There’ll be a lot of attention on Wisconsin this week, what with the recall elections vividly gauging the public’s true level of anger. Eric Roper of the Strib goes to Cheeseheadistan and files: “The bitter winter protests over Gov. Scott Walker’s new collective bargaining limitations on state workers, which gripped the nation, have given way to unprecedented recall elections for nine state senators. The results will determine whether Republicans retain control of the Wisconsin Senate. But they also may offer a glimpse into broader voter sentiment heading into the coast-to-coast elections in 2012. ’I think this is going to send a message throughout the country,’ said Bruce Faribault, a St. Paul resident standing alongside the UFO Days Parade in Elmwood, Wis., one recent afternoon to support Democrat Shelly Moore. The recall races are attracting outsized national attention for state legislative elections. In the typically placid district encompassing Hudson and River Falls, roughly $5 million has been spent in the battle between Republican incumbent Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and Moore, a local teacher and union activist. Almost all of the money has come from outside groups.”
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel looks at all that money and editorializes: “So not only are the recall elections ugly and unnecessary, they’re expensive — and offer even more reason for campaign finance reform that requires transparency from all groups. In fact, these recalls may offer the best argument for holding such elections only in the cases of exceptionally egregious behavior by a politician. To reiterate a point we made earlier: The Journal Sentinel is not making any recommendations in the recalls that will be held the next two Tuesdays. Recalls over policy arguments are unwarranted. Such arguments are best resolved on the floors of legislative bodies or at the ballot box during regular elections. Recalls should be used to punish gross malfeasance or corruption — something that cannot wait for the normal election cycle — not to overturn the results of an election or to dispute policy differences.” The Journal-Sentinel board did, memorably, “recommend” Scott Walker to its readers last fall.
Jack Craver, writing at The Isthmus, doesn’t understand the messaging of the Democrats’ TV ads: “Here’s something I noticed about the ads that is in keeping with the theme of Democrats abandoning the mission in their messaging: Scott Walker is often nowhere to be seen. ‘This election should be a referendum on Scott Walker’s policies,’ said John Nichols, when I talked to him last month about Democratic messaging. Instead, the ads we are seeing now reflect the voice of political professionals who have been called in to win the races with the usual bag of accusations: Sex scandals, tax dodging and — worst of all — providing the people of China with jobs. To be fair, the ads also invoke more substantive policy as well, such as cuts to education and taxes on the middle class. However, it is curious that those attacks include little mention of the chief villain himself. Instead the ads tend to portray the targeted senator as the lead architect of a variety of Walker policies, or even more amusingly, Paul Ryan policies.”
Christian Schneider of The National Review says, “While it was [GOP Sen. Randy Hopper’s] vote on the collective-bargaining plan that provoked the unions to gather recall signatures against him, collective bargaining hasn’t been much of an issue in the state since the recall process actually started. All around the state, unions have realized that the collective-bargaining issue isn’t a winner, so they have pivoted to other topics — school funding, Medicare, etc. For Hopper, the unions are primarily focusing on personal scandal. During the initial round of protests in February, union protesters showed up to picket Hopper’s house in Fond du Lac. According to reports, when they set up shop outside the front door, they were greeted by Hopper’s wife, Alysia, who told them that picketing there was a fool’s errand — as Hopper was living in Madison with his 25-year-old mistress. Through a spokesman, Hopper has issued a statement indicating he and his wife have been separated for around a year; he is currently living in an apartment in his district. He filed for divorce in August of 2010.” Dang union thugs! Sullying Hopper’s name with “values voters”!
A St. Paul man got mixed up with a griz in Glacier Park. Rachel Wedlund of the PiPress writes: “A 50-year-old St. Paul man was mauled by a grizzly bear Friday in Glacier National Park, according to park officials. The man was able to walk away from the attack, which happened about noon Friday on a hiking trail in the Montana park. According to Glacier National Park officials, the man — whose identity had not been released — was hiking alone around a bend when he encountered a mother grizzly bear with an older cub. He was carrying bear spray but was unable to use it in time. One of the bears attacked and bit the hiker on an arm, leg and foot, then shook him before leaving.”
It’s C2 v. The Josephines in Roseville, John Brewer of the PiPress covers an incipient Hatfield v McCoys showdown, over … a road: “A small, never-finished section of County Road C2 in Roseville is causing a dustup that seemingly pits one street against another. … a group of Roseville residents — the most vocal from nearby Josephine Road — wants the city to clear the trees and make C2 a continuous through-way from Victoria Street North to Hamline Avenue North in order to ease traffic on other east-west thoroughfares. It’s a notion that has come up every five years or so for the past 20 years, said several residents on the quiet cul-de-sac created by the gap on C2. This time, though, they hope to quash the idea forever. ‘All of a sudden, these Josephine Road residents say, ‘Let’s take a neighborhood and take it apart so it will be better for Josephine Road,’ said Kevin Holmgren, a C2 resident with a ‘Keep C2 closed’ sign in his yard. He hopes the city will vacate the gap so the road will never be connected.” Yeah! So then we’ll never have to look at those ugly Josephiners.
Since I couldn’t tell you the difference between a drake and a penguin, it’s good Dennis Anderson and Doug Smith of the Strib have a complete list (I think) of new rules facing hunters this fall: “The changes are designed in large part to encourage harvest opportunities, thereby stemming the decline of duck hunters in the state, which has lost 40,000 waterfowlers in recent years — more waterfowlers than most states ever had. But is the DNR putting ducks — particularly hen mallards and wood ducks — at risk? The agency’s biologists say no and, moreover, that the future of ducks depends on hunters staying in the sport, because they pay for most wetland conservation.”
St. Paul writer Bonnie Blodgett has voter’s remorse over Barack Obama. In a Strib commentary, she says: “Obama cares more about dispelling racial stereotypes than about running the country. He has my sympathy. I don’t resent him. I only wish he’d had the vision that George Washington had when he denied himself a third term. Maybe it was easier for a rich white man. But Washington knew that winning elections is less important than what you do and say once you’ve won. Politics is a power struggle, money-driven. So whom will I vote for in 2012? Obama will probably face Mitt Romney. If Romney wins, we’ll have four more years of drifting to the right, as Republicans further consolidate and embolden their coalition of money and religion. If Obama wins, my hope is that with the race monkey off his back he’ll turn into the president he wanted to be. My fear is that it may be too late for real elections, money having succeeded in tranquilizing voters and silencing honest debate.” Whoever the Republicans nominate, the choice will be plenty stark.
Someone has to keep the public up to date on the nefarious, wrong-headed, wasteful and quite possibly corrupt interaction between “fringe environmental groups” who believe in all that scientific consensus climate change silliness and “alternative energy” conglomerates, and Andy Post at Minnesota Democrats Exposed is just the man to do it: “Questionable conflicts of interest and multiple reports of self-serving behavior by state officials continue to surface as more and more dedicated readers bring new information to light in our ongoing series on climate change policy and its millions in public dollars. We first reported last fall on state legislators’ moves to allot large sums of money to their favorite fringe environmental groups out of the general fund and to their employers while vacationing at climate summits around the world. Now, a new controversy has been developing for several months surrounding the building of a gigantic wind farm complex in rural Goodhue county which will include 50 mega wind turbines close to residential developments.” What a shame. All that money could be used for drilling and fracking.