Solar power is one of the major renewable energy sources being touted and rapidly developed for replacing carbon based power generation systems. Yes, by all means, once the panels are built, they seem to be carbon neutral. A good thing…but let’s not pretend that solar power is benign.

Just recently the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved two large solar power projects for Wisconsin. One near the driftless area and one near Two Rivers.

Wisconsin will produce five times as much power from the sun, by one estimate, with the addition of two solar projects approved Thursday.

The two projects are projected to cost $390 million.

Wisconsin had about 103 megawatts of solar power at the end of last year, estimates Renew Wisconsin, which promotes renewable energy.
The two projects approved Thursday, by comparison, will add a total of 450 megawatts of generating capacity.

That’s enough power for roughly 120,000 households.

Hey, cool right? Well maybe. And the PSC is watching costs so that consumers don’t end up paying exorbitant rate increases to fund construction of these solar farms. But there’s that one word in my previous sentence that gives me pause…farms. These installations will consume a significant amount of farm land. So are we adding new pressures on farmers in Wisconsin just when they are already suffering under the strain of low dairy prices, tariffs, flooding, and increased competition? Will farmland become so attractive to solar power advocates that we price our farmers off the land?

He (PSC Commissioner Mike Huebsch) also noted that the two projects will require a total of about 5,000 acres.

“Farming and farmland use is something that is deep in the heart of state, and it is not something we should take lightly,” Huebsch said during the hearing. “This is a significant issue that we need to be cognizant of as we move forward.”

Can we find better locations for solar panels than farmland? Parking lots? Additional rooftops? ??

And I didn’t see anything about an environmental impact study in the article linked above. There will certainly be an environmental impact. We know what wildlife and plant life lives on farms. We know the impact of livestock. We know what crops are grown and how they affect the environment. We watch for runoff. We watch out for wetlands (well except for the former governor). We watch out for woodlots.

But what happens when we replace fields of grain with fields of solar panels? Do we reduce the temperature at ground level significantly enough to change the micro-environment? If you think I am being silly, you certainly have been aware since childhood that standing in the shade of a tree in your yard is cooler than standing in direct sunlight. How does plant life change? You certainly have to provide ground cover beneath the panels to prevent soil erosion…rain water needs to be accounted for and soaked in where ever possible. So what do we need for vegetation? Partial shade plants? Full shade plants? Are there native plants we can use?

Trees??? What about trees? We can’t have them shading the panels or blowing over onto them…or depositing leaves on them. We don’t want to lose one of nature’s most effective carbon sinks.

So when rain runs off the panels, what happens? Do we need landscaping to prevent creating divots under the ends of the panels? Do we have to account for potential riverlets? ??

And if we change the fauna, what happens to other species. What changes in insect life will we see? Additional loss of bees? Butterflies? Will we lose native insects as a food source for native birds? Will we lose birds?

A year or so ago, I saw an article about a solar array going up on acres and acres of desert in the southwest. I had similar concerns then. I know to most of you, that seems like a useless, desolate place. But if you change the temperature at the ground and shade the indigenous plant life, what happens next? Do you change the weather patterns (apparently yes since solar panels are being considered to stop the growth of the Sahara desert)? The flora and fauna there tends to be more specific than what we have in Wisconsin.

I don’t feel the concerns are that big for urban roof tip arrays or those in parking lots. They aren’t changing the flora or fauna of their location. But if we are replacing agriculture with solar panels, what are the potential unintended consequences?

NOPE…me either. But this week I started to get emails asking for contributions…you think the MAGA campaign sold my email information?

As you know the Trump campaign keeps sending me emails begging for money. I seldom bother to even look at them but I couldn’t help it today. It was a personal plea from Lara Trump.

But I am kinda curious about these emails because they are joint ventures between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. I didn’t realize that was allowed but apparently so or they wouldn’t do it, right? Here is the joint fundraising group:

But here is the statement that seems pretty weird!

Political contributions were NEVER deductible for federal income tax purposes…but under the Trump Tax Law…for most of us (unless you are in a position to itemize), charitable contributions aren’t either. What are they thinking??

The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point made national news last year when it announced that it was scaling back liberal arts offerings and eliminating a number of majors. Nobody was giving them kudos at the time but they were struggling under a deficit and declining enrollments.

But not, low and behold, they have weathered the storm and will continue to review and restructure their programs and they aren’t doing it via the original program eliminations.

And just how did they make this miraculous turnaround? Well here’s the feel good version of the story:

After putting majors like history and geography on the chopping block — and in the process drawing national attention to the future of liberal arts education — the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point announced Wednesday it was changing plans.

The university had enough faculty retirements and resignations in the months following the November proposal that it didn’t need to outright cut the programs, Chancellor Bernie Patterson told the Journal Sentinel.

However, it will adjust them.

My question revolves around the resignations…and the retirements. How many of the faculty and staff resigned or retired because of the original announcements and turmoil at UW-SP? Rather than wait and see…did they take an earlier retirement than planned? And the resignations…did they take the logical path and find a new job before they were terminated? To me, this isn’t manna from heaven but a heavy handed way to force faculty out. (I don’t know if the UW works like a business…but if someone resigns they seldom get severance). So did we save the university at the cost of the well being of the faculty?? Well, maybe so:

Mark Tolstedt, a UW-Stevens Point communications professor, characterized the announcement as a double-edged sword. It’s a positive, Tolstedt said, because majors aren’t being eliminated — and more faculty with them. ”It’s also a negative because that’s only in place because so many people have left this campus,” he said.

OK…now that I’ve railed on about the UW-SP mistreatment of faculty, I also wonder about the faculties concern about their students. Just a quick quote from the above link:

“It’s really great news for faculty and particularly students,” Willis (History Department Chair Lee Willis) said.

I really think we should be thinking about students first…

But remember when I said that earlier link was the feel good story? It was published on line yesterday and in the print edition this morning. But this update was published on line just today:

A day after the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point said it would back away from a proposal to eliminate four liberal arts majors, the university released data showing how many faculty and staff positions it had lost to avoid the cuts.

Over a six-year period ending in fiscal 2020, the school expects to decrease by more than 130 full-time equivalent positions. More than 40 of those will come in the next fiscal year alone.

The combination of resignations, retirements, buyouts  and unfilled vacancies will save the university $3.6 million in the upcoming fiscal year, according to university data.

Faculty at UW-Stevens Point say the next challenge will be restructuring departments with fewer people.

“It is true that the retirements and other changes in personnel have helped them in this situation, no question about it, but this is not over and we’re investing in exciting new directions that should stimulate a lot of engagement,” he (UW System President Ray Cross) said.

emphasis mine

So there is some serious faculty kicking to the curb going on. Once again Wisconsin is devaluing education and taking it out on educators. What we’ll see is more part time faculty without benefits…and lack of continuity in the classrooms. And even fewer students interested in pursuing a career in education.

Party On Stevens Point!

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In news that should surprise absolutely no one the National Rifle Association announced its opposition to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, legislation which has provided countless victims of domestic violence with some measure of protection and accountability against perpetrators of domestic violence. Apparently the NRA’s feelings were hurt by the VAWA reauthorization’s provisions designed to keep even more domestic abusers from having access to firearms.

Under federal law, individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses against their spouses or family members are already barred from owning firearms. But the law does not apply to individuals who abuse their dating partners. The VAWA reauthorization bill would fix that, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”

It would also prohibit individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses ― which experts believe can be a predictor of future violence ― from owning or purchasing firearms.

The NRA has not weighed in on VAWA reauthorizations in past years, NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen told HuffPost. But the organization is coming out against the bill this time because it expands the list of misdemeanor convictions that result in permanent firearm prohibitions, she said.

When you’re siding with domestic violence offenders and against women who’ve been victimized you’re probably on the wrong side of history.

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After recent announcements out of Milwaukee County government and the Mayor of Milwaukee’s office complaining that Milwaukee sends more money to Madison than is sent back…we get this:

Republican legislative leaders are raising concerns about a plan in Democratic Gov. Tony Evers budget that calls for borrowing $40 million to replace lead pipes around the state — in part because they fear too much of the money would go to Milwaukee.

When children are being quite literally poisoned and we are all aware of the prevalence of lead pipes in older parts of the city…and there hasn’t been the local or municipal resources to remediate the situation…the governor of the state of Wisconsin puts forward a logical responsible state response for the problem (and probably just a start…not enough…yet)…the response of the GOP ‘leadership’ is NO because too much money would go to Milwaukee?

Have any of you nitwits noticed that Milwaukee is the LARGEST city in the state and has some of the oldest infrastructure…and as a result the biggest need? This response is totally incomprehensible! Totally!!

… people from Marinette funding lead replacements in Milwaukee. I’m not sure that that’s necessarily fair from a taxpayer standpoint.

Gentlemen…and I use that word because most all of the GOP is male…what about all of the state projects funded by Milwaukee taxpayers? Hmmmm?

Vos (Assembly Speaker Robin Vos) said the cost of replacing tens of thousands of lead service lines throughout Wisconsin would be too expensive…

Which is exactly why the state needs to get involved. They have the resources or the ability to raise the resources. The GOP took the option of raising local property taxes away from municipalities for big remediation projects like this years ago. And we aren’t talking about changing pipes IN homes…we are talking about the laterals that run from the water main to the home…something that the municipalities did themselves or authorized low those many years ago. Government at all levels in Wisconsin need to be involved but the state government should be taking the lead in funding and direction.

One of the primary directives of state government is providing a clean and safe environment…for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And nothing is more fundamental than clean drinking water. Get on the stick…and let’s get the lead out!

The way they are talking in Madison, I am wondering if they all live in homes with lead pipes.

I try to avoid calling names on this blog, feeling civility starts with me and Blogging Blue…but now Robin Vos is just being a jerk. First he won’t do his job and now he’s telling the governor to not do his job. btw: isn’t the state senate the body that approves appointments? So the assembly has nothing to do with it.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Wednesday that Gov. Tony Evers should not appoint anyone new to a commission that regulates utilities until there are more court rulings on lame-duck actions aimed at limiting the Democratic governor’s power. 

He made the comments a day after an appeals court unanimously ruled Evers was within his rights to push aside 15 appointees of former GOP Gov. Scott Walker, including Ellen Nowak of the Public Service Commission. 

This from a legislative body that apparently isn’t even doing anything anyway…sheesh:

With Wisconsin’s government divided, the state Legislature isn’t doing much. 

That was underscored Tuesday when lawmakers began their sole session for the month. The day’s plans for lawmaking are not robust.

The most substantive legislation they approved was Senate Bill 19, which would replace the phrase “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in state rules.

But last month Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order to do just that — minimizing the effect of the legislation, which is meant to make Wisconsin a more welcoming state by taking an offensive term out of state rules. 

Also Tuesday, lawmakers heard from Tehassi Hill, chairman of the Oneida Nation, for the annual State of the Tribes address.

Beyond that, they did little.

So exactly what is keeping Rep. Vos so busy that he can’t walk across the rotunda and talk with the governor about the budget, appointments, and the future of Wisconsin?

State Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer on Wednesday conceded the race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to her colleague Brian Hagedorn. 

The concession comes more than a week after an election during which Neubauer trailed Hagedorn by about 6,000 votes and concludes a bitter competition for the 10-year term. 

“I love being a judge. I treasure our state, our judiciary and its role in our democracy but this race was never about me. It was really about the integrity and the independence of our courts,” Neubauer said in an interview Tuesday with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We knew it was going to be close. We laid it all out there. We put everything we had into this race.”

This photo appeared on the front page of the Sunday New York Times April 7, 2019 to illustrate an article about the Brazilian soccer club illusion. It appeared above the fold and just below the masthead…took up a quarter of that top part of the page

Do you suppose it would have even made the paper if this had been a white soccer mom from say…Iowa?

Breaking down American taboos…one photo at a time!

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