Monday, June 30, 2014

Campaigns should not be coordinating with dark money donors

By Jeff Simpson 

Cross Posted from JSonline:

Gov. Scott Walker was correct when he called the rash of news stories about the latest John Doe investigation a "media frenzy." The first John Doe resulted in six criminal prosecutions, and in the midst of the second John Doe, Appeals Court Judge Frank Easterbrook ordered the release of a small batch of documents related to the latest investigation.

The highlight of the document release was part of an email Walker had sent to Karl Rove, former top adviser to President George W. Bush. In the email, Walker tells Rove that his longtime campaign strategist, R.J. Johnson, would be coordinating between an unlimited number of right-wing groups to help make sure that they were going to be successful in the recall elections. There is not much question whether the Walker campaign coordinated with these different groups. However, there is doubt as to the legality of such coordination.

Do we as a society, in our constitutionally limited democratic republic, just wait until a current lifetime-appointed judge gives us his all-too-predictable ruling on the matter, or do we demand more out of our public servants?

There are two kinds of people who believe that money in politics is not a problem: the people receiving the money and the people who are not paying attention. The two major parties and their respective supporters spent as much as $60 million on the gubernatorial recall election in addition to spending almost $40 million in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Two men spent $100 million to battle for a job that pays $140,000 a year plus benefits. And we are supposed to trust these people with our state budget?

Do we continue to look the other way, while politicians spend massive amounts of money on ads (Walker is currently spending $245,000 on a TV ad campaign to run for over a week) while our children go hungry? In Wisconsin, the number of children on free and reduced-cost lunch has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Our politicians understand the importance of keeping money out of politics, as they wrote it into our state statutes: "When the true source of support or extent of support is not fully disclosed, or when a candidate becomes overly dependent upon large private contributors, the democratic process is subjected to a potential corrupting influence."

Abraham Lincoln warned us that if we enthrone corporations, "an era of corruption in high places will follow." There is no higher place than our statehouse.

We also need to look at the silly claims that Johnson and Eric O'Keefe, head of Wisconsin Club For Growth, among others, have made. They assert that their First Amendment rights were violated due to the John Doe investigation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The First Amendment tells us that Congress shall make no law "abridging the freedom of speech." At no time have Johnson or O'Keefe lost their rights to free speech. They have the same rights that you and I do. What they have lost is the ability to collect unlimited amounts of anonymous money to use, with the collaboration of elected officials, to work together in coordination to get as many members of one party elected.

The question we have to ask is not whether Walker will face criminal charges. The question we need to ask as a society is: Do we want to outsource our elections and our politicians to a handful of multimillionaires? As Thomas Paine said, "a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right."

No matter what the outcome of the second John Doe, it is wrong to have politicians collaborating with outside dark money groups. We need to start holding our elected representatives to a higher standard of ethics and personal responsibility.

Jeff Simpson of Cottage Grove is a small business owner, member of the Monona Grove School Board and Progressive blogger.

Bipartisan Cronyism

Three months ago, I broke the story that Scott Walker had asked that the disability rights advocacy group Disability Rights Wisconsin be investigated for violating the laws regarding patient confidentiality.

Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the group was found to have violated the law but that it did not rise to the level of them being stripped of their authority to be the state advocate for the disabled.

However, buried at the end of the story - where the corporate media giant likes to put stories that they really don't want people to know about but do want to be able to claim they reported it - is the news drop that people should be aware of (emphasis mine):
On Friday, Walker announced his final two appointments to the new Mental Health Board.

They are Lyn Malofsky, who will represent consumers of services, and Kimberly Walker, a legal representative.

Malofsky served as executive director of Warmline Inc. and helped establish La Linea de Apoyo for the Spanish speaking. She co-founded the Crisis Intervention Team.

Walker is executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee and previously served as corporation counsel for Milwaukee County.
What the paper doesn't report is that Kimberly Walker was fired from her corp counsel job for her incompetence and lack of ethics. Kimberly Walker was the person who gave Emperor Chris Abele advice on how to circumvent open records laws. Not only was her advice unethical and illegal but it was also faulty in that her advice wouldn't work.

Illegalities and ethics never bothered Scott Walker and he is no stranger to cronyism, so this was a slam dunk decision.

Isn't it nice to see that Abele and Scott Walker can show such "bipartisanship" to reward another crooked crony?  I'm sure that if Scott Walker ever needed the favor, such as giving Tim Russell a job, Abele has got it covered.

And isn't it nice to know that this whole scheme regarding Milwaukee County's mental health system had nothing to do about politics or profiteering?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Popcorn Worthy Primary

In recent weeks, there have been two primary races that have caught the national eye. Both of these races were between establishment Republicans and extremist Tea Party candidates.

In the bigger race, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was handed a stunning defeat by Tea Party challenger David Brat.  More recently, Thad Cochran barely eked out a come from behind victory over his Tea Party opponent, Chris McDaniel.

In Wisconsin's 4th Congressional District, we have a GOP primary that is shaping up to be rather interesting and, depending on your point of view, quite comical.  Sadly, I don't see it getting much attention nationally.

In one corner, we have the perennial Teapublican Dan Sebring.  Sebring has run against Gwen Moore about a gajillon times now, always with the same result.  Sebring has a strong propensity to be a buffoon with problems ranging from unpaid taxes to racist ads to  raffling off guns for the GOP.

In the other corner, we have an extreme Tea Party member named David King, but goes by the name Apostle David King.  Like Sebring, King is a perpetual candidate with a consistent record of failure.  Also like Sebring, King has some interesting history, including being accused of getting a female employee drunk and then raping her.

As if that was not enough, there is this article announcing King's candidacy.  Besides being very poorly written and exemplifying the fact that King has no clue about that which he speaks, comes this little tidbit:
Local grassroots leaders Kristi Lacroix and Paris Procopis is backing King as well. Paris states, “He is not out there giving people a lecture on Ideology 101; he’s actually focused on the real issues that matter. Issues like better education for our kids, and attracting better paying jobs to the Milwaukee area. In fact, he is the only candidate that has actually had to meet a payroll, and with his work with former inmates, he has helped to create thousands of jobs.”
As I'm sure the gentle reader is aware, Kristi Lacroix is the woman whose claim to fame was portraying an educator in a pro-Scott Walker TV ad.  But Lacroix and Procopis are also a part of the lovely bunch of savage, knuckle-dragging trolls that like to call themselves "Knots."  (It is not clear if this moniker is short for Knotheads or Knotzies.)

Even better is the comment left on the above-cited article from Sebring himself:
As a candidate for the same office as David King and the owner/operator of a Milwaukee business for nearly 21 years, I take exception to Mr. Procopis’ statement that David King “is the only candidate that has actually had to meet a payroll”. The statement is patently false and intentionally misleading. The idea that someone who has been in business over two decades would have never had any employees, or have had to meet a payroll is absurd . In my opinion, Mr. Procopis owes the voting public a retraction of his statement that David King “is the only candidate that has actually had to meet a payroll” and an apology.
Oh, yeah.  This should be fun to watch Sebring and King try to out-conservative and out-nutjob each other.

So while we're pulling out our popcorn for this primary, could someone please call Reince Priebus and ask him how his rebranding scheme is working out.

Compare/Contrast 7th District

 By Jeff Simpson

Who better represents the values of the great state of Wisconsin?

Kelly Westlund:

Or Sean Duffy:

We report, you decide!  Although the choice is clear! 

Blogging Abele's Referendum Blues

Last week, I wrote about Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele expressing his opposition to three referendum questions that the Milwaukee County Board were considering.  The three referendum were about whether the state should raise the minimum wage, whether the state should accept additional federal funding to expand Badger Care and whether state law should be changed to allow Milwaukee County to have the more efficient county administrator type of government.

Pro-Abele blogger Zach Wisniewski took umbrage with my post:
After hearing news of Abele’s opposition to placing three more non-binding resolutions whose results can be easily predicted on the fall ballot, Chris Liebenthal of Cognitive Dissidence trotted out his predictable line of attack against Abele, an attack that goes something like this.

“Plutocrat, plutocrat, plutocrat….rich guy, rich guy, rich guy.”

Sure, Liebenthal cites some examples of how money could be found in the County’s budget to pay for the cost of placing the referendums on the November ballot, but he seems to ignore the fact that passage of the referendums by voters will change absolutely nothing in Milwaukee County. No policy or laws will change as a result of the passage of the referendums, and given that the outcomes of the referendums really isn’t in doubt, I have to question the point. It goes without saying that I support the policies behind the referendums that will be on the November ballot, but I simply don’t see why they’re necessary. The County Board of Supervisors could just as easily pass resolutions expressing their support for the policies at the heart of these referendums with the same effect as placing them on the ballot, while saving money in the process.
I have yet met anyone that thinks adding these three questions to the ballot, which is already being printed anyway, is really going to cost anywhere near the $120,000 Abele is mewling about. If it does cost that much, perhaps he should find a new company to print the ballots. (There is a print shop at the House of Corrections that could probably do it for cheaper and give inmates job training.)

Wisniewski must really besides himself since this wanton spending spree is happening statewide:
Dane County voters will get a chance in November to weigh in on raising the state minimum wage, an issue that has left researchers, politicians and activists arguing over the impact on the broader economy.

But it will be a largely symbolic gesture since a 2005 Wisconsin law prohibits local units of government from implementing a minimum wage different than the state.

Still, the County Board at its meeting Thursday is expected to overwhelmingly pass a resolution putting a $10.10 minimum wage on the November ballot, joining similar referenda in Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Kenosha counties.
All these spendthrifts, wanting democracy! The horror of it all!

But I have to wonder if that is how Wisniewski really feels or if he was asked to help Abele out.

Six years ago, Milwaukee County voters were given a non-binding referendum question about whether Milwaukee County should increase the sales tax by 1% in order to support the transit, parks and emergency medical systems.  Naturally, Scott Walker, who was county executive at the time and was gearing up for his gubernatorial run, was vehemently opposed to the question even being on the ballot, much less it actually happening.

Wisniewski had a couple of posts about this.  Let's see what Wisniewski said about that non-binding referendum:
So in vetoing a proposal for a referendum, Scott Walker’s basically thumbed his nose at the citizens of Milwaukee County, in essence sending the message that he knows what’s best for the people of Milwaukee County and that they can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves. Whether the referendum had passed or failed, at least the citizens of Milwaukee County would have had a say in the decision, and it’s shameful that Scott Walker took away their ability to choose for themselves. What’s really ironic is that for all their criticisms of how liberals favor a “nanny state” that interferes in the day to day lives of people, conservatives are no better, as Scott Walker has just shown.
And then there's this:
What I find really interesting about conservatives is the level of their hypocrisy. Many conservatives I’ve either interacted with or heard speak have struck similar tones about wanting to “give power back to the people” and about “letting people decide for themselves,” yet every time they’re given an opportunity to put their words into action, they refuse and blame some liberal bogeyman. If Scott Walker really supports voter referendums, then I challenge him to put his money where his mouth is and allow the sales tax referendum to make it to the ballot.
Hmm, hypocrisy indeed.  I wonder what happened to make Wisniewski go from being for referendums to being against them.

Also of note, in the comments section of his post, Wisniewski said he would be all for them if they were binding referendum.  However, counties obviously cannot have binding referendums telling the state what to do.

I still say the people have the right to be heard, especially when so many people in the world don't even get that much of a taste of democracy.  If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

Remember, Abele Based His Mental Health System On Dane County's

Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele thought it would be a grand idea to throw the county's most vulnerable citizens  to the corporate wolves, who will profiteer off of them and abandon them again.  During his push to abdicate his responsibilities to these citizens, Abele would repeatedly refer to Dane County's system, where they closed their mental health facility decades ago.

What Abele didn't mention is that they could get away with that because they had the state's mental health facility, Mendota Mental Health Institute, to fall back on.  Sadly, the key word is "had" (emphasis mine):
The state stopped letting police take people in non-criminal emergency mental health detention to nearby Mendota on April 1, infuriating area police officials who complain that officers now have to waste their time ferrying them to Winnebago Mental Health Institute on the east side of the state. The state said it wants more beds at Mendota to house criminal patients.

“You have someone who’s in an episodic crisis being put in handcuffs, thrown in the back of a squad car, two officers if you want to do it safely,” said Madison Police Chief Mike Koval. “That’s two and a half hours up, two and a half hours back, so now my community has two fewer officers fielding calls, preserving quality of life issues for a total of five hours, and the state says, ‘Too bad.’”


Koval said he’s been working with other area police officials and providers such as the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Journey Mental Health to deal with the issue.

“I have galvanized the Dane County chiefs of police,” he said. “They’re in support. We just feel collectively as a group, when you consider that Milwaukee and Madison lead this state in the amount of referrals for emergency detentions, it makes no sense to take one of the primary users of that, one of the primary stakeholders, and unilaterally say, 'You’re going to take them to Winnebago.'”
Of course, Abele and Scott Walker would have no problem violating the civil rights of these people by just having them incarcerated instead. After all, they aren't rich corporate special interests or plutocrats, so they don't really matter in the minds of these types of "leaders."

And lest we forget, no one cares about crazy people, right?

The Marathon County Corrections Crisis Revisited

Julie Christensen
In the spring of 2013, I wrote a series of articles regarding an incident which happened in the Marathon County Jail.  An inmate with a mental illness and not receiving medication punched and severely injured Correction Officer Julie Christensen.  Due to her injuries, Christensen was in a coma for a long time and in ICU for months.

Fortunately, Christensen has recovered and is back on the job.

This past week, the assailant, Frederick Morris, entered a guilty plea for attacking Christensen and another corrections officer. He is scheduled to get sentenced in September and is facing very stiff penalties for his crimes, as he should.

However, another person who has a lot of responsibility for this incident has thus far escaped any consequences.

Investigation into the assault showed that there was a lot of problems going on in the jail, all stemming from the austerity measures of Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger.  These austerity-generated problems included severe overcrowding, a serious staffing shortage, an inoperative intercom system, lack of training and failure to supply Tasers to the officers.

These problems led to other problems as well.  For example, due to the staffing shortage, inmates that were allowed out for work release were not being searched when they returned, leading to an influx of contraband, such as cigarettes, drugs and weapons.

Unbelievably, even though this was reported, Karger has done little to fix the problems he helped create.  An article regarding Morris' plea also reported this:
The issue of overcrowding remained one year later.
Brad Karger
Yet Karger hasn't even received as much as a slap on the wrist for allowing these conditions to develop  and continue thought to even today.

This might not remain so for long.  As noted above, Karger is the county administrator for Marathon County.  That means he is under a contract for his job, a contract that will eventually come up for renewal.

The question that I hope that Marathon County supervisors are already pondering is whether the problems Karger is causing makes it worth renewing that contract.

I would say that it most certainly does not.  They need to hire someone who will look out for the citizens and the taxpayers of Marathon County.

D-Day For Unions?

There is a case that is currently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that has not been getting anywhere nearly the attention it should be getting.  The case is called Harris vs Quinn and it stems from a case in Illinois.

To put the case in a nutshell, in 2003, the State of Illinois passed a law stating that people receiving government funding to take caring of loved ones should be considered to be public employees.  This automatically made them union members.

An anti-union front group that supports the misnamed Right to Work laws and which is sponsored by Big Business has fought this all the way to the Supreme Court, which is expected to release their decision as soon as Monday.

Depending on which way the Supreme Court rules, and how general or specific their decision is, it could mean very bad news for unions all across the nations.  If the decision goes against the unions, as is expected, it would set up a national scenario much like we've seen here in Wisconsin after Scott Walker dropped his Act 10 bomb on the state.  It would greatly weaken the unions and open the door to more exploitation of workers, lower wages, higher levels of poverty and the same stagnant economy we have here in Wisconsin.

Ironically, the bright ray of hope for the unions is the usually anti-union Justice Antonin Scalia:
Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia could prove to be the swing vote, experts say.

In a 1991 Supreme Court case, Scalia argued it is reasonable for unions to collect fees from non-union members to cover their negotiating costs. Then, during oral arguments for Harris vs. Quinn in January, Scalia's questions led some believe he is leaning in this direction once again.

Eisenbrey called Scalia “the hope.”

“In this case, Scalia may actually end up being a swing vote who actually sides with the more liberal members of the court and, of course, workers,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
Even if the Supreme Court does rule against the unions, don't for a minute consider it a kill shot, as some are hyping it to be.

Sure, it will make things more difficult for the unions, but just ask Scott Walker or Chris Abele about how crippled the unions are. Just brace yourself for the outburst of profanities that comes out of their weaselly mouths when you do.

“Put the people before the profits!”

A company called Enbridge wants to expand a tar sands pipeline running through the state.  As the people of Jefferson were catching onto the peril they were being put in, Enbridge put together a PR stunt to connive the people into thinking that there was no need for concern.

The people didn't buy it and took over the meeting.  When put on the spot, the Enbridge people were unable and/or unwilling to answer the people's questions.

The results were predictable:
Residents brought up many valid reasons to oppose or question the pipeline expansion, but one thing was for certain; the entire room, with one visible exception, was opposed to the pipeline’s expansion or needed more questions answered. Not surprising for a project that would expand Line 61 to carry a far bigger tar sands payload than the Keystone XL, which itself has been delayed multiple times due to fierce resistance. Why then has there only been one public hearing in Superior, Wisconsin on Line 61? Because Enbridge doesn’t want this pipeline to be delayed the same way as Keystone XL so they’ve stealthily moved the pipeline forward in hopes of avoiding the same scrutiny. As the standing room only crowd at this hearing can attest, the people of Wisconsin are not happy about such corporate trickery, and are not about to back down. As Enbridge officials were wrapping up the event, a chant rose from the back of the room:

“Put the people before the profits!”
Not only was this a great showing for the people of Jefferson County in shining the light of truth on the pipeline, but it also shown the extreme importance for people to get involved in the happenings of their community. If people show this much more interest in their government - from school boards to municipal meetings to state legislative actions, we might be able to turn things around a lot faster and start restoring our state and our communities to the grandeur we once had.

Scott Walker Concedes

By Jeff Simpson

H/T to Professor Marc Levine for reminding us:

In December 2010, governor-elect Walker forthrightly accepted, in advance, accountability for his economic policies: "The measure that I'll face in four years...will be what did I do to create an environment to create 250,000 new jobs in the state of Wisconsin — were we successful or not."

That makes the choice very easy in November!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rocketman Robin Vos

By Jeff Simpson

Florida, sentenced Rose Marks to 10 years in prison for psychic fraud.  Seems she really could NOT see into the future and it costs some Florida residents over $18,000,000.   Ouch.

In Wisconsin, Robin Vos had better hire a lawyer because his lack of psychic abilities have far surpassed the damage that Ms. Marks fraud has done.  

  4/30/2012: Once June 5 hits and Gov. Scott Walker is securely re-elected, “our economy is going to take off like a rocket,” state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Monday during a meeting with The Journal Times Editorial Board.
Ouch,  he actually had people believing that and now we have dropped to 37th in the nation in job creation and are carrying more long term debt than we ever have

Robin really took the people of Wisconsin for a ride!  Unless of course instead of rocket, he meant submarine.   Maybe someone should investigate how much he has personally benefitted from his fake psychic abilities! 

Robin E Vos - Supergenius!  

Some Things Are Meant To Be

By Jeff Simpson

Perpetual Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum(dont Google him):

Rick Santorum announced his endorsement of state Sen. Glenn Grothman for U.S. Congress Thursday afternoon in a short statement. 

“Glenn Grothman’s bold leadership in Wisconsin is exactly what we need in Congress,” said former U.S. Senator and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Santorum. “Our country is at a turning point, and we need a principled conservative like Glenn Grothman to return our country back on the path to prosperity. Glenn has the courage and the conviction to stand up for conservative values.”
The love and affection was returned:

During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Grothman and Santorum praised each other for their devotion to conservative principles. Grothman talked about how Santorum won him over when they first met during Santorum’s unsuccessful bid to become the 2012 presidential nominee.

“When I met him, I felt we were almost soulmates,” Grothman said. “It’s kind of an odd thing.”


Lawyers, Marriage & Money

By Jeff Simpson

“Politicians were mostly people who'd had too little morals and ethics to stay lawyers.
George R.R. Martin, Ace in the Hole
On Thursday, Walker acknowledged raising money for the conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth, which has been subpoenaed in the investigation, on behalf of Senate candidates during the 2011 recalls because he wanted “to get a strong message to lay out the truth” about his public-sector collective bargaining changes. He said he disagreed with Schmitz’s theory that what he did was illegal and noted two judges have agreed with him. He said he is not raising money for the group now.

 “As an animal lover, I don’t like zoos. I feel the only creatures that should be caged behind bars are politicians, lobbyists, and lawyers. And rapists, but I’ve already listed that three times.”
Jarod Kintz

Somedays, Scott Walker realizes that he did not finish college(amphasis mine):

When Walker spoke, he declined several opportunities to directly support the ban’s legality.
Question: "Do you believe the state will prevail, and do you also believe the ban ought to still be supported?"
Gov. Walker: "I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer, obviously. I mean I’ve watched stories around the country. It seems like even from the Attorney General’s comments -- I haven’t talked to him directly on this -- that he feels that it’s not certain but that it’s at least possible that the court might act in this case as they have in other cases. So we’ll watch and see."

 “It is a pleasant world we live in, sir, a very pleasant world. There are bad people in it, Mr. Richard, but if there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.”
Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop


How To Fail In Business(Without Even Trying)

By Jeff Simpson

Anyone with Business101 sense, or even Business 090, knows that it is incredibly cheaper to keep your employees than to have to hire new ones

Bottom Line

There is a high cost to employee turnover. The higher the employee turnover rate the higher the cost. Smart companies work hard to measure employee satisfaction and act to minimize turnover. It is cheaper to keep your current employees motivated and productive than it is to find, hire, and train new ones.

With keeping your employees, and keeping them happy, is rule number one in business, it is not a coincidence that the signature legislation of a career politician works to do the exact opposite?

School districts across the state say they are generally seeing higher rates of teacher turnover and elevated levels of retirements since the passage of the law. Teachers and administrators say the turbulence is, in part, caused by the uncertainty and disruption they face in the wake of Act 10 and other sweeping educational reforms. If the trend continues in the long run, educators say the quality of instruction in classrooms will erode.

In the Wausau School District, the number of resignations in its teaching staff has more than doubled in the past five years. In 2010, the 15 teachers resigned from the district, 2.3 percent of its total teaching staff, said Jeff Gress, the district’s director of human resources and employee relations. In 2012, the number only increased to 18, or 2.7 percent. But in 2013, 38 teachers, 5.6 percent, left the district, and so far this year, 35 teachers have resigned, 5.1 percent. Gress expects more teachers to quit in the coming weeks.

Why would our Governor, in the most important industry in our state(public education), start his career doing something so blatantly incompetent?

That's easy!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Whiney Friday

By Jeff Simpson

The Friends of Scott Walker campaign is calling on Mary Burke, Madison School Board member and Democrat candidate for governor, to pull her slanderous campaign ad from the airwaves - See more at:
The end of the week in Wisconsin politics brought so much cheap whine to the cheese state that half the population woke up with a headache. 

First from convicted felon Kelly Rindfleisch:

“There were times I felt like I wasn’t going to make it through. They drove me to the absolute depths of depression,” Rindfleisch told Wisconsin Reporter during a recent interview at a diner in downtown Sun Prairie, a Madison suburb.

Ever the victim because she did not bring any of this on herself.  Being wrapped up in two major scandals was pure coincidence.  I feel bad she was so depressed, but no one cares about crazy people.  

Secondly comes  Friends of Scott Walker:

The Friends of Scott Walker campaign is calling on Mary Burke, Madison School Board member and Democrat candidate for governor, to pull her slanderous campaign ad from the airwaves - See more at:
The Friends of Scott Walker campaign is calling on Mary Burke, Madison School Board member and Democrat candidate for governor, to pull her slanderous campaign ad from the airwaves - See more at:
The Friends of Scott Walker campaign is calling on Mary Burke, Madison School Board member and Democrat candidate for governor, to pull her slanderous campaign ad from the airwaves - See more at:

The Friends of Scott Walker campaign is calling on Mary Burke, Madison School Board member and Democrat candidate for governor, to pull her slanderous campaign ad from the airwaves.

Because Scott Walker apologizes right?   I guess Scott Walker gets intimidated quite easily.  

. The Friends of Scott Walker campaign is calling on Mary Burke, Madison School Board member and Democrat candidate for governor, to pull her slanderous campaign ad from the airwaves - See more at:
. The Friends of Scott Walker campaign is calling on Mary Burke, Madison School Board member and Democrat candidate for governor, to pull her slanderous campaign ad from the airwaves - See more at:

. The Friends of Scott Walker campaign is calling on Mary Burke, Madison School Board member and Democrat candidate for governor, to pull her slanderous campaign ad from the airwaves - See more at:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sean Duhhhhhfy

By Jeff Simpson

So this happened:

Then this happened:

As the Army continues to investigate whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is guilty of deserting his unit, this afternoon they said there is no reason to believe that Bergdahl engaged in any misconduct during his five years in captivity.
In fact, that's all that the Army said:
We have no reason to believe that he engaged in any misconduct."

Nuff said.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Walker Agenda Is Still Working! Part CCXXIV

Even as Scott Walker's job numbers show how dismal things really are, we keep getting almost daily reminders that his agenda is not working:
State officials have announced that Quantum Spatial in Sheboygan will lay off 68 people on Aug. 23.

The company, which provides high-tech aerial and terrestrial surveys, reported the plan to the Department of Workforce Development.

The 68 employees include 15 geo-spatial technicians, 12 Lidar technicians, 10 imaging/terrain technicians and a smaller number of employees from a range of other job titles.

A woman who answered the phone at Quantum Spatial in Sheboygan late Tuesday afternoon declined to answer questions.

According to the company’s website, Quantum Spatial provides the acquisition, analysis, integration and management of geospatial data using advanced imaging and remote sensing technologies.
It just warms the cockles of one hearts, doesn't it? But the god news is that I'm sure a Dunkin Donuts will be opening near them soon and they can all go there for a part-time, minimum wage job.

Wisconsin Deserves Better

Chris Abele: Democracy Is Too Expensive

Earlier this month, the Milwaukee County Board's Judiciary Committee met and approved to put three non-binding referendums on the November Ballot.  The three were whether the state should raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, whether the state should accept federal funding to expand Badger Care and whether the state should change state statutes in order to allow the county to go from a county executive to county administrator style government.

These three referendum questions would be in addition to the Move to Amend referendum.  The Board had introduced this last year, but Abele vetoed it at such a late date that the Board was unable to override it in time to get it on the ballot.  When the board brought it up again, Abele was unable to manipulate the timing of his veto and the board easily overrode it.

Predictably, Abele has come out against all three of the referendum.  His irrational rational for his opposition can be summarized as "Democracy costs too much money":
With the $120,000 spent on the three non-binding referendums the county could serve 13,800 more home meals to seniors, process 4,500 more child support cases a year or expand the re-entry program for female inmates at the House of Corrections, he said.

While Abele said he supports a raise in the minimum wage, and expanding BadgerCare, he said that could be done with a resolution signed by the board and him.

"I am worried that we are spending much needed tax dollars on a question that we already know the outcome," he said. A resolution would "make as a compelling statement" without costing taxpayers, he said.
Abele's sudden concern about cost is laughable.

In a $1.3 billion budget, $120,000 is a misplaced decimal point.  But there are plenty of ways that Abele could find the money if he wanted to.

If he cut the salaries of his two top aides, his Chief of Staff and Director of Administration, to the level that Scott Walker pays his same staff, Abele could easily pay for two of the referendum. If one goes by his logic that the county board needed to be pared down to be like all the other counties, and did the same to his two aides' salaries, he could pay for all four referendums and have some left over.

Abele had no problems paying for the red herring referendum to cut the pay of supervisors, but I guess it's only OK when a plutocrat does it.

If he hired a budgeteer that didn't make $3.5 million dollar mistakes, he could pay for all those referendums and still have $3.38 million for services.

If Abele had made the necessary repairs to the courthouse's electrical system when it was brought to his attention, and not caused a massive fire that shut the courthouse down for weeks, he could have paid for all for referendum questions and still had $1.88 million to pay for all these services.

If Abele took a sheriff's deputy for his personal security, he could have used $300,000 out of his request for a private security firm to pay for the referendums and still had money left over for services.

If he didn't have top heavy departments with so many management personnel that no one is even sure what some of them do, he'd have enough money for the referendums and for the services he cited.

Abele could argue that a sales tax could be used to support county services, as the voters called for six years ago.  Instead, Abele would rather see that tax money go to support his fellow wealthy elite and build new arenas and convention center.

Abele could have used the money he spent lobbying to have the state legislature pass a law to redefine geographic history so he could sell off county assets to benefit his fellow wealthy elite and paid for hundreds of referendum questions and paid for tons of services to boot.

But Abele's hypocrisy doesn't end there.  As with all things Abele, there is more, there is always more.

Abele said that he supports the minimum wage hike.  He used the same argument when he tried to block the living wage law.  Heck, he even said that he would be glad to lobby the state for an increase in the minimum wage as opposed to the living wage.  But now that he has a chance to back up his own words, he refuses to.

The real reason Abele is so vehemently opposed is the last referendum - the one he so conveniently left out of his letter - which would allow voters to choose between a county executive and a county administrator.  He doesn't want to the people to have a voice in how their government is run, because he knows that they would reject his power-grabbing, money-grubbing plutocratic ways in a heartbeat.

It's the same reason he was so opposed to the Move to Amend referendum.  He is Citizens United personified - a person who thinks he should be in charge because he is rich and thus better than anyone else, especially mere commoners.  His arrogance and egomania are stunning in their enormity.

They're also proof that Abele can't see past the silver spoon that's been in his mouth since birth.

Cantanese On Walkergate

David Cantanese of US News, who has been covering the beginnings of the 2016 presidential election has taken note of Scott Walker and Chris Christie and their respective scandal problems.

Cantanese's take on Walker's problems:
Court documents unsealed in the campaign finance investigation into Walker's 2012 recall show prosecutors believe the governor was at the center of a nationwide "criminal scheme" to violate election laws, by improperly coordinating with outside groups and GOP super strategist Karl Rove.

Though no charges have been filed against Walker or any of his staff, emails now show Walker was in direct contact with R.J. Johnson, an adviser who was also closely aligned with the Wisconsin Club For Growth, an outside group that vigorously supported Walker's re-election.

As TIME's Michael Scherer writes, yes, the laws surrounding campaign finance are Byzantine and not thoroughly understood by the general public. But:

Elections, after all, rarely hinge on legal technicalities. They are about voter impressions, and "criminal scheme" is quite a phrase to overcome in a contested primary."
Yet in Wisconsin, where the voters are, neither Mike Tate, head of WISDEMS, nor Mary Burke, the annointed Democratic candidate, felt that it was worth the effort to educate the public on Walker's scandal.


Investing in Wisconsin

Investing in Wisconsin…For our Children, For our Future
Senator Kathleen Vinehout

I climbed aboard the tractor-driven wagon at the Pierce County Dairy Breakfast and nodded to two smiling girls clutching brightly colored balloons. Two families down was a little boy with tears in his eyes. His mother comforted him.

“Would you like my balloon?” I asked the boy. “Let me put the string around your wrist so you don’t lose it.” He stuck out his little arm and I slid the loop of string on the yellow balloon around his wrist.

At that point, his teary face turned into a priceless ear-to-ear smile.

I knew what every grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle knows: you’d do just about anything to get that reward of a big bright smile. We want the best for our children. We do a lot to invest in their future.

So when it comes to investing in our future why do some Wisconsin leaders have such a hard time?

I felt caught between the motivation to leave that young man a vibrant growing state to call home and a majority of colleagues in Madison very reluctant to invest in our state’s future.

I recently received a memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing the federal money Wisconsin leaders turned back in the last four years, effectively saying ‘No thanks. Send this money to another state. We don’t want it.’

The day before my encounter with the teary young man, I sat near a Chippewa Valley legislator at the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce Legislative Forum. Representative Larson justified sending federal money back by saying “We’ve got to wean ourselves from taking federal money. The federal government doesn’t have any money.”

Never mind that the federal budget is over 50 times larger than the state. Never mind that 28% of Wisconsin’s budget is already made up of federal money. Never mind that Wisconsin historically brings back less money than state taxpayers send to Uncle Sam.

The work of the nonpartisan LFB tells the story about what won’t happen in our future because of decisions made in the last four years: 82 schools and 385 libraries won’t be helped with new broadband after $22 million in grant money was sent back. The first leg of high-speed passenger rail won’t be built as the governor turned back almost $800 million. Wisconsin doesn’t have a statewide marketplace for finding low cost health insurance or independent navigators to help folks sign up for health insurance. The Department of Health sent back to the feds over $33 million in grants awarded to the state.

Some 84,000 low-income parents would have BadgerCare if the state had taken federal dollars. Over the next three budgets over $2 billion in federal funds won’t flow through the state to health care providers to care for parents of lesser means.

In addition, had the state agreed with President Obama to cover these parents, over the next 3 budgets, $500 million in state tax dollars would be freed up. This is money sorely needed just to continue to balance the state budget.

In another LFB memo, analysts report the state started 2014 with almost a billion dollar surplus; but is expected to start the next budget $642 million in the red. In just the 2014-15 fiscal year, beginning July 1st, the state is estimated to spend $500 million more than we take in.

Revenue estimates are dropping as the state’s recovery stalls. The federal dollars turned away would have pumped over $3 billion into our economy over the next 3 budgets. This is estimated to be equivalent to a 4% growth in tax revenue and over 15,000 new jobs.

What do we want for our children and our future? Will covering parents with low income save us money when they turn 65? Will high-speed rail ease the congestion and cost of repairing roads and improve our quality of life 30 years from now? Will broadband in our rural libraries and schools help the students living in rural Wisconsin in 2034?

I don’t know the little guy’s name with the yellow balloon, but I won’t forget his smile. His future is worth working for today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Corporate Media Question Of The Day

Early Monday morning, I wrote a post about how Scott Walker is screwing over corrections officers again, this time by withholding a raise that was written into the state budget.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the corporate media giant, finally got around to covering the story.  Don't worry, they didn't give me any credit for breaking the story.

The question of the day is this: Would the paper have even covered the story if I hadn't made it public in the first place?

Racist Columnist Defends Racist Squawker

Sometimes the irony is just too much to bear.

Brian Sikkkma, of Media Trackkkers, wrote a blog post blasting columnist Eugene Kane because he dared to call out Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling for their race baiting.

Sikkkma leaves Belling, who had called Latino voters "wetbacks," to fend for himself as he tried to save his
good friend, Sykes.

To show that Sykes isn't really racist, Sikma gives a handful of names of African Americans who have some sort of tie to Sykes.  Most of the names have to do with their recent "Margaret Thatcher Awards." Any relationship between the people Sikma mentions and Sykes is purely coincidental and meaningless to his argument.

Sikma has his work cut out for him if he wants to try to deny that Sykes is a race-baiting troll.  Sykes has a long, long history of race-baiting, which include, but are in no way limited to:

It's not surprising that Sikma would come to the defense of Sykes.  After all, race-baiters have to stick together, and Sikma is no stranger to race-baiting himself:
I just hope that Sikma doesn't try to defend anyone who is misogynistic.  That would cause an overdose of irony.