Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Penzeys Spices CEO Rips Trump Brand Of Hate, Business Soars


Shortly after the election, Bill Penzey, the CEO of Penzeys Spices, sent out an email decrying the results and the Trump brand of racism and hate that swept the country. It read, in part:
"The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades. The American people are taking notice. Let's commit to giving the people a better choice. Our kindness really is our strength."

Since I ask you to read my emails, I feel it's only right that I read each of your replies. In sifting through those replies it was clear that, though not intended, a good number of people seemed to sincerely believe in my statement I was calling all Republicans racists. In the emails of those Republicans who voted for someone other than the party's nominee, I sensed genuine pain at having the strength of character to not go along with what was happening, but nonetheless be grouped in with those who were. I apologize for writing something that caused you pain; that is not the person I want to be. You are your party's future, and you deserve my admiration and respect, and your country's as well.

For the rest of you, you just voted for an openly racist candidate for the presidency of the United States of America. In your defense, most of you did so without thinking of the consequences of your candidate's racism because, for most of you the heartbreaking destruction racism causes has never been anything you or your loved ones have had to experience. But the thing is elections have their consequences. This is no longer sixty years ago. Whether any of us like it or not, for the next four years the 80% of this country who did not just vote for an openly racist candidate are going to treat you like you are the kind of person who would vote for an openly racist candidate.

You can get angry at everyone else for treating you like you just did the thing you just did, or you can take responsibility for your actions and begin to make amends. If you are lucky and younger family members are still coming over for Thanksgiving, before it's too late, take a moment and honestly think about how your actions must look through their eyes. Simply saying "I never thought he'd win" might be enough. But if you have the means, leaving a receipt from a sizable donation to the ACLU or the SPLC accidentally laying around where you carve the turkey, might go over even better.
Right wing Trump apologists were beside themselves in fury and rage. They threatened to bring on a huge boycott and destroy the business.

And they failed miserably.

Apparently, Penzey's email struck a chord with many Americans because business went through the roof:
According to that Dec. 1 email sent to customers, online sales are up 59.9 percent and gift box sales are up 135 percent since those remarks. Apparently, customer loss — even though there were promises of boycott on social media in protest of Penzey's comments — wasn't much of a problem for the spice maker.

"Willing to take a hit for what is right, we did what we did," the company said in Thursday's email. "In the two weeks since, online sales are up 59.9 percent, gift box sales up 135 percent. And we didn't have a catalog arrive in this window this year, while last year we had 1.1 million!

"Yes, maybe for the moment we have lost 3 percent of our customers because of the so-called 'right wing firestorm.' And, yes, they send emails of rage, and ALL CAPS, and bad language with the hope of creating the perception that they are bigger than they really are. But what we learned is that, in terms of retail spending, Donald Trump simply has no one supporting his views for America. He has no constituency."
Looking at the company's Facebook page, the gentle reader can see that the accolades are continuing to pour in, supporting Penzey for his courageous stand.

When I was but a boy, my dear late mother made sure that I knew how to cook so that I could take care of myself when the need arose. Besides teaching me the basics, she also taught me the importance of using the proper ingredients. This included fresh spices from Penzeys. Since then, I refuse to use anything but in cooking my meals. It really is that good.

Kudos to Bill Penzey for putting his personal reputation and his business on the line in order to take a stand for Americans and American values. If only we had more business and civic leaders who show real leadership like he does.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christine Welcher: The 2016 election is over – where do we go from here?

This Blog was posted on Blogging Blue recently and written by our friend Christine Welcher.   I thought it was worth sharing in its entirety!


The election is over. My mind is slowly coming out of its frozen, numb state. I’m beginning to do some deep soul searching as to what happened on Tuesday. While many are mourning over Trump’s election, my tears have been for the State of Wisconsin. Dems did not pick up any seats, in fact we lost some. Russ, our progressive leader, lost to a do-nothing candidate. I lost to an even worse do-nothing candidate. How could this have happened?
I declared my candidacy for Representative to Wisconsin’s 32nd Assembly District in December of 2015. We knew we needed time to build our reputation and get the word out about our campaign and our message of bi-partisan reform. From the very beginning I found myself fighting with the state party and the local, county party over resources, access to the VAN and training. I finally realized none would be coming and I honestly think that’s what saved my sanity through the next 10 months.
We formed a grassroots movement made up of fabulous letter writers, activists and volunteers willing to knock doors and make phone calls and people willing to make videos for us and design websites, flyers and banners. We held listening sessions starting in February. We attended community events and fundraisers. We knocked doors every weekend and even during the week, all while I worked 40+ hours farming and teaching at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. During the last 2 months we upped our game. Wednesday and Friday we held signs and waved at busy intersections throughout the district as people were coming home. Thurs, Sat and Sun we knocked doors to build relationships and let our neighbors know we were going to be there, right by their side, until things improved. Whenever I got a few minutes I worked on my call list of targeted possible Trump Supporters. You see, we knew the stats and reality. Dems can’t win in these districts by only getting out the Dem vote. WI isn’t the 5th worst gerrymandered state in history because of unwillingness to vote. It’s the 5th worst because they (the GOP) did a damn fine job making sure they would never lose a seat.
Even with all of this, I lost. The silver lining is we did do better than both Hillary and Russ in our district so we know we are on to something. This year the anti-establishment craze was so strong, no one even remotely connected to it was safe. My sin was I had a “D” behind my name. Hillary Clinton has 30+ years of ties to Washington and government. While in most years that would be seen as an impressive resume, this year it was the cement shoes that sunk us all. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but some of us have been saying this from the beginning.
I know this will ruffle some feathers, but I don’t blame the people who voted for Trump. I blame the DNC and the DPW. I especially blame the DPW because we all knew how much we needed to pick up some seats in both the Assembly and Senate. There was no mention or support for Assembly or Senate races in the Monday Messages, or the weekly Chair’s Report. Nothing! At the county level, things are so disorganized and short staffed the parties just stood back and let the coordinated campaign take over. Somehow with their fancy “science” and numbers they (The Coordinated Campaign – CC) was able to convince local people, who know the breakdown of D vs R, that it’s ok to just target Dems because, “When people turn out, Dems win!” YAY!!!! Except that didn’t happen. Not only did that not happen, but somehow the GOP got the majority of new voters to come out and vote against someone, instead of for someone, for the first time in a long time.
There were not voter registration drives in my area. There were no listening sessions or town halls to try to spread a message of empowerment and togetherness. Hell, we didn’t even try to talk to people on “the other side” because it was seen as “a waste of time.” A waste of time??? A waste of time to try and pitch your side? To try and see where they are coming from and give them a better option? I was pretty much blown over when I got that response from my local CC organizer. That’s the day I stopped coming into the county office and decided I was officially 100% independent of the party and their support.
Where exactly does the blame lie? I don’t know. I’ll be honest; I don’t know how this whole party thing works. I was naive enough to think if you put yourself out there and sacrificed a year of your life Dems would support you as best as they could. Turns out you have to be in the “inner circle” or a “sure thing” in order to get support and that’s really sad. I honestly don’t know what we could have done differently. We worked our butts off and my opponent literally did nothing.
That’s been the hardest pill to swallow. The fact that an incumbent can have a reputation for not attending district meetings, not responding to citizens’ concerns, and then not even attempt to campaign and still be elected by 20+ points. The reputation of the Democratic Party is so tarnished in the rural areas that a good candidate with an amazing team can’t even have a shot at winning. Where do we go from here?
1) Stronger County Parties
In my experience, county party boards last for a few years, get burnt out and then everyone quits. There are so few volunteers or members the same handful of people gets stuck doing everything. When they do quit there’s no records or continuity so the whole county has to start over. This is the same for candidates who try to run. No notes on where to leave signs, who’s willing to organize, make calls, knock doors, etc. Even though I declared in December of last year, it really wasn’t until July/August that we finally got things semi-figured out and organized. That’s a lot of wasted time.
The state party needs to re-allocate their budget. All counties should be able to apply for grants and assistance to keep an office open all year, every year. Parties and party members should get involved in the community on off years by volunteering, helping with community fundraisers or holiday meals, you name it. The more active the party is with their community the more support and resources they get from the state. We need our neighbors to see we value them every day, not just 2 months every 4 years.
2) More resources for training and outreach
We need a new message. We need big ideas and we need the courage to stand behind them. This is going to take a whole new approach to messaging, outreach, and basic community building. We need our neighbors to know we are just like them. We, too, want a brighter future for our kids, roads that don’t send our cars to the shop for alignment problems, better paying jobs.
We need monthly workshops on communicating with other viewpoints, on messaging and organizing. We need committees for aspiring writers who can channel their pain and anger into letters to the editor or opinion pieces. We need small subgroups to keep people involved, engage and active. I don’t know about other areas but we go from 200 members in an election year to 80 members a year later. This has to stop. We have to keep our members and continue to grow our county parties, especially with younger blood! (Sorry, not sorry!)
3) Whole New Approach to Elections
We cannot continue to pander to people for their vote. We need to start building relationships, lasting relationships. Not just to get through the presidential elections. We also need to change our focus from top of the ticket to bottom of the ticket! We need the majority of resources going to local and state races. The presidential candidates can raise their own money and can pay for their own volunteers. We are going to keep ours!
We live in this state. We don’t get to move back to some other area once the election is lost. Start investing in Wisconsin! Start emphasizing the importance of local candidates, assembly candidates, senate candidates. These are the people who are responsible for the majority of legislation that affects our daily lives. Once we turn the focus to local elections and make people understand how important they are, we don’t have to worry about low voter turnout in mid-term years. Every year is important!
This might be a good place to start, but the important thing is we start. If the state party won’t listen, we do it ourselves. What happened on Tuesday can never happen again! Democrats either need to become the Party of We, the People, or we need to replace them with a party who will. I have to say at this point I’m fine with both options. I’m done talking and thinking and “let’s see-ing.” I want change and I want it now.
Christine Welcher
East Troy, WI

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Teena Colebrook Election

By Jeff Simpson

We all know Donald Trump won the election, and we all know that many people have different reasons as to what happened and why.  

However, the whole election can be summed up in two words - Teena Colebrook.    

Ms. Colebrook, who contacted the AP with her story, sums up the 2016 election in a nutshell.  She was burned by the Bush great recession, the economy was not working for her under President Obama, was ignored by Hillary Clinton and wooed by Donald Trump.   

Donald Trump was elected and Ms. Colebrook was conned.  Big Time!  


 When Donald Trump named his Treasury secretary, Teena Colebrook felt her heart sink.
She had voted for the president-elect on the belief that he would knock the moneyed elites from their perch in Washington. And she knew Trump's pick for Treasury — Steven Mnuchin — all too well.
OneWest, a bank formerly owned by a group of investors headed by Mnuchin, had foreclosed on her Los Angeles-area home in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stripping her of the two units she rented as a primary source of income.
"I just wish that I had not voted," said Colebrook, 59. "I have no faith in our government anymore at all. They all promise you the world at the end of a stick and take it away once they get in."
While Ms. Colebrook was learning the lessons of the world for people who are not part of the bourgeois, Steven Munchkin was also learning the way the world works for those who are.

  The combination of OneWest's profitability, government guarantees and foreclosure activities drew the ire of activist groups like the California Reinvestment Coalition. It found the bank to be consistently one of the most difficult to work out loan modifications with even though OneWest never drew a major response from government regulators.By June of 2014, five years after taking over OneWest, Mnuchin sold the bank for $3.4 billion at a tremendous profit.
Mr. Mnuchin, who used his money to buy One West, took lots of taxpayer money, to pay his debt and then turned it for a huge profit.   What did Ms. Colebrook do that soured her taste of Government.

In 1998, she bought a triplex for $248,000 in Hawthorne, California, not too far from Los Angeles International Airport.
She rented out two of the units and lived in the third. Colebrook refinanced her mortgage in order to renovate the property and help buy additional homes to generate rental income.
By the time the financial crisis struck in 2008, she had an interest-only mortgage on the triplex known as a "pick-a-payment" loan. Her monthly payments ran as high as $2,000 and only covered the interest on the debt. Then she got ensnarled in the economic downturn.
"All my tenants lost their jobs in the crash," Colebrook said. "They couldn't pay. It was a knock-on effect."
Over five years, she tried unsuccessfully to adjust her loan with OneWest through the Treasury Department's Home Affordable Modification Program. But she said that One West Bank lost paperwork, provided conflicting statements about ownership of the loan and fees and submitted charges that were unverified and caused her loan balance to balloon. By the time she lost her home in foreclosure in April 2015, the payoff balance totaled $517,662.

For those scoring at home, Ms. Colebrook decided to live the American Dream by buying a triplex, living in one unit and renting out the rest to pay for it.  Happens all over the country in small towns and large cities.   She bought it for $248,000 and after making payments for 10 years, only owed $517,662.    

Meanwhile, while Ms. Colebrook is suffering, working hard and losing her home, Mr.  Mnuchin bought out the bank that owned her home, pushed most of the debt onto the federal government (Ie the taxpayers of the United States), and sold it for a hefty profit.

Now Ms. Colebrook, lives with her boyfriend because she lost her home and can not afford another one.  Steve Mnuchin, now will have to find a house sitter for his $27 million dollar home in Bel Air, CA while he works in Washington DC as Treasury Secretary,  

Unless of course Mr. Mnuchin, decides to live in his "cottage" in the Hamptons and commute!




The guy who lives here:


donald housedonald house


Was the one who talked Ms. Colebrook into voting for him.   He reached out to her and she responded.  Ms,. Colebrook, and millions like her, were desperately waiting to have someone acknowledge their pain.   The reality TV star, who knows how to play the American public, did just that.  

Many people will lay the blame on Ms. Colebrook, for being ignorant to her choice, but was she?   While Ms. Colebrook was packing her possessions to move into her boyfriends house before the bank repossessed her triplex, The Donalds competition was tellking everyone how great the economy was and she planned on continuing the success.    The success that no matter how hard she looked Ms. Colebrook just could not see it.

Imagine if we had a politician who understood what Ms,. Colebrook was living through?  Imagine even more, if we had a politician who not only reached out to the Teena Colbrooks of the world but actually followed through with their promises?  

Maybe the best place to start is to acknowledge that Teena Colbrook exists and then we can start helping her fix her problems!

Teena Colebrook

One Last Note on Mr. Mnuchin: Steve Mnucin had to resign his spot on the Board of Trustees of Sears Holdings to accept the Treasury Secretary position.   He has been on the Board of Directors for Sears Holdings for the last eleven years.    If you have not been paying attention, the last eleven years for Sears Holdings, have been disastrous and an American Institution is on the verge of disappearing.

Let's hope that he does not bring the same brand of success to the current "Board of Trustees" that he serves on.  


 

Friday, December 2, 2016

WISDEMS Executive Director Opening

By Jeff Simpson


Kory Kozlowski, the WISDEMS Executive Director is leaving his job and the State of Wisconsin after the latest election debacle.  

Kory Kozloski, executive director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, plans to leave his post in January, a party spokesman said Tuesday.
Kozloski, who was hired about a year ago, told state party leaders in a memo that he and his wife plan to leave the state.
Weathersby said in an email that Kozloski "made a deal with his wife long ago that if she would like to move from WI at any point he would support her and come along."

Kory came to much fanfare from Chair Martha Laning:

Madison - Martha Laning, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, announced today that Kory Kozloski has been named DPW’s new Executive Director.
“Kory’s extensive political experience combined with his passion for Wisconsin politics will be a great addition to our team,” said Laning.  “Kory knows how to find the best candidates and get them ready to run. We intend to win races next November and I have no doubt Kory will help make that happen.”
“After 6 years of failed Republican policies the majority of Wisconsin residents believe our state is headed in the wrong direction,” said Kozloski. “I look forward to working with party leaders, candidates and activists across the state to win elections up and down the ballot, and outline a strong new vision for moving Wisconsin forward.”
Now this is not meant as a look backwards, so I will not be critiquing Kory's performance(that was already done here) but pointing out where we need to go moving forward.   

It appears that Chair Laning, has no interest in posting the job and only wants to give it to a specific person, so there is no posted job description.

So I took it upon myself to do just that(using the open position in Hawaii as a guide):

  • POSITION TITLE: Executive Director, Democratic Party of Wisconsin
  • REPORTS TO: Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
  • LOCATION: Madison, Wisconsin
  • SCOPE AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
  • The Executive Director, working with the State Chair and Party officers, oversees all programmatic and fundraising activities of the state party. The Executive Director is responsible for managing the headquarters and daily operations of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. He or she must be reliable, honest, loyal and discreet. The Executive Director reports to the State Chair.
  • Primary responsibilities and duties include, but are not limited to: 

  •  *   Serve as the chief strategic and tactical executive of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin



  • • Work with the Treasurer to manage the organization’s finances, track income and expenditures, pay bills, and maintain records and accounts in order to produce financial stability.
  • • Work with the Chair, Treasurer, State Central Committee, and Executive Committee to develop and adhere to an operating budget.
  • • Develop, implement, and monitor a fundraising plan in conjunction with the Chair and fundraising committee.
  • • Manage all staff and interns, including conducting annual performance reviews.
  • • Knowledge and understanding of the WISDEMS platform, resolutions, and governing documents.
  • • Ensure the organization and staff complies with all applicable laws governing political parties, including timely filing of required state and federal reports, and the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
  • • Work with the Chair to manage political relationships both in-state and around the country.
  • • Work with the Chair to assist and facilitate the needs of the County Committees.
  • • Manage the external and internal communications of the WISDEMS. Work with the Chair to issue press releases, respond to time-sensitive media events, and present the Democratic Party in a positive, professional light. Refer media inquiries to the Chair. (Executive Director does not serve as the spokesperson for the WISDEMS.)  Make sure the Chair is responding and getting her message out to the media. 
  • • Oversee development and production of party-building and message delivery tools, including print and digital.
  • • Coordinate with WISDEMS Secretary in preparing written reports for all meetings of the State Central Committee, Executive Committee and State Convention.
  • • Liaise with the staffs of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC), and the Association of State Democratic Executive Directors (ASDED).
  • • Organize logistics for all meetings of the State Central Committee and Executive Committee; Organize calendar and schedule activities and meetings held at the WISDEMS headquarters.
  • • Demonstrate an understanding of all aspects of winning elections including state-of-the-art campaign techniques, new technology, campaign planning, targeting, polling, election law, grassroots initiatives and get-out-the-vote programs.
  • • Develop, strengthen and grow the grassroots volunteers and leaders of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
  • • Working with the Party Secretary to develop, update, and implement guidelines for the use and maintenance of Party files and records, including archiving, storage and disposal. Assisting Party Secretary with all data management operations of the Party, including the membership database and voter database systems.
  • • Ensure proper maintenance of all WISDEM computers, including providing appropriate security and back-up systems. Does not give John Podesta access to any passwords, smart phones or laptops.   

  • EXPERIENCE:
  • • A proven, successful executive with the ability to provide dynamic internal and external leadership to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to achieve political and financial objectives.
  • *  Someone who is passionate about Wisconsin and makes expanding the diversity of the party priority number one.   It is only a big tent party when people want into the tent.  
  • • Pertinent experience in Executive/Senior level management. Preferred experience: a combination of work in the not-for profit sector, public sector, private sector and/or trade associations, including some experience in local, state or federal politics.  
  • • Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain a credible reputation and high profile presence in the community as would be required on behalf of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
  • • Demonstrated ability to develop and execute strategic political strategies and manage the tactical execution to achieve results.
  • • Experience in soliciting and securing donor dollars is essential both in state and nationally.  Also must understand that while money is important, it is the people of the party that make the difference and we can not compromise dollars for message or outreach.   
  • • An excellent internal leader recognized for the ability to develop, motivate, manage and build functional teams that regularly achieve and maintain superior levels of performance.
  • • Proven excellence in written and oral communication and proven media experience are essential.
  • • Knowledge and understanding of the political landscape within Wisconsin is preferred.  Someone who understands that while the members of the WISDEMS are important, that there are millions more people who associate themselves as Democrats, liberals, progressives, who have not joined the party and whose opinions are to be valued and sought after.  Someone who understands that reaching these people is critical to future success.  
  • • An individual who is passionate about the success of the Democratic Party and the quality of life for Wisconsin residents.  Someone who understands that winning elections is the primary and only responsibility of the Democratic Party.   Someone who takes it personally when elections are lost and celebrates when elections are won.   Someone who understands that finishing second in an election is unacceptable and not something to be proud of.   
  • • Fluent in MS Office including Word, Excel, Outlook, as well as internet and social media.
  • PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES:
  • • Key Attributes: Excellent manager of paid staff and volunteers, trustworthiness/believability, professional appearance, highly developed interpersonal and communications skills, results oriented, global thinker, diplomatic, ability to multi-task, strong public communication skills, open-minded to differing views, persuasive, quick thinking, outgoing and approachable, excellent time management skills, strong leadership ability, conflict resolution skills, negotiation skills, and ability to influence.
  • • Political Acumen: Knowledgeable in current and possible future practices, trends, and other information affecting the Democratic Party in Wisconsin and the country. Understands the competitive issues; aware of the political landscape for change and how collaborative strategies around the state work for the betterment of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin; comprehends how collaborative strategies with national entities work for the betterment of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and candidates in Wisconsin.
  • • Member Focus: Dedicated to meeting the expectations and requirements of internal and external groups; effectively articulates and promotes Democratic Party of Wisconsin programs and services; talks and acts with Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin idea, values in mind; establishes and maintains effective on-going relationships with board members and all groups and gains their trust and respect.

Those are the basics, now in order to actually start winning elections, the next executive director must have the following(the Simpson Job Description):

  • Must know the difference between a Holstein and a Hereford and the difference of a Duroc to an Appaloosa!    
  • Must be more comfortable at the Sawyer County Democratic Picnic than at the Founders Day Dinner. 
  • Must never agree to ever be part of a national candidates "Victory fund" ever again. 
  • Must Understand how important your work is.  When someone takes away your healthcare, collective bargaining rights, , etc.. they are not great people who just disagree with you, they are attacking fundamental rights for people all over Wisconsin and you are many people's only line of defense.  
  • Must understand that climate change is a real threat to the future of our planet, and be willing to discuss it anytime, anyplace, even if the national party pretends it does not exist.  
  • Must never ever look at someone and judge them by how much money they have or how much money you think they have   
  • Must never allow access to a microphone, party award, or endorsement of anyone who does not fully support labor, unions and the working class people of WI.  
  • Must never discuss seats, districts, states that can NOT be won.  
  • Must be comfortable on a farm, in a union hall, at a county fair or a local diner.  Anywhere in Wisconsin. 
  • Must go to work with passion and a love of Wisconsin, not to cash a paycheck or look for your next job. 
  • Must vow to never buy and/or wear a cheese head for longer than 30 seconds. 
  • Must understand that while the elected Democrats represent their districts, the party represents all Democrats in Wisconsin and must act accordingly and be able to speak up when electeds are being unreasonable. 
  • Must immediately end the incumbent protection program of giving incumbents so many advantages in terms of running in primaries, especially not allowing challengers access to the VAN.  You might not want a primary but you should adamantly defend any members rights to run, and remain neutral, in front of and behind closed doors!
  • Must solemnly swear to protect and defend public education at all times!  
  • Must be willing to throw away all how-to guides, manuals, books, pamphlets, etc... of anything that remotely has to do with winning elections that was written before 2015,  
  •  Above all, it is crucial to keep the wolves, out of state consultants, political lifers and lobbyists away from the inner circle or the checkbooks of the WISDEMS.     That includes anyone who worked with the Mike Tate regime and Nation Consulting.   

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

School Budget Proposal Brings Needed Relief

By Kathleen Vinehout

"Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal. 

“Around the state, local communities took the lead on funding reform through the ballot box, but the state has to be a good partner and do our share to help small town schools.”

Indeed. This year, Wisconsinites passed a record number of school referenda.

In the recent election, 82% of school referenda passed. Over the last four years, citizens in more than half of Wisconsin’s school districts voted to raise their property taxes to pay for schools.

Why? Because state spending for public schools this year is less than it was eight years ago, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. This does not include public spending for the variety of private school options.

Mr. Evers created a blueprint to fix the funding of local schools. No district in the state will be hurt by his plan.

He proposes repairing the historic budget cuts of the past few years, including cuts to a special aid I added to the school formula in 2007 known as sparsity. The proposal would expand the number of rural districts eligible for sparsity aid. 

The plan provides grants to assist in recruiting and retaining rural teachers. Wisconsin is awash with stories of rural schools struggling to find and keep teachers.

Many rural superintendents point to the impact of transportation costs on their budgets, noting the state pays less than a tenth of the cost of bringing students to and from school. This leaves rural students with fewer resources to learn, as more of the school’s budget goes to fuel and buses.

Mr. Evers addresses this problem in two ways: by increasing funds for transporting students over 12 miles away and by helping schools with unusually high busing costs. 

Childhood poverty increased dramatically statewide over the past ten years. Teachers share stories of bringing extra food and clothing for students in need. However, the needs go beyond the physical. Children living in poverty can succeed but they need extra support from the school.

Mr. Evers’ budget recommendation provides extra support by adding a new poverty factor to the general aid formula. This change will assist many rural districts hurt by the current funding formula, which equates wealth with property value instead of income. Rural districts in tourist areas suffered for many years. Pepin, for example, last year received only $1,381 per student in general school aid.

As Mr. Evers’ budget reads: “The State Superintendent believes that property value alone is no longer an adequate measure for the ability to pay, as it doesn’t serve areas with high-priced vacation homes and large populations of year-round residents that live in poverty. The State Superintendent believes that local family income should also be a factor in measuring a district’s ‘wealth’ in determining the distribution of state general equalization aid.”

In addition to accounting for income, Mr. Evers proposes raising the general aid minimum to $3,000 for every student. 

Creating a minimum aid for all districts will reduce the need for low-aided districts to ask voters to raise their property taxes through referenda. Equally important the new plan adds an inflationary increase in state funds available to schools districts to keep up with rising costs.

Another problem facing a majority of school districts is declining enrollment. The loss of students translates to a loss of state aid. Many small rural schools are losing students faster than the district can cut costs. Mr. Evers makes several changes that ease the impact of declining enrollment.

Mr. Evers offers many other changes in the way Wisconsin pays for schools, including aids to schools with a high number of English Language Learners, like Arcadia whose elementary school enrolls over 70% ELL students. He assists students struggling with mental health challenges, which he estimates effects one in five students.

I am encouraged by Mr. Evers’ thoughtful and comprehensive proposal. His blueprint for Wisconsin schools gives every child, regardless of background or zip code, an opportunity to succeed.

We now need our governor and legislators to share the same goal and pass Mr. Evers’ 2017-19 biennial budget for schools.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Clarke To Interview With Trump On Monday

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is supposed to be interviewing with Donald Trump on Monday, presumably to be the head of Homeland Security.

Clarke probably has a pretty good shot at it. He'e been a very vocal supporter for Trump for several months and had spent several weeks traveling the country actively campaigning for Trump when he wasn't busy licking Trump's boots.

Clarke has also shown a compatible disregard, if not pure hatred of minorities, including his fellow African Americans. He has repeated ripped into the Black Lives Matter movement. He has allowed four people to die in his jail, including a newborn baby, as he's been campaigning for Trump. And Clarke's been detaining undocumented immigrants as fast as he can, holding them indefinitely and trying to cover it up.

Clarke even fits Trump's desire for "idea men" by having a plan that is in sync with Trump's stance towards immigration:
In his upcoming memoir, Clarke has called for an overhaul of the nation's homeland security program, writing that American citizens suspected of being terrorists should be treated as "enemy combatants" who can be questioned without an attorney, arrested by authorities and held indefinitely.

Their cases would then be handled by military tribunals, not the traditional court system.

"We are at war. Homegrown radicalization has the enemy inside our borders," Clarke writes. "Islamist radicalized Americans are not criminals; they are enemy combatants."
Even though Clarke has a fairly good chance, as a Milwaukeean, I hope he doesn't get the job.

Oh sure, my first instinct is to hope he does so that we would be rid of Clarke once and for all. Even though Clarke has been running as a Democrat, he is in no way imaginable a Democrat. And despite all of Clarke's faults and blunders, the Democratic Party has not been able to successfully primary him.

But that would be the only thing listed in the plus column. But even that one positive could turn out to be a negative. If Trump were to leave Milwaukee County before the next election, Scott Walker would be the person to appoint his successor. It could easily turn into a situation of going from the frying pan into the fire.

I would never wish Clarke to be given even more authority, on a national stage, to act the fool that he is. Next to Trump himself, Clarke would be the most likely to cause an international incident due to his ignorance and immaturity.

The only best case scenario would be for Trump to actually do one thing right and decide against Clarke and then for Clarke's home away from home, Faux Newz, to give him a full time gig. That way we would be rid of him and the only people he could hurt would be those foolish enough to watch him in the first place.

But the way that 2016 has been going, that is simply too much to even wish for.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Open Thread - Popcorn Turkey




Thanksgiving Day is one of those days steeped in tradition. Families across the country gather to feed on the same old same old - turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

But for us in Casa de Capper, things are different now, and not just in the political sense. Our immediate families on both sides are gone to their final resting places now and we moved to a new house. We also got ourselves a new pup, Beau the Handsome.

With so many changes in our everyday life, we decided to make other changes, ending some traditions, bringing back some old ones and starting some new ones of our own.

One tradition that I've done for nine years now is sharing the recipe for Popcorn Turkey, so here ya go:
Here is a Thanksgiving Turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a stuffing - imagine that.

When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out. Give this a try.

BAKED STUFFED TURKEY

10-12 lb. Turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is good.)
5 cups uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER 'S LOW FAT)
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush Turkey well with melted butter, salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven.Listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey's ass blows the oven door open and flies across the room, it's done.

Imagine the look on your loved ones' faces as you show off your culinary skills.
It's also good for making sure that you don't have to cook another holiday meal for years to come.

So, what traditions are new for you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Scott Walker - Financial Dilettante

By Jeff Simpson





Today Scott Walker tweeted this:





 Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin (R) is in some serious debt.National Journal's Shane Goldmacher reported Monday that new federal financial documents showed that Walker had credit-card debts totaling more than $20,000 from two separate cards.
The personal financial disclosure forms filed with the Federal Election Commission also revealed that Walker owed another $100,000 in student-loan debt for his children.
One of the debts is via Barclays and is estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000. The interest rate on the debt is 27.24%.
The other credit-card debt is via Bank of America from 2011. On that debt, Walker also owes between $10,000 and $15,000, with an interest rate of 11.99%.
Walker's assets, by comparison, are not substantial. In the documents, he listed six investments totaling between $1,000 and $15,000, a life-insurance policy, and a deferred compensation plan.
This isn't the first time Walker has reportedly been in debt. The Daily Beast and The Boston Globe both reported back in April that Walker owed Sears up to $50,000 in credit-card debt.

Who the hell buys $50,000 worth of crap from Sears?   Seriously?  
Facing an estimated $1 million in debt from his failed presidential campaign, Gov. Scott Walker is now soliciting donations to pay it off.
The Wisconsin governor dropped out of the 2016 presidential race in September, and campaign finance reports released last month showed his short-lived campaign raised $7.4 million but spent money as quickly as it came. Those reports showed the campaign burned through about $90,000 a day, in part due to exorbitant salaries paid to a massive staff.
Wisconsin state revenues are projected to fall $693 million short of what state agencies have requested for the 2017-19 budget, Gov. Scott Walker's administration said Monday.

Maybe, just maybe, Scott Walker is not the person we want to be getting financial advice from.

As a matter of fact, as Capper pointed out before, Mr. Walker is not someone we want to be getting Christmas List advice for the kids from either!









Monday, November 21, 2016

Victory Lapse


 

By Jeff Simpson 

Hillary Clinton just finished what could be one of the most epic, incompetent, political campaigns in History.  One of the more controversial things that the Hillary Campaign did was enter into "fundraising" agreements with numerous state parties called the Hillary Victory Fund.  

There was much concern and outrage amongst people who were not party insiders. From local media, to the Bernie Sanders campaign, realized something was wrong and started questioning.   This did not lead to the campaign rethinking what they were doing, but instead banded together with the DNC leadership to attack Bernie Sanders personally.  

With a massive disinformation campaign, mixed with personal attacks on the most vociferous the fervor was brought to a slow simmer.   In Wisconsin, Martha Laning DNC chair, felt the need to issue a statement: 


From Martha Laning, chair of the DPW, for an explanation. A number of incorrect stories and blogs have been posted about our participation in a fundraising Victory Fund – and it is very important to me that we correct the record.Last year, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, along with 32 other state parties, entered into a joint finance agreement with the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to raise funds that help to support state parties and Democratic candidates in 2016. We have offered, and would gladly partner with Sen. Sanders as well if he is interested in creating a similar joint fundraising agreement. These funds have helped us to maintain a top-notch state voter file, work with the DNC to combat the effects of Photo ID, hire critical coordinated campaign staff, and begin to build the infrastructure for our turnout efforts in the fall. These funds are not being used to support any one particular presidential candidate, and in fact, by helping to update our data and address legal issues around Photo ID, they are helping all candidates in Wisconsin.
Much has also been made about us sharing portions of these funds with the DNC. The DPW regularly partners with the DNC on a wide range of projects and efforts. In fact, over the last two years the DPW has received nearly $200,000 from the DNC to help us build our state party infrastructure. We will continue to work with both campaigns, and with the DNC to do everything we can to support our great Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in 2016, and beyond.
If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
If you would like to contact either Martha or Kory, below is their contact info:
Chair Martha Laning: info@wisdems.org; (608) 255-5172
Executive Director Kory Kozloski: koryk@wisdems.org; (608) 255-5172
Much has also been made about us sharing portions of these funds with the DNC. The DPW regularly partners with the DNC on a wide range of projects and efforts. In fact, over the last two years the DPW has received nearly $200,000 from the DNC to help us build our state party infrastructure. We will continue to work with both campaigns, and with the DNC to do everything we can to support our great Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in 2016, and beyond.If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact me.If you would like to contact either Martha or Kory, below is their contact info:Chair Martha Laning: info@wisdems.org; (608) 255-5172Executive Director Kory Kozloski: koryk@wisdems.org; (608) 255-5172

Unfortunately, using hindsight, that did not turn out to be the case.  It turns out the partnership was not much of a partnership after all.  Especially in major battleground states, that used to be solidly blue and turned a dark shade of red.     

As we see from Huffington Post


A similar situation unfolded in Wisconsin. According to several operatives there, the campaign’s state office and local officials scrambled to raise nearly $1 million for efforts to get out the vote in the closing weeks. Brooklyn headquarters had balked at funding it themselves, arguing that the state already had a decent-sized footprintbecause of the labor-backed super PAC For Our Future and pointing out that Clinton had never trailed in a single poll in Wisconsin.The campaign’s state office argued additionally for prominent African-American surrogates to help in Milwaukee. “There are only so many times you can get folks excited about Chelsea Clinton,” explained one Wisconsin Democrat. But President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama didn’t come. Nor did Hillary Clinton after the July Democratic convention. She would go on to lose the state, hampered by lower turnout in precisely the place that had operatives worried. Clinton got 289,000 votes in Milwaukee County compared to the 328,000 that Obama won in 2012.“They had staff on the ground and lots of volunteers, but they weren’t running a massive program because they thought they were up 6-7 points,” said the aforementioned senior battleground state operative.In politics, much like anything else, victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan. A senior official from Clinton’s campaign noted that they did have a large staff presence in Michigan and Wisconsin (200 and 180 people respectively) while also stressing that one of the reasons they didn’t do more was, in part, because of psychological games they were playing with the Trump campaign. They recognized that Michigan, for example, was a vulnerable state and felt that if they could keep Trump away ― by acting overly confident about their chances ― they would win it by a small margin and with a marginal resource allocation.
A strategy of winning by a small margin, shows how their first, last and middle priorities were winning the Presidency for Hillary Clinton and the down ballot and Senatorial races were never a priority.  

But wait there is more!

There was incredible incompetence from the Top.   Chuck Schumer, who was recently named Senate Majority Leader. came up with this strategy:



 Back in July Chuck Schumer summed it up: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”From this theory and strategy flowed a deeply flawed set of tactics, and a badly fumbled get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort.
Or not!  Hard working Democrats all over the country, gave money they did not have, and valuable time to the Democratic Party to have them ignore the working class, and focus on Republicans.   Now they have less money, no protections and a more solidly Republican Government than ever before in their lifetime.   At least Chuck Schumer got a promotion.   

It was not just there, it was the political guru's and consultants who know more than the local grass roots.   In Wisconsin, former Executive Director of the WISDEMS, Jake Hadju, who helped oversee three straight losing elections, was in charge of the Hillary campaign here. His superior efforts, along with the Hillary "Victory" fund and help from the ADCC and SDCC led us to a drubbing at the hands of the WISGOP.    

However, incompetence at the top is not unique to WI(emphasis mine):


Writing in the Huffington Post last week, Becky Bond and Zack Exley, both veterans of the Sanders campaign, noted: “Volunteers for the Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina,” working from computer-generated lists, “have reported that when reminding people to vote, they encountered a significant number of Trump voters. Anecdotal evidence points to anywhere from 5 to 25 percent of contacts [being] inadvertently targeted to Trump supporters.”
So much for those brainiac, glued-to-the-screen whiz kids. They lacked nouse, street smarts, soul, real-world experience, a grip on reality.
Another thing not unique to Wisconsin, is that the Democrats like to blame everyone but themselves when they lose yet another election.    


In his first remarks since WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of his hacked emails, John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, said Tuesday that Russian intelligence officials intent on swaying the election to Donald J. Trump had been responsible for the illegal breach into his account.
“I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades,” Mr. Podesta told reporters aboard the Clinton campaign plane. “This definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian intelligence agencies,” he added, “who seem to be doing everything that they can on behalf of our opponent.”
Without verifying the authenticity of the emails, Mr. Podesta said that he had spoken with the F.B.I. “as a victim” of hacking.
About Poor Mr. Podesta's victimhood:


But what we do know, thanks to digital forensics of the hacked emails, is that Podesta clicked twice on a not-so-sophisticated fishing email asking for his password. We also know from the same emails that John Podesta lost his cellphone in a taxi on January 19, 2015; and that his password was “p@ssword.”
With leadership like that, the rest makes sense.
While Christian Parenti, came to this conclusion about the Hillary Clinton campaign, it could easily be applied to the DNC, and the WISDEMS, the ADCC and the SDCC.   


A point for the Left in all this: the DNC’s ideas are not only bad because they don’t advocate the social-democratic redistribution we would like to see — they are also bad because they don’t work at a purely technical level.
Their arrogance and contempt for the working class produced a flawed political theory, which in turn produced a bad strategy, which in turn produced a tactically inept ground game.
Too busy congratulating themselves and concurring with each other, the Clintonites couldn’t even get the rudiments of the campaign correct.

The question now is, where do we go from here?  Did we learn anything from the Hillary Victory Fund and how they played the state parties like a fiddle?  Have we learned that there are too many careerist in politics who care more about their next paycheck than winning an election.   That just because your dad/mom have been in politics, give big money or are famous, does not mean that you have the competence to win an election.   Will the Democratic party learn from their mistakes and start standing up for the middle class and the working poor in this country?   

If the two weeks since the election are any indication, the answer is no.   We have yet to see a single resignation from the DNC or the WISDEMS, or anyone to take even a semblance of  responsibility for the massive losses on election day.  There has been enough of passing the bucks in the last two weeks, to fill Gringots.    

As Peter Barca made clear recently, elections only have consequences for some of us!  


For the rest of us though, who will be fighting and suffering from GOP policies for the next few years, it is time for us to start taking 2018 seriously.   The work to win the next three elections starts now.

I know its a small club, and people like to not let outsiders in, and give each other jobs but things have advanced beyond the small club pettiness we have witnessed the last six years.   


We need to get people on board or out of the way.  It needs to happen now!  


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wisconsin's Own Fake News

By Jeff Simpson

David Haynes, the editorial page editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has had a problem with fake news on the internet lately.  

Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.

While I agree with Mr. Haynes, that fake news(beyond the onion) really does not help anyone and is partly to blame for the horrendous politicians we keep electing.   


However, the editorial page editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has never once addressed this, which happened under his watch:



Although to say Mr. Haynes has never addressed this, is not exactly right.    He promoted Schneider from blogger to "columnist" shortly after he posted this.   I would supply the link, but JSONLINE scrubbed it from their website without a word.

You can however read more about the Schneider fake news incident here and here.

Some fake news is better than other fake news apparently!

In case you are so inclined you can reach Mr. Haynes here:

Email: david.haynes@jrn.com. Twitter: @DavidDHaynes

Christian Schneider can be reached at:

 Email cschneider@jrn.com. Twitter: @Schneider_CM

Mike Pence Gets More Than A Performance



By Jeff Simpson

Vice President Elect Mike Pence, took time out of trying not to piss The Donald off, and attended the Musical Hamilton.   When the show was over. the full cast used their curtain call to deliver a message to the soon to be VP:







There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism. Alexander Hamilton
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Look Over Here!



By Jeff Simpson 

By now, everyone knows what a bad night it was for Democrats in the Nation and especially Wisconsin.   The Democrats had high priced consultants, lots of money, some excellent candidates and still ended up taking a beating.   For some reason, which we have already discussed here, the Dems could not seem to connect with the voters.

Instead of high priced consultants and a professional political class who are pointing fingers elsewhere, the actual answer is right in front of them.

Another story of the election day, was that the voters all over Wisconsin reaffirmed their support for public schools.   While Democrats up and down the ballot were getting defined as tax and spend liberals and losing their elections handily, local school districts were asking for almost a billion dollars from the taxpayers of WI.  In Most instances the people said a resounding YES!

School districts asked voters to endorse nearly $700 million in borrowing for new construction and building updates, and more than $150 million in increases in school district budgets — dollar amounts that were the largest put before voters at the annual spring election going back at least a decade. (For more on that, read our blog post from last week)
Voters approved 55 of the 71 referendums on the ballot, including $492 million in borrowing for building upgrades and construction projects, $128 million to expand school district budgets for a set amount of time, and $10 million to expand school budgets on a recurring basis.

I know, because we passed one in April, what goes into them.  It is not tens of thousands of dollars, high priced consultants and dictating from the state above.   What passes these referendums, is citizen committees, community meetings, defined jobs, a clear plan, understanding your opponents and a clear concise message.  

That is what is going to take our Legislature back, community organizing, discussions, engagement and a concise, consistent message that is told by every candidate from Superior to Footville.  

Then we can start to see even the gerrymandered districts turn!