U.S. economy, and shaved 0.6% off fourth-quarter GDP growth.


When House Republicans voted on a resolution calling on the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel for the IRS investigation, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) responded by saying, “The IRS has spent more than $14 million in taxpayer money accommodating Republican requests, turning over more than 600,000 pages of documents, none of which substantiate the GOP’s wild attempt from the get-go to tar the administration.”

A Bill to Get the Labor Movement Back on Offense


For years, the American labor movement has been on the defensive as it has become harder and harder for workers to join or maintain a union. But some House Democrats are planning a dramatic counter-offensive: a bill that would make union organizing a civil right.

Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would make labor organizing a basic freedom no different than freedom from racial discrimination. That sounds like a nice talking point — but this isn’t just another messaging bill. The Ellison-Lewis legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act to include protections found under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include labor organizing as a fundamental right. That would give workers a broader range of legal options if they feel discriminated against for trying to form a union.

Currently, their only redress is through a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board — an important process, but one that workers and labor analysts frequently criticize as both too slow and often too lenient on offending employers.

If the NLRA were amended, however, after 180 days a worker could take his or her labor complaint from the NLRB to a federal court. This is how the law works now for civil rights complaints, which gives workers the option, after 180 days, to step outside the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission process. Then, workers would have sole discretion on whether to push a complaint, as opposed to relying on a decision by the NLRB on whether to forge ahead. Workers could also move the process along much faster than the NLRB handles complaints, which can often take years.
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