Monday, March 3, 2014

Walkergate: Gone To The Dogs

Joan Walsh, writing for Salon, covers what she calls "Scott Walker's little known scandal."  What she is referring to is the horrible way Scott Walker and his administration treated Milwaukee County's poor while he was county executive.

The whole article is worth a read, but the beginning is the most telling:
Among the racist jokes and emails found in recently released documents connected to the criminal probe of Gov. Scott Walker’s 2010 campaign, one stood out: A “joke” about a woman trying to sign up her dogs for welfare, because “my Dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who the r Daddys are. They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty.” The punchline: “My Dogs get their first checks Friday.”

Walker’s deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch replied: “That is hilarious. And so true.

The joke is bad enough on its own, but it’s also worth noting: back when Walker was Milwaukee county executive, and Rindfleisch was a top aide, he managed the county’s welfare programs so abysmally that after lawsuits by local clients, the state was forced to take them over. “They didn’t just call people dogs, they treated them like dogs,” one Milwaukee elected official recalled angrily.
Walsh goes on to explain how Walker tried to sabotage the Income Maintenance Program, setting it up for failure so that he could later privatize it. What Walker didn't count on was that an advocacy group would file a class action lawsuit against Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin. This lawsuit led to the state taking over the program and working for years to bring it up to snuff.

Walsh's accounting of the time is accurate.  I wrote about the ongoing series events at the time, pointing out that Walker was using the poor as political pawns as he geared up his gubernatorial campaign.  I also wrote about how Walker was too busy traveling the state campaigning to attend to the crisis at home (doesn't that sound familiar?!), which led to the state takeover.

What Walsh failed to include in her article is the fact that Walker hasn't changed.

Now that Walker is back in charge of Milwaukee County's Income Maintenance Program, he has, by the Act 10 bomb, made it into a nest of nepotism and cronyism, where it's more important who you know rather than if you can meet the needs of the poor.  Walker's people had also been trying to force the Hunger Task Force out of the building because they've actually been helping non-English speaking poor apply as well as filing complaints about Walker's continuing failure in providing these much needed services.

ADDENDUM:  In case the gentle reader is unfamiliar with the email that Walsh referred to in her article, here is a screencap of it:


  1. From another blog:

    It behooves those who are following this case to contact Al Jazeera's Chicago bureau. Their agency recently brought down a California legislator and does some very thorough investigative journalism. Their POC in Chicago is Diane Eastabrook. I don't have her email address, but you can send email and phone calls to:


    (202) 496-4500

    Chicago Field Office POCs:
    Ash-har Quraishi
    Diane Eastabrook

    Again, the people who can really dig into this are:

    Josh Bernstein

    Diane Eastabrook

    Ash-har Quraishi

    Josh ran the investigation into Ronald Calderon and Diane/Ash-har run the Chicago bureau. This story is so deep and has such large US implications (former GOP presidential candidate/GOP Party Chair/Future GOP Presidential Candidate/National Donors/Federal Courts/etc) that I must believe AJ will look into it. It's sad to say that they are the only hope for investigative journalism, but we know Journal Communications isn't going to do it.

    They've done this work before. I'm sure with enough information they'd be able to do it again. Getting the expose on Walker/Koch/Priebus would be at the level of Blago, Christie, and above the level of Calderon. And who knows this better than those who have been following this for the last few years? The depths and nuances of this (not to mention the national implications) are too big to be ignored.

  2. When Walker become Governor, he and Dennis Smith tried to privatize the income maintenance system statewide. I give the counties and the legislature (yes, even the outstate republicans wanted no part of a piss poor failure operating in their home districts) credit for convincing the Joint Finance Committee to take it out of the budget. This privatization was part of Walker's grand scheme to create jobs in the private sector.

  3. Billionaires are getting squeezed right and left, yet you think Walker should spend his energy providing proper services to poor people - who are not his constituency. No wonder Blaska has no respect for this blog.

    1. That's high-quality satire there, folks! Or the definition of a gaffe (accidentally telling the truth).

      Reminds me of Walker saying he kicked people off of Medicaid because "he cared too much for them." Disgusting people

    2. Anon @ 8:21 pm - Billionaires are getting squeezed left and right - Where do you come up with this crap? Billionaires have tax shelters we don't, get tax credits we don't, and pay fewer taxes than we do. Blaska lives in a bubble. No wonder he has no respect for this blog - he is delusional. Blaska represents Walker's base - white, old, angry, male, pro-gun, anti-women, entitlements for the rich, pro-Sykes, low information, anti-education. Sounds like a real winner!