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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Issue of the Week: Protecting the Great Lakes

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  The state Legislature overwhelmingly passed the Great Lakes Water Compact last week, which creates new rules regarding water taken out of the Great Lakes basin. The agreement was years in the making, and for a lengthy, highly technical bill, it provided plenty of drama.

  Although publican Assembly leaders threatened to blow it up earlier this year—despite the good-faith negotiations of eight states and two Canadian provinces—at the end of the day they decided to protect this precious resource. The compact is highly popular among Wisconsin residents and failure to support it could be turned into a campaign issue against Republican candidates in the fall. Of the eight states, only Ohio and Pennsylvania have yet to pass the compact.

  As historic as the compact is, however, it does not seriously address the quality of the water in the Great Lakes basin, an issue that is no doubt as important as water use and conservation. This week, members of a House of Representatives committee will look into authorizing up to $150 million a year to clean up contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes—such as PCBs, dioxin and mercury—and to restore aquatic habitat. Let’s hope they—and Ohio and Pennsylvania—follow Wisconsin’s lead and act to protect the Great Lakes.


Event of the Week:
“Peace Through Music: The Music of John Lennon”

This annual benefit will raise funds for the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE), which works to reduce gun violence. It will be held on Sunday, May 25, at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 1001 E. Locust St. Performers include Mrs. Fun, The Lackloves, melaniejane, The Delta Routine and many more. A $10 donation benefits WAVE and the Brady Campaign.


Winners of the Week:
Smokers Who Want to Quit

The state is having a hard time balancing its budget during these tight times, but the new budget repair bill adds more money for tobacco control efforts and ensures that smoking cessation programs cannot be affected by budget cuts. So if you want to quit smoking, you’ve got some help from the state.


Jerk of the Week:
The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC)

This horrible fundamentalist congregation satisfied with protesting the funerals of those who were killed in the Iraq war. Now they’ve thanked God for allowing a Wisconsin medical helicopter crash, claiming three lives, and vowed to picket victims’ funerals. “God, in his wrath and his fury, taking vengeance on Wisconsin for its unlawful sinful mistreatment of WBC for preaching God’s word on the mean streets of that evil state. Worse and more is coming,” they promised.


Blog of the Week
Cory Liebmann at One Wisconsin Now
(www.onewisconsinnow.org)

“On Thursday the House of Representatives approved an expansive new veterans education benefit that would be paid for by a tax on wealthy Americans. It would provide the equivalent of a free four-year college education at a public university. Some Republicans joined Democrats in passing the aid that would benefit veterans who enlisted after the Sept. 11 attacks. Unfortunately, the group of Republicans that voted for the plan did not include Wisconsin Republicans Paul Ryan and F. Jim Sensenbrenner.

“Paul Ryan not only voted against providing veterans the new education benefit, but then gave a quote to The New York Times saying, “I can’t think of a worse time to raise taxes.” It is telling that Ryan all but ignored who would be the direct beneficiaries of this particular tax and he also ignored exactly who would be taxed under it. People earning over $1 million would be making a very small sacrifice to pay for the new education benefits to our troops, who have sacrificed so much. It is amazing that the same people that were so willing to send our troops off to war are now so hesitant to honor them in a real and substantive way. Apparently for Ryan it’s all about ideology and protecting rich people’s money.”

For more local blogs, go to blognetwork.expressmilwaukee.com.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Limiting the designation of marriage to a union ‘between a man and a woman’ is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute.” —California Chief Justice Ron George, in striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage last week


Photo by Jon Bailey, THE WATER TOWERS
"I was enjoying a great day in Milwaukee, wandering the East Side, when I saw these bizarre Orange water towers. The color and the day was too perfect to miss the shot. To be honest, I had no idea what they were for or why they were there until I saw them installed on the Harley Museum property."

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