Excerpts from recent Wisconsin editorials
Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 7
Tony Evers’ narrow win shows need for more unity, end to gerrymandering
Congratulations to Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who has broken eight years of one-party rule at the statehouse, bringing some much-needed balance back to state decisions.
That will include an important check on Republican attempts to gerrymander voting districts again, following the 2020 census. Evers should press the Legislature for a nonpartisan system for redrawing legislative and congressional maps, based on population changes and not political advantage. Iowa’s nonpartisan and inexpensive model should be the goal.
Evers, the Democratic challenger to two-term incumbent GOP Gov. Scott Walker, narrowly won the governor’s job Tuesday after running a dignified and respectful campaign, promising to unify the state and invest more in education while fixing crumbling roads — even if that means a modest increase in fees on drivers.
Those are strong and responsible priorities that we urge him to follow through on in the coming months and years.
Like much of the nation, Wisconsin has grown tired of the endless bickering between the two parties. As Tuesday’s incredibly close election showed, Wisconsin isn’t a “blue” Democratic stronghold or a “red” Republican bastion. We’re a healthy mix of purple.
Evers, elected three times as state superintendent of schools and now as governor, should acknowledge and remember Wisconsin’s independent streak. He should strive to be the governor of all of Wisconsin, rather than catering to his Democratic base in Dane and Milwaukee counties.
Evers pledged to be a pragmatist who solves problems, not a partisan who picks fight. We like that. And we plan to hold him to that commitment. Voters should, too.
Wisconsin definitely needs more cooperation in the wake of Gov. Walker’s divisive battles over unions and other controversial issues. Evers shouldn’t try to re-fight old disputes. Instead, he should press for smart policies to keep and attract more workers to fill the jobs of the future. Wisconsin is aging fast and facing a growing workforce shortage.
Evers should encourage science in our schools and at the state Department of Natural Resources, while steering Wisconsin on a straighter and smarter path to clean energy to address climate change.
Wisconsin has many challenges and opportunities. Our next governor should embrace the possibilities while building more consensus around shared goals.
The Journal Times of Racine, Nov. 5
Foxconn and our water supply
Local environmental groups are understandably concerned about the water needs of Foxconn, given that an additional 7 million gallons of Lake Michigan water per day may be withdrawn to supply the massive manufacturing campus under construction in Mount Pleasant.
Representatives from the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network, the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Alliance for the Great Lakes discussed the issue Oct. 25 with Keith Haas, general manager for the Racine Water and Wastewater Utility, who has talked with Foxconn officials about wastewater and diverting water to the Foxconn development.
“There are more questions than answers right now,” said Haas. “Right now, if they don’t even know what they want to make ... they don’t really know what to tell me.”
Foxconn initially said it planned to build a Generation 10.5 factory manufacturing panels for 75-inch televisions in Mount Pleasant; it now says it will build a Generation 6 factory that produces considerably smaller glass panels, and in August Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo told The Journal Times that Foxconn is not “really interested in television,” and that workers here will be focused on figuring out new ways to use Foxconn’s display, cellular, and AI technology, building out an “ecosystem” Woo calls “AI 8K+5G.”
The state Department of Natural Resources last April approved the City of Racine’s request to divert 7 million gallons of water per day outside the Great Lakes Basin. For the sake of comparison, the Water Utility’s daily draw in 2016, before Foxconn was even on Racine County’s radar, was 16.9 million gallons per day.
The Midwest Environmental Advocates organization quickly challenged the DNR’s decision, saying the decision goes against The Great Lakes Compact.
The Compact, a 2008 agreement intended to safeguard the Great Lakes, stated that a water diversion for a lakefront community like Mount Pleasant must largely serve residential customers — something the MEA and other environmental groups are taking issue with.
In a news release, the DNR said that Racine’s requested 7 million gallons per day withdrawal would only amount to a 0.07 percent increase in the total surface water withdrawals from Lake Michigan. The news release also stated that Foxconn will need to work with the City of Racine to meet pretreatment requirements for wastewater.
Shortly after the MEA filed a legal action, Foxconn officials said they had plans to install a $30 million zero-liquid discharge system in order to reduce the facility’s water intake requirements. A ZLD system is a wastewater treatment process which has as its goal to reduce the volume of wastewater that requires further treatment, economically process wastewater and produce a clean stream suitable for reuse. The system “will go beyond any local, state and federal requirements relating to industrial water discharge,” Foxconn told TheVerge.com, a Vox Media website, in an Oct. 29 report.
We appreciate the commitments Foxconn has made with regard to handling Lake Michigan water with care. But we also want both government and private groups to maintain vigilance in holding Foxconn to those commitments.
Because Foxconn will be withdrawing and returning from the lake, and that’s where we get our drinking water.
Kenosha News, Nov. 3
A welcome embrace of Mexican culture in Kenosha
Last weekend, the Kenosha Public Museum held its second annual Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead celebration.
And the event was quite a sight to behold.
From the demos of the members of the Ballerina Folklorico Regional Mexicano, to the ofrendas, or items set out on ritual displays, that greeted attendees as they walked through the front doors, the Oct. 27 event at the museum was a wonderful and welcome embrace of Mexican culture here in Kenosha.
With the rhetoric that we hear over radios and on TV screens, it is encouraging that a Kenosha entity would offer such a big platform to inform local residents about the culture of another community.
Beyond simply the embrace of another culture, the most surprising — and incredible — aspect of the event was the large and crucial involvement of the students of Bradford High School’s Spanish for Spanish Speakers classes.
These students not only spent weeks in the classroom learning about Dia de los Muertos and traveled to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago to do a workshop on it, but they also handcrafted the ofrendas that were on display for the event and served as volunteers for each part of the event — alongside museum staff and museum volunteers.
We thank the Bradford students and the museum for coming together for this event and for all of their efforts in expanding the Kenosha community’s knowledge of cultures other than our own.
We hope that those in attendance not only left with the knowledge of the capabilities of the young people in our community, but also with a new appreciation for Mexican customs, folklore and traditions.