Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

Comes from the Sconz:
Walker is a pure-bred Milwaukee-suburb Repub. He’s not against big government, he’s simply against big progressive government.
Actually, the whole post is worthy.

The Gumshoe Gets It

Brewtown Gumshoe states it better than I could:
Infrastructure - water, roads, garbage, etc. - should be handled by public workers: unionized, well-paid workers. First, the public sector acts as a safety cushion. During economic recessions they still spend - using restaurants, movie theater, concerts, buying appliances, doing remodeling, etc. - enabling businesses to stay open and workers to keep their jobs. Establishing, at least, a respectable floor during downturns. Second, they maintain the roads, water ways, sewers, airport, and on and on, that we all - businesses and individuals - count on for nearly everything we are able to do in our daily lives. This is kind of an important function for a civilized society. Not something to be privately controlled by the best-connected bidder.

We as citizens and taxpayers should, through our investment (taxes), be building/exporting a model that gives individuals a step up. People attack public employees because they have health care or because they have a pension. Are these not assets that any worker should want? How does criticizing and thereby disintegrating such achievement of labor help anyone? The more bargaining power one group of workers gains (and thereby increased wages), the more every worker is able to achieve better pay.

Why is it that taxpayers criticize public worker earnings, yet they defend CEO compensation? The same CEOs that are subsidized and bailed out with our tax dollars. Public workers actually perform a service for you. What did AIG do for you?

Milwaukee County Bargaining Bulletin

I received this today from AFSCME District Council 48:

From District Council 48:

September 29, 2009

As you know, the members of D.C. 48 AFSCME, AFL-CIO voted to accept the Tentative Agreement with Milwaukee County on September 22, 2009. The County Board’s Committees on Personnel and Finance and Audit held a joint committee meeting on September 23, 2009 and recommended adoption of the T. A. by the full Board at the Board’s meeting on September 24, 2009.

The Tentative Agreement calls for a two year agreement (2009-2010) with an increase in employee contribution to health care premiums and cost-sharing as well as a zero wage increase for each year of the contract. In exchange, the County would not lay off or privatize work of the bargaining unit and would limit furloughs to thirty hours.

The County Board acted on September 24, 2009 to lay over the Tentative Agreement until their next regularly scheduled meeting on November 5, 2009. On this same date, the County Executive introduced his budget to the full Board, calling for wide-spread privatization of our jobs, massive layoffs, and a series of take-aways. Included in these take-aways was a 3% reduction in wages, a termination of step increases, a major increase in the cost-sharing of health insurance premiums, a mandatory 5% contribution from employees to their pensions, and a modification in overtime pay to eliminate the provision for overtime after 8 hours a day and only include overtime after 40 hours a week. What made these proposals more outrageous was the fact that they have never been proposed to the UNION across the table. This is like negotiating the purchase of a house only to find out at the closing that the seller is demanding you pay for their moving company, their first month’s mortgage payment at the seller’s new residence, and that after the closing you can only occupy the first floor until the seller decides it is okay to use the basement and second floor of the home you now own.

The fact that the budget deliberations on this politically-loaded proposed budget will take place without the full Board’s action on the Tentative Agreement renders the terms of the T. A. potentially moot.

The frustrating part of the Board’s actions was the fact that a motion to lay over takes 1/3 of the Board Members who are present and was supported by members who serve on the Personnel and/or Finance and Audit Committees who had voted to recommend adoption by the full Board.

We all know that Walker is more concerned about his own political future than the future of Milwaukee County. As a college dropout, who has always been an elected public employee (except for a few months’ stint at the Red Cross), Walker’s agenda is transparent. He will use whatever political pandering he can to ensure his success. Credibility and integrity have no role in Walker’s political persona. Thus, the budget is balanced on the backs of the lowest paid employees, and at risk of services to the most vulnerable.

We can only hope that the collective conscience of the Board will mitigate the erosion of governmental and social responsibility.

You Too Can Be A Capper

I'm sure by now most of the Cheddarsphere has seen the comments over here.

Now I guess I could come up with an excuse like it was the pain pills from my back surgery. But that lie has already been used.

I guess I'll just have to tell the truth.

It's not me. Anyone that knows me, also would know that isn't even my writing style.

But you too can be "capper." Illy-T shows you how. Well, not really. Now they apparently have me blocked. First time I get blocked from anywhere, and I can't even take the credit. Ah, well.

But, gentle reader, don't get too offended at their antics. After all, they are kind enough to give a home in their comment thread to at least one known sockpuppet.

If you have any further doubts about the veracity of my words, just look at how quickly Chuckles Sykes left Bruce out to hang. I don't know Chuck, but I'd have to say the damage is done. Perhaps I will have to talk to a lawyer after all. After all, even Patrick admits that spoofery has been going on.

If not for your libel, then for the threats on BB's comment thread. I don't know, is trying to prevent one from using their First Amendment right by threat of force actionable?

And speaking of Illy-T, another thing he teaches us today: Not everything is on teh internets.


"I would hate to be the one to say 'I was against more jobs'" Walker said

The title of this piece is a quote from an article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding Scott Walker's plan to reinstated the economic development office. According to the article, this might be a plan that the County Board can warm up to, since many were opposed to Walker's insistence of abolishing it in the first place.

Of course, the article does not touch on the hypocrisy which Walker is known for with his ever changing stance towards the stimulus. Cory Liebmann takes this into much more depth. (Although I still think that Cory should have called his post "Scott, Scott Walker is on the line.")

Another point of interest is a memo that Walker issued today. Apparently, County Board Supervisors were wanting to know more details on how Walker's plan would work before committing to it. Walker responded this way:
Milwaukee County Works - the accelerated building program in my 2010 county budget - will provide $395 million to the capital improvements program. This will fund more than 100 projects that will provide more than 1,000 jobs – all at a time when we need jobs the most in this community.

Just so it is clear: our accelerated building program - through the use of Build America bonds - saves the county up to $3 million. And the county's outstanding debt will be 28% lower in 2012 than in 2002.

Finally, while I appreciate the fact that many of the Supervisors are interested in our
Milwaukee County Works plan, the best thing that can be done to protect and create jobs is to join me in supporting a budget with no levy increase.
In other words, just shut up, stop asking questions, and do what I tell you.

What makes it dreadfully ironic is that I recently heard that Walker is planning on laying off nearly 400 workers at the end of the year. To avoid having to pay anyone vacation time in 2010, they would have to be laid off no later than the last complete pay period of the year. This year, the last full pay period ends on December 26th. That means lay off notices, if they do happen, will be issued on December 11, giving a two week notice. This means that hundreds of people will be literally laid off on Christmas Day.

Shades of Christmases past.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Answer In, More Questions Arise

Out of the three emails I sent out yesterday regarding the MCF post asking if the County sponsored the AFP Tea Party Rally, I received one reply.

Unfortunately, it raised more questions than it answered, but that is to be expected since the reply came from Walker's office. They do love to confabulate there.

Besides the questions raised in that one post, there are a couple of other observations.

Asking the question sure stirred up a couple of hornet nests, including the Walker-fansite and Badger Blogger, who can't tell official logos from mock ups. [Oh, and Bruce, the word is Whallah! ;)] Even Fred "Watermelon seeds" Dooley had to chime up.

Quite a bit of attention for a group that was "never going to get off the ground."

The other observation is that that Walker-fansite must have amazing timing. They posted their blog only 12 minutes after the email hit MCF's inbox. It must be amazing timing, because whoever heard of Walker's office colluding with anyone? Right?


It is possible:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wally World And Government Run Health Care

Brewtown Gumshoe has the numbers, but as I have stated before, Wally World is the biggest beneficiary of government run health care with over 1600 people receiving tax-payer-funded health care benefits. This is in spite of, and partially contributing to, the fact that Wally World makes some of the largest profits in the country and the world.

Also of note is that Aurora Health Care also makes the top three in making their profits at our expense, twice over.

Thanks For Nothing, Ted

Yeah, Favre's real washed up, isn't he?

Next Monday should be real interesting.

Did Milwaukee County Sponsor The AFP Tea Party Rally?

Here is a post that I wrote at Milwaukee County First. It does raise some interesting questions:

It has come to our attention recently that the logo for the Milwaukee County Parks appeared on at least one of the banners at the Americans For Prosperity-sponsored Tea Party Rally, which was held at the lake front on September 19th.

This is evidenced by a photo reprinted here, with full permission of the photographer:

AFP Milw Co Banner

AFP banner with Milw. Co. Parks logo far left center.

The fact that the Parks logo appears on the banner could very well lead on to think that Milwaukee County endorsed and/or sponsored this event, which would not be legal. It is bad enough that we had two County elected officials there, especially with the violence, but if someone authorized the illegal endorsement of a political event, that needs to be addressed.

I have sent out emails of inquiry to County Executive Scott Walker, Parks Director Sue Black and to Americans for Prosperity to find out if the use of the logo was authorized and if so, who authorized it. If it was not authorized, it will be interesting to see what actions Milwaukee County will take to correct the misperception that someone from the County actually endorsed a political event such as this.

At the site which is the source of the photo, a commenter claims that it is required by the county parks to have their logo displayed. On the surface, it causes doubt. What if some group like the KKK or other blatantly outrageous group wanted to have an event at a park. Would the County really want any association with it? However, in the interest of fairness, we will look into this claim as well.

I will keep the reader informed as I receive their responses, hopefully in a timely fashion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Chance To Save The County Grounds!

I just posted about this on Milwaukee County First.

There is a chance for the county grounds to be saved. MCF also has suggestions on how UWM could have its engineering school on a place that would be less expensive, as that all the infrastructure is already in place, the County can fill some of the hole of the projected deficit, and how the County Board and Scott Walker can actually finally keep a promise they made to the people of Milwaukee County.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Initial Thoughts Regarding Walker's Proposed 2010 Budgets

These are just my initial reactions to a preliminary look through Scott Walker's proposed budget for 2010. As is my wont, I will be examining them more closely in the days to come, covering them by sections.

When I first read Walker's campaign speech budget address, I will admit that I was impressed. There were some good news in there indeed, such as the restoration of some key services. Needless to say, I was dismayed about Walker's hopes to try to balance his budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly and, yes, the workers, such as myself. More on the workers part in a little bit.

Dan Cody shows that Walker is proposing his fancy water parks in the suburbs at the cost of several pools, including the two indoor pools, and the community centers. This will not gain him any favors with the elderly or the poor.

Cory Liebmann and Harris Kane discuss how Walker seems to have suddenly become a tax and spender, like those he just criticized at last weekend's Teabaggerfest.

Walker also cuts several bus routes, including at least one serving the poorest neighborhoods, in favor of a rapid transit bus that will serve a school that will probably never be built.

Speaking of which, I am hearing from more and more sources that the UW-Tosa deal for the county grounds is going to fall through. I hope that the County Board shows enough sense not to count on that money anymore.

I did notice that it appears Walker has reversed himself on closing one of the units serving disabled adults at the mental health complex. Since I am the only one to have written about it, to the best of my knowledge, I take at least some of the credit for putting that pressure on.

It is good to see that Walker, after months and months of decrying the stimulus money, is now embracing it to rectify some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance and the disrepair that comes with it. Furthering his hypocrisy, he is also using the stimulus dollars to put the burden on taxpayers for years to come, despite saying how he thought that was a bad idea. And to put the cherry on this hypocrisy sundae, he is taking credit for the hard work the County Board did just to shut him up and get the stimulus dollars he didn't want in the first place.

Walker is also taking credit for Family Care, which was actually ordered by Governor Doyle to happen statewide. And by the way, it will take three years, not two. He really should have been paying more attention to his county instead of the state.

The fact that Walker is trying to balance his budget on the workers' backs during contract negotiations shows his lack of understanding and/or lack of respect for the laws governing such issues. All the union has to do, if push comes to shove is go to arbitration, which will end up costing jobs and cuts in services, but will also cost the County a pretty penny.

Also, as with the Income Maintenance programs, if Walker cuts services too much, the state will come in and take over these programs as well. There is already a class action lawsuit against DHHS for failing to provide services in a timely fashion to disabled adults.

On a similar note, I heard from a birdie today that Walker has sent a letter to the Board, asking for a special meeting to immediately implement the reduced work hours plan he had tried a few months ago. This time he learned his lesson, and is only asking for the four weeks as allowed under the old contract. The new one that he has threatened to veto would have given him six weeks to play with.

Walker also wants five days of furlough for non-represented employees, the birdie told me. I wonder if that would include his own staff.

And to top it off, Walker already has identified the 300-400 workers he wants laid off at year's end. Any guesses if I am on the list?

The County Board dropped a bomb on themselves today as well, when they voted to lay over the contract for AFSCME, after they approved two others that included raises, where AFSCME didn't. One of the bigger hypocrites was Supervisor Pat Jursik. She gave her fellow lawyers a raise, and is pushing to spend a wad of money on the underutilized Hoan Bridge, but thinks it's outrageous that a housekeeper or parks worker making $12 or $14 an hour gets to keep their job.

The other big hypocrite is Supervisor Johnny Thomas, who is a member of the Personnel Committee and voted for the contract in committee, but turned around and voted for the layover. But then again, it appears that he is pushing for some higher position himself, as evidenced by his "Road Map for Milwaukee County's Future." And like Paul Ryan's road map, it is a bunch of words that don't say anything.

The Busy Season And Our Voices Are Being Heard

Tomorrow, Scott Walker will be presenting his proposed budget for 2010. It is expected to have lots of services funded, on the condition of unrealistic concessions from the unions and the tax payers. This would be his eighth straight budget that has a the sole goal of not taking any responsibility for it. Fortunately, his budget will be moot if the contract for AFSCME is approved.

But the true grass roots group, Milwaukee County First, of which I proudly am the chair, has been working hard to help the County and the tax payers. Tonight, I show why the sales tax for transit is so important and some of the ways it will improve our local economy.

But the greatest bit of news is that State Representative Sinicki has a bill in front of the Assembly that would have a half-cent sales tax to provide direct funding for the parks, culture and recreation. The bill includes language including the property tax relief. Great big kudos to her for hearing the people and honoring their voices.

This is a great example of what can happen when community members form a real grassroots group to promote the betterment of their community.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another Hurdle Cleared, Some Still Want To Waste Tax Dollars

This morning, there was a special joint session of the County Board's Personnel Committee and the Finance and Audit Committee. One of the topics was the AFSCME contract agreement.

Each committee passed it 5-2. The four no votes came from Supervisors Schmitt, Cesarz, Borkowski and Jursik.

If I lived in one of those supervisors districts, I'd be mightily sore that they refused to save tax payers millions of dollars.

Cesarz' vote doesn't surprise me, since the proof that he has problems with money management keeps growing, but I would love to know what possible rationale the others used to waste tax payers money.

If this contract doesn't get passed, it goes to arbitration, which will probably end up with raises and better benefits for the union, which will in turn cause lay offs and a reduction in services. This will lead to more lawsuits and yet more millions of dollars being wasted. Where is the sense in that?

ADDENDUM: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirms that Walker is upset about the thought of giving up his grandstanding opportunity. For the past week or so, Walker said that a pay freeze wasn't enough. The union gave him more than just a pay freeze, but now he is claiming he needs to privatize services. Since privatization has yet to work out for the county in any field, this only raises the question of to whom did he promise these contracts.

The article also shows that Supervisor Pat Jursik is against giving up lay off rights. I'm sorry, but since she was on the Personnel committee and regularly voted to give special appointments raises totaling in the hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million, of dollars, maybe she should revisit some of those choices before she demands more from the unions.

Call your County Board Supervisor and tell them to save services and tax payer dollars by approving the contract.

MJS Editorial Board Contradicts Itself

Earlier this year, when Scott Walker tried to revive his desire to dismantle county government, the Editorial Board at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found the thought "intriguing":

The Lubar and Walker suggestions are intriguing. As Walker said in a news release Monday, much of the work of county government overlaps the work of local municipalities and state government. Some services, such as the courts, human services functions or policing the freeways, could be taken over by the state. Other services could be turned over to local governments. They or new regional boards could handle, say, transit and parks.

Walker is also right in pointing out that Milwaukee County is the only county in the state entirely made up of incorporated villages and cities. There are no townships or unincorporated areas where the county necessarily fills a governance gap.

They liked the idea of breaking up one unit of government and spreading it around among the state, the municipalities and other yet-to-be-created authorities.

This morning, they take the exact opposite position by agreeing with consolidating smaller parts into a larger one:

Contracting out for police services shouldn't be the only option, though. Other promising avenues could be partnering with other governments on purchasing or services, consolidating or sharing certain services or even merging communities, as has been suggested in the past for the city and village of Pewaukee and the town and city of Brookfield.

These are hard times, but they are also times of opportunity. It is just at such times that smart officials can come up with creative solutions that provide the right services at the right price.

Come on, people, it's one or the other. One simply cannot have it both ways.

For the record, if one had to choose, I still believe that consolidating the county and all of its municipality into one body is the smarter choice. It would help alleviate costs and promote more efficient use and provision of services. That said, I also still think that it is not very feasible to do at this time.

Walker Backer FAIL, # 2 & 3

Those wacky kids at ScottforGov.com are not failing to disappoint with their antics.

First, we have the mysterious "Scott Walker for Governor" person putting up a post calling the grammar police on Mark Neumann.

Sorry, kid, but the grammar police are still doing the scene of the crime investigation on a piece by Walker from five months ago. But we appreciate the sediment.

In a second post, this one by "concertina," the laughs keep coming.

Concertina starts her barrage complaining, rightfully so, about the money being squandered by the state on non-functional computer programs. What his totally missed is Walker's own computer programming error, Ceridian.

Concertina is also correct in her outrage over the recently discovered DNA mess up at the state level. I wonder if there was similar outrage when Walker failed to properly manage the House of Correction and then abdicated those responsibilities.

But the real hoot comes in concertina's third gripe:
The Doyle-Lawton Administration's Department Children and Families cannot stop paying money to day care con artist Latasha Jackson even after it revoked her day care license.
I'm still waiting for the post condemning Walker for being in charge of that one:

On Friday, county officials escorted Laurice Lincoln - the administrative coordinator responsible for approving the $25,000 payment to Latasha Jackson - from the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services, three sources said Monday.

County officials would not say if Lincoln had been suspended or fired, or what discipline she may have received. They did confirm that Lincoln, who was familiar with the Jackson case, handled the paperwork that triggered the payment by the state.

With this kind of backing, Neumann can just coast for a year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Walker Backer FAIL, #1

Aaron Rodriguez, or A-Rod, as he likes to refer to himself, is at it again. In his fear of a pro-Milwaukee County group, Milwaukee County First, of which I am chair, he reaches new heights of desperation and hilarity as he tries to support his gubernatorial choice, Scott Walker.

First, he takes umbrage with a post from one of my colleagues, Jason Haas, regarding Walker's questionable decision to appear at a recent anti-health care, anti-Obama rally. Rodriguez feels that this was a wholesome thing for Walker to do, even though there were people with inappropriate and nutty signs like the classic Obama=Hitler signs as evidence in the video on Dan Cody's site.

But the funny part is when Rodriguez writes this (emphasis mine):

The above quote from Milwaukee County First shows they are willing to use a "run first and check later" philosophy when utilizing sources, especially when it means taking a swipe at Scott Walker. And this isn't the first time that MCF has done this. There petition drive for saving Milwaukee County programs was predicated upon an alleged cut to the county's EMS funding. This, of course, was based upon "leaked" information that the county might withhold $3 million from the county's paramedic program. Without wasting time, MCF drew up a petition stating that people in Milwaukee County would not receive paramedic services for medical services if the funding were cut. What happened? Well, Scott Walker committed to fund the EMS program, and MCF has yet to remove these scare tactics from their petition.

The "leaked" information was for anyone to see in this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee County, which contributed $3 million this year toward providing paramedic services throughout the county, has made its initial funding proposal for paramedic services for 2010.

The amount: zero.

Apparently this rumor was so secret that the municipal mayors and village presidents felt compelled to pass a resolution asking for the restoration of this funding.

In a second post trying to diminish the growing group that Rodriguez had said would never get off the ground, he tries an old right wing trick with a new twist. Often, right wing bloggers will link to each other's opinion pieces to prove that their own opinion is valid. Rodriguez, apparently unable to find anyone else to agree with, links to his own opinion piece to verify his opinions. It's sort of like, "I said so, so it must be true," type of rationalization.

When Rodriguez wrote the post which he cites, I questioned him on how he would align two opposing statements from Walker. The exchange looked like this:

As you can see, I asked him if he thought Walker would use the money from the federal government to preserve routes or to build his dedicated line for a school that would probably never be built. Rodriguez admitted that it was "probably the latter."

The question now is: Is Rodriguez calling himself a liar when he says that Walker won't cut routes. You can see why he likes Walker so much. They have the same problem of not being able to remain consistent.

Rodriguez makes one more point worth noting. He questions why we didn't cite Supervisor Rice in his press release commending Walker for his dedication to mental health services. What Rodriguez fails to tell his reader is that I had addressed it. The reason I didn't address it at MCF, is unlike Rodriguez, we don't publish false propaganda.

AFSCME Does Their Part, Will Scott Walker?

Last week, I wrote about how Scott Walker has been sabotaging and delaying efforts to get a contract done between the County and AFSCME, the county's largest union. Like he did with the nurses union, Walker was hoping to give the AFSME members a small raise, and then lay off many workers. Some sources stated that the number could be well over 500 workers would be laid off. (For disclaimer purposes, let it me noted that I am an active member in the union.)

I am pleased to announce that despite all the delays and the setbacks, the union voted today and has ratified the tentative contract by better than a 2 to 1 ratio.

This contract is very similar to the one that was ratified by AFSCME members and the common council of the City of Milwaukee.

The county contract is for two years, 2009 and 2010. There will be no pay raises. Union members will, however, be paying more for their health insurance. The union also stipulated that the County could do reduced work hours, meaning 35 hour work weeks for up to six weeks. In other words, county workers could be given mandatory, unpaid time off totaling 30 hours. The union also gave up some other contractual rights as well.

In exchange, the workers received a clause that included no lay offs, no privatization and no furloughs. (Personally, I would have rather had the full days off, but the services still need to be provided, so this is a reasonable compromise).

The County Board will be having a special joint session of the Finance and Audit Committee and the Personnel Committee Wednesday morning to discuss and hopefully accept this contract. If approved, the contract goes in front of the entire Board on Thursday.

The question is how will County Executive Scott Walker respond. He could acknowledge the sacrifice being made by the county workers and accept the contract. But there are many, including myself, that are afraid that Walker's monomaniacal obsession with his campaign will not allow him to accept this gift and veto it out of fear of appearing not tough enough on the unions.

If Walker then does indeed veto it, the contract will then go again in front of the entire County Board to see if they would override his veto. Frankly, I don't know if there would be enough votes to override a veto, but I do believe it would be close one way or the other.

If Walker does veto it, and the Board fails to override it, I believe that the contract will probably go to full arbitration. Given what was accepted today, and the current economy, I can't imagine Walker getting anything else passed. But one never can tell.

But if Walker does veto it, I would love to see how he explains that saving millions of dollars isn't good enough. Or how he would try to get more out of an arbitrator. The same goes for the County Board if they fail to override the expected veto.

Milwaukee County, Scott Walker Is On The Line

With all due apologies to Cory Liebmann, since I am stealing another one of his shticks:

One has to wonder if Scott Walker is going to call up his own county or the feds to complain about them making him look all wet on the stimulus issue. Again.

From the Business Journal:

The Milwaukee County Department of Transportation and Public Works has been awarded a federal grant of $210,000 in stimulus funds to invest in environmentally friendly technologies, the Obama administration said Monday.

Specifically, the city agency will use the grant to purchase gasoline-electric hybrid vans to replace gasoline-powered vans used by transit supervisors. DPW's project was one of 43 winning projects nationwide to win a share of $100 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds for pursuing cutting-edge environmental technologies to help reduce global warming, lessen America’s dependence on oil and create green jobs.

“Milwaukee is showing how investing in green transportation not only helps the planet and strengthens our economy, but also creates jobs,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

He really must be getting tired of making all these phone calls.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Privatize The Zoo?

Scott Walker is now throwing the idea of privatizing the zoo. This is as bad as his idea of privatizing the airport or the privatization of the museum.

I point that out, as well as some other concerns, at Milwaukee County First.

But I can see it now if Walker were to get his way and the zoo was privatized.

Due to increased concerns about the bottom line, people would be forced to pay ever higher admission prices, but the animals would all be gone, except for one dog.

Yup, it'd be a real shih tzu.

Clarke Wants Wisconsin To Be A Police State

Sacre merde! Owen Robinson got one we can agree on.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is out of his ever-loving mind:

Wisconsin should join 15 other states and collect DNA samples when defendants are booked into county jails, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. said Sunday.

Sheriff's office employees already take photos and fingerprints at that time, he said. Adding DNA collection to their list of responsibilities would streamline the process and ensure that more criminals don't slip through the cracks as did suspected serial killer Walter E. Ellis.

As Owen points out it is unconstitutional and, I might add, unethical, to take one's DNA without due process. Just besides the potential for some megalomaniac like Clarke having everyone's DNA, which is scary enough with the potential for abuse of power, even with the new methods, it is an intrusive procedure and thereby would be illegal and an infringement of one's rights, unless consented to by a competent adult.

I just bet that he didn't say that he wanted any of this power to invade people's privacy and persons when he was talking in front of the lunatic fringe on Saturday.

But the scary part is that it's not just Clarke that wants to violate our rights. Owen also points out that there is a bill in the works to do just the very thing.

Unemployment is Broke?

Just what I didn't need to see when my wife is laid off and Scott Walker is trying to sell my clients to the highest campaign donor:

State's unemployment insurance fund is broke

The Twit Off: First Blood

Cory Liebmann started off watching the Twitter battle between Scott Walker and Mark Neumann.
He got me hooked to the point where I wrote a version of "The Twit Off" myself.

I notice now that at least Mark Neumann has used Twitter to promote an increase in aggression in the Great Big Twit Off. He and his campaign team have been using twitter to promote a piece he put up on his campaign site.

For the most part, Neumann expounds on what is wrong with the state government. But he does not stop without taking a swing at Walker's track record in Milwaukee County:
And finally, also in Section B there's an article stating that Milwaukee County is increasing it's borrowing in order to capitalize on more stimulus money. In addition, MKE County budget analysts are projecting a $78 million budget deficit in the next fiscal year, and increasing to over $150 million by 2014. It goes on to state that projections include an assumed 3% annual INCREASE in County tax levies, an INCREASE in spending by 5.5%, and an increase in revenues of 3.5%. Does anyone see a problem with this? This is not that complicated, government CANNOT CONTINUE to increase spending and increase taxes to fund their bad spending habits.
This can not come as a surprise to anyone. I, as well as most anyone (and their uncle) that wasn't a Walker acolyte and/or sycophant knew that Walker was going to have a lot of problems when people actually started to take a look at his record. This will only get worse for Walker as he unveils his proposed 2010 budget.

But no matter how bad it will get for Walker, it will most likely be worse for Milwaukee County, who Walker only sees as a sacrificial lamb for his monomaniacal quest for the governor's seat.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Peter Principle And Child Welfare

I should have seen this one coming. After all, I did post this five months ago:
JSOnline is reporting that the State of Washington just hired Susan Dreyfus to head up their Department of Social and Health Services.

That is the same Susan Dreyfus that headed up the Wisconsin's Division of Children and Family Services. She's the one that hired Denise Revels Robinson and she's the one that picked the program for BMCW.

And we all know how well THAT worked out.

Pray for the children in Washington State. They're gonna need all the help they can get.
So, it should really have been no surprise to me when I saw this:

Denise Revels Robinson, who stepped aside as director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare after the Christopher Thomas scandal erupted, has been named to a top position in Washington state's Department of Social and Health Services.

The department is Washington's largest state agency and is led by Susan N. Dreyfus, who is the former administrator of Wisconsin's Division of Children and Family Services within the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. She is also the daughter-in-law of the late Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus.

To make it all the more predictable that such incompetence is rewarded, this is the 40th anniversary of the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle is pretty well summed up in this paragraph:
The Peter Principle made us laugh, but it also made us aware of the importance of simple competence—and of how elusive it could be. When people do their jobs well, Dr. Peter argued, society can't leave well enough alone. We ask for more and more until we ask too much. Then these individuals—promoted to positions in which they are doomed to fail—start using a bag of tricks to mask their incompetence. They distract us from their crummy work with giant desks, replace action with incomprehensible acronyms, blame others for failure, cheat to create the illusion of progress.
(Come to think of it, it also explains Scott Walker.)

At least not all in the great State of Washington are blindly traipsing along. After Revels-Robinson mucked up the child welfare system in Minnesota and here in Milwaukee County, her reputation is starting to precede her. From the political blog at The Olympian:

But state employees are leery out of the blocks. The Washington Federation of State Employees put out this statement:

WFSE/AFSCME has serious concerns about the appointment today of Denise Revels Robinson as assistant secretary for DSHS Children's Administration. Time will tell if it's the best decision for the children of Washington state.

Revels Robinson headed the troubled Milwaukee Child Welfare System in Wisconsin.

There are a few other things to point out from this article.

Where it cites Revels-Robinson's credentials as having reduced the number of children in foster care, that is simply playing games with the statistics. There were not that many reunifications with families. That is simply reflective of the number of children that were recategorized when they counted Kinship cases differently. Kinship is when children are placed in a relative's home as opposed to a licensed foster home. Christopher L. Thomas and his sister were Kinship placements.

The other thing that cracked me up was the bureaucratic apologist trying to explain the hiring of this baby killer, claiming that there was a "nationwide search" and "external and internal panels." Knowing how Dreyfus operates, she probably called up Robinson as soon as she found that there would be an opening.

I just wonder which came first, the phone call or Robinson stepping down from her post here.

In related news, State Senator Bob Jauch* and State Representative Tamara Grigsby are introducing a new bill that would make incidents of abuse and neglect of foster children more open to scrutiny, which is a good thing.

A better thing would have been a bill to actually fix the system.

*State Senator Alberta Darling, who spearheaded the creation of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare and has been in the steering committee since day one, still hasn't done one thing to fix the system. Either she is OK with dead babies or she was too busy on the golf courses and trying to take stimulus dollars from the needy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

They Should Write For Cog Dis

From County Supervisors Elizabeth Coggs and Peggy West:
Milwaukee County Supervisors Peggy A. West and Elizabeth M. Coggs are responding to the County Executive’s series of media announcements regarding his 2010 Budget proposal.

“Even though County Executive Scott Walker is tentatively scheduled to present his 2010 Budget proposal to the County Board on September 24th, he appears to be directing his department heads to manufacture crisis situations so that he can come in and ‘save the day.’ Earlier this year, County Executive Walker ordered all of his department heads to submit budget requests with steep cuts, to cover what the County Executive believes is a $90 million budget hole for 2010,” said Supervisor West. “Fair enough, but for the County Executive to hold a series of public events announcing that he is reversing all of the cuts proposed by his own department heads (to make himself look better) is ridiculous and unacceptable to me and many of the constituents we represent on the County Board. We are facing extremely difficult financial decisions, and it is inappropriate for the County Executive to give a false sense of security to some groups over others. No one is safe in the 2010 Budget. The County Board will allocate dollars where the needs are the greatest. The County Executive’s decision to make promises to some groups over others only impedes our ability to do that.”

Supervisor Coggs, Chair of the Finance & Audit Committee, expressed disappointment that the County Executive barred his cabinet heads from attending any of the Committee’s budget listening sessions, forbidding them from hearing the concerns of Milwaukee County residents and taxpayers. “Let’s not forget that it was the County Executive who demanded that his department heads turn in budgets with extremely painful cuts. This is a playbook manufactured by Scott Walker’s campaign to portray him as a knight in shining armor saving the day in Milwaukee County. In fact, this plan is so clever that his own department heads and the news media don’t even realize they are playing right into it. Well, we’re not buying it,” Supervisor Coggs added. “We have true needs in Milwaukee County, and we will not turn our backs on the residents of Milwaukee County. We must be creative and work together in developing long-term solutions that allow us to preserve vital programs, save tax dollars and limit the impact on the roughly 5,500 employees and their families in Milwaukee County. We ask for help from the County Executive, his department heads and all Milwaukee County residents throughout this budget process.”
Of course, I would have to teach them to stop pulling their punches.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yup, It's Time

Let's see.

My wife's birthday was Wednesday. She got laid off yesterday due to mercenary business tactics.

There is going to be a whole ton of nutters running around Milwaukee, some with guns.

The weather is supposed to be beautiful. The fall colors are just starting to pop.

Yup, it's time.

See you Sunday. Maybe.

Line Of The Day

Grumps gets straight to the point:

I've Named My Flu Shot

I call it, "Joe Wilson."

After all, it's just a little prick that's temporarily puffed up and irritating but in a week or so I won't even remember it.

Not A Good Selling Point

Scott Walker is now bragging about being at tomorrow's tea party.

Given all the racism, threats and general nuttiness, does he think this will really help him.

Mark Neumann must be laughing his butt off right about now.

I wonder who will be the one to get a picture of Walker with a Nazi poster.

AFTERWORD: I was just wondering how these teabaggers would really react if they knew the truth about Walker.

Just like with David Clarke, it seems to me that it is rather hypocritical for someone that takes stimulus dollars, and brags about taking tons of other tax dollars, to stand in front of this group and say that government taxes too much and spends too much.

Walker: Desperately Seeking Scapegoats

Full disclaimer: I am a Milwaukee County Employee and active in my union's local.

In less than a week, Scott Walker will officially present his proposed 2010 county budget. As in every previous year, Walker will royally screw it up in an effort to preserve the pretense that he is sticking to his campaign promise of not raising taxes, even though he really is raising them.

The County Board, who actually listens to the taxpayers on how the money should be spent, will try to correct his budget as much as possible, restoring services that Walker considers expendable, like aiding the poor, the elderly and the disabled. Unfortunately, this usually also involves a nominal tax increase.

Then Walker goes out and plays the martyr, pretending to have "fought the good fight" and blaming the County Board for doing what he knew he should have done all along. Besides scapegoating the Board, he will also blame Governor Jim Doyle, the unions and probably even President Barack Obama. In Walker's world, it is always somebody else's fault.

But this year is going to be an exceptionally tense and ugly budget process. This is for three main reasons:
  1. The economy is still struggling to get out of the hole that Bush/Cheney put us in,
  2. The County and AFSCME have spent most of the year trying to negotiate a contract, and
  3. Walker is in the fight for his political life as he again runs for governor.
The state of the economy would have been less of a concern if Walker hadn't dinked around for several months regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus dollars). Walker first made a grab at national attention by stating in a nationwide column that he was not going to accept any stimulus dollars. When he realized how stupid he sounded, and what a bad idea it was, he started to back pedal on this position, and then came up with some silly "conditions" on what he expected before taking stimulus dollars. He did this, of course, even though he did not have the legal authority to do so.

Fortunately the County Board quickly grew tired of his obstructionism and just ran him over and the County has been benefiting ever since.

As for the gubernatorial run, well, he has been doing that for seven years, so it is really nothing new. However, Walker has already shown the edge of desperation this year. If he fails to win the governor's race, his political career is basically over. Oh, he will have a job being the coffee-fetcher for Michael Grebe or something. But when he loses, his status as being a lifelong politician will be over.

That leads to the union contract negotiations. Due to the crappy economy and Walker's desperation, the union was caught between a rock and a hard place. And we realized it too.

That is why we were eager to get the contract, which was due at the end of last year, negotiated and settled so that this wouldn't be hanging over anyone's head by this time of the year.

Unfortunately, Walker felt that quickly resolving the contract was not to his best political advantage. I had throughout the year called for Walker to stop his shenanigans and to sit down and do some honest bargaining. He refused.

Three months ago, showing how things were going, I wrote this:
Walker has used this supposed crisis to help push along the ill-advised sale of the county grounds. He has used this supposed crisis to try to force the unions into an indefinite furlough and to accept hundreds of layoffs, to show how tough he can be as a leader. As a wise man once told me, a rule of thumb in politics is that you can always win more votes running against the union than you can get running with them.

It just so happens that the County is again in negotiations with the unions, and have been since last fall. However, Walker has not allowed the county's labor negotiators to sit down and work with the unions to hammer out an agreement. I cannot go into specifics at this time, as that the contract talks are still supposed to be going on, and given that I am a county employee and active in the union (but not on the negotiating committee), but I will say this much: Walker is lying through his teeth about what is happening between the County and the unions. When the contracts are signed, trust me, I will tell you the whole story.
Guess what. There is now a tentative contract that the union will be voting on next Tuesday, and I have now received clearance to speak on all of this.

In short, the tentative contract is rather similar to the one that the County Board Personnel Committee had originally authorized to be proposed at the beginning of the year. However, something happened on the way from the county board to the negotiating table, and the offer was altered into something that Walker knew the union would refuse.

This happened twice.

Then Walker went campaigning for days and weeks at a time, slowing down the contract proposal even more. Walker also did a delaying tactic by trying the illegal furloughs and continuous threats of layoffs. In fact, during the entire year, Walker has habitually practiced unfair labor practices by trying to negotiate the contract through the public media, such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Charlie Syke's radio show. This has happened as recently as this past week.

The reasoning behind Walker's game-playing was to paint the unions as being the heavies and to force the unions into either extreme concession, much like what recently happened at Mercury Marine, and/or give him an excuse to cut hundreds of workers. This way he could privatize services to his campaign backers and present himself on a statewide basis as being for the taxpayer, hoping they wouldn't see through his charade.

County Supervisor John Weishan also saw through Walker's smoke and mirror routine and said as much in a recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

[Walker] said a two-year pay freeze proposal for the county's largest union might not be enough to keep the budget balanced next year. Walker has warned of a potential $90 million shortfall in 2010 and the possible need for layoffs or county employee pay and benefit cuts.

Supervisor John Weishan Jr. said such remarks from Walker undercut negotiations with District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The board's Personnel Committee voted Tuesday to extend an offer to District Council 48 that includes a pay freeze through this year in exchange for a no-layoff guarantee.

If union employees accept the deal, it could set the stage for a showdown with Walker and lead to the contract issue going to a potentially more costly decision from an arbitrator, Weishan said.

"Walker's saying, 'I'm going to fund all these programs,' then say unrealistically, 'It's all the employees' fault for not taking wage and benefit concessions,' " Weishan said.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, the union and the County now have a tentative agreement on a contract.

However, the agreement goes beyond just the pay freeze that Walker is alluding to. The contract is for two years, 2009 and 2010. There is no pay raises for either year. There is an increase in what employees pay for health care, both in premiums and in copays. The copays for out of network providers really jumped up. This will affect mostly county retirees that have moved out of Milwaukee County, either up state or out of the state.

There is also language that would allow up to six weeks of reduced work time. In other words, by county resolution, all union workers, except for those in 24 hour per day, seven days per week jobs (like Sheriff's Deputies, Corrections Officers and workers at the mental health complex) will have their hours reduced to 35 hours per week for up to six weeks.

In other words, the unions, if they ratify this contract, will be voluntarily giving up two years of raises, paying more for their health care, and also giving up up to 30 hours of pay. In exchange, the unions are only asking to be allowed to keep their jobs.

Now I realize that for some people, the ones that just flat out hate unions and/or government workers, this won't be enough. But for those people, nothing would be enough. They would also be the first ones having a fit when the services they want are also cut.

For the record, I am planning on voting yes to this contract, and I strongly urge all of my union brothers and sisters to do the same.

As an end note, there is a new blog by rabid, pseudonymous and semi-literate Walker sycophants that just cannot believe that anyone would or could agree to a contract with a no-layoff clause. It just seems impossible to them and their anonymous commenter. I guess that only means that Mayor Tom Barrett has again shown himself to be a much more competent and able leader than Scott Walker.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crazy Talk From Joe Rice

I had almost spit soda all over my monitor when I read this press release from Milwaukee County Supervisor Joe Rice:
Milwaukee County Supervisor Joseph Rice today expressed support for County Executive Scott Walker’s budget provisions which maintain core services in Milwaukee County without raising taxes.

Earlier this week the County Executive announced that he intends to maintain, and in some cases moderately increase, funding for safety net programs such as homeless shelters, disability, and other services relied upon by vulnerable Milwaukee County residents.

“This is welcome news from the County Executive who is to be commended for preserving core services in Milwaukee County despite the overwhelming budget deficit facing Milwaukee County,” Rice stated. “The County’s budget shortfalls, estimated at up to $90 million, require tough decisions and the County Executive appears to be fashioning a budget that respects both the neediest of populations and county taxpayers.”

The County Executive announced on separate occasions his intention to fully maintain funding for low income families, children and disabled individuals. His budget is anticipated to preserve core services and increase the Family Care Program to cover persons with disabilities between the ages 18-59 without raising taxes on county families at an economic juncture when they can ill afford it.

“Contrary to the recent assertions, the dire fiscal constraints and crises throughout Milwaukee County departments remain real and significant. To his credit, the County Executive’s recommended budget addresses this crisis in a way that will cause the least harm,” Rice added.
Just a few problems with your statements there, Joey. One of the biggest problems is the lack of truth to them.

First of all, Walker is not maintaining all of the services for the cognitively disabled and the mentally ill. In fact, Walker wants to close at least one ward at the mental health complex, putting violent and/or suicidal mentally ill people into the community without sufficient support or protection. The people that are at the mental health complex aren't there just because it is a nice getaway. These people have been deemed by the courts to be a danger to themselves or to others, and so could be admitted to the mental health complex.

Another issue is that the safety net Rice refers to isn't exactly a tax free proposition. Walker himself announce that he had gotten nearly $4 million in federal tax dollars to help bolster the safety net, but this is also a one time shot, and will have recurring costs after the initial federal grant is spent.

A third issue is that, yes, while the County has started the process that will allow the disabled to receive services, it was actually Governor Doyle that ordered it and is paying for it with state tax dollars. Given Walker's repeated promise/threat to cut taxes and cut spending, one needs to seriously consider what he would do if he ever would be elected governor. Thank goodness that is unlikely.

On a related note, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this morning about the county's concern that BadgerCare will not sufficiently pay for mental health services, thereby putting the burden on the County to pick up the slack. While there is some validity to those concerns, that is not the major county faces regarding the cost of the mental health services.

The bigger problem is related to the fact that Milwaukee County is no longer able to bill Medicare for the services they provide to people. For inpatient mental health services to be reimbursed at any level, it requires that the facility have a medical component to it, such as St. Francis Hospital does.

The County used to get around that issue by forming an alliance with the local medical providers, like Froedtert. The problem is that Walker, in his usual short-sighted way, had ruined that arrangement, claiming it was too expensive, and the County lost the ability to get reimbursed for the services it provides. Now, if a person comes to the mental health complex, either voluntarily or through an emergency detention by the police, all the services come out of the tax levy.

That is the main reason that we see stories of people being turned away from the complex, or being released early, only to go out and harm themselves or others, due to the lack of treatment and follow through, because the County just can't afford it.

For the money Walker saved by allowing the accreditation and alliance with the medical hospital lapse is infinitesimal when compared to the costs to the taxpayers when compared to the cost for providing the services and for the damage done by untreated people.

This kind of fiscal irresponsibility has led to the financial problems the county finds itself in, and it will only be getting worse.

But I Thought There Was A Deficit...

Scott Walker has been beating the deficit drum for over six months now, claiming the entire time that next year, the County is facing a $90 million deficit. Of course, this is the same guy that said this year's budget deficit was $15 million, but that turned out to be far from accurate.

But in today's paper, Walker is stating that he wants to take all sorts of federal money, as well as money he doesn't have, and probably won't get, from selling the county grounds, to buy one bus, for one bus route.

As Jason Haas, my colleague at Milwaukee County First. points out, this is a ludicrous idea, considering how he wants to slash routes and raise fairs for the people that actually do need the bus to get to and from their real places of employment, not just to imaginary schools that haven't been built.

This is just yet another example of Walker putting his political goals in front of the best interest of Milwaukee County. If Walker's numbers on the deficit were in any way accurate, I can't believe that even he would be dumb enough to make this as a serious consideration.

He really needs to stop this.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Right Wing Group, Politician Throw Walker Under The Bus

This morning, in the inbox, I received what appears to be some sort of weekly update from one of the plethora of Republican front groups, Wisconsin Club for Growth. Don't ask me how I was unlucky enough to get on their mailing list, but since it only comes once a week, I'm not sweating it. Besides, I figured it would eventually provide me some blog fodder, as it did today.

In this week's issue, their top story relates to their zealousness to still go after Governor Jim Doyle. The topic du jour was Doyle's recent proposal for a RTA in southeast Wisconsin, which would obviously include the KRM rai systeml.

Copied directly from their post on this email (emphasis mine):
It would be better to address more immediate concerns.

The Governor could have assigned a higher priority to addressing the problems of Milwaukee County mass transit. Instead he wants to blow $50 million on new trains that, under present circumstances, might as well be delivered straight to the National Railroad Museum.

And there is the question whether area voters are really on board for this, as the administration claims.

State Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) has been calling for a new referendum, pointing out that Milwaukee County voters said yes to a proposal that included funding for emergency medical services and parks as well as transit.

Laying on a new sales tax now will be just the first step to bigger tax subsidies later on, Vos says, criticizing the administration for choosing to expand government’s transit commitments instead of fixing an immediate transit problem.

“The tax increases will continue to get bigger as the projects get bigger,” he warns.
As one can easily see from the highlighted parts, State Representative Robin Vos, a conservative's conservative, and WiCFG readily admit that Milwaukee County's Transit System in in deep trouble. And we all know who has been in charge of the failing system for the past seven years, but has done nothing to stop or even slow this downward spiral.

But as Chair of Milwaukee County First, I would also like to thank Representative Vos for remembering that the voters of Milwaukee County did indeed get to express their voices, despite Walker's oppressive efforts to muffle us, and that the voters did call for a sales tax to fund our transit, our parks and our EMS.

I encourage the good Representative to join Representative Grigsby and Senator Taylor in getting said sales tax authorized without delay.

And you, gentle reader, can help us put pressure on our elected officials in Madison by signing our petition calling on them to honor the will of the people.

Milwaukee Brand TEA Party Tea: Now Fortified With More Irony

The right wing of the Cheddarsphere is all abuzz with the coming of the teabaggers, Party of No, birthers, and other assorted wingnuts. Of course, this is strictly a grassroots effort, as pointed out by its loud and garish website and despite it being hosted by the misnamed Americans for Prosperity.

The list of speakers is quickly becoming to bear a close resemblance to the patient roster at Arkham Asylum, almost each worthy of a post by themselves.

One of these speakers that adds a high, possibly toxic, level of irony is Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

These TEA parties are supposed to be all about there being too many taxes and too much spending by our government. But Clarke flies in the face of all that.

This past spring, after the Milwaukee County Board had to again correct one of Scott Walker's foolish displays of grandstanding, this time about stimulus dollars, Clarke made damn sure that the Sheriff's Office was one of the first with their hands out:
Another thing that the MJS failed to report was that Sheriff's Inspector Kevin Carr, representing Sheriff David Clarke, a conservative, stated that the Sheriff's office wanted to have pursue several millions of dollars of money to replace the antiquated medical records for the jail and the House of Correction, replacing it with an updated electronic system of record keeping. He also pointed out that the Sheriff's Office needed 50 new squad cars. Inspector Carr pointed out that it would be irresponsible to ask the Board for this money in the fall if they did not avail themselves of the stimulus dollars first.
If that wasn't enough, when Walker called for the recommended budgets earlier this summer, complete with 15% cuts, Clarke not only failed to give any cuts, but then asked for another $6 million just for the House of Corrections, most of which is needed to clean up the mess of it that Walker had made when he had jurisdiction over it:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. is seeking more than $6 million to upgrade the House of Correction in Franklin, including new video surveillance equipment, an Internet-based visitation system and four security gates for closing off areas of the sprawling lockup in case of a disturbance.

The money will be part of Clarke's 2010 budget request and comes on the heels of glowing reviews he has gotten for overhauling operations at the facility since he took it over in January.

Isn't it time that everyone stop pretends that these are events of patriotism or people rebelling against what they perceive as being unfair taxes and call them what they really are: The conservatives continuation of their temper tantrum to having lost power over the last few elections and an excuse for the lunatic fringe to behave poorly.

For The Sci Fi Geek/Animal Lover In All Of Us

Animals With Lightsabers:


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Drinking Liberally - The Night Of The Petitions

From Jason Haas, Coordinator of Drinking Liberally, Secretary of Milwaukee County First, proud and lucky fiance of Stacie, and all around mensch:

Hello my friends,

The march of time is almost as steady as the march of the beer glasses at Sugar Maple, our drinking institution of choice. So, let us gather and discuss drinking! Or just have a beer and not talk about anything. It works either way.

As always, we meet on the third Wednesday of the month, which means we gather from 7PM to 9PM tomorrow, the 16th. We'll have a lot to talk about, including Milwaukee County First, and looking at what's happening in the health care debate.

Speaking of: Living Liberally has launched a petition with SEIU, calling for liquor companies to stop fighting health care reform. SEIU will donate $1 to Living Liberally for each signature they receive. Will you sign the petition (http://action.seiu.org/page/s/LivingLiberally)?


Jason & the Milwaukee DL Crew

I will be there as well, at least for a little while. Come on down, have some good beer and some good conversation, and sign the MCF petition while you're at it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Walker's Truth Squads

Scott Walker is apparently taking a page out of Sarah Palin's playbook and is developing his own truth squads.

First, there is the enigmatic site "Wisconsin Knows," which both sides of the aisle are trying to blame on the other. As a disclaimer, I did use their mass emailing in this post. In the comments, Jo Eglehoff challenged my use of that site. I mentioned that I had seen the information somewhere else. That place was at Heartland Holler, who first started to talk about Neumann's issue on this topic.

Cory Liebmann had been mentioning for a while now how vicious Walker backers are getting, especially towards Mark Neumann. He feels that WK is the handiwork of some of Walker's people.

The Chief has another theory on who the mystery author is.

I don't know the author is, and frankly, I don't care.

But if you want a good example of one of Walker's truth squads, I give you ScottForGov.com.

The site has a list of three authors: "Scott Walker For Governor," "Tom Servo," and "concerntina."

Tom Servo is also part of Retire Doyle. Other than that, I can't tell you much about any of them with any level of confidence, except that they seem to have a lot of linky love between themselves and Aaron Rodriguez.

One can easily discern that this group of merry souls is nothing more than a group of people whose only purpose is to smear anyone that is not Scott Walker, and have writing skills that can make even The Right View Wisconsin look scholarly.

Like I said, I don't know too much about them, but I have a feeling they are going to be providing us with a lot of entertainment in the future.

Walker Supporter In A Tizzy About Pro-Milwaukee County Group

I would think that by now, everyone knows that Scott Walker is the self-proclaimed front runner for the Republican nominee for governor. He has been campaigning for the past seven years, and made this run official in the spring of this year, even though he has been fund raising for well over two years now.

I would also think that by now, almost everyone realizes that Walker is running a one-trick pony of a campaign, which is dealing with taxes. Walker follows the Grover Norquist philosophy of governing, as did his hero, President George W. Bush. We all know how well Bush did or didn't do, as we still try to dig out of the deep recession Bush had led us into.

Walker's management of the county has not been any better, and in some ways, much worse, than what Bush did to the country. Apparently, it is this poor track record that has some of his most sycophantic followers besides themselves in sheer desperation.

The best example of this would be Aaron Rodriguez. He blogs at The Hispanic Conservative and at Fairly Conservative. It seems that I, and by extension, Milwaukee County First, has become a favorite target of his of late.

Rodriguez, who apparently has too much time on his hands, actually counted the number of posts I did about Walker and his mismanagement of the county. He tried to portray it as some kind of obsession on my part. I readily admit that the majority of my posts are on county-related issues, but that does stand to reason, considering that I am a county employee and active in my union. My concern is even more understandable when one considers the fact that Walker has threatened my job repeatedly, either directly or indirectly, for no other reason than he wants to be governor. Walker didn't even lighten up during the holidays, when the news that our jobs were again on the line, due to his incompetence, on the very morning of Christmas Day.

The attacks started out last week, when Rodriguez called MCF a "partisan sham." In this post, he cites Cindy Kilkenny who predicted that MCF was a front group for a recall attempt. Of course, she has been predicting that for almost a year. I still haven't heard of anything happening about that yet. Worth noting is that in the comment thread of that post, Rodriguez is the one that predicted we wouldn't even get off the ground. Gee, for a group that was sure to fail, he seems pretty obsessed with us.

Rodriguez then goes on to try to prove his point by citing a number of quotes from MCF. The problem is, he doesn't give the source for each quote. This is because, if the quote selected was put into context, the reader would easily note that Rodriguez is stretching the truth to the point of telling outright falsehoods.

Rodriguez also then goes to lament the fact that MCF is doing a petition drive to get Governor Doyle and the state legislature to pass the sales tax that voters approved of last November. Yes, you read that correctly. Rodriguez is upset because we want Governor Doyle and the state legislature to honor the will of the people. Scott Walker is mentioned nowhere in our post announcing the petition drive, or in the petition itself.

Despite this, Rodriguez considers this a threat to Walker. Perhaps this is because Rodriguez does really recognize the fact that Walker has not done a good job for the majority of the people in Milwaukee County. Maybe it is just because Rodriguez does not want the citizens of Milwaukee County to have a decent transit system, beautiful and safe parks, the ability to receive emergency medical care from paramedics, or to have some much needed property tax relief.

Rodriguez continues with the laughable position that there is nothing wrong with our transit system, our parks or the EMS. Even though the commenters on his post go to great pains to point out where he is wrong, Rodriguez refuses to acknowledge the truth.

Apparently, Rodriguez also disagrees with the Public Policy Forum, who had been warning us of the pending disaster in our transit system for a year and a half. He must also think that there is nothing wrong with having part of our parks system being the hottest spot for toxic PCBs in the state. He also fails to note that the funding for the emergency medical system has been put in jeopardy year after year as the state continues to underfund its mandates on Milwaukee County.

This year, it was only the public and private pressure put on him by groups like MCF that got Walker to reject the foolish thought of cutting all funding for the EMS. But instead of acknowledging the need to maintain such a valuable service like , Rodriguez is the one that tries, and fails, to somehow make it look like a short-coming on our part. In this post, Rodriguez claims to be a paramedic. I am sure he is a fine paramedic. But he should really speak to his municipal leaders or his union leaders on what would happen if the County were to cease all funding before he embarrasses himself further.

Rodriguez then starts going downhill at a faster pace. In a post personally attacking me for not having the public speaking skills of a career politician, he makes this very telling statement (emphasis mine):
Chris Liebenthal, founder of Milwaukee County First, is wrong because he employs "absolute" verbiage in his statement; and absolute verbiage is easy to dismantle. For instance, it's not always important to listen to taxpayers. If it were always important to listen to taxpayers, then nobody would be working at the Milwaukee County Office because they would be holding listening sessions 7 days a week. Always listening to taxpayers is no more true than always listening to your boss. It just depends on what the situation is. If Liebenthal had said that it was sometimes or very important to listen to taxpayers, then he would be correct.
Huh? It's not important to listen to the taxpayers? If this is why he backs Walker's campaign so strongly, it says a lot about what type of politician Walker is. And isn't the allegation of not listening to the taxpayers the reason why we are seeing all of the tea parties around the country? Rodriguez apparently thinks that all of those people are fools and should just shut up.

In summary, it appears that Rodriguez, and other Walker supporters, are so nervous about Walker's chances of getting to the governor's seat, that they are seeing bogeymen everywhere they go. Even a group that is simply trying to advocate for Milwaukee County and its citizens is perceived as such a dire threat that they need to continuously attack it.

Perhaps it is because they recognize the fact that now that Doyle is not going to be running, Walker will be forced to run on his own track record, which includes a failing transit system, a terribly reduced park system, support programs having to be taken away due to mismanagement, a refusal to accept stimulus dollars that are helping everyone, a refusal to take any sort of responsibility for the consequences of his actions and choices, and a long, long trail of hypocrisy.

However, if they are so concerned that our advocating for Milwaukee County and its people is such a threat, they should also urge Walker to start making better choices, putting Milwaukee County before his personal and political aspirations. Then we wouldn't have anything to complain about, would we?

ADDENDUM: He still doesn't get it, does he?