Saturday, February 28, 2015

Walker UW budget deletes protection for UW-M Downer Woods

Much of the open space on the UW-M main East side campus has fallen to the bulldozer, but now Walker's UW 'reform' budget deletes the promised and continuing preservation of Downer Woods as community space and park land - - and preservation of former Downer college buildings is deleted, too. 

What's next on the state/campus chopping block? If the Downer Woods can be sold off to a developer, why not Picnic Point, or the UW-Madison Arboretum? 

I'm sure the Walkerites would like to see a few hundred condos and a parking ramp in the Arboretum, and maybe an ATV rental agency, paint ball gun course and sports bar along Picnic Point?

Remember also that the Legislature, at Walker's direction, has given him the power to sell any state asset - -  up to and including the State Capitol building, with token participation by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance, the State Building Commission (also slated for a 2015-'17 gubernatorial takeover), and the Wisconsin Department of Administration - - all of which he controls - - and without normal public disclosure or negotiating procedures.

I'd catalogued many of the budget's attacks on the UW system's environmental programming and mission, but had missed this one. Mea culpa.

More about the similar impact on Walker's cuts at the DNR, too, here.

From the proposed budget document:

(p) Delete the following provisions related to the Downer Woods located on the UW- Milwaukee campus: (1) provisions requiring the UW-Milwaukee Chancellor to prepare and implement a Downer Woods natural area management and restoration plan to ensure that the
area of the Downer Woods designated as the conservation area is managed properly as a natural area; (2) provisions requiring that the portion of the Downer Woods designated as permanently reserved woodlands be set aside exclusively for the purposes of community enhancement and relaxation; (3) provisions permitting the portions of the Downer Woods designated as park and woodland areas to be used by UW-Milwaukee as recreational and aesthetic corridors; and (4) provisions specifying that the buildings of the former Downer college be preserved and may not be razed without prior approval of the Building Commission. 

In CPAC poll, almost 80% wanted someone not Walker

After all his sleeves-rolled-up stage-craft and ill-fitting macho-man rhetoric, Walker couldn't out poll libertarian darling Rand Paul, as nearly 80% of those polled at CPAC said they were more in love with another righty darling.

Look for Walker to spin this rejection as a victory.

Walker would "totally privatize" Medicaid, transportation infrastructure

Lost in Walker's monumental foreign policy stumble before the Club for Growth was his answer to a question that Medicaid and transportation are programs he would "totally privatize."

Translation: Private health insurers are going to make out like bandits, plenty of poor people will make do without, highways and bridges are going to be leased to companies that will jack up the tolls (Google Chicago Skyway, parking meters, or Indiana tollway tolls) - - one summary post, here - - and a bus ticket on the few remaining lines will put low-income people back on the sidewalks.

WI Capitol cops play cold-weather rendition

Taking people into custody at the Wisconsin State Capitol, driving them to a remote Madison site, then not charging them while leaving them literally in the cold on their own has got to be against the law in 2015.

Earlier arrests of peaceful protestors at the Capitol have been dismissed, the Walker administration policy which led to the arrests has been declared unconstitutional and tens of thousands of dollars in civil damages have been paid by the state to those illegally ticketed and detained.

Please, empty-headed Scott Walker, just keep talking

The same presidential poseur who thinks ISIS and Putin will be cowed by how he 'handled' peaceful union protesters his own press aide had praised as peaceful and legitimate now wants you to believe that Ronald Reagan's firing of the nation's air traffic controllers was the most important foreign policy move in Walker's lifetime - - thus back to 1967.

It's so clear that Walker lives inside a little, talk-radio ideological echo chamber, where Reagan is give God-like status while his tax increases and legendary bi-partisan moderation are never acknowledged.

Walker has been inserting himself into a distortion of Reagan's legacy for years, as he'd let on during the infamous phone call he had with the fake David Koch (transcript), but only an uneducated narcissist treading intellectual water would put Reagan's union-busting ahead in foreign policy importance to, say, George W. Bush's catastrophic invasion of Iraq 12 years ago that now has spun off the very ISIS fighters whose defeat Walker is fantasizing.

Or, Richard Nixon's detente with China, the entire subsequent explosion of global trade and export of manufacturing which continue to undermine Walker's failed job-creating solutions.

Some pretty astonishing knowledge and awareness gaps there. 

Video shows Walker gifting little boy with talking points

Add another keeper to the Walker tape and video archive we've been collecting:

After finishing up his ISIS=peaceful protesters CPAC speech, a little kid asked Walker about climate change.

Fret not, little guy: Walker - - like a robot - - fires off his talking points, including suggesting the little fella clean up his camp site the way Walker says he always did.

Bad luck, evil DNR subculture wrecked WI mine plan

We'ee beginning to get a fuller picture of the internal problems that led GTac to suspend more planning for a massive open-pit iron mire in a pristine watershed across Iron and Ashland Counties.

Start with some plain old bad luck: GTac said it had discovered a lot of wetlands in the forested, rain and snow absorbing Bad River watershed that is cross-crossed by trout streams, dotted with lakes and traversed by a river on its way to wild rice estuaries at the edge of the deepest of the five Great Lakes, Lake Superior.

You can see how it could miss the wetlands there.

And there was another roadblock that was also not the company's fault. After all, it had dotted all its "I's" and crossed off them "T's" when it lobbied through bill it helped write and even routed $700,000 to benefit Scott Walker's 2012 campaign.

Then more bad luck: like a cruise line executive finding positive samples after a full-ship Norovirus cleansing, mining boss Bill Williams said he discovered some lingering environmentalism among DNR employees apparently not fully excised by Scott Walker and the "chamber of commerce" tools he'd installed atop the agency:
"But there is probably still a subculture at the DNR, for lack of a better word, that is green," Williams said.
How many surprises should GTac have been asked to manage?

Clearly, Walker and the DNR have some work to do to get that toxic green thinking out of an agency were it has no business thriving, even in a subculture.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp had already revealed the subculture in her historic expose of the DNR that helped get her appointed to the position by Walker in 2010:
...people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA. So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with.
Walker's proposed budgetary elimination of 66 DNR science positions, along with other program cuts and structural changes - - along with several years of science-crushing policy-making - -  will go a long way towards finally ridding the DNR of what Williams and Stepp say ails it.

No business should ever again encounter "green" secret agents at a natural resource protection agency.

For the record, some GTac mine backers did OK

As we enjoy the apparent withdrawal of GTac from the Penokees to which they came to destroy, let's not forget that a couple of the major enablers of the massive mine plan or the sweetheart one-company bill shoved through the Legislature at the company's behest have come out the fiasco ahead of where they were at the beginning:

*  Former state Rep. Jeff Stone, (R-Greendale). He's the suburban Milwaukee legislator who made said Ojibwa tribal representatives did not have a seat at the table - - his words, watch the video - - when the putrid bill was up for Legislative consideration by Stone and his fellow committee members.

Where's Stone today? Walker gave him a $94,000-a-year senior administrator's job at the Public Service Commission last year that was initially ticketed for another GOP legislator, Scott Suder,  who'd gotten caught up in a DNR/grant scandal.

And the Wisconsin Paper Council picked Suder up. All's well that ends well.

*  Former GTac lobbyist Bob Seitz. Walker just appointed Seitz also to a senior position at the PSC, which is apparently what backers of failed mining projects also call Heaven.

Moroney, ex-DNR #2, now Senior Adviser to Walker

The Governor's office quietly moved Deputy DNR Secretary Matt Moroney - - via a Friday evening news release - - to a new position of senior adviser in the Governor's office.

Pretty much as I'd suggested in earlier posts.
...he is headed either to Walker's campaign, or to the Governor's office as Chief of Staff or filling a new, administrative/policy/campaign committee liaison position.
Walker is positioning a strong conservative policy adviser and experienced administrator at his side while multi-tasking as Governor and presidential candidate.

Moroney will be the functioning 'Deputy' Governor in a way that Rebecca Kleefisch cannot, much as was DOA Secretary Jim Klauser to Governor Tommy Thompson.

Matt Moroney
Matt Moroney
Use the blog index at the upper left corner for posts about Moroney over the years on the just-killed iron mining plan's sweetheart bill, plus work on wetlands, weakened DNR enforcement and a failed effort to stymie on developers' behalf the Great Lakes Compact, among others.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Walker press aide said protesters were peacefully exercising rights

They don't sound much like ISIS fighters, right Cullen Werwie?, as the Walker media aide described the protesters and Walker's view of them to CBS News during the protests in these words:
"Governor Walker has said time and again that the protesters have every right to have their voice heard, and for the most part the protests have been peaceful. We are hopeful that the tradition will continue," said Werwie.
Werwie, who'd served as media spokesman during Walker's 2010 run for Governor - - was also an immunized witness in the prosecutorial probe known as John Doe I that produced six convictions of Walker aides, associates and donors - -  has since been promoted to the Wisconsin Department of Administration. 

As I have been reporting, WI DNR's #2 is gone

The rumor mill was correct - - the powerful WI DNR Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney has left the agency, but as you will see in these emails circulated by the top people at DNR this evening, no one is saying where Moroney is landing.

He's a smart, organized and productive attorney and former metro Milwaukee developers' association leader. I watched him assertively push for Great Lakes water diversions when he sat on advisory committees to SEWRPC and the State Legislature as they grappled with the Great Lakes Compact and related matters.

My belief is that he is headed either to Walker's campaign, or to the Governor's office as Chief of Staff or filling a new, administrative/policy/campaign committee liaison position.

Here are the agency emails, verbatim - -  first from Secretary Cathy Stepp, followed by a note from Moroney.

My only comment is that Stepp betrays a not-so-surprising ignorance about the origins and implications of the cliche in praise of Moroney that he kept the "trains running on time." Suffice it to say it is not a compliment to him or their working environment. Look it up.

Dear Colleagues,
So, there’s been a lot of change going on in state government lately.  As I preach to others to embrace change, I need to remember that myself sometimes.  Matt’s departure has certainly brought a series of mixed emotions for me and many others in the department.  I’m thrilled for him personally and professionally, as his gifts of facilitation, people management, expediency, and follow through will be on full display for all of state government to gain from in his new role.  As you all know, he has kept the “trains running on time” on “the 8th floor,” making sure documents got signed, thoughtful decisions were made in a timely manner,  and that systems were implemented to support and streamline the good work of our agency.  He has defined “transparency” in state government with his innovative ideas on guidance documents, stewardship program implementation, meetings with staff on all issues you had concerns or questions about.  Always with an honest and frank answer, staff has grown to respect and admire the way he carried himself and portrayed the Office of the Secretary in the most honorable way.  He never let political ideology interfere with the use of sound science, the law, and common sense.  I can honestly say not one thing I tasked him with over the last 4 years has ever fallen through the cracks.  I have never known anyone with a stronger work ethic who still somehow managed to balance family life with his wife and two young children.  He is a role model for us all to look to.
My melancholy moments have been in the realization that I won’t be talking to him a minimum of twice per day, seeing him in the office regularly, and laughing instead of crying when the day’s events seem insurmountable.  Matt and I had a uniquely balanced relationship, running the agency as a team.  Each of us is acutely aware that the job of Secretary is so much more than any one person could manage without engaging gifted and talented people who commit themselves to the mission of our agency with a servant’s heart.
While I was hopeful this announcement would come before Matt reported for duty in his new role, the timing didn’t work out that way.  It would have been great to have time for those of you who wanted to stop by to wish him well and to share a laugh.  Alas, you’ll have to do that by email or phone call…which will probably be easier on him anyway.  We all know he wasn’t much about getting attention or actually having to show emotion!  
Below is a message from Matt that he wanted me to share with all of you:
I wanted to send a quick note to just say “Thank You”!   It was a privilege and an honor to be your coworker the last four years.   I cannot accurately describe in words how much I have appreciated your collective and individual willingness to share your ideas on how to move this organization from good to great! 
There are still many great things to come at the DNR due to the tremendous talent within the DNR at all levels of the organization.   I am confident that Secretary Stepp and the Department Leadership Team will continue to ask for your ideas and will continue to lead the Department forward in a positive direction as One DNR.   The best is yet to come, and I look forward to following your successes.
Once again, Thank You!!!
Matt Moroney

Get these huge changes out of the Walker budget

What is the entire nuts-and-bolts remake of the UW System - - similar to the policy-driven restructuring of the DNR and its oversight board - - doing in the state's bi-ennual budget?

Along with a host of other major items across something like 2,000 pages of detailed, data-laden text?

This budget could have been much simpler if these major policy matters got the separate and careful attention they deserve with honest hearings scheduled for the public's convenience.

Discovering water in watershed mine site, GTac abandons open-pit mine plan

GTac says it is shelving its plan to blow up, dig up and mill the Penokee Hills in the Bad River watershed for low-grade iron ore already in surplus supply - - because, it says it found too much water in the wetlands in the watershed at the edge of Lake Superior.

Sure, it took the mining company four years to make this discovery.

The uproar the plan caused in state politics helped force the moderate GOP opponent Dale Schultz from the State Senate and it seems as if the company wasted $700,000 in thank you money in routed to a Scott Walker advocacy group for his getting a sweetheart enabling bill that is still on the books through the Legislature.

Don't get me wrong - - I'm thrilled to see this news, though GTac has closed out its office in Hurley before - - and let's hope people in the region can get back their peace of mind, clean water, undisturbed wild-rice growing estuaries, and tourism-based economy.

And as I said 25 months ago, where is Walker's Plan B for the area?
Knowing that a mine is years - - if ever - - away from approval and opening in the coming bear market in iron ore, where is the Walker administration's comprehensive Plan B for northern Wisconsin?

Walker budget would exempt UW system from renewable energy goals

In an earlier post, I catalogued all the cuts to environmental programs, activities and staff in Walker's proposed UW budget.

Now we learn that Walker's budget proposes an exemption from existing energy saving goals for the entire statewide, reformed UW System Authority's huge facilities:

Governor: Provide that renewable energy goals would not apply to the UW System Authority. Under current law, these goals apply to DOA, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Health Services, the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the UW System. The most recent year for which a renewable energy goal was set was 2011.
[Bill Section: 346] 

Walker budget cuts numerous UW/environmental programs, jobs

As if Walker's across-the-board staff and program cuts to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (66 science positions, for example), his removal of policy-making authority from the citizen-attentive Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, exempting the huge system statewide from energy saving goals, his removal of state financing from recycling programs and his 13-year suspension of the popular Knowles-Nelson land stewardship purchase program wasn't enough of a slam at public access to public policy-making, science, land and resources, his proposal to restructure the UW system and slash its budget would also mandate many deep cuts in UW managed and offered environmental activities, including, says the budget document:

[Bill Section: 580, 1029, 1206, and 9448(4)]

Governor: Eliminate funding for the Wisconsin Bioenergy
Initiative ($4,069,100 SEG annually) and 35.20 positions beginning in 2015-16 and delete the appropriation for that purpose on July 1, 2016. Under current law, funding is provided from the environmental fund to the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative to support research into improved plant biomass, improved biomass processing, conversion of biomass into energy products, development of a sustainable energy economy, and development of enabling technology for bioenergy research.

[Bill Sections: 601 and 9448(1)]


Governor: Eliminate $130,500 annually for environmental education grants from the environmental fund and delete the appropriation for that purpose on July 1, 2016. In addition, delete $200,000 in 2016-17 as well as the appropriation for environmental education grants from the conservation fund.
Delete language related to the Environmental Education Board including provisions requiring the Board to: (a) consult with the state Superintendent of Public Instruction in page3image20568 page3image20992 page3image21152 page3image21312 identifying needs and establishing priorities for environmental education in public schools; (b) consult with other state agencies, including UW-Extension, conservation and environmental groups, youth organizations, and nature and environmental centers in identifying needs and establishing priorities for environmental education; (c) award grants for the development, dissemination, and presentation of environmental education programs; and (d) establish a center for environmental education. In addition, delete the requirement that the Board of Regents seek the advice of the Environmental Education Board on the development of environmental education programs.
[Bill Sections: 228, 598, 599, 1244, 1245, 1301, 3284, 4323 thru 4325, and 9448(1)]


Governor: Eliminate $156,100 annually for solid waste
research and experiments and 1.0 position beginning in 2015-16 and delete the appropriation for that purpose on July 1, 2016. Under current law, funding is provided from the environmental fund to support research into alternative methods of solid waste management and for administering solid waste experiment centers.
Delete related provisions permitting the Board of Regents to establish one or more solid waste experiment centers for the purpose of developing, demonstrating, promoting, and assessing the costs and environmental effects of alternatives to solid waste disposal; requiring the Board to conduct research into alternatives to solid waste disposal; and requiring the Board to appoint a solid waste research council.

[Bill Sections: 603, 1218, and 9448(1)]


Governor: Delete $394,100 annually for UW-Extension recycling education and 4.0 positions beginning in 2015-16 and delete the appropriation for that purpose on July 1, 2016. Under current law, funding from the environmental fund is provided to support UW-Extension education and technical assistance programs in recycling and recycling market development.
[Bill Sections: 602 and 9448(1)]
Governor: Delete the UW System's program revenue
appropriations for general program operations (-$2,271,680,800), gifts
and nonfederal grants and contracts (-$537,889,600), and general fund interest ($0) and the UW System's appropriation for federal aid (-$1,812,449,300) in 2016-17.


Governor: Delete current law research fees of 27¢ per ton of fertilizer sold or distributed and 10¢ per ton of soil or plant additive distributed and delete the fertilizer research council which recommends projects to be financed by fertilizer research funds.
Under current law, the soil and plant additive research fee and 17¢ of the fertilizer research 
page6image32840 page6image33264 page6image33424
fee are forwarded to the UW System to be used for research on soil management, soil, fertility, plant nutrition problems, and for research on surface water and groundwater problems which may be related to fertilizer usage. These funds are also use to fund the dissemination of the results of the research and for other designated activities tending to promote the correct usage of fertilizer materials. The remaining 10¢ of the fertilizer research fee is used to support UW- Extension outreach services. In 2013-14, $280,000 was forwarded to the UW System for research and $166,300 was provided to support UW-Extension outreach services.
[Bill Sections: 133, 484, 2630 thru 2635, and 9448(1)]


Governor: Delete $417,500 in 2016-17, the requirement that the Board of Regents operate an aquaculture demonstration facility, and the appropriation under the Department of Administration which provides funding for that facility from tribal gaming revenues. Specify that the UW System Authority may, instead of shall under current law, conduct applied and on- site research, outreach activities, and on-site demonstrations relating to commercial aquaculture in this state in cooperation with the commercial aquaculture industry. The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) would also continue to coordinate its aquaculture activities with those of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the UW System Authority and to conduct meetings on a quarterly basis involving DATCP, DNR, and UW System Authority representatives to exchange information regarding the progress of their efforts to promote commercial aquaculture in this state.

[Bill Sections: 808, 1188, 2626 thru 2628, and 9448(1)]


Governor: Delete $301,600 and 1.0 position in 2016-17 as well as the appropriation for environmental program grants and scholarships. This appropriation funds all of the following: (a) need-based grants totaling $100,000 to students who are members of underrepresented groups and who are enrolled in a program leading to a certificate or a bachelor's degree from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison; (b) annual scholarships totaling $100,000 to students enrolled in the sustainable management degree program through the UW-Extension; and (c) the balance of the appropriation for environmental programs at UW-Steven Point. Base level funding for this appropriation is $301,600 SEG from the normal school fund.

[Bill Sections: 600, 1297, and 9448(1)]


Governor: Delete $249,800 and 1.20 positions in 2016-17
as well as the discovery farm grant program and a related appropriation from the agrichemical management fund. Under current law, the Board of Regents makes grants through UW-
page7image32208 page7image32368 page7image32528 page7image32688 page7image32848 page7image33440

Extension to operators of discovery farms for research and outreach activities under the Wisconsin agricultural stewardship initiative. A discovery farm is an operating commercial farm that conducts on-farm research.
[Bill Sections: 597, 1262, and 9448(1)] 


Governor: Delete $134,500 and 1.0 position in 2016-17 as
well as the requirement that the Board of Regents maintain a center for cooperatives at UW- Madison and the grant program administered by that center. In addition, delete the related grant appropriation from the conservation fund which provides $78,000 for the paper science program at UW-Stevens Point and $56,500 for grants to persons to form forestry cooperatives that consist primarily of private, nonindustrial owners of woodland.

[Bill Sections: 596, 1016, 1192, 1303, 2095, and 9448(1)]


Governor: Delete $53,700 in 2016-17 as well as the requirement that the Board of Regents and the Department of Natural Resources enter into an agreement with an established national organization to provide training to persons interested in learning about the outdoor skills needed by women to hunt, fish, camp, canoe, and undertake other outdoor recreational activities. Delete language requiring DNR to transfer $53,700 annually to the UW System from its general program operations appropriation for land and forestry for outdoor skills training provided under the agreement.
[Bill Sections: 621, 1056, and 9448(1)]


Governor: Delete $51,900 in 2016-17 as well as language requiring DNR to transfer $51,900 annually to the UW System from its general program operations appropriation for water
page8image30680 page8image31104 page8image31264

for studies of Great Lakes fish.
[Bill Sections: 628 and 9448(1)] 

Walker budget to end UW sexual assault orientation, some crime reporting

[Updated] Walker the Destroyer. Who in his or right mind would send a child to a UW campus?

From Walker's budget - - and read the entire link's contents for all the programs Walker's budget would end at and by the UW system.


Governor: Delete the requirement that the Board direct each institution and college campus to incorporate oral and written or electronic information on sexual assault in its orientation program for newly entering students and to supply all students enrolled in the institution or college campus with the same information in either printed or electronic form.

Delete the requirement that the Board of Regents submit an annual report to the Legislature regarding the methods used to comply with the above requirement.

Delete the requirement that any person employed at an institution who witnesses a sexual assault on campus or receives a report from a student enrolled in the institution that the student has been sexually assaulted report the assault to the dean of students.

Delete the requirement that each institution report annually to the Department of Justice (DOJ) statistics on sexual assaults and on sexual assaults committed by acquaintances of the victims that occurred on the campus of that institution in the previous years, and that DOJ include those statistics in appropriate crime reports.
[Bill Section: 1171] 
The UW and Walker have subsequently to online reports about these changes that the data referenced would be collected but consolidated in a single report, that sexual assault orientation is embedded in UW culture and the changes were sought by the UW.

More media getting glimpse of the shifty Scott Walker

Major media last week got to see Walker the unartful dodger as he gave silent assent to Rudy Giuliani smearing President Obama's faith and patriotism. 

That was on the heels of Walker's London Punting and No-Comment Tour, a political visit to create some international experience itself disguised as a State of Wisconsin trade mission.

This week, media got  a closer look at another ugly but familiar Walker tactic when he attacked citizen protesters as terroristic, then denied he'd done any such thing.

Wisconsinites have seen Walker's intellectual and verbal dishonesty before.

Remember when he called his signature and most consequential proposal - - Act 10 - - a "modest proposal" though it ended 50 years of public sector bargaining, cut workers take-home pay and gave his own career and right-wing politics in the state an upper hand over weakened, Democratic-leaning unions.

And after dropping his Act 10 bomb (his phrase) on public employees and their collective bargaining rights - - Walker claimed Act 10 did no such thing?

His saying that Act 10 left public-sector collective bargaining "fully intact" earned Walker a "Pants in Fire" PolitiFact rating:

In arguing the changes would be modest, Walker cited the civil service system and said "collective bargaining is fully intact." However, Walker himself has outlined how his budget-repair bill would limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
Indeed, it’s that provision that provoked daily demonstrations at the state Capitol and national media attention. To now say now say collective bargaining would remain "fully intact" is not just false, it’s ridiculously false.
And that means it is Pants on Fire
Then flash-forward nearly four years to Walker's claim that his attack in his proposed budget on the University of Wisconsin's historic mission statement was a mere "drafting error," when documents showed that senior administration officials intentionally included the changes.

Again: attack, then deny.

That got him a Pants in Fire rating, too. 

What prepared Walker to battle ISIS worldwide

[Updated] From his secret training manual (the original photos I hoped to share came to me via email and do not open. I offer this that did not show the nice folks walking peacefully around the Capitol Square in costumes, or driving slow-speed tractors, or carrying funny signs - - all very un-ISIS-like.
Overhead view of hundreds of people wearing red for the teachers' unions, protesting against Walker's bill.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Walker as Reagan 2.0

Up until today, I'd thought Walker's fixation on Ronald Reagan was exaggerated Presidential hero worship by an awkward youngster and campus Republican who never grew up.

But after Walker turned himself into Rambo stalking ISIS, I had a vision of junior Walker in front of the family black-and-white TV in the 70's watching reruns of "Death Valley Days" - -  hosted by Ronald Reagan. And Reagan appeared in two episodes. I think this is the character Walker wants to play.
Death Valley 02

Other Walker experiences provided key Presidential training

OK, we know that Walker's against-all-odds survival against protests by various teachers, nurses and other public employees has set him up to fight the ISIS beheaders, but what other lines from his resume would help him be a successful President?

*  Hiring internet savants to run a secret, partisan fundraising and politicking email network just down the hall from his Milwaukee County courthouse office will help him find good candidates to serve on the Federal Communications Commission. Not to mention candidates for the CIA, NSA,  FBI, Nixon Plumbers' reunions...

*  His direction to staff about keeping quiet a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who starved to death on his watch in a Milwaukee County mental health ward should help inform his decisions on appointments at the Department of Justice, Health and Social Services and the Federal courts, too. Good judgement and solid priorities are a chief executive must-have.

*  Vetoing the Wisconsin fast Amtrak train between Milwaukee and Madison, giving the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the go-ahead to sell 10,000 acres and suspending all state public land acquisition until 2028 will inform his plans to sell Amtrak and lease or sell US National Parks and Forest lands.

*  Mandating transvaginal ultrasound procedures not recommended by physicians for women seeking legal abortion services will help him pick like-minded US Supreme Court justices who also are "fine" with government-sanctioned sexually-invasive 'medicine.'

*  Oh - - just remembered that the whole protesters-ISIS conflation will also help him pick a White House physician. Think big: Go for a psychiatrist.

I'm sure I missed a few. Suggestions welcome.

Walker challenged for "Stupidest Speech" Title in DC today

Hard to pick the winner. Let's look at the tapes:

Was it GOP/Tea Party presidential wannabe Walker comparing Wisconsin citizen labor rights protesters to ISIS fighters and saying he was the man to crush them all?

Or was it US GOP/Tea Party Senator and climate change denier Jim Inhofe 'proving' the planet was not warming by bringing a snowball onto the Senate floor and tossing it to the presiding officer?

Call me a homer, but I'd give the title to Walker.

Your thoughts?

Possible explanation for Walkeropathy outbreak in DC today

He heard the government came out in favor of net neutrality and went all Ronald Reagan/John Wayne Super-Patriot.

He won Journal Sentinel endorsements in five elections since 2002... are they still trusting this and endorsing him?
"I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists does not wash up on America soil," said Walker.
"We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," Walker said, who drew repeated cheers from the audience at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference), an annual gathering that draws thousands of attendees and hundreds of journalists.
A bit of commentary. There hasn't been a Wisconsin political figure this reckless and self-absorbed since Joe McCarthy.

Let's face it: Walker still thinks he's calling into local righty talk radio love fest. He's not equipped to lead the country, manage the military, talk to world leaders, etc.

And can the newspaper tell its readers which life lesson is on display here which it said uncritically that Walker had absorbed at his father's Iowa church?

Modestly? Humility? Proportion? 

Walker got slammed by a National Review blogger for his protestors=ISIS conflation.

Will the Journal Sentinel editorial board step up with a full-throated, hard-copy editorial rip at Walker, or dole out another of the wrist-taps it's been doling out on its editorial blog?

Another Walkeropathy outbreak

Has there ever been an ego that got so bloated so quickly? A Wisconsin political figure since Joe McCarthy who speaks so wildly and recklessly, and in contradiction to the life lessons the Journal Sentinel uncritically said recently that Walker had learned in his father's mainstream Iowa church?

A National Review blogger slammed Walker's protestors=ISIS conflation.

Walker is speeding from political theater to serious psychodrama. People need to pay close attention.
  1. . at on : If I can take on 100 thousand protesters, I can do the same across the world.

Walker punting budget rainy day fund

But the only questions Walker will pose about this story are 'why is Jim Doyle doing this to us,' and where did he hide about $400 million?' 

Walker's most precious non-answer to reporters' questions

The New York Times today notes Walker's consistent ability to duck or deflect tough questions.

Too bad the story didn't report Walker's most infamous non-denial denial - - his "not to my knowledge" response to being asked if he knew anything about how his recall campaign effort got the benefit of $700,000 routed to an advocacy group from a mining company he'd helped with special and controversial legislation that rewrote long-standing Wisconsin mining and environmental law.

Court records indicated that Walker solicited donations that eventually exceeded $1 million for the advocacy group he wanted to coordinate messaging that would benefit his campaign, the Journal Sentinel reported.

National media have got to get on The Google.

Lakeshore golf project not highlighting state park land bid

Kohler Co. has launched a PR offensive to build pressure for a new high-end golf course it wants to build south of Sheboygan - - an environmental and political blog topic here for close to a year.

It's a true David vs. Goliath struggle - - local citizens against one of the wealthiest and best-connected privately-owned corporations in the state.

The proposed project's new website says the company wants to build on land it has owned for 75 years. You can see some of that land in the photo.

What about the 33 acres the company wants the DNR to lease it in an adjoining state park to the south of the privately-owned land for $1 a year for 99 years?

The website touts the plumbing fixture firm's water conservation record, but building a fertilizer-demanding 18-hole golf course, plus a clubhouse, parking lot and access road across a wetlands-rich nature and wildlife preserve - - and even into a state park - - at the edge of Lake Michigan is quite the contradiction.

Walker's European spring break tour

All you need to govern in Wisconsin is a cell phone, a Kleefisch, a generous travel allowance exempt from budget cuts and taxpayers willing to give you unlimited time off.

His predicted one-liners about selling Wisconsin beer to German brewmeisters, and Wisconsin dairy supremacy to French and Spanish cheese makers will write themselves.

No doubt the trade unions there are eagerly waiting to hear all about Walker's respect for unionization.


'Right-to-work' is Walker's new rocket surgery

Yes, the GOP-ruled Wisconsin State Senate has approved the misnamed 'right-to-work' bill, a favor to Scott Walker who needs it to show Vladimir Putin and ISIS he means business,

The Senate vote was 17-15, with former GOP Senate moderate Dale Schultz's recent purge regrettably noted, along with the "Aye" vote by Green Bay's GOP Sen. Robert Cowles, once a middle-of-the-road guy turned serial rightist capitulator.

The bill will sail through the Assembly next week, and Walker will sign it when his handlers can set up a day of vacation from his cross-country Tea Party politicking and overseas' junketing.

Political junkies will rate this latest Walker blow to unions as successfully aimed even lower than his surprise, 2011 sucker-punch to public sector collective bargaining because this one is nailing some jilted supporters, and blue collar workers, like road-building heavy-equipment operators, who'd endorsed Walker before.

Commentators and operatives endorsing the 'by whatever means necessary' creed will praise Walker's feints denying any interest in the proposal, parsing his denials, labeling it all a distraction - - though, let's face it, it has taken attention away from the budget deficit he's created, the staff and mission-clear-cut he's ordered for the Department of Natural Resources, his attack on the UW system and the overall corrupting of the political process on behalf of wealthy, out-of-state interests - - while he had his elves at the silver bullet factory cribbing the bill from elsewhere and selling it as if were a Wisconsin Idea.

If you think the bill was massaged through the process by GOP legislative leaders without Walker's direction and campaign timetable in the blueprint, you are probably the last person in Wisconsin who thinks "overzealous political associates" in or with access to Milwaukee County Executive's office, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called them, installed and ran that secret Internet communications, fund-raising and strategizing e-mail system 25-feet from his office without his knowledge.

So now a new state law that will further weaken the ability of workers to bargain wages, hours and working conditions is going to jump start a Wisconsin job market that continues to lag the national recovery which Republicans will never acknowledge is President Obama's doing.

We've heard and seen these failed Walker-era promises and righty bromides before.

He was going to create 250,000 new jobs through tax cuts and other trickled-down, discredited Reagan-esque economics. (Walker does love him some Reagan.)

Then Walker's recall win was going to reboot and launch the state economy. 

"Tremendous takeoff," Walker said.
Such as the falling rocket-propelled arrows stuck in Hatay
Yes, "like a rocket," Vos chirped.

Now the new best thing is a bill to make the Wisconsin job market already prone to low-wage job formation look more like poverty-ridden backwaters in rural Texas as our budget is resembling that mess in Kansas.

We give the last word on the methods by which Walker is dragging Wisconsin rightward and downward to the conservative economist Arthur Laffer, and his 2013 hosanna to conservative fiscal strategies he said would boost the Wisconsin economy:
"This is not rocket surgery," he said, mixing metaphors.

Quaint leaders in business, churches, academia oppose WI 'right-to-work'

{Updated from 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.] Who are they, those old-timey do-gooders bypassed in fact-free, fact-hostile Wisconsin who are trying to inject some sanity into the Wisconsin Legislature's ideological-driven, pro-Walker 'debate' that is sure to lead to newly-depressed wages in low-wage Wisconsin?

*  Christian leaders statewide. (Scott Walker, on different wave-length, can't hear you.}

*  An economist not on the faculty at UW-Lazy Bones.  (GOP legislators prefer ALEC/WMC 'data.')

*  Small business owners polling local chambers of commerce. (Sorry. If you're not the WMC, you're no one.)

*  Running backs, strong safeties and wide receivers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

'Right-to-Work' in Wisconsin Bizarro World

Though the bill is the brainchild of ALEC,  is being pushed by the WMC, and was crafted by his former legislative GOP colleagues, former right-wing Assembly Speaker John Gard has been hired to lobby against the 'right-to-work' bill by Local 139 of the International Union of Operating Engineers - - a union that has stood with Walker.

Wisconsin free speech doomed by double-speak

The state of democracy in Scott Walker's Wisconsin has come to this:

The Governor's pledged stance against supporting 'right-to-work' legislation turns out to mean 'I will sign the bill.'

The Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he is not rushing the bill, then rushes it towards consideration outside of the normal rules of legislative consideration.

The rushed bill is touted as a workplace freedom measure, but freedom of speech is denied as the rushed committee hearing is cancelled and a quick party line vote is taken with the GOP prevailing in favor before all citizen registrants, some waiting hours, were allowed their allowed three minutes.

The rushed Senate 'process' to get the bill signed by the Governor who said he had no interest in signing it - - this bill that alleges to ensure workplace freedoms - - is being overseen to its rushed conclusion by the Senate President, Mary Lazich, who threatens to further stifle free speech and clear the galleries.

This charade will be repeated in the Wisconsin Assembly.

Details, here.

Following which both houses will pass a separate bill cutting the wages of workers on state-financed projects.

Then both houses will take up Walker's budget - - more an ideological manifesto than a spending plan  - - stuffed with non-fiscal or major policy initiatives, like taking policy-making away from the public's Wisconsin Natural Resources Board - - which in earlier years would have been the subject of separate considerations and hearings.

Which the Senate over the last 24 hours has shown to be irrelevant today.

Wisconsin Democracy '15. R.I.P.

Walker '16.

After RTW passes, GOP to further cut construction wages statewide

The will do this by repealing an existing law that says publicly-funded projects, like state construction, shall pay workers the prevailing wage for those jobs, thus spreading the benefits of the public spending and making sure cheap, out-of-state labor is not brought in.

As I noted the other day, Republicans will push through the repeal of the prevailing wage law, thus making sure many of the best blue-collar jobs in Wisconsin are moved into lower-earning categories:
Walker says he'll sign [right-to-work legislation]. Oh, surprise. And now Robin Vos weighs in supporting the Senate bill. What a farce. 
Walker objects to 'right-to-work' legislation?  It's a "distraction" for him? Really?
Stop insulting us. 
Madison — Republican leaders are fast-tracking so-called right-to-work legislation with a special session, ignoring objections from Gov. Scott Walker and giving the clearest sign yet of how his influence has weakened in Wisconsin as he pursues the presidency outside the state.
The Legislature is doing his bidding. He controls the Capitol and his party. He told his biggest donor four years ago he had a plan to do it. It's step two of a two-step plan and he's being two-faced about it now.
Walker objects to 'right-to-work' the way Putin objects to 'rebel' incursions into Ukraine.
First came Act 10. Private unions, later. "Divide-And-Conquer." His words. Watch the video.
Will he sign the bill. Of course. Eagerly. It's his final, middle-finger payoff to corporate donors and payback to public-sector unions and their allies on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors or who marched around the Capitol and recalled him in 2012...
Let's get real: First there was Act 10, his dropped bomb. Then - - this year's version - - a fresh, further hit to public employee faculty and staff at the UW. 
Now right-to-work, depressing private-sector blue-collar wages...
And in the wings, repeal of the prevailing wage law, so wages paid to worker on state roads and buildings are further controlled and suppressed, too.
Also - - cue the torrent of buzzwords, Sycophantic talk shows and conservative op-eds sprouting across the media about streamlined legislation. Competition with other backward states. Flexibility for employers. Options for workers. 
Construction unions which stood with Walker through the 2012 recall election- - welcome to the Club of the Disrespected in Walker's world.