Tuesday, September 2, 2014
That was before we found out there was a secret campaign communications and fund-raising WI-FI system set up by people on his public-employee staff - - cronies and allies - - in the Milwaukee Count Executive office suite just a few feet from his door.
Evading the intent and function of the Wisconsin Open Records law and related County ordinances until John Doe I led to disclosures and criminal charges.
Also disproving the transparency claim - - besides all recent revelations of secret fund-raising and coordination with so-called independent groups alleged by prosecutors - - are politically-inspired, willful decisions by Walker-run state agencies to cut back the level of public information being released because the data or materials could undermine Walker's pro-business promotion.
* Under Walker, The State Department of Revenue has cut from three to one its yearly economic forecasts, as I posted, here.
Little wonder: the last one, issued more than five months ago, projects the addition of 40,000 new jobs in Wisconsin for 2014 - - while the real number annually has been above 30,000 in only one of three Walker years.
And is currently trending this year not for 40,000, but near his cumulative average of 28,000+ - - a 30% miss.
* Also under Walker, the state Department of Natural Resources eliminated first level "watches" in a two-step public notification process about unhealthy air quality.
Now an alert - - and you can get them by email - - comes out as an "advisory" only after the unhealthy air - - laden with soot particles or other pollution which are invisible to the naked eye - - is already there for the breathing.
I published an account of the policy change early in Walker's tenure in 2011, along with the text of an email from the DNR official making the announcement (these things all originate in, or are approved by Walker's staff) - - a former executive off the staff of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce - - that reminded people that there wasn't any mandate that warnings or notices be published.
I guess the theory was that in a state just thrown open to business, what you can't see won't harm you - - of the reputation of the state's actual climate for business - - but without the first notification about the dirty air watch, the elderly, children, runners and people with asthma and other cardio-vascular problems now cannot plan around an unseen condition that is bad for their health until it hits them.
How would you feel if tornado or flood watches were eliminated - - but advisories were issued as funnel clouds or rivers out of their banks were already in your neighborhood?
* The same DNR has not updated its its main climate change page since June 18, 2012, and even deleted useful information and links. Right now, the page consists of a single paragraph and one link. I have noted this several times.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:18 PM
Gee: wonder why?
First - - Check out the department's index of reports, and see how the frequency is declining.
Past ReportsAnd "Winter 2014?" That report came out on March 20, according to this news release - -
|March 20||Winter 2014 Wisconsin Economic Outlook and Winter 2014 Wisconsin Metropolitan Area Outlook|
Why doesn't the report have an actual date on it?
Note also how often these reports were published during the Doyle years, and were issued routinely with more precise dates.
There have only been two in the last two years. How come, and where here is Walker's vaunted "transparency"?
The forecast calls for increases of more than 40,000 jobs per year in 2014 and 2015.
How broken is that crystal ball?
The state so far this year isn't on pace to hit 30,000 - - and, OK , the year isn't over yet - - but in two of Walker's three years in office the state added fewer than 30,000 jobs, according to PolitiFact's regular tracking.
And let's talk about personal income growth, a statistical area for which Walker had claimed success in a recent TV commercial until bloggers and others got PolitiFact to show that, in fact, Wisconsin over the Walker years was dead last in the Midwest and 44th nationally.
The June, 2012 report had predicted a strong, 4.1% annual increase for 2013.
By the so-called Winter 2014 report, that projection for 2013 had been cut to 2.9%
So these official forecasts, few as the are, have exactly what basis in fact, and what value - - beyond PR? The dismal science gets more dismal when number get twisted, cooked and served with side of spin.
It all reminds me of a Walker "Pants on Fire" rating fully deserved 21 months ago when he greatly overstated the jobs created during his term:
Wisconsin has created "just under 100,000" jobs since he took office.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:55 AM
Home court advantage undermined:
I've noted twice on this blog - - first item, here - - that the Journal Sentinel editorial board has yet to address the multiple legal and ethical issues raised in court records by prosecutors about Governor Walker's role in questionable and secret strategy coordination, fundraising and campaign-related ad spending disclosed two Fridays ago.
Among the disclosures: $700,000 had been received by a purportedly independent third-party group to help Walker's 2012 recall re-election campaign from a mining company planning a massive and controversial open-pit iron ore operation for Northern Wisconsin close to Lake Superior - - a proposal enabled by sweetheart changes to state environmental and tax laws with Walker's leadership.
Though the paper's editorial board had been quick several months ago to condemn a prominent State Senator caught on a hidden camera by political enemies only talking big about planning similar forbidden coordination and spending.
While we've heard nothing from the Journal Sentinel editorially about these blockbuster disclosures, The New York Times editorial board has managed to discuss them, thus beating the local paper of record to a comprehensive, scene-setting commentary:
How to Buy a Mine in Wisconsin
Did Gov. Scott Walker Violate Campaign Laws?
Posted by James Rowen at 12:00 AM
Monday, September 1, 2014
Just a thought.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:34 PM
A reader dropped this off. She said she found it on the back of a George Webb's paper place mat, and I spent the morning getting the hand writing verified by a palm reader south of town and at two area Walgreen's pharmacies, so here's the transcription, verbatim, with his edits and corrections:
MY LABOR DAY SPEECH
Labor Day greetings. I've been a friend to Labor and always supported its basic rights, like
And a special greeting to Wisconsin public employees. This isn't one of those furlough days assigned by me where some judge comes in later and slaps me for it. It's a real holiday, so enjoy it.
I appreciate all the sacrifices public employees have made since I dropped
And the good thing is, Main Street didn't miss a beat. Jobs are everywhere and if you string three or four of them together, you can earn a living wage. I mean, look at me: I can multi-task, coordinating the state and my campaign and some outside groups just like I did when I was Milwaukee County Executive.
More good jobs news: As I said the other day, our people found a four-day period in the second quarter of my third year in office where we created more jobs than Tennessee, Lower Sandusky and Crimea.
Plus - - and you will see this in the next installment of my ad series, "On the way to 25,000 new jobs" - - the statewide rolling average of new jobs as a percentage of the second-to-most recent fiscal year 's Labor Department monthly survey of employers whose names end in a "B" or "T" was higher than the traditional average of new hires in both The Town of Burke and the Town of Doyle.
There's your smoking gun disclosure right there. Those are real places. PolitiFact my geography. I wouldn't lie to you.
So we're moving in the right direction.
And, yes, I just said "On the way to 25,000 new jobs" because - - and, yes I know I'm making news here and, yes, yes, yes, they say, 'don't waste it on a slow news day off,' but a man's got to do what a man's got to do - - we also found the original draft script of my jobs promise talking points, and I kid you not, it says "25,000. "
So we're more than four-times past the
What happened was that an extra "0" got in there. A typo, probably by the same volunteer who put my campaign jobs plan on the web site in that big type.
Volunteers! I mean, everyone can't be a Tim Russell. I miss that guy.
Anyway - - I've kept my promises, and I won't be going to the airport or the Summerfest Grounds today to greet President Obama. (But keep options open. TV will be there.)
I never promised I would, and it's crucial that a leader keep his promises.
Besides, I've already done that airport bit with Obama. He already got his Brewers and Packers' jerseys. (Note to speechwriters, self: Mention Packers and Brewers ALOT from now on.)
Does he think I'm made out of money? It's not like I can just call up people with money and say, 'send some' to some kind of special fund.
Plus - - he's taller than I am. (Note to self: check Jeb Bush and Rick Perry's height. Damn his cowboy boots. Order lifts. Like the ones I had when I ran against Neumann & Barrett.)
So I'm sticking close to home today. Just me and the family and my defense team. We'll grill some brats in the back yard and I'll spread out that bag of leaves I keep behind the garage and re-rake them in case some reporter comes along to see if I'm working.
Trust me. I'm always working. I don't take a day off, not even Labor Day. You'll see the
Posted by James Rowen at 4:52 PM
Posted by James Rowen at 2:44 PM
That's unacceptable! Motorists around here know they are guaranteed unencumbered speeds of at least 65 mph, day or night, between Milwaukee and any suburb.
The Founders put the Suburbanite's Right of Unfettered Automobile Passage in the preamble to the State's Bill of Lesser-Known Rights.
It precedes the prohibition against anyone using using the words "Glenn Grothman" and "thought carefully" in the same sentence, and follows the ban against posting an image of Jerry Jones or that Minnesota Vikings horn-blowing guy within 1,000 feet of a school.
And speaking of bans: Milwaukee urban light rail, suburban commuter rail to the south, and Milwaukee-to-Madison Amtrak with commuter stops in between have all been outlawed by The Concrete Axis - - right-wing talk radio hosts and suburban Republican politicians.
The Concrete Axis believes that trains are the Devil's play things because someone else is driving and strangers sit side-by-side. Sometimes in seats facing in both directions, French style.
So the only solution to Rush Minute Lost is another 50 cents on the gas tax, doubling local 'freeway' lanes and embracing orange barrel hell more less permanently, or through 2060, which ever comes first.
Isn't that The Wisconsin Way to reduce congestion?
Posted by James Rowen at 10:00 AM
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Senate Republican golf outing
Black Hawk Country Club,
3606 Blackhawk Drive,
With Special Guests:
Wisconsin Republican State Senators
Registration, Lunch and Practice Range Open at 9:00 AM
Shotgun Start at 10:00 AM
Reception at 3:00 PM
$3,500 Hole Sponsorship and Foursome – Includes Optional Golfing with a Senator.
$1000 per Individual Golfer
Cost includes: Golf, Cart, Lunch, Dinner and Drinks...
Posted by James Rowen at 5:02 PM
Posted by James Rowen at 4:35 PM
(Newer, better headline, 4:00 p.m: WI DNR Secretary Can Let Those Turtles Die)
Remember that Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary and former developer Cathy Stepp got appointed to run (into the ground) what was once a nationally-recognized, pre-eminent environmental agency after her published rant against DNR bureaucrats caught Scott Walker's eye.
For example, people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA. So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with.So good news, threatened species' haters - - Stepp can close that "outrageous" circle of misplaced concern by signing off on the bureaucratically-obfuscatory "incidental taking" of several endangered and threatened species - - including more butterflies and wood turtles and rare little insects that are of interest only to stupid scientists - - now her co-workers - - behind what Stepp calls their "cubicle walls."
And for natural gas pipeline construction - - so these species takings [Sic] is something of a win-win for the big-hunt-(hey, elk soon, Bucky - - once the wolves are shot nearly to extinction)-and-fossil-fuel-gang now running the state and DNR:
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin wildlife officials say a pipeline construction project could kill members of several threatened and endangered species.Wisconsin Gas LLC wants to construct a new 74-mile natural gas lateral that would run from an existing pipeline in Eau Claire or Clark County to Tomah. The Department of Natural Resources says the project could result in incidental taking of the threatened prairie leafhopper; the endangered phlox moth; the threatened frosted elfin, a type of butterfly; and the threatened wood turtle.
And turtles, you say? Hell, you can get yourself a wolf-kill (the bureaucrats whom Stepp had formerly despised still prefer "harvest") permit for only 49 bucks and run your baying pack of hounds right through wolf dens and known feeding and rendez-vous territories 24/7/365.
An incidental taking is one in which you choose to kill off some plant or animal life, but the killing doesn't go deeply enough into the population, we're assured, to significantly threaten that species' existence.
So incidental is intentional, not accidental.
Sort of like like
Incidental is as incidental does.
But consider that Incidentally taking a few turtles here, then some wolf packs there, and soon 10,000 acres just about anywhere - - even in a Lake Michigan shoreline state park for a fancy-pants golf course, or across an entire watershed for a giant open-pit iron ore mine - - and soon the taking leads to talking about a genuine slippery slope, no?
And we've just seen what happens when the slope indeed gets slippery, despite all the promises by those chamber-of-commerce-friendly regulators:
It didn't get enough publicity in the US, so thanks to long-time La Crosse professor and resources expert Al Gedicks for his op-ed in the Journal Sentinel about a massive mining accident in Canada that experts figured couldn't happen:
On Aug. 4, more than a billion gallons of mining waste spilled into rivers and creeks from a tailings pond at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley gold and copper mine at the headwaters of the Fraser River watershed in the interior of British Columbia. Indigenous First Nations peoples mostly populate this area. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Co., the volume of the spill would fill 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is the largest mining disaster in Canadian history.No word yet if the DNR plans on adding a 'Do Not Respect,' or DNR/DNR list to its incidentally-but-not-accidentally-weakened policies.
If DNR/DNR is awkwardly redundant, then how about a new category: 'Stepped-On.'
Since Walker claims he's the King of Transparency, why not?
Posted by James Rowen at 1:00 PM
A proposal; bar talk bluster, reckless for sure.
And certainly illegal if money had been raised and spent in that sneaky, sleazy manner - - and so the long-time legislator - - set up for a hidden recording by more conservative operatives - - quit in disgrace with a scolding by the Journal Sentinel editorial board, too:
After the video came out last week, Ellis claimed he didn't understand that what he was proposing on the video was against state law. That was hard to swallow — and still is.
In the recording, made secretly at a Madison bar, Ellis talks about having a separate political operation with $400,000 to $500,000 to help get him elected. Wisconsin law prevents candidates from working with groups that are set up independently to run ads aimed at helping them.
"I am putting together my own super PAC," Ellis is heard to say in the recording, with the intent of attacking his Democratic opponent in this fall's Senate race, state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton.
"The world has changed and to be honest with you, I just don't fit in there anymore. I grew up where you could be an independent thinker and still work out compromises," Ellis said in an interview with Charlie Sykes on WTMJ-AM (620).
Well, sure, but it's not exactly independent thinking to propose an illegal act. Ellis was wrong to do that — even if only in passing at a bar. And he surely should have known it was illegal.The tape made its way to the public on April 9th. By the 11th, Ellis had withdrawn, and the Journal Sentinel said its goodbye on the 13th.
Flash forward to two Fridays ago.
Documents were released that day by federal judges showing Gov. Walker allegedly having helped raise millions of dollars that were funneled per his wishes through a purportedly independent group to aid his 2012 recall campaign, and those of other Republican legislators.
You can read the details in court record, here.
Then came more disclosures about other coordination to benefit Walker and other GOP-recall candidates by two additional purportedly independent outside groups:
A newly released document alleges Gov. Scott Walker's campaign illegally coordinated with two national groups on political advertising in a way that went further than what had been previously known.
The court filing by prosecutors alleges that the governor's campaign crossed a bright legal line by coordinating with independent conservative groups that expressly called for the election of specific candidates in the recall elections for governor and state Senate in 2011 and 2012.Walker and Ellis - - apples and oranges?
Walker isn't denying that these donations or coordinated activities took place. The documents make that all clear.
He's simply saying the activities was covered by free speech protections, so wasn't illegal.
And the Journal Sentinel editorial board hasn't said a word about it, as I have pointed out. Maybe an editorial judgement will appear after the Labor Day holiday, but precious time is passing.
Ellis took the fall, went down hard, and the Journal Sentinel said he had it coming.
As you would expect from the editorial board at the state's largest paper.
I'd bet Ellis is wondering why there seems to be a separate, silent treatment by the newspaper's' commentators for Walker, since prosecutors are alleging in court filings, with documented back-up, that Walker crossed more lines than did Ellis who just shot off his mouth.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:05 AM
On Thursday in the Huffington Post we learned that Republican Governors Association director Phil Cox told the Kochs and their friends that he has “no stronger partner” than the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. And nowhere has that partnership paid more dividends than in Wisconsin.
Not only did the Kochs’ investment in Walker pay off on Election Day 2010 and in his 2011 recall, Cox assured his patrons, it resulted in the achievement of one of their dearest goals: a decline in public sector union membership.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:00 AM
Saturday, August 30, 2014
After all, he'll land somewhere, and seems to have Walker's whiny media mantra down pat, as The Washington Post reports:
Jesse Benton, the GOP political strategist spearheading Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign, resigned from his post Friday amid new details about an ongoing federal investigation into anendorsement-pay-scheme involving a 2012 presidential campaign he oversaw.
In a statement issued Friday evening, Benton cited “inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors about me and my role in past campaigns that are politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue.”
Posted by James Rowen at 2:08 PM
Posted by James Rowen at 1:00 PM
Friday, August 29, 2014
I'm far more happy with Wikipedia.
About me you should be more praisey.
Instead you're incompetent - - flat-out biased and lazy.
MSM's too broad; I should say press.
It once sent love, but now only stress.
I do not like your tone, so dour.
Can't we pretend I'm doing book tour?
Milwaukee papers would show my Harley.
So why so mean now, Patrick Marley?
That's real news, the kind I liked.
When I, Desperado, rode and biked.
Why so gnarly, so not now nice?
I mean you, Journal Sentinel, but mainly Dan Bice.
I really don't like you, Washington Post.
Implying that soon I could be toast.
And curses on the New York Times.
Implying I might be guilty of crimes.
And charges of funding coordination?
Outrageous newsroom insubordination.
These stories cause panic, my donors say, "Yikes."
Must I move to the studio with Belling or Sykes?
And, yes, I prefer to be with a talker.
Where's my credit, and why now such a tussle?
Our direction is good - - I've moved past Tim Russell.
The honest reason for Walker's irk
is fresh-faced phenom Mary Burke.
----- Inspired by the news, and a certain SKW.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:00 PM
The answer to where your reputation went? It was blown up by your own Act 10 bomb and checked out with that secret-no-more $700,000 GTac check.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:11 PM
Another double-standard aimed at the city by Scott Walker's gang.
The PSC majority includes:
* Ellen Nowak, former chief of staff to GOP Assembly Speaker John Gard, and also to Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas;
* Phil Montgomery, a former Green Bay-area GOP State Representative. Montgomery was also a former Board Member to ALEC, the Koch brother-inspired state legislatures' advisory organization, and was once named an ALEC Legislator of the Year.
Posted by James Rowen at 4:36 PM
A fresh batch of emails emerged Friday night that shows Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was deeply involved in raising money for an ostensibly independent group focused on fending off recall efforts..
Here’s a look at the six most revealing nuggets from the tranche of documents:
“There is certainly an appearance of corruption in light of the resulting legislation from which it benefited.”That’s a reference to perhaps the most immediate and politically potent revelation in the latest documents: that mining company Gogebic Taconite LLC cut a $700,000 check to the Walker group. The firm wants to build a controversial open-pit iron mine in the state, and Walker signed a bill in 2013 that helped them by lightening environmental requirements.As I said Wednesday, I understand the technical and scheduling issues that can delay quick comment on breaking news.
But the relevance of commentary is fading as the days fall off the calendar, plus we're heading into a holiday weekend of traditionally-lighter newspaper access that works against readership, and editorial oomph.
Will the edit board comment on the Walker campaign funding stories in one of the mini-editorials it stacks in its Saturday round-up potpourri?
Sunday's more significant Crossroads section is really the paper's last relevant shot at meaningful commentary on last week's Doe document dump.
Posted by James Rowen at 2:30 PM