Saturday, March 31, 2012

Walker In The Bubble, On The Bubble

At GOP event in Waukesha, Walker pitched the fiction that the recall is run out of state. He is uninformed, poorly advised and vulnerable.

Top Ten Items Here Last Week - - Politics, Environment And More

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...
 
Thanks to all the readers.
 
Mar 27, 2012










Mar 25, 2012










Mar 26, 2012










Mar 28, 2012










Mar 29, 2012
 










Mar 28, 2012










Mar 29, 2012










Mar 25, 2012










Mar 29, 2012










Mar 27, 2012

Why Has Scott Walker Ducked A GOP Presidential Primary Endorsement?

Whose baggage does he not want to lug through the recall process? Why have traditional media not forced him to address the issue?

If he's the darling of the national party, then why hasn't his blessing been sought and touted?

Dave Zweifel Shows Trains Are Normal In Illinois

The Cap Times editor emeritus Dave Zweifel tracks Scott Walker's damaging decision to reject a Milwaukee-to-Madison high speed Amtrak connection and link to the expanding Midwest rail system.

Walker really stuck it to Madison, and also to Milwaukee, where pulling the plug on the rail upgrade is likely to leave mothballed two new trains assembled in Milwaukee and belonging to the State of Wisconsin - - so to Amtrak commuters from Milwaukee to Chicago, too.

Enjoy your 30-year-old rail cars. 

WI Recall Election Is Only About Walker, And...

...his fake tools, which were about GOP advantage, not budgets, voter ID or fair districting.

Friday, March 30, 2012

My Suggested Rules For the Democratic Recall Primary

Three simple guidelines.

1. Tell us what you will do when you take office.

2. Don't tear down other Democrats.

3. Walker and his policies are the focus.




Act 10/Union-Stripping Decision Is A Big Deal: More Walker Illegality

So not long after state circuit court judges enjoined the Voter ID law, and a Federal court in Milwaukee found portions of the secretive GOP redistricting re-write illegal, a Federal judge in Madison rules that the collective-bargaining law pushed by Walker and his lieutenants violated workers' rights to organize and freely associate.

Anyone see a pattern?

Anyone see the outlines of the recall campaign filling in?

That I-94 Construction Bottleneck Near Miller Park Is Nothing

It's just $9 million worth of resurfacing and lane closures for a mere 2.5 miles on I-94 eastbound, and the work that is wreaking havoc on commutes will be done by the opening of Summerfest, says WisDOT.

But beginning next year, and running through 2018, get ready for the the Whopper: the $1.9 billion remaking of the Zoo Interchange - - the busiest in the state.  Here's the footprint: make your plans accordingly.
Zoo Interchange project overview/location map.
Travel through the area would have been made a lot easier for many commuters if Waukesha pols and their talk radio allies hadn't killed a light rail line that would have run from the Waukesha County line, parallel to I-94, with stops proposed at the Medical Complex, Miller Park and the Third Ward.

So it goes.

Wisconsin Closed To Regional Wind Farm Plan

All Walker's talk about opening the state for business, and streamlining regulations for energy and development is revealed as hogwash, as Wisconsin declines to participate in a regional partnership to hasten Great Lakes wind farms.

Details in this Washington Post story.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

For The Record, Righty Talker Wagner Way Off Mark On Recall Signatures

WTMJ-AM righty radio talker Jeff Wagner has had a lot to say about the signatures gathered for the Scott Walker recall, so let's go over the record now that the Government Accountability Board in Madison is poised to schedule the recall election because it has certified as valid more 350,000 signatures than the 540,000 of signatures minimally needed.

Here's what Walker said about recall signatures, and what I posted about it in January:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Jeff Wagner's Recall Prediction

The WTMJ radio talker has predicted 25% or more of the Walker recall signatures would get tossed.
I'll take a dollar of that.
The Right believed its own word balloons, and whipped up the base, which had already been conditioned to believe in 'voter fraud ['Sic], leading to an interesting comment on that posting from "Reagan's Disciple," one of this blog's inveterate Righty readers:
        Reagan's Disciple said...
I'll say 20% will be tossed.
At the risk of elevating these pseudonymous dreadmeisters - - Yawn. 

And to the people better connected to the effort who predicted in the comments a disqualification rate below 5%. Take a bow. 

It was my personal experience that care taken during the collection process, the signature collectors' universal dedication to a serious task, and the double-and-triple checking at the turn-in stations all kept errors or monkey-business to a minimum.

Now here's how I reported the findings from the GAB earlier Thursday:

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Walker Recall Signature Verification Exceeds Talk Radio, Tea Party Spin

The GAB validates more than 900,000 good signatures on the Walker recall petitions.


The board invalidated roughly 3% of the total submitted.


So the effort by Tea Partiers and talk radio hosts to muddy and monkey-wrench the process with their own 'inspections' and predictions was off by a few hundred thousand signatures and a factor of eight, according to their own 'data' (click through the "True the vote" link).
Talk radio is constantly a fact-free zone.


Walker Recall Signature Verification Exceeds Talk Radio, Tea Party Spin

The Government Accountability Board staff has validated more than 900,000 good signatures on the Walker recall petitions.

The board invalidated roughly 3% of the total submitted.

So the effort by Tea Partiers and talk radio hosts to muddy and monkey-wrench the process with their own 'inspections' and predictions was only off by a few hundred thousand signatures and a factor of eight, according to their own 'data' (click through the "True the vote" link).

If the GAB accepts the staff work Friday, it will schedule the election and Walker's National Save-My-Bacon fundraising tour thus comes to a halt.

Jeff Wagner Misleads On Freeway Issues

Even for a righty talker dedicated to stirring up the base, Jeff Wagner outdid himself Wednesday when he got into ideologically-driven, fact-free discussion of freeway issues during the WTMJ-AM radio program's 1-2 p.m. segment.

Wagner was arguing in favor the proposed six-mile extension of the Lake South Parkway - - perhaps he'd read this earlier in the day? - - by attacking former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist over the demolition years ago of a separate roadway across town from the Lake South Parkway known as the Park East Freeway spur, or stub - - which in reality was a half-mile elevated ramp that allowed traffic to come into the downtown off I-43 at the Milwaukee River just up 4th St. from the Bradley Center.

The proposed Lake South Parkway extension that Wagner likes - - even at the cost of $207 million - - would run from the airport south into Oak Creek; Walker folded in his beef over the long-ago torn-down Park East spur even though two roads do not connect and had nothing to do with each other.

Wagner did this so he could take a shot at Norquist, a Democrat, whose New Urbanist policies Wagner did not like, so he teed up the discussion by referring to the Park East Freeway stub removal as one of the last things Norquist did before he "snuck out of town."

Bad grammar aside, Wagner's facts are a mess.

Removing the Park East spur was first green-lighted in the 1990's by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission when a downtown stadium for the Brewers had been under discussion, and then shelved, in favor of the Valley site for Miller Park. 

The removal process was set into greater motion in 1999 when former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson and Norquist agreed that a multi-million pot of federal transportation funds could be divided, 50% to the state and 50% to the city and county, and the state eventually agreeing to contribute to the Park East removal.

I know this because, as Norquist's then-Chief of staff, I was in the meeting with Thompson and Norquist when the broad outline of their funding split was agreed upon, and I was in a subsequent meeting in Madison among several agencies when the particulars were hammered out, project-by-protect.

This is not the first time I have blogged about this.

Plus - - the physical stub removal began in 2002.

So nothing and no one was snuck anywhere on this issue. 

Facts?

Talk radio does not care.


GOP Politicians, Talk Radio Loves Them Some Activist Judges

You still hear Republicans and Milwaukee talk radio hosts occasionally whine about liberal "activist" judges, but it's obvious that today's authentic, agenda-driven and partisan-leaning judicial action is on the Right, making their folks positively swoon.

WTMJ-AM radio talker Jeff Wagner yesterday was confidently predicting victory at the State Supreme Court for the completely unnecessary Voter iD bill that is on its way there from a State Court of Appeals.

Though the bill's implementation has been enjoined, and the State Supreme Court hasn't even released a briefing schedule for the case, Wagner was hoping against hope that the Court would at least lift the injunction in time for Tuesday's election.

The you've got the weird spectacle of the US Supreme Court behaving like micro-managing legislators when examining the small print in the Health Care case - - neatly spelled out legally and politically in this outstanding Washington Post piece by E. J. Dionne.

These days, Righty leaders loves them some judicial activism.


Milwaukee To Lose Unique Brewing Landmark; Preservationists, Where Are You?

Stephanie Allewalt's blog posting at rooflines.org is a stunner: the Schlitz Brew House is scheduled for demolition:

Milwaukee is about to lose an incredible economic opportunity due to an inability to capitalize on our talents.
To kick off the new year and my inaugural Rooflines blog post, I'd like to begin by outlining an "Opportunity Profile..."
Photo by Stephanie Allewalt
Opportunity Profile
  • Six-story structure
  • 126,761 square feet
  • Victorian Romanesque Revival style
  • "Cream City Brick" and Limestone-Trimmed Exterior
  • Scheduled for demolition in ~ 2 months
Meet the Schlitz Brew House in Milwaukee: the building that made "the beer that made Milwaukee famous."
To too many Milwaukeeans today, this one-of-a-kind diamond in the rough is just another structure to bulldoze in the name of progress. How this surprising dismissal has become mainstream stems from the collective voice of our regional commercial real estate and development community: newer is often better, and 122 years old = undesirable.
Milwaukee preservationists - - where are you?

(Allewalt, the blog author, is also the fund development manager at Northwest Side Community Development Corporation.)


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ag Damage Not Top Priority For Crane Hunt Plan, Record Shows

State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, (R-Oconomwoc) indicated his plan to have the state establish a Sandhill crane hunt is dead, according to an email from his office received today:

He said for me to let you know that the bill is dead and he will discuss it with you if he re-introduces it next session.  
His office was responding to questions I about the motivation for his proposal that had reached the bill-drafting stage - - here is a link to the bill - - and even made the pages of The New York Times.

The Journal Sentinel had this to report about the issue:
Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) said that the sandhill crane population has grown to the point where the birds are causing excessive damage to farmers' cornfields. He is proposed a hunting season to control the crane population.
But a September 6, 2011 summary memo among records released to me last week under the state open records law by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources about the plan, and other topics, said this about Kleefisch and the proposed crane hunt:
*  His interest was motivated by his personal hunting experience and his work with several hunting groups.

*  Agricultural damage was not his primary reason for proposing this legislation.
Media reports about Kleefisch's plan had emphasized its relationship to crop damage from cranes.

Here are some examples:

From the Associated Press:
MADISON (AP) - To bird lovers, sandhill cranes are majes­tic creatures whose cries hearken back to prehistoric times. To others, they're the ribeye of the sky.
A Wisconsin lawmaker quietly has proposed a bill that would let hunters blast the birds to stop them from chewing up farmers' cornfields. 
There was this example from a local paper in Kleefisch's Waukesha County district:
Kleefisch: Cranes are the 'ribeye of the sky'
A local legislator, prompted by concerns from farmers and sportsmen, is hoping to establish a hunting season for sandhill cranes.

State Rep. Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc proposed the bill that would require the Department of Natural Resources to create a season for the birds, making Wisconsin the 14th state to do so. The DNR would be allowed to limit the number, under the proposal.

At issue are farmers who point to the damage done to crops from the birds.
Another example, from Great Lakes Echo:
Meanwhile Wisconsin state lawmaker Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, is proposing a sandhill crane hunting season. His bill is a response to farmer’s complaints about the birds eating corn and other seeds.
But "agricultural damage was not his primary reason for proposing [it]...," according to a DNR meeting summary prepared by a lead staffer after DNR personnel met with Kleefisch and his about the proposal, records show.

The DNR records indicate this time line and activities:

After an email inquiry from Kleefisch's office to the DNR's legislative liaison staff on September 2, 2011 about "a sandhill crane hunting season," the agency convened a 12:30 p.m. meeting on the subject September 6th among several DNR officials, Kleefisch and a staffer from his office.

The meeting was memorialized after it ended in a memo distributed at 2:17 p.m. September 6th by DNR wildlife manager Kent Van Horn to nine DNR officials, along with "summary points" titled "Steps to a hunt on Sandhill Cranes.doc."

"I prepared the attached summary points and went over them with Rep. Kleefisch in order to explain the federal-flyway-state process."

In the memo, Horn wrote:
Key points and reactions of Rep. Kleefisch were:

*  His interest was motivated by his personal hunting experience and his work with several hunting groups.

* Agricultural damage was not his primary reason for proposing this legislation, although we discussed these issues. I explained that we would need to begin paying crop damage compensation on sandhill cranes if we initiate a hunting season.
The remaining points in Horn's memo, along with later records, covered various steps needed or suggested to move the process along.

So I sent this request to Kleefisch for comment last Friday:
Several media accounts in their coverage of the issue stressed the need for the season to address crop damage, but I also note the opposite in a September 6th email with the message line "Sandhill Crane Hunting in Wisconsin," from Kent Van Horn to other DNR officials, after the close of a meeting that day with yourselves and DNR staffers:
"Key points and reactions of Rep. Kleefisch were:
 
*  His interest was motivated by his personal hunting experience and his work with several hunting groups.
 
*Agricultural damage was not his primary reason for proposing this legislation, although we discussed these issues. I explained that we would need to begin paying crop damage compensation on sandhill cranes if we initiate a hunting season."
Maybe we'll revisit this if the bill is reintroduced.

Will Smartypants Scalia Will Strike Down The Death Panels, Too?

Scalia unbound and uninformed is a Supremely unfunny sight.

Rep. Kleefisch Office Says Crane Hunt Proposal Dead

He declines comment unless his plan is reintroduced. More later.

Walker Added To State Supreme Court Burden In Voter ID Review

Call it a display of injudicious temperament.

Gov. Walker has made it tougher for the State Supreme Court to rule on the controversial Voter ID law without enhancing the perception of pro-GOP leanings on the part of its current 4-3 conservative bloc.

He did this by having said with unqualified certainty, in a recent Journal Sentinel op-ed

"Voter ID settled; let's move on:"
While a vocal minority may disagree with our common-sense policy position, that doesn't change the fact that the temporary injunction issued by the Dane County Circuit Court will be overturned by a higher court, and ultimately the voter ID law will be upheld.
Of course, Walker was wrong: the issue isn't settled, and a second and separate permanent injunction was also issued by a different district court judge, but note that Walker chose to write "will be overturned...will be upheld."

Will?  

Twice.

Not, "I hope," or "it should." 

Judges read the papers. Was this political bluster or the delivery of a message?

Either way, Walker meddled in the process and has given the Court another hill to climb.

DNR, State Constitution Say Wisconsin Waters Belong To Everyone

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has redone its departmental website, and that electronic reconstruction apparently rendered links inoperable I'd created for previous blog posts about the all-important Wisconsin water-preservation portion of the State Constitution known as the Public Trust Doctrine.

So here's a fresh link, plus the full web page content verbatim, titled "Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone" for your consideration - - especially in light of the Assembly's bad mining bill (still alive, under the radar) and the wetlands deregulation bill that passed a couple of weeks ago and which will lead to filling and construction in some Wisconsin wetlands.
The web page quotes from a pivotal Court ruling that gets to the heart of the matter:
 "A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)

The Public Trust Doctrine

Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone

Wisconsin lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens under the state's Public Trust Doctrine. Based on the state constitution, this doctrine has been further defined by case law and statute. It declares that all navigable waters are "common highways and forever free", and held in trust by the Department of Natural Resources.

Assures Public Rights in Waters

CanoeingWisconsin citizens have pursued legal and legislative action to clarify or change how this body of law is interpreted and implemented. Watch how their efforts have benefited all Wisconsinites: "Champions of the Public Trust" [VIDEO length: 28:02]

As a result, the public interest, once primarily interpreted to protect public rights to transportation on navigable waters, has been broadened to include protected public rights to water quality and quantity, recreational activities, and scenic beauty.(1) 
 
All Wisconsin citizens have the right to boat, fish, hunt, ice skate, and swim on navigable waters, as well as enjoy the natural scenic beauty of navigable waters, and enjoy the quality and quantity of water that supports those uses.(2)

Wisconsin law recognizes that owners of lands bordering lakes and rivers - "riparian" owners - hold rights in the water next to their property. These riparian rights include the use of the shoreline, reasonable use of the water, and a right to access the water. However, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court has ruled that when conflicts occur between the rights of riparian owners and public rights, the public's rights are primary and the riparian owner's secondary.(1)

What are Wisconsin's stream and lake access laws?
Wisconsin's Public Trust Doctrine requires the state to intervene to protect public rights in the commercial or recreational use of navigable waters. The DNR, as the state agent charged with this responsibility, can do so through permitting requirements for water projects, through court action to stop nuisances in navigable waters, and through statutes authorizing local zoning ordinances that limit development along navigable waterways.

The court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions.

 "A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)

Sources:
(1) Quick, John. 1994. The Public Trust Doctrine in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1.
(2) "Champions of the Public Trust, A History of Water Use in Wisconsin" study guide. 1995. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Water Regulation and Zoning. Champions of the Public Trust - PDF 1,390kb
For more information, contact:
Dale Simon, Waterway Protection Section
Bureau of Watershed Management
(608) 267-9868
Last Revised: Tuesday February 28 2012

File This $207 Million Highway Expansion Under "No Surprise...No Money...No Problem"

Step one in the kabuki drama known as the local advisory committee stage of highway development in these here parts managed by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - - SEWRPC - -is over.

And...the recommendation is..."yes"...for an extension of I-794 south into the Milwaukee County suburbs for six miles, at an estimated cost to 'broke' Wisconsin of $207 million, to shave five minutes off an unbearable 15-minute commute into the Milwaukee downtown.

The proposed route for the extension will run more of less parallel to another Interstate highway close by - - I-94 - - which is undergoing a $1.9 billion repair and widening (a third-lane in both directions) between the south side of Milwaukee and the Illinois state line.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Polling Shows Dems Can Oust Walker, If...

...More voters in Milwaukee County get to the polls.

Period.

That's how I would interpret these tight polls.

In 2010, Barrett spanked Walker in Milwaukee County, but the turnout, at 48%, meant less than half the electorate voted.

By contrast, in Waukesha, the GOP stronghold, the turnout was 64%.

And Dane County's turnout was 59%.

So let's assume that Walker's union-busting provokes a greater Dane County turnout in the recall election, and the margin for a Democratic there expands  - - and let's also assume that  Walker racks up another big win in Waukesha County and the like-minded conservative base in nearby Washington and Ozaukee Counties, too.

The key to the election is Milwaukee.


Giant Underground Copper Mine Proposed Near MN Boundary Waters

80,000 tons a day is a lot of excavation.

Keystone Pipeline Would Run Above Major US Aquifer

A Canadian company gets the profit, and the tar sand oil produced is then piped to the Gulf on to tankers headed overseas, but the US water supply (The Ogallala Aquifer, in blue) and heartland take the environmental risk.

Walker's "Tools" Working: 52 Teachers In Milwaukee-Area District Facing Layoff

The Walker goal was always about hammering teachers.

Judges Open Up Submissions For South Side Assembly District Lines

Updated: The federal judges who found two Assembly districts drawn illegally by Republican legislators again express their displeasure with the process and ordered the two legislative parties hold a "meet-and-confer conference...before any further filings are made." 

The three-judge panel also set out a schedule for the receipt of proposed remedial maps. that allows for broad submissions from interested parties if legislators can't or won't finish the job themselves - - but submissions only on the two illegally-drawn districts:

But in the end, the Legislature has once again declined our invitation, leaving those expectations dashed–perhaps for good reason. Indeed, it is worthy to note if only for purposes of once again underscoring the critical importance of each citizen’s vote, just as with elections, resignations also carry consequences. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone with a modicum of interest in politics that, owing to the recent resignation of a Republican senator, Republicans no longer hold a majority in the Senate, and now find themselves in a 16-16 deadlock with their Democrat counterparts. That shift in control leaves the prospect of a legislative solution–even if limited to addressing the VRA violations–becoming virtually impossible, particularly in the highly charged political environment which currently ...
As disappointing as the Legislature’s redistricting efforts have been, the Court’s task is to now ensure that, as to the very narrow issue before us, Wisconsin’s redistricting plan comports with relevant statutory and constitutional principles. Therefore, we will complete the assignment now before us, first, by giving full consideration to the written suggestions of all interested parties, and thereafter adopting a map that complies with these principles.
Here is the Court's findings and orders from this morning:
In our decision issued on March 22, 2012, we held that Act 43 violates the Voting Rights Act (VRA), and enjoined the Government Accountability Board from implementing the Act until such time as the VRA violations were appropriately addressed by the Wisconsin Legislature (Legislature). (Docket #210, at 34). As discussed in our prior decision, we declined to make changes to the redistricting map, finding that, under Perry v. Perez, 132 S. Ct. 934, 940 (2012), the task of redistricting ultimately falls squarely within the purview of the Legislature. To be sure, we had every expectation that the Legislature would undertake its responsibility and adopt the precious few changes necessary to bring Wisconsin’s redistricting plan into compliance with the VRA.

But in the end, the Legislature has once again declined our invitation, leaving those expectations dashed–perhaps for good reason. Indeed, it is worthy to note if only for purposes of once again underscoring the critical importance of each citizen’s vote, just as with elections, resignations also carry consequences. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone with a modicum of interest in politics that, owing to the recent resignation of a Republican senator, Republicans no longer hold a majority in the Senate, and now find themselves in a 16-16 deadlock with their Democrat counterparts. That shift in control leaves the prospect of a legislative solution–even if limited to addressing the VRA violations–becoming virtually impossible, particularly in the highly charged political environment which currently

Page 2 of 5

prevails across much of Wisconsin politics. Thus, the task to make the changes required for a lawful redistricting plan now falls to us.

The plaintiffs have requested that we convene a further hearing on the matter of just how the boundaries of Assembly Districts 8 and 9—the offending districts—should be drawn. (Docket #212, #217). They have also suggested that the outer boundaries of both districts, as established by Act 43, may have to be changed to ensure compliance with the VRA and the United States and Wisconsin Constitutions. (Docket #212, #217). The defendants have also joined in plaintiffs’ request for a hearing. (Docket #214).

From the record before us, we have concluded that any further hearing would not be helpful and is therefore unnecessary; instead, we will invite written submissions from the parties to address this remaining issue, in the event the parties are unable reach an agreement on the appropriate boundaries in a meet-and-confer conference that we will require be held before any further filings are made.

Accordingly, if there be no agreement as to appropriate and necessary changes in the mapping for Assembly Districts 8 and 9, we will direct that the parties (and any non-parties who may wish to do so) submit suggested maps that they believe will comply with the applicable provisions found in the VRA, the United States Constitution, and the Wisconsin Constitution, together with any additional relevant case authority not already before us. However, in keeping with Perry, which requires that the Court “‘be guided by the legislative policies underlying’” the state’s plan, any party or non- party choosing to file further submissions should confine their suggested changes to fall within the outer district boundaries of Assembly Districts 8

Page 3 of 5

and 9 as established by Act 43. Perry, 132 S. Ct. at 941 (quoting Abrams v. Johnson, 521 U.S. 74, 79, 117 S. Ct. 1925, 138 L. Ed. 2d 285 (1997)).

As disappointing as the Legislature’s redistricting efforts have been, the Court’s task is to now ensure that, as to the very narrow issue before us, Wisconsin’s redistricting plan comports with relevant statutory and constitutional principles. Therefore, we will complete the assignment now before us, first, by giving full consideration to the written suggestions of all interested parties, and thereafter adopting a map that complies with these principles.

Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the parties’ separate requests for a hearing (Docket #212 and #214) be and the same are hereby DENIED;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall conduct one or more meet-and-confer conferences with one another to discuss the possibility of reaching an agreed-upon configuration of Assembly Districts 8 and 9, and shall thereafter electronically file, not later than Monday, April 2, 2012, a joint report detailing the outcome of such conference(s), including any joint recommendation as to the configuration of Assembly Districts 8 and 9;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, in the event the parties are unable to agree upon a joint recommendation, they remain free to electronically file, not later than Tuesday, April 3, 2012, proposed maps which they believe comply with the applicable laws of the United States and the laws of Wisconsin; such maps should be confined to the outer boundaries of Assembly Districts 8 and 9, as set by Act 43; such maps may be accompanied by a memorandum of law, not to exceed ten (10) pages in length, setting forth the legal justification for the suggested configuration of such maps;

Page 4 of 5

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, should any non-party wish to appear as amicus curiae for purposes of filing a proposed map for Assembly Districts 8 and 9, they may do so on or before Tuesday, April 3, 2012, by electronically filing a motion to appear as amicus curiae, and at the same time file one or more proposed maps together with a memorandum of law, again not to exceed ten (10) pages in length; and

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, should any party wish to file a response to the filings of any other party, including any party appearing as amicus curiae, they may do so, on or before Thursday, April 5, 2012, by electronically filing a memorandum, not to exceed more than five (5) pages in length.


Santorum Would Consider Veep Spot With "The Worst" Candidate

You get an Etch a Sketch, you get an Etch a Sketch...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kohler Flushes Rush

Down the drain.

Tommy Thompson Makes False Statements About His Own Record

Tommy Thompson is sticking it to himself, PolitiFact is finding.

Tommy Thompson
Says when he was governor, Wisconsin cut unemployment to 2.1 percent and the state’s unemployment rate was "the lowest in the country for 40 consecutive months." 
False

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tommy Thompson
Says that as Wisconsin governor he "never raised taxes." 

When Walker John Doe Stories Appear, Always Remember Walker's Best Quote

The records of more aides who worked in then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's office have been subpoenaed in the ongoing John Doe criminal misconduct probe that has already netted charges and guilty pleas.

The probe unearthed the existence of a secret email system installed less than 25 feet from Walker's office door; Doe probe documents show prosecutors have learned that Walker aides and campaign operatives used the system to communicate improperly on public time.

Milwaukee County prosecutors also made the surprising disclosure that top Walker aides set up a private Internet network to allow them to communicate with one another by email about campaign as well as county government work without the public or co-workers' knowledge.

The emails Walker officials traded via the shadow network could provide investigators with a trove of information as they pursue other angles in the case.
Each time these stories surface I go back to something that Walker told a state newspaper during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign - - a story still posted on Walker's campaign website:
When he says he believes in government transparency, it's not just a campaign slogan, Walker said.

"I don't just say that, I've lived it," he said.

WI Taxpayers Deserve Refund For Misspent Redistricting Payments

The GOP-controlled Legislature committed hundreds of thousands of dollars in state taxpayer funds to private law firms manage a mandatory, once-a-decade Legislative redistricting and re-mapping last year.

The process is always heavily political, but a Federal Court found a few days ago that this time the effort was needlessly secretive and further declared that the process illegally diluted voters' rights in two heavily-minority Milwaukee Assembly districts under the US Voting Rights Act.

Further, the judges apparently will quickly redrawn the boundaries of those districts to conform with the law because regularly-scheduled elections loom, yet the GOP has refused to reconvene an adjourned Legislature to repair their work.

So where is the refund to the taxpayers?

Suppose you hired a mechanic to overhaul your car before you took it on a cross-country trip, and the mechanic said the work performed would last ten years.

Then your car ran off the road with a seized engine almost immediately after the work was finished because the mechanic had filled the radiator with Dr. Pepper instead of antifreeze.

And then told you to go find another mechanic to fix it.

How long would it take you to ask for your money back, and to take the mechanic to court, if need be, to get it?


Arrogance Is Not Governance: Neither Is Abandonment

How sick is state government in Wisconsin?

*  You've got a State Supreme Court Justice saying he can't be judged.

*  Now the state legislature says it won't convene to fix illegal voting district maps it created - - with our money - - and tells the feds, hey, you can do it.

And where's the Governor?

Out-of-state, fund-raising.

Arrogance is not governance.

Neither is shirking the responsibilities to govern.

Hence, the recalls.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dems Want More Than Two Districts Redrawn

So the mandated legislative redistricting may be more complicated than merely adjusting two Assembly districts, the plaintiffs are telling a Federal Court panel Sunday.

Two groups said in a motion filed with the court that making changes to Assembly Districts 8 and 9 on Milwaukee's south side may also require adjustments to the cpneighboring Assembly districts, as well as at least one state Senate district.
This was politically-and-structurally-predictable, and logical - - because the redrawn districts are obviously contiguous to other boundaries - - yet the state seemed to hope that the Court might not notice.

And by refusing to come back into session, GOP leaders and the state invited the court to handle the redistricting repair: I'd love to see the court take the AG and the GOP legislative leaders up on their offer, break out their redistricting Etch-a-Sketches, and have at it.

As I noted even before the judges ruling:
But wouldn't that be a fitting karmic outcome and unintended consequence enabled by the sudden resignation of State Senator Pam Galloway, (R-Wausau) to  her party's smarty-pants' secret legislating and scheming: a do-over, but with both parties in the Senate having an equal say in what would be a very different redistricting process.

Recall Campaign Funds One-Sided For Walker

It's more than a matter of verb tense - - "raise millions" vs. "prepare to spend."

From The Washington Post:

Recall vote against governor brings
big-money fight to Wisconsin

Recall vote against governor brings<br> big-money fight to Wisconsin
Walker, allies raise millions from wealthy donors as labor unions prepare to support other side.

Play Ball: Ethics Complaint Vs. Wisconsin ALEC Legislators

Pretty interesting for those who follow the Wisconsin legislature and ALEC.

With Newt Coming To Town, Enjoy the Tweet Of The Day

Gingrich (arriving here Thursday) is urging on his Twitter account that people tweet "#250 gas" and endorse his plan to visit every gas station in the country and lower the price.

So someone got on the #250 gas page, joined the conversation and said:

Why do you want gas to cost $250/gal? That's WAY too much!

Paul Ryan Veep Trial Balloon Spotted

You want Scott Walker, on steroids?

“I would have to consider it,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “But it’s not something I’m even thinking about because I think our job in Congress is pretty important. 

Walker's Recall Aims At His Lie Of Omission, Not A Single-Vote Issue

[originally posted Saturday, March 34, 11:02 p.m.] An editorial in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel argues for reforms to Wisconsin recall procedures and standards, and there is a line in it which I've italicized below that cries out for clarification because it misses the basis for Walker's recall by the proverbial country mile.

From the editorial:

What that has meant over the past year is that recalls are triggered primarily over single-vote issues. Yes, those seeking the recall of Gov. Scott Walker will tell you that drive is about a slew of issues from canceling a Milwaukee-to-Madison fast rail line to alleged power grabs by the governor to so-called giveaways to Big Business and so on.
But does anyone really think there would be a recall drive if the governor had not proposed and gotten passed Act 10 last year, which severely limited collective bargaining for most public employee unions in the state?
Here is another way to write that line - -
But does anyone really think that Scott Walker would have been elected Governor if he had disclosed during the campaign that he intended to introduce a bill which severely limited collective bargaining for most public employee unions in the state?
- - and the inspiration for that rewrite comes from three memorable lines from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial of just about a year ago I had posted and have repeated because the reasoning and conclusion was dead-on accurate then, and remain so today:
Walker never campaigned on disenfranchising public-employee unions. If he had, he would not have been elected. He got a spare 52% of the vote - hardly a mandate for what he is trying to do.
The recall effort is more than a reaction to a single-vote, and there are numerous issues about Walker's entire agenda that need to be raised.

A recall election is the only means available to hold Walker accountable for an out-sized lie of omission: his failure to disclose when it counted - - during the campaign - - that he intended, if he were to win, to do away with most public sector collective bargaining - - a lie compounded by his subsequent insistence to the contrary, PolitiFact has found.

No one knows what the recall outcome will be.

But it will force Walker to participate in the contest he denied Wisconsin voters in 2010: a fully-honest election, with every one's cards on the table. 


Saturday, March 24, 2012

What Was Most-Read Here Last Week

Politics, politics, politics:

Mar 18, 2012











Mar 20, 2012










Mar 22, 2012










Mar 19, 2012










Mar 23, 2012

Tweet Of The Day



Woman who threw flour at Kim Kardashian: Arrested immediately. Man who killed Trayvon Martin: Still free

Crying "Voter Fraud," Then Breaking The Voting Rights Act

It says a lot about the sincerity and motivation of Wisconsin's Republican legislators that while yammering about nearly fictional illegal voting and passing a restrictive Voter ID law to prevent it they were secretly writing a redistricting plan that Federal judges said last week  violated the voting rights of citizens in two heavily-Latino Assembly districts in Milwaukee.

Voter ID was a power move wrapped in propaganda aimed at suppressing the vote in traditionally-Democratic, lower-income, student and minority voting districts.

The redistricting plan was an abuse of power that would have diluted the influence and effectiveness of Latino voters and their representatives.

No wonder GOP legislative leaders won't reconvene the bodies to fix the plan and want to leave repairs to the Federal court.

Fixing their scheme would force them in the sunlight to take ownership of the entire redistricting farce and the hypocrisy underlying their Voter ID bill.

Who Will Redraw Legislative Maps? Here's a Hint...

The Journal Sentinel Saturday editorial asks who will perform court-ordered redrafting to repair illegally-drawn maps that GOP legislators created for two Milwaukee Assembly districts that are heavily-Latino.

How about the Legislature, having schemed and played and spent our money by the hundreds of thousands of dollars only to botch the redistricting process and trample on voters' rights. Shouldn't legislators be adult enough to do fix their own mess?

This time, openly.

But the state wants to shirk that responsibility and let the court do what the Legislature wtried to to deny to the court just a few weeks ago.

Come on, editorial board. Raise a stink. Raise the roof!

Would we let the Common Council or County Board just take a hike?

How many times did the edit board rip the 14 Senate Dems for leaving the state during the collective bargaining battle?






Wisconsin Flips 180 Degrees On Responsibility For Redistricting

It's not everyday you'll see an entire state government do a full-flip, but in the Federal redistricting case where two south-side Milwaukee Assembly district maps were found to have been drawn illegally by Republican legislators, the state's Republican Attorney General - - blessed tactically by Republican State Senator and Co-Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - - has done exactly that.

When the case went to trial last month, lawyers for the state argued that the redistricting plan was the state's domain, according to the AP on February 24th:

Daniel Kelly, an attorney who defended the maps, said they were prepared as they should have been - by lawmakers. He said the Legislature's decision should be respected, not interfered with by the courts
"Drafting them is the province of the Legislature. It's a political act," he said. "This is their judgment, and it is inappropriate for a small group of people to attempt to reverse a legitimate politic, you know what happened."
And the court seemed to agree:
The three judges originally seemed almost reluctant to hear the case, saying the issue of redrawing election maps is better handled by lawmakers than the court. Twice they encouraged lawmakers to voluntarily review the maps. Both times Democratic leaders were willing, but Republican leaders refused. 
Well, you know what happened. The Federal court agreed to hear the case and issued a decision a few weeks later that slammed the secrecy with which the redistricting was handled and ordered that the two districts be mapped to comply with the US Voting Rights Act.

To which the state responded Friday by saying to the three-judge panel - - hey, you folks can go ahead and do our job for us because our Legislature won't.

Van Hollen Has A Plan To Resolve The Redistricting Mess - - Without Legislative Action

Wisconsin Attorney General Van Hollen - - as signaled Thursday by Senate Co-Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - - communicated a plan Friday afternoon on behalf of the redistricting defendants (the state) in response to a petition filed earlier in the day by the winning defendants.

Van Hollen's plan proposes that the three-judge Federal panel that ordered new maps for two Milwaukee, heavily-Latino south-side districts illegally configured through the Legislature's secretive drafting last year a) expedite a process to "determine who may submit proposals for a new boundary line..."
So what was that huffy talk about redistricting being the state legislature's job all about?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Van Hollen Has A Plan To Resolve The Redistricting Mess - - Without Legislative Action

The Office of Wisconsin Attorney General Van Hollen - - as signaled Thursday by Senate Co-Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - - communicated a plan Friday afternoon on behalf of the redistricting defendants (the state) in response to a petition filed earlier in the day by the winning defendants.

Van Hollen's plan proposes that the three-judge Federal panel that ordered new maps for two Milwaukee, heavily-Latino south-side districts illegally configured through the Legislature's secretive drafting last year a) expedite a process to "determine who may submit proposals for a new boundary line" - - because the Legislature is unlikely to take on the re-mapping at this point - -  and b) clarify the reach of the ruling as it applies to all voting districts - - all but the two south-side districts were found in legal compliance -- because spring elections are fast approaching.

DEFENDANTS’ RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFFS’ JOINT MOTION TO SCHEDULE A HALF- DAY HEARING ON REMEDIES AND TO SET A COMPLEMENTARY BRIEFING SCHEDULE AND PROVISIONAL MOTION FOR STAY OF INJUNCTION
...While the defendants agree with certain portions of the plaintiffs’ Joint Motion, there are some areas which require clarification via this Response...
RESPONSE TO JOINT MOTION
I.    RESPONSE IN SUPPORT OF EXPEDITED REMEDIES PHASE.
On March 22, 2012, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order (the “Opinion”) and a Judgment (Dkt. ## 210 and 211) with respect to the trial in this case held on February 23 and 24, 2012. 
The defendants agree that the Court determined that the single boundary line between new Assembly Districts 8 and 9, as configured in 2011 Wisconsin Act 43, has to be re-drawn without affecting the boundaries of any other districts and that the Court gave “the legislature the first opportunity to address this point.” (Opinion at 34).
The defendants also agree, that given the public pronouncements by Legislators of both parties in the State Legislature, it is highly unlikely that the State Legislature—which is no longer in session—will be able to re-convene so as to pass legislation re-drawing the one and only district line that this Court has found to have violated federal law.

...defendants agree that it would be appropriate for the Court to enter a remedial phase to draw the boundary line between Assembly Districts 8 and 9.

Last, defendants agree with plaintiffs that it would facilitate the orderly administration of Wisconsin’s fall general elections to have that decision entered on or prior to the circulation of nomination papers which are to commence on April 15, 2012.
   II. REQUEST FOR TELEPHONE CONFERENCE CALL ON MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2012.
It is in light of the present apparent impasse of the State Legislature that the defendants join, in a limited extent, in the plaintiffs’ Joint Motion as explained above. In addition, the defendants also request that this Court conduct a telephonic scheduling conference as early as Monday, March 26, 2012 or as soon as possible thereafter to:
1.    Discuss the scope, parameters, process and timing for the remedies phase of this litigation. Included in that conference call the following matters should be considered:
a.    The time for submission of any proposed line between Assembly Districts 8 and 9, to be considered by the Court; and
b.    Who may submit proposals to the Court.
2.    Set the date and time for the remedies hearing as well as the decision, keeping in mind that nominating papers may be circulated starting on April 15, 2012. 
PROVISIONAL MOTION FOR STAY OF INJUNCTION
Defendants also move the Court for the following:
1.    A declaration clarifying the scope of the injunction against defendants with respect to the implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 43.
2.    If the scope of the injunction, as Ordered and declared by the Court, bars the implementation of the entire 2011 Wisconsin Act 43—including implementation that would apply only to the senate districts and assembly districts other than 8 and 9—until a new legislative boundary line is drawn between Assembly Districts 8 and 9, defendants hereby move the Court for a stay of that portion of the injunction so as to allow the defendants to proceed with implementation of the remainder of Act 43 in all other districts.

GROUNDS FOR PROVISIONAL MOTION FOR STAY OF INJUNCTION.
1.    Defendant Kevin Kennedy, Director and General Counsel of defendant Government Accountability Board, testified on February 23, 2012, that the deadline for municipalities to adjust their ward boundaries or municipal boundaries to match 2011 Wisconsin Act 43 is April 10, 2012 (Transcript of Court Trial, Vol. V., at 274:10-13) and that candidates could begin circulating nominating papers for the 2012 primary and general elections on April 15, 2012. (Id. at 247:24-248:6).
2.    Absent any action by the State Legislature, the legislative boundary line between new Assembly Districts 8 and 9 under 2011 Wisconsin Act 43, which the Court found to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act, may not be able to be used by the defendants in the pending election.
The deadlines of April 10 and 15, 2012 are fast approaching and the defendants do not have any guidance as to what boundary line to use for Assembly Districts 8 and 9; moreover, one interpretation of the Opinion would bar any implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 43 until this one boundary line issue is resolved which would leave the defendants and all the clerks and other election officials throughout the state without any direction or options, potentially disenfranchising all electors throughout the State of Wisconsin.
ar enjoined from implementing Act 43 solely as to New Assembly Districts 8 and 9, but may proceed to implement Act 43 with respect to the Senate Districts and all other Assembly Districts.
4.    If the injunction only bars implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 43 with respect to Assembly Districts 8 and 9, then it still may result in the likelihood that all of the electors in Assembly Districts 8 and 9 will be disenfranchised.
CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, the defendants respond and move this Court as follows
1.    That the Court hold a telephone conference call on Monday, March 26, 2012 to discuss the scope and parameter of a remedies phase as well as the process and timeline for such a phase.
2.    That the Court conduct an expedited remedies phase hearing such that a decision may be rendered no later than April 12, 2012.
3.    That (solely within the boundaries for those two Districts as currently established by 2011 Wisconsin Act 43). Such date to be prior to March 28, 2012.
4.    That the Court declare the scope of the injunction against the defendants with respect to the implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 43.
5.    If the injunction against the defendants, as noted in paragraph 4 above, bars the implementation of the entire 2011 Wisconsin Act 43 until there is a new boundary line between Assembly Districts 8 and 9, a stay of such injunction so that the defendants may begin immediate implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 43 in all respects with the exception of the boundaries for Assembly Districts 8 and 9.
6.    For such other relief as this Court finds just and proper. Dated this 23rd day of March, 2011.

Marquette Law Prof Says WI Doesn't Need Stand-Your-Ground Law

Let's hope his NY Times op-ed inform the Wisconsin Legislature.

Sen. Fitzgerald Obstructionism Brings Response That Minces No Words

The parties who prevailed in Federal Court against the state for establishing south side Milwaukee Assembly districts that illegally-diluted Latino voting power petitioned the court for a new hearing today on a mapping because Senate Majority Leader said he would not bring the Senate into session to make the needed redistricting repairs.

The plaintiffs did not hold back, with this opening to their petition:

Defying the decision of this Court, the state’s legislative leadership late yesterday declared that the legislature would not address the Voting Rights Act violation and other infirmities in Act 43 now enjoined by the Court’s March 22, 2012 judgment.
Accordingly, Voces de la Frontera (“Voces”) and the Baldus plaintiffs, by their counsel, jointly move the Court, in accordance with Civil L.R. 7(h), to schedule a half-day hearing on remedies and, to that end, require the parties who so choose to submit alternative configurations for Assembly Districts 8 and 9 and any other appropriate remedies on an expedited schedule.
Other highlights  - -  and I'll post a link to the petition pdf when I find one: 
In support of the motion, Voces and the Baldus plaintiffs state that:
1.    The Court issued its Memorandum Opinion and Order yesterday declaring Act 43 in violation of the Voting Rights Act and, in its judgment, ordered the defendants “ENJOINED from implementing ACT 43 in its current form.” Memorandum Opinion and Order (“Op.”) at 37 (Dkt. 210).

2.    Fewer than six hours after the Court issued its opinion and judgment, the Senate Republican Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, was quoted as asking: “Why would you go back to the Legislature?” and stating that “there was ‘not a chance’ senators would return to the floor to take up the maps.” Widely reported throughout the state, the leader’s statement can be found in the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Declaration of Douglas M. Poland (“Poland Decl.”) ¶¶ 2 -3, Exs. A, B.

3.    At the same time, the state’s principal legal officer, the Attorney General, whose office helped defend Act 43, issued a statement that the Court’s decision had “vindicated” the legislature’s redistricting work. See Poland Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. C. Later yesterday, the Attorney General also said: “I don’t think it [redistricting] will get done by the legislature.... I believe it will ultimately be the court that redraws the lines.” See Poland Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. D.

4.    At the same time, an employee of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, working for the Attorney General, stated that the Court’s judgment was “ambiguous,” suggesting that it applied only to two assembly districts in Milwaukee – notwithstanding the injunction against the implementation of all of Act 43. See Poland Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. B.

5.    Redistricting is indeed principally the responsibility of the legislative branch, as this Court and the Supreme Court repeatedly have declared. Op. at 10 (citing Perry v. Perez, 565 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 934, 940 (2012)); Op. at 34 (Dkt. 210). In her opening statement to the Court, Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar reiterated that: “When all is said and done here, the principal concept is the one that this court has been focusing upon ... is that redistricting is the province of the Legislature.” Trans., Vol. IV at 96:16-19 (Feb. 23, 2012) (Dkt. 195).

6.    When the legislature abdicates that responsibility – either because it is unable or, here, unwilling to exercise that responsibility – it necessarily falls to the federal judicial system to ensure that statutory and constitutional rights are protected.

7.    The statements by one party’s legislative leadership and the Attorney General are not under oath, but it would do little good to attempt to depose them – or, on this matter, to question their veracity because they made their declarations within hours of the Court’s decision and to the public at large.

8.    “Recognizing as we have throughout this litigation the primary role that the state has in this area, we are giving the legislature the first opportunity to address this point, but it must act quickly given the impending elections.” Op. at 34 (Dkt. 210). Quite clearly, the legislature has declined that opportunity, but the urgency remains.

RELIEF REQUESTED WHEREFORE, for the reasons stated above, Voces de la Frontera and the Baldus plaintiffs move the Court to enter a procedural order forthwith and without awaiting a reply from the state:

1.    Scheduling a half-day hearing on the remedies available to the Baldus plaintiffs and Voces;

2.    Ordering the parties to submit proposed alternative remedies and supporting briefs within seven calendar days of the entry of an order; and responses due three calendar days thereafter. The moving parties request that these deadlines include week-ends and holidays within the counted period; and,

3.    In light of the legislature’s stated refusal to follow the Court’s order and judgment, such other and further relief that may be appropriate.