Sunday, October 28, 2018

Exciting news folks!  The next Governor of the great state of Wisconsin is coming to visit and hear from us here in Grant County!  Tony Evers will be visiting us this week.  Mandela Barnes our exemplary candidate and the next Lieutenant Governor of our state will also be in attendance as well as our next representative in the State Assembly, Mike Mooney and our next Senator, Kriss Marion.  This is a rare opportunity and one you won’t want to miss.

Wednesday, October 31st.
9:45 AM
2nd & Main Coffeehouse & Pub
92 E. Main St. Platteville, WI 53818

So come on down and bring a friend or two.  Enjoy some great coffee and meet & speak with the people who will be returning Wisconsin to a peaceful and prosperous state for all.

Friday November 2nd will bring us another great event.  Mike Mooney and Kriss Marion will be  having their last event before the election at the Badger Bar, 35 North 2nd Street in Platteville, from 4 – 7 pm.

Hot, homemade soups and stews with all the trimmings will be provided by the dedicated volunteers of the Democratic Party of Grant County.  Bring friends, especially friends who may not have decided who they are voting for yet.  Let them meet our candidates and realize all that they have to offer for Grant County and SW Wisconsin.

                                      ELECTION DAY  TUESDAY NOVEMBER 6TH

If you haven’t already voted, have a plan to make time to do so on election day.  And we would love it if you would also plan to watch the election results with all of us.  Our Election Watch Party will be held in the downstairs hall of The Ticket, 60 South Court Street in Platteville beginning at 8pm.  Come join us as Wisconsin prepares to move out of the recent dark ages and enter a bright and shining future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

We Want To Meet You

Greetings folks

If you have questions for the candidates or issues you would like to discuss, need some yard signs or wish to volunteer or donate, please feel free to stop by our Democratic Party of Grant County offices in Platteville.
We are located at 45 N. Third Street and our offices are staffed every day and evening except for Sunday.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Big Food, Big Fun and Big Events

The big election where we begin to turn Wisconsin blue and restore fairness, democracy and prosperity to all Wisconsin is only 3 WEEKS AWAY!!!!  Big changes are coming and there are some big events happening to celebrate those big changes.

On Saturday October 20th beginning at 4 pm and running until 7 pm, our good friends Carlos Vasquez and Carolina Martinez are hosting a STEAK & CHICKEN BUFFET will all the trimmings.  Great food and friends and a great time at this event to support Mike Mooney for 49th Assembly.
Location is the Los Amigos Restaurant located at 135 E. Main Street in Platteville. The price is only $13 which is great for a big steak/chicken dinner. A portion of food and adult beverage sales goes to support Mike Mooney.
On Friday November 2nd from 4-7 pm, there will be a Meet & Greet Event for Mike Mooney for Assembly and Kriss Marion for Senate at the Badger Bar, located at 35 N 2nd Street in Platteville.  Members and friends of the Democratic Party of Grant County will be providing homemade soups and everything to go with them.  This will probably be your last chance to meet, visit and speak with our candidates before the big election so we hope you can all make it.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Legislative Audit Bureau: The Sentinels of State Government

"As Governor, I would get rid of the programs that don’t work and fund the ones that do,” said a candidate at a forum last summer. I am sure people thought just how would you know that?
Many folks think someone is paying attention to details of state government, but they don’t really know. The way we can know is to study the work of the state auditors. The Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) helps answer questions about the effectiveness and efficiencies of state government.
Recently, the work of the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau was given the highest possible rating by the National State Auditors Association. An independent, external review team, which included auditors from other states and the federal government, traveled to Wisconsin and spent a week reviewing the work of the LAB.
For fifty-three years, the LAB has assisted legislators, agency directors and the people of Wisconsin in answering questions about how money is spent and how programs are managed. The auditors’ work provides answers to questions such as, did the program meet its goals, did the program follow state law, and how was the money spent?
Long before I became a Senator, I assumed that someone was paying attention to all the different functions of state government. As a Senator and member of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, I understand the critical role of the LAB in assisting the Legislature with oversight. With a state government of dozens of agencies, hundreds of funds and thousands of programs, the 86 authorized employees of the Audit Bureau have a massive task.
Audits of state government, conducted by the LAB, are approved by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee which is made up of legislators from both sides of the aisle and both houses. The Co-chairs are always of the Majority Party and they determine which audits come to the committee for approval. Auditors depend on lawmakers to attend the hearings, read the audits ahead of time and ask questions. They also depend on lawmakers to share the findings with the public and involve the public and their colleagues in a discussion about solutions to the findings in the audit. To maintain the integrity of the LAB and its work, state law forbids lawmakers from interfering in the audit process.
The LAB also maintains a state hotline on waste, mismanagement and abuse that has some of the strongest whistle-blower protections in state law. That protection provides confidence for those who come forward to help the LAB know where to find problems that need to be remedied.
Audit findings are always accompanied by recommendations to address the problems found during the audit process. Frequently these findings are related to compliance with state law. It is up to the Joint Audit Committee to make sure the agencies follow the LAB recommendations. This work can be much harder than you might think.
For example, the law requires the state’s economic development organization validate that any company receiving money for creating jobs actually creates the jobs. A series of audits detailed that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was not following the law. When lawmakers insisted WEDC follow the law, the agency director pompously retorted, “We are not in the business of validating jobs.”
A few years ago, after the release of an economic development audit that detailed continued problems, two lawmakers called for the elimination of the LAB. These lawmakers, who called for the demise of the LAB, showed staggering ignorance in the vital functions auditors perform.
Without the LAB’s work, our state would not be able to conduct business with the federal government due to requirements for a review. Nearly thirty percent of Wisconsin’s $76 billion-dollar budget is federal money. Without the work of the Audit Bureau our state could not borrow money or, in state terms, issue bonds. Our state has about $14 billion dollars in bonds (debt).
The LAB staff are the sentinels of state government. They point the way to problems, offer recommendations to solve those problems, and give the “all-clear” that everything is working well.
The staff at the LAB is doing a very difficult job in a way that absolutely deserves recognition. For their exceptional work, we all offer heart-felt congratulations and appreciation.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

fake media talk response

Since you good folks on the political right claim that 99.999% of all news sources are the "liberal media" and not to be trusted. Since you are willing to believe that there is a conspiracy, spread across the entire planet dedicated to spreading "liberal lies" and only yourself and Fox "News" have the amazing genius and mental prowess to see through this conspiracy which is the largest single human creation in all of history, I have some questions for you.
Please explain to me sir or madam, just how every single nation on Earth, every single media outlet across the entire planet, every government in this world, decided to and then secretly carried out, a plan to wage an information war on the American Republican Party?
How did 7 billion people keep this secret? How did every single nation on Earth come to an agreement for the first time in world history, not to end war, not to end famine, not to cure cancer but, just to give Republicans unreliable information?
How are 7 billion people benefiting from this and why???
The Republican Party, it's billionaire donors, and Fox "News" have lots of money and power on the line here and have a lot to benefit from misinforming people. Why doesn't that factor into this equation???
Perhaps the answer is that it never happened? Perhaps the Republican Party and it's billionaires donors who own Fox "News" (and some blogs and websites, the other sources of "real" info for GOP voters) have gotten you to believe that the whole wide world is nothing but a conspiracy to give "smart and highly informed" people like yourself misinformation?
Bonus question; What is the definitions of paranoia?
Bonus question #2; What is the definition of megalomania?
"It is easier to fool a person today than it is to convince them that somebody else fooled them yesterday." Mark Twain

Friday, April 28, 2017

candidate info for dpw/dnc elections

Candidates for Executive Offices of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the Democratic National Committee.
Please note that not all candidates have the same online or social media outlets.  Also, not all candidates have prepared bio's and statements which could be found at the time of this compilation.

DPW Chairperson candidates.

Candidates listed in alphabetical order.  Biographies and basic information on all four candidates is available from this link to the DPW's website:

Joe Donovan - Link to his Facebook page:

Candidate biography:
Joe grew up on a small, family owned, dairy farm in Marinette County. Graduated from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin with a degree in Business & Economics.   The Donovan family was very active in Democratic politics. "I campaigned hard with my father for John F. Kennedy putting up yard signs and Knocking on doors when I was eleven years old". Joe served as an officer in the Marinette County Party and Democratic nominee for the (then) 88th Assembly District of Wisconsin. Moved to Milwaukee and served as Chair of the Milwaukee County West Side Democrats.   

 Co-founded an (Employee Owned) company (Donovan & Jorgenson) in Waukesha County in 1985 with a mission to conserve energy and reduce pollution by promoting and installing solar systems, heat pumps and high efficiency furnaces. Served as president and executive director from 1985 to 2016 doing everything necessary to grow the business to 70+ employees and more than 50,000 customers (largest residential HVAC provider in Wisconsin) . Joe retired early and will work full-time as the Chair of the DPW  for the 2017-2019 term.

Eric Finch - Link to webpage:   Link to his Facebook page:

Candidate biography:
Eric Finch represents new progressive leadership for Wisconsin.

Eric earned his BA in political science from the University of Washington by twenty and received a full scholarship to law school at Washington University in St. Louis. He went on to receive a second law degree in Intellectual Property and Technology Law.

After law school, Eric was a community organizer in Seattle. He later followed his wife’s career to Madison, volunteering for Tammy Baldwin in last two months of the 2012 campaign before moving back to Washington State to practice law. As an attorney, Eric took on big banks, advised non-profit organizations through tough times, and more. Eric returned to Wisconsin again for his wife’s career in 2014, taking a sabbatical from law practice to organize for the DPW, where he saw many areas that needed improvement.

Since then, Eric has worked on complex real estate transactions as an attorney and been an in-house lawyer for a world-class manufacturer that manufactures in USA, is committed to sustainability, and has moved toward an employee-owned model. Over the last year, he's been working on software projects, helping on campaigns, and serving clients with family & employment law issues, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community.

Bryan Kennedy - Link to webpage:  Link to his Facebook 

Candidate biography:
Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy’s Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) involvement spans more than fifteen years. After completing his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000, Bryan took a faculty position at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he taught until 2011. Shortly after moving to Wisconsin, he joined his union and the DPW.

At his core, Bryan is a grassroots organizer. When he was in graduate school, he was part of a union organizing effort of graduate assistants at the University of North Carolina. After joining the UWM faculty, he helped sign dozens of new members to his local union.
From 2007-2013, Bryan served as state president of American Federation of Teachers — Wisconsin. He turned the union into an organizing union by hiring five organizers and opening an Organizing Department. Under his leadership, AFT—Wisconsin experienced the largest expansion of new locals in their recent history —  eight successful collective bargaining elections on seven UW campuses in less than a year.
Elected Mayor of Glendale in 2015, Kennedy has also served for almost a decade on the Glendale-River Hills School Board. Kennedy was the Democratic nominee against Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner in 2004 and 2006.

Martha Laning - Link to webpage: Link to Facebook

Candidate biography:
Martha Laning grew up in a middle-class family in rural Central Wisconsin. Her parents instilled values of education, hard work, and the importance of giving back through volunteering. 

After high school, Martha earned a Business Accounting degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked at the local paper mill during summer vacation to pay for her education. In 2002, she obtained a Master’s in Business Administration.

At UW-Madison, Martha met her husband Wayne. They married in 1990 and have three beautiful children, Katie, Maddie, and Alec. Martha’s family motivated her interest in community service and desire to do more by leading the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Martha has served as a full-time chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin since June 2015 and, in that time, has traveled over 65,000 miles - from Superior to Kenosha - to talk to party leaders, allies, and voters across Wisconsin. She has worked to build a stronger party by empowering grassroots organizers, providing candidates with resources needed to run robust campaigns and building a stronger team that works together. 

DPW has made progress, but we have more work to do to build the infrastructure we need to win in 2018 and beyond.

1st Vice Chair candidates.

David Bowen

Link to his Twitter account: 

State Rep. David Bowen was elected to serve as 1st Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in June 2015.

Born Milwaukee, January 28, 1987; single. Graduate Bradley Tech H.S. 2005; B.A. UW-Milwaukee. Full-time legislator. Former program director. Member: Milw. Co. Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Advisory Com.; Beyond the Bell Milwaukee (steering com.); Black Youth Project-100; Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Former member: American Legacy Foundation Activism Fellow. Milwaukee Co. Bd. of Supervisors 2012-14.

Amanda Stuck
Link to her Twitter account:

Amanda Stuck was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly's 57th District in 2014.  Born in Appleton, December 16, 1982; married; 2 children. Graduate Appleton North H.S. 2001; B.A. political science UW-Oshkosh 2007; Masters of public administration UW-Oshkosh 2012. Full-time legislator. Former housing specialist, Appleton Housing Authority; legislative aide, Cong. Steve Kagan; rural mail carrier.
Elected to Assembly 2014.

2nd Vice Chair candidates.

Mandela Barnes 

Candidate biography:
Mandela Barnes is a former State Representative of WI's 11th Assembly District, elected in 2012 as a champion of progressive values. He served on the Assembly Committees on Corrections, Education, Jobs & the Economy, and Small Business Development. He also served as the chairman of the Legislature's Black and Latino Caucus. A lifelong Milwaukee resident, he graduated from John Marshall High School and went on to Alabama A&M University, completing his studies in mass communications and sociology in 2008.

After returning to Milwaukee, Mandela became the Lead Organizer and Director for Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), a coalition of faith-based groups advocating for social justice in the greater-Milwaukee community. He is currently the Deputy Director of Strategic Engagement for State Innovation Exchange, a national state policy network for progressive state legislators. 

Mandela has served nationally as a leader for education policy, gun violence prevention, and economic issues, and was also recognized as one of the nation's top pro-growth progressives by NewDEAL Leaders. 

His current list of endorsements for this race include, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Mayor Tom Barrett, State Representatives Eric Genrich, Daniel Riemer, and Jocasta Zamarripa.

Mandela Barnes plans to bring much needed vision to our party.

Secretary candidates.

Meg Andrietsch

Candidate biography:
Meg has spent her life in southeastern Wisconsin, growing up in Kenosha, earning her MBA, and now working tirelessly to turn Racine County blue.

Proudly coming from a union household, Meg actively served the CWA, in advancing roles as a steward, chief steward, picket captain, strike captain, and Secretary of the local.  For the Democratic Party, she has worked at all levels of the organization (County, CD, and State), doing whatever is needed to get Democrats elected throughout the county and across the ballot.

Meg started attending State Party Administrative Committee meetings in 2007 as an observer, then became an Administrative Committee alternate, and in 2010 she became DPW Secretary when her predecessor was appointed a judge.

She uses her 6.5 years of experience, plus her personal connections gained from that service, to advance the cause of Democrats throughout Wisconsin.  Meg has a deep understanding of both the role of Secretary and DPW operations, and brings that knowledge to county parties and campaigns around the state.

In her ‘spare’ time, she likes to read mysteries, watch hockey, and listen to the blues, particularly the Allman Brothers Band, and any music by her favorite musician, Warren Haynes.

Anita Klein

Candidate biography:
Anita grew up in rural Manitowoc County on a dairy farm. She and her family moved to Kiel and Sheboygan where she helped her parents run a small restaurant.  Then in 1963 the family moved to Waldo, WI where they operated a small assisted-living facility.  Anita graduated from Sheboygan Falls High School and continued her education at Lakeshore Technical College in Secretarial Science and Para-legal.  
Anita worked as a legal secretary, earning her Certified Professional Secretary designation, for several years before completing an Associate Degree as a Para-legal.  She served on the Advisory Committee for Para-legal programs for the technical schools.
In 1978 Anita met and married her husband, Peter.  Peter was a dairy farmer, a democrat, and an organizer.  Together we continued this work.  With Peter’s encouragement she became involved in local politics.  Anita was Town of Mitchell Clerk for 14 years; she ran for 27th Assembly; and she was Trustee for the Village of Waldo for six years.  Anita was co-founder and general manager of a dairy marketing co-op for 12 years.  She served on the Agricultural Advisory Committee for the Federal Reserve Board in Chicago.
Currently, Anita is completing her 4th year as Chair for the Sheboygan County Democratic Party and her 4th year as Treasurer for the 6th CD. 

DPW Treasurer candidate.

Randy Udell

Candidate biography:
Randy Udell has spent his adult life working to build a stronger, more progressive Democratic party across the state of Wisconsin.  Randy got his start in Democratic politics early on, serving as President of the Young Democrats and a Student Senator at UW-Whitewater.  In college, he signed on as an aide to United States Congressman Les Aspin – learning first-hand about community outreach, constituent service, and what it takes to run and win in a challenging Wisconsin swing district.

After settling down in the Madison area with his husband Brad, Randy began to get involved with local Democratic organizations and campaigns.  He was elected as the Chair of the 2nd Congressional District, served for 5 years as the 2nd CD Treasurer, and in 2013 was appointed to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Administrative Committee – helping to guide and hold the organization accountable to its members.  In 2015, in recognition of his skills and leadership, Randy was unanimously elected as the state Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. 

Throughout, Randy has been a constant mentor and advisor for county party officers, activists, and staff.  He’s helped party leaders navigate the difficult and changing world of campaign finance, worked one-on-one with county parties to ensure timely filing of reports, held one-of-a-kind trainings for county treasurers and other party financial officers, and worked to ensure accountability and transparency in the DPW budgeting process.  Thanks to his leadership, DPW continues to be on sound financial footing, in compliance with all Federal and State laws, and on pace to break numerous organizational finance goals.

Candidates for DNC slot vacated by Jason Rae.
In alphabetical order.

Luke Fuszard - Link to Facebook page:   

Candidacy statement:

My name is Luke Fuszard and I’m running to be your representative to the Democratic National Committee.

My ancestors, Charles and Caroline Fuszard, were immigrants who settled in Kenosha in 1845 - three years before Wisconsin became a state.

Because of their Catholic faith, my ancestors experienced incredible discrimination and prejudice. They were accused of being terrorists, subversives, and a whole lot worse. They had trouble finding jobs and simply being accepted for who they were.

Ultimately, there was only one organization that openly welcomed them. One group that accepted them without condition. One community that said “You belong” and that was the Democratic Party.

Inspired by my ancestors, I have tried my hardest to give back to the party that gave the Fuszards so much. I’m currently the Treasurer of the 2nd Congressional District Democrats, and the Chair of the Young Democrats of Wisconsin which works to bring young people into the party across our great state.

But the truth of the matter is that this campaign isn’t about me. It’s about you.

You - the leaders, activists and elected officials of the Democratic Party - inspire me.

You deserve a representative to the DNC who always keeps you up-to-date on what’s happening in Washington.

You deserve a representative to the DNC who will visit all country parties during their term.

You deserve a representative to the DNC who will allow you to express your opinion on every vote and major issue before the committee.

Over the next few months I look forward to meeting many of you along this journey.

Peter Peckarsky - Link to website: 

Candidate biography:
Peter is an attorney and long-time Democratic progressive activist, working primarily during elections on Voter Protection and Election Protection issues. He was born, raised, and graduated from high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received his S.B degrees in Electrical Engineering and Political Science from MIT and his law degree from Case Western Reserve University.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy placed Mr. Peckarsky's senior thesis in the Congressional Record in support of Sen. Kennedy’s opposition to the Anti-Ballistic Missile system.
Peter served as a consultant on strategic nuclear weapons forces and platforms to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and on intelligence analysis to the Director of Naval Intelligence.
As a White House Correspondent and free-lance investigative reporter, Peter reported on the financial affairs of various high level federal officials.
As an attorney, Peter is a lead trial counsel. He has participated in election law, patent, trademark, copyright, antitrust, trade secret, fraud, contract, leveraged buy-out, civil RICO, hedge fund, and securities fraud matters. His career has involved the interaction of law with scientific and technical fields including biotechnology, computer hardware and software, electrical circuits and signals, internet communications, internet devices, medical devices, microprocessors, organic chemistry, pharmaceuticals, physics, quantum mechanics, semiconductor design, semiconductor processing, statistics, and telecommunications.

Peter’s active involvement in electoral politics began when the Republicans announced their intent to prevent alleged “voter fraud”  by placing observers in green vests in Milwaukee wards with a substantial African American population. Peter (and others) suggested the state party organize lawyers to protect the vote. Since then at every general election, the critical primaries, the recalls, and some Supreme Court races Peter has participated actively in efforts to protect the vote.

Khary Penebaker - Link to website:  Link to Facebook 

Candidate biography:
Khary Penebaker is a husband, father, and successful businessman who isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right. His strong moral values have served him well and shaped him into the tenacious leader he is today.

Penebaker has strong Southeastern Wisconsin roots, having moved to Wisconsin from Ohio as a young child. He first learned the values of determination, perseverance, and hard work from his father who, as a Senior Executive, helped establish Miller Brewing Company’s workforce diversity initiatives, breaking new ground within the Milwaukee business community.

That value of determination defined Khary during his time at Marquette University High School and later, at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee where he was a successful track and field runner and a standout student athlete. In 1998 Penebaker became the 100-meter Conference Champion as well as a 200-meter All-Conference Second Team member.

After completing his bachelor’s degree from UW-Milwaukee, he embarked upon a successful, nearly twenty-year-long career in the roofing industry. In his first five years, he jointly owned and operated Community Roofing before starting The Penebaker Enterprises, LLC Roofing and Sheet Metal Company in Milwaukee and serving as its president for the next decade.

Penebaker’s skills and go-getter attitude paid off, as the firm grew to fifty family-supporting jobs and received numerous industry awards for excellence, including the 2004 Supplier of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Supplier Development Council and the 2010 Minority Business Contractor of the Year Award from Wisconsin’s Daily Reporter.

Penebaker Enterprises completed such high-profile projects as the acclaimed $60 million Milwaukee City Hall Restoration Project. Following the turbulent Great Recession years, which dramatically changed the construction industry, Khary was hired by Metal-Era, Inc., working in several key management positions. More recently, he returned to an executive role as President of Roofed Right America, LLC.

During the 2016 election cycle, Penebaker was able to build a team of four full-time staff members that would help his US Congressional campaign raise over $120,000 from over 1,400 grassroots donors; Collected over 1600 nomination signatures; Made over 155,000 volunteer recruitment calls into the district which resulted in nearly 1,000 volunteers who have completed over 2,500 voter persuasion shifts; Interacted daily with 50,000 followers on Twitter/Facebook resulting in over 30 million impressions and was awarded Twitter and Facebook verification; Driven almost 20,000 miles to meet with voters throughout the district; Earned the support of Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton, Herb Kohl, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Keith Ellison, and many more.

As the father of three children ranging in age from toddler to teenager, family time plays a prominent role in his life, as does his faith. He has been actively involved with education, from his own children’s educational achievements to worker skill training. Having served as a volunteer spokesperson for several crime and safety-oriented organizations, Khary Penebaker is committed to keeping our communities safe.

Khary is a proud board member of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and WAVE (Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort) and is Everytown for Gun Safety‘s WI’s Survivor Fellow.

Adam Brabender

No information available.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

There are three things which everybody must have in this world, no matter who they are.  Those three things are food, shelter and water.  There is no getting around that.

Lately a wide range of Grant County citizens have had water related issues on their minds.  They speak of deep seated concerns over the quality, as well as future quantities, of water for themselves and their families as well as for their crops and animals.

Republicans, Democrats and Independents are becoming very worried about the direction that the Republican Party of Wisconsin has taken in regards to protecting our most valuable resource, against the wishes of their own voters and majority of Wisconsin citizens.

Whether it is fear of brain damage in people occurring, especially in children, from lead pipes to pollution concerns to the draining of the water tables by a handful of CAFO's, water is on everyone's mind lately.  And that will probably remain one of the biggest concerns of Grant County citizens for a long time to come.

Recently, Democratic Senator Kathleen Vinehout did something Travis Tranel would never do, and listened to citizens (not just campaign donors and personal friends but a wide array of everyday people) concerns on this very important issue.  Afterwards, she put together this article on water and high capacity wells, which begins below.

High Capacity Well Proposal Makes Water Problems Worse

What if you woke up one morning turned on the faucet to wash your face and saw brown water coming out of your tap?

Stacy Sylla of rural Lincoln Township in Trempealeau County texted me just such a photo of water the color of sludge. She has gone through three washing machines, dug fistfuls of sand out of the tank of her toilet, and bought an expensive water-filtering device. Her horse, Apples, died of exposure to toxins and pollutants found in her water.

The likely cause of the well problems? A new sand mine just over a half a mile away from Stacy and Mike Sylla’s farm.

Local residents opposed the sand mine. In order to get the mine approved, the cities of Independence and Whitehall annexed land miles from the original city borders. This end-around of the township government left residents with little say about what happens in their neighborhood.

Stacy testified against the mine. She heard from a city council member that, “It’s not affecting my house.” She later told me, “I feel like the state has failed to protect the people.”

Town officials tried to stop the annexation and tried to work with the mine to no avail. The town received many reports of water problems evidently caused by the mine pumping more than the local aquifer could handle.

The story Stacy shared with me became a part of the debate on a high capacity well bill that fortunately failed to pass the Legislature last spring.

The Syllas and their neighbors did receive a bit of a reprieve with cleaner well water when low gas prices resulted in less hydraulic fracturing, and consequently less need for sand. The mine ceased activity and the water in the neighborhood started to clear up.

But this spring both the brown water and the high capacity well bill are back. Last month sand mining started up again. Stacy and Mike are hauling water for their livestock, buying water for cooking and drinking. Now they wonder if bathing in brown water is a health risk.

The sand mine doesn’t appear to take any responsibility for the problem. However, Mike Sylla recently told the Trempealeau County Times, “One day they started blasting and it wasn’t long before our water went bad.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also does not appear to be taking any responsibility. My office was told the state “didn’t have regulatory authority” and the Sylla’s should “test their water.”

With a lack of state action, the Trempealeau County Board started a program of well testing. Toxins released in the water are expensive to detect. The county will pick up most of the cost of the water testing. Information and test kits are available through the Trempealeau County Extension office.

Meanwhile a bill to make matters worse for neighbors with bad wells is moving through the Legislature. Senate Bill 76 would give a high capacity well owner access to water in perpetuity. Currently, the DNR reviews permits and any issues related to the permit when a well owner replaces, upgrades, transfers or replaces a high capacity well.

There is no other system for a regular “check-up” to make sure local wells and waterways are not harmed by the removal of water through the high capacity well. During the Senate debate, my colleagues and I tried to add commonsense “check-ups” for high capacity wells such as a review every ten years or when there is a change in usage (from agriculture to sand mining), and when considering approval of a large number of new wells in the vicinity. All of these amendments were defeated.

Senate Bill 76 recently passed the Senate on a partisan vote. The Assembly may take up the bill as soon as the beginning of May.

Our state Constitution Public Trust Doctrine sets out that Wisconsin’s waters belong to all Wisconsin residents. Senate Bill 76 takes the state in another direction – the one with the biggest straw gets the most water.

State action to pass this bill will make matters worse for the Sylla’s and their neighbors. I urge my colleagues in the Assembly to stop this bill. We need commonsense solutions that allow access to clean water for all Wisconsin residents.