Mining causes divisions in ‘Superior Days’Mining legislation is causing a rift among the usually united Superior Days project, which sends delegates of northern Wisconsin to the state capitol to speak with their representatives.
By: By Jessica Hamilton, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Mining legislation is causing a rift among the usually united Superior Days project, which sends delegates of northern Wisconsin to the state capitol to speak with their representatives.
Any issue brought to Superior Days in the past quarter of a century has had to uphold two main tenets: It should be chosen by consensus and presented to lawmakers in Madison on a unified front. Some delegates think the mining issue fails on both points.
Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald says this could cause opposition between those who will be lobbying the issue next week in Madison.
“That’s going to be more difficult for some folks to do this time because they are being asked to support a legislative issue that they don’t support,” MacDonald said.
Ashland City Councilor Kelly Westlund doesn’t think the issues about mining that are scheduled to be discussed at Superior Days has consensus among delegates.
“The problem that I have is that this has been an extremely contentious issue and I don’t think that there is a consensus in our community,” Westlund said. “And I think that Superior Days, in presenting the issue as it is written, is overstepping that boundary that we have in representing the best interest of the people that live in this community.”
But Douglas County Chamber of Commerce President Dave Minor says the issue has gone through the process the same as all other Superior Days issues.
“Anybody who is opposed to it could have stepped forward anywhere along the line or been part of that process to say they didn’t want it, basically, you know, waiting until the end of process to say that this is something that we don’t want to see brought down,” he said.
Westlund thinks mining can still be brought up at Superior Days but the way it is presented needs to better reflect what the whole state wants.
“Really, when it comes down to it, the adoption of mining legislation should not be about a project in the Penokee Hills; it applies to the whole state, so we have to look at these things that are in this new proposal and decide whether or not those are things that we want for the state as a whole or are they trying to create legislation for one company in one place,” Westlund said.
The mining issue is still scheduled to be lobbied at Superior Days next week. The group will also lobby for reinstatement of fully-funded revenue sharing, study and planning for an expansion of U.S. Highway 2 and sustained support of northern Wisconsin’s educational system.
Smaller department meetings will include issues like local food production, the availability of psychiatric services, the Dairyland Outdoor Veterans Retreat, the Minnesota-Wisconsin tax reciprocity agreement and increasing broadband availability. More information on Superior Days can be found at http://superiordays.com.