Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

AFSCME Takes A Stand For Democracy

As Jeff reported the other day, The Democratic Party of Wisconsin doesn't believe in democracy too much and are refusing to allow Myron Buccholz, who is challenging the corporate sellout congressman, Ron Kind, to have access to their VAN list.

AFSCME supports American jobs and American workers.  Because of that, AFSCME was opposed to TPP.  However, Kind voted for it.  Many people agreed that Kind was wrong for supporting the bad trade agreement, so it's not surprising that a progressive Democrat would want to challenge him.

However, DPW doesn't see it that way and has taken steps to protect their establishment politicians by hindering anyone who would challenge them.

In light of this most undemocratic action, AFSCME DC 32 has taken the strong stand of refusing to attend the DPW's Founders Day Dinner unless DPW allows Buccholz to have access to the VAN list.

I personally hope that our brothers and sisters in the other unions will join us and take a stand for American jobs and for democracy.

Friday, February 26, 2016

2015-16 Legislative Session

By Jeff Simpson

The end of the session as seen by Rep Gordon Hintz:

“It should come as no surprise that Republicans have decided to adjourn this legislative session earlier than any other since 1970.  With Wisconsin’s fiscal picture rapidly deteriorating and the public still furious over their ruthless and unnecessary slash-and-burn budget, I understand why the majority is eager to do the walk of shame back to their districts.

“Unfortunately, my colleagues’ decision to take the rest of the year off won’t stop Wisconsin’s problems from multiplying.  As one of their own leaders, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, has predicted, the next budget is not looking good, and it’s easy to see why.  Massive tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and are in no way tied to job growth have done nothing to improve Wisconsin’s economic outlook, and have increasingly put the state’s fiscal affairs in disarray.  The resulting budget hole then gave them a convenient excuse to take a hatchet to our public school classrooms and UW System.  Does anyone really believe these kinds of decisions lead to a healthier state or budget?

“My colleagues are about to have a lot of time off.  I hope they use some of it to consider that question.”

1)      The Action is Inaction: According to the Wisconsin Blue Book, February 18 is the earliest end date to a legislative session since 1970.

2)      State Finances are Unstable
·         Budget Gimmicks: Last Spring, Republicans balanced a $132 million shortfall in the 2013-2015 budget by delaying a $108 million debt payment and raiding $98 million from compensation reserves.

·         Shrinking Wiggle Room: The budget’s projected ending net general fund balance of $70.2 million is the lowest in 5 years.

·         Spending More Than You Have: The Republican budget is projected to spend $148.8 million more in 2016-17 than the state will bring in.

·         “Starving the Beast”: The next budget already starts with at least a $130 million less in revenue than the current budget.   This is because of reckless tax policy decisions made in the previous three budgets where the fiscal impact was intentionally delayed until the 2017-19 budget.

·         Taxpayers are Subsidizing Voucher Students: The state will pay $258 million in the 2016-17 school year to voucher schools and $600 to $800 million could be diverted from public schools over the next ten years.

3)      Transportation Funding Failure
Governor Walker and Republicans put off addressing Wisconsin’s transportation funding crisis for the fifth straight year, relying instead on increased borrowing. Under Republican leadership, Wisconsin is now paying the highest amount of transportation debt service ever. The percentage of transportation revenue going to pay this debt service has nearly doubled since Governor Walker and the Republicans took control of the state. And debt payments are now growing faster than transportation revenue itself.

4)      The Worst Economy in the Midwest
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released new quarterly jobs data showing Wisconsin now ranks 37th in private-sector job growth (8th out of 10 in the Midwest) over the past year covering June 2014 to June 2015. Wisconsin’s job growth rate over that span is nearly half the national rate. The numbers also show that Wisconsin is 32nd (dead last in the Midwest) in private-sector job growth over the past four years covering June 2011 to June 2015. And last week, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank announced that Wisconsin is one of only seven states that likely has a shrinking economy in spite of the growing national economy. This news is made worse by the fact that Wisconsin is one of the only states in that group that cannot attribute its sluggish performance to historically low oil prices.

 Contact: Rep. Hintz                                                                                                                                         

The Party Obstructs

By Jeff Simpson

In our Democratic Republic, we have set it up where there are two major parties(Democrats and Republicans) and they run the show.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party used to have control over the Legislative and Executive offices in Wisconsin,  but now(thanks to a few bad election cycles),  have zero relevance within our state.

While there is alot of "It's not my fault" the last few years, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand why they keep losing.

Democrat Myron Buchholz has decided to throw his hat into the ring, and go up against Congressman Ron Kind in the primary election.   As a condition of running successfully, most politicians need to get their hands on a Voter Activation Network(the VAN).   The VAN, in my experience, is pretty out of date but a useful tool.

The problem is, as useful as a tool as the VAN is, Mr. Buchholz will never know.  See the State Democratic Party, of which Mr. Buchhholz is a member, refuses to sell the VAN to him.   Seems because he is primarying an established Democrat. he must be treated as an annoyance and an outsider.

As we have noted numerous times here at CogDis, you are either all in with the Democrats or all out!

Here is the email that Mr. Buchholz received from Brita Olson:

Thank you for contacting us regarding a purchase of the Wisconsin voter file. Unfortunately, at this time, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin cannot grant access to the Buchholz campaign. It is our practice that we do not sell access to challengers of Democratic representatives in good standing. 

Email Ms. Olson and tell her to let Democracy rule and allow any Dem who wants to run to purchase the VAN.  The party should NOT be picking winners and losers....

Brita Olsen <

If you have had enough of Ron Kind fast track passing yet another free trade/job killing agreement, feel free to help Mr. Buchholz out! 


Poverty Spikes In Wisconsin

Governing is reporting the depressing news that West Virginia became the 26th state to pass the so-called Right to Work law. It also reports that Republican gubernatorial candidates are stumping on the promise to also attack the workers in their respective states.

Let Wisconsin serve as a warning to these states on the real effects of these Wage Theft laws.

Five years ago, Scott Walker and the other Republican meatpuppets passed Act 10, which is nothing more than RTW for public sector workers. Last year, they attacked the private sector by passing RTW for them as well. Each time, they promised that it would bring more high paying jobs to the state and Wisconsin would be the land of plenty.

So how's that working out?
Not so well, actually:

Poverty in Wisconsin hit its highest level in 30 years during the five-year period ending in 2014, even as the nation's economy was recovering from the Great Recession, according to a trend analysis of U.S. census data just released by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.

The number of Wisconsin residents living in poverty averaged 13% across that post-recession time frame — the highest since 1984, according to the analysis by UW-Madison's Applied Population Laboratory. In 1984, the poverty rate peaked at 15.5% as the nation was recovering from a double-dip recession.

The UW-Madison analysis dovetails with an unrelated study that identified pockets of the country faring worse as the economic recovery gains some traction, released Thursday by a national nonprofit research group in Washington, D.C.

That study, by the Economic Innovation Group, found the gap between the richest and poorest American communities widening, and ranked Milwaukee the seventh most distressed city in America, with 52% of the population considered economically distressed.

Poverty increased more dramatically across Wisconsin than in many other states, though 46 of the 50 states saw a significant increase in total population living in poverty between the five-year periods ending in 2009 and 2014, according to the UW-Madison analysis.


Using the five-year measure, poverty went up in both urban and rural parts of Wisconsin. It went up at every level of educational achievement, and across the employment spectrum.

Perhaps most significant, the poverty gap between blacks and whites grew here as the average gap was flat across the nation. The state's child poverty rate also went up significantly, fueling concerns about the future for many of the state's youngest residents.

"There is some good evidence that living in poverty and experiencing issues like food and housing insecurity can cause changes in the brain that can lead to behavioral issues and low performance in school, as well as chronic disease later in life," said Malia Jones, an assistant scientist and social epidemiologist at UW-Madison's Applied Population Laboratory.

It's no coincidence that two-thirds of students who cannot read above a fourth-grade level end up either in prison or on welfare, several literacy studies have shown.
So now we can see why RTW is so popular with Republicans.

If people are so busy trying to survive because of their diminished income, they don't have time to be politically involved. Furthermore, if people aren't getting a decent education, it's easier to con them into continuing to vote for Republicans. And the ability to stick it to those uppity blacks is just the cherry on top.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Did Abele Pull A Security Scam On Taxpayers?

As I noted in the previous post, there was a debate between Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele and his opponent, State Senator Chris Larson.  One of the issues that were raised in the debate was Abele's Hollywood bodyguards.

If the gentle reader might remember, three years ago Boss Abele asked for $400,000 from the county budget so that he could have a private security force.  Abele claimed at the time that there had been credible threats to his personal safety. Abele needed a private security firm because he refused to work with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke in making arrangements for deputies to provide security like every other county executive had done.

Fortunately, the county board had the foresight to cut his request to $100,000.  Abele still went with his elite Imperial Guard but paid the remainder of the cost out of pocket.  In the 2016 budget, the county board went further to say he would get no taxpayer dollars unless he used deputies for his security.  He still refused to do so.

In Monday's debate, Abele shared the story for the first time on why he wanted the elite security force:
Abele became animated when recounting the story. He said he was out to dinner, and a babysitter was at home with his children when a man came to the door.

"(The sitter) starts to open the door. It gets kicked open. The sitter gets knocked off her feet. Papers fly out of this guy`s hands that have all sorts of crazy threats. And he starts saying, 'are you Mrs. Abele? Are you Mrs. Abele?'" Chris Abele said.
I'm sure that the incident was very frightening for the babysitter.  However, it should be noted that the alleged assailant had never been arrested, much less charged.

But there are a couple of questions that rises from the story.

One is if it was such a horrible and immediate threat that he needed a premium security force, why did it take him over a year to hire them?

Secondly, how would the bodyguards have helped in this situation if they were with him and not at the home?

Abele's words and his actions just don't add up.

On the bright side, Milwaukeeans do have a better option.

Chris Larson said that he would work with the Sheriff's Office to use deputies for his security.  And if that didn't work out because of Clarke's idiocy, he would use one of the municipality police forces:
Larson said "I think people know" that he and Clarke wouldn't get along either, but said he had a different plan if he couldn't use a Milwaukee County deputy.

"If that`s the case, we`ll go to another law enforcement (agency)," Larson said. "We have 19 municipalities (in the county), and they have police officers. We would have a public safety official when we have that need."
Like I said, we have a better option.

Larson is more frugal, more honest and a helluva lot more likable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Abele Still Doesn't Get Racial Inequality

Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated communities in the nation. With elected "leaders" like Milwaukee County Emperor Executive Chris Abele (who likes to refer to himself as "Boss Abele"), it's not hard to see why.

The plutocratic Abele is facing a tough opponent in this spring's election in State Senator Chris Larson. In a debate on Monday, Abele showed just how out of touch he is with the African American community when he said that he was helping them by improving the programming and the food service at the Milwaukee County House of Correction (an extension of the Milwaukee County Jail) and by improving child support enforcement.

What makes Abele's comments even more egregious is that he said the same damn thing last fall, when he was presenting his proposed 2016 budget to the county board.

The fact that six months later, if improving the prison system is still his go-to answer for how he is helping African Americans, even after all the backlash he got from his comments last fall, well, to only goes to show that Abele just doesn't care about the black community. Along with this is the fact that since Abele lost the City of Milwaukee, where the largest African American community in the state is, he has written them off and just appealing to the conservative and predominately white suburbs.

Regardless of his reasoning, it is just more proof that Abele needs to go.

Cross posted from Crooks & Liars

The Bernier Bolt


By Jeff Simpson 

Republican Assembly member Kathy Bernier (R-Lily liver) walked out of a Monday meeting with representatives of three local school districts, upset when an Eau Claire School Board member stated that Wisconsin’s economy compared unfavorably with Minnesota’s.

Some local school districts got together and invited their local elected officials to eat breakfast and discuss the issues, especially around public education.   One of the local school board members had this to say:

“Fundamentally, Minnesota is beating us,” said Wendy Sue Johnson, citing a Jan. 20 article written by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), who also attended the meeting.
“Our (school) funding formula is broken,” Johnson added.
What did Majority member Republican Bernier have to say about this?    Nothing.

She turned tail and ran out of the building.


Bernier then got up to leave the “Breakfast with Our Legislators” session involving the Chippewa Falls, Altoona and Eau Claire School Districts at the Avalon Hotel and Conference Center in Chippewa Falls.
“It is not helpful to compare Minnesota and Wisconsin,” Bernier said, remarking that this is what she experiences with Altoona, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls each time she attends the districts’ breakfast.
Bernier later said she hears the same theme when she meets with representatives of the three districts: “We want more money, we want more money and we don’t like this or that.”
She compared that with her meetings with rural superintendents in her Assembly district, where she said she receives helpful suggestions.
When asked about it, she had this to say.

“This vile political speech is not helpful,” Bernier said before leaving.

Apparently discussing real results of the policies that the Republicans have enacted, is now "vile speech"....

If you look at her website, Ms. Bernier has this to say:

My top priority is serving the residents of my district. Your input and comments are invaluable to me as I serve in the State Assembly. I encourage you to contact my office with any concerns or opinions that you wish to share.

She wants to hear compliments but the complain department is closed for repairs, obviously!

So sick of elected officials who are cowards and run from discussion and debate. We have a party that gets their exercise by running away from constituents!  

I guess the WISGOP need tunnels everywhere they go to escape in!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Has The GOP Trumped Itself?

I will admit that I am enjoying quite a bit of schadenfreude as the Republicans squirm around with anxiety and despair as it becomes clearer and clearer that Donald Trump has a very good likelihood to be their presidential candidate.  They are calling it an embarrassment and are mewling that Trump isn't even really a Republican.  Their gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair and renting of clothes only increases as one establishment candidate after another drops out of the clown car.

What makes their angst even more enjoyable is that their current situation is completely of their own doing.

Republicans have long practiced racism.  Look at how many states, including Wisconsin, have passed laws aimed at the minorities, such as Jim Crow laws, voter suppression, cutting benefits and selling the futures of their children to education privatizers and profiteers and eventually to for-profit prison systems.  Why are they surprised now that they get an openly racist candidate who has claimed that all Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug dealers?

Similarly, Republicans have made bigotry one of their staples.  They have fought to stop marriage equality, They have cried out for Muslim blood louder than the crusaders in the Middle Ages.  Then they wonder why the majority of their members is supporting a guy who said we should Muslims with bullets dipped in pig's blood.

Republicans have practiced misogyny for a long time.  They pass laws weakening pay equality. They try to dictate to women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. They don't hesitate to denigrate women at the drop of a hat.  Yet the Republicans are perplexed that their members are supporting a man that judges women solely by their looks and said that he would date his own daughter.

The list could go on but I think the gentle reader gets the idea.  Trump personifies all of the "values" that the Republicans hold dear.  The only difference is that Trump is such a loose cannon that he will say these things out loud and he can't be controlled by the dark money special interests.

The whole situation would be hilarious if it weren't for the fact that the same Republicans who are doing all the complaining and whining don't have the insight to see that the things they claim to hate in Trump already exists in themselves.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Abele: Make The Poor Pay For Bucks Arena!

Last summer, Scott Walker and his little mini-me, the plutocrat and Milwaukee County Emperor Executive Chris Abele, wanted to help build a new Bucks arena. Even though the new owners are worth more than $5 billion, Walker and Abele promised that the taxpayers would pay for half of the arena.

When Walker couldn't get the deal done with his fellow Republicans, Abele stepped up with a truly maleficent idea:
When this plan appeared to be dead in the water, in comes Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a plutocrat who just happened to buy a $2 million condo next to the proposed development site, with an even worse idea. Abele's plan is to increase the county's share of the cost by handing over cases of uncollected taxes and court fines to mercenary debt collection agencies, who would add 15% to the money they collect from already indigent people. On top of that, Abele would sell county-owned land worth $9 million to the Bucks owners for a buck.
Even with Abele promising to stick it to his poorest constituents, Walker and the Republicans couldn't come up with enough votes to get the deal passed. So the Republicans did something that was almost unheard of in Wisconsin - they reached across the aisle to ask the Democrats for their help.

To get enough Democrats to vote for this bill, State Senator Chris Larson got everyone to agree to take out the part about sticking it to the poor. Thanks to Abele, Milwaukee County was still on the hook for $4 million per year for 20 years for the arena, but it did not have to be built squarely on the backs of the poor.

Now fast forward to this past Friday.

Abele paid off a couple of Republican and a couple of Democratic state legislators to reintroduce that portion of the deal. But this time, he made it even worse by making the burden on the poor $5 million per year instead of the previous $4 million.

Not only did Abele stick it to the poor even more, but he had the legislators rush the bill through as fast as they can. He did this partially because this is the last week the state legislature is in session - for the rest of the frickin' year.

Abele also had the bill rushed through because he might not be in office long enough to see it through otherwise.

Abele is up for reelection this year and is facing a very strong opponent in Larson, the same guy that fixed the Bucks deal last year. In fact, Larson pulled an upset victory over Abele, who had outspent Larson by more than a 20-1 margin.

I really don't know how Abele thinks that attacking his own constituents is going to help his chances. Then again, Abele, who is willing to spend more than $5 million of his own money in an effort to buy his reelection, probably doesn't care.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Scott Walker - Model of Inconsistency

By Jeff Simpson

Today was a big day at the was dubbed the "Day Without Latinos" and it was a massive pro-immigration rally.

 Bused in from across the state, some 20,000 Latinos amassed at the Capitol Thursday for a "Day Without Latinos" rally demanding to halt bills that would limit local officials from issuing photo IDs and withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities.

20,000 Wisconsinites all gathering at the Capitol  to protest bad Republican bills and let their voices be heard.  Today was an important day, because the legislature set a goal of working today and not again the rest of the year(yes it is February 19th and they plan on calling it a year in the Capitol and collecting their full time pay).  

One would think that politicians could be moved by the massive show of force, and one would be wrong.  The Republicans had no problem passing their horrible bills including one that calls for fines of local governments who become sanctuary cities.

This was a very important bill to show that we hate immigrants and they are not welcome here(if you are scoring at home, Wisconsin has exactly ZERO sanctuary cities)!

Thanks guys for taking the time to accomplish absolutely nothing!*439/b99672739z.1_20160218154528_000_g1nei0mu.1-0.jpg

Was Scott Walker moved by the massive gathering of his constituents?

In a word NO.

Of course when Mr, Walker says this:

"There are protests all the time at the state Capitol. It doesn't affect the economy one way or the other. And today, we're going to focus as we do every day on how we help improve the business climate so we put more people to work and provide more opportunity," Walker said.

We have to ignore the fact that Scott Walker has massively failed in creating jobs, we have to pretend that making sanctuary cities(of which we have none in WI) illegal will create jobs and we have to completely ignore the fact that it was not too long ago and Scott Walker had this to say:

Scott Walker: Well it’s interesting, look at the March to march numbers, March of last year to March of this year, there’s a reason why we had some challenges there, particularly early on. In March, April and May, people can remember what was happening, thank goodness its passed now, you can remember what was happening last Spring in our state’s Capitol. There was a lot of uncertainty, particularly for small businesses, I know having held listening sessions all around this state, small business owners more than anything want certainty, they didn’t see that around the Capitol last year so that was one of the biggest challenges out there. - 

So sometimes protests hurt business and sometimes they do not effect the economy one way or the other.  My guess is that in Republican terms, white people protesting hurts business but since no one on the right,  pays attention to minorities the republicans do not even know that they are there.  

That or Scott Walker just says what is most convenient at the time, and hopes that people forget what he said last week.  

Of course Mr. Walker is lying, protests like this rarely happen.  The last time was in 2011 when the people in WI protested ACT10:

While most politicians can go a full career without bringing thousands of protesters to your front door, Scott Walker is special in that he gets protested everywhere he goes.   The thing is though, now that it is 6 years later, most of the protests at the Capitol look more like this:

The Solidarity singers have been consistent and for the most part sparse.  When Scott Walker says "there are protests all the time" it is insulting to his constituents who took the time to come to Madison and take place in their Democratic Republic and it is also Mr. Walker's attempt to dehumanize anyone who disagrees with him.

It is a look and an action that is not very professional nor becoming of someone who has delusions of grandeur that they could one day be President of the United States.  

Its time we all worked together to retire Mr. Walker.  


The Pope Quote

By Jeff Simpson

Don't forget our resident PK, also wants to not only build a wall between the US and Mexico but he also wants to wall off Canada!

That's why the Republicans are running the clown car while the Democrats continue to be the adults in the room!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hillary's Hypocrisy

By Jeff Simpson 

Being in politics most of her life, and in battles with the Republicans, Hillary Clinton has learned some tricks.  The first one she learned was a Karl Rove special....attack and play the victim.

With all of the whining about BernieBros and how mean the Sanders supporters are to Hillary, when the reality is the most venom in this race is being spit out by Hillary and her supporters.  

In the wake of the primary looming in the near future for WI, the Hillary campaign has even had an assist from the local press.   

Here the Wisconsin State Journal runs a quick column on Hillary Clinton's "powerful backers in Wisconsin", without naming a single one.   Apparently they are so powerful that they can not be named.    

One person in the article WAS named though - Heather Colburn who is referred to as a Hillary fundraiser.   

A quick check of Ms. Colburn's facebook page and you see this post:

Heather Colburn
February 11 at 8:57pmMilwaukeeI'm super excited. In 4 years I will have free college, doubled social security income, no racism, totally free health care and a unicorn!!
The time coincides with the Dem debate in Milwaukee and Ms. Colburn(being a Hillary supporter) was obviously referring to Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.  

The first problem is that if a Sanders supporter had written this they would be attacked as misogynistic and hurting the party.  

The second and biggest problem, is that this statement is so far off fact wise that she could have picked it up from Vicki Mckenna.   

Senator Sanders health care plan alone would SAVE the US $5 Trillion dollars AND cover everyone.   The Senator's college tuition plan also would save Americans hundreds of million of dollars that they could then put back into the economy.    I also believe he only promised unicorns to bundlers which is a better gift than Hillary who I believe offers a free blue dress and lunch date with her husband for those who bundle for her.  

It falls on my deaf ears, when staunch Hillary supporters(and Democratic party insiders) spew such right wing talking points and vitriol towards other Democratic candidates and then whine about party unity!   

Petty Politics

By Jeff Simpson

One of the key takeaways for anyone following Wisconsin politics these last few years, has noticed how petty the Republicans can be in Wisconsin.   One of the pettiest of all, is Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, and his latest stunt might have taken the cake.

Scott Fitzgerald recently came up with the idea, which he then fast tracked in the Senate, where he came up with and fast tracked a bill that says you can not serve in the Assembly and also be a county executive.  

Full disclosure, I actually think its a good idea, not sure how someone can serve two full time elected positions(although I still believe that the WI legislature should be a part time job), but that is up to the voters to decide.  If they feel so little of the job you are doing as a County executive, and want to also send you to the legislature in Madison also, so be it.

My problem with the bill however, is that it falls into the main category of governing that the Wisconsin legislature has worked under for 6 years - punish your enemies.

Fitzy served over 6 years with Manitowoc County Executive Bob Ziegelbauer and never had a problem with Mr. Z collecting two paychecks or serving both positions. Just last year, Paul Farrow served as Waukesha County Executive and in the Assembly for three month concurrently, to no complaints from Fitzgerald.    

Now that Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris is the front runner for Senate District 18, Fitzgerald passed a law making it illegal to hold both positions.  

 On a 19-13 vote, senators approved SB 707, which would bar anyone from simultaneously serving as a legislator and county executive. That measure is aimed at a Senate run by Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a Democrat seeking the seat being given up by Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac).
At least Fitzgerald is in such a gerrymandered district that he admits he is doing it just to be petty.

 Fitzgerald said Harris' run brought such questions to the forefront."I know people are going to say there is a political piece to this, and there is," he said.
Ziegelbauer even weighed in on how ridiculous this is:
Ziegelbauer often sided with Republicans and quit the Democratic Party near the end of his Assembly tenure but was harsh in his assessment of the GOP-backed bill.

"It's for partisan purposes and it's a cheap shot for one particular candidate," Ziegelbauer said.
 Even Republican friendly Wisconsin State Journal weighed in against it:

Fitzgerald’s real motive is preserving his political power. He wants to continue to run the state Senate with a comfortable GOP majority. And the Democrats’ best shot at gaining a seat is the 18th District, though the Democrats would need to pick up a total of three seats to claim majority control.
Fitzgerald’s argument that there ought to be a law is weak for a conservative who, in theory, should favor limited government intervention. Fitzgerald should wait until a problem actually exists before worrying about a top-down solution

The best part of this whole bill though, is that after spending the majority of the year campaigning for President, and blowing $7 MILLION dollars doing so, Scott Walker weighed in with incredible irony deficiency

 Gov. Scott Walker, a former Milwaukee County executive, was noncommittal about the bill when asked about it last week, but he brought up points raised by supporters.“Whether there’s a bill or not, I think it’s a legitimate question to ask how someone could possibly serve in both,” Walker said.

The Winds Of Change Are Blowing In Wisconsin

Tuesday was the spring primary elections in Wisconsin. While most of the races were local ones, there were three bigger races that had some eye-opening results. These races - one for the state supreme court, one for mayor of Milwaukee and one for Milwaukee County Executive - give hope that the Wisconsin Winter is not over and that the people are ready to start taking our state back.

Wisconsin Supreme Court

The winners of this primary was the "incumbent" Rebecca Bradley and JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Bradley is the dark money candidate. She has been appointed by Scott Walker to three different judicial seats in three years, including to the Wisconsin State Supreme Court a few months ago. The right wing loves her qualifications - being a Federalist and working to advance their causes such as voter suppression.

Bradley has already received help from the dark money groups to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are also taking full advantage of the now non-existent election laws by openly collaborating with Bradley's campaign, going as far as using the same footage in their commercials.

Her opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg, has had some experience dealing with the dirty politics practiced by the right wing. Kloppenburg was the person that damn nearly unseated David "Chokehold" Prosser, until the Waukesha County clerk just happened to "find" 7,000 ballots two days after the election.

Despite all of the dark money pouring into this race, Bradley barely eked out a 2% lead over Kloppenburg. It is expected that the voters who went with the third candidate in this race, Joe Donald, will go to Kloppenburg, which would give her the advantage.

Mayor of Milwaukee

The dynamics in this race is a little different. Tom Barrett is the Democratic incumbent. While Barrett is much too moderate and corporate for my taste, he was clearly the most liberal candidate in this race.

The opponent that made it through the primary is Bathroom Bob Donovan, a city alderman. Donovan's campaign is centered on wanting more cops, hating black people and being against the streetcar that Barrett wants to build using federal funding.

Barrett easily won the primary, 45-34%. Interestingly, Donovan is hedging his bets by also running for reelection as alderman and is facing a strong possibility of losing that race too.

Milwaukee County Executive

The incumbent Milwaukee County Executive is millionaire Chris Abele, son of billionaire John Abele. Abele's claims to fame are the decimation of representative government in the county, making the poorest of the poor pay for the $80 million he promised to help build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks and working with state Republicans to take over and privatize the Milwaukee Public School System. Abele wasn't concerned about how unpopular these moves were, figuring he could always use his daddy's checkbook to buy his reelection.

To give you an idea of how bad Abele is, people refer to him as Walker Lite.

His opponent is State Senator Chris Larson. Larson led the other Democratic state senators in 2011 to leave the state for weeks to give the people a chance to organize and fight back against Scott Walker's attack on public employee unions.

Abele spent nearly $2 million of his own money on a barrage of mailers and an endless flood of radio and TV commercials. He outspent Larson by more than a 20 to 1 margin. Abele's goal was to crush the opposition and come through the primary with a huge victory.

Despite all that money, Abele found out the hard way that some things just can't be bought, and actually lost the primary to Larson.

You read that correctly. Abele spent $42.00 per vote to Larson's $2.00 per vote, and despite being the incumbent, lost the primary to his opponent.

What should make Bradley, Donovan and Abele even more nervous than their dismal performances tonight is the fact that the general election is April 5, the same day as the state's presidential primary. As the gentle reader already knows, nothing brings Democrats out to vote like a presidential election.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Get Out And Vote, Dammit!

Ah, the first official holiday of the 2016 silly season - the spring primaries - are upon us.  And to add the usual bedlam, the Republicans get to enjoy their first go around with their voter suppression in place, which might explain why they are expecting only a 10% turn out.  So bring your picture ID and your patience, because this is guaranteed to be a boondoggle.

If the gentle reader is wondering who to vote for, here is a short guide:

Wisconsin Supreme Court - I agree with Jeff Simpson that the best choice is JoAnne Kloppenburg.  The "incumbent," Rebecca "Political Appointee" Bradley is just that - Walker's handpicked denizen of the dark money slime pit and isn't even worth consideration. Joe Donald doesn't come close to the same level of qualifications as Kloppenburg.

Milwaukee County Executive - Another easy one.  The choices are the incumbent Emperor Abele, the progressive Chris Larson, the pirate and another Republican.  The only thing that Abele should be up for is a prison sentence for the corrupt way he has run the county.  Larson is the only chance we have of pulling out of the death spin its in.  If Abele manages to buy this election too, I'm not sure that there will be a Milwaukee County by the time the next election comes up.

Milwaukee County 11th District - There are two very good candidates running for this seat.  Then there is the perpetual candidate, the racist Dan Sebring, who must have finally gotten tired of getting spanked by Gwen Moore..  The people of the 11th would be well served by going either with Patricia T. Najera or Yaghnam F. Yaghnam.

City of Milwaukee Mayor - I'm not going to waste my time with a recommendation.  This race belongs to Tom Barrett.  Not so much that he necessarily deserves it but because he faces no real competition.  Bathroom Bob Donovan and the dark money candidate, Joe Davis, are just posers and don't have any appealing qualifications.  At least Davis had the decency to give up his aldermanic seat.

Milwaukee District 2 -- The only one worth taking time to consider is Chevy Johnson.  He's the one with enough experience and knowledge to know what's got to be done and how to do it.

Milwaukee District 3 - All I can say to the voters in that district is that I'm sorry and I will pray for you.

Milwaukee District 7 - I will admit that I'm torn between Khalif Rainey and David Crowley. Both are good men with their heads and their hearts in the right places.  That said, I'd give the edge to Rainey due to his proven track record.

Milwaukee District 8 - The only choice in that race is Justin Bielinski.  He's a good young man with a good head on his shoulders.  Bathroom Bob Donovan needs to just shut up and go away already and stop being a continuous source of embarrassment.  Likewise, Josh Zepnick is a spineless sellout that would be a puppet to Abele, and needs to hang it up.

Milwaukee District 9 - For this race, go with Martin Weddle.  Like Rainey, Weddle is a smart man with a proven track record.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

RoJo Embarrasses Himself Over Scalia's Death

When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died over the weekend, Wisconsin's Dumb Senator, Ron Johnson, like many other Republicans, tweeted a tribute to him. But the tweet the gentle reader would see on his timeline now is not the one he originally sent out.

Thanks to Sahil Kapur, we see that RoJo's original tweet included a picture of actor Edward Gero:

But RoJo wasn't done there.

He put himself in a rather untenable position which will only go to strengthen and increase the lead that his opponent, Russ Feingold, has over him. RoJo went along with the party lines of saying that the country should wait more than a year to have a new justice on the Supreme Court:
"I strongly agree that the American people should decide the future direction of the Supreme Court by their votes for president and the majority party in the U.S. Senate," Johnson said in a statement released Sunday. "America needs Supreme Court justices who share Justice Scalia's commitment to applying the Constitution as written and to the freedom it secures."
As the gentle reader already knows, there is no need nor a precedent for waiting a year to appoint a new justice. What RoJo is saying that the people who voted for President Barack Obama four years ago shouldn't have a say in the direction that the country is going.

RoJo is also shooting himself in the foot in the sense that the more he tries to obstruct a new appointee the more he gives people a reason to vote for Feingold. After all, who wants to have the next justice picked by a guy who didn't even know who the recently passed one was?

Call To Action! Stop Abele's Attack On The Poor!

A few days ago, I reported that Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele wanted a special bill passed in the state legislature that would allow him to go after Milwaukee County's poorest of the poor to make them pay for his share of the cost of the Bucks arena.

Over the past few days, I have learned a bit more about this awful bill, including these facts:

  • The County could already enter such an agreement if they wanted.  The reason they haven't is because the County Comptroller, the County Treasurer and the County Clerk of Courts - the three elected county officials that deal with unpaid debts - are all opposed to it.
  • The deal would add a cost of $1 million per year that the county would have to pay for a local workforce development board. That means that the cost to the county for the arena would be $5 million per year instead of the $4 million.
  • The $1 million add-on has no sunset day.  Even though the arena portion should end by 2036, the extra million could be perpetual for all time.
  • The county's uncollected debt isn't enough to cover the original $4 million, much less the new $5 million per year cost.
  • The county would be responsible for the $5 million whether there is enough uncollected debt to cover it. The balance owed would be taken from the county's revenue, meaning big cuts to services.
  • The county must certify all debt past 90 days old.  If a county department fails to meet this deadline, their budget would be cut by the amount of the debt that could have been collected.
  • Only the county executive could approve payment plans for debtors and only under certain conditions, such as the debtor will be below 150% of the federal poverty level due to hospitalization, disability or unemployment and only if that condition existed before the debt was incurred.
  • The courts would no longer be able to approve payment plans because of the restraint that only the county executive can approve the plan.  That means if a person is fined an amount more than they could pay at once, the court couldn't approve a payment plan.
  • As noted before, the state could charge an extra penalty in the form of a collection fee, making it a usury type of deal.  It could also lead to the cost to the county being much more than any money received.
Pretty horrible stuff, right?  

Ah, but there's more. There's always more.

Abele is apparently feeling very nervous about his chances of being reelected this spring and is pushing to have this bill passed before the end of the legislative session on Thursday.

He has convinced his Republican friends to have this bill moved to the State Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations.  The Republicans have agreed to have the bill heard on Tuesday.

Abele also got them to agree to the idea that they would take the unusual step of making it an executive session, meaning that they would have the hearing on the bill and vote on it on the very same day.  That way, if it were to pass, it could go before the entire assembly on Thursday, the last day of this session.

That's where we come in.  We have to stop this bill in committee.  

Sadly, Representative Joshua Zepnick and Senator Lena Taylor have already sold out their constituents by cosponsoring this dreck.  Now, word is another one of the Milwaukee representatives, who sits on this committee, is considering supporting Abele's latest power grab.

Please call or email the following Milwaukee representatives and ask them to support Milwaukee County taxpayers and citizens by opposing AB 885.  

The representatives we need to contact are:
  • Representative Jonathan Brostoff : 608-266-0650 and/or
  • Representative JoCasta Zamarripa: 608-267-7669 and/or
  • Representative Christine Sinicki: 608-266-8588 and/or
Please call and/or email these three today and ask them to support the people and not the plutocrats!

We need to have the Milwaukee delegates oppose this bill.  The representatives from outside of Milwaukee don't really give a damn about these types of bills and if the Milwaukee three show a unified front opposing the bill, there's a good chance that it won't pass.  But all three Milwaukee representatives have to be opposed.  One voting in favor of it could doom the county.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Get To Know Chris Larson

I have had the pleasure and the privilege of knowing and sometimes working with State Senator Chris Larson for the better part of a decade.

As he is about to repeat history by taking on a well-moneyed incumbent that has failed to do his job, it is important that all Milwaukeeans get to know him better.  For that reason, I am very happy to share this video:

Don't expect anything like this from his opponent who loves no one and nothing but himself and his money.

And make sure you support and vote for Chris Larson.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Wisconsin’s Self-Inflicted Budget Problems

Just six months after Wisconsin’s two-year state budget was passed, state revenues are projected to come in below expectations due to slow economic growth. Less revenue makes it more difficult for the current Legislature to pass bills with any cost. Even worse, the slower economic growth projections forecast significant budget challenges for the future 2017-2019 budget.

But don’t take it from me. On February 2, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said “I think this next state budget is going to be just as rough as this past one. The economy is not going to continue to soar, it's going to lag”.  As a reminder, that ‘past one’ Senator Fitzgerald is referring to is the budget that slashed $250 million from the UW System and failed to even attempt to address the $1.05 billion cut from public schools over the last five years.  What is most frustrating is these cuts cannot simply be chalked up to a lack of money, since they were made during a budget that spent over a billion dollars more than the previous one.

So why is Wisconsin state government in such bad financial shape? The answer is short-sighted budgeting and poor state economic growth.

Two budget decisions continue to stand out. The first is the ongoing decision to refuse the Medicaid expansion that would save Wisconsin taxpayers $320 million in our current budget alone, while providing health insurance for 83,000 more people.  Wisconsin is the only upper Midwestern state to reject the federal money. Governor Walker and legislative Republicans have decided that denying health insurance to those earning less than $16,240 a year (to make a political point) is more important than funding K-12 public education and the UW System.

The second budget decision has been blindly supporting an expansive tax credit passed in Governor Walker's first budget in 2011 that eliminates most state income taxes on owners of factories and agriculture producers. Originally estimated to cost $128 million a year by 2016-17, it is now estimated to cost more than twice the amount ($283.9 million). Simply delaying the final phase in of this credit by two years could have saved nearly $78 million in the current budget.

These tax cuts are among the more than $4.7 billion in state tax cuts passed over the last 5 years in an effort to drive economic growth. But the reality is that it hasn’t worked: Wisconsin’s economy has continued to lag behind the nation as well as neighboring states.  Over the last four years, Wisconsin has been 32nd in private sector job growth, last in the Midwest, and over the last year Wisconsin has had a job growth rate that is nearly half of the national rate. Last week, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank announced that Wisconsin is one of only seven states that likely has a shrinking economy in spite of the growing national economy.  This news is made worse by the fact that Wisconsin is one of the only states in that group that cannot attribute its sluggish performance to historically low oil prices. This data mirrors the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimates that show Wisconsin lost 8,800 private sector jobs between October and December of 2015.

So, while Senator Fitzgerald and I don’t agree often, I must agree wholeheartedly with his assessment that our next state budget is likely to be ‘rough’. And I will go even further and make the not-so-bold prediction that rough budgets will continue as long the Governor and Republican majority continue to sacrifice valued Wisconsin institutions, like education, on the altar of badly-crafted tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy and aren’t designed to create jobs.