Uppity Wisconsin

Updated: 4 weeks 3 days ago

GOP Sen. Shultz Calls for Return of Public Intervener, Calls Falk "Smart, Thoughtful"

Tue, 2012-03-06 08:04

Hilarious-- the rightwing MacGruber Institute is attacking Schultz for advocating bringing back the Public Intervener to handle environmental issues on behalf of the public and calling Falk "smart, thoughtful."  Here's the clip MacGruber posted: (H/T CogDis)

Walker Blames Job Losses on Recall, Says 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' for Next Jobs Report

Mon, 2012-03-05 20:12

This morning, Scott Walker sat down with WLUK's Good Day Wisconsin and was asked why Wisconsin has lost jobs for six months in a row.  Walker responded with his usual irrelevent line that 'Wisconsin had lost 150K jobs in the last three years, but because he added jobs in the first six months, we're a lot better of than under Doyle. 

Of course, what Walker is conveniently leaving out is that when Doyle's left office, Wisconsin was on an upward trajectory out of one the worst recesssions in our nation's history and Doyle added  about 20,000 jobs in his last year in office.  

Walker then went on a long riff blaming the recall effort for killing Wisconsin's economy, before the host asked about him what he was expecting in the job's report coming out this Thursday. Walker grimaced and said, "I think we're still going to see some challenges out there."

He then tried to pivot and mentioned Illinois 13 times and its supposedly horrible economy-- even though Illinois experienced more job growth last year the Wisconsin. 

Gov doesn't look happy... watch for yourself:

Quote, unquote

Mon, 2012-03-05 12:50
"Pity poor zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan. There he was, being a serious man of ideas and being all policy intellectualish, and dying to lay out a precise plan for two decades of granny-starving, and suddenly, all anybody wanted to talk about [on CBS This Morning] was lady parts and what should be done about them..."  --  Charles Pierce of The Politics Blog.

More at The Paul Ryan Watch

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) Should Support Metropolitan Milwaukee

Mon, 2012-03-05 00:07

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce is backing the wrong horse in the MATC board Senate Bill

It is time for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) to be serious about supporting Metropolitan Milwaukee. The MMAC support of Senate Bill 275 is a case in point. The Republican Party is not a friend of Milwaukee, and the MMAC, if it is serious about working more closely with MATC, should have taken their case to all of the Senators who represent the MATC District, after discussing options with the MATC Board itself.

The Republican's agenda is to further reduce the power of the citizens of the MATC district, especially those pesky minorities and unions. The MMAC's agenda, I would hope, is to work more closely with the MATC board so that the 100 years of successful preparation of a regional workforce continues to be responsive to changing conditions. (Unless MMAC's agenda is also intended to disenfranchise citizens).

Here is why MMAC is supporting the wrong Senators. There are sixteen technical college districts in Wisconsin. Only the Milwaukee Area Technical College Board makeup and selection process are addressed by Senate Bill 275. Here are the Senators who introduced the bill (with their home towns and Technical college districts in their home towns.)

Senator Grothman ( R-West Bent, Moraine Park Technical College)

Senator Cowles (R-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College)

Senator Darling (R-River Hills, Milwaukee Area Technical College)

Senator Galloway (R-Wausau, Northcentral Wisconsin Technical College)

Senator Lasee (R-De Pere, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College)

Senator Lazich(R-New Berlin, Waukesha County Technical College)

Although pieces of Senators Grothman's and Lazich's Senate Districts reach into the Milwaukee Area Technical College District, only Senator Darling actually lives in the district. Contrast the above list with the list of State Senators who actually live within the Milwaukee Area Technical College District

Senator Coggs (D-Milwaukee)

Senator Carpenter (D-Milwaukee)

Senator Darling (R-River Hills)

Senator Larson (D-Milwaukee)

Senator Taylor (D-Milwaukee)

Senator Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa)

This is the group of senators who should be representing MATC in Madison and this is the group that MMAC should be dealing with if they are serious about their commitment to MATC. The Republicans have blind sided MMAC by politicizing this process.

This is just another tragedy as a result of the Walker/Fitzgerald/ALEC administration that continues to damage our State. It is time for those who have traditionally supported Republicans, such as the MMAC, to step back and see what they have created.







Journal-Sentinel to Walker on Jobs: "You're Going the WRONG WAY!"

Sun, 2012-03-04 10:08

In a scathing article that simply reported facts, the Journal Sentinel reports that what we in the nerdary have known for a long time:  Walker's job plan is not only not working, its literally the worst in the nation:

Wisconsin has lost more private-sector jobs (an estimated 27,700) than any state in the country since the middle of last year (July through December), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only one other state, Missouri, is close, losing about 19,000 jobs in that stretch.

My favorite line in the article is this one:

But Wisconsin has been moving in the opposite direction, a trend that not only threatens Gov. Scott Walker's campaign promise but could cloud any message of economic renewal as the state heads into an all-but-certain recall election this summer.

"Could"?  Yah think?  The Journal-Sentinel, which is clearly weary of carrying water for Walker, is despartely trying to tell Walker he's going the wrong way, which reminds me of the classice scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles where two drivers on the other side of the interstate are shouting at Steve Martin and John Candy that they are GOING THE WRONG WAY!!!

Mary Lazich (R-ALEC) Fails to Represent Senate District 28 Again

Sat, 2012-03-03 15:12

Mary Lazich (R-ALEC) Fails Senate District 28 Again.

The recent attack on the board of Milwaukee Area Technical College (SB 275) was co-sponsored by none other than Mary Lazich who ran unopposed to represent ALEC in  Wisconsin State Senate District 28.

There are sixteen technical college districts in Wisconsin and at least three are partially in Senate District 28. The Milwaukee Area Technical College includes the Whitnall, Greendale, Greenfield, and Franklin School Districts which are all in senate district 28. Currently the board chair of each of these districts is on the MATC Board Appointment Committee. This board appointment process was agreed upon by each of the school districts as they formed the MATC District back in the mid 1960's. It was specifically to give the elected members of each of the school boards an input into the governing of the MATC District.

Let me make it clear that when the MATC District was formed each of the school districts had to give up authority which they previously had and transfer it to the new district. In exchange for this transfer of authority they were given input into the appointment of members of the new board. There are currently four members of the MATC Board Appointment Committee who represent the school districts in Senate District 28 which are also within the MATC District.

Senate Bill (SB 275) will do away with that appointment committee and replace it with the County Executives of Ozaukee County, Washington County, Milwaukee County and the Chairman of the Milwaukee County Board.


There are significant numbers of students from Senate District 28 who attend MATC, yet residents of Senate District 28 will have no input (under Lazich's Senate Bill 275) into the makeup of the Board.  While on the other hand, there are few students from Washington County who attend MATC, but Senator Grothman's Senate District will have 50% of the input into the MATC Board under SB 275.

Senate Bill (SB 275) will replace five members of the board (two employers, two employees and one citizen at large) with five members from private for profit businesses or hospitals with at least two being from companies that employee over 100 and none from companies that employee less than 15.

This eliminates small business people, public employers, public servants, and citizens. This lack of multiple stakeholder input flies in the face of 100 years of participatory traditions in Wisconsin.



OLD NEWS: Paul Ryan's tired comments on health care reform make for yet another banner headline in Milwaukee

Sat, 2012-03-03 09:18

When Rep. Paul Ryan says the same thing over and over, it's always brand new and hot news, at least in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which today features on the top of its front page Ryan's by now familiar litanies about health care reform.

The Janesville Republican spoke Friday at a Milwaukee Press Club forum and said, in essence, that health care reform is vital to the country's overall economic health. Gee, guys, that's why Democrats and President Obama worked so very hard for a year bending over backwards to get enough votes to enact ... health care reform! Old news!

Of course, Ryan and his GOP colleagues insist that "Obamacare" is unworkable and wrong-headed and should be repealed. Not that they offer any specific alternatives except to claim over and over that solution lies in the private, for-profit health care markets that already have given this nation far and away the most expensive health care on the planet. Laissez faire, in other words.

It takes the Journal Sentinel story 22 paragraphs to get around to mentioning that of the other panelists at the press club forum, one criticized Ryan's proposed changes in Medicare -- changes that would, in the opinion of many critics, not only destroy the program but lead to even larger federal deficits. Now, the newspaper's editors might say that's old news. But Ryan's old news makes the lead paragraph and headline on the top of the fold on page one, while old news from his critics is buried on the jump page. But in lamestream medialand thinking, that's is as it should be, because Ryan's a political superstar, dontcha know.

Ryan did make a little bit of news: He allowed that there might be a compromise in which slowing the rise in health care costs and health insurance costs might involve both government regulation and reliance on the marketplace.

Clue train for the House Budget Committee chair and the Journal Sentinel: That's what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act already does. Indeed, the compromise law, for all its pluses and minuses, depends heavily on the private market side of the equation. But we're to ignore that and pretend otherwise, apparently.

To his credit, the Journal Sentinel reporter did label as seemingly quixotic Ryan's statement that "bipartisan" agreement on reforms are possible. This from the party that almost unanimously refused to engage in such a deal two years ago -- Ryan included. What's changed? This is an election year! Republicans -- well, at least some of them including Ryan -- feel they have to look moderate even when they're trying to ban obvious and long-standing health care featues like female contraception. 

The press club's forum theme was about "how to get health care right," but all Ryan is selling is how to make any further attempt at health care reforms less progressive and more right-wing. And that's old news.

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Breaking: Video of Walker One Week Before Election Promising to Negotiate With Unions

Fri, 2012-03-02 15:59

Footage of an Oshkosh Northwestern's editorial board meeting with Scott Walker, which took place one week before the 2010 election, has just been released.  

In the hour long video, which I have edited down below, Walker has a back-and-fourth with an editorial board member that went like this:

Editorial Board Member: Before, we were talking about state employees contributing to their plan, paying their share of the pension plarn. Collective bargaining come into that?

Walker: Yep (nodding yes)

Editorial Board Member: How do you get that negotiated and accepted by the state employee unions?

Walker: You still have to negotiate it. I did that at the county as well.

Walker then goes on to say that he has used furloughs as a bargaining tool at the county level and that "we'd approach a similar strategy for the state," but said that he was open to compromise, saying  "we're not locked into saying it has to be exactly the same" and that if unions could provide alternative routes to saving money he would be willing to explore those ideas.

Previously, it had been documented that, despite Scott Walker's claims to the contrary, that he had not campaigned on ending collective bargaining.  This, however, goes one step further and documents that Walker had not only not said he wasn't going to end collective bargaining -- he explicitly promised to negotiate-- via collective bargaining-- with public sector unions before the election!

This is the King Kong of all bait and switches.

As Jerry Seinfeld would say: "NEUMANN....!"

Thu, 2012-03-01 14:27

Running for US Senate, Republican businessman Mark Neumann is proving to be Wisconsin's very own Mini-Me version of Newt Gingrich on budget policy. As in, taking credit for stuff he essentially has opposed.

Like Gingrich, the former House speaker who is now running for president, Neumann is currently campaigning on the meme that when he was in the Congress in the 1990s, he "helped balance the federal budget." His campaign says, "Mark wrote [in 1995] a plan to balance the federal budget. Later, his plan would become part of the framework for the 1998 budget that was balanced for the first time in decades."

Uh, yeah, that would be the 1998 balanced budget made possible by the '93 Omnibus act, passed entirely by Democrats, a measure that Gingrich and all other Republicans then in Congress voted against -- not including Neumann, because he wasn't in office yet. He'd come along later to propose solutions fundamentally similar to past and later GOP failures.

Neumann campaign sleight-of-hand aside, what actually happened was this: Bill Clinton took over the presidency when the federal budget was seriously out of whack after 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush at the helm. In August 1993, Clinton signed into law the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. That measure raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers, cut taxes on 15 million low-income families and made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses.

All of this was very similar to more recent initiatives by President Obama, also opposed unilaterally by Republicans. The Clinton-era Omnibus act mandated that the budget be balanced over a number of years and the deficit reduced, also in part through the implementation of spending restraints.

Now, as we all know, Republicans love spending restraints, except when those restraints involve the military, and they'll take credit for any of them, even if, alone, non-military cuts could not balance the budget then or now, and even if they voted against a balanced package of targeted tax hikes on the rich and spending cuts that actually did do the job.

Neumann, as we noted, wasn't in Congress when Clinton narrowly succeeded in achieving his balanced budget plan. Neumann two years later supported something else he thought would balance the budget. Meanwhile, Republicans in general shrilly warned that the Democratic/Clinton balanced budget plan would prove disastrous.

You can look at the attached graph and see for yourself how things actually transpired. Neumann and the other Republicans were wrong. Nevertheless, here come Neumann and Gingrich and other Republicans, still claiming they were instrumental in balancing the budget. Never mind that many of their ideas -- later implemented in the George. W. Bush era and also since promoted anew by the likes of Rep. Paul Ryan, proved fiscally disastrous, raising federal deficits to record highs.

Neumann's latest balancing act is old news. It includes repealing President Obama’s health-care law (which actually will cost tens of billions) and making the Bush tax cuts or equivalent tax cuts permanent.

True, Neumann would support enacting spending cuts totaling $1.36 trillion cumulative over five years, and making $368 billion in so-called tax cut offsets from existing subsidies or tax loopholes, but even Obama supports that level of action on those items and, in any event, the devil is in the details. 

All of which once again goes to show that in the modern conserve-o-verse, just because a progressive policy is proved right after enactment doesn't mean that it actually is right. At least not ideologically or politically.

FURTHER READING: Democurmudgeon has another take on Neumann's budget claims, including one pretty cool chart I've not seen before. Check it out here: http://democurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2012/03/obamas-spending-compared-to-fiscal.html

2011 WISCONSIN RECALL: On mining and other issues, it's the gift that keeps on giving

Thu, 2012-03-01 10:35

Dale SchultzThe word in the state Capitol is that the awful, anti-environmental, Republican mining deregulation bill is probably dead for the current legislative session. Assembly Republicans had passed the measure, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald dissolved a committee in his house looking at the bill in an apparent attempt to ram it through more quickly.

But then came one of those benefits of last year's state Senate recall elections that Republicans still pretend were a failure.

Thanks to the recalls, in which Democrats captured two of three GOP seats in play, Republicans now control the Senate by only one member, 17-16. However, one Republican, State Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center, is more moderate than many of his party colleagues and has served as a swing vote on a number of issues.

With Democrats locking arms behind him, that means Schultz can be very powerful. While he has voted with his party leadership any number of times, Schutlz has also taken thoughtful, more independent approaches to some major public policy issues, including legislative reapportionment and now the mining bill.

Schultz made it known in his caucus that he had problems with the bill. Critics including environmental groups and native tribes in northwestern Wisconsin say the measure would greatly accelerate and automate the state's review of mining applications, while removing public contested hearings, handcuffing the Department of Natural Resources, and otherwise greasing the skids for mining interests.

Which provisions were punctuated by the GOP leadership's pointed effort to avoid public hearings in the region of the proposed Gogebic Taconite LLC mine -- a miles-long, thousand-foot-deep monstrosity that would be the first project to benefit from the "streamlined" mining approval process.

Schultz and Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) introduced a compromise mining bill which was not as strong in regulatory protections as current law but much stronger than the measure backed by Republican leadership and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce lobbying group -- a measure apparently drafted in close concert with mining interests.

Schultz met with Senate committee leaders this week and said the result was a stalemate. While he held out hope a compromise could be reached, most observers think the mid-March end to the current session is too near to accomplish any heavy lifting. And so the GOP's main "job creation" (and environment killing) measure of the past two years could expire.

The new makeup of the state Senate is the main reason why Gov. Scott Walker is suddenly making kumbaya noises about finding accord on the mining bill and other issues. Insincere? Undoubtedly. But he clearly thinks he needs to look like a moderate, now, because Democrats and one moderate Republican in the state legislature are forcing the issue.

Schultz's efforts also put the lie to Majority Leader Fitzgerald's claim that Democrats are out to kill jobs and will "do anything" to stop the bill. The significant involvement in the effort to slow this bill by a key, veteran member of his own party means Fitzgerald and Republican campaign strategists are now caught in a lie. If it was only Democrats, why couldn't the supposedly all-powerful GOP enact legislation?

Of course, GOP leadership has long since been busy trying to undermine Schultz because of his independent streak, and there's every chance they'll try to come up with a more conservative, compliant Republican challenger to run against him next election.

Recalls, in other words, have slowed the Wisconsin GOP blitzkrieg of bad, far-right policy initiatives and highlighted just how reckless and unyielding GOP leadership has been -- to the point of disaffecting one of their very own.

The next round of recalls -- all but certain to happen -- are sure to put not only the governor and lieutenant governor offices into play, but also a number of Republican-held state senate seats. Schultz has not been a target fo recall, and that's a good thing. While his views don't always coincide with those of progressives, Schultz is willing to think for himself, for his constituents and for the sake of the state as a whole. And, he has been willing to work with Democrats to find badly needed common ground. There are preciously few models for that in Republican politics these days.

For all those reasons, we should be grateful for and take pains to thank Sen. Schultz. We should continue as well to thank the many, many Wisconsin residents who worked very hard last year to bring the Democrats to near parity in the Senate, slowing the Wisconsin Republican high-speed train wreck.

The job is not over, but already the benefits are manifest.

For some further thoughts on the fate of the mining bill, there's a great post over at The Political Environment which covers all of the GOP's shenanigans in trying to pursue this terrible bill. Visit: http://thepoliticalenvironment.blogspot.com/2012/02/beware-those-mining-...

Related Links

RoJo Spanked By Panetta for Saying Obama 'Choosing Soc. Security over National Security'

Wed, 2012-02-29 17:39

In a heated exchange during yesterday's budget committee hearing, an exasperated Defense Sec. Leon Panetta said Ron Johnson's comments were "untrue" and that he was being "unfair" when Johnson said that the proposed cuts in Defense spending, "changes focus from, really, defending the nation to, really, protecting entitlements."

Of course, what Johnson leaves out of his charge is that defense cuts were agreed to by a majority of Republicans in the house and Senate approved the debt-reduction deal last year.

Johnson also leaves out that lowering the debt was a central part of his campaign when he ran against Russ Feingold.

In a heated exchange during yesterday's budget committee hearing, an exasperated Defense Sec. Leon Panetta said Ron Johnson's comments were "untrue" and that he was being "unfair" when Johnson said that the proposed cuts in Defense spending, "changes focus from, really, defending the nation to, really, protecting entitlements."

Of course, what Johnson leaves out of his charge is that defense cuts were agreed to by a majority of Republicans in the house and Senate approved the debt-reduction deal last year.

Johnson also leaves out that lowering the debt was a central part of his campaign when he ran against Russ Feingold.

And Johnson also leaves out that national security is the last subject he should be lecturing Obama on, considering that Johnson practically walked right by Osama Bin Ladin's mansion in his "fact finding mission" to Pakistan and was duped by Bin Ladin-protecting Pakistan officials, which Johnson defended at the time as "trying to do the right thing." 

WALKER'S RECALL TAKE: Oh, the humanity!

Tue, 2012-02-28 19:42

Gov. Scott Walker says the estimated cost to the state of running a special election to recall him -- which isn't quite as much money as Walker had at last report raised in campaign funds to fight the effort -- is way too much. "I mean," he told MSNBC, "it’s $9 million of taxpayers’ money just to run this. Think about the number of kids we could help, think of the number of seniors we could help in our state with $9 million that we didn’t have to waste on this — this frivolous recall election."

So there you have it: Give up the recall election, or seniors and kids will suffer across Wisconsin. Straight from the mouth of the man who's been busy making seniors and kids and others suffer across Wisconsin. Straight from the man who gave his corporate sponsors about 15 times more than the recall election might cost, in recurring business tax breaks that the rest of us are paying for.

No, nine million dollars to get rid of this guy would be a bargain.


New Poll: Walker Loses to Dems in Recall Election / Barrett Beats Falk in Primary

Tue, 2012-02-28 14:04

A new poll was just released by Public Policy Polling (PPP), which is a pretty good pollster. They are considered a Democratic pollster, but they usually err slightly in favor of Republicans in their results.

Here are the most important findings: 

  • Scott Walker is below 50% in face-offs with all Democratic challengers.  In fact, the most Walker could must was 48% against Peter Barca.  This is a very bad sign for any incumbent, but especially Walker, who has saturated the air waves for the last three months without any advertising from the Dems.
  • Kathleen Falk, Ron Kind, Russ Feingold and Tom Barrett lead Walker in head-to-head match-ups. 
  • In a primary, Barrett beats Falk 45% to 18%, with Doug LaFollette picking up 14% and Vinehout 6%
  • 52% of Wisconsinites disapprove of Scott Walker's job performance.  Among women, this number is 54%, while with men his disapproval is 49%.  Among independents, this number is 55%.  Among voters over age 65, however, Walker's disapproval is only 45% and his approval is 54%
  • Among moderates, Barrett beats Walker 64 to 29%, Falk beats Walker 60 to 30%. 
  • Falk is viewed favorably by 31% and unfavorably by 43% while Barrett is viewed favorably 41% and unfavorably by 33%.   Interestingly, among women, Falk is viewed unfavorably by 38% / favorably by 32%, while Barrett is viewed unfavorably by 27% / favorbly by 41%.
  • The poll finds that there is not a majority in favor of the recall: 49% favor and 49% oppose a recall. This is a very important statistic.  There is 5-10 percent of voters that oppose Walker, but disagree strongly with a recall election because they think its an unfair tactic, that recalls should be like impeachment and only used for misconduct in office.   For these voters Democrats must drive home that it is a remedy for Walker's unfair actions:  He did not campaign on ending collective bargaining for public sector unions and then "dropped the bomb" a month after he got sworn in.  This is also why Dems are running the "Walkergate" ad to give those voters a "misconduct in office" angle to boot Walker.


Scott Loves Lamp

Tue, 2012-02-28 10:22

Wisconsin's version of "Mitt Loves Lamp," which of course was inspired by the movie Anchorman, where the charactor "Brick" looks around the room to find inspiration for things he loves.  This is a 2009 video of Walker talking to the Wisconsin State Journal about things he loves about Wisconsin.

"Unemployment Rate at Three Year Low" is Meaningless: Three Years Ago 59K More People Were Employed

Tue, 2012-02-28 09:30

If you've heard Scott Walker in the last couple of months, you've heard him say something along the lines of 'our reforms are working-- you need look no further than the unemployment rate being at a three year low.'

Well, actually we do need to look further.  Walker is deceptively conflating job creation with the unemployment rate, because most people assume that if the unemployment rate has gone down, that job creation has gone up. That is true in the vast majority of cases, but not here. 

This is because the unemployment rate is simply a ratio of unemployed workers to the total workforce.  So, for the sake of argument, let's say that three years ago Wisconsin had a workforce of twenty, eighteen workers were employed, and two workers were unemployed giving us an unemployment rate of 10%.  Now, let's say that Wisconsin's workforce is currently ten workers, nine are employed, and one is unemployed-- our unemployment rate would still be 10% even though our economy had obviously gotten much worse in that three year time period. 

So, comparing and unemployment rate of one time to another time is only of value if your pot of workers is the same or has grown from the earlier bench mark-- which is usually the case, but again, not the case here. As the chart below shows, three years ago Wisconsin had 58,600 more people employed in December of 2008 than in December of 2011-- the latest employment Bureau of Labor Statistics that Walker is basing his "best in three years" claim upon.

In other words, Wisconsin's unemployment rate being at a three year low is mostly due to the fact that the labor force in Wisconsin has shrunk (left the state) significantly over the same three year period and has little to do with Scott Walker's supposed job creation.

And while we're talking about Scott Walker's job creation numbers, let's review:

  • Despite a nationally recovery, Wisconsin's job growth has been so anemic under Scott Walker that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there has been no "statistically significant" change in the number of jobs in Wisconsin -- in other we have either lost or gained a very, very tiny number of jobs under Walker's tenure, but its so microscopic that the BLS can't say with any statistical certaintly one way or the other.
  • During Scott Walker's time as governor, Wisconsin has dropped to 45th in the country in job growth. (Source: BLS, Dec 2010 to Dec 2011 percent change in nonfarm employment, All States, Not Seasonally Adjusted.) 
  • Since Walker's budget passed, no other state in the country has lost jobs for six consecutive months.
  • Even though most job growth in Wisconsin comes from small businesses, Walker has taken up policies that hurt small businesses and put almost all his efforts behind bribing big corporations into the state with huge taxpayer-funded give-aways. 

But, we do have the lowest unemployment rate in three years!

On Walker pension scheme: Politifact yourself, Journal Sentinel

Mon, 2012-02-27 09:51

RedactedThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning follows up our own weekend blog post on Gov. Scott Walker's effort to paint his "study" of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) as merely thoughtful and prudent, rather than rapacious. With a decidedly different take, of course.

More important, the item in the newspaper's Politifact column (link below) makes us revisit a question we've asked before:

When the Journal Sentinel writes about the pension plans of other public or even private workers, shouldn't in the interest of good journalism it fully disclose the fact that its parent company, Journal Communications, Inc., itself has a pension plan? 

And when the newspaper editoriailzes about or makes pronouncements about the efficiacy of the state pension system, and when it backs Walker's efforts to "reform" that pension program for 400,000 local and state public employees across Wisconsin, shouldn't it disclose that it's been tinkering mightily with the pension program serving its own employees? Do you think that might otherwise represent an undisclosed conflict of interest? After all, as the Associated Press reported in Ocober 2010:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publisher Journal Communications Inc. says that on Jan. 1 [2011] it will permanently freeze benefit accruals in its current pension plan and supplemental benefit plan. Instead it will offer enhanced 401(k) matching contributions to its employees.

Similarly, Walker has spoken of bifurcating the Wisconsin Retirement System, creating a "defined contribution" plan for new hires that would amount to a risky 401(k). The Journal Sentinel editorially has been rather tolerant of this concept and even defensive about it, as in today's Politifact, which rates as "false" a chain email warning pubilc employees across the state that Walker's ongoing and unprecedented study of the WRS is just a precusor to making changes that will wreck the pension system.

As county executive, Walker proposed a move toward a 401(k) plan for the Milwaukee County pension system, which echoed Republican efforts nationally to bifurcate Social Security and Medicare. As actuaries and fiscal analysts note, shifting new hires to a 401(k) type system eventually means the entire pension system would disappear in favor of that system, as older workers and retirees died. That would no longer be a pension system at all. Yet Politifact says it's "false" that Walker has plans to do precisely that. Well, true, maybe he doesn't have plans. Just designs.

But whatever the degree of Walker's own rhetorical bifurcation (he fixed the deficit, but he has a deficit; he doesn't want to touch the WRS, but he's touching the WRS already), the Journal Sentinel needs to let its reporters and editors disclose its own financial interest in this type of activity -- an interest that affects not only its workers and stockholders, but also its readers.

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Republican Attack on Milwaukee Area Technical College Board

Sun, 2012-02-26 02:33

Another Republican Sneak Attack on Milwaukee, Citizens and Minorities: Pay attention folks!


While few were watching the Senate committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Higher Education advanced SB 275 after a series of 4-3 party line votes created a bill that would disband the Milwaukee Area Technical College Board. The four who voted in favor were:

Dale Schultz, Chair (R-Richland Center)

Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls)

Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn)

Terry Moultin (R-Chippewa Falls)

It is pretty hard to be farther from Milwaukee than these four water carriers for the Republican donors.


This bill will dismantle the board and rebuild it by eliminating the existing two employer, two employee, one at large seat. (this has been in place for at least 100 years) These five board seats would be replaced by five board members who must be from private “for-profit” businesses or from health care entities, credit unions or cooperatives.


If this isn't bad enough they also changed the Board Appointment Process. I worked at MATC from 1966 to 1997 and was knowledgeable and involved with the formation on the District in the late 1960's as it evolved from Milwaukee Institute of Technology into the current MATC and I was also responsible for the Board Appointment process in the 1990's. The MATC District was deliberately formed to correspond with the boundaries of the school districts and not municipalities. This was done to assure that the educational mission of the College would be carefully coordinated with the k-12 schools in the district and that the College would not be subject to partisan politics of municipalities. Currently the MATC board appointment committee is made up of the chairs of the Schools Boards in the district and additional members from the Milwaukee board to reflect its size. This process has been in effect since the formation of the district.


SB 275 would eliminate this Board Appointment committee and replace it with a four member appointment committee made up of the Milwaukee County Executive, The Milwaukee County Board Chair (Milwaukee county has 90% of the population of the MATC District), the Washington County Board Chair,(Just a small portion of Washington County is in the MATC District and that represents 2% of the District population) and the Ozaukee County Board Chair (most, but not all of Ozaukee County is in the MATC District and it represents 7% of the District Population). The Republicans in the suburban counties are not satisfied with financially starving Milwaukee, now they want to call the shots on what is left.


Without going into more detail, SB 275 will remove small business, public service, and citizen representation and essentially define all of the current minority board members out of their board positions. This bill is remarkable in the amount of damage it will do. It is essentially a Private for-profit take over of a publicly funded college.


Each day more and more people send me warnings of creeping fascism. Just saying,



Why Tom Barrett?

Sat, 2012-02-25 18:07

Bill Kaplan weighs in on why he thinks Tom Barrett is the best potential candidate for governor.  More at Wisopinion --

Now that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has said that he is "seriously considering" running for governor in the impending recall election, I say: run Tom run. Why? As a former guest columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal I had an opportunity to get to know then U.S. Representative Barrett. Here's what I learned.

I still remember the first time I met Barrett. He was completely unassuming. Not a whiff of pretentiousness. Barrett had an easy manner with a sense of humor. After reviewing his voting record it was clear that Barrett is a progressive but not an ideologue. I also learned he is a practicing Catholic whose religious beliefs are anchored in economic justice and tolerance. There's more.

URL:  Wisopinion Article

New Uppity Fund candidates

Sat, 2012-02-25 15:43

We've added a few new candidates to the Uppity Fund, because the Wisconsin political scene is ever-changing, and we are trying to keep up.  Notably we've added Kathleen Vinehout and Lori Compas to the fund -- you can contribute to whichever candidates you want, or just do one lump donation to be equally spread among great Wisconsin progressive candidates. Just click on the ActBlue widget to the right.

Money isn't everything in politics, but it's a cinch that all of these candidates are going to need financial help to stay in the race against people who are backed by big corporate donors. So do what you can.

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