Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tia Torhorst - The Abele Party Candidate for AD 10

Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele has been heard to say that he is seeking to increase his "sphere of influence."  By increasing his "sphere of influence," he, of course, means buying off politicians.  And his if off to a good start in that area.

He has already given money to rabid Teapublican state legislators Joe Sanfelippo and Dale Kooyenga.  He has also given money and held a fundraiser for the Teapublican county supervisor Deanna Alexander, who has been such a useful tool for him.

Wishing to buy even more politicians increase his influence further, he had convinced Dan Adams to run against his nemesis, Marina Dimitrijevic, in the AD 19 race.  At last count, Abele has held four fundraisers for Adams and lent him some of his campaign staff to help run his feeble campaign.

Now he has a hand-picked candidate for the AD 10 race to replace the retiring Sandy Pasch.  The candidate from the Abele Party (Motto: Bribing towards a more perfect plutocracy) is Tia Torhorst.  Torhorst was one of Abele's legislative aides at the county before becoming the political director for Abele's campaign - a job she lists as still holding even as she is running her own campaign.

Indeed, Abele just had lent his campaign a third of a million dollars, of which, $14,000 went to Torhorst at the end of 2013.  That would make a nice beginning war chest for someone looking to run for office.

Another sure sign that Torhorst is part of the Abele Party is her misleading campaign literature and website.  Torhorst labels herself as a "Proven Progressive" and a "Progressive for Responsible Leadership," but a minimal look at her claims versus her record shows her to be anything but progressive or responsible.

Her campaign website's "Issues" page has only two issues, which not only shows just how out of touch she is with the community Abele wants her to represent, but is also, shall we say nicely, very misleading.

The first issue she has listed is education. This blurb sure makes it look like she is progressive:
As the only candidate who lives in the district and the only candidate with a child in a public school in the district, I fully understand the concern about our schools. Scott Walker has spent four years cutting funding for public education while at the same time he’s decimated the morale of teachers with Act 10. As a result, we face a serious problem with maintaining the most important economic tool in our state’s toolbox – a high quality education system. I will work to restore collective bargaining rights for teachers and increase funding for our public education system.
Boy, there's more than a few issues in just that one paragraph.

As far as living in the district, I do know that David Bowen has bought a house in the district and is having it renovated, showing that he is committed to the entire district.  She is also giving a backhanded slap at the retiring Sandy Pasch who did not live in the district when she was running for the seat two years ago.

It should also be noted that how Torhorst is targeting teachers with her comments about Act 10 and restoring collective bargaining, even though that maleficent law affects all public sector workers.  This is a classic example of divide and conquer, like Scott Walker did with the police and public safety versus the rest of the public sector workers.

Torhorst isn't really all that pro-union.  She refused to even acknowledge the invitation to interview with PEOPLE, the political arm of AFSCME much less try for an endorsement. Then again, given Abele's vehemence and loathing against AFSCME, Torhorst probably isn't allowed to go near them.

As troubling as this first blurb is, the one in the section regarding job training is quite egregious.  Talking about "Economic Health," Torhorst makes this claim:
I’m proud that when I was Legislative Director for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele we funded a job-training program that took 500 people who were making $8/hour and taught them new skills for jobs that pay more than $15/hour. This is a model we should expand across the 10th District and all of Wisconsin.
She couldn't even get the facts straight.  The program, which was developed by Supervisors Eyon Biddle and Theodore Lipscomb, actually worked with unemployed people, not making any money, and gave them the skills to work in jobs that averaged $15 per hour.

It is understandable that Torhorst would get these facts wrong, considering that she actually worked to try to get the program killed before it was approved and then worked feverishly to get supervisors to support Abele's veto of the program.  Like he does now, Abele felt that was a waste of money to help workers get living wage jobs. It should be noted that once Abele's veto was overridden, it took another ten months and action by Supervisor Lipscomb and the county board to get Abele to actually implement the program.

Understandably, these false claims of credit for a program that Torhorst actually fought against has really angered the actual authors of the resolution.

On his Facebook page, which I reproduce here with his permission, Eyon Biddle tore into Torhorst for her false representation:
Normally, I would let this go. Tia is running for Assembly in the 10th District. She used to work for Chris Abele, the so called progressive wolf in sheep's clothing. He's only progressive on LGBTQ issues and because he throws generous checks at organizations. Don't be fooled here. But what pissed me off is her trying to take credit for the Biddle-Lipscomb Ready To Work Plan. Not only has this job plan been widely successful but it has taken shots from the Chris Abele and Tia who tried to sabotage it. They vetoed it, tried to ruin my credibility on the County Board and undermine the success of the program.

This piece is dishonest. This is the type of leadership that we don't need at the State Assembly.
I reached out to Lipscomb as well, who told me:
"She is knowingly revising history and it bears no resemblance to the truth. The very thing she says that she supports and that we should replicate is what she worked hard against and what her boss energetically vetoed."
Apparently, one thing that Torhorst shares with her boss is the disturbingly ease with which they can tell barefaced lies.

As Biddle also stated in his post, a vote for Torhorst is a vote for Abele.

If the good voters of AD 10 wish to support and vote for a true, undeniable progressive, that person is David Bowen, who championed the living wage ordinance and who has been an actual supporter of the Ready to Work program.

I hope to have the chance to interview Bowen before the primary, but in the meantime the gentle reader can learn about Bowen at his website and his Facebook page.  And if you can donate to help him and keep a real progressive in the seat, please help support him.  He'll need as much help as he can going up against Abele's dark money support of Torhorst.


  1. Insane post -- if she didn't address cuts in education and public sector unions, in this case, tying her support directly to the need to properly fund schools, you'd dump a load of bricks on her.

    But since she did address these issues, you want to flame her.


    Knock her down with bricks or just burn her.

    Did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed today?

    1. She did not address all public sector unions. Neither did Walker. And your comment shows you really don't understand unions or solidarity either. Sad, really.

    2. I don't like that she lied about something that really helps the community. It don't matter about the other stuff anymore to me she lied about something big, I can vote for her anymore.

  2. Public sector unions is a loosing issue -- they cover a tiny percent of workers and union membership overall is in its death throes.

    Solidarity to you, capper, is a circle around your feet.

    America's labor movement is dysfunctional and has divided workers along trade lines. Even worse, it has divided us as public and private sectors.

    This model does not work and many years of decline prove this -- the current structure of labor unions in the U.S. is incapable of protecting workers and the results prove it.

    No amount of singing "solidarity" will change this and when you use this to slander folks that might even be on your side is not helpful.

    The sad thing is how mindless pro-union folks like you parrot nonsense.

    The labor movement in America is dead in its tracks until it becomes about living wages for all workers instead of picking and choosing "winners" and "lossers".

    As someone that has been advocating for living wages in Chicago, I was shocked to find that the big bosses at the traditional labor unions will not support this!

    The reason the labor movement is dead is because it cannot protect workers when it divides workers. Even worse, the big unions believe low-wage workers should pay hundreds of dollars a year in dues and get a nickle or dime raise per hour to justify this.

    This is what's sad -- people like you defending the indefensible and obstructing the restructuring of unions to be more inclusive to all workers and all groups of workers (don't even get me started on the inherent racism in the traditional labor movement!).

  3. The other criticisms of Torhorst are valid, but your attack on the Act 10 statement seems a bit petty. She made a reference to it in a paragraph about education, it makes sense she only referenced teachers.

  4. Barely 6% of Americans are in a union and that is public and private uions COMBINED.

    Anyone that thinks union issues are going to win at the polls is totally ignorant on the most basic math.

    An inclusive labor movement would benefit the majority of voters.

    And don't give me that crap that "union's benefit all workers blah blah blah blah". This is demonstrably not true in the 21st century and advanced capitalism.

    Even the 6 percent in unions do not support union rights for all workers nor living wages for all workers -- why should the rest of us support a model of labor unions that is broken?

    1. Broken? The only thing broken is the mentality that thinks unions aren't needed. Higher wages and higher unionization in states goes hand-in-hand, along with lower poverty rates. It's not a coincidence.

      I find capper to be a bit single-minded on the subject of unions and when to assert their power, but history and numbers show we are better off with stronger unions than weaker ones.

      And Milwaukee County is better off not being run by corporatists and oligarchs like Abele and Torhorst.

    2. 2:59, latest Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 35.3% of public sector workers belong to unions, while 6.7% of private sector workers do, through December 2013. Overall, 11.3% of workers are members.
      16 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union.

      As for what Chris Abele is up to, looks like he is trying to get an allied majority of the 18 supervisors, further eroding power and taking local decision-making away from the board. They especially want Marina Dimitrijevic out of the way, likely with Deanna Alexander leading the way on the Abele/GMC allies, who want the state legislature to impose their reforms on Milwaukee County government.

      GMC influence has made Milwaukee County politics bizarre and unaccountable, just look at the Abele-Alexander taking the lead on this whole scheme.

  5. Don't forget Sara Johann, a longtime trustworthy progressive, is on the ballot.

    1. There are a lot of issues with her.