Monday, January 31, 2011

Preview Of The State Of The State Address

On Tuesday, Scott Walker is scheduled to give his first State of the State address.  Please do not confuse the snow job that Walker will be trying to pull on us with the real snow job that Mother Nature is dumping on us.

But so that you may enjoy your peppermint schnapps-laced hot cocoa after a grueling day fighting the elements, I will provide you with a preview of Walker's speech.

He will start out by telling us what a mess Governor Doyle left him to clean up.  He will use artificially inflated numbers, or even numbers pulled from a hat to make his point.  In other words, just look at his first State of the County speech, but substitute Doyle's name for Tom Ament's.

He will quickly follow this up by telling us how lucky we are for electing him, since he is the Chosen One, and that he will be able to single-handedly save us all from ruin.  He will tout the bills that he managed to ramrod through without sufficient public hearings or public input.  Things like paving over wetlands for an empty stores, giving tax breaks to all of his campaign contributors from WMC, and making sure that gays, minorities and poor people are kept under his boot heel where they belong.  Never mind that not one of his bills will create even one job nor save most Wisconsinites even one dime.

He will start out with the phony numbers for a couple of reasons.  One is to give him plausible doubt when his bills go haywire and we end up much worse than anyone could have imagined.  He is building the case to blame others for his own failure, a trait he is well-known for.

The other reason will be giving rise to his real agenda.

One of his goals is to bust up the unions.  He will present a plan to make the unions pay up to 20% of their salaries for health care and pension costs.  Walker will present it as "evening the playing field" with private sector workers, which is, of course, utter rubbish.  Walker won't ever dare offer any of his proposals at the negotiating table.  That way, he has cause, in his mind anyway, to lay off thousands of state workers and privatize the services.  In said privatizations, he will give handsome contracts to his campaign contributors which will end up costing more than if the services has remained in the public sector.

Another one of Walker's agenda items is to start dismantling public health care.  He will cite some unverifiable numbers indicating that Badger Care is under water and decided to through off hundreds of thousands of people from the system.  His dwindling faithful will be rejoicing thinking that this will save them some money on taxes.  The joke is on them though.  Their taxes will not go down, but their health care premiums will continue to climb at double digit rates.  The increase in premiums will be directly due to the higher number of people unable to afford basic medical care and will be waiting until they are so sick that they need emergency and costlier care than before.  The hospitals and insurance companies will pass these costs onto the rest of us through the premiums and charging $10 for an aspirin.

Just think, like his buddy Governor Jan Brewer, Walker can have his own death panels!

The remainder of the speech will consist of doublespeak for trying to convince us why we need to pay even more so that his rich business owners can have cuts to their already low taxes.  He'll drag out the same old tired dog and pony act claiming that it will create jobs, even though the same tax cuts on a national level only produced the Great Recession with higher unemployment.

Now that I've saved you the grief of having to listen to Walker's lies and false promises, go and enjoy the evening.  Maybe join your kids in monitoring the closing announcements to see if Wednesday is a snow day.  And don't forget the hot cocoa, liberally laced with schnapps.  We'll be needing a lot of that to get us through the next four years.

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Actions

Milwaukee County Executive Lee Holloway wants to use a car rental tax to bolster the county's transit system.

This will be sure to get the right wingers in full bay as they express their outrage.

But the reality is that this will probably never even make it past the Board, much less the state legislature or Scott Walker.  What they should do is keeping pushing for the dedicated sales tax to bolster the regional economy, lower the property tax and get people to work.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"People Create Jobs, Not The Government"

"People create jobs, not the government."
- Scott Walker
Funny how things change:
A Milwaukee social service agency says it wants to hire 100 people as it seeks to expand.
The Human Development Center, 4222 W. Capitol Drive, is seeking applicants with a background in sociology, psychology, social work or related fields.
The organization serves at-risk youth and also provides prenatal counseling.
The Human Development Center takes referrals from the State of Wisconsin when people call state crisis hotlines. The Human Development Center is holding a job fair from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Hampton Inn & Suites downtown, 176 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Need I mention that the State is now headed by Walker? Yes, the hundred extra jobs are nice, but odds are that the contract was something that was established by Governor Doyle long before Walker won the election.  Now if we could only get Walker to admit to the truth....

For The Sake Of Clarity

When referring to the big snow this week, please make sure you are clear whether you are talking about the blizzard-scale snow storm that could be dumping as much as two feet of snow in Southeastern Wisconsin or whether you are talking about Scott Walker's State of the State address in which he exaggerates the fiscal crisis so that he can lay off state workers and cut tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of women and children from Badger Care.

But in all seriousness, if you have a fire hydrant in front of your house, or in front of a neighbor's house, please help by keeping it clear of the snow.  You never know if it is your house you will be saving.

Walker Gets One Job Market To Grow Epically

We all scoffed when Scott Walker promised he would create 250,000 jobs within four years.  We guffawed when his jobs plan seemed to be nothing more than hokey signs or having his incompetent Lieutenant Governor do some telemarketing.  We clamored as our worst fears were being proven true, and he drove the high speed rail and the wind power related businesses out of Wisconsin and on to friendlier business climes.

And the news keeps getting worse.

Much to the dismay of environmentalists, conservationists and sportsmen alike, Scott Walker decided to give special dispensation to a campaign donor so that said donor could pave over some wetlands to put up a shopping strip mall.

One of the big name stores that they were courting to come to this paved-over paradise was Bass Pro Shop.  However, it's apparent that Walker and company didn't bother to do even the most rudimentary of good public relations and find out what Bass Pro Shop was all about.  If they had, they might have noted that the company had a strong environmentalist record.  Without that basic step, it came as a huge and embarrassing mistake for the Walker administration when Bass Pro Shop decided to stop considering that site as a potential site for a new store.

Instead of taking corrective actions, such as offering an alternative site (may I suggest one of the multitude of empty Walmart or other big box stores) or actually listening to the people of Wisconsin and preserving the wetland, Walker decides to stay the course (doesn't that phrase remind you of another failed Republican leader?) and pave over the wetland.  His hope is to still lure Bass Pro Shop to the site, even though they very specifically stated that they do not build on wetlands.

Walker, while focused on trying to reward his campaign donors instead of, you know, actually creating jobs, has also seen jobs leaving our state.  This includes Aerial Co. Inc. in Marinette, which is cutting some 75 jobs, including those that they are sending to Texas.

Even more cutting is American Aluminum Extrusion of Beloit.  They are sending 130 Wisconsin jobs packing to Roscoe, Illinois.  So much for Illinois' recent tax hike as being a business detriment.

Perhaps instead of waving his old "Escape To Wisconsin" bumper sticker around, he should start acting like a responsible leader and give people a reason to want to come here instead of a plethora of reasons why they should leave.

But at least on area of the job market is probably showing a huge boom.  They're going to need a lot of people to move those companies, and the workers following those jobs, out of the state.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Most Laws Exist For A Reason

This is rather disturbing on a number of levels:
At some point in their journey, the two got hold of a booklet listing the weirdest US laws. Since they were in Florida, their attention was drawn to a Florida law prohibiting sex with porcupines.
After a good deal of whiskey, the Russians felt curious about what might have prompted the law, and went in search of the animal.
Within one hour, a porcupine was found, and Anton and Yevgeny were drunk and brave enough to take off their pants and approach it.
The next morning, both were standing at the Cedars Sinai clinic in Los Angeles, where amazed doctors plucked porcupine needles from their penises.
This raises a number of questions, none of which I'm sure I want to know the answer to:

  • Just how drunk do you have to be to think having sex with a porcupine is a good idea?
  • How prevalent a problem is man-on-porcupine sex that they had to pass a law to ban it?
  • How the heck was this story not based in Wisconsin (specifically Sheboygan)?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Violating Rules #1 And #2 Of Running For A Milwaukee County Office

Came home tonight to find this in the old inbox:
Steven Kraeger has registered as candidate for Milwaukee County Supervisor in District #14. 
 Steve is focusing on the economy and has rallied around Gov. Scott Walker's "Wisconsin is open for Business" declaration by using the motto,  "Milwaukee County is open for Business".  
Steve, who prides himself as being a fiscal conservative, hopes to bring in new business and job growth for Milwaukee County and that he can attract business by keeping taxes and government expenses down through auditing the Milwaukee County budget.
Along with the economy, he wants to attack other issues like addressing the problem of the crumbling Hoan Bridge, MMSD dumping sewerage into Lake Michigan, transportation, political corruption, smaller government, and clean beaches and parks.  If elected, he plans of having listening sessions every 30 days. 
Steve is the owner of a trucking company and has invested in real estate development.  He has been a lifetime resident in the Milwaukee area and has lived in Milwaukee County District #14 for 28 years.
For more information on issues and Steve Kraeger visit his website at or, you can call Steve at [redacted].  Email:  [redacted]
Well, it appears that Mr. Kraeger, whoever he is, has violated the first two rules of running for a Milwaukee County office.

But first, let us parse this press release, shall we?
Steve is focusing on the economy and has rallied around Gov. Scott Walker's "Wisconsin is open for Business" declaration by using the motto,  "Milwaukee County is open for Business".  
Um, Steve, Walker isn't creating any jobs, his slogan is laughable and laughed at, and so is yours.
Steve, who prides himself as being a fiscal conservative, hopes to bring in new business and job growth for Milwaukee County and that he can attract business by keeping taxes and government expenses down through auditing the Milwaukee County budget.
See the previous point.  In addition, the county budget is audited a number of times each year to make sure it's on track.  But it's the next one that is the doozy:
Along with the economy, he wants to attack other issues like addressing the problem of the crumbling Hoan Bridge, MMSD dumping sewerage into Lake Michigan, transportation, political corruption, smaller government, and clean beaches and parks.  If elected, he plans of having listening sessions every 30 days. 
Hooey, where to start? 
  • The Hoan Bridge, that's a state issue and the repairs and redecking have already been ordered, in case you haven't noticed.  
  • MMSD is a city thing and not under county jurisdiction.  
  • Political corruption? But you say you're with Walker? Which one is it? Walker's office was/is politically corrupt.  Either you're with Walker or you're against corruption, but you can't be both.
  • Pushing smaller government is not congruent with a good transit system or clean beaches and parks.  In case you weren't paying attention, and it appear you haven't been, Walker has cut staff at transit and the parks, and both have suffered greatly for these cuts. 
You see, Mr. Kraeger, the first rule to running for an office in Milwaukee County is to know what the hell it is that you are talking about.  You obviously don't.  And what little information you do have apparently comes from talk radio, which is not a very good source of reliable information.

By not knowing even the most fundamental responsibilities of the job you are applying for eliminates you automatically.  After all, would you, as an owner of a trucking company, hire a driver that couldn't drive?  Of course not!  For that same reason, you do not deserve to have a position as county supervisor.

Oh, and the second rule which you violated...Don't ever let me get my hands on stuff like this.

BTW, if you had been with me earlier this evening, you could have met your next supervisor, Jason Haas.  Jason is a really smart guy who does know what he is talking about and does want to improve Milwaukee County.

Busy Day At The Courthouse

A number of things happened at the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Tuesday.

Some of it was newsy, some noteworthy, and some just plain nuts.

Milwaukee County Executive Race Finally Heats(?) Up

The candidates for Milwaukee County Executive, with only three weeks until the primary, are finally showing signs of life.

Jim Sullivan has been going around the county campaigning in the old-fashioned way, actually meeting with the voters, listening to their concerns and priorities and offering up his ideas.

Jeff Stone has sent out the first mailer that I've heard about, and the first message he sends is that he would be the one that will save Milwaukee County from "99 days of runaway Holloway."  Too bad for him that it will be only 30 days of Holloway as County Executive, and that Holloway didn't do any running away.  Unless, of course, Stone thinks that Holloway's cleaning out the Courthouse of Walker's corrupt cronies and taking measures to get the airport straightened out is outrageous, which he might since he somehow thinks that Walker had done well as County Executive.

Chris Abele, keeping as ambiguous as ever, ran the first TV ad.  About the only thing he said in it was to make the claim that he saved the county some $200 million on the questionable pension obligation bond scheme.  But even that isn't without controversy,  Holloway is contesting that claim, saying if the County had followed this advice when it was given, the results would have disastrous.

But for Abele and Holloway to be fighting over the questionable and unpopular pension obligation bonds seems to make as much sense as the Skipper and Gilligan fighting for taking credit for shipwrecking the Minnow.

I certainly hope the race takes a turn for the better and soon.

Meet The New GOP, Same As The Old GOP

Well, that didn't take long.  

Three weeks into this new "historic" congress with its tsunami of newly elected GOP politicians, we have our first scandal.  Representative David Rivera (R-Fla.) is under a dual probe for ethics and campaign finance violations:

The 45-year-old Rivera, who was elected to the House in November after eight years in the Florida Legislature, has been under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement since last fall over allegations that he failed to disclose more than $130,000 in loans from a company owned by his mother. Rivera has since repaid the loans by selling off some real estate, but there are least two parallel probes into his finances and campaign records going on now, and Democrats have seized on the controversy to embarrass the House GOP leadership.

Keep in mind that House Majority Leader, Representative Eric Cantor (R-Hypocrisy Land) had promised a zero-tolerance for bad behavior from his fellow House members has yet to say anything, even though he's known about it for at least three weeks now.

They said they were going to reform government and the way it does business, but they sound a whole lot like the same old GOP that we all know but don't love.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some "Choice" Terms

When conservatives refer to the privatization of education, they are fond of calling it "school choice." Anyone that is for this sort of privatization is identified as being "pro-choice."

However, it the word choice is applied to a woman's reproductive rights, in the eyes of a conservative, it becomes synonymous with "pro-abortion." They will portray the pro-choice individual somewhere just beyond Ed Gein or Jeffrey Dahmer, as if they want to go around and kill every fetus in the world.

Given these two uses that conservatives have for the word "choice," one must conclude that the people that are pro-choice for schools are, in reality, out to kill education.

Which sounds pretty darn accurate seeing that the results of school choice, if the school stays open long enough to get any results, aren't all that great.

I've Got A Bad Feeling About This...

This Wednesday, President Barack Obama is coming to Wisconsin.  He is scheduled to go to Manitowoc and tour Orion Energy Systems.  It is expected that his speech will pretty much echo the State of the Union address he gave Tuesday evening.  

But then I saw a Green Bay TV station's coverage of the visit that gave me a sinking feeling:
Gov. Scott Walker has a present for the president.
Walker says he'll be welcoming Barack Obama to Wisconsin on Wednesday, when the president plans to visit a renewable-energy company in Manitowoc. The Republican governor plans to present Obama with a "special gift."
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie wouldn't reveal what the gift is. He says he doesn't want to spoil his boss's secret.
Given Walker's propensity for bringing embarrassment to our state on a regular basis, this should make most rational adults feel very uneasy.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I really hope that Walker doesn't resist his normal arrogance and hubris and tries to go after Obama for jobs or taxes.  That's will open the door for Obama to take Walker down a few pegs by remarking about Walker throwing away $810 million and thousands of jobs with the train, and now millions of more dollars and thousands of more jobs by chasing off wind power companies.

Notice To All State Workers

Brace yourselves!
Gov. Scott Walker says he will lay out specifics in his State of the State address next week about possibly needing to take emergency action on the state budget this year.
Walker stopped short Monday of saying he will call another special session for the Legislature to balance the state budget this year. Walker said it may be $130 million short or more.
As someone who had to deal with Walker's chicanery for eight years, let me assure you this is not good news.  Despite the fact that he has not offered a proposal at the negotiation table (in fact, he found his Judas Plale to take the 30 pieces of silver to sabotage the Tentative Agreements), Walker will claim that he  only wanted to have the unions make "reasonable" concessions, and use that as an excuse to start a massive layoff/privatization scheme.

Tax payers should brace themselves as well.  Walker has a lot of people he's got to pay back, and he will be using our money to do so.

Turnaround's Fair Play

Scott Walker thought he was being clever when he tried to make a statement welcoming the companies fleeing Illinois because the state had just raised their taxes.

So far, the only company that I've heard of even thinking about leaving Illinois is Jimmy John's and they would be looking towards moving to Florida (where, by the way, they got some of our money and jobs with their high speed rail).

As it turns out, Illinois leaders weren't hesitant to turn the tables (or should I say, the windmills?) on Walker:
Today the Illinois Wind Energy Association (IWEA) invited wind power developers working in Wisconsin to focus their efforts on Illinois, where Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly have worked to streamline regulations for the wind energy business.

Wind developers have been apprehensive about investing in Wisconsin since Governor Scott Walker proposed legislation that would effectively ban wind development from the Badger State. With these new job-destroying regulations on the table, IWEA is happy to highlight the much more business-friendly climate just to the south.

In fact, it looks like Walker's anti-business agenda could turn into a real windfall for Illinois.  Not only would they gain the wind power related companies to their state, but then they can turn around and sell the electricity they produce to Wisconsin utilities that still have to meet guidelines on having so much of their power come from renewable sources, and their not afraid to point that out:

Developers in Illinois placed 498 MW of wind generating capacity in service in 2010, and almost 400 MW more should come on line in the next three to six months, In contrast, Wisconsin added only 20 MW of wind generation last year.  
“Illinois’ favorable regulatory climate for wind power will create over three-billion dollars in economic activity in the coming decades,” Borgia said.
According to a recent study by Illinois State University, the first 1,848 megawatts of wind capacity in Illinois:
  • Support local economies by generating $18 million in annual property taxes
  • Generate $8.3 million annually in extra income for Illinois landowners who lease their land to wind farm developers
  • Created approximately 9,968 full-time equivalent jobs during construction periods with a total payroll of over $509 million
  • Support approximately 494 permanent jobs in rural Illinois areas with a total annual payroll of over $25 million
The proposed wind ban is also helpful to Illinois wind farms because electric utilities in Wisconsin are more likely to meet their renewable energy needs using Illinois resources if wind energy is prohibited in the state.
IWEA urges Wisconsin utilities to reach out to Illinois wind projects to achieve their renewable energy goals, Borgia said.
At the rate Walker's going, he won't need to create 250,000 jobs because there won't be that many people left in the state.

Monday, January 24, 2011

And In The News From Bizarro World...

I was not only flabbergasted but experienced a sense of surrealism when I read that Scott Walker had been named to chair the National Governors Association's Health and Human Services Committee.

I mean how could someone who willfully abandoned the needy during the height of the recession or made a such a complete debacle of Milwaukee County's mental health services be named to such a post.

But when I reread the article again, and saw the part about "The panel is expected to play a leading role on issues involving health care and Medicaid reform," I thought it might make sense after all.

Walker can share with the committee on how he for seven years successfully ran the GAMP program, a government controlled health care system that not only worked, but saved Milwaukee County tax payers millions of dollars.

That's when I laughed at myself and realized that we are indeed in Bizzaro World.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Benefit From Having Unions

Most unions, especially public sector ones, require that promotions are based on eligibility and fairness, rather than cronyism or nepotism.

That's why I can appreciate the outrage the deputies must feel knowing that they might have been denied a promotion due to Sheriff David Clarke's wanting to reward his crony/campaign workers despite their ineligibility and their criminal histories.

An Apropos Musical Interlude

The Day Chicago Died:

Plale Confirms His Judas Role

Last week, we learned that ousted State Senator Jeff Plale had sold his vote regarding union contracts for the proverbial thirty pieces of gold. In selling his vote, not only did he betray the working families in the state, he also betrayed the tax payers who are now losing money every day by not having those contracts settled.

That same day, Jeff Wagner, afternoon squawker on 620 WTMJ (Walker's Talkers Mangling Justice) took umbrage with it. Looks like Wagner owes me an apology, not that I'm likely to get it.

In an effort to dig himself out of the public relations hole he dug himself in, Dan Bice found that Plale has only soiled himself further:
Plale told No Quarter that Walker's team did not come to him offering a post in state government.

"I turned in my resume to the transition team shortly after the election, had an interview a couple weeks later and was hired this Wednesday," he said in an e-mail.

Yes, just to be clear, that means Plale was actively seeking employment from Walker when he voted against the union contracts - something Walker wanted him to do - in last month's lame-duck session. He did not disclose this at the time.
Oh, that's so much better! Walker didn't buy his vote against the people of Wisconsin. Instead, Plale willfully sold it.

The voters in the 7th State Senate District did themselves a huge favor by throwing this treacherous weasel out of office.

Walker's DNR: Technological Advances Bad, Killing Good

One of the things that was on Scott Walker's agenda for turning Wisconsin into a third-world state was killing off the biomass power plant that was being built by UW-Madison. In Walker's world, being on the cutting edge of developing alternative energy sources is just too dang expensive.

However, what is not too expensive for the Walker administration is learning about the lives of deer:
Wisconsin wildlife officials plan to capture about 200 deer from a helicopter over the next few weeks.

The $94,000 project calls for sending a helicopter into the skies over Sawyer, Price, Rusk, Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie counties looking for deer. A person on board will select a deer, fire a net at it, fit the captured deer into a sling and air-lift it to researchers, who will fit them with radio tags.

The idea is to monitor the deer until they die and learn more about deer mortality. It's all part of a $2 million effort to get a better handle on Wisconsin's deer population after hunters complained about an anemic hunt in 2009.

You know, for $20, he could have gone to and gotten any number of books that deal with the patterns of white-tail deer. Instead, he's spending two million dollars so that he can help make it easier for people to kill more deer.

I'm just waiting for the time when he proposes a bill to make knuckle-dragging the official state pastime.

Unless there is, of course, an ulterior motive. The areas being targeted include where my trailer is. Perhaps it's time for me to look up that nonsense about black helicopters the conspiracy nuts do go on about...

Wisconsin Business Climate Not So Hellacious After All

For years, Scott Walker and his Republican friends and talk radio (but I repeat myself) have been telling the people just how horrible and hellacious the business climate is in Wisconsin, what with taxes and regulations and what not.

Only thing, it's not true.

The CapTimes did an interview with Madison-based restaurateur Chris Berge about that very topic. Berge, who has real life experience in the private sector, which most Republican politicians and talk radio hosts are lacking, points out that Walker and company are full of it:
CT: What about Walker’s claim that Wisconsin isn’t business-friendly?

CB: I don’t see it. My businesses and much of the business in Madison are based on good-paying, highly professional jobs. He’s coming from Milwaukee County, and the type of business people he is surrounding himself with are looking to find all the lowest common denominators. They want to keep the minimum wage low, keep benefits low and keep regulation off of businesses. It’s a race to the bottom.

CT: Have you had problems operating because of government regulations?

CB: Give me a break. I operate in one of the most regulated industries out there. My industry and the hospitality industry thrive when we have a healthy environment for people to live in and when we have a healthy middle class. Then people eat out. A healthy middle class is way more helpful to me than a tax cut.

CT: You haven’t found the business climate difficult?

CB: No. Because I actually cater to people that read and who are looking for an interesting, unique place to go out in Madison. That may sound condescending to the rest of the non-reading public that may get all of its information from Fox News, but it’s true.
The interview also covers how Berge was forced to scrap plans for a new restaurant that was going to be aimed at the traffic coming from the high speed rail station in Madison. As we already know, Walker killed HSR, sending all that money and jobs to California and Florida. This restaurant that will never be opened is just one small example of the jobs lost and the economic improvement that Walker's ideology has prevented from coming to be.

All of this raises the same two questions:
  • Why is Walker lying to us?
  • Why are we letting him?

H/T James Rowen

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Voter Suppression Doesn't Come Cheap

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes a look at the Dark Overlords' (read Republicans) move to end same day voter registration.

The Republicans are claiming that that this will end voter fraud, which has never been proven to be a problem, much less one related to same day registration. They also think that voters are, well, stupid:
What are the arguments for ending the practice? The two most common are: reducing the chaos of voters performing two tasks (registering and voting) instead of one (voting); and reducing voter fraud by having a gap (of say 10 or 30 days) between the close of registration and the vote.
Anyone backing this move by the Republicans must be stupid, for it would fix nothing, but it would create a new level of bureaucracy, slow down the voting process and waste tax payer money.

There is a federal law that still allows the voter to cast a provisional vote on election day and have it scrutinized later at the tax payers' expense. Not only is it expensive, but it would delay election results for days as each of these votes are looked at. Per the article, 10-15% of voters are now taking advantage of the same day election registration. Imagine how long it would take to analyze each of them.

Or as Kevin Kennedy, head of the state's election system, puts it:
Kennedy says imposing a pre-election registration deadline would not streamline the experience of voters and poll workers on election day but simply alter it. Let's say you show up to vote and you're not on the voting list. Under the current system, you typically go to another line to show documentation of residence, register and then come back and vote. If election-day registration were eliminated, you would have the right under federal law to cast a provisional ballot that would be scrutinized after the election.

"It's not like you get rid of the extra attention for people not registered. You redirect it to an equally, if not more, time-consuming process," says Kennedy, who says provisional ballots "will skyrocket" in Wisconsin if election-day registration ends.

He also says such a move would create a new layer of cost and bureaucracy for the state. The state is now exempt from mandates of the federal "motor-voter" law because it has election-day registration. That law requires state motor vehicle and social welfare agencies to try to register their customers and clients to vote. It also imposes added federal reporting requirements on those agencies and elections officials, and would have the unintended effect of forcing the state to keep more than one voter list, says Kennedy.

Kennedy says opponents of registration on election day are "not looking at the bureaucratic morass that's now going to be imposed on state agencies and local election officials by having to comply with pre-election requirements to turn DOT (Department of Transportation) workers and social welfare state employees into voter registrars."
But isn't that typical modus operandi for the GOP? Screw over the tax payers and then make them pay for it, and still get them to think it's a good thing. That's how they won the election last year, and until the Democrats start pointing this out with a vengeance, that's the way it will stay.

Extremists To The Right Of Me, Extremists To The Left Of Me

Swiped from a friend on Twitter:

CEOs To The Rescue

Non Sequitur nails it again:

A Museum At O'Donnell Park?

No. It's neither the right time nor the right place for that.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Highway of Hypocrisy

Even before he was sworn into office, Scott Walker swore to kill high speed rail in Wisconsin. And kill it he did. Walker told the voters that he was opposed to HSR for a number of reasons. It was too expensive. No one would ride it. Even though the great bulk of it, including maintenance costs, would be paid with federal funds, it was still tax payers money and it should be used for something else, like paying down the deficit.

People from all over the state, even from around the Midwest, protested Walker's
myopia and pointed out how he was only giving all this money, and the corresponding jobs, to other states who knew a good deal when they saw it, Walker was determined in his headlong rush to bring this great state down.

Now, not even in office for three weeks, Walker is singing a vastly different tune regarding his "fiscal responsibility" to the tax payers.

The Janesville Gazette is reporting that Walker has iterated his position of being in favor of the expansion of I-90/39, calling it a "priority:"
As a candidate for Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker supported the expansion of Interstate 90/39.

As governor, he still does.

"Absolutely it’s a priority, not only for Rock County but for the rest of the state,” Walker said Tuesday after a meeting with the leadership of Rock County 5.0, a five-year public/private economic development initiative designed to reposition and revitalize the county’s economy.

In October, the state Transportation Projects Commission approved four statewide projects, including the $1 billion plan to expand a 45-mile stretch of Interstate from four lanes to six between the state line and the Beltline in Madison.
Well, well, the problems with Walker's arguments are already popping up all over the place.

Walker called HSR as being too expensive at $810 million. But he doesn't blink an eye at spending over a billion dollars on a freeway. But even the $190,000+ difference is only the tip of this iceberg.

The HSR which was to be built before Walker decided he was against economic development would have included not just the Milwaukee to Madison route, a distance of over 70 miles, but also upgrades to the current Hiawatha track from Milwaukee to Chicago. The $810 million would have also gone to fixing up train stations, repair sheds and other related projects.

The billion dollars for the freeway would pay for just the 45 miles of freeway, and doesn't include any overruns. Nor does that bill include the plowing and road repairs that would come with it.

The HSR between Milwaukee and Madison was to be just a part of a nationwide system and would have made both cities hubs in the economic boom that will come with it. The highway that Walker is supporting would go from Janesville to Madison. That's not a route that would be called a big economic boon.

Walker complained about the cost that the feds weren't going to pay for the train, even though that was only the cost of operation, and the feds were still going to pick up 90% of that tab, bringing the entire cost for all the money, all those jobs and that economic turn around coming from the train to about $750,000. In comparison, the feds would only pick up 40-50% of the cost of building the freeway, and none of the follow up costs.

The story is the same if you look at usage as well. The projected ridership of the HSR was set at 476,400 people for just the first year alone. The number of cars using that stretch of highway is 45,000. Unless you figure that these cars are clown cars with at least ten people inside each one, the freeway is again a much higher expense to the tax payers.

So, HSR would have been much less expensive for state tax payers per mile and per user than this relatively short stretch of freeway expansion would be. But if that is the case, why would Walker, who likes to promote himself as being a fiscal conservative, make such a foolish decision like killing the rail system but backing the more expensive freeway?

The answer is simple.

In Walker's mind, he is not beholden to the voters or the tax payers of the state. His true loyalty is to those that helped buy his way into the governor's seat: the road builders.

There is one more red flag of which the people should be aware.

In the Gazette article, Walker is already claiming poverty, blaming the previous administration for his woes. (Note to Walker: Since you were so ready to blame President Obama from day one for the nation's problems, then the state problems are yours now.)

This means one of three things. It could mean Walker has no intention of following through with his pledged support for the freeway, and was just saying what he thinks the people want to hear. Or it could mean that he is setting up the basis for proposing Wisconsin's first toll road to help pay for this boondoggle. Or it could mean that Walker is getting ready to really stick it to the tax payers.

Perhaps they should put up signs up and down that stretch of freeway labeling that stretch of concrete as "Scott Walker's Highway of Hypocrisy."

Right Wing Idiocy In 3...2...1...0...-1...-2...

The forecast for tonight is for temperatures below zero and dangerously cold wind chills, reaching as deep as 30 below. It will stay cold for at least a couple of days.

You know that some right winger will point this out and say something stupid about global warming, ignoring the fact that this is the first time that it hit below zero in just over two years, when it used to happen every year.

But why let facts get in the way when you can make an adolescent cheap shot?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

File Under "Do As I Say, Not As I Do"

James Wigderson is at it again.

Today, he chastises Zach at Blogging Blue for not taking the pains to find a plausible excuse for why RoJo hasn't set up a website for his office. (Personally, I think it's because RoJo is still trying to figure out where the heck Washington, D.C. is)

Wiggy portrays is as laziness in not asking a simple question.

Someone should explain the term "Practice what you preach" to him before he embarrasses himself again.

Judas Plale Gets His Thirty Pieces of Silver

14Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

Last fall, Jeff Plale, former state senator, was soundly defeated in the primary by Chris Larson, who went on to win the office in the general election. Plale, who is more of a Republican than a true Democrat, lost because he failed to fight for the causes important to his constituents, such as passing the sales tax which would have saved Milwaukee County's transit and parks systems from further decline and had been approved by county voters in a referendum.

In return, Plale turned around and betrayed Wisconsin's working families and Wisconsin tax payers by joining Russ Decker in voting against the Tentative Agreements that the state had reached with the unions.

The news coming out of Madison today is that Scott Walker has rewarded Plale for his betrayal of the Wisconsin people by appointing him to a state position. From WisPolitics:
"Plale, who lost his seat in the September Dem primary, will serve as administrator of the Division of State Facilities, according to an e-mail sent to DOA staff this morning. The notice touted Plale's work on the State Building Commission."
This is actually even more outrageous than it would seem on the surface, as if the obvious corruption and back door dealings weren't bad enough.

Not only has Walker rewarded Plale for playing along with his grandstanding regarding the unions, but Plale's appointment serves another purpose for Walker.

With Plale as the administrator of the Division of State Facilities, it all but guarantees that there never will be an independent investigation into the cause of the tragedy at O'Donnell Park, in which 15 year old Jared Kellner was killed when a 27,000 pound slab of concrete fell on him.

This maneuver fits in snugly with the proposal Walker is having pushed through the state legislature, which would eliminate many protections and rights for the citizenry against the misdoings of businesses and/or incompetent, corrupt politicians.

Between Plale being able to block any attempts for an independent investigation, and the "tort reform" bill sapping the rights of Jared's parents, any responsibility Walker and his habit of deferred maintenance might have had in the O'Donnell tragedy will probably never be known.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Will Scott Walker Follow Sam Brownback's Lead?

Kansas, just like Wisconsin and every other state in this country, is facing serious budgetary problems. Their newly elected governor, who has to deal with their budgetary issues, is Sam Brownback, former U.S. Senator and failed presidential candidate, who had at one time touted the misnomer of "compassionate conservatism."

But now, as the governor of Kansas, instead of showing any sort of compassion, Brownback is showing nothing but amorality.

Instead of balancing the budget by judicious use of finding new revenue and making responsible cuts in the budget, Brownback has decided to abandon that state's most vulnerable and passing the buck onto the municipalities:
Yet perhaps the most brutal cut in Brownback’s budget comes to the Kansas Neurological Institute (KNI). The governor proposes completely eliminating funding to the institution by 2014, which would force it to close down. KNI serves nearly 160 people with severe mental disabilities; two-thirds of its patients cannot walk and four-fifths are unable to speak.
This proposal, as one could imagine, is causing quite the uproar among that fine state's legislators, from both sides of the aisle.

But simply abandoning the mentally ill and the developmentally delayed isn't enough for Brownback. He would nonchalantly toss the expense of caring for these people onto the laps of the community health agencies, regardless of whether they have the resources for these vulnerable citizens or not:
The Brownback administration claims that community health services will be able to take up the patients after the closure of KNI. This would likely pass on the cost of caring for the patients to cash-strapped municipalities. It’s also unclear if there is even room for the patients among community services. In 2009, a government commission voted to close KNI, but the recommendations were never followed through, partly because there was a waiting list of “approximately 4,000 people with disabilities who are already waiting for home- and community-based services.”
So, now that one fool as set the bar ever the lower for irresponsible budgeting, unethical treatment of vulnerable citizens, and the willful failure to take on any responsibility, how will other Republican governors, especially Scott Walker, react?

This should be a genuine concern for Wisconsinites in general, and especially for advocates for the disabled as well as municipal and county leaders.

As Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker has shown a remarkable disregard for the vulnerable citizens. He's allowed the mental health complex facility to fall into such a state of disrepair that it was labelled as "shoddy" by inspectors, and would cost millions to fix. He's continuously cut back on staffing to the point of making it unsafe for patients, staff members and even members of the neighboring community. He has closed down several wards, forcing those patients into the community whether they were ready for such a huge transition or not.

Indeed, Walker is already showing the same disregard as governor, with one of his first moves was to issue a proposal to allow nursing homes to avoid their responsibility for poor care or maltreatment.

Walker's budgetary prowess is no better than his track record in caring for the vulnerable. His last two budgets as county executive were illegally laden with massive deficits. It has already been shown that his first proposals to "fix the budget," create jobs and reduce the deficit are doing the exact opposite of those stated goals.

And can anyone tell me when Walker has ever taken responsibility for any of his actions? I can't think of one.

It also wouldn't be hard to imagine Walker being more than willing to pass the tough decisions and the hard problem solving to the mayors and the county leaders in this state. Before one would dismiss this notion, think for one minute on how he, as county executive, regularly passed the buck to the Milwaukee County Board to fix his mistakes, or at least to take the blame when he had failed in one area or another.

Is it any wonder that Walker and his faithful sidekick, Rebecca "Get Real" Kleefisch are spending more time acting like they're still in campaign mode, just to gain even a modicum of popularity, much less respectability?

It's All About The Jobs!

Well, then again, maybe not:

I wonder if that "liberal" media will ever get around to reporting that...

Glenn Grothman: Perpetually Offended

Yesterday, I pointed out as part of a larger post that Glenn Grothman felt having state workers honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was "an insult" to tax payers.

Coincidentally, last Friday, WisDems came out with a press release blasting Grothman for his opposition to four-year-old kindergarten.

In their press release, the linked to this piece from When discussing four-year-old kindergarten, Grothman chimed in with this (emphasis mine):
Grothman said he wants to do away with the program in the upcoming state budget, saying it's not just a money issue.

"It's, to a certain extent, an insult to the many parents and grandparents who love to raise their own children," he said. "A lot of women feel this is the best time in their life, and I think it's offensive that the government would get involved and say, 'No, it's our business to raise your 4-year-old.'"
Perhaps Grothman is using these points of foolishness to get ready for re-election. He could use the slogan:
"Perpetually offended, so you don't have to be"
Or perhaps this one:
"Offensive or offended, I'm your man!"

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wisconsin Jobs Are Gone With The Wind

For months, Scott Walker told the people that, as governor, he would focus on creating jobs and getting companies to invest in Wisconsin.

If those are his true intentions, he sure has a funny way of going about it.

First he killed off high speed rail, sending hundreds of millions of our tax dollars off to Florida, California and who knows where else. And with all that money went thousands of jobs and a solid chance to do some serious economic development.

As alarming as that was, and despite pushing the majority of Wisconsinites to stand against him with in days of being sworn in, Walker wasn't done killing off jobs and investments.

Last week, Walker announced that he was going to put the screws to wind farms, making it more difficult, if not impossible for windmills to be erected in the state. However, as with any rule, there is always an exception. Walker's exception to his anti-wind farm rule is for a campaign donor, of course:
The special exemption involves water quality requirements for a wetland in Brown County owned by businessman and automobile dealer John Bergstrom.

Bergstrom has been working on a retail project in Brown County for about a year. His attorney, Paul Kent of Madison, said the development has been approved by the Department of Natural Resources but had been opposed by an environmental group. The project would be at the intersection of Highway 41 and Lombardi Ave.
On the same day that Walker announced his intention to stop that threat of economic development and ensuring the anemic situation of the state, some of the real job creators (when they are allowed to by the government, that is) got together to decry Walker's foolishness. They pointed out that Walker's stance, much like his debacle with high speed rail, could drive their businesses, along with their hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to more amiable parts of the country.

Over the weekend, the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen dug a little deeper and found that Walker's kowtowing to the WMC will have some real effects, all of them negative:
"It would in essence shut down wind energy in the state," said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. "It is one of the most onerous regulations we have seen."

Bode said that, if passed, the measure would shut down 12 wind farm projects worth about $1.8 billion. Those projects, which are in various stages of planning, could produce about 950 full-time jobs for one year, she said.

"This is a shock to those of us in the wind industry," Bode said. "This will cause projects to go to other states."
The article goes on to quote high ranking officers with companies that are were building these wind farms, specifying the money that they had been ready to invest and the jobs that they were to create, but now probably won't happen if Walker carries through with his irresponsible political posturing.

This kind of tomfoolery has the all too predictable result of making him increasingly less popular among the citizens of the state. Walker's response to this self-induced crisis appears to have one of his staff members (Darlene Wink? Tim Russell?) send out a flurry of populist and mundane tweets in an effort to shore up whatever is left of his credibility.

Walker first crippled any hope of economic development and a chance to work through the financial slump the state has been in. Now he is further damaging any chance of growth by chasing off the alternative energy companies.

It does give one pause to think: "What's next? Stem cell research?"

Dishonoring The Dream In Wisconsin

Today is the official observation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. All across the nation, people gather to remember the lessons of Dr. King and re-pledge themselves to working for racial equality.

Everywhere, but in Wisconsin, that is.

With the new regime that has taken over Madison, the new legislature and governor is doing their best to put us back decades in regards to equality.

Movement is already afoot to re-establish Jim Crow laws such as diminishing educational services or enacting a poll tax in the form of the most draconian voter suppression act in the country.

The most egregious of this new disrespect for Dr. King's dreams is none other than State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-The Old South) who is making his staff work on the holiday. His reasoning is that the holiday is "an insult" to tax payers, and that the holiday, which is named after King, mind you, is not an honor to him.

Funny, I don't recall him saying that about any other holiday, like Christmas or Independence Day, both of which are just "about giving state workers another day off." Nor do I recall him working any of those days.

Good thing he tells us it's not racist, because I don't imagine anyone would have caught on to that otherwise.

Perhaps, someone will key Grothman into, and maybe, just maybe, it will eventually sink into his thick head:
"We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools."

Too Bad He Didn't Do A Staycation

Another waste of tax payer money.

This time it's to pay for Sheriff Clarke's ego trip.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Walker's Job Plan #4,527: Telemarketing!

Last week, I pointed out to the gentle reader that Scott Walker, like he has always done, has proven to be more sound bite than substance. He jumped all over the fact that the State of Illinois just raised their taxes my some 67%, claiming that Illinois companies would be climbing all over themselves to get to Wisconsin. The problem is, even with their rather steep tax hike, Illinois' taxes are still lower than Wisconsin's.

I'm not the only one to notice that Walker is off the mark. James Warren, writing for the New York Times, points out this truth:
As Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council underscored, taxes are important, but keeping an area competitive also involves quality of life, overall fiscal health, specific business incentives and intangibles like leadership. Quality of life includes the culture, restaurants and recreation that lure bright young people to Chicago.

There’s a crying need to think regionally and not just poach others’ enterprises. Ultimately, our real competitors are growing metro areas around the world, like Singapore, Seoul, Istanbul and Munich, so it’s smart to see neighbors as allies in a global struggle in which the United States lags.
But even Walker's claims of lowering taxes below those of Illinois or anywhere else become more and more dubious everyday. First Walker himself lowers the threshold for the massive taxes that he promised during the campaign by whittling down the number of companies that would be eligible for his magnanimity. Then his cohorts in the state legislature cut these acts of corporate welfare back even further, something which Walker has stated he is open to doing.

Walker has taken "Change you can believe in" and morphed it into "Change you can believe in when and if you ever see it."

But Walker isn't satisfied with just an embarrassing sound bite. No way, no how.

He is already falling behind schedule if he ever wants to create the 250,000 jobs (actually, with all the jobs leaving, isn't it closer to 275,000 by now?).

So Walker has decided to degrade his Lieutenant Governor a little bit more by finally giving her a speaking part: That being a telemarketer.

Kleefisch as a telemarketer does raise a couple of questions that inquiring minds want to know:
You know, I can understand how some people got duped into voting for these two clowns, but it is beyond me how anyone can continue to support this comedy of errors.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

State Wars

With many states being under new management, or in Wisconsin's case, new manglement, there is a shuffling of stances and various states playing different hands while trying to take on their own state's fiscal mess.

In Illinois, their solution was to raise taxes. Goobernator Scott Walker jumped on the news and started touting how Illinois businesses should immediately relocate to Wisconsin. He was hammering away on how taxes in Illinois went up by 66%. All the conservative blogs were crowing about this as was the radio squawkers.

One thing that kept going through my mind whenever I heard someone else chirp in about how businesses were going to just come flocking over the border is wondering why they only mentioned the 66% statistic. Knowing how Walker likes to worm his way around the facts, I smelled a rat. Well, a weasel, actually.

Ironically, it was Walker himself who gave me the answer I was looking for. In a rare act of journalism, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel actually reported this:
Speaking to reporters in Madison, Walker acknowledged tax rates will remain lower in Illinois than in Wisconsin even after the increase is approved. But he promised he would lower Wisconsin's income and corporate tax rates before his term ends in 2015, though he stopped short of saying he would seek to set them below the rates in Illinois.

"If you're a company, you make an assessment not just on where things are today but where they're headed," Walker said.

Comparing taxes between different states can be tricky, but Wisconsin's corporate tax rate is 7.9% and its income tax rates vary from 4.6% to 7.75%, depending on the taxpayer's income. The legislation waiting to be signed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, would raise the state's corporate tax rate to 7% from 4.8% and raise the state's income tax to 5% from 3%.
He never did get around to explaining exactly why a business would come flocking to a state with higher taxes. Ah, but don't worry. Walker said he would lower Wisconsin's taxes...someday.

But since he mentioned about how companies look to where things are headed, he gave Wisconsin another dolorous blow. USA Today looked at the same question, but it does not come up in our favor:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, invited Illinois businesses to relocate to his state, but J. Fred Giertz, a University of Illinois economics professor, says an immediate exodus isn't likely.

Companies, he says, weigh workforce availability, transportation and other factors when deciding where to build or expand. "Our state is close to insolvency, and they don't like that either," he says.

"An immediate job killer? Not likely," says Ed Morrison, economic policy adviser at Indiana's Purdue Center for Regional Development. "Much more important is regaining financial stability."
Well, in the couple months since the election, most of which was before he even was sworn into office, Walker has killed off HSR and before that has shown he is no friend of mass transit. With less transit options, it will be harder for workers to get to the jobs. If you don't believe me, just talk to Bucyrus CEO Tim Sullivan and other business leaders.

A business leader could also see that the maneuvers of Walker and the Republican legislature is doing little to cut taxes, even less than that to create jobs, but is escalating the whole budget deficit problem.

Altogether, it's not a pretty picture.

But it only getting worse.

Joining in the State Wars is Minnesota. They are trying to improve their fiscal situation by collecting on debts owed to them, like the nearly $60 million that Wisconsin owes them. And if Walker tries to stall payment until midyear, which he probably will, it goes up another million dollars in interest.

So, taxes staying the same (namely higher than most of our neighbors), deficit ballooning, failing transit system, and a government run amok with their antisocial agenda.

Yeah, I can just see the businesses coming in any second now. But you'll have to excuse me if I don't hold my breath waiting for them.


From xoff:
Gov. Scott Walker's State of the State address is being pushed back a week to Feb. 1. Walker originally scheduled the speech for Jan. 25, but President Obama's State of the State is set for the same night.

Walker's been so full of himself since Nov. 2, it's a little surprising he didn't ask Obama to change his date.

Save A Butterfly: Let The Bad Deal Die

It looks like the land developers that want to ruin the county grounds are unable to meet their obligations.

It's time to let that deal die an indignant death and move on to a much more responsible and fiscally sane plan for the grounds.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Mother's Anguish

Yesterday, I told you of the inexcusable bill that Scott Walker wants enacted first. Said piece of trash bill is to severely limit the liability that someone might face for causing injury or even death to an innocent person.

Among the many people who came to Madison to testify against this horrendous display of greed and contempt for the people of Wisconsin, was Dawn Kellner, the mother of Jared Kellner, who was killed on June 24, 2010, when a 27,000 pound concrete facade fell off of O"Donnell Park.

Here is her prepared statement regarding the bill:
Good afternoon. My name is Dawn Kellner.

When I said goodbye to my son on June 24, 2010, I had no idea it would be the last time I spoke to him. I didn’t know I would never hear his voice or get a hug from him again. I didn’t know that we would never spend another Christmas together.

My fifteen year old son, Jared, died on June 24, 2010, while walking to Summerfest in Milwaukee. He was crushed by a 13 ½ ton piece of concrete that fell from the O’Donnell Park parking structure. We know that this concrete slab was a ticking time bomb. The contractors cut corners and did not follow the original plans. Governor Walker, then Milwaukee County Executive, called this installation “inexcusable.” This is what happens when profits are put over safety and my son paid the ultimate price. No criminal prosecution has resulted from my son’s senseless death. I had to hire my own lawyers to go after those responsible for my son’s death.
I have to ask a jury to make sure that those responsible are held accountable and punished.

After my son died, Governor Walker told the media that he wanted to reach out to me to join in any potential lawsuit. So why is it that his very first proposal as Governor is to protect people like those who killed my son? Nobody wants to put hard-working businesses out of business, but this bill protects bad businesses like those that killed my son. Why? Why does Governor Walker want to protect the worst of the worst? Punitive damages keep bad businesses in check. They stop businesses from cutting corners and putting people’s lives in jeopardy. But this bill removes that check. It encourages cutting corners, puts profits over public safety, and endangers everyone.

My motivation for being here today is not just to remember Jared’s senseless death. I want all of you to think of your family and the families you represent around this State and I want you to think about what this past Christmas would have been like without them. That is my life now. Heaven forbid that one of your family members should die because of “inexcusable” acts like Jared did. And heaven forbid that you would be prevented from holding accountable those that intentionally disregard your rights. Jared’s motto was to “Live Life.” His right to “Live Life” was
taken away from him that day and no one else should lose that right.

This bill is a slap in the face to my son and the family of the next Jared Kellner and a slap on the back to bad businesses that cut corners and put profits over safety. As a tribute to Jared, I ask Governor Walker and this panel to not pass these laws.
Also, via Wisconsin Eye, is the video of the testimony. It is very hard for someone to watch it and not feel strong emotions about how her family would be re-victimized if this bill would be passed. Ms. Kellner's testimony starts at the 7 hour 19 minute mark. (Yes, you can forward to that point without listening to it all. Although the other parts were also very moving.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sorry About Your Kid, But There's Money To Be Had

Scott Walker's second week of governorship is starting off even worse than his first.

He proudly pushed his bills that he claimed would create jobs. But at what cost?

Via James Rowen, we find that it doesn't matter who gets hurt, as long as the bottom line of the businesses are kept intact. Dawn Kellner, mother of Jared Kellner, who was killed in the O'Donnell Park tragedy, joined many others to protest these bills, even as she is still mourning her son. But Walker's top legal counsel showed what the Walker administration felt about the whole deal:
Supporters at a Capitol hearing insist the bill still provides compensatory damages for victims, while protecting businesses from the expense of frivolous suits and unpredictable punitive damages.

"The reality or even the threat of litigation poses significant costs on job creators, from stifling innovation and efficiency to its direct impact on the bottom line," Gov. Scott Walker's legal chief counsel Brian Hagedorn said.

But Kellner, who also attended the hearing to speak out against the bill, said she's unconvinced.

"It would make it easier for people to have less accountability, as far as businesses, and that people like Jared could lose their lives, and there's no accountability for that," Kellner said.
Walker's bill is written so poorly, businesses wouldn't be the only ones to get away with murder:
That issue [drunk driving] - raised in a hearing Tuesday by the stepfather of a victim in a notorious drunken driving case - was just one of a host raised as lawmakers waded into the details of a series of bills from Gov. Scott Walker seeking to boost the state's economy.

"It would be virtually impossible to receive punitive damages in OWI cases," said Paul Jenkins, whose stepdaughter Jennifer Bukosky was killed in April 2008 by intoxicated driver Mark M. Benson.
But so what if people's children are getting hurt or killed and they are being denied recourse? There's jobs at stake!

Oh, wait, maybe not (emphasis mine):
Tom "Cap" Wulf, an owner of Wulf Bros. heating and air conditioning business in Sturgeon Bay, said litigation costs were a constant concern for him. He said he favored provisions in the bill that would raise the threshold for allowing expert witnesses in legal cases, saying he felt that expert witnesses in legal actions against his businesses often lacked real expertise.

"It reduces costs. It opens up opportunities," Wulf said.

Wulf said he wasn't sure if he would hire more employees if the bill passed, though he said it could make it easier for him to obtain insurance if he wanted to move into other lines of business.
Jobs? Meh. But it's a darn good chance to increase the profit margin.

Another kicker out of this miasma is that instead of saving taxes, or fixing the budget, like Walker had promised he would, it actually increases the deficit by another $128 million. And that number is probably low.

So how will Walker pay for this kick back to the businesses that supported him? Well, he says that he won't raise taxes. If he stays true to form - which he appears to be doing - he will pay for his largesse by raising fees like there's no tomorrow and throwing the elderly, the poor and the disabled - as well as our children - to the wolves.

Something is telling me that Walker won't be winning any humanitarian prizes in the near future.

Furlough Fest 2011

Last Friday, a little after five in the afternoon, Milwaukee County Executive had his new Director of Administration, Renee Booker, issue a memo informing county workers that many of them would be required to do another 26 furlough days in 2011.

Judging from the comments on the JSOnline story, as well as at least one conservative blogger, people are reading much more into this than there really is. They're not Holloway's fault.

The fact is that the furloughs were built into the illegal budget crafted by Scott Walker, and foolishly adopted by the County Board, last fall.

As County Executive, Holloway is required by law to faithfully carry out the budget as it was adopted, furloughs and all. If Walker had only done that during his tenure, Milwaukee County would not be as fiscally bad off as it is now.

Scott Walker: Hero Of The Tax Payer?

Hardly. He only played us for chumps.

But what's a couple of million of squandered tax payer dollars to him?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Walker's 250,000 Job Plan

Scott Walker's plan to create 250,000 jobs apparently is to make them all part of the defense teams representing all of his county and campaign staffers who are getting tied up in the ongoing and ever-growing John Doe investigation.

The latest name to the growing number of attorneys involved in handling these defenses is Paul Bucher.

Arizona Gunman Was Registered Republican?

Jared Loughner, the crazed gunman who shot U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), as well as 18 other people, killing six of them, was apparently a registered Republican:

CORRECTION: As many commenters and emailers have pointed, the Voter View is a hoax. I apologize for the error.

Now that we have that bit of trivia out of the way, can we get back to discussing how to end the irresponsible rhetoric that helped prompt this nightmare?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"The Mecca For Prejudice And Bigotry"

By now, most have heard of the senseless violence and mayhem which occurred today in Tucson, Arizona. A deranged young man walked up to U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords while she was having a public event outside a local store and shot her point blank in the head. Fortunately, Giffords survived the attack and early reports are that she made it through surgery and was able to recognize her husband and other family members.

Unfortunately, the gunman, Jared Loughner, was hellbent on being as destructive as he could be and went on to shoot a eighteen other people, killing six of them. Among the fatalities is U.S. District Judge John Roll and a nine year old girl who was there as a reward for being elected to the student council.

While no official motive has been going, we do know that the gunman was probably suffering from some sort of mental illness. We also know that he hated the government and among his favorite books was "Mein Kampf."

As tragic and horrifying as this event is, it was also all too predictable. Across the country, but especially in Arizona, there has been a growing disregard for civil discourse or even basic respect for fellow men and women. Judge Roll himself had already been the subject of death threats by the intolerant bigots of the right regarding a case he heard which pitted illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher. In fact, most news articles regarding today's terrorist attack show the growing number of threats across the nation. And don't forget that the last two days have had news of mail packages for elected leaders exploding and spewing an unknown substance.

Pima Sheriff Clarence Dupnik spared no words on putting today's nightmare in perspective:
Mr. Dupnik called the shooting a "very sad day for Tucson" and a "horrendous, horrendous, senseless, unbelievable crime." And then he blamed the crime on the rhetoric -- presumably political rhetoric -- in the country.

"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government," he said. "The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Mr. Dupnik said it is time for the country to "do a little soul searching."

He added: "The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in."
Here is a link to a video of his press conference. His sincerity is quite telling. You see none of the calculative word choices that someone like our own Sheriff Clarke.

Indeed, many people keep referring to Sarah Palin and her PAC, which specifies Representative Giffords as a "target" and that people shouldn't retreat but reload. Eerily, ten months ago, Congresswoman Giffords spoke about the hatred and death threats aimed at her.

Arizona has been worse than most areas in regards to their bigotry towards Hispanics and poor people. Things have gotten so bad that their own state government have told poor people that they aren't worth the expense to keep alive.

But as heart-wrenching as today's horrific events are, the reaction from too many on the right are egregious.

By far, the majority of the right is back-pedaling, saying that this shouldn't be made political and that we should all only pray for the family.

I have two real problems with this crap coming from them.

First of all, they are the ones that have been spewing this hateful rhetoric for two years now. So many of them have spent so much time and energy into pouring gas onto this already blazing fire.

Secondly, if the gunman's name hadn't been Jared Loughner, but Julio Lopez, these same people that are calling for people to step back would have been leading the charge trying to determine if he was an illegal alien. And if he was, they would really begin to howl. It would have been just as bad if the gunman's name had been Jamale Lofton. The racial comments would be spewing like a volcano's eruption.

If you don't believe me, look at the right's reactions to the news earlier this week regarding the drunk driver who killed a woman on I-94 or the incident last weekend at Mayfair Mall.

Life is hard enough on a lot of people. We don't need these bullies spewing their hateful rhetoric making things worse than they already are. But if they feel they need to do it, at least be adult enough to face the consequences for the irresponsible and reprehensible behaviors.