Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wisconsin To Open Wider For Alcohol Abuses

We're already #1 in drunken driving and other alcohol-related abuses: a proposal by a legislative knucklehead makes it likely we'll keep the title.

Do we really need package sales at 6:00 a.m.?

8:00 a.m. is not early enough?

Waukesha's Amended Great Lakes Diversion Plan Underscores Why Regulation Is A Public Necessity

The City of Waukesha has submitted massive amounts of data, analyses and argument to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to supplement the City's year-old application for a Great Lakes pipeline and up to 18.5 million gallons of water daily.

You can read the new material, in four sections, at the Waukesha Water Utility website, here.

In summary, the information is in response to a December 2, 2010 communication to Waukesha from the DNR in which 49 questions and issues were raised by the DNR about the application.

The information sent back to the DNR in response validates the findings in the original application - - that the Lake Michigan option is the best among several potential alternatives to provide the City with a new water supply.

So here is the task for the DNR, since its role is to assess the application and decide whether it meets the standards for diversions in the Great Lakes Compact of 2008 and is worthy of consideration by the other seven Great Lakes states, as unanimous approval is required among all eight states before a diversion could be implemented:

Are Waukesha's conclusions, and thus its multiple in-house and paid consultant studies certifiably complete and accurate in the public interest - - that is, across an eight-state region that shares management responsibility for the Great Lakes with Canada? (One example among many.)

The DNR will have to apply aggressively all its evaluative resources to the application. lest the spirit and letter of state law and the new Compact be minimized or defeated in the first diversion application of its kind?

The DNR has the personnel to carry out such an evaluation - - though recent senior staff resignations arguably have weakened the agency - - but can it be freed from political restraints or direction to assure the public that the process is fair and science-driven?

Given the new, anti-regulatory leadership at the agency under Scott Walker, the quality of this precedent-setting review is an open question - - but one that can be resolved in favor of the public interest and Great Lakes stewardship if Walker's new DNR's management team  demonstrates its transparency and hands-off involvement in favor of technical and objective assessment.

This is why we have government regulation in the first place, and must argue for and support it - - and not just at the DNR - - despite the clamor from the Right against it.

Walker's first round of appointees to the agency leadership and the DNR board suggest this is a tall order for state government right now, and thus Wisconsin conservation and Public Trust Doctrine advocates, and other believers in a positive role for government, will have to step up their scrutiny of the process.

Top Five Downloaded Posts From Last Week

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Progressive Wisconsin Will Miss Ricardo Pimentel

I've said it before, and will say it again: The Journal Sentinel and the state will lose an important voice when Ricardo Pimentel takes his prose and politics to San Antonio next month.

No doubt Scott Walker and his posse will feel otherwise.

"I've Got Mine, Jack," Plastics-Maker Doesn't Want You To Get Yours

Sunspots outbreak produces outburst of anti-social thinking.

$109.8 Million For A Return-Flow Pipe From Waukesha-To-Lake Michigan?

That's the number in the City of Waukesha's new Lake Michigan diversion application information (p. 8) provided to the Department of Natural Resources to help justify Waukesha's continuing argument in favor of returning diverted, treated water to the Lake via Underwood Creek for about half ($56.1 million) that $109.8 million pipeline cost.

Some people who know something about this sort of thing are telling me that they find the pipeline-to-the-Lake-estimate on the high side.

Hearing Recall Footsteps, Darling Edges Away From Walker On One Highway Funding Item

State Sen. Alberta Darling, (R- River Hills), facing a probable recall election over her support for Scott Walker's union-busting bill, says she will not support a piece of Scott Walker's proposed 2011-13 state budget that puts some state sales tax collections into the transportation fund.

The highway lobby likes the plan because it boosts the fund and takes off the table any talk of adding a penny or two the gas tax, which is the primary source of the transportation fund and the projects it supports.

Walker has said he supports several billion dollars in new or expanded highway roads, including the Hoan Bridge, the Zoo Interchange, and an added lane from Rockford to Madison.

Darling should oppose a much worse Walker budget scheme - - his Walker's plan to remove transit assistance from the transportation fund.

That damaging plan subsidizes road-building while starving bus systems, but Darling has said she won't, so don't start etching her name on the Progressive Transportation Policy Trophy just yet.

Walker Job Claim Questioned

UWM Poli Sci grad student and statistical whiz John Kovari sends along this bit of fact-checking:

Walker’s Inaccuracy on Jobs

According to a tweet by Governor Walker, “Last year, more govnt (sic) jobs than manufacturing jobs in WI. Now, more manufacturing jobs than govnt (sic) jobs.”
Governor Walker
Last year, more govnt jobs than manufacturing jobs in WI. Now, more manufacturing jobs than govnt jobs.
But when we look at raw data a different story emerges.

Never in Wisconsin’s history were there more government jobs than manufacturing ones.

Here’s the data since 2001, using CES data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Government and Manufacturing Employment 2001-2011 (in thousands)

As a graph shows, manufacturing employment took a hit since late 2008, during the “Great Recession.”

The lines almost look like they converged, but they never actually did.

The closest they came was in January of 2010, when there were 2,900 more manufacturing jobs than government jobs.  Even when several thousand census workers were hired in May 2010, there were still more manufacturing jobs than government jobs.

Luckily, manufacturing jobs have been rebounding since 2010, but it’s important to note that the recovery began months before Walker took office.

Governor Walker’s tweet is found to be inaccurate and misleading after analyzing actual CES employment data.  Regardless, I hope the manufacturing recovery continues.

Google Says It Is Fixing The Comment Problem

So says the Help function.

What Passes For Justice In Wisconsin

As with his comments about Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, David Prosser continues to be his own worst enemy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gas Is Cheaper Elsewhere Due To Lower State Taxes

Highway spending is a major factor in propelling the Wisconsin gas towards the top of the charts. You want more and bigger roads in Wisconsin, you pay for them at the pump.

Gas today is as low as $3.61 per gallon in Iowa. and $3.76 in Minnesota. The tax is lower in 39 other states.

Check the Tax Foundation chart below for state-by-state gas tax levels.

 “This includes the base excise tax, plus an assortment of other taxes and fees that affect the price of gasoline,” the group says.

All those are in addition to the federal gas tax, which has been 18.4 cents since 1993.

Scott Walker Opens DNR Board To Big Business

Scott Walker appoints three business types to the Department of Natural Resources Board, including the head of Wisconsin's corporate farming group. and a past president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

Disappointed, the insecticide interests and tar sands devotees hope for appointments in 2012.

A Dose Of Stereotypes, Courtesy Of Mark Belling

During the first hour of his show Thursday afternoon on 1130 WISN-AM, conservative talker Mark Belling talked about this evening's National Football League draft.

One topic: will Auburn's quarterback Cam Newton be the #1 pick. Belling said yes, and opined that Newton should have a good career, though Belling added Newton could end up like Dante Culpepper, also a physically-large quarterback with the Vikings, who couldn't take the pounding, or perhaps like the Titans Vince Young, another big guy at quarterback who has had his ups and downs and has been told by management he will not be brought back in 2012.

Then Paul, the program's screener, says he saw or heard an interview where the interviewer said Newton was too dumb to play quarterback.

Belling then launched into a discussion of smarts and other NFL quarterbacks: Donovan McNabb, dumb, yes, but who still had a good career, and Michael Vick - - dumb off the field and sometimes on the field with play selection, too, Belling observed.

All these quarterbacks are black.

I heard no mention, unless it came after I turned off the radio, of quarterbacks who were white and had been dumb.

Gee - - Brett Favre, off the field, and sometimes on it comes pretty easily to mind.

Or Gus Frerotte, the Washington quarterback, who celebrated a touchdown by head-butting a concrete wall and sat out with a concussion.

Most of the NFL's quarterbacks are white, and I'll bet there's barely been a week in the history of the league that some quarterback (likely white) - - even a star or superstar - - didn't mismanage the clock or throw an ugly interception or fumble the ball to lose the game.

And why is it that the quarterbacks Belling compared Cam Newton to physically were also black? There are plenty of big, strong white quarterbacks.

On this point, Belling is not alone: you hear these same-race comparisons made often by sports announcers. Ask yourself when you last heard a while athlete - - say at the moment he hit a key home run or stole a base or scored a touchdown - - compared on the spot by an announcer to a black athlete and an identical achievement?

Compare skills, statistics, or aesthetics, or attitudes.  But make it race-neutral.

DNR Official Endorses Concealed Carry; How About That, DNR Wardens?

I wonder if the game wardens working in the field for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will appreciate the endorsement by DNR Executive Assistant Scott Gunderson of concealed weapons' carry legislation now in preparation in Madison.

Its dicey enough for wardens at the controversial agency when they have to contact people in isolated situations and adding the potential that a concealed weapon is present - - and endorsed by a top DNR official - - adds nothing positive to the wardens' already tough working environment.

Gunderson, the #2 senior assistant at the DNR after the Deputy Secretary, is a former pro-gun legislator and one-time owner of a sporting goods store that sold firearms.

He tells a home town publication, The JournalTimes.Com, of Racine, that concealed carry is jelling in Madison, raises no objection on behalf of the DNR, and doesn't say he is speaking for himself:

"The concealed-carry legislation originally proposed did include some reciprocity agreements, said former Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, who started working on concealed carry back in the 1990s.
"Concealed carry passed through the Legislature twice, he said, but former Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it.
Gunderson is no longer a legislator, since he resigned in January to take an administrative post with the state Department of Natural Resources. But he has kept track of the bill that he proposed and said, "I think it's going to be moving here pretty quickly."
Two Assembly members and one senator are drafting a new proposal, he said. He anticipates a bill be will be drafted in the next couple weeks, and staff of Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, verified she is working on it.

Daykin Offers Primer On Tax Credits, Business Relocation

The Journal Sentinel's development reporter Tom Daykin follows the complex path being followed by the Eaton Corp., a long-time manufacturer in the distressed Milwaukee core that had planned to move some operations to the Research park in Wauwatosa.

But problems with a federal tax credit program has put that move on hold, so the company and others are trying to figure out a way to keep the company in the area and state.

Contribution Limits In Recall Campaigns Are Waived In Wisconsin Until The Election Is Firmly Scheduled

As I read this memorandum from the Government Accountability Board, the regular Wisconsin contribution limits are waived [See Alberta Darling's Fundraising Rampage] until a recall election is scheduled and all challenges to the order scheduling the election are exhausted.


March 15, 2011 All Interested Persons and Committees Involved With Recall Efforts
Kevin J. Kennedy Director and General Counsel Government Accountability Board
Recall Expense Funds: Contribution Limits and Residual Funds

Government Accountability Board staff have received numerous inquiries regarding the limited statutory exemption from contribution limits for recall expenses and how to dispose of residual recall funds upon the termination of a recall circulation effort, determination of insufficiency of a recall petition, or order for recall election and end of challenges and defenses of the order. Each of these three actions can terminate the period to incur recall expenses for which the limited statutory exemption from contribution limits applies. This Memorandum provides further clarification in response to these inquiries and concerns.

I.    Limited Statutory Exemption from Contribution Limits for Recall Expenses:
Limitations on contributions are prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats., which establishes specific dollar amount or percentage limitations including but not limited to the following:

•    Individual contributions (§11.26(1), Wis. Stats.)
•    Committee contributions other than from a political party or legislative campaign
committee (§11.26(2), Wis. Stats.)
•    Calendar year individual aggregate contributions of $10,000 to all candidates for state or local office, as well as individuals and committees, legislative campaign committees and political parties, whether local or state (§11.26(4), Wis. Stats.)
•    Contributions received by political parties (§11.26(8), Wis. Stats.) •    Contributions to candidates from committees, legislative campaign committees, and
political parties (§.11.26(9), Wis. Stats.)

However, pursuant to §11.26(13m)(b), Wis. Stats., contributions are not subject to these limitations when utilized for the purpose of payment of legal fees and other expenses incurred in connection with the circulation, offer to file or filing, or with the response to the circulation, offer to file or filing, of a petition to recall an officer prior to the time a recall primary or election is ordered, or after that time if incurred in contesting or defending the order.

Once a recall committee files a registration statement (GAB-1), the exemption from the §11.26, Wis. Stats., contribution limits applies. The exemption from contribution limits only apply up to the totalamount of legal fees and all other expenses incurred in connection with the circulation of a recall petition and challenge or defense of an order for a recall election. Incurring such recall legal fees and other expenses that may be paid from contributions that are exempt from limitations are permitted only until the latest of any of the following:

•    The date the recall committee terminates its registration, if such termination occurs prior to the petition having been offered for filing.
•    The date the recall petition is determined insufficient or the time period to offer the petition for filing expires.
•    The date the recall election is ordered.
•    The date any contest or defense of the order for recall election concludes.

Limitations on contributions prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats., always apply to all contributions that exceed the amount of incurred legal fees and other expenses of the recall petition circulation and challenge or defense of the order for a recall election.

For purposes of this Memorandum, the latest date as described above shall be identified as the “conversion date,” meaning the date the residual recall funds (those that exceed incurred recall expenses) convert to contributions subject to limitations prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats. Upon reaching the conversion date and assuming all incurred recall expenses are satisfied, the limitations on contributions prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats., apply to the residual recall funds. However, if incurred recall expenses remain unsatisfied at the conversion date, individuals, committees, legislative campaign committees and political parties may continue to receive contributions exempt from §11.26, Wis. Stats., limitations until sufficient contributions are received to satisfy the recall expenses.

Pursuant to §11.01(16), an act is for “political purposes” when it is done for the purpose of influencing the recall from or retention in office of an individual holding a state or local office. Since contributions for recall legal fees and other expenses are for a political purpose, the remainder of Ch. 11, Wis. Stats., applies, excluding limitations on contributions as set forth above.

This exemption from limitations on contributions does not extend to prohibited contributors or other practices as prescribed in Ch. 11, Wis. Stats. For example, corporations or associations organized under Ch. 185 or 193, Wis. Stats., are prohibited from making contributions. See §11.28, Wis. Stats. As another example, making contributions other than from funds or property belonging to the contributor or furnishing funds or property to another person for the purposes of making a contribution in other than the person’s own name are prohibited. See §11.24(1), Wis. Stats. As yet another example, making a disbursement or incurring an obligation with moneys solicited for political purposes for a purpose which is other than political is prohibited, except as authorized by law. See §11.25(2)(a) and (b), Wis. Stats.

In addition, §13.625(1)(c), Wis. Stats., prohibits lobbyist contributions to candidates in a special election and candidates in a General Election (except in the year of a candidate’s election between June 1 through and the day of the General Election). Lobbyists are prohibited from making contributions to partisan elected officials or candidates, even if for recall expenses; however, lobbyists are not prohibited from making contributions to legislative campaign committees, political parties, individuals, recall committees, or other committees, but excluding candidate or personal campaign committees.

II.    Residual Recall Funds at the Conversion Date

An act is for “political purposes” when it is done for the purpose of influencing the recall from or retention in office of an individual holding a state or local office, therefore a monetary or in-kind recall donation to an individual, committee, legislative campaign committee, political party or an organization making independent disbursements (§1.91 organization), constitutes a “contribution.” See §11.01(6)(a) and (16), Wis. Stats. Since contributions used for recall expenses are not subject to limitations prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats., individuals, committees, legislative campaign committees, and political parties must keep detailed records and their campaign finance reports must include separate designations for recall contributions and recall expenses.

At the conversion date, recall contributions may exceed recall legal fees and other recall expenses, leaving residual recall funds. Individuals, committees, legislative campaign committees, and political parties have three ways to treat these residual recall funds. Pursuant to §11.06(4)(b), Wis. Stats., individuals, committees, legislative campaign committees, and political parties possessing residual recall funds shall have 15 days from the conversion date to make a determination to accept residual recall funds for campaign use, donate them to a charity or the common school fund, or return the residual recall funds contributions to the original contributors. The action of accepting, donating or returning the residual recall funds must be completed within 15 days from the conversion date.

If residual recall funds are converted for campaign use, the residual recall funds from each donor are subject to the limitations on contributions as prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats. Residual recall funds from individuals that are accepted for campaign use apply toward the individual’s $10,000 aggregate calendar year limitation found in §11.26(4), Wis. Stats. If residual recall funds are converted to campaign use, it is a best practice to notify the original contributor so that it may be taken into account by the contributor when making other contributions during that calendar year.

Any contribution from a donor in excess of the permitted limitations on contributions prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats., shall be treated as an “excess contribution” and must be donated to a charity or the common school fund, or returned to the original contributor within 15 days of the conversion date. Failure to do so will result in acceptance of an excess contribution and treated as a violation of the limitations on contributions for which the civil and criminal penalties in §§11.60 and 11.61, Wis. Stats., apply.

Upon acceptance of a contribution, individuals, committees, legislative campaign committees, and political parties may designate a portion of a contribution for campaign use (up to the limitations prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats.) and the remaining as recall funds. This may provide easier accounting of residual recall funds once recall expenses are satisfied. However, individuals, committees, legislative campaign committees, and political parties may also initially designate contributions as recall funds and later re-designate a portion of residual recall funds for campaign use during the determination period in the 15 days following the conversion date, but only up to the limitations prescribed by §11.26, Wis. Stats. If re-designating residual recall funds to campaign funds, original recall fund contributions shall be treated on a first-in-first out basis for determining which funds may be converted or disposed of.

No individual, committee, legislative campaign committee, or political party may contribute residual recall funds, not first accepted for campaign use, to any other individual, committee, legislative campaign committee, political party, or organization making independent disbursements, even if for another recall effort. Such a donation constitutes a contribution because it is for a “political purpose,” i.e., for the purpose of influencing the recall from or retention in office of an individual holding a state or local office. See §11.01(6)(a) and (16), Wis. Stats.

Such a contribution does not qualify for the exemption on limitations on contributions found in §11.26(13m), Wis. Stats., because a “contribution” is not a “legal fee” or “other expense” incurred in connection with the circulation, offer to file or filing, or with the response to circulation, offer to file or filing, of a petition to recall an officer prior to the time a recall primary or election is ordered, or after that time if incurred in contesting or defending the order.

Trump, Tea Party And Birthers Race-Bait President Obama

The movement to stir up fears about and discredit Barack Obama - - accelerated by interlocking claims that he's foreign-born, a Muslim, or an anti-American Socialist/Marxist/Communist or worse - - are race-based, as this Tea Party video makes abundantly clear.

How zany, how destructive is this fear-mongering bunch?

On Wednesday night, the far-right talk show host Michael Savage on Milwaukee's WTMJ AM 620 compared Obama to Pol Pot.

Savage has been denouncing Obama for sometime, and in recent weeks has been urging Donald Trump - - an admitted Tea Party enthusiast - - to run for President and has given him air time to push the birther position.

Trump's quick segue way today from the fake birth certificate issue to questioning Pres. Obama's grades and academic qualifications - - quickly praised by the conservative talker Tucker Carlson on an appearance on Fox News - - is just another effort to de-legitimize this President and reinforce the notion that the job is for whites only.

The President of the Harvard University Law School Review must have faked his way in, like he faked his way into the US Senate and the Presidency.

Remember when Trump was bragging about his relationship with "the blacks?"

Who talks like that?

Who thinks like that?

Besides Trump...this guy. [That Tea Party's self-described "Huckleberry" whose video was linked in the opening paragraph of this posting.]

And a tip of the hat to CBS's Bob Schieffer, who told it like it is.

That’s just code for saying he got into law school because he was black.
This is a ugly strain of racism that’s running through this whole thing. We can hope that that kind of comes to an end, too, but we’ll have to see.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Stop The Voting" Bill Proposed By Legislator Representing Dysfunctional Waukesha County

It's audacious beyond belief that Don Pridemore, the Republican legislator promoting the "Stop The Voting" bill, [my label] represents a big piece of Waukesha County, (Merton, Sussex, Lannon). whose dysfunctional election 'procedures' earlier this month set off a statewide recount and triggered an investigation by the Government Accountability Board.

Why don't elected officials representing Waukesha County get that house in order before conning the electorate over phantom voter fraud and manipulating voting rights to tilt outcomes in the GOP's favor?

Waukesha Supplies To The DNR New Data, Old Justifications, About Lake Michigan Water

The City of Waukesha Water Utility has sent the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources materials the DNR asked for last year to repair deficiencies in the city's application for a Lake Michigan diversion, according to a Waukesha Water Utility news release.

I have not seen the full documentation, though the utility says the extensive information it sent to the DNR will be posted by the end of the week on the water utility's website.

The news release rand supporting materials - - see below - - affirms the application's belief that the Lake Michigan option is the cheapest and best for the environment.

[The full document to be provided later is about 1,000 pages. Here is a link to a pdf of a summary of what the utility says it has sent to the DNR. Whether it addresses all 49 DNR questions referenced in a December 3nd letter to Waukesha Council president Paul Yberra on the DNR website, here) is unknown, though last week Waukesha indicated that there is at least one major item not yet resolved - - whether the Town of Waukesha remains in the application's new water service map. That issue is central to how much water the City wants to divert, and where it might be sent.]

Interesting elements at first glance:

* An agreement has been reached with the City of Brookfield to discharge treated diverted water from Waukesha for a return to Lake Michigan on Brookfield land near Underwood Creek.

* An increased commitment to water conservation, though I do not know it that reduces the amount of diverted water sought. The application seeks an average daily draw of 10.9 million gallons to a maximum of 18,5 million gallons daily.

Former TV Personality To Speak At West Bend "Recall Grothman" Rally Friday

Grothman Recall Post-Canvassing Celebration and Weekend Kick-Off Rally!

Friday, April 29 · 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Regner Park Centennial Shelter, West Bend
800 N. Main Street
Speakers include:

Gus Gnorski, Retired TV Personality
Senator Jon Erpenbach, The Wisconsin 14
Tanya Lohr, Teacher and Recall Advocate

Invitation For Thursday Conference Call About Wisconsin Women And The Recession

For bloggers and other media:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       Contact: Caroline Dobuzinskis, Communications Manager
April 26, 2011                                                            E-mail:, 202.785.5100
Teleconference Release Thursday, April 28
Thursday, the Institute for Women's Policy Research and the Wisconsin Women's Council will release a study that shows the impact of the recession on Wisconsin and the Milwaukee metropolitan region-showing that it was particularly detrimental to women and single mothers.
Overall, the study finds the number of adults living in poverty in Wisconsin increased by 34 percent since 2007. Single-mother headed households in the state were also greatly impacted by the recession. About 72 percent of all poor families with dependent children were headed by single mothers in 2009, even though single-mother families represent only 30 percent of all families with children. In Milwaukee, more women than men live below the poverty line due to factors such as unemployment and the persistent gender wage gap.
Government programs are fundamental to the wellbeing of those living in poverty in Wisconsin. The paper points to key programs, highlighting the fact that these supports do not always cover the populations that need them most: FoodShare Wisconsin (also referred to as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Recommendations include investigating the reasons for regional imbalances in poverty rates and use of anti-poverty programs, and continuing low TANF/W-2 enrollment rates relative to the growth in poverty.
The briefing paper, Women, Poverty, and the Economic Insecurity in Wisconsin and the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis MSA, will be released at a teleconference on Thursday, April 28 at 2 p.m. C.T./3 p.m. E.T. All members of the press and bloggers are invited call in.
  • Christine Lidbury, Executive Director, Wisconsin Women's Council
  • Kelda Roys, Wisconsin State Representative and board member of Wisconsin Women's Council
  • Ariane Hegewisch, Study Director, the Institute for Women's Policy Research
When:  Thursday, April 28 at 2 p.m. C.T./ 3 p.m. E.T.
Dial-in Information:  Phone: 1-866-548-4716, Passcode: 465268
The embargoed report will be available Thursday. E-mail to receive a copy.
 The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women's studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.

Alberta Darling's "Fundraising Rampage"

The helpful Wisconsin Recall Blog provides a link that documents Alberta Darling's "fundraising rampage."

The bankers, car dealers, lawyers, CEO's, School Choice folks, medical professionals and a veritable Who's Who of Monied Republicans have already coughed up some some serious, early buckage.

Give you an idea of what will be raised to save Walker next year.

I've put aside $250 so far- - as I said I would - - so I can contribute $1,000 next year to the Walker recall effort.

Where are you on your pledges?

Wisconsin Republicans Promoting "Stop The Voting" Bill

I'm calling it the "Stop The Voting" Act.

And shame on any state legislator supporting it.

Not content with bringing forward a bill to require voter ID to tamp down the core urban/Democratic turnout, Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature are proposing that college students be barred from using their school-issued ID's to comply with the new voter ID provision and by moving the traditional September primary to August, during summer vacation - - along with other hurdles designed to reduce Democratic tallies and the total turnout.

Ironic, isn't it, that people around the world are fighting for the vote, and in Wisconsin, the Republican Party wants to use the law to reduce turnout.  There's your Big Government at its worst.

And more ironic, or just plain infuriating that the lead sponsor in the Assembly, State Rep. Don Pridemore, (R-Hartford), represents a good chunk of Waukesha County, where incompetence or something in the Supreme Court vote count by the Waukesha County Clerk kicked off the recount process and made electioneering in Wisconsin prime material for late-night talk show comedians and pundit panels.

So a legislator representing Waukesha County wants to lead the meddling in state election procedures?

You can't be serious.

Get your own house in order first, beginning with a County Clerk that won't keep election data on personal computers off-line from the rest of the system, and blocked by passwords known only to her.

I predict this blatantly partisan and and undemocratic scheme spends the next five years in court.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Darling Is The Darling Of Big Donors

Huge donations, and her recall election hasn't even been scheduled.

No commercials about big money coming into the state, Alberta.

Scott Walker's Credibility Gap Is His Own Creation

Scott Walker has denied that he or anyone in his administration is working on a law like the one recently approved in neighboring Michigan by a like-minded, newly-elected conservative Republican Governor that allows the state to take over a financially-failed municipality, end union contracts and kick out the elected officials.

Walker says the story is false, but that won't make it go away.

In fact, that the more Walker denies it, the more people will believe the opposite, and that conundrum is entirely his fault because he has demonstrated for months that he lacks the moral authority to lead and persuade.

These are four main reasons Walker can't be convincing on this issue:

1. He said job creation was his number-one goal, but that took a back seat to his union-busing bill that set off a political revolution in the state. Whether he wants or needs a Michigan-style takeover bill, it dovetails with and echoes much of what Walker has done in his first 100 days and why he has become a national figure.

2. He has quickly racked up a stunning list of demonstrably false statements on major positions and proposals:

That the state is broke.

That cutting children from Medicaid was a valid budget alternative should public employees refuse to make concessions.

That Wisconsin employers repeatedly said they needed tort reform as a job-creator.

That 98% of small businesses in Wisconsin would qualify for a tax break plan.

That he campaigned on ending collective bargaining. 

That his plan kept bargaining rights intact.

That most of the Capitol protesters against his anti-collective bargaining bill were out-of-staters.

That he hadn't told the fake David Koch in the taped prank call anything he hadn't said publicly.

So it's going to take more than a Tweet like the one below to turn public opinion:

Governor Walker

This story is 100% wrong:

3. When he says one thing, he means another:

Walker on more than one occasion tried to sugar-coat his radical and nationally-consequential union-busting bill as a "modest proposal," and, in fact, included in his so-called "budget repair bill" items like mandatory union re-certification elections that had zero impact on the state budget deficit - - a deceit so blatant that Walker was forced, under oath - - video here - - to admit to it during an appearance at a US House of Representatives subcommittee hearing.

These rhetorical examples are piling up and now constitute a separate series on this blog.

4. The administration and office Walker assures us are not working on the Michigan-style law - - and that doesn't rule out think tanks or consultants readily available to do the work outside the scope of his statement and the Open Records law - - has demonstrated an ability to bend the truth and play with facts and data when it sees fit to do so.

Exhibit A: Issuing a news release and holding a photo op about creating 125 jobs through a state grant already announced by former Gov. Jim Doyle five months ago.

So the Michigan story will continue to have legs.

A nice accounting of the controversy is over at Erik Gunn's blog in a very meaty column.

Allowing Nickolaus A Special Computer Program Raises Questions About Her State Oversight

Milwaukeenewsbuzz has an interesting piece today about the now-infamous software program that Waukesha County's Clerk Kathy Nickolaus used to botch her Supreme Court vote processing, and along with it, the statewide totals in a close race.

Basically, the story tells us that the Government Accountability Board on Madison not only allowed Nickolaus to be the sole user of this program - - it wrote it for her.


Was this the GAB's effort to rein in an office that had reporting problems in previous elections?

More reason for there to be an independent investigation from the outside of this entire situation, including the GAB's activities.

Wishing Chris Abele Well As Milwaukee County Executive

Chris Abele's early April election and swearing-in Monday as Milwaukee Executive is the best chance in years for stability and coordination of services with the City of Milwaukee. 

The former incumbent, Scott Walker, devalued the position and will continue to hamstring the County with mandates and meddling from Madison.

I'm rooting for Abele. His success will be good for the County.

Karl Rove Hearts Scott Walker

More fuel tossed on the recall fire.

Monday, April 25, 2011

After The Holiday Weekend, Still No Earth Day Proclamation From Gov. Scott Walker

I said on Friday the 22nd that there was no Earth Day proclamation from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and that was a snub directed at the legacy of another Wisconsin Governor, Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day 41 years ago.

But realizing that Friday was a day off for many state workers, with the long Easter weekend ahead, I thought I'd check on Monday to see if the Walker people corrected their omission.

It's a few minutes before midnight, and the Walker website hasn't posted anything.

I guess they were too busy with the reaction to Dan Bice's story about taking credit for jobs created under the Doyle administration, an item that made the Ed Show tonight and Forbes online, too.

Call it Earth Day karma.

Activist Judge Rules For Union, And I Suspect Conservatives Will Be Happy

'Cuz the judge paved the way for NFL Football this fall.

LGBT Community Going Green

Interesting article from The Wisconsin Gazette.

I Guess The Broken Windshield Myth Is Not Available For Dan Kapanke Now

One Senator facing a recall election now can't use a bogus claim he spread about Capitol protesters.

Dan Bice Catches Scott Walker In Job-Creating Fib

Walker 'creates' 125 jobs that were announced five months ago by outgoing Gov. Jim Doyle.

Pants self-immolated.

Could Justice Michael Gableman Impartially Review A Prosser-Related Recount Challenge?

An amazing video and remarks by a sitting State Supreme Court Justice on the campaign trail for his colleague, David Prosser.

Some highlights:

His repeated attacks on Prosser opponent JoAnne Kloppenburg - - a career civil service prosecutor who has served under Attorneys General of both parties - - as a partisan, though Prosser had been: staff to a Republican member of Congress (Harold Froehlich; elected as a Republican to serve as District Attorney of Outagamie County; servec as the long-term Republican state legislator representing Appleton; elected a Republican Assembly leader; appointed by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson to a state tax appeals commission position and as a Justice to the State Supreme Court.

His worrying out loud about "reports" that Jesse Jackson was leading North side Milwaukee marches and that Illinois license plates have been spotted?

The image he offers of "dark-robed masters" on the Court should there be a new 4-3 liberal majority? How are the current Justices dressed? In running suits?

His warning to the audience that a Court with Kloppenburg could block initiatives by Scott Walker and the current legislature - - along with initiatives from other Governors or legislatures.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Online Poll Shows Interest In Continued State Financial Support For Recycling

Another sign that the public wants the state to continue to support recycling by municipalities.

From the Journal Sentinel:

Should the state continue to provide money for municipal recycling programs?
Yes: 62%
No: 38%
Total Responses: 3727

New Poll Has Walker Below 50%, And In Tie With Feingold

A polling firm finds national implications for both parties in a possible Gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin, and also has the incumbent Scott Walker falling below the crucial 50% threshold for incumbents and tied 48-48 in a hypothetical run against former Senator Russ Feingold.

From Elkhorn, The Washington Post Perfectly Frames Paul Ryan's Medicare Misstep

A great news feature with an Elkhorn dateline and pitch-perfect reporting by a leading national newspaper.

Waukesha, DNR, Roll The Dice On Great Lakes Water

The City of Waukesha is about to send its answers to a lengthy list of questions received from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on December 2nd so the agency could fully review the City's application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water.

Waukesha's Common Council approved the application last April, so it has taken Waukesha a year to finish curing the application's initial deficiencies. A DNR-produced environmental impact statement, various hearings, and questions about the diversion's return flow route must be addressed fully if the application moves outside of Wisconsin for additional reviews with the DNR's imprimatur.

The diversion application is the first for a community that is entirely outside the Great Lakes basin made under a new, eight-state regional Compact, so the process in Wisconsin - - how the DNR constructs the review as well as its outcome - - is being watched carefully by state regulators and conservationists from Minnesota to New York state.

Winning a diversion is no easy matter, as the Compact manages a complex, collaborative framework designed to preserve the world's largest supply of fresh surface water.

Diversions are to be exceptions that meet high hurdles. 

To be implemented, a diversion application needs the advice of two Canadian provinces, input from First Nation tribes and finally the unanimous approval of all eight Great Lakes states' Governors. A separate negotiation for the actual sale and delivery of water by pipeline through a lakefront supplier, like the City of Milwaukee, would be the final piece of the puzzle.

I posted the DNR's list of questions on more than one occasion - - sample here - -  and noted recently that sources were reporting that the pro-business, anti-regulatory Scott Walker-led DNR was now fast-tracking the review.

The City's Water Utility Commission chairman reported at a public meeting in December that he'd just talked to incoming Governor Scott Walker, and Walker seemed to understand Waukesha's needs.

I also noted the recent refusal of the the smaller, more rural Town of Waukesha to agree to be included in the application's water service delivery map - - a document drawn up by the Southeastern Regional Planning Commission and placed by the City in the diversion application without the input of the Town.

The Town and City have been slugging it out in court over water policy, and the Town has made it clear it's not rolling over just because the Big City has come at the 11th hour and suggested the Town agree to stay in the map.

With that as the backdrop, it seems there is more evidence that the DNR is fast-tracking the application, essentially saying that the City can proceed without the smaller community's participation.

The source of this information?

The City of Waukesha's Water Utility general manager, Dan Duchniak.

He told the online publication WaukeshaPatch that the City and the DNR are not going to wait for the Town to decide whether it wants to be included in the map.

You could argue that the application remains incomplete and thus vulnerable to rejection by one or more of the other states without it, but Patch reports:

“The DNR and I had decided that we would continue with the application as is,” Duchniak said. “In the event that they do not want to be included in this, we would just remove it.”
My take: I doubt that the Town will appreciate being dissed like this.

And I doubt the other states will welcome an application with such an obvious omission, or the intent to plug it later, as well as a review process approved by the DNR with such a cavalier approach to the Compact's procedures.

The disputed water service map increases the City's water service territory by 80%, making the City look like it wants to use the Compact as a means to expand beyond its current borders and accelerate growth.

Remember, it's primarily a water stewardship plan and structure, not a way to fuel sprawl and give one jurisdiction in the Great Lakes a water-induced economic advantage.

Some commentary here.

So is this smart politics? Clever strategy? Over-reaching?

We'll see.

The DNR has a website devoted to the application process. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

WHEDA's 24/7 Online Snooping Of Workers Is This Blog's #1-Downloaded Posting

At least back to June, when Google began counting.

Here is the item from April 17th:

Some Wisconsin State Workers Are Told Big Brother Is Scanning Them Online, 24/7

WHEDA 'Plan' Is Chapter Two In Our New Blog Series: "WalkerDoubleTalk"

The other day I had collected some of Scott Walker's deliberately deceitful word games - - so "modest proposal" and "truly progressive" and other Walker classics were easily accessible to readers and researchers.

Here's Chapter Two in "WalkerDoubleTalk." I'll organize it this way because I can see there's gonna be a need.

Take a look at this headline on a news release from the Governor's office about WHEDA - - the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority:

Gov. Walker: WHEDA awards $17.1 million in affordable housing tax credits statewide
And an italicized subtitle of sorts:
29 Projects Expected to Create 1,200 Construction Jobs, 1,400 Units of Affordable Housing 
So you say, great: Wisconsin, even under Scott Walker, will pursue and subsidize workforce housing, despite the backlash from Tea Partyish protesters. I'm all for this program and was ready to praise Walker for doing something good.

Then you read into the release and you see that what Walker is doing is distributing Federal tax credits. Somehow, the word "federal" didn't make it into the title, or the sub-head, and is not combined with"tax credits" until its ninth usage.

Walker is taking credit for an economic development tool provided by President Barack Obama and the Federal government.

So let's not have Walker claim 1,200 jobs for his all-important, 2014 re-election tally sheet. Without this federal program stimulating the winning projects' construction, there would be no jobs.

Remember this the next time you hear Walker rip the President, or our alleged dependency on Washington, or the need for state solutions to Wisconsin problems.

"Government Should Be Run Like A Business!" Like These Phone-Makers?

We hear this mantra repeatedly from conservatives, and every once in a while a news story about a business or a CEO catches my eye and makes me wonder, a business like this? (Spoiler alert: it has to do with that GPS/data-broadcasting-for-profit unit in your pocket that you thought was a phone.)

Maybe in this case it's not clear who's imitating whom?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Gets Official Snub In The Land Of Gaylord Nelson

I have scoured Gov. Scott Walker's office website and I see no news release or any acknowledgement today is Earth Day. If I missed it, shame on me. If not, shame on you know who.

Other Governors, even conservatives, managed to issue Earth Day proclamations.

[Update: nothing issued Monday.]

In Alabama on Earth Day there was an entire statewide celebration.

The North Dakota Governor issued a proclamation.

As did the Governor of New Hampshire.

Kentucky's Governor encouraged his state's residents, and especially the children, to join in the largest day of civic participation worldwide. Video here.

You get the picture. It's pretty mainstream, positive, fun. Even in the conservative South.

But Walker's Earth Day silence was an intentional, cynical "*F*** you" to Gaylord Nelson's memory, and the people of the state, and a land ethic in Wisconsin dating back to John Muir and Aldo Leopold, by our small-minded leaders.

That's the Earth Day message, the anti-Earth Day message, from the crew that wants to dismantle recycling, permit phosphorus dumping, block wind turbines, fill wetlands, starve transit and spend billions on more, wider roads.

Keep it up, Mr. 52%: Your year of living disrespectfully in the Governor's mansion is about a third gone.

[An earlier version of this posting indicated that there was no information about Earth Day on the DNR website, too. I subsequently found some information, and deleted the DNR reference in less than an hour. I still see no Walker news release on Wheeler, or through Google searches. JR 1:00 a.m. 4/23.]

In Which The Journal Sentinel's Managing Editor Sandbags A Columnist

I enjoyed this exchange on Facebook about a column written by the in-house conservative, Patrick McIlheran, which I posted as recommended reading for my Facebook friends.

The first comment is by George Stanley, the managing editor, whose newsroom team has done extensive, award-winning coverage of plastic residues.

James Rowen recommends a link.
The German Society of Toxicology recently reviewed thousands of studies of the chemical found in many plastics and concluded that “exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies.”

21 hours ago
James Rowen Somebody has to speak up for plastics in the food chain. Enjoy. 
21 hours ago ·
    • George Stanley The acknowledgments section reveals that the scientists all have financial ties to the plastics industry -- just as we have found over and over again, as the industry fights a propaganda war to protect its $7 billion product:
      11 hours ago ·

    • James Rowen Still, every down-trodden institution and beaten-down interest needs a champion.
      11 hours ago ·

Good Things Are Happening For Milwaukee Light Bulb App Creator

Contest recognition and feature media for Adam Borut, whose Milwaukee firm introduced a free app last year that helps you determine exactly which compact fluorescent light bulb is right for your need, what its carbon and long-term cost-savings are estimated to be, then can order and ship it to you.

The app and other good stuff is at his business website.

Comment Suggestion

Just fyi - - I've chosen not to post several comments that make assumptions about the Waukesha County voting fiasco that are unsupportable, or that veer off into speculation about related personalities.

Jsonline Polling Right Now On State Recycling

Make it an Earth Day "Yes," here.

Earth Day Is Just Another Holiday For Polluters In Wisconsin

Earth Day, 2011, is just another day of willfully polluting Wisconsin waters, as Gov. Scott Walker continues to bar implementation of a rule written collaboratively among many stakeholders to keep algae from choking the state's rivers, lakes and streams.

There's a great collection of reporting, testimonials, video, and documentation proving that fetid algae blooms are bad for Wisconsin businesses - - check out the series on the website of the River Alliance of Wisconsin - -  and predictions that his actions risk more stringent enforcement from outside, federal officials who are legally-bound to enforce the US Clean Water Act.

But as he did with high-speed rail, and wind farms, and transit system aids, and recycling, Walker says "no."

He's talking about a two-year delay in phosphorus controls. He must assume our attention span is as short as is his. I wonder if the Village of Maple Bluff will let the algae wash up below the Governor's Mansion on Lake Mendota and let the chief executive breath deeply his folly.

It may have no effect, as he was content to let Bradford Beach in Milwaukee go to hell until private donors and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District found the funding to rake the beaches and stop Walker's County government from continuing to let polluted stormwater from Lake Park run through the County's pipes right on to the sand and the shallow water.

Walker's one-dimensional behavior when it comes to the environment - - "No" - - comes about because he listens first to the largest of the corporate interests who funded his campaign and who pour money into the far-right advocacy groups and institutions that support him: the highway lobby, the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and the builders - - from which, no surprise, have come several top appointees to the Department of Natural Resources.

Walker has done this, and will do more to extinguish Wisconsin's environmental leadership  while repeating that "Wisconsin is open for business."

As if there is a hostile divide between jobs and a clean environment, between clean air and water, and a growing economy, that requires redefining the DNR as pro-business.

It will take nothing less than the successful recall and ouster at the polls of this radical governor who is light years away from the legacy of Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day's founder, and from mainstream Wisconsin conservation thinking, to remove the his cynicism from the land and the body politic.

Here's hoping for a brighter, cleaner, and more honest, Walker-free Earth Day, 2012 in Wisconsin [Granted, delays in a successful recall process would push that to 2013, but we might know by Earth Day 2012 if enough valid signatures were filed].

Dueling Supreme Court Camps Reach Recount Deal, Ruining The Right's Narrative

A dip into the toxic pool that is the region's righty talk radio the last few days has JoAnne Kloppenburg the embodiment of everything horrible. Her politics, her voice, her motives - - all bad and anti-taxpayer.

So imagine this: Kloppenburg and Prosser's campaigns have agreed on a recount method.

Agreed together.

Cooperatively. And the plan has been approved by the judge now in charge of the process!

One of those horrible Dane County judges!!!

Could it be that rationality is not the sole domain of the Prosser camp?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Walker Under 50% In Recall Poll

Scott Walker must wonder where all his political capital went.

Hint: That political currency got torched in his pants-on-fire, budget-repair (sic) sneak attack on union bargaining rights.

And consumed in the falsehood that he had campaigned on the "modest proposal" - - a fib he finally copped to at a Capitol Hill hearing, when he was under oath. D'oh!

Pretty brassy behavior for a guy who didn't exactly get swept into office with a mandate. "Landslide Scott" he is not.

"Sliding Down A Slippery Slope Scott" - - more accurate.

Walker got elected with 52% of the vote in November and, by April, has managed to poll below 50% with a voter sample asked whether they'd support him in a recall election

Yeah, yeah...I know this is one poll, and it's early, and the margin is close (now there's the real important point), etc. etc. etc.

But let's just say authoritatively that Walker is not expanding his base.

If 52% is your maximum vote after millions spent by and for you, and you have energized the opposition as never before, your Magic 8-Ball keeps saying "Outlook not so good."

If the requisite number of recall signatures can be had, and a credible opponent steps forward, Walker will become collateral damage going back to the day he "dropped the bomb."

And that would be "truly progressive."

Some poll details from the Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College poll, and remember, Walker is the incumbent:

Fourty-eight percent would vote to keep Walker in office; fourty-seven percent would vote to remove him.