Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bass Pro Shops to Walker: No Thanks

The environment-raping Republican juggernaut in Madison met an unexpected bump in the road yesterday when the intended tenants of John Bergstrom’s wetlands pave-over in Green Bay announced that they would have nothing to do with it.

"We don't build on wetlands," said a spokesperson for Bass Pro Shops, an apparently successful hunt-and-fish-and-gun retailer that car-dealer Bergstrom wanted to bring to the wetter vicinity of Lambeau Field.  Apparently, the logic goes that, once the Elmer Fudds and Jared Loughners of the world ammo-up at the store, they might want to go out and actually have nature to spoil their own damn selves, rather than have developers do it for them with with special-favor legislation and bulldozers. 

Not that Bass’s passing on the project at that location is going to have an effect on Scott Walker and his lock-step legislature’s drive to get Bergstrom his payback for the thousands of dollars he poured into the Walker campaign. Something is going up over that soon-to-be-former home to natural species, damn it.  Look out, Highway 41 and Lombardi Drive – here comes another Wal-Mart!

And, because Republicans never have to follow the dictates of the documents they pretend to revere, never mind the Wisconsin Constitution’s prohibition against private bills (Article IV, Sec. 18).  The Republicans try to dodge the constitution by drafting it so that wetlands protection is removed for “wetlands that are 3 acres or smaller…within a tax incremental financing district in Brown County” rather than simply calling it “The Bergstrom Political Contributor Blow Job Bill”.  I’m getting in a little bit over my legal head here (I did take a course in Legislation, but that was sooo long ago. I need help -- IT, phone home), but doesn’t this smell a lot like the stunt Tommy Thompson tried to pull that was found unconstitutional in City of Oak Creek v. DNR, 518 N.W.2d 276, 185 Wis.2d 424 (Ct. App.1994)?  There, (short version) Oak Creek wanted to ignore DNR regulations and re-direct Crawford Creek.  Thompson’s (typical) power-grab statute in a budget bill (also typical) said the statewide DNR regulations don’t apply to Oak Creek or Crawford Creek.  Nope – unconstitutional, said the Court of Appeals. 

Walker is probably betting that, even if the gift to Bergstrom was obviously a “private bill”, there would be no one with the standing to challenge it.  The Oak Creek challenge was brought by the Wisconsin Public Intervenor, an independent watchdog agency that allowed the state of Wisconsin to sue itself in the interest of protecting its own natural resources.  Well, Thompson had enough of that after the Oak Creek and other annoying prosecutions showing how wrong he was and eliminated the office in 1995. For whatever reason, it was never revived by Jim Doyle.  Now, no one short of the Lorax can speak for the trees and the other living things threatened by the Republican contributor-funded steamroller.  Although Jim Rowen is giving it a heck of a try.

It is amusing, though, how much the business community that Walker pretends to know and love so much refuses to cooperate.  Bass Pro Shops has enough of an environmental demographic to step away from the land-rape Walker thinks they should be thankful for.  Burgeoning wind turbine manufacturers visited by President Obama in Manitowoc would rather Walker not insist on industry-destroying set-backs designed only to preserve the continued dominance of fossil fuels.  Wisconsin should currently be gearing up for $800 million of track-and-train construction; instead, Talgo is taking its train and going to Illinois.  National nursing home chains, now freed from the burden of lawsuits that might adequately protect their elderly residents from neglect and abuse, can now start cutting staff to the bare bottom-line bone, creating more lost jobs to the negative Walker ledger.

Wisconsin is open for business, alright -- as long as your business of the right kind, with the right connections and the adequate buy-in.  If not, good luck.  You'll have a harder time under Walker than you ever did under Doyle.


OK, now, what did I say about a regular publication schedule three weeks ago?  Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. right?  What is today, Saturday?  I’ll get on it.  He said. 


Anonymous said...

Why do you see this as a victory? In the end, the Bass ProShop plan would have left more wetlands on the site, not less. Don't worry about all the construction jobs and employees and tax revenue--just keep crying about Talgo.


Ordinary Jill said...

I suspect the Bergstrom bill was crafted carefully enough to pass Constitutional muster. Ashley Furniture managed to get a similar bill passed to allow them to expand their operation in Arcadia. Of course, Arcadia got hit with some nasty flooding last September, but a little property damage is a small price to pay to keep the largest employer in town happy.