Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cato's Senior Fellow Clumsiness

 H/T Wisconsin Reporter for pointing out that the right wing "think tanks" just do not think! 

Michael Tanner, senior fellow with the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based free-market think tank, said both Congress and the Obama administration have abdicated their responsibility, laying the unnecessary weight of political uncertainty on the backs of business.

“If they ran a business that way, they would get fired,” Tanner said.

Obviously, no one told Mr. Tanner that if he is advocating for the "free market". the CERTAINTY is not involved!    All Mr. Tanner needed to do was check out Dictionary:

free market

an economic system in which prices and wages are determined by unrestricted competition between businesses, without government regulation or fear of monopolies.

I get when Scott Walker talks about the "need for certainty" and how he feels our free market needs that to thrive, since no one ever considered him to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but a "senior fellow" from a "free market" think tank should know what a free market is..

What Makes America Great

From HBO Newsroom:

Scott Walker's Favorite Educational Tool

Almost two years ago, Scott Walker pulled out one if his favorite "tools", the Ax of Austerity, and wielded it on the state's educational system.  Using this ax, he lopped off a billion dollars from the education system.

Before that, when Scott Walker dropped his "bomb" on Wisconsin in the form of Act 10, he said that he was giving local municipalities and school districts "tools" to deal with cuts coming to their budgets.

These "tools" were hatchets, which the local governments and school boards used to hack away at teacher's pay and benefits, if not wiping out their positions altogether.

People wailed that he was going to ruin education.  He was going to force good teachers to retire, to move to other states and/or leave the field of education altogether.  The said that it would create larger classes, cut out some fields of education and lower the high level of education that this state had enjoyed for years before this.

And boy, were they ever correct. 

In the first year, Wisconsin lost some 3,400 of its finest educators.  Class sizes grew, schools were closed, programs were stopped.  No matter how you looked at it, things were pretty grim.

School districts from Oshkosh to Mr. Horeb to Madison; in Shawano; really, from all over the state, had to make some difficult choices, none of them winners.

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Walker, along with his propagandists and apologists, insisted that his tools were working.

But we knew better.  

In fact, we kept pointing out that not only was it not working, but that Walker's tools were faulty and would only help the school districts minimally and only for one year, maybe two, and then only if they tapped into other revenues to keep afloat.

Now the tools are broken and things are turning even uglier.

Sheboygan schools are trying to figure out what to do about a $5 million hole caused by Walker's tools.  The Elmbrook school district, which had already closed one of its most popular schools due to Walker's tools, is facing another $2.3 million funding gap.  Nicolet, like the others, is facing a severe funding shortage as well, as it sinks in that they will have to keep finding new cuts every year for the foreseeable future.

And it's still early.  As time goes on, the gentle reader will find that school district after school district, from every region of the state, will be facing the choices of closing schools, laying off teachers, increasing class sizes, ending programs and/or raising taxes.

This is also the result of Walker's most favorite tool of them all - the fiscal sabot.

A sabot is a wooden shoe that European workers would throw into the workings of new machinery in order to break the machines, hence the word sabotage.

The sabot that Walker threw into the educational system was the cutting of revenue, the restrictions on school districts gaining new revenue, and making it more difficult for the schools to retain the good teachers.  This damage was furthered by the constant smearing of teachers, falsely portraying them as greedy, violent thugs, and finding ways to turn public opinion against them every chance they got.

It matters little to Walker whether districts raise taxes, cut programs, drove off teachers or closed schools.  His goal was to make sure that the public education system stopped working.

Not long ago, a reader left a comment on how they had just voted in their region to raise taxes for the school district.  The commenter went on to say how the people became angry about this, blaming the school board, the teachers and everyone but Walker, who caused their misery when he slashed funding to the schools.

Now that the results of Walker's sabotage of the education system is working, he has started moving toward the end game of all this. 

In order to satisfy his benefactors, the education profiteers that have given him so much campaign money, Walker has proposed a vast expansion of the voucher program.  In other words, he's weakened the education system to the point that the profiteers can swoop in and start swilling even more at the public trough, gobbling up taxpayer money has fast as it's being given to them.

People are starting to realize what a threat the voucher system is to our public education system and how Walker has rigged the game against the tried and true method of making sure our children receive a decent education and learn the skills of critical thinking.

The facts are that the voucher schools are expensive, lack accountability and do a poor job of educating children.  

And they've already starting asking the state for even more money, which Walker and his Republican allies are more than willing to give them, as long as the education profiteers keep feeding their campaign coffers.  And when that money runs out - or when people catch on that they aren't educating their children - these profiteers will slink off into the night, looking for new victims that they can steal from.

The question now is whether enough of the people become educated themselves on what's going on and are able to rise up and put a stop to it before any more damage is done.  

Are we going to make sure our children receive the best educations they can or are we willing to sell their futures so that people like Walker and the education profiteers can turn a buck?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chris Abele: Walker Wannabe

Recently, Chris Abele and his people have been trying very hard to smear the Milwaukee County Board by trying to tie them in with Sheriff David Clark through shameless innuendo, baseless hearsay and inane straw man arguments.

They are doing this because Abele's bid to grab all the power in Milwaukee County government isn't selling very well.  And since he has nothing positive to say about why this should happen, he is resorting to tearing down other people.

Outside of the despicably low levels Abele is willing to stoop to, what is really breathtaking is the hypocrisy of it all.  Abele is trying to tie the Board to Clarke because Clarke has been doing what he's always done - shooting his mouth off and making himself look like an ass.

But who does Abele associate and look up to?  None other than Scott Walker:
In an interview last week, Abele said his name should not be on a list of prospective Democratic governor hopefuls. Abele told Steve Walters of Wisconsin Eye:

"I think too often there’s people in public office who are solely motivated by what’s the next step. I’m not going to say that’s always a bad thing, but I ran (for county executive) not because this was sort of a career goal. I ran without having thought too much about being in public office until recently.

"I ran because I wanted to make a difference in in the county. And frankly, I’ve got a good working relationship with the governor and I think between where his politics are and what he’s doing in the state and what I’d like to do at the county I would like to get as much positive out of that and productive change as possible.

"So I should not be on that list."
The fact that Abele is a Walker sympathizer really shouldn't come as a surprise. The signs have been there for anyone willing to look.

The first time Abele ran for county executive, his opponent was State Representative Jeff Stone, whom Abele classified as a "Walker Clone." Even though Abele tried to portray himself as the anti-Walker candidate, he refused to sign a Walker recall petition and did not feel very passionate about the recall effort as a whole.

Another example would be the fact while Abele lamented that Walker's illegal budgets as county executive meant that Act 10 left Milwaukee County up the river, in six months time, he was praising Act 10.

What is utterly frightening and outrageous is that one line from the quote cited above:
And frankly, I’ve got a good working relationship with the governor and I think between where his politics are and what he’s doing in the state and what I’d like to do at the county I would like to get as much positive out of that and productive change as possible.
The fact that Abele admires and wants to do the same thing on a county level that Walker is already evident.

Abele's budgets are identical to the one's Walker did as county executive and is doing as governor.

And just like Walker consolidated as much as the power of state government as he could into his own hands, Abele is attempting to do the same with this power grab bill.

Walker is trying to force people out of the safety net of economic aid, Badger Care and similar programs.  Abele is trying to push for the closure of the mental health complex and move the patients there into the community without an adequate safety net.

Walker is selling the state's assets to the highest bidder (or should I say campaign donor?).  Abele is already pushing to sell off many of the county assets, mostly to his friends at GMC, who already are demolishing the county grounds for their own greed.

Basically, everything Walker does is to benefit his rich friends and his cronies.  Abele is doing a very good impression of that now.

And where Walker is a master at manipulation, deception and lying, Abele is trying his best.  He's just not as adept at it.  Yet.

Now, there's nothing wrong with a little hero worship or wanting to emulate someone.  But when one's hero and someone you brag about having a good rapport with is the only sitting governor with a legal defense fund,who has spent a half million dollars defending himself and his campaign just during an investigation and who has had six cronies - including three from his inner circle - convicted of stealing from veterans, illegal politicking and corruption, well, that's a sign of a serious character flaw.

Perhaps it's time that a closer look is taken at how Abele is running his administration.  I feel pretty confident that it would show someone who should not be allowed to have all the power that he is seeking.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Again, The Voices Of The People Are Squelched By Corporate Greed

At the end of last year, Madison was rocked when the manglement at WTDY suddenly canned John "Sly" Sylvester without warning and without recourse.

Fortunately, Sly came back on the air at a different station and the left regained their voice in South Central Wisconsin.

Sadly, more voices were squelched in Milwaukee today.  Not just lefty voices, but the voices of the African American community (emphasis mine):
Milwaukee radio station WMCS-AM (1290), which has served the African-American community via talk programs and music for two decades, is changing its programming but the station’s manager declined to disclose on-air plans.

The station began playing all-Elvis Presley music at 10 a.m. Tuesday, signaling the change.

“There will be a format flip,” said Bill Hurwitz, vice president and general manager of the Milwaukee Radio Alliance, which runs the station. “It is a very difficult thing to do, but it is strictly a business decision. Radio stations need to make money and serve the community.”

The most high-profile personality on the station was morning show host Eric Von, who was a host at the station from 2004 through 2009 and returned in 2010. 
Von and all but four members of the WMCS staff have been terminated, Hurwitz said.
Did you notice that making money came before serving the community. That is one of the greatest crises facing this city, this county, this state and this country.

Everything revolves around the Almighty Dollar, and if it doesn't make you enough money, it has to go. It is the rebirth of Ronald Reagan's "Me generation" which is now summarized as "As long as I got mine..."

WMCS also was home to Earl Ingram, who was a great part of the station. My favorite part of it was when he put William T. Harris in his place.

Their voices will be sorely missed and we can only hope that they come back to Milwaukee's airwaves in short order.

Our whole community is a lesser place without them.

BillO Didn't Write That!

BY Jeff Simpson

H/T Media Matters.

Fox news blowhard and loofa lover Bill O'Reilly recent book called Killing Lincoln has been a best seller, Which led to BillO also writing Killing Kennedy and has just announced he is will be writing the third in his series called Killing Jesus.

As the right wing website - Newsmax points out, it seems that BillO is following in the footsteps of an actual author -  Jim Bishop, a veteran newspaperman who once reported for the New York Daily News and later was a syndicated columnist.

The late Jim Bishop, a veteran newspaperman who once reported for the New York Daily News and later was a syndicated columnist, saw his book "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" become a runaway best-seller in 1955.
A series of similar-themed books followed, with Bishop penning "The Day Christ Died" in 1957 and then in 1968 "The Day Kennedy Was Shot" — a minute-by-minute account of JFK's 1963 shooting in Dallas.
Perhaps his most critically acclaimed book, "FDR'S Last Year," came out in 1984.
The parallels with O'Reilly are uncanny.
In 2011 O'Reilly penned a book about Lincoln, "Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever." The book, co-authored with Martin Dugard, became a New York Times best-seller with more than 5 million copies sold.
Last October, O'Reilly and Dugard followed up with "Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot," which debunks many of the conspiracy myths holding that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in the assassination of the president.
It too became an instant best-seller, and in fact remains No. 1 on in several categories.
Now O'Reilly has announced that, like Bishop, he will write a book about Jesus Christ. Titled "Killing Jesus," it will recount the life and times of Jesus and the Christian legacy he left behind.
No word yet on when Billo will be penning a series of novels that he has come up with about the adventures of an orphaned boy wizard who goes off to Wizard school.    

In a side note, it seems that the Ford's Theatre gift shop will NOT be selling BillO's book, due to "lack of documentation and factual errors".   

Who knew?  

Sanfelippo Gets Caught In A Lie. Again.

From the same article which reported the African-American community's opposition to Chris Abele's power grab, comes this doozy from Representative Joe Sanfelippo, the sockpuppet pushing Abele's bill:
In an interview, Sanfelippo said his bill would maintain supervisors' power to act as a check on the county executive's authority but would clarify the executive is the boss of day-to-day county operations.

"There's no major shift of power here," Sanfelippo said.
However, the Legislative Council and Supervisor Theodore Lipscomb point out the blatancy of Sanfelippo's lie:
According to the nonpartisan Legislative Council's analysis, Sanfelippo's bill would "increase certain authorities of the executive (and) decrease certain authorities of the board." For example, supervisors could ask questions of county department heads but the bill bars supervisors from giving any orders to department heads. Sanfelippo said that's aimed at ending meddling in daily operations by supervisors.

Supervisor Theo Lipscomb Sr. said the plain language of Sanfelippo's bill and legislative service agencies' analyses make it clear the measure would significantly shift power from the board to the county executive. That includes a provision that specifically bars the County Board from cutting any staff jobs in the county executive's office or reducing their pay, while also granting the executive authority to add staff.

"There's nothing in here but enhancements to the executive's power," said Lipscomb.
The fact that this is nothing but a pure power grab is no surprise to the gentle reader. What is a surprise is that even the corporate media is admitting it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

African American Leaders Speak Out Against Abele's Power Grab

As I had alerted the gentle reader over the weekend, Milwaukee African-American leaders stood up on Monday and spoke out against Chris Abele's power grab:
State legislation that could lead to cutting Milwaukee County supervisor pay by half and the County Board's budget by two-thirds would harm minority representation, a group of African-American community leaders said Monday.

"This legislation would effectively silence the voice of the low-income community, particularly communities of color," Supervisor Russell Stamper said at a news conference at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

The measure would cut the authority of the County Board and boost the power of County Executive Chris Abele, upsetting a balance of power between the two branches of county government, Stamper said. By curtailing pay and resources for supervisors, only the well-to-do could afford to serve on the board, Stamper and other local leaders said.

"We can control our own house; we don't need anybody else watching our house," said Gregory Lewis, pastor of St. Gabriel's Church of God in Christ. "The little people need a say."
Predictably, Abele blew off the concerns of the "little people," pointing out that African American candidates were running in a predominately African-American district, thereby confirming their point.

Congresswoman Moore Speaks Out Against Abele's Power Grab

U.S. Representative Gwen Moore issued the following press release regarding the power grab by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele:
Today, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4) released the following statement in opposition to LRB 1340 a proposal from the Wisconsin State Legislature that would enact a 66 percent reduction in the Milwaukee County Board’s budget eliminating funds available for current staff, supervisor salaries and oversight responsibilities and duties. She released the following statement.

"This proposal is not one that the citizens have asked for but rather one that the business community determined was necessary. Many in the community perceive this as either a takeover or a power grab that will ultimately disenfranchise the everyday person.

“The County Board has and continues to be a great forum for civic engagement, helping to groom our future public servants. Our own U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was once a County Board Supervisor. The County Board is a government body that truly reflects the breadth of diversity within the state of Wisconsin – especially for women and minorities. The many changes delineated in this bill in addition to the reduction of funds will limit opportunities and access for all who seek to be active and engaged in their community. It reduces the Board’s ability to help constituents resolve their problems at the County level.

“Additionally, the proposed cut to the Milwaukee County Board will also make maintaining a system of checks and balances at the County government nearly impossible and would destroy the very concept of local control.

“This proposal by the Wisconsin State Legislature to enact these draconian cuts is misguided and will ultimately render the local County Board incapable of providing necessary services for the people of Milwaukee County. The Milwaukee County Board is more than capable of determining how to reduce the cost of local government and increase efficiency - and we should let them do it.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Milwaukee County's Romper Room

With his bid to grab all the power in Milwaukee County not gaining much traction, Chris Abele is trying to stir up controversy wherever he can.

For those unfamiliar with the dysfunctional government here in Milwaukee County, let me break it down for you.

Last year, Abele slashed the Sheriff's Office's budget and force him to lay off nearly 50 deputies.  Abele was so adamant about the deputies getting laid off, he sued the Sheriff to make sure it happened.  Ironically, due to massive retirements, most of the deputies were hired back, after suing the Sheriff's Office to get him to do the right thing.

Abele's attack on his budget caused the Sheriff to start sniping at Abele.  Meanwhile, he's never like the Board much either and regularly takes pot shots at them individually and as a whole, regardless of the topic.  He did this mostly to maintain his Tea Party credentials.

The Board has been doing what it's supposed to be doing in providing a balance to Abele's madness and trying to be the adults in the courthouse.  They had the audacity to tell Abele no on some of his spendthrift schemes.  They also had the nerve to call for an audit of Clarke's office, which revealed all sorts of problems, including Clarke using taxpayer money for a personal gym.

And for this, they're getting attacked on both sides from these two immature, egomaniacal, power-hungry fools.

But Bice's article on Abele's gossip mongering - and the fallout from it - perfectly illustrates the mess we're in here in Milwaukee County.

First we have Conway, Abele's spokesman, spreading the baseless rumor, which he and the other Abele minions have been spreading on Twitter and Facebook for days*:
An Abele staffer said Sunday that he can't remember the last time the sheriff sat on the sidelines on a major debate. Abele is strongly supporting the Sanfelippo plan.

"Considering the sheriff's track record of sharing his opinions with every reporter, talk show host and extremist with a microphone, I'm surprised he has not weighed in on this issue," said Brendan Conway, spokesman for Abele.

Conway, though, said he believes there's a reason for the reticence.

Late last year, the County Board overwhelmingly overrode Abele's plan to pay the Milwaukee Police Department to patrol the lakefront and other county parks. The move restored 27 deputy jobs that otherwise would have been eliminated from Clarke's staff.

The Abele aide suggested that Clarke and Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic - also no fan of Abele - have joined forces "to protect each other." Most supervisors, Conway noted, have zipped their lips over Clarke's use of tax dollars to pay for ads urging citizens to arm themselves and his decision to seek a graduate degree from a California program.

"It seems an unlikely coincidence, especially since both used to put out news releases regularly blasting each other," Conway said.
No proof. No examples. Just innuendo. Of course, that's par for the course for Abele's office. They're the ones who falsely accused former Supervisor Johnny Thomas of taking bribes.

If Abele was looking at getting a rise out of Clarke, he succeeded. Just not in the way he intended.

Clarke responded Sunday evening, on the official Sheriff's Office Facebook page*:
County Executive Abele reveals his true motives. Read the following email from Abele's office to MJS columnist Dan Bice about the bill on County Board size and pay. The email reveals a personal vendetta against the sheriff:

Per your questions about the sheriff.

Considering the Sheriff's track record of sharing his opinions with every reporter, talk show host and extremist with a microphone I'm surprised he has not weighed in on this issue. If the Sheriff wants to support more bureaucracy, unnecessary spending of taxpayer money and go against the will of the voters that's his choice. County Executive Abele supports this reform bill because it will save millions of dollars, make Milwaukee County government more efficient and more accountable to taxpayers.

As to the why he seems so quiet I can only speculate but it seems the Sheriff and Chairwoman Dimitrijevic have come to some agreement to protect each other. The Board gave Clarke $3.3 million more in his budget this year by killing the money saving City/County Parks Patrol Plan that had the support of Mayor Barrett, most alderman, MPD and the vast majority (if not all) of the mayors, village presidents and police chiefs across the county. Now Supervisors are noticeably quiet as Clarke spends taxpayer money on radio ads and spends months out of state. It seems an unlikely coincidence, especially since both used to put out press releases regularly blasting each other. (Examples available upon request but I'm sure you've seen them.)

As an aside, when you say the sheriff seems to really dislike the county executive I will point out that the sheriff seems to really dislike everyone? He has regularly and publicly criticized the mayor, the police chief, the aldermen, the supervisors, the DA, the Chief Judge (a favorite target), and even the JS Editorial board recently. Who DOES the sheriff like?
OK, first of all, it is rather inappropriate for Clarke to use an official county page for his personal rants. I'm not sure, but it might even be illegal, depending on whether one could define this as a political statement.

Secondly, I fail to see any "personal vendetta." All I see is Abele using Clarke as a means to get a dig at the County Board. Which, by the way, wouldn't be the first time. When Clarke came out with his asinine ad advocating that everyone should go out and get a gun, Abele and his crew tried to claim that the Board was too quiet about that. The problem with that is the fact that Supervisor John Weishan did speak out rather forcefully against that foolishness. Does Abele really need all eighteen supervisors to say the same thing before it sinks in his skull?

But I digress.

As for the Board's reaction, Bice's article quotes Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic:
For her part, Dimitrijevic on Sunday accused Conway of reaching a new low.

"This is a wild, irresponsible speculation," Dimitrijevic said. "The people of Milwaukee County deserve better, and I will not stoop to his level and respond."
Holy smokes! There's an adult is in the room!

So we have Abele and his crew sneaking around spreading lies and innuendo and stabbing people in the back.  Even the ones they called friends.  All because the Board stood up for the citizens and the taxpayers of the county by telling him no.  Not only does that show a severe lack of leadership, it shows an even greater lack of character on Abele's part.

We also have Sheriff David "Teahadist" Clarke, who is prone to temper tantrums at the drop of his cowboy hat.  He has a history of mismanagement of both staff and finances and has been tied to more than one scandal.  Heck, the Sheriff's spokeswoman is Fran McLaughlin of Walkergate fame.  Just like Abele, Clarke suffers a great deficiency in both leadership skills and personal character.

Yet, somehow, we're supposed to believe that the County Board - the only ones that are going out and listening to their constituents instead of telling them what to think - are the bad guys.  I have a very hard time doing that, since it's pretty obvious that the County Board - or at least the majority of them - are the only adults in this entire situation.

Oh, and by the way, since Abele likes to use Clarke as a weapon against the Board, I feel compelled to point out his hypocrisy.

It was the Board who pushed for the authority over the House of Corrections be transferred from Clarke to Abele because of the bad job Clarke was doing.  Abele vetoed this.  The Board overrode his veto.  Now, Abele is just sitting on his hands due to a lawsuit filed by Clarke.

Apparently, given his resistance to taking over the correctional facility, Abele likes the job that Clarke is doing, even with the excessive overtime and scandals.

But when Clarke loses the lawsuit, that will leave Abele flat-footed with no one to take over.  And guess who gets to pay for all of this folderol.  Here's a hint: It's not Abele or Clarke.

Y'know, it's growing increasingly obvious if we replace both Abele and Clarke, we will have resolved 85-90% of the county's problems.

And we wouldn't have to build a giant romper room for Abele and Clarke to have their tantrums in.

*I have screencaps of these just in case they decide to get smart and try to delete them.

Freedom Isn't Free But Oppression Is Even More Expensive

For the past two years, the Republicans have repeatedly brought up their desire for voter suppression by ending same day registration.  They use the flim-flam reasoning that there is a vast conspiracy to commit voter fraud in each and every election to justify their desire to suppress the vote, but have yet come up with any proof of such a conspiracy.

As they kept bringing it up, people kept looking at it more and started realizing what a bad idea it was.

Scott Walker tried to sell it as being a way to relieve the stress the clerks and poll workers and gosh darn it, he cares too much to let them feel stressed, even if it means ending democracy.

The clerks made it clear that Walker was full of something besides care.

Then it came out that the voter suppression would cost over $5 million.  And that's not counting the lawsuits it would spawn.  Walker said that no matter how much he hates it when poor people, minorities and college students vote, he wasn't going to spend that much money just to step on their necks.

Besides, he needs the same day registration around so he can make his kid vote for him.

Now it comes out that the $5 million estimate was really only one third of the cost of voter suppression:
Eliminating voter registration at the polls would cost Wisconsin taxpayers up to $14.5 million, more than double the original estimate, according to a state elections board report released Monday.

The higher costs identified in the Government Accountability Board report come from new registration responsibilities that would kick in at four state agencies if the same-day registration law is repealed.


Elimination of the state law would make Wisconsin immediately subject to both the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and 2002's Help America Vote Act. Wisconsin is currently exempt from those requirements because it offers registration on Election Day at the polls.

Under those federal laws, Wisconsin would have to establish a system for offering voter registration services at state offices where people get driver's licenses and at agencies that provide public assistance or administer programs that assist people with disabilities.

Costs faced by the four affected agencies - Transportation, Health Services, Children and Families, and Workforce Development - total up to $10.5 million. Expenses to the GAB, which were first estimated to be $5.2 million over two years, were later lowered to about $4 million. That makes the combined cost about $14.5 million.
The article also reports that Rep. Joel "Get in mah belly" Kleefisch was set to introduce the bill anyway.

How much do you want to bet that the Republicans really, really hope that Walker will escape John Doe and become president so that he can once and for all do away with that pesky constitution and all the rights contained within it.

Is This A Budget Or Campaign Stunt?

As if the gentle reader didn't already know the answer to that question, they would just by the name of his latest campaign web page:

Some people never learn.

Undermining Fitzwalkerstan

During this upcoming week, the state legislature is set to vote on the mining bill.  For all practical purposes, it's the same as the one from last year that was written by the mining company and failed to pass due to one stalwart Republican who still had a conscience.

There is one major difference though.  It is now even more unpopular than ever.  Public Policy Polling did a poll on the mining bill and it was not good news for the Republicans.  Per a press release from the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters:
A poll released today shows that public opposition to the provisions of the Open-Pit Mining Bill (SB 1/AB 1) has grown significantly since last year. Wisconsin voters oppose the bill by a 33% margin (62-29). Opposition has increased 20 points since last year with undecideds having shifted into the opposition camp. Those voters who consider themselves “independent” opposed the bill by a 44% margin. Support for the bill among Republicans has also dropped.
“The more voters learn about the Open-Pit Mining Bill and the threat it poses to Wisconsin’s natural resources and public health, the more they oppose it. It turns out that standing up for a mining company’s ability to dump waste into our streams and expose our families to deadly chemicals like arsenic and lead is a very unpopular position among the Wisconsin electorate,” said Anne Sayers, Program Director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. 
The poll also tested:
  • Whether mining companies should be allowed to fill wetlands with waste and other materials (Oppose 67-24).
  • Whether the amount of money the DNR can collect from mining companies for permit reviews should be capped (Oppose 78-13).
  • Whether the role of legislators is to bring jobs to the state no matter the cost to the environment or to balance jobs at environmental concerns (Balance 77-18).
  • How concerned voters are that the mining company played a key role in writing the Open-Pit Mining Bill (Concerned 77-20).
“Proponents of the Open-Pit Mining Bill had an additional year to fix and sell this bill to the voters of Wisconsin, but they’ve only lost ground. The bill can’t be fixed. The public knows it and the legislators know it. The only question now is whether legislators will stand with the Wisconsinites they represent or an out-of-state mining company,” concluded Sayers.
The poll by Public Policy Polling surveyed 911 Wisconsin voters on February 18th and 19th, exactly one year since a similar poll was conducted. The margin of error is +/-3%.
View the polling memo from Public Policy Polling here. View the crosstabs here.

Well, that would explain why the mining company is so willing to dump all that money pushing for the bill.  They need to give their sockpuppet legislators some incentive to put their hands in the grinder.

The simple fact that the Republicans even have this bill up for a vote shows who they are really working for.  Here's a hint: It ain't us.

For more information, I would refer the gentle reader to those more knowledgeable than I on this matter.  James Rowen shreds the arguments that the corporate media has parroted in their effort to promote the bill.  Eddee Daniel also has a nice piece with a graphic to show you just how much of our state the mining company wants to chew up and spit out.

There is an event up in Ashland on Monday and events at the Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the bill.

Race-Baiting Bob Donovan Strikes Again

The case of Derek Williams, a young man who died while in police custody, had been bungled from the time of his arrest and through subsequent actions.  They used what might be described as excessive force - a knee in the back - which triggered a sickle cell crisis and ultimately, his death.

The police ignored Williams' pleas for help for nearly ten minutes until he collapsed.  It was only then that they rendered aid and called for help.

The medical examiner's office dropped the ball and misdiagnosed the cause of death.

It was only a year later that new information finally surfaced that caused officials to scramble and reopen the case.  This led to changes in the way the medical examiner's office operates.  It is also causing a hard look at the city's Police and Fire Commission and how it works to see what changes, if any, should be made.

It has also spawned an inquest into the death to see if there was a crime committed by the police officers.  The inquest jury came back with the recommendation that three officers be charged with failure to render aid by a law enforcement officer.

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan didn't hesitate a minute to come out in support of the police officers.  His defense is based on hearsay and consists mostly that the officers didn't intend to harm Williams.

One of the two things that Donovan misses in his rant is that the officers waited nearly ten minutes to render aid while Williams was in obvious distress.  Secondly, Donovan misses the fact that while they might not have intentionally meant to harm Williams, they intentionally withheld aid, which was the verdict of the jury that actually listened to the testimony and saw the evidence.

Wonder Woman caught on to Donovan's misleading statements as well.

The worst part is when Donovan went running to WTMJ-AM, no stranger to race baiting themselves, and had a conversation with afternoon squawker John Mercure.  In said conversation, Donovan is all but daring the African American community to protest if they do not agree with the final results of the case.  After all, in Donovan's world, white is right and to say otherwise just proves his case, in his demented little mind.

It's not the first time Donovan has pushed the racism button either.  A year and a half ago, he came out with his "Plan for Milwaukee" which basically consisted of locking up all the poor and minority children.  A few weeks later, he issued a statement blaming the entire African American community for an isolated incident outside of State Fair Park.

Donovan isn't just an embarrassment to Milwaukee or to whites.  He's an embarrassment to all of humanity.

Dennis Smith Flees, Problems Remain

As Jeff Simpson reported on Thursday - and the only one to do so from what I can see - all sorts of horrible details of Dennis Smith's adulterous love affair came out in the trial of his mistress' husband.

That same day, Smith tendered his resignation as Scott Walker's Secretary of the Department of Health Services, and the rest of the media caught up to news of the trial.

True to their nature, instead of scorning the disreputable Smith, the Republicans arranged for him to land in a cushy job in a Washington, D.C. law firm where he can spend his time devising new ways to screw over the poor and deny them health care.

Walker immediately named the heavy -smoking Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades to be his successor as head of the Health Department.  There's no advantage for the taxpayer or the needy in this announcement.  The former Republican legislator is just as conservative as the rest of them and is likely to keep waging the war on the poor and elderly that Smith was originally hired for.

One might hope that at least with Smith's departure, at least some of the corruption would be gone.  After all, when he wasn't busy canoodling with another man's wife, he was busy meeting with such important health care-related groups and people like the MacIver Institute, Keith Gilkes, Mike Huebsch, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Heritage Foundation.

One might hope that the corruption would be gone, but one would be sorely disappointed.  Because still in the office of Director of Medicaid is Brett Davis, Walker's first choice for Lieutenant Governor, and another one of the players that was involved with Walkergate, the caucus scandal-type of illegal politicking that Walker had his county staff doing in their runs for higher office.

To this date, Walker hasn't had even an investigation into Davis' role in Walkergate, but less held him accountable.  But that's not surprising since that would raise more questions that Walker doesn't really want raised nor answered.

Julia Taylor: Shut Up And Give Us Your Money

In Sunday's edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (motto: All the corporate propaganda fit to print) is an editorial by Julia Taylor of the Greater Milwaukee Committee in which she argues that the best way to create jobs is more corporate welfare.

But this time, so the argument goes, is just give the money to start up companies that are on the "cutting edge."  Sort of like the companies that they claim will want to come to the decimated county grounds, which is being "developed" by fellow GMC members.

To remind the gentle reader who Taylor is, she is also one of the people pushing the hardest to remove representative government from Milwaukee County and put all the power in the hands of fellow GMC member Chris Abele.

In other words, Julia Taylor is telling the taxpayers, especially those in Milwaukee, to shut up and hand over their money, because, y'know, they know so much more than the average citizen.

Is it any wonder that Taylor was an outspoken supporter of Tim Russell?

Yes, that Tim Russell.

The arrogance and elitism is simply breathtaking.

Next, They'll Waterboard People Into Believing

Watching Faux News is just like torture anyway.

Fair and balanced just took on a whole new meaning...

The Walker Agenda Is Still Working! Part CLXVI

Scott Walker's agenda is really kicking in, with new jobs going from dismal to damn near dead:
Job creation in Wisconsin slowed markedly between July and September, according to the most recent available government data deemed credible by economists.

According to a report Friday from the state Department of Workforce Development, the state added 20,481 private-sector jobs in the 12-months that ended September - with most of the weakness in the final three months of that period. That 12-month increase is a little more than half of the average gain of 37,355 for the preceding seven quarterly reports.

Friday's report also contained the weakest reading since the 12 months of September 2009 to September 2010 - a period that overlapped with the last recession.

"Certainly the data shows a slowdown," said Brian Jacobsen, an economist at Wells Fargo Bank in Menomonee Falls and an economics professor at Wisconsin Lutheran College. "There was a slowdown. That you can say without qualification."
Remember when Scott Walker said that after the recalls, there would be an explosion of hiring? Chalk that up as being another dud:
The results indicated that the three months between July and September were unusually weak, Jacobsen said. The newest data shows pronounced weakness even though the 12-month period had an overlap of nine months and six months, respectively, with those two previous reporting periods, which were far stronger.
As I have repeatedly written, Walker's plan of taking the money away from the people and giving it all to his campaign donors and corporate masters has forced a drop in demand. With no money, people are not going to buy things that they don't absolutely need. And with the drop in demand, the companies that thought Walker was their knight in shining armor found out he was just a troll from under a bridge and that his agenda was a hoax.

But cheer up, it gets worse.

With his Divide and Conquer strategy, he was able to weaken the unions to the point that the prevailing wages have started their predicted decline:
Just as troubling, Jacobsen said, is that Friday's report also shows that average private-sector wages in the July-September period of last year fell 1.2% from the same quarter in 2011.

"More people are working, but perhaps they are lower wage jobs," he said. "It suggests there's a change in composition of jobs in where there's a slight shift toward lower paying jobs."
And from this comes the state's alleged shortage of workers. There's plenty of good, skilled workers. But they would rather leave the state than stay and work for substandard wages.

I'm just waiting to find out when we can officially change the name of the state to Wississippi.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Best State Government The Mining Companies Can Buy

I swiped this from an email I got from the Overpass Light Brigade.

Almost a half million to Alberta Darling to push the mining bill no one wants.  She said OK as long as it didn't affect her favorite golf courses.

click on image to embiggen

Save A Whole Lotta Money By Going Non-union

Not really:

I Was Thinking Of Retiring From Blogging...

...but Gandhi told me not to:

African American Leaders Plan Monday News Conference to Denounce Bill Cutting County Board Power

Opposition to county board takeover plans grows. . .
United in their opposition to a state bill designed to limit the pay, power, and budget of the Milwaukee county board, African American community leaders will hold a news conference at 11 am Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 1531 W. Vliet St. Speakers include local, county, and state leaders.

“The African-American community needs more jobs, not less representation and less accountability for local government,” said Mike Wilder of the African American Roundtable, who plans to speak at the event. “The planned takeover will silence underrepresented voices, especially communities of color, while concentrating more power in the hands of politicians and the corporate elite.”
Others scheduled to speak include Rep. Mandela Barnes, Sen. Nikiya Harris, County Supervisors David Bowen and Russell Stamper II, and the Rev. Greg Lewis of Pastors United.

WHEN: 11 am Monday, February 25

WHERE: MLK Community Center,1531 W. Vliet St.

WHO: Rep. Mandela Barnes, Sen. Nikiya Harris, County Supervisors David Bowen and Russell Stamper II, the Rev. Greg Lewis of Pastors United, and Mike Wilder of the African American Roundtable
I have also learned that Congresswoman Gwen Moore wanted to come but couldn't. Instead, she's sending a staffer to read a statement from her.

More and more people are standing against the overreaching and tyrannical attempt by Chris Abele and the GMC to remove Milwaukee County's representative government. Those standing for democracy and balance are coming from all walks of life, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic background.

Meanwhile, those that are for the hostile takeover of the county are limited to the Abele and his plutocratic friends at the GMC, their sockpuppets and teabaggers.

And they cannot even offer a mature, rational reason for their desire to remove the voice of the people. All we get from them is arrogance, conceit and adolescent condescension.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Solidarity Fish Fry, Week 20: One Is Not Enough

As advertised, this was the twentieth week of the Solidarity Fish Fry.

I was a bit concerned about the turnout, given the snow and the many other things going on.

I should learn by now not to doubt my brothers and sisters, who still showed up in droves.

I arrived later than normal, which is already late, but still learned that there were many people that had come to show their solidarity and support for the union workers at Serb Hall.

Although I arrived too late to see him, I was told Randy Bryce was there.  I knew that already when I saw the snow shovel that he accidentally left behind.  It was obviously his because it still had some of the tartar sauce he was scooping with it.

I also got to see Michael Glabere and his wife, Trudy Holyst.

And all the way from Waterford was Rick and Linda Rumpel.

Even though both couples generously offered to share their tables with me, I begged off.  I had a long week and needed some time alone time to decompress.

I also ended up doing some people watching.

I saw Sandra running her tail off.  She told me that all of her tables were full nonstop since she started, while there were a lot of the non-union waitresses that seemed to have time to kill.

I also noticed that one of the non-union waitresses seemed to be addressing every table with an apology for making them wait so long.  I noticed that the managers were running back and forth, trying to address the complaints from many of the patrons sitting at the non-unions tables.  I also noticed that the only time that Sandra, the only union waitress on this evening, had any issues was when one of the non-union servers fouled up their computers and were putting their orders under her name.

The only obvious conclusion is that there were nearly not enough union waitresses.  One is just not enough.

Don't believe me? Come to Serb Hall next week as we celebrate the Solidarity Fish Fry, Week 21, and see for yourself.

Just be warned though.  I've heard that Randy is planning on a floor show.  Something about a song and dance called "Opa - Tartar Style." I shudder at the thought.

Don't Back Up That Brinks Truck For Walker's Tax Cuts

Ever since Scott Walker gave his campaign speech disguised as a budget address, the right wing squawkers, blarghers and other propagandists have been faithfully been echoing the talking point that Walker put in an income tax cut in his 2011-13 budget.

But don't back up that Brinks armored truck to haul off your share of the wealth.* You won't even need your kid's piggy bank for it:
For example, a family of four with taxable income of $25,000 would see their state income tax bill go down by $6. At $50,000, the savings is $54; at $100,000 it’s $138; and at $200,000 the savings is $270.

"At first blush, the proposed tax cuts sound like they will help moderate-income families but the primary effect is to help the wealthy,” says Jon Peacock of the Wisconsin Budget Project.

Peacock notes that more than half of the projected $172 million in income tax cuts annually would go to the upper 20 percent of state residents.

“This just exacerbates the problem that the rich pay a much lower percent of their income for state and local taxes than lower-income Wisconsin families,” he says, noting a recent national report on that issue.
That really pales in comparison to what Walker did for his corporate sponsors in the current budget:
Actually, Walker’s 2011-2013 budget did use tax credits to target a specific group: factory owners and their investors. A domestic production tax credit that kicks in this year will deliver an estimated $360 million in tax savings to manufacturers over the next four years and some $130 million each year thereafter, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Considering that the median household income is about $50,000, that means most of us might save a buck a week. Hoard up those savings for a full month and you might, just might, be able to buy a gallon of gas. I say might, because under Walker's reign of economic terror, incomes keep dropping.

It should be pointed out that Walker's tax cuts are so lopsided it does next to nothing to help the poorest of the poor, who were punished for their poverty in Walker's first budget:
Last summer, the state Legislature reduced the amount of money low- income families can receive in tax credits by $56.2 million.

That places Wisconsin among only a handful of states that will effectively raise taxes on their poorest residents in 2012, according to a recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit think tank.

"At a time when low-wage workers are already struggling, this makes it that much more difficult (for them) to feed their families and pay their utility bills," said Jon Peacock with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, an advocacy group that opposed the changes
Likewise, it offers no relief for the fees that Walker raised through the roof in the last budget and wants to rise even higher in this budget.

Another thing that the Walker apologists are touting his that Walker is proposing a freeze on property tax rates. That should scare the bejeebers out of you.

In Walker's current budget, he touted he cut property taxes. But like the majority of Wisconsinites, our property taxes had actually gone up. They would have probably gone up even higher, but Walker's policy of lowering our quality of life included lowering our property values.

Since my taxes went up by some 9% with Walker's tax cuts, I can't even imagine how much they'll go up with a freeze - 20%? 25%?

I wouldn't mind my taxes going up so much if we had something to show for it, like a decent education system, public safety, assistance for our neediest and most vulnerable citizens or even some creation.

Instead we have nothing to show but some of the most generous corporate welfare giveaway that do nothing to help our state.

But no one should be surprised. This is just a remake of his failures in his last budget, for which we didn't need that armored car either.

*Since Walker's make-believe surplus, which is actually a deficit he's not admitting too, which he is using for these tax cuts come from the money he took from public sector workers, isn't that socialism - forced sharing of the wealth?