Friday, December 15, 2017

Prices go up, payrolls down in mergers wasting billions

Remember when you read that CVS is spending billions to buy a health insurance company, and Disney is forking over a fortune to acquire some Fox properties, that there are tons of borrowed money in those deals which are often paid down through post-merger, higher consumer prices and reduced payrolls.

So don't be surprised if it costs more to see a Disney film, or buy marked-up items at your local CVS 
CVS N Tarrant Davis.jpg
where cashiers will be replaced with self-serve checkout machines.

Final thought: Mega-mergers like these often set other takeovers in motion, and the GOP tax giveaway bill which is all about maximizing corporate profits means we're in for a wave of consolidations which do noting for middle and working class Americans who are about to get shafted by the bill, its increases in health insurance costs and through wages that remain depressed.

Expect Walker to deny, distract over $30 mil. Foxconn road

I'm sure the Governor will spin the gaudy $30 million for new highway construction his allegedly cash-strapped WisDOT just gift-wrapped for Foxconn as just another win for Green Bay, and I'm not talking about a "w" for the 7-6 Packers.

As I said Sunday, Walker is using our money to bet his re-election on convincing taxpayers far from Foxconn's site in SE Wisconsin that what's good for Mount Pleasant there is good for Mount Horeb, Mount Hope and Mount Calvary, too:
Taxpayers paid for a thinly-veiled Scott Walker re-campaign visit to Green Bay last week, as our right-wing Governor and Foxconn bellhop keeps trying to convince taxpayers far from the Racine-to-Chicago Foxconn gravy train that they will benefit from the $3 billion in public subsidies collected from taxpayers statewide that Walker is shoveling to Foxconn at the expense of programs and growth in all 72 counties...
Send Walker back when the winter thaw leaves Brown County with a few thousand new potholes that can't be repaired because I-94 near the Foxconn site needs another lane
Here is a single blog post with more than 100 archived items following the Foxconn story.
Or, Walker will will duck the road spending disparity altogether, since he's got state-paid drivers to shuttle him around on roads that have crumbled on his watch to second-worst in the country.

Paying for front-end alignments and new tires is for the little people.

A Foxconn Fever primer

[Updated continuously July-December] This frequently-updated archive follows Wisconsin's award of $3.74 billion in state and local funds, plus waivers of routine judicial and environmental reviews, for a promised Foxconn factory development on Racine County farmland and wetlands near Lake Michigan.

*  Walker starves roads statewide, finds $30 million for new road for Foxconn.
Expect Walker to deny, distract over new $30 mil. Foxconn road
*  Walker wants to lure environmentally-tuned in millennials to the GOP's \environmentally-degraded WI.
Walker train ad stupidity and hypocrisy, part three 
*  Right-wing lawyers threaten local Foxconn funding.
In Wisconsin, the right is at war with itself
*  Leading environmental public interest law firm Midwest Environmental Advocates now following Foxconn issues.
Midwest Environmental Advocates posts Foxconn issues page
*  Here is the actual, 29-pagel Foxconn contract, as signed.
Here is the signed Foxconn contract
*  The ad features a trail biker. In WI, where Walker freshly blocked funding bike trail & sidewalk funding.
Walker's train ad stupidity and hypocrisy alert, part two 
*  Give Walker an award for shortsightedness, hypocrisy and audacity: After killing an Amtrak extension from Madison that could have moved high-tech employees right to the heart of his so-called 'Wisconn Valley,' and reliably blocking commuter rail right through SE Wisconsin and any rail initiative in the state, Walker now wants millions from state taxpayers for ads on Illinois trains and other pitches urging Chicagoans to move here or take am Illinois train to a Foxconn job. When did he become Governor of Illinois?
Stupidity alert: Anti-train Walker now pitching WI through ads on IL trains 
*  Basically, every woman, man, and child in Mount Pleasant just got a sprawl-inducing second mortgage. 
A campaigning Walker assigns small village debt, sprawl
*  Again, we ask: does Foxconn need to apply for a Great Lakes diversion, as reported? Can Racine, or Mount Pleasant handle the water supply and wastewater treatment demands, and by the way, exactly what's in that discharge, anyway?
Undercovered Foxconn questions demand answers. Again.
*  Prediction: illegal work shifts won't be the only ugly story you read about Foxconn practices in the coming months and years.
Foxconn boosterism looking a little icky today
* Summary post about the WI GOP war on the environment includes an explanation of Foxconn's coming collision with state wetland and water law.
Insiders, experts explain WI GOP's damage to the environment  
*  Foxconn part of great WI water giveaway.
Walker, GOP officials worsen WI water, wildlife crises. Part two.
*  WI experts, advocates add Foxconn project the environmental dangers' list.
Walker, GOP officials worsen WI water, wildlife crises. Part one.
*  Foxconn is a big one, but not the first. 
The con on protecting WI air, water extends far beyond Foxconn
*  Look past the gee-whiz promises to see who's already getting paid.
Foxconn offers gravy train, adds pie-in-the-sky
*  Watch Walker during 2018 spin 260 jobs into 250,000
At public expense, Foxconn gets low bar, Walker high praise
*  Foxconn fiscal fakery isn't Scott Walker's first foray into phony data.
Scott Walker's numbers games; the legend grows
*  Walker inflates Foxconn investment pledge by $! billion.
Walker hails $10 bil. Foxconn pledge; MJS says it's $9 bil.
*  When the hoopla ends, the hard work and choices begin
After WalkerFoxconnFest, the real meetings
*  Hubris alert.
Walker and Stepp were ready for Foxconn. Just ask them.
*  A billion here, and billion there...
Is Foxconn pledging a $10 billion investment...or is it $9 billion?
*  WEDC board doesn't get to see the contract after all
Slippery process: WEDC board approves Foxconn contract summary, not the actual contract
*   Who's on that WEDC board voting on Foxconnn in secret?
Private-sector dominated WEDC board dealing with Foxconn deal in secret 
*  File under "not reassuring." or "Duh!"
Vos praises WEDC...for doing its job
*  The Nov. 6 secret Foxconn review session WEDC deigned to hold is a sham.
Rolling dice for Foxconn, in secret, with our money
* A ray of sunshine forced on Foxconn contract.
Tim Carpenter wins a Foxconn round for the people
* Props to Madison writer Lawrence Tabak.
Tremendous addition to our Foxconn awareness
*  In perspective: the con began long before Foxconn.
How Walker is privatizing and selling off Wisconsin
*  Exhibit "A" - - Walker's gift or public waters to Foxconn.
Walker will float campaign on our water
* Loopholes shield Foxconn FUBAR contract from public view.
Foxconn's banker WEDC subject to open records. Or not  
* Walker's WEDC: Foxconn contract, history withheld from public.
Walker's Foxconn cover-up gets worse
* More proof that Foxconn's environmental exemptions are the proverbial camel's nose in the people's water tent.
Wisconsin water grabbers are at it. Again.
* Vos got Foxconn, big highway deal, still griping.
Why Robin Vos' losing hit on fellow Republicans is so irrational
* Foxconn giveaways targeted to SE WI, now mysteriously delayed.
Walker's '16 campaign baggage getting heavier
* Fixing FUBAR Foxconn contract w/out saying "drafting error." And more.
Scott Walker: Clean up on aisle '18
* The Foxconn contract FUBAR is being covered up.
Walker's Foxconn coverup clock is running
* Foxconn deal delayed.
What? Foxconn deal isn't ready at WEDC? 
* Foxconn now driving the WI highway budget & away from everyday needs.
Hurried $252 Foxconn million for I-94 N/S is both outrage and chicken feed
* Villages take more time to ponder building a schoo.l
Locals pushed to hand Foxconn $764 million
* Will Racine area cabbage fields sprout lemons?
Foxconn's $764 million local shares get aired this week
* Saying 'trust the company' overlooks reality and the record.
Booster discharges murky Foxconn spin
* Yipes! Local taxpayers will pony up $764 million local dollars For Foxconn.
$764 million cost of Foxconn 'win' for WI local government
* Rush in WI to legislate broad environmental rollbacks statewide, Foxconn-style.
In post-Foxconn WI, GOP is done w/air, wetlands law 
* The Foxconn measuring stick.
Foxconn gets swift [WI AG] Schimel boost, rape kits get indolence
* About Walker overpaying for Foxconn by a factor of five.
So Scott Walker walks into an auction...
* Major fox in the Foxconn chicken coop.
Walker names Great Lakes Compact foe as key Foxconn aide 
* Oh, those Foxconn obstacles.
Fast-tracked Foxconn mix could sour
* $3 billion bet on his re-election campaign. Then on jobs.
Note to NY Times: Foxconn is about Walker re-election. Then jobs.
* Walker-led GOP group whitewashes his past, Foxconn future.
Walker shills rewrite his job creation record, Foxconn outlook
* Really painful, stupefying irony alert.
Foxconn bill signing to spotlight Walker/Vos transportation incompetence
* Walker, Foxconn and the "s" word.
Scott Walker's missing Foxconn word
* Foxconn deal underscores Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality 'governance.
Walker's WI is model hard-right "chamber of commerce" state 
* Oh, and about that little overlooked Foxconn item - - a Lake MI diversion.
Foxconn water diversion story needed more attention 
* Viewing Foxconn through Walker's discarded ethics lens.
Walker's deleted ethics code could have skewed Foxconn giving, lobbying
* Foxconn is Walker's biggest use of gov't to pick winners and losers, yet...
Despite denials, Walker uses gov't. to pick winners & losers
* WI Senate joins the Foxconn parade
Wis conned. GOP-led State Senate gives OK to unprecedented giveaways.
* Not this special favor for Foxconn, this one!
WI GOP Senate Leader adds phantom judicial 'restriction' to Foxconn deal
* Foxconn settles on Racine County, despite flooding history there.
Foxconn headed for flood-prone Racine County
* Foxconn might feel it's the one which got conned.
For new WI mines, more env. giveaways than Foxconn got
* Along with tax breaks, free highway work - - special Supreme Court access.
WI GOP lawmakers hand Foxconn newer, bigger favor
* One potential Foxconn locale is struggling with the opportunity.
With Foxconn looming, Mount Pleasant had a meltdown
* Out-going DNR Secretary Stepp spills the beans.
DNR's Stepp says a Foxconn was the plan all along
* Holding Foxconn to the Walker/Trump environmental (will-wink) 'standards.'
Exposing Walker's environmental Foxconn con
* 'No-tax-increase Walker' might just raise local taxes.
Add local taxpayers to school on cusp of Foxconning
* WI may find Foxconn draining education funding.
WI legislators, on educ. funding today, could show Foxconn effect 
* Latest news: Foxconn's billion-dollar 'strain' on state budgets, or "D'uh!"
Go suck on $1 billion worth of lemons, Bucky
* At least this time he didn't call you an ISIS fighter.
Vintage Walker uses Foxconn to flip off the people
* A rushed project would not need so many corrections.
Another day, another Foxconn data correction.
* GOP leaders Walker/Vos/Stepp have long failed job creation, environmental protection pledges.
On Foxconn assurances, consider the sources and histories
* 13,000 jobs? No accident that the Assembly and public didn't have all the facts.
Put Foxconn on hold until Walker explains data suppression
* Robin Vos, reckless and feckless.
Robin Vos trivialized $3 billion, ignored shocking jobs info
* Dispensing with clean blue water, green legacy. 
Green? WI GOP likes brown, orange, perhaps blackish and 'sudsy'
* And the next shoe drops. 
Seeing Foxconn 'win, WI GOP env. wrecking crew eyes mining favors 
* Walker, GOP laid Foxconn groundwork years ago.
Foxconn favors are basic to Walker, GOP's sloppy playbook
* Walker evades leadership from #Foxconn to #Charlottesville.
On jobs, moral leadership, persistent Walker con
* Reality, troubling numbers, no state budget mean nothing to GOP legislature.
GOP Foxconn votes proceed robotically as jobs, revenue estimates fall
* New Foxconn bill version, same environmental rollbacks, records show.
Amended Foxconn bill retains env. waivers, special privileges
* Changing the rules to fit the players.

As WI, GOP change the rules for Foxconn, a reminder
* WI will subsidize Foxconn jobs paying nowhere near family-supporting wages.
WI now talking about <$15-per-hour Foxconn jobs
* Now they're just wishing and hoping.
Witless Walker's farcical Foxconn fix
* The Chicago Sun-Times 'thanks' Walker for pro-Illinois Foxconn plan.
Another bad review for Walker's Foxconn deal
* Now we look for solace to Scott Fitzgerald (!) as Foxconn gets horrible reviews.
Foxconn doubters turn their lonely eyes to...Scott Fitzgerald!
* Foxconn is to get a pass from normal DNR reviews, which is fine with the DNR.
Stepp puts the DNR in on Foxconn env. evasion
* Walker told his Foxconn critics to 'go suck lemons.' Then...
Sucking lemons - - or absorbing buyer's remorse - - for 26 sucking years
* Walker's fake-news Foxconn projects are collapsing.
Foxconn taxpayer projections zoom, payroll benefits plunge
* No surprise that major WI polluting industry. wants env. exemptions.
If Foxconn is exempted from env. oversight, why not CAFOs?
* Who's to say that Foxconn privileges won't be applied statewide?
And if environmental rules and laws are waived for Foxconn...  
* Does Michigan have better deal-makers than Wisconsin? 
Foxconn eyes Michigan for high tech development site
* Water law expert says Foxconn environmental rollback endangers the deal.

Noted water law expert predicts WI officials' Foxconn 'bungle'
* The Walker/WMC tag team.
Foxconn to locate at intersection of Walker and WMC avenues
* Big business laughs off Foxconn project environmental concerns.
Wisconsin Biz lobby sneers at routine Wisconsin conservation guarantee
* Walker never saw a wetland he didn't want filled.
Walker's giveaway Foxconn bill extends his war on wetlands
* Zoo Interchange completion $$ rerouted to another project for Foxconn.
Because the I-94 Vos/Foxconn exit isn't in the Zoo Interchange
* Foxconn process 'open,' says Walker after closed door briefing for GOP caucuses.
Walker opens 'open' Foxconn FavorFest behind closed doors
* Walker, Ryan producing Foxconn political ads.
Walker giveth to Foxconn, taketh for his re-election
* Walker would allow Foxconn 19th century 'environmental' practices.
'Wisconsin Valley' or Wisconsin, Inc. dead zone?
* The Legislature pushed to re-create Wisconsin as Wisconsin, Inc.
Rushed Foxconn special session set for 11 a.m. August 1
* SE WI communities should worry about what Walker wants to do with their budgets, tax collections:
For Foxconn, Walker bets your farm, breaks the bank(s)
* Walker, AG and legislature could give away what's not theirs:
Foxconn favors face WI Constitutional barrier
* GOP Wi Attorney General Brad Schimel weighs in, pre-emptively and rhetorically.
Greenlight for Foxconn in WI AG's Tweet, rhetoric
* Walker to convert Wisconsin to Wisconn without a constitutional convention, and if you don't like it, 'go suck lemons."
Walker to sacrifice DNR, PSC and WisDot integrity for 'Wisconn'
* The cynical pot has his say.
Walker - - Gov. Cynicism - - decries Foxconn 'cynics'
* Walker already has '18 campaign in Foxconn frame.
About Walker's '18 election Foxconn over-under
* In Walker's Wisconsin, some blue-collar jobs are more important than others.
Walker touts Foxconn construction jobs, threw away Amtrak's
* Walker, Trump should become the new champions of Great Lakes preservation and climate change science. 
Great Lakes water lifts Foxconn deal
* About jobs.
3,000 Foxconn jobs would not = 3,776 WI mfg. jobs lost in '16
* Are HB-5 $$-for-visas in the deal?
Are green cards for investment in a Foxconn-WI deal?
* Public dollars needed.
How many WI dollars will Walker give super-wealthy Foxconn?
* When Foxconn stiffed another state.
If you've got Foxconn fever, remember Pennsylvania's hangover
* Vos blocked transit Foxconn workers could have used.
Vos' long transit blockade does not help Racine's Foxconn future
* Walker killed Amtrak service Foxconn might have loved. 
Amtrak line killed by Walker could have fed Foxconn
* Vos has a budget power move.
Vos plays Foxconn card in WI budget fight
*  For quick Japan trip, Walker kept Foxconn secret 
Desperate Walker on 48-hour jobs mission - - to Japan


Thursday, December 14, 2017

GOP's true 'principle': reward owners, screw consumers

When you hear Republicans hail elected officials' control of policy-making boards and commissions, grab the kids and run.

*  Case in point: Republicans and Donald Trump have relentlessly attacked the Elizabeth Warren-created Consumer Financial Protection Board for its:

uniquely independent role in government—which has long been a sticking point for conservatives...
* And are hamstringing it further with a newly-installed Trump leader.
Trump pick to head consumer protection office at work despite legal challenge
Official Portrait of President Donald Trump.jpg
* On the other hand, when a board majority of appointed, anti-consumer policy-makers running a separate regulatory agency - - the Federal Communications Commissioners - - set in motion today the likelihood of higher Internet rates and tightened public access without Congressional approvalTeam Trump loved the FCC's independent decision.
Trump's FCC votes to repeal net neutrality
Because has nothing to do with anything as quaint as a principle about decision-making, and everything to do with tilting government power and revenue away from consumers and towards Republican special interests.

Karner Karma, and more, in WI DNR publications

Karma is thriving inside the Wisconsin DNR, so enjoy it along with me.

You may remember that developer and former GOP State Senator Cathy Stepp successfully auditioned through a snarky, anti-science blog op-ed for the DNR Secretaryship she enjoyed for nearly seven years before Donald Trump moved her to a bigger sandbox to pollute:

Those of you that haven't had the pleasure of peeking behind the scenes of our state agencies like DNR, Health and Family Services, etc...need to know how some of the most far-reaching policies come down on our heads...suffice it to say that many of these great ideas (sarcasm) come from deep inside the agencies and tend to be reflections of that agency's culture
For example, people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA. So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with. 
Now let me point you to the DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program 2017 Annual Report, a lovely document touting many positive DNR staff and volunteer initiatives statewide.

Among more than a dozen success stories is this one which would give Stepp heartburn:   

Wisconsin has more Karner blue butterflies than anywhere else in the world, and NHC continues restoring habitat for this endangered species. For example, a 34-acre area of Coon Fork Barrens State Natural Area is now exploding with lupine and other plants critical for Karners following a recent prescribed burn; butterfly numbers increased at this site too. 
With restoration projects planned through this fall/winter, Karners will gain more than 900 acres of improved habitat, which will also benefit a host of other species, by the end of 2017. 
Lycaeides melissa samuelis (cropped).jpg

And while the Governor and his GOP-run Legislature want business to be able to fill wetlands and dig mines near rivers and streams, the report highlights many examples of land preservation that invite hikers and tourists to enjoy an enriched environment:
And it's hard to miss the contradiction between the DNR management working hard - - comment deadline is Friday, so weigh in - - to help a Walker donor to tear apart a wetland/woodland/artifact/dune-rich 247-acre nature preserve right next - - and even intruding into -  - Kohler-Andrae State Park - - and this feature item in the Natural Heritage Conservation Program 2017 Annual Report:
and more of them got the help they needed in 2017 as NHC field staff controlled brush and invasive plants, conducted prescribed burns and arranged timber harvests on a record 12,445 acres. 
Such management is particularly important for maintaining Wisconsin’s best remaining prairie and oak savanna and barren remnants and providing refuge for the endangered plants and animals that depend on such habitat. 
By the way: while you can enjoy the report online, I have to mention that I first saw it as an insert in the December 2017 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine - - the publication which Walker and then-DNR Secretary tried and failed to kill.

Which led to an increase in subscriptions, and no doubt wider distribution of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program's work, goals and 2017 Annual Report, to new readers, like me.


Ryan retirement as Speaker would be win for humans everywhere

[Updated]hope this is accurate, and may a progressive Democratic blue wave roll and fully wash from the Congress a corporatist elitist who's been dreaming of killing Medicare and Medicare since his wastrel college kegging days:  
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has informed some of his closest friends and family that he plans to step down as House Speaker following the 2018 midterm elections, according to a report in Politico.
Of course, it would be the height of selfish immorality for Ryan to ram through his beloved tax cuts for the rich at the expense of everyone else, and then quit as Speaker for his reward from the donors he served, but that's the GOP for ya.

Paul Ryan's official Speaker photo. In the background is the American Flag.

Chemical biz insider won't be USEPA chemical industry regulator

Some good news, as first the GOP-run US Senate forces the withdrawal of two horrible Trump judicial nominations, and then sanity and ethics stopped a conflicted appointment to a key Environmental Protection Agency position.

The EPA nominee's calls for reduced safety standards and his ties to the polluting industry he was set to regulate were too much for Republicans:
Michael Dourson, chosen by President Trump to lead the EPA’s chemicals office, has withdrawn his nomination after Republican senators said they would join with Democrats to oppose him...

Watchdog groups...announced this month a joint investigation to determine if Dourson has violated ethics rules by advising the agency before being Senate confirmed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Walker's train ad stupidity and hypocrisy, part three

I remember when Louisiana GOP Governor Bobby Jindal implored Republicans "to stop being the stupid party."

And just two days ago, NBA legend Charles Barkley challenged Alabama voters to "stop looking like idiots."

So has Scott Walker gotten the message?

The question arises in Walker's taxpayer-paid effort (laid out this small series' parts one and two) to lure Illinois millennials and transit commuters to work in or move to Wisconsin, and in that pitch - - 

- - I see dissonance, ignorance and brain freeze.

Because while Walker, his ideologically-run agencies and super-partisan GOP legislative allies have officially obstructed, killed or will further curtail:

 *  rail and transit services and;

 *  clean air oversight and 

 *  solar and wind initiatives and 

 *  wetland protections and

 *  programs and projects for bikers and pedestrians.

There is reporting and polling data showing that Millennials favor:

 * water conservation and 

 * clean energy and

 * hiking, biking and camping and

 * sustainability in their retail choices and 

 * public transit as a choice and and because its good for the environment.

On the Jindal/Barkley test, give Walker an "F."

Brave WI DNR expert speaks out for clean air

Props to a courageous public servant inside Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR for calling attention publicly to one of the WI GOP's many pro-corporate, pollution-enabling initiatives:
A bill supported by Republicans and business groups that would do away with state regulation of hazardous air pollutants has an unusual critic — a Department of Natural Resources expert who says the measure would weaken health protections in Wisconsin.
"Is that what you want — more emissions of hazardous air pollutants being emitted?” Jeff Myers, an environmental toxicologist for the DNR, asked lawmakers last month.
And it's disgustingly accurate that the reporting calls the expert's opposition "unusual," given that he is an environmental toxicologist in the very agency where such public service activity had been been correctly focused before Walker began wrecking the agency.

It's only unusual because Walker has handed over DNR management to the dirty air and water lobbies, with the support of the Legislature and Attorney General  who already has a record of going easy on air polluters.

So little wonder that corporately-obeisant legislators would follow Schimel's lead and continue to weaken clean air management in the public interest, just as they are doing with groundwater, rivers, lakes and streams.
Smoke stacks from a factory.