Monday, March 31, 2014

Capper's Picks: Spring Election 2014

I'm not going to get into a long drawn out explanation for each one (you're welcome), but these are my recommendations for Tuesday's elections:

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 24: Janet Protaziewicz (Uncontested, but she's that good!)

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 32:  Laura Gramling Perez

Special Primary Milwaukee Council District 15: Eyon Biddle, Sr.

Franklin Mayor: Steve Taylor (Yes, he's an idiot most times, but his opponent is a bigger idiot all the time)

West Allis West Milwaukee School Board: Diane Narlock

The Austerity Referendum (Act 14): No - and that's only because HELL NO is not an option.

And for the multiple communities who have the opportunity to vote against Citizens United, for the love of humanity, please do so!

Referendum Watch: Abele Channels His Inner Walker And Gets Called Out

I know that if the gentle reader is like myself, they can't wait for Tuesday's elections to be over, because as tired as you might be reading about the austerity referendum, I'm getting tired of writing about it.

But there were a few things that happened today which were too good to pass up.

One was that Abele's front group, Forward Milwaukee County, sent out yet another email blast which sounds like it was written by Scott Walker's campaign/government staff:
Dear Milwaukee County Voter,

Those desperate to maintain full-time pay for the part-time Milwaukee County Board are pulling out all the stops to prevent approval of tomorrow's referendum.

Big labor has begun an orchestrated effort to mobilize their members through a mailing to thousands of county residents.

One current supervisor is even taking out paid advertising to retain the lucrative salary and benefits they currently receive for part-time work.

It's clear that those with a vested interest in maintaining the taxpayer-funded gravy train will be very active in these last two days – that’s why your attention and action is so very important.


Forward Milwaukee County
For more information, see
I'm still laughing at the line about "Big Labor." Not only is it something straight from a Scott Walker email and shows that Abele is anything but a progressive. It's even funnier when it's just one mailer that was sent out. They're either very scared or are so full of bullshit that they are an ecological hazard.

In contrast to this conflated, hyperbolic and empty rhetoric, Jonathan Brostoff, a former county board aide and candidate for Assembly District 19, as reported by Ed Heinzelman at Blogging Blue, presents a reasoned, rational explanation why the proper vote on the power grab referendum would be no.

But the most powerful counter to Abele's flat out lies comes from Supervisor David Bowen, who issued this statement today:
“As Election Day draws near it is important to think critically about the referendum on the ballot in Milwaukee County. It is important you understand the hypocrisy of those wealthy special interests supporting it. They do not and should not speak for the people of Milwaukee County.

“It should come as no surprise to you that wealthy special interests are pushing you to vote for a referendum to reduce the pay of your elected representatives on the County Board. Individuals who make astronomically more than we do want you to believe you would be better off with a legislative body with little oversight and few resources to monitor questionable uses of your tax dollars.

“Those who have crafted and influenced the language of the referendum all fall into the category of ‘wealthy special interests.’

“Those in the Greater Milwaukee Committee pushing this referendum do not understand how hard it is for you to pay for your bus ticket. The County Executive—whose wealth is evident—takes his six-figure salary and benefits from the County tax levy every year and doesn’t understand how expensive your childcare is every month. And the primary author of the referendum, who runs a million dollar taxicab monopoly, also admitted he only worked part-time as a supervisor but still took his full-time salary and benefits from your county tax dollars. He doesn’t understand how hard it was to pay for your heat this exceptionally cold winter.

“Maybe it’s time for the authors of this referendum to give back their taxpayer funded salaries, health care and pensions since they believe public service is not about the money.”
To sum it up, the decision isn't about whether the supervisors' pay should be cut. It's about whether we want hard working people like us representing us or do we want the elitist 1% ruling over us.

Disappointed and Disgusted!

Over the weekend, I told the reader about Cedric Cornwall's failing and flailing campaign that tried to resurrect the ghost of McCarty by smearing his opponent for exercising her constitutional right.  He first tried to pander to the left and to the unions and had actually gotten the endorsement from the Milwaukee Area Labor Council (MALC), of which I am an executive board member.

But even as he was pandering to the left, he was also pandering to the extremist right, as evidenced by his use of McCarthyism.  When the right wingers learned of the MALC endorsement, he started to lose their support.  When the left learned of his pandering to the right and his use of McCarthyism and his betrayal, they started to pull support.

That includes the support of MALC.  The following is a letter issued on Monday by MALC Secretary/Treasurer Sheila Cochran:

Click to embiggen

The MALC Executive Board did meet on Monday and passed a motion to rescind the endorsement of Cornwall and give it to Laura Gramling Perez.  The delegates will vote on it after the election is over, but a message had to be sent and Sheila did it ever so eloquently.

No Food For You!


By Jeff Simpson

H/T Our friends at Monologues of Dissent for this great piece on the Waterford School District.

 Agreeing among themselves that "the FDA standards are going beyond where they should," the conversation is largely hijacked by one Dan Jensen, who argues early that "there shouldn't be any federal lunch program" and cites his "Libertarian standpoint," evoking the specter of Milton Friedman, to defend the idea that since he "doesn't have the right" to ask someone to pay for someone else's lunch, he somehow does have the right to deny local taxpayers of federal funds they support with their own tax dollars.  While they cite a decline in lunch participation and an increase in throwing food in the trash, board members betrayed their real reasons for opting out of the program in fairly short order (emphasis mine - see the full video and story here):

The Board was split on the need to offer a free and reduced program to low income students in the district. Dan Jensen stated he did not feel it was the district’s responsibility to pay for anyone else’s lunch (video 1 at 4:34). Jensen the went on to describe that WGSD could in the future determine the family income levels that qualify a student for free and reduced lunch and what they would be given to eat if they did.
Board member Dawn Bleimehl stated that she hoped that any free and reduced lunch offered by the WGSD “looks the same” as the lunch served to other students (video #2 at 3:57). Dan Jensen went on to disagree that a free or reduced lunch need to look the same and that as a youngster (in RUSD) he was not bothered by standing in a special line while waiting to receive his free or reduced lunch. He agreed it would matter to some students in WGSD, but felt that was the price those students have to pay for receiving a lunch paid for by others (video #2 at 4:40). Unfortunately, the district would then stand to lose many tens of thousands of dollars in Title funds because it would be much less likely to identify and document students from low income households.
The board is, in essence, robbing local taxpayers of the federal funds THEY help support because of a personal "belief" that students who can't afford to eat don't deserve to eat. 

Once again, Heather nailed this important topic perfectly(go there and read the whole post).   she also sums up exactly how we got into this mess:

 This is precisely what happens when anti-child, anti-education people are elected to represent our schools.  When politics and personal opinion trump the educational success and welfare of our children, something is broken beyond repair. 

YOUR local elections MATTER!!  Vote Tomorrow!  

PS:   Here is a quick video Dan Jensen, the board member who does not feel it is his job to take care of the kids he represents(h/t QC)!!!

Matthew 25:35-40

 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Vote No On The Austerity Referendum

On Tuesday, Milwaukee County voters are being given one of the most undemocratic referendums to sully this nation.  It's not a true referendum as that the vote is almost meaningless.  The damage was already done last year when Emperor Chris Abele bought off some Teapublican state legislatures to ramrod through a bill that he had a silk stocking law firm draw up.  The bill takes away representative government in Milwaukee County by concentrating power into Abele's hands, much like the way that his mentor and good buddy, Scott Walker, amassed power shortly after becoming governor.

Part of the plutocratic power grab was this referendum, but only this one.  The state made it verboten that the county have any other referendums on the ballot this spring.  Obviously, the recognized just how unpopular Abele had become and did not want to weaken his totalitarian regime.

I've already discussed many of the maleficent stunts that Abele has pulled or tried to pull in just the months since Walker signed the usurpation law into effect.  I've also pointed out the article by Larry Hoffman in which he highlights many of the good things that the County Board has done despite the obstructionism of both Walker and Abele.

Now let's take a look at some other things.  Emperor Abele and his plutocratic pals at the Greater Milwaukee Committee have created yet another front group to push for the people to vote yes on the referendum.  Take a look at their logo and see if you can tell if they are on the side of the people or the corporate special interests that control the Tea Parties:

I can't help but laugh at the thought that they are actually trying to pass themselves off as smaller government advocates.  Especially when Abele has again followed in the footsteps of his hero, Scott Walker, in appointing cronies and giving them tens of thousands of dollar pay increases.

And let me tell you, as a county employee, the extra bureaucracy that Abele has put into place makes Walker look like he really was a reformer. And Abele's corruption and ineptitude actually makes Walker look like an Eagle Scout that had graduated from college.  It is also very hard to believe that with the high rate of turnover - among both Abele's inner circle and front line workers - that there is much efficiency in place.  Things are changing so much that know one knows what's going on.

It should be noted that the treasurer for Abele's front group is former county supervisor Joe Rice.  Rice is a disgruntled teahadist that is still ticked off because he pushed austerity so much that he pushed himself out of a job.  Apparently Rice is all for a smaller government as long as he's not the one getting downsized.

And as if we needed further proof that Abele's April Fool referendum is a bad idea, the corporate media jumps in with such flagrantly false reporting, it's a wonder that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel isn't sold in the check out line with the other tabloids.

One of the two things that stands out is the paper's claim that by cutting the board's salary, it would save taxpayers $475,000 a year.  But the board's staff got slashed this year and workers are getting gouged for millions of dollars, but there was no savings for the taxpayers.  On top of that, services have been cut for the county's most neediest citizens.  Abele has yet to give a reckoning on what he has done with all that money he was supposed to be saving.

The other big lie that the paper repeats is this:
Q. How does the current pay for Milwaukee supervisors compare with other county supervisors and elected officials?

A. It far surpasses other county board pay in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County supervisors, however, represent far more people (about 53,000) than other county supervisors in the state. Milwaukee aldermen make more (about $73,000) and state legislators earn slightly less than Milwaukee County supervisors. Aldermen in suburban or other smaller communities generally get paid far less. Pay for county supervisors or commissioners in other states varies greatly.
The truth of the matter is that every county supervisor in the state gets paid about $1.00 for every person they represent. The reason that Milwaukee County supervisors get paid so much more than the supervisors in other counties is because they are representing that many more people.

If Abele and his fellow plutocrats wanted to make the board part time and cut their salaries, but maintain the same level of representation, they would double the size of the board.  If the referendum passes, Milwaukee County supervisors would be representing many more people for half the pay than the other counties pay their supervisors.

All this doesn't mention that Milwaukee County is the only county in the state to have a Class A city, a internationally recognized zoo, an international airport, an international port and more amenities than could be listed.

The real reason Abele wants to pass this bill is to hamstring the County Board.

Abele has an agenda of privatizing what he can and selling off what he can't in order to maximize the profits that he and his fellow plutocrats can muster from the public.  He's made it abundantly clear to anyone paying attention that he is not concerned whatsoever for what is best for the community or the taxpayers.

The two biggest factors stopping him from his austerity agenda are the County Board and the unions.

He has tried twice in the past few months to bust the unions and will try again this summer after the Wisconsin Supreme Court rubber stamps Act 10.

Abele's April Fool referendum is designed to bust the county board.  He is planning on it passing and for one of two things to happen.

One, the current supervisors retire, quit or run for another office.  Abele then could help buy those seats for his hand-picked people to rubber stamp his bonehead ideas.

The other thing he is expecting that the supervisors would be forced to get other jobs to make up for the lost pay and benefits.  This, along with the cut in board staff, would give them precious little time to be able to go through Abele's proposals and budgets and catch the flaws, errors and misdeeds.  In other words, he is trying to break them so he can get his agenda passed without as much resistance.

Anyway you look at it, voting yes on Abele's referendum would be self-defeating.

I urge my Milwaukee County voters to join me in standing up for ourselves by voting no on this power grab.

Ghost of Kenosha Future!

By Jeff Simpson

We have let you know that the Koch Brothers are trying desperately to buy the Kenosha School Board.

Don't believe me?  Kenosha is not unique....check out this video!

Kenosha this will be you if you do not show up and tell them NO!  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

AFP-WI Serves Sour Tea in Kenosha!

By Jeff Simpson

We have brought you the story of how Americans for Prosperity, the anti-Wisconsin Koch brother's funded astroturf group has decided to start buying local elections throughout the country.  One of the places they have targeted is the Kenosha School Board.  

Luckily, the locals did the only thing they could do.  Fight back!  Yesterday they held a rally to raise awareness in the community and tell the Kansas Billionaires to stay out of our schools

About 60 demonstrators voiced their opinion in front of the Kenosha Unified School District Educational Support Center in a show of solidarity leading up to Tuesday’s election.
The picketers carried signs critical of the Americans for Prosperity group and those School Board candidates they feel are aligned with the group.
While the signs did not advocate for any candidate, they did encourage people not to vote for Dan Wade or Gary Kunich(who is a proud member of the local tea party).
Last week the state director of Americans for Prosperity — the conservative group funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch — said the organization has a field team working on the Kenosha School Board race, doing phone banks and canvassing in the district.

As we have told you before, Dan Wade is Kristy "Knot My Wisconsin"  Lacroix's father and  his wife(Kristy's mom) is his treasurer.  Which is fine, until she speaks:

Some of the marchers were briefly confronted by members of candidate Dan Wade’s family, including Wade’s wife Mary, who is the treasurer of her husband’s campaign.
“The Americans for Prosperity have no business being in this school board race, but they” — she said, pointing to the marchers —“are trying to put my husband and Gary Kunich in the same pot as the Tea Party.”
She admitted that the Republican Party had donated to her husband’s campaign. “But if the Democratic Party had given us a check, I would have taken that one too,” Mary said. “Being my husband’s treasurer, trust me, running a campaign is expensive and trying to refute a bunch of lies is even more expensive.”

While I understand the need to distance oneself from the despicable AFP-WI, and I also understand that to support Scott Walker so rabidly, you need to deny reality.

Unfortunately for Ms. Wade we have pictures:

Vote FOR  Jo Ann Taube and Mike Falkofske!


The Walker Agenda Is Still Working! Part CCXV

As the state proceeds deeper into the crazy season, Scott Walker has kept trying to tell us how his agenda is really working and we are in the land of plenty.  We might have plenty of bovine manure, but we don't have plenty of jobs:
Wisconsin was second in the nation in total job losses last month, a somewhat surprising development considering the state’s unemployment rate has reached its lowest level since November 2008. Employers in Wisconsin shed an estimated 9,500 total public and private sector jobs in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported late last week Along with North Carolina (11,300 job losses) and Alaska (2,300 job losses), Wisconsin experienced a “statistically significant” decline in employment, according to a press release from the BLS. The Wisconsin losses included an estimated 7,900 government jobs, 5,000 jobs in professional or business services and 2,200 in manufacturing.
Maybe Walker really does think his agenda is working. It's not like he's in the state long enough to see what's really going on in the first place.

Scott Walker 's Beauty Contest


By Jeff Simpson

Scott Walker left Wisconsin yet again, no not to watch the Badgers win and get to the Final Four, he went to Las Vegas to participate in his own tournament.  This tournament was a "beauty contest" to see who despicable billionaire Sheldon Adelson wanted to bring to the prom.

Sheldon Adelson, who has already paid Scott Walker $250,000, for services rendered, now is deciding who gets his largess in the 2016 Presidential race(remember this trip every time Scott Walker tells us he has not thought about 2016).   Adelson has a loooong history and its not pretty, unless you are GOP member running for office since he has spent well north of $100,000,000 trying to get republicans elected.  

Scott Walker lost the swimsuit competition(do not blame me if you click here)!

Then Scott went on to the interview, again he gave Miss South Carolina a run for her money.  The Governor who has stated his goal of Governing as "divide and conquer":

Had this to say in front of a different audience:
 "What voters in the middle want more than anything... is leadership. They want people to lead. They're so cynical with politics today," Walker said. "It's a sad commentary where we're at in American society that sometimes I get called courageous just because I kept my word. Everywhere else in life that's expected, but somehow in politics, that's exceptional."
 Not sure if Scott Walker has forgotten his number one campaign pledge or just feels that all the rules that apply to everyone else, does not apply to him, but let's take a trip down memory lane:

Who is that guy talking?   By the way where is he on the jobs pledge?  Not even halfway!

Do we want someone who blatantly dismisses reality as our next Governor?

Milwaukee County Supervisors Earn Their Pay

Even as Chris Abele and his plutocratic pals at the Greater Milwaukee Committee spend hundreds of thousands of dollars urging people to give up their right to representative government, the truth is coming out in force.

Larry Hoffman recently had an op-ed piece appear in the local paper that spells out very clearly many of the great things that the Milwaukee County Board has done for the community, usually in the face of opposition from the county executive/emperor, whether it be Scott Walker or Chris Abele:
Being a county supervisor is a rigorous, multifaceted, full-time job. Serving nearly a million people, they oversee some 25 departments, including those that run our bus system, airports and zoo; care for our elders, our disabled and addicted; maintain roads and parks; and more. Each month, supervisors analyze dozens of issues and make difficult decisions involving millions of dollars. We the people can speak our minds to them and testify at committee meetings.

Supervisors reflect the values of the community — people affluent and poor, of color and otherwise. The board fights to protect workers and assist the weakest among us.

Residents and businesses ignored by the wealthy power structure are helped by supervisors to build alliances. Should supervisors have to juggle additional jobs at the same time they're fighting to give constituents the tools to make a decent living?

With diminished funding and staff, supervisors are already hard-pressed to carry out crucial tasks: communicating with constituents; analyzing the multitude of materials required for decision-making; overseeing the executive and departments; and developing ideas into complex proposals.

Representing 53,000 citizens and paid $51,000, a supervisor gets about $1 a year per constituent. Isn't an open, vibrant democracy worth $1 a year? Or should we vote "yes" for a 50-cent discount model?

From thousands of board actions since 2003, here are some of the board's excellent accomplishments, mostly over opposition from Abele or Scott Walker:

■Contributed $10 million to save the War Memorial and the Milwaukee Art Museum's collection.

■Prohibited parking meters along the lakefront.

■Prevented shutdown of Pulaski and Noyes indoor pools for seniors.

■Saved vital bus routes targeted by Walker.

■Provided training and competition for hundreds of kids through Youth Sports Authority.

■Removed the House of Correction from Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.; refocused on rehabilitation.

■Switched county employees' health insurance plan, saving $37 million.

■Instituted $11.32 an hour living wage for county workers.

■Rejected Walker's 25-year, $400 million lease of St. Michael Hospital.

■Trained and employed 500 workers, averaging $18 an hour, through WRTP/Big Step.

Members of the state Assembly receive $50,000 a year. Milwaukee aldermen make $78,000. County supervisors do comparable work.

After five years as a board aide, I made $24,000 a year. It's hard to imagine an elected official, responsible to the people 24/7, overseeing professionals making six figures, who gets no insurance or pension and the salary of an aide. If anyone in your family would ever feel called to run for office, would you be encouraged or discouraged?

Poorly paid elected positions won't attract good candidates, particularly minorities, who aren't wealthy. But they'll attract candidates who don't need the money — candidates oriented toward wealthier constituents.

They say this vote will let us take full-time salaries away from part-time workers. In reality, it would do the opposite, relegating full-time workers to part-time pay. If we pay them less, we'll be less able to hold the executive accountable. It would be an affront to democracy. Our vote Tuesday should be "no."
A lot of people think that by voting to cut the salaries, they'll finally be "sticking it to the man." The sad truth is that the only people they'll be sticking it to is themselves. They aren't really going to be voting to cut the supervisors' salary as much as voting to cut their own voice and authority.

Cornwall Shows Himself To Be Unfit For Circuit Court Seat

In Milwaukee County, there is a number of judicial elections coming up on Tuesday, but only one of those races - the one for Branch 32 - is a contested race, meaning that there is more than one candidate.  The two people running for that seat are Laura Gramling Perez and Cedric Cornwall.

Gramling Perez has been working her campaign for months, appearing at numerous events and getting her name out.  She has gotten the support of many judges, court commissioners, lawyers, elected officials and labor unions.  She is very personable and professional and has some great ideas to improve the judicial system and make it more friendly to the people that find themselves in the system.  In the interest of full disclosure, I endorsed Gramling Perez at the beginning of the year.

Cornwall's campaign has been quieter.  He has not been as visible and has not been out and about nearly as much as his opponent.  He has also gain the support of many judges, court commissioners and lawyers, but many of them appear to be people that work at the Children's Court Center where he works in his current position.

The race, until Friday, had been relatively quiet.

But on Friday, Cornwall's campaign started to implode with an increasingly rapid pace.

The implosion started when it was learned that his campaign had sent out these fliers to voters:

Cornwall went all McCarthy on his opponent.  He cited a right wing front group, Wisconsin Election Launch, to give the impression that Gramling Perez couldn't be impartial because she exercised her constitutional right to sign a recall petition.

If Cornwall paid more attention to the law than right wing propaganda blogs, he would have learned that there is nothing wrong with Gramling Perez signing a recall petition, as constitutional law scholar Professor Edward Fallone of Marquette University clearly points out.

But - say it with me - there's more.  There's always more.

Cornwall's campaign has admitted that these mailers were supposed to go to only conservative voters.  Progressive voters were supposed to get another mailer which cited a quote from Judge Carolina Stark.

In other words, he was trying to play both sides of the aisle with his misleading fliers.

These actions - the McCarthyism and the duplicity - started people to reconsider their endorsement of Cornwall.  There have been at least three names reported to Cog Dis that have withdrawn their endorsements.

As these events were transpiring, yet another problem for Cornwall was discovered.

Cornwall has been claiming the support of people that never did endorse him.  The most notable of these people is Robert Hansen, who not only did not support Cornwall, but has been in full support and actively canvassing for Gramling Perez:
I just saw Cedric Cornwall's new mail piece attacking Laura Gramling Perez for signing the recall. I am fully behind Laura Gramling Perez in this election and encourage you to get out and vote for her for circuit court judge. I am sending Mr. Cornwall a message expressing my disappointment and am asking him to remove my name from his website, on which I found out I am listed as a supporter. To be clear I have been helping Laura since the beginning and intend to do all I can to see her elected to this position.
Laura Gramling Perez
In summary, Cornwall, who claims to be concerned about impartiality, has been playing both sides of the political aisle through disingenuous and flagrantly false fliers and has been falsely claiming the support of people who have never supported him and were even actively working for his opponent.

Instead of falsely maligning his opponent about impartiality, it would have behooved Cornwall to remember that even more important qualities for a judge are ethical conduct and integrity, both of which Cornwall has shown himself to be severely lacking.

Once again, I urge Milwaukee County voters to support Laura Gramling Perez, a strong, impartial and ethical judge.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Searching For Regulations

By Jeff Simpson

We all know that its costly liberal regulations that are killing small business in this country.   We know it has nothing to do with wages declining for the last thirty years or the move(thanks to our insane free trade agreements) from a manufacturing society to a service society or the decline of unionization in our country.  None of that has hurt us at all, it is strictly the overbearing burden of regulation of business(all of which has been forced upon us by liberal politicians) that has cost us jobs and kept us from recovering.   

Just ask Kevin O'Leary from ABC's Shark Tank:

In this clip, successful investor Kevin O’Leary from ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank” eloquently and persuasively destroys many of the myths of the “1 percent” and describes in personal detail how many of the small businesses he works with have to spend nearly $20,000 to $30,000 a year complying with federal regulations.
O’Leary is spot on, confirming Heritage research finding that “during President Obama’s first four years in office, the annual regulatory burdens on Americans increased by nearly $70 billion.”

Then self proclaimed Mr. Wonderful issued a challenge:

 O’Leary challenges President Obama to hear for himself the adverse impact of federal regulations on America’s small businesses. These are the hard-working men and women, O’Leary says, who will create jobs.

Being a supporter of President Obama, I thought I would take him up on that!   Unfortunately the first person I went to talk to....cant:

Three weeks after falling from the Opa roller coaster at the Mt. Olympus a 63-year-old man remains in an induced coma.
Tony Theisen was visiting Wisconsin Dells with his wife Kay along with another couple.
"Toward the end, one of the last turns of the ride he was ejected off the ride and he was thrown 17 feet," said Todd R. Korb, an attorney representing the family. "He hit a number of times as he went down and when he hit the ground he hit with his head right on a metal bar and he suffered a skull fracture. He has a fractured scapula, four fractured vertebrae, fractured toes, a fractured finger, dislocated shoulder, but he’s had a traumatic, very life-altering brain injury."
Korb said a safety test was conducted on the Opa roller coaster on March 25. Sand bags were placed on the ride to simulate the approximate weight of Theisen.
Korb said when the ride reached the point in the track with Theisen was ejected, the lap bar opened up.
A report on the accident blames a faulty lap bar for allowing Theisen to be ejected.

 Then I thought I could wait on Mr. Thiesen so I tried to track down 13 other people who might be experts on the subject of too much Government regulation.  It turned out they were not able to talk to me either. 

 Federal safety regulators received more than 260 complaints over the last 11 years about General Motors vehicles that suddenly turned off while being driven, but they declined to investigate the problem, which G.M. now says is linked to 13 deaths and requires the recall of more than 1.6 million cars worldwide.

I will keep on the lookout for more people who can tell me the awful burden of regulations on business!   In the meantime, turn into ABC's Shark Tank where Mr. O Leary will take a great idea from a desperate entrepreneur and turn it into millions and then ship all of the jobs overseas and screw over the orignator of the idea!    Its classic TV Viewing. 


One last clip from Mr. Wonderful:

Wrongly Laid Off Milwaukee County Housekeepers File Civil Lawsuit

At the end of 2009, then Milwaukee County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker wanted to throw some red meat to his Tea Party base by showing he could practice austerity with the best (and worst) of them by laying off the county-employed housekeepers and contracting out those services to a private company.

The fact that said private company just so happened to be owned by Edward Aprahamian, a major contributor to Walker's campaign, was purely coincidental.

Or so Walker would have had people believe.

That lie was exposed three years later, during the Walkergate investigation and trials, when it turned out that Walker's then Deputy Chief of Staff and campaign fund raiser extraordinaire, Kelly Rindfleisch, was tapping Aprahamian for donations for her other boss, Brett Davis.

Meanwhile, the laid off county housekeepers were hoping to get called back to their jobs - or any other job in the County - before the three year callback time expired.  Their hopes were squashed first by Walker and then by the equally anti-worker Chris Abele.  The workers and the unions then went to the County Board to lobby for their jobs back.  They met with a lot of resistance, but there were enough supervisors that saw Walker's actions as being wrong.

One of the supervisors, John Weishan, introduced a resolution to hire the housekeepers back to their old jobs. Sadly, Abele lobbied even harder to stop this resolution.  When it was brought up for a vote last week, the resolution failed by one vote:
11-7 (No: Alexander, Borkowski, Jursik, Lipscomb, Schmitt, Staskunas, Taylor) on a resolution authorizing and directing the rehiring of former displaced County housekeepers to service the Courthouse facility. (Item 13) 
Abele and the conservative members of the board rejoiced at this news.  It turns out their celebration might have been premature.

Earlier this year, the release of more of the Walkergate emails files showed that Walker and his staff harbored severe anti-union attitudes.  Emails between Walker and his staff showed them to conspire to punish AFSCME workers with furloughs and layoffs.  That is, in fact, just what they did, giving AFSCME members more furlough days than workers that were members of other unions or non-represented employees.

And that is just what he did.  Most AFSCME members got 26 days of furloughs in 2010 while other county workers got 12 or only eight days of furloughs.  (It turns out that Walker did the furloughs illegally and the county workers were reimbursed for the majority of the time they missed.  To put it another way, Walker's austerity did nothing more than give county workers up to five weeks of paid time off. Funny how the corporate media never reported that.)

The failure of the board to pass the resolution and the confirmation of what any county worker could have told you - that Walker was targeting union workers, led to the only remaining course of action for the housekeepers and the union.  They filed lawsuit on Thursday:
Boyd McCamish, Executive Director of Milwaukee District Council 48, AFSCME, announced today the filing of a civil rights lawsuit against Milwaukee County over the laying off of custodial workers at the Milwaukee County Courthouse in 2009. The County laid off the workers and privatized the custodial services as part of the 2010 budget pushed through by then County Executive Scott Walker. The lawsuit alleges that Walker demanded the layoffs and privatization to punish the custodians for membership in the Union.

McCamish stated, “Recent revelations demonstrate that Scott Walker and his cronies at Milwaukee County took actions against members of the Union precisely because of their membership in the Union. The Union believes that the secret e-mails that recently came to light showed Walker and his advisors at the County routinely sought to punish workers for their membership in and association with the Union.

The laid off workers fought to be reinstated in their former positions following the election of County Executive Chris Abele, but Abele pressured the Milwaukee County Board to reject a recent proposal to reopen the Courthouse custodial positions. A resolution directing the rehiring of the laid off workers, introduced by Supervisor Weishan, was rejected in an 11-7 vote in favor of the resolution at the March 20th meeting of the Milwaukee County Board. Chris Abele lobbied supervisors to vote against the proposal citing a fiscal note compiled by the Office of the Comptroller stating that creating the custodial positions would cost an extra $630,925 per year above the current cost for private custodial services. McCamish argues that those costs are inflated and that the Milwaukee County Board should not consider the difference between poverty wages and living wages “cost savings.”

The First Amendment permits workers to associate with other workers and to become members of a union. For the County to punish workers for their rights to free association under the Constitution is an interference with their rights as citizens of the United States. We have seen that some politicians, like Scott Walker, are willing to use any illegal and unconstitutional tactics to interfere with citizens’ rights. The Union will fight any governmental interference with the right of free association.” McCamish added that the suit seeks damages in the form of back pay for the workers illegally laid off in violation of the Constitution. McCamish also said he hopes the County recognizes that what it did to the custodians needs to be remedied.

McCamish hopes that the County immediately ends the ill-conceived and illegal subcontracting and rehires the custodians who lost their jobs due to Scott Walker’s unconstitutional actions.
There are some things worth emphasizing here.

Walker illegally targeted the housekeepers for layoff to "save money." Abele refused to allow the housekeepers back and tried to justify it by saying it would cost too much because the housekeepers would get paid a living wage.

Now, if the unions are successful, not only would the county have to hire the housekeepers back, but would also have to pay them five years of back pay.  The artificially inflated numbers that Abele was kvetching about pales compared to the millions of dollars it might now cost taxpayers.

Would someone please tell me how this saves money again?  Whodathunk that austerity was so expensive?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wiggy Quote of The Day

By Jeff Simpson

I just love our friends on the right:

This is James Wigderson's column from just a few months ago(emphasis mine):

Kramer’s probable victory reflects the importance of Waukesha to the Republican Party.
Kramer’s time as speaker pro tem has hardly been quiet. Kramer presided over the Assembly during some of the most controversial debates in Madison. His rulings even provided an excuse for Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca to theatrically call for Kramer’s removal from the chair.
In a more recent incident, Kramer walked out (justifiably) during the annual State of the Tribes speech, an action that got statewide attention.

Kramer’s style may not endear him to Madison liberals; it does represent the conservative nature of Waukesha County. As majority leader, Kramer can lend some much-needed spine to Republican leadership who are hoping to coast through the next elections without offending anyone.

If Kramer wins, it will be good for Waukesha as well. Being represented by legislators in leadership is good for a community.

Who is this Bill Kramer that he speaks of? 

One month after being accused of groping and sexual harassment, Rep. Bill Kramer faces potential sexual assault charges stemming from yet another alleged incident.

Two days after the Waukesha Republican decided not to run for re-election, a prosecutor said that the Muskego Police Department on Wednesday referred to him sexual assault charges against the Waukesha Republican.

Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said the possible charges are being independently reviewed by one of the prosecutors in his office. He declined to offer any details but did confirm that the referral stems from a different alleged incident from the one on the East Coast.

"This has got nothing to do with the D.C. thing, at least not directly," Schimel said.


Witnesses have alleged that Kramer hugged a legislative staffer and touched her breasts at a social event after the D.C. fundraiser. He also allegedly made vulgar remarks about his sexual prowess to a lobbyist on that night of Feb. 26 and again the next day on a flight back to Wisconsin.

The legislative aide has filed a personnel complaint against Kramer. It is being investigated by Mark Kaeppel, the Legislature's human resources manager, and the review is ongoing, Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller said.
I finally agree with Wiggy, who better represents the right wing nature of Waukesha County?  

By the way, has anyone seen Kramer?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Disability Rights Group Under State Investigation

As I have been reporting, Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele had once again had a temper tantrum aimed at the Milwaukee County Board.  This tantrum had to do with the fact that the County Board had the audacity to put into place safety nets for the patients at the mental health complex who are being forced into the community, whether there is an appropriate support system in place or not.

Abele's tantrum was enough that he once again went to his Teapublican allies in the state legislature to strip the board of any oversight authority over the mental health system.  Instead, the fate of the patients will rest on a panel of political appointees and the heads of the companies that will be profiteering from Abele's abdication to the patients of the hospital.

The proponents of this power grab said that it was to take the system from politicians.  No, really.

In an effort to justify his abdication and auctioning off of the mental health system, Abele used a report issued by the advocacy group, Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW).

The report in itself was the subject of great controversy.  County board supervisors accused the group of violating patients' confidentiality and that the report was kept secret from them for months in order to advance their political agenda:
Disability Rights Wisconsin was accused by irate county supervisors of violating patient confidentiality laws, of playing politics and working to wrest control of the complex from the county, during a meeting of the County Board's health committee.

Supervisor John Weishan Jr. accused the rights group of conducting a media campaign "to slander our system so you can fulfill your strategy of a state takeover" of the complex.

A concern of supervisors was why Disability Rights Wisconsin did not include the County Board when it secretly sent its report on patient safety last June to County Executive Chris Abele and two county health administrators, as well as state and federal regulators.

Corporation Counsel Paul Bargren also faulted the group for disseminating the report earlier this month, after the Journal Sentinel first reported on it Jan 14.

"This constitutes a grave breach by DRW of its statutory, ethical and contractual patient confidentiality obligations," Bargren wrote in a Jan. 20 letter.
Abele and his pet Teapublcans ignored this issue, blowing it off as an example of how overreaching the board could be.

Turns out that the Board was right on the button.  Again.

Bargren had written to Scott Walker to express his concerns about the report.  Surprisingly, Walker responded.  Even more surprisingly, he agreed that there needs to be an investigation into DRW and their report:

It's anybody's guess where this matter might lead. Just like his protege Abele, Walker is not one to be trusted. After all, Walker is the one that used this report to claim that the mental health system was like a "natural disaster" while totally ignoring the role he played in ruining the system.  Now he is saying that he agrees that it might be faulty?

My prediction is that it will be found faulty only if it doesn't reflect poorly on him.  If he would get painted in a even worse picture than he's painting for himself, then nothing will be found with the report.

It's also worth noting that the report focused on the deaths that occurred at the mental health complex in 2012, while Abele was administrating the facility.

That's significant because it shows that two consecutive county executives brought the system into ruins.

Yet it is the Board, which had no control over the operations of the facility, outside of setting basic policy and the budget.  Yet it is the Board - along with the patients and the taxpayers - who are being punished for Walker's and Abele's misdeeds.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

RIP James Rebhorn

Character Actor James Rebhorn passed away after a ten year battle with skin cancer.   Unlike most people, Mr. Rebhorn knew the end was coming, so he penned his own obituary(emphasis mine).

His Life, According to Jim

James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done. They gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God.
He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters.
He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example.
His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by. His son-in-law, Ben, also survives him. Jim loved Ben, who was as a son to Jim, especially through these last months.
His aunts Jean, Dorothy and Florence, numerous cousins and their families, and many devoted friends also survive Jim. He loved them all, and he knows they loved him.
Jim received his BA at Wittenberg University and his MFA at Columbia. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Nu Zeta 624, a life-long Lutheran, and a longtime member of both the AMC and ACLU.
Jim was fortunate enough to earn his living doing what he loved. He was a professional actor. His unions were always there for him, and he will remain forever grateful for the benefits he gained as a result of the union struggle. Without his exceptional teachers and the representation of the best agents in the business, he wouldn’t have had much of a career. He was a lucky man in every way.

–Jim Rebhorn, March 2014


By Jeff Simpson

The other day we brought you the story of how the right wing extremist hate group, Knot My Wisconsin, is involved in the Kenosha Unified School District's School Board race.   They are so involved that one of the candidates, Dan Wade, is actually Kristi Lacroix's father-in-law(Kristy is one of the main "knotsies"). 

That is fine, in our democratic republic, anyone with enough signatures is allowed to run and the more people who participate the better.  I just think it is important to know who these people are, since the pattern is the farther right someone is the more they tout their "independence".   However it is up to the people of Kenosha to do their homework and research and NOT vote people like this into office. 

However, no we have a very very troubling trend in Kenosha that will soon be spilling over to other districts  -  outside money!   This is not just any outside money, or outside money from a college roommate, etc...  This dirty money comes right from the despicable Koch Brothers and comes in the form of their incredibly dishonest and morally bankrupt front group - Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity — the conservative group funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch — is getting involved with the Kenosha Unified School Board race.
David Fladeboe, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said the organization has a field team working on the race, doing phone banks and canvassing in the district.
“We’re getting a feel for what the people in Kenosha are thinking and doing,” Fladeboe said. “Right now we’re doing phone surveys to figure out where people are on a number of issues.”
Four candidates are running for two seats on the School Board. Incumbent Jo Ann Taube hopes to return to the board. Also running are Mike Falkofske, Gary Kunich and Dan Wade.
Fladeboe said Americans for Prosperity is not specifically supporting any candidate. But he said the group decided to become involved in the race due to the board’s approval of new union contracts.
Taube voted to approve the contracts and is endorsed by the Kenosha Education Association, as is Falkofske. Kunich and Wade have been vocal in their opposition to the contracts and have been endorsed by the local Republican Party.
“We’ll have a team working to get out the vote,” Fladeboe said.

We know that "not specifically supporting any candidates" is a flat out LIE from Mr. Fladboe.  When Vicki Mckenna runs a fundraiser for you it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who the candidates are that AFP-WI is campaigning for.  

As Jay Heck of Common cause says:

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause, a Wisconsin campaign spending watchdog group, said Americans for Prosperity and other political organizations have become increasingly involved in local elections in the state, specifically in northern Wisconsin where the group has gone after opponents of a proposed iron ore mine.

But he said he had not heard of the group being involved in school board races in the state.

He called the development “very, very alarming.”

Mr. Heck goes on to add:

He said it appears to be part of an arms race in campaign spending that is seeking to have a greater influence on public policy.
“It’s a new trend. It’s now in virtually every competitive congressional and legislative race, but now it’s county supervisors and city council members. And now school board members down in Kenosha,” Heck said. “It’s the nationalization of state and local politics in Wisconsin.

Want to know more about the Charles and David Koch, the out of state billionaires that want to influence your election?   check them out here, here and here! 

As for their front group - Americans for Prosperity - They just got busted for lying about Obamacare. 

Is this the kind of group you want picking candidates for you?  Is allowing people this deceptive and morally bankrupt to influence your elections, what kind of message does this send to your children?    I also promise you that if you allow groups like AFP to start picking your School board candidates, they will NOT stop there.  They will work on influencing other school board races, and local elections, etc... 

Stop them NOW!!    Tell the out of state billionaire's to stay out of our schools.   You know they do not care a bit about your children! 

Vote FOR  Jo Ann Taube and Mike Falkofske!  

Take Action to Fix the BHD Crisis

While Chris Abele is slapping himself for getting the state to go along with the auctioning off of Milwaukee's mentally ill, there are still people who care and want to do what's best for them.

As such, there will be two meetings on Wednesday to discuss how the profit taking from our mental health system really means:

Please note that this is being put on by both AFSCME and the nurses' union, which kind of flies in the face of the corporate media's reporting that the nurses support it too.

Draft Randy Bryce For State Senate

When the Republicans gerrymandered the districts a couple of years ago, they thought they gave themselves a lock on both houses of the state legislature as well as the federal level seats.  They felt confident that their districts were secure and that any future elections were locked.

But they underestimated the will of the people and a Wisconsinite's innate desire for what is just.

While many districts are still heavily in the Republican's favor, the seats are not as secure as they might have thought.

With things like the ongoing Walkergate investigations, to the attacks on workers, the attacks on women (both literally and politically), the wrenching away of local control, the corruption, the damage done to public education (not to mention the increase in taxes because of it), the attack on veterans, the disdain for cancer patients and a list of things that could go on for weeks and months, the Republicans would not be able to win a fair election and are going to have problems even with the gerrymandered districts.

I believe that State Senate District 21 might be one of the most vulnerable of these gerrymandered seats.  It is currently held by State Senator John Lehman, who is giving up the seat to run for Lieutenant Governor.  To date, there have been no Democrats to step up to run and time is starting to run short before nomination papers need to be circulated.

Hence I feel now is the time to draft someone to run for that seat.

The candidate would have to be someone with some name recognition to help make up for the gerrymandering.  Because of the areas blue collar, hard-working population who is starving for jobs, the candidate would have to be someone who would support the workers and help them get good family jobs.  The candidate should also have a passion to make sure our children are able to receive the best educations they can; that citizens in need should be able to get assistance when they need it and that we only get one world and its natural resources should not be squandered for a short term profit gain.

Most importantly, the candidate should be someone who is not afraid to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and do the hard work that will be needed to first win the race and then get to work on fixing the damage that has been done in the past three years.

There is only one person that I know of that could meet those requirements: Randy Bryce.

Randy is fairly well known due to a previous run for the State Assembly as well as his activism and his involvement in the community.  Being a member of Ironworkers Local 8, he has a strong work ethic and recognizes it in others, whether they are unionized or not.  While I am sure he would love to see everyone in a union, his primary focus has always been to work on getting everyone a decent, family supporting job.

If you talk to Randy for five minutes, you would know how much he loves son, Ben, and how proud he is of his son.  Randy would go to Madison with that fierce love and fight not only for Ben, but all children.

He would bring that same fire and same work ethic with him to Madison to stand up for the people.  He would not sell out his constituents for any special interests and he would not do anything, personally or professionally, to embarrass them.

For those reasons and more, I would like to see Randy Bryce drafted to run for State Senate District 21.

If Randy does run for this seat, it is far from being guaranteed that he would win, due to the gerrymandering and the dark money that would flood the race to support his opponent.  But I can promise you, that even if Randy doesn't win this fight, the other side will know they've been in one.

If you are like me and think that Randy should run for State Senate District 21, please let him know that you support him by joining the Facebook page.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Call To Action! Help Milwaukee's Foster Children!

For those who were unaware or might have forgotten, I had worked for the child welfare system in Milwaukee County from 1995 to 2001.  At the time, the system was struggling because Republicans like  Tommy Thompson, Alberta Darling, Margaret Farrow and Scott Walker thought it perfectly fine to short change the system.

It wasn't fine and when they were caught out in their lies and malfeasance, they chose to cover it up by taking over the system themselves.  Despite spending extra tens of millions of dollars each year, the system hasn't really improved.

Last summer, I wrote about how it was about to get much, much worse:
Sadly, it appears that things are about to get much worse. 

I have received an email pointing out that the state, in an effort to recruit more employees, have lowered the standards required for the job.  Where it once required the employee to have at least a Bachelor's Degree in social work or other related fields, the bar has been substantially dropped. 

The application to work for the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) is more concerned if the applicant has a driver's license than the appropriate education and experience.  In fact, you don't even need to be a college graduate anymore to be hired, which should scare the heck out of anyone who cares about children.

I have also been informed that the BMCW has about 50 openings at this time.  The lowering of requirements and credentials is no doubt a move to fill these positions with warm bodies, whether they are qualified or not, and to do so on the cheap.
The good news is now is your time to call them out on their failure and put pressure on them to do the right thing.

The Partnership Council, their steering committee if you will, is holding a community meeting this Friday, March 28th.  The meeting will be from 12 noon to 2 pm and will be held at 635 N. 26 St.

If you are available, please come to the meeting and tell the Council that the children deserve to have workers with the appropriate training and education.  If they claim that they can't find such workers, remind them that they need to look at they way they treat their workers and to pay them an adequate salary.

Abused and neglected children have already suffered more than they ever should have.  They don't need to have their lives made worse because corporate politicians don't want to spare a few bucks to ensure they are receiving good services and qualified workers.