Sunday, October 30, 2011

Privatization of Vets Home Would Cause Irreparable Harm

Governor Snyder of Michigan, who is as equally as despicable and loathsome as Scott Walker, wanted to privatize the care that veterans received at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.  The veterans themselves filed a legal challenge to that move and won their case, stopping the privatization:
An Ingham County judge ordered a halt Friday to the state's plans to privatize nursing aide positions at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, saying she feared the change would cause "irreparable harm" to the more than 600 vets who live there.

The privatization plan "all comes down to money, really," said Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield, noting state officials said they need to save $18,000 a day by turning 170 resident care aide positions over to a private contractor who pays workers about half as much money.

"Budgets can be adjusted," she said. "The home can make cuts in other areas, or perhaps they can get some more money from the state."
Now this might confuse or even enrage some of my conservative readers who can't understand why these people wouldn't want to cut spending. But further down in the article, it is explained:
But Manderfield said she was concerned about evidence of injuries caused to veterans at the hands of inexperienced contract workers. She said she's also concerned by recent ads the company has placed, still trying to fill the positions the state asked the company to take over. She also said drug testing for the new employees, as required under the contract, was "a joke" due to lack of security surrounding urine samples.

"The court believes the plaintiff has established there will be irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted," the judge said.


"Through the whole process, no one has really cared until now," union president Mark Williams said after the hearing. "Finally, today, quality of care trumped money."

Spallone told the commission he has lived at the home for more than two years after suffering health problems related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

He described what he said were unsanitary practices by contracted resident care aides, such as throwing urine- and feces-stained sheets on clean floors.

"It's bad enough we're disabled and can't go back to work," Spallone said. "Now you want us to be thrown to the wolves."
Snyder should be ashamed of even considering treating our brave men and women this way. They risked their very lives for this country and Snyder wants to thank them by putting them in harm's way so that the rich can keep getting richer. That is simply disgusting.

And before anyone thinks, "Well, that's Michigan. We wouldn't do that here," I'd tell them to think again.

Scott Walker has already shown a propensity for privatizing everything he can and selling what he can't. To aid him in this, he has, over the objections of honorable veterans, has appointed the scurrilous and corrupt John Scocos to head up the Veterans Affair Board.

This is one more area that we will need to watch closely and be prepared to defend until we can reclaim our state from the corporations and return it to the people.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tools Explained

No, not Scott Walker's kind of tools, or the kind of tool that Walker is. Just a funny email that I got the other day:
Tools Explained....

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light . Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh sh--!'

SKIL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle... It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes , trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans.. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.

UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

SON-OF-A-BITCH TOOL: (A personal favorite!) Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'Son of a BITCH!' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Hope you found this informative.

What Scott Walker Doesn't Want You To Know

Every politician, regardless of political affiliation, will use spin and rhetoric to promote themselves or a certain cause.  I get that.  I find it annoying at times, but I get that they are trying to sell us on themselves or their cause.

But sometimes, perhaps too often, a politician will cross that line from spin into outright lies.

Scott Walker has not only crossed that line into lying, but is so compulsive with his lies that he has taken up residence in that spot.

For a particular, look at how Walker's handled the whole Budget Deformation Act.

He kept pushing the concept that his Budget Deformation Act was necessary to stop the alleged damage to the state's fiscal situation.  Without these draconian and punitive attacks on public sector workers, Walker said that there would be a huge deficit and this would save tax payers sooo much money.

However, when he had to give sworn testimony in front of Congress, he admitted that his bill would not save the tax payers one red cent.  But now that he is no longer under oath, he shamelessly reverts to the same old lie.

Even before Walker was elected, he was lying through his weasel teeth.  He continuously repeated the fabrication that the state's (artificial) woes stemmed from the public sector workers being the "haves" and everyone else, even the multimillionaires, as the "have nots."  He also said that along with this, the problem can be attributed to the "expansion of government."

These statements are simply absurd.  Common sense should tell a person that much.

But if common sense isn't enough for a person, such as your typical Walker supporter, the evidence is in and guess what - the public sector and the unions are not the enemy.  In a policy brief done by Sylvia A. Allegretto, Ken Jacobs and Laurel Lucia, they made some findings that most people could have already told you:
  • Public sector employment has been steady since 1979 as opposed the to great expansion like Walker and his supporters have been claiming
  • State budget woes are not caused by public sector compensation
  • Public sector compensation as part of the state budget has declined over the years
  • Public sector employees are not overcompensated
Let's take a closer look at that last one, since Walker claimed that public sector workers are the "haves."  From the policy brief:
However, research has consistently shown that public sector workers are paid the same or less than similar private sector workers when taking into account relevant factors that affect compensation:
• A study by Jeffrey Keefe of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI and Rutgers University) analyzed wage and demographic data from the Current Population Survey and benefits data from the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After accounting for education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity and
disability, Keefe found that full-time state and local employees receive 3.7 percent less in total compensation (wages and benefits) compared to similar private sector workers. xv
• John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) examined wage and demographic data from the Current Population Survey and reported similar findings: on average, state and local employees are paid 4 percent less in wages than similar private-sector workers after adjusting for education, age, gender, and other factors. xvi
• Sylvia Allegretto of the UC Berkeley Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics (with Jeffrey Keefe) analyzed compensation in California and found that “an apples-to-apples comparison, or one that controls for education, experience, and other factors that may influence pay, reveals no significant difference in the level of employee compensation costs on an annual or per hour basis between private and public sector workers.” The study analyzed total compensation, including wages and benefits, based on data from the Current Population Survey and the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. xvii
These are a few of many examples that illustrate why simply comparing average pay between the two sectors, without taking into account workforce differences, is highly misleading when, in general, better educated and older, more experienced workers earn more than less educated and younger workers.
They also report that the employment costs in the private sector has grown at a faster pace than that for the public sector. The private sector employment costs from 2004 to 2009 rose by 14.7% as opposed to the public sector costs which rose by 12.6%.

The brief finds that the primary cause of the states' budget woes stem mostly from the collapse of the housing bubble. They also add that "Solutions that focus on cutting state and local budgets can be expected
to further weaken the economy." That can already be seen in Wisconsin with the fact that unemployment numbers continue to climb and that Walker is already needing to scramble to balance his budget before we're even one three months into a two year plan. As he continues to take more money out of circulation and redistributing it to his wealthy benefactors, the worse things are going to get for us.

That is why it is so crucial for the people to take Wisconsin back and reclaim it for our own.

Why Occupy? The Wage Disparity Edition

Just one of the many, many reasons the Occupy movement has launched around the world is that the working class is getting tired of being stepped on by the greedy.

Case in point, take a look at the disparity in wage growth that has occurred:

Chart courtesy of Economic
Policy Institute

From 1997 to 2010, most of us saw an average of a 5% increase in our wages.

In the same time span, the top 1% saw their pay increase by 224% and the top 0.1% saw their money go up by an average of 390% or nearly four times.  

That's not being anti-capitalistic. That's being anti-greed and anti-plutocracy.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XXXI

Hey, everyone! We're number 1!
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending October 15 were in Puerto Rico (+1,286), Wisconsin (+1,193), South Carolina (+1,189), Oregon (+416), and Nebraska (+241) while the largest decreases were in California (-8,942), New York (-7,273), Texas (-3,489), Pennsylvania (-3,258), and Georgia (-2,740).
Thanks to Scott Walker and his ideological agenda, Wisconsin was the not-so-proud owner of the dubious achievement of being the state that lost the most jobs last week!

And that's not all!

We're number 2!

"It's Working!" Isn't Working Either

At an ever increasing pace, we are seeing example after example of how Scott Walker's agenda is not working for the people of Wisconsin as jobs disappear by the hundreds.  This is one of the many reasons why Walker is about to be recalled.

In preparation for said recall, Walker, using government resources, has launched a defensive website to try to show things aren't really as bad as they are.  But even though he's had months to prepare for what he knew was coming, his defensive campaign strategy is backfiring as he can't even cite examples that don't reinforce the need to oust him from office.

The Koch Brothers, in an effort to protect their investment, has done a money dump on their front groups Americans for Prosperity (notice not for the people) and MacIver Institute, to run misleading ads and have a website which only parrots Walker's tax payer-funded campaign website.

But they make their own blunders as well.  They have only one blog entry so far, and start with this (screencapped to make sure it's preserved):

The gentle reader can click on the picture to read it or for your convenience
We heard the sky would fall and that there would be massive layoffs of state and local government workers and teachers. Some asserted that Wisconsin’s budget reform would mark the end of the state as we know it.

But the sky’s still there. And Wisconsin is stronger than ever.

Thanks to Wisconsin’s budget reform

This website is committed to providing the facts to Wisconsin taxpayers. Every week there are more examples of how It’s Working. Together, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy have chronicled success stories from across Wisconsin.
Sounds like the Koch Brother's tool is serving his purpose well, right?

Well, it does but only until one actually checks what a real media source reports about the current situation:
So what accounted for the big drop in public-sector jobs last month?

The short answer is nobody knows for sure because the figures are statistical estimates and are often revised months later.

But it does appear that education jobs were a big piece of it.

Officials with the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) compared the September 2011 figures with September 2010 and found an overall drop of 4,000 education jobs, which could range from teachers and administrators to support staff and janitors.

"The statistics don't provide the detail at the local level to answer the question definitively," says John Dipko, DWD spokesman. "With that said, we believe local education accounts for the majority of the drop in government jobs from August to September."

Dan Thompson, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, was a bit surprised to see the numbers showing 8,400 fewer local government jobs. He says cities and villages have been eliminating positions for years and are just about tapped out in trimming staff.

"You still need to pick up the trash and plow the snow so there's not a whole lot more cutting that can go on," says Thompson, whose group represents some 580 local units of governments.

Dan Rossmiller, a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, says the job losses in education are disappointing but not surprising. He says school districts are still cash-strapped, despite the changes to collective bargaining laws and increased health care and pension payments by employees.

"I don't think we've lost that many teachers but there is no question each district is laying people off," he says.
To summarize, the Koch Brothers, through their sock puppet groups, are lying through their teeth as much as Walker is in order to protect their investment. And we already know that the Koch Brothers' investments have nothing to do with bettering the state, unless you're referring to the state of their riches.

Not Sure If PolitiFact Or Trolling

A rule of thumb that I learned long ago, when I first started blogging is that when a person you were debating with started name-calling or parsing semantics, you won the argument.

So it was with great amusement that I read that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's argument against the piece I wrote a couple of days ago, pointing out Scott Walker's hypocrisy in taking a $7,500 raise while cutting the pay of the rank and file and then giving them a two year pay freeze.

They sicced their PolitiFarce team after me to say that he did not get a raise:
Bloggers dug into the pay plan proposed by Walker and found what sure looked like the ultimate hypocrisy: the governor giving himself a raise while freezing state workers pay for two years.

The document they cited makes it look like there’s a raise coming, but there is not. Elected officials cannot increase their own pay. A quick look at the Blue Book or a phone call to the Legislative Reference Bureau would have told them that. So there’s no pay raise for Walker, or the lieutenant governor, state treasurer, secretary of state, and attorney general.

Although the confusion is understandable because of a sloppy and confusing state compensation document (and an equally poor followup memo), it muddles things for residents.

Here’s the clearest answer possible: The claim is False.
Wowsie! I guess I should just shrivel up in shame and crawl away, right?

But let's back this up a little bit. Just before they wrote this condemnation, they had this to say (emphasis mine):
That new chart shows the governor’s pay under a column titled "effective July 5, 2009" as $144,423. It shows the same pay under another column, effective Jan. 1, 2012. That suggests to the average reader (or blogger) that Gov. Jim Doyle was paid that amount. He wasn’t. The pay raise took effect when Walker took office.
So, what I called a raise wasn't a raise, but they called it a raise as well? More than a bit confusing, isn't it? For other reference, the newspaper (and I use that term loosely) also did a story about Walker's political appointments making much more money than their predecessors. In that story, and in the accompanying table, they referred to these increases as raises.

Apparently they took umbrage with the fact that I said he gave himself the raise. I will happily concede that point. Walker did not write the law that created the pay raise. He merely accepted the extra $7,500 while slashing the pay of public employees and claiming we all had to make sacrifices.

No, the change in wording does not change the actual deed. While rank and file workers were losing hundreds of dollars each month, Walker and other top officials were raking in the extra cash with both hands.

And one cannot even spin it that Walker, Becky Kleefisch, or the others were the victims of this sudden swelling in paychecks.

Walker had enough influence before being sworn in to block the union contracts from being approved by the state legislator (although he had to do some pay-for-play to do so).  There is no reason why he couldn't have had them stop the raise before it went into effect as well.  And even failing that, he could have easily done as he did as county executive and give the extra money back to the state.

But it seems unlikely he would do that considering he once again got caught lying about his pension and failed to pay the full amount for his pension, starting as soon as he was sworn in, like he promised to do.  But like every other campaign promise he's ever made, he willfully failed to do so until it came to the light of day.

In summary, even though they claim that the assertion Walker got a raise is false, by their own admission, Walker did have an increase in pay over what Jim Doyle was paid.  Furthermore, they even call said increase a raise as well.  In other words, in order to try to carry water for Walker, they set their own pants on fire with their contradictory rating.

Is it really any wonder why their revenue and profits continue to fall, as does their circulation?

ManMKE, the other blogger that they tried to smear, also has his own rebuttal.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Walkergate Comes Full Circle

Six weeks ago, I wrote An Introduction to Walkergate in which I laid out the general facts regarding Scott Walker's misdeeds as Milwaukee County Executive and gubernatorial candidate and how they led to the John Doe investigation which is being conducted into Walker's staff and his campaign.

Recent events have made it apparent that it is time to expand on that history and show how it relates to what is happening today.

In the introduction, I pointed out the obvious part of the investigation, which was how Walker's aides were making use of government equipment for politicking and campaigning. But, in my humble opinion, they weren't the only ones doing this.

Every Friday, Walker would release a "newsletter" using the county website.  More often than not, these newsletters were nothing more than a sales pitch about how great he was instead of its purported purpose of informing Milwaukee County citizens of events or news.  Sadly, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett stooped to doing the same behavior.  It got so bad that the GAB eventually had to tell both sides to stop it.

Another thing I mentioned in the introduction was the fact that Walker was going on annual motorcycle rides around the state every summer.  Walker claimed that these bike rides were for the purpose of promoting tourism for the county, but no one really bought into that.  In fact, on at least one occasion, a complaint was filed with the Milwaukee County Ethics Board, stating that this was a political stunt and that tax dollars shouldn't be used for it.  But the Ethics Board would rule otherwise and allow the ride to happen.

The reason for this was that the entire Board were political appointees of Walker's which only met once every three months. Walker would wait until they had their spring session, then have one of his aides offer the ride proposal to the chair of the committee who would rubber stamp it. This way he was able to circumnavigate the entire board taking a look at it and possibly denying it.

One thing that I did not mention in the introduction was that Walker also had the help of a third party in both running the county and in his campaigning.  There is a group with the utterly inappropriate name of Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG).  CRG is the group that helped usher Walker into the county executive's seat when there was a pension scandal in Milwaukee County.

During the duration of his regime, Walker would receive help from this group in reinforcing his maleficent stunts.  At budget times, they would try to coerce progressive supervisors to go along with Walker's irresponsible and illegal budgets by threatening them with recalls.  (Funny how Republican politicians, pundits and squawk show hosts elide over this point when they are complaining about last summer's recalls or the upcoming recall of Walker).  CRG would also do other enforcement type of tasks, like trying to besmirch a certain blogger by filing false charges against me him.

During the year leading up to the election, CRG held a couple of rallies to allegedly support Walker's "0% Budget" which supposedly did not raise taxes.  The odd thing about these rallies was the fact that Walker's campaign staff, namely Jill "A-Train" Bader, Walker's campaign spokeswoman were at these events, arranging meetings between the candidate and certain individuals, even though these were described as being strictly non-political county events.

With this additional information, we are now prepared to address the events of this week.

On Monday, just a couple of weeks before the recall against Walker is supposed to start, Walker announces a new "government" website called "Reforms and Results."   While the website is undoubtedly a government website, it has the look and feel of a campaign website. Everything on the website is about Walker. It is just one variation of "When Governor Walker did this..." followed by a variation of "When Governor Walker said that ...", just like a campaign website would.

To further the campaign feel to it, the site is also full of a lot of opinion pieces, like a campaign site would be.  And so typical for Walker, they can't even get the facts straight on the subjects.  It is mostly based on the money saved by Walker passing the union busting bill, even though he already testified, under oath, in from a US congressional committee that this law had no fiscal impact.

The Democrats have filed a complaint, and rightfully so, regarding Walker again using government property to do politicking and campaigning.  Walker's people quickly defended against this by saying that they ran it past legal council and the GAB and that they found it to be simply "informational."  Did I forget to mention that Walker has replaced at least on of the members of the GAB?

Also this week, with the most coincidental timing, two Koch Brother-funded groups - the grossly misnamed Americans for Prosperity and the alleged news service MacIver Institute - have launched their own website with the theme of "It's Working!"* and video touting the exact same political points.

Is anyone else getting a feeling of déjà vu?

The only logical reasons that one could possibly ascribe to Walker and these groups showing such egregious and blatant disregard for the law and for ethics is that either they are very desperate or that they are very confident that the flood of Koch money will manage to keep the governor's chair firmly bought for Walker to continue to do the wishes of his wealthiest campaign donors.

Either way, it also shows that nearly overwhelming disdain they hold for the people of Wisconsin and why he truly deserves to be recalled.

*You'd think with all that money, the Koch front groups could do better than copying my series of posts on how "The Walker Budget Is Already Working!"   I guess that only shows that there's nothing they're not willing to steal.

How Much Money Will The Kochs Drop For Walker This Time?

We have already seen the beginnings of the Koch Brothers dumping money to keep the governor's seat bought with their puppet in the chair. But did you ever wonder how much they're willing to spend in order to keep pillaging Wisconsin?

Well, here's some bone-chilling information for you that you won't find in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and you definitely won't hear MacGuyver Institute or Wisconsin Reporter admitting to it::
The Kochs founded and provide millions to Americans for Prosperity, a political organisation that builds grassroots support for conservative causes and candidates. Americans for Prosperity, which has 33 state chapters and claims to have about two million members, has close ties to Tea Party groups and played a key role in opposing Obama's health care initiative.

This year, Americans for Prosperity spent at least half a million dollars supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to cut social spending and roll back collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. The legislation passed by Walker makes it more difficult for unions, which are major backers of Democratic candidates, to secure funds for political purposes. Americans for Prosperity is also very active in a battle against unions in Ohio, another important 2012 presidential state. Its president, Tim Phillips, says that the organisation is winning in Wisconsin and around the country "because on the policies of economic freedom, we're right". He refused to tell People & Power reporter Bob Abeshouse how much the organisation is spending to combat the unions.

The Kochs have also poured millions into think tanks and academia to influence the battle over ideas. According to Kert Davies, the director of research for Greenpeace in the US, the Kochs have spent more than $50m since 1998 on "various front groups and think tanks who ... oppose the consensus view that climate change is real, urgent and we have to do something about it". As operators of oil pipelines and refineries, the Kochs have opposed all efforts to encourage alternative sources of energy by imposing a tax on fossil fuels.

Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute, often appears in the media to contest global warming science. CATO was founded by Charles Koch, and the Kochs and their foundations have contributed about $14m to CATO. Since 2009, there has been a sharp drop in the percentage of Americans who see global warming as a serious threat according to Gallup polls. Davies argues that the change can be attributed in large measure to the efforts of scientists like Michaels and others who are funded by the fossil fuel industry.

The Kochs have also promoted their free market ideology and business interests through aggressive lobbying in Washington DC, and financial support of political candidates. Greenpeace has tracked more than $50m that Koch Industries has spent on lobbyists since 2006, when Cap and Trade and other legislation to combat global warming was being considered. The Kochs have been the largest political spender since 2000 in the energy sector, exceeding Exxon, Chevron, and other major players.
Thank goodness we have the people on our side.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Walker's Reformed Results

Scott Walker is using tax payer dollars to mount his recall defense campaign (more on that later) by creating a website touting all of the "success" his budget has had.  But with a quick preliminary scan, you can already start seeing through the thin veil of lies.

For example, under the tab labelled "Lower Taxes," he list all of the school boards that allegedly saved money from his attack on working families (never mind that he testified under oath that the attacks had no financial impact).  Take a quick look at this screencap and see if you noticed what I did:

Did you notice the fourth school district?  He is saying Elmbrook Schools saved money.  But the fact is that they didn't have enough money to provide the necessary or the wanted services and had to close one of their most popular and successful schools due to his irresponsible budget scheming.

Now for a trickier question: Did you notice what is missing?  Walker, and now the Koch Brother-funded front groups, are touting the "success" of Kaukauna school district over and over again.  But he did not include it on his list of "successes."  Why not? Most likely, he knew that folks like me or Jake would tear the thing apart, since we know that the Kaukana is a lie.

If it's already this transparent that he is scrambling to try to defend his amoral and predictably failing budget with half-truths and out right lies, I can't wait to see what other things we can dig up from this.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XXX

A business publication took a hard look at the Midwest to see which state is the best place for business.  Who'd of thunk it, but taxes are not the end all be all for attracting and retaining businesses?  Illinois, that's who:
Illinois edges out Wisconsin for the best business climate in the Upper Midwest, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

The weekly Chicago business publication this week analyzed the “factors most important to a healthy business climate,” including taxes, talent pool, transportation infrastructure and money for investment.

Wisconsin ranked second behind Illinois. Indiana ranked third, followed by Iowa and Missouri, which tied for fourth.
Illinois received higher ratings than Wisconsin for customers and capital, infrastructure, and work force. Wisconsin had higher scores in fiscal health and taxes.

The higher work force rating for Illinois is due in part to 30.8 percent of its population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher compared with 26.3 percent for Wisconsin. For transportation infrastructure, Chicago airports offer 192 non-stop destinations to Milwaukee’s 49, Crain’s said.

Wisconsin scored well with the second-lowest corporate tax rate at 7.9 percent behind Missouri’s 6.25 percent. The effective tax rate, which is the overall tax burden on a company opening a new facility, was lowest in Wisconsin at 4.5 percent compared with 4.6 percent for Illinois.

Despite Illinois jacking up its corporate tax rate earlier this year, the state still had a relatively low overall tax burden when all state and local taxes are considered, according to a 2011 Ernst & Young study cited by Crain’s.
Heh. Not only is Illinois stealing our jobs, they're stealing Walker's talking points as well.

Now it's time for us to take our state back so that we can get our jobs and our dignity back as well.

I want to believe in Wisconsin again.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XXIX

As with Waukesha, the small town of Clintonville is trying to cope with the money they lost so that Scott Walker could give raises to cronies and tax breaks to campaign donors.  And like Waukesha, Clintonville is about to sacrifice public safety for the sake of a few bucks:
Clintonville's new approach to saving its residents money is keeping some of them in the dark. The city had to cut its budget by $357,000.

So leaders in the city of 4,559 people came up with the idea of turning off some street lights to save some money.

But some residents say there's a cost to that move: their safety. Clintonville's streets are darker than Carol Oesteich can ever remember. And she doesn't like it.

“I think it's a danger to the people that walk. I think it's bad for the children with sports and everything walking,” said Oestreich.

The street lights with black plastic over them are no longer lighting the roads. And it's worrying some residents

“What if there was a kid that was going down the street and there's no street light, so how is a car supposed to be able to see them?" said Cory Hanson.

The city no longer turns on 10 percent of its street lights, which equals 70 lights. City officials say they targeted lights in the middle of a block near other lights.
The more that Walker's budget takes it's choke hold on this state, the more I feel like we're in Colorado Springs. That's not the future I want for this once great state.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XXVIII

I've said it time and time again.

By Scott Walker taking money out of the economy through slashing shared revenue and attacking the working men and women of the state, there would be an increase in unemployment due to people just not having the money to keep the economy thriving.

Sadly, in just one of an increasing number of examples, an iconic eatery and hotel in Stevens Point, a city that was booming until ten months ago, is going out of business, causing 104 more jobs to permanently leave the state:
Business at the Ramada Stevens Point seemed to be going on as usual Tuesday afternoon. People checked in and out of the hotel. The shuttle van sat outside the front door, waiting to transport guests.

At the attached Tilted Kilt restaurant, people enjoyed drinks and meals. ESPN played on several television sets. And a list of special events through the end of the year was posted on the front door.

But those businesses, at 1501 Northpoint Drive, will close at 6 p.m. Sunday, putting 104 employees out of work.

General manager Tim Mueller confirmed that he and other employees had been informed Monday that the hotel, convention center and restaurant will be closed.

"We were told it was a corporate decision, and that we would be shutting down by the end of the week," Mueller said.

Employees leaving the building Tuesday declined to comment about the closure.

Milwaukee-based Country Springs & Heath Investments has owned the property since 2004.

According to a statement from the company provided by Mueller, "The decision to close the property was not made easily and follows many months of operational adjustments and ongoing funding to maintain operations in hopes of some market recovery. Given the state of the economy, it is not economically viable to continue with hotel operations."
And it's only going to keep getting worse until we get the people in place that will turn this state around and bring back our jobs and our rights.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XXVII

Scott Walker said that he would give communities and school boards around the state the "tools" needed to deal with his irresponsible slashing of shared revenue and draconian and reprehensible abandonment of our schools.

Apparently for Waukesha, the tools consisted of a huge jump in garbage fees or a rusty ax:

So what are we looking at cutting in the City of Waukesha to save the $2.7 million (assuming we don’t get the garbage fee approved)?
  • Cut an open police officer position
  • Eliminate most police overtime
  • Reduce the replacement rate for obsolete police radios
  • Delay purchase of a new ambulance
  • Reduced road salt purchase to levels which won’t last the season
  • Two new police cars cancelled
  • Other unfilled positions left unfilled
  • Asphalt grinder cancelled
  • Parks & Rec vehicle cancelled

Apparently another tool that he unintentionally gave people is a can of gasoline to throw on the recall fire.

Walker's Play With Pay: Nothing New Under The Sun

In 2008, as the recession was hitting full swing, Scott Walker, then Milwaukee County Executive, falsely claimed that the county budget was in a crisis and illegally forced workers to take furlough days.  Years later, Milwaukee County tax payers were left on the hook to pay for the excessive and illegal furloughs to the tune of more than $6 million plus interest.

At the same time, that Walker was crying budgetary wolf, he was also handing out lavish raises to his cronies and yes men:
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker wants a 26% pay raise for his chief of staff, former Ald. Tom Nardelli, while bypassing traditional County Board approval in quietly issuing large pay raises over the summer to several other top aides.

Nardelli would get the biggest pay increase of top-tier county officials, a nearly $20,000 raise to $95,000 a year. Seven county administrators also scored increases of up to 12.5%.

Some supervisors are upset about being left out of the decision-making process for many of the raises and say Walker's timing couldn't be worse. Heavily rewarding a few top managers while Walker puts final touches on a 2009 budget that's expected to call for scores of layoffs of union workers sends a message of callous disregard, critics of the raises say.

Among the other big winners among Walker's top aides was Mitchell International Airport Director Barry Bateman. His pay rises $13,595, or 11%, to $136,299 a year. Facilities Management Director Jack Takerian got an $11,771 (12.5%) raise, to nearly $106,000.
At the same time, he was also laying off workers and demanding excessive concessions from workers, he was taking an automatic raise. And that's not counting the $50,000 raise he gave himself by breaking yet another campaign promise.

Given that sordid history and complete disregard for the truth, recent events were no big surprise to me.

Walker announced today that he was again going to stick it to the workers.  Only a few months after he cut their pay by hundreds of dollars a month - all so he could give tax breaks to his campaign donors - Walker decreed that state workers would not get a raise for at least the next two years.

As you absorb that tidbit, please remember that we already knew that he had been rewarding his cronies and yes men by appointing them to political positions, often at a much higher pay rate than their predecessors had been making.

To exacerbate this issue, via both Jake and Man MKE, it is noted that Walker is giving himself a $7,500 raise.  Not only is he being overly generous to himself, but he is also lavishing the love on some of his top henchmen like Becky Kleefisch, JB Van Hollen and Mike Huebsch.  You can see it all in this chart which can be found in the Statement of Benefits (Section B, page 5).:

I wonder who told him this was going to be a smart move with the recall about to start in just a few weeks.  Nothing like adding fuel to the fire.  He is either feeling very assured that the Koch Brothers will be able to buy his seat back from the people again or he's just not very bright.  While we already know the latter is true, I suspect that the real answer is both.

And if this pillaging of the working people of this state weren't enough, he also changed the rules about how state workers are going to be allowed raises, if that ever happens again under his regime.

Instead of having a worker's performance evaluated by their supervisor, all raises are going to go through the   Office of the State Employment Relations.  This flies in the face of Walker's talk about raises being done on a merit system.  Raises, as well as scheduling and assigning overtime, will be solely based on cronyism and who toes the party line instead of their actual job performance.

I have no doubt that they will also be monitoring any extracurricular activity to make sure that the workers are being good boys and girls.  Say anything disparaging about Walker or the Republicans on Facebook or Twitter and there goes your raise or your vacation request.

This sort of bullying has become a trademark for Walker and the Republicans.  Never did it cross their minds that if they had actually done their jobs by creating jobs instead of the full blown effort to turn Wisconsin into a corporate state, they wouldn't have had to resort to such base behavior.

But that's OK. Once we oust them from office, they'll have plenty of time to think about where they went wrong.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Walker's Budget Is Already A Failure For School Kids

I wrote nearly two weeks ago that Walker's budget was a failure for many of the school districts around the state.  One of the districts I specified was Elmbrook as they were poised to close one of their most popular schools due to Walker slashing their budget.

Tonight, the Elmbrook School Board chose to forsake their children and voted to close the school.

Don't let Walker and the Republicans spin and outright lies fool you.  Walker and his ideological agenda are absolute and utter failures.

Election Fraud Found!

And it was right where one would expect it - Waukesha County:
The Menomonee Falls student apparently running for Waukesha County Clerk has announced he will not run and that he was the victim of a senior prank.

This comes in stark contrast to The Waukesha Freeman's report of an interview with 17-year-old Kurt Heins, published Saturday, in which he was quoted as saying, "I guess I just really got into politics, so I figured the first thing I could probably have a good shot at running for would be Waukesha County clerk."

NOW spoke with Kurt's mother, Karen, who said she wasn't sure if it was actually Kurt who gave that interview. She further said that she'd been informed by Kurt's twin sister, Melodie, that Kurt did not plan to run for office and that someone else had turned in a registration statement on his behalf.

Shortly thereafter there was a post on the 'Kurt Heins for Waukesha County Clerk' Facebook page: "After extensive media coverage I, Kurt Heins, must inform you that I will not be running for county clerk. This decision was made from the victim of a well-planned senior prank. I have no intentions to run and will not be taking any future steps to run."

In a television interview Monday night, Kurt's father, Keith, signaled that Kurt did, in fact, intend to run. Now, less than 24 hours later, the story seems to be that all of this was a prank.

Whether Kurt ever planned to run remains a question. It's possible he realized he had been pranked and simply thought it might actually be a good idea to follow through.
I fully expect that Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who abhors all sorts of election fraud, will immediately investigate this and have the culprit(s) arrested and charged in no time.

I further expect that the Republican legislators - who are so diligent about the potential of voter fraud that they are willing to keep the elderly, the disabled and the poor from voting, just in case, you know, there might be some voter fraud that they just know is there but cannot prove - will also spring into action during their "special session" and pass a law that no one in Waukesha County is allowed to vote. Better yet, they might want to err on the side of caution and pass a law banning all Republicans from voting, since they seem to be the ones doing all the fraud.

H/T Waukesha Wonk on the Twitter

The Deafening Silence

Watch this video, via Steve Hanson, of recent events at the State Capitol:

Those people weren't creating a disturbance. They weren't disrupting proceedings. They were sitting there peacefully. The fact that this is going on in Wisconsin, that this is going on anywhere in America, is simply intolerable and outrageous.

And for the conservatives and the Republicans who see this and have nothing to say, then I say to you that you have not one damn thing to say about the protesters at all, whether they be #wiunion or #occupy. Your deafening silence in this assault on the Constitution and on the principals of this country says more about you than any words could ever express.

While I cannot and do not condone some of the reported behaviors of some of the #occupy protesters, I would still rather stand with them than anyone who sees this and either condones it or accepts it in their silence.

And while your silence says everything I'd care to know about you, pictures are still worth a thousand words, silent or otherwise:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Walker's Job Plan Worse Than If He Did Nothing

Walker showing
compassion for the
While he was running for governor, Scott Walker promised, nay, pledged that he would create 250,000 jobs in his first term if elected.  He also added that we should hold him accountable, since apparently he does not have the self-discipline to hold himself accountable.

Not even ten months into his time of tyranny, we have seen jobs leave by the thousands and tens of thousands. And the jobs that we have managed to hang on to despite Walker's best efforts are paying much less than they used to.

As if that wasn't bad enough, it was reported today that the state owes the federal government nearly $1.2 billion that it had to borrow to pay unemployment insurance compensation to the burgeoning number of people who have lost their jobs due to Walker's ideologically driven job destruction plan.

And as another nail in the coffin for Walker's job creation rhetoric, he is now on his third Secretary for the Department of Workforce Development in just nine months.  The first one lasted only five months and the second only four months.  At this accelerated pace, the just appointed secretary will be lucky to last it out until the new year.

What is rather telling is that the secretary which just resigned did so because he felt he could do a better job of connecting unemployed workers with jobs if he were not part of Walker's administration.

It should also be noted that the person that Walker tagged as his third secretary is a leftover from Jim Doyle's administration.  Does this mean that he has finally run out of cronies and sons of lobbyists to appoint to these jobs?

Things are so bad that even Walker is admitting that he isn't going to keep that pledge he made of the 250,000 jobs.  Yet he doesn't say anything about accountability now.  That's OK. We will do it for him starting on November 15th.

But even Walker's admission of failure doesn't quite show how bad his jobs plan is.

For that we have to go back to March 2010, when experts pointed out that he would be able to come very close to 250,000 jobs by doing next to nothing:
Scott Walker's promise to create 250,000 jobs by 2015 may not be as crazy as some claim. But it also may not be as bold as the county executive says, either.

The winner of the governor's race this year should benefit during the first two years of his term from what state economists are already projecting to be a significant rebound from the jobs lost during the Great Recession.

Add even modest growth during the final two years, and the next governor could be in the neighborhood of 250,000 more jobs over his first term without doing much to change the state's business climate.
Boy, wouldn't that make a great slogan for the recalls - "Scott Walker, Worse Than Doing Nothing"

The Walker Recall: By The Numbers

Just weeks before the official kickoff to the Recall Walker movement, things aren't looking too good for the puppet governor of Corporate America.  The Democrats have just released the numbers related to a survey of Wisconsinites regarding Walker and his job performance.

Walker must be reaching for the industrial-sized bottle of antacid whenever he sees these numbers.

As the gentle reader can see, only 42% of the people would keep Walker as governor while 51% support Anyone But Walker.  Besides the fact that the majority want Walker gone, he doesn't test out very well in other aspects either:
  • 53% of the people hold an unfavorable opinion of Walker personally
  • 52% of the people feel that the state is seriously going the wrong way
  • 52% disapprove of Walker's job performance.
And it's just that people don't like Walker - they really don't like him:

But we already knew that most Democrats can't stand Walker while many Republicans have put on their blinders and have drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid, pretending that continuous job loss, loss of rights and plutocracy is actually a good thing.

The biggest story is how the Independents feel about him, which isn't very good either, per the report:
Walker struggles mightily with the middle of the electorate. Independents – those who do not identify with or lean toward either party – support the recall by 16 points, 52-to-36 percent, led by Independent women who overwhelmingly favor the recall. Similarly, self-described Moderates favor the recall by 23 points. These Independents will be a tough audience for Walker to persuade, as nearly three-in-five have an unfavorable opinion of Walker and 56% disapprove of his job performance. Walker also has a particular problem among women, who favor the recall by 20 points.

In addition to the strong support for the recall among Independents, less partisan Democrats (those who describe themselves as “not strong” or “lean”) are stronger in their support for the recall than the less partisan Republicans are in their support to keep Walker in office by eight points.
The poll also showed that the majority of people felt that Walker is too close to corporate interests and was mainly interested in just grabbing all the power he could.

Not the kind of numbers that you want when you're about to go into the fight for your political life. Even worse for Walker is that the polling happened weeks before we learned the state lost more than 12,000 more jobs because of his failed policies and budget schemes.

And before the usual suspects go on a rant about it being Democratic poll numbers and thus slanted, let me point out that they are about to spend a helluva lot of money on the recall.  They aren't about to blow through that much money unless they had a reasonable expectation of winning.

Furthermore, I would suspect that the Republicans polling is about the same.  If their numbers were positive, they would have been crowing about them already.  Instead, we see them scrambling about trying to suppress many voters, rigging the GAB and gerrymandering.  Those aren't the signs of a confident group of people.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Because Big Business Cares For You

And conservatives wonder why people are rising up against corporatism and corporate greed:
Last month, a Time Warner Cable customer service rep died at her desk. After any unexpected death, people searched for answers, explanations, someone to blame. But in this case, there may have actually been something foul afoot. A local news station reports that after a co-worker began giving CPR to 67-year-old Julia Nelson, a supervisor allegedly told her to stop and "get back on the phone and take care of customers."

Nelson slumped at her desk at the Time Warner Call Center in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and wasn't breathing by the time paramedics arrived. But before that happened, a co-worker rushed over and began administering CPR, the woman told WOIO, only to be asked to stop. Employees at the scene have confirmed this report.

The woman was also told later by another supervisor that she could be "held liable if something goes wrong."

Ohio has a "Good Samaritan" law on the books, however, which protects bystanders who provide emergency aid from being sued for unintentional injury or wrongful death.
Nice. The company not only lets the one woman die, but then they make false threats against the other worker who went to her aid.

If you're not outraged by this story, you're part of the problem.

Lasee Tilts At Windmills

Senator Frank Lasee (R-On the ledge), wannabe US Senator and wannabe Don Quixote, has taken up the art of tilting at windmills, claiming that they are a health hazard.

This is the same guy who has supported nuclear power plants and sending our money and jobs to Canada for electricity that would have to be brought in on high-voltage transmission lines, both of which have been shown to actually have health hazards to people and animals.

But maybe he's on to something.  Isn't it wind power that ruined the Danish economy and made the Danish people go extinct? Oops, guess not.

I know what you're thinking, but it's the wrong question.  Instead of asking yourself what makes this guy think he has even a remote chance at being in the US Senate, you should be asking is how the heck does he keep getting elected to the state senate.

Walker's Double Dipsy Doodle

Before becoming governor and proving to the world that labor relations was a foreign concept to him and something that he couldn't wrap his little pea-brain around, Scott Walker was doing much the same thing as Milwaukee County Executive.

Through excessive and illegal furloughs, cuts to pensions and the continuous threats of layoffs (sometimes just as a manipulative "joke"), Walker made Milwaukee County an unpleasant and unhealthy place to work for.  Understandably and not surprisingly, many workers who were eligible for retirement took it.  Some even took an early retirement just to get away from the miasma Walker was making of Milwaukee County.

Walker, however, would not hire new recruits to replace these workers as they left.  Instead, if the need was great enough, the county would hire the retirees back through a temp agency specializing in professional staff.
That way he could brag about how he kept county staffing levels down while "saving money."  They were obviously great political talking points.  Too bad they weren't exactly true.

What Walker would do was hire the retirees back through Personnel Specialists, LTD, a temp agency that dealt with professional and white collar workers. (I've heard some workers were told to apply there by management after they retired.)  And Walker paid this agency well for their role in bringing back the retirees, in the tune of more than $5 million in the past three years.

Click on picture to embiggen

The retirees made out very well also.  They were able to collect their pension and free health insurance and receive a salary on top of it. They were double-dipping* with Walker's blessing.  Not a bad deal if you could get it.

Of course, the unions were none to happy about this, since it was taking work away from current and potential county workers, but Walker kept doing it anyway, squandering tax dollars for political gain.

Given this history of Walker's, it was mildly bemusing to find out that now, as governor, he has come down against the practice.  Of course, when one gets into the details of the bill Walker is supporting, it's quickly obvious that it doesn't have that much teeth to it and is more for show than practical use.

For someone who has only been aware for a few months of just how horrible and destructive Walker this might seem amazing hypocritical of Walker.  And they would be correct, of course.

But for those of us that have suffered long-term exposure to Walker, there is not one thing surprising about it.  Walker's propensity for hypocrisy and flip flops are nothing new for him.

*I can't help it, but whenever I hear Wisconsin and double-dipping, this always comes to mind.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Racist Law Results In Blowback

So, Alabama joins the racist bandwagon and passes strict immigration laws.  It had the intended consequence of driving off the undocumented workers.

But it also produced the unintended consequence of having no one to do their work.

The farmers complain that Americans are too lazy. Maybe they just want to get paid a decent wage.

I wonder if the supporters of this law will have enough sense to make the connection between their hate and the fact that they are going to have a shortage of food as a lot of it is left in the field and will be paying more for what is harvested.

Something tells me they aren't.

That's OK, they'll find out soon enough that one can't feed off their anger for long.

Wisconsinites Beware!

My dear fellow Wisconsinites, beware!

There is a gruesome monster on the loose in Wisconsin, and there is no telling when and where it will appear.

Last night, I was visiting with some of my dearest friends in Madison. After saying good night to them, I walked off to my car. Little did I know that I was about to have a brushing with death by having a close encounter with this monstrosity.

I speak of none other than.....COUNT WALKULA!

This is not your typical undead.  Count Walkula is the un-braindead.

Nor is County Walkula your typical vampire, but a conservampire!  A conservampire doesn't just want to such your lifeblood out of your body, but to suck the money out of your wallet, suck the jobs out of your state, and such the rights out of your constitution.

There have been several conservampires seen in the Madison area, but County Walkula is the king of these blood-sucking weasels.

If you encounter Count Walkula or any of his minions, the only defense is to hold up a copy of the Constitution.  The only way to put an end to them is a special stake called Recall.  Do not hesitate to use either of these to defend yourself, your families and your loved ones.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sarah Palin And The Psychiatrist

Sometimes we just need a good laugh:
A noted psychiatrist was a guest speaker at an academic function where Sarah Palin happened to appear. Ms Palin took the opportunity to schmooze the good doctor a bit and asked him a question with which he was most at ease.

'Would you mind telling me, Doctor,' she asked, 'how you detect a mental deficiency
in somebody who appears completely normal?'

'Nothing is easier,' he replied.
'You ask a simple question which anyone should answer with no trouble.
If the person hesitates, that puts you on the track..'

'What sort of question?' asked Palin.

Well, you might ask, 'Captain Cook made three trips around the world
and died during one of them. Which one?''

Palin thought a moment, and then said with a nervous laugh,
'You wouldn't happen to have another example would you?
I must confess I don't know much about history.'

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XXVI

And boy is it ever working, managing to scare off another private sector jobs 900 jobs in just one month. And that was the good news. The public sector job loss was much, much worse:
Private sector employment fell in September in Wisconsin for the third consecutive month, even as the unemployment rate improved slightly, according to the latest report released today by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
The state lost 900 jobs among private-sector employers, the report said.

Employment in the government sector continued to fall, losing an estimated 11,700 jobs. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped slightly to 7.8 percent in September from 7.9 percent in August.

The unemployment rate in January, when Gov. Scott Walker took office with a promise to create 250,000 new jobs in the next four years, was 7.4 percent.
This was never about private sector jobs versus public sector jobs. This is about people wanting to work versus people like Walker who only wants to give our money to his wealth campaign donors.

Fortunately, the gales of November are coming.

Racine Jobs Hearing This Monday

From the old inbox:
Brothers and Sisters,

The second round of jobs hearings will take place at the Roma Lodge, 7130 Spring Street in Racine on Monday, October 24 at 7:00 pm. Last week over 200 concerned citizens packed the Washington Park Senior Center in Milwaukee to talk jobs. Read a report on last week's job hearing by clicking here.

The jobs hearing will give citizens a chance to speak directly with their legislators about the need for quality, family-sustaining jobs in the area.

The jobs crisis is the number one threat to our economy and a concern of many Wisconsinites. Although Gov. Walker promised to create 250,000 new jobs for Wisconsin, it is clear that continuous tax breaks for the super rich have not helped the people of Wisconsin. The lack of family-supporting jobs is the priority issue that must be addressed immediately by policymakers.

Additional Jobs Hearing are also taking place this Monday in La Crosse and Oshkosh.

As of this date, lawmakers confirmed to attend include Sen. Bob Wirch and Rep. Cory Mason.
In Solidarity,
Phil Neuenfeldt, President
Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer

Walker Blog Sites Have Longevity Issues

When I first introduced you, gentle reader, to the wide world of Walkergate, I made mention of a certain pro-Scott Walker blog site which suddenly disappeared as Walkergate was just starting to unfold:
Interestingly, at the same time interest in Wink and Russell were growing, there was a website called "," which was a strongly pro-Walker blog and was staffed with people who had obvious political connections. There had been speculation that the writers were members of Walker's county staff, his campaign staff (or both, since Walker has a long history of blurring that line).

Around the time of Wink's outing, they stopped publishing new posts. A week later, they killed their twitter account. Before 2010 came to a close, they had removed all comments and then took the entire site down.
As I was doing some research for another piece, I came across another interesting tidbit.

Walker has, in the fairly recent past, had the blog spot, which he quaintly called the Team Tosa Blog and which was written mostly by Rich in Retail, eliminated, or at least removed from public access:

Isn't it curious that this happens just as the movement to recall him is about to kick off?  It really makes me want to know what he is hiding.  Is it the promises he didn't keep?  The hypocritical stances that he is so famous for? Does it have something to do with the ongoing John Doe investigation?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Love In The Fast (Food) Lane

ALEC and Typhoid Mary - so happy together. Brought to you by YUM!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Drinking Liberally -- In Walkersha?!

You never know what one will find in my inbox these days. Sometimes it is full of strange and wondrous things, like this:

Phil Scarr and Lisa Mux are pleased to introduce the first-ever Drinking Liberally Waukesha. 
Drinking Liberally is a progressive social group, where left-leaning individuals go to talk politics and enjoy drinks. It's informal, inclusive and non-partisan.  And now, it's coming to Waukesha. 
The inaugural meeting of Drinking Liberally Waukesha is Monday, November 7, 2011.  Speakers include Zach W. of Blogging Blue and Drinking Liberally Milwaukee fame, and  celebrity radio host John 'Sly' Sylvester of the popular radio show "Sly in the Morning" on Madison's WTDY 1670! 
Drinking Liberally Waukesha will meet at 6:30 pm on the first Monday of every month, at Sprizzo Gallery Caffe (2nd floor), 363 W. Main Street, in historic downtown Waukesha. 
Come on down, grab a drink and/or food, and get to know your like-minded neighbors! 
Drinking Liberally was founded in New York City in May 2003 by Justin Krebs and Matthew O'Neill, and has grown to include over 100 chapters across America. 
For more information, please visit
Will wonders never cease?

Walkergate: The State Budget Is In Crisis!....Or Is It?

In an ongoing series, this is another tale of Walkergate to help people understand that Scott Walker's scams, acts of corruption, examples of overreach and a myriad of other vile deeds of chicanery are only more evidence that nothing new is under the sun in Fitzwalkerstan and why Walker is not fit to be governor.

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that the UW System has to cut another $65.7 million from it's budget in order to make up for a deficit in the state budget. Scott Walker's personal hatchet man and number one henchman, Mike Huebsch, sent out a memo advising department heads that they have to make these cuts and that they could go higher.

However, the real kicker is buried a few paragraphs down:
Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch sent out a memo Friday to state agency heads saying they need to return $174.3 million in state funds. It could be as much as $300 million if state revenues are weaker than predicted, Huebsch wrote.
Walker and his Republican cohorts in the state legislature have already started carving to the bone with their draconian cuts.  And now they are looking at going even deeper.As an example: After cutting $445 million from Medicaid services like BadgerCare, SeniorCare and Family Care.  Now they are looking for another $110 million to be taken away from our most vulnerable citizens. This kind of thing is being carried on across the board, or so they tell us.  The one place they're not looking for cuts is in the generous tax breaks and giveaways they're lavishing on their campaign donors and wealthy friends.

A few of my contemporaries on the left side of the Cheddarsphere are besides themselves, and rightfully so at the implications of this bit of news.  It means not only more suffering for the general public in the loss of services, but it also will impact many more of the already beleaguered state workers, reducing their pay even further if not just out right lay offs.  This will in turn send the state economy into an ever deeper tailspin and drive more private sector companies, and their jobs, to seek better economic climates, like almost anywhere.

Some say that this proves that Walker and the Republicans were lying when they were crowing that they produced a balanced budget.  And that's a very understandable reaction.  Time and time again as Milwaukee County Executive, Walker has shown himself to be incapable of budgeting his way out of a brown paper bag.

But having lived under Walker's regime much longer than the most of the state, I am painfully aware that with Walker, all may not be as it seems.  Two glaring examples immediately come to mind.

Every year that Walker was Milwaukee County Executive, you could tell that it was June when Walker would announce that there was a budget crisis and that severe cuts would have to be made to balance the budget.  One year he even went so far as proposing closing all the pools, denying people, especially children, a chance to cool off in the extremely hot days of summer.

The only exception to the midyear budget crisis were his last couple of years when he would declare his budget crisis along with his wishes of Happy New Year.

In January of 2009, he declared that the county budget was already $15 million in the red and that severe action might be needed. By declaring a fiscal emergency, he was also able to do a power grab and make unilateral decisions without consulting the county board, much less get their approval. (Doesn't that sound familiar?)

By midyear, he decided that the emergency action required was to put every county worker on a shortened work week, cutting an hour off of every day, for an indefinite length of time.  The unions were outraged by this, rightfully so, and filed a class action grievance regarding this.  Their argument was that Walker overstepped his authority and was in violation of the contract and of previous rulings of the arbitrator, who said that such actions could not exceed 45 hours.

The case was heard and to no one's real surprise, except for maybe Walker and his faithful followers, the ruling went against Walker.  But there was something there besides the violation of the contract.  There was no real budget crisis after all:
The arbitrator also found other flaws with Walker's actions. These include the fact that Walker had failed to show that the County's projected deficit was severe enough to warrant such drastic actions. In fact, it was in the testimony that Walker's chief number cruncher, Steve Kreklow, admitted that the deficit was only one third the number of what Walker has been reporting. And even the new lower number of $4.5 million is almost seven times the number that the award-winning County Auditor found it to be.
As another tidbit of historical trivia, even then Walker refused to even sit down and do good faith bargaining with the unions. He would then blame the unions for failing to make concessions and use that as an excuse of his inability or refusal to craft a balanced budget.

Also, as another side note, Walker then went on to impose excessive amounts of furloughs on the workers. They also were ruled to be illegal and has now left the county with an additional problem as it's been ordered to pay back the money that was wrongfully taken from the workers. The judgement at that time was for more than $6 million with a 12% interest to be compounded daily. The county still hasn't paid it back to the workers.

Later that same year, with only two months left to the year, he announced that there was a sudden $3 million dollar deficit due to the incompetence of his management staff.  (Walker had known about it for months, but willfully failed to disclose that information until he could use it for his political advantage.)

Walker claimed that the only way to resolve this deficit was to lay off 180 workers, with the majority of them coming from the parks.  Some of the affected workers had been with the county for decades and were practically hysterical as they go their lay off notices.

This prompted the reaction he wanted when the county board fell all over itself, saying that they would find the savings in other places. Walker made a grand show of how magnanimous he was and rescinded the lay offs the very next day.

But now comes the part that shows how despicable Walker is and how he has no qualms about using sadistic, Machiavellian stunts for his political advantage.

It turns out that this whole thing was contrived.  He pulled it just before he was to have a major fund raiser.  He then went on a Madison radio station the following Monday and was laughing about the lay offs and admitted that it was a stunt to get the board to do his wishes.  The real kicker was that at the end of that year, there was an $8 million surplus showing that their were no need for the lay offs or the furloughs to begin with.

So, in summary, when Walker is saying that, only three months into his state budget, there is a deficit, there very well may be one.  He is that incompetent.  But it should also be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism, because there is an equal chance that it's just a gimmick in order to bleed the workers and the tax payers even more, before trying to privatize everything.

The sad part of it all is that whether it's a genuine or contrived deficit, it's the innocent people that will suffer for it, and not the real culprits.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Give Paul Ryan Something To Listen To

Even though he might not like what we have to say, give Paul Ryan something to listen to:
Dear Friends and Neighbors -

Come join me this week or next for one of my listening sessions.
I want to hear from you and have important information to share as I continue to work for you in Washington.
Looking forward to seeing you.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Paul Ryan Listening Sessions

10:30am - 12:00pm
High Tides Banquet Hall, 17745 W. Janesville Road

2:00 - 3:30pm
Oak Creek Community Center, 8580 South Howell Avenue

Friday, October 21, 2011

Paul Ryan Listening Sessions

9:00 - 10:30am
Cesar Chavez Auditorium, 2221 Douglas Avenue

Friday, October 28, 2011

Paul Ryan Listening Sessions

9:00 - 10:30am
Pontiac Convention Center, 2809 North Pontiac Drive

12:00 - 1:30pm
Monte Carlo Room, 720 North Wisconsin Street

3:00 - 4:30pm
Gateway Technical College, Madrigrano Auditorium, 3520 30th Avenue

Paid for by Ryan for Congress

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XXV

Someone remind me, was Walker's promise to bring in 10,000 new businesses or chase away 10,000 businesses?
Johnson Controls Inc.plans to permanently close its factory in Hudson, in St. Croix County, leaving 51 employees without jobs.

Layoffs are expected to begin on Dec. 14 and continue through Feb. 28, 2012, according to a plant closing notice filed Monday with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Some of the employees are represented by the United Auto Workers union Local 879.
How much more does he think we are going to take?

The gales of November come on the 15th.

Wisconsin Can't Wait

The Democrats have come out with their first volley in the upcoming recall of Scott Walker.

The call their ad "Wisconsin Can't Wait":

All in all, it's pretty well done. I think they do a very good job at hammering home the fact that Walker is not what he said he was and that all his promises are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

That said, I can't say that I agree with the "can't" part.

It would be more appropriate to say Wisconsin won't wait.

Like Jay Bullock, I question the timing. I don't think the heart of the holiday season is the best time to do this. The weather shouldn't be that much of a factor since there doesn't need to be a balance in where the signatures come from. The recallers only need focus in Milwaukee, Madison and Wausau to get the bulk of the 540,000 signatures needed. Add Stevens Point, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Green Bay and Eau Claire and you've got it. And really, do they need to do more than hang outside the government buildings in any of these cities to get a great bulk of the signatures they need?

Unlike Jay, I don't think that they should wait the better part of the year to do this either. If they getting going in February or March, they'll have lots of opportunity to get signatures without interruption (except for St Paddy's day - everyone needs a break now and then). By the time the signatures are counted, the Republican elections and spring elections will be over and the Republicans will have gone back to their tea cozies, listening to squawk radio so they know what to think.

I am also more than bit worried about the fact that I haven't even heard of a viable candidates name being bantered about. Barrett's not going to run again. Kathleen Falk won't win the state. David Obey, while feisty as ever, won't cut it either. And Herb Kohl doesn't need the stress.

It's bad enough that, tongue in cheek, I've been threatening friends with establishing an exploratory committee for a run of my own.

But then again, I know their reasons for doing it now. I might not agree with them, but I can say I understand them.

And yes, I think that the recall will happen and that Walker's going to be a political casualty of the inadvisable stunts that he's pulled, both before and after the election. I also think a rancid potato could beat him even if the signatures had to be collected in a 60-day long blizzard and that voters had to show two types of ID and do a solo performance of the HMS Pinafore.

The winds of November might not be coming early, but by God, they are coming.

Or to put it another way: Scott Walker - You have sown the wind. Now prepare to reap the whirlwind!