Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Senator Chris Larson On Prevailing Wage

From my inbox:
Today, Senator Larson released the following statement on the hearing held on the repeal of our prevailing wage law.

“After hours of testimony, it is crystal clear Wisconsin workers and businesses do not support dismantling yet another protection for Wisconsin’s middle class, our prevailing wage law, which has been critical in creating a top-notch construction industry in our state since the 1930s. This system is effective in delivering quality work, by a well-trained Wisconsin workforce, at a price that is mindful of our shared, public investments.

“Hardworking Wisconsinites are already struggling under the failed policies of the governor and his Republican allies in the Legislature.  Recently, it was unveiled that Wisconsin ranks the worst among all 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class. Instead of facing this reality, we are talking about repealing a law that helps ensure jobs go to local workers whose families shop in local businesses, thus strengthening local communities. At the same time, just down the hall from the hearing, legislators on the Joint Finance Committee are discussing a budget that spends and borrows more money than at any point in state history.

“In addition to workers, we heard from an expert who has studied the construction industry for over 20 years, Dr. Peter Philips. Dr. Philip’s posed a crucial question to lawmakers: ‘Do you want this to be a high-wage, high-skill industry or a low-wage, low-skill industry?’

“The facts from other states show, repealing prevailing wage will drive down wages, promote the outsourcing of workers, lower productivity levels, decrease workplace safety, and restrict access to health care. It will ultimately prevent people from being part of the middle class and reaching the American Dream – an already increasingly rare commodity in our state.

“Prevailing wage laws ensure we have well-trained, skilled workers, who give the taxpayers the best deal by doing high-quality work, efficiently. In fact, under the prevailing wage law, Wisconsin is the third most productive in the country and even the best in the Midwest in terms of our workers getting things done right and on time. Pulling prevailing wage out by the roots is morally and economically the wrong direction for Wisconsin. As one person who testified put it: ‘this is the kind of bill that will make those who build our bridges, end up living underneath them.’”
It is unfathomable to me that people would still argue - with a straight face even - that Walker and the Teapublicans are representing the will of the people.

Walker's Policies Still Wreaking Havoc In Corrections System

Ever since Scott Walker and the Teapublicans usurped control of the state, being a corrections officer has become more dangerous than ever before.

Due to Act 10, there has been a mass exodus of officers.  Those who could retire, did. Those who weren't yet eligible looked elsewhere for work.  This left the prisons extremely short-staffed and the officers who were still on duty were working long hours due to mandatory overtime, leaving them exhausted and less than on top of their game.

Making things worse, Walker and cohorts passed Act 28, ending any chance for early release for the inmates and taking away their only incentive to behave.

These acts of incompetence and indifference had led to the predictable spike in assaults on the corrections officers.

The problems still remain and people are still getting hurt:
A corrections sergeant at the Columbia Correctional Institution was stabbed multiple times with a pencil by an inmate with a history of attacking law enforcement officers, according to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

The sergeant and other officers were able to eventually restrain the inmate, but the sergeant was stabbed multiple times in the head and neck area, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

The inmate is a 39-year-old Milwaukee man serving a 40-year sentence for armed robbery, according to the release.
I would have thought that when Walker went to visit his old chum, Tim Russell, in prison, he might have noticed that his agenda wasn't working. Then again, Walker probably wouldn't have cared.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sheriff Clarke Calls Accused Baltimore Cops "Human Sacrifices"

The crazy Milwaukee County Sheriff, David Clarke, favorite of Faux News and gun nuts, just had to spout off about the six Baltimore cops arrested in the murder of Freddie Gray:
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (D) declared the charges brought against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray “George Zimmerman and the Duke Lacrosse case all over again” and said “these cops are political prisoners,” offered up as human sacrifices, thrown like red meat to an angry mob” on Friday’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on the Fox News Channel.

Clarke said of the charges, “it’s a miscarriage of justice. This neophyte prosecutor stood up there and made a political statement, Neil, and I say that because she’s chanting or voicing some of the chants from this angry mob. Her job is to tune that out. She said, I hear the voices. She’s not supposed to hear anything as she reviews this case that is not consistent with the rule of law and our system of justice. Look, I’m an experienced and a veteran homicide detective. I’ve had — I’ve participated in charging conferences. There is no way I have ever gotten a criminal charge within 24 hours after taking over all the reports and evidence to a prosecutor. A prosecutor who is thorough needs several days to sift through hundreds of pages of reports. They usually want to interview some of the witnesses themselves, in person, and they have to sift through all of the evidence, piece by piece, and they have to wait for some of the forensics evidence to conclude, to come back and that’s why I say on a minimum, three to four days. She just got this case yesterday. This is political activism. She’ll never prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, and I’m not going to silently stand by and watch my brother officers, offered up as human sacrifices, thrown like red meat to an angry mob, just to appease this angry mob.” And that “she rushed this thing through.”
After a break for a statement from the police union, Clarke repeated himself in case someone might have missed his absurdity:
He added that “there may be and probably are, some civil torts here, but what little I know, and I don’t know all the facts, but I’m listening to the emotion in their voice, and listening to those political statements that she made at the end of that news conference, that’s political activism, it’s wrong, it’s probably in violation of her code of ethics as a lawyer. And again, I’m going to take my time with this, but I’m not going to sit idly by, and I want to call out to every law enforcement officer in the country to pay attention to this. Because, I see a pattern, at least demands from an angry mob, that we be offered up as human sacrifices. We don’t do that in our system of justice in the United States just to please an angry mob. And I sense from what I heard her say, Neil, that that’s what is going on here.”
But there's more. There's always more.

Clarke, who has been known to use taxpayer money to tell people to buy guns because they can't rely on the police, was not making outlandish statements.

He followed up the above inanity with a tweet that sure sounds like a call for retaliation by the police:

Well, isn't that great? Not only does Clarke tell people that they shouldn't expect help from the police, but now he wants to police to take people out as revenge.

I'm sure that will go a long way to help police/community relations.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Paul Ryan Embarrasses Himself, Badly!

By Jeff Simpson

As Paul Ryan says:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wall St.) asserted over the weekend that poor communities — like in Baltimore — were stuck in a “poverty trap” because lucrative welfare benefits did not encourage people to find jobs.

Paul Ryan. who drinks $350 bottles of wine provided by Wall St. Lobbyists thinks that the welfare benefits, in places like Baltimore, are too "lucrative".

lu·cra·tiveˈlo͞okrədiv/adjectiveproducing a great deal of profit.
"a lucrative career as a stand-up comedian" 
synonyms:profitableprofit-makinggainfulremunerative, moneymaking, paying,high-income, well paidbankable

As Dr. Phil says, "some people get it, some people don't and boy you do not even come close to getting it!"

Paul, let me help show you some of the more lucrative sites of Baltimore:

Yes Pink Slip Paulie pretty much nailed that one, everyone in Baltimore is living in luxury.....  

I wish someone would let Paul know that the best way to get out of poverty is have a decent paying job and healthcare.    

Jus sayin......

So This Happened. Really It Did!

By Jeff Simpson

I ignored this story for quite some time thinking there was no way it could possibly be true, but apparently it is.

So when rookie Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was ordering the Texas National Guard to monitor a Navy SEAL/Green Beret joint training exercise, which was taking place in Texas and several other states, everybody here looked up from their iPhones. What?
It seems there is concern among some folks that this so-called training maneuver is just a cover story. What's really going on? President Obama is about to use Special Forces to put Texas under martial law.
It can not be true right? No politician that is that stupid(and stupid is THE only word for it) could ever be elected in the United States right?


The lunacy surrounding “Jade Helm 15,” a military training exercise set to take place in Texas (or so they say!) has officially hit a new low: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a man who thinks he should be president of the United States, is assuring his constituents that his office will be demanding answers from the Pentagon about whether or not they are secretly invading Texas under orders from President Obama.
OUCH!  The stupid it burns!  

Seriously anyone that dumb should be monitored and on meds, absolutely NOT in elected positions.   It is hard to claim American superiority when people like Ted "Canadian Cowboy" Cruz and Greg Abbott hold office.  Next thing you know the Republicans will be running a ticket of Alex Jones/ Glenn Beck for President!  

At least in Texas there is a slight glimmer of hope!

Another former Republican politician was a bit more pointed.
"Your letter pandering to idiots ... has left me livid," former State Rep. Todd Smith wrote Gov. Abbott. "I am horrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn't have the backbone to stand up to those who do.

Republicans To Go After Unemployment Insurance. Again.

Wisconsin Republicans love to kick people when they are down.

They have screwed around with food stamps, cutting back benefits and making it difficult for people in need to meet those needs.  They have also screwed with the unemployed, again, making it more difficult for people to get unemployment compensation and making it harder to keep it once they do jump through all the hoops.

In fact, the cuts to the unemployment insurance program is one of the biggest influences in the low unemployment percentage rate.  The rate isn't low because of all the jobs Walker created, because he hasn't created a whole helluva lot.  In fact, Walker's performance in job creation is worse than if he did nothing.  The rate is being artificially suppressed by Walker not allowing people on the system in the first place.

On Sunday afternoon, at the Bay View Tragedy Commemoration, State Representative Chris Sinicki told the crowd that the Republicans are gearing up for more attacks on the unemployment system, targeting the construction trades.

The first thing we had already heard about, which is that the Republicans want people receiving unemployment compensation to have to take drug tests.  Sinicki pointed out that this would effect almost all construction workers, who are generally laid off in the winters.

The other thing was that the Republicans are planning on trying to make construction work be considered seasonal employment.  This means that the construction workers would not be eligible for any unemployment compensation during the winter.

The Republicans are pretending that this will save the taxpayers money.  This is rubbish.  Taxpayer money isn't used for unemployment insurance.  It comes from the workers.

Think about the long term ramifications of these moves, especially when they are compiled with the already ruinous wage theft bill and the ongoing attack on prevailing wages.

It means that all our local construction workers will be forced out of jobs and the roads and bridges we drive on, the buildings we work in and the rest of our infrastructure will be built by people with insufficient training and without sufficient safety practices.

I hope that those that have supported the Republicans are willing to put their lives on the line for it, because they just did - and all of our lives as well.

Christian Schneider: The Conservative Agenda Is Not Working

We all already know that Christian Schneider is nothing more than a paid propagandist. And he's not a very good one at that.  He's been caught fabricating stories and when he does try to deal with facts, he gets burned by people that really know what the truth is.

Yet the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel keeps him on as a regular calumnist because his drivel matches their corporate media agenda.  But sometimes, Schneider's overreaching on some subjects can backfire.

His column in today's paper is a prime example of that.  Schneider tries to defend Scott Walker's dismal record on job creation by saying that Walker is able to cherry pick numbers to make them look much more positive than what the reality is.

Schneider also tries to reassure the masses of sheeple who support Walker by saying the other GOP hopeful won't attack Walker on his lacking in job creation or on Wisconsin's flailing and failing economy because reasons:
Perhaps most important, Walker's challengers won't attack him on the Wisconsin economy because to do so would be to attack the efficacy of conservative policies in general. Walker is a down-the-line conservative; criticizing his governance would be to criticize exactly the kind of leadership Republican voters want to see in a candidate.

If Jeb Bush wants to say Walker isn't effective because Walker cut taxes, expanded school choice, took on the public sector unions, expanded the right to carry concealed weapons and implemented voter identification, exactly what does that say about what Bush stands for? Which of those Walker initiatives is Marco Rubio going to say Walker got wrong?

That doesn't mean Walker isn't susceptible to other attacks. If the other candidates are raising and spending tens of millions of dollars to run, they won't exactly adhere to Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment ("Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican"). Maybe Walker will fend off charges that he's weak on foreign policy or that he's less electable than Bush or Rubio.

But criticizing Walker for being too much of a doctrinaire conservative is almost certainly a dead-end in the GOP primary. Republican presidential aspirants who attack Walker on jobs might just be disqualifying themselves from the one they want the most.
Now, what concealed carry or voter suppression has to do with the economy, I don't know.  Methinks that Schneider got so carries away with serving his word salad and was so desperate to defend Walker and so short on things he could use that he simply decided to throw everything in there to see if something worked.

But that is not the key point.

The key point is that Schneider is saying that the other Teapublicans don't dare attack Walker on his epic failures because Walker is the personification of the conservative agenda.

In other words, Schneider is basically admitting that the conservative agenda, otherwise known as plantation economics, is not working.  But Walker's abject failure doesn't matter because this is what their corporate masters want.

Baltimore Gets The Palm Tree Treatment

During the unrest in Baltimore, a local Fox News affiliate posted this picture (courtesy of ReverbPress):

There's a problem with the photo though.  It's not from Baltimore. And it's not from 2015.

From the article:
This fake Baltimore photo is from the 2014 Venezuela riots. That’s right: Fox posted a photo taken around 2,000 miles away and claimed that it was in the center of Baltimore.
I know I can't be the only one that is reminded of the way Faux News covered the 2011 protests in Madison:

Madison, Wisconsin. Palm Trees. Short sleeves. In February.

The saddest part is that not only do people buy into this propaganda, they deny the truth even when confronted with it.  That should be the definition of insanity.

End Of An Era - No More MDA Telethon

I remember when I was a kid, my grandparents would faithfully watch the Jerry Lewis telethon every Labor Day weekend.  They always had to see how the stars looked and enjoyed the free talent show.

As the years progressed, things changed. Lewis got older and his health started to fail. Ed McMahon died. They cut the show back from 21 hours to just two hours.
Now they've ended the telethon altogether:

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is ending its annual Labor Day telethon, a television tradition for decades that has slowly disappeared from view since the sudden end of Jerry Lewis' role as host following the 2010 show.

The telethon was a relic from a different age, a tuxedoed Lewis oozing show biz schmaltz and hosting stars from Frank Sinatra to Jennifer Lopez over 45 years, pushing through his exhaustion to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" as a tote board rang up millions of dollars in donations.

From 21 and a half hours in Lewis' final year, the show had been reduced to two hours the last two years on ABC.

"It's not a 21-hour world anymore," said Steve Ford, MDA executive vice president, on Friday.

With television time costly, the MDA's fundraising efforts will move primarily online, he said. The success of a viral event like "The Ice Bucket Challenge" proves this is a potent area for philanthropy, he said.
H/T Alan Colmes

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The 129th Anniversary Commemoration Of The Bay View Tragedy

Via the Milwaukee Area Labor Council:

Here is a little refresher on what our forefathers were willing to sacrifice for things that we take for granted today.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Scott Walker - Always Backing The Losers

By Jeff Simpson 

It came out recently that like Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is mired in debt.   Where ever Scott Walker goes, he likes to put lots of spending on his credit card.  He personally owes Sears about $50,000.

You're not the only one in debt. According to state financial disclosure documents, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker reportedly owed between $10,000 and $100,000 to credit card companies in 2014. 
One of the cards listed was a Sears MasterCard that had up to $50,000 on it,The Daily Beast reports. 

A quick check of the retail market and you see that the Walker family appears to be the last remaining family still shopping at Sears.

Sears shares fell Thursday, after the struggling department store announced an adjusted net loss of $296 million—in line with the updated guidance it gave in November.The retailer also said it's accelerating the number of stores it plans to close this year, boosting its list from the 130 underperforming stores it announced in its second-quarter earnings release, to a total of 235 stores.

Like Wisconsin, Sears was once proud and well respected, then was taken over by a tea party loon who quickly proceeded to run their respective franchises to the ground.  

I guess if career politician Scott Walker has no idea who was even in office in Wisconsin, we probably should not expect to much from him in any other area of expertise.

Maybe when he realizes his dream of becoming President of the US is a pipe dream, we can use him as a crossing guard at a local school.

The neon can help cover up his horrendous wardrobe.  

Abele Fails Milwaukee's Most Vulnerable Citizens - Again

Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele wanted to allow his wealthy country club buddies profiteer off of the county grounds where the mental health complex is.  To do so, he started pushing the patients at the complex out the door without adequate safety measures.

AFSCME and other unions warned of the folly of such actions.  They pointed out that this would only endanger these vulnerable citizens due to inadequate resources and inadequate planning.

The Milwaukee County Board heard and heeded these warnings.  They made the wise decision to put safety measures into place, such as requiring the necessary services be available before a person is placed in the community and tracking the patients after they are discharged.

Emperor Abele found such commonsense provisions to be insufferable.  The county taxpayers and these vulnerable citizens needed to be exploited, dammit!

So Abele did what he always does when he doesn't get his way - he threw a tantrum.  Abele ran to his personally bought and paid for state representative, Joe Sanfelippo, and had him write a state law that stripped the board - and Milwaukee County taxpayers - of any say in how the mental health system is run.

Instead of the county board and the taxpayers having any authority, Abele and Sanfelippo created a Mental Health Board which has been a boondoggle since day one and keeps getting worse.

Since Abele had set off on this foolishness, people have gotten maimed and, even worse, people have lost their lives.  All due to the greed of Abele and his friends.

Now it is being reported that Abele has again failed our most vulnerable citizens because he didn't want to listen to the people:
Milwaukee County's plan to send the last of its long-term psychiatric patients to a Franklin group home has hit a snag after neighbors complained that they did not want the facility built there.

The developer had won Plan Commission approval for a hookup to the city's water system, which was necessary to be able to build the facility at 9120 W. St. Martins Road. But after neighbors protested, Franklin's Common Council took the unusual step of rescinding the approval.

In a series of heated meetings in recent weeks, residents and at least one alderman said they had not been informed the land would be used to house patients who were being moved into the community from the county's Mental Health Complex.

Last year, the county closed its long-term Hilltop Unit, which once cared for as many as 60 patients with developmental disabilities and mental illness. This year it aims to close the complex's Rehab Central, which serves people with complex medical and mental health needs.

The county plan called for building a home for up to five residents in Franklin on a rural plot of land that already was zoned residential. The residents would be supervised 24-hours a day and cared for by staff from Matt Talbot Recovery Services, a social service agency under contract with the county.

Now, instead of battles with the County Board over how fast to downsize the aging and oft-criticized Mental Health Complex, county administrators are facing opposition as they try to shift patients to the sort of community-based care experts say can be better and cheaper.

That challenge has proved to be especially difficult in the suburbs. Since 2010, the county has helped create more than 500 supportive housing units — with only 80 outside of the city of Milwaukee.

At the Franklin Common Council meetings, neighbors raised concerns about whether the new home would cause property values to fall, whether sex offenders and other criminals would be allowed to move in and whether the property was a wetland, and therefore could not be developed.

"We don't want it," said Michael G. Busch, whose property abuts the land. "We're not happy. Can you put it somewhere else?"

One man suggested a fence with barbed wire be installed around the property to "keep residents contained." Another shouted obscenities at Matt Talbot lawyers.
Now the lawyers for this private agency is threatening to sue the City of Franklin to force them to take the group home. This will prove to be very costly for all people involved.

If Abele had listened to the real experts instead of hiring people to tell him what he wants to hear, things could have gone a lot smoother. There could have been several outreach meetings instead of one last minute one to help smooth the way for this to happen. The neighbors could have been properly educated and the vulnerable citizens would have been welcomed. Because of Abele's myopic greed, even if the private agency wins the lawsuit, the people won't accept the residents and they will not be successfully integrated into the community, which will only set up more problems down the road.

Then again, as I pointed out earlier, Abele's concern is not meeting the needs of these vulnerable citizens or being accountable to the taxpayers.  Abele's only concern is enriching his already rich friends.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scott Walker Touts His Record

By Jeff Simpson

Scott Walker, made a surprise appearance in Wisconsin(the state he supposedly works in) to tout his record. 

RACINE — As he ramps up his expected bid for president, Gov. Scott Walker touted his record on business Wednesday night in front of about 500 people at Festival Hall.

What better place than Racine to show up and see Walker's policy in action?

The Department of Workforce Development released their local employment and unemployment rates for the State of Wisconsin today. Preliminary May 2014 rates decreased or remained the same in 23 of Wisconsin’s 32 largest municipalities from rates in April 2014, and they decreased in all 32 municipalities compared to rates in May 2013. The latest May 2014 rates ranged from 3.2 percent in Caledonia to 9.7 percent in Racine.
Yes we all can not wait for Scott Walker to rollout his special version of heavy spending and no jobs to he rest of the country! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Just Like Indiana

By Jeff Simpson

Wisconsin's disappearing Governor, Scott Walker, recently made an appearance in Wisconsin to sign a "Right-To-Work" bill that he spent years campaigning that he would not sign.  

The new law, which takes effect immediately, makes Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state and the first to do it since Michigan and Indiana in 2012. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, said the action now puts pressure on other Midwest states to follow suit.
Yes, we want to be just like Indiana.   By the way this is the kind of thing happening in Indiana under their very own "right-to-work" laws:

The superintendent of an Indiana school district where a stage collapsed, injuring 16 high school students when they plunged into an orchestra pit, said Friday that the section that gave way was only a few years old, but it's unclear whether it was ever subject to inspection.
The uncertainty surrounding the regulation of the orchestra pit cover that collapsed during Thursday's finale of a musical at Westfield High School, 20 miles north of Indianapolis, is reminiscent of questions that arose in 2011, when heavy winds toppled stage rigging onto fans awaiting a performance by country duo Sugarland at the Indiana State Fair.
Seven people were killed and dozens injured in that collapse, which sparked new state rules on temporary, outdoor stage rigging equipment. Thursday's collapse wasn't deadly, and all of the students who were injured were out of the hospital by Friday afternoon.

Shitty work, done by cheap labor, on top of no regulations, is the ultimate Republican wet dream.   Luckily for us though, most people wont die and if they are young they will eventually heal.   

Can't wait until we can have some of our very own Wisconsin videos of massive groups of people  getting injured and enjoying the fruits of our very own "Right-to-Work" tree. 

American Federation For Children Has A History of Lying

In Tennessee, the American Federation for Children, who is represented in Wisconsin by Scott Jensen,  won an award for the best negative direct mail piece.  

Also, in the  Mandy Wright assembly race, American Federation for Children spent much money on an ad against Ms. Wright that was not fact based.   It helped MS. Wright get beat by all of 86 votes.  https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1373125/wright1.pdf

Does American Federation for Children take pride in negativity and misinforming voters?  

Their mission statement being:

The American Federation for Children envisions an education system where parents are empowered to choose the best educational environment for their child, where innovation and entrepreneurism revolutionizes our education system, ensuring all children, especially low-income children, are provided with the opportunity to receive the finest education possible, whether it be in a traditional public school, public charter school, virtual learning, private school, home school or blended learning.

Are parents really empowered to choose the best educational environment when American Federation for Children spends millions of dollars to misled and misinform them?   Is lying, and smear attacks part of the curriculum of the schools they advocate for?    

Image result for scott Jensen wi

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Walker Is About To Outdo Himself

Thanks to Scott Walker's policies and budgets, Wisconsin is lagging behind every state in the Midwest, and most of the nation, in job creation and wage increases. Things are so bad that Walker has been trying to rewrite his own job creation history.

Now that Walker has passed right to work (for less) legislation and is about to devastate the state with the worst budget ever, he might want to get a bigger pencil with a really big eraser for another rewrite as he is about to break his own record for layoffs in one year:
By the end of last week Wisconsin employers had already notified the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) of 3,543 planned layoffs, putting the state on pace to eclipse 10,000 in 2015.

That would be the highest number of layoffs announced in Wisconsin since 2011, when Gov. Scott Walker first took office. The total number of layoff notifications topped 9,000 that year.

By comparison, employers notified the state of 6,511 layoffs in 2012, 7,029 in 2013 and just 6,186 layoffs in 2014. The state records the notifications on the date when they are informed about the layoffs, which can then sometimes take effect over the course of a year or several years afterwards.

Many of the 2015 layoffs will impact hundreds of employees here in South Central Wisconsin. Last week alone, 93 employees at the Eaton Corp. plant in Watertown and 119 workers at McCain Foods in Fort Atkinson were told they will be out of a job by the end of the year.

"I just think our economic climate is not very healthy here," said Rep. Deb Kolste (D-Janesville), who sits on the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development.

Rep. Kolste said both workers and employers are feeling the pinch of the state's economic woes.

"We haven't created an environment where there's been robust wage growth and we are a consumer nation and if people aren't spending money - then we don't have the job growth," said Rep. Kolste.
And just think - he wants to repeat this level of "success" nationally.

Another Day, Another Hypocritical Republican

Why does this not surprise me?
...So North Dakota State Representative Randy Boehning (R) should have seriously thought twice before 1) being vocally anti-gay rights, and 2) sending an image of his penis to some random person on Grindr.

But he didn’t, and here we are.

After Rep. Boehning had voted against a bill that would have expanded anti-discrimination rights for LGBT citizens, the Fargo Forum published a splashy front page featuring his photo, as well as the photos of every representative who also voted against the bill. 21-year-old Dustin Smith, a Bismarck resident, soon recognized Boehning as a Grindr user named “Top Man!” who’d been flirting with him for the past year and sending him many a pic, some with his face, and at least one dick pic during the time frame of the contentious discrimination bill vote.

“How can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?” Smith rhetorically asked The Forum.

When confronted with the graphic evidence, Bohening initially remained silent, but eventually admitted that yes, he was gay, and that a few people had known, including some legislators who he alleged had attempted to blackmail him. “The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted,” he said, apparently relieved that he’d been outed. “I have to confront it at some point.”
Republicans really hate themselves, but why do they have to take that hate out on the rest of us?

H/T Alan Colmes

City In Ruins

By Jeff Simpson

What happens when a group of people with similar ideologies gets together with a single purpose?



There are so many other, legal, ways to destroy a city that does not include violence.  

Education Reform Vultures

By Jeff Simpson

We have brought you the stories of the disgusting acts of the "education reform" leaders(term used loosely), in WI.  From all of Scott Jensen's life work, to Jim Bender trying to get the height, weight and phone numbers of our children and even has trickled down to Zeus Rodriguez, the snake oil salesman from Milwaukee wanting to cash in on Texas school children now.

They are at it again, this time the education "reformers" are looking at ways to cash in on the riots in Baltimore:

Who sent this stupid tweet(since deleted)?  That would be the Jeanne Allen, senior fellow, President Emeritus and founder of the "Center for Education Reform".

Thar's GOLD in them thar classrooms!   And Jeanne wants to get her fingers on it as badly as Scott and Jim do!   It is unfortunate that our children are being used as collateral damage for their greed!

Quote Of The Day - Baltimore

Allison Hantschel at First Draft has a piece about the rebellion in Baltimore, with this keen insight:
This is how today is like every other day. The world is on fire. And we notice today, because we’ve decided to notice, today. When we forget again tomorrow, it won’t be because we can no longer smell the smoke.

People called for help, and nobody answered. For years. They did this for years, and years, and years, while the streets crumbled beneath them. The factories closed, and the schools shut down, and the swingsets rusted in the parks while the weeds grew tall. Those with the power to help drove fast through those neighborhoods, called them rough, asked why the people there just didn’t move.

Talked about personal responsibility, about bootstraps, about pulling up pants and not listening to angry loud music and wearing the right kinds of shirts to the right kinds of protests with the right kinds of people. Those with the power to change things demanded change from the powerless.

Tomorrow many, many people will ask why, and somebody will keep track of who condemned what, and when, and how loudly. People are calling for help, and nobody is answering...
Compare that to the things being said by the clueless right wingers who are trying to blame the unrest on the victims of the rampant police brutality and blatant racism that is plaguing our country.

What really gets to me are when these right wing racists clutch their fainting pearls and bemoan how "those people" don't know or appreciate the meaning of life.  These are the same fools that go to insane measures of tortured logic to justify the police brutality.  They are also the same people that will exploit blacks - and all minorities and poor people - through education profiteering, worker exploitation (right to work), voter suppression and other Jim Crow laws.

If anything, one should say that the blacks are the ones that truly understand and appreciate the worth of life and are fighting to keep it from those who would steal it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Walker Keeps Hate For Gays Alive

Less than a month ago, it was reported that Scott Walker dished out more than a million dollars in his futile effort to stop marriage equality. Despite losing that costly battle, Walker made it abundantly clear that his bigotry and hatred is still burning brightly:
Wearing a suit — with no mention of whether it was from Kohl's — and pacing the stage, Walker was at ease, peppering a few new elements into a stump speech he's given throughout the country as he considers a presidential bid. In his voice, the wear of two days' worth of events across the state could be heard, but his speech drew cheers, stomps and applause.

Just before he took the stage, Walker told reporters he's holding out hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule that states can bar same-sex marriages. But if that's not the case, he suggested that voters should seek a constitutional amendment to allow state-level bans.

"I think the appropriate route is for people across America who care deeply about this issue to pursue a constitutional amendment allowing the states to determine what the definition is," Walker told reporters.

When the Supreme Court declined to hear Wisconsin's case last fall, Walker said, "For us, it's over in Wisconsin." But his comments on Saturday indicated he's not ready to walk away from the fight.

He made no mention of a constitutional amendment in his speech, but reaffirmed his belief that marriage "is between one man and one woman" and that states should be the ones to define the terms.
Just another example showing that Walker wants to be president so badly that he doesn't care whose necks he steps on to get there.

Walkergate Prosecutors To Walker: Put Up Or Shut Up

Over the weekend, Scott Walker was once again in Iowa, peddling the false pretense that he is a good Christian, when he went after the Walkergate prosecutors, echoing the fabricated narratives that has been bouncing around the right wing echo chambers. This time, though, the prosecutors aren't just standing by. They issued a challenge to Walker to walk the walk and to go big and go bold by agreeing to release all of the John Doe documents which are currently sealed:
Prosecutors have largely been mum publicly about their probe of Walker's campaign, and Walker recently has largely refrained from discussing the matter.

That changed Saturday after Walker on Friday spoke to WHO-AM in Des Moines about a recent report in the National Review detailing a 2011 police raid on the home of Walker aide Cindy Archer and ones in 2013 on those working for groups supporting him.

"I said even if you're a liberal Democrat, you should look at (the raids) and be frightened to think that if the government can do that against people of one political persuasion, they can do it against anybody, and more often than not we need protection against the government itself," Walker told the radio station.

"As (the National Review) pointed out, there were real questions about the constitutionality of much of what they did, but it was really about people trying to intimidate people..." Walker said.

"They were looking for just about anything. As I pointed out at the time, it was largely a political witch hunt."

The raids were conducted as part of a pair of investigations led by Chisholm, a Democrat. On the second investigation, Chisholm was assisted by district attorneys from both parties and special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, a self-described Republican.

"As to defamatory remarks, I strongly suspect the Iowa criminal code, like Wisconsin's, has provisions for intentionally making false statements intended to harm the reputation of others," Chisholm said in a statement Saturday responding to Walker's comments.

In a separate statement, Schmitz said he was surprised Walker would "speak publicly about specific issues which are now before the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a decision."

"His description of the investigation as a 'political witch hunt' is offensive when he knows that the investigation was authorized by a bipartisan group of judges and is directed by a Republican special prosecutor appointed at the request of a bipartisan group of district attorneys," Schmitz's statement said.

He called Walker's comments inaccurate but didn't detail why.

"I invite the governor to join me in seeking judicial approval to lawfully release information now under seal which would be responsive to the allegations that have been made," his statement said. "Such information, when lawfully released, will show that these recent allegations are patently false."

Chisholm said he agreed with Schmitz's statement.

"Stripped of niceties, Mr. Schmitz is saying the governor is deliberately not telling the truth," Chisholm's statement said.

"The truth is always a defense, so let's get the truth out in a legal manner, not through lies, distortions and misrepresentations."
As one might expect, Walker dodged this challenge and refused to answer questions about releasing the sealed documents.

In other words, Walker has neatly painted himself into a corner.

He can either release the documents and hope his presidential bid can survive. Given the weak-kneed corporate media and America's terribly short attention span, there is a good chance he could survive the release of the documents. But I wouldn't hold my breath for him to do that, because he would have to give up his portrayal of the Tea Party Martyr.

If Walker refuses to allow the release of the documents, it would be nice if a reporter or three practiced a rare act of flagrant journalism and ask him what he is trying to hide - and to persist on this questioning until he finally answers.

Walkergate: How Partisan Is John Doe?

As noted earlier, Scott Walker and his right wing apologists are scared witless about an upcoming decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court about the ongoing John Doe investigations into Walker's illegal collaboration with dark money groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth.

In an effort to stem the bad press that will come with the court's rulings, win or lose, the right wing has gone on the offensive to start the damage control and trying to control the spin. Among these propagandists is David French, who wrote some horrible dreck for the National Review. Besides the over the top melodrama and flights of imagination, French included another utterly false talking point from Team Walker - that the investigation and subsequent criminal convictions are the result of a partisan witch hunt:

t all began innocently enough. In 2009, officials from the office of the Milwaukee County executive contacted the office of the Milwaukee district attorney, headed by John Chisholm, to investigate the disappearance of $11,242.24 from the Milwaukee chapter of the Order of the Purple Heart. The matter was routine, with witnesses willing and able to testify against the principal suspect, a man named Kevin Kavanaugh.

What followed, however, was anything but routine. Chisholm failed to act promptly on the report, and when he did act, he refused to conduct a conventional criminal investigation but instead petitioned, in May 2010, to open a “John Doe” investigation, a proceeding under Wisconsin law that permits Wisconsin officials to conduct extensive investigations while keeping the target’s identity secret (hence the designation “John Doe”).


At the same time that the public protests were raging, so were private — but important — protests in the Chisholm home and workplace. As a former prosecutor told journalist Stuart Taylor, Chisholm’s wife was a teachers’-union shop steward who was distraught over Act 10’s union reforms. He said Chisholm “felt it was his personal duty” to stop them.

Meanwhile, according to this whistleblower, the district attorney’s offices were festooned with the “blue fist” poster of the labor-union movement, indicating that Chisholm’s employees were very much invested in the political fight.
Unfortunately, French is just repeating misinformation that has been utterly debunked.

The John Doe did not begin with Walker asking District Attorney John Chisholm to look into the theft of money from a veterans fund. The investigation started when Walker started to stonewall the investigation by refusing to release requested emails and documents.

As far as the myth that the investigation and prosecutions were due to unionism, eye witnesses thoroughly discredited those allegations. On top of that, the supposed "whistleblower" whom French refers to was a disgruntled former employee who was suffering from PTSD and alcoholism and who had made death threats against Chisholm and his family.

It later turned out that these accusations were nothing but a campaign gimmick to promote Walker's name and set up the story line they are now using.

As for the mewling that John Doe is partisan, that couldn't be any further from the truth. The fact is that three of the five district attorneys working on the John Doe are Democrats while the other two are Republicans. The special prosecutor that the DAs hired to handle the case is a Republican who openly states he voted for Walker in the recall.

Furthermore, all of the judges that authorized the John Doe investigations are Republican, including James Daley, the Republican candidate who lost his bid for the state supreme court earlier this month. In addition, all of the members of the Government Accountability Board, which oversaw the investigations, are Republicans.

The only way that this could be a partisan witch hunt is if Walker turned out to be a partisan witch, which at this point, wouldn't surprise me in the least.

National Review Waxes Melodramatic Over Walkergate

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is soon due to make a ruling regarding the John Doe investigation into Scott Walker and his illegal collaboration with third party dark money groups, such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Even though four of the seven justices are obliged to recuse themselves due to the large amount of support they received from WCoG and other such dark money groups, they have shown no indication that they will be doing the proper thing.

The possibility of this going south for Walker and the dark money groups have them scared to death. If all of Walker's misdeeds come to the light of day, it will sink his presidential bid just as fast as if he was caught deflowering a virgin goat. Even if their Machiavellian scheme to bury the John Doe works, the fact that the Supreme Court is so tainted will raise doubt in people capable of independent thought.

In preparation for whatever the results, the right wing is doing preemptive strikes to gain sympathy for Walker and his fellow scofflaws. The right wing has decided that the best course of action is to clutch their pearls and swoon back on their fainting couches.

One of the most notorious of these strikes is the God-awrful dreck penned by David French at the National Review.

After giving one anecdotal - and highly embellished - account after another, French ends up with this melodramatic prose:
For some of the families, the trauma of the raids, combined with the stress and anxiety of lengthy criminal investigations, has led to serious emotional repercussions. “Devastating” is how Anne describes the impact on her family. “Life-changing,” she says. “All in terrible ways.”

O’Keefe, who has been in contact with multiple targeted families, says, “Every family I know of that endured a home raid has been shaken to its core, and the fate of marriages and families still hangs in the balance in some cases.”

Anne also describes a new fear of the police: “I used to support the police, to believe they were here to protect us. Now, when I see an officer, I’ll cross the street. I’m afraid of them. I know what they’re capable of.”

Cindy says, “I lock my doors and I close my shades. I don’t answer the door unless I am expecting someone. My heart races when I see a police car sitting in front of my house or following me in the car. The raid was so public. I’ve been harassed. My house has been vandalized. [She did not identify suspects.] I no longer feel safe, and I don’t think I ever will.”

Rachel talks about the effect on her children. “I tried to create a home where the kids always feel safe. Now they know they’re not. They know men with guns can come in their house, and there’s nothing we can do.” Every knock on the door brings anxiety. Every call to the house is screened. In the back of her mind is a single, unsettling thought: These people will never stop.

Victims of trauma — and every person I spoke with described the armed raids as traumatic — often need to talk, to share their experiences and seek solace in the company of a loving family and supportive friends. The investigators denied them that privilege, and it compounded their pain and fear.
Keep in mind that none of these people were beaten, tasered or shot to death like so many, unarmed, innocent black people - whom this group loves to mock.

Also keep in mind that the Walkergate proceedings have led to six convictions and revealed a vast criminal scheme of illegal politicking with Scott Walker at the center of it.

Not only does French lay it on thick with the hysteria and melodramatics, but he plays loose and fancy free with the facts.

For example, take the first story French regales us with regarding Cindy Archer, who was then Walker's top aide as Director of the Department of Administration for Milwaukee County. After telling us of the horrors that this criminal was treated like a criminal, he writes:
“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”

They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off.

The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.”

Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.
Now the truth of the matter is that the raid was conducted by sheriff's deputies and FBI agents. And they took boxes full of stuff from her home and the stuff she tried to pawn off on her neighbors:
Archer's neighbors said about a dozen law enforcement officers arrived Wednesday sometime before 7 a.m. One agent took photos of the house, and others wore jackets that said they were responsible for gathering evidence.

Around 9 a.m., a reporter saw four FBI agents - two of them wearing latex gloves - talking in Archer's backyard before going into her house. Later, one removed a large box and put it in the trunk of an FBI car. They left about 10 a.m.

The FBI also seized the hard drive from a computer that a neighbor had bought from Archer six to eight weeks ago at a garage sale.

Next-door neighbor Dale Riechers said he had never turned on the computer because he was planning to work on it later in the fall. He told the agents about the hard drive and they asked to take it, Riechers said.
If one was wondering why the law enforcement officials were interested in the electronics, part of the reason is that a large number of computers and files came up missing when Walker left for Madison.

Another reason is that Archer was up to her armpits in the illegal politicking, as evidence by her email to Kelly Rindfleisch, one of those convicted, welcoming her to the "inner circle":
Included in more than 27,000 pages of emails and other documents unsealed Wednesday are the closest links yet between Gov. Scott Walker and a secret email system used in his office when he was Milwaukee County executive.

"Consider yourself now in the 'inner circle,'" Walker's administration director, Cynthia Archer, wrote to Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch just after the two exchanged a test message.

"I use this private account quite a bit to communicate with SKW and Nardelli. You should be sure you check it throughout the day," she wrote, referring to Walker by his initials and to Walker's then-chief of staff, Tom Nardelli.

Court documents have previously showed Walker's aides set up a secret wireless router in the county executive's office and traded emails that mixed county and campaign business on Gmail and Yahoo accounts. The email from Archer made public Wednesday is the closest link yet between that system and Walker.
Contrary to the arguments that the Walker apologists are using, the Walkergate investigations have nothing to do with Free Speech. They are all about their role in the theft of our democracy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Walker Tries To Rewrite His Job Creation History

On Friday, Scott Walker (or more likely one of his campaign aides - since it's spelled correctly) issued the following tweet about his job numbers:

James Rowen at The Political Environment caught this and pointed out that Walker had conveniently tried to drop 100,000 jobs from his campaign promise. Rowen also notes that most of the jobs that Walker did create are sub-poverty level jobs.

Rowen also points out that the only way that Walker was able to pretend to meet his promise of 10,000 jobs was to count girl scout troops and little league teams as new businesses.

The thing that caught my eye was his claim of "Positive #jobs growth in Wisconsin starting on Day One."

What utter rubbish!

There is ample proof that after Walker's first budget took effect, and about the same time the ramifications of Walker's Act 10 - the attack on public sector workers - were first being felt, Wisconsin had a steep loss in jobs. In fact, there was six consecutive months of job losses when Walker's policies took hold.

That's hardly what I would call positive job growth from Day One.

Then again, to be fair, that does not include all the jobs that Walker created in other states, like Minnesota and California.

Chris Abele's Monkey Business At The Zoo

Last year, Milwaukee County Emperor Chris "Boss" Abele devised a budget which was rife with privatization schemes and giveaways to his wealthy friends, including the privatization of the concessions at the Milwaukee County Zoo.  The County Board wisely rejected this proposal.

The board's decision was well-founded as that the concessions are very profitable for the county.  Privatization of these services would lead to a reduction of services and sending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars out of state.

Abele was so upset of having his privatization schemes foiled, he stamped his silk-slippered little feet and got rid of his head hatchet man.

However, at last week's Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee meeting, it was found that Abele again ignored the will of the people and went ahead and signed a Memo of Understanding with Service Systems Associates (SSA), a Colorado-based private company to run the concessions, even though he did not have the authority to do so.

The committee meeting (Item #12) revealed that not only did Abele promise this group a contract, but had given them keys to the place and office on the zoo grounds.

This underhanded, Machiavellian stunt is reminiscent of his stunt to sneak through an expansion of the privatization of security guards throughout the county or the way he tried to give away the transit system to a for-profit company.

Because of the shadiness of Abele's maneuvering, instead of getting the 5-3 up vote they were expecting, Abele and SSA walked away with a 3-5 rejection.

When this matter appeared before the entire county board this past Thursday, it was sent back to the respective committees in light of Abele's manipulations.

I certainly hope that the supervisors remember their vote last year and why they voted that way to prevent Abele from further diminishing Milwaukee County by wiping out one of its main attractions.

I also would not be surprised if Abele takes another page from the playbook of his BFF, Scott Walker, and creating an artificial budget crisis that would allow him to complete this manipulative, detrimental scheme of giving away more of the county's assets and taxpayer money.

Let's Debunk a Few Budget Myths

From State Senator Kathleen Vinehout:
"I’m okay with the cuts,” the man wrote me. “It’s shameful to pass debt on to our children.” In the man’s message, he implies a common misconception about Wisconsin – there is no state debt.

Wisconsin owes a lot of money and the state budget proposes we borrow even more money. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) reported in January that the state owed about $13.8 billion. This is slightly less than the previous year, but almost $600 million more than when Governor Doyle left office.

The conservative Tax Foundation reported in 2011 that Wisconsin ranked 18th of 50 states in terms of the worst state debt per person ($4,013). In 2013, Wisconsin ranked 16th of 50 states ($4,044 per person). Wisconsin is headed in the wrong direction in paying off the debt.

The Governor is proposing a great deal more borrowing in the new budget. Of greatest concern is the borrowing to pay for roads and bridges. The LFB estimates by the end of the coming budget almost a quarter of every dollar in transportation will be spent on debt payments.

Adding to future debt is the Governor’s proposal to build a stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks. The LFB estimates the interest alone on this proposal exceeds $400 million using the plan proposed by the Governor. Final payments are estimated to be in fiscal year 2046-47.

I’d say that’s passing debt on to our grandchildren.

Another common budget myth is the Governor paid all the debt bills coming due. The fact is the Governor is not paying about $108 million in debt payments coming due this year.

In order to free up cash, governors of both political stripes did not make debt payments. Governors Doyle and McCallum did not make debt payments during downturns in the economy. The largest delayed debt payments were under Governor Walker in the 2011-13 legislative session in which over $550 million in payments were delayed.

I imagine the reason the Governor delayed making debt payment this year was to free up cash to cover a deficit in the current budget; which brings us to another budget myth.

A popular myth is Governor Walker has spending under control. But spending in the current budget outpaced revenue.

In February of this year the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance analyzed three factors leading to an imbalance between revenue and spending.

“Tax cuts, the technical college aid jump, and soft tax collections led to revenues once again falling short of expenditures. The shortfall was $261 million last year and could grow to as large as $800 million this year, which would be the largest gap in over 20 years.”

These problems continue going forward. Using estimates released by the LFB last month, spending is estimated to outpace revenue in the next budget by over a billion in the first year and nearly $700 million in the second year.

The Legislature is required by the state Constitution to submit a balanced budget to the Governor. Therefore, when the budget passes in June, spending will be trimmed or revenues enhanced to deal with this imbalance.
Another common myth related to spending is that the Governor is spending less money in this new budget than in prior budgets.

The truth is the 2015-17 state budget spends $4.76 billion more than the last.

At $74.7 billion this budget is the largest in state history. That said, because of inflation, nearly every new budget is larger than the previous one.

But to say this budget is smaller than the last is false.

One reason the myth of a smaller budget exists is because some estimates of the size of the coming budget did not include all University of Wisconsin spending. Of course, to make an apples-to-apples comparison we need to include all the spending from the UW as we have in the past.

I hope this clears up a few of the common budget myths. If you want to learn more, please come to one of my budget town hall meetings

Right Wing Blogger Blaska Wishes Violence On Hillary Clinton

By Jeff Simpson

Hillary Clinton especially, but women in general have always had it harder than men when it comes to people disagreeing with them.    Now it seems as though Madison right wing blogger Dave Blaska wishes Ms. Clinton were no longer with us(and his good friends jumped right on that bandwagon).

Instead of celebrating the fact that a woman has a legitimate chance to be the President of the United States of America for the first time, Mr. Blaska decided to make an ass of himself.

While many will see this as a joke the fact is that this is a threat of violence being typed on Facebook by someone who is often in the public eye.  It is one thing to openly post disagreements you have with your elected officials, it a completely different thing to turn those disagreements into potential violence, even if the intent was to be comical. After all you never know who is reading the thread.