Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dr. Deer Gives us the Wrong Prescription

After having a very successful deer season on my private land I thought it might be worth re-printing my letter to the HTR editor.  It seems that the rest of the state didnt fare so well.  Could it be that the hunters are simply not being allowed to hunt?

While running for Governor in 2010 Scott Walker made a number of assertions that somehow the drop in the deer harvest from the record high of the 2000 hunt was somehow the result of DNR mismanagement under then Governor Doyle. Now, for the third year in a row since the “Dr. Deer” changes were implemented the harvest has plummeted to below thirty year lows, down three fifths from the high in 2000. This despite the introduction of more lethal means of taking deer like statewide use of rifles and crossbows. If the goal was to increase hunter's chances of taking a deer this does not sound like success.

The rise of harvest over 90 years.
At the same time licenses have gotten more complicated, expensive and discriminatory. We have gone from a simple universal $2.00 antlerless tag to a $12.00 tag that is only good in one county and then either on public or private land severely limiting hunter mobility. Public land tags were sold out early in most counties. All the more disturbing is Walker's plan to sell off 10,000 acres of those public lands. Not surprising since “Czar” Kroll described public land hunting as “Communism”.

Drop in harvest continues under Walker. 
With all the waling and gnashing of teeth Republicans made a great deal of political hay when the harvest fell below the 2000 high of a half million shouldn't we expect a better outcome? With fewer hunters having family connections to private lands it is not the herd that is dwindling it is access to the herd. The Kroll program has accelerated that and the frustration has resulted in more and more people giving up the sport. The Legislature's response has been to allow women to wear pink while hunting. They may find themselves all dressed up and no place to go.
Read it online

At the same time, the Legislature is considering a bill to reduce regulations on  game farms.  This when a new outbreak of CWD has occurred at yet another canned hunt emporium in Three Lakes.  The discovery will not radically alter hunting in the affected counties as baiting will now be banned in order to stop the spread of the disease and baiting is the primary method of hunting in the unpopulated woodlands there.

See jsonline artice here:

Three Lakes Game Farm is the same sort of operation run by Deer Czar Kroll in Texas and imported deer from Canada and the west which brought the disease to our state.  They charge between $5000 and $7500 for the "experience" of shooting a trophy buck in a fenced enclosure....

Apparently shooting Canadian genes is a bigger rush than Wisconsin genetics offer.

After three years of gross mismanagement the legacy of Walker and his quack doctor will affect the hunt for decades.  When will we begin the walk back to sanity and science and the public interest?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Collin Bruanel: I Don't Need No Stinking Badges!

Did the Manitowoc County GOP chair just cop to a felony?

"Collin Braunel Bernie Starzewski, while I was on council what would you have thought of me carrying? I carry a hangun every day at work yet I am a civilian. I also am heavily trained. Interestingly enough I carry no license. [...]
December 13, 2015 Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter facebook page 

 (1) Any person who goes armed with a firearm in any building owned or leased by the state or any political subdivision of the state is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
 (2) This section does not apply to any of the following:
[a-d police former or current]
(e) A licensee, as defined in s. 175.60 (1) (d), or an out-of-state licensee, as defined in s. 175.60 (1) (g).

941.23 Carrying concealed weapon.
 (2) Any person, other than one of the following, who carries a concealed and dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor:  [a-c again police former or current]
(d) A licensee, as defined in s. 175.60 (1) (d)

In other words... No license = ILLEGAL 

Maybe Mr. Braunel does not understand that a State issued permit is required for concealed carry?  Yet he claims he has been fully trained.  One would expect that training might include information about the governing law.

Then too when he first took office in 2010 concealed carry was not legal anywhere in Wisconsin and only became legal in 2011 after the Republicans took over and passed it so it might depend on when he carried in city hall too.

Mr. Braunel appears to be laboring under the illusion that his job as a security guard alone entitles him to carry his weapons anywhere he likes.  Unfortunately, the reverse is true. 

Mr. Braunel is REQUIRED to have a permit for it gun at work!
Linkedin page

Wisconsin Statute 440.26 clearly states that a license is in fact required and in particular as it relates to "dangerous weapons" used on the job by security guards.
(3m)Rules concerning dangerous weapons. The department shall promulgate rules relating to the carrying of dangerous weapons by a person who holds a license or permit issued under this section or who is employed by a person licensed under this section. The rules shall meet the minimum requirements specified in 15 USC 5902 (b) and shall allow all of the following:
(a) A person who is employed in this state by a public agency as a law enforcement officer to carry a concealed firearm if s. 941.23 (1) (g) 2. to 5. and (2) (b) 1. to 3. applies.
(b) A qualified out-of-state law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 941.23 (1) (g), to carry a concealed firearm if s. 941.23 (2) (b) 1. to 3. applies.
(c) A former officer, as defined in s. 941.23 (1) (c), to carry a concealed firearm if s. 941.23 (2) (c) 1. to 7. applies.
(d) A licensee, as defined in s. 175.60 (1) (d), or an out-of-state licensee, as defined in s. 175.60 (1) (g), to carry a concealed weapon as permitted under s. 175.60.
Mr. Braunel is not a current or former law officer.  With no license to carry he is NOT permitted to carry a weapon on the job.

Be that as it may, Mr. Braunel was asking what I would have thought if he was carrying a weapon in Manitowoc City Council chambers with no license.  My answer is, that if he did so he was in violation of the law as even under the most liberal reading of the statute it at least a misdemeanor.

At the same time violations of the licensing requirement for security guards carry some hefty penalties:
 (8)Penalties. Any person, acting as a private detective, investigator or private security person, or who employs any person who solicits, advertises or performs services in this state as a private detective or private security person, or investigator or special investigator, without having procured the license or permit required by this section, may be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 or imprisoned not less than 3 months nor more than 6 months or both. Any agency having an employee, owner, officer or agent convicted of the above offense may have its agency license revoked or suspended by the department. Any person convicted of the above offense shall be ineligible for a license for one year.
Mr. Braunel has a lot of explaining to do.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kerry Trask - Messenger of Doom

"Bernie, you are the conscience of the Democratic Party!"  Kerry Trask to me
"Kerry, if your conscience isn't bothering you then it isn't working."  Me to Professor Trask

A shrinking parade
Manitowoc County Dems PR photo: Trask at left
Professor of History (Emeritus) Kerry Trask has many credits to his name.  He was a fine lecturer of early American History.  He can use his stentorian voice to deliver a stirring speech on Democratic and Progressive values.  Together his image and communicative skills should add up to great leadership and electoral success.  As it turns out, not so much...

 While on the right side of all the issues his own political career has been marked by abject failure.  For starters he is Canadian and when he ran for Assembly had only just become a U.S. citizen after being in the country for decades.  This did not go down well with a suspicious working class electorate but his ego told him that all he had to do was show up and impress.

Also, as a UW Professor he has developed a persona of talking down to people and although he is considered a rock star among the party faithful he is utterly unable to talk to ordinary people.  In fact he was remarkably uninterested in doing so.  Though I had set aside my own desire to run that year in order to support him with his higher name recognition he refused my offer to assist him in campaigning in the rural areas.  He lost by more than 3000 votes.

Trask is quite capable of explaining the ironies and moral ambiguities of Andrew Jackson or the Black Hawk Wars but when it comes to the sins of contemporary politicians his insight has been painfully lacking.   In practice, his judgement in sorting out the less than faithful from the hanger-ons and merely ambitious has been non-existent preferring instead to practice an insular form of cronyism leaving most of the Progressiveism for the speeches.  In reality he takes his advice from those he sees as important and successful rather from the moral underpinnings of the party platform he claims to adore.

His management skills are equally non-existent using his volcanic temper to intimidate rather than make his case or solicit support, a particularly problematic approach when in the role of party chair.  Trask's inability to assess people as anything more than obedient students or differentiate between political power and political goals has enabled a train wreck in the county party.  Party policies and constitutional rules have been subject to his own individual interpretation and accountability be damned.  Any opposition to his edicts immediately evoke a scowl.  Dissenters need not apply.

The most obvious case was his allowing lobbyist Todd Holschbach to sit on the executive committee while not so much as applying for party membership.  Though the son of former Dem Legislator Verne Holschbach and working for Nature Conservancy Todd was actively working against Democratic interests by supporting Right To Work Republican Mike Howe for office.  Apparently the pedigree was more important than rules.  Holschbach is still listed as a Democratic office holder on the Manitowoc County Dems website.

Brey campaign photo
I've already documented the Brey debacle and Trask's efforts to undo the election of at-large committee members at Brey's and Holschbach's behest.  According to Trask I had to be held accountable for subjecting Brey to public ridicule.  It is equally interesting to note than when a deliberately and deeply personal attack on me by Brey and the allegedly Liberal Mayor Justin Nickels appeared on the web no such equivalent censure was brought.  In fact Trask dismissed both Brey and Nickels as "... not intellectual giants." and seemed to say that Nickels was not a player in the party at all.  Nickels is currently vice chair here and the apparent golden boy chosen by Mike Tate to prove that his program was working.  Obviously, both cannot be true.

Trask's stories have a strange way of morphing depending on the occasion.  When he sanctioned elections of at-large members he wrote in the newsletter that it was for two year terms.  A year later after being dissatisfied with the results wrote that the terms ended at one year and sent letters of termination to the elected members.

In the end, you have to look at the results.   According to the blog "Jakes Economic TA Fun House" Manitowoc County had the largest pro-Walker swing of any other county in the State - 22.1%

Swings between 2012 Presidential election and 2014 Gov election 
Lafayette- Dem +15.4 to GOP +3.3 (18.7 swing)
Trempealeau- Dem +14.1 to GOP +6.0 (20.1)
Manitowoc- GOP +2.8 to GOP +24.9 (22.1)
Buffalo- Dem +2.9 to GOP +16.4 (19.3)
Richland- Dem +16.1 to GOP +1.7 (17.8)
Forest- Dem +5.4 to GOP +15.1 (20.5)
Kewaunee- GOP +5.4 to GOP +25.5 (20.1)
Jackson- Dem +15.0 GOP +2.6 (17.6)
Crawford- Dem +20.0 to Dem +2.8 (17.2)
Shawano- GOP +10.0 to GOP +30.9 (20.9)

Most disturbing is the fact that Trask ran unopposed.  What this says about the general condition of the Democratic Party should be raising great alarm.  The fact that it hardly raised an eyebrow should have everyone filled with a pending sense of doom.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fifty Shades of Brey

The following is a letter to the editor published at by ex Assembly candidate, Alderman and County Board Chair Jim Brey.
Brey Campaign photo

As the Wisconsin Assembly starts to debate the Right to Work legislation being proposed, I recall the candidates forum between District 25 Rep. Paul Tittl and myself that was held Oct. 4, 2012, at City Hall in Manitowoc. I quote the Herald Times Reporter article which was published the next day:
“The candidates were asked if they would support so called “right to work” legislation, which usually means laws allowing workers to skip paying dues but receive the benefits of union-negotiated contracts.
Brey said he would oppose any such legislation and Tittl said the government shouldn’t step into labor relations in the private sector.”
I am not going to debate the issue here. You know my position from the quote above. But I do encourage Rep. Tittl to follow through on what he said in 2012. It is not unreasonable to hold our representatives accountable for statements made during a campaign. If Rep. Tittl is going to support this legislation, please tell us why. The residents of the 25th Assembly District deserve nothing less.
Jim Brey

What Jim Brey actually said during the campaign...

Brey Campaign Website - (currently defunct)

Listen to the man himself..

My response:

It is a rare thing when I find myself in agreement with Jim Brey so when I do I must take note. He points out quite correctly that during the election now State Rep. Paul Tittl claimed not to support Right To Work legislation and has seemingly changed his mind. In any other circumstance I might be impressed by this but I find it more than cynical to see the alderman and county board chair now trying to claim the pro-labor high ground.

Brey's anti-labor record is every bit as bad as Tittl's. Despite the cuts to the city and county he represents he openly supported Walker's Act 10 which did much worse things to public sector unions. He publicly mocked Madison protester's chant of “Shame!”. If Brey is now upset with Tittl for supporting his boss maybe he should consider his own support for Walker. The place to stop it was in the recall. By openly opposing it and (ostensibly) voting for the governor he enabled more harm than Tittl ever could.

Tittl's allegiance to Walker was never in doubt nor was Walker's intent to implement Right To Work. In the end their flip was little more than a well understood fib. In 2012 Brey's campaign was less flip than flop, commencing a campaign of blurred lines hardly any different than the Republican's. Why that should have afforded him any more credibility defies explanation. Few voters if any are going to split these hairs but they know pandering when they hear it.

Tolerance of Brey's serial undermining of Democratic principles continues to confound the local party. Unless and until that can be corrected the failures will continue. At least there would be a discernible choice.

What I previously said about Mr. Brey.

I have to say that I found Bill Lueders June 18th commentary about the divergent Democratic and Republican party platforms rather interesting. Without getting into the relative merits of each it is clear that we are at a crossroads in choosing a direction for the country. What I found particularly interesting are the quotations attributed to Professor Joe Heim who states that Democrats are beginning to understand the importance of enforcing party discipline, something that as a Progressive Democrat I have found remarkably lacking.

While Republicans have done an admirable job of purging the “RINOs” from their ranks Democrats have been back on their heels desperate to love any candidate who has the audacity to put a “D” after their name. In the 2012 Democratic primary self described Democrat Jim Brey said out loud that “Liberals can't get elected in this county anymore.” and proceeded to enumerate his disagreement with nearly the entire Democratic platform. In a stunning rejection of that strategy voters delivered an epic fail with Brey losing by a far wider margin than any other Democrat on the same ballot.

Since then the party has been split over that failure while still demanding rote unity. It
Known by the company he keeps
Denial of Dem values is not a virtue
would be a thing of wonder if the Democrats found the spinal material to put their money where their collective mouths are. But locally at least, the party has chosen cronyism over values which has come from some rather surprising corners.

Political unity is derived from unity of purpose. This is why we have political parties and why those parties have platforms. Governing is not a pro sport with its non-consequential allegiances where players change colors to get the best contract. We are deciding the nature and direction of our nation. For good or ill, people deserve a real choice delivered by leaders who lead from unambiguous positions.

 Other articles about Brey.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Walker's Shit Storm of Outrage

From Manitowoc HTR

Over the last couple of months Gannett Media has surprisingly run a series of articles and op ed pieces that have accurately detailed the impacts of giant ag (known as CAFOs - Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations) with a special Focus on Kewaunee County just to our north.  

Together with other article they document a Shit Storm of Outrageous actions that will affect the well being of the State for decades to come.

Another article details the finds of the Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center  which published the following findings.

In Wisconsin, dairy concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) hold 434,547 animal units — equal to 303,879 cows, assuming they are all milking and dry cows —and can produce more untreated waste than 69 million people. That's more than 12 times the population of Wisconsin.
As of 2010, pollution from livestock operations of all sizes has left more than 4,000 acres of lakes and 377 miles of rivers and creeks too polluted to sustain their designated uses of swimming, fishing, or providing a healthy habitat for aquatic plants and animals in Wisconsin.
Over time, the DNR has issued fewer citations to factory farms, despite rapid growth in the number of operations. In 2012, the DNR issued just three violation notices for animal waste from CAFOs — down from 13 in 2011 and 15 in 2010. The agency has also never turned down a permit request.
In the past five years, agribusinesses and agribusiness-related organizations (such as the Dairy Business Association) spent more than $4.4 million lobbying the state government in Wisconsin. Many state regulators responsible for enforcing rules on factory farms are former agribusiness lobbyists.

I have spoken out before about farm related issues.  The crisis in farm and other land related policies has now reached epic proportions.  Its time to begin to hold the pols accountable.

I would like to commend Gannett for an excellent series of reports and commentary regarding the environmental debacle in Kewaunee County. In the 1980s I was the first farmer to participate in the Wisconsin Fund to implement manure runoff control in the Manitowoc River watershed. At that time I had 65 cows, which by today's standards is hardly a farm at all. What was then a common ethic of stewardship among farmers has now degraded to a moral outrage.
Our politics have betrayed us. We have bought wholesale into the notion that we are somehow better off by allowing the monied interests to decide what is best for us and that prosperity is gained from simply turning them loose. Nowhere is that more evident than in Kewaunee, where there is overwhelming support for ultra-conservative politicians Andre Jaques and Frank Lasee, who then return the favor by giving these operations a pass over the obvious interests of their constituents.
As that crew attempts to patch Walker's broken budget, the victims in Kewaunee will find much company in their misery. Regionally, six warden positions out of the Green Bay office have been left unfilled, resulting in a 70 percent decrease in tickets issued. Eighteen more in DNR's science bureau are to be cut, representing 31 percent of their personnel. With hamstrung science and crippled enforcement the entire state will soon join them.
Republicans are responsible for attempting to remove over 14,000 acres from the public domain, a prime goal of the Dairy Business Association, whose members include the very Kewaunee farms that are destroying the water there. Some of that public land and water includes the Besadney nature preserve and fish station that supply much of the salmon eggs that support the Lake Michigan sport fishing industry. One of the largest farms there virtually surrounds it.
Unless we begin to connect the very real dots between our collective loyalty to these politicians, the situation will continue to decay. They are the tributaries to this river of filth which now threatens to inundate the entire state.
Note: Jaques and Lasee are not the only villains nor is it a problem unique to Republicans.  In the 2012 primary the DBA endorsed only 3 candidates and TWO of them were Democrats.  One of them, Jim Brey is well known to the lakeshore area. 
Brey is also notorious for opposing the Clean Water Act because of run off mandates imposed upon cities.

In that same race I was proud to have received the endorsement of the Sierra Club and two other conservation groups, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and Clean Wisconsin.

Since I wrote this more has come out.  According to the Sierra Club Walker's budget now is attacking current meager funding of  the Soil Conservation Service to develop soil "nutrient plans".

Water safety is also impacted by the Governor’s budget.  It eliminates the Fertilizer Research Council and funding for its innovative manure management studies, it reduces funding to county Soil and Water Conservation Departments who work with farmers to reduce runoff pollution by $800,000 and it reduces funds for nutrient management plans by $500,000.  These cuts increase threats from water pollution caused by factory farms.  Thankfully, it also contains some good water policies, including maintaining bonding for the Urban Nonpoint Source, Targeted Management Runoff, Contaminated Sediment Removal, and Dam Safety programs, and a proposal to continue collecting ballast water fees needed to control aquatic invasive species.  

Read the full story here: 

Did we really deserve this?  Is this really what voters intended?  I have one word for that.


People are fighting back, however.  Up in Bayfield County a moratorium on new CAFO facilities has been enacted by their supervisors.

The Bayfield County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a one-year moratorium on livestock facilities licensing in Bayfield County on Wednesday evening.The one-year moratorium will apply to all facilities over 1,000 animal units and last for 12 months, unless the facility has established vested rights


Other related articles.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's in the Genes

The Seal of Stibor Stiboricz
Too often when people go looking for their genealogical roots they are searching for some connection to a monarch or other person of inherited wealth or position.  When I went searching for my family's identity I did not find any kings or despotic rulers.  What I found instead was an inherited set of values that amazingly resonate down through the centuries and across the oceans.  By the miracle of the modern internet I found more than roots, more than family.  I have found the moral underpinnings for the things that I was brought up to believe by my father and his father before him.  As it turns out none of this is by mere coincidence.

In speaking out in political matters I often talk about values and how they govern (or should govern) how we behave and the associations we make.  It has always been clear that I support the Progressive model of society, a model that emphasizes the social contract placing the responsibility of the maintenance of society on those with the power and resources to accomplish it.  So, imagine my surprise that on discovering that the stories my father told of our membership in the ancient clan of Ostoja were not only true, but that the clan held the same values of Progressive egalitarianism at its core dogma.

I had once regarded the clan as mere legend, the stories my father told of the stories he had been told by his father.  But, when I discovered that the clan was alive and well and that other Starzewskis and dozens of other families still actively supported its organization and ideals legend became oral history and the oral history was confirmed by the documented history maintained by the clan at their website

The following is their 10 point statement of values.

1. Christianity (In a rather unique sense)

Ostoja coat of arms of the cross, which resembles the Christian values referring to the man withfree will and an open mind, tolerant to diversity, progressive, sensitive to the suffering of another human being.

2. Education, training the free mind.

3. Loyalty and unity
Unity has always been and is the strength. Unity is built on shared values that unite.

4. Humanism - in its full sense
Ostojczycy churches built in the thirteenth century, erected temples of faith. But not only that, also built Ostojczycy support centers for the sick, poor and old lifting, supporting, accepting,without regard for race, religion, guilt or relationship.

5. morale and ethics
That is the basis of existence of law not only society but also the environment. It is an integral part of humanism, which recognizes the value, dignity and autonomy of each individual and their inalienable right to self-realization in the society.

6. Wisdom and prudence
... to understand the power of science and a free mind and the wisdom flowing from them.

7. Tolerance and Pluralism
Respect for the right of every man to his own views, beliefs and preferences. In terms oftolerance and pluralism.

8. Justice 
The law is the backbone of society, and when it does not work, we are damaged which leads to the collapse of morality.

9. Freedom

10. Patriotism
Patriotism is the opposite of chauvinism and nationalism as part of its essence is respect for other peoples and cultures. Those not respecting others do not have the right to expect respect for themselves.

I once felt very alone in holding these truths to my heart.  It is more than a little reassuring that there is not just history but an entire extended family behind it.

Labels and titles mean little without theses underlying shared values.  There can be no unity without that.  Those that seek to take on the mantle of Progressivism while denying or denigrating its positions cannot call themselves Progressives - or Democrats for that matter.  To do so is to perpetrate a fraud, a fraud which will ultimately undo the organization.