My final Post: So long and thanks for all the
Well, here we are. Today marks my very last Emily's Post for The Daily Page, and though it was fully my decision to leave, it is a little bittersweet. I've spent the last two years (since November 2, 2009) writing this mostly twice-weekly opinion column and it's been one heck of a learning experience. I am extremely grateful to the folks at Isthmus for giving me this platform, and for giving me almost complete editorial freedom to write about whatever struck my fancy in a given week.
I am also incredibly thankful for the engaged readers who've come to check out my ramblings -- both those who left comments and those who never did (I've had a lot of people come up to me in person and mention being readers, which was always amazing and a bit baffling -- it's easy to forget that more than just the regular commenters are paying attention).
Despite our many differences, and despite the heartburn it sometimes gave me, I am ultimately very glad that many people who openly disagree with me have continued to read and comment. We may not succeed in changing each others' minds very often (if at all), but know that I always value the debate. I've probably learned more from my critics than I have from my supporters -- though the latter have been invaluable in helping to keep me sane, and I thank you for it.
So what will I do now? Frankly, I'm ready to move on from having an opinion on a schedule. Though I will continue to sometimes have thoughts over at my personal blog, my passion has always been more on features and news writing, which is what I'm planning to focus on more. I hope to continue writing features and the occasional opinion piece for the Isthmus print edition, and I will also be spending more time building dane101.com into a full-fledged progressive media outlet, which is something I'm enormously excited about. Those are the two places you're likely to see my byline the most in the future (but I'm a freelancer, so there will be others!).
The bottom line is: Thanks, thanks, thanks.
But let's finish this thing properly, with some criticisms of the Walker Administration, mining in the north, and a flashback story about the Edgewater Hotel redevelopment.
GOP looks to give more control to Walker over his own recall
This just seems... ill-advised:
Republican lawmakers signaled Tuesday they will likely give Gov. Scott Walker authority over how recall petitions can be gathered, just as Democrats gear up to recall him next year.
The move would allow Walker to halt a policy developed by nonpartisan election officials that, at least in theory, could make it easier for groups to gather signatures to recall the governor, as well as legislators from either party.
This change was discussed in a meeting of the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules wherein they heard testimony from just one person -- GAB director Kevin Kennedy. Also at issue were rules regarding whether Walker would also get to decide "whether universities can put stickers on their identification cards that would make them so they could be used for voting."
Essentially, Republicans are looking to further abdicate their legislative authority to the executive branch, a move that started with the passage of Act 21 last May. As Rebecca Kemble points out at The Progressive, the act essentially allowed for "the executive branch in the person of the governor and the agency of the Department of Administration [to amass] rule-making powers that could effectively bypass state statutes and force other state agencies (like the Department of Natural Resources which is in charge of permitting mines) to operate according to the will of the executive."
In other words, while in the past the governor's power to make rules was subject to Legislative scrutiny and oversight, Walker now has the authority to "originate and author any Administrative or Emergency rules. He also has the final authority to decide which are enacted, and which are not." That's huge.
This meeting was the first real test of Act 21's power.
Another good point (with an extreme simile) about the hearing, courtesy Steve Hanson at Uppity Wisconsin:
There was a theme in the meeting that I'm beginning to recognize. The Republican members fell all over themselves to say how nonpartisan the GAB has been, and then in the same breath started to tell Kennedy that the GAB is doing things wrong. This is the same tactic that Walker and the rest of the Republicans often use -- Teachers and public servants are wonderful, and they're milking the state with greed. And it goes on and on. This always sounds a little like men I've known who will praise their wives, profess their love, and then proceed to put them in the emergency room of the hospital from a beating. No matter what light you try to shed on it, we're talking about abuse and lying.
If the GOP members have their way Walker will get power to hinder efforts to recall him in the coming year, as well as potentially make it harder for students to vote, steamroll the mining regulation changes, and any number of other things. Regardless of who's occupying the governor's office at any given time this is entirely too much power for any one branch to have. It's also yet another example of a political party apparently forgetting that they won't be in the majority forever.
A vote on the matter was delayed and whether or not the issue gets a public hearing should be determined within a few days. Pushback needs to start happening in earnest, and it needs to start yesterday.
It's baaaaaaack -- and it may be DOA. The proposed Edgewater Hotel redevelopment plan could be dead in the water after the new Soglin administration moved to decrease the TIF loan awarded developers by the city from $16 million to just $3.3 million. The Common Council introduced two amendments to Mayor Soglin's capital budget that would have restored some of the money, but both failed to pass. Hammes Co., the developer, has said that the project likely won't go forward without the full $16 million. This almost feels anticlimactic.
Keep an eye on mining legislation changes -- this issue is only going to continue heating up. Currently the Legislature is jockeying over which senators to appoint to mining committee that will take up proposed rule changes. Meanwhile, interested parties can join in a conservation lobby day at the Capitol to push legislators to oppose "any mining bill that weakens the current laws that protect public health and natural resources" on Wednesday, October 19.
And with that, so long (for now) and take care!