Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wisconsin GOP leaders embrace last century priorities.

Having gerrymandered themselves into legislative permanence, WI GOP leaders are now looking to roll back the calendar.

They are saying "no" to legalizing medical marijuana, [Vos] "no" to expanded federal Medicaid funding, "no" to long-term state-funded land stewardship, "no" to an increase to the Walker-enforced and unlivable hourly minimum wage of $7.25, and "no" to 82 proposed building improvements or replacement on state campuses, in correctional facilities, among other Evers' initiatives.

Checking on rumors that the backward-looking GOP may offer subsidies to phonograph record makers, and could lure stagecoach companies to the state to alleviate congestion on the roads Walker left rutted with Scottholes. 

Wisc Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.jpg
WI GOP Senate Majority Leader and leading modern times' naysayer to Scott Fitzgerald

Popcorn maker expands state staff to baker's dozen, plus 1

Racine County popcorn manufacturer and conservative-in-slogan-only Robin Vos has completed his expanded taxpayer-paid team with yet another former Walker hire:
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos added two new staffers last month, filling the last of the 14 positions he put under his authority for the session.... 
[Julie] Lund, a former TV reporter and anchor, served as Gov. Scott Walker’s deputy communications director....In her new role, Lund will work with outstate media and Assembly GOP members on their communications, a Vos spokeswoman said.

Senior Team Walker staffers have clustered atop the the US EPA Great Lakes regional office in Chicago; work by other Walker loyalists to create p.r. platforms for the defeated Wisconsin Governor has been documented by the Milwaukee Journal's Dan Bice. 

And the influence of Walker's lame-duck legislation and leftovers will continue in Wisconsin as long as mainstream media continue to feature Walker as some sort of legitimate-leader-in exile months after the voters sent him packing.
Scott Walker calls Foxconn deal 'iron clad' 
The remarks come after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said it was not likely Foxconn would bring the promised 13,000 jobs to Wisconsin.

Are WI/Foxconn stakeholders at today's DC power-broker session?

News of a scheduled White House visit by Foxconn is being dangled in front of media as a signal of something after weeks of confusion, mixed messages and official, tweeted jitterbugging:
7:29 PM - 24 Apr 2019  Calm down. Probably fake news 😂 Who has the crystal ball 🔮 to predict if 13,000 jobs will be created by the year 2032? Esp in April ‘19 🤔 🤗😀😎
In the meanwhile, tut-tut, those of you in the no-need-to-know demographic: someone will get back to you about something, sometime later. Unless the crystal ball says 'ask again later.'

So while the power brokers meet behind closed doors without a publicly-released agenda, Wisconsin taxpayers' at the state and local levels whose money is being spent in torrents - - through commitments made by a failed job-creator and defeated former Governor - - are back in wait-and-see-mode.

Perhaps the people's newly-elected representatives like Governor Evers who is not at the table, perhaps because he's from a party with the irritating word Democratic in its name that is regularly denounced by the current White House occupant. 

Who openly jokes dreams of serving more terms than allowed by law, as some of the dictators he admires have managed to arrange.

Today's White House set-up in the Foxconn saga is more than another reminder of how little input is exercised by or implemented from those most directly in the bulldozers' way or the tax-collectors' reach.

It's also an unwelcome echo of the old top-down Soviet 'development' model that treated people, villages and homes as units of production fed into the charts and fine print of five-year plans. 

The distant and impenetrable leadership holding all the cards will again decide how the Village of Mount Pleasant will be used - - how its taxes are spent, who at ground level is moved out of their houses or off farmland labeled 'blighted' to give officially-dictated expendability a temporary patina of legitimacy.

Or when a factory will be opened, and employing how many workers and how many robots, and with what damage 'protections' will be added to the air and water for generations- - all in the name of progress defined by current managers and beneficiaries of the Corporate Welfare State.

Don't take my word for it. Even though it's behind a pay wall, the headline and top on this piece Monday from very establishment Wall Street Journal tells the story:
Foxconn Tore Up a Small Town To Build a Big Factory - - Then Retreated
The iPhone maker got fat incentives to build a $10 billion LCD plant that largely hasn’t materialized on land where Mount Pleasant, Wis., razed homes and crops
Further facilitated by loyal underlings and self-perpetuating clerks, like Robin Vos and his expanded squad of functionaries - - all more interested in clutching their crumbs of authority with a death grip and winning donor approval and promised promotions than embracing the truth and the democratic transparency that is needed to make it work.

Meanwhile, we await some news. Of something. From someone.

A full Foxonnn archive is here.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Amazon, paying corporate taxes of $0, is expanding in Wisconsin

The New York Times uses Amazon's zero-dollar corporate tax payment to lede this story:
Profitable Giants Like Amazon Pay $0 in Corporate Taxes. Some Voters Are Sick of It.
For decades, profitable companies have been able to avoid corporate taxes. But the list of those paying zero roughly doubled last year as a result of provisions in President Trump’s 2017 tax bill that expanded corporate tax breaks and reduced the tax rate on corporate income.
“Amazon, Netflix and dozens of major corporations, as a result of Trump’s tax bill, pay nothing in federal taxes,” Mr. [Bernie] Sanders said this month during a Fox News town hall-style event. “I think that’s a disgrace.”
Amazon, already open in Kenosha County with the help of substantial public subsidies, will also scooping up similar subsidies as it prepares an expansion to Oak Creek.
Seattle Spheres on May 10, 2018.jpg
Run from Seattle, Amazon is subsidized by taxpayers from Kenosha to Oak Creek. And beyond in all directions.
And, of course, Foxconn with its $4 billion in state and local handouts  - - much of it in refundable tax credits - - is about midway on the map between these operations.

How many more insanely profitable, politically-connected businesses top-heavy with powerful senior managers are we supposed to subsidize?

And yet there was Donald Trump - - Reigning King of Corporate Welfare - - in Green Bay this weekend, having pushed through with help of self-interested corporate water-carriers like Ron Johnson the very 
tax 'reforms' that boosted the number of big companies like Amazon which now pay no corporate taxes.

The same Reigning King of Corporate Welfare who helped strap the Foxconn deal onto the backs of Wisconsin taxpayers who stood in front of his adoring but misled audience and dishonest propagandizing (1:17:39 mark) about Democrats and socialism:
And to those who would try to impose socialism in our country, we see nothing but trouble. We see nothing but poverty. And we will say again tonight that America will never be a socialist country ever, never, never.
We're already there, my friends - - it's just an upside down socialism for the rich. 

With Walker sidelined, Johnson promoted to #1 WI-Trump enabler

While struggling during his red-meat Green Bay buffet Saturday night with Glenn Grothman's identity, Trump went out of his way to praise GOP Sen. Ron Johnson who had been graced with a special presidential perk: a ride back home from DC - - photo, here - - on Air Force One.

Grace notes - - along with statesmanship, sanity and civility - - were in short supply the rest of the night.

Given all the favors and props thrown his way - - speech transcript, video clips, here - - a truly 'tough,' principled and informed Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
 - - apparently now Trump's official Senate immigration tough-guy - - would have immediately disassociated himself from Trump when he demeaned Johnson colleagues and embraced the demagogue's persona by telling attendees repeatedly they were victims 'betrayed' by unnamed greedy people and corrupt forces:
By the way, Saturday night, is there any place that's more fun than a Trump rally? Can you imagine Sleepy Joe, Crazy Bernie, you look at the candidates, right? I think Pocahontas, she's finished, she's out, she's gone.
So we're delighted to be joined tonight by many incredible Wisconsin Republican leaders. A really great friend of mine, a man who is really the focus of what's going on in so much of Washington.
A very tough guy, very strong guy. I call him Wisconsin tough and I don't even know if you know it and I don't know if you appreciate it, but I'm telling you he's really good. Ron Johnson. Thank you, Ron, a great job. He's doing a big job now, I can tell you that he's working on some things that are very important....
Nothing is more dangerous than the Democrats, crazy immigration agenda...
Ron, you got to get that deal done. You'll get it done. Got to get it done...Ron Johnson's going to do it, Ron, congratulations. Stand up, Ron. Will you get that done for me, please. No get it done for Wisconsin, OK. He'll do it. He'll do it...
...as citizens, as patriots and as Americans, you joined our movement, the greatest movement in the history of our country because you rejected the failures and the betrayals of the past, you were betrayed. 
You were betrayed by dishonest people. You were betrayed by stupid people. You served down a corrupt system that enriched itself at your expense. You protected your family, you defended your dignity, you recaptured your destiny, and you took back your country with that great election two and a half years ago.
Of course, Johnson the next morning on NBC was 'right-back-atcha, POTUS,' praising Trump's rally speech and using all of Trump's hollow and false, post-Muller report self-exoneration:
I understand the president's frustration. And I also understand the president's supporters' frustration of the media just continuing, continuing this witch hunt. It's ridiculous.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

At his rally, whose climbing skills did Trump decide to laud?

So it's 24 hours since Trump's show ended in Green Bay, and I still see no explanation from reporters, insiders or word salad chefs for these words Trump uttered, as noted in grafs 52-53 of this detailed web account:
And members of Congress, Bryan Steil. Bryan. Thank you, Bryan. Glenn Grothman. This guy, every time I introduce him, you know I love champions. I don't care if it's in sports. I just like champions. So he's your tree-climbing champion, you know, [Inaudible] for five years, and that's not easy. He'd go up and come down.
He said the hard part was coming down because you'd get killed if you missed. But for five years he was the champion, the world champion, five years. And he's with us tonight and I'll tell you, he's our champion, he fights so hard. He's working on a reciprocal trade bill. So if somebody charges us a tariff of 100% or 50% or 25%, we say thank you very much. 
Now I can't tell if Trump was pointing to someone else in attendance, or if he knows something the rest of us never knew about Grothman:

Glenn Grothman official congressional photo.jpg

But anything is possible, given Grothman's expertise in everything from well-caulking to snake counting to single-parenting to Kwaanza-bashing, so tree-climbing - - no, not tree-hugging - - might be possible.

Google offered nothing helpful, though this was noteworthy:

Someone was really feeling a little too much holiday spirit -- Friday night a man climbed the National Christmas Tree near the White House.
After a stalemate with U.S. Park Police, the man finally came down and was taken to a hospital for mental evaluation. No injuries were reported, and Park Police described the climber as being in "emotional distress."
Update: Now I'm thinking Trump either pointed out known woodsman Sean Duffy, or got him confused with Grothman. Perhaps I'll take this up tomorrow.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Foxconn smashes Walker's crystal ball

Foxconn says "calm down." 

We'll see if the company can back it up the way Aaron Rodgers did with his famous message of "R-E-L-A-X" to fans.

Foxconn continued to undermine its Wisconsin project with this jaw-dropping and-crystal-ball-breaking tweet:

[Foxconn's US strategic director] Alan Yeung's tweet from Wednesday was in response to an article reporting on Gov. Tony Evers saying he didn't think Foxconn would employ 13,000 people.
Foxconn could earn nearly $3 billion in taxpayer-funded credits if it has 13,000 workers and invests $9 billion by 2032 in Wisconsin. Yeung tweeted "calm down" in response to the Evers story. 
Yeung says, "Who has the crystal ball to predict if 13,000 jobs will be created by the year 2032?" He says that was especially difficult to do in April 2019.
Actually, Yeung's full Tweet included Trump's favorite catch phrase "fake news." Yeung must know that Trump is coming to Wisconsin today. And don't you love the emojis? Does it boost your confidence in the whole deal?
7:29 PM - 24 Apr 2019  Calm down. Probably fake news 😂 Who has the crystal ball 🔮 to predict if 13,000 jobs will be created by the year 2032? Esp in April ‘19 🤔 🤗😀😎

Questions abound:

What kind of company strategy is this...from its strategic director of US operations?

And about who has the crystal ball?

How about this guy who repeated things like this about eleventy-hundred times over the last two years:

"Just think about it," Walker said shortly before sitting down with [Foxconn CEO and founder Terry] Gou to sign the contract.
"We’re talking about things we talked about for years (but) we only dreamed of: 13,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs. That’s just the start. "We're going to take the world over when it comes to high-tech technology like we're going to build ... right here in the state of Wisconsin," he said.
Or on Twitter.
Foxconn is bringing 13,000 high-tech jobs to Wisconsin -- the biggest jobs announcement in our state’s history!
4:50 PM - 26 Jul 2017 
Oh, wait: On August 2nd, it's tweeted as "at least 13,000 jobs:
Wisconsin landed Foxconn – and with it comes at least 13,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs throughout the state! Check out the direct impact it’s having on northeastern Wisconsin and circle back here tomorrow for even more!
And while Walker says the contract he signed before the voters booted him out of office is "iron clad," here's a recent video where he easily shrugs off Foxconn only creating half the jobs he and the company repeatedly promised. 

A complete Foxconn archive is here.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

About We Energies leaving a pro-coal lobbying group

For the utilities, Emission Accompished.

No need to spend money on a lobbying effort against Obama-era proposals to reduce coal-fired production of energy
Smoke stacks from a factory.
when effort's organizer is now chief air 'regulator' at the US EPA.
In 2017, documents show that We Energies paid $262,594 to the Utility Air Regulatory Group, an umbrella organization represented by Washington, D.C., attorney Bill Wehrum. Wehrum has been the top air regulator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since November. 

The WI GOP wants you to subsidize water grabs, polluted leftovers

The latest news from the Land of the Lame Ducks is that the Wisconsin GOP - - a/k/a the Greedy Old Polluters - - wants to grab many more thousands of taxpayer dollars to keep what's left of environmental law tllted towards their donors and other special interests.

This time the pollution party wants another thumb - - or is it a million-gallon manure tank? - - on the scales when the State Supreme Court this fall takes up cases which the GOP assumes will be decided favorably by the right-wing majority it has ensconced.

Specifically, rulings which would give more groundwater to the biggest corporate users while letting the industrial-scale animal feeding operations add more and more dairy cows which will add more and more manure to the groundwater
not already siphoned off to hydrate the animals.
Manure runoff in Kewaunee County
Noted here, earlier.
Walker legacy runoff from oversized feedlots and dirty legislation has flowed onto the dockets of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Major cases involving gubernatorial powers and environmental impacts of large-scale animal feeding operations are being taken up by the high court.
Before I get any further, the GOP's push for these rulings means you can flush any expectation that the GOP's water task force is anything more than window-dressing.  

And forget any genuine water advocacy on these and other matters should they reach the US EPA's regional office managers in Chicago, where Walkerites have assembled a lame-duck team which could do their work for Walker and his backers as effectively as are his big-spending, power-grabbing, sore-losing WI GOP legislative water-carriers back home.

Now let me add that I mean "old" as in 'old reliable,' since this current iteration of GOP corporate bellhops has been goosing along fouled water, dirtier air and wrecked ag and filled wetlands since Scott Walker installed a team atop the Department Natural Resources with his 'chamber-of-commerce mentality' who would transfer those resources to the chamber of commerce types looking for easy permits, lax inspections and effective control of the agency.

I don't mean "old" in a chronological sense. I am old people. So I know a lot of old people who are not polluters, and who would prefer their grand kids grow up as did Grandma and Poppy, before trout streams were made to run dry

River Alliance of Wisconsin photos of the Little Plover River

and were turned through policy and laziness and thoughtless self-interest into phosphorous-fed, stinking-green waterways.

We even have 'dead zones' in major state waters.

You might think that the pollution party's ask for public money to underwrite and embed private-sector privileged access to water in a state where the Constitution says the water belongs to everyone suggests that corporate interests in Wisconsin have somehow been shut out of the process.

Actually, the opposite is true: the GOP just wants to add more injury to the insult.

Remember when major corporate water users got together and hand-delivered to Wisconsin legislators their list of demands for control of state groundwater?

Which GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos dutifully turned into a 'we-all-know-how-this-will-turn-out' request for an opinion from GOP Attorney General and Team Player Brad Schimel.

Who dutifully opined the Right's right way for grateful special interests.
AG's Ruling on Wells Praised by Special Interests that Spent $2.2M to Elect Him
There was about as much surprise in Schimel's ruling as there would have been had Colonel Sanders put together your wedding dinner menu. 

And because friends are well-heeled - - and are forever,  Schimel helped fast-track the big dairy case to the high court's calendar before state voters booted him out.

At least much of all that was happening out in the open; back channels in Wisconsin have routinely given major special interests special access to decision-makers.
Dairy group uses behind-the-scenes influence with Gov. Scott Walker to shift regulation of large livestock farms
Special interests also got the State Supreme Court to codify as judicial procedure in Wisconsin their proposed code of ethics that allowed justices to rule on cases in which parties appearing before them had given donations to the justices' campaign committees.

One of those corporate organizations, the powerful Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, has congratulated itself for successfully targeting large donations in Supreme Court races which have helped solidify the right's control of the high court.

The recent elevation of ultra-conservative Brian Hagedorn to the Supreme Court bench now tips the political balance there to an even-more 'old reliable' 5-2 rightwing majority. 

Pollution party leaders could not contain their glee over Hagedorn's imminent presence on the high court bench this summer when this latest round of key cases is argued.

GOP Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald sounded like he'd just found out NSYNC might be touring again and could show up at County fair:

"Thank God for Brian Hagedorn," Fitzgerald said. "I can’t wait for him to be seated."
Might we be seeing the right's next divinely-inspired next bumper sticker?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Better headline: minimum wages in US 50% above Walker's WI mandate

Take a look at this story in The New York Times - - 
Because of a string of moves by states and cities in recent years, the effective average is almost at $12 an hour. 
And remember that not only did Walker rigidly keep the Wisconsin, bottom-rung minimum hourly wage where it remains at $7.25 while other jurisdictions boosted it, he stripped the concept of "a living wage" from the state budget (law)and ridiculed the entire concept of a minimum wage while he was earning roughly ten times more at $144,000+ a year. 

And cut food aid to school kids and removed an arbitrary $20 monthly from low-income families to teach them a lesson about self-reliance, explained here.

As part of a broader strategy to take food from those he was impoverishing, as Bruce Murphy explained.

And raised two taxes hitting low-income people to the tune of more than $49 million to fund tax cuts for higher-earning residents, and businesses.

And added more restrictions to food aid which the Chicago Tribune called "painful," and which The Washington Post said was the model Trump preferred though Walker implemented it without a formal study: 
Wisconsin is expanding the work requirements for many people getting food aid, even though ground-level evidence suggests the requirements may be hurting more than helping. Gov. Scott Walker (R), the architect of the FoodShare changes and some of the nation’s most conservative revisions to other safety-net programs, resisted efforts to undertake a formal evaluation of the impact on people at risk of hunger.
But don't worry: Walker's Twitter feed shows he's feeding himself well, and, for at least $15,000, you can hire him to tell you all about it.

Late night dinner!

Bice reveals new Walker gambit. Walker reveals latest pizza bite.

Props to Dan Bice for digging out the names of the ex-Walker aides and donors who, after a no-doubt exhaustive, nationwide search, set Walker up as the National Honorary Chairman of his latest vehicle for self-promotion, Institute for Reforming Government.

Too bad previous passe persona pamperers already had appropriated stronger nouns for The Tommy G. Thompson Center for Public Leadership.

The Dear Leader-like tripartite title Walker accepted from a group inseparable from scores of other 'think tanks' might route attention his way beyond the pathetic Twitter photos he just can't stop posting - - one from Tuesday is below - - but Bice has uncovered a story which suggests Walker is that sad child who would send himself Valentine Day cards to create a few moments of playground importance or dinner table glory.

Speaking of which...

Dinner at Pizzeria Piccola in the Village of Wauwatosa. Mmmm!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Better headline: About Foxconn deal - - Walker, Vos & Co., pls. STFU

[Updated, 7:25 p.m.] This is the second time Republicans have pulled this crap on Evers over Foxconn, as PolitiFact noted on January 31: 
Pants on Fire: Robin Vos, Scott Fitzgerald blame Tony Evers for Foxconn changes
[Updated, 7:00 p.m. Scott Fitzgerald also claims his spot in this new Wisconsin version of The Three Stooges with Vos and Walker. 
Last week, Fitzgerald accused Evers of seeking "a one-sided attempt to reopen the contract." He did not say why he viewed the move as one-sided in light of Evers' claim that Foxconn is the one seeking changes.
 Lame ducks, or dead ducks?
Robin Vos speaks at Racine Tea Party event (8378614585).jpg
While Walker recently ranted in five parts on Twitter about bad old Evers being mean to Foxconn - - 

 Apr 18MoreThe contract is clear: Foxconn earns up to $2.85 billion in tax credits from the state based on actual investment and job creation. No jobs and investments. No tax credits. It’s pretty simple.   
 - - and Vos chimed in, with some partisan, 100%-fact-free idiocy on Twitter:
and had set his hair on fire in front of reporters over Evers ruining everythingthis:
Tony Evers says Foxconn, not his administration, first sought to revisit deal with state
Because as experts said two months ago
Foxconn has even more reason to renegotiate the contract than the state.
Both the state and Foxconn have strong reasons to want to renegotiate the contract, but Foxconn has the greater incentive to strike a new deal. First, it now appears very unlikely that Foxconn can hit the minimum job targets that it needs to reach to be eligible for the payroll tax credits. Second, the changes in the type of LCD factory seem to make Foxconn ineligible for most of the investment tax credits it was expecting over the next several years. If anyone is initiating an effort to strike a new deal, it should be Foxconn.
If Foxconn truly intends to go ahead with revised plans for the Mt. Pleasant facility, it will probably seek a new contract that helps it qualify for a larger portion of the nearly $3 billion of cash payments authorized by Governor Scott Walker and the legislature. Whether the state should agree to any changes of that nature is an open question because a better option might be to cut the state’s losses. On the other hand, renegotiating the contract could be an opportunity to close loopholes and change other contract terms to make it a less costly and less risky deal for state taxpayers.
But before we can have those deliberations, state policymakers need to acknowledge that some of the presumed economic benefits of the Foxconn project are now in doubt and that the current contract poses potential problems for both Foxconn and the state.  
Full, 23-month Foxconn archive, here.