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Friday, July 18, 2014

If Money Is Speech, Out-Of-State Cash Told Walker To Repeal Common Core

Funny thing here.

Out of the blue, Gov. Scott Walker called on the Wisconsin State Legislature to repeal Common Core and replace it with standards set "by the people of Wisconsin."

This coming after 3 years of DPI (State Department of Public Instruction) working to implement the standards leaves Walker's motivations in question since the legislature is not in session. Mary Burke spox Joe Zepecki was right calling Walker's sudden Common Core statement a "desperate" attempt to shore up his base.

Post Crescent Excerpt:
"My problem with Common Core is, I don't want people outside Wisconsin telling us what our standards should be," Walker said Sunday at the the governor's conference.

So he really doesn't have a problem with the substance of Common Core's more about politics and its source? Really?!

But since right-wing zealots like Walker believe money is speech and 68% of his campaign cash (post June 5th, 2012 Recall) comes from outside Wisconsin, it's obvious who told Walker to undermine Common Core. If Scott Walker was serious about not wanting people outside Wisconsin telling us what our standards should be on anything, he would stand up with Mary Burke on her call to ban out-of-state campaign cash.

Mary Burke is right again. If you don't want people outside Wisconsin telling us what our standards should be - pledge to ban out-of-state campaign cash in state elections.

Stop being hypocritical, Governor Walker. It's that simple.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Walker: Media Should Ask Only About Campaign, Not About Governor's Positions

Throughout his scandalous governance, Walker has repeatedly avoided answering questions by claiming his opinion doesn't matter, that he was "cleared," or that he is out of the loop on many decisions. Both, Cindy Archer and Josh Inglett come to mind on the last one.

Here he is again not only batting away some straight questions from reporters but making an obvious attempt to demonize questioners as tools of his opponents and he - the victim. Why is he in a executive position if he has nothing to answer for?

Watch it:

H/T to Uppity Wisconsin for posting this story.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Starve Them First, Then Trade Food For Control. Works Every Time

To some of my readers who may have felt a bit confused by my opposition to the BTC referendum question asking for an annual $4M tax hike into perpetuity, I ask you to click this link to Blue Cheddar and read their take about a state study committee expected to convene soon on Wisconsin’s technical college system funding and goverance.

Blue Cheddar Excerpt:
Committee Mission:
“The Special Committee is directed to review the current governance model of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) in the interest of transferring governance responsibilities of local district boards to the state WTCS Board and examine the current funding model for the WTCS with a preference toward reassigning current local property tax revenue to a broader state tax source.”

Well now, there wasn't a major funding problem until Scott Walker came along and made it a problem. Remember he cut a quarter's worth of "broader state" funding (state aid) away from the schools, returned only a nickel later forcing property taxpayers into a referendum question to restore the rest. As Blue Cheddar so accurately described this entire situation local taxpayers have suddenly found themselves in, the tech colleges are now set up "for some of Walker’s patented “cares too much” treatment."

Of course this is not a new ploy of his. Much of Walker’s budget agenda is designed to make publicly funded utilities and institutions so imbalanced and unaffordable to local taxpayers that they have no choice but to hold restoration funding tax hike referendums, sell them off or happily give up local control entirely. The Janesville landfill is another local entity that quickly comes to mind facing the same consequences.

But first, the only way Walker can accomplish his goal is by cutting state aid funding to the bone on those publicly-held targets, and then generously offer to restore state funding later, BUT only if you’re willing to give up something in return – like local control of the schools to private interests. Remember, he balanced his budget. He's the hero. Why can't you balance yours? But that's OK because Walker is coming in for the "save."

Never mind the fact it was Walker who put the tech schools into this heightened state of funding desperation in the first place.

Regarding the BTC budget and much of the state of Wisconsin, the state money was always there. The state budget office projected a surplus of nearly a billion dollars. But projected surpluses don’t help Walker’s central state controlled privatization agenda as much as it serves as a tax cut meme to win re-election. Does this all sound familiar? It should. It's happening in real time.

I've stated my reason to oppose the local BTC tax hike referendum and I admit it's not based on the substance of the referendum question itself, but on politics. I'm a political guy so nothing on my position about the referendum has changed.

But the story posted at Blue Cheddar might help you fill in the gaps to better decide for yourself on the local referendum question coming in August. Keep informed.

I'd like to think that we're all up against a real funding problem, but we're not. The deliberate cuts in state aid, the tax credits to his business donors, the spending down of a projected surplus through tax cuts and then the plan to wrest away local control in trade for a restoration of state funding appears to be a well-oiled and deliberate redistributive agenda of no fault to local officials or those local institutions. We can expect to see this play out again and again if Scott Walker wins re-election in November. It's not the Wisconsin way.

Representative John Nygren, Chair; Senator Sheila Harsdorf, Vice-Chair
Wednesday, July 24, 10:00 a.m., Room 411 South, State Capitol Organizational matters.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

If Donors For Issue Advocacy Can Remain Anonymous, Why Not The Speaker?

With all the controversy over the Citizens United ruling and Gov. Scott Walker's scandal surrounding his use of taxpayer funded office and employees for his election campaigns, much of the diversion away from Walker's misuse of public office seems to be hinging on the words, issue advocacy vs express advocacy.

Without offering details, Walker continues to insist he's done nothing wrong, assuming though that he is indeed regularly coordinating with issue advocacy groups from the governor's office, but is convinced he is protected by a twisted interpretation of pre-Citizen's United state campaign finance laws.

Issue advocacy properly understood, includes communications by parties or groups intended to further or derail a political issue, legislative proposal or public policy - not to advocate the election or defeat of political candidates.

And ...

Cato Excerpt:
If disclosure of spending on issue ads, i.e. political discourse, were required, how would it be enforced? It could only be enforced by requiring citizen groups to respond to the demands of federal officials for information regarding the times, places, amount, and manner of speech. And it would have the same chilling effect on speech that led the Supreme Court to strike down limits on issue advocacy in Buckley. [ ... ] After all, most speech is, to some extent, intended to influence public opinion. The ensuing chilling effect on speech makes such forced disclosure unconstitutional.

The general rule seems to be that disclosure (identity of donors can remain anonymous) is not required if spending does not call for the election or defeat of a candidate. Somehow they claim, this all falls under protections of the First Amendment. So let's cut to the chase.

People who speak out on issues at local city council, school board or county board meetings are asked to identify themselves and where they live, etc., but isn't that disclosure unconstitutional under these rulings? Doesn't the expectation of that disclosure have a chilling effect on speakers who might otherwise attend? After all, these citizens typically speak out on current relevant issues and almost never about "express advocacy" for or against a political candidate. Clearly, they want to influence public opinion and elected officials on the issues.

So, does it matter who they are or where they live? They could come from Texas or Georgia and speak out about fracking, sand mining, water quality, budget cuts or public school issues in Janesville, Wisconsin. Under these new interpretations, it really shouldn't matter who they are. Their speech is protected.

My question is; Is it issue advocacy money that's protected, or is it issue advocacy speech that is protected under the First Amendment? Can someone point me to the part about money or capital in the first amendment?

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Baaaack. Tax Hike Into Perpetuity Referendum For BTC

Hey, don't blame me folks ...I did not vote for Scott Walker.

According to the Janesville Gazette, Beloit business chambers fully support the Blackhawk Technical College August referendum asking Rock County voters to exceed the school's levy limit by $4 million annually. No surprise.

The Gazette newspaper does a nice job playing clean up hitter for the Walker ballbat team. They've got it all lined up in favor of the referendum where practically your taxes will be decreasing if the referendum is approved. Of course none of this surprises me since the area business chambers, including the tax-shifting and spend group Forward Janesville and the Rock County 5.0 got their billion dollar road builders plum, deep income tax cuts to the top and transferable tax credits thereby shifting a greater burden onto those who can least afford.

In other words, "they got theirs." Did you get yours?

But did you notice there weren't referendums for any of that. For the "special" people, it only takes some lobbying on their part with career state bureaucrats and sold-out legislators to work a deal for their wants and needs. Who's representing us, the people, at the table? Kinda' like ...nobody.

Just a reminder folks, keep in mind these "business groups" are the people who supported Scott Walker and his deep cuts to education INCLUDING deep cuts to the state's technical colleges. Their allies also wrote editorials ripping into defenders of maintaining state aid for local roads. But you can bet Forward Janesville, the Gazette and the rest of their redistributive pals will support the BTC tax referendum AND the expected Forward Janesville road tax hike referendum. It's almost funny how these business organizations fought for every little tax cut for themselves, but now lead the way for substantial tax hikes on everybody else.

In fact, some the most recent stories coming from the Janesville city administration and the Gazette almost seem like straw man spending sprees so ridiculous that the only way to justify them is to assume they're psychologically designed to spur residents into supporting their more docile tax hiking referendums.

It's like, "Hey, let's plan to build an elevated Jetson's style gold-plated hi-speed bullet transport around Janesville so we can avoid the downtown area like they do in Milton, right after we build our $9 million fire station." Awww, nawwww. That's not a very good idea. You crazy liberals love spending other people's money, they'd say. The least we can do is take some responsibility and tax ourselves again to fix our roads and fund our technical college. Support those tax hike referendums and stand with Gov. Scott Walker.

See what I mean? *facepalm*

The point is, they (corporate collectivists) desperately want the BTC perpetual tax hike and road tax referendums to be approved and yet, these folks will vote again in November for the guy who literally cut billions away from those same roads and schools and throws nickels back like they're manhole covers.

Why? Because they already "got theirs." Did you get yours?

Of honorable mention is the list of reasons given by the Beloit Chambers for supporting the BTC perpetual tax referendum. With a little substitution, it reads like a list of reasons why no one should ever vote for Scott Walker. Here's one ...

JG Excerpt:
The groups believe the referendum would lead to an increase in the quality of life in the area by lowering health care costs, lowering the crime rate, increasing the productivity of citizens and keeping vital education affordable to the workforce in the region.

Gee. Why not claim approving the referendum will bring about the fountain of youth and turn coal into gold while you're at it?

But conversely, what they're saying is Walker's "reforms" cutting state aid from education decreased the quality of life in the area, raised the crime rate, decreased productivity and made vital education unaffordable to the workforce in the area.

Did they say or hint at that before about Scott Walker when he was cutting education? Not that I know of. Only you can prevent the sky from falling - not Scott Walker, seems to be the message.

You might not agree with me on this, but I'm convinced those who supported Gov. Scott Walker and simultaneously promote and support local tax hiking referendums to fund the same public institutions he cut from are being disingenuous, if not outright dishonest. Until I see those organizations and their key membership completely rebuke Walker and his wrong-headed reforms, I will be in total opposition to those referendums they support.


RNR - Blackhawk Technical Seeking Ability To Increase Taxes Into Perpetuity (Dec. 2013)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Gov. Walker's Donors Collect State Incentives After Shipping Jobs Out

There's definitely a pecking order to the concept of outsourcing jobs.

Make no mistake, the outsourcing of jobs is an unfortunate but inevitable part of domestic free markets doing business in a global economy. It's no consolation when American businesses decide to outsource jobs based on market pressures or principles completely uncoerced and without government interference. It is what it is.

Next up and far worse than that is the outsourcing of American jobs by way of vulture capitalism.

Vulture capitalism is a "business model" where companies are taken over by "investment" companies, leverage them up with debt, and then sell them off for scrap, allowing investors to walk away with the borrowed money to re-animate the companies in places like China or Mexico. All the while domestic remnants of the remaining assets are further cannibalized in bankruptcy court, laying off American workers and reneging on benefits. Many right-wing hardliners, free market types and Wall Street boosters consider this a normal, honorable way to conduct business. See Mitt Romney.

Next up and possibly even worse than vulture capitalism is the extremely questionable if not twisted use of taxpayer dollars to reward political business donors under the guise of job creation, that instead result in moving jobs out-of-state. That's the current story on Gov. Scott Walker's latest misuse of WEDC tax dollars.

Now, maybe it's just the over-exuberance to reward political business cronies *eyeroll* with taxpayer funded kickbacks who also happened to outsource jobs after the fact. Some might even say it's all a mistake, that somehow the provisions and benchmarks of these agreements have been unknowingly circumvented by unforeseen circumstances or poor reporting requirements. Bullshit! I don't buy those excuses at all.

Not when we have local governments writing loosely constructed tax credit agreements that intentionally allow companies to shrink to meet benchmarks for job creation or worse yet, when a state legislature unanimously approves the transfer of tax credits to businesses that created zero jobs.

Yeah that's right, business lobbyists lobbied because unclaimed tax revenue remained in a dedicated slush fund for job creation. Well gee, somebody has got to get that free money. Why not it be us job creators? Are you kidding me? In fact, these folks celebrated the legislation as the greatest thing to happen since apple pie. They think it's a feather in their cap.

Clearly, the game is rigged.

We know free market capitalism can't seem to clean up its act. Don't look for it. It's not going to happen. Capitalizing through any means necessary is the mark of the beast. But this stuff is becoming embedded in our state's government and political culture when we expect our elected leaders to know better. It's called corruption. There's no excuse for it. See Scott Walker.


Prairie Badger - Scott Walker’s outsourcing problem: WEDC gives millions in tax breaks to companies that shipped jobs overseas

Democurmudgeon - Scott Walker helping companies Offshore Labor with WEDC taxpayer money

WKOW - Companies that outsourced jobs donated primarily to Walker campaign

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Collectivism To The Rescue Of Yet Another Janesville Business

According to the Janesville Gazette, a Janesville manufacturer, United Alloy, considered expanding outside Wisconsin and ultimately ... well, read it yourself....

JG Excerpt:
“Ultimately, we came back to the fact that our employee base here in Rock County is exceptional, hardworking and fully trained,” Achs said. “We believe we have world-class manufacturing talent right here in our own hometown, and we decided that it was wisest to go with the people who helped us achieve our success in the first place.”

Awww, that's so sweet.

Oh, but I almost forgot this part...

JG Excerpt:
In order to keep United Alloy in Janesville, the city provided an incentive package worth $887,460, and the state kicked in a forgivable loan of $500,000 and tax credits worth up to $130,000.

Okay, so they're picking up $1.5M in collectivist hand-outs to stay put in Janesville, otherwise they would be moving out. Got it.

This was a big event as Gov. Scott Walker made sure to come into town to help celebrate with United Alloy their newfound dependency on government. It was a joyous occasion with photo ops and smiles everywhere.

But what we can also expect at some point months down the road is a donation of $10,000 or so from United Alloy to one of Janesville's or Rock County's favorite charities with Gazette headlines boasting of their generosity to our poor little community. It's called the 3-step collectivist cakewalk.

It's not a problem at all if you're into dancing one way while looking the other way. We're used to it.

Just saying.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wisconsin Rural/City Roads Are Crumbling For The I39/90 Expansion

JG Editor's Blog Excerpt: (April, 2012)
"I have yet another reason to stay up to date on the gubernatorial recall situation. Should Tom Barrett win the primary and defeat Gov. Walker, the DOT’s Majors Fund — the state funding source for the 39/90 project—could be in serious jeopardy, as Barrett has publicly stated his desire to rededicate a chunk of this fund to local street maintenance." - Dan Cunningham, Forward Janesville VP

Here's a piece of unsettling news that was never reported on before, or at least addressed in the same light that Austin Scieszinski, a candidate running in the democratic primary for Tim Cullen's senate seat, described during a recent Q & A candidates forum.

In short order and with some obvious reservation, Scieszinski was responding to a question about road and infrastructure funding and mentioned the I39/90 interstate expansion, when he stated that Gov. Jim Doyle called for a closed door meeting of a special DOT committee that hadn't convened for 8 years.

Scieszinski explained that for some reason, Doyle called the meeting at the last minute right before an election (2010). That meeting resulted in flipping the Federal/State funding shares for the interstate project from federal 80% / state 20% to federal 30% / state 70%. That flip in funding, according to Scieszinski, meant that about $500 million in state aid maintenance funding was washed away from local roads. He did not elaborate any further.

So lets back up on this a moment.

Assuming the timeframe on the DOT meeting is somewhere between September and Election Day 2010, several points of interest come readily to mind. Number one; Doyle was not running for re-election in 2010 so there was no direct political benefit or quid pro quo on his part to call the meeting. He had to be pressured by state legislators or lobbyists or both to convene this late meeting.

#2: The biggest booster for the expansion was and still is the pro-Walker anti-competition business group Forward Janesville. The group formed a special lobby at that time to get the interstate expansion on the state's transportation docket. In fall of 2010, the Transportation Projects Commission (the committee Scieszinki spoke of) recommended approval of the project.

#3: Mayor Tom Barrett, who was running against Scott Walker in a close race for governor, made it known that he's a local infrastructure guy who will defend local taxpayers by doing all he can to not cut state aid for local roads and infrastructure. Obviously, Barrett's support for local taxpayers doesn't help Forward Janesville members and their project. Particularly at a time of projected state deficits.

#4: This is where it gets interesting. With poll projections often showing Barrett in the lead, Forward Janesville may have grown desperate to get the interstate expansion on the state's docket. This is speculation but it does appear the special meeting was called just in case Barrett wins election, FJ's project would at least be on the state's agenda ready for enumeration.

The question then becomes what was traded away in a deal that caused the funding to flip AND who are the legislators that traded $500 million in federal highway funding at the command of a special interest group?

If the above scenario is true, it doesn't mean something illegal was done. It just does not bode well for our local legislators. In fact, it's extremely disappointing.

Sure, there are other road funding problems including shortfalls in the gasoline tax coming into play. Also, current cuts in local road aid might not yet reflect the full $500M shift in funding for the I39/90 expansion. But in the meantime, Wisconsin's city and country roads are crumbling from the pressure of cuts resulting in part from a deal to pay for the I39/90 expansion.

Since the election of Scott Walker, Janesville alone enacted its first municipal wheel tax and will have a tax hike road referendum on the ballot this year.

Janesville taxpayers should think long and hard before committing themselves to additional new taxes. Keep in mind that regardless of who is governor next year, the state is considering a slew of new license and registration fee hikes, including raising the state gas tax and even mileage charges. These higher taxes and charges will be on top of our Forward Janesville induced road tax referendum - if you so choose.

Not ironically, Wisconsin republicans also passed laws disabling drivers from suing state or local jurisdictions for damages done to their vehicle or person by unsafe roads.

This appears to be all part of a reformation of expected decline. In no way would I call it forward.

Watch Scieszinski speak about the funding beginning at 9:36 in the video below. (Part 3):

Part 2: Candidates for Wisconsin Senate 2014

Part 1: Candidates For Wisconsin Senate 2014

Thanks To VCKSTR89 for posting these videos.

NOTE: This posting is not an endorsement for any candidate in the state senate primary. Excluding the videos, I also want to make it clear that candidate Austin Scieszinski did not in any way participate in this commentary. It is the sole opinion of its author.


RNR - Janesville, Is the I39/90 Expansion Worth an $80 Annual Vehicle Tax?

RNR - If We Can't Afford The Roads We Have Now - Go Bigger and More Expensive

RNR - Walker Commits To Deficit Spend Interstate Expansion