Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Walker's Disregard For The Law Costs Taxpayers Even More

There is a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that shows the election laws that all but one politician in the state has to follow actually work (emphasis mine):
The GAB staff upheld the city Election Commission's decision to disqualify Jason Hargis, one of three would-be Wade opponents in the 7th Aldermanic District race. City election officials had previously disqualified nominating petitions filed by Wade's other two opponents, Michael (Big Mike) Hagler and Roosevelt Sanders, neither of whom appealed to the state agency.

Initially, the election commission staff had found that Hargis had submitted 200 valid signatures on his nominating petitions, the minimum needed to win a spot on the ballot. But Wade's attorney, Michael Maistelman, obtained an affidavit from one of those 200 people denying she signed Hargis' petition, and that led to the rulings against Hargis at both the city and state levels.

Wade had to hire his own attorney, the esteemed Michael Maistelman, to check the signatures and to challenge them. That's the way the law is written and it worked the way it was intended to.

Contrast that to Scott Walker, the one politician that thinks he is above the law, who is making the taxpayers foot the bill to do what his campaign should be doing.

And now the taxpayers will have to pay more and more as the GAB needs more time to do their jobs as well as Team Walker's and has the Koch-funded GOP operatives plan on pulling another stalling stunt.

"It's Working" Still Isn't Working

Scott Walker has spent some of his $12 million in recall campaign money flooding the airwaves with easily-refuted commercials trying to tell us his budget and his union-busting agenda is working for Wisconsin.  Likewise, the Koch brothers have been spending untold millions of dollars through their front groups to try to get the people to believe "It's Working."

Their "It's Working" stratagem wasn't working then and it's still not working today.

In a recent poll, Walker's numbers keep dropping and he is seen losing to almost every Democratic contender or potential contender.  

It's not working because, despite his incessant spewing of his inane rhetoric, people can see for themselves that Walker's agenda and policies have only brought less jobs, less money for those who still have jobs, the budgets of school districts, municipalities and counties imploding and an overall lowering of our quality of life.

And Walker is feeling the pressure.

How else would you explain this gaffe?
When asked about challengers leading him in the poll, Walker argues he's not worried.

"The number one opponent I'm worried about is neither of those two.  I'm worried about the out of state money coming from Washington," Walker said.
The only recent example of out of state money coming from Washington is his own cronies in the legislature going to grab special interest cash by the truckload.

Perhaps he is worried about one of them trying to run against him in the primary after all.

My Evening At The Forum

Last Friday, shortly after my appearance on The Sara Schulz Show, I received  a phone call.  Apparently, there was going to be a forum debating the merits of the Scott Walker recall.  The person who was to be pro-recall part of the panel was called away for business and would not be able to participate.

The event was scheduled for Tuesday evening and was going to be held at the beautiful facility of St. John's on the Lake.  The host and moderator of the panel was Tony Busalacchi.  Tony was featured in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article from a couple of years ago, and yes, his collection o art is gorgeous.

The anti-recall pundit was Rick Bass (pronounced boss), who had a very impressive bio, including being a member of Homeland Security and being a ranking officer in the Republican Party of Milwaukee County.  (That's the same group that had members like Darlene Wink and Tim Russell also as ranking officers.)

The other member of the panel was Professor Edward Fallone of Marquette University, a most learned man with whose work I was familiar and for whom I had a great deal of respect.  Professor Fallone would be a neutral participant there to explain the legal and historical background for recalls in Wisconsin.

Would I be willing to stand in as the pro-recall part of this panel of distinguished men?  I almost burst out in open laughter at the thought.  Who was I to be on stage debating the future of Wisconsin with these distinguished gentlemen?  But after a few minutes of cajoling and flattery ("Who else knows all the issues as well as you?" is like kryptonite to a blogger), I squelched the voice of reason and suppressed the drive of self-preservation and agreed to take part.

Later on, Tony called me and explained the format to me.  He would introduce the panel and then Professor Fallone would speak for a few minutes to explain the history and legal issues surrounding recalls.  After that, the panelists would be able to ask each of the other panelists one question.  After that, the panel would answer questions from the audience.

Seemed easy enough.

But then I spent the weekend obsessing about what questions I should ask.  I contacted some trusted friends to use as sounding boards and to get their input.  (Thanks for your patience, guys!)  I neatly wrote out the questions that I had in my notebook.  I reviewed the things that I had written and what others had written regarding the recall to prepare.

Tuesday morning finally came. I was as ready as I'd ever be.

I got dressed in the same ensemble that I wore last year when I participated in a panel discussing the role of social media and the protests.  I wanted to remember the support I received from my #wiunion brothers and sisters that day and use those memories to help carry me through this day.

After work, I went straight to St. John's.  I got there a little early, so I figured I'd take the time to review my notes in preparation.  But there was one slight hitch to that plan.

I forgot my notebook at home.

Feeling the panic rise, I did what came naturally.  I cried.  OK, not really.  What I did do was get on Twitter and tweeted about my nervousness.  The response was immediate and overwhelming.  Despite the fact that they couldn't be there in body, my #wiunion family was with me in spirit.

I took that strength and went in.

I met Tony and my co-panelists.  Tony then went over the format again.  He said that after Professor Fallone  gave his introduction, Mr. Bass and I would each have five minutes to speak towards our cause and then we would go to the questions.

Mentally, I started screaming.  A speech?!  A bleeping SPEECH?!?!  No one told me about a speech!  First I forgot my notes and now I had to ad lib a speech?!  Well, wasn't that great?

I then remembered having written a post about the five reasons to recall Walker.  I tried to remember all of the reasons and try to figure a way to put in a shortened version.

The crowd came in.  There was about 50 people there, almost all of them residents of St. John's.  They were a charming group of kind senior citizens with a reputation of being very active in their community and having a consistently high turn out in the polls.  But Tony had advised us that, like the rest of the state, this was a community divided, with very strong feelings on both sides of the issue.

My nervousness was starting to climb again.

As it turned out, Professor Fallone was a life saver without meaning to be.

In his introduction to recalls, he gave a brief history on how the recall process was introduced into the state constitution.  He said that at the time this law was being written and made part of our heritage, the people were outraged.  He told the group that the people felt that the businesses were having too much influence on the government.  The people felt that the politicians were being controlled by these businesses and that they were no longer paying heed to the citizenry.

Gee, now who does that sound like?

I won't bore the reader with a blow by blow account of the discussion, but I do want to give you some of the highlights.

My question to Professor Fallone dealt with all of the money that Walker was collecting, purportedly for the use of defending himself against the recall (but got the taxpayers to pay for).  As I had surmised, Walker gets to keep collecting unlimited amounts until a recall date has been set, which explains why he is pulling all these stalling tactics.  (On a side note, I called it - the teahadists are going to sue to prolong the process.  I guess legal defense attorneys don't come cheap.)

My question to Mr. Bass was to explain why it was OK for Walker to come into the Milwaukee County Executive position on a single-issue recall and to call for Doyle's ouster in 2006 for supposed corruption by his administration but it was wrong to recall Walker under the same offenses.  He dodged answering that one.

Mr. Boss' question for me was whether there would be the protests or the recall if the unions had not been harmed.  My answer was an unequivocal yes.  I pointed out that many of the protesters and recallers were non-union, private sector workers.  I added that it was people from all walks of life that were at the Capitol for months on end and it was this same wide sampling of Wisconsinites that braved this winter to collect the nearly two million signatures to trigger this round of recalls.  I added that as far as I was aware, there were no public sector unions that consisted of senior citizens, or of children, or of housewives, parents and/or grandparents.

I think that the most moving and inspiring part of the night is that each and every question was directed to Mr. Bass and challenged him on the current state of affairs.  That told me that everyone was seeing through the standard talking points offered by Mr. Bass and by WISGOP as a whole.

Mr. Bass took an interesting approach by stating that he's not there to defend Scott Walker and that Scott Walker could defend himself.  The other thing that I noted was that during the question and answer time with the audience, he often deflected the question to me to answer first.  It was as if he was more comfortable reacting and attacking my points rather than to try to defend or even endorse Scott Walker's actions.

I would say that I scored one of the biggest points of the evening when I, in response to a question about the mining bill, pointed out that it was the mining company that had written the bill and tied that into what Professor Fallone had taught us about the origin of the recall procedure in Wisconsin.  Another big point, judging from the reaction of the audience, was when I pointed out Walker's ever-present hypocrisy and made a comment to the effect of, "In Scott Walker's world, every day is Opposite Day."

After the event, Tony invited us all up to his apartment for a nightcap and a riveting conversation.

I would like to thank Tony and the others at St. John's on the Lake for a lovely evening and a warm reception.  I also thank them for the bottomless coffee cup.  I think I will by making more use of that than I'd care to admit.

I would also like to thank Professor Fallone and Mr. Bass for a lively discussion and making the nice a success.

I would most like to thank my brothers and sisters of #wiunion, who gave me support and cheered me on, and gave me their strength to successfully meet this challenge.  If I were to name each one, it would double the length of this article.  But at the risk of alienating all of the others, there is one person I'd like to thank for the strength lent to me and the inspiration to be as good as I could be: Thank you, Diane.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ain't That The Truth?

It kind of explains both the GOP strategy and talk radio all at once:

Don't Mark Your Recall Calendars Just Yet...

Monday was the day that Scott Walker had to turn in his challenges to the recall petitions against him.

But early in the day, he made it clear that he wasn't going to challenge any names.

And the people rejoiced.

Woot. Woot.

Walker claimed that the reason he wasn't challenging any of the signatures was because he didn't have enough time.

That is, of course, a load of rubbish.

First of all, he had three times the amount of time allowed by the law to do what he needed to do.  Secondly, Walker has raised more than $12 million for his recall campaign thanks to the law that waives any limits on donations.  The reason for that waiver is so that he could use it to defend himself by checking and challenging the signatures.  He could have hired 15,000 people - one for every ten sheets turned in - and paid them $100 for the day to check the signatures and still had enough to overdose everyone in the state with his insipid, fact-free commercials.

Or he could have just bought a program to check it and have enough to buy every man, woman and child in Wisconsin a bottle of soda.  And still have change left over.

Oh, and his new campaign mouthpiece, Ciara Matthews, showed that she is a perfect fit for his campaign by proving she is also suffering from truth-deficiency when she said: "It obviously takes more time to verify signatures than it does to collect them."

Again, the people rejoiced.

Woot. Woot.

Some of the celebrants went even so far as to foolishly try to forecast the recall election would be held in late May.

Silly kids! Don't they know tricks are for weasels?

There was two small, but crucial facts that they had missed.

One, Matthews refused to answer whether Team Walker would consider filing challenges at a later date.  The other was that they were setting things up for a lawsuit by Team Walker and/or the Koch-funded front groups who were holding their own "Verify the Recall" gimmick:
Walker attorney Steven Biskupic of Michael Best & Friedrich said that Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty and We the People of the Republic, two tea party groups, had organized a effort called Verify the Recall to review signatures, but campaign finance laws prevented them from coordinating with Walker. The campaign asked the GAB to consider challenges proposed by the groups. 
Verify the Recall and True the Vote, another petition review group, on Monday released their own analysis of more than 800,000 of the signatures. The groups said their more than 14,000 volunteers from around the country had found some 55,608 ineligible signatures, 228,940 signatures in need of further investigation and 534,685 eligible signatures. 
Mark Antill of True the Vote said his group found “tremendous inconsistencies with the circulators” but acknowledged the recall would likely go forward based on its findings.
The GAB said it had received nothing from tea party groups. 
“There is no legal basis for us to accept third-party challenges,” Magney said.

On a side note, it appears that a lot of this "verifying" came from a shady teahadist group located in Texas.  This bears more investigation.

On another side note, if the Verify mob simply posted their findings, waiving fair use standards, and Team Walker could have used them since the findings would then be publicly available.  But they've already admitted that they couldn't find nearly enough names, under their stricter standards, to stop the recall.

There is a strong likelihood, even though they know the recall will happen, that they will file a lawsuit to contest this and drag things out.  You see, Walker still gets to have his unlimited fund raising until the GAB sets a date, if I'm understanding things correctly.

And even then, after Team Walker and his supporting cast of teahadists run out of legal tricks and stunts and other forms of chicanery, and the GAB is finally allowed to set a date, don't be so sure that things will happen as you might expect them to happen.

Over at blue cheddar, the specter of Walker resigning from office is raised and what the ramifications of such an act would be:
If Walker resigned within 10 days of the recall petitions being certified by the GAB, he would not be on the ballot and other Republicans would be able to vie for the nomination in a primary.  
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch would become acting governor and could appoint a new lieutenant governor. Nothing, however, would stop the recall election from going forward.
The winner of the gubernatorial election would assume the office, replacing Kleefisch. Facing her own recall election, Kleefisch would return to the lieutenant governor’s post if she wins. 
However, if Walker were to resign more than 10 days after the recall petitions are certified, his name would still appear on the ballot. Assuming voters would not favor an indicted, resigned governor, Republicans would likely be forced to mount some type of write-in campaign to try to prevent the Democratic nominee from being elected.

What's that? Walker is too power hungry to ever consider stepping down?  He wouldn't jeopardize his ultimate aspiration of becoming President of the United States?

Yeah?  If that's what you're thinking, I've got two words for you: Sarah Palin.

These two equally incompetent, equally corrupt, equally megalomaniacal.  Walker would easily think that if she could become such a household name that people still would like to see her run for POTUS, well, surely God will speak to him again and tell him that this is the way he should go.

No one can know for certain what is going to happen, when the recall election might finally happen, or even who we would be recalling.

But what I can tell you, based on my ten years of dealing with Walker and his team of malefactors, is that if you come up with a scenario that is so absurd, so unethical and even illegal that even the most die hard skeptic and/or cynic can't imagine it happening, there is a good chance you'll find Scott Walker right there, in the middle of all of it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Walker vs. Walker On Responsibility And Recalls

Last week, Scott Walker spoke about the misdeeds and alleged misdeeds done by his top staff members while he was Milwaukee County Executive. Needless to say, he didn't man up:
Governor Scott Walker says he takes no responsibility for the actions of his former Milwaukee County aides who now face criminal charges in a John Doe probe.

Walker told reporters Thursday that he responded any time he was alerted to a potential problem or an ethical violation involving his staff in the Milwaukee County executive’s office.

The Republican Walker cited Darlene Wink as an example.

Walker said his former chief of staff, Tom Nardelli, confronted Wink just hours after she admitted to the Journal Sentinel in 2010 that she was doing campaign work for Republicans on her county job. And Wink resigned later that day as Walker’s coordinator for constituent relations.

Walker said he informed his staff about the law against doing campaign work on taxpayer time and, “When people violated that policy … we acted.”
Yeah, and we know what that action was.

His action was to send an email, via his campaign's email address, to Tim Russell, who wasn't even working in the executive's office anymore, which specified some of the illegal activities that were going on, with his full knowledge and blessing:

In other words, his action was to worry about his campaign first and nothing at all about the executive's office.

And he didn't fire Darlene Wink, she quit.

But most interesting of all, courtesy of TMJ4, is what Walker has to say about leaders who underlings do something illegal, even if they weren't ordered to (the fun starts about the 1:07 mark):

So in Walker's own words, the conviction of Darlene Wink and the charges against Tim Russell, Kelly Rindfleisch and Kevin Kavanaugh are, at minimum, signs of "certain mindset" that the election campaign was taking priority over government business, and hence, he should be outed.

Finally something I agree with Walker on!

But then why is he acting so much like a petulant, whiny child because we're doing what he said should be done?

Walkergate: The Movie!

OK, maybe not a movie.  Heck, it wouldn't even qualify as a movie trailer. But it is a hard-hitting thirty second commercial from the Democrats.

And yes, I do take a little bit of pride in being one of the first to use the term Walkergate.

Oh, and the Nixon comparison? Yeah, I did that one too.

MacIver Institute - Anything But A "News Service"

MacIver Institute.

Such an innocuous sounding name.

The MacIver Institute, according to their "About Us" page, is:
The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy is a Wisconsin-based think tank that promotes free markets, individual freedom, personal responsibility and limited government.

John K. MacIver pursued the notion that ideas are the most powerful force in politics. Though he never held a government post, few Wisconsinites have had a greater impact on the public affairs of this state and the nation. John either founded or led many of the most effective business, civic, cultural and political organizations in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. An advisor to Presidents, college interns and business titans, John MacIver believed that good government could be good politics. In John’s honor, The MacIver Institute will produce a new generation of ideas to make Wisconsin great again.
Sadly, they don't live up to their self-proclaimed esteemed values. Last month, the Cap Times called them out on their continuing fantasy tale that somehow, maybe in some alternate universe, Scott Walker's budget is working. They also lambasted them for their false and egregious attack on the Government Accountability Board. Do read the entire thing, but I would simply point the gentle reader to this passage found at the end of the article:
But we do know that John MacIver, a Milwaukee lawyer and political campaigner who played an important role in electing moderate leaders such as former Gov. Warren Knowles, would be shocked by what is being done in his name. Closely tied to Tommy Thompson and George H.W. Bush, he was a classic mainstream Republican.

A frequent figure in the pages of The Capital Times from the 1960s until his passing in 2003, MacIver respected Wisconsin’s institutions — and the truth. A UW-Madison graduate who was always active in civic and state affairs, he frequently served on boards and commissions. And he is well recalled for his work with Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, to create Wisconsin’s Commission on Judicial Elections and Ethics.

Younger Wisconsinites who may not remember MacIver should be aware that the institute that is named for him appears to be taking its lead from hyper-partisan out-of-state interests that have little interest in Wisconsin’s civic — and civil — traditions. That’s not the way John MacIver, an old-school Wisconsin Republican whose memory we well regard, operated.
A large part of the MacIver Institute, which was founded in 2009, is their "news service." Their news service consists of a glorified blog and the occasional press release. (Whoever heard of a news service that has to issue it's "articles" via press release?)

If one is to give credit to what they claim, one would think that it was filled with journalists, reporters and such. Well, let's look at just exactly who they are, shall we?

Cory Liebmann of Eye on Wisconsin has been on top of this since the beginning, and marks some of the founders in a must read piece.

One of the big names involved is Scott Jensen. Jensen was the Republican ring leader in the caucus scandal from ten years ago, the same one that has come up again with the ongoing Walkergate investigations. Jensen was originally found guilty, but was able to manipulate his way out of it. Jensen has also been involved with a group looking to profiteer by privatizing education and has had his fingers in the gerrymandering debacle that is in the hands of the federal court.

The original treasurer for MI was none other than Mark Block. Block has a long and sordid history in Wisconsin politics. Block was the leader of the Koch-funded front group Americans for (Koch's) Prosperity, whose purpose was to trick people into thinking that slashing their own financial throats would make the bleeding stop. Block had also been fined $15,000 and banned from politics for illegally coordinating with an "independent group" while he was campaign manager for former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jon Wilcox. Most recently, he worked with the womanizing Herman Cain in his failed presidential bid.

Liebmann also used a tweet by Block to tie in a couple more telling names: James Klauser and Michael Grebe.

Klauser is a long time Republican power broker with ties to the deep pocket donors. As a point of interest, he was all for Mark Neumann's campaign until he suddenly shifted gears and jumped over to Team Walker.

Grebe is the head of the notorious Bradley Foundation and is Walker's campaign chair.

Bill Osmulski is the only MacIver member that actually has any experience as a reporter. But according to Sourcewatch (which is also full of interesting tidbits about this group), he left journalistic ethics at the door when he got hired:
Former television reporter Bill Osmulski works for the MacIver Institute. In 2009 he was charged with obtaining interviews with two elected Wisconsin officials under false pretenses, by failing to disclose his affiliation with MacIver. Osmulski led the two officials he spoke with to believe he was conducting the interview for a local television station. When asked about the incident, Osmulski claimed he did not reveal his affiliation because the officials did not ask him for it, but Stephen Ward, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics, said reporters have a duty to disclose their affiliation and the purpose of their interview prior to conducting the interview. "You should be open about all your affiliations in advance," Ward said.
Another board member is one that the sorely-missed Illusory Tenant had field days with: James Troupis. Troupis is a Republican lawyer-for-hire who has been tied up with the gerrymandering scandal, as well as working for such characters as the three most disreputable members of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court: David "Chokehold" Prosser, Michael "Loophole" Gableman and Annette "Show me the money" Ziegler. Troupis was also the legal mastermind behind the idea that it was OK for the Scott Fitzgerald to issue arrest warrants for their political opponents, the Fab 14.

The president of this old boys club is Brett Healy. I would refer the reader again to Cory Liebmann, who covers Healy's past and points out that Healy had been Scott Jensen's Chief of Staff and had testified in the caucus scandal hearings.

Most interesting, Liebmann points out that Healy and Tim Russell, one of the "stars" of Walkergate, had at least one exchange of emails and set up a meeting, all apparently on county time. These communications and meeting between these two GOP operatives took place just before Walker officially announced his run for governor. Liebmann poses the question whether they might have had a political tinge to their conversations. I would add the question of whether this was the only occasion where this happened.

Lastly, but far from least, is MI's communication director, Brian Fraley. As one might suspect by now, Farley is entangled in a myriad of sordid and sinister ways.

Contained within the Walkergate complaint against Kelly Rindfleisch, we found that she first learned the skill of illegal campaigning during the caucus scandal. Her boss during that time and the person who ordered her to do illegal activities was Fraley:

Fraley also is the person who bought the ownership of the right-wing consultancy agency, the Markesan Group. He bought it from Jim Villa, who was going to work as Scott Walker's Chief of Staff, and whose name has been brought up as part of the Walkergate investigations, dealing with a possible pay for play scheme while Walker was Milwaukee County Executive.

The real jaw-dropper about Fraley comes from Sourcewatch:
The MacIver Institute's Director of Communications is Brian Fraley, who served as the Senior Vice President for State Affairs at America's Health Insurance Plans in Washington, D.C. Fraley was also the national Health and Human Services Task Force Private Sector Chairman for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Yup, he was working directly for ALEC.

So, in an effort to sum up this rogues' gallery of Republican malefactors, we have a group with direct ties to the Koch Brothers, the Bradley Foundation, ALEC, WISGOP and Scott Walker's campaign. They've been caught repeatedly violating journalistic ethics and running with provably false information and have assailed the very democracy of the State of Wisconsin.

And yet they would have us believe that they're a nonpartisan news group that brings us objective, factual news? Hell, they make the guys at Wisconsin Reporter look like alter boys.

At least now when one sees one of their "reports," you will know exactly where they're coming from.

If the reader is need of some comic relief after reading all of the above (presuming that you've made it this far), they just came out with a real knee-slapper.

Despite their ties to the deep pockets of the Koch Brothers and the Bradley Foundation, they have published a post begging for help to stave off the attempts of unspecified, nameless oppressors who would stop them from their mission of usurping our state even further. The whole thing should sent the reader into convulsive fits of derisive laughter, but my favorite line is this:
We have no intention of backing away from the facts. The truth. The news.
Whenever someone confronts them with the facts, the truth and the real news, they don't back away, they run away.

But here's an idea: Instead of giving them one red cent, make a donation to the place that gives you the real story, the real truth that is verifiable and documented - right here at Cognitive Dissidence. You can use the link or just click on the button up on the right side panel.

And as always, whether you donate or just come to get the story, thank you for your support.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Walkergate: What's In His Wallet?

There's been something nagging at me for a while now, and really piqued my curiosity with the post I wrote last night: Just how are some of the Walkergate defendants paying for things?

Kelly Rindfleisch has retained the services of Franklyn Gimbel, who is a high profile attorney who assuredly doesn't come cheap. Yet in 2010, Rindfleisch had only made $47,873 from Milwaukee County and few thousand from the campaign work. Unless her consulting business really took off with exceptional success, Gimbel must be pretty hard to afford.

Even more curious is Tim Russell's case.

Russell was fired from Milwaukee County at the end of 2010, and as far as anyone has reported, he was not working since then. He does have his realty business, but one would have to wonder how successful a year he had with sales bouncing all over and when a sale did happen, it was usually at a much lower cost. As a sign of what looked like he might be having financial difficulties, he allowed his Milwaukee home to be foreclosed on:
But what is a bit odd about this article is that, towards the bottom as they give an abbreviated recounting of recent events, they include this non sequitur:
Authorities took Wink's work computer and executed a search warrant on her home. They also took a work computer from Tim Russell, a longtime Walker ally who was county housing director.

Russell recently lost his west side house to foreclosure.

He had taken out a mortgage for $184,000 with a 9.7% interest rate in 2003 for his house on N. 49th St. He was sued by his bank in July 2010 for defaulting on the loan.

At first, Russell mounted an aggressive defense. But he reversed course earlier this year, agreeing to give up the house. Last month, a Milwaukee County judge entered a judgment against Russell. The house is expected to be sold at a sheriff's sale soon.
I'm not sure what that has to do with the rest of the article, unless they are trying to infer he lost the home because of legal costs. But even that wouldn't make much sense, since Russell was already living in Sun Prairie long before any of that happened.

What would be interesting to know is why a person with an apparently successful business in Milwaukee would move to a place more than an hour away from said business. This is especially true when one considers gas prices and that he apparently was having money problems from legal costs and/or losing his job with the county after Walker left him high and dry.
It sure looks like he might be having money problems, doesn't it?

Yet Russell has retained the services of not just one, but two, attorneys. One of course is the award winning Michael Maistelman, one of the best lawyers in the state, who doesn't come cheap either. But besides Maistelman, Russell also has retained attorney Andrew Franklin. I can't say I know anything about Attorney Franklin, but it would not be a large leap of logic to say that Russell is spending up to $500 an hour for these to gentlemen to defend him.

So where is he getting that kind of cash?

Mazel Tov, Michael Maistelman

A couple of months ago, I brought up the fact that Michael Maistelman, among other notables such as the Honorable Maryann Sumi, were being named as the 2012 Leaders in the Law.

A couple of weeks ago, they held an event to honor these leaders.  In recognition of that honor, Maistelman issued the following press release:

Leaders in the Law[2]

He also included this video, with one thing that surprised me:

I knew that Maistelman was representing Tim Russell. But who is the second Walker staffer that he is defending?

Walkergate: The Universal Immunity And Other Desperate Defenses

As the gentle reader knows, there are currently five people who have been criminally charged in regard to the ongoing Walkergate investigations.  Kevin Kavanaugh and Tim Russell have been charged with embezzling funds from a veterans group.  Russell's partner, Brian Pierick, was charged with child enticement, based on evidence found in a tangent to the other investigations.  Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch have both been charged with illegal campaigning for doing political work from the Milwaukee County Courthouse during work hours.

These cases, with the exception of Wink's, is going through the usual legal processes.  Wink's case has already been resolved when she pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors.  The plea bargain was allowed due to the relative low level crimes and to the fact that she agreed to continue to work with the investigators, including on the issue of destruction of digital evidence.

What I do find interesting is the defense strategies being used in each case.

There's not been much coverage of the Kavanaugh case, but that's mostly because there's not much to cover.  There's only been the preliminary hearing and a scheduling conference.  Another reason that this case might not have had a lot of coverage is because, even though there are a lot of questions, Kavanaugh wasn't part of Walker's inner circle like the others were.

But the other three cases - Pierick, Russell and Rindfleisch - are quickly proving to be popcorn-worthy with the  defense strategies that their respective attorneys are taking.

Pierick's attorney is trying to get the case dismissed on the grounds that he didn't "intend" to go after a minor.  The state argued that intent is irrelevant and that Pierick's victim in this specific case was a minor.  The state further argued that his behavior was reckless and intent could not be used as a defense.  The ruling came down on Friday and the motion to dismiss was denied.  Pierick is to appear back in court on March 16.

Russell's attorneys have tried a couple of stunts.

The case was originally being heard by the Honorable Dennis Cimpl.  Russell's attorneys asked for a change in judges for unknown reason.  This is within his rights and was granted.

The case was moved to the court of the Honorable J.D. Watts.  Judge Watts recused himself without giving a reason.  It would be reasonable to believe that Watts knew Russell personally.  Watts' father was George Watts, a prominent Milwaukee business man and conservative.  It's possible that they could have all crossed paths at times.  If that is correct, it is a good showing for Watts and is evidence of his level of integrity.

Russell's case ended up in front of Judge David Hansher, where the case was again heard on Friday.  Russell's attorneys made a motion for a change in venue, arguing that Russell wouldn't be able to get a fair hearing in Milwaukee County due to all the publicity the case has received.

Hansher disagreed, pointing out that he handled other high profile cases, including the one against Jeffrey Dahmer, and that those cases were held successfully.  I would also point out that the coverage of Russell's arrests have been pretty much nationwide, so there is no valid reason to think that Russell wouldn't get a fair hearing in Milwaukee.

The judge did not formally deny the request yet, agreeing to review the written motion and related arguments.  However, the court also set dates for a pretrial hearing and a full trial in June.

I would suspect that Russell was holding out for an extended amount of time in order to minimize the impact of his trial on Scott Walker's chances of surviving a recall.  Remember that Russell and Walker have been very close friends for a great deal of their lives, going back at least twenty years.  Another factor is that Russell was probably hoping to get a jury from a redder part of the state, one that might be more forgiving of his transgressions as long as he did it in support of Walker.

The defense with the highest comical effect, although I'm sure it was not intentional, is the one that Rindfleisch's attorney is presenting.

The first attempt to was to try to get the case dismissed outright, stating that it was improper for the complaint to include testimony that Rindfleisch had given years ago during the caucus trials.  In other words, they were trying to argue that the immunity granted all that time ago was unlimited in time and scope - an universal immunity, if you will.

While I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internet, I find this laughable.  The immunity that was granted was indeed to protect her from incriminating herself...for the caucus scandals.  It was not meant to cover her for any other misdeeds she might do years later.

Rindfleisch's attorney is also trying to get a change of venue, stating that Rindfleisch should be charged in Columbia County where she lives.  In 2007, the state changed the law that would allow this for ethics and misconduct in office charges.  But the rub is that not only did the alleged crimes occur in Milwaukee County, she was considered a Milwaukee County resident for terms of her employment.  She used an address in West Allis as her home address to secure her job in the county.  Her attorney, in what I would consider to be a major gaffe, pointed out that this was not her real address.  In my humble layman's opinion, this would only mean they should charge her for falsifying government forms, her employment papers, to be able to work for Walker in Milwaukee County.

I would expect that both of these motions will be dismissed and the trial will proceed in Milwaukee County.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker's stomach must be doing flip-flops in fear of which one or ones of his former cronies might turn on him in order to protect themselves, like Wink has done.  And that's not to mention the big old Dumpster'O'Fun and whatever secret treasures that might contain and the other surprises that Walkergate has in store for him.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wisconsin Reporter Fallout Hits Franklin Center

Last week, I laid out how the propagandist group that ironically calls itself Wisconsin Reporter is actually funded by the Koch brothers and has ties to Scott Walker's campaign.

The very next day, fall out started to happen and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin sent out a scathing letter informing news sources around the state alerting them to the fact that WR is not a valid news source but simply an extension of the Walker/Koch campaign.

Earlier this week, Erik Gunn, the reporter who writes "Pressroom Buzz" for Milwaukee Magazine, covered the story.  In his article, he pointed out some of the questionable stories that have come out of WR and posed the question if their work would not be better suited for the op-ed page.

Well, the story doesn't end there.

Gunn had shot off some questions to the Franklin Center regarding the story.  They came out swinging...and missing:

Jason Stverak responded to my question about blogger Chris Liebenthal’s linkage of the Franklin Center to a Scott Walker donor, through the Center’s ownership of the web domain, by suggesting the connection was in essence out of date. 
Liebenthal, Stverak says, “is stretching to find connections that aren't there. Regarding your specific question, we purchased the website and domain name from WisPolitics Publishing LLC in 2011. We stand by our coverage and the integrity of our news organizations." 
Steverak also provided a link to this press release announcing the transaction. In short, he appears to suggest that the connections Liebenthal drew reflected ownership of the domain before the transaction. That may be so, but the information on record (via the WhoIs look-up) still reflects what Liebenthal reported. I’ve asked Liebenthal for his reaction and will post that in the comments here when he gets back to me.

And respond I did:
Liebenthal got back to me late Wednesday with this response to the Franklin Center's statement: "The funding source of the Franklin Center is well documented, not by just myself, but scores of sources. Likewise, the domain ownership was independently confirmed and clearly demonstrates the intermeshing of the Franklin Center, Wisconsin Reporter and Scott Walker's campaign. Their denial of these easily demonstrated and verifiable facts says more about their integrity and reliability as a news source than anything else." 
Given the track record of these two propagandist groups, the fact that David Koch was bragging about using his front groups to try to sway the recall elections and the fact that Michael Grebe, the head of the Bradley Foundation, is also Walker's campaign chair, I wouldn't expect any acts of integrity on their parts anytime in the near future.

That means it's up to us, the people, to play watchdog and call out our local newspapers that might be tempted to cite the glorified campaign literature that comes from these two groups as actual news reporting.

Now It's Kleefisch That Needs My Help

Just two days after receiving an email from Scott Walker begging for my help, Lieutenant Dictator Becky Kleefisch has sent out an email for my help.   I will do so by taking part of her poorly-worded and grammatically incorrect email and edit for her:
Big –government public sector union bosses [The people of Wisconsin] and their heavily funded out-of-state interests [slashed, if not eliminated, paychecks] are sparing no expense when attacking the [lack of] leadership of [by] Governor Walker and [are] downplaying the benefits [damages] our reforms have done for the great state of Wisconsin. 
In recent months they have been running at a fever pitch to tout that their efforts will help ultra-liberal interests [like the working people of Wisconsin] [to] retake the Governor’s mansion and the halls of the legislature.

We all know that these [the Koch commercials] are nothing but grandstanding falsehoods and [but] that the true grassroots, people like yourself, are making headway daily to keep [oust] leaders [usurpers] like Governor Walker and myself firmly planted in our offices so that we can continue fighting for [against] your rights.

Every day that you talk to your friends and neighbors and continue to showcase that our reforms have made tangible and lasting changes to Wisconsin we move one step closer to shutting down the efforts of these liberal elitists [state].

This week, with your help, we are planning on increasing our presence throughout the state by identifying and reminding [trying to find and trick] the supporters of our fiscally responsible cause, that we will not allow the big-government public sector unions [people of Wisconsin] to push around taxpayers [our campaign donors] any longer.
You're welcome, Becky. But there's no need to thank me. It would sufficient if you just start packing up to move back to your old house. But make sure Joel doesn't try to steal the silverware for his sandhill crane burgers.

The Ryan Braun Affair Shows Right Wing Hypocrisy

Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard that Milwaukee Brewer star player Ryan Braun won an arbitration, avoiding a 50-game suspension for allegedly using a banned substance.

To be honest, I couldn't care less, since I don't follow baseball.

What I do find interesting is the hypocrisy displayed by the right side regarding this.

Braun was only able to take it to arbitration, and win the reprieve, because of an agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association.  In other words, it was because of collective bargaining that Braun even had the opportunity to appeal, much less prevail over, the wrong decision and action taken by MLB.

Yet, the people that loathe collective bargaining and unions in general, people like radio squawkers Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner, and right wing blowhards like Fred Dooley, "Roland Melnick" from Badger Blogger, Rick Esenberg and "Mary" from Freedom Eden, to a person, crowed about the Braun victory that collective bargaining had won.

I don't know from whence this breath-taking display of hypocrisy comes from.  It could be their stunning level of cognitive dissonance that allows them to do this without their heads exploding.  Maybe it's their belief that only the rich deserve to have rights. Maybe it's just that they're two-faced weasels.

Regardless of their reasoning, they really should re-evaluate their positions and either recognize that collective bargaining is not only good, but vital, for all people or they should retract their support for Braun and show themselves for who they really are.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LXXVIII

Just yesterday, Scott Walker was on squawk radio taking potshots at Illinois and saying how much better off Wisconsin is thanks to his budget. Less than 24 hours later, the truth comes out to bite him in the arse, again - Wisconsin leads Midwest in layoffs, new jobless claims:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting 78 "mass layoff" events in Wisconsin in January. These are employers who are required to report any potential plant closing or other action that would result in the layoff of 25 percent of the workforce or 25 employees, whichever is greater.

Among the major layoffs reported in January were Sub-Zero in Madison with 100 layoffs; M&I/BMO Bank in Milwaukee with 57, Mayville Products with 130 and Colligan's Bakery in Stevens Point with 51 layoffs.

Only fives states in the U.S. reported more mass layoffs in January: California (342), New York (166), Pennsylvania (120), Florida (87) and North Carolina (84). Among other Midwestern states, Ohio reported 67 mass layoffs and Illinois reported 55.

Wisconsin also experienced the most initial claims for unemployment among Midwestern states in January with 6,014 new applications. Ohio was No. 2 in the region with 5,630, according to the BLS figures.
The article goes on to point out that the future doesn't look to bright, citing the forecast by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, which shows that Wisconsin is one of the only six states to be predicted to have a decline in economic activity over the next six months, as shown in this diagram:

By hook or because he's a crook, Walker has to go, sooner rather than later.

Back By Popular Demand

After having the ratings of her show for last week go through the roof, blowing the doors of that overpaid squawking chicken, Charlie Sykes, Sara Schulz is having me back on her show this morning, talking about what else, Walkergate.

From Sara:

Here's some info on my show tomorrow:

We will start off talking with Chris Liebenthal about any updates in the John Doe Investigations. Then I will talk with Jason Huberty and Joe Skulan about the science behind the mine. Jason is a Geologist who has studied Iron Ore and Joe is a geochemist who has study core samples from the Penokee Mountain Range. They will talk about the science behind the environmental impact of the mine and how the "Give-A-Way to the Mining Companies" Mining Bill will effect that. Then I will be talking with Zach from Blogging Blue, and Kelley from Politiscoop will be on to talk about the news of the week and their newest blogs. I will finish off the show with Christine Neumann from Voces de la Frontera. We will talk about the redistricting lawsuit, Milwaukee's redistricting, and the issues coming out of Milwaukee about the Latino Community. I will also have Yuri Rashkin from Defend Wisconsin Weekly News Round-Up. All starts at 9am! Call in numbers are 877-497-1797 or 310-742-1896.

Here's the link:

Sara Schulz

The Sara Schulz Show
WIDE 99.1 LPFM Madison
WHYS 96.3 LPFM Eau Claire
WFAQ 92.9 LPFM Mukwonago/Waukesha

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LXXVII

And now it's killing businesses that had been around for generations:
Soref's Carpet City has closed, according to a sign on its door.

The longtime carpet retailer was closed Tuesday, but the sign said remaining inventory will be sold at a "deep discount" by appointment only, providing a phone number of (414) 943-2517. All gift cards will be honored, according to the sign.

The store at 431 S. Second St., Milwaukee, had been open for more than 45 years. It was facing several lawsuits for unpaid taxes or bills, including one from WITI-TV (Channel 6) and two from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue alleging nearly $10,000 in unpaid taxes and unemployment compensation. It also was delinquent in $20,000 in property taxes and fees for 2010 and 2011, according to the Milwaukee City Assessor's Office.
There is no word on how many people have lost their job due to Walker "turning the state around."

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LXXVI

There was a close call in Milwaukee when it appeared two classic movie theaters were about to be the latest beneficiaries of Scott Walker's budget:
The Times and Rosebud cinemas will close the first week of March after the lender foreclosed on the properties, according to a news release from the owner.

The Times, 5906 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, and Rosebud, 6823 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, are two of a handful of independently owned cinemas left in the Milwaukee area. They were bought in 2007 by David Glazer, but their value plummeted after the real estate crash and Glazer was unable to refinance the loan, he said.
It was sad, but not surprising, news. I, among many, have been repeatedly pointing out that when Walker took money out of the people's pockets to give to his campaign donors, the first reaction is to cut out the luxury items and niceties, like eating out or catching a movie.

Fortunately, just as with the recall movement, it was shown that when people pull together, disaster can be avoided. The bank is going to allow the theaters to remain open under the management of their former owner until a buyer can be found.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scott Walker Wants My Help

I received an email from Scott Walker today.  The subject line was "Help me this Saturday!"

Well, I'd be glad to help him out, but I have plans for this Saturday, so I decided to help him right now - by translating his email from Weaselspeak to English so everyone knows what he's all about.

The following is his email, verbatim, (but without links - don't need any bad things infecting the People's Computer) with my commentary in italics:

Over the last year, we have seen one trick after another from our opponents when it comes to downplaying our record of limiting government and putting the reins of control in Wisconsin back in the hands of the people.

Walker's opponents are the people of Wisconsin.  He is calling us tricksters.  And I don't believe anyone is downplaying his record regarding limiting government, since he is spending more than last year.  As for the reins of control, we took that ourselves when we started the recall.

The big-government unions and out-of-state, public sector special interests will stop at nothing to derail all of the positive reforms we have made for our great state.

Did he really just say that?  The guy that spent at least seven weeks fund raising out of the state since becoming governor. That's more than twice the time the Fab 14 spent in Illinois trying to slow down the train wreck Walker was putting the state in.  And when is losing jobs for six straight months a positive thing?

Today, I'm asking you to stand with me and show those who wish to expand the control of government to each and every aspect of your life that times have changed here in Wisconsin.

Again, Walker hiked up the spending and the deficit.  But this is the governor who has taken away medical care and wants to take away the rights of women to decide what happens to their bodies, where they can send their kids to school, or if they should even have a voice in matters involving them.

This Saturday, February 25th, the Republican Party of Wisconsin will be hosting the first Super Saturday of this election year.

With the RPW’s help, we will be making phone calls to our friends and neighbors from 9 am to 9 pm. This effort will help our cause by identifying and engaging our supporters and reminding them how important it is to get out and support our reforms.

"This effort will help our cause by identifying...our supporters" = "Is there anyone out there that still supports me?"

With each supporter that you identify, we will be one step closer to putting an end to the big-government, public sector union’s attempted power grab in Madison that is going to cost Wisconsin taxpayers at least $9 million.

Walker's agenda has already cost the state nearly 50,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars.  We can't afford to not recall him.  Oh, and I think I might know more non-union people involved with the recall than union workers.  And I know a lot of union workers.

Signing up for a shift at your local Victory Center is a quick and easy process.

Give us your valuable contact information so we can hammer you constantly for money.

This Super Saturday event is being broken down into four shifts; 9am – 12pm, 12pm – 3pm, 3pm – 6 pm and 6pm to 9pm. You are more than welcome to come in for just an hour or you can stay all day if your have the time.

Four out of five doctors find that repeating BS for more than three hours can cause permanent brain damage.  The fifth doctor is Dr. Koch.

Your support is greatly appreciated and will help make sure that my bold reforms that are moving Wisconsin forward stay in place, not just today or tomorrow, but for generations to come.

I will make sure your children, grandchildren and their children and grandchildren will be serfs to Koch Industries.

Thank you for your support, and I look forward to seeing some of you this Saturday.

If any of you happen to be at the Koch brothers' beach house in Cali.


Not really.

Governor Scott Walker

Soon to be former Governor, Inmate #78925135

There's No Cronyism Like Old Cronyism

With Scott Walker and four Republican state senators facing recalls, not to mention the regular elections coming up in the fall, this bumbling boogle of weasels are the Democrats best weapon.

Walkergate has steadily been picking and you can almost see Walker's bald spot grow by the day as the stress weighs on him.

On top of that, you have WISGOP inadvertently showing their true colors with the ongoing escapades in their gerrymandering scandal.

It's well known that the Republicans manipulated the redistricting in such a foul way that even other Republicans were calling them out on it.

Only months later was it revealed that the deal was more rotten than anticipated.

The Republicans and the legal brain trusts at not just one, but two, law firms are as thick as thieves and were doing a lot of shady backroom dealing, including pacts of secrecy.  They were also bringing in disreputable people like Scott Jensen and others to configure the new districts not only to give themselves the best chance for reelection, but to given the biggest boon to the would be profiteers, like the school choice reprobates.

But as with all criminal acts, this one was indeed found out and exposed for what it was.

A group of Democratic citizens and a Latino advocacy group, Voces de la Frontera, filed a lawsuit in federal court.  The three justice panel has been busy tearing into the Republicans up one side and down the other, giving heavy fines and even heavier criticisms to their frivolous stunts and delay tactics.

The latest news from this is that despite being given a more than ample opportunity to cooperatively make corrections to their gerrymandered maps, the Republicans stubbornly refused to let go of their corruption.  As a token of how corrupt and malodorous their actions have been, their own legal counsel will now have to be a witness in the case against them.

With the Republicans' favorite personal law firm compromised due to the corruption, Scott Walker came to the rescue by calling on another law firm which he had a long and sordid history with, and not only did he call on them, he rewarded them for coming to their aid:
The case comes to trial just as Gov. Scott Walker nearly doubles the amount in taxpayer money that can be spent on outside attorneys assisting the Department of Justice on the lawsuit. Documents released Wednesday show Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren has billed the state $288,000 so far for its work, and that the cap on its contract is being raised from $500,000 to $925,000. 
Those costs are in addition to the $400,000 that Republican lawmakers have committed to two law firms that helped them draw the maps.
Yep, the Republicans are spending more than one million taxpayers dollars to give to use a crony law firm to defend themselves and another crony law firm against charges of corruption.

Ironic enough for you?

Now, I know that the gentle reader is thinking something to the effect of "Well, yeah, we all know that Michael Best & Friedrich being dirty as sin, but what's the big deal about those Reinhart guys?"

Well, like I said earlier, Walker has a long and sordid past with them.  When Milwaukee County tried to recoup some of the hundreds of millions of dollars they lost in the pension scandal, Walker refused to allow the county to sue this law firm, even though they helped create it and gave it the legal thumbs up.  Why?  Here's what happened in a nutshell:
In 2005, the County Board, over the objections of Walker, held a press conference announcing that they intended to file a lawsuit. Walker then switched positions (a common behavior of his - just think about the stimulus funding flip flops) and started to back the lawsuit against Mercer.

However, as noted in the cited section from MJS, Walker refused to go with a lawsuit against the legal firm that was supposed to be giving legal advise about the pension enhancers, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.

There were a couple of reasons for Walker's resistance. One reason was pointed out by Bruce Murphy:
He declined to pursue legal action against the Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren law firm for the advice it gave county officials on the pension plan. The head of the firm, back when Walker made this decision, was then state Republican chair Rick Graber, who had donated campaign money to Walker.
The other reason is covered by Gretchen Schuldt at her old Story Hill site:
A judge has rejected plaintiffs in a lawsuit related to the county pension scandal have no standing to pursue their claim that lawyers with the Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren firm have a conflict of interest in the case, according to Journal Sentinel.

Reinhart lawyers helped design the pension package and are defending the county in the lawsuit, filed on behalf of county employees who claim the enhancements were improperly enacted, among other things.
If one keeps reading, the gentle reader would see how the law firm is tied up into the whole pension scandal. Yet due to his own political aspirations, Walker refused to seek all of the potential remedies available that he could have used to help the County in desperate budgetary times.
In summary, Walker and WISGOP, in order to enhance their own personal and political wealth, set about to illegally gerrymander the voting districts in the state. To carry out their schemes, they bring in two crony law firms that have already benefited greatly from Republican largesse, and they get entangled in the corruption as well. In order to try to pull their weasel tails out of the fire, Walker then brings in and gives a million dollars to a third law firm that he has a sullied history with.

I don't think that the Republicans are ever going to be able to raise a defense fund big enough to save them from themselves.

Would Be Milwaukee County Supervisor Doesn't Represent Well

In the Milwaukee County 18th Supervisory District, the primary elections has winnowed it down to two candidates.  One is Tracey Corder, who I introduced to the gentle reader in January.

Her opponent in the upcoming general election is a woman named Deanna Alexander.  Alexander is a dyed in the wool supporter of Scott Walker and his maleficent agenda.

But that's not all.

Apparently Ms. Alexander, who wants to be representative of the people of the 18th Supervisory District in the northwestern corner of Milwaukee County doesn't support that district or even Milwaukee County.

When I looked at her Twitter feed, I noted that she was having her election party at a place called the Buford Inn on 124th and Hampton:

However, I could find no such place using Google or even the old-fashioned Yellow Pages phonebook.

ADDENDUM: An observant reader has pointed out that Alexander has deleted the "Buford Inn" tweet.  Typical Republican - never admitting to making mistakes and trying to cover it up instead.

In hopes for clarification, I scrolled down further and found out that she had mistaken where she was (too much celebrating perhaps?) and really meant she was having her party at the Butler Inn:

That place I've heard of!

But Alexander still has a problem.

Butler Inn is located in Butler, WI, which is in Waukesha County.

So now the voters have a choice between Tracey Corder, someone who wants to rebuild their community and bring businesses back to the underutilized Northridge area, and Alexander, who can't even be bothered to hold her parties in Milwaukee County, much less the 18th District.  Maybe that's what Alexander means when she says she wants to "rebrand Milwaukee County."

The choice couldn't be clearer.  My first endorsement for the spring elections goes to Tracey Corder.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Fallout For Walker's Supporters, Er, Wisconsin Reporter

Last week, I pointed out to the relationship between the propagandist organization that euphemistically calls itself Wisconsin Reporter and Scott Walker fund raisers and campaign consultants.

The very next day, Wisconsin Reporter experienced some fall out due to this revelation, when the Democratic Party of Wisconsin issued a scathing letter to papers and other news media around the state asking them to be conscious of exactly who and what they are citing when they use anything from this group of campaign staffers in disguise.

Today, Erik Gunn, author of Pressroom Buzz for Milwaukee Magazine, writes about the developments in this story, with a mention of my exposé on them, in a must read piece.

Gunn finishes with these thoughts on this group:

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Reporter stories I’ve read usually seem superficial. Many do appear to be straight down the middle on controversial issues. But others have been questionable at best. An inexcusably thin one, for example, was hung on the claim of a pro-Walker talk radio host who says an unnamed fan e-mailed to tell her that someone had signed the host’s name to a recall petition. 
Then there was the $12,000 WR spent on an investigation that found just under 1,000 dead people still on the state’s voter rolls – barely three people in 10,000. There was no new evidence of dead people voting (five previously reported cases were mentioned), but that became the premise for a string of talking points on measures like picture IDs for voters. Meanwhile the story completely ignored countervailing arguments that such Republican-backed policies wind up disenfranchising Democratic voters. 
Flawed stories like those just heighten a much more critical concern: Who’s funding them?
Gunn finishes his article with some serious consideration to the relationship between the funding source and the reliability of the story, making points with which I agree.  Secrecy of the funding source, or having a heavily-biased and or partisan funding source doesn't necessarily mean that the media source is unreliable, but it should be treated with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Happy Voter Disenfranchisement Day!

Last year, after the first couple of months of protests were starting to subside, I took my first trip to Madison since I was a kid.  While there, I met a few people that I had only known via the social media and only because the state was starting to wake up to the horrible mistake it made by allowing Scott Walker to assume the office of governor with a Republican majority in both houses of the legislature.

I still remember the disgust and the sickening feeling of having to pass through metal detectors manned by DNR agents because the Republicans were afraid of the people and didn't give two figs about Wisconsin progressive tradition or honoring its storied history of keeping the People's House open to the people.

That feeling came rushing back to me as I went to vote this evening for the first time under the Republican's voter suppression law.

Scott Walker and the Republicans rammed the law through supposedly to fight the widespread voter fraud that no one has ever been able to prove. They allegedly were concerned about protecting the sanctity of the ballot and make sure each vote counted.

The truth is anything but that.

When I arrived at my polling place, it was dead.  Even though it was a primary election and my ward only had three races to vote in, it traditionally had a flow of people, even if it was a slow one.  I was the only voter there during the entire time.  With less than two hours to go before the polls closed, I was voter #74, a number lower than normal.  I couldn't help but wonder how much was due to it being a primary and how much of it was due to people not wanting to bother with the voter suppression.

I went to the table and showed them my ID, which they only took a perfunctory glance at before asking me my last name and looking it up in their registration book.  After they found my name, it was the same as it was in the last 28 years of my life, and blank, since the rampant voter fraud was apparently not as rampant as Walker would have you believe.

After they wrote down my voter number next to my name, the poll worker pushed the book towards me with a pencil and said I had to sign it.  This was new.  I said I knew about the Jim Crow law of having to show an ID, but asked why did I have to sign the book as well.

Another poll worker said that the ID was only gave me the privilege to vote, but I had to sign the book to protect it.  I looked at him flatly and said that my privilege to vote was given to me when they signed the US Constitution.

I again asked the first poll worker why I had to sign the book.  She said it was to protect my vote in case something got litigated.  It was to protect my right to vote.  I asked her how my right to vote was being protected by having to sign it with a pencil.  After all, a pencil could easily be erased and someone else could sign my name and claim I was the fraud.  The lady only shrugged and said that they had questioned it as well, but they were only given the pencils.

Intellectually, I knew all along that the voter suppression law was just that.  A way to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for some people - especially the poor, the disabled, the elderly and college students - to vote.  But to see the full impact of the way Scott Walker and the Republicans have made a mockery of our democratic process,

Fake IDs are crafted on a regular basis and can be gotten relatively cheaply - just ask any bouncer at a bar.
And even if genuine, ID cards don't show if a person is eligible to vote.

But having people sign in pencil is the dead giveaway to the falseness behind this law.  When we have Republican operatives poring over recall signatures and trying to flag ones simply on the basis that they can't read them, why bother having them sign at the time of voting.  Or are the Republicans planning on challenging everyone's votes when they lose, based on the fact that they can't read the signature?  And if they were so concerned about security, why wouldn't they use ink instead of something that can be so simply erased?

The fact that this law provides no security to the vote that wasn't already in place before, but does add hindrances to the people by adding a poll tax or punishing them for being indigent and/or transient, makes it painfully apparent for what it really is - a way for Walker and his allies to disenfranchise the voters in an effort to retain their slipping grasp to power.