Monday, August 31, 2009

Has Journal Communications Spread Itself Too Thin?

I saw this interesting story at WSAW-TV's website:
Local mom creates own newspaper:

A mother of four is doing what she can to help the newspaper industry stay alive.

Her paper, "The Clintonville Chronicle" hit stands this past Tuesday, and sold out in a couple of days.

"They need to know what's going on in the community, their tax dollars especially. They need to know what's going on and what decisions are being made on their behalf," said Owner and Publisher Tricia Rose.

Tricia says after leaving a rival newspaper in town, she dreamed of opening her own, even though larger papers across the country are struggling.

"Tight knit communities want to know whats going on down the street and they came up to us and said we want this and I just said lets do it," said Co-owner Greg Rose.

Tricia financed the business by herself this spring and hired three people to help her create her weekly paper, covering the Clintonville, Bear Creek and Embarrass areas.

Owners of local businesses who are helping sell the newspaper say they had a hard time keeping the "Chronicle" stocked.

To give the gentle reader a little insight into this story, and as to why it is interesting to me, I will give you a brief history of the newspapers in Waupaca County.

As long as I can remember, going back to when I was a boy, almost every town up north had it's own weekly newspaper. There was the Iola Herald and Waupaca County Post. Manawa, Fremont, Weyawega, Clintonville, and New London each had their own paper as well. As far as news goes, they weren't much. Mostly local news, such as a business expanding, or the local philanthropist donating a large check to this or that organization, or who won the blue ribbon for the best dill pickles at the county fair.

Then about a year and a half ago, things changed, and not necessarily for the better. The local papers were all bought out by Journal Communications, Inc. This brought on a series of changes in itself. One was that they stopped carrying as many folksy stories and more news type stories. They also changed some of the cosmetics of the paper, making it bigger but the type smaller.

Then earlier this year, they combined the papers for the east side of the county into one paper, and the papers from the west side into another. Even though each paper kept the same name, the banner was the only thing different from one town's paper to the next. Now there was even less local news, maybe two sheets per town, instead of a whole paper.

Just a few weeks ago, they dropped the pretense of having different papers and have changed the names to Waupaca County East and Waupaca County West. Outside of the name change, the papers still give only the smallest of tastes of local news before moving on to the next community.

Which brings us back to the story at the top of this post. People in the community were not satisfied with the lack of coverage of what was happening in their town or in neighboring communities. They took it upon themselves to start their own paper, and it appears to be a raging success.

That made me think about what is going on here in Milwaukee. As most people are aware, the newspaper business across the country is really suffering. Even the biggest papers are laying off staff in record numbers. There is a growing number of cities whose newspapers have gone strictly online and have ceased all "dead tree" publications.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is no different. They too have sent many good reporters and columnists packing. They have cut back on the coverage and even on sections, such as on Mondays, when they no longer have an editorial of their own and have combined the national and the local sections into one.

Oh sure, they still can come out with great pieces, like the ones the last couple of mornings highlighting the fraud that can occur in child care subsidies. They still have some crack reporters, like Dan Bice and Crocker Stephenson, who do a good job covering local issues. However, they also have clung onto some lesser performing reporters and journalists, like Steve Schultze and Patrick McIlheran.

No matter what, there has been a definite drop in quality and quantity of local news reporting. I have been hearing an increasingly frequent rumor and/or speculation that MJS will soon be going strictly online in the relatively near future. The recent actions of MJS only seems to make these rumors and speculations seem all the more likely.

I don't believe it would be so far fetched to think that some local people could form their own paper. Oh, I know that there already is one local weekly not affiliated the Journal Communications, the Shepherd Express. While I enjoy reading the Shepherd every week, I don't read it for news, per se. Although the Shepherd will occasionally break a story, their articles seem to be as much opinion pieces as actual news stories.

There are people that don't own computers and/or aren't very computer savvy. They would prefer to hold and read a newspaper at their table as they eat their breakfast or have a cup of coffee. Or maybe they don't care about what is happening in countries they've never heard of or can't find on a globe. Likewise, there are many people that don't want a spin to the stories, either to left like the Shepherd, or to the right, like the Journal Sentinel.

But then there are bonafide reporters and former reporters, like Michael Horne of Milwaukee World and Gretchen Schuldt of Milwaukee Rising and CASH, both of whom have been known to break stories and tell a compelling account of some event or another. I could rattle off a half dozen names easily of other bloggers that would make fine reporters as well.

What would happen if they pooled together and found a way to start publishing their own newspaper, focusing on the local issues? While they might not become super wealthy, I believe they could make a go of it quite easily. I think that a paper, even a small one, that focused on mostly, if not exclusively, on local and state issues, would readily find a niche in the Milwaukee market.

Like the ancient Roman Empire, I wonder if Journal Communications has spread itself too thin. When the economy crashed, they suddenly found itself unable to continue to dominate like it used to, and is now becoming vulnerable, not only on the fringes, like Waupaca County, but also in its own backyard, to smaller groups that can take advantage of their thinning media empire.

Help Us Save Transit, the Parks and EMS - Sign Our Petition

From Milwaukee County First, of which I am the Chair:

For many years, riders of the Milwaukee County Transit System has seen its routes get cut and the fares go up, as less and less money is available for it. Once a standard for the nation, it has been in steady decline. This year, it has been recommended by the current administration, contrary to all advice, to again slash routes by up to 40% and raise fares by charging a quarter for each transfer. This will have a devastating effect on the local economy, not just of Milwaukee County, but for the entire southeast region of Wisconsin.

Likewise, the Milwaukee County Parks System has seen cuts for each of the past 27 years. This year will be no different, except that it appears that the parks will suffer the most severe cuts yet. Some of the options being considered by the current administration is closing ALL of the outdoor swimming pools, closing both community centers, and cutting maintenance at the senior centers.

Also being threatened is the money that Milwaukee County puts towards the Emergency Medical System. Without this money being in the budget, there will be people in areas of Milwaukee County that will not receive paramedic services for medical emergencies.

Because of these growing concerns, the County Board repeatedly tried to get a referendum to the voters to see if they would approve of a sales tax increase to save these systems and give the voters relief on their property taxes. But each time, County Executive Scott Walker blocked the people from having the right to express themselves.

Finally, in November 2008, the Board was able to put the referendum on the ballot. The people spoke, and the referendum was approved. Unfortunately, despite the hard work of community-minded groups like Quality of Life Alliance and others, the proposed sales tax was distorted during the budget process, and ultimately vetoed by Governor Jim Doyle.

Without this dedicated funding source, the situation in Milwaukee County will quickly become untenable. That is why Milwaukee County First is asking you to join your voice to ours, and to the many others who also put Milwaukee County first, and are calling on Governor Doyle and the State Legislature to pass this sales tax, and to allow us to help ourselves before it is too late.

Please sign our petition:

and let those in Madison know that we will not quietly stand by and allow Milwaukee County to fall apart before our very eyes. It will only take a few seconds to sign the petition, and we will do the rest.

After you have signed the petition, please pass the word to your family, your friends, your neighbors and your coworkers, and ask them to sign the petition as well. Again the link to the petition is:

If we do this separately, we will be just whistling into the wind. Together, we will create a voice that those in Madison will have to hear.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Privatize The Fire Department

I do love me some good satire:

Don't you?

Why I Bash Scott Walker

While looking for something for the previous post, I cam across this old post by Xoff:
I do bash Walker quite a bit, I'll admit. It's probably more like 10% of my posts than half, but if you're Walker it might seem like half.

Why do I do it?

1. It's fun.

2. Walker is eminently bashable.

3. He deserves it.

Walker and Fraley would like to believe Walker is the target because Doyle is somehow afraid of having to run against him. I can't speak for the governor (I gave up that job awhile back and have no Doyle role), but I will tell you that I hope Scott Walker is the Republican nominee. He is eminently beatable for the same reasons he is eminently bashable.

Scott Walker is a phony. He's not who he pretends to be. He hasn't kept the promises he made when he ran for office. He's tried to cover up his failures and mistakes. And he's never, never taken responsibility himself for anything that has gone wrong since he became Milwaukee County executive.

Whether it's budget blowups, breaking the election laws, cutting key social programs, or dozens of other foulups that have happened on his short watch, Walker has always pointed the finger somewhere else.

Now he tells a WisPolitics luncheon that Doyle is responsible for the bad press he's gotten on a failed, risky pension bonding scheme that the voters rejected, and for his violations of the election laws.


There's more, but that's enough to see the pattern.

Walker presented himself as a reformer, a different kind of candidate, someone who would operate differently, clean up the mess, fix the county's financial crisis, and reduce taxes.

Instead, he has turned out to be just another typical politician -- one who will say anything to get elected, but feels no obligation to follow through once he's in office.

So that, in short, is why I bash Scott Walker. I'll share more specific reasons with you between now and the 2006 election.

Mark Green, the other GOP candidate for governor, will get his share, too. (In fact, he's been mentioned in 19 posts compared to Walker's 25.) It's just that Walker is right here in Milwaukee, under my nose, and just keeps on being so bashable.

Any further complaints?

Funny, four years later, and it still holds true for Walker. Just change 2010 for 2006, Neumann for Green and me for Xoff. Eerie, isn't it? (I cannot claim to hold a candle to Xoff, but I do try. )

Another Blow To Walker's Campaign Strategy?

If the gentle reader will recall, Walker's campaign has had problems already, with his inability to lead the county, his campaign finance reporting problems, his campaign accepting illegal corporate gifts, and most recently, the announcement that Governor Jim Doyle wouldn't be running for a third term. Without Doyle, Walker's whole strategy became useless. Now what does he have going for him? Not much, that's for sure.

When I first scanned through this article, I thought it might spell trouble for Scott Walker's perpetual campaign for the governor's chair. It was putting strict control on robocalls. Then I heard it wasn't going to affect political robocalling (funny how these laws never seem to affect politicians).

But rereading the article, I wonder if it would apply after all, especially considering this:
“American consumers have made it crystal clear that few things annoy them more than the billions of commercial telemarketing robocalls they receive every year,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. “This bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing will be illegal.”
It still seems like it would fit for Walker's campaign, doesn't it?

And remember, Walker has a history of having problems with his robocalls anyway.

Godwin's Law Explained

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mark These Dates - Public Budget Hearings

Milwaukee County Supervisor Elizabeth M. Coggs, Chair of the County Board’s Committee on Finance and Audit, has announced a series of public meetings next month to hear comments from citizens about the funding of County programs and services.

“The 2010 budget will be the most difficult budget in my 21 years on the County Board of Supervisors. We want to make it as easy as possible for County residents to share their priorities with us directly,” Supervisor Coggs said. “This fall, we will consider this input as we adopt a responsible budget for Milwaukee County residents.”

The first hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9th at the Brown Deer Public Library from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Subsequent hearings are scheduled at the Franklin Law Enforcement Center, the Wilson Park Senior Center in Milwaukee, and Gordon Park Pavilion in Milwaukee. See the schedule below for details:

Wednesday, September 9th
Brown Deer Public Library
5600 W. Bradley Road
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 10th
Franklin Law Enforcement Center
9455 W. Loomis Road
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 16th
Wilson Park Senior Center
2601 W. Howard Avenue
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 17th
Gordon Park Pavilion
2828 North Humboldt Boulevard
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Unlike Scott Walker, County Board supervisors actually come to these hearings to find out what is important to the people.

Moon Party

Walker's Message Behind The Message

Every Friday, Scott Walker (actually, it's probably one of his lackeys or interns) sends out a piece of propaganda which he calls the "Executive Update." In every "Executive Update" he has a short column called "Message from County Executive Walker."

This week's is kind of funny, if one knows what's really going on.

He starts with:
A good chunk of my time this week (as it has been for weeks) was spent with department heads and constitutional officers as we work to put together the 2010 county budget. We started out with a $90 million gap because of pension and health care costs; decreases in real estate transfer fees, sales tax collections and earnings on investments; and cuts in state aid.
This is the same guy that claims that this year we had a $15 million deficit. It turned out to be a bunch of hooey, and now the County could have up to a $5 million surplus. If he lied about it this year, why should we believe him about next year's budget?

The next paragraph reads:
In addition, I am working on a new way to promote economic development in the county - along with maintaining our public safety programs and finding ways to protect core safety net programs.
Walker hasn't done anything to protect safety net programs before, why would he start now? It's always been the County Board that has had to reinstate the services Walker had cut, whether he had the ability to or not.

Two other things about that tiny paragraph. One, it would have been a lot easier to promote economic development if he hadn't filled that role with his unqualified campaign lackeys before abolishing the position in itself. It's hard to sell a product (in this case, Milwaukee County) if you don't have a qualified salesman.

The other item of interest is Walker has put a request to the employees and to municipal leaders for ideas on how to cut costs. He is in a bind because even if he cut every single non-mandated item, like buses and parks, it might not be enough to meet his stated budget goals. For example, he is considering cutting all aid for the homeless shelters, burying the indigent, and hurting almost every other non-mandated service that goes to the most vulnerable, and it is still about $4 million dollars short of his desired budget cut. The fact remains, he will either have to again prove himself incompetent, by having more departments taken away from his control, like with the Income Maintenance Program, or he will have to raise taxes, which he has promised not to do.

The last paragraph is this:
Clearly, we need to hold the line on property taxes - as too many people and companies are headed into bankruptcy and foreclosure (higher taxes will drive even more into those areas). Also, we need to insure that we are not using one-time fixes to balance the budget (as this will make for an even tougher budget in 2011).
He claims to have held the line on taxes, yet Milwaukee County is still high in unemployment and in foreclosures, especially in the inner city. While real leaders like Governor Doyle, Mayor Barrett and the County Board have gone past him to get stimulus dollars to help our situation, and have shown to be able to actually make things better, all Walker has offered is pipe dreams that are both unrealistic and wouldn't help in the first place.

He sure talks a nice talk. Too bad that he can't follow it up with anything of substance.

Darlene Ann Liebenthal

Darlene Ann Liebenthal

October 9, 1943 -- August 29,1999

The rose was her favorite flower. This is the poem that was on her memorial card and on the wall of the chapel her funeral was in.

Ten years, and I still miss her.


Near a shady wall a rose once grew,
Budded and blossomed in God's free light,
Watered and fed by morning dew,
Shedding its sweetness day and night.

As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,
Slowly rising to loftier height,
It came to a crevice in the wall,
Through which there shone a beam of light.

Onward it crept with added strength,
With never a thought of fear or pride,
It followed the light through the crevice's length,
And unfolded itself on the other side.

The light, the dew, the broadening view
Were found the same as they were before;
And it lost itself in beauties new,
Breathing its fragrance more and more.

Shall claim of death cause us to grieve,
And make our courage faint or fail?
Nay! Let us faith and hope receive:
The rose still grows beyond the wall.

Scattering fragrance far and wide,
Just as it did in days of yore,
Just as it did on the other side,
Just as it will for evermore.

by A. L. Frink

I Are A Published Author!

Areal big thank you to for publishing a piece written by yours truly, on behalf of my work at Milwaukee County First. The post:

Gov. Jim Doyle recently announced that he will not be running for a third term as governor. In his announcement, he promised that he would continue to work for the people of Wisconsin.

He said he would have an aggressive agenda over the next 16 months, focusing on education, green jobs, the economy and health care. "I believe without the politics and the campaign we can get a lot done over time. This moment in history will not be wasted."

We all need to thank Gov. Doyle for his 20 years of tireless service to the people of Wisconsin, first as attorney general, and then as governor through some rather challenging times with creativity and concern for the citizens of Wisconsin.

Though he will be sitting out the next election, the governor's job is far from over. Hopefully Doyle will keep his promise of not serving out the remainder of his term as a lame duck governor, and to help the economy of the entire region of southeast Wisconsin by honoring the voices of Milwaukee County voters who approved a 1-percent sales tax in last year’s elections. The sales tax would be vital to restore the transit system of Milwaukee County and providing a strong base for any future RTA (regional transit authority), including the KRM (Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee) rail system.

RTA aside, the need for strengthening Milwaukee County Transit System is growing more urgent as time passes. Without a dedicated source of funding for the transit system, 40 percent of the routes could be slashed in the near future. This would affect up to 60,000 workers who would no longer have a way to get to their job. And without workers, employers would have untold difficulties in producing and selling their products and services. Needless to say, this would have a devastating effect on the local economy, and unnecessarily prolong the economic woes that Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin are trying to work its way through.

Besides the necessity of the transit system to keep our economy moving, the sales tax, as passed in last year’s referendum, would allow for $67 million in property tax relief. That much money staying in the pockets of property owners would allow them to spend it as they wish, adding to the economic recovery for the entire region.
The sales tax would also have the benefit of preserving our parks and emergency medical system, which would only add to the appeal for companies to move here and keep the ones that are already here.

Why the governor vetoed the sales tax in the first place when none of these funds would come out of the state coffers is a head scratcher. Nevertheless, restoring the sales tax would be a great "do-over," leading to a better future for Milwaukee county and the businesses that operate within it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

BMCW Worker Impregnates Client

This is just so sick, words cannot describe it:

A state social worker who investigated a report of child abuse for the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare later had sex with the child's emotionally troubled mother and impregnated her. He then hid the woman's pregnancy and the birth of their daughter from the bureau, even as the mother sought to retain custody of two other children, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

The 56-year-old social worker, Peter J. Nelsen, was allowed to resign from the bureau April 15, according to bureau records.

Within months of his resignation, the bureau removed the 1-year-old girl from her mother and placed her in Nelsen's home. The other children - a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy - also had been removed.

Nelsen is now seeking sole custody of the 1-year-old.

There is so much wrong with this I don't even know where to begin.

The social worker, Peter Nelsen violated the law and every ethic there is in social work. He not only took advantage of a mentally ill woman, but a woman who was his client. That is about the worst thing a social worker can do.

In the mid-1990s, I worked in a group home for teens in Burlington. One of my coworkers sexually assaulted on of the teens in the home on a Halloween night, the first night he worked alone with the kids. When I came to work the next day, and we discovered what had happened, I was never so outraged. I felt almost as betrayed as this bastard's victim. I was so angry and so upset, that when I was driving home, and was able to drop my professional demeanor, I had to pull over to become physically ill.

The guy was immediately reported to the police, and I spent four days driving between Burlington, Milwaukee and Racine to testify against the bastard. I am proud to say that he was convicted, although I have learned later that some lawyer got his conviction overturned on a technicality.

This guy makes me feel the same way, even though I've never met him, and have been out of foster care for eight years now.

He should have been fired immediately upon discovery of the story, have his social work license permanently revoked and be criminally prosecuted. His supervisors and the fool that decided to try to sweep the whole thing under the rug should also be fired and investigated for possible criminal charges.

Then the same Bureau that failed to do the right thing of firing him and reporting him to the authorities has the audacity of placing the child with him. The best he should have is supervised visitation until the whole thing is thoroughly investigated and it is determined he is capable of keeping the child out of harm's way, which, judging from the story, does not seem to be the case.

The whole thing is just disgusting.

This is also another example of why the system is broken and needs major overhauling. Too bad our elected officials, like Alberta Darling, are too busy grandstanding and playing golf to actually do what they are supposed to do.

About That Move Of The Income Maintenance Program

New post up at Milwaukee County First. The State wants to move the income maintenance program out of the Coggs Building. It is not a good idea for the clients or the tax payers.

The remarkable thing is that this is something that Scott Walker and I can both agree on.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tell The Whole Story, James

James Wigderson, whose blog is on an on again/off again hiatus, is also a columnist for the Waukesha Freeman.

He has a column in today's paper pointing out that the lack of decorum in politics, but in a rather slanted and juvenile way. He continues to play the victim card for the right's boorish behaviors, but demonizes even the slightest offense created by actors on the left side.

We will look at one example, and you will have the flavor of his entire column. The Republican front group Americans For Prosperity had a rally in Madison. Their gripe, as it always is, was that taxes were too high. Their solution, as it always is, was to can the public employees. So basically, this was nothing more than a rally calling for public workers to be fired. Apparently they believe that little pixies will come out and fix their roads, plow the snow, arrest criminals and keep them in their pixie jails, and fight fires.

As one would expect, AFSCME, the union that represents government employees (full disclaimer, I am a government employee and active in AFSCME) staged a counter protest to save their jobs. Go figure, people wanting to keep their jobs.

Anyway, Wigderson goes on to limn the event this way:
When Americans express their concerns, they’re told to shut up and take it. At the first rally in Madison by taxpayers in October 2007 led by Americans for Prosperity, state union employees counterdemonstrated by attempting to drown out the speakers with their shouting and intimidated the participants as they headed to their vehicles.
Apparently, in Wigderson's world, you cannot be American and work for the government. Also, in his world, if one should happen to be insulted and have their jobs threatened, they are supposed to thank the aggressors and maybe invite them for a drink. Oh, I am sure some of the union members could have been on better behavior, but there is no doubt that things get emotional when one's integrity is slandered and one's source of income gets threatened.

Also interesting are who are some of the darlings at this AFP event. It was led by Mark Block, known criminal. One of the key speakers was Fred Dooley, known racist. But hey, if that is who he wants to associate with, so be it. Just don't whine about the consequences.

Can We Keep Affording Walker's Tax Saving Methods?

The State has announced today that they have rejected Milwaukee County's bid to house the income maintenance programs that they had to take over:

The decision could cost the county up to $1.2 million next year, unless the county is able to rent the space to outside vendors, Lisa Jo Marks, interim director of the county's Department of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday.

The county had hoped the state would select the county's Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center, 1220 W. Vliet St., for home to hundreds of income maintenance workers. Instead, the state selected a bid from C.D. Smith Construction, Inc. for remodeled space at 2151 N. King Drive, according to a state announcement.

This is more bad news for the County. But I can't help but notice that now that Walker has officially announced himself as a gubernatorial candidate, that the cost of this happening is a heckuva lot less than what it was four months ago. At that time, as I pointed out, the cost was estimated by Walker's own people to be about $14 million:
Most of that $14 million comes directly from Walker's inability and/or refusal to do his job as County Executive, just so he can waste his time, and our tax money, on his futile run for governor:

Kreklow told the panel that the state takeover would cost the county up to $6 million in 2010, including loss of money the county gets for computer services linked to the assistance programs. The county also will lose about $1 million by vacating about two-thirds of the office space in the Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center at 1242 W. Vliet St., where many of the assistance programs are now housed, Kreklow's report says. The county gets partly reimbursed for the space by the federal government.

A portion of a second county building housing public assistance offices also is expected to be vacated.

The county also will have a small loss of revenue this year linked to the state takeover of public assistance programs, Kreklow said. The state announced the takeover in February, saying chronic mistakes by the county had caused many poor families to be unfairly denied or delayed food, medical and child care benefits.

Walker sent his lackey to the County Board yesterday to give them the bad news and state that he wants to cut the county budget by 6%.
So, was he lying then or is he lying now? If he was lying then, it was as I had surmised and nothing more than another ploy to try to hold over the head of the unions, like he did with the alleged budget deficit of $15 million that he claimed the county was facing this year. If he is lying now, then it is probably because he wants to minimize how badly he has screwed things up, so as not to hurt his campaign too much.

It should be pointed out to the gentle reader that this whole situation was caused by a class action lawsuit filed against the state and the county, claiming that people were being habitually wrongfully denied the services and benefits they were supposed to be getting.

The reason that the poor and needy were unable to get the benefits they deserved was due to Walker's willful sabotaging of the program, especially the call center, where he would have only five to ten people working instead of the thirty that had been authorized and funded.

These were only part of the 717 fully funded positions Walker failed to fill, but the money that was supposed to go to providing these services has never been accounted for.

And what does Scott Walker say about the bad news that was dumped on us today? Well, according to his tweet:
Off 2 Sheboygan Co 2night for an event.
What a show of support for Milwaukee County!

And then there is the several hundreds of millions of dollars of neglected infrastructure that will have to be addressed someday. As well as the pension mess that he had not only failed to fix, like he promised, but actually made worse by continuously short-changing it and then pushing for a questionable and highly risky pension obligation bond scheme, that is now not even expected to succeed.

With all the bills that are piling up due to Walker's "money saving" actions, I don't think we can afford anymore of his nonsense. And if the State's financial woes are as bad as the conservatives would have us believe, there is no way that we could possibly afford him as governor.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RIP Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy, dead at the age of 77:

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America's most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, has died at age 77, his family said on Wednesday.

"Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts)," the Kennedy family said in a statement.

One of the most influential and longest-serving senators in U.S. history -- a liberal standard-bearer who was also known as a consummate congressional dealmaker -- Kennedy had been battling brain cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2008.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Scott Walker Doesn't Want You To Read

Scott Walker is obviously feeling very nervous lately. Doyle announced he is not running for a third term now Walker's entire campaign strategy has become null and void. To add to this is Walker's ethical problems, the fact that his primary opponent has a ton of more money, and a potential Democratic opponent is whooping him in popularity, even though this person has not even talked about whether he even wants to run.

Now, Walker's campaign is trying to get sympathetic bloggers involved in bolstering his campaign with a blogging blitz. So far the only ones that I've seen bite is Patrick Dorwin at Badger Blogger, and Aaron Rodriguez at The Hispanic Conservative. The story line is that Walker claims he was asked by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to write a column to argue on why he feels that the county government should be dismantled, but they wouldn't print it. Once you read the letter, you realize that if this story is even true, they most likely didn't print it because it is not about what they asked for, but just a campaign stump speech, and one full of lies that are easily disproved.

It is worth noting that this is also a tweaked version of a post he put up last week at the Inside Scoop. In this article, he does not mention the paper, or any supposed rejection of this letter. Why would that be, unless he is again lying through his teeth.

But let us put that aside and see what he writes.

After the usual self-congratulatory paragraphs, Walker writes:
How did we control government spending? We told department heads how much money they would have and asked them to prioritize spending based on available revenue. Together, we crafted seven straight budgets with no increase in the property tax levy from the previous year. In 2008, when other state and local governments faced massive budget shortfalls, Milwaukee County had a budget surplus of more than $4 million.
What he doesn't mention is that the tax levy is over 17% higher than when he first took this office. Another thing he misses is that the County Board had to fix the budget every year. And the four million dollars he claims is more like two, which came from a windfall inheritance that the County received, and by law, has to be applied to the 2009 budget, which he claimed to be $15 million in the whole, when there is actually a surplus again.

Of course, no budget looked as good at the 2007 budget, which had a surplus of $7 million. that was the year Walker took himself completely out of the budgeting process.

I suppose this would be a good place to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars of neglected maintenance work that Walker has accumulated, the health risks that this neglect has caused, or the risky pension obligation bond scheme that he got passed, which has a 60% chance of failing.

But to carry on, is the doozy of his whole article:
And we did it without sacrificing quality.
Oh my. That is such a frickin' lie, even I can't believe he was dumb enough to put it in there.

Perhaps, since he has made it painfully obvious that he doesn't care about anyone that is not rich and a donor to his campaign, he might have forgotten a few things. Like the fact that he kept cutting mental health services until he was shamed into restoring them. He was screwing things up at the House of Correction that when the federal government did an audit, it was so bad that Walker abdicated his duties and handed the whole thing over to the Sheriff's Office. And who can forget the most recent event, that Walker mismanaged the income maintenance program so much that the County was faced with a multimillion dollar lawsuit and the State had to take it over to protect our most vulnerable citizens from Walker's willful negligence. And this is just to name but a few. The list is almost endless.

Walker then goes on to brag about the parks. He fails to note that the award is not for the parks, but for the video of the parks. He also seems to have forgotten the half a million dollars needed to just fix six bathrooms, leaving five so poorly maintained that they had to be closed.

And does Walker really want to talk about the transit system, which is facing a cut of up to thirty to forty percent within the next year? That the ridership is dropping, the fares are among the highest in the nation, but offer no where near the same level of service?

Another alarming statement from Walker comes regarding the airport (emphasis mine):

General Mitchell International Airport is another award-winning county asset. In 2008, Mitchell International served a record 7.95 million passengers and received the Transportation Safety Administration’s Partnership Award. Since 2002, we have invested $199 million dollars in airport renovations and improvements without increasing the property tax levy.

Clearly, our investment has paid off for passengers and airlines alike, but we can do more. By contracting with a private vendor to manage airport operations, the county can actually turn a profit and use the revenue to pay down debt and help fund our mass transit system.

Excuse me, but do we want the government to be making a profit of off people? Ideally, they should be breaking even. And the funding for the airport comes directly from either federal funds for from the airlines who then pass the cost on to their customers. So in other words, he is having the airlines impose a tax on travelers in order to make a profit to support the failing transit system that he just said was doing fine.

Why his head doesn't explode with all these lies and hypocrisy, I'll never understand.

The last couple of paragraphs are saying, yeah, let's get rid of county government, but he doesn't say how it would be done, or how it would supposedly save money. Probably because he doesn't know and because it really wouldn't.

Wait a minute! Now I get it! Walker is correct.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wouldn't would be afraid to print this. If they did, they know that they would lose readers and revenue when people got sick and tired of the blatant lies and hypocrisy.

Bad Sheriff Goes Bye-Bye

Last spring, I told you of a bad sheriff up north, Sheriff Krenzke. Krenzke is the guy who decided not to go searching for a elderly woman with dementia, even though they could hear the woman's screams for help.

The good people of Price County stood up and said that they would not tolerate that type of negligence and incompetence from their elected officials, and today, they recalled his butt out of office.

I wish that other local elected officials would take that lesson to heart, and start doing the right thing and not what they think will be politically advantageous for them.

Coming To A Campaign Event Near You

Tom Barrett, who was brutally attacked while trying to aid a grandmother and her small grandchild, is gaining a lot of name recognition, not only around the state, but also nationally.

He is often referred to has the "Hero Mayor" or sometimes just "Hero." Again, I cannot help but think that the governor's seat is his for the taking, if he chooses to run.

Scott Walker, on the other hand, is obviously nervous. He is trying desperately to present himself as the front runner, even though he really isn't. Noting Barrett's skyrocketing popularity, Walker has decided not to be outdone. Expect to see him like this at campaign rallies and other public appearances for the next several weeks and months:

That's About The Size Of It

Taking Hate Too Favre

Last year, when Brett Favre and Ted Thompson got into their battle of the egos, I opined that the Green Bay Packers sent the wrong guy packing.

Don't get me wrong before I started, Favre most definitely had a role to play in his less-than-glorious departure from the Pack. But it also wasn't anything new from him and the management could have handled their end better, including making it obvious that they booted him out for something other than Favre's behaviors (such has offering him a couple of million dollars in bribe money to stay home and stay quiet).

Now, Favre has been able to manipulate his situation so that he can not only play for the Minnesota Vikings, but also skip the training camp and all of the minicamps. (Favre has made it abundantly clear over the years that he loathes those things.)

A lot of fans and even the sports reporters for the local paper have been griping endlessly since he signed with Minnesota last week. Their complaints have been on everything from his manipulation of the system with his pseudo-retirements to calling him a "traitor" to the Packer Nation.

While I have written that I would rather see Favre ride his lawnmower off into the sunset, and I too felt deep shock at him signing on with the "enemy," I don't have that same level of animosity.

All one has to do is look at the situation objectively. Thompson pushed Favre out, for whatever reason. I still think it was the wrong thing to do, and it has done a lot to turn me off from football for a second year now. But it happened, and it is way too late to go back and fix it.

The Packers moved on, for better or worse (most likely worse - don't let the two preseason games fool you), and have chosen to go with Rodgers, the back up quarterback.

Favre also has moved on. He played for the Jets, and now has been able to finagle his way onto the Vikings. Did he do that to get back at Thompson? Without a doubt. But that is not a sign of a personality flaw. It is just another aspect of his high level of competitiveness.

To be mad at Favre now would be like a guy dumping his girlfriend, and then getting pissed when she starts dating other people, including guys he doesn't like very much. He let her go, and he needs to deal with the consequences of his actions. If he now realized how badly he screwed up, he should just be mad at himself. But to take it out on her would only show how petty he is.

Likewise, true Packer fans shouldn't be mad at Favre. The Pack packed up his stuff, threw it out in Lambeau's parking lot and told him to get out. If he went on to play for one of our rivals, so be it. If you are going to be mad at someone, be mad at the guy who pushed him out and changed the locks - Ted Thompson.

Quote of the Day

That would go to Phillip Gruber, who Steve Jagler cited when he was writing about the Mercury Marine contract problems:
"Mercury Marine never intended for this offer to be accepted," said IAMAW Midwest territory vice president Philip Gruber. "Despite progress on every major issue and a commitment by the IAM to continue bargaining, the company balked in the final hours and added terms and conditions that assured members would reject the offer … Mercury Marine has been threatening these workers and this community for weeks. Some companies may hint at dire consequences as a bargaining tactic, but rarely do we see such extortion in plain view. It's unethical, it's un-American and I respect any worker who stands up and refuses to be bullied."

Monday, August 24, 2009

MCF on the Estabrook Dam

My friend and fellow MCF board member writes about the serious danger of PCBs in the Estabrook Impoundment. It is beyond the life of me why neither the County nor the State have done anything to address this issue before.

I followed Jason's post up tonight with one about the dam itself, and what should be considered before deciding whether to preserve the dam or not.

More Gun Nuts Making Jokes Of Themselves

Badger Blogger has a video of a Fox 6 news clip showing some goofs near Eagle that are doing a good thing by picking up garbage along a highway. They are goofs all the same, because they feel the compulsion to carry guns while doing so.

In all fairness, maybe they aren't goofs. Maybe the raccoons up there are really, really possessive of their roadside garbage. Or maybe all of these guys had a traumatic childhood experience with a McDonald's wrapper.

Watch the video all the way through. A couple with better mental health show some good common sense.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Doom And Despair, They Cried, And It's All The Unions Fault

So, the union members rejected the last contract offer from Mercury Marine.

As James Rowen points out, the right is guaranteed to blame it on the unions and on Doyle. In fact, most have them already have done so.

The thing is, Doyle has already called for both sides to sit at the bargaining table and keep working on negotiations. The union is willing to concede some points, but want a guarantee that their jobs will still be there. Management won't give it to them. In fact, I haven't heard that management, or any of the non-represented positions have given up anything of their own either.

Another thing, having gone through the anxiety and stress of a number of contract negotiations, I would be willing to bet that we don't know the whole story. The union is following fair bargaining laws and not talking about it publicly. Mercury Marine management apparently don't hold the same compunction and is blabbing, but I really doubt that they are giving the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Something else I am quite familiar with, thanks to my best bud, Scott Walker.

It also appears that Mercury Marine was ready to move anyway. They had already laid off hundreds of workers over the last several years. Now, they were just looking for a convenient excuse. So they offer a piece of crap contract, figuring that the union will reject it, and viola, instant excuse.

All that said, without knowing all the facts, I cannot say if the union members did the right thing or not, or if it even mattered what they did.

But of course, not knowing all the facts has never slowed the right wingers down before. Why should this be any different?

Suffer Fools, We Got A Buck To Make

I have mentioned it a number of times lately, but this coming Saturday is the tenth anniversary of my mother's death. She died from cancer, which was allowed to spread and grow while her insurance company continued to deny the claims. For whatever reason, she has been on my mind a lot lately. She usually is, but with the combination of taking on bold, new ventures, the approaching anniversary, and all the debate of health care reform has increased the frequency of those thoughts.

Last week, I saw Patrick McIlheran have a number of posts (I thought he was supposed to be cut back - what happened to that?), like this one, regarding health care reform, spreading the usual inane and insane lies and misinformation regarding death panels and the such.

I've seen numerous other members of the conservative Posse Comatose echoing similar fear mongering, like this drivel from Aaron Rodriguez.

Too bad for these disingenuous liars and fear-mongerers that this sort of thing has been going on for much longer than since Obama has been president.

When my mother was spending her last days in the hospital, they asked my father if they could move her to a hospice. However, she never stabilized enough for the move. The day before she died, she called me, and I could tell something was wrong. Well, more wrong actually. She told me that it hurt to breathe. Can you imagine what kind of hell that is, knowing that there is no relief, except through dying?

I called my dad and my fiancee (now wife) and I met him at the hospital. We called for the doctor immediately and ordered him to give her morphine. The doctor told us that if we put her on enough morphine to kill the pain, it would shorten her life. There was no choice. Seeing her suffer was too much. If we allowed that to go on, just so she could live a few more hours or days would have made us less than human and unChristian.

It was the last time I got to speak to her, but at least she was out of pain.

Six years later, my grandfather, just before his 92nd birthday, started a series of medical emergencies which consisted of heart attacks, MRSA infections, and multiple trips between the hospital, the nursing home and the assisted living center.

When the hospital social worker called me to tell me that they were going to move Grandpa back to the nursing home where he received terrible care (another story for another time), I told that they were not going to do that, and demanded a meeting with the doctor.

If nothing else, my professional career and my experiences with my mother's passing made me into a damn effective advocate. I met with the doctor that afternoon and confirmed my worst suspicions. I told the social worker and the doctor that I wanted him moved to a specific hospice, and would not budge on that issue.

That meeting was on a Friday. The following Wednesday, he was in the hospice. By Friday, he stopped eating. By Saturday, he was only having moments of lucidity as his body started to shut down and his brain became starved for oxygen. By Sunday, when we were finally able to get someone to give him last rites, he was all but unconscious. His last words were singing a hymn in Italian, when he heard the nearby church's bells ringing. He passed away the next Wednesday at two o'clock in the morning.

Even though it broke my heart to make that decision, my grandfather had the foresight to have an advance directive, which I was honoring. I realize now, that if I had not pushed the issue, he would have gone back to the nursing home, and died there, without the dignity and peace he had while in the hospice.

For these fear-mongering fools to tell us that the health care reform is bad is just insulting. There is no way that they can justify having people suffer, so that the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and the big box medical providers can milk the system for all its worth.

All the right wingers are doing is a shameful, lowly attack on people's deepest fears, just to try to regain control of the government, so that they can go back to gouging us and giving everything to their rich friends.

Shortly after my mom passed, my wife and I had our advanced directives drawn up and filed. I do not want to go through this again if, God forbid, something happened to my wife. Nor do I want to put my wife through that if something happened to me. That is calling being considerate, planning ahead and being smart. Apparently, those are also the things that the conservatives are most afraid of.

Milwaukee County Being Shown Up By Stevens Point

New post up at Milwaukee County First.

Stevens Point are years ahead of Milwaukee County regarding mass transit. They had bike racks seven years ago. They had Freedom Passes. Now, they are expanding late night transit.

Here, in Milwaukee County, they are looking at slashing routes, decreasing services at others, and increasing fares by starting to charge for transfers.

Stevens Point also happens to be a growing city with new development and new businesses opening regularly. Milwaukee County's economy is declining and businesses are leaving.

The biggest difference is that Stevens Point has forward thinking leaders and we have Scott Walker.

The Real "Death Panels"

Tip o'the crown to Cory

Walker Can't Even Win His Own Poll

Perpetual gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker had his campaign pay for a poll to be done (someone check to see if it really was his campaign, and not tax payer money or corporate sponsorship). Needless to say, Walker must not be very happy with the predictable results:
The statewide poll found 44% of likely primary voters saying they favored Walker vs. 43% for Barrett, with 13% undecided, according to the poll. Walker is an announced Republican candidate for governor. Barrett, a Democrat, has not said whether he’s interested in running for governor.
Imagine that. Walker who has been campaigning for the past five years for governor, can't even beat a guy who hasn't even thought about whether he would want to even run. Furthermore, Blogging Blue did a little research, and found that Tom Barrett has almost as much money as Walker, again without even giving a run any serious thought.

Another blow to Walker's overinflated ego must be the fact that despite five years of campaigning, he still has a worse recognition rate than Barrett. It just shows what kind of impression he makes on people.

But these results shouldn't really surprise anyone. Just look at what has been happening over the last year or two.

Two years ago, Walker was doing such a lousy job managing the Private Industry Council, that the State was forced to take it away and give it to Mayor Tom Barrett and the City of Milwaukee.

Earlier this year, Barrett also showed that he has much better leadership skills by taking the reigns and running over Walker's obstructing maneuvers to finally resolve the almost two decade long battle over federal transit funding.

Even Walker has acknowledged that Barrett is a more productive leader when he has repeatedly pushed to have the City of Milwaukee buy the Park East Corridor. Walker has been unable to do anything with the land, mostly because he has continuously put his campaign staff on the county payroll, in the job of trying to sell it.

Most recently, while Walker was running around campaigning, Barrett was actually putting his very life on the line to better the community and help someone in trouble. Walker, on the other hand, can't even manage a designed program to help people in less immediate, but still serious, need.

A savvy and viable candidate might realize that what he has been doing isn't working when he can't win his own poll and admits that the other guy can do the job better. I don't expect Walker to change a thing.

DOT's Threat To The Monarch Trail

The DOT's proposal to rebuild and expand the zoo interchange is threatening to ruin what's left of the Monarch Trail. See the details at Milwaukee County First.

James Rowen has more.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's Not Being Pro-Second Amendment, It's Being Anti-First Amendment

There's a very interesting and insightful article at regarding those nutters that feel the need to bring guns to a debate. The highlight of it:
These and other similar examples are accurately summarized with the same language federal law employs to describe domestic terrorism. Generating maximum media attention, the weapons-brandishing displays are "intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population." Yes, the gun has been transformed from a sport and self-defense device into a tool of mass bullying. Like the noose in the Jim Crow South, its symbolic message is clear: If you dare engage in the democratic process, you risk bodily harm.

With that implicit threat, the incessant arguments about gun ownership have been supplanted by a more significant debate over which should take precedence: The Constitution's First or Second Amendment?

Based on America's history, the Founders' answer to that question clearly lies in the Bill of Rights' deliberate sequencing.

The First Amendment ethos guarantees people -- whatever their politics -- a fundamental right to participate in their democracy without concern for physical retribution. It is the primary amendment because America was first and foremost created not as a gun-owners' haven, but as a place to shelter citizens from oppression.
These people are the same ones that are having a hard time accepting the reality that the majority have rejected their control over the last several elections. They also cannot present a logical, rational or compelling argument against health care reform, so they will try to bully us around to reach their goals.

It says more about them than the topic at hand.

Tip of the crown to James Rowen.

Van Hollen's Dereliction of Duty Continues

State Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen is obviously not fit for the job. All one has to do is look at his continuing pattern of failing to perform his duties as AG.

First, he issued the unnecessary and poorly thought out opinion about whether open carry was legal. All he managed to do was stir up a hornets' nest in the state, and gave free reign to paranoid people to go around terrorizing their neighborhoods and making the police's job much more dangerous and difficult.

Then, the State Legislature gave tasked him to do an investigation into Scott Walker's malicious and fraudulent operation of the state funded income maintenance program. To date, there is no word if he has even opened the case, allowing his political partisanship interfere and obstruct the enforcement of the law. Personally, I think the State Legislature should have sent a request to the U.S. Attorney's office, where a thorough and unbiased investigation could occur. Even if Van Hollen did open this case, the odds are that one could not have any reasonable faith in it being done honestly.

Now, he has come out publicly and stated that he will not even uphold the state's Constitution, and will not defend against those that would discriminate against other people, based solely on their sexual orientation.

Illusory Tenant points out that this will now cost big, since the case will have to be outsourced to a private attorney to do his job.

The multi-talented and well written Emily Mills has the must read post on this issue, with a grand idea at the end. Namely, how about recalling Van Hollen for dereliction of duty?

The Great Potato Famine of '10?

Earlier this month, Jason Haas noted that the state was experiencing a devastating infection of a fungus attacking tomato plants. In the comments section, I pointed out that this same fungus was jumping to potatoes.

Yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finally caught up to the story and pointed out that this fungus, which was also responsible for the great potato famine in Ireland has now jumped to potato plants in at least two counties.

Hopefully, the farmers and the government, if needed, are ready to deal with this infestation and minimize the damage to such an important product to Wisconsin.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Walker's Hypocrisy Is Endless

Scott Walker, as his wont, put up his county taxpayer sponsored campaign page which he euphemistically calls "Executive Update."

In his "Message from County Executive Walker" section, he is touting United Way.

In the first section, Walker (actually one of his aide's) writes:
When times are tough, the need is greatest. That is where we are with this year’s upcoming United Way Campaign – Live United. We are still struggling with the economy and many in our community are looking for help getting food, finding a job or health care. Help that United Way can provide if we all dig a little deeper to help our neighbors in the Milwaukee area.
He admits that people need help getting food, finding work, and getting health care. So why is it that Walker was the one to willfully sabotage the Income Maintenance program to the point that the County faces a multimillion dollar lawsuit and he wants to cut ALL benefits to the homeless , elderly, disabled and all other vulnerable citizens of the county?
We all remember the recent fire at Patrick Cudahy. This incident created a crisis for the company and its employees. Hopefully, Patrick Cudahy comes back quickly. You may not know that, in the meantime, the United Way (among other agencies) stepped up. Patrick Cudahy has been long-time supporter of United Way and now is a receiver of United Way services.
Walker's right. The fire was terrible. But does he think that United Way will be able to pick up the tab and supply all the emergency medical systems to citizens that wouldn't receive it if he gets his way to destroy the County's EMS system?

Add to this his ongoing flip-flopping about the stimulus, taxes, etc. etc. etc., it is amazing that anyone can support him, since no one knows where he stands on anything.

They're All Liberals

Tim Rock has the goods.

What Does Legal Authority Have To Do With It?

The other day, I wrote a post talking about the benefits that Milwaukee County is seeing from pursuing and attaining federal stimulus funds. In the same post, I pointed out how some other bloggers have noted that Walker is dismissing the people benefiting from these funds as not being "real people." At the end, I also pointed to a Walker apologist, who continuously tries to distort the facts in order to minimize the damage Walker keeps doing to his own campaign:
It also explains why the Walker apologists* are so desperate to twist his anti-stimulus stance around. It is just another big issue which Walker has come down on the wrong side.

*By the way, Aaron Rodriguez fails to point out that the fact that Walker did not even have the legal authority to set conditions on the stimulus funds. It is just another way that he was trying to hedge his bet when he realized what a political blunder he had made with his grandstanding.
Unbelievably, Mr. Rodriguez responded with this comment:

I'm not sure what your point is about having or not having "legal authority." It doesn't seem relevant.
To be honest, I was stunned by this. First of all, the "conditions" that Rodriguez continues to fall back on in his defense of Walker makes it an issue. However, since Walker lacked the authority to put any conditions on it, it makes those conditions irrelevant. Walker has the right to express his opinion, but not enact his own policy regarding the funds. His job is to enforce and administer the policies set forth by the board.

As an example that Rodriguez, as well as Walker himself, obviously don't understand what Walker's job is supposed to be, I pointed out months ago, Walker had continuously been sabotaging any efforts to get the stimulus dollars, ignoring his own "conditions" on any of the funds he did agree should be pursued. This continued until the County Board got together and spelled it out to him in no uncertain terms, and strongly expressing their frustration and anger at Walker's blatant hypocrisy about the entire subject.

In other words, the arguments that Walker, both himself and through his supporters, like Rodriguez, are hypocritical, if just not out right lies. If Walker cannot handle something like this, how do they expect to trick people into thinking he could handle the job on a state level?

Mercer Trial Revisited

Three months ago, Milwaukee County agreed to a settlement with Mercer regarding the first pension scandal.

But just when you thought that puppy could be put to rest, here comes other people who want a piece of the settlement pie.

Travelers Casualty and Surety Group has filed a claim for $1.3 million regarding the settlement.

It appears that they're biggest complaint is that they had to dish out money to defend the county's pension system from retired members who thought that they should be automatically given benefits that weren't in place before they retired. (To me, that would be like trying to sue a car maker because they came out with a new and improved version of your car five years later, saying they ripped you off. )

Now, I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Intertubes, but it seems to me that the insurer's claim is a little lame as well. They were getting paid to do their jobs, which they did admirably well, and I am sure that they were also compensated fairly well.

But if they were to make a claim against anyone, they should have either filed their own lawsuit against Mercer, or joined with Milwaukee County in its lawsuit. Its kind of funny how people (or in this case, businesses) can be against socialism until they find out they could possibly get something for nothing.

But this also reminds me of another question. Is Walker ever going to finish the job regarding the pension scandals and sue Reinhart?

Johnsons Park

Check out Milwaukee County First where I just put up a post about Johnsons Park.

Some really great things are happening there. The alarming part is just how bad the park was allowed to get, that it took the county, the city, and a number of organizations and businesses to raise only 20% of the money needed to restore it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

GOP: The Party of Lincoln?

Something that any number of people, including Scott Walker, Patrick McIlheran, and Charlie Sykes could stand to be reminded of. Repeatedly.

Kapanke Trial Update

Things aren't going too good for Krazy Kapanke in court. From the LaCrosse Tribune (emphasis mine):

Smyrski, Kapanke's chief of staff since 2006, said she routinely receives e-mails through that account when she's away from the office. She said she did not know that such records would be public, and she didn't check her personal account before denying the Democratic Party's request.

Smyrski said she had never received training on public records matters despite being Kapanke's records custodian and working at the Capitol since 2000.

She's the records custodian, but was never trained on how to do her job? Sounds like the aide for State Senator Mary Lazich.

The article goes on to state than an IT person reported that the emails that were deleted would have lasted about a month. Anything that was deleted more than a month earlier would have been lost forever. The tricky part of that is that they Kapanke's office did eventually supply some of the requested emails, after they said that they were not available. The tech support person however, testified that they were.

It does make one wonder what was on the emails/documents that they failed to produce and what really happened to them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stimulus Funds Are Working

At Milwaukee County First, I pointed out that Milwaukee is about to benefit from stimulus dollars that are aimed to clean up sites in the area, including the old Tower Automotive site. This money will help create jobs, build business parks, create housing and clean up the environment, all at the same time.

It also shows how out of touch Scott Walker is with his own community, much less the entire state, when he tweets that stimulus dollars don't help real people. Harris Kane and Cory Liebmann show some of the real people that Walker doesn't consider to be real.

It also explains why the Walker apologists* are so desperate to twist his anti-stimulus stance around. It is just another big issue which Walker has come down on the wrong side.

*By the way, Aaron Rodriguez fails to point out that the fact that Walker did not even have the legal authority to set conditions on the stimulus funds. It is just another way that he was trying to hedge his bet when he realized what a political blunder he had made with his grandstanding.

Good News For Seniors

SeniorCare is extended until 2012.

SeniorCare is of course, yet another example showing that government run health coverage does work and works very well at that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Drinking Liberally - No Haas In The House Edition

Received a note today from Jason Haas, host of Drinking Liberally:

Hi folks,

As your friendly host and organizer, it saddens me to report that I will not be able to host Drinking Liberally this coming Wednesday August 18. Unfortunately, events beyond my control have demanded my presence elsewhere.

This does not mean that you, my dear and only friends, cannot get together anyway. You could have a fine time without me! So go ahead, go to Sugar Maple (441 E. Lincoln Ave.) tomorrow around 7-9 PM. They'll take good care of you at Sugar Maple. And I will see you in Septemer!

Say, if you do get together tonight, please make a big Get Well Card for Mayor Barrett. He needs our support! Alternately, please send him a card or a letter of support of your own. Here's his office address:

Office of the Mayor
200 E. Wells Street
City Hall Rm. 201
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Your Friendly DL Host

I say, "Bah! Who needs him?"

I know I will already be at the Sugar Maple, as I believe Zachary from Blogging Blue and maybe some other folks from Milwaukee County First. So come on down and tell us your favorite Jason Haas joke. We promise not to repeat them, unless they're really funny.

Third Verse, Same As The First

Aaron Rodriguez apparently is not very original.

He has come out with what is at least his third attempt to make the same point, trying to allege that the state government and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are in cahoots to bring Scott Walker's campaign to a grinding halt. The only difference in this post from his others is that he has learned to use screencaps, although he still doesn't know how to link to the source he is citing.*

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, he is still wrong. The facts haven't changed one bit. In fact, the ties between Walker and Steve Smith, Chairman/CEO of Journal Communications has been shown to be fairly strong. Does Rodriguez really think that Smith would let his candidate go down due to one of the few remaining reporters at the daily paper?

And Rodriguez might not have notice, but Governor Doyle already said that he was going to step down after this term. Why is Rodriguez, and Walker, still trying to run against him?

But what made me have a good belly laugh is when Rodriguez tries to lambaste me and Milwaukee County First:
When I wrote about Schultze’ biased reporting, it drew the ridicule of liberal blogger Chris Liebenthal, who just happens to be the Chairman of a Walker-hate site called "Milwaukee County First." Liebenthal scoffed at the idea that Schultze was biased stating that Schultze was “in the bag” for Walker. Below is a screenshot of his blog post.
Now, the four or five readers that I have that follow MCF, already knows that we have been spending our time and energy in promoting things like the parks and transit, and calling for Governor Jim Doyle to pass the 1% sales tax to help save these services.

Apparently, even Rodriguez recognizes the fact that Walker has bollixed things up so badly that any mention of Milwaukee County services only highlights Walker's failures as county executive, and shows why he is unsuitable to be governor.

But one has to wonder why Rodriguez even felt compelled to mention MCF, since it was he that said we weren't "even going to get off the ground - ever."

Another belly laugher is when Rodriguez accuses the reporter of violating journalistic ethics. Considering he didn't say anything about when there were real violations going on, I am surprised he would make this weak effort now.

*Rodriguez is now a contributor at Fairly Conservative, whose proprietor is Cindy Kilkenny. Ms. Kilkenny is also a stickler for fair use practice. I wonder if she'll let Rodriguez get away with that on her site.