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Monday, February 28, 2011

Strong-arm Tactics Being Used By Republicans

FireDogLake Excerpt:
A bit more on the fast-moving story in the Capitol Building in Madison, Wisconsin:

• Clearly Scott Walker and the Capitol police are trying to deprive protesters of having access to the building. Both Defend Wisconsin and a coalition of labor unions have filed lawsuits and other enforcement actions. Defend(ing) Wisconsin went to US District Court to try to pry open the Capitol. Labor is filing for a temporary restraining order (TRO). more >>>

Some of the major points in this story are:

* Illegal denial of access into a public building, which under the Wisconsin state constitution is prohibited.

* A cancer patient was denied access during a medical emergency.

* Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is attempting to take control of Democratic staffers time sheets and whether or not they are paid.

* Republicans in the state senate threatened to kick Republican senator Dale Schultz out of their caucus for proposing a modest compromise with unions and senate Dems.

Ericming5 (twitter) Capitol Updates:
Father of the Speaker and Senate majority leader is now in charge of the capitol from rumblings. Bolts then seem unsuprising. #WIunion

UPDATE: Defend Wisconsin reports that there are now metal detectors (that’s brand new) for access into the building, and bags are being searched. People are being let in via one entrance with three lines: one for constituents with appointments, one for protesters, and one for public hearings. Some Assembly Democrats are making appointments with people to help them obtain access.

Photos: Janesville Solidarity Rally

The Janesville Solidarity Rally held this past Thursday during evening hours at the Rock County Courthouse opened up with chants of "Thank you Tim, thank you Tim, thank you Tim" in honor of Sen. Tim Cullen for being one of the Wisconsin 14 holding firm in the face of Walker's ideological class war against the employed. The peaceful crowd of several hundred enthusiatic defenders of rights and freedom appeared compact on the court house lawn, huddling close in on a few organizers and local workers bullhorning an exhilarating message of unity and strength.

A Janesville Gazette reporter was spotted in the crowd taking notes for an article they'll likely never publish.

My personal favorite, a supporter with his beeuuutiful Solidarity poster.

Thanks to Bob C. for the photos. I owe you one.

Check out 50 photos from the 50 state rallies to Save the American Dream.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Are Republicans Beginning to Break From Walker's War On the Employed?

DailyKos Excerpt:
Dale Schultz, Senator from Wisconsin's 17th Senatorial District will not vote for Gov. Walker's Union busting Koch Bros. abomination. Not sure how many we need to stop this, but I heard a young lady say "we need two more" on the Qik feed.

I'd like to see six break since we probably can't trust half of them. But in the meantime...

Please contact:
Luther Olsen, District 14
Madison Phone: (608) 266-0751; Toll-Free: (800) 991-5541
Dan Kapanke, District 32
(608) 266-5490 Or
(800) 385-3385
And thank Dale Schultz

If you live in their district, call, email, write snail mail, or knock on the doors of these Republican Senators:
Kapanke, Olsen, Hopper, Darling, Harsdorf, Cowles. All are in districts carried by Obama and all are eligible for recall.
Contact information and district maps at

Cross posted comments from Dailykos, badger1968.

Janesville Republican Chose Between Constituency and Party On Bill

From Saturday's Janesville Gazette article titled, "We have to make sacrifices now."

JG excerpt:
In casting his vote, Knilans said he balanced his GOP affiliation with the demands of his constituency in a strong union district.

Knilans measured his party affiliation against the demands of his constituency. Then proceeded to vote his priority.

"It had gotten to the point where the Democrats were saying the same things over and over," Knilans said. They weren't offering any new alternatives."

Hey Joe, how many of the Democrats 100 alternatives did you help sponsor or vote for?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Only Private Sector Employers Are Gifted With Cadillac Benefits

According to a blog article posted in Forbes, out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

Forbes Excerpt: (Rick Ungar)
If the Wisconsin governor and state legislature were to be honest, they would correctly frame this issue. They are not, in fact, asking state employees to make a larger contribution to their pension and benefits programs as that would not be possible - the employees are already paying 100% of the contributions. more

Additional source

There is no denying taxpayers pay the total compensation package for public employees. But it is earned compensation diced up and negotiated for through union contracts. It's the "negotiation" part of the benefits they want to get rid of - those pesky unions.

Some folks think that because public employees total compensation package comes from the taxpayer, Ungar's statement is misleading. Yet, if you truly believe that public employees contribute nothing to their benefits package, then you must also believe that private sector workers contribute NOTHING to their health care and benefits package too. Since all of the money they've earned and contributed to their benefits also came from their employer as well. In that construct, all workers, public and private, contribute the same amount to their benefits - nothing. It's little more than a shell game, but the shell game is not the real issue here. The issue has been framed to be about the state budget and how much taxpayers are led to believe they over-contribute to public employee's benefits.

Unfortunately, because of the American mediacorpse many Wisconsin taxpayers wrongly believe that public sector workers are gifted with excessive taxpayer paid benefits and pensions they don't deserve or are far better than those offered in the private sector. When in fact it is private sector employers who are feeding at the taxpayer trough in order to pay for a large portion of their employees health care costs.

Here's why.

Have you given thought to who really pays a major portion of a private sector worker's health care package? Taxpayers do! That's right. In the form of a $2,500 tax credit for individuals and about a $5,500 tax credit for families that the employer picks up annually from the good ol' U.S. government. What has the private sector done to earn or negotiate for this often unnoticed government "entitlement?" Absolutely nothing! Why, they didn't even do community service to work for the tax credits. So, a large portion of private sector benefits are actually subsidized - not earned. While the public sector compensation packages are negotiated earnings - not subsidized.

If we really wanted to cut state and federal government deficits, we should instead be eliminating the health care tax credits employers like Koch Industries pick up from U.S. taxpayers for each of their employees. Exactly how else do you think certain private employers accumulated their billions? Through hard work and sweat? Oh please.

Instead, Big Corpse and their bought and paid for stooge politicians are playing us for fools. They have us tearing our communities, families and friendships apart over a phantom menace, while their profits soar. Heartless zombies laughing all the way to the bank.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shame The Cowards: 51 Working Class Zeroes

The vote was 51 Yea to 17 Nay with 28 Not Voting

Local republicans, Knilans, Wynn, Loudenbeck and August voted "Yea" to pass the class war bill.

Vote tally

TPM -- WI Assembly GOP Passes Walker Budget In Surprise Vote -- Dems Chant "Shame!"

Video: After The Vote (Credit: Slate Reporter David Wiegel)

Wisconsin's Koch'ed Out Governor

Walker fights wind power projects - Good for Koch

Walker stops project to convert power plants to burn biofuels - Good for Koch

Walker stops trains - Good for Koch

Walker to sell or contract out power plants with no bidding allowed - Good for Koch

Koch Industries lobbied the bill to limit damage awards in lawsuits against businesses - Good for Koch

Another Koch Industries-backed bill is to weaken state regulations by giving Walker the power to approve all rules proposed by agencies - Good for Koch

Walker severely weakens/kills unions - Good for Koch

Matt Seaholm, State Director of Americans for Prosperity in Wisconsin, served as Congressman Sean Duffy’s Chief of Staff in Washington after having served as his campaign manager. Prior to that, Seaholm worked for Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald in Madison as a policy advisor.

During the 2008 campaign, Seaholm was Deputy Director of the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee under then-Speaker of the Assembly Mike Huebsch. David Koch is Chairman of the Americans for Prosperity.

Good for Koch.
Good for Republicans.
Good For Walker.

Man. These people get around like cock roaches.

What You Must Know About Wisconsin Power Plants and The Koch Brothers

DailyKos Excerpt:
“[the department] may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state.”

Connecting the dots would easily lead one to Koch Industries, right? This is one of the areas they specialize in – energy. Thanks to Ian Murphy at Buffalo Beast, we have clear proof of what we have known all along, that Scott Walker works for the Koch Brothers. The Kochs have quietly set up their alternative governor’s office just around the corner from that big pizzeria in the middle of the capitol square in Madison.

The Kochs funneled millions into Walker’s campaign. They’re right around the corner from the governor. They specialize in energy industries. How can they possibly claim this:

“We have no interest in purchasing any of the state owned power plants in Wisconsin and any allegations to the contrary are completely false.”


They can claim it because it’s true. They have no interest in buying the aging plants. What they want is a contract for the operation of the plants, which the governor will be authorized to draw up and sign with no oversight, no public announcement, and no limit on the amount Wisconsin taxpayers like me will pay to the Koch brothers. more >>>

"Why is a 3% tax increase on the richest considered "socialism" but a 14% pay cut on the middle class is "doing your part?" --tweet posted at Democurmudgeon

Latest Video From Capitol...Help Walker Break His Koch Addiction

DailyKos Walker Won't Back Down Unless...

Act Blue Donate To Wisconsin Senate Democrats Fund

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just Another Day in The Office For Walker


Sen. Tim Carpenter (3rd District) Excerpt: Wispolitics

At a historic moment in our State’s history, brought on by your refusal to compromise with elected officials regarding the elimination of worker’s rights, you still refuse to talk with Democratic legislators. However, you apparently have no problem taking a phone call from “Mr. Koch” and to:

• Discuss your strategy to lay off public workers to seek partisan advantage to pass your agenda;

• Discuss your plan to lure Democratic legislators to the Capitol on the pretext of negotiation, but then state that you would never actually negotiate;

• Discuss your plan to use the pretext of negotiation to get a quorum for legislative fiscal action that Republicans so far have not been able to do;

• Discuss that you considered the “planting” of paid troublemakers into the peaceful protests at our Capitol; and to

• Give your enthusiastic acceptance to an offer from “Koch” to fly you out on a vacation to show you a “good time” once you “crush these bastards.” Your response was “That would be outstanding…” Given that Koch’s businesses could reap vast rewards with the ‘no bid’ sale of the Wisconsin’s power plants that you propose in your budget repair bill, this response is severely troubling.


Folkbum's Excerpt:

I am writing to ask for a criminal investigation into the actions of the office of Governor Scott Walker.

I refer to the recently publicized tape of a phone call in which Gov. Walker responds to a caller’s (pretending to be one David Koch) suggestion (vis) [“But, uh, what we were thinking about the crowds was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.”] to place agents provocateur among the citizens protesting the Wisconsin budget bill, to which Walker replies, “You know, the, well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that. more>>>

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rallies Set For Janesville - Beloit

Rock the Rock Valley

There is a rally doubleheader lined up for Thursday.

Beloit Rally: Thursday, February 24, 4:00PM, 1240 Riverside Drive

Janesville Rally: Thursday, February 24, 7:45, Downtown Courthouse (51 S Main St.) on Main St. Sidewalk.


More notes here

EXPLOSIVE CONVERSATION: Walker Plots With Koch Poser

Part 1

Beast Excerpt:

Part 2

Video: Washington Stands In Solidarity With Wisconsin

Koch Brothers Quietly Open Lobbying Office In Madison

Capital Times Excerpt:
The lobbyists for Koch Companies Public Sector registered with the state on January 5, two days after Walker's inauguration.

The expanded lobbying effort by the Koch brothers in Wisconsin raises red flags in particular because of a little discussed provision in Walker's repair bill that would allow Koch Industries and other private companies to purchase state-owned power plants in no-bid contracts. more>>>

Nothing to see here ...move along.

Walker Threatens Lay-Offs. When Are The Jobs?

JS Online Excerpt:

Walker said Tuesday morning the state could send out layoff notices to state workers as soon as next week if the budget standoff is not resolved.

Speaking at the WISC-TV (Channel 3) studios, the Republican governor said he would have to send out the notices next week to start seeking savings for the state budget if his repair bill is not passed. Walker said workers would not be laid off immediately and a spokesman later confirmed that.

Walker won't even negotiate to negotiate the process of negotiation. Claims ending collective bargaining is necessary to solve most of the state's budget problems, then chides Democrats for not coming to the table. During Walker's "fireside" chat yesterday, he said if the bill isn't passed soon, he will have to lay off 1,500 works in June.

Let's see. He'll lay off thousands of workers in the public sector in order to "save" the money needed to fill a slush fund for tax credits and cash hand-outs incentivizing billionaires to create jobs. Got it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

GOP Establishment, Koch Bros. Tilting The Tables In Wisconsin

TMJ4 Excerpt:
In 2010, Koch's political action committee gave Governor Walker's campaign $43,000 it's second largest contribution. So what? Well, to save money, the Governor's controversial budget bill would allow the state to "sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without the solicitation of bids."

Critics say no-bids could mean some sweet deals for Koch.

DailyKos Excerpt

Oh my, we got ourselves quite a tail-wagging going on in Wisconsin. You are thinking, what? This is about collective bargaining and workers' rights!

Bullshit. You are being wagged.

As always this has to do with money, and the union "compromise" coming down the pipe was set up to be the "booby" prize while the Koch Brothers get their "booty" prize. This is all being well-orchestrated with an end game that has absolutely nothing to do with unions.

As I said in comments before, to much bewilderment, this is about power plants and a vertical monopoly the Koch Brothers have their eye on in Wisconsin.

So in short:

1) Koch Brothers get their puppet Governor Walker in power
2) Governor Walker gins up a crisis
3) Democrats and Progressives take the bait and counter-protest on collective bargaining
4) Governor Walker will compromise on collective bargaining if the rest of the budget is passed as is
5) Bill passes, with trojan horse give-a-way to the Koch Brothers nested in
6) Koch Brothers will buy Wisconsin state-owned power plants for pennies on the dollar in closed unsolicitated bids for which there will be no oversight
7) Koch Brothers get the best vertical monopoly in a generation.

Motherjones Excerpt (Andy Kroll)
Now here is where it gets tricky. Right now everyone thinks this is about collective bargaining and the rights of the worker, especially to assemble.
This is what these two Kochs want you to think. See, they are ginning up a great big whole controversy to hide something deep in the bill that they think no one will notice.

See, Governor Walker is going to back down on collective bargaining at the end of the day, if the Democrats will just "compromise" and pass the rest of the budget as is. The Democratic Party will view it as a success in policy and Progressives the land over will be doing a victory dance. The Kochs will be laughing at you all, because they just played y'all like a fiddle.

Even without those suspicions, this whole bill is a pig. It has everything thrown in it to see what they can get away with. Union busting, anti-gay legislation, selling state run infrastructure, no bid contracts, Medicaid take aways, BadgerCare, SeniorCare, pension raiding, cronyism, the dictator clause, by-passing of the legislature....what else haven't we seen?

Yet, Walker and the Koch Bros. couldn't pull this off without more help. Not just from state GOP legislators but with planning months before the election from others buried within the GOP borg. Most notiably, Rep. Paul Ryan and Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks.

This is all scary but it makes an awful lot of sense. If true, Scott Walker could be the most conniving if not corrupt governor in the history of Wisconsin.

Additional: More evidence available here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Local Taxpayer Jurisdictions Will Get Hammered By Walker


Channel 3000 Excerpt:
"On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said that Gov. Walker's budget announcement, now scheduled for March 1, will explain why negotiations and concessions in the repair bill aren't happening.

"I think that will be the other piece of the puzzle that will demonstrate, unfortunately, both education and shared revenue will take significant reductions in those areas," said Sen. Fitzgerald. "And the local levels of government will be forced to manage those budgets and the only way they're going to be able to do that is if there's changes to collective bargaining."

That's the plan. Blame it on collective bargaining. Got a toothache? Blame it on collective bargaining. Slipped on the sidewalk today? Blame it on collective bargaining. Can't share the burden among everyone to pay the bills? Blame collective bargaining. What you say? Local governments will have to raise taxes and levies? Yep - blame it on collective bargaining.

Look at the bright side, Walker will get to keep his promise to not raise taxes hook or by crook. He'll hand out tax breaks to the top and shovel out billions to his road building base.

Even if it kills us.

Anti-Union Newspaper Slams Unions For Not Co-opting State Supreme Court Primary

The Janesville Gazette, with never a good word to say about organized labor unions, blasted unions in today's editorial for not co-opting Wisconsin's Supreme Court primary race.

Janesville Gazette Editorial Excerpt:
...unions protesting at the Capitol missed a great opportunity to send a loud and clear message to elected officials. Unions could have rallied members to support one of the four judicial candidates.

Their message to every elected official would have been to pay attention to us or the next time we'll target your seat.

Unions are trying to send a loud and clear message in the Capitol right now. Are you listening?

This would have been bad advice if it were coming from a pro-union newspaper. Judicial primary and general elections deserve to be carried out with as little WMC-like strongarm tactics as possible. They belong to the people to choose and the people to turnout.

But we'll see what will happen as the general election closes in. You can bet the WMC will fire up their thug brigades and deceptive ads. The working taxpayers of Wisconsin will have to respond one way or another, or expect to suffer the consequences of continued judicial decline ushered in by the recently elected Michael Gableman and Annette Ziegler.

The Gazette went as far as to saddle the unions with the blame for the state's low primary election turnout.

Note: This Gazette editorial is not available online.

Walker's Governing Style Helps Cover His Incompetence

Outside of the obvious, that Scott Walker has taken the national Republican corporate classwar position against state workers, teachers and organized labor, is the fact that he brought his well practiced "pawn it off on somebody else" incompetence when he was the Milwaukee County executive, right into the Governor's Mansion.

Capital Times Excerpt:
At his State of the State speech earlier this month, Gov. Scott Walker reiterated talking points from the campaign trail that "tough choices" need to be made to reform state government.

If Walker's budget repair bill passes, those tough choices, likely in the form of layoffs for union employees, will be passed from the state to local municipalities.

The above link came attached in an email from a friend, it read.....

This is what I've been saying since day one. Walker's fix allow locals to destroy their workers to make up for massive shortfalls that are coming in his state busting budget.

He starts by screwing unions, giving locals, to use his words, "tools" to screw their people. With the massive cuts that are coming in his budget, the shortfalls have to be made up somewhere falls to locals to layoff or eliminate their people. So he gets to say "I didn't lay anyone off." No, the locals will because you forced them too governor. Layoffs are coming if this passes or not, there is no way around it.

THAT is exactly how Walker managed his job as the Milwaukee county executive. What he refused to do or was incapable of performing for his county, he pushed back into Doyle's lap calling it an unfunded mandate - here YOU make the cuts, or you fund it and manage it - it's YOUR program. Now that he's governor, it's all in reverse and so is the screw.

Of course he'll likely get away with this as governor because he's deliberately reframing the screw under the guise of handing locals more power and control - but of course - no money.

Here is an open letter to then County Executive Scott Walker from the Milwaukee Area Labor Council in March of 2009, it read...

Marquette Tribune Excerpt:
I was deeply troubled to read about your plans to lay off at least 230 unionized county employees to solve your budget problems. Not only did you fail to inform our union members of these plans, but you disrespected your own employees by putting their jobs, benefits and salaries on the chopping block first, while presenting no other solutions to the budget.

This is unbelievable considering that you have declined hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that could save these very same positions.

I'm convinced that Walker is aiming to take Wisconsin's $50+ billion annual budget and screw it down to Indiana's level - about $28 billion - and worry about the carnage later. Everything ...I mean everything is on the chopping block EXCEPT tax breaks to billionaires and massive taxpayer fed slush funds for his road building campaign contributors.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Janesville Video: You're Not The Guv For Me

“If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool.” – Abraham Lincoln

When Progressive Republicans in Wisconsin and likewise Democrats enacted Public Union legislation; a no strike provision was enacted. Based upon these two statements: Governor Walker is either a liar or a fool.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Video: State Employee Riots Exposed

Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:

South Carolina -50th
North Carolina -49th
Georgia -48th
Texas -47th
Virginia -44th

If you were wondering, Wisconsin ranked #2.

Note: Not sure about the accuracy to the statement, but the rankings are correct. And that is damn sure something for Wisconsin to be proud of.

Paul Ryan Still Not Making Sense. You Can't Make This Stuff Up

From Taegan Goddard at Political Wire:

Ryan Attacks Obama For Opposing Proposal Ryan Opposed

In an interview with Mike Allen, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) criticized President Obama for failing to adopt the recommendations of the Bipartisan Deficit Commission, of which Ryan was a member:

"I was on the commission. And you know what he did? He didn't accept -- he didn't take one of the big recommendations of the commission, he basically disavowed the commission."

Of course, Ryan himself actually voted against the commission's final report.

Jonathan Chait: "You know what a good follow-up question would be? "So, Paul Ryan you voted against the commission's proposals! How can you attack Obama for failing to endorse policies you voted against?""

Rock, Net and Roots Shirts Now Available Through CafePress

Forgive me for the moment folks but I'm going to engage in something I've never done here before on my blog, a little bit of crass salesmanship capitalism due to the great response on my graphic "Wisconsin Solidarity Rising," state map. I've decided to link up with CafePress to produce a line of custom Tee-shirts and well...mugs, at the grand opening of the "Rock, Net and Roots" online store. I've priced them a couple dollars under market average according to CP's market pricing structure. The regular Tee's are just under $20 while we have a value shirt for under $12. The shirts are available titled with the original "Solidarity" or "Wisconsin" or "Progressive" for now. The image is a higher resolution with a much crisper outline of the state than what you see posted here on the blog.

Would appreciate any and all of your purchases. Believe me, you'll be supporting a great cause right now - the continuation of this blog in our common battle against corporate governance and the sold-out media.

You can get 'em here at the CafePress.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Welcoming Sign For Tea Party Insurgents

45 protest signs seen in Madison
Buzzfeed Picture Show

Wisconsin Solidarity - A Sharper Image

I've been deluged with requests from readers whether they can borrow the Wisconsin Solidarity graphic posted here on my blog. The answer is yes, individuals can use the graphic on their Webpages, blogs, Facebook, etc., and also on posters and their personal T-shirts for the protests in Madison and elsewhere. To those individuals I am only asking that you leave the Rock Netroots name intact in the bottom left corner.

Of course, I drew this graphic about a week ago inspired by the rising solidarity movement taking place here in Wisconsin. The original image was drawn intentionally small (416px wide by 387px in height) so it would not lose proportion and become distorted while being shrunk down by Blogger to fit on my blog. With that said, some of the requests received were for a larger image for T-shirts and posters along with higher resolution. Several folks asked if I can supply it billboard size. Thanks for that. I love it!!

If someone however is interested in using the image for personal gain and profit (such as selling T-shirts, placards or a billboard!!, I kindly suggest that you email me to work out a deal. I'm reasonable.

* Sorry folks, but the larger hi-res image is no longer available *

Paul Ryan Insults Protesters In Madison

Rep. Paul Ryan was asked for his take on the latest events happening in Madison.

TPM Excerpt:
"So he's (Walker) basically saying, I want you public workers to pay half of what our private sector counterparts are, and he's getting, you know, riots. It's like Cairo has moved to Madison these days. -- Rep. Paul Ryan

Riots huh?

Don't be fooled by the the slickster Ryan. He in no way meant to juxtapose Walker with Mubarak. Instead, he was equating Wisconsinites marching in Madison with Fox News Channel's slanderous definition of the "Muslim Brotherhood" in Cairo.

Here's why I believe that. Back in June of '07, a union member letter writer to the Janesville Gazette wrote of his outrage towards Paul Ryan during an encounter he had when the congressman compared union members to Saddam Hussein's oppressive thugs in Bagdad.

Excerpt From June, 2007
When he compared proud, American union card carriers with Saddam Hussein's terrorist minions, he slapped the people of his district, the state of Wisconsin and the United States as a whole right across the face. –- letter writer (proud union member)

The union member's letter received a rebuttal letter from one of Ryan's supporters a week later. It read...

Rebuttal Excerpt:
Under Saddam, if you wanted a job in Iraq, you had to join the Ba’ath Party. Ryan tried to explain the requirements in a way that residents of southern Wisconsin would understand that joining the party was an innocent way to help your family and improve your living standards, like joining a union. -- (Ryan defender)

Great, American labor unions are just like the Ba'ath Party. It's join them to better your economic circumstances or else face brute force and rape according to their explanation. Yet, near the end of the rebuttal letter the writer actually tried to imply that Ryan supports labor unions.

I know this isn't much new information, but that's the context Ryan and his supporters view unions. You have to practically reprogram your brain with the twisted polarity fields of an ideologically broken Ryan or Glenn Beck to believe that labor unions are little more than useful tools to spread a socialist caliphate of wealth redistribution and domestic terror.

In the riveting video below, Ed Shultz has Paul Ryan pegged perfectly for his tongue-in-cheek insult. Shultz' comment on Ryan is near the end.

Ed Shultz In Madison

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Video: Firefighters And More March In Madison

Video courtesy of Democurmudgeon

Video: Cops Join Solidarity Blogging Blue

Mad In Madison. Latest slideshow from TPM

“What Gov. Walker is doing is a direct assault on Wisconsin history and Wisconsin traditions and Wisconsin rules of fair play. It is one of the least Wisconsin-like things I’ve ever seen anyone do. The notion this is about the budget is a complete sham … This is about an agenda of destroying unions... This is a template that is being attempted by the right and the corporate interests to see if it can work elsewhere. Walker volunteered to step into this first. He volunteered to be the great union buster. We will all respond to this very firmly and aggressively. And fight this as hard as we possibly can.”
-- Russ Feingold

Walker, State Republicans Using Democracy To Kill Itself

JS Online Excerpt:
Madison — Law enforcement officers are searching for Democratic senators boycotting a Senate vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair plan Thursday in an attempt to bring the lawmakers to the floor to allow Republicans to move forward with action on the bill.

There were few times when I've been as proud of our students, teachers, workers and democratic legislators than right now. It's Walker and the Republicans who are abdicating their civic responsibility to defend freedom and democracy.


Walker Can't Game The System Without Budget Crisis

Capital times Excerpt:
To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes -- or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues -- the “crisis” would not exist.

The Fiscal Bureau memo -- which readers can access here -- makes it clear that Walker did not inherit a budget that required a repair bill.

The facts are not debatable.

Because of the painful choices made by the previous Legislature, Wisconsin is in better shape fiscally than most states.

Wisconsin has lower unemployment than most states.

Wisconsin has better prospects for maintaining great schools, great public services and a great quality of life than most states, even in turbulent economic times.

Unfortunately, Walker has a political agenda that relies on the fantasy that Wisconsin is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Walker is not interested in balanced budgets, efficient government or meaningful job creation.

Walker is interested in gaming the system to benefit his political allies and campaign contributors.

To put the $140 million Walker and his partisan henchmen spent into proper perspective, it would have paid for over 20 years of the operational expenses for the train he said we couldn't afford. Just to payback his cronies, he turns down an $810 million capital injection into the state. Let's not even think about the added intangible economic activity that the train would have carried into the state.

Scott Walker's Manufactured Crisis

The Wisconsin budget is $3.6 billion in deficit according to Governor Scott Walker. We are in crisis! 200,000 children will be kicked off of Badger Care and 6,000 employees will be laid off! Call the National Guard! Dissolve the unions!

But are we really in that severe of a financial crisis? Check out what Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Pocan has to say about that.

Related: Walker Inflates Budget Deficit To $3.6 Billion

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Walker's Reckless Business Scheme Circumvents Water Conservation Rates

Remember when Janesville city officials incorporated a water rate billing plan developed by the environmental advocacy group Clean Wisconsin? The idea was that Janesville water utility customers would be rewarded for conserving water by paying less per unit of water as their water usage decreases, a reverse of the current billing system. In other words, the end of volume discounts.

Well, Walker and his "open for business" advisors found a way to get around the water conservation measure for his corporate contributors in the deceptively titled "budget repair bill." Excerpt:
The most remarkable of these credits is the Water Consumption Credit. The credit allows industrial enterprises to defer up to $300,000 a year in payments to the municipal water company. This credit can be claimed each year from 2009 until 2020. Credits such as this, along with the relatively tax-free Development Opportunity Zones and Enterprise Zones have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in tax funds that have been funneled right back into the pockets of big business.

Back then when the Janesville city council approved of the new water rate plan, I thought the Janesville business establishment and their politically active lobbyist group (Forward Janesville) were eerily quiet about the impact it could have on volume users.

In addition to Janesville being declared a tax-free Development Opportunity Zone, industrial users will now also have the luxury of state taxpayers picking up their tab for water usage. So the "little people" in Janesville are not only paying a little more for our household water to help conserve water, we're also footing the bill for the biggest industrial consumers.

Locally, before you thank Forward Janesville for this outrage ask them, "what else is there that we don't know?"

Surfing For Solidarity

Blogging Blue Photo Stream

JS online Photo Album

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Blue Cheddar Photos and story

Video: UW-Madison Students and Others Rally.

Walker Plan Could Hit Private Sector In Pocketbook
Capital Times Excerpt:
Using traditional economic calculations, the report estimates a loss of some $600 million a year in production in the private sector. The idea is that if people have less money to spend, then business will end up selling less and producing less. The Walker plan would also increase the state unemployment rate and reduce sales tax collections as cash-strapped consumers spend less, according to the IWF.

High School Students Lead The Way Excerpt:
Nearly 800 Madison East High School students walked out of school Tuesday morning to join a demonstration against Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill at the Capitol. As teachers beamed and offered thanks, student organizers in the hallways handed out signs identifying each as a "future worker, future voter," proclaiming this was a "Walk out for Walker out," and calling on the Legislature to "kill this bill."

Retiring Guys Digest
“Here’s one reliable test of good public policy: You don’t have to call out the National Guard when you propose it.” -- Mayor Dave

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Video: City Council Member Reads Letter To Gov. Walker

Video: Janesville Teachers Solidarity Rally

Around 300 people rallied in a parking lot (on one day notice) at Janesville’s Craig High School on Monday evening. They heard union leaders and others condemn Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public sector workers and their bargaining rights.

Word on the street is GOP thugs are being brought in to break up or steer rallies and poison the discourse with counter threats and violence to incite peaceful protesters. Be careful visiting new blogs or facebook pages that are set up overnight to run false propaganda and event information. Only trust information from blogs you're familiar with and those with archives of at least a year.

More Unions Finding Common Ground Against Walker

"He calls unions unreasonable while making no attempt to talk to the unions," said Marty Beil, executive director of AFSCME Council 24.

"We wouldn't advocate for anything that will be to the detriment of labor," said Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.

Their focus now, according to Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, is to "make legislators understand the effect on communities."

Candice Owley, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, bluntly outlined one of those effects: "This puts our patients in danger."

Several speakers made reference to Walker's desire to run the state like a business. In their view, however, no successful business would treat its workers the way he has. "Well-managed corporations don't destroy decades of labor relations with a week's notice," said Michael Bolton, director of United Steelworkers District 2.

Danny McGowan, legislative liaison for Teamsters Joint Council 39, likened Walker's administration to a "dictatorship" for its one-sided approach to managing the state's problems.

Sgt. Dave McClure, vice president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, says his group intends to post a statement on its website later today. It is also looking into taking out an ad in Wednesday's Wisconsin State Journal, and it is actively encouraging its membership to show up for this week's rallies against the budget bill at the state Capitol. More >>>

Monday, February 14, 2011

Notes On Walker's Assault On Workers

Video from Today’s Labor Rally at Wisconsin’s Capitol

I find it totally bizarre that some folks are comparing Walker’s three day push to ram through his union busting bill with Obama's health care reform bill. There’s just no camparison. Say what you will, but Obama's HCR had nearly a year of hearings, debates and townhalls held across the country before it was passed. Show me the state assembly and senate townhalls on Walker’s union busting bill? Anybody? Not one.

Then there’s the “I would like to ask the people that are opposed to this plan, how would you fix the $3.3 billion deficit? "

The answer is simple. A true leader would sit down with agency heads, mid-level supervisors, workers, their representatives and their unions and start negotiating. The state has a deficit to fix. People get it. On top of that, the Wisconsin legislature is now full of low-wage tea-bag conservatives who campaigned and won as "cutters" and "savers." The Joe Knilans, Tyler August's, Evan Wynn’s, Neal Kedzie’s, Loudenback and the rest should step up and show us why they were elected and what their districts are willing to sacrifice in state aid cuts. $5 million each would be a good start. There are 99 assembly districts. That would add up to a half-a-billion dollars. Start doing your jobs. But instead, they're attacking workers. If this were really about the budget and equal sacrifice, Walker would sit down in every Assembly and Senate member's office and lay down what the goal is and ask how much THEIR district can pledge towards reducing state aid, and how long those sacrifices will be needed to remain in place. That’s what needs to be done. Not attacking workers. But you know that would never happen. Conservatives? Not! Phonies and cowards? Absolutely!

But the absolute worst thing the governor can say is, "I have a problem and there's nothing to negotiate." That's not leadership. That's a fool.

This isn’t about the budget. It’s about grabbing power and busting labor unions. That Walker might be able to save a couple hundred million in the process is totally incidental.

Let’s not kids ourselves here. Walker is doing the dirty work of the anti-union WMC and their local satellite contribution syndicates like Forward Janesville and the "Rock County 5.0." Aided by their media monopoly partner the Janesville Gazette, they have been eerily quiet hoping that Walker gets his way. Afterwards, it'll be champagne and caviar. But not for you.

In addition to all the sound and fury over labor issues, Walker also intends on scrapping BadgerCare and Medicaid altogether by revamping the normal legislative processes, public vetting, and even state laws to give non-elected bureaucrats unprecedented power to signficantly modify and supersede most statutory provisions regarding the programs. Very serious stuff that will put almost 20% of Wisconsin's population in the gutter.

Read Walker's bill here.

Here are a few other highlights from the proposed bill that are lost in light of the major changes being proposed by the governor. The question is "Who is Governor Walker really serving?" It is certainly not the people of Wisconsin. The following passage containing five points was sent to me by a reader.

1. Local municipalities will have to hold a referendum to increase general municipal employee wages above the consumer price index amount (p59). The same is true for local school boards (p105)

2. Takes away the rights on local municipalities to establish benefit pension plans unless employees pay one half of all actuarial required contributions (p60)

3. The directors of many state agencies would be given the authority to appoint a deputy director (p108) or an executive assistant. If they all appoint a deputy director, it will be more jobs for “friends and supporters” at a much higher cost to taxpayers.

4. Creates rules that allow “an appointing authority may reassign an employee in a career executive position to a career executive position in any agency if the appointing authority in the agency to which the employee is to be reassigned approves of the reassignment.” (p113)

5. For the following departments, staffing is reduced by the said amount in each department only to be replaced by an unclassified division administrator. The number in parenthesis represents the reduction in FTE and offsetting increase in division administrator FTE’s. The areas of government are: Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (3); Children and Families (3); Department of Corrections (3), Department of Finances (2); Health Services (3); Insurance (2); Natural Resources (3); Public Service Commission (3); Regulation and Licensing (2); Revenue (3), Tourism (1), Transportation (3); and Workforce Development (2). These changes are on pages 120 to 122; 126 to 130; 132 to 133 of the bill respectively. The exception is the Department of Administration which will swap 2 FTEs for 3 unclassified division administrator FTE’s. The changes will result in 36 new division administrators and 35 fewer line staff to do the work. Is this part of the job creation plan? Will it result in higher costs to taxpayers? Who will fill these new division administrator positions?.

Although the mainstream media and Walker’s supporters refer to this as a “budget repair bill” there is no doubt that it is a “Theft Of Wages and Benefits” strategy roadmap designed to crush the working and middle-classes. Folks Walker refers to as the “haves.”

According to the Albert Shanker Institute, there is no correlation between a state's budget gap and public workers with collective bargaining rights. On the other hand there is evidence of a strong correlation between a regressive tax rate (Wisconsin for example) where the poor pay a larger portion of their income in taxes than do the rich) and a state budget gap.

Related: Eye On Wisconsin -- Despotic bill is not about the budget

Stand In Solidarity Wisconsin

Please do what you can. Call, email your legislators. Attend a rally in Madison if possible. Make phone calls to people who can help make a difference. Spread the word among your friends, neighbors, Facebook and Twitter.

>>> Labor to Stand in Solidarity, leaders from both private and public unions will stand in solidarity against Walker's radical proposal. Monday, 11 AM at the Concourse Hotel, Madison. More info here.

>>> Rally Info from the Wisconsin State Employees Union here.

>>> Fair Wisconsin -- Join Fair Wisconsin and thousands of union members and allies for an 11am rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday!

>>> AFT Wisconsin - A union of professionals, rally for collective bargaining.

>>> WEAC Rally help stop this radical attack on Wisconsin Workers.

>>> Support Wisconsin Workers, Boycott Johnsonville and Sargento.

Available Now! Official Rock Netroots "Solidarity" T-shirts and other goodies available at CafePress.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO Ad

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why Does Walker Hate Freedom, Capitalism?

>>> Rally Info from the Wisconsin State Employees Union here.

>>> Fair Wisconsin -- Join Fair Wisconsin and thousands of union members and allies for an 11am rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday!

>>> AFT Wisconsin - A union of professionals, rally for collective bargaining.

>>> WEAC Rally help stop this radical attack on Wisconsin Workers.

What is at stake here are not only the wages and benefits but the right for American workers to form an association or union to seek better lives for themselves. To seek the best wages, working conditions, benefits and pensions possible through discourse, negotiation and hard work. That's pure capitalism. Imagine two people trying to work the lowest price on a home purchase and the armed buyer just says, "forget it, because I can't afford it, I have nothing to negotiate. I'm taking the house and burning it down." That's Walker.

Why does Walker hate freedom? Why does Walker hate capitalism?

The following excerpt is from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin


Today is a dark day in the history of our state and that is exactly why I'm asking you to take the following four steps to fight for Wisconsin's middle class.

1. Call, write or e-mail your local legislators, Republican or Democrat: Let them know you oppose the power grab by Walker that puts the Wisconsin way of life in peril.

2. Call Scott Walker himself: Let him know that raising the specter of the National Guard is inflammatory and not what we expect out of our leaders. Tell him him to work for all the citizens of the state, and not just for his corporate contributors.

3. Canvass your community: The most effective action that you can take is to talk to your friends and neighbors about protecting the rights of working families in Wisconsin. It is essential that you, our grassroots activists across Wisconsin, start canvassing today.

4. Rally and respond: Beginning on Tuesday and Wednesday we will be rallying at the Capitol, as Walker seeks to impose his skewed values on Wisconsin. Join us in Madison to make your voice heard.

This was a very bad day for all working people in Wisconsin. But now is the time to let your voices be heard. Now is the time to fight for Wisconsin's way of life.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gov. Walker Prepares Wisconsin National Guard To Crush Worker Rebellion

Reminiscent of the time Reagan crushed the air traffic controllers union by replacing them with military personnel.

Chicago tribune Excerpt:
MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond wherever is necessary in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from state employees.

Walker said Friday that he hasn't called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems that could result in a disruption of state services, like staffing at prisons.

Republicans Rage Against Public Sector Workers

On the national scene and in the state of Wisconsin, republicans have not been shy about their planned attacks against public sector workers.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is expected to balance a $137 million budget shortfall for this fiscal year on the backs of public service workers among other evil plots to cut into the state's low income health care plans and K12 funding.

In Congress believe it or not, our Rep. Paul Ryan joined Rep. Devin Nunes and Darrell Issa in introducing the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act.

It's hard to deny anybody in government who wants more transparency, right? Except these three congressmen, along with the majority of the republican House caucus, voted against a Democratic bid in January to require members to publicly disclose whether they will continue to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Nearly all House members and their families receive health coverage under this taxpayer-subsidized, privately operated plan, along with millions of civil servants and federal retirees and their spouses.

So how about little transparency huh? Not a chance.

But what does Ryan have to say about the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act?

“We need to ensure that state and local governments are accurate and honest in detailing their financial liabilities, including the cost of pension plans for public employees. The Public Employee Pension Transparency Act will make government more accountable to taxpayers by shining a light on the financial soundness and unfunded obligations associated with these plans, and I’m honored to join Representatives Nunes and Issa in sponsoring this common-sense legislation." -- Rep. Paul Ryan

Shine a light, yeah. The financial liabilities of public employee pension benefits need to be more accountable to the taxpayers, I can agree to that. But what about the Republicans taxpayer supported health care benefits? Well, they're special. Just move along now - there's nothing to see.

Shouldn't the American people have a right to know the truth about the liabilities of the health insurance benefits being run-up by congressionals and paid for by taxpayers? Quite frankly, if Republicans have nothing to hide, there’s no reason why they would try to hide their government-run health care and they should have embraced the democratic effort to ensure that the taxpayers have a more transparent accounting of the true nature and costs of the health care benefits covering members of congress. Don'cha think?

However, Ryan's so-called "Public Employee Pension Transparency Act" is more than just shining a light on accountability. It also establishes a federal prohibition on any future public pension bailouts by the federal government. Ryan wants to make sure that if the equity in these pension funds are unable to fulfill their promise, obviously at no fault of the employees themselves, that those workers will not have access to the same treatment his contributor base on Wall Street had when they nearly went belly up.

That Ryan, he's such a sweet, sweet guy.

Through all these multiple assaults against the currently employed American worker by republicans, it's easy to forget about the 800 lb. gorilla in the room - the unemployed. When are the jobs?

Watch Rachel Maddow Report On The GOP's Top Priorities.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Agri PACE Program Targeted By Repealers


Those are stark words, but they’re true. A bill (LRB-1135/2) being circulated for co-sponsors by state Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, and state Rep. Andre Jacque, R-Bellevue, seeks to eliminate both the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement program and the conversion fee for having land rezoned out of a farmland preservation zoning district.
Both are key sections of the Working Lands Initiative passed by the Legislature in 2009. They were championed by the late Rod Nilsestuen, who was secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

We are monitoring this bill and plan to mount robust opposition. What can you do right now?

Contact your legislators and tell them NOT to sign on as sponsors to LRB-1135/2.

Inform them that a broad coalition of rural interests plans to fight this effort to dismantle farmland protection in Wisconsin.

A few facts:

PACE is a voluntary program and a key tool in efforts to protect strategically targeted Wisconsin farmland. It is currently funded by state bonding.

Conversion fees are intended to help fund the program in the future. Most of the opposition to the conversion fee comes from developers and Realtors, not farmers or farm groups. Conversion fees are not new. There has always been a fee associated with rezoning land out of exclusive ag zoning.

Conversion to other uses has taken a huge toll on Wisconsin’s best farmland. The state ranks 10th in the nation in prime farmland converted to other uses between 1982-07 (288,000 acres) and 4th in the nation from the years 2002-07. In the years 1982-2007, Wisconsin lost 520,500 acres of agricultural land converted to other uses. (USDA NRCS Natural Resources Inventory)

PACE programs are effective tools to help protect prime farmland, and studies show that they in no way inhibit development in states where they are in place. (American Farmland Trust)
For more information:

Bill Berry, American Farmland Trust/Protecting Wisconsin’s Farm and Forest Lands

Forwarded by: Rock Environmental Network, Inc.

Will The Bogey Man Lower Auto Insurance Rates In Wisconsin?

On Tuesday, the Republican-led Wisconsin State Senate voted to repeal auto insurance legislation passed by democrats nearly two ago. By doing so, they dismantled several key consumer's protections and returned liability coverages back to 1982 levels. Because Republicans translated the higher coverages into higher insurance premiums for consumers, the issue was used as battering ram against democrats during the 2010 campaign.

One of the critics to the democrats earlier reform bill was the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance... Excerpt: (Feb. 20, 2009)
Wisconsin Insurance Alliance (WIA) President Andy Franken commented that the proposed increase would make Wisconsin car insurance rates the highest in the country. “There’s no need to raise it”, said Franken.


Capital times Excerpt: (Feb. 8, 2011)
Figures compiled by, a insurance rate website, however, show Wisconsin with the fourth lowest auto premiums in the nation based on July 2010 numbers.


Capital times Excerpt: (Feb. 8, 2011)
Franken was unable to produce any data on whether costs have risen, saying it’s still too soon to assess the impact of the changes. “It’s only been a year so we haven’t had enough time for all these costs to be factored in,” he says.

But it's been nearly two years since the WIA made those earlier cocksure claims of rates increasing anywhere from 33% to 43%, yet they could not come up now with some better figures?

As the Democurmudgeon Blog noted, that is indeed the "bogey man" threat from the future. The cost data the WIA won't produce showing those stratospheric increases on consumers premiums yesterday would reflect the amount car owners expect their premiums to drop by tomorrow, if Walker signs the auto insurance repeal into law. THAT'S the other bogey man they're afraid of. They know posting those phony campaign rate hike percentages now will telegraph to consumer/voters the wrong message. They're not working a campaign any more. What do they care?

In November of '09, I blogged about the change in my own auto insurance premiums. I was not one of those democrats who claimed my rates did not go up. They did - they went up 11.8%, but have not gone up again since. However, for the previous 10 years my liability coverages were identical to the coverages mandated by the new higher liability insurance laws. So, although my liability coverage did not change - my premiums did.

Despite the fact that many folks will soon have inferior coverage, will their rates go down as fast and as much as supposedly they went up? I'll still have the same coverage I've always had - but will my premiums go down the 11.8%? Regardless of where you stand on this, those decreases will be an interesting development to watch for after Walker signs the repeal. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Constituents Picture An Earmark - Duffy Draws a Pie Chart Instead

Brace yourselves for a wave of local tax hikes courtesy of those lovable gun-toting tea party conservatives.

NY Times Excerpt:
Representative Sean Duffy, Republican of Wisconsin, who devoted part of his 2010 campaign to criticizing the penchant of his predecessor, David R. Obey — a Democrat who retired after four decades in Congress — for securing earmarks, said he traveled to his district last week to gently explain to local governments that times had changed. “I am being honest with people,” Mr. Duffy said in a telephone interview. “I draw them a pie chart.”

I wonder if his earmark pie chart has any resemblance to mine.

Across the country, local governments, nonprofit groups and scores of farmers, to name but a few, are waking up to the fact that when Congress stamped out earmarks last week, it was talking about their projects, too.

After Giffords, Veiled Threats Of Gun Violence Still Identify Tea Party Conservatives

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch told tea party activists Tuesday that they have to "get armed" to make sure that Congress tackles the country's debt.

Politico Excerpt:
The soft spoken Hatch usually uses more moderate language when explaining his positions on national debt. Recently, though, the newest member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus has been contacting Utah Tea Party organizations to prove his conservative credentials in an effort to avoid the fate of his former colleague, Bob Bennett, who lost his seat to conservative Sen. Mike Lee in a primary last year.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

It's Scott "Blago" Walker To You

The stuff on Walker today just keeps pouring in with the story that he appointed the father of the state's two most powerful republican legislators - Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) - to head the State Patrol.

Because the job is politically appointed, Walker did not need to follow the normal hiring process required for the vast majority of employees under the civil service system. This gives a taste of what Rock County residents can expect now that they turned over their democratically elected coroner's office into a political appointment.

What others are saying...

Interesting that Republicans condemn Louis Butler's nomination because he lost an election for Supreme Court Justice but those same Republicans laud the appointment of a man who lost an election for county sheriff. -- Community Not War

I am a die hard Republican but REALLY a 68 year old appointed to lead the state patrol. I am in LAW ENFORCEMENT and there a lot of OLD TIMERS who just can't give it up. -- gogreenandgold

"I've got this thing and it's f---ing golden" -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich

I think the appropriate question is this: Why is this a political appointment? -- letstrytobepolite

Why? Just ask the Rock County Board why they chose to wrest the voting rights away at the ballot box for a county office. It's for efficiency, accountability, professionalism, control and oh yeah, to take the partisanship out of the office.


With Walker, Sprawl Industry Has Wind At Its Back

When it comes to wind energy, realtors would rather fight for the real estate necessary to build new developments. After all, who wants to buy a new home built in the flicker of wind turbines? Excerpt:
Campaign contributions may also have played a role. Records compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign show Walker received $750,833 from the construction industry and $427,629 from Realtors through Oct. 18, 2010. "The two special interests who like the anti-windmill bill gave him nearly $1.2 million during his run for governor," notes WDC research director Mike Buelow.

But I have to give Walker a bit of credit here because he played it as good as he could for his contributors. Walker offered his favored construction sprawl builders the 1,800 ft. setback (about 1/3 mile) under the pretense of protecting personal and property rights for returning authority to local jurisdictions to over-ride the state setback rule. What I don't get is why Walker wants to snuff out 11 wind projects already on the books when they could have been grandfathered in to lower industry resistance against his proposal.

Personally, I hate it when the personal and property rights I support coincides with the position of pro-sprawl builders. It's a lose-lose situation either way for the quality of life. This is one of those rare instances where the enemy of my enemies is still not my friend.

Walker Inflates State Deficit To $3.6 Billion In First Month

According to this article posted in Statehouse News, the Walker Administration added $400 million more to the previous deficit projection of $3.2 billion by simply dropping an accounting maneuver for transferring revenue into the general fund. The new state deficit has now been recalculated to $3.6 billion.

This is beginning to look a little worrisome simply because Walker seems to be deliberately boosting the deficit on paper with the purpose of adding a greater sense of urgency to the situation. Walker also appears to be testing the public reaction to his cutting Medicaid, K12 and other state services instead of considering fund transfers from surplus accounts to help balance the budget on.

Interesting Note: It turns out that Jim Doyle merely passed the $3.2 billion Thompson/McCallum deficit right into the hands of Scott Walker. Granted, Doyle was unable to fix the problem, but he did no harm either despite being accused of using accounting tricks. It can be said that Doyle's time in office was nearly deficit neutral.

Hope Walker can say the same when his time is up.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Republicans Reward Companies Outsourcing Jobs

Last week, the GOP-majority House once again showed who mattered to them the most, and it certainly isn’t American workers.
Pioneer Excerpt:
GOP Budget Cuts: Members voted, 256-165, to set the stage for votes on a GOP plan to cut federal spending by $60 billion or more in the closing months of fiscal 2011. A yes vote empowered the Budget Committee to define the cuts in a spending bill soon to be debated. (H Res 38)

Sending U.S. Jobs Abroad: Members defeated, 184-242, a Democratic bid to use H Res 38 (above) as a vehicle to curb the practice of U.S. firms sending jobs overseas. A yes vote was to deny federal contracts to any company that the Department of Labor finds to be outsourcing jobs.

The motion to recommit the plan to cut federal spending by $60 billion and use it as a tool to discourage U.S. firms from shipping jobs overseas by withholding federal contracts was defeated along party lines, except for four democrats who sided with the GOP's domestic jobs killing scheme. One of the four democrats was Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin. What was he thinking? Doesn't he know that the Tea Party opposes jobs outsourcing members of congress, but only if they're democrats?

The following Wisconsin congressional representatives voted to continue awarding federal contracts to companies that ship jobs overseas.

They are...

Ryan (R, WI-01)
Kind (D, WI-03)
Sensenbrenner (R, WI-05)
Petri (R, WI-06)
Duffy (R, WI-07)
Ribble (R, WI-08)

Vote Source

Saturday, February 05, 2011

With State GOP, Odds Against Defending Resources Just Grew Larger

I think this was a powerful message of bold-faced "pay-for-play" lawmaking sent by the republican-led Wisconsin state legislature and Gov. Walker when they passed and signed a wetlands bill exempting a single parcel of land controlled by a well connected campaign contributor and real estate developer from DNR rules or the due process of court challenges.

For me, this puts defending our natural resources or the quality of life in our state and our community from the scourges of reckless development into a whole new perspective. Particularly now for the group here in Rock County who are trying to stave off a 5,000 cow factory farm from setting up shop on fertile prairie land near the eastern edge of the county.

All the diary owner has to do is contribute a grand or two to the Walker campaign fund or to a few "open for business" legislators and he'll have it all locked up. Who's to say a pay-off did not already happen?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Tea Party Legislator Delivers Vote For Local Cartel

In this press release, State Assembly Rep. Joe Knilans explains how he fought through the recent blizzard to deliver his vote at the state capitol for the special interest group "Rock County 5.0."

The legislative bills, AB6 and AB8, are expected to transform the state's Department of Commerce into a shadowy public/private nexus of government leeches and campaign contributors under the guise of job creation and would give the governor vast executive power to unilaterally approve of administrative rules without legislative challenge.

"During a snow storm when public agencies are closed and many major roads remain impassible, Republican legislators passed bills that eliminate transparency," -- State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys

Just for the record, the following is the membership of the local business cartel Knilans referenced in his press release.

ROCK COUNTY 5.0 Membership

Diane Hendricks, ABC Supply Co., co-chair
Mary Willmer-Sheedy, M&I Bank, co-chair
David Cullen, J.P. Cullen & Sons
Diane Ramsey, Alliant Energy
Gerry Behan, Kerry Americas
Henry Knueppel, Regal-Beloit Corp.
Jane Blain-Gilbertson, Blain Supply
Jim Fisher, Fairbanks Morse, retired
Jim Fitzgerald, The Fitzgerald Group
Joe Pregont, Prent Corp.
Paul Palmby, Seneca Foods Corp.
Richard Gruber, Mercy Health System
Rob Gerbitz, Hendricks Development Group
Ron Ochs, Janesville Foundation
Steve Eldred, First National Bank & Trust Co.
Tim McKevett, Beloit Memorial Hospital
Tobin Ryan
Tom Ptacin, Klobucar Construction Co.

Related: Assembly Republicans’ “Pay to Play” Day Undeterred by Blizzard Republican leaders: "No problem if the public can’t come, there's nothing to see here."

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Paul Ryan Plotting With Billionaire Supporters At Corporatocracy Meeting

Last October, ThinkProgress helped break the story about secret political strategy meetings, convened by polluter billionaires Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, to coordinate the funding and direction of the conservative movement.

Think Progress Excerpt:
ThinkProgress has now learned of another attendee addressing the Koch meeting: House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Ryan’s office confirmed his attendance this afternoon to ThinkProgress. Ryan, who has a long record of flying off to junkets for groups of bankers like the Club for Growth, is pushing forward with radical cuts to Medicare and Social Security in his “Roadmap for America’s Future.” In line with Koch’s peculiar supply-side side ideology of soaking the the poor, Ryan’s budget idea also calls for increasing taxes on the middle class, while cutting them for the rich. Other Republican legislators were at the event, including Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA).

ThinkProgress revealed a partial list of the attendees, including GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, Americans for Prosperity officials like Alan Cobb, political consultant Michael Goldfarb, longtime lobbyist Nancy Pfotenhauer, and a number of donors, including Home Depot founder Ken Langone and Rock County billionaire heiress Diane Hendricks. Read more here.

"Tell us something, Mr Ryan. As a public servant, how does attending this meeting serve the public at large? You are not a private citizen, free to attend whatever peaceable assemblies you wish. You are a public servant, and you must act in the best interests of the public, not of your ideologically like-minded friends." -- Wayne A. Schneider, comment at TP

The Nation Excerpt:
Greenpeace’s Davies, though cautious, felt buoyed by the momentum on the left’s side: “I think it’s possible to keep drawing scrutiny to the Tea Party Congress by teaching voters to look for the corporate billionaire-backed tentacles behind the scenes. We can also put pressure on those congressmen by finding ways to ask them, very publicly, what they owe the Kochs.

As Tea Party Koch brothers made an extra $11 billion in recent years, they laid off thousands.

This should put it in clear perspective who Ryan was speaking for in his SOTU rebuttal.