Mining issue need not be divisiveA recent column by written by Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, implies there is only one voice on the mining issue.
By: By State Sen. Bob Jauch, Superior Telegram
A recent column by written by Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, implies there is only one voice on the mining issue.
Had he attended listening sessions in Rice Lake, Spooner, Superior and Ashland, he would have found there are many different voices of citizens who all deserve as much right to be at the table as those who agree with him.
Instead of respecting the diversity of views on the complicated and controversial issue of mining, he demonizes the politics of others who choose to disagree and disparages the notion of real consensus because Rep. Tiffany believes that only he knows the truth.
He seems offended that Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, and I continue to pursue a conversation with others in search of common ground on an issue that has deeply divided us. His column ridicules others who share a common goal but have a different view.
Democracy thrives when individuals of different interests engage in thoughtful dialogue. The public yearns for bipartisanship. Sen. Schultz and I proved that Republicans and Democrats can work together in a true spirit of compromise. Maintaining an open mind and working together is the Wisconsin way of solving problems.
Compromise is not a sin and it is not easy, especially in today’s charged political environment when blame and attack are substitutes for thoughtful conversations.
Comparing our two plans there are seven significant policies in which we completely agree. On six other areas, both plans address similar topics but have different details. Our plan more closely resembles Minnesota mining law but provides much more protection and certainty for taxpayers. Unlike the Assembly plan, our proposal does not allow for mitigation to fill in streams, lakes and rivers. The Assembly plan would invite costly and lengthy litigation that could delay implementation of the law for years.
Rep. Tiffany suggests there is no more room for further compromise. Given the fact that neither he nor his Assembly Republican colleagues were willing to sit down and talk about compromise with me, his statement is hard to comprehend.
Schultz and I believe the proper way to move forward and resolve the complicated mining issue is to reach out to individuals who are not entangled in the hypertensive political debate. We believe the most important political skill isn’t trying to score points by attacking the other side but rather encouraging a respectful conversation that can lead to a consensus.
Some have suggested that it is wrong to include Tim Sullivan, the head of State Mining Association, because he would be too biased.
I have had numerous conversations with him and I am convinced that we share the same goal to adopt a responsible mining law that protects the public voice and preserves environmental policy.
Rep. Tiffany seemed insulted with the suggestion that the head of the Mining Association and former Secretary of DNR George Meyer can listen to each other and determine where there is flexibility to find common ground. They both know the mining issue and regulatory process. In fact, contrary to Rep. Tiffany’s false accusation, George Meyer both permitted and closed a mine when he was DNR Secretary.
Unlike Rep. Tiffany, neither Mr. Sullivan nor Mr. Meyer view the issue as ammunition for the battleground of the next campaign. Neither one is a standard bearer for a political party or ideology. Both have a much more sophisticated understanding of the role of compromise. For a fact, I know that both of them are enthusiastic about recent conversations and are willing to work for a constructive solution.
Solving difficult issues does not need to be treated as political conquest. Wisconsin has a proud tradition of good government in which the best solutions come from open conversation and true collaboration. Throughout our history consensus has been formed on issues far more contentious than mining.
Wisconsin has a proud tradition of good and open government that honors the diverse views of our citizens. Rep. Tiffany is welcome to join in our efforts to continue that tradition if he is willing.
Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, represents the 25th Senate District in Wisconsin.