Government and Political Roundup: Northwest Wisconsin declared a disaster areaWisconsin News
-- Far northwest Wisconsin has been declared a disaster area in the wake of heavy flood damage in mid-June.
Far northwest Wisconsin has been declared a disaster area in the wake of heavy flood damage in mid-June. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved Governor Scott Walker’s request for disaster aid in Douglas, Ashland, and Bayfield counties – as well as the Red Cliff Indian reservation near Bayfield. The area received more than six-inches of rain in a two-day period, with almost nine-million-dollars in damage to public infra-structure. FEMA pays 75-percent of eligible costs for fighting the floods and repairing public amenities like roads-and-bridges. State and local government split the rest. Walker said there was not damage to qualify for FEMA’s individual disaster aid. But the governor arranged to have homes-and-businesses in Douglas County qualify for help from the Small Business Administration.
The legal battle over redistricting in Wisconsin might not be over. The new Assembly and Senate districts won’t change. But the plaintiffs in a recent federal lawsuit over the new maps question whether Republicans completely followed court orders to release documents that they tried to keep secret. Democrats obtained a host of redistricting records this week, after they won control of the Senate. And plaintiffs say they don’t remember seeing a chain of e-mails in which Republicans failed to take advice from attorney Jim Troupis. He said the citizenship of Hispanics had to be taken into account in setting up new Assembly districts in Milwaukee. It wasn’t, and the federal court ordered the G-O-P to redraw two districts so Hispanics are assured of having at least one member in the Assembly. Had the Republicans taken Troupis’s advice, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it would have saved taxpayers around 200-thousand dollars in legal costs. Attorneys for Democrats who filed the redistricting lawsuit said they certainly would have remembered the memos, because they went to the heart of the federal Voting Rights Act. Attorneys for the Democrats and their other plaintiffs from a Milwaukee Hispanic group are reviewing their files to see if they could have been released. G-O-P lawyers have not commented. A three-judge panel said the G-O-P’s law firm filed frivolous requests to block the public release of numerous records. The firm was fined 17-thousand-500 dollars.
U-S Senate candidate Tommy Thompson says it’s not right to buy an election – even though the man he hopes to replace first got elected that way. The former governor and Bush health secretary has made millions-of-dollars as an executive, consultant, and board member for a number of health care firms. But Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board yesterday he would not spend millions to win the four-way Republican Senate primary on August 14th. The winner of the November Senate election will replace retiring Democrat Herb Kohl – who first won in 1988 when he spent millions of his own money, rejected special interest cash, and promised he’d be “Nobody’s Senator but Yours.” Thompson has put 132-thousand-dollars of his own money toward the race, and he has raised another two-point-two million. That’s about what Mark Neumann has raised. But hedge fund manager Eric Hovde has spent four-million dollars of his own money on the Senate campaign. Thompson said his advisers want him to spend more himself – and he probably will. The Public Policy Polling firm said this week that Thompson, Hovde, and Neumann are in a statistical dead heat, with Jeff Fitzgerald lagging behind. But nine-percent in that poll were undecided. The winner of the primary faces Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November.
The U-S Senate Appropriations Committee has approved funding for four Navy warships, two of which would be built in northeast Wisconsin. The panel endorsed the defense portion of next year’s federal budget. And Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl says it includes two Navy littoral combat ships to be built at Marinette Marine, and two at Austal U-S-A in Mobile Alabama. The total cost of the four ships is one-point-eight billion dollars. It’s part of the Navy’s commitment to build 20 of the advanced combat ships – 10 from each contractor. Littoral combat ships are used to hunt submarines, and defend ground troops.