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One man’s ego to stop a mine

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Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date: Mar 8, 2012; Section: Opinion; Page: 8A



One man’s ego to stop a mine

Democrats share blame too

 

    It would be easy to blame Sen. Dale Schultz for the failure of the mining reform bill on Tuesday. And sometimes I take the easy way out.

After rejecting one compromise, Schultz issued a statement that he had to make a decision that allowed him to look in the mirror. I suspect that’s a favorite occupation of the senator.

Schultz is a reminder of why the Republicans lost the majority the last time. They were unable to accomplish anything of substance because of senators like Schultz, and the voters punished the Republican Party at the polls in 2006 and 2008.

After winning the voters back in 2010, the Republicans in the Legislature pushed through an agenda of reform that actually accomplished real goals. They balanced the state budget without raising taxes, actually lowered local school property tax levies overall and empowered local governments to bring spending under control.

They accomplished this without Schultz.

What a change for the party when you consider just a few years ago Schultz was actually the Republican leader in the Senate, stopping real conservative reforms in state government.

Unfortunately, last year’s recall elections have put Schultz in the spotlight – his favorite place to be. Even his Senate website has him sitting in front of a television camera.

While the cameras were on him during the mining debate, he actually compared a possible mine accident to the tsunami that triggered a nuclear accident in Japan. We’re hoping somebody on the senator’s staff could tell him that Lake Superior has never had a tsunami.

Then again, when Schultz heard Japan had a nuclear accident, he probably studied the issue by watching Godzilla movies.

What did the senator’s fake moral preening accomplish? As of Tuesday, a bill that would have made it possible for a new iron ore mine near Hurley is now stalled in the Senate.

At stake in the mining debate is more than the 700 jobs at the mine. Thousands of jobs across Wisconsin could be created as a result of the mine, including the manufacturing of mine equipment in southeastern Wisconsin.

The bill would have set a timetable for approval of mines in Wisconsin while keeping in place environmental safeguards. The developers of the proposed mine have said that it’s absolutely necessary to have a set timeline so they can line up investors.

Compromise after compromise offered, and Schultz could only complain that the original bill was drafted behind closed doors. Never mind all the public debate since then, including at the Legislature.

Of course, Schultz’s alternative bill was also drafted behind closed doors with Democratic Sen. Bob Jauch. The Schultz bill would have imposed new taxes on the proposed mine and would have removed all certainty from the timeline for mine approval.

In rejecting the latest compromise, Schultz even expressed nostalgia for the days when the state had a public intervenor named Kathleen Falk, when she earned a reputation for being an extreme liberal.

Meanwhile, the Democrats in the Legislature have decided to put partisanship above the people by refusing to support the bill. Not one Democrat is willing to cross party lines even though five unions endorsed the bill on Monday.

It’s bad enough when one grandstander like Schultz is willing to deny employment to thousands of Wisconsinites just to have his moment in the spotlight. It’s even worse when the entire Democratic Party acts as Schultz’s enabler instead of doing the right thing and helping the Republicans pass the mining bill.

The protesters and the recallers will be back in Madison on Saturday chanting shame, shame, shame. Some of the union members who could have benefitted from the new mine should remind the protesters where the shame actually belongs.

The protesters and the recallers should take a moment Saturday and join Schultz in looking in the mirror. They were the ones that put Schultz in the position of being able to stop the mine to feed his own ego. Shame, shame, shame on them all.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

JAMES WIGDERSON 

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