Endorsement of Katrina Shankland for WI State Assembly District 71

Hello everyone, I’d like to express a strong endorsement for Katrina Shankland, our State Assembly Representative for District 71.

From my perspectives as a long-time environmental activist and someone serving in local government, Rep. Shankland stands far above the crowd in the Legislature. The most recent example of this was her outstanding work as Vice-Chair on the 2019 Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality. Not only did she do her research for each of the many 6-hour sessions held all around the state, but she went much further.

Serving on the Portage County Land and Water Conservation Committee, and Friends of Mill Creek Watershed, we had numerous meetings where Rep. Shankland was in the meeting contributing important information from the Legislature, and even more importantly, listening to the proceedings. She met numerous times with our County Conservation staff and issued frequent communications on the topics of water quality and groundwater conservation.

When I first ran for the County Board seat, I made the issue of local control (“home rule”) an important issue in my service on the Board. Rep. Shankland replied immediately to inquiries about how local control or home rule was being restricted and denied by the One-Party Legislature, with reports given by Bob Lang, Director of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. A May 1,2018 letter showed 180 “Unfunded Mandates and Items that Would Restrict Local Control.” She was a “whistle-blower” on bad legislation.

But don’t just take my word on why you should re-elect Katrina to the Legislature: WI Land and Water 2020 Friend of Conservation award; WI Counties Association Outstanding Legislator, 2019-2020; Wisc. Wildlife Federation, Conservation Legislator of the Year, 2019; Wisc. Paper Council, 2019 Legislator of the Year; Professional Fire Fighters of Wisc., 2018 Legislator of the Year (and others going back to 2017).

If you want to continue being well represented, Vote Katrina Shankland on November 3 (or earlier). I am unaffiliated with any Party and am adamantly non-partisan; this is based entirely on my estimate of Ms. Shankland’s work and record. You can find her Legislator page using this link — https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/legislators/assembly

Thanks for listening!

Bob Gifford
County Board Supervisor, District 10 Park Ridge Town of Hull Stevens Point (east end)

Peak Inequality and Crisis of Unsustainability for Wisconsin: What do we do?

Peak Inequality and  Unsustainability Crisis for Wisconsin: What do we do?

This blog post is intended to explain the concepts wrapped up in the term “peak inequality”–inequality of wealth, income, and the political power that derives from wealth and income. Instead of an academic piece my intention is to get at “what can we, the people, ourselves do to abolish this inequality, permanently, and actually achieve a democracy for the first time in the USA’s history?” Further, “how do we organize ourselves to accomplish this set of objectives?” Even further, “why are all the models or paradigms of our political system so useless for the task of abolishing peak inequality?”

When I started in on a series of blog posts late in 2019 I found myself using the term “peak inequality” for the condition of our nation’s, and Wisconsin’s, political economy–economic and political systems. Parts One and Two deal with the “world energy and economic shocks” anticipated to occur in the mid-decade period, late 2024 to perhaps as late as 2026. The question kept arising, “why are there no levels of government preparing for such world-changing shocks to their economies?”

The companion question was, “why are the people themselves not engaged in changing the politics and economics of the USA, or its 50 states? Why are youth climate groups unable to compel politicians to do something?” The answer kept coming back to mind: Because we have complete inequality of political power. Why is this inequality so total, so complete? The answer: political power inequality derives from our nation’s total inequality of wealth and income. I reflected that this seems to point to a “peak” condition often used with resources, for instance, “peak oil.” We seemed to have hit “peak inequality” right at the point when the White House was touting low official unemployment and the highest stock market numbers ever, during 2018-2019.

In the series of posts about World Energy and Economic Shocks and Wisconsin Communities. This has become the Pandemic Edition, I suppose you could say.

Part I of the series is here:

Part II of the series, here:

One day I did a search on the term “peak inequality,” and discovered that there were a few thinkers and writers who were using the phrase. Geography Professor Danny Dorling of Oxford University, had written a book on the topic, with the title “Peak Inequality: Britain’s Ticking Time Bomb.” I did some searching on “Danny Dorling Peak Inequality” and found him readily accessible via short videos,

For an Oxford Professor, he seems to have the ability to explain the theses of the book in simple, readily-understood language.

Prof. Dorling: (Indented quote)

“The US and the UK are remarkably similar when it comes to poverty and inequality. Amongst the richest nations in the world, these are the two largest countries which are the most economically unequal, that have the highest rates of poverty. They’re almost like a pair of twins.”

“If you look at the take of the best-off one percent, in the United States it’s about 20% of all income; in the UK, it’s about 15%. Nowhere else, of any size in the rich world, touches these two countries in terms of how much the very best-off take.

“If you look at the incomes on which the very poorest people are living, compared to the average, these are the two countries where you’re really living a kind of parallel, separate life, if you’re in the bottom 20 or 30 percent. You’re not like average people, and average people are not like better-off people. And better-off people are not like the one percent.”

See: the Project Twist-It Interview with Danny Dorling on
this link–
40% of Americans Don’t Have…”

In this part we’ll examine more deeply and systemically the intertwined phenomena of the stagnation of real wages for the non-elite workforce and the incomes of those people outside the labor force; the push toward austerity for low-income persons and prosperity for high-income persons; the relentless drive to increase the inequality of wealth, income and political power between the top ten percent of society on these measures, and the bottom 90%, to a point where we can now describe our nation and its 50 states as having reached Peak Inequality.

In the past few years we’ve grown accustomed to seeing such headlines as these in our news feed–

40pcDontHave 400 dollars

And stories which attempt to explain this odd phenomenon…Many people attribute the lack of savings/emergency funds to the huge debt load of America’s non-elite workers and non-working people, as another headline suggests


Tim Jackson takes on the question of wealth, income, and political power inequality from a perspective of “Ecological Economics,” which leads back to the sorts of things that Danny Dorling is hitting on in his book.

The Post-growth Challenge: Secular Stagnation, Inequality and the Limits to Growth


Critics have long questioned the feasibility (and desirability) of exponential growth on a finite planet. More recently, mainstream economists have begun to suggest some ‘secular’ limits to growth. Declining growth rates have in their turn been identified as instrumental in increased inequality and the rise of political populism. This paper explores these emerging arguments paying a particular attention to the dynamics of secular stagnation. It examines the underlying phenomenon of declining labour productivity growth and unpacks the close relationships between productivity growth, the wage rate and social inequality. It also points to the historical congruence (and potential causal links) between declining productivity growth and resource bottlenecks. Contrary to some mainstream views, this paper finds no inevitability in the rising inequality that has haunted advanced economies in recent decades, suggesting instead that it lies in the pursuit of growth at all costs, even in the face of challenging fundamentals. This strategy has hindered technological innovation, reinforced inequality and exacerbated financial instability. At the very least, this paper argues, it is now time for policy to consider seriously the possibility that low growth rates might be ‘the new normal’ and to address carefully the ‘post-growth challenge’ this poses.

(See Tim Jackson’s monograph at this link)

However, for a large majority of our working class, these stories don’t fall into a mind-category of “peak inequality; oh yes, another symptom of peak inequality.” We keep trying to muddle-through. About 25% of us will listen to the man in the White House and say, “well, it’s the best economy ever, so stop complaining, you liberals.” We have a whole ideology, a philosophy, which justifies inequality, and we stick to it, hard.

As Prof. Dorling elaborates in his Project Twist-It interview,

“You’re talking in the sense that the U.S. and UK have a special relationship. And in a way, sadly, they do, but it’s over a particular set of philosophies which became the formant of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. These were philosophies that the state should be made as small as possible; that people should look after their own money; that we shouldn’t do things collectively; there’s only you and your family, and there’s no such thing as society. And both the U.S. and the UK have movements that propagated these ideas. And that’s what is so very different from almost every other affluent country in the world, where people still believe in the collective good and doing things together, and there is something bigger than you and your family,

“It’s found in a code of, if you have problems, they are your own fault. If you just worked hard enough, if you tried hard enough, if you studied hard enough at school, you could be really well off. Everybody could be rich, if they just work hard enough. Everybody could be rich, if they would just work hard enough, that’s the philosophy. And, there are many, many problems with it. You can’t all be rich, because part of being rich is, you can afford to make other people do things like clean your house.

“Unlike most countries, rich countries in the world, the narrative in the United States and the United Kingdom has been so dominant and so successful because a set of people have really driven it forward here, in a way that they haven’t in other affluent countries.

“The U.S. and UK have think-tanks, funded by extremely rich individuals, whose entire purpose is to spread the message that ‘everything is up to you and if things don’t go well, that’s your own fault.’

“Other countries don’t have the same kind of concentration of money being put into propaganda, to tell the population that they should believe this.”

(See the second half of the brief video interview with Dorling on this link. It’s worth the 8-1/2 minutes of your time.)

So the question for us folks at a local level, not present in the seats of power in the Wisconsin Capitol Dome nor in the Congress of the United States… “What can we do about this peak inequality problem? Where do we go from here? What can I do as a single, powerless person, in a small city in the north of Wisconsin?”

What I am proposing, to go forward to deal with the crisis of the unsustainable level of wealth, income, and political power inequality in our state/our nation, is as follows.

We need to form citizens’ groups at a very grassroots level, which I’m calling “the base level.” These will need to be, I think, non-partisan groups not attached to any political party. They should be “super-hyperlocal” groups which are based in a community–whether it’s a city, village, township, or even a neighborhood in a city. These groups should be democratic in the extreme, with very little hierarchy, and reliant upon the new digital electronic technologies of the 21st century, which allow for massively-horizontal communications, massive peer-to-peer networks where one’s age, sex, formal educational level is not as important as the ideas and creativity which they have to contribute to the mix.

These base-level organizations I’m suggesting should not languish into just study-groups or discussion-groups on social problems. These should form the backbone of a dual-power sort of movement which can directly challenge the higher levels of government — where the money is taxed and allocated to lower levels of government.

Abolish Inequality Task Force

The name I’m suggesting for a base level organization for our community is Abolish Inequality Task Force. This puts an active verb in the name of it and aims to enact via government a set of systemic changes which will eliminate the inequality of wealth and income in our nation which are the basis for the political power inequality our people endure.

The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the existing economic marginalization of the “bottom 40%” of our society, and will no doubt grow the proportion of people who cannot muster $400 to a much larger number. The pandemic’s impact on our people of color has been discovered to be proportionally greater to their health, with proportionately more people dying or suffering the long-term health degradation that is the virus’s signature. Numerous news stories show that the level of domestic abuse and domestic violence has risen sharply, further impacting already powerless women in households with abusers. The housing crisis is being further exacerbated by the evictions crisis being created by the landlord class in this nation. The sudden loss of income by some 44 million workers, only a fraction of whom have gotten supplemental unemployment payments, guarantees that an alarming number of these workers will face ending homeless as the eviction crisis unfolds, with no relief coming down from the top, neither State Legislatures nor the Federal Government.

In view of the full crisis of sustainability unfolding in the USA and our local communities, this task force needs to urgently get to work on specific, funded, policy proposals which do not merely provide relief from the instant crises faced by our households. The base organizations I am suggesting we organize, will begin a sweeping process of placing the wealth now hoarded by the top 10% and top 1% of our society, into the public sphere where it can be used to feed, house, provide mobility via public transit, improve the health situation of half our population, and protect and empower the most vulnerable previously power-marginalized women and children.

A public, low-income housing system, owned, built and managed by municipalities, using state-of-the-art energy conservation and renewable energy technologies, in cities large and small throughout Wisconsin.

A serious boost in funding for Counties’ Health and Human Services departments together with the non-profit agencies which partner with them to provide domestic abuse protective services, including considerable expansion in the amount of shelter space to provide safe spaces for women. These programs can tie in with the expanding low-income housing system and provide other means of economic stabilization for previously-victimized people.

A system of regional mass transit authorities funded by sharp increases in taxes on the wealthiest people and corporations in the state. These should be built from ground-up for renewable power, such as the nation of China has managed to do with its enormous fleet of electric buses.

A supplementary State-run Food Stamps/EBP program that will restore the level of supplemental assistance that would have been available at some benchmark time previous, such as the mid-1970s. This will assume that the Federal government has no intention of ending the death-by-a-thousand-cuts status of the current supplemental food aid, much less restoring prior benefit levels. The State run food aid must be made available without onerous, poor-shaming conditions placed on it such as drug testing or forcing recipients to do some sort of poverty-wage work or “community service” (no-wage work) to get the benefits.

These are just a few notions of concrete policy proposals which grassroots, base-level organizations can put before our State Legislature and the Congress. I’m sure you can come up with some other ideas based on your life experiences.

Before you go, give a quick 2 minutes 15 seconds to Danny Dorling’s very brief video where he describes how peak inequality is going to be flattened:
Danny Dorling on Peak Inequality

“Immediate, emergency funding for the health crisis, because it really is a crisis. Bringing taxation onto wealth—annual taxation on wealth, forget inheritance tax. And particularly on the value of houses, because we are going to have to raise money urgently and quickly.”

We’ll begin organizing meetings via Zoom later in August. If you are a low-income person and want to begin organizing in your community,
please send an email to this address to get the invitation with information for how to get into the Zoom meetings:

(note there are 3 letters “s” in that address

Endorsement: Katrina Shankland for Wisconsin Assembly, Stevens Point Area

As a member of the Portage County Board of Supervisors, a non-partisan elected body, I want to go on record endorsing Katrina Shankland to continue on as the Assembly Representative for Wisconsin’s 71st Assembly District, encompassing most of Stevens Point.

(photo as seen on Rep. Katrina Shankland’s Facebook page)

I am not a member of any political party myself, and you can consider this a non-partisan endorsement based entirely on the merits of Rep. Shankland as I have seen her working in our state government.

When I first ran for this County Board seat, I was trying to find the issues which seemed most pressing for local governments in North-Central Wisconsin, which includes the Central Sands Irrigated Vegetable-Growing area. Two pressing issues were suggested to me by Rep. Shankland, as well as some of the local municipal elected officials such as John Holdridge in the Town of Hull.

These two pressing issues were, and still are: Loss of local control (“home rule”) and the questions about both quantity of fresh water and quality of fresh water (groundwater and surface water) in our region. On both these major issues of our time, Rep. Shankland has been out in front clearly leading in a Legislature which seems at times either oblivious, or arrogant and antagonistic to the needs of our people.

On my request, Rep. Shakland furnished me a communication from the Legislative Reference Bureau which detailed some 160 enactments either “imposing unfunded mandates, or restricting local control.”

That first communication is here, saved as a permanent page on this blog.

Throughout my time on County Board I have constantly raised the issue of the loss of local control to the One-Party State system housed under the Capitol Dome, and of course, the starvation of all levels of local governments of state shared revenues (also called “Intergovernmental Revenues” in your County Budget books). Rep. Shankland has always been at the forefront of trying to reverse these trends in state government.

When a large Water Lobby Day was held at the Capitol on February 7, 2017, with over 400 citizens from all over the state attending, Rep. Shankland was the ONLY representative from our region who set aside a meeting room and enough time to LISTEN to the people. State Senator Testin chose to come out into the noisy hallway outside his office (with loads of background singing and yelling from the Rotunda below) to tell the assembled crowd that “we need more science on this” (when the “science” was already in, was well known already).

Here is the first video I shot from Rep. Shankland’s listening session on that day. Note that she is letting the people do most of the speaking (that is, she is “listening.”)

Here is the second part of the listening.

Katrina Shankland Listening at Water Lobby Day Feb8 2017 Pt 3

In addition to leadership on these issues, Rep. Shankland has been a staunch defender of the University of Wisconsin system, the Wisconsin Idea, and particularly, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), where she is an alumna.

Again she demonstrated powerful leadership when the contentious “Point Forward” project was rolled out by Chancellor Patterson and Provost Greg Summers. The project would have eliminated 14 majors mostly focused in the Humanities areas at UWSP. In the end, Shakland’s leadership proved prescient, as the project was ultimately scrapped.

here are some of the listening sessions which Rep. Shankland held on that contentious plan:

This is the Representative we need to keep in office in our North-Central District 71. Corporate backers may front an opposing candidate, and lavish lots of “Big Money” on that candidate, but frankly I don’t think another candidate can contend with Rep. Shankland’s almost limitless campaign energy, with her ability to “hit the doors” relentlessly day after day listening to constituents in her District.

Regardless who else you vote for on your ballot this November, be sure to check Katrina Shankland’s name. Even if you have to “cross the party line” to Do The Right Thing.

Yours Truly,

Bob Gifford
Portage County Board of Supervisors, District 10 (east wards in Stevens Point, south wards in Town of Hull, and all of Park Ridge).

Why we can’t have nice things in Wisconsin: The WEDC money-grab

In my humble opinion, no one in Wisconsin has done a better job exposing the corruption and “corporate welfare recipient” status of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) than State Senator Kathleen Vinehout. I’ll drop a few paragraphs of her classic essay on them in “Uppity Wisconsin” and you can click the link below to see the whole sordid story.

Just imagine what your local small start-up businesses struggling to get going, or your County, your School District, your Village, your Township, your City, could do with $472 million of wasted “economic development” money as you read. Senator Vinehout:

TOTAL (through Aug. 1, 2016)                $472.1 million

All of those award amounts are refundable tax credits. This means a company can claim the credit directly against taxes owed. If the company owes little or nothing in taxes and claims the credit, they can receive a payment from the state in the form of a refund.
Owing little or nothing in state taxes is made possible, in part, by changes in tax law for corporations that date back to 2011. Majority legislators passed the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit that resulted in very low tax liability for some. A recent study released by the Wisconsin Budget Project found most of this credit goes to reducing taxes for millionaires, including “some tax filers with incomes of over $1 million receiving tax cuts of more than $100,000.”
Don’t ever let any Republican politician tell you that “We’re broke” in Wisconsin. Not when we have this kind of money to toss at corporations with no expectation of accountability for it.

Which County Board District do you live in?

Here’s a two-page set of maps for Portage County Board Districts.


Scroll to the bottom to see the Districts in Stevens Point and close to Point.

Much more detail is in the individual district maps, on this page



Campaign Positions

BG-VigilUnity2        What  I am supporting in this quest for a second term on Portage County Board, District 10. Here’s some key positions:

1. New ambulance in Plover: demand that a 2nd paramedic is added at contract renewal time at end of 2018. No request for any waiver should be made by either party.

2. Save the Portage County Health Care Center. First, raise the tax levy to cover operation. Second, borrow to renovate, build or add as needed. Third, demand the Legislature pass funding legislation for elder care of all kinds. Don’t quit til we get this.
(ad created by the group “Save the Portage County Health Care Center,” a Facebook group. Ask to Join Group if you’d like to follow this grassroots organizing group).

3. Pass a strong water protection ordinance such as the one drafted by Town of New Hope people. Have the GCAC strongly recommend this ordinance to relevant County committees.

4. Support United Way LIFE Report calls for action: affordable housing & financial stability (esp for young working women & single moms)

5. Unite all the Counties; demand legislation enabling of Regional Transit Authorities under public ownership and 100% renewable (electric) power.

6. Your issues.

Funds raised will be used for direct mailing communication, limited print advertising, and if possible, to compensate young campaign assistants from our campus community. Excess funds above these will be DONATED to economic and social justice organizations, campaigns for environmental justice, and independent politics.


If you prefer NOT to use PayPal, you can send a check by mail
Bob Gifford for County Board,
P.O. Box 387
Stevens Point, WI 54481

The Fox Con: Why we can’t have nice things in Wisconsin


From now until eternity, every time that local government henceforth asks for more funding from the Wisconsin Legislature, the answer is going to be a flat-out “No: We’re broke.” The hidden part of that message will always be, “because we blew all our money on the Fox Con.”  This post is to help you understand why, henceforth, we cannot have nice things in Wisconsin. At least, not with the current regime in power.

The global leader in building robotics to replace human labor in mainland China is the corporation Foxconn of island nation Taiwan (many people still confuse the two Chinas when trying to understand Foxconn). Foxconn is the corporation you have heard will be getting up to $3 billion of Wisconsin People’s Money in order to build an enormous plant in suburban Racine County. A plant which will no doubt be one of the largest fully-robotic production facility of consumer electronics when fully operational. (With damn few human workers when fully robotized). Of course, the bait that gets the $3 billion in public money is the promise of “13,000 jobs,” which Republicans repeat as a kind of religious mantra whenever speaking with awe about the Fox Con.

However, we should distinguish between magical thinking and reality thinking. James Rowen is good at the reality thinking part. Once you have thoroughly read Rowen’s exposure of this “job-creation” fraud, I think you’ll start to recognize what we need to do about this Legislature.

Now that the one-party system has boxed-in the Wisconsin budget to the point where there won’t be any funds to spare thanks to the Fox Con of the Governor and the One Party to Rule Them All in the Legislature, I thought everyone should have James Rowen’s excellent resource list of his postings from The Political Environment (the independent blog separate from his work at Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

Some samples to help you slog through the whole scandal/fiasco/disaster:

* Here is the actual, 29-pagel Foxconn contract, as signed.

Here is the signed Foxconn contract

* 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

In perspective: the con began long before Foxconn.

How Walker is privatizing and selling off Wisconsin

* Yipes! Local taxpayers will pony up $764 million local dollars For Foxconn.

$764 million cost of Foxconn ‘win’ for WI local government

* 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

Lots more stories linking to other stories and background material, etc. (dozens and dozens and dozens of stories)–

Get all the Political Environment on the Fox Con here:

Ten Key Values Which Inform This Campaign

Here are the crucial values that have informed my work in coalitions around many different issues over the years, and also which I am trying to highlight in running for the Portage County Board (District 10).

In particular, these are especially important in view of what has happened to Wisconsin, with the rise of the one-party Corporate-State since the Governor and a majority of one party in both the Assembly and the State Senate came to power in January, 2011.

PCHCC2-NoPrivatize.jpgTen Key Values of the Green Party
(from http://www.gp.org)

Personal and Collective Empowerment As Greens, we believe that patterns of dominance must be replaced with a culture of liberation. Dominance and other forms of oppression are barriers to personal and collective empowerment. We combat societal prejudices and inequities based on race, gender, class, age, sexual orientation, and other social divisions. We seek to develop societal ethics that nurture the full potential of each human being. We utilize cooperative decision-making processes. We try to remain sensitive and receptive to continual change as both positive and inevitable.the

Ecological Integrity The cycles of life and the interconnectedness of all things must be acknowledged and respected. This means developing a politics that is based on the assumption that people are part of nature, not on top of it. We must think and act in terms of the viability of ecosystems. We work under the principle that economic justice and ecological integrity are mutually consistent and achievable. Greens are willing to take strong action to protect and restore the earth.

Global Responsibility We seek to establish friendly relations with other nations in the spirit of mutual respect and assistance. We work to identify and resist forces in our country that hinder the democratic self-determination of other peoples. We respect and encourage indigenous models of development rather than the imposition of Western industrialization. We seek to provide genuine assistance to grassroots groups in the Third World and help them in their efforts towards self-determination, and liberation.

Participatory Democracy in Economic and Political Life We struggle to create a political economy that allows citizens to control the decisions that affect their lives, and establishes human and ecological work structures, appropriate technologies, and equitable distribution of social resources and jobs for all.

Local and Regional Autonomy We support efforts of grassroots communities to empower themselves An equitable distribution of wealth and power among regions must he insured. We seek to promote and nourish regionally-based culture, while guaranteeing the human rights of all ethnic, cultural, and racial minorities.

Nonviolence Greens promote effective alternatives to the patterns of violence that afflict families and nations.

Respect for Diversity Greens welcome and honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious, political, biological, and spiritual diversity within the context of social and ecological interdependence.

Emotional Awareness and Honesty We believe that awareness of feeling and unconscious behavior patterns in ourselves and others-and of their social and historical roots-act as a foundation for the creation of a cooperative community, participatory institutions, social harmony with nature, and self-empowerment. We value the integration of intuition with intellect in human consciousness.

Human Rights We believe that every human being is entitled to quality health care, nutrition, shelter, economic security, relevant education, meaningful and rewarding work, full reproductive rights, child care, and a safe and healthy environment. The opportunity for the fulfillment of creative potential-both individual and societal-can only be realized through a fully democratized society, where everyone has equal political access to decision-making and enjoys complete freedom from political persecution.

Feminism We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. Wecall for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control, with more cooperative ways of interacting which respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.

The full text of Green Party 10 Key Values, and the pillar principles is here

The Next Well that Goes Bad May be Yours (Vinehout)



If you prefer NOT to use PayPal, you can send a check
Bob Gifford for County Board,
P.O. Box 387
Stevens Point, WI 54481

Stories such as this one illustrate why it’s crucial for two things to happen in Wisconsin.  First, local governments must take a strong stance in favor of the health and well-being of their citizens, and put these over and above the needs of corporations to extract resources from the communities.  In other words, they need to put community rights over corporate rights. Obviously, in Whitehall and Independence, this was not done. It is as if the mining corporations “owned” these city councils outright and can just get their way any time they want.

The second thing that needs to happen is that local governments have to take a strong stance towards clawing-back or reclaiming their local power and control from the State government, which has been completely captured by the corporations since the 2010 fall elections put a one-party regime in place.  I am proposing that we create a statewide organization with a name like “Citizens Local Government Exchange” that will act as an Anti-ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Committee, owned and operated by giant corporations).

Working together, cities, villages, townships, counties and school boards can create a new active force –fiercely non-partisan and independent from the two political parties.– which will gradually restore local control, grassroots democracy, and community-based (not corporate-based) economic development throughout Wisconsin. If the two dominant parties cannot find it in themselves to be independent of corporate money, control, and ideological influence, then they are destined for irrelevance and oblivion.

Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout wrote the following story, excerpted. The full story is in the link below:

LINCOLN TOWNSHIP, WI – “I feel like the state failed to protect the people,” Stacy told me. “Nobody really cares because it’s not affecting them.”

Stacy is one of several Lincoln Township residents in Trempealeau County who lived through two years of well problems. An industrial sand mine and processing plant set up shop in the neighborhood.

Mine owners wanted to avoid county zoning rules. The owners negotiated with the cities of Whitehall and Independence – some say pitting one city against the other – to annex the mine into Whitehall and the processing plant into Independence.

The residents of Lincoln Township were left out. They had no voice in the rules placed on the mine and processing plant by the City Councils.

The mine negotiated with Whitehall to provide water for sand processing. Industrial sand mine processing is a very water intensive process. The city’s pipes were unable to handle the high pressure needed to pump water miles away to the mine. Residents told me the city tried to drill a well just for the mine but couldn’t find water.

The mine needed water to operate. Locals said the mine made a deal to use an old nearby agriculture irrigation high capacity well to supply water to the sand processing plant.

Water use escalated. By 2015, three and a half times the water was removed from the agriculture well compared to 2013. Almost immediately after the mine began operation, residents experienced problems. Neighbor’s water pressure dropped dramatically during blasting; a well went dry; water filters normally changed every 30 years had to be changed every two or three months; chicken watering devises clogged with sand; chickens died and heavy metals appeared in drinking water.

As one local county board supervisor told me, “There was a clear connection between well degradation and sand mine activity.”

Stacy lives about a half mile from the mine. She sent me photos of her water, which was a murky brownish orange, and photos of her scooping handfuls of sand out of her toilet tank. She has gone through three or four washing machines in the past few years.

But the worst came in January. Stacy lost Apples, her horse. Stacy said, “I took it very bad.”

Apples died of liver failure. The horse had heavy metals in his tissues. Stacy told me the metals were “too much for his body. He can’t process or get rid of it.” Her vet said her water “was the worst water he’d ever seen.”

Read the whole story on Green Bay Progressive


Overlay Maps of Nitrate-contaminated Wells in Portage County

Here is a map from an interactive mapping application (link included at the end of this post) which shows where the nitrate-contamination hotspots are in part of Portage County where the colors indicating amounts are the “hottest”.

And the same map with 100% transparency indicates where you are looking on the contamination map>


The colorful squares are the data which is averaged for each section (one square mile) and may not be accurate for your particular well in your particular part of the section.

If you have any doubt about your private well water quality, call the water testing center at UW-Stevens Point (715-346-3209) and get the testing done. Better yet, click the link below and get more information on how to request testing, and how much it will cost you.

Water and Environmental Analysis Lab

Here is the whole interactive map, and you can zoom in or zoom out to see particular areas of interest to you–and particular kinds of other contaminants such as Atrazine, an herbicide which is found in large amounts in many Portage County wells because of agribusiness usage combined with highly permeable sandy soil in the area east of the Wisconsin River.

Welcome to the Groundwater Center’s Groundwater Quality Viewer