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Friday, July 03, 2015

Local Rep. Loudenbeck Listed Among Those Smashing Wisconsin's Open Records Laws


Apparently too ashamed of their red state policies to stand with them (who could blame them?), a cabal of state republicans, seemingly at the behest of Gov. Scott Walker, refused to say who is behind their red state plan to gut Wisconsin's open record laws.

JS Online Excerpt
Madison— A dozen Republican lawmakers shot the state's open records law full of holes late Thursday, but they are declining to say who is the prime force behind shielding legislators and other government officials from having to show the public how they make decisions.

All 12 Republicans on the committee voted for the motion. Among republicans listed is south-central assembly representative Amy Loudenbeck (ALEC).

All four Democrats on the committee voted against the proposal.

Once again, much like Justice Michael Gableman's recent bizarre request to hold a court review of a conviction in Walker's first John Doe scandal, only to suddenly reverse and cancel the request, voters and the media should not allow these episodes to just fade away if they're suddenly dropped without their sponsors fully explaining themselves.

ADDITIONAL:

PR Watch - As Walker Announces, WI GOP Moves to Gut Open Records Law

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Myth Of Matching Funds In The Bucks Arena Deal


The press conference held by Gov. Scott Walker a couple weeks ago on his plan for hooking taxpayers with half of the cost for a new playpen for the Milwaukee Bucks, in my view, held a treasure trove of his ideological schisms on how he sees his fiduciary responsibility in office and the role of government.

But also among his statements was the promotion of a 50/50 match in funds for the new arena between taxpayers and the team's owners.

The problem with that from a taxpayers point of view is Kohl's "gift" of $100 million for a new arena is wrongly assumed to be part of the current ownership's share for a new arena.

JS Online Excerpt: April 17, 2014
Kohl announced in December he was searching for additional investors to take the franchise into the future. He made a condition of a sale that the team would remain in Milwaukee. [ ... ] This is a major step forward in my goal in keeping the Bucks here," said Kohl ...

In my view, Kohl's condition on the sale not only changed the direction of pursuit between any parties interested in keeping the team in Milwaukee, his gift created a third party fund exclusive of the new owners and government.

That is to say, without knowing the precise wording of the sales contract between the seller, former Bucks owner Herb Kohl, and the buyers, the onus of keeping the team in Milwaukee falls entirely on the new owners ...because if they don't, the sale is null and void and team ownership would revert back to Herb Kohl. Again, that is my interpretation taken from media reports and not from a reading of the actual sales contract. So I am not 100% sure about that claw-back feature or the triggers of the condition. Then of course, there is also the NBA's franchise licensing in the mix to consider.

But if anything matters it should be that Kohl's sale condition does not "run" with the team or the new owners because IF the NBA takes control of the team and they move it out of Milwaukee, the NBA or its current owners would LOSE Kohl's $100M for an arena to be built elsewhere. In other words, Kohl's gift runs with the land (a MKE location) as a prime condition of the sale.

In short, Kohl's generous $100M gift operates like a state incentive for the team to stay in MKE. It also lowers the $500M arena tab to $400M. In this interpretation, the Bucks owners $150M stake then becomes 37.5% of the $400M balance against the government taxpayers 62.5% share. My point is Kohl's gift or any other third party cash donors for the arena should countdown the total cost of the project with the balance remaining shared equally (50/50) with the owners and taxpayers, if, IF the narrative to make a deal with matching funds is a key sales point as Scott Walker seemed to imply.

The question to ask is where are our elected leaders to challenge any of those numbers or basic assumptions on behalf of the taxpayers? As usual, I don't think anyone is looking out for the taxpayers, and particularly more so when it involves these nefarious big-money public/private partnerships.

ADDITIONAL:

Think Progress - Wisconsinites Blast Scott Walker’s Stadium Deal As ‘Outrageous’

CapTimes - John Nichols: Don't just hand Walker arena bailout

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Was Wisconsin Justice "Appointed" For Clean-Up Of The Walker Doe Appeal?


Legal experts including the attorney for the defendant are confounded by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman's memo to his court colleagues asking them to reconsider an earlier 6-0 ruling that ended the state's role to review the misconduct-in-office conviction of Kelly Rindfleisch, who was working as Scott Walker's Deputy Chief of staff when he was the MKE county executive.

JS Online Excerpt:
On Thursday, a memo was filed from Gableman asking that the high court revisit the issue when it next meets in private. He did not explain why he wants to take the issue up in his one-paragraph memo.

Gableman's sudden request for review of this "closed" case appeal should have been much bigger news than it was in Wisconsin.

With that, I see Gableman's action more like a Reince Priebus RNC dirty hi-jinks creation. Right now, Scott Walker is the Koch brothers choice and is likely the GOP's top party officials unspoken early favorite in the republican presidential primary. With news that Rindfleisch is taking her appeal to reverse the conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the last thing Priebus (and Walker) obviously want within a three to six month window after announcing his candidacy for president is the untimely rehashing of the criminal activity that took place under Walker's watch as MKE county executive.

Even though in Wisconsin, Walker's John Doe scandals have been wrongly degraded to low level "partisan politics as usual," a SCOTUS hearing - and final ruling regardless of which way they might go - will be big news, not just in Wisconsin, but in every newspaper and media outlet in every state across the nation at the worst time simply because Walker (assuming) by then is a official candidate for president.

That could very well freeze any post-announce momentum most candidates pick up and sink Walker's chances in the caucus primaries.

So it's claw-back time!

Because, IF the story unfolds nationally, I think the average American will view Kelly Rindfleisch as an employee pawn in a public office who was just doing as told by her superiors (some of those folks received immunity from prosecution) under the unspoken threat of losing her job if she doesn't. That's how I believe most Americans understand political campaigning by workers on the taxpayers dime. That is the framework of truth they don't want out in public opinion. To think she was doing political work during office hours willy-nilly all on her own (rogue-style) without direction or acknowledgment while working as Walker's deputy chief of staff is absolutely preposterous.

The same goes for Gableman's odd request. He's not doing this all on his own. Heck, he can't even explain why he's doing it.

And Priebus? He's got stars and coin rolling around in his own head as being the next big king maker since Karl Rove. So the only thing standing in Priebus' way is the possibility of an external story (the Rindfleisch SCOTUS appeal) to spur an uncontrolled media avalanche on top of his grand plan. Obviously, that scenario would be toxic to Walker's campaign.

Enter Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman with his sudden bizarre request. My guess is he was not the first Justice of choice for the gimp role. The party most likely preferred the politically indebted David Prosser, but his public re-election promise "to be a complement to Walker" tainted him for clean-up duty.

So here we are anxiously waiting for the state supreme court's reply to Gableman's request. That's where it stands right now.

The best part is either way they decide on his request, the request in of itself solidifies the continued speculation of how corrupt politicians have deeply rooted themselves in every branch of state government.

ADDITIONAL:

Blue Cheddar - Gableman hopes to reel Rindfleisch (and Scott Walker’s secrets) back to Wisconsin

WRN - Justice Asks Wisconsin Supreme Court To Reconsider Former Walker Aide Appeal

White House Lit In Rainbow Colors After SCOTUS Ruling. Why Not Wisconsin Capitol?


The White House was lit up in rainbow colors last night in commemoration of the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage.





At least for the dome, I imagine it could have looked something like this.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Scott Walker's Flagship Agency Reforms Taxpayers Out Of $124M



Possibly the greatest heist in Wisconsin state history, more than two dozen awards totaling $124.4 million were made to companies without formal review by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp (WEDC). The WEDC as many know, happens to be the now four-year-old "new" version of the state's commerce department groomed and reformed by its board director, Gov. Scott Walker.

This incredible new amount as detailed in documents made public on Friday now dwarfs the previous scandal (the fifth in a series of WEDC scandals) of $500K in taxpayer funds given to the now-defunct construction company, Building Committee Inc. through a single, review-free "forgivable" loan.

Also yet to be considered are the names of companies and the amount they donated to Walker's campaigns before and after picking up the no-strings-attached capital awards.

If there is any consolation possible in any of this, just over 2,100 jobs can be counted as potentially linked to the 27 awards totaling $124M, bringing the cost to a ridiculous $60,000 per job.

This latest scandal reminded me of a local story from last year when the Janesville Gazette newspaper accused Sen. Tim Cullen and a few other Democrats (who are in the minority) for "stalling" a bill of state "reforms" on forgivable loans and tax credits. At that time, Cullen opposed the bill because it lacked accountability and oversight, and did not incentivize job growth. Sound familiar?

Soon afterward, the newspaper then championed Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (ALEC) for her effort on doctoring the bill just enough to get it passed.

ADDITIONAL:

The Political Environment - The half-million-tip-of-the-iceberg is now a $125M iceberg

Chicago Tribune - Scott Walker's Wisconsin jobs agency gave out $124 million without review

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Business Lobby On Skilled Workers: Government Must Provide More


The following is a gentle rewrite of an excellent article by Chris Rickert about a WMC survey suggesting more government action is needed to provide skilled workers for their businesses. It's how I read it.

If more than four years of total Republican control of state government isn’t providing the companies that belong to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce with the skilled employees they need, then maybe they should try doing more of what they should have been doing already: Hire unskilled people with brains and work ethic and train them themselves.

WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer is only the latest business representative whose rhetoric suggests workers should be showing up for their first day on the job ready to contribute to the company’s bottom line.

And if workers haven’t shelled out their own money for the training they need, they should be able to rely on legislators to force the taxpayers to shell out GOVERNMENT.

“Wisconsin business leaders are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of qualified workers as well as the lack of action by politicians GOVERNMENT to address the issue,” Bauer said in a statement detailing the results of the latest WMC survey of business leaders.

The survey and meetings with WMC members show worker shortages run the gamut, Bauer told me, from entry-level to more advanced positions, from machinists to IT professionals.

The group supports funding technical colleges and Wisconsin Fast Forward, a state worker-training grant GOVERNMENT program, as ways to close the skills gap. It also participates in state GOVERNMENT efforts to reinvigorate company apprenticeship programs.

WMC’s latest survey didn’t try to ascertain how much WMC members themselves were doing to train workers, but Bauer said that’s something the lobbying group encourages, too.

“The strategy and approach changes depending on the sector of the economy, but apprenticeships, internships, part-time jobs, etc., are all part of the solution,” he said.

“Businesses that ‘grow your own’ will have a major leg up on their competitors.”

That’s good to hear, because it’s not as if Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, its allies in the Legislature and taxpayers GOVERNMENT have been doing nothing.

Technical colleges have seen cuts, but Wisconsin Fast Forward GOVERNMENT has approved the award of $12.5 million in grants since its creation in 2013, according to the Department of Workforce Development, and DWD and Walker’s office GOVERNMENT said more than $100 million went to worker training in the 2013-15 budget.

But neither should elected officials, taxpayers GOVERNMENT and job seekers have to do everything.

I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life, none of which I was specifically trained for by anybody but my employers.

Before I was allowed near one of the massive woks at the Chinese restaurant where I worked, for example, I spent hours cutting up vegetables into variously shaped tiny pieces under the tutelage of my boisterous and politically incorrect Asian boss.

Think “The Karate Kid,” but with food and more profanity.

The benefit for my employers is that I was a blank slate upon which they could write their way of doing things. The benefits for me were skill sets I was paid to attain.

Among the benefits to taxpayers GOVERNMENT was they didn’t have to foot the bill for the schooling I needed in order to make one mean Szechuan beef — that is, until I was actually able to make them one mean Szechuan beef.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Republicans Deal Paul Ryan a Huge Blow To His Career Agenda



Who would know after reading these "liberal" media stories, NBC House Dems Deal Blow to Obama's Trade Push, NYT House Rejects Trade Measure, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal, The Hill House deals humiliating blow to Obama and CNN Dems deal blow to Obama's historic trade agenda that Rep. Paul Ryan presidential aspirations just went down in a ball of flames when he failed to corral enough votes for his pet "Fast Track" bill in the wildly gerrymandered GOP-majority House.

Well I knew and so did a few other observers.

Before the vote on Fast Track, Politico called it, The Fight Of Paul Ryan's Career, and the National Journal's "Paul Ryan, Teaming up with Obama, Takes a Big Gamble On Trade" puts Paul Ryan and all of his "intellectual" prowess at the center of the vote.

But it was an AP article posted before the vote, titled Paul Ryans Step By Step Future Begins With Trade" that accurately portrayed his motivation. It's all about him.

Salon Excerpt:
WASHINGTON—First, give presidents the power to strike trade deals. Then, overturn President Barack Obama's health care law, overhaul the tax code and rework the nation's welfare system. And someday? Perhaps a run for president.

You might call it the New Ryan Plan, a map not just to change the nation's fiscal policy, but to Paul Ryan's future. It steers the nine-term Republican congressman and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee into the thicket of policy fights. The path likely takes him to a familiar decision point — whether to run for president. The 45-year-old Ryan said he might take that step, someday.

Put it this way, Ryan's media enablers around the country including his hometown Janesville Gazette, were all geared up to pounce presidential accolades on him if his majority-led House would have passed Fast Track. "He's the One," the zombies wanted to say. But after he failed?

* crickets *

But no crickets from Ryan himself considering the possibility of failure, he was poking his party in the eye for adding to America's decline by rejecting Obama's policies. This is so adorable ...I can almost cry ...my sides hurt.

"If Republicans derail trade, we add to the narrative that America is on decline, which is now uniquely tied to Obama's policies—policies we disagree with profoundly as Republicans," Ryan told National Journal.

That coming from a guy who previously said NOT voting along with Obama (TARP) would usher in Obama's "liberal fascism." If you're familiar with Rep. Paul Ryan like I am, this is all old news ...but it's always worth repeating for a few good LOLs.

One of the few who nailed this was John Nichols.

...and conservative talker Laura Ingraham tweeted this after Ryan's fail.

But I'm not buying Ingraham's take on that. Ryan's district supporters are too mesmerized by his entrenched slickety. Even some area Democrats seem star-struck by the poser. Plus, Ryan fouled conservatives on principle much worse than this before and all they do is hide until the buzz is over.

Capping it all, the Democurmudgeon digs out a video on Ryan's childish behavior during a recent hearing on the ACA. In the video, Ryan laughably demands to know what Obama's plans are to fix the GOP's damage to the ACA should the Supreme Court strike down the individual mandate. During a response from Rep. Sanders Levin, Ryan is seen completely detached and giggling tiddly-winks behind his back. What a total embarrassment for the 65% of district voters who elected this buffoonish hack.

But back to the TPP and fast track, we know in the end Wall Streeters will get what they want - they always do. Then watch for Ryan's slack-jawed defenders to re-emerge victorious. That's how it works.

ADDITIONAL:

The Nation - The TPP Fast-Track Vote Wasn't About Obama, It Was About Failed Trade Policies

Friday, June 12, 2015

Local Conservatives: You Can See The Walker Difference At The IL-WI State Line


The local GOP mouth-piece and Forward Janesville propaganda apparatus, the Janesville Gazette, posted an editorial crying their support for the I39/90 Interstate expansion and Forward Janesville's latest warning about the dire consequences for the local economy if the state doesn't find a way to fleece taxpayers to pay for it.

In amusing bizarre fashion, Forward Janesville operatives and the Gazette (both Walker boosters) continue to make a contrarian case against their leading rock star's wrong-headed right-wing austerity ideology.

Despite having massive tax credits and cuts legislated for themselves over the past five years including a middle-class beat-down with Act 10 and RTW, Forward Janesville have repeatedly asked for higher tax obligations from their victims to pay for roads and infrastructure while demanding more free land and incentive packages risk-free for businesses as a matter of economic competition and forward progress.

Now, at a glance you might think the prime "competition" they need to match for their ideologically locked plans to succeed are red states with all their superior infrastructure, budget austerity and innovative institutions of higher learning. * eyeroll * Well, LOL, ummm no.

Believe it or not, the states that Walker's local supporters want to emulate the most in order for Wisconsin to compete are in fact those socialist democrat progressive commie immoral blue states such as Minnesota, California, Connecticut ...and gasp ...even loser state Illinois. That's right.

JG Editorial Excerpt: (Titled: Interstate 90/39 Delay Would Harm Rock County Economy)
Delaying I-90/39 work is an option that Dan Cunningham, Forward Janesville's government relations expert, believes is a real possibility. That would damage economic development here.

“From a perception standpoint, our dated and crumbling highway infrastructure brands Wisconsin as a place that isn't really open for business,” Cunningham wrote Tuesday in an email to The Gazette. “All one has to do is drive a few miles south to the Illinois border to see what modern and safe highway infrastructure looks like. Do we really want to lose to Illinois? [ ... ] A two-year delay will put Wisconsin at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states, who are all-in on upgrading their infrastructure.”

Yeah. The perception problem for Forward Janesville is the crumbling backward red state roads they see in Wisconsin are a direct result of the backward red state legislative agenda and politicians they support.

There's more...

JG Editorial Excerpt:
James Otterstein would agree. He's Rock County's economic development manager and says a delay could create uncertainty and affect investment decisions.

Otterstein tells of meeting a logistics client who flew into Chicago's airport. Their conversation changed when they hit the infrastructure contrast at the state line. Delaying Wisconsin's freeway upgrade would harm the state's credibility, Otterstein argues.

What a shame. Wisconsin now has blue states on two of its major borders and visitors notice.

In case anyone might be thinking area conservatives thirst to be more like Illinois is an anomaly or only in regards to public infrastructure, think again.

In 2010, Walker's biggest state campaign donor, Diane Hendricks, complained that in order to let one of her businesses grow as efficiently as possible, it will have to move out of Wisconsin because Illinois (the pre-Rauner Illinois) offers more appealing tax incentives. So, blue state policies were more attractive even from a business bottom-line standpoint.

Yet, for the past four years, we were told low taxes, don't spend more than you have austerity, red-state governance, "balanced" state budgets, right-to-work regulations, closing the skills gap, and a hungry, disenfranchised and defunded labor force would make Wisconsin open for business. Now they claim updated infrastructure and expanded new interstates will make all the difference?

Truth is, nothing is ever enough for these folks. They want it all.