Friday, September 30, 2011

Because the Republicans Are Really, Really, Really Serious About Creating Jobs

Dreading his upcoming recall, Scott Walker called for yet another special session of the legislature to finally, after nearly a year, to get around passing some bills that may or may not create jobs.  Because, y'know, Walker and Cronies, Inc., are really, really, really, really, really, really serious about creating jobs.  Then again, maybe not:
The special session to get Wisconsin back to work opened briefly Thursday before going on hiatus.

Republican senators, following Gov. Scott Walker's call Wednesday for a special legislative session on job creation, convened long enough to open business, then quickly adjourned, asserting many of the nearly 30 bills Walker wants the Legislature to focus on have yet to be drafted.

The Legislature will begin work in earnest Oct. 18, running its regularly scheduled fall session concurrently with the special session.
The Republicans are so serious about creating jobs that they came to work two whole days this month, this being the second one.

So if they didn't have anything ready, why go through the pomp and circumstance of having a not-so-special special session? Walker's immunity-bearing spokesman gives us the answer (emphasis mine):
So, some have asked, what's so special about the special session, particularly because there doesn't appear to be an urgency to begin the business of debating and passing laws?

"The reason we called the special session was to highlight (the subject) and bring the legislation back on job creation," Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie told Wisconsin Reporter on Thursday.
In other words, it's part of the plan to do anything to distract everyone's attention from his failings and, even more so, from Walkergate.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Robin Vos: No Fan of Thomas Jefferson or Dale Carnegie

State Representative Robin "Bud" Vos has shown that he is a petty, little man.

Apparently heartbroken that Randy Randy "Bed" Hopper was recalled this past summer, Vos has gone beyond the pale by declaring that the ability of the people to exercise their rights by choosing their leaders and rejecting them when they abuse their power to is a "cancer."

To further his image of  a reprobate, he wants to provide "chemotherapy" to the state by removing more rights from the people.  He feels that recalls should only happen when a politician is convicted of a misdemeanor, charged with a felony or having been ruled of ethical violations by the Government Accountability Board.

The man is an idiot twice over.

First of all, as Bruce Murphy points out, the history of recalls show that this past summer was a diversion of the general rule.  Before the summer of the recalls, it had only been tried four times before.  Out of those four, only two were successful.  Murphy also goes on to make some excellent points, citing George Petak and Tom Ament, as how hypocritical the Republican stance about whether recalls should be about "policy decisions."

Apparently he doesn't like the famous quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson:
"When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."
In Vos' world, he feels that if people get to uppity, the proper reaction is to act like a craven bully.

The other way Vos proves himself to be a vile creature is just the comparison to cancer.

Jeff Simpson points out that millions of people, including himself, are affected by cancer each year.  My family too has been hit by that scourge. It claimed my mother at the too young age of 55, just weeks before my marriage.  My wife is a survivor of two bouts of cancer.

I too take it personally when Vos compares the rights of a free people to something that has hurt my family so badly.  I also take offense at the fact that he feels protecting the adulterer Randy Hopper and the corrupt Dan Kapanke is more important than the lives of my loved ones.

But to show that I not a petty man like he is I am willing to sit down and talk about this with him.  We could have our own little beer summit.  I'll even further the cause of peace by bringing Vos a book of which he is in obvious and immediate need.

Walker's Image Problem Within An Image Problem

A lot of people call Scott Walker a savvy politician. It is closer to the truth to say that he is a bumbling fool who is fortunate enough to have been found to be a useful tool to the likes of  Koch Brothers.  If you don't think so, think back to how he was a groveling supplicant to a caller he thought was David Koch.

But his current self-imposed image problems, both big and small, are all his own doing.

His much larger image problem, and the one that could very well be his undoing, is, of course, Walkergate.  The apparent depth and width of the ever-growing scandal is absolutely breathtaking and it's hard to imagine how he is going to politically survive even if a fraction of the investigations pan out.

But Walker has another, albeit smaller, image problem which he has imposed on himself.

As Zach Wisnewski already noted, Walker is making an unbelievable claim that he did not know that his spokesman, Cullen Werwie, had been granted immunity in the ongoing John Doe probe.

In fact, Walker had this to say just the other day, which has obviously become his talking point since the squawkers and a few right wing bloggers have been faithfully parroting it unquestionably:
Talking to reporters after holding his second Job Creation Forum on Tuesday, the first-term Republican governor said he had no idea that his spokesman, Cullen Werwie, had been given an immunity deal until it became public late last week.

Walker said he doesn't believe Werwie should have told him about the deal sooner.

"He'd be violating the law, if that was part of the condition," Walker said. "For me, I just learned about it the other day, just like everything else we've talked about or things people in the media have talked about."
And thus an image problem is born.

You see, the thing is, while John Doe's are typically secretive affairs and the facts aren't supposed to be made public until indictments are handed out. The one exception to this is when immunity is granted. That, per the law, has to be done in an open court venue.

Walker had paid $60,000 to a high priced law firm in order to get the services of former US Attorney Steven Biskupic to represent his campaign in the investigation.

While Biskupic's integrity has been called into question during the Georgia Thompson affair, I don't recall anyone inferring that Biskupic to be incompetent.  That wipes out Walker being able to say that he had poor representation in this.

That only leaves that he is lying through his teeth when he denies knowing anything that has been going on in the probe, especially if it was a matter that was done in an open court.

Whether you believe Walker to be a liar, or just a rube that is getting taken by a fancy lawyer, it shows that Walker isn't fit to run a lemonade stand, much less the State of Wisconsin.  Which also explains why he is so hot and heavy to get his hands on the rules regarding recalls.

But I have news for Walker.  Short of trying to wipe out the ability to have recalls at all, you still don't have a chance.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Political Leader Who Actually Gets It!

I posted this at Milwaukee County First, but it is so amazing that an elected leader who actually gets it and has the fortitude to speak the truth out loud deserves all the kudos he can get..

So I and my brothers and sisters in the union and #wiunion should stand and applaud Supervisor Eyon Biddle for being the voice of reason rising about the din of the Tea Party Mad Hatters:
Milwaukee County Supervisor Eyon Biddle, Sr., released the following statement in hopes that the County Executive is as gracious to workers in budget as he is to his cabinet members.

“Our County Executive is well within his right to give raises to his Cabinet heads. Parks Director Sue Black, as well as other department heads, do quality work and manage efficient services. They work hard and should be compensated fairly. Everyone feels like they deserve a raise, and they probably should get a raise. At the same time, we live in a time of great economic distress. There are more people doing more work for less. In these tough economic times, we have to be sensitive to the fact that the taxpayers that fund these raises are under duress as well. We have to respect that.

“Department heads such as Sue Black and others don’t do their work alone. There are many workers on the mid- to lower-levels that do efficient, high-quality work. I hope the County Executive will be as fair to those workers as he is to certain cabinet members. Without dedicated public workers doing their jobs at an efficient level, department heads wouldn’t
look as good. They don’t do the work alone. I hope he doesn’t send the message that department heads are valuable, but those that work under them are not. We have union workers that have taken hits. We have nonunion workers that have taken even more hits over the years. We, as County leaders, should always respect taxpayers. And, we should also treat all workers fairly, not just the cabinet.”
The thing that I find really sad is that his was the only voice. Where were the others?

But my fellow Milwaukeeans should keep a close eye on Biddle. I have a strong feeling he's going to be moving up and fast. How could he not, when he has the clear vision and the spine to come out and say it the way it is.

The Power and the Trust



H/T John Foust

Walkergate: One For The Ages

Before we get into this post, I must warn the gentle reader to prepare to have their mind boggled, their flabber gasted and the gob smackered.  It really is that breathtaking.

In a article on JSOnline, Dan Bice reports on Scott Walker, who was in Milwaukee for a "Job Creation Forum" (read campaign donation event).  Bice got to ask Walker some questions about Walkergate.

Walker again denied knowing one single thing about the John Doe investigation besides what he's read in the paper.  Yeah, sure.  And the fact that he retained former US Attorney Steve Biskupic and paid a cool $60,000 to his favorite law firm was just pure coincidence. You can never be too careful I guess.

But Walker also gave Bice the most jaw-dropping and absolutely incredulous quote (emphasis mine):
Gov. Scott Walker says he isn't worried about a John Doe investigation of his current and former aides.

That's because, Walker said, he is a man of integrity.

"I know that throughout my career - first in the Legislature, then as county executive and now for the last 10 months as governor - I live by the standards I got from my parents," said Walker, whose father was a Baptist minister. "Certainly, they got me to the rank of Eagle Scout, and I continue to have that kind of integrity."
Walker also referred to his "high ethical standard."

Holy chutzpah, Batman!

Bice doesn't indicate either way, but it is believed that Walker said that with a straight face.  But that statement sure does bring back a certain memory.

I think it would be a very fine idea indeed if we were to take a look at Walker's integrity and high ethical standard.

We all already know about the current growing scandal which I introduced with the primer "An Introduction to Walkergate."  And even though I wrote that primer less than two weeks ago, it already is becoming obsolete.  As Bice points out in his article:
The investigation initially had focused on campaign activity by Walker's former county workers. But several sources said last week that prosecutors continue to look at new angles.

"Every time there's a new witness, this thing sprouts a new branch and heads in a completely new direction," said one person familiar with the investigation.
But what about before Walkergate started to break out?

Going back in time, our first stop is a scant six months ago, when Scott Walker tried to withhold emails he was bragging about. He ended up releasing said emails only after getting sued to do so. By the way, that little stunt cost tax payers $7,000.

And just the month before this, there was another moment that will go down in history when Walker had his conversation with "David Koch."  It will be hard for someone to come up with a more damning example of Walker's true ethical nature in that story alone.

Going back before that is Walker and his infamous motorcycle tour around the state. Walker did this stunt every year, claiming he was promoting tourism to Milwaukee County. But his avarice for the governor's seat and his own arrogance did him in this past year by making it painfully obvious that he was only doing it to promote his gubernatorial campaign.

Of course, he was campaigning every year he did this, but as his supporters would point out, did so with the blessing of the Milwaukee County Ethics Board. What they won't tell you is that he fired the head of the Ethics Board for questioning his ethics and appointed a young man promoted by a supportive law firm. With a panel of his own people, all of whom were quite aware of what happens to those that don't toe the line, is it any wonder that they rubber stamped his using tax dollars for this thinly-veiled campaign stunt? It also acts as a precursor to the unconscionable power grab he's doing now.

Another issue that Walker has chronic issues with is campaign finance reporting.  It seemed that during the gubernatorial race, he simply could not file a campaign finance report that wasn't in violation of the law.  But then again, that was nothing new, since he had the same problems in his first attempt at being governor as well.  The problems ranged from not having full disclosure on his campaign donors to apparently getting free consultations and jet plane rides.

There is also the question of Walker using tax dollars to promote the Koch sponsored Tea Party at the lake front.

In 2005, Walker was also the recipient of the second highest fine ever levied against a campaign in state history. He earned that privilege by bombarding people with those annoying robocalls, but failing to include the fact that he was paying for them.

When Walker was whisked into the Milwaukee County executive's chair in 2002, he did so on the wave of hatred due to the pension scandal created by his predecessor, Tom Ament.  One of his promises that he made was to have all of his staff sign waivers forgoing the pension enhancements that Ament had created.

In 2004, when Walker ran for his first re-election against challenger David Riemer, the issue of those waivers came up during the campaign.  Walker said that he had all those promised waiver signed, but refused to produce them.  So push came to shove and Riemer's strategist, Bill Christofferson, filed a formal request for the waivers.

The thing is, Walker didn't have them.  He never followed through with his promise.  When Christofferson filed the request, he and his top people spent the next ten days rushing around coercing people to sign the waivers.  Then at the end of the ten day, Walker supplied a list of people who signed, but did not include the dates they signed, much less the requested waivers themselves.

This fraudulent behavior was brought before the state's Department of Justice.  While they did not rule whether Walker's behavior was criminal, they did have this to say:
"In sum, this episode evinces a case of how government officials ought not to do business...

"Whether they violated the public records law is a question largely mooted by the later production of the waivers and the nearly inconceivable notion that a repeat of this inglorious set of circumstances might be forestalled by a judicial pronouncement on the matter.

"Nobody honored to serve in public office ought to manipulate public records in this fashion -- that is the opinion of this office."
And this wasn't even the earliest sign of the kind of person Walker is or the kind of campaigns he ran.

There is the famed and often discussed Marquette University incident. Walker was running for student president in his sophomore year. To say that he had some issues then would be an understatement. What happened then seems to be eerily prophetic:
Walker attended Marquette from 1986 t0 1990, but never attained a degree (see page 5). His sophomore year, Walker ran for president of the Associated Students of Marquette University (ASMU, the former title for Marquette Student Government). He was accused of violating campaign guidelines on multiple occasions.

The Tribune reported then that he was found guilty of illegal campaigning two weeks before his candidacy became official. Later, a Walker campaign worker was seen placing brochures under doors at the YMCA. Door-to-door campaigning was strictly prohibited.

Walker initially denied this but later admitted to the violation, which resulted in lost campaign privileges at the YMCA.
In the run-up to election day, the Tribune’s editorial board endorsed Walker’s opponent John Quigley, but said either candidate had the potential to serve effectively.

However, the Tribune revised its editorial the following day, calling Walker “unfit for presidency.” The column cited Walker’s distribution of a mudslinging brochure about Quigley that featured statements such as “constantly shouting about fighting the administration” and “trying to lead several ineffective protests of his own.”
And if you thought, like I did, that was prophetic, compare this next segment to the investigation Walker is currently undergoing and what he had to say at the top of this very long post (emphasis mine):
The revision also expressed disappointment in Walker’s campaign workers reportedly throwing away issues of the Tribune after the endorsement was initially made.

Walker dismissed this, saying he had no knowledge of what his supporters did, according to a Tribune article from February 25, 1988.
Does anyone else have goosebumps?

Cory Liebmann also does a thorough examination of Walker's "High Ethical Standards" at his blog "Eye on Wisconsin."

I would advise the gentle reader to mark this occasion.

I adopted the word Walkergate because it sounded so natural and stirred up memories of its homophone, the infamous Watergate.  But as time goes on and more of this story is exposed, I truly can't help but believe that Walker's statements are going to end up echoing throughout history as much as the famous five words by Richard Nixon: "I am not a crook."

It will be interesting to see if they meet similar fates to their political careers or if we will need to recall Walker anyway.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XVIII

While Scott Walker is in New York pretending he knows about education even though he can't even spell it, the effects of his budget can be seen here in Wisconsin:
The Thermo Fisher Scientific industrial plant will cease operations by year's end, laying off 120 people, according to a letter sent to union leaders this week. 
Thermo Fisher produces steel cabinetry and steel fume hoods at the plant on Columbus Street. Another downtown plant that includes wood production and Fisher's corporate offices is not affected. 
Much of the steel production is shifting to an expanded Thermo Fisher Scientific plant in Mexico, according to Greg Coenen, senior staff representative of Carpenters Industrial Council of the Midwest. He said the company's Two Rivers workers feel "betrayed" because they agreed to concessions three years ago and had even received "promises" that the company would expand in Two Rivers.
And he thinks this is success. It's so hard to get good leadership these days.

Doubling Down On His Double Standards

Last week, Professor Rick Esenberg took it upon himself to try to chastise me for pointing out the story of Walkergate.  He did not get the response he expected.

Instead of leaving well enough alone, he decides to double down on his previous post with another - one which is more verbose, more convoluted and more self-contradictory that his first.

Just trying to follow his leaps of illogic is enough to make one's hair hurt. But to save the reader some hair pain, Professor's Esenberg's post can be pared down to a few talking points:
  • Apparently I didn't do what I did, or is it I did what I didn't do? I told you, it's rather confusing.  He also said that he wasn't comparing my saga to Walkergate, and admits he can't, but then proceeds to do so anyway.
  • He said we don't know what's behind Walkergate or what they're investigating and because of that -
  • He feels it's inappropriate for me, or any other lefty blogger, to "speculate" on the facts.
  • And that every time I post on Walkergate, I'm supposed to have a full confessional of what I did and didn't do attached to the post.
I don't need to provide a rebuttal to his first point, since the Professor's self-contradictions are painfully apparent to anyone but him and less than a handful of allies, two of which don't really help his cause at all.

But I would point out to Professor Esenberg, who said that what I was accused of, reading JSonline and some blogs, is no different that posting contents, that there is probably some unfathomable number of authors who could explain the difference between reading a book and actually writing one.

As to the second point, Professor Esenberg wrote:
But here's the thing. I don't know - and he doesn't know - that any of the people that he thinks are being investigated did anything worse. He doesn't know that the Governor did anything at all. When he knows something, then he can crow...
Well, cockadoodle-doo to you, sir.

We already know that William Gardner was investigated, charged and pleaded guilty about illegal campaign contributions.  And as for Tim Russell, apparently Professor Esenberg doesn't believe me or his own eyes.  And does the good Professor really expect to believe that the FBI would be invading homes with battering rams at the ready for leaving a comment on JSOnline.  Nor would they be granting immunity to so many people, including people that would have had absolutely nothing to do with campaigning on county time because they weren't county employees.

And as for Scott Walker, we do know that he, and many of his top people, were doing the same thing that I was accused of., by their own admission.  Ironically, nowhere does Professor Esenberg mention this, much less dedicate a number of blogs of faux outrage towards it.  Maybe I should feel honored.

The third point of Professor Esenberg is that it's just wrong for me, Emily Mills or anyone else to speculate on Walker did or didn't do.

The irony here is that is exactly what Professor Esenberg does throughout his entire post!  What he claims he does know what spurred the investigation into me, but he does not state that the claims have thoroughly discredited - repeatedly even. If one is basing their "knowledge" on a demonstratively false premise, it would seem to me that they don't really know anything.  Also, when you use terms like "must have," "could be" and "seems to me," well, those are indicative of a speculative declaration.

Furthermore, the events of a disciplinary hearing, whether the accused is guilty or innocent, is a private matter and what happens in those are in no way to be discussed publicly, by any party.  I will bend that rule a little by stating that I do not recall Professor Esenberg being there at any time, so he couldn't possibly know anything, by his own reasoning.

Lastly, Professor Esenberg feels that every single time I post about Walkergate, I need to include a full disclaimer on what he thinks happened.  Maybe I should also where a giant sandwich board while I type?

I scoured his site, but there wasn't one post calling on Charlies Sykes to recount how the union saved his job every time he decides to bash the unions.  Nor did I find a post condemning Scott Walker for complaining abut outside money coming in even as he was reaching out for Koch money and not saying a word about it.  And surely, since he feels so strongly about disclosure, he'd expect Michael Gableman to mention his lying commercial whenever he accused a fellow Supreme Court Justice of lying - but alas, I could not find that post either.

So all in all, this is just another post by Professor Esenberg exemplifying a double standard and faux outrage over something that makes them look bad.

Given that, I would offer some free unsolicited advice to the Professor, with the full understanding that there is no obligation that he takes it.  That advice would be that if he doesn't like that I am writing about Walkergate or any of the other examples of misconduct by Scott Walker, don't blame me, blame Walker and his people for their misdeeds.

But I would be ungracious if I did not at least thank the good Professor for being a reader, so thank you, Professor Esenberg.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Thought Republicans Liked The Free Market...

Again, we see Scott Walker not knowing what the hell he is doing.

The same guy that has been touting how the free market will pull us out of the recessions, create jobs, make your bed, prepare your breakfast and change the oil in your car (if you haven't had to sell it to buy food), is out to do the exact opposite and make everything a single source.

We saw it when he took away medical transportation coordination from the counties and single-sourced it to one out of state company, Logisticare, which is still failing our most vulnerable citizens.

Now he wants to do the same thing with the schools' information databases with some bad results:
The plan, which still must be approved by the Joint Finance Committee, would designate one provider that all school districts statewide would have to use for their student information system services. Skyward, which provides such systems for half of the state's school districts and 80 percent of districts with business software, has applied for the project.

However, should the proposal pass and Skyward not be chosen as the sole provider, CEO Cliff King said his business will be forced to move its headquarters elsewhere, taking some 250 jobs out of Stevens Point.

The company, which employs 267 workers in Wisconsin, is projected to add 610 jobs in the state by 2021 as long as they remain a provider. Skyward also is delaying a proposed expansion in the Stevens Point area as it waits to see whether the proposal passes.
Yup, you read that right. Not only would Walker be driving 250 current jobs away, but preventing another 610 jobs from coming to an area that is starving for work.

That's leadership you can't rely on.

Walkergate: Only Cronies Need Apply

The news for the past couple of months have been filled with a mind-boggling amount of stories regarding Scott Walker appointing cronies to high paying state positions.  Many of these appointees were not even qualified and were appointed by Walker over people who were much more qualified.

Here's a list of a few of them just off the top of my head:
  • There was Brian Deschane, the son of a wealthy lobbyist, who had no college degree, no experience but did have two drunk driving arrests.  That earned him an $81,500 job, with a 26% raise, from the Walker administration.  Walker passed over two or three more qualified applicants to reward this fortunate son.
  • There was Stephen Fitzgerald, the father of the Twins of Tantrums, Scott and Jeff, who was appointed at the state's top trooper for a cool $105,700 a year.  At least the senior Fitzgerald was a police officer, but was coming off a stinging 2-1 loss for Dodge County Sheriff.  Fitzgerald's biggest qualification was probably his willingness to use his troops to go after Walker's political opponents, even the pregnant women.
  • And who could forget Valerie Cass? She was the lobbyist who won her position by winning over the heart and marriage of Randy Randy "Bed" Hopper. I don't think we need to go into her qualifications.
  • Included in this list is Jeff "Judas" Plale who earned his thirty pieces of silver by selling his vote to Walker and shooting down the union contracts at the end of 2010.  Since this payback appointment, Walker has moved Plale up to an even higher paying  with less responsibility job. Who wouldn't want to get paid $90,000 a year for sitting in an office going "choo-choo?"
  • Don't forget Tom Nardelli.  Nardelli was an opponent of Walker's when the Milwaukee County Executive's seat was open in the recall election of 2002.  There was rumor going around that Nardelli backed out of the race on the promise of a position in Walker's administration.  Nardelli ended up being Walker's Chief of Staff and enforcer.  Nardelli, like Plale, was given a job in the Walker administration, only to be jumped up again later.  Nardelli was on his way to his fourth pension when he abruptly left his job, only days into his most recent promotion.  Nardelli claims it had nothing to do with Walkergate.  But so far, only Nardelli has expressed confidence in this reason.
  • Following the same pattern, Cindy Archer was Walker's Director of Administration at Milwaukee County and held a similar job at the state.  Like Nardelli, Archer abruptly left her job, but had hinted at coming back to the state.  Unlike Nardelli, Archer already had a new job at the state before she left the new one.  Her appointment, which came directly from Walker's office, overrode the job interview of another applicant.  This poor woman ended up interviewing for a job that Walker already had given to one of his cronies.I would be remiss if I failed to also mention that Walker gave Archer $40,000 more than the person who had it previously.
  • There is also John Scocos, who Walker reappointed to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Scocos is apparently so incompetent and corrupt that two ranking member of the Board of Veteran Affairs has resigned directly due to his appointment.  It was pointed out to me just tonight that Scocos got the appointment over two other qualified applicants who were never even interviewed for the job.
It would be naive to think that there weren't more examples of this sort of Cronyfest.  After all, Walker did get 37 positions switched from civil service jobs to political appointee positions, almost always with a higher salary than when they were civil service and you had to be qualified for the job.

Now, given Walker's propensity for dishing out state jobs to his cronies, his supporters and his campaign workers like it was candy at a parade, the gentle reader might wonder if he has a history of doing this.  The gentle reader would be exactly on target.

Three years ago, when I was still a novice blogger with privileges at folkbum's rambles and rants, I wrote about the very same thing, that being Walker's appointing unqualified campaign workers to high level positions.  The key snippet which I cited then still tells the story (emphasis mine):
Walker’s last two choices to lead the county economic development office, Bob Dennik and Tim Russell, came from his campaign and lacked depth in the development business, Clark said. Dennik left the post this week to become an executive with a Pewaukee construction company. Russell is now Walker’s community relations director.

Walker chooses folks who don’t have (the necessary) experience,” she said. Dennik came under repeated fire from the board the last two years over disappointing land sales results that put the county budget in a jam. He didn’t return several phone calls seeking comment.

Only about $226,000 of the $7.2 million in budgeted land sales revenue for this year has materialized, contributing to a projected multimillion-dollar, year-end deficit. The land-sales budgets have been off $1 million or more in four of the last seven years, county figures show.
Yes, that is the same Tim Russell who is one of the key subjects of interest in Walkergate.

Even to this day, there are still some of Walker's cronies safely ensconced in county positions, some of them who have worked with him for the length of Walker's entire political career, which is most of his adult life.

When Walker was campaigning for thegovernor's seat, he promised to create 250,000 jobs. He appears to be bound and determined to do it too, one crony at a time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Walkergate: Tea Parties, Emails and Cronies! Oh My!

I have been repeatedly approached by several people stating that most of the state was not and still are not aware of Scott Walker's long record of misdeeds, corruption and misconduct in office.  In an effort to help change this, I have decided to retell and update many of the problems that we have seen in Milwaukee County during his regime here.  In return, I ask you, gentle reader, to share these reports with your family and friends, both in real life and in the cyberworld.

The following is a small but significant example of the complexity and the depth of Walker's machinations and corruption.

Before I start, I need to remind the gentle reader of a blogsite that existed back then, ScottforGov.com*, which I had mentioned in the Introduction to Walkergate.  It was long suspected that members of Scott Walker's county staff and/or campaign staff were behind this blog.  I have heard from people with knowledge of the Walkergate probe that county staff were indeed involved with this pseudo-campaign webpage.  Incidentally, I have also learned that Rose Ann Dieck, the ranking member of the Milwaukee County Republicans who was granted immunity in Walkergate, is supposed to be a bit of a computer expert.
I was also told if you want to learn more about her, you'd better do it fast because the Republicans are systematically trying to scrub her name from their documents.

ScottforGov.com was often vitriolic and only wrote paeans to Scott Walker and viciously tore into anyone who would stand in his way, like Mark Neumann, Tom Barrett, and I, your humble host and writer. (I felt quite honored that Team Walker would consider me such a threat that they had to repeatedly attack me and try to discredit me. It also told me that I was on the right track.)  Or in other words, ScottforGov.com was saying all the the things the Walker campaign wanted to say, but didn't want tied to them.

Now, on to the story.

Two years ago, there was a Tea Party rally which was held at a Milwaukee County public park.  Fellow blogger and good friend, Brew City Brawler went to said rally and took some photos of the event.  One photo in particular caught my attention:


As you can see, this is a banner that was banner outside the rally, proudly pronouncing that the rally was being sponsored by Americans for Prosperity.  (It is already common knowledge that Americans for Prosperity, and the whole Tea Party movement is funded by the Koch Brothers.)

But what caught my eye is that on the far left side, in the center, is the logo for the Milwaukee County Parks.  That made me very curious.  Did Scott Walker authorize that? Was he saying that Milwaukee County was supporting the Tea Party?  If so, that would be highly improper and a clear abuse of his powers.

So, as the Chair of Milwaukee County First, a group that was created to stand up for the people of Milwaukee County as opposed to the special interests (yes, Walker was doing the same stuff back then too), I sent an email to the county executive's office asking for an explanation of what the parks logo was doing on the banner.

The people behind ScottforGov.com saw my post and sent an Open Records Request about my inquiry.

Even before I could see the reply from Walker's office, they had their reply and had posted a piece on it.  Because the people behind ScottforGov.com wiped out their blog shortly after Darlene Wink got caught blogging on county time and on county equipment, I cannot provide a working link to their post.  However, due to the miracle of modern technology, namely Google Reader and screencaps, I have been able to recapture the post in following two pictures:




Wow! They really showed me what for, didn't they?  But more on that in a moment.

Right now, I need to point out to the reader something peculiar about how they got the information.  As I mentioned above, they did an Open Records Request, but they didn't use a name, per se, but only identified themselves by their blog title. Then Walker's office gave them their requested information rapidly and for free. That's not usually how they worked, especially if you weren't one of the faithful.

Cory Liebmann, intrepid blogger and skilled researcher, did his own ORR and found the information that I just shared with you.  In fact, Liebmann has a good summary of some of the lines Walker has blurred, if not flat out crossed, in his campaigns and job as county executive.  It really is a must read.

But now for the answer that I received from Fran McLaughlin, who was Walker's Director of Communications at the county, and who, according to sources familiar with the investigation, is embroiled in Watergate as much as any of Walker's other top aides, as well as the desperate hit piece from ScottforGov.com.

I did indeed post the answer the night I received it. But even as they gave me their answer, I found holes in their explanation. ;There was a person claiming that it was not Americans for Prosperity which sponsored the event, even though their name is on the banner, but another group calling itself the Grandsons of Liberty. (Don't you just love how all these right wing groups come up with such patriotic and completely ironic and improperly applied names?)

But I found that the person claiming responsibility for the Tea Party and Walker's spokeswoman were completely contradicting each other on at least two points:
One: Walker’s office said that the banner was not required. The rally organizer said it was.

Two: Walker’s office said that the County had no knowledge of them using the logo. The rally organizer said that County provided it.
So who's telling the truth? Who knows? For all we know, even this contradiction was contrived to help muddy the waters even further.

To summarize this whole thing, we know that there was a Koch-funded Tea Party rally held at a Milwaukee County park, and that the park logo was on the banner proudly announcing the rally. It doesn't really matter which front group sponsored it. But the request for information from the official unofficial campaign blog for Scott Walker, which all information available points to Darlene Wink of being a contributor, was directed to Wink. Then when Walker's spokeswoman supplied her answer, it immediately appeared on the blogsite. And this once mystery group was able to get the requested information and pay the obscenely overcharges that Walker would charge an average citizen.

So to summarize the summary, Walker was already playing up to the Koch Brothers using County property. To keep this relationship and overreach of his powers from receiving too much attention, he and his politically appointed cronies would give incomplete and/or inaccurate information, often at overly inflated prices, to those who did not support him. But if it was an ally (or one of his own staff) the restrictions magically lifted and accurate information was presented promptly and at very low price, if not for free.

Are you starting to see the pattern yet?


The actual url of the site was interesting in itself: http://www.milwaukeecountyexecutivescottwalkerforgovernor.com/  It does make one think it was a campaign site, doesn't it?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Walkergate: Immunity On The Bounty

The news broke today that three people had been granted immunity in the ongoing investigation into Walkergate.  And what an unusual set of people it was granted to!

The least surprising name is a woman named Rose Ann Dieck.  Dieck is a member of the Milwaukee County Republican Party and reportedly was frequently in contact with Darlene Wink, the Walker staffer who got busted leaving comments at JSOnline and elsewhere.  According to the article, Wink was apparently also sending out emails regarding fund raisers and other events.

I can think of a couple reasons why Dieck might get immunity.  It could be to help share what she knows Wink was doing that might not show up on the computer, like making phone calls or making copies of campaign material using county equipment.  Another thought I had was regarding the now defunk ScottforGov.com website.  At the website, they did a lot of politicking, but it's really starting to seem like small potatoes compared to the other things we are learning.

But I still can't help but wonder if Wink was Moms4Scott or concertina...

One of the others getting immunity is Cullen Werwie, Scott Walker's current spokesman.  Werwie also worked on Walker's campaign and on his transition team.  What this tells me is that there was probably some contact between Walker's county staff and his campaign staff, or at least in the instances where they weren't the same person, like Tim Russell.

I know for a fact that Walker's campaign staff have crossed the line at least once. Jill Bader, Walker's campaign's communication director was known to go to non-campaign related events, like the rallies held by Citizens for Responsible Government regarding Walker's budget, and was setting up meetings between people (like a certain right wing blogger) and Walker at these events.  The problem is that, by campaign laws, she shouldn't have even been at these events, much less politicking at them.

The third name on the list of those receiving immunity is probably the most intriguing.  That person is Kenneth Lucht, a lobbyist for Wisconsin & Southern Railroad.  W&S Railroad is the company headed by William Gardner, who already admitted to making illegal donations to Walker's campaign.  Lucht got caught up in that aspect of Walkergate and was found guilty, but had to pay a measly $250 for his role in that mess.

But the WisPolitics.com article points out that Lucht was granted immunity for "matters 'still under inquiry' through the secret probe."  Since he was already fined for whatever it was he did, it seems odd that he would also need immunity for these "matters."  It's pretty apparent that there's more to this than just illegal campaign donations.  But exactly what? Was there some pay-for-play action going on?  Or, as some friends have opined, was Walker's people shaking donors down for money?  We won't know if it was either of these, both, or neither until the details of the probe are released.

But the one thing that has been going through my mind ever since reading this is a Lolcat type of picture of Tom Nardelli with a sad look on his face and asking "Can Ai haz an emunatee noa?"






Friday, September 23, 2011

Sad Paul Ryan Is Sad

Aww, poor bugger:



Source

The People of Wisconsin vs. Corporate Media Broadcasters

This evening, I attended the Milwaukee stop of the Broadcast Blues Tour with Sue "Blues" Wilson.

And like the saying goes, you learn something new every day.  Although today it was several somethings

One thing I learned was that when it comes to political ads on the TV or radio, there is a mandatory carriage rule.  That means that if a politician has an ad to run during an election cycle, the TV or radio station has to carry it, even if the ad is chock full of lies.

For example, next year, after Scott Walker is recalled, he could run an ad saying how the state has a $3 billion dollar deficit, even though that has been found to be a ridiculous lie.  Likewise, his Democratic opponent could run an ad saying Walker wants to eat your children, which would be another ridiculous lie.  Walker doesn't eat children, he sells them as corporate serfs.

I also learned that even though the Fairness Doctrine is dead, there are still other factors, like the Zapple Doctrine, which still requires equal time be given to the different sides of an issue:
What remains unknown about yesterday's announcement from the Chairman is just how far this repeal goes. While certain corollaries of the Doctrine - including the political editorializing and personal attack rules - have been specifically mentioned in press reports as being repealed, the one vestige of the doctrine that potentially has some vitality - the Zapple Doctrine compelling a station to provide time to the supporters of one candidate if the station provides time to the supporters of another candidate in a political race, has never specifically been abolished, and is not mentioned in the Chairman's statement. Zapple, also known as "quasi-equal opportunities", has been argued in in various recent controversies, including in connection with the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry, when Kerry supporters claimed that they should get equal time to respond should certain television stations air the anti-Kerry Swift Boat "documentary." We have written about Zapple many times (see, for instance, here, in connection with the Citizens United decision). What would be beneficial to broadcasters would be a determination as to whether Zapple has any remaining vitality, as some have felt that this doctrine is justified independent of the Fairness Doctrine. Perhaps that clarification will come when the full text of the FCC action is released.
Likewise, from the same article, I learned that TV and radio stations are required to uphold the standard of whatever they air has to be in the public interest:
While this action has been greeted by some as confirmation that we will not see the Fairness Doctrine revived by the Commission, that jubilation seems a little unwarranted. If there was a future FCC that decided that they wanted to impose some degree of Fairness obligations on broadcasters, they still would have ways of doing so. After all, broadcasters are subject to an overall obligation to operate in the public interest, a standard that has, over the years, changed as Commissions change their interpretation of what it means. As we've written before, some would like to put more teeth into the standard, which could include some Fairness-like requirements. Section 315 of the Communications Act, dealing with equal opportunities for political candidates, itself has language that implies that there is some sort of Fairness obligation of broadcasters, at least in connection with their news coverage:
Nothing in the foregoing sentence shall be construed as relieving broadcasters, in connection with the presentation of newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries, and on-the-spot coverage of news events, from the obligation imposed upon them under this chapter to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.
Thus, just because the Fairness Doctrine has been repealed, one cannot conclude that the FCC will never meddle in the speech of broadcasters. These debates over what is permiited and what should be restricted on the air have gone on as long as there have been broadcasters, and they will not end with yesterday's announcement.
In other words, it means that it is inherent on the TV and radio stations to provide equal time to opposing sides on an issues, whether it is political or not.

I also learned tonight that while media stations are required to run a politician's ad, no matter what, they are not under the same constraints for third-party ads. In fact, it is inherent on the station to determine if the ad is true or not and not run ads that are false, because that would be against thepublic interest. This was recently demonstrated when KOI-TV refused to air an ad for Stephen Colburt ad for Rick Parry, the parody of Rick Perry. They felt the ad was not in the public's interest for whatever reason. At the end of the article is the money quote:
... In fact, third party ads put more responsibility on stations to review the content of these ads as they are theoretically liable for the content of third party ads (see our articles here and here). So WOI was perfectly within its rights to reject an ad by the Colbert Super PAC – no doubt a disappointment to the Colbert fans in Iowa who wanted a first look at the commercial, but legally an appropriate action nevertheless.
If the station runs an ad that is false, they could get sued for simply airing the ad.

And now comes the fun part.

Anyone who has been paying attention during the summer of the recalls noticed that there were two major obstacles to reclaiming the state for the People of Wisconsin:

  1. The unfair and biased nature of the corporate media in the state, most notably stations like WTMJ-620 here in Southeastern Wisconsin.
  2. The falsehoods and misrepresentations in ads run by the Koch Brothers-sponsored front groups, like the misnamed Wisconsin Club for Growth.
The Wisconsin Club for Growth bought tons of air time all across the state, including her in the Milwaukee area, running ads to defend the Republicans facing recall.

However, the ads that they ran were demonstratively false:
  • When they said that the unions had not previously had to make sacrifices, that was found to be "mostly false" by PolitiFact.
  • When they said that Sand Pasch, the challenger to Alberta Darling, had done nothing to stop fraud in the child care system, that too was found to be "mostly false."
  • When CfG said that the Democrats had voted for all sorts of pork in 2009, including a $5 million scoreboard for the Milwaukee Bucks, this earned them a full "False" rating from PolitiFact.
I bet it wouldn't take long to find other ads and other lies as well.

Yet the radio and TV stations aired these ads anyway.  By doing so, they have opened themselves up for the People of Wisconsin to sue them for violating their solemn duty to uphold the public interest.

Let that sink in for a minute.

We can use the Kochs' own false ads to sue their friends, the corporate media stations which unquestioningly aired them.  And we can use the reporting of the corporate media's own newspapers to support the People's arguments regarding the falseness of the ads..

That is what I would call some really sweet poetic justice.

And I could not think of a better way to start reclaiming our airwaves.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sending My Regrets To Scott And Tonette

Dear Governor and Mrs. Walker,

I thank you for the once in a lifetime to experience Whine and Sticky Wickets with you this evening, but must regretfully decline the chance to throw good money after bad.

I shall instead be attending the Milwaukee showing of "Broadcast Blues" so that I may learn how to take our airwaves back, along with the rest of the state

Sincerely,

capper.

Boy, The Republicans Sure Are Getting Nervous

The pressure of Walkergate must be getting to the Republicans.  While they claim that they don't know what the whole investigation is about, they sure are showing that they don't like all the attention it's getting.

For the second day in a row, a right wing blogger has tried to smear me in an obvious effort to divert people's attention from the unfolding horror show of Walkergate.

Yesterday, Aaron Rodriguez had a hissy fit because I wasn't fighting for his job like he wanted me to.

Now it's Rick Esenberg, MU Prof, sometimes calumnist's apprentice and GOP operative.  He wrote a "How dare he" type of post, feeling that it's inappropriate for me to write about because I allegedly did it too.

Showing that I am one of the most fortunate and richest men on the planet, many of my friends took offense at Esenberg's post for me and came to my defense before I even got home.

My dear friend Tom Foley, aka Illusory Tenant, was the first to draw the line by pointing out that Esenberg was way off base.

Joining in my defense, the fearless Waukesha Wonk, aka Lisa Muxy, pointed out the shell game Esenberg was playing.  (I'm still laughing at the image of a somber but desperate Esenberg pointing and yelling "Squirrel!")

The impeccable and highly esteemed (and newly married) Emily Mills also joined in the fray, taking Esenberg's apples and oranges and making fruit salad with them.

And I would be remiss if I did not point out that the bard-like commenters John Foust and gnarlytrombone took it to Esenberg in his own yard.

While I am eternally grateful for such good friends, they didn't leave much for me to pick apart. But there are still some things that need to be addressed.

Esenberg said because I was suspended, it obviously means that I'm guilty as sin.  I'd say it's just part of a pattern for Walker and his cronies, who have also gone after Professor William Cronon and former DMV worker Chris Larsen for daring to speak truth to power.

Another point would be that whatever Esenberg thinks I did or didn't do, or whether I should have been crucified upon a cross, he would have to say the same thing about Scott Walker who admitted to doing the same thing.  Funny, I don't recall Esenberg thinking what Walker did as being so terrible. In fact, I don't recall Esenberg even saying anything.

Lastly, Esenberg might want to remember the old adage about throwing stones and glass houses since it appears that he also has an issue when it comes to doing things by the book.  Then again, a precursory glance at Esenberg's work would make it obvious that he is a strict adherent of IOOKIARDI (It's Only OK If A Republican Does It).

Oh, and Mr. Esenberg, we do know a lot more about Walkergate than you are indicating.  Just because you don't want to admit it doesn't mean that it's not real.


Van Hollen's Abdication Of Duties Continues

Usually, when a person runs for office, they do so because they feel that they can make a difference, or they want to right a wrong or some other noble reason.

Apparently, Van Hollen wanted the job of Attorney General so that he could be a more useful puppet for the GOP/Koch Brothers machine.  Or because he thought it give him a chance to show off his line of apron wear. Whatever his reasoning was to run for that office, it wasn't to uphold the law.

Two and a half years ago, the state legislature's budget committee voted unanimously to ask Van Hollen to conduct an investigation into Milwaukee County's Income Maintenance Program.  The legislators concerns stemmed from the fact that then County Executive Scott Walker was taking state and federal funding meant to run the program and illegally using them for something other than what it was meant to be used for

Van Hollen declined to do so.

Move up to a year ago, and we again find Van Hollen dropped the ball.  This time it involved Kenneth.Kratz, the disgraced former DA for Calumet County who was sexting a crime victim on whose case he was working.  Not only did it take public humiliation to have Van Hollen look at the case regarding the Republican DA, but it turned out that his office had done already done an embarrassingly lazy investigation into it before and found that there was nothing wrong, even though they didn't interview all the people or look at all the evidence.

Now it has come out that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm had asked Van Hollen to work with him in the investigation into Walkergate.  They had worked together quite well a few years ago on the corruption case against Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee, getting a conviction on the thuggish politician.
But when it came to investigating fellow Republican Scott Walker, Van Hollen flatly rejected the idea again.

The article says that the reason for the rejection is unknown, but I think this video shows the reason quite clearly:



It's obvious that Van Hollen is not interested in enforcing the law, unless it gives the Republicans an edge.

It's also obvious that when the people again rise up to recall the corrupt Scott Walker, we will also need to recall the political hack Van Hollen.  The reason can be be abdication of responsibility and dereliction of duty.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wisconsin's Right Wing Shorter

Conform or else!
This morning, TMJ4 came out with a report about a state employee and her husband who received a threatening letter in the mail. Apparently, according to the sender of the letter, a miscreant's miscreant that completely misnamed himself "American Patriot," the family's offense worthy of threats was that she was a public employee and he opposed Scott Walker.

If this cravenly coward was truly an American or a patriot, he or she would know to respect the Freedom of Speech. But this idiot doesn't even want them to have the freedom of independent thought.

It was also learned today that Bill Christofferson also received a threatening letter from some reprobate too afraid to put their name to their letter of hate:

Thug Letter

I'm not a little surprised that these letters didn't come in the form of letters cut out of a magazine and glued to a piece of paper.  They did however manage to confirm that they have atrocious grammar and were too dull to recognize that Bill isn't a public sector employee.

But this isn't the first time that people on the left have been threatened for speaking out.

I have received two such threats in the past year, one made openly and one via an unpublished comment which read "I have a hollowpoint with your name on it, Chris."

Zach Wisniewski and Jeff Simpson, over at Blogging Blue each have their takes on these deplorable acts.

But down to be outdone in the deplorable department, local squawker Charlie Sykes and his audience actually complaining that TMJ4 actually aired the story.

I've got a couple, three things to say about all of this:

  1. If you don't like the fact that your behaviors make you look bad, don't do them.
  2. It is pitiful that the right, not being able to come up with a cogent defense of their positions, have to resort to bullying and intimidation tactics in an effort to suppress dissenting voices.
  3. I am still an American and a Wisconsinite and I will continue to act as a free person.  If you don't like it, that's your problem.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XVII

As I've noted repeatedly, Scott Walker's budget has taken money out of circulation by taking it away from the working men and women of the state and concentrating in the hands of his wealthy campaign donors.  As a result, people are forced to cut back on many things, making it harder and harder for business themselves to stay viable.

This pattern continues:
Kmart plans to close its store at 120 E. Sunset Drive in Waukesha, affecting 57 employees, according to a mass layoff notice sent Wednesday to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. 
The store will close Jan. 8, 2012, the notice said. 
This is the second local closing Kmart has announced in the last two months. It plans to close its Burlington store Nov. 13.
The only way we are going to stop people from losing their jobs is when Scott Walker loses his.

DADT's Ending Is Just The Beginning

The poorly thought out Don't Ask Don't Tell policy of the army is finally officially over.

This is good.

But it is not enough.

We still need to go out into the communities and get them to realize that any prejudice against the LGBT community is just that, prejudice.

And for the haters in West Bend, who basically had to have the courts come in and tell them that hate is wrong, your ignorance is not excusable.

Or do you want on of the kids in your community to be the next Jamey Rodemeyer

Walker Supporter Suffers Cognitive Dissonance

Poor Aaron Rodriguez must be suffering from some buyer's remorse and doesn't know how to deal with it.

For the unfamiliar, Rodriguez is a conservative blogger who has drunk deeply of the Scott Walker Kool-Aid.  So much so that he had even done some posts that ended up on Walker's campaign website.

Rodriguez is also a member of a local first responder department.  Unfortunately, his conservatism has led him to stop supporting the union that supported him.  There has been no word that he has given up the benefits that the union had won for him, like a living wage, vacations and holidays, or a respectable health care and pension benefit package, which makes him a goldbricker and a user.

Now, Rodriguez is bemoaning the fact that Scott Walker's inept and maleficent tenure has Milwaukee County Executive has caused the county to have a $55 million budgetary deficit, which has only been exasperated by cuts in state aid, ordered by the same man that Rodriguez promoted for governor.  As an end result, the current county executive, Chris Abele, has put the county's contribution to the paramedic system on the chopping block.

Ironically, last year, when his hero, Walker, had proposed the same very thing, he dismissed my concerns as not really being a problem.

But now that Rodriguez could lose his job, it is suddenly a serious issue.  In his lashing out at everyone but the person to blame for the fiscal mess that could make this a necessity, he decides it's my fault:
In the campaign season of 2010, one liberal blogger led the charge to protect the paramedic program from the clutches of then County Executive Scott Walker. Although the County Executive didn't say for sure he would cut the program, it didn't stop activist blogger Chris Liebenthal from drawing up a petition bemoaning the cuts and claiming that areas in Milwaukee would go without paramedic services. Where is Liebenthal on the issue now? He has not posted single word on his blog about preserving the integrity of the program. We're not giving up hope though, there is still time for him to make his stand.
Really? Most rational people with the ability to use basic logic would recognize that if it was bad last year, it's bad this year as well. Perhaps Rodriguez also needs me to confirm that water is still wet and that the sun still rises in the east. I haven't written that in a while either, so that might mean my thoughts on that changed, right?

But it is unfortunate that Rodriguez, like other conservatives that have forsaken reality for Walker's false promises, cannot just admit that he was wrong on this as well.  But then again, like most conservatives, they only care about something when it finally has a direct impact on them.  It's sad that it takes so much longer for some folks to hit rock bottom and start making the necessary changes in their attitudes and lives that they need to make in order to make things better, not only for themselves, but for their communities as well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Will Walkergate Push Wisconsin Further Towards Center?

After the summer of the recalls, many people noted that Senator Dale Schultz became the de facto leader of the state senate and a major player due to the shifting of the state from the path of radical conservatism back to a more centrist approach.

Indeed, even the radically conservative Scott Walker admitted as much by tendering his incredulous offer of the olive branch of bipartisanship.

But the column from the British paper and some other recent events made me wonder if there is going to be another shift towards the left, or at least even more towards center.

Ten days ago, Senator Chris Larson noted that he was sponsoring two important bills.  One would remove the influence of the special interests during the budget cycle and the other would require the public get the opportunity to openly review  any proposed bill.

Just last week, Representatives Peter Barca and Donna Seidel and Senator Mark Miller introduced a bill that would put an end to Walker's tendency of appointing cronies to newly formed political positions.

To be honest, I thought that these bills were nothing more than mere political posturings, something to throw out there and expect the Republicans to shoot down at some level.  Then the Democrats could use that during the next election cycle as talking points to reclaim the centrist and moderate voters.

But now I'm starting to have second thoughts regarding that.

As Walkergate begins to unfold, it will be interesting to see how the Republican legislators react to it.  Right now, there just isn't enough concrete evidence to do much more than make the Republicans apprehensive. But consider some of the following:

  • At Fighting Bob Fest, there was much discussion that more houses than just Cindy Archer's had been visited by law enforcement, although none of this has been confirmed to the best of my knowledge.
  • It seems rather improbable that federal agents would be expending that much time, money and manpower to bust a couple people for posting online comments on the tax payers dime.
  • The number of people being looked at in the Walkergate investigations is much larger than people were originally aware of.  There is no telling how deep - or how high - this thing goes.
  • Short of the whole thing just going poof and disappearing forever, Walker's image has already been stained by the whole sordid affair.
There are other factors that I have heard of, but am not currently comfortable sharing without further confirmation.  But even if what I've heard is partially true, Walker's name will become synonymous with Blagojevich's, the corrupt former governor from Illinois.

But even if none of what I've heard pans out, the taint and the doubt will still be there.  That, combined with a politician's strong instinct for survival, will probably force many of the Republicans, to back away from Walker, just to make sure that they don't get caught up in whatever might be coming down the pike.

And this will open the door for the Democrats and the more moderate Republicans to make sure no further damage is done to the state, and maybe even open an opportunity for some of the damage that has been done to be reversed. such as the proposed bills mentioned above.

But I've noted a growing cry of "Enough" coming from many more people than ever before who are feeling repulsed by Walker's unethical power grabs and his failure to do any of the things that he promised to do, like create jobs.  And I'm sure the politicians are hearing it even clearer than I do.

One thing that I think that everyone can agree with is that there will be some very interesting times ahead for us.

A Modest Proposal

The John Doe investigation has quickly become known as Walkergate among the people of Wisconsin.

But I was just wondering, even if just for this week, in honor of Scott Walker's croquet fund raiser, we should be referring to it as "Sticky Wicket?"

Walkergate Goes International

The British have noticed the sticky wicket that Scott Walker and his cronies have found themselves in.

Even though many of their details are off, such as claiming 250,000 signatures are needed to trigger a recall instead of 540,000 or saying the probe is focusing on only two of Walker's minions, they do hit the main gist very well with this:

Walker has successfully advanced his own political career by presenting himself – a self-proclaimed "preacher's kid" – as an ethical and honest politician. He rose to power in 2002 in a Milwaukee County special election to fill the seat of an incompetent Milwaukee County executive whose corrupt aides triggered a pension scandal that taxpayers are still paying for. A Republican in Wisconsin's most populous and Democratic county, Walker used this office to position himself to run for governor. If Walker's image as a straight arrow is tarnished, he will be much more vulnerable to a recall.

Due to the secret nature of the current Wisconsin investigation, we may not know for weeks whether prosecutors will bring charges, precisely what violations of the law are being investigated, and who will be in the frame. And even well-documented charges of political misconduct do not always yield convictions. So, opponents of Walker should be careful not to accuse his aides – much less Walker – of wrongdoing until all the evidence is made public.

But if Walker is tainted by this investigation in any significant way, then re-energised Democrats will almost certainly organise a recall. And that would have a fighting chance of success.
No matter when the recall comes, and come it will, just the knowledge that Walker is now an international embarrassment should be worth a few hundred thousand signatures in itself.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Crime Might Not Pay, But Cronyism Sure Does

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a couple more articles about Cindy Archer, the Scott Walker minion who has been put into a fish bowl when the FBI raided her home, among others, last week as part of an ongoing John Doe investigation which has been dubbed Walkergate.

In one article, they find that when Walker changed dozens of civil service jobs to political appointments, not only was he able to give jobs to a lot of his cronies and campaign donors (or at least their sons), he was also allowing them to have a double win day by also jacking up their pay considerably.

As MJS shows in this chart, Archer was the big winner in Walker's appoint-a-crony game:

Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It could be that Walker wanted to distance himself from Archer due to her involvement in Walkergate, but also didn't want her to turn on him so gave her a position that she doesn't really have experience in, but sweetened the deal to appease her for having to take a step down.

What is surprising is that no one in the media is making a bigger deal about the fact that she's been lying to them all along, saying she was hoping to come back to the state when she already had the new job with its exorbitant pay raise.

On the bright side, it's entertaining to watch one of the local yokel teahadists get his tea bag all tangled up while trying to rationalize the crony promotion. I guess massive increases in spending for government employees is OK after all, as long as a Republican does it.

In the other article, they interview some County Board Supervisors who all point out Archer's fierce loyalty to Walker.  Meh, it only means she knows which side of her bread has the butter on it.

But what is a bit odd about this article is that, towards the bottom as they give an abbreviated recounting of recent events, they include this non sequitur:
Authorities took Wink's work computer and executed a search warrant on her home. They also took a work computer from Tim Russell, a longtime Walker ally who was county housing director.

Russell recently lost his west side house to foreclosure.

He had taken out a mortgage for $184,000 with a 9.7% interest rate in 2003 for his house on N. 49th St. He was sued by his bank in July 2010 for defaulting on the loan.

At first, Russell mounted an aggressive defense. But he reversed course earlier this year, agreeing to give up the house. Last month, a Milwaukee County judge entered a judgment against Russell. The house is expected to be sold at a sheriff's sale soon.
I'm not sure what that has to do with the rest of the article, unless they are trying to infer he lost the home because of legal costs. But even that wouldn't make much sense, since Russell was already living in Sun Prairie long before any of that happened.

What would be interesting to know is why a person with an apparently successful business in Milwaukee would move to a place more than an hour away from said business.  This is especially true when one considers gas prices and that he apparently was having money problems from legal costs and/or losing his job with the county after Walker left him high and dry.

Drinking Liberally This Monday

On Saturday, I got the opportunity to spend some quality time with some wonderful friends in Madison.  It was marvelous to be surrounded by so many amazing people, including the incomparable Waukesha Wonk and the most awesome radio hostess, Sara Schultz.  

In fact, I had so much fun on Saturday, the Sunday was rather anticlimactic.

But there is good news on the horizon for not just me, but for all of us.

Monday, it's time for Drinking Liberally.  This will be another chance to be surrounded by good friends and great conversation.  It will be a gathering of the liberals done in the old-school Milwaukee way.  

The time and place is still the same - 7 pm at Transfer Pizzeria located at 101 W. Mitchell St.

Zach, our host, says there is no special guest this month, but I think the people that come to these events are pretty dang special.

See you there!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vos-Gate?

While speaking with a friend earlier today, he made an interesting point regarding the Vos beer dumping incident last week.

Robin Vos of Rochester, Scott Suder of Abbotsford and John Nygren of Marinette were sitting in a bar in Madison on Wednesday evening when some knucklehead decided to make a scene and dump a beer on Vos' head.  The boor was cited for disorderly conduct, which is apparently the catch all crime category for wasting beer.

My friend pointed out that the state legislators worked only one day this month, which was the day before the incident.

So what were these three doing in Madison, when they should have been in their home districts? If they had been, Vos would have been safe.

Another question is did they collect a per diem for a day when they weren't working?  Where the heck are the teahadists? Sleeping?

Don't expect the MacGuyver Institute for the Criminally Irresponsible to cover this. They're too busy trying to lay down a smoke screen for Walkergate.


Scott Walker: Outside Agitator

Scott Walker, for unknown reasons, but believed to involve looking for the thousands of jobs he's chased out of the state or to raise money for his defense fund, was in Kentucky.  He was given the welcome he so richly deserves:



When you have millions of people around the state and the country telling you that you're in the wrong, and you're up to your armpits in scandal, you might just want to rethink what you're doing. But that might be just me.

Where's Cindy Archer's Medical Slip?

Cindy Archer, one of Scott Walker's top cronies and the subject of an FBI raid on her home as Walkergate continues to unfold, is currently on medical leave from her new state job:
Archer, 52, until recently was deputy administration secretary to the Republican governor. She now holds a different state job but is on paid sick leave, records show.

Her sick leave started Aug. 22 - the first day she was to have been on the job as legislative liaison in the Department of Children and Families. Originally, she was to return this coming Monday, but her medical leave has been extended.
One of my readers left a most excellent point and question regarding this factoid:
Cindy Archer seems happy to be interviewed by anyone who drops by her house. Why hasn't anyone asked about the nature of her medical leave? After all she doesn't look sick and we had to make sure we punished teachers who weren't sick when they called in last winter during the protests. She's defrauding the state, pure and simple, and thus far has grossed at least $8250 doing it.
So, where is Cindy Archer's doctor's slip? If the teacher's had to show theirs, Archer should bloody well have to as well!

And why isn't the MacIver Institute of the Wisconsin Reporter delving into that? Or doesn't that fit into their dishonest propagandist agenda?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XVI

The full impact of the Walker budget has yet to be felt, but the harbingers are not looking good:
Wisconsin's unemployment rate rose slightly in August, with the state losing a net 800 private sector jobs last month.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent in August, up from 7.8 percent in July, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate in January -- when Gov. Scott Walker took office with a vow to create 250,000 new jobs during his first term -- was 7.4 percent.

[...]

But job growth has slowed since, leaving Walker behind the pace needed to reach his target of 250,000 private sector jobs.

Wisconsin has added 29,600 private sector jobs this year. At the current pace, Wisconsin will add 133,200 private sector jobs by the end of Walker's four-year term.
That number by the way, is almost half the number of new jobs that experts were predicting if Walker did absolutely nothing.

In other words, Walker's budget IS worse than nothing.


Friday, September 16, 2011

How Can You Tell When Scott Walker's Lying?

His weasel lips are moving.

When asked about the FBI raiding Cindy Archer's home, Scott Walker denied knowing anything about anything regarding any of it.

I could agree that Walker is an ignorant moron, but that's about it.

First of all, Walker has a history of doing something dirty and lying about it.  For just one example, when it came out that there was a study done about the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex in relation to a woman who died while in care there, Walker refused to allow it to be released.  But then when he caught heat for it, he backpedaled and blamed the county's attorneys and the Chairman of the County Board.  

The truth was that it was the decision of Walker and the high-cost private attorney Walker hired to defend him (although not necessarily the county against the pending lawsuit).  

Regarding Cindy Archer, Walker expects the people to believe that he was not in communication with his top aid at Milwaukee County and assistant secretary at the state level at all for the past three or four years.  Walker has known Archer for decades, from when he was a state legislator.  It was this cronyism that led him to hire her in the first place.  There is no way that they haven't been talking.

Remember this as well when more stuff comes out about Tim Russell (and trust me, a helluva lot more is coming out about him).  Walker and Russell have been very close and very special friends for more than two decades.  They've been known to spend a lot of time together and have taken trips together.  Russell has worked each and every one of Walker's campaigns, whether or not he was working for Milwaukee County at the time.  Walker has given Russell jobs with the county between (and during) his campaigns.  And not just any job, but high paying administrative jobs, even though Russell continuously proved himself to not know what he was doing.

It would be laughable for Walker to even consider telling people that he didn't know of all the skulduggery Russell was doing.  After all, Russell was the one caught on film doing campaign work during Walker's bike ride last year.  Did Walker not notice this?  Is he that oblivious? Then he's not fit to tie his own shoes, much less govern a state.

The only that comes close to being as sickening the way Walker shamelessly lies is the way the media laps it up without challenging him.