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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Scott Walker Burns Friends While Seeking Face-Saving Deal In John Doe



This most recent episode started when the conservative shill, The Wall Street Journal, put whatever little integrity they have left on the line in an unsigned anonymously-sourced written editorial claiming Gov. Scott Walker, through his attorney, was seeking a deal with prosecutors to make the John Doe investigation ...go away.

Key segments from the editorial ...

WSJ Editorial Excerpts:
"We've learned that Steven Biskupic, who represents Friends of Scott Walker, has been negotiating with Wisconsin special prosecutor Francis Schmitz to settle the state's investigation.

The understandable concern among the direct targets of the John Doe is that Mr. Biskupic will cut a deal that would exonerate Mr. Walker while wresting concessions from some of Mr. Walker's allies," the editorial reads. "...Sounds like Mr. Walker has to decide whose side he's on — his own, or the larger principles he claims to represent."

Ensuing reports related to the WSJ storyline confirmed that Walker is indeed in some sort of settlement talks with prosecutors. Special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has since filed a motion with Judge Randa seeking clarification of his injunction, saying they wanted to confirm they were free to engage in settlement talks. That is the smoking gun that settlement talks have at least been initiated.

In the meantime, friends of Scott Walker, primarily the lawyered-up Club For Growth, are blowing a gasket and now threatening the prosecutors with contempt action if they proceed with settlement talks. Adding fuel to the fire is Scott Walker, not the prosecutors, who is offering concessions in the deal that could force the right-wing groups to drop their dubious suit.

Still, I can't get the notion out of my mind that all of this looks staged.

What is real is Walker happens to be the kingpin of suspected illegal operations in both John Doe investigations. To be further clear, and this is important, Scott Walker is a potential defendant in what is now a suspended criminal investigation - not a plaintiff in some phony free speech lawsuit.

Walker of course is absolutely DESPERATE to distance himself from the John Doe criminal investigations.

The funny thing is how Walker supporters and his media enablers try to reverse-spin, claiming it's the prosecutors making an attempt to "save face." If that were true, leaked information to the Wall Street Journal would have described prosecutors offering concessions - not Scott Walker. In addition, if that was true, the prosecutors would have been offering concessions to the right-wing groups - the plaintiffs - NOT to a potential defendant in a separate but related case. That's not going on according to the WSJ editorial.

Put it this way, IF the Wall Street Journal editorial was meant to prove prosecutors are trying to save face as Walker's tools contend, the WSJ did a lousy job all around.

Now the latest out from "Friends of Scott Walker" have them flailing yet again. Walker's support group is now saying because Gov. Walker isn’t a party to a federal lawsuit, there is no legal standing for Walker or his campaign committee to reach a settlement. Absolutely true. But no one is asking the question about a settlement in the federal lawsuit. The question is whether Walker is talking of a settlement to detach him from the entrails of the John Doe 2 criminal investigation.

We can expect plenty of damage control and spin from Walker's team on this one. But speak up! We don't want to be accused of trying to suppress conservative free speech.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

DailyKos - UPDATED: Conservative Cat Fight! Scott Walker ready to cut deal with prosecutors (Saw this story break at DailyKos first on Tuesday)

TPM - Scott Walker In Talks To settle John Doe Probe

PR Watch - Why Is the Wall Street Journal Livid that Scott Walker Wants a John Doe Settlement?

JS Online - Scott Walker May Be Cutting Deal In Secret John Doe Probe

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gov. Walker Measures Success By How Many People Are Dependent On Government: Part 2


We've both been down this same road before with Gov. Scott Walker on his so-called school voucher expansions.

In a posting from November 2013, I mentioned how Walker made 1,000 Wisconsin families, who were previously untethered to government help, fully dependent on government aid to pay for sending their children to private schools. Now, Walker and state republicans apparently want all Wisconsin families, regardless of income, to receive state aid to pay for sending their children to private schools. They call that newly anointed government dependency, "moving Forward."

We also know Walker played a political shell game with Wisconsin lives when he pushed over 62,000 adults from the state's BadgerCare program. In the end, Walker is actually insuring fewer people overall at higher costs to the state. But at the same time, the state is claiming 81,000 adults were added to the program for a net gain of 19,000 people.

Up to this point everyone is still waiting to find out if those adults, who were pushed out from BadgerCare because Walker changed their income guidelines, have successfully transitioned to Obamacare. The Walker Administration says that number won't be available until June, but it will be interesting depending on the numbers whether they post the results as a success or a failure. For the sake of this discussion, I don't have an issue with the accuracy of the numbers.

But let's back up a moment. Gov. Walker, the state and even Walker's media enablers are painting the net gain of 19,000 more people dependent on the state's BadgerCare program as progress, or dare I say success. Even a Walker ad had this recently...

Under his leadership, more people in Wisconsin "have access to health care."

They can call it "access," to health care, but let's not lose sight of the fact we are talking about government assistance first and foremost. Simply put, "more people" dependent on government for anything doesn't mesh with Walker's rhetoric at all.

Because, who can forget this...

On President Obama Excerpt:
“What I think we’ve seen increasingly is more of a political agenda, and one in which he measures success by how many people are ultimately dependent on the government. We should measure success by just the opposite, by how many people are no longer dependent on the government”
- Gov. Scott Walker (Aug, 2013)

No problem if that's what you really believe. As a political/media blogger who understands the need for government programs, I'm not questioning the necessity of those programs or those receiving assistance. What is highly suspect is Walker's narrative and what appears to be a case of selective memory loss.

The point is, that wild statement about Obama is in all reality an important policy statement of Governor Walker's. With that, Walker of all people should be claiming that any reforms that increase the number of people ultimately dependent on government is ... a failure. If, IF he was true to his principles.

In truth, he actually kicked more people out of BadgerCare than if he had accepted Obamacare funding to restore the federal income limit to 133% of the poverty line. So the second point is, since there are fewer people in Badgercare under Walker's Obamacare excluding deformation, why not say so since in his view - it means success? Why did Walker and his campaign choose the opposite failure meme (more people dependent on government) and flip it as a success?

The only explanation is Walker's principles ARE strictly a political agenda. Exactly what he was accusing Obama of.

So the question becomes why hasn't the media asked Walker to reconcile his own measurement of success regarding government dependency with the reality of his failures?

ADDITIONAL:

RNR - Walker's School Vouchers Turn Wisconsin Families Toward Government Dependency

Friday, May 16, 2014

Video: Janesville Forum On Raising the Minimum Wage


Carlos Miranda (originally from Janesville) standing in for Patrick Hickey from the Workers' Rights Center of Madison talks about what is being done to combat wage theft and worker exploitation. He also urges residents to support local advisory referendums on raising the minimum wage.

Part 1: Watch Carlos Miranda from the Workers' Rights Center of Madison



Next up, Rep. Corey Mason (Racine) begins his presentation by connecting the dots about why raising the minimum wage is not only good for the worker, but also great for the economy. Mason by the way, has introduced legislation with Robert Wirch of Somers, Nikiya Harris of Milwaukee and Eric Genrich of Green Bay to gradually raise the state minimum to $10.10 wage.

Mason's bill, Wisconsin’s Fair Minimum Wage Act, has attracted 46 legislative cosponsors - 34 State Representatives and 12 State Senators. It is notable that despite polls showing wide public support to raise the wage, no Wisconsin republicans have signed on to cosponsor this legislation.

To watch Rep. Corey Mason on Raising the Minimum Wage, click here.

Thanks to vckstr89 for recording and posting these videos.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Janesville Forum: Raising The Minimum Wage


The Rock County Progressives present an educational forum:

Raising the Minimum Wage

When:
Wednesday, May 14, 6 PM
6 PM-6:30 PM cheese & cracker reception (nonalcoholic potluck)
6:30 PM- 7:45 PM, speakers & discussion

Speakers:
Patrick Hickey of the Workers' Rights Center of Madison (wrcmadison.org).

Rep. Corey Mason, 66th Assembly District (Greater Racine), Introduced Wisconsin’s Fair Minimum Wage Act, a bill to raise Wisconsin’s minimum wage to $10.10/hr from $7.25.

Where:
*Basics Food Cooperative
1711 Lodge Dr.
Janesville, Wisconsin

(*This is an independent event not affiliated with Basics)

Directions:
From Madison route 90 until 1st Janesville exit, south on Route 26 past route 14, look for Toys R Us on the right, right on Lodge Drive, on right across from Toys R Us.

The Community Room is to the left when you come in.

RockCountyProgressives. org, also on Facebook

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Judge: Circumventing Campaign Finance Laws Promotes Free Speech


It's a day late since a federal appeals court quickly stayed Judge Randa's ruling halting the John Doe investigation of illegal campaign activity during Walker's recall, but still worth the note.

Talking Points Memo Excerpt:
Randa wrote that "[m]aximizing the capability" of 501(c)4 organizations -- non-profits sometimes called "dark money" organizations -- maximizes First Amendment political freedoms and "may be the best way, as it has been in the past, to address problems of political corruption."

"The plaintiffs have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted," Randa wrote. "Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is 'ingrained in our culture.'"

Wow. What a mixture of words. So if you're following the rules like most everyone else regarding current campaign finance laws, you're hindering your free speech? It's best to "circumvent" those laws any way you can ...for freedom?

Randa's statements are so bizarre and off the cliff that I had to wonder if there might be some positive underlying message he's trying to convey. That perhaps current campaign finance laws are insufficient to deal with today's communication technologies and dark money orgs in a Citizens United world.

That those laws are not being broken but ingeniously circumvented seems to be Randa's message. Except, a judge's duty is to uphold the laws as they are written, not praise and defend their circumvention ...under any definition. If the laws are that murky, then it could be safe to assume that circumventing their intent is the same as breaking them.

And, if "maximizing the capability ...of dark money is the best way to address problems of political corruption" is not snark but becomes the rule, America is in a real bad bad way.

ADDITIONAL:

Election Law Blog - Breaking: 7th Circuit Issues Stay in Wisconsin John Doe Case

Democurmudgeon - Conservative Activist Court victories accelerate Walker and Big Business Takeover. "So This Is How Liberty Dies ..."

Root River Siren - What Matters And Doesn't Matter About John Doe

Friday, May 02, 2014

Politi"Gaffe" Tries To Make Irrelevancy Of Walker Sponsored Outsourcing


And in doing so, Politifact tries to take Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate down with it.

Politifact Excerpt:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in February 2014 that after 28 years of Milwaukee-based Derse-Wisconsin Highway Business Signs holding the blue signs contract, DOT had decided to give its next contract to Georgia-based Interstate Logos.

DOT said Interstate Logos, which is subcontracting with a Portage, Wis., firm for part of the work, scored higher in the bid process that had been set up and would provide better signs and better service.

That's the explanation from the state. The Walker-run "DOT had decided" to give the blue sign contract to an out-of-state firm. The Wisconsin firm lost by 22 points on a thousand point scale. End of story? Well, yes and no.

After the contract was awarded, and that's important, "after," did the winning company change their sign fees to match older fees charged by the more competitively priced losing Wisconsin company. Apparently, lower sign costs could not overcome a 22 point differential the first time to win the contract, but costs became a negotiable after-thought to satisfy critics later. The state said all of this is common practice.

Politifact Excerpt:
After DOT decided to give the contract to Interstate Logos, however, the company agreed to use $30 and $10 fees that Derse had been using. A 10-year contract was put in place to start May 1, 2014.

Politifact was checking Mike Tate's statement claiming Walker is outsourcing jobs and paying more money for the "Wisconsin Welcomes You" road signs - they rated his statement false.

If Tate is guilty of anything, he did cross up which signs he meant while speaking on a radio show. Nevertheless, it was a huge mistake and wipes out his entire argument. BUT, Tate's office did admit to the mix-up according to Politifact. He indeed erred on which signs he was speaking of.

In fact, Tate's office provided news articles about the blue signs to Politifact which should have brought an end to Politifact's so-called "investigation" of his statement. Yes? A brief correction like, "Hey everybody, Tate meant the blue signs!!" would suffice. Right?

Politifact then points to a story from February that indeed shows the state making the decision to outsource the contract for the blue highway signs - not the "Wisconsin Welcomes You" signs. The blue signs are paid for by businesses, not by state taxpayers, and the cost of the signs was changed, but only after the fact as shown earlier in this blog post.

My point here is if you're a fact-checking outfit who was informed of a foundational error in a subject's statement and can accept which signs he really meant, then you should stop applying his understanding about the signs he didn't mean in your argument. Instead, Politifact kept claiming he's wrong, wrong, wrong.

Yet, in their summary generalizing Tate's statement, Politifact writes this...

Polifact Excerpt:
Criticizing Walker’s record on job creation, Tate said Welcome to Wisconsin road signs have "always been made in Wisconsin," but Walker "is outsourcing them" to an out-of-state company and "paying more money for them."

But since Tate meant the blue signs ...let's apply them to the above statement please...

A.) For the past 28 years, Wisconsin's blue "business directional" road signs have been made in Wisconsin by a Wisconsin based business. That may no longer be the case.
B.) It WAS Walker's DOT decision to outsource the sign contract to a Georgia-based company.
C.) On two counts, one, that Derse complained businesses will pay more for the highway signs and two, after that fact, Interstate Logos "renegotiated" a lower price on the signs, would give anyone the impression, after reading early reports, that businesses will be "paying more money for them."
D.) Because Interstate Logos matched Derse's old $30 price for signs along the interstate, but only after winning the contract - they could state businesses won't be facing a higher cost with the new contract. But businesses would have had a better deal by paying less if Derse was chosen because Derse dropped the price to $21.

In this case, Tate hits a home run on all three quotes. But they are false statements IF referencing the "Wisconsin Welcomes You" signs.

The only remaining question left from Tate's original statements was whether taxpayers will be paying a higher cost for the WWY signs, BUT assuming he meant the blue signs.

It's the only statement Tate got wrong because the blue signs are paid for by businesses - not taxpayers. So three out of four ain't bad. Not ironically, Politifact doesn't bother to investigate Tate implicating taxpayer funding for the "Wisconsin Welcomes You" signs.

I'm not writing this to defend Tate. Clearly, he has the ability to write his own take on Politifact's story if he so chooses. But I do see vendetta-like political motivation by a so-called fact-checker to double-down on statements from an admitted mistaken narrative.

Of course, my main point here is not about Politifact. It's about Wisconsin state government, whether through its bureaucracy or legislation, having policies and people in key decision-making positions awarding contracts that seem to NOT take state-based jobs or state-based payrolls into account. Whether the contracts being outsourced are taxpayer or privately funded is totally irrelevant.

I brought up this same problem during the Skyward contract fiasco.

It seems the state would rather outsource a $50 million payroll if it means saving a million. Saving taxpayers money is the common political refrain, but it doesn't make economic sense if you lose an industry. Even though the blue signs are privately funded, the decision to outsource was not a private business decision.

If the state is going to "err" on awarding contracts, could they at least use their government monopoly of awarding contracts to create and keep jobs here? So we have jobs for our taxpayers? Yet according to the most recent reports, the Derse/Interstate contract mess saves nothing and changes nothing EXCEPT to potentially outsource a payroll.

None of this makes economic sense, unless it's for political payback.