Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dem14 Sen. Jon Erpenbach talks with MisLeading Wisconsin

Senator Jon Erpenbach spoke with me tonight (Fri.) before a Recall Glenn Grothman rally in West Bend.  Sen. Erpenbach (D-Middleton) is known to Wisconsin workers as one of the courageous Wisconsin Dem14 Senators who went to Illinois to deny a quorum and stop a too-hasty passage of Walker's budget repair bill on Feb. 17.  The italics are the questions I asked him in our short interview.

Do you have any regrets about leaving for Illinois?  "Not at all. It was the only way to slow things down.  It was the only way to give people a chance to see what was in (the budget repair bill)."  The Senator added that it was expected the Republicans would consolidate power, "but not in only one guy's hands."

"They went way too far."

Do you think the time in Illinois had any affect on some changes in Republican stances on current budget issues? Erpenbach nodded.  "Take Senior Care.  91,000 people depend on Senior Care and it's a wonderful program, a program that runs a surplus."

And is there any hope for teachers?  "Yes, there is.  More than not, people want friends and neighbors teaching their kids, not corporations."

Erpenbach expounded on several points during his speech, including his time in Illinois.  "They said to come home and we can have the debate--by the way, which is not negotiable.  We were offering proposals, they were taking away our paychecks, our parking spaces...they sent the State Patrol to our homes."

Regarding the non-re-passage of the budget repair bill: "We haven't been called back because they either don't want to put Glenn through that vote again, or they don't have the votes."

"This whole issue, it's not a right/left thing or a liberal/conservative thing, it's a right and a wrong thing. "

A crowd of 200-300 filled the pavilion in Regner Park, with a handful of Grothman supporters ringing the perimeter.  Supporters cheered "Thank you, thank you" to Sen. Erpenbach as well as another speaker, local television personality Gus Gnorski, whose employer Fox 6 News, said he could either speak at such union rallies or keep doing reports for the station.  Gnorski said goodbye to television and chose to speak at union rallies instead.  His hit-the-mark points included the hypocrisy of Grothman's mantra "I share your values," and the realization that jobs in the state need to be added jobs, not just those moved from place to place.

Also sharing the dais, were Tanya Lohr, the local high school teacher heading up the Grothman recall campaign in Washington County,  Rick Aaron, Democratic candidate for the 60th State Assembly District--now, suddenly with a chance to make a race of it in his Republican-heavy district-- and local columnist Waring Fincke.

Grothman petitions will be collected by 9 PM Sunday night.  The committee is still shy of the 20,061 signatures needed to trigger the recall.  If you haven't signed, check out the website here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

WISGOP says Do You Like Me Now?

Like a big brother that beats you up and then bribes you so he won't get in trouble, Wisconsin's fine Republican legislators are offering crumbs, really, now that their recall butts are on the line.  After the merciless pounding the Walker-run legislature gave worker rights in this state (rights, Walker finally admitted under oath , had no direct fiscal bearing on the budget, but rather were union-busting), Republican legislators are saying--all of the sudden now that recall papers have been served up-- "Hey, you know what?  Um, maybe this part of the budget could be changed, after all."

If the Democrats had not delayed the quorum for the budget-repair bill, and got people thinking about and actually reading things, for goodness sakes, the Republicans would have passed the 2011-2013 budget, no questions asked  (Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester gushed about it), as they would have budget-repair.

So now GOP legislators, even those that are--surprise--up for recall, are "breaking" with Walker and making nice with Wisconsinites through lip-service against budget items including Walker's removing income limits for school voucher families, splitting UW from the UW system, removing recycling, and using general funds for transportation.  

But really it's just b.s. window-dressing.  The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says there are still "more than 40 non-fiscal policy items in the governor's budget...proposals that aren’t absolutely essential to balancing the books,"  something that Walker campaigned against doing (Superior Telegram, 4/27).  And there are still numerous, equally-vile budget items remaining (drastic cuts to education and communities, for instance).  Oh, yeah, and Republicans may insert the court-stalled, anti-collective bargaining bill into the budget, as well.

Make sure your friends and neighbors don't fall for these little bribes to win back public favor.

The damages the Republican legislature has inflicted, and will inflict, on this state are far too serious to let them buy us off.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grothman's gotta go

If there's anyone who thinks State Senator Glenn Grothman  (R-West Bend) speaks for Wisconsin, we should be very afraid for Wisconsin.  During the politics of the last few months, Grothman has shown disdain for Wisconsinites that have dissented with him by calling them names such as "smelly" and "slobs" , and labeling an obviously cognitively-challenged man as "a socially-inappropriate lefty."

Even his political moves for his own district are questionable, at best, as is shown in how the Walker budget cuts Grothman's been championing will be more severe for his home district.

But it's Grothman's ideas, the way he thinks, the vision he has for our America--a country built on freedom and equality--that should make the stoutest American truly shudder.  In a little video at an August Tea Party Rally he espouses how our country's "committing suicide" through "gals" having kids out of wedlock (because it's financially advantageous to not marry), through immigrants walking around on with a "chip on their shoulder" waiting for government handouts, and how big companies are routinely promoting women over more qualified men (what Grothman calls the "war on men").

This sounds like a parody of Wisconsin's infamous 1950's,communist-hunting, Senator Joseph McCarthy, or a skit from SNL, but it's not.  It's my State Senator in 2011. 

It would be nice to think he'd be justly recalled, but in this very conservative district, it must be he's preaching to the choir (in 2008, he pulled in over 80% of the vote).  However, there are recall petition events set up and great sites such as the Glenn Grothman Watch (aka, What did GG get wrong this week?) to stay on top of this guy. 

Hopefully, it will do some good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Educational misstatements from Walker?

Walker's projections about school district savings under his budget were incorrect in more than 99% of districts, according to Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Middleton) in a column published today.  Pope-Roberts has been in the WI State Assembly since 2002, and is current ranking member of the Assembly Committee on Education. (biography here)

Pope-Roberts presented evidence to Walker in a hand-delivered letter that shows significant differences in Walker's numbers compared to those projected by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (click here for access to the Pope-Roberts "Comprehensive Chart" spreadsheet).  Pope-Roberts found numbers that showed Walker overestimated district savings by an average of $129,000, with Milwaukee's savings overestimated in Walker's numbers by $12.5 million dollars (click here).  According to the analysis of the Pope-Roberts "Comprehensive Chart" spreadsheet, Walker "correctly projected savings for just three of the state’s 424 districts."  The official release from the office of Pope-Roberts even includes the serious declaration of the figures being "public education budget numbers invented by Governor Walker." (my emphasis). 

This comes in the face of $834 million in budget cuts to public schools, with Walker's proposals to allow unlimited increases in the number of charter and "virtual" schools, and removing the income requirements for private school vouchers, in essence, promoting payments to even wealthy residents to attend private schools.  Some consider this a direct attack on public schools.  Aside from merely the fiscal ramifications which Walker apparently misjudged (as compared to the numbers from Legislative Fiscal Bureau), Walker has proposed that districts would no longer need reading specialists, and, believe it or not, teachers would no longer need to obtain teaching licenses.  JS Online 

So, again, are we to trust educational reform to a Governor with an obvious agenda and a penchant for misstatements? 

Hell, no.

And that's not a misstatement.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Education reform from a college drop-out

I'm a teacher.  I actually find it offensive--and scary--to realize the driving force behind education reform in my state is being masterminded by a college drop-out.  As such, I thought I'd present my proposal to reform government, using some of pretty much the same headings the Governor uses in his education plan.

1. Recruit, Retain, and Reward Great Legislators:
Base the wages of legislators on how many bills they personally write and get passed. It makes no difference if the bills are viable or how they'd affect the community, just get them passed.  The higher the percentage, the better the legislator.

Retaining of legislators will be at the sole discretion of the governor.

Do not recruit  legislators by calling those in their profession slobs, lazy, or thugs.

2. More Choices for the Governed: 
Lift the caps on private government and reduce regulatory restrictions.  Allow people to form their own "choice and charter" governmental units. They can make rules and govern their areas free from current laws and regulations.   Or, better yet, we will allow people to govern themselves using their computer monitors and call it "virtual government."

Make good government accessible to everyone by encouraging wealthier constituents (through payments) to leave their public governance area to join a private one.

3. Cross Your Fingers:
Hope like heck it works, even though recent studies show that in things such as school systems, "choice" doesn't always mean better.

Seriously, though, kudos to those Wisconsin legislators who see the wisdom in keeping income restrictions for the state voucher program.  The whole purpose of this program, after all, is to provide more opportunity and hope for those that may not have much of either.

Hopefully, all our legislators someday see the light that this kind of reform, with no input from those familiar with education, is merely change, not reform at all.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Things Learned From Scott Walker

I don't usually just list a link, but this letter to the editor in the Appleton Post-Crescent says it all pretty well. Click here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

WHO are the thugs?

Supporters of Republican recall-bound Senator Luther Olsen "forced" their way into a private Democratic function--a Thursday night rally for Baraboo Democratic Rep. Fred Clark, who will be taking on Olsen in the recall election.  The GOP backers who burst uninvited into the room, held signs and reportedly shouted at Clark, who was addressing his supporters during a non-public meeting in a room rented by the Sauk County Democratic Party. 

The GOP'ers said the disturbance was the Democrats' fault, not the fault of those who crashed the event. "This gang is very good at instigating events and then pointing fingers the other way,"  said Sauk County Republican Party Chair Tim McCumber, speaking of the Democrats.  McCumber, believe it or not, was actually one of the event crashers.  More info here and here.

As party chair, McCumber says on the party website that his group believes in "the right to American liberties as established by the US Constitution."  He may want to look up the First Amendment part about the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

Could this have been foreseen?  The slogan for McCumber's unsuccessful bid for the 47th Assembly District in 2010 appears to have been, "Already fighting for the 47th." 

Now it appears he's fighting for the entire Republican Party.

Happy Earth Day, Gov. Walker

Gaylord Nelson was a champion for conservation in Wisconsin.  As one of Wisconsin's US Senators he started Earth Day (April, 22, 1970),and he made numerous contributions to protecting our environment, including legislation that bought about the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.  He was instrumental in overseeing the preservation of thousands upon thousands of acres for Wisconsin parkland, including the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore of Lake Superior.   And he always believed that Wisconsin's greatest resources were its people and its natural resources.  It is a rich legacy for which the late, great statesman will always be known.

Scott Walker, unfortunately, has carved his own legacy.  Walker has promoted business at the expense of Wisconsin's environment.  Some of his proposals have included relaxing standards for water pollution (reducing weed-stemming phosphorous restrictions and run-off contamination), essentially eliminating farmland preservation, increasing road-building instead of promoting public transit (making cuts that will reduce public buses and halting the Madison-Milwaukee high speed rail), diverting money to transportation from a fund to clean up leaking underground gas tanks, and reducing incentives for putting land into conservation. Walker also requested changes in some wetlands protection (coincidentally on a parcel to be built upon by a major donor) and the elimination of subsidies for community recycling programs (while maintaining tipping fees charged for landfill use, which had been used to help fund those same recycling programs).

And that's just in his first four months.

Senator Nelson wouldn't recognize Wisconsin on this Earth Day.

Sadly, neither do I.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recounting the future of Kloppenburg

I happened across what I'd term a typical talk-radio discussion on WSAU in Wausau.  The host was going on and on about JoAnne Kloppenburg requesting the recount that he said is her right under Wisconsin law in the Supreme Court race wth David Prosser.

And then a funny thing happened.

I agreed with him.

Well, not for 99% of it, but for some of it, anyway.

I, too, agree that I don't think a 0.48% margin will be reversed.  As I wrote in a previous post , just as the conservative talker discussed, I don't believe the recall should be done because of the expense and the relative futility of any significant change (although--surprise,surprise--Minnesota's losing Republican 2010 gubernatorial candidate did the same thing with about the same margin--0.42%) .   And the host said it was likely that Kloppenburg's camp would try to get the Brookfield votes declared illegal and thrown out (which, I agree, if they are found to be illegal, I would expect they should be thrown out).

But then the host mentioned something I hadn't really considered, that the recount would keep the issue alive and energize non-conservative Wisconsin voters for the upcoming recalls.

I thought about it, and I agreed again.

Gosh, I hope he's right (I mean, correct).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oh, to be like Arkansas!

This whole financial martial law thing (which Governor Walker denies he's considering doing) is, according to some, typical of the policies promoted by ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council).  So I thought I'd take a quick, little internet trip up to ALEC and see what I could find.

It looks like the organization identifies the "2010 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness rankings of the states based on their economic policies and examine which states took the right corrective actions and which states took the wrong ones in the face of this fiscal storm." ALEC website

I do not pretend to understand anywhere near the 142 pages of the full report.  And it's very possible I don't care that much, but I did note that, in the 2010 State Economic Outlook Ranking, Wisconsin is number 23  (Utah, at #1, is best).   

I guess, then, some of the states to which #23 Wisconsin should aspire include #13 Arkansas (which happens to be #48 in median household income and #46 in Forbes' Best States To Live), #16 Louisiana (41 in income; 40 in "best states"), #17 Alabama (46 in income; 33 in "best states"), and #18
Mississippi (50 in income; 48 in "best states").  Poor #23 Wisconsin tops each of these states, though, by a pretty significant margin, in income (#21) and in "best states to live" (#24).   Regarding education, ALEC's own ranking of "K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform" in American education has Wisconsin at 21, Alabama-40, Arkansas-44, Mississippi-46, and Louisiana-47.

To the untrained eye, it sure looks like "Economic Competetiveness" may come with some costs regarding quality of life.  I mean, Arkansas is nice, but it's not Wisconsin.

So, hopefully, Governor, you really won't be taking ALEC's advice, right?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Comforting words from our Governor

Like a warm, fuzzy blanket or a bowl of grandma's chicken soup, with two little words, Governor Walker soothed all our fears today.

"Absolutely false," said the Governor discussing the Rick Ungar report that Walker was working on a "financial martial law," on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Midday with Charlie Sykes."
Previous comforting words:

(I pledge to) "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes." Scott Walker, Americans For Tax Reform Pledge "A new nonpartisan analysis of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal shows that it would raise taxes for poor people..." BusinessWeek, 4/15/11

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says his budget-repair bill would leave collective bargaining “fully intact,” Politfact, Rated PANTS ON FIRE

This (collective bargaining) has never been about union busting, it’s about balancing the budget. See Walker admit collective bargaining saved no money in the budget in testimony before Congressman Kucinich.

"(I will) End the practice of raiding segregated state funds to pay for other programs."  Walker's website "Walker taps insurance fund to fill in deficit," JS Online

Whew.  Thank goodness.  For a moment there I was worried...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

HORRIFYING assault on democracy--we may be next

I may be an alarmist here, but, really, isn't this alarming?

Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder has enacted and acted upon "an order prohibiting all action by all city boards, commissions, authorities and other entities, except as authorized by the (governor appointed) emergency manager"  because he thought a city wasn't doing well enough financially.  Thus, the roles of duly elected officials in Benton Harbor, Michigan, have been taken over by government officials. (Eclectiblog, Detroit News).  As a result, virtually all contracts, schools, services, etc., can be altered by governmental decree (by gubernatorial whim?).  Where are we, 1980's Baghdad?  1950's USSR?

And it gets worse, according to Rick Ungar at Forbes, Scott Walker is planning to enact the same laws in Wisconsin.  In May.

I'm sadly afraid it won't be too terribly long before Walker makes us erect statues of him on every street corner.

ADDENDUM: I just spoke (8 PM) with a state political reporter who said "for now at least, there's nothing being talked about publicly with respect to this."   For now, at least.

In the comments to his article, Rick Ungar responded to my question about whether this is privatization for privatization's sake or a belief this is for "the common good,":  "I think that legislation such as this is on the avenue to privatization and the removal of pesky regulations that interfere with large business – and those who pursue these policies believe they are effecting law for the common good.  In this instance, I don’t think ignoring the elected will of the people in a local election is for the common good – but I think Gov. Walker would disagree with me."  10:23 AM, 4/17/11 

4/18/11 Walker says it is "absolutely false."

Some comments on the Sarah Palin "Tea-Party Rally" in Madison

First words out of her mouth, "What up, Madison, Wisconsin?!"

She also incorporated a "WTF?"

The rally was sponsored by the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity.

Tea Party supporters were outnumbered (CBS News).

"Thug" was only used once (that I heard).

Palin said union supporters "trash your capitol and vandalize business."

She also stated, "A pension is a promise that must be kept," and that Scott Walker believed that, too--obviously oblivious to Walker's budget that will reevaluate and possibly change the current defined (traditional) benefit plan to defined contribution--in essence, a 401K-like fund that could completely deplete.  (WREA Newsletter)  It appears Walker's budget bill also raises serious questions about the all-too-real possibility of him raiding an existing public worker pension fund, as well (, which, um, would be illegal.

Other than that, it was business as usual--boo Obama, boo unions, yay patriotism, etc.


You betcha.

Find Palin's entire speech on this page

MisLeading Wisconsin meets the conservative Pundit Press

Pundit Press, a conservative blog covering local and national issues, asked me a few questions in a short interview and the results are published here.

Battle lost, but war remains

It's time to call off the troops on the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

Prosser won.  The "unsaved" ballots from Brookfield put him in the lead, and state canvassing has confirmed his victory with a 7,316 vote margin.  (1) Although there should still be investigations into the seeming continued ineptitude of the Waukesha clerk who "forgot to hit save" and didn't annouce it until two days later, the race is done.

Because Kloppenburg lost by a 0.488% margin, her campaign can request a state-funded recount (0.5 % is the Wisconsin threshhold).  (1) It would cost county coffers a total likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (6)  (the state summary of recount procedures can be found here).  (2) Minnesota recounted its 2010 gubernatorial results.  Democrat Mark Dayton's margin, at 0.42%, was "a larger unofficial margin than has ever been overturned in a modern-era recount, in any state." (3,4)  Dayton's opponent, Republican Tom Emmer conceded after results confirmed a relatively unchanged margin. (7)  (for thorough and insightful discussion about the insignificance of recount changes, check out Rob Ritchie in the Huffington Post  here). (5)

But Kloppenburg's loss was not without gains.  She was an aftertought in the primary, but yet state voters almost unseated a sitting state justice.  And, hopefully, it will make Waukesha County's vote counts a bit more reliable, and believable, for goodness sakes, in future elections.

Figuratively, there will be many more battles.  And don't think for a minute this single election has determined the way this war will end.

(1) Ballots are now totaled, JS Online, 4/16/11,
(2) Election Administration Manual for WI Municipal Clerks, State of Wisconsin,
(3) 2010 Election Results, Mpls. Star Tribune,, retrieved 4/16/11
(4) Editorial: ...lower recount threshhold, Mpls. Star Tribune, 11/15/10,, retrieved 4/16/11
(5) Contested Recalls Unlikely..., by Rob Ritchie, Huffington Post, posted 11/1/10, retrieved, 4/16/11
(6) Potential recount would cost... Wisconsin, 4/14/11, retrieved, 4/16/11
(7) Mark Dayton declared winner, finally, MPRNews, 12/10/10, retrieved 4/16/11

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Me so happy: Bizarro World heads to Washington

In Superman's Bizarro World, everything is topsy-turvy.  Bad is good.  Up is down.  Indeed, the Bizarro code includes, in perfect Bizarro English, "Us do opposite of all Earthly things!" (1)  It seems a lot like that in Wisconsin since Walker took over.

Today in Washington,  Scott Walker shared the spotlight with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, both testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead.”  Shumlin played Superman to Walker's Bizarro.

Shumlin, a first-term democrat, took over Vermont, a state with severe fiscal problems, this January, creating austere budgets. (4)  In a state with collective bargaining, Shumlin, as a Senator in 2009, worked with educator unions to achieve concessions, including, among other things, across the board salary cuts and freezes, as well as increased pension contributions. (2)  He negotiated with the state employees union for significant concessions. (3)  He came into office declaring that chastising educators and education would stop. (4)   His speech today included, "I do not believe that those to blame for our current financial troubles are our law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other state employees." (2)  This normal world, it's not a perfect world (teachers discuss strikes, for example, which for Wisconsin public workers are illegal), but Shumlin notes, "...the current debate about state budgets is that the focus has been not on bringing people together to solve common problems, like we have done in Vermont, but on division and blame." (2)  A reporter from Vermont related to me that working together is, indeed, pretty much the case. (4) 

That is the normal world.

And then there is the Bizarro World.

First off, Walker's colleague, Republican Jim Sensenbrenner introduced Walker with what those in the normal world would consider an unflattering term, a "very polarizing figure." (5)  Walker called his own policies "progressive" (5) (which in Bizarro World must mean "incredibly conservative").  He included the Bizarro gem, "Sometimes, bipartisanship is not so good. " (5)  And he was grilled by committee members on everything from not mentioning collective bargaining in his campaign and union busting (both which he admitted during questioning, but at no other time), to the patronizing hire of Brian Deschane, the unqualified son of a bigtime donor. (5) And when I was watching the news, it appeared that Bizarro governor seemed to think the testimony was going swimmingly.

Us in Wisconsin no need to worry.

Me so happy.

Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introducing Scott Walker

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) asking about union busting

(1) Bizarro World entry, Wikipedia,
(2) Mr. Shumlin Goes To Washington, Shumlin website,
(3) Governor...Contract With State Employees Union, Vermont Official website,
(4) Interview with Vermont reporter, personal conversation, 4/14/11
(5) Walker proves a lightning rod..., by Craig Gilbert, JS Online, 4/14/11,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Teacher's Tale

A rare departure from my usual posts: divisiveness since Scott Walker

Today I saw a parent from afar who I remember from when I had his daughter, Ashley, in my class a few years back.  Today he watched with pride--as did I--as his daughter excelled in a school district competition. Ashley was quiet, a bit insecure, but she was bright, polite and helpful, and was truly an enjoyable kid.  I tried to give her tasks to build her confidence, I gave her special projects to keep her challenged and excited.  Her parents seemed happy with her experience in our classroom.

About six weeks ago, my teaching colleagues and I walked through our community to share our views on Governor Walker's budget bill.  Some carried signs, most of the garden variety, "Honk, if you like teachers," things like that.

A few people did honk.  Not a lot, but in this heavily-Republicanized county, it was still reassuring.  More shook their heads in disgust as they went by.  A couple passers-by gave us the finger, community members I recognized, and with whom I had exchanged greetings on occasion.

And I can picture Ashley's dad, hanging out his car window, veins popping from his neck, his voice angry as he hurled insults defaming my profession, my school, my personal character.  And then he turned his car around and did it again.

Not long afterward, his wife came by, with Ashley in the passenger seat.  Ashley's mom honked, and continued honking, with her left hand out the window, furiously pumping a thumbs-down.

And all I could think of was, "Hey, remember me?  I taught your daughter.  I cared for her, built her spirit, nourished her intellect.  I was proud--still am--to say I was her teacher."

Well, that's not all I thought.

I thought how truly sorry I felt for that poor, little girl.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nuggets from the News

A smattering of stuff today from our favorite governor...

From Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel:  "Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday that he’d ordered that a son of a prominent supporter be demoted because there were “more qualified” candidates available."  
Really, Governor?  Your crack staff couldn't figure out that a guy with no college degree and no experience wasn't less qualified than a guy with a doctoral degree and eight years experience (who didn't even get an interview, for goodness sakes)?  (1) 

Daniel Bice (again) of the JS:  "Who knew that Gov. Scott Walker had headed out on a national tour to help raise money for Republican senators facing possible recalls?" Bice cites an interview with (cited in an earlier posting here) that Walker was in Florida drumming up money for legislators in Wisconsin. (2,3)
You're kidding, right?  The governor who wailed about protestors "almost all from out of state" (and proven false (4) ) is now not doing his job by traveling to seek money from out-of-state people to help his pals?  Amazing.

And one more from the Journal Sentinel (Patrick Marley): "Milwaukee's ordinance requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave would be voided under a bill Republicans in the Assembly sent to Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday." (5)
As we've heard, ad nauseam, when the majority vote fits Walker's agenda, it's "Hey, the people voted for it."  This ordinance passed with 69% of the vote.  That's 69%!  And, since Walker doesn't want it, he yet again--just like collective bargaining, just like open meetings--simply has his legislature change the laws to accommodate his agenda.  Did I already say, "Amazing?"

A little less than 266 days until the recall petition can be submitted to the GAB, Governor.

But, then, who's counting?

(1) "Walker Responds..., JS Online, 4/12/11
(2) "Report: Walker Launches national fundraising tour, JS Online, 4/12/11
(3) "Walker: Unions Won't Steal Prosser Election Win,", 4/10/11
(4) Politifact, JS Online
(5) "Court of Appeals reinstates...," JS Online, 3/24/11

Monday, April 11, 2011

There'll be other days... (um, maybe it does start today...)

As much as I would love to believe Walker's hands are undeniably dirty in this illegal campaign donation scandal (in which William Gardner, president and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., funneled tens of thousands of dollars in donations to Walker through W & S employees last year), (1,2) it seems a pretty hard sell on several fronts.

First off, once the donations were realized to have been illegal, it appears Walker's campaign returned the funds to Gardner and his employees. (1,2,3)
Secondly, both Gardner and Walker alerted the Government Accountability Board (regarding campaign financing) when the situation was revealed. (3)
Lastly, most telling and seemingly so VERY unlike the current state administration, Gardner's company was supposedly not in a position to benefit from his donation--instead, his railroad would have benefitted greatly from the new tracks laid for the Milwaukee-Madison high-speed rail, which Walker killed even before his first day in office (3,4)  (although according to Milwaukee's WTMJ-TV4, Gardner's company is in line for plenty of money in Walker's current budget).  (5)

But I don't think this is what a lot of us thought it would be. For those looking for the scandal, deception, or ethical violation that will bring down Scott Walker, this won't be it.  Instead, for you, I just have one word:


ADDENDUM: It's starting to stink a bit more:  Gardner, who claims he didn't know it was improper (1) was strongly fined for doing essentially the same thing ($5000 through his daughter) in 2005, TO WALKER'S CAMPAIGN.  Take a look at the criminal complaint yourself  (here, through JS Online article) (1,6) and see what you think (it also contains some communications between Walker and Gardner, including Gardner asking for some government preferential treatment).  According to GAB officials, this is all something that wouldn't have been discovered without a tip from Gardner's "friend." (7)

Hmmmm...let's just see how this all plays out, after all...

Thanks to The Political Environment for scrutinizing the Criminal Complaint (click here for post)

(1) Railroad executive charged...,WI State Journal, 4/11/11,
(2) Railroad exec charged..., JS Online, 4/11/11,
(3) Walker donor broke...rules, JS Online, 5/19/2010,
(4) Statement from the US Dept. of Transportation, 12/9/10,
(5) Railroad Executive Pleads Guilty..., Today's TMJ4 News Live at Six, 4/11/11,
(6) Criminal Complaint against William E. Gardner, 4/11/11,
(7) WISN News at Ten, video from 2 PM GAB/Milw DA News conference 4/11/11

Sunday, April 10, 2011

WHO won't steal the election?

In an interview with, Governor Walker vows that union leaders won't steal the election from David Prosser. (1) 

Huh?  Which candidate has more reason to question voting irregularities?

Governor, how about "We know there were some questions with the clerk's handling of votes in Waukesha County, so we'll make sure everything is above board?" 

Nope.  My governor, yet again, jumps right over conciliatory to combative.

And Walker maintains in the interview that "it is clear" that Republicans did not violate the open meetings law to pass budget repair which, of course, he is confident the Supreme Court will uphold (which includes Prosser who just happens to be the candidate Walker's administration said would be essential to further their agenda). (2)

I'm guessing, then, they haven't been even entertaining other possibilites.  For what it's worth, my senator, Grothman, e-mailed me April 5, regarding my question as to whether they'd be re-passing budget repair that "discussions were underway." (3)

But now Walker and his colleagues won't have to worry about that.  They'll just have to worry about keeping the possibility of "union thugs" in the headlines, to divert attention from their own "irregularities."

ADDENDUM: The Newsmax interview also intimates that Kloppenburg received an inordinate amount of outside campaign money.  Politifact estimated that Prosser spent 38% more such money than did she. (4)

(1) Governor Walker Vows...,,
(2) Walker agenda could be stopped, if Prosser is defeated, JS Online, 4/5/11,
(3) Personal e-mail correspondence from Sen. Glenn Grothman, 4/5/11
(4) Politifact, JS Online,

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What, me worry?

Sure, changes in my working conditions and pay as a public employee will be further determined by a State Supreme Court decision.  But, no problem, because the Court follows the state Constitution, right?

And it just so happens that it looks as though the candidate the Walker administration said would best further its agenda (1)  happened to spring ahead in the election after all the results had already been announced. 

And, just by coincidence, the clerk who found the votes in a pro-Walker county happened to work a few years back in a GOP caucus for Republican Assemblyman David Prosser just before the caucus was dissolved for illegal actions (a clerk, by the way, whose secretive and inaccurate vote-reporting methods have been criticized before). (2,3)

But I can rest easy regarding any improprieties because the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (who just happened to endorse David Prosser) has declared that the missing votes made sense. (4)

The Capital Times editorialized that if this had happened in Illinois, for example, and that the Dems there just happened to find 7500 more votes for their candidate (coincidentally, about the number needed to stop a recount), you bet people would scrutinize it. (5)

But, thank goodness, this is Wisconsin.

What, me worry?

Great link about civility in recall campaign: April 9 entry of Mark Peterson's Glenn Grothmann Watch
Thanks to The Political Environment for the Cap Times editorial tip.

(1) Walker agenda could be stopped, if Prosser is defeated, JS Online, 4/5/11,
(2) Election officials scrutinize Waukesha County results, JS Online, 4/8/11,
(3) Waukesha County clerk has drawn criticisms in the past, WI State Journal, 4/9/11,
(4) The Waukesha Surprise..., JS Online, 4/8/11,
(5) Scandal in Fitzwalkerstan...,Cap Times, 4/8/11,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So, it's not a referendum...?

As Scott Walker once more declares that the Wisconsin Supreme Court vote is not a referendum on his administration's policies (1) ,  his Republican colleague Jeff Stone is at home dumbfounded as to why he's not celebrating a victory in Walker's vacated Milwaukee County Executive postition.  Instead, Stone got absolutely trounced (61%-39%) by an inexperienced political unknown, Chris Abele.  And JoAnne Kloppenburg, a non-factor in the Supreme Court primary in February (25% of the vote, compared to Prosser's 55%), is the leader in the clubhouse for the justice post.

Not a referendum, huh?

When Walker won the gubernatorial election in 2010 by a not-landslide-like 52%-47% margin, he was all about how his subsequent policies were what the people of Wisconsin wanted.  He and his Republican colleagues in the Legislature certainly acted as though they felt that was a referendum on his policies (or, at times, perhaps a divine command?) (2)

Unlike that election, though, voters here knew the real costs.  They didn't have their candidates lie about collective bargaining, (3)  or consolidate political power to appease corporate investors (4) , or say things to purposely mislead the people of Wisconsin (see previous posts).

Kloppenburg's possible election may be nothing more than something akin to a mosquito bite on the neck of Walker's administration, but a slew of them may just have him and his friends running for cover.

On, Wisconsin.

(1) Supreme Court vote doesn't shake Walker's resolve, WI State Journal,
(2) Scott Walker Believes He's Follwoing Orders From the Lord, The Progressive, 3/7/11
(3) Politifact, JS Online,
(4) Yes, a power grab, JS Online, 12/27/10,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Out of both sides of his mouth (again...)

Very short post today about honesty and non-partisanship:

(From JS Online, 4/3/11)  "Walker himself dismissed the idea that the race would be a referendum on the bargaining law or his agenda."  (1)

(From JS Online, 4/5/11) "Walker's chief counsel, Brian Hagedorn sent an e-mail on the eve of the election urging people to vote for Prosser, saying keeping him on the court is essential to advancing Walker's agenda." (2)

(1) Bit players dominate state Supreme Court race, JS Online, 4/3/11
(2) Walker agenda could be stopped, if Prosser is defeated, JS Online, 4/5/11,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Brother, can you spare a job?

Thanks to Daniel Bice's piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, Wisconsinites are aghast at the $81,500 job given to Brian Deschane, son of the leader of one of Walker's biggest PAC contributors, Wisconsin Builders Association. (1)

It's not just the favoritism causing the buzz, either.  At least when the father of Walker's pals, the Fabulous Fitzgerald Boys, got the top post at the State Patrol, he had credentials. (2) 

Walker's latest controversy, however, has a less-than-stellar resume for managing a department overseeing environmental and regulatory matters:  little management experience, no college degree, and two drunk driving convictions (the most recent in 2008). (1)   You can see what is reported to be Deschane's actual LinkedIn resume here (thanks to sally305 for the tip).  NOTE: This link no longer works (4/8/11).  Hopefully our Deschane friend, now resigned from all government posts, will still be able to secure employment without it...

And the fun won't stop with Deschane.  Walker's budget repair, according to the Journal Sentinel "would make existing civil-service positions into 37 new political appointments...That would allow Walker and agency secretaries to hire and fire employees in those positions at will." (3)

So to appease Walker's big-money donors, he can offer positions such as Deschane's and at least 37 more? 

That won't be nearly enough.

ADDENDUM: The very next day, Walker "took action" after getting caught with his pants down regarding cronyism--he "demoted" Deschane to a $62,000/year job. Walker demotes son of campaign contributor, JS Online, 4/5/11

(1) No degree, little experience pay off big, JS Online, 4/3/11,
(2) Top lawmakers' father Stephen Fitzgerald to lead State Patrol, WI State Journal, 2/8/11
(3) Walker gives himself more power..., JS Online,3/17/11

Sunday, April 3, 2011

So, um, Prosser never was a judge before, either...?


The adroit handling of the budget bills by Scott Walker and his pals has turned what should have been a cakewalk for the reelection of State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser into a real dogfight (pardon the mixed metaphors...).  In the Feb. primary, in what was a relatively obscure race, Prosser garnered a commanding 55% of the vote, with Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg receiving but a scant 25%. (1)

Because of the well-warranted attention now given to the importance of this race's outcome and the future course of this state's law interpretation, we Wisconsinites have been subjected to obscene amounts of special interest money pouring into our state and airwaves, (2) literally spouting lies and misinformation from both sides (i.e., Kloppenburg put an 80 year old farmer in jail, Prosser knew about/did nothing about a pedophile priest). (3,4)

So that's given us a chance to focus on other things, such as Prosser's claim he was "deliberately goad(ed)" into calling the Wisconsin Chief Justice "a total bitch"(5)  and the fact that Prosser's biggest personal selling point seems to be that Kloppenburg has never been a judge.

Guess what?  Before his Supreme Court appointment by Tommy Thompson, NEITHER WAS PROSSER! (6, 7)

(From JS Online) "Walker himself dismissed the idea that the race would be a referendum on the bargaining law or his agenda." (8)

Guess what, Governor?  You've made it just that.

And YOU gave Kloppenburg a shot.


ADDENDUM: The commercial pounding the airwaves right now is that Kloppenburg is weak on crime.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the Supreme Court deal with constitutional issues, not criminals...?

(1) Prosser, Kloppenburg to Face Off in...Election, WI Law Journal, 2/16/11
(2) Report: Outside, WI State Journal, 4/2/11
(3) Politifaxt JS Online,
(4) Politifact, JS Online,
(5) Supreme Court tensions boil over, JS Online, 3/19/11
(6) Capital Times, 4/3/11
(7) Justice Prosser website
(8) Bit players dominate state Supreme Court race, JS Online, 4/3/11