Viewpoint letters this week
It is the Star Journal policy to publish no politically-themed Viewpoint letters the weekend prior to an election. All political letters must be received by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26 to appear in the Oct. 30 Star Journal.
Please say it isn’t so
In the past few months, we have been treated to an incredible one-man display of personality traits that include such things as: self-aggrandizing braggadocio; grandiosity; excessive need for attention and recognition; scant ability to bear slights or criticism without retaliatory insults and threats; apparent viewing of others as “losers” and easily-manipulated fools, potential victims to exploit for his personal pleasure and advantage; conspiratorial suspiciousness and overconfident bravado combined with a rather touchy sense of self-worth that seems to require constant attention and reassurance from vociferously adoring fans.
I could easily continue in this vein but I’ll spare you further details. The short version is simply this: We have been witnessing a human being who is apparently conscience-free, and seems to have a rather tenuous relationship with truth and factuality. He may even view himself as the answer to our nation’s real and imagined problems, and offers as bond for his promises a frighteningly simple, “trust me.”
I try to remember that this dismal display is not part of a trumped up TV morality play on an old “Wrestlemania” episode. And, I need to reassure myself that in 2016 this is actually happening in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I want to be certain that we have not been transported back to Berlin or Nuremberg during the 1930’s.
But, sad and disheartening as it is, this is here and now. And it is real.
The portrait I have briefly outlined is not that of just another wealthy and entitled successful failure at living that our superficial and idolatrous society inevitably produces and celebrates with depressing regularity.
No, this sad picture is of a human being that one political party offers to us as a candidate to become our nation’s next president and the potential leader of the free world.
Are you kidding me? Really? Please tell me it isn’t so.
Ray Drake, Ph.D., Retired Psychologist
Job interview questions for Tom Tiffany
Mr. Tiffany, you received $75,000 from Gogebic Taconite to push their mining bill through, gutting Wisconsin’s long- held environmental laws and regulations. Have you ever met a pristine wilderness or ecosystem that you didn’t want to strip mine or frack, a tree you didn’t want cut down, or a wetland you didn’t want to fill in, if the price is right?
You’ve received thousands of dollars from hunting lobbies. In exchange, you’ve pushed for Wisconsin to become the only state that allows hunting wolves with hounds, one of a very few states allowing harassment of bears and other wildlife with hounds (in training) and the only state that pays hounders for their dogs killed by wolves during the harassment of said wildlife. Wisconsin taxpayers pay hounders $2,500 for each dog attacked and killed by wolves, regardless if that hounder runs his dogs through DNR- designated wolf areas. We also pay for the cost of veterinarian care if the dog manages to survive the attack. Heck, you don’t care if a hounder gets a dog from an animal shelter and deliberately arranges to get it killed for a check. We’ve had 40 dogs killed so far this year or $100,000 in tax payer dollars, not including the vet bills of dogs injured. Mr. Tiffany, can you please tell me the difference between Michael Vick fighting and killing dogs and what you champion, besides Vick serving 18-months in prison for it and not sending you a check?
Do you require hounders to take a drug test before receiving their blood payments?
You led the layoff of scientists at the DNR, since you don’t believe in climate change or much of anything in the way of science. CWD in deer has increased from 1.46 percent in 2008 to a record level of 9.4 percent today. How’s that anti-science thing working out for you and Wisconsin deer hunters?
How is it that a “small government” Republican like you has done everything possible to take local control away from our elected town and county boards in an attempt to fit the Northwoods into a one-size-fits-all puzzle, that includes Milwaukee and Madison?
Since 2010, you have voted to cut $24 million from public schools in the 12th district while supporting sending millions to private schools in Milwaukee, expanding voucher programs and giving a tax break to millionaires who already send their children to private schools. Is it a coincidence that an organization promoting voucher and religious schools has purchased $230,000 in ad time for you in this election year?
You stated you wear The League of Conservation Voters grade of an ‘F’ as a badge of honor. How does your “badge of honor” fit into what we, living in our beautiful Northwoods, hold dear?
Besides these questions, why else did you vote to gut Wisconsin open records laws?
I’m sorry Mr. Tiffany, you’re not a good fit for this position and we’ll have to go with the other candidate.
Lisa MaKarrall, Rhinelander
Tiffany’s record; we deserve better
With Election Day coming up, consider the record of the incumbent senator from the 12th District.
Sen. Tiffany was the lead petitioner from the senate in a letter to DNR Secretary Stepp to give $500,000 of taxpayer money to United Sportsmen of Wisconsin. The “Sporting Heritage Grant” application was arranged so that United Sportsmen, a fake sportsman’s group, would be the only qualifier.
Tiffany was the leading advocate to allow Gogebic Taconite (GTac) to rewrite Wisconsin’s mining laws to the company’s benefit. At the hearing for the mine, a citizen who waited 12 hours to testify revealed that Tiffany took $74,000 from mining interests. In reply, he told her to “write a letter to the editor” and then cut off her testimony. Anyone can watch this on YouTube. Unfortunately, we will never know how much of the $700,000 GTac gave to Wisconsin Club for Growth ended up with Senator Tiffany.
Tiffany sought to have GTac lobbyist Bob Seitz appointed Deputy Director of the DNR. After GTac walked out on the mine, Seitz was awarded a $112,000-per-year appointment to the PSC. Then, Tiffany authored the non-budgetary provisions in the 2015-2016 budget to fire DNR employees in the Bureau of Science Services.
Tiffany authored other non-budgetary provisions in the budget. He wrote the language gutting shoreland zoning laws and eliminating the ability of local governments to enact their own zoning. He wrote the language taking regulatory authority over the Rest Lake Dam from the DNR. This allows residents on the Rest Lake Chain to hoard water during droughts and then flood downstream property owners in the fall just so they don’t have to bring in their piers for the winter. In response to non-budgetary language being placed in the budget and hence not subject to public testimony, Sen. Cowles said it was “a sneaky way to govern.”
Tiffany also voted to gut Wisconsin’s public records laws late on a Friday prior to the 4th of July holiday weekend. He retracted his vote after getting caught.
Trying to limit public testimony, Tiffany attempted to pass a law written by the fish farming industry in a committee meeting with only 24-hours notice. Besides allowing fish farms to dredge and divert streams, his law would have made taxpayers cost share in fish farmers’ pollution control measures. He co-sponsored the legislation and was a leading advocate for eliminating DNR oversight of high capacity wells.
Tiffany sent out mailings on a Saturday prior to a Tuesday Oneida County Board election that lied about two candidates running for the board. He tried to get the Attorney General and GAB to investigate a citizen who legally voted in opposition to his mining project. He voted to increase campaign contributions to politicians while reducing reporting requirements. He supported voter suppression by reducing available voting hours. Then he voted to eliminate the GAB.
Public records show that Tiffany was warned in advance of impending problems at Lincoln Hills, and he chose to ignore them. His campaign mailings tout his mission of governmental accountability; however, this apparently doesn’t apply to WEDC.
Tiffany has abused the privilege of representing the 12th District. Please consider his record before subjecting the 12th District and the state to more of the same behavior. We deserve better.
Terry Cummings, Rhinelander
Voting for a change in the 12th senate district
The Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 edition of the Green Bay Press-Gazette includes an article submitted by our 12th District State Sen. Tom Tiffany, in which he indicates that investing in our schools is one of his top priorities. He touts his efforts on behalf of supporting our small rural schools in Wisconsin. Before he pats himself on the back too much, he should look at the memo released by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Oct. 4, 2016, which provides the estimated levels of state support for Wisconsin’s school districts.
Many of the small rural schools in northeastern Wisconsin belong to either the M & O Conference or the Northern Lakes Conference for athletic competition. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo ranks the 424 school districts of Wisconsin by the amount of state support each district receives and gives the percentage that amount provides for each district’s budget, with those districts receiving the most support being ranked at the top and those districts receiving the least support being at the bottom. Don’t spend too much time on the first couple of pages of the report, as you won’t find many of our schools near the top. Fourteen of the districts from the two athletic conferences mentioned above are ranked at 275 (Coleman with 54.66 percent state support) or lower. The other 13 are all in the bottom one-third and rank from 329 (Laona with 44.58 percent) to 417 (Phelps with 23.67percent). Those other districts are Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine, Crandon, Crivitz, Elcho, Florence, Goodman-Armstrong, Suring, Three Lakes, Wabeno, Wausaukee and White Lake. Some of the larger northeastern school districts don’t fare much better, as Rhinelander ranks 365, Tomahawk ranks 367, Lakeland Union High School ranks 405, and Northland Pines ranks 413.
Where does the state support for K-12 education go? Check Beloit (85.31 percent state support), Green Bay (72.79 percent), Kimberly (71.78 percent) or Antigo (71.77 percent). Milwaukee Public Schools are the top dollar supported school district, but have some programs that are unique to it alone, making harder to compare, but still state funded.
Clearly many of the school districts in Northeastern Wisconsin are on the short end of the state support and these districts are not located in what we would consider wealthy counties. All of this while our present legislators have consistently voted to approve directing millions of state education dollars to unaccountable private schools and voucher programs. It has been estimated that as much as $24 million dollars of state education funding has been re-directed from the 12th Senate District to support these programs. The strange thing is, recently there were 135 state approved voucher schools in Wisconsin, and as best as I could tell, none of them were in the 12th Senate District. With these facts in mind, I will clearly be voting for a change in the 12th Senate District. I will put my faith in challenger Bryan Van Stippen, rather than more of the same from incumbent Tom Tiffany.
Tom Thielke, retired Crandon school district administrator
Choose local legislators carefully
Northern Wisconsin residents treasure our lakes and streams for their scenic and recreational values. Those waters also help generate substantial economic activity.
The Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to protecting and preserving water quality and shoreland habitat. We do this by serving as an advocate, information source and communication link for lake and river associations and districts, county and local governments, and the public.
Government policies can profoundly affect the health of our waters, along with the tourism economy and the property values of lakefront and riverfront residents. As the 2016 state legislative elections approach, we encourage voters to consider which candidates will best safeguard the water resources we all share. How would the candidates in your district answer these questions?
1. Knowing that Oneida County’s waters help generate up to $428 million in economic activity, what three efforts will you make to promote clean lakes and rivers?
2. Wisconsin has provided grants for scientific studies of lakes and the development of management plans for lake improvements. Should the state increase funding to translate those plans into action?
3. Clean, abundant and healthy waters are the lifeblood of the northern Wisconsin economy. The Public Trust Doctrine established in the Wisconsin Constitution says that our state’s waters belong to the public, with our legislature as trustee. How will you work to ensure that all citizens have the right to fair and sustainable use of our waters?
4. The Legislature has eliminated funding for DNR science positions, cut University of Wisconsin science budgets, and ordered researchers to stop studying climate change. Should the primary role in setting policy for managing land and water resources belong to scientists? Or to elected officials? What balance would you suggest?
5. Act 55 eliminated local control of shoreland zoning protections. It was passed through the Joint Finance Committee instead of going through the usual legislative process, and so without opportunities for public input. What will you do to open doors to greater participation in the legislative process for your constituents?
6. With over 15,000 lakes and thousands of miles of streams in Wisconsin, each with its own unique characteristics, which level of government do you believe can best protect the public interest in these diverse waters: the state or local government?
7. According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, more than 100 bills have been passed in recent years that weakened local control. Do you support this trend?
OCLRA invited State Assembly and State Senate candidates seeking to represent northern district to send us answers to these questions. To see their responses, visit www.oclra.org. How do your views compare with the candidates’ answers? Please consider the issues carefully and vote on November 8.
Bob Martini, Rhinelander
On behalf of OCLRA Board of Directors
Standing with Ron
This week in northern Wisconsin, wolves killed Otto, a 12-year-old basset hound and family pet. Otto’s owner put him out in the morning to go to the bathroom and instantly knew what had happened when he heard the wolf howl. Otto is just the latest in a long line of tragic losses of family pets and livestock to an out-of-control wolf population in northern Wisconsin. In addition to tragic losses of pets and livestock, the northern deer herd has been decimated. Many who have hunted in northern Wisconsin for generations have simply given up.
But we have not given up. We are leading an effort to get Congress to act to remove the wolf from the Federal Endangered Species list. Just last month, we hosted the Great Lakes Wolf Summit. We had individuals from across the political spectrum attend and the consensus was we must continue the grassroots effort that has been building. Our most important ally in this fight is Sen. Ron Johnson.
Johnson is the lead senate author of a bill that would allow Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming to once again manage their wolf populations. The federal government has failed residents of the Great Lakes region on this issue. Sen. Johnson is fighting for us, but at the same time, is in the fight of his short political life to hang onto his Senate seat. Career politician, Russ Feingold, has consistently had a small lead in the polls.
Let’s be clear, Russ Feingold is out of touch on the wolf issue. He recently compared the wolf to migratory birds indicating that he will not support delisting. It has often been said that in late November, a virtual army is encamped in Wisconsin when over 600,000 deer hunters take to the woods. If this army would unite to hold Russ Feingold accountable, we would win. If this army would force Russ Feingold to answer tough questions about his view on wolves, we would win. But too often, this army is divided. Regardless of your politics, Sen. Johnson is leading the way on this defining issue.There is only one candidate for senate that we can trust to keep fighting for us and to return management of our wolf population to the states. We must come together to elect Ron Johnson.
To be frank, after the election, there is a real chance that Ron Johnson will be the last thing standing between our pets suffering the same fate as Otto, cattle from being slaughtered and the deer herd from being decimated by a perpetually unchecked wolf population.
It’s time for the 600,000 hunters in this state to united and stand with Ron Johnson. State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst)
Rep.Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake)