Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Milwaukee County Supervisor Admits To Slacking On The Job

Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo tries to showboat like Scott Walker but ends up sinking his own ship.

Details at Milwaukee County First.

It's All The Unions' Fault! Part VI - Companies Spend More On CEOs, Lobbying Than Taxes

This is nauseating:
Twenty-five of the 100 highest paid U.S. CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid in federal income tax, a pay study said on Wednesday.

It also found many of the companies spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.
And some gruesome details:
Compensation for the 25 CEOs with pay surpassing corporate taxes averaged $16.7 million, according to the study, compared to a $10.8 million average for S&P 500 CEOs. Among the companies topping the IPS list:

* eBay whose CEO John Donahoe made $12.4 million, but which reported a $131 million refund on its 2010 current U.S. taxes.
* Boeing, which paid CEO Jim McNerney $13.8 billion, sent in $13 million in federal income taxes, and spent $20.8 million on lobbying and campaign spending
* General Electric where CEO Jeff Immelt earned $15.2 million in 2010, while the company got a $3.3 billion federal refund and invested $41.8 million in its own lobbying and political campaigns.

Though the companies come from different industries, their tax breaks fall into two primary areas.

Two-thirds of the firms studied kept their taxes low by utilizing offshore subsidiaries in tax havens such as Bermuda, Singapore and Luxembourg. The remaining companies benefited from accelerated depreciation.

Shareholders have responded favorably when companies in which they invest keep a tax bill low through legal methods, thereby benefiting earnings. But Chuck Collins, an IPS senior scholar and co-author of the report, said that is a mistake.

"I think it's an exposure of weakness in a company if their profitability is dependent on their accounting department and not on making better widgets," he said.

In prior reports, Collins said, out-sized CEO pay was often a red flag of bigger problems to come. The IPS has been putting a pay report together for 18 years. Among those whose leaders have made the high pay list in years past, only to have their businesses falter: Tyco, Enron and WorldCom.
And Scott Walker and Ron Johnson want to keep giving these companies even bigger tax cuts?!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Reclaiming Wisconsin's Airwaves

Several years ago, an unknown blogger using the pseudonym "Template" created Whallah!  The purpose of this blog at that time was to be a foil to then squawk radio host Jessica McBride.  Soon after McBride was fired by WTMJ, which used a racially charged gaffe as an excuse, but really just wanted to cut corners and bring in the cheaper syndicated squawkers Dennis Miller and the always offensive Michael Savage.

At that time, Whallah! expanded to take on all of the local right wing squawkers, from Charlie "Mr. Woodhouse" Sykes to Mark "Wetback" Belling to the now departed but not missed Republican regurgitst Patrick McIlheran of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel infamy.

But this is just one little blog. It can do so much.

The powerhouses such at WTMJ-620 and ClearChannel's WISN-1130, not to mention other stations around the state are still spewing their one-sided message in order to support Republican/Teahadist causes and agendas.

So how the hell did this happen?

Let me introduce you to my new friend, Sue Wilson, who has more than a passing familiarity with talk radio.

Sue has made a movie about this (which is probably why she is willing to come to Wisconsin and get us started) but her ideas have sound basis and reflect much of what #wiunion has done in the past several months on its own.  To describe how we got here and her plan on how to help us, I would refer the gentle reader to her post (which is unfortunately on Huffington Post - Side word to Sue: Daily Kos, dear, Daily Kos).  Here is a couple of key excerpts:

That's not to say the demise of the Fairness Doctrine did not have an adverse effect. I produced public affairs programming under that rule at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, and found it very workable. I did not have to tell both sides of the story, I just had to try to do so. I also witnessed how, once it was abolished, TV programs that covered the local community just disappeared. And on the radio side, once the Fairness Doctrine went away, there is little question that Rush Limbaugh went hard right on a national microphone, attacking Democrats and anyone else who gets in the way of his pro-corporate right wing agenda.

Copycats soon moved in, creating an industry of right wing propagandists. In 90 percent of radio programming today, no real debate is allowed (unless a brave or committed few sneak past the microphone hoarders' screeners.)

But the Fairness Doctrine wasn't perfect. Part of the problem was it employed a top down approach, with Big Daddy Government putting broadcasters in the untenable position of being liable for lawsuits even over content in comedy programs. (CBS was sued under the Fairness Doctrine when the Norman Lear character Maude had an abortion in the TV show of the same name; opponents sued, saying CBS must do other shows where women did not have an abortion.) Rather than face such reprise, some broadcasters chose not to cover any controversial issues at all, which many argue chilled debate rather than engendered it.

In August, 2011, the final nail has been pounded into the coffin of the Fairness Doctrine.

Sue goes on to point out that the Federal Appeals Court made a clear and cut ruling that the airwaves, despite the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, are clearly the public's airwaves. They belong to us, not to the Koch Brothers or to Journal Broadcasting.  We only let them use them, via the government.  If they violate the public interest in using the airwaves, we, the people, can and must correct that, as they did in Sacramento:

This is not to say the only way to get broadcasters to serve the public interest is by filing legal challenges to their licenses. The Sacramento Media Group, affiliated with Common Cause, has successfully employed a model of knocking on TV stations' doors, asking for five minutes of daily political coverage on TV during election season. It took meetings with station management making that request, monitoring stations' coverage for three election cycles, writing several reports and releasing them to local newspapers (which caused the stations considerable embarrassment.) But today, SMG has found success. Their next goal is to ask local Talk radio stations for balanced political coverage, again during election seasons.

At the end of the day, the publicly owned airwaves are about public safety, about community and about ensuring First Amendment rights for everyone in the public square of broadcasting. Luckily, the Supreme Court is on our side.

So, what does this have to do with any of us?  Sue answers that question too:

That's the First Amendment Right of all the viewers and listeners, not the just ones who listen to the most profitable formats for corporations.
There is much energy around restoring the Public into the Public Interest. A grassroots movement started earlier this year in Florida, when the UU Legislative Ministry supported an 11 city media reform tour featuring Broadcast Blues.

But it is really finding its legs next month with the 2011 Wisconsin Media Reform Tour featuring Broadcast Blues. (Broadcast Blues is the 2009 documentary film I made which delves into issues of public interest obligations of broadcasters.) Thanks to the organizing efforts of local folks, I'll be traveling to eight cities in Wisconsin, showing the film, then surveying citizens as to their specific public interest needs. Next, we'll work on how to approach their local broadcasters, not just by email, but with personal visits, and convey to the broadcasters what they need. In some cases, friendly visits will get great results: heck, the manager of the station could be somebody you went to high school with. But other times, protests, boycotts, maybe even legal petitions to deny the stations' licenses may need to be filed.

We'll do whatever it takes to restore the public -- all the public -- into the public interest obligations of broadcasters.

But unlike the Fairness Doctrine, this is a bottom up approach. This is "We the People" holding both broadcasters -- and the FCC accountable to us. We are taking back that which we already own: our public airwaves.

Stay tuned as we get closer.  We will need to form teams to take on not only Milwaukee's broadcasters, but in cities all over the state, from Madison to Wausau to Green Bay.  The more hands that we have on board, the easier and the faster we can correct this problem which has plagued us for far too long.

Just as we are taking back our state, we need to take back our airwaves.

Are you with us?

Cross posted at Whallah!

Drinking Liberally: Fort Atkinson Chapter

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the Fort Atkinson chapter of Drinking Liberally.

This is just friendly reminder that it is this coming Thursday, September 1, starting at 7 pm.

And in case you don't want to be bothered going through the hassle of clicking the link, here's the other pertinent information:
This one is in Fort Atkinson, held at the Cafe Carpe. Cafe Carpe is located at 18 S. Water Street West in Fort Atkinson.  It is being held the first Thursday of the month, with the next one on September 1.  They start at 7 pm.

This chapter is hosted by Lori Compass, also known by her tweeter handle @LightReading.  Lori has informed me when the whether is nice, they can be found on the screened porch in the back, overlooking the river.

Great Leaps Of Illogic, or Stop Trying To Revictimize The Victims

This morning, I told you about how the Wausau union leaders are taking their pledges seriously by keeping the extremist, anti-union Republicans like Sean Duffy out of their Labor Day parade.  It boggles the mind that Duffy or any other Republican in this state even thinks they should have the right to participate in any Labor Day activities, considering how they set back almost every right of the people of Wisconsin in their insatiable power grab.

Most conservatives had enough sense to leave it alone. Those that lacked that sense mostly mewed about how they had to deal with the consequences of their behaviors.

But Kevin Binversie, proud employee of Koch Industries, would not settle for mere mewling when he could open his mouth and insert both feet up to his knees.  Instead of the usual complaining, he goes for trying to somehow compare holding the Republicans responsible for their behaviors to the bigotry showed by New York Catholics to the LGBT groups:
I say fascinating since it makes the Marathon Co. Labor Council sound remarkably like the New York Catholic Diocese when it explains why they keep gay and lesbian groups out of the diocese-sponsored St. Patrick's Day Parade. And over that time -- now going on two decades I believe -- groups like the ACLU, civil rights groups, labor groups, and other so-called progressive groups have hammered the NYC diocese for what they call a bigoted and backwards-thinking move like barring LGBT groups from the parade.
This so wrong on so many levels, one doesn't even know where to begin. But let's break it down so that even someone like Kevin can understand.

Wisconsin Republicans committed egregious harm to the working people of Wisconsin by taking away their rights to be treated with respect, work in safe conditions and be paid a living wage.  They further exasperated their misdoings by also attacking the rights of women, the rights of voters and every other thing that is good about Wisconsin.  And if that wasn't enough to earn them the scorn of every good Wisconsinite, in order to commit their heinous acts, they violated a slew of ethical codes as well as the law itself.

They did all this for none other than the simple reasons of greed and lust for power.

Is it really any wonder why the unions would not want these people tainting their parade with their mere presence?

Now let's compare this to the situation in New York.  The Catholic Church has banned the LGBT community from their parade not for anything they did but for who they are.  That is the definition of bigotry, my friends. (And not that sexual orientation is a sin, but whatever happened to the Church's dogma of hating the sin but loving the sinner?)

The LGBT community did not suppress the Catholics' right to practice their religion or to live their private lives they way they want.  The LGBT community did not attack any of the friends of Catholics out of spite.  The LGBT community is only asking for respect, and haven't taken anything from them by force.

In summary, in Wausau, it's the victims of the Republicans' transgressions that are saying they don't belong with the people they hurt.  Or to put in other words, the unions are holding the Republicans responsible for the consequences of their actions, which is something that the Republicans absolutely cannot stand.

However, in New York, it's the people in power, the Catholic religious leaders, that are transgressing against the LGBT simply because they don't like that group of people, not for any real or even perceived wrong done by the LBGT community to the Church.

Binversie's comparison would only make sense if the LGBT community was denying the Catholics a spot in their Pride parade.

For the Republicans to complain about being barred from Labor Day activities is like a rapist or a thief complaining about not being invited to their victims' family reunions.

I again commend Wausau's unions for their actions and iterate that this is something that should happen in every community in the state and in the country.  Furthermore, if there were to be true justice, the Republicans that caused this or support these reprobates should have to work the holiday, since it's not one they honor anyway. Heck, they should also give up their other benefits they wouldn't have without unions, like weekends, vacations, paid sick time and a sustainable wage.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Prosser's Sacred Vow

The news came out last week that the special prosecutor assigned to investigate the case of David Prosser attacking Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley had decided not to pursue criminal charges against Prosser.

This is despite the fact that Prosser admitted to laying hands on Walsh's neck without her permission.  Added to this is the fact that he said he did it out of reflex, showing his innate disposition to aggressive behaviors.

And to think that this all stemmed from the fact that Walsh told him to leave her chamber after he started bad-mouthing Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wasn't allowing him to rubber stamp Scott Walker's union busting bill fast enough. After all, you can't expect someone like Prosser to be bothered with actually reviewing the facts of a case before making his decision.  He just has to do what the Fitzgeralds tell him to do.

But in an effort to make amends, I understand that Prosser has taken a solemn oath.  He has promised to put on some ill-fitting gloves and search high and low until the real choke-holder is found and brought to justice.

Can Social Media Change The World?

Answer: It already has.

This Should Happen In Every Community

Every city, town, and village in the state, in the country really, needs to follow Wausau's example:
Newsline 9 has learned Rep. Sean Duffy has been told he is not allowed in this year's Labor Day parade in Wausau.

Duffy's office received that news earlier this week from parade organizers. His office was also told no Republicans will be allowed this year.
And the money quote:
"Usually they've been in the parade, but it seems like they only want to stand with us one day a year, and the other 364 days they don't really care," said Randy Radtke, president of the Council. The Council is made up of about 30 local unions from the Marathon County area.

In a statement, Radtke added that parade is intended to celebrate working men and women and what the labor movement has given them: weekends, a 40-hour work week, child labor protection and a safe working environment.

"It should come as no surprise that organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker's rights or stood idly by while their political party fought to strip public workers of their right to collectively bargain," Radtke said.
I wonder if any community is going to be so myopic and/or masochistic as to allow Scott Walker into their Labor Day events. They could become the pariahs of the state in a second if they do.


Roland Melnick, contributor to Badger Blogger, feels that people exercising their First Amendment right of free speech is an act of "intimidation."  To prove his point, he cites a number of selectively edited clips from the Koch-sponsored MacIver Institute. How so very unconvincing.

Funny thing is, I don't recall him being upset with CRG when one of their thugs physically assaulted a woman and then her husband at a otherwise peaceful rally.

Likewise, I don't remember him calling out Scott Walker when he issued an order for state police to arrest political opponents.

So to recap: If you're a RWNJ, free speech is bad, but physical intimidation and political arrests are just dandy!

Yeah, right.

*It's Only OK If A Republican Does It

Jeff Fitzgerald To Run For US Senate - A Case Of Delusions Of Grandeur

Jeff Fitzgerald in a candid moment.
Friday morning, on the Charlie Sykes squawk radio show, State Representative Jeff Fitzgerald made a surprise visit.  During the few minutes he was chatting with Charlie, Fitz the Lesser came just short of making any formal announcement that he is going to run for US Senate.

Apparently he thinks that he will be able to sneak past as the two big GOP bull elephants, Tommy Thompson and Mark Neumann battle it out. (BTW, Neumann is expected to make his formal announcement on Monday.)

Showing a remarkable lack of insight, Fitz the Lesser stated that he thought he'd be able to win because of his fiscal conservatism and for the things that he's done to for Wisconsin in the past eight months.

I was not aware that raising taxes, raising fees and increasing spending was now considered fiscal conservatism.

Anyway, as I mulled this over, I tried to imagine what his campaign slogan would be.  I came up with a few, but I really don't know how they'd help him:

  • Vote for Fitz - He'll take care of those other pesky rights, like allowing minorities and women to vote!
  • Vote for Fitz - His brother needs even more tax breaks!
  • Vote for Fitz - He's Koch Brothers approved!
  • Vote for Fitz - Millions of Wisconsin working families can't be right!
  • Vote for Fitz - He'll make Nixon look like a slacker!
  • Vote for Fitz - He'll do what the Koch Brothers want!
  • Vote for Fitz - Or Prosser will choke the b*tch!
  • Vote for Fitz - It could be worse - It could be Walker!
  • Vote for Fitz - Peace and prosperity are way overrated!
Which ones can you think of?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

File Under Old News: Walker Administration Lying Again

Dennis Smith, Scott Walker's Secretary of Health Services, took great pains to try to cherry pick the worst parts of a report about the Affordable Care Act, in an effort to make it look like it was a bad thing for Wisconsin.

But the thing is, what Smith presented in his release was far from the reality of the conclusions of the report.  And it's not me saying this. It's the author of the report, Jonathan Gruber, who is a bona fide economist, and not a hired hack with a history of trying to sabotage public health care plans like Smith:
But that's not the conclusion Gruber came to at all. "They picked out the most negative aspects of the report to highlight," Gruber told me in an interview. "Overall I think health care reform is a great thing for Wisconsin."

A key finding of the analysis -- that 340,000 uninsured people in Wisconsin will gain coverage by 2016 -- was not even mentioned in the press release issued by the state's Office of Free Market Health Care, which is the new department created by Walker to replace Doyle's Office of Health Care Reform, created barely a year earlier to carry out the federal Affordable Care Act.

Instead lists of "key findings" presented in the press release and a slide presentation prepared for reporters details a bunch of negatives using expressions that have become hot buttons in the health care debate: the law will "drastically shrink" the numbers of people in the private insurance market; it will cause "significant disruption" to employer-sponsored insurance; and it will force "working families" to pay a "hidden tax" that will "subsidize" the purchase of health insurance for families earning up to $89,000, a "forced redistribution of wealth."
Sadly, the lies aren't even the most egregious thing.

The worst part is the way they're trying to control the flow of information and trying to control the press:
Kraig is still fuming after being ejected from the tightly orchestrated press briefing about the report Wednesday. Among the strict ground rules: reporters could not use any quotes provided by Smith and other state officials during the course of an hourlong briefing and PowerPoint presentation (which didn't get to the good news about the increase in coverage for 340,000 people until the last of 16 slides.) Reporters could use only comments provided in the press release or afterwards in one-in-one interviews with Smith. (I was not among the seven or so reporters there; however someone at the meeting filled me in. Here is an AP report with further details of the study's findings.)
Remember the days when people were still trying to kid themselves that Walker was serious about having a transparent government?

This is just another aspect of the Orwellian fascist state that they are trying to create for themselves. Fortunately, with the Internet, it's not as easy for them as they would like.  It also shows why we cannot stop fighting until they are out of power. And this includes dismantling the corporate news sources that spread these lies, like MacIver Institute, Media Trackers and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Our future as a free land and a free people demands it.

H/T: Jake and his Economic TA Funhouse

School Superintendent Leads By Example

Here's an interesting story from California:

When a headline starts, "School Official Gives Himself a Hefty..." the next word is usually "Raise."
But in Fresno County, Calif., School Superintendent Larry Powell gave himself a hefty pay cut.

On Aug. 31, Powell will retire and then be hired back to fill the remainder of his four year term, reducing his now $250,000 annual salary to $31,020. The move will add over $800,000 to county schools over the next three years.

"My wife and I are very well compensated. We've been very blessed...I've been in this business for 41 and a half years and these are tight budget times in California for public schools," Powell said. "My wife and I thought, what can we do that might help change the dynamic in my particular area."

Powell, 63, said that over the last three years his county has lost $1,600 to $1,900 in funding per student. There are 195,000 students in Fresno County and 356 schools.
It made me realize that I don't recall Scott Walker, any of the legislators, or any other elected official taking the pinch that they are forcing upon their workers. In fact, some have even given themselves raises! Makes one wonder how bad the "crisis" really is.  And if they're not giving themselves raises and bonuses, their dishing money out to cronies and girlfriends.

Perhaps the next time the protesters hold a rally, instead of simply yelling "Shame!" we should start demanding that these buffoons share in the pain they've forced on the working class.

Milwaukee Gets Short End On Protests Too

As any Milwaukeean will testify, Milwaukee has always been treated like the unwanted stepchild by the rest of the state.  When we were fighting Walker, we were on our own and got no help from the rest of the state.  When it comes to money disbursement, Milwaukee never got as much as we gave.  The best of anything usually went to Madison where the politicians were, then other parts of the state got their share and Milwaukee was lucky to get the scraps.

Now we're getting the short end of the stick in regards to protests.

In Madison, there were hundreds of thousands of people gathering together in a common cause - to protest the outrageous power grab from the radical Republicans as well as the assault on working families across the state.  They came together to demand that those in charge treat Wisconsinites with respect and in a fair manner. People became close friends, as tight as any family.  People treated each other with respect, admiration and even love. In fact, some of the people new to the struggle still are reliving those days and are pining for them, trying to recapture that feeling.

The local businesses thrived as these hundreds of thousands turned to them for food, beverages and other supplies.  In fact, some places, like Ian's pizza, were getting orders from all over the world!

It was a time of camaraderie and solidarity, the likes Wisconsin has not seen before and might never see again.

Now, Milwaukee, or to be specific, West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, will be seeing another sort of rally.  But this one will be bringing a message of hate, intolerance and possibly violence.  While Madison had people coming to fight for equal rights and fair play, we will get people rallying for suppression and prejudice.  While Madison business thrived and made good money, West Allis Police are telling businesses to consider closing their stores for the day.

And while not one Madison protester was arrested for violence, the neo-Nazi group coming to my old home town has this message:
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and domestic terrorists nationally, the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement "is one of the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States."

"Schoep's group is known for the crudeness of its propaganda, the violence it works hard to support, and the faux SS outfits that have caused many other neo-Nazis to deride NSM members as 'Hollywood Nazis,' " the law center's website says.

The local representative said she hopes that 50 to 100 members and sympathizers of her group will be present at the rally and said all participants have been told not to bring guns or any other weapons.

She said, however, that if push comes to shove, members will have no problem "returning to the good old days of duking it out."
Well, isn't that special?

But the only thing that surprises me is that it took them this long to get here.  When you have the "leadership" brought by the likes of Scott Walker, The Fitzgerald Boyzzz, Glen Grothman, Alberta Darling and the rest, it's not surprising that they attract other people which share the same asocial and amoral lack of values.

I also but can't help but notice that the same bloggers and squawkers who call art teachers, social workers and firefighters thugs and worse, have nothing to say about this group.  Interesting, no?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Emerge Wisconsin Recognizes Women's Equality Day

From the great people at Emerge Wisconsin:

Emerge Wisconsin Recognizing Women’s Equality Day with Women On the Move

Madison – Today, August 26, is recognized as Women’s Equality Day. This is the date selected to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. It also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Emerge Wisconsin continues to work towards full equality of women in elected offices at the local and state level by training Democratic women who have an interest in running for elected office.

Leadership On the Move

Emerge Wisconsin recently held elections for its new Executive Committee serving 2011 – 2012. Sharon Corrigan, who most recently serves as Chair of Emerge Wisconsin, has moved up to serve as one of four affiliate representatives on the Emerge America Board of Directors.

Bethany Ordaz, who most recently served as Emerge Wisconsin’s Vice Chair, was elected to the position of Chair. Bethany has been both a leader in encouraging and recruiting more women to run and has set the example herself by recently running for State Assembly. Bethany Ordaz is joined by Rachel Currans-Henry (Vice Chair), Carousel Bayrd (Secretary) and Annie Wacker (Treasurer).

Women of Wisconsin On the Move

Emerge Wisconsin recently moved its training program up from January 2012 to start next month, September 2011. This move is to prepare the women who are ready to take back Wisconsin. “We have seen an increased interest of women interested in running for elected office. I look forward to leading Emerge into 2012 as we prepare the women who are ready to take back Wisconsin at both the state and local levels. I am very excited about the role we can play in training the women who will lead us back to true Wisconsin values.” Bethany Ordaz.

Emerge Alumnae On the Move

Today, Women’s Equality Day, is also the day where Emerge Wisconsin Alumna, Jessica King, is sworn in as State Senator! King won her recent election against one of the recalled GOP Senators. “We are proud to have one of our alumna join the Wisconsin State Senate and continue the fight for working families of Wisconsin.” Wendy Strout, Emerge Wisconsin Executive Director.

Launched in 2007, Emerge is the only organization in Wisconsin that provides Democratic women with the comprehensive training they need to achieve their political aspirations. Emerge Wisconsin is part of Emerge America, a national movement and premier training program that addresses the under-representation of women in office at the local, state, and federal level. There are Emerge affiliates in nine states: Arizona, California, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Emerge was founded to create a legion of Democratic women leaders for generations to come.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part X

AAA is reporting that there will be a 2.6% drop in travel for the Labor Day weekend.  They accurately point out that as money gets tight, discretionary spending, like travel and tourism, take the hit first, which is what I've been saying all along.

With Scott Walker taking away millions of dollars away from tens of thousands of workers across the state, I would not be surprised to find that the travel numbers actually end up lower.  It's hard to justify spending a couple hundred dollars going camping or to the Dells knowing that your paycheck is cut by a couple of hundred dollars, but your bills aren't.

That in turn hurts the businesses that are relying on our money, not to mention the people that work for these places.

That Walker - what an economic genius!

A Rat Spotted In Capitol Building

Just yesterday morning, I pointed out how Scott Walker was shuffling cronies around from one cushy state job to another.  I ended the post wondering about the biggest of all of Walker's cronies, Tim Russell.

This evening, I have received information from a very credible source that Russell has been spotted wandering the halls of the Capitol Building.  It would be very interesting to learn why he was there.  While he is, of course, allowed to go to the Capitol like any other Wisconsin citizen (unless, per the Walker administration, you're a free thinker and oppose his unethical and amoral actions), it is doubtful that he has been taking frequent tours of the building.

While I have found no evidence that Russell is again an employee of the state, it should raise many questions if he was again being paid by the state in any capacity.

After all, Russell is one of the subjects at the heart of an ongoing John Doe investigation regarding using Milwaukee County offices to do political campaigning for Walker during last year's gubernatorial campaign. Furthermore, Russell's employment would be highly irregular considering that during his former employment by the state, he was fired for using a state credit card for personal use.

Even I, at one time, would have given Walker more credit than to put Russell back on the state payroll, either as a direct employee or in the role of some sort of contractor or consultant, but given his actions of the past eight months, that is something that I would no longer afford him.  His blatant and egregious misuse of his office has been so extreme that hiring Russell would fit in perfectly with that pattern of behavior.

On a different note, in something I am sure purely coincidental, the confirmed Russell sighting at the Capitol occurred on the day that that Dave Zien and his thug friends assaulted the Solidarity Singers.  This, was oddly similar to the day that Russell just happened to be at a anti-Walker rally two years ago when a CRG goon assaulted union officials, including a woman, outside of Serb Hall.

If anyone happens to be at the Capitol and sees Russell (pictured above), please show extra caution but do let me know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh! The Horrors of Obamacare!

Jake at his Economic TA Funhouse is having fun tearing apart the false arguments of Scott Walker and friends as they try to do a smear and fear number on the Affordable Health Care Act. My favorite snippet in which Jake repeats their talking point and responds in italics is this:
Individuals will be dropped from their employer’s health plans. It is estimated that 100,000 individuals will be involuntarily dropped from employer sponsored health insurance. (And those employers will now have more funds available to pay employees, expand, or not deal with the uncertainty of higher insurance costs in the future. Again, this is bad because....?)
Do read the whole thing. You can thank me later.

You Want Misconduct?

Everyone on the right, from Rep. Robin Vos to the echo chamber to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, keep saying that recalls should only be done for misconduct in office or for malfeasance, all in a vain effort to protect their Dear Leader, Scott Walker.

Fine. Illy-T's gives you your misconduct.

Let the recalls roll!

Scott Walker's Favorite Game: Musical Cronies

When Scott Walker isn't busy trampling the rights of workers, women and children, he needs to occupy his time somehow. So to amuse himself, he likes to play a good game of musical cronies, in which he keeps shuffling his cronies around to cushier and cushier jobs.

This was seen when he promoted the two-time drunk-driving school-dropout son of a wealthy lobbyist, Brian Deschane, to a job he was quite unqualified for.

Then there is the matter of Judas Plale.  Walker had given Plale his thirty pieces of silver by giving him a nice state job as administrator of the state's Division of State Facilities as a reward for his audition to throw the working people of Wisconsin under the bus and rejecting the Tentative Agreement with the unions at the end of last year.  Given Walker's long history of neglecting Milwaukee County buildings, you'd think that would be a cakewalk of a position.  But apparently it wasn't cushy enough.

Yesterday, Walker announced that he was moving Plale up to Commissioner of Railroads, a job that pays $90,000+ a year.  And when one looks at the responsibilities of the job, you can see how cushy it is. It gets even cushier when one considers that the myopic Walker, in an act of campaign bravado, had the high speed rail, and the thousands of jobs that would have come with it, killed off.  Along with rejecting the funding for the high speed rail, the unwitting and witless Walker also threw away the money that we needed to keep the rails in good enough shape.  Now that we have no funding for either the high speed rail or maintenance of our existing rail system, I guess Plale's job is to sit at his desk, making choo-choo noises.

But Walker wasn't done with just Plale. Not by a long shot.

We also learned yesterday that Walker had promoted Tom Nardelli to a cushier job just last month to another $90,000+ a year job as administrator for the Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services.  Nardelli had been Walker's Chief of Staff and Head Executhug when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive.

But in an unusual act from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the allowed reporter Steve Schultz to actually do some real reporting:
In an interview, Nardelli said "other little things" related to the internal operations of his former state agency also led to his resignation. He declined to say what those were.

John Murray, a spokesman for Nardelli's former state agency, said Nardelli had left "to pursue other opportunities." Another state official is temporarily filling Nardelli's job, Murray said.

Spokesmen for Walker did not return calls about Nardelli's resignation.

Nardelli said an ongoing John Doe investigation that included prosecutors' seizure of work computers of at least two former county staffers of Walker's had nothing to do with his resignation from his state job. Nardelli said he had not been questioned in the probe, which began more than a year ago.

The probe is believed to focus at least in part on allegations of county workers aiding Walker's campaign while on the job for the county.

In an interview earlier this summer, Walker said prosecutors were "looking at a lot of people . . . things like that are pretty much open-ended. So they can look at just about anything."

He did not respond to a question about whether he thought his former county staffers would be cleared in the Doe investigation.

Nardelli said he plans to revive his dormant consulting business, though he'll be barred temporarily from lobbying the state or the county. Both have laws banning lobbying by former employees for a year after they quit their public jobs.
First, let me just say that I am trying very hard to keep from getting my hope up that the John Doe is anywhere near completion.

As far as the "other little things," that could, of course, mean almost everything, such as he didn't like having to still answer to Walker and not be able to set up his own fiefdom to there not being enough graft for his taste.

The consulting business angle is probably closer to the truth. Nardelli cannot lobby the state yet, but he would be able to go to the city right away and to the county in few months.

The one thing that keeps niggling at the back of my mind is the possibility of Walker being ready to try some kind of stunt like they did in Michigan and having a law rammed through so he can declare Milwaukee County bankrupt and put Nardelli in charge.

Regardless, it's pretty amazing that Walker is still willing to be so blatant and egregious in handing out jobs to his cronies like they were going out of style tomorrow.

As a final note, I would just ask that Steve Schultz or someone else to look into and see what ol' Tim Russell is up to these days and whether he is also a state worker nowadays.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part IX

Scott Walker's budget just keeps humming along at (not) creating jobs, just like he promised lied to us about:
GE Healthcare Ltd. is cutting 81 jobs at its Milwaukee and Waukesha facilities, or 1.2% of the company's positions in southeastern Wisconsin, the medical technologies division of the General Electric Co. said Tuesday.
And just think, thanks to Walker and company, those poor people getting the ax now have to wait another week before they get an unemployment check.

That Walker, what a guy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Walker's Afraid To Run On His Own Record

Jesse Russell at Dane 101 does a good job of parsing an interview Scott Walker did with the National Review's chief water carrier, Robert Costa.

When Walker makes the silly claim that most of the protesters are from Madison, Russell accurately points out that Democrats won five of nine elections in the recent recalls. And that was from all over the state.

I would remind Walker of his time in the Northwoods when he joined Sean Duffy for a fundraiser and was outnumbered by at least 10:1 ratio.

But the thing that caught my eye was this:
Costa opines that efforts to launch a recall against Walker are "unlikely." Walker agreed, saying that he expects "intense folks" will likely still push for his recall, but "we increasingly hear that the White House doesn't want it."
Trying to tie Barack Obama is something that the right wing has been trying to do on and off since this began, most commonly on squawk radio. The reason is simple, they are hoping to play on the Obama's relatively low popularity numbers (although Walker's are actually lower) and on the latent racism that we have seen from the extremists that make up his base. They need to distract the base because Walker is not able to run on his record of hurting the working class and his raising fees explosively.

The fact is that Obama has been taking pains to keep as distant from the Wisconsin battle for rights as he can, to the point where even Zach Wisniewski at Blogging Blue expresses disappointment that Obama hasn't been here.

I am just as glad that Obama is staying away. This is a battle between the people of Wisconsin and the Koch Brothers and their figurehead governor for our rights and for what is right.  We don't really need to have Obama muddy the water and give the right something to focus on as they scramble to do whatever they can to take the attention off of Walker's poor (and about to get worse) record of one epic failure after another.

Club for Growth vs. Club for Growth

Well, well, well. It appears that the Koch Brother's pet sheep have taken to eating their own.

Last night, I pointed out that the Republicans (a Koch-owned subsidiary) were having some problems of their own in the upcoming elections, especially in regards to what will surely be a rather contested race for US Senate:
The Republican's are also flailing around when it comes to the US Senate seat as well. Right now their two leading contenders is Tommy "Stick it to 'em" Thompson and Mark "Also Ran" Neumann. Just looking at any right wing blog and you can see their anguish.

They don't like Tommy because he understands that you can't survive by just making the problems worse by endless tax cuts. He just doesn't share their same animosity to success that the teahadists do.

But as much as they don't like Tommy, they dislike Neumann even more. Neumann had the audacity to run against the Scott "It's my turn" Walker. Even worse, Neumann committed heresy in their eyes by actually pointing out Walker's flaws, lies and other misdeeds. To the devout Wisconsin Republican, that's worse than eating a baby.
Today, my prophetic words again came true sooner that even I expected.

It started out early when the national Club for Growth (another Koch-owned subsidiary) launched an attack ad against Tommy Thompson, who hasn't even formally declared his candidacy yet! Here is their ad:

The Wisconsin chapter of the same group (yup, yet another Koch-owned subsidiary) has been taking great pains to make sure that the voters in Wisconsin understand that it's their parent organization running these ads and trying to distance themselves as much as possible.

As I pointed out last night, they really hate Neumann because he dared to speak the truth about Walker. This can be evidenced in these posts by Owen Robinson and James Wigderson. (They're getting angry at Neumann is most ironic since they both back Walker, who lies more than any ten people. Furthermore, they both seem to be truth-telling challenged themselves.)

And to add to this building feud, Jim Klauser, who has mastered the art of writing poison pen letters to Neumann, made the surprise move of writing a poison pen letter to Neumann.

I do have to say it's nice to be able to sit back for once and see the Koch Brothers' puppets doing my work for me by tearing themselves up for a while. Anyone have any popcorn? This looks like it could be a good show.

Monday, August 22, 2011

There's Blood In The Water And The Stench Of Fear In The Air

The Republicans have been saying, over and over and over and over, how they won the first round of recalls, even though they lost two seats in the Senate.  But no one, on any side of this monumental struggle, is acting like the Republicans have won anything.

The Democrats, the unions and the working people of Wisconsin are continuing on like an unstoppable juggernaut.  They came out of the recall battles bloody and bruised, and they might be a bit tired and sore, but they still have that look of grim determination bolstered by the taste of victory.  While on the surface things might appear calm, in the background there is as much if not more things afoot than during the time in February and March, when people first started to wake up to what we Milwaukeeans had known all along.  Walker is bad news, not to be trusted and needs to be taken out of office.

But if the people aren't acting like the losers they allegedly are, the Republicans are acting even less like the winners they claim to be.

US Representative Paul Ryan, who shows more sense than his supporters, made it clear that he's not running for President of the United States.  He was at least smart of enough that he would never survive broad examination of his one trick pony of cutting off grandma and grandpa from their Social Security and cutting off people's Medicaid.  Even his fellow Republicans know that which is probably why he was deemed unworthy of being on Congress' "super committee." (Aren't those last two words enough to strike terror?)  If Wisconsin Republicans were so sure of themselves, Ryan would be riding the crest of their wave to the White House.

The Republican's are also flailing around when it comes to the US Senate seat as well.  Right now their two leading contenders is Tommy "Stick it to 'em" Thompson and Mark "Also Ran" Neumann.  Just looking at any right wing blog and you can see their anguish.

They don't like Tommy because he understands that you can't survive by just making the problems worse by endless tax cuts.  He just doesn't share their same animosity to success that the teahadists do.

But as much as they don't like Tommy, they dislike Neumann even more.  Neumann had the audacity to run against the Scott "It's my turn" Walker.  Even worse, Neumann committed heresy in their eyes by actually pointing out Walker's flaws, lies and other misdeeds. To the devout Wisconsin Republican, that's worse than eating a baby.

Their other long shot possible candidates is Ted "Who?" Kanavas or Jeff "Koch Puppet" Fitzgerald who helped ram through Scott Walker's amoral bills, but couldn't even shine with all the favorable press and just became a sinister shadow man through the process.

And speaking of Walker, it came out this morning that the guy who kept telling us that he knows what's best for us, and has demonstratively proved that to be a lie, doesn't seem to be so sure of himself.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that he as already sent out a tweet begging for support.  Of course, that would also explain his untrustworthy, empty gesture at bipartisanship.It must tick him off something fierce that instead of plotting and scheming on how to trick the American people for his own race for the presidency, he is now forced to deal with reality back home and prepare for the fight of his political career.

What one could very well call one of the greatest signs of the conservatives' nervousness, even the Koch Brothers are starting to get a bit jumpy.  They have been buying up a lot of anti-Koch domain names in an effort to slow down the people opposed to them, but even then did a sloppy job and left many amusing possibilities.  But with all their money and their political scheming, even they are starting to recognize the magnitude of what they've done and the sheer number of people they have angered.

The Republicans talk with a lot of bravado, but their actions - from running candidates even they don't like, not getting the candidates they do like to run, and running scared - belie their posturing and show that even they know they're in big trouble with the powers that really matter: The people of Wisconsin.

Republican Lawyers' Gravy Train Keeps On Rolling

Over the weekend, we saw that the private law firms that Republicans like to use (here's a hint on why - follow the money) were not included in the unwashed masses that have to sacrifice equally under Walker's budget.

That train car full of gravy dealt with the union-busting bill even though it's been repeatedly proven that the unions were not the problem and this law was not only not needed, but is actually detrimental to our economy.

Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that the gravy train for these private law firms just added another car full of gravy.  Again, it's dealing with an unneeded law (the voter suppression law) that was rammed through to deal with a problem doesn't exist.

Also: See Illy-T's site, where he found the money quote.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Walker And Bipartisanship? It Is To Laugh!

Yesterday, when I was on the radio with Sara Schulz the first question she had asked me was my opinion on Scott Walker's statement that the recalls show that he is ready for proceeding with the air of bipartisanship.

Some people said it was a sign that the Democrats won in the recall rumble (which they did) and that Walker knows he's in trouble of recall himself (and he is) and they were hoping that this meant the bad stuff would end.

I told Sara that no one should believe him.

I pointed out that when Walker was in front of Congress, providing sworn testimony (the only time he even comes within shouting distance of the truth), he dismissed the notion of bipartisanship:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker defended his school of union hobbling as a route to fiscal discipline to budget-weary Washington on Thursday, telling a House committee that nail-biting negotiations in tough economic times can produce inaction and bad policy.

"Sometimes," the Republican governor told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "bipartisanship is not so good."

It was an extraordinary message to deliver to Capitol Hill at a time of divided government, when leaders in Congress realize they have little choice but to negotiate the path toward the nation's economic stability. As Walker spoke to the House panel, a Congress facing tough fiscal battles ahead was preparing to send the White House a bipartisan deal for $38 billion in spending cuts over the next six months.

Walker's budget for Wisconsin is an explicit act of partisanship.
And I really hope that our Democratic leaders aren't foolish enough to trust him. After all, it was Walker and is Republican cronies in the state senate that actually went so far as to send state troopers after their political foes. That's not only not bipartisan, that not even partisan. Sending state police to arrest political foes is tyranny and fascism at its worst.

Senator Chris Larson, in his weekly newsletter, listed some of his greater concerns of the things Walker and the Republicans did in their disregard for bipartisanship:

  • Cut $1.6 billion in funding for public education, while also cutting funds for higher education
  • Eliminated accountability and consolidated power through administrative rules
  • Spent $2.3 billion on special interests, corporate giveaways and loopholes while raising taxes and fees on working families and seniors
  • Eliminated worker's rights
  • Reduced job retraining opportunities
  • Added a waiting period for unemployment compensation on workers who just lost their job
  • Killed wind energy jobs across the state
  • Locked out the public from the Capitol
  • Landed the state government in court over open meetings violations
  • Undermined local control by passing extreme legislation related to wetlands, redistricting, highways and sick-leave
  • Rejected federal grants to support transportation and health care that then went to other states
  • Defunded women's health care programs
  • Removed consumer protection by changing our victim protection laws
Yeah, any person or group that is willing to go to those extremes and trample on people's rights without a moment's hesitation doesn't have the morals necessary to even begin to care about bipartisanship.

And given Walker's past behaviors, he's got even less moral that the Republican legislators.

And Without Even As Much As A Thank You

Late Friday night/early Saturday morning, I wrote a post about how Scott Walker's irresponsible and unnecessary union busting bill was costing the state tax payers a bundle of money:
If Walker and his cronies follow their usual pattern, they will be hiring some very expensive private law firm to defend the state in this lawsuit as well. With the fees being charged by these attorneys, defending against three different lawsuits, the bills are going to rack up pretty quickly. And guess you gets to pay for it...

That's right, tax payers like you and me who are barely making ends meet (if we're lucky).

You know, for a non-fiscal bill that doesn't do a thing to save tax payers a dime, this thing is getting pretty damn expensive. It would have been much less expensive if Walker had just sat down like a true leader would have and negotiated the cuts with the unions. Any money that he could even imagine of claiming he saved tax payers will be eaten up by the legal fees he's accruing.
Sure enough, twenty-four hours later, here comes the local paper with that same story:
So far this year, two firms with strong Republican connections have racked up more than $700,000 in invoices and payments authorized by Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers to help represent the state in cases such as legal challenges over Walker's legislation ending most collective bargaining for public employees.

More payments on the ongoing cases and another likely case are still to come, as Walker considers a request by the Department of Justice to appoint one of the firms to represent the state in a federal lawsuit over redistricting legislation.

The Troupis Law Office and the firm of Michael Best & Friedrich, with partners who include Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, have received special counsel contracts from Walker paying up to $300 an hour along with legislative contracts worth up to $395 an hour. As was the case when Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle awarded special counsel contracts that in one tribal gambling case came to $1.5 million, the latest Walker contracts haven't included the same kind of formal competitive bidding requirements in place for many other large state contracts.
Of course, if you talk to them about this, they'll say they've been working on it for a while.

But another question is of even more importance: How many more of these story need to be brought to the light of day before even conservatives have to admit that Walker is corrupt?

Izzy And The County Grounds Revisited

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join a large group of people to enjoy the county grounds and the Monarch Trail for what could be its last year.  It really was a tale of two county grounds, as I wrote about over at Milwaukee County First.

But here's a little history.  I first got involved with the fight to save the grounds a couple years ago.  Along with my dear, dear friends Barb and Lulu, one of the people that helped bring me into the fray was Izzy.  Izzy and her mom often visit the grounds and the trail to help deal with the stress of Izzy's health concerns.

Here's a picture of Izzy and her mom a couple of years ago by the Sycamore, the big old tree that draws the Monarchs during their migration:

And a picture of Izzy at the same tree yesterday:

The comical shot of the day:

Um, what road?

And my three favorite shots I got from the event:

The elected officials at both the county and in Wauwatosa should maybe take a look around the state and see how people are reacting to the elected officials who raise their taxes to benefit the rich and ignore the will of the people. Then they should update their resumes. I hear Dunkin Donuts is hiring.

Again, more pictures and details of the event at Milwaukee County First.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hey, Everybody, I'm On The Radio

Just a quick, and late, note:

I'll be joining Sara Schulz on her blogtalkradio show for a few minutes this morning.  Hopefully I won't screw up too much and she'll have me on more.

You can listen live by clicking here.

Non-Fiscal Bill Gets More Expensive

After Scott Walker dropped his "bomb" of stripping every worker in the State.on the State of Wisconsin, he and his Republican cronies in the state legislature kept insisting that it was a non-fiscal issue, so they could pass it without having a quorum.  At the same time, Walker kept insisting that they must pass the bill because it would supposedly save lots of money for the tax payers.

A couple of months later, Walker was forced, under oath, in front of a Congressional committee, to finally admit  that his union busting bill did nothing to save money.

The news came out Friday that two unions, the Madison Teachers Inc. and AFL-CIO Local 61 (Milwaukee sanitation workers) filed a lawsuit against Walker and the State of Wisconsin regarding the union busting bill:
Unions representing Madison teachers and Milwaukee sanitation workers sued Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday, alleging that the controversial law severely restricting the collective bargaining rights of most public workers in Wisconsin is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, brought by Madison Teachers Inc. and AFL-CIO Local 61 in Milwaukee alleges that the state legislature passed what was originally called the budget repair bill in violation of the state constitution's provision that governs special legislative sessions.
The lawsuit also alleges that the law places severe and unfair restrictions on what unions and their members can discuss with municipalities and school districts, and imposes severe wage increase limits that don't apply to nonunion workers.

"The changes to the collective bargaining laws crushed the ability of municipal employees and teachers to associate with their co-workers and to work together to achieve better wages, hours and working conditions," said Lester Pines, lawyer for MTI.

Pines said in a statement that the legislation punishes union members by restriction wage increases not imposed upon nonunion workers and places onerous burdens on union members who want to keep their unions.
This is the third lawsuit which has been brought against the state for just this one law.

If Walker and his cronies follow their usual pattern, they will be hiring some very expensive private law firm to defend the state in this lawsuit as well. With the fees being charged by these attorneys, defending against three different lawsuits, the bills are going to rack up pretty quickly. And guess you gets to pay for it...

That's right, tax payers like you and me who are barely making ends meet (if we're lucky).

You know, for a non-fiscal bill that doesn't do a thing to save tax payers a dime, this thing is getting pretty damn expensive.   It would have been much less expensive if Walker had just sat down like a true leader would have and negotiated the cuts with the unions.  Any money that he could even imagine of claiming he saved tax payers will be eaten up by the legal fees he's accruing.  

I wonder if this is what they mean by being "fiscally conservative," because only a conservative would think this makes any sense.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part VIII

The job numbers for July are out and they're starting to show us a glimpse of the full glory of Scott Walker's budget, which he foisted upon us with the willing help of this Republican colleagues in the legislature.

The state lost 12,500 jobs in the month, the second highest number since the recession started.  The only time we had a greater job loss was at the beginning of the recession when the state lost 22,900 jobs.  This was, of course, when we got to see, on a national level, the full impact of the benefits of George W. Bush's years of tax cuts for the rich.

Walker, who tried to take credit for all the jobs created in June (even though the unemployment rate actually rose), was now backpedaling like crazy and putting the blame on everything but sunspots:
Wisconsin lost 12,500 private-sector jobs last month in the deepest single-month decline since the depths of the 2008-'09 recession, effectively annulling most of the previous month's gains.

Gov. Scott Walker, who last month credited his administration's business-friendly policies for big job gains in June, attributed the July job losses to turmoil in the national and international economy as well as to uncertainty created by the state's special recall elections.

Asked whether he should be held accountable for July's decline as long as he also wants credit for June's gain, Walker responded by describing what he called "incredible uncertainty both at the federal level - in terms of the debt ceiling and all the tension of that, and the negative impact that had on the economy - combined with July and August, when you saw the height of the recall commercials. And I think for a lot of employers we talked to, that created a high level of uncertainty, not knowing what was going to come next."
Even more flabbergasting is the response of one of Walker's corporate masters, the WMC, who tried to blame the recalls for the large drop of jobs.

It also needs to be pointed out that the numbers would be a helluva lot worse if not for the fact that the federal and local governments had added a total of 4,400 jobs (even as Walker cut the state's level by another 100 jobs).

And while it has been shown that most of the jobs created in June were the temporary jobs associated with tourism, the jobs lost last month were across the board, with a large part of them coming from the service industry.  This was predictable and was already explained by yours truly as I pointed out the foolishness of right wing blogger Owen Robinson's gloating of public workers having their pay unilaterally slashed under the Walker plan:
Consider this: In Milwaukee County alone, there are somewhere around 48,000 government workers, including state, county and all the municipal employees. Walker's union busting will remove $155 million from the local economy, because that's the money that these workers won't have any longer to spend.

The people that get hurt by this are the owners and employees of the small stores, restaurants and taverns, since those are the areas people first cut in their personal budgets. Then bigger companies will feel the pinch, like cable companies, as people realize that they'll need to cut back on luxuries. Also, big ticket purchases will drop, which will lead to things like more real estate problems and less cars being sold. And you know the companies aren't going to allow a hit to their profit margins, so that means they raise rates and/or lay off workers.

The estimates of people in the private sector that are going to lose their jobs just from this one bill is continuously being added to, but the latest I've seen is 31,000 people around the state will lose their jobs because of this decrease in flow of money. To be honest, even that number seems low to me.

So, now we have teachers and other public employees making even less money (even though they already were making less than their private sector counterparts). This, in turn, has a negative impact on local businesses, causing further job losses, a further drop in spending and so the downward cycle continues. Not exactly what I call "a positive impact," but that's the whole problem with the right's trickle down economics theory, isn't it? Something's trickling down, but it sure as hell ain't money, much less enough to keep the economy going or growing.
And this is just the beginning, folks.

The numbers reflected in the July loss of jobs comes has people are only starting to cut back on their spending. This week, many local workers got to see the full impact of the Walker plan, with their pay cut up to 17% Next week, state workers get to take their first hit. Shortly thereafter, the teachers will get their turn.

By this time next month, you'll have tens or even hundreds of thousands of people across the state having their pay cut, and not quite the modest levels that Walker would have you believe them to be. Obviously, this means that there is going to be a sudden cut back in spending by the public sector employees, which in turn means that there will be less money in circulation in the state.  This will deepen the impact on the businesses, both large and small, as pointed out in the cited section above.

Add to this the fact that the tourism season is wrapping up for another year, and things start looking even glummer.

Of course, Walker and his Republican accomplices will never, ever accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions and for the problems headed our way.  But that doesn't mean we can't see through their lies and know who's really responsible.

If Walker thinks in any way that the is immune to being the subject of a recall, the look on his face when it happens should be priceless, which is fortunate, since many of us won't be able to afford it at any price.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Donovan's "Plan for Milwaukee" Taken From The Movies

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan, going though media attention withdrawal, came out with his "Plan for Milwaukee."

One could summarize his plan as "Children should neither be seen nor heard."

His plan consists of basically two concepts: Creating a police state and putting every youth (or at least the black ones) in the city in an institution.

For the police state, he proposes more cops, giving the increased police force more overtime and putting cameras everywhere. And here I thought we were in a fiscal crisis.  Basically, this is a common theme in many movies, from 1984 to The Matrix, where the citizenry is always under surveillance and face stern consequences if they take one step out of the strict guidelines of the government.

But then Donovan does his best Baron Bomburst impression and comes up with a number of ambiguous anti-child proposals:
  • Reform the juvenile justice system 
  • Stricter curfew enforcement (well that could go into the police state theme as well).
  • Orphanages and Boarding schools 
  • Revamp the schools.
It should be noted that he doesn't say what's wrong with the juvenile justice system or the schools or how he would like to see them "fixed."  Just that they're broken and that someone else needs to fix them.

When one considers Donovan's past statements and posturings, it would not be a great leap of logic to understand that he means that the laws on kids should be made draconian, enforced with military precision and that the kids need to be put in an institution of some sorts, where they can be thoroughly controlled and kept away from the public. That way, mature adults  like Donovan don't have to be bothered with fixing the actual problems, like the inherent racism in the region, the rampant unemployment, or the severe lack of constructive activities for these kids.

But not only does Donovan fail to offer any constructive suggestions or solutions, the proposals he does present will only increase the problems.  As any mental health staffer, or jailer, or any other worker in an institution can tell you, any person in such a place can become thoroughly institutionalized and no longer to effectively function in society.  

Then society will have to pay a much higher price, both in human and financial costs, to have this institutionalized population treated so that they can become a positive member of society again. Either that, or pay for the person to be an institution for the rest of their lives, which gets to pretty costly as well.

He, and we, would be better off if he just donned his fuzzy crown and robe and stepped out and said, "I hate children." Then he'd have his fifteen minutes of attention that he desperately seeks and go back to his fantasy world while the rest of us go about trying to actually fixing the problems facing our society.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part VII

Scott Walker's budget just keeps ticking along.

This time, 87 workers losing their jobs without even the decency of a two week notice.

Doesn't it make you so happy that the Kochs bought him that position?

Missing The Forest For All The Trees

Monday, I pointed out the fallacy that privatization actually saves tax payers money.  That piece was done due to the onslaught of stories of just how poorly LogistiCare, an Atlanta-based company, was performing in making sure poor, elderly and disabled people made it to non-emergency medical appointments.

Jeremy Shown, a respectable man even if he is conservative, felt that I was incorrect in my position.  

He felt that the issue wasn't privatization in itself. He felt the bigger problem was the lack of competition.  With competition, prices would have to go down.

But I'm afraid that Jeremy is just plain wrong on this for a couple of reasons.

One, competition doesn't necessarily reduce the price of anything. Look at the cost of health care in Southeastern Wisconsin.  We have so much competition that hospitals and clinics and medical centers are more common than bars now. Yet health care costs in this region are among the highest in the nation.

Secondly, competition doesn't do anything about the underlying problem - putting profits before people.  All it means is that we would have a lot of companies charging too much for services they're not rendering.  Actually, from what I had seen when there were multiple agencies being given contracts for child welfare in Milwaukee County, there was actually less services being provided than before. This happened because there were so many administrations/executives that want their piece of the pie before the money meant for the kids made it that far.  Even now, when the system is finally reaching the point of providing services on the par that the County was providing before the privatization, it's costing tens of millions of dollars more each year.

Another one that can't see the woods for all the trees is Dad29, who also felt the need to chirp in with this:
To elucidate a bit: perhaps Milwaukee County is 'convenienced' by engaging one firm to handle all its logistics.

But with a little less 'convenience', Milwaukee County could assign intra-county 'territories' to two or three vendors, find out which one does the best job, and then reward that firm with more business.
Um, news flash for Daddio, but Transit Plus, Milwaukee County's provider for specialized transport, already contracts with many different companies. Two or three of them already have the bigger slices of the pie, but that doesn't mean they're doing a good job or that they're necessarily the cheapest. That's not how things worked under then County Executive Scott Walker.  And there's no reason to believe Walker suddenly has developed morals as governor.  If anything, he has gotten that much worse.

And to also shatter Daddio's theorem, specialized transport has more than tripled in price over the last few year, even with the competition.

What both of these men are missing though, is that competition is not going to solve the underlying problem.  There is no way to justify putting profit before people, especially if the people are our most vulnerable citizens who need our help to survive.  The money that is lining the pockets of the CEO's, the boards and the administrations of these agencies is money that could be and should be going to the people that need the services.  And that, by any stretch, is not the best use of our tax dollars.

Another Texan Called Someone Treasonous With Very Bad Results

President wannabe Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, thought he was being clever when he made some outrageous statements about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, making his maiden campaign swing in Iowa after jumping into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, suggested Monday night that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would be committing an act of treason by printing more money between now and November 2012.

Responding to a question about the Federal Reserve at a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Perry said: “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous, in my opinion.”
Even a former spokesman for George W. Bush called Perry's comments "inappropriate and unpresidential."


 As a friend, my personal expert on all things Kennedy, pointed out, this was not the first time a Texan had accused a federal official of treason:

That pamphlet was distributed in Dallas, Texas on the very day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Either Perry doesn't know his state's history very well or he's just a bloody idiot that doesn't deserve to be a dogcatcher, much less President of the United States or even a governor.  He needs to apologize and do so pretty darn quickly.

As Owen Says: They Came, They Spent, They Lost

Owen Robinson, transplanted right winger from Texas, tries to be cute by spinning the recall elections in the favor of the Republicans, in a hack piece which he titled "They came, they spent, they lost."

His spin aside, the title is accurate.

The Koch Boyz dumped millions of dollars in these races, either directly or more commonly, indirectly through their front groups like Americans for (Kochs') Prosperity or Wisconsin Club for Growth (of Kochs' riches).  And who could forget the traveling Tea Party Song and Dance Revue?!

So they came in and spent like there was no tomorrow in order to continue their reign of corporate statehood.

But they fell short.

They had four candidates win.  The Democrats had five win.

Unless you're doing Scott Walker's budgeting, five is greater than four.

And things are so bad for WISGOP that their chair can't even comment on Tuesday's failed attacks on two Democratic senators.  They have to bring in the National GOP chair to try to spin a victory out of the jaws of delusion.

What is means is that the majority of Wisconsinites have regained their senses and are rejecting the notion of corporate serfdom.  But it also means that not enough have hit rock bottom yet and will need time before attempting to recall Scott Walker.  Not as long as the Democrats are hoping, but maybe in the spring when people are finding out that they are paying much higher fees for everything and that their schools are about to see the true impact of Walker's budget.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Walker To Endorse Perry

Scott Walker and his bald spot being sworn in
in front of Congress
Breaking News:  Scott Walker, who was considering a run for President for the United States himself, has shocked the country by suddenly shifting gears and endorsing Texas Governor Rick Perry for that race.

Walker said that he was won over by Perry when he saw this article:
Spelling out what is likely to be a key theme in his bid for the Presidency, Texas Governor Rick Perry told an audience in Houston today that as President he would establish universal hair care for all Americans.

In his first major policy address, Gov. Perry singled out “bad hair” as the principal cause of the country’s problems, from jobs to crime to the national debt.
Walker, pictured to the upper right, said while self-consciously holding his hand over the back of his head,  that this was finally something he felt the government wasn't spending enough money on. He added that he planned on kicking another 200,000 single mothers and their children off of Badger Care to start a similar program in Wisconsin. To control spending, Walker did add that one of the restrictions for the new Badger Hair Club is that it would be only made eligible to white, male, conservative governors in the state.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part VI

"It's all about jobs!"

Remember when Scott Walker said his budget was all about creating jobs? Yeah, neither do I.

But his budget it having a clear impact on jobs in Wisconsin:

Isn't Walker just grand?  I just hope he stops focusing on jobs while some of still have them.

For Those Voting Today

Before the people voting in the last two recalls of the first stage of them, here is a video of Scott Walker and the Republican Legislatures celebrating the day they made sure it harder for you to make ends meet if you lose your job:

It's pretty obvious they don't stand up for the little guy, isn't it?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Events At The Monarch Trail

The fall migration of the Monarchs is rapidly coming.  In light of that, there will be a number of events at the county grounds.

Details are at MCF.

You should go. It may be the last chance we get.

Privatization Is Bad For Wisconsin's Fiscal And Physical Health

The State of Wisconsin had decided to take more local control away from county governments by centralizing and privatizing non-emergency medical transports which are covered by Medicaid.  A three-year contract was given to LogistiCare, a company based in Atlanta, Georgia.  The contract went into effect on July 1, 2011. Previous to that date, each county coordinated these rides on their own or through a contracted agency.

 The theory behind the move was that LogistiCare would streamline all of the non-emergency transports around the state in what they claim would save money. The people that would be served would include the poor, the elderly and the disabled who rely on BadgerCare Plus for their medical needs.  It would be used for routine medical appointments, including those receiving kidney dialysis.

The way it was supposed to work was that the patient would call in at least two days before the appointment to schedule a ride. After being thoroughly questioned on whether there was any other way for the patient to make their appointment, to the point of making sure there were no family members or friends that would do the transportation, the patient would receive a confirmation number and then the ride at the appointed time. LogistiCare would then make arrangements with a contracted transport agency to provide the ride.  LogistiCare did not own any vehicles and would not be providing the transportation.

In other words, Logisticare would put another level of bureaucracy for the patient to navigate through.

Months before the privatization even went into effect, many people had concerns about how this was going to work.  One of the biggest concerns was the fact that LogistiCare was getting paid per person eligible to receive these services instead of per service rendered.  That system made it inherent for LogistiCare to provide the least amount of services in order to increase their profit margin.  They could do this by not providing the rides needed or inappropriately downgrading the person's eligibility, thereby forcing the patient into potentially unsafe situations.

Sure enough, LogistiCare started screwing up by the numbers.  Their performance was so bad that one transport company severed their contract with them in order to protect their own reputation:
A spokesman for Badger Cab says the company is "severing its relationship" with Logisticare because of "numerous issues," including customer phone numbers and addresses provided by Logisticare that were "riddled with errors" and communications problems so serious that at one point on a chaotic Friday, according to accounts representative Kurt Schneider, "four or five" of his dispatchers could not take regular calls because they were trying to iron out problems with Logisticare customers. Schneider says the contract could have been worth up to millions of dollars, depending on the volume of business.

Schneider says Logisticare booked rides with Badger for patients in wheelchairs, even though the company has no vehicles that can transport wheelchairs. Logisticare also booked rides with Badger for patients in Milwaukee and spots as far away as Green and Rock counties, Schneider says. When his staff tried to work these problems out, they were unable to reach anybody at Logisticare's new call center in Madison who could help them, Schneider claims. "We had people calling their 800 number on hold for over an hour," he says. "We never knew who we were talking to. We got people in Atlanta and Arizona."

On Saturday, several patients waited up to two hours at home for rides to critical dialysis treatments, according to one nurse at the Wisconsin Dialysis Center on Fish Hatchery Road. As a result, says the nurse who did not want to be identified, a couple of the patients were not given their full treatments. The nurse claims that she was also put on hold for 18 minutes as she was trying to get them help.

And confusion over whether Logisticare would provide rides to patients needing to get from area hospitals to nursing homes after discharge left at least one patient over the weekend stranded until the hospital stepped in and arranged and paid for the ride itself, according to Sue Farkas with St. Mary's care management department.

LogistiCare came back with the usual "nothing to see here" and "it was just the first day jitters" and my personal favorite, "it's all the stupid consumer's fault" spiel that one might expect. They also stated that things were getting better.

Well, that's a load of poppycock. It's not better and it's just not in Dane County.

Waupaca County used to have a volunteer coordinator that took care of making sure patients were connected with volunteer drivers who only got paid for mileage reimbursement. But with the privatization, all those people, most of whom were out of work or retired, no longer have a way to help supplement their incomes or, in some cases, have any income at all. Instead, that money and a whole lot more is going to LogistiCare and it's contracted agencies, some as far as 80 miles away in Green Bay.

And not only is this a waste of money, LogistiCare is continuing to fail in its assigned duties. Their failure is so much so that an elder abuse complaint had to be filed against Logisticare:
Pat Enright is the aging and disability resource manager for Waupaca County DHHS. He has logged dozens of complaints from patients who have missed their medical appointments due to their rides arriving late or not showing up at all.

On Aug. 1, Enright sent a letter to Greg DiMiceli, the Medicaid transportation analyst who oversees the state program, detailing the problems since LogistiCare took control.

Enright also filed an elder abuse complaint against LogistiCare as a result of Barry’s experience.

"A vulnerable adult that has a care provider who has assumed responsibility for a portion of their care and then failed to provide that care could be charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult," Enright said in his letter to DiMiceli.

"These people don’t understand that I get really sick when they’re late picking me up," Barry said, noting that being late for an appointment can result in his being at the clinic for eight hours as he waits for the dialysis equipment to become available again. And missing his dialysis treatment means toxic wastes are not being removed from his body. A Logisticare driver also failed to pick Barry up for a scheduled ride to the clinic for a CAT scan.

"I feel like they’re trying to kill me," Barry said. "Yesterday, I made my funeral arrangements."

Barry said his problems with LogistiCare began the day the company took over the program.

"It took me an hour and a half just to get my first three appointments," Barry said.
The story goes on to cite numerous examples of LogistiCare's failure, including a vendor who cancelled the ride themselves, but no one bothered to confirm or even notify the patient.

What is just as, if not more, disturbing than these examples of privatization's failure is this:
Stephanie Smiley, the communications director with the state Department of Health, said that while she has received complaints, LogistiCare is "managing to deliver 6,000 rides a day."

Smiley said that in the six weeks since LogistiCare took over the statewide transportation program, the complaint rate has dropped from 1 percent to 0.5 percent of the rides being provided.

"We are in daily contact with LogistiCare," Smiley said. She said the company has increased staff at the Madison call center and reduced the amount of time callers spend on hold. In addition, she said LogistiCare is introducing an incentive plan that rewards drivers who make their appointments on time.
This should raise several questions for the reader.

First, exactly why is a government official playing the role of public relations person for a private agency? I would expect the government to demand corrections from LogistiCare, not making excuses for them.

Secondly, even Smiley's defense of the company is lame. Putting 30 people in harm's way every single day is not a bragging point! It is a point of shame and shows exactly how warped the mind set is in Scott Walker's administration, where the Almighty Dollar holds more sway than a person's life.

And shouldn't the incentive for these drivers be to collect a paycheck for doing their jobs, and that's if it's even their fault to begin with? Given the widespread and ongoing problems that are being reported, it's much more conceivable that the problem lies with LogistiCare than with the drivers or individual transport companies.

In summary, we again have solid, documented and undeniable proof that privatization, the stalwart of the current regime, costs a lot more money and provides a lot less service. Only Walker or one of his apologists could even begin to say this a good thing. The simple hard fact is that privatization, once again, has proven to be an expensive and untenable approach to providing services, or in this case, not providing services to the most vulnerable of our citizens.

The sad part is that this is only the beginning. We are sure to see this repeated time and time again as Walker and cronies continue to privatize schools, state parks and anything else they can get their hands on.