State News: Supreme Court Race, Border Wall Lawsuit

Judge Rules Against Wetland Permit for Kohler Golf Course

The Kohler Co.’s plan to build a golf course on land containing rare wetlands has been blocked by an administrative law judge.

On March 15, Judge Mark Kaiser ruled against the state Department of Natural Resources’ wetland fill permit for the project. He said the department lacked sufficient information to approve the company’s plan to fill 3.69 acres of wetlands for the course and said the project could cause significant environmental damage.

Mary Faydash, president of Friends of the Black River Forest, which petitioned for the reversal, was encouraged by the decision.

“We are grateful for this decision, which thoroughly addressed the adverse, irreversible impacts of the proposed golf course,” Faydash said.

Kohler Co., known for its sinks, toilets and resorts, had planned to build an 18-hole public course on the shore of Lake Michigan. The golf course, which the company said would be “world-class,” was planned for 247 acres of undeveloped private land the Kohler Co. has conserved since the 1930s. It is next to the Kohler-Andrae State Park, one of Wisconsin’s most popular parks, with more than 400,000 visitors a year.

A Kohler Co. spokesperson said the company plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

Holder Campaigns for Judge Lisa Neubauer

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Madison on Thursday to campaign for state Supreme Court candidate Lisa Neubauer, telling an audience of Democratic organizers that they’ll win if they get progressives to the polls.

“Too often we focus on the presidential election,” Holder said. “We’ve got to make sure that people understand that this is a consequential election, that this is something that they need to be engaged in.”

Holder, who led the U.S. Department of Justice under President Barack Obama, now runs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. An affiliate of the group has pledged to spend $350,000 on behalf of Neubauer, who is currently a judge on the state court of appeals.

Holder has kept a steady presence in Wisconsin the past two years, visiting the state in 2018 to campaign for state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet and Gov. Tony Evers. Holder also had a hand in taking former Gov. Scott Walker to court to force him to call two special elections in vacant legislative districts.

Neubauer faces conservative Judge Brian Hagedorn, who is also currently serving on the state court of appeals.

Neubauer told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she did not want Holder’s support, and she would recuse herself from cases involving his organization if they come before the state Supreme Court.

“In some ways that’s reflective of why I support her,” Holder told reporters.

The Logistics of Hosting the DNC

More than 50,000 visitors are expected to stream into Milwaukee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, bringing in an estimated $200 million.

One of the things the bid committee had to do to land the DNC was secure 15,000 hotel rooms within about 20 minutes of the downtown Fiserv Forum, the convention’s centerpiece. The city’s tourism agency, Visit Milwaukee, has reached out to cities as far as Madison to help arrange extra hotel rooms, said Rob Guard of Destination Madison.

The committee now must recruit 12,000 volunteers to help before and during the convention week.

Wisconsin Will Join Border-Emergency Lawsuit

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s national-emergency declaration, a case that seeks to prevent Trump from building a border wall without the approval of Congress.

Gov. Tony Evers announced March 13 that he had authorized Kaul to join the lawsuit, and Evers’ office said 20 attorneys general are now part of it.

President Trump declared a national emergency in February after Congress passed a spending bill that did not include all of the funding he wanted for a border wall. The declaration, Trump argued, would let him shift billions in funding from elsewhere in the Department of Defense to pay for the wall’s construction.

The multi-state suit that now includes Wisconsin contends Trump’s actions exceed the powers of the executive office, violate the U.S. Constitution and would unconstitutionally divert federal funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes.

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