Sunday, January 31, 2010

Another Responsible, Law-Abiding Citizen

We already met one responsible, law-abiding citizen who used his concealed carry gun to commit murder.

Thanks to Las Vegas Dan, we learn of another one (emphasis mine):
An assistant preschool teacher was shot and killed Friday as she was leaving the school to go home.

Tetyana Nikitina, 34, died when Mary Nance Hanson, 70, fired several shots at her as Nikitina drove away, said Unified Police Lt. Don Hutson. Hanson then reloaded and allegedly fired several more rounds.


Nikitina had just left the school for the day and got into her car when Hanson approached her and opened fire, Hutson said.

Hanson, armed with a .38-caliber revolver, unloaded her gun into the car as Nikitina sat in the driver's seat and began to pull away. Hanson then reloaded and continued firing through the car at close range, he said.

The revolver typically holds five rounds. Police would not say how many shots they believe were fired.


When asked if the alleged shooter had any signs of impairment or illness, Hutson said, "She looked coherent. She made appropriate (answers) when we asked her questions."

Hanson was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Friday for investigation of murder. She is a concealed weapons permit holder, and her most recent address is in Taylorsville. Investigators found her car parked about a mile away from the crime scene, Hutson said.

These stories keep popping up everywhere. Which made it initially kind of difficult to understand why the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Editorial Board would say that they are now suddenly in favor of CCW, which they've been against for years. And then it dawned on me, their pet candidate Scott Walker claims to be pro-gun. It kind of shows where their priorities are.

The Power of Unions

There are many people out there in the right wing of the world that have been hammering at the meme that unions aren't needed anymore and that they are obsolete. They claim that so many people are making good money without belonging to a union. They also argue that OSHA ensures job safety, etc. etc. etc. However, we keep seeing stories where they are continuously proven wrong.

Retired Delphi management personnel are finding out the hard way the importance of unions:

But his career was cut short after GM spun off parts-maker Delphi Corp., which closed the plant in November 2008. Now, Richards and thousands of other Delphi salaried retirees could see their monthly pension checks cut between 30% and 70% as the government-run Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has taken over the company's retirement fund.

As a result, the average Delphi salaried retiree - many of whom were forced into early retirement by Delphi's bankruptcy - stands to lose $300,000 in pension payments over his or her lifetime.

"I am not sure how I am going to survive, going forward, because of this," said Richards, who as mayor was known for being a fiscal conservative.

It's especially upsetting given that the pensions of Delphi's hourly wage retirees, represented by the United Auto Workers, will not be reduced.

That's because when General Motors spun off Delphi in 1999, it agreed to "top up" the hourly employees' pensions if their plan ever fell short of what the employees would have earned had they remained at GM.

It's crappy that these people that worked most of their adult lives for one company doesn't get that loyalty returned to them. Unfortunately, they gave up the benefits of being a union member when they chose to take the promotion. At the time, it probably made a world of sense, and I don't blame them for making that choice. It is just too bad that they are paying for it now when they should be able to enjoy life a little more.

The people in Oklahoma also learned the hard lesson when the unions were able to swing a last minute deal, albeit a very crappy one, with Mercenary Marine last year. That deal kept the plant from moving to Oklahoma.

Even the conservatives who like to bash unions at every chance actually unionize themselves, even though they would never admit it. But if you stop and think about it, are these TEA Party events really any different than a union? Or groups like WMC? They are a group of people or groups of people forming a larger group for a common cause, just like workers form a union to fight for their rights.

In these bad economic times, and with so many politicians and businesses playing "Gimme" with our livelihoods, it makes perfectly good sense to still have unions and to strengthen them before we all become victims of the money-grubbers.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Serious Question For Scott Walker Supporters

Whenever the Milwaukee County budget has imploded (which it has done every single year), Scott Walker puts a lot of the blame on the fact that the state is imposing unfunded and/or underfunded mandates on Milwaukee County.

I actually agree with him that this is a major problem, not for just Milwaukee County, but every county in the state.

Putting aside that he voted many times to do the same thing (shorting the counties) when he was in the state legislature, what do you think he will do if he were to be elected governor? Do you think he would restore full funding for these mandates? Or do you think he would stick to his "tax freeze" or "tax cut" pledges, and create an even larger deficit for the counties having to perform these mandated services, thereby either forcing dangerous cuts to these services and/or forcing local governments to drastically raise taxes to pay for them?

Walker's Motto

Scott Walker has a motto for his life and his management style: Do unto others, but don't do that unto me.

This motto has been exemplified time after time in his eight years as Milwaukee County Executive.

For example, Walker has continuously cut deep into park funding, to the point that Milwaukee County is now sitting on over $200 million in deferred maintenance and repairs. He claims that this is to save tax payers some money. But all it is really doing is kicking the can down the road.

But when the State allowed the zoo interchange to deteriorate that it now requires emergency temporary fixes, Walker and his crew were the first ones to point fingers at Governor Doyle, blaming him for not meeting the public's needs.

Another example would be when he kept cutting corners at the House of Corrections and the Community Correctional Facility. Things got so bad that inmates were escaping and the whole corrections system was lambasted in a federal report.

Despite this track record, Walker chose to tear into Doyle for releasing inmates early and into Barrett for giving MPD two days of furlough. Just days after he tears into Barrett, the news breaks that Walker is four times as bad. On top of furlough deputies for eight days, it was recently found that Sheriff Clarke was considering releasing 120 inmates early and cutting highway patrols because of a $5 million hole in what Walker budgeted for the Sheriff's Office.

Yesterday, Walker joined with County Board Chairman Lee Holloway in condemning a proposed bill that would put 17 year old offenders back in the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system. Walker's big beef was that it would add another $24 million expenditure to a budget that he has set up to fail. But I can't help but remember how he cut back on expenses like first time offender programs and the sports complex in Franklin, which would have helped give the County alternatives to having our youth going to corrections. And those alternatives would have been much, much cheaper.

Walker also has continuously cut back on spending for mental health services. This only means that tax payers are paying more, either through being directly harmed by an untreated mentally ill person or by having to pay their municipal police tons of overtime while they sit with detainees waiting for a bed to open up at the mental health clinic.

As anyone can see, Walker is constantly haranguing and attacking others for the same things he is doing. Maybe Walker should tweak his motto so it is a little more accurate:
Hypocrisy: It's not a choice, it's a lifestyle.
Gretchen Schuldt has more on the bill regarding juvenile defenders at Milwaukee Rising.

Culpeper County, VA meet West Bend, WI

There is at least one loon and one incompetent school administrator in Culpeper County, Virginia.

That is the only way to look at it when they ban Anne Frank's diary:
Culpeper County public school officials have decided to stop assigning a version of Anne Frank's diary, one of the most enduring symbols of the atrocities of the Nazi regime, after a parent complained that the book includes sexually explicit material and homosexual themes.

"The Diary of a Young Girl: the Definitive Edition," which was published on the 50th anniversary of Frank's death in a concentration camp, will not be used in the future, said James Allen, director of instruction for the 7,600-student system. The school system did not follow its own policy for handling complaints about instructional materials, Allen said.

The diary documents the daily life of a Jewish girl in Amsterdam during World War II. Frank started writing on her 13th birthday, shortly before her family went into hiding in an annex of an office building. The version of the diary in question includes passages previously excluded from the widely read original edition, first published in Dutch in 1947. That book was arranged by her father, the only survivor in her immediate family. Some of the extra passages detail her emerging sexual desires; others include unflattering descriptions of her mother and other people living together.

I bet that some folks are already standing outside the West Bend library again with torches in hand.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Don't Mess With Favre Fans

Or you might get a butt-whuppin':

Police received a 911 call from the 20-year-old son of the Maple Street resident. The son said his father, 49, had been at the residence of his 52-year-old friend watching the game earlier in the evening. After he arrived home, he argued with the friend on the phone. Later, the friend walked in the house, yelled "Vikings suck" and began beating the older man.

The friend had left by the time police arrived. They went to the friend's house and found that he had significant injuries including cuts, swollen eyes and lip. He told a different story. The friend said he went to the Maple Street house and was punched and kicked by the father and son without provocation.

What Leadership Looks Like

From JSOnline:
The village has approved an employee contract that, for the first time, limits the amount of tax money that will be paid toward employee pensions.

The contract with public works and some clerical employees is unusual in that most municipalities in southeastern Wisconsin pay all employee pension contributions and with no limit, Village Manager Russell Van Gompel said Thursday.

The provision in the AFSCME union contract, approved this week by the Village Board, is a "foot in the door" toward controlling pension costs, Van Gompel said.

The change applies only to employees covered by the union who are hired after Jan. 1, 2010. Pension contributions vary from one year to the next, but for 2010 the village would pay 10.5% of the new employee's salary as a pension contribution and the employee would pay 0.5%.

The 10.5% contribution is the maximum the village would make.

Van Gompel said the contract also provides a retroactive pay increase of 2% for 2009 and a pay freeze for 2010. For health insurance, all employees covered by the contract will pay 10% of premium costs by the end of the contract; some now pay 7%, he said.

Folks, that's the same AFSCME that represents me and my fellow county employees.

The difference is that Brown Deer have leaders that want to look after their constituents. Scott Walker wants to only look after his campaign interests. He just plain doesn't give a damn about the tax payers.

V 2.0

Why is that Paul Ryan coming out with his Road Map 2.0 always reminds me of Domino's changing their recipe? Could it be that both of them only shows that the original sucked, and that merely changing the name doesn't mean that it will be better?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is The TEA Turning Tepid?

It's not been a good week for the teabaggers.

First, one of their poster children, Andre Bauer, puts his foot into his tea cup, comparing poor people to stray animals, and how neither should be fed.

Then another one of their members, one that could be considered a leader since he has spoken at rallies, gets arrested for raping a seven year old girl and having an arsenal of explosives:

A former Marine with ties to Tea Parties and militias who talked openly about using his training “to become a domestic terrorist” has been charged in separate complaints with raping a child and possessing an unregistered grenade launcher. His arrest may signal that a wing of the Tea Parties is heading in a more militant direction.

Charles Allan Dyer, 29, of Marlow, Oklahoma was arrested on January 12 at his home by Stephens County Sheriff’s deputies on the rape charge. The arrest occurred after a 7-year-old girl told sexual-abuse experts about a January 2nd incident at Dyer's home.

While sheriff's deputies were at Dyer's home, they found several firearms and a Colt M-203, 40-millimeter grenade launcher, according to court documents. When they searched a national crime database, the deputies discovered that the grenade launcher was one of three stolen from a military base at Fort Irwin, California, in 2006. According to an affidavit, Dyer told law enforcement that he had received the grenade launcher "from his best friend who gave it to him while Dyer was stationed in California with the Marine Corps" (United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Criminal Complaint, Case No. M-10-36-BA, January 14, 2010, pp. 2-3).

But now, as they are trying to rally their zombies members into a frenzy for a national Tea Party Convention, they suffer two grievous blows. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R - Tenn)decided not to go to the convention after all, afraid that their profiteering will turn out bad for her.

Even more painful is that Representative Michelle Bachmann (R - Batshitcrazyville) is also dropping out. If your having an event that is too far out there for even Bachmann to join in, you know you have serious problems.

Further showing that the tea has become watered down is the fact that the people of Oregon threw their own type of anti-TEA Party, stating that quality of life is more important than a few bucks more to the already wealthy:
Oregon voters bucked decades of anti-tax and anti-Salem sentiment Tuesday, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to prevent further erosion of public schools and other state services.

The tax measures passed easily, with late returns showing a 54 percent to 46 percent ratio. Measure 66 raises taxes on households with taxable income above $250,000, and Measure 67 sets higher minimum taxes on corporations and increases the tax rate on upper-level profits.

The results triggered waves of relief from educators and legislative leaders, who were facing an estimated $727 million shortfall in the current two-year budget if the measures failed.


Overall statewide turnout was expected to be around 60 percent of Oregon's 2 million voters.

Tuesday's strong support also validated a strategy by Democratic lawmakers to single out the rich and corporations for targeted tax increases.

Campaign ads by supporters highlighted banks and credit card companies and showed images of well-dressed people stepping off private jets. They also hammered on the $10 minimum tax that most corporations have paid since its inception in 1931.
Good for them! And Scott Walker, are you listening?

The PPF Report And Subsequent Fallout

The Public Policy Forum came out with their much ballyhooed report on the sustainability of Milwaukee County. They also discussed ways on how to dismantle, or at least partially dismantle, the county. They did next to nothing on how to fix the problems.

Needless to say, this has caused, and is sure to cause, much discussion. Here are some of the more pertinent links, in no particular order:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Walker Fails In Economic Development

This morning, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Scott Walker is again failing at economic development in Milwaukee County:

Milwaukee County supervisors faulted County Executive Scott Walker on Monday, saying he hadn't developed a plan or designated staff to promote financing aid that could boost local economic development.

Two major federal lending programs could be tapped by the county to assist private developers by lowering borrowing costs, but the county has been slow to market the aid, supervisors said.

"That's the problem - we don't have the staff and we really don't have a plan," despite a push by Walker to raise the profile of county economic development efforts, Supervisor Theo Lipscomb said.

The article goes on to detail the failures and how tens of millions of dollars are at risk of being lost due to Walker's inability to lead. The article ends with one of Walker's interim department heads making excuses which the County Board was not buying:

Supervisor Lynne De Bruin said it was disconcerting that Walker had not acted more aggressively in marketing the programs. Jack Takerian, the county's interim public works director, said that task would be a priority for an as-yet unhired county economic development director. The county can't advertise the position until it's approved by the County Board, likely later this week, he said.

De Bruin said Walker should name someone to promote the financing programs on a temporary basis until the development director is hired.

Walker fired back this morning. JSOnline dutifully reported on it, but greatly cleaned it up:

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker on Tuesday defended his efforts to market new federal financing programs to developers.

Walker was responding to criticism from supervisors, who faulted Walker for a sluggish effort at promoting the low-cost bonding programs -- Recovery Zone Facility Bonds and Midwestern Disaster Relief Bonds.

Walker said supervisors stripped a portion of his plan to create a separate county economic development office from the 2010 budget; noted Supervisor Toni Clark had failed to advance a proposed job description for a new economic development director; and touted his efforts to market the bonds with developers.

"Anyone who knows anything about development, however, understands how difficult it is (even with some help) to put together a new project in this economy," Walker said in a prepared statement.

There's a few things about this. One, as I noted above, JSOnline cleaned up Walker's original statements. Yes, there were two. The first one, which I received via email through the eNotification program, read:

My recommended 2010 Budget included creation of an Executive Office of Business Development to partner with existing employers and new businesses to foster economic development and job growth. In this plan, Milwaukee County Works, I specifically asked that the county board designate the entire County as a recovery development zone to seek the new low interest rate bonds. The county board summarily removed this provision from the budget, keeping only an Economic Development director position.

As required in the adopted budget, a job description for this position was given to the chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee well in advance of the committee meeting. The chair failed to bring it up so that the county could fill the position. Then they blame us. Classic.

We have been working with developers and local financial institutions to promote programs such as the Recovery Zone Facility Bonds and Midwestern Disaster Relief Bonds. Anyone who knows anything about development, however, understands how difficult it is (even with some help) to put together a new project in this economy. Regardless, we are still working hard to promote progress in our county.

If you have any ideas, please contact Tim Russell in our office at 414-278-4211.

Scott Walker
Milwaukee County Executive
Walker, or more likely one of his 20 staffers, noticed that Walker was less than accurate in this petulant tantrum, and cleaned it up, sending out a revised edition with the first paragraph corrected:
My recommended 2010 Budget included creation of an Executive Office of Business Development to partner with existing employers and new businesses to foster economic development and job growth. The county board summarily removed the provisions related to the Office of Business Development from the budget, keeping only an Economic Development director position. Prior to taking this action, the county board did pass a resolution designating the entire county as a development zone, so all areas qualify for these Recovery Zone Bonds.
As you can see, it is still as petulant and still tries to shift the blame around, but at least it's not as blatantly false.

The second problem is with his last statement, complaining that it is too hard to boost economic development in these difficult economic times. However, it doesn't seem to be nearly as difficult for the City of Milwaukee, who has had a number of recent successes, including the clean up at the Tower Automotive site and other buildings proposed to go up around the city. Heck, Walker even proposed dumping the work of getting the Park East Corridor developed on the city, since he knew he wasn't up to the challenge.

But what Walker and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel fails to tell the people is that these problems started a long time ago. Anna Landmark at One Wisconsin Now does a good job of highlighting how Walker systematically cut the economic development structure until he all but eliminated it altogether:

When Walker was elected exec he had two divisions under his supervision that managed economic development programs in the county -- the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) Economic & Community Development division (a merger of Economic Development and Housing & Community Development), and directly in the Executive Office was the Office of Community Business Development Partners (initially called Disadvantaged Business Development).

In his 2006 budget Walker moved the Office of Community Business Development Partners out of his office to the County Board after several years of reducing funding (in 2002 the program was funded at $680,454 and by 2005 Walker recommended funding of just $494,688).

After four years of recommending flat funding, Walker reduced funding for the DAS Economic & Community Dvlp department by $3 million (2007 budget), and then followed that up in his 2008 budget by stripping the program down to just real estate management and federal block grant distribution.

In his 2009 budget, introduced right in the midst of the 2008 financial collapse, the division was completely eliminated.

Walker reduced what had been $18-19 million each year in county spending on economic development (2002-2006), to just over $1 million in his proposed 2010 budget.

One thing that Ms. Landmark did not mention in her piece was the fact that when Milwaukee County did have an economic development division, Walker filled it with his campaign staffers, who proved to be far from fit for the job:

Walker’s last two choices to lead the county economic development office, Bob Dennik and Tim Russell, came from his campaign and lacked depth in the development business, Clark said. Dennik left the post this week to become an executive with a Pewaukee construction company. Russell is now Walker’s community relations director.

“Walker chooses folks who don’t have (the necessary) experience,” she said.

Dennik came under repeated fire from the board the last two years over disappointing land sales results that put the county budget in a jam. He didn’t return several phone calls seeking comment.

Only about $226,000 of the $7.2 million in budgeted land sales revenue for this year has materialized, contributing to a projected multimillion-dollar, year-end deficit. The land-sales budgets have been off $1 million or more in four of the last seven years, county figures show.

Yes, that's the same Tim Russell who Walker now wants us to call with ideas on how to do his job, since he apparently doesn't have any.

In other words, Walker was unable to be bothered to find qualified people and chose to use the program to pay back some political debts. He also demonstrated the fact that one simply cannot cut one's back to good economic health. If anything, he has single-handedly made things much worse than they need to be.

Given Walker's abject failure as a county executive, it is extremely bemusing to wonder how Walker, or anyone in their right mind, could thing he'd be anything but an absolute failure as governor.

Walker: He Said, He Said

Scott Walker tweeted this this morning:
"Stimulus failed to create jobs, economists say" Didn't we say that last year?
Well, to be perfectly honest, he flip flops on the stimulus so much that he said that it helped and it didn't many times over. But I do recall that he touted using stimulus dollars in his so-called "Milwaukee Works" project in his 2010 Budget Address from last September:
Milwaukee County Works, in the Executive Office of Business Development, will partner with existing employers and new businesses to foster economic development and job growth.

In an effort to jumpstart our local economy, this budget accelerates the county building program by beginning $395 million for projects to be started by the end of 2010.

The plan includes $38.6 million to rebuild highways, bridges and roads; $142 million in Airport improvements; over $38 million for park improvements and over $25 million for county facility upgrades.

John Goetter, the Vice President of Graef USA, is here today. His firm did the engineering work on the David F. Schulz Aquatic Center we opened this summer.

Accelerating three years worth of construction work into the next 16 months will help folks like John put more people to work within Milwaukee County.

In fact, over 1,000 jobs will be created in order to complete the more than 100 projects funded for 2010 in the accelerated capital plan I am proposing today. In addition, we will save up to $3 million in interest expenses by utilizing the Build America bonds.
Does Walker have no sense of ethics at all? I realized that he has come so far in his career as a lifelong politician with his hypocrisy, but to be bald face lying like this. Sheesh.

Parents Dearest

But I thought this only happened in the inner city:
An Ozaukee County husband and wife were charged Monday with abusing their 12-year-old daughter by chaining her to a bed and whipping her with coat hangers, according to a criminal complaint.

The husband and wife, from Belgium, each were charged with being party to the crime of physical abuse of a child, intentionally causing bodily harm, according to the complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

The couple admitted to striking the girl several times with plastic coat hangers since September as punishment for stealing from stores and from them, the complaint said.

The girl told investigators that once she was struck 20 times with such a hanger and the woman said the whippings left a mark on the girl's buttocks.

The woman also told police she and her husband would chain the girl to a bed every night using a zip-tie around her wrist and pulling the zip-tie through a chain that was fastened to the bed.

The husband told police he whipped the girl with a hanger and fastened the zip-tie around her wrist so tight it would leave a mark because he was afraid of his wife.

James T. Harris and his ilk would have us believe that it is the culture that causes this kind of story. I wonder which culture they should really be looking at.

It also ticks me off to no end that they only had bail set at $500 each. I guess Ozaukeeans are OK with whipping children.

Instead Of A Judge, He Should've Appealed To The Dungeon Master

Talk about frivolous lawsuits:
A man serving life in prison for first-degree intentional homicide lost his legal battle Monday to play Dungeons & Dragons behind bars.

Kevin T. Singer filed a federal lawsuit against officials at Wisconsin's Waupun prison, arguing that a policy banning all Dungeons & Dragons material violated his free speech and due process rights.

Prison officials instigated the Dungeons & Dragons ban among concerns that playing the game promoted gang-related activity and was a threat to security. Singer challenged the ban but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld it as a reasonable policy.

I can think of many reasons why authorities wouldn't allow inmates not to play D & D, most notably that the inmates would be using the dice for gambling, which would constitute a security hazard.

But the concern of gang-related activity seems to me to be a little far fetched. What, are they going to form a gang called "The Dwarvz of Cell Block C?"

Let Them Drink TEA!

From the NY Times:
Nearly one in five Americans said they lacked the money to buy the food they needed at some point in the last year, according to a survey co-sponsored by the Gallup organization and released Tuesday by an anti-hunger group.

The numbers soared at the start of the recession, but dipped in 2009 despite the continuing rise in unemployment. The anti-hunger group, the Food Research and Action Center, attributed that trend to falling food prices, an increasing use of food stamps and a rise in the amount of the food stamps benefit.

More than 38 million Americans — one in eight — now receive food stamps, a record high
Is this really time for Scott Walker and his TEA party buddies to start calling for cuts to necessary services? And doesn't this make the TEA Party poster child, Andre Bauer, look all the more heinous?

What A Tangled Web They Weave

Ed Garvey has a column in The Cap Times which highlights an unholy alliance between UW and WPRI:
In Wisconsin, St. Norbert’s College polling is used by public radio and public TV. And now we also have the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute/University of Wisconsin-Madison poll -- a “partnership” between right-wing WPRI and our great state university’s political science department. Whoa, Nelly! The institute apparently needed credibility to persuade people to pay attention to the Bradley Foundation poll, so it is easy to figure out its goal in creating this “partnership”: instant credibility. (No one has ever accused WPRI of neutrality on issues of importance to the Bradley Foundation.) In essence the institute rents the good name of the UW.
Garvey details how they did an open records requests and found that, basically, all of the WPRI - UW polls are tainted and only go to push the neoconservative agenda of the Bradley Foundation.

As Garvey and others points out, it throws doubt on anything that this group produces. Garvey et alia have also raised questions about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publishing WPRI's reports like they are gospel truth. That is easily explained, since I've already shown the incestuous relationships with the Bradley Foundation's Michael Grebe, Journal Communication's Steve Smith and wannabe governor Scott "It's my turn, dammit" Walker.

And to deepen the ties to Charlie Sykes, who already has been shown to be in the midst of this mess, is the fact that old Chuckles is a member of WPRI's brigade of propagandists.

In summary, WPRI is a front for the Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation and WPRI, lacking credibility on their own, are using UW as their beard. And as for Sykes and Walker, they each of an arm of the Bradley Foundation so far up their posteriors, their resembles to Mortimer Snerd is more than coincidental.

In other words, you can't believe a word from the lot of them.

Cross posted at Whallah!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brett Favre: The Man, The Myth, The Movie

Needless to say, as one of the few true Packer fans that still appreciate Brett Favre and what he did for the Pack, I was disappointed in how the game ended last night.

That said, I have to point out that I was amazed that he took that big hit in the third and then went back out on the field, even though I thought his ankle was broken.

But when I read this accounting of his injuries, I realize that Favre is one of the fable iron men of football:
Some 30 minutes after the game was over, Favre gathered himself from the Minnesota Vikings’ locker room and headed for a postgame media session. As he walked through the bowels of the Louisiana Superdome, dejected from the 31-28 overtime loss in the NFC championship game, he walked past a fracas between a security guard and a Saints fan. The angry and apparently inebriated fan got to the point that he threw his beer, hitting both the guard and Favre.

That was thematic of the night for the 40-year-old Favre, who will once again ponder retirement this offseason. Regardless of his decision, no one will quite believe Favre is walking away or not until next season begins (and even ends).

But be sure of this: Favre limped away from this game, literally hurting from head to toe. In the first quarter, defensive end Bobby McCray(notes) hit Favre so hard that Favre thought his teeth had been knocked out. Along the way, Favre hurt his left wrist, had a softball-sized strawberry on his left biceps and got high-lowed on a hit in the third quarter that badly sprained his left ankle.
But that description did remind me of something, perhaps a rough screen draft of the life and time of Brett Favre, including a depiction of yesterday's game:

And while I still think Favre to be one of the all time greats, I fully recognize that many do not feel the same way, so for them, this:

The Great Transit Debate

Who are you going to believe?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This Time, I'm With The WISGOP

I will be glad to do what they ask:
Now, a Wisconsin GOP Google ad reads:
Tom "the Taxer" Barret (sic)
Higher Taxes, Fewer Jobs
Wisconsin Cant (sic) Afford
Tom the Taxer
Sure, the GOP misspelled Barrett's name and the word "Cant", but that's not the only advertising mistake the GOP will make this campaign season.

I won't vote for Tom "the Taxer" Barret.
However, I'm still planning on voting for Battlin' Tom Barrett.

H/T MAL Contends

Well, That Just Plain Sucks

WMCS-AM, where I made my radio debut, just canned Joel McNally and Cassandra Cassandra.

I hope they both land on their feet.

The Poor Darlings

What was that again about the rich carrying an unfair burden of the taxes in Wisconsin?

I don't think so.

H/T Brewtown Gumshoe

Elected Officials Not Included In This Change

I received the following email from Milwaukee County through their eNotify system (emphasis mine):

If you are a Union Represented Employee, you may disregard.

Pension Benefit Changes Effective January 1, 2010

At its December 17, 2009 meeting, the County Board adopted Resolutions effecting
Pension Benefit changes for non-represented employees as follows:

New “Normal Retirement Age” for employees who become members of the Employees’
Retirement System (ERS) after January 1, 2010

· The normal retirement age for non-represented employees becoming ERS
members after January 1, 2010 is 64 years of age or 55 years of age with
30 years of service.

· Non-represented employees who became ERS members before January 1, 2010
will maintain the normal retirement age of 60 years of age or 55 years of
age with 30 years of service.

· Elected Officials and non-represented Deputy Sheriffs are not included in
this change.

Reduction in Pension Multiplier to 1.6% for ERS service credit earned after
January 1, 2010

· Non-represented employees who are currently ERS members or will become
ERS members in the future will receive a pension multiplier of 1.6% for
years of service on and after January 1, 2010.

· This change does not impact the multiplier percent earned by non-
represented ERS members prior to January 1, 2010.

· Upon retirement, ERS will calculate individual benefits based on a
formula that assures credit for service earned at the appropriate
multiplier: 2.0%, 1.6% and/or 1.5%.

· This ordinance change does not apply to Elected Officials.
If you have questions regarding this communication, please contact
ERS at 278-4207.
No wonder Chairman Holloway, Supervisor Coggs and Scott Walker are so cozy lately. They're in cahoots to protect their own pile of treasure.

Will He Be Expressing The Same Sediment?

I see, via Twitter, that Scott Walker attended a couple of Lincoln Day events over the weekend.

I wonder if he is reusing his bit from last year:
Walker the historian gives us a comment on Lincoln's most famous speech, and misspells a great man's name twice in the process:
"At (sic) his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln famously said, 'Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal' This was not just lip service, as evidenced from the words of contemporaries like Frederick Douglas (sic), former slave and early civil rights leader. Douglas (sic) said Lincoln was 'the first great man that I talked with in the United States freely who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color.'"

Walker's screed against the Democrats, disguised as a tribute to Lincoln, goes on to say, "This sediment (sic) that all men are is equal is evidenced in the Republican Party's current platform of equal taxes on all, and opportunity for all regardless of race, gender, or age ... Contrast that with the tenants (sic) of the (sic) Barack Obama and the Democrat (sic) party ... "

Walker Failed The Poor, Doyle Followed Suit

Story at Milwaukee County First.

The New Poster Child For TheTEA Partiers

South Carolina voters sure know how to pick them, don't they?

Their governor, Mark Sanford, fully disgraced himself and embarrassed his state when he was caught "hiking the Appalachian Trail" in South America.

Now, their Lieutenant Governor, and would-be governor, Andre Bauer, has put his foot into it. Bauer, who is in full sync the teabaggers and attends and speaks at their rallies, had this to say about people getting hurt by the recession:
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has compared giving people government assistance to "feeding stray animals."

Bauer, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, made his remarks during a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn that included state lawmakers and about 115 residents.

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better," Bauer said.

As one would expect, his opponents are jumping all over Bauer's gross stupidity and ignorance. One opponent has started a petition demanding Bauer apologize for his crude comment.

What is to wonder is why the teabaggers who have people like Bauer acting as their speakers, or people with signs like this one as one of their top organizers, are treated with disdain and disgust.

I fully expect the usual suspects to try to distance themselves and their fellow teabaggers from Bauer, but when these displays of hate and bigotry keep happening and happening again, it is the norm, not an exception.

And I wouldn't be me if I didn't point out that both Scott Walker and David Clarke love going to these events. And while neither has (yet) been as ignorant as Bauer in their comments, Walker's actions, like those of Clarke's, show that they are right in lockstep with this kind of vulgar thinking.

I Thought This Was How Newspapers Already Worked

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Priorities In Politics: People Or Profits?

A couple of things that caught my eye tonight that really helps show the difference in leadership qualities between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett. The differences lie in their priorities.

Tom Barrett, instead of doing what most politicians are doing, which is asking you for your money to help their campaign, asked nothing for himself. His campaign tweeted that people should be aware of the Haitian Relief Fund benefit which aired tonight. That matches his call for donations to the relief fund on Martin Luther King Day.

Scott Walker on the other hand, hasn't mentioned Haiti that I could see. What I did find is him tweeting about campaigning up north. I also found Cory Liebmann had found Walker thinks that there doesn't need to be "significant change" to our health care system, even though about a half a million people don't even have health care, and those of us that are fortunate enough to have coverage, are often insurance poor due to the fact that our health care costs are among the most expensive in the nation.

Cory also points out Walker's stimulus flip flop #348,802 when he failed to point out that to the people at the Wisconsin Biodiesel Association, which just received a large chunk of stimulus money to create jobs that they weren't real people, and that stimulus money doesn't create new jobs.

So, on one hand, you have Barrett, who is thinking of those less fortunate that we are, and is consistent in his calls for people to help them in whatever way they can. On the other hand, there is Walker, who is willing to through a half a million people to their doom, in order to keep profits up. And he still can't make up his mind on whether the stimulus plan, which is creating jobs, is a good thing or not.

The choice is clear on who would be more likely to look out for the people of Wisconsin as opposed to wealthy campaign donors, and who knows how to do the job effectively and with compassion.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Kevin Binversie Makes The Argument For EFCA?

Kevin Binversie, right wing blogger, just put up a post lamenting the fact that now more union jobs are being held by government workers than by the private sector workers.

We'll ignore the fact that he was just tweeting that he was a Washington DC bureaucrat that was "underpaid."

What Binversie does do is link to the story he cites as his reference, which offers some unique facts that he chose to omit from his post.

One of the parts is how Gerald McEntee, president of AFSCME, reacted to the news:

Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, voiced dismay that government employees now represented a majority of union members.

“It’s a very bad sign,” he said. “We’ve been banged around some, but when you see what’s been happening to the industrial base of this country, to the steelworkers, to the autoworkers, they’re been hammered much more.”

As Binversie did admit in a minimal way is that most of the reason is the recession which hit manufacturing and construction jobs the hardest.So what is the answer to this dilemma? He doesn't say. If he clings to party lines, it would be to of course, create more unemployment by laying off the government workers as well.

Fortunately, there is a different mindset in charge:

Assessing the drop in private-sector unionization, Paula B. Voos, a labor relations professor at Rutgers, said, “It’s a sad commentary on the ability of private-sector workers to unionize.”

“Unions have less strength when they represent a lower percentage of workers,” she said. “Nonetheless, unions have strength in those sectors of the economy where they are organized. Workers who are in the entertainment industry, workers who are on the docks of the Port of New York and New Jersey still have the strength of their labor organizations.”

Noting that union members generally have higher earnings, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement: “As workers across the country have seen their real and nominal wages decline as a result of the recession, these numbers show a need for Congress to pass legislation to level the playing field to enable more American workers to access the benefits of union membership. This report makes clear why the administration supports the Employee Free Choice Act,” a bill that would make it easier to unionize.”

But the point that I have yet seen anyone make is pointing to where all the money is going if it is not going to the workers.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed us a sliver of a small sampling of this a few weeks ago, when they pointed out that even though some CEOs were taking "pay cuts," they were still raking in millions of dollars each year. Imagine how many jobs they could have saved if they actually took serious pay cuts and tried to survive on a mere million dollars or even half a million, and reinvested that money in their employees. The employees would be able to still spend money a little more freely and that would do more than anything to help speed up the economic recovery.

In government, however, even though political CEOs like Scott Walker or Jim Doyle are probably overpaid in many people's eyes, their salaries are paltry numbers compared to the private sector CEOs. That frees up more of the money to have workers to provide services to the community. Thus you would have more workers in the government sector, since the money isn't being held up at the top by overly excessive executive salaries.

If the private sector CEOs put the same limits on themselves, the economy would get so much better so much faster, and we would all be better off.

Imagine that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Tale Of Two Child Welfare Systems

Trying to suppress my revulsion at some of the people who consider themselves parents these days, I couldn't help but notice a remarkable difference between two different child welfare systems here in Wisconsin.

The first story involves a family in Dodge County, and how the parents were literally starving their daughter to death. From Channel 12 news:
Police said Kathryn, the girls step-mother, locked the family's refrigerator door and cupboards to keep the girl from getting food.

According to court records the girl weighed 98 pounds when she was 12-years-old. The documents show her weighing just 70 pounds a year later. A doctor who examined the girl says she had the appearance of a 'concentration camp survivor.'

Police said Krier eventually pulled her step-daughter out of school because the 'school gave the girl breakfast when she was hungry.'

Court documents show that the girl had been seen by numerous doctors and social workers but the problem was not discovered for years because 'Kathryn Kreier manipulated information and misled service providers, the school and social services.'
Like I said, these people are pretty sick.

On the bright side, Dodge County child welfare workers did crack through the lies of the parents and the child is now placed in her grandparents' home, where she will hopefully also get counseling, since I have no doubts that there was significant emotional abuse, and probably physical abuse as well.

Now compare that to what happens in the heavily privatized child welfare system in Milwaukee County:

They were not the only adults who failed to appreciate the gravity of Lamour's condition.

Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare workers, according to a Journal Sentinel investigative report that appeared in October, failed to act on clear and repeated warnings that the infant was in danger.


When Lamour was born on June 1, 2008, a misdemeanor neglect charge was pending against Morehouse. According to court documents, she had left a 6-year-old son home alone. The boy was found sleeping in a park across the street from her apartment.

The bureau was notified of the neglect. It was the second call the bureau had received about Morehouse in a week, the sixth in less than three years.

Morehouse was first reported to the bureau in November 2005 because her 18-month-old child had a broken arm. Morehouse said the child had fallen down steps. A bureau worker ruled claims of abuse unsubstantiated.

Five days later, the bureau received a report that Morehouse's boyfriend was abusing the toddler. Though the abuse allegation was substantiated, child welfare investigators were unable to determine who had injured the child, and the case was closed.

The bureau received a third call in February 2007. The allegation of neglect was unsubstantiated, and the case was closed.

The bureau received yet another call alleging neglect six months later. That complaint also was ruled unsubstantiated.

Four days before Morehouse's 6-year-old was found in the park, the bureau investigated allegations that the boy had been left alone while she was in jail. The child had been with relatives, a worker determined.

Morehouse was six months pregnant with Lamour when the 6-year-old was found. After the misdemeanor neglect charge was issued later that month, a bureau worker made three unsuccessful visits to Morehouse and her children at their home. No one answered the door, and the worker left.

"No services were provided to the family prior to the death of Baby Lamar (sic)," according to a report by the Department of Children and Families, which runs the Milwaukee bureau.

Cyrus Behroozi, a department administrator, said at the time: "The failure to act is inexcusable."

Even though tax payers are pumping in tens of millions of dollars into the system more than when the county ran it, less of the money is getting to the kids or their families for the services they need.

So where is all this extra money going to, if it is not being used for the kids? Well, it sure as anything is not going to the workers, since they are getting so burned out that the entire system is experiencing a higher than acceptable level of turnover (which is common among all private social services agencies). And anyone that has worked in the social services field will tell you that this is not the area to go if you ever want to be rich.

Most of this extra money went to three basic areas.

One area was an overblown computer system that was supposed to eliminate the paperwork, but only increased it, and created other problems as well. The biggest secondary problem was that the workers were being tied down to their computers filling out all of the extra and duplicitous paperwork instead of actually getting out and spending time on their cases.

The second area all of this money is going to is to train the constant influx of new workers. Instead of relying on those evil and greedy government workers that actually new the system, the powers that be at the time (Taxin' Tommy Thompson, Margaret Farrow, Alberta Darling and yes, my buddy, Scott Walker) thought it'd be better to privatize the system, knowing damn well that the agencies would be hiring people as cheaply as they could. The below average wages, along with high case loads and ever-increasing demands of bureaucratic paper shuffling caused a turn over rate above 50%. This meant that the BMCW was running an almost endless series of training classes for all the new workers coming in.

The third area, and the one with probably the highest take, is all of the different administrations of all the different agencies. If you have a system with state workers and five different agencies contracted to the state, you end up paying for six sets of administrations. While the state-employed administrators are well compensated to say the least, they are paupers compared to the administrators of many of the private agencies. Furthermore, these agencies have been known to spend some of their money on such things as conference tables costing almost $10,000 and promotional products such as pens, coffee cups and sweatshirts and coats with their agency's name and logo on them.

All of this is money that could have gone to hire more workers and/or provide more services to these kids, and might have kept them safe.

As dismaying as it may be to know that our tax dollars are being squandered on these frivolities while are children are dying, what is equally disheartening are the people that have such a skewed and distorted view of the world that they would rather see things like this than entertain the thought that the money be spent responsibly and what it was meant for - the kids. After all, that would just mean more big government in their hate-filled eyes.

Walker Misses The Bus To Improvement

But what else is old?

He never did care about Milwaukee County, just like he wouldn't care about the state or the people living here.

Get the whole story on how he is threatening the well-being of Milwaukee County, again, at Milwaukee County First.

How's That Walkernomics Working For You?

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The number of people living in poverty in Milwaukee's suburbs climbed 15,088 between 2000 and 2008, according to data released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution.

In all, 47,088 people in Milwaukee's suburbs lived below the poverty level, almost $22,000 annual income for a family of four.

By comparison, 132,189 people, or 23.4%, lived in poverty in the city of Milwaukee, an increase of 8,525 people since 2000, when the rate was 21.3%.

Well, now, how in the world can that be? The talk radio hosts and their echo chamber has been telling us for years what a tax hell the City of Milwaukee is and how bad a mayor Tom Barrett is. The same squawkers tell us our only hope is Scott Walker, who knows all about how to create jobs (even though he did such a poor job they took the job development program away from him).

So how did this happen? One has to read all they way to the very bottom to find out:

"The suburbanization of poverty has been happening since the 1990s, but it has been increasing very rapidly this decade," Garr said. "In 2005, we found that the suburban poor population is greater than the urban poor population."

She said urban poverty continues to be a national problem, but the rise of suburban poverty poses great challenges, too.

"More and more poor are living outside of our central cities. They may not have accesses to services that are available to the poor in cities, like transportation."

Once again proving that we can't cut ourselves to economic health, and that the talk radio people don't know what they're talking about. Obviously, neither does Walker.

Remember this when they talk about how "it's all about the jobs."

A Responsible, Law-Abiding Citizen

Pro-gun advocates keep telling us it is OK to allow people to carry guns, either concealed or openly.
They tell us that licensed people have to go through gun safety training and are "responsible, law-abiding citizens," so people have nothing to worry about.

Besides that, guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Let them tell that to the people in Appomattox, Virginia:
he victims of a gunman's violent rampage in central Virginia included the suspect's sister and brother-in-law, as well as two other adults, three teenagers and a 4-year-old boy, according to authorities who charged the alleged shooter with first-degree murder on Wednesday.

Christopher Bryan Speight, a 39-year-old security guard, surrendered to police at daybreak after leading investigators on an 18-hour manhunt following the slayings at a house in rural central Virginia where deputies found a mortally wounded man and seven bodies.


State police identified the Sipes, both 38, as two of the victims, along with 16-year-old Ronald Scruggs; 15-year-old Emily Quarles; 43-year-old Karen and Jonathan Quarles; 15-year-old Morgan Dobyns; and 4-year-old Joshua Sipe.


Police were alerted to the bloodbath when they found the wounded man on the side of a road. Then sheriff's deputies discovered seven more bodies — three inside the house and four just outside.

When officers converged on the area, the suspected shooter fired at a state police helicopter, rupturing its gas tank and forcing it to land.


Appomattox County court records show a concealed weapons permit was issued to a Christopher Bryan Speight three times between 1999 and last year.
The gun nuts need to be reminded that everyone is a responsible, law-abiding citizen...until they kill for the first time.

And how often do you think someone could take down a helicopter, in flight, with just their fists?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Walker's Latest Budget Scheme: Rob Peter To Pay Paul

Last week, Zach Wisniewski of Blogging Blue pointed out that Sheriff David Clarke was threatening to release inmates from the House of Correction and cutting highway patrols to cover a major hole that Scott Walker had but into the Sheriff's budget. In other words, lowering public safety was the cost of Walker's politically-driven budget.

In the comment thread of Zach's post, a reader using the moniker of "The Rooster" made a keen observation (emphasis mine):
I frankly don’t think that releasing inmates will do anything to jeopardize saftey. Frankly, those inmates that are housed in the HOC are typically non-violent misdemeanor offenders who are serving less than 6 months. The key thing in this article is the closing of the programs that try to address substance abuse, vocational and educational issues. I think we all need to remember what the purpose of the criminal justice system is and that is to reduce crime. If the systems only solution is locking people up then we can only guarantee a reduction in crime while they are incarcerated which means that the only solution is to lock more people up, for longer periods of time. The loss of the programs that are trying to address the underlying issues relating to criminal behavior is huge blow to crime prevention.
What "The Rooster" stated is true. Cutting these programs will not do one blessed thing in reducing recidivism or lower the crime rate, per se. This is also supported by the statements made by Scott Walker as he desperately tries to do damage control, even though for him that is more like closing the barn door after the horses already got out.

But there are other costs to society and to the Milwaukee County tax payer besides what this reader had pointed out.

For one thing, there will be increased internal costs at the House of Correction. Without these programs, inmates will become restless and get into more fights. These altercations will, of course, result in people getting hurt, causing more and more overtime. Not to mention lawsuits and all that other annoying civil rights stuff.

The other costs will be transferred to other departments and then to the tax payer. For example, let us say that Clarke closes up the printing shop. Well, most of the other departments in the county rely on the printing shop to do their printing for everything from business cards to letterhead to envelopes. If the printing shop gets shut down, the other departments will be forced to go to the private sector to get their printing done. This will not only slow things down as bids are taken, contracts cut, etc., but will just plain cost much more than it would have if the HOC print shop had remained open and had done the work.

Similar problems would occur if Walker and Clarke try to cut other work programs, like the farm, the laundry or the kitchen. It would only serve to raise internal costs as well as the costs of other county departments that also rely on the services performed by these programs.

Cutting extracurricular things like religious services or recreation would save very little money. Furthermore, what little money that it might have saved would be lost to the lawsuits and fines for violating basic rights that even inmates are allowed and again for the increase outbreaks of violence and other problems.

But no matter what solution that Walker and Clarke agree upon for filling the hole that Walker created, you can bet that it will end up coming from other departments, increasing their fiscal emergencies. Just like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Either way, it is the citizens of Milwaukee County that will end up footing the bill as Walker continues his perpetual and eternally-unsuccessful run for governor.

And isn't Walker's reckless behavior the sort of thing that the right side was so upset with Governor Doyle for doing?

Milwaukee Couple Do What Milwaukee County Cannot (Or Will Not)

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a story in this morning's paper about a Bay View couple who is restoring a storied home designed by Alexander Eschweiler.

It's good to see that some people have an interest in local treasures designed by Eschweiler. It is a fabulous looking house, to say the least.

It also points out the utter shame that Scott Walker cannot, or more aptly, will not, show the same appreciation for the buildings he was charged with preserving.

Can this man be any more of an embarrassment to Milwaukee County?

The Party Of Life, Indeed

Which is worse?

That Massachusetts has condemned hundreds of thousands of people to their deaths or that the right wing is celebrating the mass murder?

Ah, Drinking And Liberals- What Could Be Finer?

'Tis that time again, my friends.

Come and join this group of liberals as we wonder:
  • Why Terrance Wall is running for Senator in Wisconsin, since all of his money is in Delaware,
  • If Scott Walker is really painting the ever-widening part (really bald spot) or if it is just oil dripping off his scalp,
  • What silly costume Mark Neumann will be wearing next,
  • If Jason "Big Daddy" Haas will ever stop talking about how grueling graduating from school and trying to get a real job is,
  • Just what the heck is Nick Schweitzer rambling on about now,
  • If Zach W. will show up so we can tell him how much we like love his work, and
  • If Boris is really the best name for the zygote growing in Stacie innards.
It will be in the usual DL time and at the usual DL bar:

Sugar Maple in the scenic Bay View
411 E. Lincoln Avenue
Wednesday, January 20th (30th according to Hassian calendars)
7 pm onwards.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reasons Why Barrett Will Win In November

Battlin' Tom Barrett is sitting in the driver's seat as we enter this election year. He does not have any major opponents to contend with leading up to the September primary, so for the most part, he can just go out and glad hand people around the state in a relaxed, up beat fashion.

He will be able to put an emphasis on all of the good things he has done for the City of Milwaukee over the past eight years. Some of these include being a leader in resolving the issue of the $91 million dollars in transit money that had been sitting idle for almost two decades; how he was recognized years ago for being much better at creating jobs and being given the reins of the Private Industry Council; and how the City of Milwaukee is excelling at economic development, and is actually being held up by Scott Walker's government. All of these will be important issues as the state continues its long climb out of the recession.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side of things, Scott Walker and Mark Neumann will be spending most of the year duking it out. Walker has already gone negative against almost anyone and everyone that would dare to challenge what he thinks is his divine right. I don't see any indication on why that would be changing anytime soon.

Walker is fairly limited in his repertoire. All he really has is the false pretense that he has kept spending and taxes down. But that can be and has already been easily been shown to be nothing more than a fairy tale. Given the poor shape that Milwaukee County is in, Walker can't very well run on his record and hope to survive long.

Neumann, on the other hand, has been out of politics for a decade, but in that time he has made himself into a successful businessman, worth millions of dollars, some of which he is not afraid to dump into his campaign. And he has Walker's track record which can make for easily identified campaign points and sound bites.

Come September, after the primary is held, one of these two men will come out the victor, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory to say the least. All the dirt will be out on them, and their images will be severely tarnished and dripping from the mud fight they just emerged from. On top of that, their campaign war chests will be empty, and they will need to run around just trying to raise enough money to make up for the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, Barrett will be coming in fresh as a daisy with a full coffer.

If Neumann survives, he will have to contend with his cold fish personality and his baggage of his extremist social views, especially his homophobia. His business acumen will pale compared to his vitriol, and people will naturally navigate towards Barrett. After all, who would want to be exposed to that much hate and anger and fear all the time.

If Walker should somehow survive the primary, he will have an even rougher road than Neumann would have. Not only will the poor condition of the county continue to be exposed, Walker's 2010 budget will have imploded, causing Walker to either look at raising taxes, losing his only base of the teabaggers, or he will have to shut down entire systems, which will making him even more unpopular than he already is. Meanwhile, while the City is having their own problems, their budget is balanced and barring any unforeseen cataclysm, should make it through the year relatively unscathed, and maybe even better than hoped.

During the time from the primary to the general election, both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will be going through the budget process for 2011. There again, Barrett has the upper hand over Walker. Walker will be forced, by his own ideological limitations, to do the mature thing, like striking a balanced budget. Instead, he will be forced to try to force the unions into further concessions (even though their still waiting for his current proposal - eighteen months over due*) and cut services even more. The majority of the Board no longer has the spine to stand up for their citizens, since they are either in cahoots with or afraid of the enforcers of the special interests, namely, CRG.

On the other side, Barrett will have a much better go of things. First of all, he did not allow the City to slip into such a dangerous level of disrepair, even though there is a lot of work that needs to be done to the city's infrastructure as well. Also, the City's pension fund has exceeded all expectations this past year, which could help alleviate, if not eliminate, a lot of that burden. This in turn would mean less need to consider raising taxes and/or cutting services. Plus Barrett was responsible enough not to allow the pension fund be tied into some risky get rich scheme, like the one Walker actively sought out.

In summary, whether he ends up facing Mark Neumann, with his bigoted and ultraconservative agenda, or Scott Walker, with his utterly disastrous track record and discriminating attitude, this race is Tom Barrett's to lose.

*Walker's refusal to negotiate a contract cost tax payers in the area of $6-10 million in 2009 in lost savings. The total for 2010 is already at one million dollars.