Just a little loop back to my article wondering about the ecological impact of solar farms on the bigger environment. And if you haven’t, I suggest you read the link provided in the comments by democurmudgen. You’ll see solar farmers share my concerns and are working to develop dual use farming.

Here is a sample picture from a ten acre install on President Jimmy Carter’s property. It doesn’t look exactly environmentally friendly…solar panels over grass. Hey! Get off my lawn. So there does need to be some serious discussion about the best way to harvest the sun and the best way to protect the earth at the same time!

along with this text from Twitter:

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From USA Today:


Members of President Donald Trump’s campaign showed interest in benefiting from Russian government efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election in his favor, but investigators did not find evidence that their conduct amounted to a crime, special counsel Robert Mueller said in a long-awaited report revealed Thursday.


Investigators found that some of Trump’s aides engaged in contacts with people linked to the Russian regime even as the Kremlin was carrying out a wide-ranging effort to intervene in the election using hacked documents and phony social media campaign, carried out because the Russian government thought it would benefit from a Trump presidency. 


“Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian Government in its election interference activities,” Mueller’s report concluded.

Note to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: this wasn’t found to be a crime…going forward it should be…no must be a crime. Time for a bipartisan veto proof bill to make this illegal.

It’s become painfully apparent to nearly everyone in the Sate of Wisconsin that the Foxconn development isn’t going to be the project described in the contract that former Governor Scott Walker signed with the company. With that in mind Governor Tony Evers wants to negotiate a new contract with Foxconn.


Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday he wants to renegotiate the state’s contract with Foxconn Technology Group and emphasized the Taiwanese company won’t be creating 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin as originally envisioned.  


“Clearly the deal that was struck is no longer in play and so we will be working with individuals at Foxconn and of course with (the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.) to figure out how a new set of parameters should be negotiated,” Evers told reporters in his Capitol office. 


He said it was premature to say what specific changes he would be seeking. Under existing deals, the state and local governments could provide the company up to $4 billion to establish a massive facility in Racine County and create up to 13,000 Wisconsin jobs.


“All’s we know is that the present contract deals with a situation that no longer exists, so it’s our goal to make sure that the taxpayers are protected and environmental standards are protected,” he said. “And we believe we need to take a look at that contract and see if it needs to be downsized as a result.”

Let’s not waste our time and money. If Foxconn doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, the state’s promises to provide tax credits aren’t going to happen.

And then there’s the headache of push back in Madison. We are already seeing enough Republican recalcitrance around the budget and the bad blood that developed around the lame duck sessions, laws and now court cases that we don’t need to jump into this mire. It just isn’t worth it.

Besides, as Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos said:

…(he) was glad the state has an “ironclad contract” with the firm.

So governor…let it go. When they don’t hold up their end of the bargain…the state, Racine County, the Village of Mount Pleasant, and the residents of Wisconsin who were displaced and lost their property, sue them. Because…you know…the contract is ‘ironclad’. End of story.

So let’s not spend anymore political or real capital on this issue. Let’s just watch the whole thing implode.


Once hailed as “transformational” by former Gov. Scott Walker and other advocates, and touted by President Donald Trump as the “eighth wonder of the world,” the Foxconn project has been drawing increasing skepticism for the last year as the company shifted its stated plans.


First came a sharp change in the proportion of factory workers to engineers. Then Foxconn gradually acknowledged that it would not build the massive “Gen 10.5” flat-screen plant specified in its contracts with state and local governments, but rather would construct a smaller, less costly “Gen 6” facility.

Earlier this year, it looked like the company might back away from building any sort of factory in Wisconsin — news that prompted Trump to get on the phone to Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, quickly followed by a public pledge by the company to forge ahead with a Gen 6 plant.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald needs to get over himself and sit down and shut up just once:


Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald ripped into Evers’ latest comments, saying they showed the Democratic governor “wanted to undermine the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation from day one.”


“If the state is willing to renege on its commitment to Foxconn and open up a contract without agreement by both parties, then what guarantee can Wisconsin make to any other company that wants to expand here?” the Juneau Republican said in a statement.

Yes, the new governor campaigned on replacing WEDC…but has since backed away from that position…and Sen Fitzgerald, et al, poisoned that well with the lame duck laws. But if you have kept up to date on the Foxconn news, the governor isn’t/hasn’t reneged on the contract…Foxconn has…and the governor wants to document the new reality. Except there really isn’t going to be one.

And remember when I said just above, that nearly everyone knew this had become a hoax? Well here are the hand full of players who haven’t gotten it yet: Sen. Fitzgerald of course and his buddy Rep. Robin Vos and Rep. Van Wanggaard of Racine:

… the governor is “hell bent to kill thousands of direct and indirect Foxconn jobs”

Knock knock: (crickets)

So let’s get on with governing…work out the budget…fix our education issues…fix our infrastructure issues…guarantee clean water…and let Foxconn fail.

And meanwhile back at what’s left of the ranch:

Asked for reaction, a Foxconn spokeswoman had not responded by Wednesday evening.

UPDATE 4/18/19 7 PM:


Foxconn on Thursday reiterated its pledge to create 13,000 jobs, a commitment the company has stuck with through multiple changes to other aspects of its plans.

On Thursday, Foxconn issued a statement pledging to create jobs in Wisconsin.

“Foxconn remains committed to our contract with the State of Wisconsin, as well as continuing to work with Governor Evers and his team in a forthcoming and transparent manner,” the company said in its statement. 


Two industry experts on Thursday speculated that the manufacturing plant itself could require as few as 2,000 employees.

And Rep. Robin Vos remains in La La Land!

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The world celebrated International Women’s Day 2019 on March 8th. In honor of the occasion Governor Evers posted this photo of the women on his staff:

What was intended as a feel good moment quickly soured. Take another look at the photo. Following publication of the photo, a number of posts began appearing on Facebook taking issue with it. Those finding fault are women of color. And they were very frustrated and very angry. And to show their frustration, their posts opened with another photo paired with the one from the governor’s office:

The top photo of course shows former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan with a similar sea of white in the form of the House Republican interns. Now I am sure that the governor isn’t thrilled about being compared to Rep. Ryan. He spent a great deal of time and money in his campaign to differentiate himself from the incumbent Republican. And as a supporter of the governor it doesn’t sit well with me either. But the governor’s photo, despite celebrating the number of women working on his staff, is tone deaf given the lack of racial diversity illustrated in the picture.

I understand the anger and frustration on an intellectual level…but I can’t feel it quite the same because I have never and can never experience life as a person of color. But I am working at understanding how frustrating this is. I did reach out to the governor’s office. And here is the official statement from Melissa Baldauff, the governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff:


The governor believes that representation matters. We are proud to have a historic number of women serving in the cabinet and on the senior leadership team, but we believe that we have much more work to do to ensure that people of color are represented in the administration.

And as the governor continues to fill staffing positions, there will be consideration around rounding out a diverse staff.

I am going to pull in a few items from the threads on Facebook. I have screen shots but I am going to type them in as quotes since I am not comfortable in my ability to redact names to prevent identification. I know the original posters and have a great deal of respect for them. They are activists in the community. But I don’t know every one that I may quote and I haven’t asked permission from them. And I don’t want to cause anyone any additional discomfort. I am going to work with just two threads and will open with the original posts:

Poster 1: Sigh. Smh. How do we continue to miss the mark on diversity and inclusion and who’s idea was this to take the photo?

Poster 2: Tone deafness remains. Wants our votes but won’t mentor our folks. REMEMBER THIS POST IF FOR EVERS STAFF NOT ADMINISTRATION APPOINTEES. WHO YOU HIRE AS YOUR PERSONAL STAFF IS WHO YOU MENTOR FOR FUTURE PUBLIC SERVICE.

Yes the anger, frustration and disappointment is palpable here…and rightly so. And the truth in both of these statements should be evident to any and all elected officials in office.

Governor Evers has appointed a number of people of color to cabinet and administration positions. I’ve mentioned that here on Blogging Blue before (No One Gets Credit For This? and So No One Gets Credit for This?) and it was discussed on these threads as well. But the big picture is expectations were very high for the governor and people want to see more diversity on his personal staff:

Commenter 1: Wow. That’s disappointing. I guess that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Commenter 2: Where are the people of COLOR IN THIS NEW GOVERNOR STAFF..?

Poster 2: I am looking at staff who I would interact with the most when I am advocating issues. No black folks especially a black woman is an real issue for me. Evers needs to set the example of what real diversity looks like with his staff. Madison is too white.

Commenter 3: I spoke directly with Evers before his election and he told me TO ME FACE that he had a lot of appointments to make and he wanted his staff to resemble the diversity of the state. Having a few people of color in appointed positions DOES NOT reflect WI. His cabinet is mainly white old men, one black man, and a white woman. Trust that when I see him I’m calling him out.

Commenter 4: I asked around about this and have been told that people of color were hired in far greater numbers as staff and appointees than in Wisconsin population. Just passing this along. (I agree the photo is kind of jarring in this light)

Poster 2: White folks must be all in if they want black votes PERIOD. Diversity means representation like the constituents of this state. I get tired of white people saying at least they have one or two black folks. How many times you hear at least they have one or two white people? I do know it was the female staff which is why I brought it up. Black women are the most loyal voting block for democrats. I agree there should also be black men on staff and mentored at public service. White people can’t keep getting away with there are no black to hire or find.

These excerpts were selected from the two threads. You have complete comments here but I didn’t always bring over all of the conversations or the replies or the comment being replied to. I typed them so I apologize for any typos. I did not edit them other than making the selections. The comments should be entire and complete unless I mistyped something.

One of the threads on Facebook stated that if you increase the size of the governor’s photo, there are two Asian women in the background. That was confirmed to be true in another thread.

As I said earlier, the anger here is palpable. And it isn’t new anger but one that I think was set aside after suffering under eight years of Governor Walker with high expectations for new Governor Evers. And then the disappointment from this photo just brought it all to the fore again.

One question that remains unanswered (and it was broached in the threads but never clearly answered) for me is how a new governor is staffed? Is the incumbent staff carried over with only the top admins replaced? That would make sense for continuity and having experience. Or does the transition team open all of the positions and refill them? That would certainly insure having the ‘right’ staff to assist the governor but is it effective? I don’t know.

Now, I am not trying to throw the governor under the bus. I wholeheartedly supported him in the general election and in his runs for superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction. But I am not making any excuses for him either. This should be an educational moment for all elected officials…departmental officials…and leaders of public profit and non-profit organizations at all levels. It’s no longer acceptable to lead and not have a diverse and inclusive team….it flat out isn’t acceptable anymore. And there is no excuse for it…there are absolutely tons of qualified minority candidates at all levels for the staffing positions you have available.

Now why did it take so long to publish this article? Well, I debated it in my mind for a long time. As an old white guy should I write about this?? Or as the old white guy with a political media platform must I write about this. That weighed heavily on my mind and after conversations with myself and with a number of others, I chose the latter. Some of my better ideas that I had at 3 AM got lost. I mulled things over in my mind for weeks. I have been putting it on ‘paper’ for over a week now. I don’t think I have finished this. It didn’t come out exactly as I had intended. I am not totally happy with it and it’s made me a bit depressed and a bit angry. But I couldn’t let it sit in limbo any longer.

And I am sure in my naivety, my ignorance and my inexperience, I have gotten some of this wrong. You need to let me know. And if I have upset you, I apologize. But this shouldn’t be the last word…I’d like to use this to help open and continue the conversation. So please let me know what you think and what you have to say.

If you aren’t comfortable commenting in public here…use the feedback function on Blogging Blue and we can have a conversation on the side.

This was very difficult to put together. But I don’t think it can be my last post on the topic.


The fire at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral is a tragic loss for arts, culture, history and of course the Catholics in Paris and around the world. But it is already getting ample support in the way of resources to be repaired/rebuilt in the future. In the meantime, the three historically black churches that were torched in Louisiana could use our help:


A crowdfunding campaign to help repair a group of historically black churches in Louisiana affected by a string of fires has raised more than $500,000 within a week. 


The campaign, which was launched on GoFundMe by the Seventh District Baptist Association, a nonprofit religious organization, has raised funds from more than 10,000 donors and took off on Tuesday as several prominent figures promoted the cause on social media.


The Seventh District Baptist Association, which includes the churches impacted by the recent fires, said on the campaign’s website that it was working with the Louisiana governor, elected officials, the impacted churches and their pastors, other faith organizations and the community “to ensure 100% of all funds raised will be evenly distributed to the three churches affected.”

In case you missed the GoFundMe link in the quote above: HERE IT IS!

 

No further comment from BB:


States that voted Democrat in 2016 generally rely less on federal funding than Republican states, according to a study by WalletHub.


The analysis looked at the return on taxes paid to the federal government, the share of federal jobs, and federal funding as a share of state revenue.


Thirteen out of the top 15 states found to be most dependent on the federal government voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Ten out of the 15 least dependent states voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Obviously, no ranking like this is ever going to be perfect,” Stan Veuger, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute…

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Former House Speaker Paul Ryan to teach about U.S. government, political polarization at Notre Dame


Former House Speaker Paul Ryan will teach at the University of Notre Dame next school year, the school announced Monday.


Ryan, the Janesville Republican, will be a guest lecturer on “the fundamentals of American government, the current state of political polarization.” He’ll also teach topics including Catholicism and economics.

Economics? Paul Ryan knows less about real economics than any of the readers of this blog…he’s the last person that I would think if when considering an economics lecturer. Just because he was self touted as an economic nerd in the House doesn’t make it so.

By the way, let’s put this quote in the back of our memory banks. It might come in handy the next time someone starts complaining about liberal college professors, lack of free speech, etc:

“As an Irish Catholic from the Midwest, the University of Notre Dame has always held a special place in my heart,” Ryan said in a university statement. “It is an honor to be part of a University where Catholic principles, robust debates, academic freedoms and diverse viewpoints are allowed to flourish.

As much as I hope to impart as a lecturer, I know that I will learn a tremendous amount from Notre Dame’s remarkable students as we discuss the big challenges before our nation and collaborate on how best to address them.”

I just can’t…

Well just because she isn’t, doesn’t mean the House isn’t. And I would bet that neither she nor the president are smart enough to figure mine out…and they are particularly straight forward and uncomplicated…well except the new forms for 2018 suck.

But any number of people are overlooking one of the House’s main constitutional functions…the federal budget and therefore taxes. And the main group in the House that is concerned with taxes? Well the House Ways and Means Committee…so we are to think that no one on the committee or more directly…that the committee has no tax expertise on staff? LOL!


The Committee on Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committee unless they are granted a waiver from their party’s congressional leadership. The Committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs, and other revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including Social Security, unemployment benefits, Medicare, the enforcement of child support laws, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and foster care and adoption programs.
The United States Constitution requires that all bills regarding taxation must originate in the U.S. House of Representatives, and House rules dictate that all bills regarding taxation must pass through Ways and Means. This system imparts upon the committee and its members a significant degree of influence over other representatives, committees, and public policy.

And as I told by a tax accountant earlier today…really? I bet Trump’s taxes are nothing when compared to Senator Mitt Romney’s. And they managed to ‘figure’ those out during his presidential campaign! LOL!

Instead of worrying about whether Congress can understand the president’s taxes…they should start to worry that none of them are smart enough to understand the Constitution.

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