Saturday, December 31, 2011
This tidbit from a Journal Sentinel story about masks:
And with a contentious recall election shaping up in Wisconsin, expect to see a Scott Walker mask in the future.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:19 PM
This is in reference to the remarks yesterday afternoon by vacationing Belling show fill-in host Kevin Fischer that we don't need any more education and newspaper stories about the risks of parents co-sleeping with children.
What we need is the parents of children who die to be charged criminally and punished severely.
That's the Milwaukee talk radio environment for you.
A wee bit of context, here and here.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:53 PM
The Chicago-area planning commission (CMAP) is urging citizens through a note with links on its home page to take action and tell federal officials to strengthen air quality standards:
Our region faces harm to its air quality and a significant loss of federal transportation funding if the U.S. EPA follows through on its intention to ignore current, certified 2011 data and rule that northeastern Illinois is "in attainment" with the agency's 2008 guidelines for air quality.
CMAP urges you to contact U.S. EPA and members of Congress, calling on the federal regulators to consider the up-to-date 2011 data, which clearly indicate our region has actually not attained the 2008 air standards. The U.S. EPA comment period has begun with publication of a December 20 notice in the Federal Register (marked as "40 CFR Part 81"), which includes details of how to make your views known. Commenters may want to adapt this sample letter. Read more in a CMAP Policy Update.I looked for something similar on SEWRPC's site, and, rooting around, found no call to citizen action or favoring cleaner air - - but did spot a bureaucracy's most passive, and lowest level of response: reference to a study - - and 33-months old, to boot:
Posted by James Rowen at 6:35 AM
Resolved: We won't have a political environment where questions like this are valid because dissembling has become a virtue:
* How did a bill that would allow faster mining approvals and development spoilage to rivers, lakes and abutting land without sworn hearings get written, and have a hearing, without any sponsors?
* How did one Green Bay land owner get the Governor make the Legislature adopt a special bill to fill in a wetlands while the permit review process was not completed?
* How can the Governor keep the trust of the people when 70% of his 39 statements vetted by PolitiFact throughout his first year in office are rated "mostly false," "false," or "pants on fire?"
* And how can the Governor keep the trust of the people when just a few days ago - - and after a tumultuous year begun with his hidden, deceptive plan to "bomb" collective bargaining - - end the year by publicly misrepresenting why thousands of seniors and disabled would remain covered by a public health-care plan - - and make that misrepresentation with advocates lined up for the cameras at his invitation at a Capitol news conference where he took credit for the health-care coverage.
Coverage that he had earlier limited.
Coverage that had been ordered restored by the Federal government.
A sequence which Walker did not disclose.
This is why enough signatures have been gathered to get Walker's name on a recall ballot.
Call it the people's resolution for 2012.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:15 AM
Friday, December 30, 2011
Be thankful. And we'll follow this case, since it's interesting that the concealed carrier/gun waver is claiming the other guy was packing a semi.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:00 PM
Most people don't know that the Governor of Wisconsin has an office in downtown Milwaukee, but I doubt that Scott Walker has spent much time there.
It's within sight of the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where Supervisors and unions and other assorted Democrats and - - gasp! - - regular urbanites - - apparently made Walker's life as County Executive so darn miserable.
So don't be surprised if Walker moves that office to the State Office Building in downtown Waukesha, instead.
Clearly, the Walker crowd prefers Waukesha County, where the County Clerk - - remember her? - - and now the courts function as a sort of Republican political paradise or Alice's Restaurant - - you know, where you can get anything you want.
Maybe they could literally move the State Capitol to Waukesha. That would save the Pabst Farms development, justify the Lake Michigan diversion and speed up highway expansion, too.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:31 AM
Citing jobs and other business concerns, the Journal Sentinel editorial board supports the proposed transnational tar sand crude oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
On the environmental issues, the paper says this:
Environmentalists also argue that the pipeline poses a threat to sensitive areas along its route. That's a legitimate concern, and accidents do occur with pipelines, as Michigan showed us earlier this year. Every precaution must be taken, especially with the most sensitive areas in question, the Sand Hills region of Nebraska and Nebraska's portion of the Ogallala aquifer.I wouldn'r hang my hat on TransCanada's assurances.
But precautions are being taken.
TransCanada has agreed to more than 50 safety conditions suggested by the Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. And this will be a new pipeline, built with the latest technology. There's also the fact that hundreds of miles of pipelines already cross the affected area and that pipeline transportation is safer than other kinds.
Experts not beholden to the industry, but using TransCanada documents and records of earlier spills, have shown there are significant problems with preventing, discovering and stopping spills - - and the critics have also unearthed problems with the company's data - - according to University of Nebraska engineering professor John Stansbury:
While TransCanada estimates that the Keystone XL will have 11 significant spills (more than 50 barrels of crude oil) over 50 years, a more realistic assessment is 91 significant spills over the pipeline’s operational lifetime.Again, citing Stansbury:
TransCanada arbitrarily and improperly adjusted spill factors to produce an estimate of one major spill on the 1,673 miles of pipeline about every five years, but federal data on the actual incidence of spills on comparable pipelines indicate a more likely average of almost two major spills per year. (The existing Keystone I pipeline has had one major spill and 11 smaller spills in its first year of operation.)
Analysis of the time needed to shut down the pipeline shows that response to a leak at a river crossing could conservatively take more than ten times longer than the 11 minutes and 30 seconds that TransCanada assumes. (After the June 2010 spill of more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River, an Enbridge tar sands pipeline – a 30 inch pipe compared to the 36-inch Keystone XL – was not completely shut down for 12 hours.)
Realistic calculations yield worst-case spill estimates of more than 180,000 barrels (about 7.9 million gallons) in the Nebraska Sandhills above the Ogallala Aquifer, more than 160,000 barrels (about 6.9 million gallons) of crude oil at the Yellowstone River crossings, more than 140,000 barrels (about 5.9 million gallons) at the Platte River crossing and more than 120,000 barrels (about 5.2 million gallons) at the Missouri River crossing.
Another factor that led to TransCanada’s low spill estimate is that they relied on technological improvements to help protect the Keystone XL pipeline. However, as Stansbury tells us, they are only calculating enhanced computer monitoring technology, not enhanced pipeline construction, which will only alert the company to a leak, not help to prevent one. This is a very significant point, because as we reported in June, TransCanada has freely admitted that their oversight of the pipeline is going to be scarce. By their own admission, TransCanada will have very few foot patrols along the pipeline, and most of the monitoring will be done by bi-weekly flyovers which will not be able to identify an underground leak.I hope the paper takes another look.
Additionally, their proposed computer systems will not be able to identify pinhole leaks, which could potentially lead to thousands of gallons of oil escaping the pipeline for months before the company notices. TransCanada’s own documents, as detailed by Stansbury, show that the company acknowledges that pinhole leaks could take as long as 90 days to determine.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:23 AM
Gov. Walker and his Department of Administration, with relatively little publicity, have reconstituted the DNR as an "enterprise" agency - - a sort of junior Department of Commerce - - thereby exempting it from all sorts of pesky rules and procedures so it can become more of a streamlined department.
I'd written a bit about it when an early draft of the plan came my way, including one posting containing a communication from new DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp who said the more business-oriented agency - - Walker put her in charge of the agency for her "chamber of commerce mentality" - - could help development up North.
we could take steps to improve delivery of services to our customers and clients across all programs. A key in this effort is creation of the Office of Business Development and Economic Sustainability, headed by Al Shea. Our goal here would be to work early and closely with new business ventures to assure all necessary permitting steps are known and that we are consistent so that a new business in northern Wisconsin plays on the same field as a business in the southern Wisconsin and vice versa.Just the kind of agency and mindset you'd want if fast-tracked permitting was the new order of the day - - think: mining.
So I had to laugh when I ran across a news release I'd missed - - so I'm correcting this omission and giving it all some context -- from the Wisconsin Builder's Association issued on the very day the agency announced its restructuring with its own release that congratulated the DNR for adopting a "bold restructuring plan to remodel as Wisconsin’s first enterprise agency. Bringing a business sense to create efficiencies that save time and money with more customer service and less bureaucracy will provide a much needed uplift to an already burdened housing industry.
Surely the WBA knew what was coming, as it is well-represented atop the agency.
* Stepp was a home builder, and reportedly worked with the group.
* She/Walker appointed as DNR Deputy Secretary an attorney, Matt Moroney, who was formerly Executive Director of the Metropolitan Builders Association of Greater Milwaukee - - one of the WBA's 25 affiliates statewide.
*The DNR also reports that Stepp appointed Pat Stevens, a former WBA general counsel, to run the agency's Division of Waste and Air.
Do you need a permit to build a revolving door?
Posted by James Rowen at 10:31 AM
Thanks to the Ashland Current for the information. As they say, save the date:
Economic, environmental, and social impacts of the mining industry in the Lake Superior basin will be the focus of a meeting this coming spring in Ashland.
The Lake Superior Binational Forum is hosting the public meeting from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fri., March 23 in Ashland at the AmericInn.
An agenda for the meeting has not yet been released, but will be available in February at http://superiorforum.org.
"Speakers will talk about how mining operations might affect the lake and the resources in the basin, how the Lakewide Management Plan outlines ways to protect the lake, and the importance of understanding a lakewide perspective of cumulative impacts on the waters of Lake Superior," reads a meeting announcement.
"Speakers will provide fact-based information about economic impacts, and how sovereign nations are responding to proposed mine sites."
The Lake Superior Binational Forum is part of the Lake Superior Binational Program and is composed of 12 Canadian and 12 American stakeholders who represent industrial, tribal, business, environmental, recreational, tourism, labor, and academic interests.
Funding for the forum comes from Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:12 AM
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Chris Matthews, broadcasting his MSNBC "Hardball"program from Iowa Thursday night, had enough with Mitt Romney accusing Barack Obama of being the "entitlement" President, while Romney would be the "opportunity" President.
Matthews reminded his audience that Obama worked his way up, while Romney had everything handed to him.
"What about your friggin' entitlements?," Matthews angrily asked.
Posted by James Rowen at 8:38 PM
Posted by James Rowen at 4:57 PM
You are in a classless class of one if you are willing to publicly manipulate seniors and the disabled.
Here is video of Walker's news conference - - complete with an interview with the grateful family of a young disabled man - - where Walker takes credit for a health care program expansion [sic] that we now know was ordered earlier by the federal government - - facts and a sequence Walker left out of his announcement.
As I said just a few hours ago, you have to pay attention to Walker's words and the settings.
New rule: Watch, and think the opposite of what you are hearing.
No wonder PolitiFact has attached the word "false" at some level to 70% of his statements vetted, but even "Pants on Fire" doesn't do justice to using the old and sick as political props.
We need a trophy for Lie Of Omission.
Call it "the Special Place In Hell" award. Give it to Walker, and retire it.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:20 AM
The duplicity of the Walker administration has no limitation - - as it is proving.
Earlier this week, with much fanfare, Gov. Walker touted a plan to expand health care coverage for seniors in Wisconsin.
Since he'd earlier capped the plan, and with the recall election looming, it looked like the kinder, gentler, holiday-season Walker was doing a good thing.
The worst you could say, as I did, that he was panning for votes.
But it's worse than that.
What he and his people left out of their publicity - - and we have the Journal Sentinel to thank for disclosing it - - was that the feds ordered Walker to withdraw the cap. Thus the 'expansion.'
Walker touted the $80 million plan with advocates for the elderly and disabled at a Capitol news conference, but he made no mention of a recent order from the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, or CMS, directing his administration to lift the cap in the Family Care program.Serious stuff, people. This administration simply cannot be trusted.
State officials released the Dec. 13 letter from the federal government - which pays about 60% of the program's cost - hours later at the request of the Journal Sentinel.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:58 AM
You can find the poll at the paper's homepage, and vote by letter grade, here.
Posted by James Rowen at 7:42 AM
We've been trained since the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon televised debates that in politics, the medium is a big part of the message.
In a 24/7 news cycle and cable-driven, Internet-frenetic world, sometimes the medium/media is the entire message.
We evaluate our leaders on their words - - of course - - but also on how these officials sound when they're speaking, as well as where they choose to be recorded.
Pres. George W. Bush's jet-aircraft landing on a ship at sea for "Mission Accomplished" conveyed a variety of message - - including some he never lived down.
Rick Perry's televised brain-lock during a recent GOP presidential primary debate is a more recent another. Even silence, if we can see it, can speak volumes, too.
And if there's a campaign underway - - every ad frame, sound-bite and comma can tell us something about the character and intentions of our candidates and incumbents.
So let's give a look and listen to Scott Walker, as the opportunities are building up.
Twice we've seen his strange little nods at key points in self-promotional videos he and his people have created.
The gestures are supposed to convey wisdom, and self-assurance, but they look hokey and calculated and inauthentic.
Then there's the image of dug-in chief executive, holed up in the East Wing with a baseball bat - - the guy who doesn't budge, compromise or cave as he told the fake David Koch during that infamous, taped call.
There isn't any video of the call, but the look, below, sums up the character Walker was playing when trying to make an impression.
In that taped interview with Madison journalist Bill Lueders, and which is posted on the website of the Ashland Current newspaper, watch how Walker fidgets and minimizes and tosses out some word salad until he finally gets his footing and the talking points flow.
But until that happens, Walker looks and sounds like a high school kid with a 12-pack in his locker who has figured out that Vice-Principal Lueders knows its there and is trying to get out ahead of the problem and manage the consequences.
You look at that video, and you've got to say: "That's the Governor?"
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
[12/29 Update: the initial reports upon which this posting was based were false, because Walker was ordered two weeks earlier by the feds to restore the health care program in question to enrollment levels that were in place prior to Walker's having capped them. It was not a Walker expansion. It was an Obama-administration ordered restoration, and Walker hoodwinked the public and groups he used as props to support his fake announcement.
This experience makes it even more important to carefully examine what Walker says.]
Walker spots a constituency that he thinks votes more regularly than urban families.
And he can play Good Guy to designated penny-pincher Robin Vos, co-chair with Alberta Darling of Joint Finance. It's the Cynics' Win-Win.
This fast-expanding series began about a week ago, when a more smiley-face Walker began showing up. You can find the others, or add your own in comments.
Posted by James Rowen at 6:34 PM
So you get yourself to the DMV and get the ID you now need to vote in Wisconsin - - but it doesn't come out of a machine on the spot for you to take with you.
Nope - - it will come in the return mail.
Within 10 days.
Instead you will be leaving with a paper receipt.
Anything to tamp down turnout.
Posted by James Rowen at 4:01 PM
Every time Gov. Walker attacks the Wisconsin recall process, we must replay his own 2010 video in which he steps on stage like "The Pied Piper" and describes the glorious 2002 grassroots recall "movement" that allowed him to shape-shift from State Assembly GOP placeholder to Milwaukee County Executive, and on to the Governor's Office.
Without a recall election, there would be no Gov. Walker.
Look for that to come full circle in 2012, and close out a nightmarish decade.
Posted by James Rowen at 3:46 PM
Add to the Walker John Doe probe, multiple Voter ID lawsuits and Miasma Gableman this simmering Federal pot.
An aide to a top lawmaker gave sworn testimony last week that new legislative maps approved this year were not meant to increase the Republican majority in the Legislature, but were nonetheless provided to the Republican National Committee in advance.
The seemingly inconsistent testimony came in a deposition from Adam Foltz, an aide to Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horizon) charged with drawing the new maps for lawmakers. A copy of the deposition was filed with a federal three-judge panel late Tuesday.
Posted by James Rowen at 3:00 PM
AM 620 WTMJ says it favors local talkers, but you wouldn't know it this week, as a guest host filling in for vacationing Charlie Sykes is one Pat Campbell, from the Journal company's Tulsa, Oklahoma affiliate.
He says you can call him "PC."
Since 10 a.m. the topics have been Walker's 'award' from a new, online magazine run by a former GOP operative from Connecticut, and Walker's having disclosed his plans to blow up collective bargaining in the state.
The collective bargaining statement by Walker was rated "false" by PolitiFact months ago.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:24 AM
I've noted several times on this blog - - here, or here, and elsewhere - - that enabling with fast-tracked legislation the gouging in Northern Wisconsin of a 22-mile-long open-pit iron ore mine disregards the legal standing, cultural interests and history of the region's earliest residents - - the Bad River Band - - and conflicts with environmental and inter-governmental concerns, broadly defined.
Not to mention conflicting with a Great Lakes water management compact signed into law by Wisconsin, seven others states, two Canadian provinces, the Canadian parliament and President George W. Bush - - after the Congress approved it, too.
Here is a succinct, accessible analysis of the legal and environmental thicket - - and other red flags have been waving and signalling, for months - - that Governor Walker and his legislative allies are plunging into, hell-bent, on behalf of special interests.
The Bad River watershed covers 700,000 acres. One could lose a lot of political battles and capital there.
Which is, why, perhaps some staffer with at least one semester of media and political training must have handed Walker a pre-interview 3"x5" card the other day that block-printed the suggestion "backtrack a bit on mining," as Walker appeared to give ground - - not his usual play - - when he commented on an outrageous provision in the Assembly bill that basically fixed the permit approval in advance: the elimination of the mining permitting process' sole hearing where witnesses are put under oath and cross-examined.
But a few pandering words do not address the larger issues and deeper opposition that the Bad River Band has raised and communicated directly in a meeting with Walker.
I'll let some of Walker's earlier words and deeds frame our wary approach.
Begin by noting what the State Journal included towards the end of its report on the Walker meeting with the Band, and other tribes:
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a statement that the governor met with tribal leaders as promised and listened to their concerns. He declined to elaborate, saying only that discussions likely would continue at Walker's regular quarterly meeting with the state's tribes next month.Now - - go back to Walker's signature stance with regard to public unions and collective bargaining. This headline pretty much summed it up, and nothing changed even after the unions said they would accept all the economic demands Walker was making.
[Bad River Band Chairman Mike] Wiggins said representatives from the state's other 10 tribes joined the Bad River at the meeting in a show of support. He said the governor listened to the tribes, but didn't commit to anything.
And he elaborated on that mind-set when he thought he was talking to a leading conservative funder, but instead was being taped by Ian Murphy, a blogger, and the State Journal supplied a transcript:
...if they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years ’cause I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County and won, even in a county where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered politically, and, ’cause I don’t budge...
And my sense is, hell, I’ll talk to them. If they want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I’m used to that, I can deal with that. But I’m not negotiating.Take him at his word and deed. He does not negotiate, cave or budge. He likes the power. And winning.
Final thought: With the WMC pushing the Assembly bill so hard, do you really expect a fair hearing when if and when it reaches the State Supreme Court from Justices Mike Gableman, David Prosser and Annette Ziegler who each owe so much of their election victories to the WMC?
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Newt Gingrich says Ron Paul has a "systematic avoidance of reality."
Paul can choose a response from "it takes one to know one," or "everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you."
Posted by James Rowen at 9:19 PM
He tells the gang at Fox and Friends that he blew up collective bargaining and set the entire state on fire politically because he thought it was how a small businessman would operate:
“I looked at it kind of like a small business owner. I said, ‘Here is a problem. Here is a solution. Now just go out there and fix it.’Now stop right there to see three FUBARS on display:
* Walker was head of a large organization that spends more than $30 billion a year, has 5.6 million shareholders and square-mileage territory a lot larger and more complex than that of your average independent business.
No small business has a workforce, product inventory, fleet, mission, legal standing, history and role anything "like" a state. Wisconsin has the National Guard and military reserves, for good goodness' sake.
* And Walker has been a career politician and public employee most of his adult life. He has never been a small businessman and therefore should not be behaving like the business owner of his fantasies.
And he thinks he can create 10,000 new businesses in the state, when he knows nothing about running anything?
* As I've said before, this is Walker demonstrating the bad kind of transparency - - the kind that is talking-point driven, and which you can see right through - - especially when it's on the TeeVee.
Posted by James Rowen at 8:54 PM
Let's be precise:
A three-year-old with a gun kills a five-year-old.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:42 PM
Here is the Walker image and year-in-review administrative, political and historical icon:
Twenty-seven of thirty-nine Walker statements were rated by PolitiFact as "Mostly False, False, or "Pants On Fire," and, equally significant, none have been rated "True" or "Mostly True" since May 8th, the PolitiFact scorecard shows.
Posted by James Rowen at 8:55 AM
Posted by James Rowen at 7:01 AM
As Wisconsin continues to shed jobs - - and PolitiFact has recently supplied a new chart to show it - - Scott Walker's pledge to create 250,000 private sector jobs is worth printing, clipping and putting on your fridge (remember that boastful directive from Walker to voters about the simplicity and strength of his 2002 County Executive's small-government campaign message).
I repeat all this because I heard Walker on Charlie Sykes' show the other day walking that back a little, saying something to the effect that he promised to help create the conditions for the job creation - - but he's been more direct and expansive on this, more than once, and it's important that the context and specifics be remembered and owned.
* Let's start with this big, bold iteration quoted in the Wisconsin State Journal:
"I want my Cabinet secretaries to have branded across their heads, '250,000 jobs,'" Walker said at a December 2010 meeting of the Dairy Business Association. "I want them to know their job is on the line because my job is on the line to create 250,000 jobs in the private sector."* Here are others reprised earlier on my blog.
* From his 2010 campaign website, Walker even threw in another promise which I haven't heard much about lately - - creating 10,000 new businesses, too:
One of the keys to the future of our state’s economy is setting and meeting goals. For too long, politicians and bureaucrats have taken the state’s economy for granted and delayed action until a business was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy or moving to a new state. Instead of reacting to each crisis as it comes, I will develop strategies for creating 250,000 new jobs and 10,000 new businesses by 2015.* And he told the Waupaca Chamber of Commerce, - - quoted in a Journal Sentinel story - - that 250,000 new jobs was only the minimum:
Gov. Scott Walker's legacy will, in many respects, be measured by one number: 250,000. That's the number of private-sector jobs Walker promised will be created during his four-year term, which began in January.
It was the central promise of his 2010 campaign, and Walker has mentioned it routinely since taking office. He says everything his administration does is based on improving the state's economic climate, and says he is pushing the "most aggressive pro-jobs agenda in the country."
At a recent appearance before the Waupaca Chamber of Commerce, Walker called the 250,000 figure "a minimum, not a maximum."
Posted by James Rowen at 12:05 AM
Awesome. The NY Times story mentions the Park East tear down in Milwaukee, and this paragraph is the heart of the story:
All around the world, highways are being torn down and waterfronts reclaimed; decades of thinking about cars and cities reversed; new public spaces created.So give former Milwaukee Mayor and Park East tear down prime mover John Norquist props for the campaign and for being ahead of the times/Times.
The paper notes Milwaukee's place in the anti-freeway movement, and offers a website link to the area's ongoing re-development:
In Milwaukee, the destruction of the Park East freeway spur has liberated acres of downtown for parks and neighborhood development.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Good-bye Blue Monday, hello Data Tuesday.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:36 PM
Posted by James Rowen at 7:32 PM
Walker's getting this award would be like Charlie Sheen winning "Man of the Year" from Uncouth.com.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:04 PM
The Cap Times' editor Paul Fanlund, after the collapse of a controversial hotel expansion on the lake, and other events, offers a myth-busting perspective.
For those who subscribe to the hackneyed assertion that Madison is reflexively anti-development -- a city that cannot put two bricks together -- the past two months would seem to provide plenty of fodder...
Unless, that is, you actually listen to the mayor and the city's economic development director, both of whom express a vision for and urgency about the redevelopment path ahead.
Mayor Paul Soglin and Aaron Olver are focused on a series of infill projects in which tracts would be redeveloped with an eye to creating commercial, retail and residential space, thus enlarging Madison's tax base.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:12 PM
Holiday travelers or folks succeeding in avoiding the Internets over the long weekend may have missed a) another sighting of the revealing Walker "nod,", and, more importantly, b) an end-of-the-year Journal Sentinel interview with Scott Walker wherein he praised himself for his transparency. I had a little headline and posting fun with it:
Walker gave the paper this memorable line:
"I know the transparency I have and the integrity I bring to the position...” Walker said.This is not the first time Walker, oblivious to irony or that the Emperor's clothes long ago disappeared seems unaware that his deeds and other words render that claim completely ridiculous.
It's like saying, 'I know my diet and the integrity I bring to sticking to it - - can you supersize my Coke and fries with that Big Mac, please?"
Also remember that he has repeatedly referenced his Eagle Scout experiences, yet said (see transcript of the taped call with Ian Murphy, the fake David Koch) that the "the only problem with that..my only fear...my gut reaction" with dispatching provocateurs into the Capitol protest crowds was that there would be possible political backlash that might force him to negotiate a settlement:
Murphy: Right, right. Well, we’ll back you any way we can. But, uh, what we were thinking about the crowds was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.The Assembly's mining bill - - written behind closed doors, with its 183 pages sprung on the public just six days before its public hearing in Milwaukee 350 miles away from the mine's most impacted residents and region - - is another telling example of Walker administration deeds undermining words and braggadocio about transparency.
Walker: You know, the, well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that. The problem — the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this. The teachers union did some polling of focus groups, I think, and found out that the public turned on ’em the minute they closed school down for a couple days. The guys we’ve got left are largely from out of state, and I keep dismissing it in all my press conferences saying, ‘Eh, they’re mostly from out of state.’ My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems. You know, whereas, I’ve said, ‘Hey, you know, we can handle this, people can protest. This is Madison, you know, full of the ’60s liberals. Let ’em protest.’ It’s not gonna affect us. And as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of the people are telling us we’re doing the right thing, let ’em protest all they want. Um, so that’s my gut reaction, is that I think it’s actually good if they’re constant, they’re noisy, but they’re quiet, nothing happens, ’cause sooner or later the media stops finding ’em interesting.
Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel has produced a wonderful investigative piece detailing how the bill got written, with no named sponsors.
His story is laden with information that shows how opaque - - that is, not transparent - - the process was. I recommend reading the story in full, but here are some highlights:
Legislators worked with Gogebic Taconite on mining bill
Five Republicans, staff were authors of legislation
Who wrote the Assembly's mining bill?
That's what many people wanted to know after a public hearing last Wednesday at State Fair Park when Republicans declined to provide details on who authored the legislation and whom they relied on for help.
Now, details are emerging:
If that's a transparent process run by a transparent administration, someone better call Webster's, since this is what it has to say about itThe bill was largely written by five Republicans and their staffs who huddled for months with different parties, including the business lobby Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and representatives of iron ore mining company Gogebic Taconite, which wants to construct a mine in northern Wisconsin.
The Department of Natural Resources's top mining expert, Ann Coakley, and Deputy DNR Secretary Matt Moroney were consulted, Moroney said. But lawmakers said they didn't brief environmental or wildlife groups.
Legislative records show that Rep. Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee) instructed the Legislature's bill drafters to write the bill...
WMC, which is the state's largest business lobby, and staff from Gov. Scott Walker also weighed in, according to legislators...
Neither [Reps.] Honadel, Suder nor Vos said they could recall who was responsible for language that would make it easier to develop a mine on or near wetlands - something environmentalists worry will harm the local watershed...
[Honadel] began working on the bill in January and met with WMC and the Cline Group, a Florida-based company that owns Gogebic and operates coal mines. Cline wanted to develop a known iron ore deposit along Highway 77 between Upson and Mellen.
Early work produced a draft bill that was heavily influenced by Gogebic but was dropped as the Legislature focused on the budget and grew preoccupied with recall elections in the Senate.
Then, after months of what seemed to be little progress, a new bill was unveiled Dec. 8.
Democrats and environmentalists said the latest version bears a resemblance to the earlier draft and that it goes too far in rolling back environmental safeguards.
With Republicans initially tight-lipped about its authorship, Democrats attacked it.
Rep. Peggy Krusick (D-Milwaukee) wondered during the State Fair Park hearing why there was no attempt to work with Democrats to strike a compromise.
When Republicans declined to say who drafted the bill, [Rep.] Milroy asked, "How do we know who we can ask questions to about aspects of the bill?
Definition of TRANSPARENT
Posted by James Rowen at 10:39 AM
Sunday, December 25, 2011
He says his attack on collective bargaining was flawed because he didn't do a good job of communication. And says his remarks to Ian Murphy, the fake David Koch were "stupid."
Come on - - we've learned this year that you have to look past Walker's words to deeds - - and to things he has said when less guarded to see the bigger, more accurate picture.
Look no farther for guidance than to the transcript of the call with the fake David Koch.
It shows Walker loving his no-discussion, no-negotiating exercise of power that dwarfed his authority as Milwaukee County Executive - - where, in fact, he had to negotiate and deal with unions and supervisors he detested as beneath him.
And he loved the attention he was getting even as Gov.-elect, when he stopped tha Amtrak extension (and also cost the state thousands of construction jobs for at least three years), and which included getting that famous call he thought was coming from the Big Daddy of Conservative Sugar Daddies:
Walker: If you’re doing the right thing, you stay firm and, in this case, you know, we say we’ll wait it out. If they want to start sacrificing thousands of public workers who’ll be laid off, sooner or later there’s gonna be pressure on these senators to come back. We’re not compromising, we’re not gonna — ...
Walker: Well, it has been amazing to me the massive amount of attention I, I’ve don all, I want to stay ahead of this every day, tonight I’m actually doing a fireside chat, which the state TV stations are picking up and I guess a bunch of the national ones are, too, and, uh, in the last couple of days when I do the TV shows, I’ve been going after Obama because he stuck — although he’s backed off now — but he stuck his nose in here. And I said, you know, he asked me what I thought about it and I said the last time I checked this guy’s got a much bigger budget deficit than we do, maybe he should worry about that [Murphy laughs] and not stick his nose in Wisconsin’s business. But you know, we’ve had, uh, you know, all the national shows, we were on [Sean] Hannity last night, I did “Good Morning America,” the “Today” show and all that sorta stuff. I was on “Morning Joe” this morning. We’ve done Greta [van Susteren]. We’re gonna, you know, keep getting our message out. Mark Levin last night. And I’ve gotta tell you the response from around the country has been phenomenal. I had Brian [Sadoval], the new governor of Nevada, called me the last night he said-he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends and he was kidding me, he’s new as well as me, he said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor....
Murphy: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. Thanks, thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward, and we appreciate it. We’re, uh, we’re doing the just and right thing for the right reasons, and it’s all about getting our freedoms back.
Murphy: Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. [Laughs]
Walker: Well, that’s just it. The bottom line is we’re gonna get the world moving here because it’s the right thing to do.
Murphy: All right then.
Walker: Thanks a million!
Posted by James Rowen at 9:53 PM
I'd intended on posting nothing for today, but Scott Walker has managed one last 2011 manipulation by politicizing the holidays, so a response is in order:
Look to the sanctimonious and downright weird TV ad where the recall-threatened Governor urges us at the holiday season to "put our differences aside" - - though it is wife Tonette who delivers that message.
He limits his role at that moment to an obviously staged nod - - and you know what?
We've seen that arrogant gesture before!
Remember the advertising stagecraft where Walker sidled up from the dark to give Lt. Gov. candidate Rebecca Kleefisch a silent signal of affirmation with confidently folded arms and a closing nod - - arrogant body language that says, 'Don't worry, little people. I know she's right. No further concern from you is necessary.'
Just in case he or anyone else wonders why we have our differences this year, let's go to the transcript of the recorded call from the fake David Koch - - where we get to hear that same attitude not spun or filtered by a spokesman, spouse or screenwriter.
This is an exciting time. This is — you know, I told my cabinet, I had a dinner the Sunday, or excuse me, the Monday right after the 6th. Came home from the Super Bowl where the Packers won, and that Monday night I had all of my cabinet over to the residence for dinner. Talked about what we were gonna do, how we were gonna do it. We’d already kinda built plans up, but it was kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb.Elsewhere in the tape you can hear the real Walker approach to handling differences - - in a democracy:
...if they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years ’cause I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County and won, even in a county where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered politically, and, ’cause I don’t budge.
...We’re not compromising, we’re not gonna...
...and as long as they don’t think I’m gonna cave — which, again, we have no interest in...Is that a citizen leader working openly on change? Taking people with whom he has differences into the discussion, where everyone works together to end up nodding at the end in agreement?
And my sense is, hell, I’ll talk to them. If they want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I’m used to that, I can deal with that. But I’m not negotiating.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
As I've pointed out before, the Chicago-are planning website is superior to the regional agency around here.
Great posting and report that does not appear at the SEWRPC site.
All it would take is a little imagination, dedication and a few keystrokes.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:26 PM
Higher ed? Who needs it, right?
Walker hit the UW system with one round of budget cuts, now levies it with the brunt of $123 million in new budget cuts, and more are coming.
So in the state allegedly open for business (not so fast, wind turbine makers, railroad builders, et al), how do we square those cuts with the common knowledge expressed in a story like this:
Posted by James Rowen at 3:59 PM
Turns out that the guy pitching Walker's economic plans in one of those slick pre-recall ads is a TV informercial specialist who make a lot of products in China.
Here's what the businessman's website says they're selling:
...we’ve built recognizable brands such as the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, Montel Williams Living Well HealthMaster & HealthMaster Elite, Joan Rivers Great Hair Day & Right to Bare Legs, Ab Coaster Max, The Rack Workout, Absolute Frizz Control, Milana Bra and the Genie Bra. Learn more about our award-winning products.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:24 AM
Walker, Sensenbrenner, Gableman and the iron mine. There's you Wisconsin political environment and environmental politics last week. Happy holidays, everyone:
Posted by James Rowen at 11:01 AM
Still, the governor is taking this opportunity to try to refurbish his image, using his ads to project a tone of warmth and togetherness after the searing conflict of 2011. A new spot launched Wednesday shows Walker and his family wearing aprons at a food bank, serving the needy.
“In this season of peace, our hope is that we can put our differences aside, and move forward together,” Walker’s wife Tonette says, sitting by her husband’s side in an unusual holiday-themed election spot.
Posted by James Rowen at 4:59 AM
Friday, December 23, 2011
Interesting story in The Hill (and Ruth Conniff found a nice spot for it in a fascinating piece, too) that highlights a problem for Tommy: He's seeking the Republican nomination for US Senate from a party that has turned decidedly farther-right and anti-union:
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson's (R) work with unions might come back to haunt him in his race for the Senate.
Thompson worked closely with the state employees’ chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which endorsed him in his 1994 and 1998 reelection campaigns for governor. Thompson supported a $4 billion expansion the state employee pension system in 1999, a change pushed for by the union.
Those efforts stand in stark contrast to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) anti-collective bargaining efforts and could turn off GOP primary voters...
That difference could hurt Thompson’s campaign — Walker will likely face a recall election in the spring or summer, just before Thompson’s August primary. The arguments Walker has made for why it was necessary to fight public employee unions seem to directly contradict Thompson’s actions as governor.
If partisan passions remain inflamed on the issue through Thompson’s primary, that could be problematic for the former governor.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:18 PM
You've got the good - - HDL - - and the bad - - LDL.
Same with "transparency," in the political sense. Sometimes it's good - - like when a politician is open, honest, guileless - - but sometimes there's too much irony to claim it.
Trust me, brother Walker: You do not want to be bragging to the Journal Sentinel in a year-end wrap-up about your "transparency" this way:
"I know the transparency I have and the integrity I bring to the position...” Walker said.Not after your signature lack of transparency - - the hidden collective-bargaining "bomb" you dropped on voters and workers after the election, and the fib you have been telling about it - - took its toll statewide, with the vetting now has going national.
Not after waiting until the Friday afternoon before a long holiday weekend to drop a $120-million budget-cutting bomb today, either.
And certainly not after this manipulative and insincerely transparent ad of yours hit the airwaves, where "transparency" and "transparent" means "we see right through it, and you."
Walker's political cholesterol numbers and ratio are, well, transparent.
Posted by James Rowen at 3:14 PM
Our new series about Scott Walker's makeover has a new Chapter 3: This bit of icky comic relief, perhaps entitled "No Soup For You!," didn't take long to surface:
A new spot launched Wednesday shows Walker and his family wearing aprons at a food bank, serving the needy.Previous chapters, coming fast and furious as Walker tries to re-brand himself - - though budget cuts coming Friday show it's a mixed message:
“In this season of peace, our hope is that we can put our differences aside, and move forward together,” Walker’s wife Tonette says, sitting by her husband’s side in an unusual holiday-themed election spot.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
This was Chapter 1:
Here's Chapter 2:
Tuesday, December 20, 2011Walker won't delete funding for rape victims' services.
Send in your guesses for Chapter
Walker says state might not cut 53,000 adults from Medicaid by year's end
34,5 and 6.
Posted by James Rowen at 2:01 PM
The powerful statewide business lobby Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, (WMC), likes the Assembly's 'Mine-Wherever-You-Want' bill because it loosens regulatory procedures, eliminates public input and eases protections for land and waterways - - what we generally call "the environment" - - to serve private interests
The bill could pass the Assembly later this month, with the Senate and Gov. Walker waiting compliantly in the wings.
Yet with everything going its way - -its sister organization in Milwaukee just told its members that 2011 had been the best year since Genesis - - the WMC is irked. Why so unhappy?
Seems that the Journal Sentinel editorial board had the temerity a few days ago to object to the bill's more preposterously anti-democratic, selfish and imperious provisions, as well as its sloppily-scheduled hearing - - and suggest it be land-filled.
Give the paper credit. It may have endorsed Scott Walker for Governor, but people who have read the bill see right through it, and that includes the paper's editorial writers, who said on December 17th it was:
...a travesty of legislation that will significantly weaken environmental protections and reduce citizen participation in the permitting process. It's almost as if children had replaced Republican legislators and had dared each other to see just how outrageous they could make this bill.Even the word "cowardice" was used to describe the bill's mystery originators, as no legislator had the you-know-whats to sign it as a sponsor.
So the WMC, fearing any delay to the year-long (and perhaps soon-to-end) Walker/Fitzgerald brothers' juggernaut, and being unaccustomed these days to criticism longer than what fits on a State Capitol picket sign, felt it needed to rip the paper.
It even trotted out a sophomoric imitation of PolitiFact - - "False Statement: Reality Check" - - in a huffy, crocodile-tear stained letter to legislators about the editorial (you find the full text in a pdf link at the WMC "statement," cited here):
While we expect environmental groups to engage in this level of hyperbole, it is unfortunate that a newspaper failed to substantiate their claims before using them in an editorial.And the paper calmly held its ground, repeating that the Assembly bill should be dumped:
In order to further a factual and honest debate about this legislation, we have taken the time to refute the false statements from the Journal Sentinel’s editorial...
On Sunday, we published an editorial critical of a new iron mining bill proposed in the Wisconsin Legislature. We stand by that view.I'd posted several commentaries on the bill - - here's one - - and it's great that the environment and open government with people participating are getting much needed help from the paper in this fight.
The editorial stressed that an iron mine would provide needed jobs and a stronger economy, especially in northern Wisconsin, and that streamlining the current permitting process makes sense, as long as there is no significant damage to rules and laws governing environmental protection.
But the proposed legislation simply goes too far in weakening those protections and in lessening the opportunities for citizen input. In our reading of the bill, it loosens protections to the point that political pressure could come to bear on the state Department of Natural Resources to ensure that a mine gets built.
As we concluded in the editorial, Wisconsin needs this mine; it does not need this legislation. Our view on this hasn't changed.
The WMC has blundered badly here.
On my ineptitude scale, this is definitely level five - - past wobble, stumble, knee-scrape and even pratfall to meltdown.
One last thing: the WMC's gratuitous line, "While we expect environmental groups to engage in this level of hyperbole..." misses the essential point it has long-overlooked while carrying water for special intersts from mining companies to road-builders:
In Wisconsin, the environment is the economy.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Here's Chapter 2:
Tuesday, December 20, 2011Walker won't delete funding for rape victims' services.
Send in your guesses for Chapter 3.
Walker says state might not cut 53,000 adults from Medicaid by year's end
Posted by James Rowen at 5:56 PM