Letter to the Editor: Failing Representation

Citizens of the state should be grateful for three state legislators, including our Rep Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, given credit for “preserving” funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship fund. Remember though, the less apparent legislative maneuvering inherent in state budgeting. Imagine a governor or an assembly chair seeking a 50 percent reduction in funding for a wildly popular conservation program. How does one do it? You threaten to eliminate the program entirely and then you “restore” part of it, to the grateful applause of many. Re-frame your actual desired 50 percent reduction as a great “save,” and paint your partisan picture of reality.

Now today, Sen. Frank Lasee, R-Racine (?), visits his District (no home voting address yet listed on his Legislative webpage) to show concern about “saving” an iconic tourist attraction, the Peninsula State Park tower. However, Lasee recently failed to attend public hearings on well water contamination in Kewaunee County, the Town of Lincoln, where about 50 percent of the residential water wells are unfit for human consumption. Public trust doctrine water issues are less important?

While the full blame for contamination, adversely affecting 30 percent of private wells in Kewaunee County, is not definitively understood, CAFO model industrial factory farms are widely agreed upon as to being a major culprit. Dumping unprecedented amounts of liquid manure containing toxic chemicals on fractured bedrock, the geological karst formation and same limestone cliff-face upon which Eagle Tower stands, continues unabated.

DNR Secretary Stepp, Senator Lasee, Rep. Kitchens (as had former Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay) have allowed this to continue and have permitted intensification of these sewage dumping practices. A full-blown, third-world water quality crisis, a public health emergency situation, continues. Last week, DNR Secretary Stepp claimed the DNR is doing all it “legally” can do in regulating pollution and monitoring water quality within the proximity of industrial agricultural operations. WI DOJ (Wisconsin Department of Justice) told her so.

We all depend on tourist dollars, agricultural industry dollars and are grateful for the planned improved Kewaunee harbor potential for economic growth, but improved access to an environmentally threatened and increasingly polluted Lake Michigan, or to the equally threatened Green Bay, with third-world well water contamination basically ignored, all say, business as usual appears just peachy. Yet daily, real peoples’ lives, health and property are being destroyed and manifestly further threatened.

With the DNR declaring their “legal” limitations, nothing short of strident public calls from both Lasee and Kitchens for the Governor to immediately declare an emergency public health crisis in Kewaunee County, and continuing until it happens, should be deemed an acceptable legislative initiative from our 1st District representatives. A declaration of an emergency allows immediate, “legal” remediation to begin.

Can you hear this Sen. Lasee and Rep. Kitchens? To uphold and protect the Constitution, i.e. public trust doctrine water resources, should be unmistakably resonating.

Don Freix

Fish Creek, Wis.

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