Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Walkergate: But There's More. There's Always More.

When Kelly Rindfleisch was arrested and charged last week for illegal politicking, I pointed out the following email from Scott Walker to Tim Russell, which he sent just after Darlene Wink got caught posting comments on JSOnline and other sites:

I pointed out that this showed that Walker knew exactly what was happening and what his county staff was doing.  It does this by being very specific about the laptops and websites and other activities.  

Also very telling is that Walker sent this email, which one would think would actually be county business, from his campaign email address, during what would be considered work time.  This shows he was more concerned with the damage Wink's outing did to his campaign than there was anything illegal actually going on in his executive office.

The astute Jud Lounsbury noticed that when Walker sent that email to Russell, Russell was no longer in the county executive's office.  Two months earlier, Walker had transferred Russell to the Department of Housing, meaning that he was no longer in any authority of what happened in the executive office, unless it was to oversee the  illegal campaigning that Walker denies knowing anything about.  I would only add that was Russell no longer in the executive office, he was no longer in the courthouse, but had been moved to the Coggs Building, one mile away.  Although Russell didn't seem to be in his office all that often.

The esteemed Jay Bullock, formerly known as the blogger named folkbum, took Lounsbury one step further.  Bullock points out that the same day that Wink was outed, the official unofficial Walker campaign website up and disappeared - poof!  As Bullock states, this email shows that Walker knew exactly who to go to when he wanted it stopped, even though that person wasn't even in that office or that building.
Now, some of the Walker apologists might argue that the email shows that Walker ordered the illegal activity stopped and fired Wink, and that shows that he is a straight shooter.  Of course, to believe that, they would have to ignore the issues described above and the fact that Wink resigned on her own and there is no evidence that she was asked to do so.

But there's more.  There's always more.

If you take a closer look at Walker's email, he sent it on Friday, May 14, 2010.  Yet on the very next day, Saturday, May 15, Walker left Milwaukee on his infamous Harley Davidson "Executive Ride."  This ride, which was purportedly to promote tourism for Milwaukee County, was nothing more than a poorly disguised campaign event for Walker. He moved the ride up from it's usual time at the end of June because, get ready for this, it was too warm then to go for a motorcycle ride.  In what I'm sure is a coincidence (meaning it was anything but a coincidence), Walker's bike ride led back to Milwaukee just in time for the Republican state convention, in which the party nominees were named.  Shazam! How'd that happen?!

This campaign bike rid is also what led the DPW to file a complaint against Walker, first with the GAB and then with the Milwaukee County District Attorney, based in part on the fact that Russell, who went along on the ride as a county employee, was apparently doing what appears to be campaign work.

Walker didn't even wait a day before he violated his own directive.

Fun fact: For some reason, Walker didn't take a bike ride in 2011.  I can't imagine why not.

But there's more. There's always more.

Via Lounsbury again, we learn that as recently as this past October, Walker again crossed the line between government duties and campaign work when he had a WISGOP staffer sending out his official state press releases:

I had a rather strange exchange with the spokeswoman for the Wisconsin GOP yesterday morning as I tried to get Walker’s side of the story. First, Walker’s press secretary had emailed that the trip was not official state business and the Wisconsin GOP was handling everything.  Nicole Larson, deputy director of communications for the WISGOP, called me back after I left a voice mail message. 
“His schedule’s actually completely booked while he’s in Iowa,” Larson told me. “But what we can do is, I mean, since you’re radio I’m sure this might not be helpful, but we can send you the statement from his office.” 
I asked: “The statement from his office, that’s not handling his trip?” 
“Well, technically, I’m doing his communications,” Larson said, pausing before she added: “Because I am. We can send you a statement, but that’s all we can do because he’s booked.”

Let's recap for a minute.  There's some illegal politicking going on in the Walker's office while he was county executive.  He knows what's going on but doesn't do anything until one of his staff gets busted.  And then when he finally does act, it's only to do damage control and not address the personnel issues occurring, meaning he's still OK with it as long as no one gets caught.  The day after issue his edict to stop, he violates his own orders.  And he continues to do the same illegal politicking as governor.

But there's more.  There's always more.

One Wisconsin Now and We Are Wisconsin are calling for Walker to ask for the resignations of Cullen Werwie and Brett Davis, who were caught being involved in Walkergate and doing illegal politicking, just like in the caucus scandals of ten years ago.  They are basing their demands on Walker's very own words regarding another one of his scandalous friends, Darlene Wink:
“Had we been aware of anyone else who violated the…policy [against campaigning on taxpayers’ dime], we would have taken the same action [that we took against Darlene Wink and requested their resignation].”
Let me take a second to interject that Walker's email to Russell shows he knows Russell was in on the scandal, not to mention was with him during the entire campaign bike ride, but he never did fire him.  Russell stayed a county employee until he was fired by Walker's immediate temporary replacement, Lee Holloway.

But there's more.  There's always more.

Walker himself has violated this policy time and time again, both as county executive and now as governor.

But to be honest, unless the public outcry becomes so great that he can't conceivably ignore it, don't expect him to ask for anyone's resignation.  If he let's them go, he loses even the pretense of being able to influence their testimony in any upcoming trials.  And he doesn't dare risk anything more incriminating come out about him, between the Walkergate investigation and the recall election coming up.

Likewise, Walker will never resign.  Like most megalomaniacs throughout history, he is unable to conceive the fact that he could do wrong or is any way vulnerable.  Besides, if he resigned now, it would be effectively an admission of guilt.  And owning up to anything he did wrong is something that he has never done in his entire life.  I would not be at all surprised in the event of his recall and/or indictment, he will go down blaming others and accepting no responsibility himself.

The Pro-Walker Rally Was Illegally Held After All - Or Was It?

About ten days ago, there was a "Scott Walker Appreciation" rally in Wauwatosa's Hart Park.  The event was attended by thousands hundreds dozens of people.  As near as I can tell, the number of people that were there were pretty evenly divided by politicians, event organizers, police, moles and actual attendees.

Perhaps their attendance would have been higher if they picked the right day.  But even if you give the event organizers the benefit of the doubt and agree that they had "thousands" of people there, it's still a pale comparison to any given anti-Walker rally.  I wouldn't be surprised to find out they had as high or even higher turnout at the recall signing petition they had in that same neighborhood weeks before.

At the time, I did a satirical piece saying the recall organizers broke the law by defacing a recall sign (it was just an example of the right wing's lack of originality).

As it turns out, the rally might have been illegal after all.

The City of Wauwatosa has a pretty messed up and convoluted policy towards political events in Hart Park.  Organizers can have a political event in one part of the park, but not in other parts, unless they get special permission to do so.

In the case of this rally, it was both in the legal part of the park as well as the illegal part.  But they did have that special permission to go into that other part.  However, in the article, the city attorney said that he wasn't consulted on this, but would have advised the authorities to deny the special permission.  Another city official described the granting of the special permission as a mistake.

See? Like I said, it's a mess.

So I thought I'd try to see what I could come up with.

I contacted another city official who said that the Patch article hit it pretty much on the head.  The official said that once they became aware of what was going on, they had more questions than there were answers.

The same official said that this mess was a leftover from the overly partisan former mayor, Jill Didier, who had resigned from her position to become economic development director for Milwaukee County.*

But another interesting fact was brought to my attention.

One of the main organizers, Paris Procopis, was a failed candidate for the State Assembly.  He had run against incumbent David Cullen, but failed to make it on the ballot when he didn't collect enough valid signatures.  (Procopis got bounced off the ticket by Attorney Michael Maistelman who went through and challenged the signatures.  He worked at Cullen's expense.  This is something Scott Walker couldn't and/or wouldn't do and has now saddled the tax payers for his political expenses.)

It would not be a very dangerous leap of logic that Procopis was seeking an appointment of sorts, or maybe and endorsement for Cullen's old seat, by Walker in return to putting this rally on.  And there's enough evidence that Walker does that sort of thing, whether the appointee is qualified or not.

In summary, the rally was technically legal, although it shouldn't have been allowed according to city ordinances.

But the bigger problem is the screwed up rules the city has, which they need to change immediately.  They should either allow all political events or none at all.  If they wanted my input, I would side with free speech every time, no matter how pathetic and repulsive one might find it.  The way it is now, it gives the appearance of favoritism and political manipulation.

*Apparently, there is a little known county ordinance that states the county executive cannot hire someone who is actually qualified to be the economic development director.

Monday, January 30, 2012

For MJS, What's Old Is New Again

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has uncovered some "new" angle on the Walkergate story. There "breaking news" was that Tim Russell, who is facing embezzlement charges stemming from that investigation and seems to be mired in every aspect of the investigation so far, was fired for using a state credit card for personal use:

A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker accused of stealing from a fund for veterans was earlier fired from a state job for the misuse of public money, new records show.
Tim Russell, a former deputy chief of staff to Walker while he served as Milwaukee County executive, was fired from a job in 1993 for "gross misconduct," his personnel records show. This latest news follows charges filed in recent weeks alleging Russell stole money in 2010 from a fund meant for veterans.

Russell was fired from the earlier job at the quasi-public Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority after it was discovered in the spring of 1993 that he had improperly billed $1,123 in hotel stays to the agency. The details are in Russell's personnel file, which was released to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through an open records request.

"We have considered carefully the disciplinary options available and have come to the conclusion that we have no other alternative than to terminate your employment, effective immediately," Russell's May 1993 termination letter reads.
Of course, those familiar with my work are probably wondering to themselves, "Yeah, so? What else is old?"

You see, we already heard this story in October 2010 when Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan brought it up, just months after it was learned that Russell had his office raided and his computers confiscated in the Walkergate investigation:
Milwaukee County Supervisor John F. Weishan, Jr., is calling on County Executive Scott Walker to disclose the full work history of the Housing Division administrator, Mr. Timothy Russell. It has been brought to Supervisor Weishan’s attention that Mr. Russell was terminated from a previous position at the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) for illegal use of a department credit card for his personal use.

“After reviewing the past resumes of Mr. Russell, submitted to the County Board when he was considered for the position of Economic Development Director, I could not find any mention of this infraction,” Supervisor Weishan said. “It’s time for the County Executive and Mr. Russell to come clean about the Housing Division administrator’s work history.”
I brought this up again at the beginning of the month, after Russell was arrested in a tangential investigation:
One, this is not the first time it's been alleged that Russell has stolen. In October 2010, Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan brought up the fact that Russell had been terminated from a position with WHEDA when he used a state-owned credit card for personal use.
Ah, well, this isn't the first time I've scooped the paper and it won't be the last. Tis the life of a blogger, I guess.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LXVII

I'm sure by now the gentle reader knows that, thanks to Scott Walker's budget, there is less spending money going around for the hard-working people of the state. And as people have less money to spend, the first thing that gets cut is discretionary and luxury spending, like eating out or staying in a hotel.

And, as usual, I am again proven correct:
Clearwaters Hotel and Convention Center's overnight guests awoke Friday morning to an unpleasant surprise: The hotel was closing, and they effectively were being booted from their rooms.

At least one Clearwaters guest booked a room with Marshfield's Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center for Friday night, after a note from Clearwaters management was slipped under the guest's door announcing the hotel was shutting down at 10 a.m. Friday, said Steve Luchik, Holiday Inn general manager.

By 11 a.m. Friday, the doors of the financially troubled Clearwaters Hotel, at 2700 S. Central Ave., were locked, and all the window shades were drawn.

Signs posted on the doors said Clearwaters was "closed until further notice."
And later in the article we see how Walker's trickle down economics really works:
Clearwaters' closure will hurt local tourism, several officials said.

Its 103 hotel rooms made up a significant portion of Marshfield's more than 200 total hotel rooms, said Scott Larson, executive director of the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"It's disappointing because it's one less banquet facility that's available and 103 less rooms available for business and tourism activities," Larson said, adding that it's particularly disappointing for people with pending reservations at Clearwaters.
In other words, as the hotel fails, other businesses, like restaurants and attractions, which were probably also struggling, will also go over the edge and fail.

And to think, Walker says his budget is working.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Parts XLV and XLVI

Scott Walker pledged that he would create 250,000 jobs in his first term (not counting on the fact that his first term would be only about 18 months long). That would have to put Wisconsin at the top of the states in regarding job creation. But as we already know, he's falling way, way short of that mark:
New preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Wisconsin with 2,739,500 total employees on nonfarm payrolls through December 2011.

That's up 3,200 for the year -- a 0.12 percent increase -- and puts Wisconsin 45th for total job growth compared to the other states and the District of Columbia.

The only states with a worse percentage increase in 2011 were Rhode Island, Maine, Missouri, Georgia, Alaska and Delaware.
And if it weren't for Governor Jim Doyle, we'd be even in worse straits:
In Wisconsin, the losses of the second half of 2011 effectively wiped out job growth of 38,800 in the first six months of the year.
Well, OK. If he didn't create jobs, he made Wisconsin one of the most business friendly states, right? I mean, Walker's been bragging about that for months, so it's got to be true, right?

Well, if you believe Walker, you must be new to this site. Welcome and feast your eyes on Walker's real track record:
Wisconsin is one of the 10 worst states in terms of taxes on businesses, according to the State Business Tax Climate Index, released Wednesday by the Tax Foundation.

It rates Wisconsin No. 43, down from 41 a year ago.
I can almost hear Walker doing his best Church Lady impersonation and saying, "Never mind."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

If It Isn't A Mink, There Is No Link

Surprisingly, this story isn't from Sheboygan:
The victim said that a man burst into his apartment. When the victim asked, "Why are you carrying a weasel?" police said the attacker said, "It's not a weasel, it's a marten," then punched him in the nose and fled.

Neither man was right. Authorities say the carcass was a mink.
Even funnier is the source who offers their own assessment of the story from a legal point of view.

H/T to the future Royal Barrister, if she ever finishes law school at UW-Madison.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part XLIV

Business is so good in Fitzwalkerstan that three appliance stores are closing without notice:
Employees of Appliance World, which operates three stores in southeastern Wisconsin, were told Sunday morning that the business was closing immediately and its assets were being seized by a bank.

Even though signs on the doors say "Closed for Inventory," Mike Whittaker, a sales representative at the Brookfield store, said it's unlikely the stores will reopen soon.

Whittaker said Appliance World owner Ed Aumann told 25 employees summoned to a meeting Sunday morning that "we're closing the business as of right now. It may reopen on Tuesday. I will not be the owner."

Whittaker doubts whether the business will reopen on Tuesday, and he's worried about getting his last paycheck.

Aumann did not return a phone call Sunday.

Kevin Novak, manager of the Brookfield Appliance World store, said Sunday night that he didn't know in advance of the meeting Sunday morning that the business was closing.

Novak and Whittaker don't know if customers who purchased appliances scheduled for delivery this week will get their merchandise.

"I have absolutely no idea. The owner wasn't clear on that," said Novak. "The word we got was that the company was going to reopen in some form on Tuesday to address some of these issues but there were no further details provided to us."

Whittaker, who has been a sale representative for nine years, estimated that as many as 100 customers are scheduled to get deliveries this week.

Last week "we were told only to sell things that were in stock," said Whittaker.

If the stores do reopen this week, Novak isn't sure who will be working.

"I think everybody employed by the company is looking for a new job including the owner," Novak said.
And remember at recall election time, that Scott Walker thinks this is a success. Then vote for the other person, even if it's a rancid potato.

Who Wrote The Mining Bill?

The Republican lack of leadership and accountability in action:

They're so proud of their work, no one will take credit for it.

And for what it's worth, the bozo that slammed the door to Jeff Fitzgerald's office is John Jagler, who used to be one of the morning clowns on WTMJ-AM in Milwaukee, the official flagship for the GOP. Something tells me that the "news" department over there won't be reporting on this any time soon.

And to think that Fitz the Lesser wants to be a US Senator. It is to laugh.

Controversial Psychobabble Of The Day

From Yahoo News:
There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

"Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood," he said.
For the record, I don't believe that IQ and racism are correlated.

I know some very intelligent people who are racist and some people with limited cognitive skills who aren't racist at all.

I think the important factor is wisdom, by which I mean the application of intelligence. Most or the people described in the article aren't necessarily stupid, just foolish.

Will Ernst-Ulrich Franzen Apologize To Supervisor John Weishan?

A couple of years ago, Supervisor John Weishan, in light of Darlene Wink's illegal activity, filed an Open Records Request against Scott Walker's office.  After being grossly overcharged, all Weishan got was a few lousy sheets of paper, which we now see were grossly in violation of the law regarding ORRs.

At the time, Ernst-Ulrich Franzen, part of the distinctly conservative editorial board at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel agreed that Weishan was overcharged and underserved, but then added this snide comment:

Weishan should remember that not every fishing trip pays off.

Recent events, that Franzen's paper has documented surprisingly well, goes to show that the record given to Weishan isn't accurate at all, nor is it complete.

Methinks that Franzen owes Weishan an apology for that off-hand and off-target comment.

Then he can apologize to the paper's readers, if they have any left, for carrying water for the corrupt Walker.

Walkergate vs Capitol Chaos

Just a point of interest regarding the supposedly liberal media.

Last year when Wisconsinites gathered by the tens and even the hundreds of thousands in Madison to protest the outrages being done upon our fair state and its people, the local media was quick to coin the phrase "Capitol Chaos."  They did so despite the fact that even though the crowds were huge, they were also very well  behaved and under control.

However, as the investigation into the corruption of Scott Walker's campaign/county executive office* is coming to the light of day, they continue to refer to it as "the John Doe investigation into Walker's aides."

I may be biased, since I was one of the first, if not the first, to publicly refer to the scandal as Walkergate, but I think that is a much catchier name.

At least The Ed Schultz Show recognizes it:

You can catch the whole clip here.

So, peaceful protests deserves being labelled as chaotic, but the most corrupt governor in state history gets a pass.  Exactly how the heck is that being liberal?

And on another point, just when the heck is Ed Schultz or Rachel Maddow going to ask me on their show? Sheesh!

*Walker's campaign staff and Walker's county staff are, for all practical purposes, apparently interchangeable.

Walker Dances Around Direct Questions

The other day, Scott Walker said that he would finally take questions about the Walkergate investigation, even though for months he said that he was complying with the rules of the John Doe by not commenting on it (and that was on top of his continuous denials of being part of it, so not subject to the rules, supposedly).

But when it came down to it, Walker didn't say much at all about it, other than to deny that he was John Doe. However, it is important to keep in mind that when it comes to Walker, what he doesn't say is much more relevant and revealing than what he does say.  Here is an excerpt from the story the Chicago Tribune did on this matter (emphasis mine):
Walker also sidestepped questions about a spreading corruption investigation that has led to the arrests of some of his former top aides from his tenure as Milwaukee County executive. The governor declined to say whether he had hired his own criminal attorney, saying his campaign was fully cooperating with prosecutors, who had asked him to refrain from such comments.
That would indicate that he has retained legal representation, an without doubt, it's not someone who comes cheap. I'll have more as I muddle through the pile of stuff, but there's been a noted change in the way that he is approaching this issue and that email he sent will be coming back to haunt him.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Notice The Difference?

Walkergate: John Doe Hits A Bullseye!

On Sunday, just five days ago, I wrote a piece about how the John Doe investigation, commonly referred to as Walkergate, into Scott Walker's county executive staff and campaign staff, which appear to be the same thing in many instances, was about to take a caucus scandal twist.

I pointed out how it appeared that Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff, Kelly Rindfleisch, was doing a lot of campaign work for then Assemblyman Brett Davis, who was Walker's and WISGOP's preferred choice for Lt. Governor.

Lo and behold, on Thursday morning, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm announced the arrest and charging of Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch.

And with that news, we gained an even larger glimpse of just how corrupt Walker's office and campaign really was.  In fact, this was the first solid bit of news to come from the actual Walkergate investigation and John Doe hit a bullseye on the first pass.

In the complaint against Darlene Wink, who set off this whole investigation by leaving comments on JSOnline and other sites, we learn that not only was she leaving comments, but was actively fundraising and organizing campaign events from her county office on county time.

Most of the complaint is an itemization of the times that Wink was doing her political work, but there are some eye-catching names included in her emails.  For example, there are references to squawk radio hosts James T. Harris and Vicki McKenna doing emcee duties for a fundraising event and having Charlie Sykes promote it on his show.  I would love to see if there were email exchanges between Wink and the squawkers.

We do know that Wink did have email exchanges with Reince Priebus, then chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, to see if he could get Sarah Palin to help them with a fundraiser.  Eventually, this fund raiser was scrapped due to lack of interest.

The most intriguing thing about Wink comes not from the complaint against her.  Instead, we learn that Wink was given a plea deal.  Instead of getting charged with felonies, which they could have easily convicted her for, they gave her the chance to make it two misdemeanors and probably won't even see jail time.  In exchange, Wink will testify against her co-defendants on other illegal campaigning allegations and most notably, regarding the "destruction of digital evidence."  In other words, we might have just learned what happened to all those missing computers and files that suddenly grew legs at the end of Walker's term and walked away.  Of course, many of the computers and what not had already been detained by the DA's Office on November 1.

But when one is facing recall, they probably don't want their name associated with a massive cover up like that.

If you thought that the names in the Wink complaint were interesting, the ones found in the complaint against Kelly Rindfleisch is a regular Rogues Gallery.  Among the 57 pages of detailed explanation of the misconduct she is accused of doing, names like Robin Vos, Mike Huebsch, and, of course, Brett Davis. Also listed are Walker staffers Darlene Wink, Tim Russell, Tom Nardelli and campaign staffers such as Cullen Werwie, Keith Gilkes, Stephan Thompson and my personal favorite, Jill Bader.

From this complaint, one of the things that stands out the most is the fact that Tim Russell set up a secondary, secret email system using a wireless router designed to set up a 3G network.  They used this set up for their campaigning and fundraising emails, as well as official county business.  But because it was secret even to the head of IT, any open records requests would miss this.

Interestingly, after all of this came out, Walker basically put the governor's office on lockdown, cancelling all of his events, including a trip to Wausau.  Oddly, the weather for Wausau was in the mid-30's and sunny, with patchy fog.  Nothing that would keep him from making a trip.  Besides, I'd bet my bottom dollar he's traveled through worse weather to get to one of his out-of-state fundraisers.

Walker eventually came out with a statement, through his campaign, which was very terse:
“The Milwaukee County executive's office expressed policy was that county employees were not permitted to use county time or resources to conduct any political activity. Scott Walker expected everyone to follow the law and made that clear publicly and privately," Walker campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in the statement.
Well, that takes care of that. I'm sure the Walker apologists will take this statement and the fact that Walker hasn't been indicted (yet) to show that he is a victim just like the rest of the people in Milwaukee County and in all of the state.

But as we all already know all too well, just because Walker said something, doesn't make it true.  In fact, it's usually the opposite.  And this is no exception.

In the Rindfleisch complaint, on page 50, we see this exchange that Walker sent regarding the damage control after Wink was caught and had resigned from her position in the county:

That clearly indicates that Walker knew exactly what his staff was doing and was ordering them to start covering their tracks.  This was also about the time that Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan started doing his own open records requests into Walker's office.

It also contradicts his statement regarding his policy of doing politicking from his governmental office.  But we already knew that when he got busted soliciting for political help from a person he had thought was David Koch

If the investigation were to end with this, they could probably indict Walker with the information they already have.  But this is far from over.

Remember that commercial realtor Andrew Jensen was to report to the DA's Office just yesterday.  And there are indications that they are looking at a pay-for-play scenario regarding the realtors, some of which are Walker's staff, both in the county and in his campaign.

And the complaints show that there was two way communications between Walker's executive office and his campaign.  All of the campaign workers could be looking at possible charges as well.

And I am hearing things of yet another mess that might be coming down the pike besides the ones that are already known.

And there are a couple, three questions that I am pondering:

  • How is Rebecca Kleefisch handling the realization that she's hooked up her minivan to a guy and a whole political party that didn't even want her as Lt,. Governor?
  • Are any of Walker's big time out-of-state donors calling asking for their money back since every day makes Walker look more like a losing bet?
  • Does anyone still believe that Walker turned in these people like he claimed after Tim Russell got arrested?
While this was definitely a bullseye and puts Walker in a very untenable position, there is no reason in the world to even think that John Doe isn't already aiming his next shot or that this one will miss its target either.

The next few days and weeks and months will definitely be interesting as Walkergate continues to unveil itself.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Well, If That's The Comparison He Wants To Make...

I've notice recently that Scott Walker has been trying to cover his losing job record by highlighting the three years before him, such as in this press release:
The Governor also noted that the state has put a stop to years of job loss. After Wisconsin lost 150,000 jobs over three years, the state created thousands of jobs this year, and the state’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008.
I don't know who's been advising him on his talking points, but I hope he keeps them.

First off, bragging about the lowest unemployment rate is a losing fight for him, since we already know that is only reflective of the people that have given up looking for employment in the jobs wasteland known as Fitzwalkerstan.

But does Walker really want to compare his record to Doyle's? 

The three years that Walker refers to, we were going through not just a national recession, but a global one.  And even one accepts Walker's numbers as factual, that means that Doyle saw Wisconsin lose 50,000 jobs a year.

But thanks to my co-author, Keith Schmitz, and this handy chart, we see what was happening in Walker's first year as governor:

The only job growth for the year happened as a leftover of the Doyle budget.  When Walker's policies started taking effect, the jobs started leaving like crazy.

In the last six months of 2011, when Walker's policies and budgets were in full force, the state lost some 40,000-45,000 jobs.  Or to put it more frankly, it took Walker half the time to lose nearly the same amount of jobs that he is accusing of Doyle losing over the course during an entire year.  And during Walker's term, the rest of the nation has been gaining jobs as the economy recovers from the recession, while Doyle had taken the brunt of it.

Perhaps he could use that as a campaign slogan: "If you thought Doyle was bad, I'm twice as bad!

Your Health vs Their Profit: Scrap the Mining Bill

The Republicans are again kicking common sense to the curb by trying to ram through legislation, which was written by the mining companies, to ease up the restrictions that are protecting our water.

From the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters:

And here is their own fact check which pretty clearly proves their statements, contrary to the lies that the corporately-owned WISGOP would have you believe.

If you're interested in helping more, you can find out how here

And as an added bonus, here's some video of the mine protests featuring the Bad River Drums.

Milwaukee County Pension System Is Under Attack

Three Milwaukee County supervisors - Joe Rice, Paul Cesarz and Joe Sanfelippo - are trying to do a money grab on the county's pension plan to appease their corporate friends, as well as to carry on the legacy of damage done by Scott Walker.

The thing is, not only is completely unnecessary, it is detrimental to both the workers and to the taxpayers in Milwaukee County, as we explain at Milwaukee County First.

But what can one expect from three of the most ethically-challenged supervisors on the board. Rice and Cesarz are tied in with the latest aspect of Walkergate and Sanfelippo has his own problems as it's being (finally) reported that he's been profiteering off the county.

At least Rice and Cesarz will be gone in a few more months.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LXIII

Yet another store closing because it was bringing enough money in:
Gail Jones knows her days are numbered as manager of the Hostess Bakery Outlet on Kennedy Road in Janesville.

In fact, she said, her 13-year career might end today when corporate Hostess Brands officials visit her store at 3212 Kennedy Road to tell her exactly when she will close.

Jones said the corporate store has sold products for 30 years. Until about 18 months ago, she shared the space and split the costs of the building with Hostess route trucks that would load up each day and head out on their retail rounds.

"They say my store is not profitable," said Jones, who agrees that the added overhead has eaten up a good portion of her retail sales.
And it's not bringing enough money in because there's not enough money in the people's hands thanks to Scott Walker taking it from the working men and women and giving it to the profiteers.

Betcha that's something that's not mentioned in his State of the Please Don't Recall Me Campaign speech. (No, I'm not watching that tax-funded political ad. Why would anyone want to?)

Walkergate: Intermission

I don't have time to go into depth on the latest installment of Walkergate as being reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning.  I'll try to give you some insights that the paper missed tonight.

But a couple of things for now to digest as you read their report:

  • Now we know why Hiller left so suddenly
  • They really don't go into how cozy all these people are with each other
  • I'm really surprised they didn't go after what, at least to me, was the more sordid land deal regarding the county grounds
  • Remember, they save the big stuff for last and this thing isn't done yet

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Scott Walker: Bought And Paid For

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
In just over a year, Walker has raised more than $12 million in campaign donations - more than he spent to win the seat in 2010 - and despite sizable spending in recent weeks still has $2.6 million in cash in the bank, according to figures released Monday by his campaign. The Republican governor has traveled the country to raise money in recent weeks and has benefited from a quirk in the state's election law that allows elected officials facing recalls to raise unlimited amounts.
All that proves is that Scott Walker is openly prostituting himself to the big corporate interests.

James Rowen has a graphic that shows just how much Weasel à la Carte runs for, which is way beyond what most Wisconsinites, especially those that have suffered severe pay cuts or even lost their jobs, could ever afford.

It's pretty obvious who Walker is really standing with, and it ain't us.

But don't lose heart friends.  Just remember the late George Steinbrenner and his New York Yankees, who every year blew more cash on star players than most teams could afford, yet have nothing to show for it.

Likewise, all the money in the world won't hide the fact that Walker has driven jobs out of the state for six months running, has caused the state's economy to become stagnant and have the lowest economic activity in the entire country, and has shredded the constitution and the long honored and esteemed system of checks and balances.

And all the money in the world won't cover the corrupt and maleficent way he has led the state down the tubes.

Nor will it save his job.

Save The Date! Reclaim Wisconsin March!

From the AFL-CIO:

Join us as we mark the one year anniversary of the passage of Gov. Walker’s draconian union-busting bill.

March 9 is the night that Senate Republicans rammed through the bill in the dead of the night in an illegal session. Friday, March 9 will be marked with candlelight vigils around the state and on Saturday, March 10 we will return to the Capitol to let Gov. Walker now we will never forget his attacks on worker rights, our democracy and fairness!

When: Saturday, March 10

Where: State Capitol, Madison

What: Reclaim Wisconsin March

Rally Organizers Broke The Law

In my reviewing of the rally video done by the blogging duo of Phil Scarr and Lisa Mux, I noticed something else.  At the far right of the stage was this sign:

That is clearly a Recall Walker sign that has been defaced!

I'm sure with all the faux outrage, right wing bloggers will be calling them out in exactly never.

But perhaps I judge the organizers too harshly.  Maybe they didn't put the sign up, but one of the overzealous scofflaws in attendance.  The organizers were probably too busy picking attendance numbers out of the air to take time to vandalize any recall signs.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Don't Think It Means What You Think It Means

I saw something in the various videos regarding the gathering of dozens of very white people who showed up in Wauwatosa on Saturday to show they still don't know what is happening to the state.

There were a lot of signs that looked like this:

Some scallywag even came up with a website with those letters for a PAC of some sort.

But I don't think it means what they think it means.

Republicans Don't Like To Follow Act 10

Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer doesn't think he should take the same hits that other public employees in Fitzwalkerstan are taking thanks to Act 10.  So much so he sued to not have his wages cut.

Talk about poor leadership!

Oh, and yes, he's a Republican.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LXII

Add another 25 people from Baraboo who get to enjoy the "success" of Scott Walker's ideological budgeting:
A national retailer that has held a presence in the Baraboo area since 1929 will close its doors March 3.

"It's never easy, but it came down to a business decision," JC Penney spokesman Tim Lyons said Friday. "We regularly review our stores to ensure they're performing as expected. I guess it's fair to say it was under performing."

The roughly 25 employees at the West Baraboo JC Penney were notified earlier this week of the firm's decision to close the store.
The article goes on to say that this is the second closing announcement in the same shopping plaza in recent weeks.

Walker says that the state is open for business, but with the legal problems, the cronyism and huge tax giveaways to his big campaign donors, he omitted that Wisconsin was open only for monkey business.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Davis Throws His Own Mother Under The Charter School Bus

In the latest Walkergate update, I pointed out that Brett Davis was getting a lot of support from the education profiteers:
Davis looked like someone who would fit in well with Walker's extremist agenda. He supported slashing school funding, which was in line with what education profiteers want and what Walker's attempting to do. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign shows that groups like All Children Matter, Wisconsin Club for Growth and Coalition for American's Families put in undisclosed amounts of money to run issue ads. One Wisconsin Now reported that the financial backers of All Children Matter gave Davis $13,000.
This whole thing is slimier than I realized at the time.

One of these financiers behind All Children Matter include the same Swift Boater that just gave Scott Walker a huge check.

Even worse, Davis is willing to throw his own mother, who works as a public school teacher in Monroe, WI.

Nice to see that Davis thinks lucre is thicker than blood.

Tommy Thompson: The Red Meat Reel

My friends Phil Scarr and Lisa Muxy went to the pro-Scott Walker rally on Saturday.  They took a video of TOMMY!!! flying off the handle and added their own observations and commentary which makes the sickening hate the GOP spews not only tolerable, but entirely laughable:

Good job, kids!

One note: About the 2:51 mark, it sounds like Tommy had one of his usual gaffes and called our soon to be ex-Governor Scott Worrier.  Freudian slip, anyone?

I Thought The Mines Were Supposed To Create Wisconsin Jobs...

Here all along, Scott Walker and his cronies were telling us how allowing mining companies to come in and rape our natural resources and pollute our air and waters would be OK because they created good-paying jobs for Wisconsinites.

We now learn that not only is this not true, it brings scum here to endanger our police officers and clog up our courts and prison systems and use up more of our preciously scarce tax dollars:
“We wanted to isolate the room before we made contact with the individual,” Tomah Police Chief Wes Revels said.

He said the displaced guests, all of whom were part of a construction crew with Roark, were moved to vacant rooms on the second floor. Revels said they were performing work at a local sand mine.

Roark was arrested and was being held in the Monroe County Jail on suspicion of endangering safety while intoxicated with a firearm, failure to comply with police, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon.
So, while Walker has driven tens of thousands of jobs out of the state over the past six months, the few jobs remaining our going to out-of-state, drunken, gun-toting idiots?

We can't get rid of him fast enough.

January Days

So, the Koch Brothers funded an all-star pro-Scott Walker rally where they had thousands hundreds dozens of people show up.


This video by Mike Matheson shows what a real grass roots effort looks like, including the culmination of a million signatures from people wanting to take their state back from the corporate interests that Walker is trying to sell it to(WARNING - Not epileptic friendly):

And those are Wisconsinites, folks, not the Illinois people that Walker had to bus in.

In Case You're Keeping Score In Walkergate

Just to help people, including yours truly, keep track of the exploding Walkergate story, here are some events to keep mark of:

  • Monday, January 23, 8:30 am - Tim Russell appears in court for his preliminary hearing.
  • Wednesday, January 25 - Andrew Jensen is to report to the DA's Office in regards to Walkergate
  • Thursday, January 26, 8:15 am - Brian Pierick has his preliminary hearing in Waukesha County for his child enticement charges
  • Monday, January 30, 8:30 am - Kevin Kavanaugh has a scheduling conference regarding his embezzlement charges
As Zach at Blogging Blue alludes to, I am hearing there will be more shoes dropping soon, maybe as early this week.  

As always, I will try to not only provide updates, but also some background, to help the gentle reader stay informed.

I am counting on you to make sure that Scott Walker doesn't raid the treasury and abscond with our money as things get closer to him and he tries to elude justice.

Scenes From An Education Convention

Last week, Scott Walker returned to Milwaukee County to speak to a convention of school administrators, board members and business managers. He came to boast of his so-called reforms (remember: reforms can be negative as well as positive) to Wisconsin's educational system.

One problem though. He forgot to include the state's top educator in his plans:
An Evers spokesman said he hadn't been apprised of the package of reforms before they were released on Thursday.

"Policy and legislation are two different things. I'm a little bit in the dark on the legislative piece," Evers said.

Evers released a statement saying that while he worked in a "collaborative spirit" on various reform-oriented initiatives, he wasn't involved in the creation of Walker's plan.

"Despite my leadership in these arenas and constitutional authority, I have not been involved in the drafting of the education proposals that have been announced. Clearly, it is essential to see the details of this proposed legislation and ensure they match the intent and spirit of all the work that so many groups and individuals put into improving schools and academic achievement for all students in Wisconsin," he said in the statement.
As one might suspect, I knew someone who was in attendance at the convention.

My friend gave me some insight that was not reported in any of the traditional mainstream media venues.

For example, Walker was very much on edge and looked like "a scared little boy." (Was this Walkergate or just the fact that he knew they knew he was going to implode the educational system?)

Walker also said, "I don't want to talk about the past." Heh, my guess is he doesn't want to talk about the present or the future too much either.

My friend also had the, um, "opportunity" to experience the wit and wisdom of Karin Rajnicek, the clueless school board member from Waukesha.

Rajnicek takes her job very seriously, even if she apparently doesn't understand quite what her job is. She said that she spends her day wandering "around the halls of the schools keeping an eye on the teachers."  I don't know, but maybe she's a wannabe correction officer?

Rajnicek also appears not to do as well without a teleprompter to read from.  She couldn't iterate the points that she made in her commercial, much less show an understanding of what she is about to face when they look at next year's budget.

But she was able to complain that the hot lunches at the schools she oversees are so bad that she would only let her kids have one three times a month.  The irony of that sentence cannot be overstated.

Walker Gets OWNed

Best visual of the year so far:

From One Wisconsin Now and their press release behind it.

Walkergate: Caucus Scandal Redux

Note: The following was done with the assistance of the research crew at www.politiscoop.com.

As the gentle reader might remember, all those months ago, I wrote An Introduction to Walkergate. In that piece, I wrote about Darlene Wink and Tim Russell, two GOP operatives who were also working for Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County Executive. I also pointed out how they were accused of campaigning on county time and with county equipment.

More recently, in an article I wrote for the Shepherd Express, I did an overview of the Walkergate investigation, again with everything coming back to indicate that there was a high level of illegal campaigning going on in the Walker administration and possible collusion with his campaign.

Over the course of the last few days, I've learned more things, things which might or might not be part of the official investigation being conducted by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, which is starting to make this whole stinking mess seem more like a redux of the caucus scandals which rocked the state ten years ago, when Walker was still a state legislator himself. The caucus scandals involved dirty politics at its dirtiest, done by both the Republicans and Democrats. The scandal, if I may oversimplify it, involved staff doing extensive politicking on the taxpayers' dime and collusion with third party groups.

Zach Wisnewski started things off by questioning why Cullen Werwie, former Walker campaign staff and current gubernatorial spokesman, was given immunity in the Walkergate investigation. Wisnewski gave us the first clue when he wrote this (emphasis mine):
During the 2010 Republican Lt. Governor race, Werwie worked for the campaign of former Republican State Rep. Brett Davis. After Davis was defeated in the September 2010 Republican Lt. Governor primary, Werwie went to work as the traveling press person for Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaign. In that role, Werwie would have traveled everywhere Scott Walker went, working in close proximity to Walker, no doubt leaving Werwie privy to most – if not all – of Scott Walker’s communications while on the campaign trail.
I then received a tip from a friend of Cog Dis, who pointed out that there was another connection between Walker's campaign and that of Brett Davis.

That connection is a woman named Kelly Rindfleisch.

My tipster indicated that Rindfleisch had done consulting and fund raising work for Davis while she was employed by Milwaukee County as Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff, replacing Tim Russell, whom Walker had made his Director of Housing. A few weeks ago, Russell was arrested and charged with embezzling more than $10,000 from a veterans fund.

Rindfleisch's Linked-In profile does indeed indicated that she was Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff from January 2010 through November 2010. Further research indicated that Rindfleisch was the registered agent for a group called JVS Consulting. Davis' campaign finance reports show that he paid this agency $3,000 in his failed bid for Lieutenant Governor.

Now, none of this indicates that Rindfleisch, Werwie or Davis did anything illegal.  However, there are other facts that have surfaced in researching this angle that, well, I will just present them and let the gentle reader draw their own conclusions.

One of the things that stands out is that Davis appeared to be the candidate of choice for the WISGOP machine.  The Republican Party of Waukesha County, one of the reddest counties in the state, sent out mailers which endorsed Davis for Lt. Governor.  Davis was also endorsed by the Republican Party of Milwaukee County (home of Darlene Wink, Tim Russell and other names that have been popping up in the Walkergate investigation), Tommy Thompson, WMC and MMAC.

As a point of interest, and to further cement the ties that bind, Davis' campaign treasurer was Jason T. Thompson, son of Tommy Thompson, and currently an attorney at Walker's favorite law firm, Michael Best & Friedich.

Davis looked like someone who would fit in well with Walker's extremist agenda.  He supported slashing school funding, which was in line with what education profiteers want and what Walker's attempting to do.  The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign shows that groups like All Children Matter, Wisconsin Club for Growth and Coalition for American's Families put in undisclosed amounts of money to run issue ads. One Wisconsin Now reported that the financial backers of All Children Matter gave Davis $13,000.

After failing to win in the primary, Walker eventually appointed Davis to be the Wisconsin Medicaid Director, to work with Dennis Smith.  Davis and Smith had previously worked together in Washington, D.C., for then Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson.  We all know how things are working out for people dependent on Medicaid services.

Now on to Kelly Rindfleisch.

Rindfleisch was named in the complaint filed against Tim Russell.  Russell apparently listed her as Secretary/Treasurer and as a Director of Heritage Guard Preservation Society, Inc. (HGPS).  HGPS was the group that Walker personally assigned to handle the finances for Operation Freedom.  She denied being aware of this.  But she sure was aware of Operation Freedom.

On the Facebook page for Operation Freedom, Rindfleisch put in three entries (all of which one might assume was during work hours).  

As an oddity, it was also found that Rindfleisch had once submitted a picture of a "ghost" to International Ghost Hunters Society.  Putting one's beliefs and feelings regarding the paranormal aside for a moment, it should be noted that she submitted her picture and accompanying description via her state legislative email address.

Again, I would emphasize that none of this proves that Davis, Werwie, or Rindfleisch have done anything illegal or are necessarily part of the Walkergate investigation, with the exception of Werwie's immunity.  But they are things that I found interesting.

What I also found interesting, and I would hope the gentle reader also finds interesting as they come to their own conclusions, was this passage from an article from the Wisconsin State Journal, which I came across in my research:
In late January, three months before Gardner was charged, the head of a nonpartisan group that tracks political contributions was interviewed by an FBI agent who was interested in not only the Gardner contributions but also how legislative staffers hid illegal campaign activities in the caucus scandal 10 years ago. 
In that case, staffers of four partisan legislative caucuses were found to have been campaigning illegally on state time for both Republicans and Democrats. A John Doe probe, sparked by a Wisconsin State Journal investigation, resulted in criminal charges and fines against five lawmakers and four legislative aides, including the Legislature's top leaders, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala, D-Madison, and Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, R-Brookfield.  
When he was interviewed by the FBI, Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said he was unaware that the discussion was part of an ongoing investigation.  
In addition to discussing he Gardner donations, "The agent also wanted to talk about the caucus scandal: how it worked, how they covered stuff up, that sort of thing," McCabe said. "He never mentioned Milwaukee County."
If the authorities are indeed looking at Walkergate with the caucus scandals in mind, this could eventually turn into a bigger affair than even I imagined, with ramifications reaching not only around the state but around the country.

The other thing that I question is, if Davis was indeed the first choice for Lt. Gov by Walker and WISGOP, I wonder how Walker's relationship with Rebecca Kleefisch really is.  Is she aware that Walker apparently had his people working for Davis?  If so, does she trust Walker?  What is her relationship with the party like?

Kleefisch sure hasn't done much publicly, either as Lt. Governor or as a politician..  To me, this could indicate a possible trust issue going in either direction, or even both directions, between her and Walker and her and the WISGOP machinery.

This could get very interesting very fast.  Make sure you're stocked up on popcorn.

Parting Words To Live By

Tom Foley, aka Illusory Tenant, has gone offline.

But before he left, he did send one last message, words which we should abide by:
Thanks again everybody. Okay, I'm off the grid. Impeach the scofflaws!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Celebrate Walker" Organizers Chose Wrong Date!

On Saturday, January 21, 2012, dozens of unpaid Walker supporters and hundreds of Koch Brother-hired plants gathered in Wauwatosa to celebrate the jobs lost, the tanking state economy and the shredding of the Constitution.

Sadly for them, they chose the wrong date to hold their rally.

January 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day.

The date that the organizers really wanted to hold their rally is September 21 - Weasel Appreciation Day.

Poor buggers just can't get anything right, can they?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LXI

Just last night, I explained and shown how Scott Walker's budget is bad news for the state's economy. He has basically taken away the demand for things by taking away the money people would have spent on those things. And as I have shown time and time again, the first thing to go are the luxuries and the niceties in people's lives.

And to further prove that point, we have yet another business falling to the Walker budget:
One of Cross Plains' signature businesses is closing.

Co-owners Mike Schutz and Ron Brunner have announced they are closing Feiner Home Furnishings at 2009 Main St.

A going-out-of-business sale will begin Monday and last until about May, Schutz said. The store employs five people, down from nine people three years ago. Since then, business is down 55 percent, Schutz said.

The closing is not the result of big-box furniture retailers in Madison.

"We had a higher-end store," said Schutz, a former village president and village board member. "Unfortunately, higher-end goods now, with the economy what it is, are not moving."
It's like Walker keeps hammering home the nails in his own political coffin - from the inside.


By Keith Schmitz

For those of you who are into symmetry:

A lot has been talked about jobs under Walker on this blog by the incomparable Capper, but for those of you who are more visual than verbal, this is the trend.

Note how the jobs were going up until July. For those of you who know anything about business, any time a business puts on a new employee, the decision making process can take months, especially in this economy.

Many, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have credited the increase in jobs since January. But only the most doofus partisan would credit Walker with raising his right and for a spike in job creation. Bet even his cheerleaders in the WMC would not be so ill-informed.

Hiring is not a snap decision and its based on a level of customers coming through the doors or orders being booked that tells a manager, it is time to expand the workforce. The process can take many months. Sadly, the decision to let people go is much faster.

And this is what we are seeing here. An abrupt drop off in employment in Wisconsin. Sure our unemployment percentage has dropped, but that's because the number of people have dropped out of the job market.

Most importantly, that drop-off coincides nicely with when Walker and the state GOP's made-to-ALEC order economic policies kicked in. Looks like drastically cutting public employee taken home pay by demanding the "contributions" to pensions and benefits has led to fewer dinners out and trips to the hair salon, creating a ripple effect though the economy.

People are already upset with the over reach, a million of them at least as evidenced by the ton and a half of petitions dropped off at the GAB on Tuesday. Should this keep up, and we hope it is not true, this continual bad economic news is going to add two more people to the ranks of the unemployed -- Walker and Kleeefisch.

The Primary No One Talks About

As they say, it's the crazy season.

Politics is taking front and center in every level of the nation.

There are the Republican presidential primaries which have become more of a traveling circus which people pay attention to only to see what gaffe or scandal will break next or to ponder why the Republicans are hell bent on ensuring that President Obama sails in for a second term.

On a very local level, here in Milwaukee, there are some interesting contests on the county and city levels, with the most notable probably being Eyon Biddle giving up his seat as County Supervisor to take on the President of the City Council, Willie Hines.  (If you want to know why Biddle should win, just look at Hines' district and see what he has - or more importantly, hasn't - done for his constituents.)

But the one primary everyone in Wisconsin is focused on is the Democratic recall primary.  Who is going to take on Scott Walker?  Meh. Right now, the Dems could put up a rancid potato and it would win by at least 10 percent.

The early names that have announced or been bantered about are less than impressive and I would find it hard to through my most eager support behind any of them. Either they have too much baggage, aren't the ones that would fight hard for the people who have fought so hard to give them this chance, or just don't have the statewide name recognition, much less popularity, that they would need to hit the ground running.

I don't think that the final candidate has even mentioned running yet.  And if they're smart, they won't until the recall has been certified.  An example of why this would be so is Tom Barrett. Even though he's stated he was only thinking of it (but just sent out a press release today touting some endorsements for mayor), Team Walker reacted in a panic and has been attacking him daily for the past few weeks.  Why would anyone want to give them time to develop a smear campaign.

I expect (and hope like hell) that someone will announce in the upcoming weeks.  This person would have instant name recognition across the state, already be fairly popular and have a decent war chest already established.  Someone like Russ Feingold, for example.

But with everyone currently focused on the Democrats jockeying for position to be the next governor, there is something that one only hears about in echoes of whispered conversations.

And that something is whether there might be a Republican primary as well.

It is commonly assumed that Walker enjoys unanimous support, but that is far from the truth.  This has been evidenced by the many stories of Republicans and conservatives, like my father, signing the recall petitions.  And there has been stories of Walker and his allies cajoling, coercing and even threatening fellow Republicans when they showed signs of breaking ranks and not goose-stepping with his cadre.  And many Republicans still hold onto their irrational anger at Mark Neumann for daring to run against their Dear Leader in the last election.

It would not be hard to believe, given Walker's past behaviors, that his shows of force - traveling the country and kissing up to the big money special interest folks in Texas, New York and Kochland is as much for the benefit of his own party members as it is for the Democrats.

And let's face it, most politicians are opportunists. If they see a possible opening, they're going to take it.

And Walker is definitely vulnerable.  The most obvious sign of his vulnerability is the number of polls showing the strong support for the recall, directly due to his overreach and proving himself either unable or unwilling to do what is best for the state.  No one who is at all honest would deny that six straight months of job losses, which only started when Walker's policies began to have their predictable and predicted impact, is going to be very popular.

And Walker has already been stained, even if only slightly thus far, by the first major outbreak stemming from the John Doe investigation commonly known as Walkergate.  And the longer Walker stalls the recall, the greater the odds that the next big shoe will drop from Walkergate.  And the odds are that each consecutive shoe dropping will be more damaging to Walker and his tattered reputation.

There are many Republicans that wouldn't want to relinquish their values, but also find themselves unable to vote for Walker.  There's been speculation that one such person who would meet this bill is former State Senator Ted Kanavas. Kanavas is an ultra-conservative who already has had aspirations to be governor. Interestingly, Kanavas, who had been toying with running for US Senate, suddenly chose to take a pass on that race.  He could meet the Republicans desire for the wing nut type of conservatives they've been choosing lately, but without the obvious stench of corruption that Walker exudes.

Another name that has been discussed is State Senator Dale Schultz. He is a moderate Republican and this would be a move Republicans could very well decide to take in order to win back some of the Republicans and Independents that Walker has driven away.  He also has the added attraction to being one of the few Republicans in the state to not always follow marching orders and to stand up against Walker and his agenda from time to time.

It will  be interesting to see just how strong of a hold Walker has on the Republican party and how far he has to go to maintain that hold.

Personally, I hope he is able to fend off any challengers from his own side and delays the recall as long as he can.  He's the best tool the Democrats have in regaining control of at least the Senate and the governor's mansion.  And if he strings this out long enough, there might even me a turnover in the Assembly as well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LX

Remember how Scott Walker said he was making Wisconsin more "business friendly?"

Guess what. He lied. Again.

Another 130 workers are losing their jobs.

Why? The miserable business conditions.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part LIX

The good news is we have finally found one thing that Scott Walker is consistent with.

The bad news is that one thing is losing jobs:
Wisconsin unexpectedly lost private-sector jobs in December for the sixth consecutive month, the same months in which the nation added private-sector jobs.

Given robust hiring last month at the national level, as reported separately two weeks ago, "I did not expect a sixth month of decline in Wisconsin," said John Heywood, a labor economist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

According to data released Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development, the state lost an estimated 3,900 jobs in the private sector in December from November. In the same month, the United States gained an estimated 212,000 jobs, outstripping expectations of most economists and raising hopes that employers are gaining confidence at the national level.
Two hundred state jobs also went poof in December - a personal Christmas present from Walker, no doubt.

The Walker administration tried to ignore the actual numbers and tout that the unemployment percentage dropped from 7.3 to 7.1, but even that is nothing to brag about. It just means that people gave up trying to find work in Fitzwalkerstan:
Economists caution that the apparent improvement in the jobless rate was at least partly attributable to more than 1,000 Wisconsinites who stopped looking for work in December. That removes them from the government's official tally of the unemployed and automatically leads to a lower rate even without new jobs. In the course of the recovery, the unemployment rate has dipped repeatedly because so-called discouraged workers have given up looking for work.

"The unemployment rate is not a clear-cut indicator because it can improve for good reasons and it can improve for bad reasons, and so far it looks like it has been improving for bad reasons," said Brian Jacobsen, a Menomonee Falls-based economist at Wells Fargo Bank.
I've been pointing out for a long, long time that these continuous months of job losses are due to Walker's budget and the way he took money away from the working men and women of the state and gave it to his wealthy corporate sponsors. I have repeatedly pointed out that when people have less money to spend, they cut back on the luxuries and the niceties, such as going out to eat, going to the movies, having spa days, or even just buying things that aren't essential.

Sure enough, the report from the Business Journal proves me correct (as usual):
The biggest job losses were in the service sector, where Wisconsin lost 6,900 jobs between November and December, and had 2,200 fewer people working compared with December 2010. Manufacturing continued to post gains with a count of 443,200 jobs, 3,300 jobs higher than November and 9,300 more than in the same month of 2010. Construction gained jobs between the months, but had 3,800 fewer jobs in December than in the same month of 2010.
And as James Rosenberg points out, the jobs that were added in Wisconsin came in the first six months of Walker's regime, when Doyle's budget was still in place. Once the effect of of Walker's redistribution of money - taking from the working class and giving it to the wealthy - took effect in midyear, it's been all downhill.

Walker shouldn't be taking credit for Doyle's work and he sure as heck shouldn't be surprised that there was a million people who were willing to brave the Wisconsin winter to sign his recall petition.

It's becoming more obvious that not only did he needlessly overreach and most egregiously attacked the good people of the state, he did so very incompetently. We need to oust him sooner than later, if anyone of us is to have a job left.

#wirecall Goes International!

And #wirecall got a very nice summation from the Guardian with this classic ending:
As attention remains fixed on the fervent, fierce conservative-dominated contest in South Carolina, careful observers of American politics should be keeping an eye on events elsewhere. They are showing the American left – so often derided and so often ineffective – can sometimes throw a pretty mean tea party of its own.
But it is a sad commentary that we have to go overseas to get find a media source that gets it and is willing to tell it as it is.

H/T to the great, but not late, Illy-T

I Carried A Box

The following was written by Tonya Lohr, a woman who is currently a program member for Emerge Wisconsin* and had the privilege of being one of the people to help deliver the recall petitions to the Government Accountability Board on Tuesday.
I carried a box.

It seems like such a strange statement to use to describe a defining moment in your life, and yet for me, that’s exactly what it is.

My initial reaction to the honor of carrying a box of recall petitions into the Government Accountability Board on January 17th was pure excitement. I couldn’t wait to turn in the signatures we had all worked so hard to collect.

That feeling of exhilaration continued throughout that evening as we celebrated the victory of over 1 million signatures collected. We laughed as we hugged and congratulated each other on a job well done.

But now that the parties are over, I find myself quite reflective as my thoughts keep wandering to the experience of carrying that box.

I think about walking down that corridor of people who were holding hands with each other so our path to the GAB was clear of obstacles. As I walked down that path, I caught glimpses of the faces of people I had met in the last 11 months of my life. I had never met them before February 11th, but I was now connected to them for the rest of my life. They yelled “Thank YOU” as I passed by, but all I kept thinking was “Thank YOU for helping me find my way.”

I think about the people whose signatures I carried into the GAB. Even though I don’t know their names, or their stories, I feel connected to them forever. I carried their hopes, their dreams, their struggles, and their fears. What will happen to them after these boxes are opened, and their signatures are counted? What will it take to get their lives back on track and what else can I do to help make that happen?

I think about the sacrifices that were made to collect the signatures I carried. How many broken friendships and severed family ties are inside? And what did the volunteers have to give up in order to successfully circulate each of these petitions?

When I was first selected for this task, I thought I was just carrying a box. Now I know I was carrying the future of a state currently entrenched in its own cold war. I was told the box would be heavy. Little did I know how heavy it would really be.

I carried a box.

*For the purpose of full disclosure, I help out with Emerge Wisconsin's social media work.