Thursday, March 31, 2011

Icky Stuff From My Side, Too...

UPDATE: AFSCME says that it was "overzealousness" and no boycott is planned, after all.  It was still incredibly stupid, overzealousness or not.

I am all for free choice, but AFSCME Council 24 (a WI State Employees Union) blew it.  They sent letters to businesses asking them to put a sign in their business window--"This Business Supports Wisconsin Worker Rights"--or else, in this case a boycott. (1)

Really, AFSCME?  Really?  Both sides here are engaged in a PR battle for public support, and you present something that smacks of extortion, union thuggery, and the bullying shown by the capitol Republicans? 

I am all for personal choice boycotts of businesses that gave large donations to back Walker (i.e., Walmart), but this is not cool. 

This is icky.

I know the side of the Wisconsin workers is the just, the moral side, of this issue, I'm am so sorry to see this instance that, really, we're no better than they.

(1) Union Threatens boycott of any business that doesn't show support, JS Online, 3/31/11,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blog Topic OVERLOAD!

My goodness, what a day.

1) Wisconsin courts essentially say, "Hey, what part of 'don't publish this' didn't you understand?!" as even the publisher of "budget repair" said of Fitzgerald's demand to publish it (possibly illegally), "He is our boss, so a request from him would be at the level of insisting." (1)
2) Some of the anointed saviors of Wisconsin education--choice schools--are found to be performing as bad or worse than public schools in Milwaukee. (2)
3) Walker applies for high-speed rail stimulus funds from the federal government (ironically, some of which are available, according to JS Online, because another Republican governor turned them down). (3)
4) Communities all over the state are confused and hesitant to implement taking extra health care and pension contributions from their employees (as spelled out in budget-repair) because, I guess, they're not that confident in their Governor's actions. (1)
5)  Madison unveils a five-years-in-the-making public mural illustrating the rich and pioneering history of the labor movement in Wisconsin (aside from Walker's request for high-speed rail money, this is the supreme irony of the day...). (4)

Former guv Tommy Thompson (who supports Walker (5)) used to say, "It's a great day for Wisconsin."

Think again. 

It's a great day for bloggers.

Not so much for Wisconsinites, though.

(1) Judge again blocks implementation of collective bargaining law, JS Online, 3/29/11,
(2) Choice schools not outperforming MPS , JS Online, 3 /29/11,
(3) State seeks high-speed rail money for Hiawatha upgrade, JS Online, 3/29/11,
(4) New Mural Depicts the History of Labor Movements in Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Journal, 3/29/11,
(5) Thompson Praises Walker, Remains Silent on Labor Law, Politico, 2/22/11,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Loaded for Bear

I was about to go ballistic when I read that Walker's budget would eliminate the opportunity for publically-funded elections (1) because loss of such public input opens the way for more large corporate, PAC (special interest groups called Political Action Committees) donations.   But then I read that the system is little used, and often viewed by its critics as pretty much useless. (4) Under the current Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund (WECF), public candidates that agree to certain restrictions on spending limits may be eligible for matching grants from the state (via the little $1 donation box you probably didn't check on your tax return) to help fund their campaigns.  Wisconsin government explains it thusly: Consequently, every dollar from the WECF grant means forfeiting a dollar from PACs. (2)

But what's the problem here?  Unfortunately, the fund rules could use a major revision.  Some studies show not many candidates are willing to follow the regulations to qualify for the grants, spending limits have not been updated since 1986, fewer taxpayer participants have inadequately funded the program, and the introduction of "issue ads" in 1996--which are essentially PACs that don't explicitly endorse a candidate, but rather endorse "hot-button" issues closely identified with a candidate or party platform--have flooded the media, not counting against a candidate's spending. (3) 

So, what does this mean?  It means the system is broken.  Should it be discarded?  No, not if it truly keeps the special interests from unfairly promoting a candidate, from buying an election. 

Should it be changed?  Absolutely.  Spending limits should be raised, the value of checking the voluntary tax form contribution should be promoted, and most of all, "issue ads" should be somehow limited, if possible (yes, even the "union busting" ads, despite being true, in my opinion).

We may not feel the effect of this loss right away,  but not making changes in such a program will result in a terrifying future for Wisconsin, bought and paid for by special interest groups.

And I think we're getting awfully close to that point already.

(1) Budget Defunds Elections, JS Online,
(2) WECF, WI Dept of Revenue,
(3) Campaign Finance in WI, Brennan Ctr for Justice Report,
(4) Anatomy of a Failed Idea, WI Interest,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Um, or Maybe Not...

Government’s first duty is to provide for the safety of its citizens. This means protecting the rights of crime victims and providing the brave men and women in Wisconsin law enforcement the resources they need to keep our schools and neighborhoods safe.
 --Scott Walker's website (1)

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/27/11:

Gov. Scott Walker's budget denies funding for a fledgling police file-sharing system that supporters say already has grown into a crucial tool in detecting criminals' cross-jurisdiction patterns.  

The Wisconsin Justice Information System allows police in the state to access each other's files. It also allows officers to transmit citations instantly to prosecutors and courts, saving time.

The state Office of Justice Assistance has built the system over about the last four years using mostly federal start-up money. Now the agency says most of that money is drying up. OJA officials requested $2 million in the state's budget for the system but Walker declined to devote any state dollars to it because of tight budgets. Police say losing the system would be like turning back the clock.  (2)

No comment needed.  Actions speak louder than words, Governor.


LAWS? We don't need no stinkin' laws!!

Well, Republicans have obviously skirted a judge's temporary restraining order (which means, yeah, there may be some legal problems with this), by having the Legislative Reference Bureau publish the budget repair bill into law onto the Internet, instead of having the Secretary of State do so (as specified by the state) into the official state print publication, the Wisconsin State Journal

The Republicans are vehement in their belief that such a publication (which I think may be but one step up officially from tacking it onto the kitchen refrigerator) is valid, and--Wisconsin judge rulings be damned--the bill is a law, starting...NOW.  The Secretary of State, of course, says it's not a law until he can have it officially published, which can't happen until the state courts can determine if the bill's creation and subsequent passage were the result of an illegal meeting, for goodness sakes.  Even the bureau that published it said it still had to be published in the official state newspaper for it to become effective. (1)

Methinks thou dost protest too much, Republicans.  You may have the votes to make the rules, but for those rules you haven't yet been able to change, you have to be willing to play by them.


Taking Advice From a Hoosier

How do we improve education? 

It appears that Scott Walker is pretty much following the playbook from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, the governor who proudly proclaims to "conduct government as a business." (1)  And, actually, Daniels has seen his approval rating grow from under 40% to over 60% (1).   One of his statements, "Today, 99 percent of Indiana teachers are rated “effective.” If that were true, 99 percent, not one-third, of our students would be passing those national tests," (2) sounds great, sounds hopeful.  To use his "as a business" model, that means workers at Mercury Marine or Harley Davidson (he owns a Harley) don't make a good product or they wouldn't be in dire financial straits, needing bailouts via governnment incentives and worker concessions. (3)

So how is Indiana planning to get those excellent teachers?  How is the Hoosier State going to appeal to those with enough ability, dedication, and intelligence to enter the teaching profession?  An example from Indiana's Mount Vernon school district includes numerous teacher layoffs despite salaries frozen for the past four years (and a possibility of wage cuts for next year). (4,5)  And this is in a state that already did away with collective bargaining for most of its public workers (Daniels could do so, and did, with a stroke of his pen in 2005). (6)  That's the blueprint, I guess.

Can't you just see the best and the brightest flocking to become teachers (especially if, as happened in Wisconsin, they'd been called "slob," "lefty," "hippies," "thugs," and "greedy" by their government officials)? 

Let me know how that's working for you, Indiana, okay?


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Maybe the People DON'T Deserve to Know...

As you may remember, the state assembly passed the "budget-repair" bill after 1:00 AM on Feb. 22, with many Democrats (and even some Republicans) not present because of the time. (1)

Shortly thereafter, Republicans forwarded through committee the revised bill, despite objections of the sole democrat, minority leader Peter Barca, who said that there was insufficient time to review the new bill. (2)

In an interview while running for Governor in April, 2010, Walker said both such moves would never happen under his watch:

(Walker) promised to sign legislation if elected governor that prohibits the Legislature from voting after 10 p.m. or before 9 a.m.
"I have two teenagers and I tell them that nothing good happens after midnight. That's even more true in politics," he said in a statement. "The people of Wisconsin deserve to know what their elected leaders are voting on." (3)
 I guess he forgot.

I wonder what other surprises he has in store for the people of Wisconsin?


My New Blog: My Inspiration-Scott Walker

Welcome to my new blog.  This kind of political stuff started taking over my more personal blog (Teacher in Cheeseland), so I thought I should give it its own home. On (Mis-)Leading Wisconsin I plan to present statements and actions of Governor Scott Walker and his legislative co-horts which I believe have been designed to purposely deceive the people of Wisconsin.  So far, I can't imagine I will ever run out of subject matter...Thanks for stopping by!