Friday, July 3, 2015

Rep. Kleefisch Opened Bill-Drafting To Self-Interested Wealthy Donor

[Reposted from 1/11/14, in light of the uproar over a budget amendment slipped in at the last minute with a sponsor that would keep records like these secret] 


For the love of God: Are there any standards of fair play and righteous behavior left in this administration? 

Is there any special interest that isn't given an inside track, that isn't allowed to play or pitch or profit from an angle - - sand mining, WEDC borrowers, iron mining, private Choice schools, gun interests, road-builders, wolf-and-bear hunters, etc, et al, ad nauseum? 

Remember that Walker promoted a special bill just a few days after his inauguration to let a developer fill a wetland near Lambeau Field? That was bad...but this documented story by Dee Hall in The Wisconsin State Journal stopped me in my tracks.
A controversial bill that would allow high-income parents to avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in child support was written with the help of a wealthy donor to the bill’s author, Rep. Joel Kleefisch.
The Oconomowoc Republican acknowledged Friday that Michael Eisenga, a multimillionaire business owner, and his attorney helped write the bill, which could pave the way for Eisenga to force the court to reopen his divorce settlement... 
The bill drafting records, which include emails, letters and handwritten notes, show Eisenga and his attorney, William Smiley of Portage, made numerous suggestions for changes to the bill aimed at helping Eisenga lower his child-support payments... 
Eisenga donated the maximum amount allowed under law six times to Kleefisch, the [Wisconsin Democracy Campaign] database shows, for a total of $3,500. He also gave $7,500 to Kleefisch’s wife, Rebecca, who is the lieutenant governor, and $15,000 to Gov. Scott Walker.
Call it The Axis of Access.

And shame on Assembly leaders if they lift a finger to bring the bill to the floor, and more shame on any legislator who would do anything other than shove it through a shredder, and especially to Kleefisch for handing over the public legislative process to a single person with such a personal motive.

Exurbanites urge end to wasteful WI Highway 164 expansion

People in Waukesha and Washington Counties are still fighting the wasteful expansion of state highway 164.

There is a long history of the project and similar efforts  - - including fresh litigation against another boondoggle not far away - - on this blog

Here;s a link more than four years old. An outrage, given a court ruling against the project.

Consult the index box, upper left corner.

Lawsuit filed against Waukesha Bypass project

The Waukesha Environmental Action League, (WEAL) and others have filed a lawsuit against WisDOT's planned road expansion known as the Waukesha bypass.

Details, here.

We have noted the bypass on this blog, and also the probable development expansion with traffic implications outside of the City of Waukesha should Great lakes water flow into underdeveloped areas there.

Again, we are seeing citizens having to spend their own money to force public agencies to do their job, manage tax funds and follow the law.

Excellent regional coverage of Waukesha water plan

This is a must-read piece about the implications of a Great Lakes diversion to Waukesha:
But if it [Waukesha] succeeds in staking this claim, based on a narrow-sounding exception in the rule against out-of-basin diversions, Waukesha will become the first municipality entirely outside the basin to be granted rights to Great Lakes water. And that will set a precedent that hundreds of other communities across eight states and two Canadian provinces could point to and say: 
Hey, what about us?
With its eye on the Great Lakes basin's big, basic Lake Superior, Minnesota should carefully look at Walker's entire and horrible water-quality-andrelted-environmental record, and also remember that Walker was willing to sacrifice the Lake Superior watershed and water quality for a massive open-pit, mountain top removal iron mine and its toxic mine runoff. 

NY Times finds trouble for Walker in his extremism

A great line about Walker's Iowa far-right turn in this major piece today:
...Walker appears increasingly willing to lose the general election to win the primary.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

When Walker, GOP WI legislators do their unthinkable damage...

And this budget is another nightmare for democracy on top of four years of hell, I remember that the Journal Sentinel endorsed Walker in 2010 for, among other virtues, his "trademark[s]...out-of-the-box thinking."

And in those four years, it has been hell, detailed here.

In committee, WI GOP legislators reward themselves, lobbyists,

Hard to know where to begin. This group of legislators is absolutely the worst collection of public officials gathered under one roof in Madison. Ever.

Walker to get glimpse of Air Force I, but that's it

[Update, on the issues]] I'm glad Walker is to greet President Barack Obama today in La Crosse. The contrast between real and fake, between President and preposterous poseur, will snap Walker's insufficiencies into focus.

Maybe Obama will ask him how that foreign policy crash course is coming.

Here's your single-posting crash course in Walker's record, history, policies, and more.

And by the way, the tarmac in La Cross today is the closest Walker will ever get to Air Force I.

Obama/Walker disparities on livable, working wages

President Barack Obama is in La Crosse, WI today to tout his recent executive order making many US workers eligible for overtime pay not raised since 1975.

Obama will be greeted by WI GOP Gov. Scott Walker, a 2016 presidential hopeful, who has blocked any increase in the minimum wage of $7.25 mandated in Wisconsin and has taken the extreme position that the minimum wage serves "no purpose."

Walker also created Act 10, which has slashed the take home pay of Wisconsin public employees, has signed a blue-collar wage depressing so-called 'right-to-work' bill after saying he had no interest in it, and has said he will sign whatever version of a bill his GOP corporatist legislative allies send him to cut the s0-called prevailing pay rates of workers on road and building projects.

Need we say more about the state where there has been bottom-tier job growth during Walker's first term - -  WI is now 35th among the states - -  and the sharpest percentage decline among all 50 states in middle-class status for the residents?

These are among the many facts not known outside Wisconsin. Consult this list.

No wonder the Koch brothers have said Walker is their favorite for 2016, but what's in it for people who work in fast-food restaurants, drive road graders or put up dry wall or wire and plumb them?

Walker filing candidacy papers, state not filling potholes

So there are your Scott Walker/GOP priorities, Bucky. Walker on the cusp of kicking Wisconsin to the curb while the state delays fixing its roads.

And Walker's budget, like the workforce and economy he wants to sell to the nation, is pock-marked with potholes of all shapes and sizes

If you think that's leadership, friend, you better look up the word.

Christie, Walker fraternal twins

[Updated from Wednesday, 1:32 p.m.] I know what the pundits will say: Chris Christie's in the GOP presidential race, and ooooh, what a contrast to, uh, Scott Walker.

Christie's the New Jersey street-fighting bully, you'll hear, while preacher son Walker is "midwestern nice."

Why, he even told us so.

But look at the similarities.

For one thing, both of these GOP governors are taking big hits in their home state polls.

Could it be that the folks back home think the Governors they elected to create jobs and fix the schools are just hucksters collecting state paychecks, and, lured by the road and the White House, have gotten too big for their britches?

Maybe familiarity does breed contempt.

Christie and Walker also have in common ex-deputy chiefs of staff named Kelly - - Kelly Rindfleisch, meet Bridget Kelly - - who got their bosses into trouble (or was it the other way around?) for email-sinning-on-public-time.

Walker and Christie have both dodged indictment while their staffers and associates and appointees took falls.

(Rick Perry, facing felony charges, you are not in this club. It's just for the lucky kids.)

Now let's look at some Walker/Christie policy similarities.

Both governors killed federally-funded Amtrak expansions, consigning motorists and truckers to more highway traffic congestion and rail passengers to second-class transportation status, or worse.

Christie cut New Jersey school funding, and when sparring (video) with a teacher about it - - as is his wont - - blamed his Democratic predecessor John Corzine.

Walker routinely blames all his problems on Democratic gubernatorial predecessor Jim Doyle.

And, like Christie, Walker also severely cut K-12 public school funding in his first budget without fully back-filling the reductions in later years.

Both governors enjoy scapegoating teachers, and while Christie likes to tell his critics to sit down and shut up, Walker went further and dropped a collective bargaining and take-home pay bomb on teachers - - and all public employees - - that aimed to shut up their unions, too.

So, yes, Christie is noisy and bombastic; Walker prefers stealth while hiding behind a pleasant, Pawlenty-like facade.

And Walker will use Christie the same way, so don't be fooled.

Because either way - - Walker's or Christie's - - their knives cut deep.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Vote in online poll about Great Lakes water diversion

The Journal Sentinel's "Poll of the Day" - - see it towards the bottom right on the paper's home page - - is about Waukesha's effort to divert Great Lakes water - - and the poll results are posted at the paper's Waukesha online publication - - so let's broaden the reach of the poll a little and pump up a broader range of opinion.

After all, it's a SE Wisconsin and Great Lakes regional issue.

On WI budget, 'don't know' and other dodges

Usually Republicans claim to be all about about certainty, stability and seamless, one-party top-down management.  Read today's laugh-out-loud Journal Sentinel story about what legislative chaos managers Scott Fitzgerald, Robin Vos and travelin' man Scott Walker haven't decided, don't know, might arrange, can't say, or won't reveal when it comes to Walker's stalled and unsustainably-funded budget.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gableman answers that age-old legal question

Don't all convicted felons hope for an activist friend on their State Supreme Court? 

On massive hog farm, WI DNR playing by rules. So far.

[Updated] I'd been posting this year about a massive hog farm proposed in the Lake Superior watershed not far from where a giant iron-ore mine plan fell through because the area was always known to be saturated with lakes, streams, rivers and groundwater.

I'd been hearing that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, despite its management by Scott Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality," would opt for the full Environmental Impact Statement review process when examining the operator's application because the DNR didn't want to tick off the same coalition of Ojibwe, environmental, recreational and small business opponents which rose up and helped kill the mine.

Besides, Walker is about to announce for President, and Walker The Hog Manure King doesn't have a nice ring to it, even in Iowa, America's Pork Producer.

My sources were correct, though note the scope of the proposal:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday that it will require a full environmental impact study of a proposal for a huge pig farm in Bayfield County. 
The operation would house about 7,500 sows, 18,750 pigs, and 100 boars in three barns with concrete manure storage structures located under each barn, to provide more than 180 days of liquid manure storage, according to a DNR summary of plans.
Note also that Walker's DR has had a very tolerant approach to manure and other fecal overflows, fining one farmer $464 for a one-million gallon spill,  and giving another egregious polluter a slap on the wrist after political appointees intervened and kept his case of wrongful human waste spreading on farm fields near residential wells from being forwarded to the Attorney General's office for prosecution.

And a huge dairy cattle feeding operation has been polluting the groundwater in NE Wisconsin because of "massive regulatory failure," according to the administrative law judge hearing a recent case brought against the DNR by a citizen group.

More about that case at the website of Midwest Environmental Advocates, the non-profit public interest law firm which forced the DNR to do the job the agency should have been doing for the people.

Walker's big, bold budget boondoggle

There are less than seven hours to go before the current state budget expires and the GOP-controlled Wisconsin Legislature cannot agree even on that new budget "framework" an absentee Gov. Walker said six days ago was just around the corner.

The budget has been stuck in the Joint Finance Committee for weeks as conservative Republicans and really, really, really conservative Republicans can't agree on just how much of that "crap budget" as one GOP member put it should stay, go or be, uh, supplemented.

The old budget can be extended, but what kind of message about certainty and stability and competence are Walker and his allies sending?

Walker had his Illinois media moment in the sun

This blog has noted two recent heavy slams at Walker by Illinois media - - both in the Chicago Tribune - - with a focus on his failed jobs and growth policies.

But let's not forget that this Illinois outlet gave Walker all the space he needed to brag about (and hang himself) his executive and business leadership skills more than three years ago:

Gov. Walker says business hiring will skyrocket after he wins recall election
A theme amplified by Walker valet and State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos: 
RACINE – Once June 5 hits and Gov. Scott Walker is securely re-elected, “our economy is going to take off like a rocket,” state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Monday during a meeting with The Journal Times Editorial Board.
And noted often on this blog, for the record, along with a representation of said rocket:
Such as the falling rocket-propelled arrows stuck in Hatay

But back to the story in which Walker was in Illinois and bragged to a business group about his management skills. How laughably ironic do these words appear now that Walker can add a non-budget in place as the fiscal year ends tonight, along with a missed job creation numbers and one state debt payment:
"The best thing we can do for government is provide stability, certainty." 

WI fiscal year ends in 12 hours; Still no budget

Walker's complete lack of focus, leadership, and a plan for growth is on full display. As is his preference these days for Iowa over Wisconsin,

Elizabeth Warren crushes Walker

This blog noted Walker's phony and extremist response to the Supreme Court's endorsement of marriage equality, but props to US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-MA), for nailing it:

"Well, Scott Walker, if you believe the next president's job is to encourage bigotry and to treat some families better than others, then I believe it is our job to make sure you aren't president," Warren said while speaking at a fundraiser for Connecticut's Democratic party.
Wider context, here. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Walker's WI fiscal mess on full, unpresidential view

[updated from 9:32 p.m. Monday] This blog reported Saturday that Wisconsin Governor and preposterous presidential hopeful Scott Walker weakly said "a framework' for a budget deal was just a few days away.

Not a deal. Some kind of framework. In other words, just words, while Walker headed off to campaign in Colorado and tout economic progress in Wisconsin that is a myth.

Talk about evading reality and responsibility while campaigning nationally day-after-day-after-day. Here's the sad state of affairs i- - the numbers do not lie - - n our state's sad economy under Walker's failed 'leadership':

The state's fiscal year ends tomorrow at midnight, Scott Walker's proposed 2015-'17 budget remains stalled in committee though both legislative houses are run by GOP majorities, and he's already skipped one debt payment as Wisconsin cash flow slowed after reckless, ideologically-motivated tax cuts.

Job growth has dragged for years, and a higher proportion of the state citizens have fallen out of the middle than in any other state.

That percentage is sure to rise if and when the legislature passes a budget that either ends the so-called prevailing wage level for workers on large road and other construction projects - - wages generally at the top of blue-collar pay scale - - or vastly reduces prevailing wage opportunities statewide.

How far Big Government Republicans will take the cut to prevailing wage - - full or partial repeal - - is one of the issues holding up the budget because Republicans cannot agree on how broadly the reduction should apply.

And this probable cut is on top of take home pay reductions for all public employees through Act 10 and the recently-approved 'right-to-work' law which Walker signed completing his pledged 'divide-and-conquer' after hinting he was not signing a 'right-to-work' law.

Walker is so extreme that he does not even believe in equal pay for women. Too divisive, he's said.

And remember - - all these cuts to union wages hurt organizing and generally reduce donations to Democratic or candidates less extreme than Walker and the Republicans running the legislature on his behalf.

Hardly an audition for the White House as the Chicago Tribune is highlighting, though it does sound like a Sam Brownback/ Kansas imitation.

About Christie

He says he's going to be "the ideas candidate." I assume transportation will not be a featured topic.

That would be like Walker calling himself "the tolerance candidate."

Or "the environmental candidate."

Or "the honesty candidate."

And speaking of clean air, Bucky...

I'm told that with fewer educators funded in Walker's anti-science, smaller-staff budgeting for the DNR, the agency is considering eliminating or cutting back its "Clean Air Tip of the Week" email communication.

I've reposted them often when their entertainment value was too precious to ignore - - like the fret-you-not assurances about whether official July 4th fireworks displays are an environmental problem, or Recycle! (from an administration defunding recycling), or the get-out-there-and-bike encouragement (from an administration about to end in the budget financing for highway sidewalks and bike trails, etc.) - - but we don't expect much from a DNR run intentionally at Walker's direction with "a chamber of commerce mentality" and former industry bigwigs in charge.

I will not be surprised if our business-friendly DNR merges its inevitable support for that record-breaking 27,000-hog operation up north within manure runoff distance of Lake Superior with tie-in PR later this year to McDonald's annual return of the "McRib" sandwich.

We note all this on the day we learn it's likely the air will not be as clean as it could be here in Wisconsin, but don't look for the DNR in an administration that fought strong federal air clean-up efforts to post a scientifically-serious "Clean Air tip of the Week"at this stage of the game.

Walker '16!

Chicago Tribune again slams Walker in news columns

[Updated] Second big hit in the last few days. I posted the first one one exposing Walker's scandal-ridden WEDC, and noted long memories in Illinois over Walker's first-term mocking of Illinois' economy - -  and now there's this, which hich readers tell me was a page one story about Walker's stalled, contentious, deficit-ridden budget and failed jobs/growth planning: 
It wasn't long ago that the forecasting arm of the Wisconsin legislature was predicting that state government by mid-2015 would be flush with a surplus topping $1 billion, which Gov. Scott Walker could have showcased in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. 
Today, that projected surplus has morphed into a $2.2 billion budget deficit that Republican lawmakers are struggling to fix. Sharp divisions between Walker and legislators about how to solve the problem have complicated his plans for formally entering the already crowded field of GOP presidential hopefuls. When he does, his financial stewardship may prove more political vulnerability than bragging point.
It's a significant and detailed slam:
From 2011 to 2014, the pace of private-sector employment growth in Wisconsin ranked 36th among the states and the District of Columbia, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Walker's state ranked behind all its Rust Belt neighbors, Illinois included. Wisconsin even trailed Kansas, which has been the focus of national attention after steep tax and spending cuts pushed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback produced big government deficits but little economic pop. 
The number of jobs in the private sector grew by 5.7 percent in Wisconsin over the last four years, federal numbers show. Nationally, the growth rate was 9.3 percent. 
I rate it a significant piece, given then Trib's national stature, and will add it to my national media Walker round-up

Another headline for the Walker Translator App

Let's run this through the Walker Translator App

Supreme Court ruling slows EPA clean air initiatives

Regrettable that the court's conservative blocked by Cranky Scalia today has halted an Obama administration's clean air rule that requires power plant operators to reduce mercury and other toxic emissions.
EPA to issue rules on smokestack greenhouse gases soon

The court said the EPA rule should have taken the cost to operators into consideration before deciding to craft the rule; the good news is that the rule can be rewritten and that many operators are already meeting the rule's goals because cleaner air is what customers and communities - - take as an example Milwaukee, which for years suffered with the archaic Valley plant's pollution - - continue to want.

Walker and the rest of the fossil fuel pollution chorus will hail the ruling as a win, but no one wins when the air and waters near coal-burning electrical generating plants are not as healthy as possible.

How'd I get on this fund-raising list?

JAMES, as a trusted leader in the Conservative movement I need to ask you an important question.

Should I run for President of the United States?

I have been praying about this decision for a long time and if I do decide to seek the Republican nomination for President I need to know you’ll stand with me...

Stressed? Walker forgot he has Master's degree

Our multi-tasking, jet-lagged governor fantasizes about finishing his college degree in the White House, but somehow forgot he'd told us he had a Master's degree.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Walker's false freedom narrative

[Updated] Walker drops the word "freedom" into his canned speeches - - and went back to it this weekend in Colorado - - but anyone following Wisconsin politics - - summary posting, here - - knows that facts reveal his purported embrace of "freedom" to be his phoniest ploy.

Walker has taken positions against, or has signed bills eliminating or restricting freedom in these area, among others:

[Updated] Freedom of speech denied to scores of protestors illegally arrested and fined during Act 10 demonstrations. Their dismissed cases and awards will cost Wisconsin under Walker an estimated $1 million.

*  Collective bargaining, organizing and workplace association heavily-restricted by Act 10.

*  Marriage equality and all its inherent property rights, as defined by the US Supreme Court.

*  Access to health insurance without regard to income, as defined by the US Supreme Court.

*  Unfettered ballot access, including early voting and voting place hours.

*  Access to medical services offered by clinics serving women, including abortion rights as defined by the US Supreme Court.

*  Access to clean water, as guaranteed by the Clean Water Act and Article IX of the Wisconsin State Constitution, but repeatedly threatened by Wisconsin polluters and connected insiders enabled by intentionally-weakened environmental inspections and enforcement by Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" Department of Natural Resources.

*  Access to breathable, healthy air, as guaranteed by the Clean Air Act, but jeopardized in Wisconsin by Walker's opposition to clean air rules designed to reduce smokestack air pollution.

*  Equal access to publicly-financed transportation, along with its related access to housing and jobs routinely denied to minorities and lower-income citizens under Walker's budgets which deliberately underfund transit in cities, and statewide.

*  Academic freedom for UW faculty members which was extended upon their hiring and has long been provided as part of The Wisconsin Idea which Walker is substantively stripping from the state's publicly-financed universities.

*  Unjustifiable invasion by Big Government of personal privacy which is at the core of his plan, copied from other programs already ruled illegal, to drug-test public assistance recipients and put them risk of losing legally-mandated and family-supporting food stamps.

Walker the freedom candidate?

Free us from the falsehood.

Huge hog farm on tap near Lake Superior in NW Wisconsin

[Updated 4:43 p.m.] Remember that giant hog operation which Iowa producers wanted to locate in Northwest Wisconsin close to Lake Superior?

Well, that plan to build "Badgerwood" is proceeding, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Update: It was reported last year that Wisconsin's DNR, under Scott Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" direction, had only eight inspectors available to monitor 258 large animal feeding operations, or CAFO's. Walker's current budget greatly reduces DNR science and other operations.

And manure runoff is a documented and growing Wisconsin CAFO problem, a very recent independent review has found.

The proposed, 26,000+ hog operation, would be, by far, the biggest in Wisconsin and the Lake Superior watershed.

Its Iowa owners are looking for a fresh site far from disease outbreaks - - great! - - which may be among the reasons Native American tribes may convince federal officials it's all a bad idea.

For the people in that scenic part of the state near beautiful Ashland, and the Great Lakes basin who just fought off a huge open-pit iron ore mine in the same watershed, no rest for the weary.

Career politician runs against DC to get there

They hate big government, but are desperate to take over DC and use big government for themselves.

Obama to visit La Crosse Thursday; Walker not concerned

'They know me well in La Crosse County,'Walker may be saying on his way back from Denver with stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and points other than La Crosse on his schedule  'Mary Burke only beat me there by 6.4%.'

Saturday, June 27, 2015

No WI budget deal, Walker junketing in Colorado

Walker sends Wisconsin's disrespecteds the message that he'd rather shill his gay-bashing, union-busting, gun-totin' agenda - - and distract attention from the thousands of jobs lost in our state's degrading economy last month - - than stick around in his taxpayer provided office and/or mansion to help pass his own "crap budget" (thank you, State Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville), before the June 30 deadline.

And remember his weak prediction three days ago that a budget deal, actually only "the framework" for one, was going to "come together" in the next few days?

Well, that hasn't happened yet, and won't when he's 1,000 miles away in Colorado trying to out-trump his wacko bird (John McCain's term for Ted Cruz) opponents.

And it won't happen because GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, having tired of making excuses for the absentee Walker, don't have the patience or the cell phone battery life for those kinds of conference calls.

Imagine Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy telling the sideline TV reporter at halftime in the Super Bowl when the team hadn't scored yet that he and the coaching staff were hoping soon to agree on a framework for a game plan.

On #SCOTUS, what Walker meant...

While he said:
Alexander Shashko's photo.

What he means:
I like it when a majority of judges backed by the same special coordinated interests that shoveled me money will redefine the law as I see it, too.
And in alternative universe, if Diane Sykes had been a fifth vote to maintain bans on same-sex marriages, do you think that the President Walker who followed through with his earlier hint and put her on the US Supreme Court would be yammering today about unelected justices?

WI GOP, Walkerites find more wages to cut

The evidence of Scott Walker's failure abounds - - his repeated tax cuts that have drained the budget without stimulating private sector expansion, persistently slow job growth (35h nationally, with more losses coming in the UW system), worst ranking in the nation for residents loss of middle-class status (Act 10 a big factor) and new numbers showing jobs leaving by the thousands in the most recent month - - but now Walker's allies want to add wage cuts on big projects to further finish off Walker's divide-and-conquer labor demolition.

Above the Capitol dome is Miss Forward. In charge is Governor Backwards.

More on Walker's full record, here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Walker said he didn't know if Obama was Christian

Yes, Walker said that.

Hope he availed himself of the answer.

President Obama's exceptionalism

I note from time to time - - one example - - that it is preposterous that Walker could consider himself presidential-worthy. Consider for a moment this man who cannot string together a coherent sentence replacing the graceful Barack Obama who set a new standard for presidential eloquence on our behalf before leading thousands of mourners singing Amazing Grace at Rev. Clementa Pinckney's memorial service today.

Let's finally get rid of the Washington NFL team name

And the logo and mascot, too.

People know it's insulting and wrong.

These are relics of a bad, bygone, good-riddance era.

The country is working hard to cleanse itself of institutional disrespect and bigotry, intolerance and ignorance and racism.

It's not a new idea.

What better time than now?

Change and tolerance are in the air.

Get rid of it.

Walker's no-chance, same-sex marriage opposition opportunism

Walker knows there is no chance that the Congress, then the required super-majority of states, will ever pass a constitutional amendment to turn same-sex marriage legality back to the states.

But that is the opportunistic, ideological and grossly pandering position he's taking today because he thinks it will nail down for him the largest number of far-right early caucus and primary voters.

I'd said a while ago that Walker is yesterday's candidate, and he's proven it today.

So sad to see that Len Zubrensky has died

He was one of the long-time champions of civil rights and progressive traditions in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. One of the good guys. Our sympathies to his wife, Ruth, their family and many, many friends on his passing.

Panic by the intolerant

This is what it looks like from the perspective of a Bradley Foundation board member:
On Obamacare, John Roberts helps overthrow the Constitution

America at its best and worst

The Supreme Court marks our progress, Charleston our deepest deficits.

Gay marriage win seals big week for equality

The Supreme Court affirms rights to health care, fair and open housing and same-sex marriage. A nice week to be a progressive.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

About that Paul Ryan Obamacare alternative…never mind

Some Republicans like Paul Ryan, ginned up by talk radio and their fevered imaginations, were already touting their market-based, private insurer-rewarding and ideologically correct alternative to Obamacare which they would roll out when the  Roberts court deep-sized Obamacare.

Oops. Like those 50 House of Representatives' bills to repeal: a waste of time.

I remember when President Obama proudly embraced the sobriquet "Obamacare" after Republicans had used it despairingly.

Laughing last, laughing best.

Good for your health/care.

And then there are those that don't get it, don't want to get and will keep on flailing:
 6 hours ago6 hours agoTune in to to hear how I said Roberts Court bailed out again. We need full repeal. -SKW

Walker's WEDC beggin' for John Doe III status

Yep, this is some real national leadership showcased.
WEDC backed firm after learning state money was for luxury car debts
And bless you, Mike Gableman, Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and captive of the WMC, for helping keep John Doe I alive. And the full breadth of the special interest capture of Wisconsin to better serve Walker after his Rindflesich-aided promotion to Governor.

On Waukesha water, a prediction

Having the anti-science, 'chamber-of-commerce mentality' Walker DNR promoting the precedent-setting diversion plan does not help Waukesha make its case, especially since some water is ticketed to open, growth acreage outside city limits.

June 25, 2015 - - a/k/a Blue Thursday

For Democrats and Republicans, Blue Thursday. #Obamacare, #Obamawins.

Save this information about DNR review of Kohler golf course

You will find numerous posts on this blog through the search box in the upper left about the controversial proposal to build a gold course in a 247-acre wooded wetland adjacent to, and even slightly within Kohler-Andrae State Park on a low bluff above Lake Michigan south of Sheboygan.

One posting with additional links to get you started is here.

Note that the DNR will soon be opening a comment period as part of its review of the project, so keep this link.
The 18-hole, upscale course would be built in the trees, with a clubhouse, parking lot, and access road

WI DNR sends Waukesha water plan for public comment

Not surprisingly, Wisconsin's DNR says Waukesha's plan to divert water from the Great Lakes and return it via the Root River is complete enough to be reviewed by the public, and barring major developments, should be on its way to the other seven Great Lakes states for their reviews in about six months.

Unanimous approval ivy all eight of the states is required before a diversion can be implemented.

We;ll see what the other states have to say about matters like whether Waukesha can send some of the water to neighboring communities which never said they needed diverted water, and whether sending the return flow back through the Root River as treated waste water is a superior method environmentally that sending it in a pipe to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

More later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Walker spins and parses his own stalled budget

Remember, it's his budget, and in the hands of his party majorities, but drafted with an eye towards Waterloo, Iowa, not Waterloo, Wisconsin - - so here we and they are less than a week from the end of the fiscal year and this is the best he can offer:
"I think in the next few days we're likely to see the framework of a budget deal come together," the likely presidential candidate told reporters in Milwaukee 
"I think…likely to see..the framework…" 


Props to Wisconsinites promoting rail investment

Someday people riding the Milwaukee streetcar and the light rail and Amtrak to Madison, Minneapolis, Michigan and all points elsewhere will thank these local business and political leaders for sticking with what right-wing talk radio, Tommy Thompson, Scott Walker and various city-hating suburban Republicans killed nearly 20 years ago and, lamentably, into the 21st century, too.

Two observations on court win for WI clean water

First, it's good to see a Wisconsin circuit court uphold the DNR's authority to monitor groundwater quality and manure runoff close to a massive dairy operation - - though I wouldn't be surprised to see more court action required to force the laissez-faire DNR under our Walker-era "chamber-of-commerce mentality" DNR to actually do the monitoring in a meaningful and systematic fashion.

Second, I can't remember a more Freudian choice of words in this long battle against big-farming manure problems than the farm operator's accusation that the opponents were running a "smear campaign."

'More Guns, Faster' Summit on tap in Milwaukee today

Our 'arm-everyone' Milwaukee County Sheriff, David Clarke, Jr., and the globe-trotting Governor Scott Walker who can't get his own state budget passed though the GOP controls both legislative chambers become brothers-in-arms today at a High Noon bill signing in Clarke's office.

That's where Walker will sign an NRA priority bill bill to end the state's 48-hour handgun possession cooling off period. The bill will also allow off-duty and retired police officers to carry concealed weapons into schools.

Because what cities and the country as a whole really need right now is more guns out there, faster.

About the WI DNR's release of Waukesha water diversion info

I'd said it could happen Tuesday, and it didn't, what with this being Wednesday and all.

I'm told maybe tomorrow, maybe Friday. There are logistical boxes for the agency and Waukesha to check off - - coordination of comment period and hearing schedules, news releases and their language, third-party huzzahs from supporters, perhaps, and so forth.

More later.

'Revoltin' development!'

Passing along a headlines and story below which ran before today's news about continuing job losses in Wisconsin.

Let's just say Walker is having one of those Daffy Duck-to-William Bendix 'revoltin' development!' kind of days.

From The New York Times:
Scott Walker, Set for a Bigger Stage, Faces G.O.P. Revolt in Wisconsin

When Walker debated former KKK Grand Wizard-turned-Republican

Interesting window into Walker's past, and perhaps some indications of what was prologue, too.

While Walker didn't want him on a statewide ballot, he also didn't want to alienate David Duke's WI supporters in the GOP at the time by labeling Duke's then contemporary views "extreme."

WI lost 6,100 private-sector jobs in May

And fell to 33rd in new growth nationally, new data show.

Media need to correct Walker when he comes to town touting Wisconsin's economy during his Preposterous Presidential bid.

Here are ten numbers that tell the full and truthful story.

Breaking news: Waukesha to get righty State Senator!

Who saw this coming, Waukesha?
Madison — State Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) will likely represent Waukesha County in the state Senate after winning Tuesday's three-way Republican primary for the seat... 
Kapenga has been a major advocate for passing right-to-work legislation and repealing the state's prevailing wage law, which sets a minimum salary for construction workers on public projects.
But seriously, Waukesha - - did you know that Kapenga, an accountant and self-described fiscal conservative, is the author of a bill mandating photo ID's for Wisconsin food stamp recipients. The cost to taxpayers in the upcoming state budget would be $7.6 million, and then $2 million dollars annually, according to very recent state records and estimates.

That's some pricey fiscal conservatism, no?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I'm calling it: Walker jumped the shark

[Updated, 9:45 p.m.] It may take a while for others to come around and make the call. They may have to hear more gaffes and goofs and guffaws, but it's time to declare Scott Walker unworthy of further consideration as a serious presidential hopeful.

Why today for the declaration, you ask? And isn't this just restating the obvious?

On the one hand, yes - - I've been writing about Walker The Flawed for years, and have condensed his disqualifying low-lights in several summary posts - - one here - - but there is a fresh story today that takes Walker The Preposterous to a new height, or depth, and to further mix the metaphors, expands the tip of the tipping point past the point of no return.

Today we learn that Walker believes that by supporting equal pay for women,  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "pit one group of Americans versus other" for political gain.

And that by supporting pay equality, Clinton and Obama have redefined women to fit into one of Walker's more mean-spirited and anti-government talking points, becoming:

...people[who are] dependent on the government...whether it's Medicaid or food stamps or health care or other things out there.”
What part of 'two-income family/middle-class struggle' does he not understand, he with the $144,000 annual salary with top-shelf benefits - - including a state mansion, drivers and airplanes - - provided by a public with the farthest fall in middle-class wages, yet forced to tolerate his half-time presence in Wisconsin while out campaigning for the Presidency?

Set aside the implication that equal pay can be distorted into Walker's red-meat characterizations about welfare or one of those "things" he routinely includes in his dog whistling to the far-right. 

Set aside his obvious and proven contempt for women - - freshly indicated in his 'please-Iowans-abortion-ban-after-20-weeks without exceptions even for rape and incest - -  and his continual dismissal of women's rights to health care, and to equal protection and other basic American values and guarantees in Wisconsin and federal law, and in both the US and Wisconsin Constitution.

Set aside also the clearly craven opportunism in his cynical, pre-election appeal to male voters who might believe with his validation that their own job status or advancement has been blocked by that woman in the adjoining cube, or a training program, or a degree path who has dared on her own terms to leave the house against the traditional and measurable restrictions placed in her way by the Walkers of the world who are desperately trying to freeze American culture in the early 1950.

And look also at the mind-bending hypocrisy in Walker's accusation that Clinton and Obama's goal is to "pit one group of Americans versus another."

"Audacity," Walker calls it.

This is a good point at which to note that Eleanor Roosevelt, one of American's most famous champions of equal rights had interchangeably used the phrase "pit...against" with "divide-and-conquer" when noting how un-American it was:

"Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here."
Walker has a long and documented history of doing just that; pursuing and implementing divide-and-conquer programs and politics that pit groups against each other. 

I reprised a bit of that here the other day.

For goodness sakes, Walker is on video and audio uttering the phrase "divide-and-conquer" when whispering and scheming with Diane Hendricks, the Beloit, Wisconsin business magnate who, at the time, was his largest donor, to break unions in Wisconsin by first crushing public employees - - and his pledge to Hendricks was made before he dropped his self-described Act 10 "bomb."

And long before later completing the plan by damaging with separate legislation the private sector workers whom Hendricks wanted devalued.

Which Walker did a few weeks ago with the 'right-to-work' bill he signed after having put on that moderate's mask he does when needed by saying he had no interest in that bill.

Walker also attacked Hillary Clinton for setting up a private email system while in the public's employ - - though Walker had done the same thing, and more, when he was Milwaukee County Executive, and for which six of his staffers, associates or donors were subsequently charged in court with crimes, and convicted.

Now that's audacious - - both on its own and for point a finger at Hillary Clinton while his own record has him in the thick of the same thing.

You wonder what alternative universe Walker inhabits. It's one apparently where there is no Internet, no Google, no equivalence, no institutional or historical memory, no record of his remarks and beliefs and actions to vet and check and distribute, no accountability for his inconsistencies, contradictions, incompetencies and hypocrisies.

Anyone seeking power in a democracy who will twist the inarguable fair concept of equal pay for equal work into a self-serving divide-and-conquer construct of opposition should never be given one iota of executive power.

I've been tracking media where reporters and columnists are catching on to Walker's basic backwardness, slipperiness, phoniness and incompetency.

Add this spot-on Washington Post column today on Walker's weak, embarrassing mush about the confederate flag, and other matters, that are executive leadership disqualifies:
Walker acknowledged Saturday night that the shooting was committed by “a racist and evil man” but withheld an opinion on the Confederate flag. After Haley’s statement on Monday, Walker tweeted that he supported her decision. His aides insisted that he had arrived at his position days earlier but declined to weigh in because he did not want to distract from the period of mourning.
Walker’s whole schtick was supposed to be that he’s a no-nonsense, reform-minded executive who represents a new generation of leaders in the GOP — just the Republican with the profile to show that Hillary Clinton is a politician of the past. 
Yet here he is calling for a Constitutional amendment that would allow states to ban same-sex marriage if the Supreme Court declares that gays and lesbians have a Constitutional right to marry, and now his campaign is making weak-sounding excuses for playing catch-up on the Confederate flag. Does anyone else think this kind of stuff cuts against his main political selling points?
Like I said: Walker's jumped the shark. 

I rest my case.

Lindsey Graham now solidly against confederate flag

John Stewart may have to lay off the guy:
Graham: Church Service Changed My Mind on Confederate Flag

Though he'll probably be fund-raising somewhere, and...

Walker wouldn't and couldn't see the national implications, so Obama, again, schools him:
Obama to Deliver Eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney

White Supremacist donated to Walker, Ryan, Johnson

Scott Walker is being criticized by the hometown editorial board and even on the right for projecting indifference, ignorance and ineptitude - - my summations, not theirs - - on the confederate flag issue.

Basically, he wouldn't make a move until SC GOP Gov. Nikki Haley told him which way the wind was blowing, then edged up to the issue by saying, in essence, 'I'm for what she said,' and couldn't offer an original thought.

He has a track record of inartful dodging and backtracking, and never fails to embarrass, so his waffling and weaving of late did not come as a surprise to Wisconsinites with political memory, or The Google.

As I'd said a few days ago, he's yesterday's candidate.

And while Walker - - Hoorah! - - agreed to redirect to charity thousands of dollars in campaign donations he's received in recent years from the Earl Holt the Texan at the helm of the white supremacist group cited as inspiring by the alleged Charleston mass shooter, Walker might be irked that fellow Republican Wisconsin elected officials who also received money from Holt haven't gotten as much ink and online notoriety.

The Guardian has published the entire list, which includes Walker ($3,000), Cong. Paul Ryan's Pac ($1.000) and US Senator Ron Johnson, ($1.250). Welcome to the club.

The Journal Sentinel says the Walker campaign is shedding $3,500 from Holt, fyi.

White supremacists have big money to send from Texas to Wisconsin GOP politicians! Who knew?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Walker can't decide which state road projects to fund

Nikki Haley hasn't told him which way the wind is blowing.

Walker, following and behind, doesn't blast the confederate flag...

WI DNR could release report on Waukesha water plan Tuesday

It's been more than five years in preparation, but word on the street is that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources may release its technical and environmental analyses of Waukesha's proposed precedent-setting diversion of water from Lake Michigan as early as tomorrow.

That would be a signal that the department finds the application complete enough to be reviewed at public hearings in Wisconsin, and be subject to a comment period, before the DNR makes a final determination on whether the application should be reviewed subsequently by all seven other Great Lakes states, and, on an advisory basis, two Canadian provinces and First Nation tribes there.

Under the terms of a 2008 US-Canadian Great Lakes water management compact - - and Waukesha's is the first to ask for a diversion that would pipe water out of the Great Lakes basin - - all eight US states must agree unanimously that the application meets the compact's diversion, return flow, and conservation criteria.

Walker motion in 2003 tripped off SE highway overspending

[Updated, 6/22] Outstate Republican legislators still gripping about out-of-control highway spending in Southeastern Wisconsin - - check the record in this item reposted from last week: 

Walker led the charge for unsustainable overspending on highways in SE WI that you now don't like.

The Wisconsin Legislature is grappling with a state highway budget unsustainably bloated by reckless borrowing and overspending on the so-called SE 'free'way system - - a problem that has helped stall the entire state budget process while preposterous presidential hopeful Scott Walker keeps skipping out to campaign from Iowa to New Hampshire and beyond.

So it's important to remember that Walker - - as Milwaukee County Executive - - played a key role in 2003 on a SE regional planning commission advisory committee which voted, without a companion financing plan, to recommend to state highway planners that Wisconsin add to the SE 'freeway' system the maximum number of new lanes among the alternatives considered - - 127 miles of lanes instead of 108 - - in what ultimately became a $6.4 billion package.

Walker's motion added an estimated $750 million to the ultimate price tag and also increased the number of structures and land removed from the tax base. 

Though the price tag of the still-incomplete-and-still-unfunded Zoo Interchange has come down from its original projection, other segments of the seven-county system have not begun or may be delayed, further driving up their estimated costs - - all of which are in 2003 dollars.

The regional planning commission - - SEWRPC - - often turns major projects over to advisory committees - - and in this case, the full SEWRPC commission accepted the recommendation and forwarded it to WisDOT, which, in turn, accepted it as the unfolding blueprint for billions in SE WI highway work that continues to be underfunded.

[Update] Following the vote, The Milwaukee County Board passed a resolution opposing the expansion of the freeway system, per Walker's motion, and Walker vetoed it. Fifteen members of the Milwaukee Common Council, nearly its entire membership, sent SEWRPC a letter also opposing the costly expansion and noted Walker's resolution veto.

I attended the advisory committee meeting where Walker made his accepted motion for the full lanes' expansion that added 19 miles of construction cost, and I wrote about it for this blog in June, in 2009: at the highlighted link, begin on page 7 of the advisory committee's report for Walker's motion and comments in the minutes, with the final vote at the end of the committee report.

Also for the record: then-Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, Milwaukee Common Council President Marvin Pratt and several others voted no. Call them the taxpayers' true friends, unlike Walker, then-Waukesha County Executive Daniel Finley and others, including private sector special interest representatives.

This are the key sentences from the meeting minutes with regard to motions and votes:
Mr. Walker moved to amend the motion such that the final plan would include the provision of additional capacity on 127 miles of the regional freeway system – specifically, adding to the 108 mile recommendation the widening to eight lanes of IH 94 between the Marquette and Zoo Interchanges and of IH 43 between the Mitchell Interchange and Silver Spring Drive, as proposed in the preliminary recommended plan....
Chairman Drew asked if there was any further discussion or possible amendments to the main motion. There being no further discussion or proposed amendments, Chairman Drew asked for a roll call vote on pages 14-19 of Chapter VII as amended to include the provision of additional capacity on 127 miles of the regional freeway system and to recommend that the WisDOT present to the State Legislature and Governor a financing plan before proceeding to the reconstruction of each freeway segment. On a vote of 15 ayes to 8 nays, pages 14-19 of Chapter VII as amended were approved. Messrs. Buestrin, Cook, Drew, Dwyer, Finley, Kehl, Melvin, Miller, Norem, Sheehy, Speaker, Walker, White, Wirth and Ms. Jacobson voting in favor of pages 14-19 of Chapter VII as amended. Messrs. Fafard, Holloway, Leonard, Millonzi, Norquist, Pratt and Ms. Estness and Ms. McCutcheon voted against pages 14-19 of Chapter VII as amended. Mr. Matzke abstained from the vote. 
From my 2009 blog item: 
Remember when the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission spent $1 million of highway planning money to pencil in all this freeway reconstruction and expansion - - $6.4 billion dollars' worth - - but didn't include a financing recommendation to pay for it?
Not our job, the planners said.
But they sent on to WisDOT, which never met a highway plan it wouldn't share eagerly with their true constituents - - the road-builders - - a plan recommending building 127 miles of new lanes and all sorts of purported safety improvements, wider exits and other gee-whiz concrete amenities.
The SEWRPC advisory committee on this plan even overruled the SEWRPC staff and recommended adding 19 miles of new, controversial lanes in Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee, even though the additions forced the demolition of an additional eight businesses and 36 homes.
Tax base? Homes and businesses? All expendable. Collateral damage. Highways first, you know.
The prime mover in this extra dollop of multi-million dollar construction excess, and tax base demolition? 
Milwaukee's County Exec and resident faux fiscal conservative - - Scott Walker. You can read his motion and argument in the meeting minutes, here.