Mined Over Matter

28 Jan
Mined Over Matter

Since my recent mining redux has generated more comments than any scribble in the nearly two-year-long tenure of this blog — even more than the name-calling, rotten produce throw, shit show that the “Unplanned Parenthood” piece inspired (feel free to seek it out if you’re feeling frisky for a cat fight) — what better idea could there be than continue yet anew with it.  Here’s the gist: Part 1 is about the money behind the mine.  Part 2 makes an argument to support Democratic state Senator Tim Cullen’s alternative mining bill.

Ready, set, Gogebic!

Quite simply, for every $1 that environmental lobbyists have spent against the proposed Gogebic mine, the pro-mining interests have spent $610!  Let me repeat that: the ratio is 610 to 1.  Apparently the buck really does stop there.  So how much flow are we talking about?  The adorable and button-cute David the Treehugger has scrounged around to offer roughly $25,000 and some pocket lint — basically the sticker price of new Prius.  Meanwhile, the oligarchic Goliaths have kicked in $15.6 million friggin dollars — which is apparently the going rate these days for a State Legislature and governor’s office in Wisconsin.  Thanks to the great folks at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, let’s take a closer look at who’s playing footsie with whom — and for how much.

Contributions To Republican Governor Scott Walker from Special Interests That Support Mining Deregulation: January 2010 – April 23, 2012

Special Interest




Banking & Finance


Manufacturing & Distributing






Road Builders




Taverns & Restaurants






* Total represents political action committee (PAC) contributions from the Operating Engineers Local 139, Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association, and Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters, which supported last session’s mining proposal.

Over $11 million just to Scott Walker, dang!  That’s a lot of teachers’ salaries and supplies or earned income credit refunds from tax filings for the working poor, all of which got axed in the last budget.  While the lion’s share went to Mr. Brown Bag average guy behind the wheel of a Saturn, let’s have a quick once-over where the rest of the best state government that money can buy off went to, shall we?
Top Legislative Recipients* of Campaign Contributions from Special Interests That Support Mining Deregulation: January 2010 – June 2012





Alberta Darling




Committee to Elect a Republican Senate




Scott Fitzgerald




Republican Assembly Campaign Committee




Terry Moulton




Sheila Harsdorf




Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee




State Senate Democratic Committee




Leah Vukmir




Jerry Petrowski




Howard Marklein




Robin Vos




Tom Tiffany




Sandy Pasch




Luther Olsen




Frank Lasee




Tom Larson




Robert Cowles




John Klenke




Glenn Grothman




Travis Tranel




* Table represents legislators and committees who received $50,000 or more from special interests.

So there you have it, folks.  Thanks again to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, and thanks also to Maggie, who first brought this to the attention of the scribbles community last week.  For more info on all of this, kindly direct your attention here.

You bet the vested interests really, really want to mine in Wisconsin.  Given this extraordinary bombast of bribery, one would have to be a quaint naif to think that GTAC — the Florida-based company that set up shop in Hurley, WI, to give off the appearance that they’re local — doesn’t have its ugly eye coldly cast on other areas in the state for additional mining sites.  That or they’re just hate-mongering sadists who have it in for the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.  Speaking of whom, if the special interests are so giddy up-and-go about this, why not take a moment and make at least a courtesy call to the Tribe and tell them what’s up?  Ditto the United States Army Corps of Engineers.  By ignoring both agencies, all that will be accomplished (besides the outrageous audacity of the thing) is the guarantee that no mining will happen for at least a decade and no jobs created, no economic boom in northern Wisconsin and no feather of accomplishment in Walker’s cap.  No, there will simply be a state of stalemate, a useless vacuum to be filled in with more partisan bickering and more irrelevance, leaving Wisconsin a place more deeply divided than an open-pit mine itself.

mining money 2

So why not trying something different?  Why not support Sen. Tim Cullen’s own mining bill?  Why can we not get past this unnecessarily stupid, demeaning, and totally artificial dichotomy of either you’re pro jobs or pro-environment, one or the other.  It’s insulting.  Seriously.  The world is not black and white, and neither is our politics.  Suggesting otherwise is childish at best, and deleterious at worst.  Now I don’t know if there’s a Santa Claus, but yes, Wisconsin, there is an ability to be both pro-jobs and pro-environment.  Of the many things inherently despicable about the whole fol-de-rol of the mining bill — and lord knows there are many — one of the more glaring is the reductivist argument that might as well be so incoherently stated as being either for it or agin’ it.  Bullshit.  Most of us have made up our minds about mining and the moratorium in Wisconsin without thinking critically at the substance of the topic versus its perceived symbolism — up to and you betcha including the State Legislature itself.

To wit, the bully in a China shop Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, who offered this nuanced nugget of wisdom: “A vote against this bill is a vote against jobs. It’s that simple.”  Actually, no, it isn’t, you bombastic asshole.  But way to continue to simultaneously miss the point and mislead the public!  If this one-dimensional view of the world were true, then he and his party should quit being such job-killers when it comes to wind farms or mass transit and pass such legislation and let business do its laissez-faire thing without government intruding.

How many Democrats have publicly announced that they are unequivocally and unconditionally anti-mining, wherever and whenever, period?  Who are they?  I want names.  At a press conference last week Tim Cullen held up his own bill, a simple and skimpy 25-pgs total, in contrast to the 200+-pgs tome of the Republican bill (SB1), which the senator explained is so long in part due to all of the changes to environmental standards.  He should know: he’s sat on committees, listened to testimony, and read the bill itself.  Indeed, in regard to his own bill, he explained with plainspoken humility that “[t]his bill is not made up of what I wish or what I think. It’s about what I learned. And about what the rest of the committee learned.”  Or should have.

If Republicans were sincere in their desire to pass mining legislation that would result in real jobs (and I must believe that a few do), then they would back Cullen’s bill.  In an op-ed letter Cullen recently argued, “The mining industry is looking for the Legislature to eliminate uncertainty in the permitting process. If a mining bill passes on a party-line vote, the industry would be reluctant to invest in Wisconsin, because political waves can lead to a shift in partisan power.  The best way to provide certainty and bring mining jobs to Wisconsin is to create a bill that receives wide support and could withstand a political sea change.” 

It is telling that such a commonsense approach in our current climate is regarded as renegade.

Democrats and liberals also have a role to play in this process, in my opinion.  It would be a disservice to the state and at our own detriment to just be anti-mining.  That is how the other side wishes to frame the debate, the age-old formula of us vs. them.  It’s a tactic of distraction.  Do I personally like the idea of a mine?  Hell no.  But I live in an urban environment — indeed, in the county with the lowest unemployment rate in the entire state — not the hardscrabble north country of Ashland and Iron Counties.  If I did, and I had no job, or was stuck in a dead-end, low-paying one, I reckon I’d be mighty grateful for the opportunities that came with a large-scale mining operation.  Let’s be real.  By supporting Cullen’s bill we risk little.  If we do nothing but grandstand platitudes, then we will have much to lose.  I for one would prefer to be a realist and win by fair compromise than be an ideological loser lamenting the lack of enlightenment in his neighbors — call it that Je(an) ne sais quoi…

If this calls out to you, feel free to let me know.  Better yet, let Senator Cullen and your own elected officials know.  And then kindly get the word out.  Thanks.

District Number 15
Senator Tim Cullen
(608) 266-2253 Capitol 108 South

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4 responses to “Mined Over Matter

  1. Shaster Disaster

    January 29, 2013 at 12:31 am

    Right on man! Thought I’d share this:
    Keep up the good work. Love your blog!

  2. scr227

    January 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

    such typical democrap. you say you want to be bipartisan but really you just don;’t want REPUBLICANS to get credit for CREATING JOBS!!! now who’s scoring political points?

  3. Maggie

    January 31, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Mining doesn’t create jobs. Look up the unemployment rates in Ladysmith, especially 1993-1997, when the mine was in operation. Let me know if you need help~


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