Walker Blames Top Employer in Ashland County for Lack of Jobs

by Todd and Dotty Richmond

[EDITOR'S NOTE:  This is a open-source correction/continuation of a February 12, 2013, AP article written by Todd Richmond. While the AP may accept such a stenographic offering as even minimally adequate, Todd's mother Dotty does not. Consequently, Dotty forced Todd to redo his homework assignment, this time getting the facts straight. In the future, Dotty will be checking all Todd's articles just like she still checks to see if he washed behind his ears.]

AP stenographer Todd Richmond transcribes GTac CEO Bill Williams’ non-answers after the mining bill passed out of committee on 2/6/13.

For generations  According to A Brief Bad River History/Description by D.J. Jackson, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is one of six Ojibwe bands in Wisconsin that are federally recognized tribes, four of which live on set-aside reservation treaty lands from the Treaty of 1854. These four are Bad River, Red Cliff, Lac Du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles; the other two bands are St. Croix and Mole Lake. The Chippewa or Ojibwe Nation is one of the three largest native nations in North America. The Bad River Band has quietly carved out a hardscrabble existence  lived peaceably since that treaty in the evergreen forests and sloughs of Northern Wisconsin along what people here call the Big Water of Lake Superior, living off wild rice, fish and game.

Little has changed over the decades last 159 years. They grapple with poverty racist neighbors and retaining their rights under the Treaty of 1854 every day. Despite the facts that Ttheir casino is tiny really far away from large population centers like Milwaukee and Madison, their homes aging do not all have the Internet, and weather-beaten it really snows a lot there in the winter, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is the top employer in Ashland County. But tThey have their land and their water and that’s always been enough. Miigwetch.

Now, though, In the Koch Brothers’ subsidiary of Fitzwalkerstan, formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, and before that Turtle Island, tribal members find themselves in the path on the losing end of a major well-funded public relations effort that hinges on the false, rhetorical promise to create new jobs in Wisconsin. Their lifestyle treaty rights to clean air and water in the ceded territories may turn out to be the most formidable obstacle yet for a Republican governor determined to show that he can ramp up destroy the state’s economy and blame it on the Indians, radical environmentalists and Capitol protesters.

Following millions of dollars in political donations by pro-mining groups to Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature, an out-of-state coal mining company are is pushing to bring put all the pollution from a huge iron mine into the Bad River‘s doorstep watershed and revive an industry destroy the wild rice that has been dormant their source of food for nearly 50 hundreds of years. Conservationists, scientists, tribal members, Democratic state legislators, concerned citizens, and any reasonable person who has been paying attention, fear know the myriad of reasons why the proposed bill would allow the mine would mining company to pollute the area, but supporters local Tea Party lackeys and their corporate backers disagree and are fast-tracking a bill to clear the way remaining regulations protecting wetlands and regulatory oversight.

In his two years in office as governEr, Walker, a college dropout, has rolled over his Democratic adversaries public employees to pay for tax cuts for the rich and beaten spent 60 million dollars fighting a recall attempt (remaining money now diverted to his legal defense fund), but he now faces a different kind of non-white opponents that he doesn’t consider to be real Americans. Though only 1,000 members live on the reservation, the tribe has legal status as a sovereign nation and could tie up the project has promised to sue the state in federal court, depriving Walker of his signature the only jobs bill creation achievement he has proposed as he prepares for re-election to run for President of the United States in 2016.

“We’re not going to let it happen,” tribal elder Joe Rose Sr. said. “The (Chippewa) tradition is to look seven generations ahead. We ask ourselves what we’re leaving for those unborn. Will there be clean water and air? Will there be any pristine wilderness left?”

Annette Olson, lobbyist for the extreme gun group United Sportsmen of Wisconsin and founder of the Tea Party group Unfringed Liberty located nearly 200 miles away from the proposed mine site is a strong proponent of the mining bill. "I don’t believe there’s any contamination in there," Olson claimed at the public hearing on the bill 1/23/2013.

Annette Olson, spokesperson for the extreme gun group United Sportsmen of Wisconsin and founder of the Tea Party group Unfringed Liberty located nearly 200 miles away from the proposed mine site is a strong proponent of the mining bill. “I don’t believe there’s any contamination in there,” Olson asserted at the public hearing on the bill 1/23/2013.

The issue mining bill has inflamed the tension sphincters of between the state’s bear hunting and business lobbyists beloved outdoor traditions and their need for paychecks payback to those who have prevented the wholesale rape and destruction of Wisconsin’s remaining environmental heritage. Many residents of A handful of GOP operatives from the surrounding impacted counties, where unemployment ranges up to 12 percent, have latched onto been induced by Americans for Prosperity to promote false promises of hundreds of jobs on-site; backers say LOL-ed to each other while their leaders claim with a straight face there would be thousands more for heavy equipment manufacturers and suppliers across the state.

“Everybody’s broke around here,” said Ken Scribner, a 47-year-old unemployed construction worker business owner and member of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce from Mellen, a town of about 800 people on the mine site’s western edge. “We need some money.”

How the collision of cultures treaty rights of the tribe can be resolved dismissed, short of years of litigation Republicans sticking their fingers in their ears and closing their eyes, is unclear.

Northwestern Wisconsin is a different world than Milwaukee not where the iron mine would be located, the state’s largest city and a manufacturing hub. This is an untamed place, Ashland County is located more north than northwest and is laced with secluded lakes, snow-frosted forests except during summer when the black flies are everywhere, swamps and towns separated by miles of lonely two-lane roads .

Iron mining was once the area’s lifeblood a boom/bust industry that never provided permanent job security or safe working conditions, but the last mine closed in 1965 as the steel industry shifted to lower-grade ore much larger mines in China, Brazil, and Australia out-competed the smaller North American operations. The region’s economy has limped along ever since, relying on tourism even as abandoned buildings and mounds of waste rock served as forlorn reminders of better days epitaphs to the impermanence of mining jobs.

Now, though, mining company Gogebic Taconite, a public relations firm that has invested more in lawyers and lobbyists than in mining activities, and pipe dream of playboy billionaire Chris Cline who has a yacht called “Mine Games”,  is considering a new mine in how they can crush and pulverize the Penokee Hills, which stretch from the northern Wisconsin woods to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, into oblivion. Plans call for blasting away 4½ miles of ridge line tens of thousands of tons of sulfide-bearing overburden to create a massive pit mine. The company hopes to ship ore pull the wool over people’s eyes and pull a fast one lest anyone point out to take advantage of rising domestic falling global prices for iron ore.

The Legislature is poised to limit afraid of public challenges input and wants to allow mining operations to store waste near lakes, ponds and rivers as political payback to the tribe and their supporters. The measure also contains a general fatuous presumption that any damage to wetlands is necessary.

Walker, who has been struggling to deliver on a campaign pledge wishes he had never made a promise to create 250,000 new jobs before he launches his 20146 re-election presidential bid, extolled the project in his made a mockery of himself during a recent State of the State address when he admired the committed domestic partnership shared between the miner and sailor on the Wisconsin state flag. He even surrounded himself with hard-hatted union members he said want to work at the mine brought in as shameless props to protect him from falling pieces of paper or cloth fabric from the public galleries during the speech.

All the wetlands in Ashland County will be adversely affected by toxic runoff from the proposed mine. Image courtesy of Wisconsin Wetlands Association.

But the Bad River reservation lies just north of the mine site, where the Bad River empties into the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs recognized as wetlands of international importance by the Ramsar Convention, before reaching Lake Superior. According to lore oral tradition, the tribe settled in the forests and marshes here long before European settlers arrived because the wild rice fulfilled a prophecy that the tribe’s wanderings would end when it found food growing on water.

Most of the tribe’s weathered houses and mobile homes and its casino, one of the state’s smallest most inconveniently located, sit in the woods along U.S. Highway 2 about 80 miles east of Duluth, Minn. Per capita income was $12,352, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.

But tribal leaders hold fast to maintain that their connection with the natural world treaty rights to clean air and water in the ceded territories supersede the corporate-driven genocide targeting their people. Signs on the reservation’s borders inform travelers ignorant out-of-state profiteers the land is sacred, and tribal members still rely on the land for sustenance despite the nearby McDonalds, Walmart and Piggly Wiggly grocery store.

“The view you get here is the view your ancestors had,” tribal chairman Mike Wiggins Jr. said as he scrolled through photos of the reservation’s beaches and spectacular sunsets on his laptop. “These things really do matter.”

Tribal leaders fear run-off from mine waste will poison the watershed with sulfuric acid and which will undergo oxidation by air and water into sulfates which will in turn prevent wild rice from growing. Democrats and conservationists Free-thinking rational people of all stripes and colors from all parts of the state agree. A Lawrence University study conducted on behalf of the state’s Chippewa tribes at the request of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission concluded that the waste rock could will generate acidic run-off pollution, but state officials say there hasn’t been an authoritative analysis they preferred to promote the propaganda piece created by Gogebic Taconite that vastly underestimates the amount of sulfate-producing mine waste.

As a sovereign nation under U.S. government treaties the Treaty of 1854, the tribe could ask the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the reservation’s own water quality standards if a mining permit doesn’t meet them. Under a federal treaty signed in 1837, the state also must consult the tribe about actions affecting its hunting and fishing rights.

The bill’s designated puppet author, Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany, who bears a resemblance to Sen. Palpatine from the planet Naboo, sought a meeting with sent a letter to Wiggins in December informing him of his plans to revive the once-failed mining bill, but Wiggins replied it would be pointless that effort falls far short of the government-to-government consultation required under federal treaties.

Republicans have acknowledged the matter could well end up in they don’t have full control over court the judicial branch, though they are working to gain more control through a new proposal to fast-track constitutional challenges that would bypass lower courts and go directly to the bought-and-paid-for state Supreme Court. But Tiffany said he believes the state will be on solid legal ground in pay lip service to balancing the needs of the economy with the environmental protections that have made Wisconsin a great place to live, work, and play.

mine

The proposed Penokee Hills mine would be an open pit using enormous rock crushers, pulverizers and diggers, not a deep shaft using the labor of people using pick axes and shovels.

The A vocal minority of locals are growing impatient pawns of the out-of-state corporate profiteers. Leslie Kolesar, chairwoman of the Iron County local mining impact committee said the county has been living with an inert mining residue not at all comparable to the potential sulfide waste rock for years and claims that nobody is sick, even though flyers for spaghetti suppers to support cancer victims cover the windows and bulletin boards in Hurley businesses. To illustrate, In a desperate and disingenuous attempt to make the claim that mountain top removal will be safe through the false equivalency with deep shaft mining techniques, she filled a Mason jar with water from a stream running near a rock pile that is composed of material completely different from the overburden Tyler formation, and slugged it down, proving absolutely nothing about the potential for sulfuric acid runoff as the result of pyrite pulverized into dust and oxidizing through contact with air and water.

“We’re not afraid,” she said, adding, “We’re still drinking the water, still eating the fish out of the rivers, and we are anxious to destroy the natural wealth of our neighbors in Bad River on the basis of empty promises of jobs from the mining company and Walker administration. God Bless America.

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5 Comments on “Walker Blames Top Employer in Ashland County for Lack of Jobs”

  1. tedvothjr February 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    Somebody messin with you? I clicked the link and got:

    Error 404 – Page not found!

    The page you trying to reach does not exist, or has been moved. Please use the menus or the search box to find what you are looking for.

    TV2

    Jesus is LORD.

    Ted Voth Jr, tedvothjr@gmail.com 1335 Williamson #2 Madison Wisconsin 53703 (608) 257-1799

    • wcmcoop February 17, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      Sorry TV2, it was published prematurely before images were added so we quick unpublished it, added the images and then pulled the trigger for real.

  2. jackpotisacat February 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    brilliant work.

  3. Jim Limbach February 17, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    Now that’s what I call a truthful rewrite.

  4. Rick July 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    And they blame Walker. Reading this article has been a great joke of the day. I guess if you are for a good economy and disagree with those who are living off of rice, fish and wildlife, not to mention welfare, you are a racist. What a joke.

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