Friday, July 31, 2015

Abele: Taxpayers, Like Workers, Should Be Exploited And Not Heard

Last fall, the Milwaukee County Board did the heavy lifting in trying to salvage as much as they could from Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele's dysfunctional budget.  Thanks to their hard work, the county is in better fiscal shape this year than would have been the case with Abele's budget.

Accordingly, the board chose to reinvest the money back into the county.  They chose to put $5 million back into the parks which have suffered under years of neglect by Abele and by Scott Walker before that.  They decided to invest $1.5 million into technology for the transit system that would increase efficiency and cut travel time.  The board also wanted to stop the high level of turnover among employees by giving a 1.5% raise to county works.

Abele vetoed these common sense measures, calling them "irresponsible" and tried to claim that these moves were "a raid" on county reserves.  Yes, he said reinvesting in county assets was irresponsible.  That's how much he thinks of the people of Milwaukee County.

In a separate move, the board also approved a half million dollars to be used to make the workers of the private cleaning agency contracted to the county whole. The money would be used to give the workers back pay so that they were being paid a living wage as the law requires

Abele also vetoed this.  Abele claimed that the company wasn't meeting the requirements of their contract by half and that this had been going on for over a year.

Don't be surprised. I've been telling you for a long time that Abele is just like his BFF Scott Walker in that they have the same anti-worker attitude.

What Abele doesn't explain is why his administration didn't do their job in enforcing the contract until now.  Nor did Abele explain why he would punish the workers of this company for his failure to do his job.  He also doesn't explain why he is so adamant about wanting to give the job to another company without an open and transparent bidding process.

Thankfully, the board ignored Abele's infamous temper tantrum (about the only thing he does know how to do) and overrode each of his vetoes.

But Abele doesn't hold great disdain just for workers.  He also finds taxpayers beneath his contempt.  This was exemplified this week when it became painfully apparent that Abele didn't want to hear what the taxpayers had to say about him giving away 10 acres of county land for a whole dollar:
Tuesday marked the start of a new era for the Milwaukee County Board when, as supervisors started talking about sale of properties including the Park East corridor, they were told they have no power over them.

“They do not need to be here, but they are here, apparently,” the county's corporation counsel Paul Bargren said in response to a question from the board’s development committee about the land sales.

“These will be handled administratively from now on,” he said. “They won’t be coming to the committee.”
Abele is so arrogant that he didn't feel that he needed to even bother coming down to answer any questions about his land giveaway.

Maybe he was afraid someone would ask how much he stands to gain with his $2 million condo being adjacent to the property he and his plutocratic pals want to develop.

Hey, what's a little largess with county assets for his good friends, especially if he can make a big profit for himself as well?

The fact that Abele is trying to stop any improvements in the way the county operates or the services it provides shows that he isn't interested in good government.

And the fact that he doesn't want to hear what the citizens have to say, much less be held accountable to them, shows that he isn't even a good emperor but a petty tyrant that needs to be dethroned.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Planned Parenthood Witch Hunt

When I went to work for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) in 2003 as their legislative director, I was unprepared for the attacks this organization experiences on a routine basis. There are organizations solely dedicated to shutting Planned Parenthood down, and more pop up every day. Even before the 2010 tea party takeover in state Capitols around the country, including ours, the relentless legal and political attacks on Planned Parenthood were unending.
I thought I knew something about courage, but what I learned at PPWI was that I knew nothing about it. The staff and physicians who walk into a health center every day, who are targeted and harassed while their workplace is sometimes vandalized and threatened, are the heroes. And they do it every day because there are thousands of women in our state who simply wouldn’t have access to birth control, cervical and breast cancer screens or testing and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases without PPWI. Even though abortion is only a tiny piece of the services PPWI provides, it is a critical service. And there are people in our state who risk their lives every day to provide it.
When I was elected as a state representative, I saw the attempts to shut PPWI and abortion access down up close and personal. Some legislators in our state capitol are there solely to make abortion, and birth control, illegal. And they will stop at nothing to do it.
You can see their efforts now in their reaction to the latest smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. Newly proposed state legislation is targeted not only at abortion, but also at birth control. A new bill would lower birth control reimbursement rates for safety net providers serving low-income women to a level that could shut most or all of these health centers down. And though Governor Walker and legislative Republicans have already denied any state funding for birth control and cancer detection efforts PPWI provides (no public monies can be used for abortion services), they now are attempting to deny any federal family planning funds to providers, including PPWI.
And it is a national effort. At the recent annual American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”), the newest smear campaign against Planned Parenthood was cause célèbre for the Republican presidential candidates selling their wares. Despite the fact that ALEC purports not to address social issues including abortion, on the other side of the convention wall were the national anti-abortion groups exhibiting their model policies and rubber fetuses. ALEC and the anti-abortion movement have many of the same funding sources and have the same goals –electing Republicans across this country who will carry out their agendas.
Under the ALEC banner of free markets and limited government, Scott Walker touted defunding PPWI, though he failed to mention that the result was the shutting down of five mostly rural health centers that didn’t provide abortions but cervical and breast cancer screens (new numbers just released last week show that 25%fewer women had access to a women’s health center in 2013 than in 2010.)1 Mike Huckabee referred to the legalization of abortion as the prime example of our country’s moral depravity. Ted Cruz, the most verbally strident of the three, speaking by video at the conference, referenced specifically shutting down Planned Parenthood. Though all three talked about smaller government, it apparently doesn’t apply to women’s private medical decisions, when they want government as big and intrusive as possible.
But the biggest lesson I have learned about reproductive health issues hasn’t been in the Capitol or even working at PPWI, but as a woman who struggled through six pregnancies, more than half unsuccessfully. The biggest lesson I learned is that decisions women make about our reproductive health aren’t about death, but about life. About living. Whether we are making decisions when faced with an unintended pregnancy, or when a wanted pregnancy goes heartbreakingly wrong, we are simply trying to live the life we imagine for ourselves and our families.
And this is where the right is the most out of touch. They want to talk about death and fetal tissue and body parts, leaving women out of the discussion on abortion and reproductive health. They ignore the reality of women’s lives, and the dreams that we have for ourselves and the families we may, or may not, someday have.
To the right, they want to stamp out abortion by stamping out Planned Parenthood. But what they really want is to stamp out our ability to make the most personal, private decisions about our lives. They are using the latest campaign to shut down Planned Parenthood to do just that.
We must make sure that doesn’t happen.

Chris Taylor

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Scott Walker's Foreign Policy Nuclear Meltdown

As his presidential campaign starts to sink in its own mire, Scott Walker is becoming increasingly extreme in an effort to keep it afloat.

In regards to Iran, Walker had come out against the deal even before it was crafted, saying he would blow it up on Day One in office. More recently, he started saber rattling, saying that he would consider military action on Day One.

Now Walker isn't even willing to wait until he is in office to start mucking things up:
In an incredible show of hubris, Walker told John Harmon, guest host of On Point Radio (link is external), as he has in prior interviews, that he would “terminate the deal on day one” and added “but I wouldn’t wait for the first day, I would be on the phone on the day after the election working with our allies around the world because this is not only a long-term threat, they are a short-term threat, certainly to Israel.”

If Walker hadn’t dropped out of college perhaps he would have learned about the Logan Act which prohibits private citizens from meddling in foreign affairs. A violation of the act is a felony.

Being a president-elect does not confer any special status. A president-elect is just a private citizen up until the day of the inauguration. But again, he was absent that day in school.
So where is Walker coming up with such nonsense, albeit dangerous nonsense?

Kevin Hermening
Meet Kevin Hermening.

Walker has cited Hermening many times, including in his presidential kickoff speech.. Hermening was one of the 52 marines that were held hostage in Iran for 444 days from 1979 to 1981.

Walker made no secret that he and Hermining are of one mind, especially when it comes to Iran:
With Walker's status as a Republican frontrunner — not to mention a potential president — the introduction of Hermening as the face of his Iran policy was significant. While Walker has been mentioning Hermening for months during his stump speeches, his kickoff speech set the tone for his campaign.

Walker and Hermening are on the same page when it comes to the deal worked out by the Obama administration and other world leaders, which would end sanctions on Iran in exchange for controls on nuclear arms development.
One thing about Hermening though - he just might be even more extreme than Walker.

In 2001, Hermening wrote an op-ed piece in which he advocated for the immediate deportation of all illegal immigrants, especially those of Middle Eastern descent. Hermening also said that the United States should bomb the hell out of the capitols of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Yemen - even to the point of using nuclear weapons.

Well, certainly Walker wouldn't stand with such insanity, right?

A Walker campaign spokeswoman stood by Hermening when asked about the views expressed in his opinion piece.

AshLee Strong, press secretary for Walker, emphasized that Hermening was one of 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days more than three decades ago by militant Iranian students. He was a 20-year-old Marine sergeant stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran at the time.

"Mr. Hermening has bravely served our country, and any attacks on this service are shameful," Strong said.

She did not respond to particulars of Hermening's foreign policy positions.
One of Walker's handlers must have woke him up to the bad optics of it all because within hours, Walker was backpedaling and simultaneously throwing Hermening under the campaign bus:
"I'll speak for myself," Walker told the Journal Sentinel on Monday. "The reference I made to Kevin Hermening was as one of the hostages, the youngest at the time, and pointed out the things that hadn't changed. My policy is very clear, and it's not aligned with what he said in that particular column."

He said he does not consider Hermening an adviser, even though his campaign has featured him prominently. Hermening said Walker campaign manager Rick Wiley had arranged an interview with The Associated Press that ran last week that featured Hermening as the face of Walker's foreign policy.
Now, it could be that Walker is using this rhetoric as red meat for his base. It could be that he is trying to reassert his manhood after getting slapped down by Donald Trump.

But given the fact that Walker is nothing more than a coward and bully - the biggest example being the sneak attack he did on Wisconsin workers, which he set up even before he took office - one shouldn't put it past him to do something totally irresponsible and reckless and immoral as starting a war in the Middle East.  Walker does not have the leadership skills needed to negotiate with anyone and would rather sucker punch them first.

I know I wouldn't trust him with a BB gun, much less the command of the world's most powerful military or the keys to any nuclear missiles.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Scott Walker's Expensive Day

By Jeff Simpson

Today, we paid Scott Walker to campaign for President in Chicago and he started out with this tweet:

In Chicago talking about my record of turning WI around - adding jobs, cutting taxes and balancing the budget -SW

Then those of us who follow CogDis know that approximately the same time, Matt Defour from the Wisconsin State Journal told us exactly how big those tax cuts are

 7 hours ago7 hours agoFiscal bureau: State budget reduces property taxes on average WI home $1 in 2015-16, $2 in 2016-17.
Then Scott Walker, who seems to have given up his phony brown bag for an overabundance of fast food , tweeted these pics:

Stopped to get a Blizzard at the DQ in Diamond off I-55. - SW
Embedded image permalink

Secondly Scott tweeted this:

Had a double cheeseburger & a beer at the Billy Goat in Chicago -SW

The cost of a double cheeseburger at the Billy Goat Tavern is $4.55 + Beer.

Scott Walker's combined, two years of tax cuts, could not buy anything he bought today.

How ridiculous has politics in America become when someone who cuts taxes a whole $3,can run on his record of cutting taxes, and not be laughed out of the room? JS


By Jeff Simpson

Tweet of the Day - 7/27/15

Trump is Not An Anomaly

By Jeff Simpson

As you have probably heard by now, The Donald has attacked Scott Walker over the weekend

 “Finally, I can attack!” Trump said at a packed rally at Oskaloosa High School. “Wisconsin’s doing terribly. It’s in turmoil. The roads are a disaster because they don’t have any money to rebuild them. They’re borrowing money like crazy. They projected a $1 billion surplus, and it turns out to be a deficit of $2.2 billion. The schools are a disaster. The hospitals and education was a disaster. And he was totally in favor of Common Core!

Of course nothing he is saying there is out of the ordinary or a big surprise.  Everyone who lives in Wisconsin, and/or pays attention knows that he is speaking the truth.   Mary Burke knew it but for reasons unexplained would never discuss it.   The rest of the Republican candidates know it to be true, they just refuse to say anything because Ron Reagan told them not to. 

The mainstream media in Wisconsin knows it too, they refuse to discuss it because they do not want to lose access to the politicians that have brought us this mess.   The right wing bloviators like  Christian Schneider, Charley Sykes, Rick Esenberg and Jimmy Wigderson all understand it also, but their actual job is to make sure YOU don't understand it.  Despite what you would think when you actually read their drivel, they are not dumb people.  They know that the best way to keep money coming in is to muddy the waters and make sure that when these truthful stories do leak out that people don't believe them or at the very least question them. 

Do not let the media paint Donald Trump as too far out there to be part of the group.   The Donald is not an anomaly as part of the clown car, he just has no filter and is saying what every one else who is part of the right wing circus, are thinking but too scared to say.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Whodunit - Murder in Texas Edition

By Jeff Simpson

This weekend in Texas, there was a tragedy at their Six Flags Amusement Park.  It was Rosy Esparza's first and last trip to the park. 

She sat beside her son on the Texas Giant — a 14-story-high roller coaster that boasts what the amusement park calls “the world’s steepest drop.” And before the ride started climbing, CNN affiliate KTVT reported, Esparza was worried.
To her, the lap bar that holds passengers in their seats didn’t seem secure, witnesses told the CNN affiliate.
Minutes later, one of the roller coaster’s seats came back empty.
Now Esparza is dead, family members told CNN affiliates KTVT and WFAA
This is the fact of the case, Now the clues to figure out Whodunit! 

First comes the park:

A spokeswoman for Six Flags Over Texas says the theme park is committed to finding out what led to the woman’s death on Friday. And authorities are investigating.

Clue #2:

On Saturday, authorities said an initial investigation showed no sign of foul play in the woman’s death.
“At this point of the investigation, it does not appear there was any foul play or criminality associated with this tragic incident,” the Arlington Police Department said in a statement.

Clue #3

 She goes up like this,” Carmen Brown told the affiliate, raising her hand up in the air. “Then when it drops to come down, that’s when it released and she just tumbled.”
Brown told the Dallas Morning News that the woman had expressed concern to a park employee that she was not properly secured in her seat.
“He was basically nonchalant,” Brown said. “He was, like, ‘As long as you heard it click, you’re fine.’ Hers was the only one that went down once, and she didn’t feel safe. But they let her still get on the ride.”
Finally the mystery:

 Six Flags Over Texas spokeswoman Sharon Parker said the park is committed to determining exactly what happened.

Well Ms. Park if you are determined to figure out exactly what happened, let me help solve the mystery for you.

Ms. Esparza, who had never been on the Roller Coaster before knew something was wrong before she went up.   It appears she is a bigger safety expert than the ride operator.   It could be because the ride operator is making a piddly $8.39/hr and probably has had the bare minimum in training.  It works out well though, because while Six Flags is saving money by paying crappy with no training,  their revenues are increasing every year, 6% in 2014 even.    These numbers the company has led to a major raise, no not for the park employees silly, for CEO James Reid-Anderson.  

Six Flags Entertainment CEO James Reid-Anderson received compensation valued at about $9.3 million last year, up 230% from the $2.8 million he received in 2011, according to a proxy filing made with securities regulators Tuesday.
Reid-Anderson also cashed out previously awarded stock options and restricted shares that vested in 2012, gaining nearly $71 million.
 The 2012 haul vaults Reid-Anderson, 53, into select company: the swelling ranks of CEOs hauling in annual compensation and realized equity gains of $50 million or more.
 Let's hope that Ms. Esperza's death does not cut into his pay at all, but wait, as Capper points out, there is more.  

In Texas, they feel regulations are for the liberals and the best way for anyone to remain safe is police themselves.  

 According to a spokeswoman from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, state officials "are best able to determine the level of regulation needed for their state."
Texas regulations require a yearly inspection of amusement parks by each park's insurance company, but Texas' Department of Insurance disavows responsibility for guaranteeing the safety of rides, saying, "Recognition by the Department that the amusement ride has satisfied these standards is not an endorsement by the Department or a statement regarding the safe operation of the amusement ride."
Parks themselves are responsible for investigating accidents. Six Flags has announced that theTexas Giant will stay closed until its own investigation is completed. According to NBC News, several "significant injuries" had already occurred on the coaster this year.
A recent investigation by PublicSource found that Texas is not alone in having potentially problematic amusement park oversight: "State records show that more than half of Pennsylvania's permanent parks and water parks did not turn in all of their 2012 [safety inspection] reports -- affidavits in which certified inspectors attest that they've performed the inspections required by law. The agency had no reports at all for 12 of the state's 117 permanent parks and water parks."

Ms. Esperza's son should sleep well tonight knowing that they passed the safety standards that they set for themselves.   He should also sleep well knowing that getting rid of those job-killing regulations allows the park ride operator to almost make $8.40/hr.   

God Bless Texas!

So Ms. Parks, let me take a stab at solving this murder mystery.

It was Rick Perry, with a pen, in the Capital statehouse, fueled by massive corporate greed and lack of ethics and morals of Mr. Reid-Anderson.  

I win,Ms. Esperaza and her family lose.  

(Credit: Gabe Flores)

Big Talker Walker Can't Back Up Claims

Now that Scott Walker has let the cat out of the cellophane bag and admitted that he is running for president, he is getting more scrutiny from the national press. This scrutiny has brought some embarrassment to the media in Wisconsin for not breaking the stories that they should have.

To make up for lost time, they have stopped providing cover - or at least as much cover - for Walker that they used to.

In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Craig Gilbert blows up Walker's myth about how he is electable because he won three times in Milwaukee County, a somewhat liberal bastion in a sea of red. Besides the fact that the position of Milwaukee County Executive is nonpartisan, Gilbert points out that as governor, Walker has done very poorly in Milwaukee County:
In his three statewide victories for governor, Walker’s share of the Milwaukee County vote was 38% (2010), 36% (the 2012 recall) and 36% (2014). It was no surprise that Walker lost his home county in these races, given its distinct Democratic lean. But some insiders in both parties expected him to perform better than Republicans typically do in Milwaukee because of his victories for county executive.

Instead, Walker performed worse in the county than his GOP predecessors. His losing margin of 27 points in 2012 and 2014 was the worst for a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Milwaukee County since 1982. It was worse than Republican Mark Green did in 2006 and Republican Scott McCallum did in 2002, both of whom their lost statewide races. And it was dramatically worse than Republican Tommy Thompson did in his four races for governor. Thompson actually won Milwaukee County in 1990, 1994 and 1998.
At the Wisconsin State Journal, Matthew DeFour has a laundry list of things that Walker has said on the campaign trail that doesn't even come close to reality. A couple of these flights of fancy include:
Walker: “We need a leader who’s not going to pit one group of Americans against another.” — July 17 town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The facts: Before taking office Walker referred to public employees as the “haves” and everyone else as the “have-nots.” In January 2011, he told a billionaire campaign donor who wanted the state to pass right-to-work legislation that he would soon be introducing legislation as part of a “divide-and-conquer” strategy toward labor. The legislation, known as Act 10, virtually ended public sector collective bargaining, sparked massive protests in Madison and triggered a recall election that Walker ultimately won.

Walker: “Where would you rather spend this dollar? In Washington or at your kids’ and grandkids’ school? I think most of us would rather spend it in our school where you don’t have all that money skimmed off the top with all the bureaucracy in Washington.” — July 17 town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The facts: The vast majority of the money the U.S. Department of Education spends goes back into local classrooms or to help pay college tuition. With fewer than 4,000 employees, the department is the smallest federal agency. Administrative costs are about $2 billion, a fraction of the roughly $175 billion returned to the states in direct grants for special education and low-income students, Pell grants and other college loan programs, and other education programs.

Walker: “I’m not blocking it. I’m governor; I don’t have anything to do with the federal government.” — July 19 conversation with a Wisconsin family in Plainfield, Iowa, about a federal lawsuit that has blocked President Barack Obama’s executive order shielding immigrant families from deportation.

The facts: A day earlier at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Walker touted his support for the lawsuit, in which Wisconsin has joined 24 states to block the order. “Last fall I was one of the first governors to join the federal lawsuit saying the president has overstepped his constitutional bounds,” Walker said.
Even though the state media is finally starting to step up their game, they are not perfect. For example, DeFour misses the fact that Walker's current budget is facing a $2.2 billion deficit and that Republican lawmakers had to put in a clause that the budget doesn't really have to be balanced.

Another thing the media has missed so far is how Walker was making a big deal out of not campaigning in North Carolina and New Hampshire this weekend in order to attend the funeral of one of the marines killed in Chattanooga.

Even as Walker made sure everyone knew he wasn't going to be on the campaign trail, it did not mean that he would have the decency to stop campaigning. As my brother-in-blog, Jeff Simpson points out, he's been tweeting up a storm, making sure everyone knew that he was attending the service and that they still had a chance to get a free bumper sticker if they bought his book.

I suppose now would be the time to say something like, "Would the real Scott Walker please stand up?" but being two-faced and hypocritical is the real Scott Walker.

Missouri Welcomes Scott Walker

By Jeff Simpson

Caption this:

Scott Walker Takes Day Off Campaign Trail

BY Jeff Simpson

To campaign on Twitter.  

The official story that he told the major networks, and they ate up, is that he took the day off to attend a funeral.  

Washington (CNN)Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has canceled a weekend campaign trip to North Carolina and New Hampshire in order to attend the funeral of one of the Marines killed in Chattanooga.
The reality is he used his time "off the campaign trail" to let everyone know he was off the campaign trail for a funeral.  I hope that the Holmquist family was kind enough to delay the start time of the funeral until Mr. Walker could contact everyone he wanted to, to let them know he was there.  

Here is his Twitter feed(send me money, sorry for your loss, hey guys look where I am, I love the troops, hey Missouri did you hear I am great?):

  1. Since this is our first trip to Missouri as an official candidate for President, I thought I'd give folks an introduction. -SW
  2. Despite a bit of rain, happy to be in Missouri. March 15th primary will be important! - SW # Walker16
  3. ., & went to Jones County Fair in Iowa today. We love fairs! -SW
  4. . Sorry to miss grabbing some ice cream with you in NH tonight. Important to be at services today. -SW
  5. . Sorry we missed riding motorcycles with you in NH. It was important to be with our Marine family. - SW
  6. Our hearts go out to Jasmine and Wyatt Holmquist. Prayers for the future. - SW
  7. Thx to everyone coming out for family of Marine Sgt. Carson Holmquist in Grantsburg. It was an honor to meet them. -SW
  8. Just a few hours left to grab a free sticker with your book purchase. Don't miss out

Maybe he should have entitled his book - Insincere instead of Unintimidated.