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Thursday, June 27, 2013

After Being Voted Out Of Office, Knilans Rewarded With Patronage Job

Like a bad penny, former Janesville state assembly representative Joe Knilans keeps turning up. Voters in Janesville rejected Knilans in the last election after he abandoned his constituents and stood with party bosses and Scott Walker on the class war budget bill Act 10. However, after losing the election, Gov. Scott Walker appointed him to a cushy job as one of two directors of the Office of Business Development.

JG Excerpt:
Thanks to Deb Kolste and Gov. Scott Walker, Knilans is still in Madison working to cut the red tape that businesses have long said is a scourge on the state.

That's quite a Gazette stretch to thank election winner Deb Kolste for Knilans picking up a patronage job he is unqualified for from our blacklisting governor, Scott Walker. In truth, we can thank the voters of Janesville first and foremost for regaining their senses and removing Knilans from our assembly seat.

Secondly, Knilans never advocated for businesses in Madison. He advocated for the local tax-shifting collectivist-driven business lobbies of the wage beatdown group Forward Janesville and red state operators, Rock County 5.0. Big difference.

Beyond that, the first person I thought of when I read the story posted in the Gazette about Joe Knilans being appointed to a government office after losing election was Louis Butler.

You remember Louie Butler. He's the former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice who holds a law degree, was an assistant state public defender, served as a municipal judge, was elected to Branch 9 of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court and also served as an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School. I bring him up because after he lost the state-wide SC election to the red state WMC-backed Michael Gableman, President Obama nominated Butler to serve as U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

I don't want to draw too many parallels between Knilans and Butler. Afterall, Butler was super-qualified for the federal judgeship appointment and, Butler is black. But as the story goes, Wisconsin's top bloviator-in-chief Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner went full metal jacket on Butler's nomination. Sensenbrenner implied that losing elective office disqualifies a person from a future appointment and that Butler should not be rewarded for failure with an office and pay raise.

Sensenbrenner House Excerpt:
“The fact of the matter is that Mr. Butler lost a state-wide election, held by the people of Wisconsin, to continue serving on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. Now, the man who was voted off the bench in Wisconsin is being given a promotion, a lifetime appointment and a pay raise. This is another example of the mismanaged way Washington is working under President Obama. The people of Wisconsin deserve better.”

Butler was eventually denied the appointment while Knilans got his. In the meantime, Mister-don't-reward-failure-with-a-cushy-job-Sensenbrenner sits silently in his cushy job.

To paraphrase a Wisconsin right-wing blogger supporting Sensenbrenner's rejection of Butler's nomination with the Knilans appointment: "Becoming a Director of Business Management should not be a consolation prize for losing an election. If the people rejected the candidate, it’s not too much to ask that he not be appointed with a pay raise where he will be no longer accountable to the voters."

What's fair is fair. The people of Wisconsin deserve better.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thousands In Rock County Will Lose BadgerCare

According to this article, last week the Wisconsin Department of Health Services finally released the breakdown of which counties would see individuals forced off of BadgerCare and how many. Under Scott Walker's anti-health care policy, 3,181 Rock County residents will be kicked off BadgerCare coverage.

For the full list of counties and additional story, visit Got Health Care WI

Monday, June 24, 2013

When Big Business Drinks, Everybody Pays

Sometimes I just don't know where to begin on stories like this.

In Janesville, a large and profitable shareholder vested company, Seneca Foods Corporation, is considering the construction of an 80,000 sq. ft. addition to their existing food processing facility. As far as common knowledge goes, there is nothing preventing them from moving forward with their expansion.

But that doesn't stop its chief operating officer in Janesville, Paul Palmby, who also is a roundtable member of the brutal divide and conquer group, Rock County 5.0, from approaching local government officials and asking for some form of a hand-out. I know they'll say, why am I bringing up politics? What a partisan! Right, it's only important to them, and us little people are supposed to shut up and ignore it because they're the master job creators of universe. Good grief.

Anyhow, according to this story from the Janesville Gazette, Palmby told Janesville's interim city manager "I want you to tell me the best you can do,” and “wastewater is a big issue to us.” Well OK. Here's a building permit and zoning application for your expansion project. We'll expedite your paperwork since you're a nice guy. But noooooo.

The city manager and his administrative crew came up with a solution ...but a solution to what? Well, here's the game. Suddenly, the city of Janesville is in "competition" with another American city for the expansion. Under pressure, the city proposes building a $3.3 million anaerobic pretreatment lagoon at full taxpayer cost to slash the food processing company’s wastewater costs.

Actually, they're not merely slashing Seneca's structural costs. According to the city council resolution, after taxpayers build Seneca's wastewater facility on city land, the city will be processing all of Seneca's processing effluent at the lagoon at NO CHARGE to Seneca. Bend over anyone?

It gets even worse. In 2012, Seneca reported $1.2 billion in sales, $355 million in stockholder equity and $425 million in working capital. We're not talking hardship here if you know what I mean. Yet, they will also be picking up a $303,000 TIF surplus forgivable loan from the city's cash-strapped general fund based on some nearly impossible to fail benchmarks.

It doesn't help either that the city, with media cooperation from the Janesville Gazette, builds up a deceptive narrative how the food processing company will "agree" to pay increased property taxes that after ten years is considered repayment of the TIF loan OR how estimated sales of methane gas from the pre-treatment lagoon will break-even the city's costs after 12 or 13 years but only IF the maximum production lines are at full capacity. It's a bunch of hooey.

Also, completely left out of the details and likely on purpose, are the additional costs to public utility rate payers on what is known as the utility "averaging concept." This is where all customers participate in utility capital improvements whether or not a particular improvement provides a direct benefit to a particular customer. This means that the new anaerobic pretreatment lagoon will add $3.3M to Janesville's utility assets. THAT means through the long-held averaging concept of 6% annual to provide for the utility's financial needs over the long-term, Seneca's lagoon will cost Janesville rate payers an additional $198,000 a year OR nearly $2 million over ten years on top of the $3.3M initial outlay. Bend over anyone?

I'm way past calling this merely "corporate welfare." With welfare at least, recipients usually have to prove some form of economic hardship. Obviously that doesn't fit Seneca at all. Means testing to get government aid? That's only for poor destitute people.

But possibly the worst part of these kind of wrongheaded deals is that the city and the Janesville Gazette make it all sound like Seneca is jumping through a set of narrow hoops. It seems to never dawn on them that the wealthiest in the private sector refuse to make a move without knowing first what they can get from any and all levels of government - yet often blame government for being the obstacle to their success.

I'm also way past hope thinking that anyone in government has any intention of stopping this crooked game of phony business incentives and kickback politics. In fact, most public officials seem to relish in this corruption as a trophy for their own success.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Are Paul Ryan's Failures Due to Deficiencies In Our Character?

Saw this story first at the Democurmudgeon on a Ryan speech at a Republican fundraiser in Baltimore. He spoke about the usual straw man themes of how government must legislate self-reliance and the ills of dependence on government - if that makes any sense. But then he asked conservatives to reach out...

Baltimore Sun Excerpt:
"We want to tackle the root causes of poverty," he said. "We have to offer a conservatism that everyone can relate to — that everyone can see, feel, touch and understand."

But Ryan offered a harsh judgment of Americans who do not prosper, approvingly quoting an Irish official from the 19th century who said that in America, nine out of 10 of those who do not succeed fail to do so because of deficiencies in their character.

9 of 10!!?? That leaves me wondering what the congressman really thinks of the people in his hometown Janesville and Rock County. Afterall, for the first time in his long stale career, his Democratic challenger for either office (Congress or VP) succeeded in winning more votes from his hometown than he did. So, in Ryan's smugly superior world, he alone was that one out of ten who failed to succeed obviously not because of his own deficiencies, no, no, nooooooo. But in the deficiencies in the character of everyone else.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wisconsin Republicans Propose Imbalanced Budget Amendment

Once again, we would think stories about legislation Wisconsin state republicans continue to propose and pass are really spoofs from the Onion. But they're not.

First saw the story on this at Root River Siren.

How many voters know that Wisconsin has a statute prohibiting the state legislature from passing bills IF general expenditures exceed estimated revenues? Without that statute, the result is very much likely ...more state debt.

Well, so-called fiscal conservatives from the state's so-called fiscal conservative party knew about it and that's why they made it a priority to nullify it for the state's next budget.

The proposed amendment ...

See? They can call it a "priorities" budget now. That's the latest buzzword in GOP budget politics.

And, remember candidate Scott Walker's "Never spend more than you have" Brown Bag thingie? It turns out that rule wasn't Walker's idea or creation either was in state statutes all along. But republicans are hellbent on changing the rules.

Let's get down to the real endgame here. They WANT debt. All of the Norquist pledge signers elected to Wisconsin's state legislature including Gov. Walker prefer debt over a balance or surplus. Even Walker's so-called budget surplus and the rainy day fund are funded with more debt! That's right. The state's debt increased during Walker's first budget while he touts a surplus and a rainy day fund ...believe it or not.

That's one reason why they blew a gasket over the UW's surplus. They want debt so they can show the public how insatiable and unworkable the concept of government is with our money, AND to build a debt so massive and towering that the only reasonable way out is not to take responsibility for it, but to sell off the state's public property to pay down the debt. Wait a minute ...THAT'S in the budget too. It's no conspiracy. It's right there in the printed word.

If they have no intention to provide the necessary tax revenue to pay for our needs and balance the budget today, why would they do it tomorrow? Or the next day? This is the long road to privatization. That's what it's all about.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gov. Walker Implies He's Out of the Loop In Executive Decisions

Huff Post Excerpt:
But Walker, who named Inglett on Monday, won't say the withdrawal was related to the petition.

"My comment's just going to be that we withdrew the nomination, and there's plenty of other good candidates we've looked at, and we'll look at in this case," Walker told WKOW. He also denied being involved in telling Inglett the nomination was quashed.

"Again, I wasn't involved in that directly. In the interest of not pulling him through the details on this, we withdrew the nomination and we'll be submitting another name," Walker said.

That's soooo classic double-speak. We see this over and over again with Walker. Where he implies no involvement by claiming others are calling the shots within his office. How he continually gets away with it is truly remarkable. Plus, he deliberately made it sound like the student, Joshua Inglett, did something wrong by signing a public petition, and Walker is sparing him of some manufactured negative exposure. Absolutely shameful.

I also now wonder how all students including state "Young Republicans," and other conservative-leaning young adults will feel about being targeted for their politics while serving in everyday educational or civic capacities.

Think a teacher or employer is biased against you for your political leanings and making your life rough? Tough. The governor and state legislators are leading by example and have declared that it's open season year around on EVERYONE. Don't think for a second just because they've gerrymandered power away from the majority means that it will last forever. It won't - and if you're a student not yet out of high school or college, regardless of your political or religious beliefs, you should be very concerned about this latest episode from Scott Walker.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Walkerism: The New McCarthyism

Excerpts from FreedomWorks originally posted March 28, 2013 ...

As a 15 year old, I never imagined my activism in politics would translate into controversy for me at school.

My name is Benji Backer and I attend a public high school in Appleton, Wisconsin. I have always supported the public school system and plan to do so for the rest of my life. Many Americans who stand up for the public school system and the unions believe there is no attempt to sway opinion or that students with opposing beliefs are singled out. Unfortunately, experiences I have had with harassment and bullying prove that wrong. [...] During my 8th grade year I received more attention for my political activity. I had become known in the community because of newspaper, radio and TV interviews and was aware that this would possibly make me a target. Not only was I a volunteer for Governor Walker, but I was a very vocal supporter of him as well [...]

I was named Young Americans for Mitt Romney Co-Chair in Wisconsin and once again, my teachers took notice; my English teacher in particular. In one of the first weeks of school, he had us write about an article we had read for homework. The article was about political campaigns “mining” into the personal lives of the American people. He asked, “other than Facebook and phone calls, how do campaigns mine into personal lives?” I raised my hand and replied: “well, you can check who signed the recall.” [...]Teachers presenting a one-sided political view are a problem and they need to be stopped.


Ohhh my bad, that was mighty ignorant of me. Those aren't the right excerpts I wanted for this blog posting at all. The excerpts I was looking for are from an editorial written by Joshua Inglett.

You know Joshua Inglett, he's the 20 year-old engineering student from UW-Platteville who won a two-year appointment seat on the UW System's Board of Regents but in the last hour was renounced by Gov. Walker, who withdrew the young man's appointment after finding out he had signed the recall petition as an 18-year-old freshman. As a 20 year old, Inglett probably never imagined his political viewpoint would translate into controversy for him at school. After hearing he was dropped from the appointment he said "I felt like my character had been attacked."

But wait a second ...there is no editorial by Inglett. At least not yet.

But there probably won't be an editorial from Inglett and there probably won't be any appearances on national cable political shows like Backer had because Inglett's opponent isn't some school principal or a couple teachers, not to make Backer's perceived issues look any less important.

Plus, Inglett at 18 was nowhere near as politically active as Backer was even in the eight grade, so the similarities between the two are none beyond being seen as victims of an oppressing authority. Simply signing a petition to enact change in government is a cherished fundamental American right. At least I still think so. But Inglett's "opponent" is the sitting governor of a state and a talked-about future presidential candidate. So if you want to see what high stakes pressure looks like from being intimidated, no, bullied into silence, look to Joshua Inglett. He is it.

Star Tribune Excerpt:
Whether Inglett signed the petition or not shouldn't be an issue, Erpenbach said.

"This is absolute McCarthyism. It's the very definition of it," Erpenbach said. "No legislator and no governor should make the litmus test did you sign or didn't you sign. ... The question is whether or not you are qualified to do the job."


Democurmudgeon - Gov. Scott Walker uses Recall Petition as Blacklist to pull Student Regent Nominee. w/news video.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Video: Wisconsin GOP Legislators Continue Assault On Everyone

This story moved so fast that after one day, it's already old.

Just when we thought little more can be added to the way power mad republicans have been driving the state's once proudly progressive and transparent government into a single branch plutocracy comes this outrageous display of arrogance during the ramming passage of a bill designed to remove a woman's right of choice and force pregnant women to have state-mandated ultrasounds. There's really no point in rehashing words to describe the comical yet disturbing interaction that took place in the senate chamber. The following raw video is the best source for context.

Watch it:

Giles Goat Boy at the Kos was among the first of many to post yesterday on this and collected a few post-hysteric comments from democratic senator's Miller, Risser and Assembly Rep. Gordon Hintz. Read it here.

The Democurmudgeon picks up a trailing story to the rollcall vote about State Sen. Mary Lazich's threats to shut down more clinics. A woman's individual and personal right of free choice about receiving an ultrasound or any medical procedure for that matter is completely lost to these self-righteous loons.

One of the bright spots from this episode was Sen. Kathleen Vinehout who began reading letters of opposition from her constituents ...remember constituents? .... and that she had been touched by the letters because she had also been a victim of sexual assault at the age of 15. Unbelievably, Lazich responded by encouraging her fellow lawmakers to ignore “the theatrics surrounding” Vinehout’s presentation before becoming completely unhinged into a high-pitched whining diatribe. If you thought no one could be more batshit than Bachmann, you haven't seen Mary Lazich.

The image of the flaming Sen. Mike Ellis pointing the gavel and bellowing at duly elected public officials also has made the rounds quickly around the Web. Cog Dis asks readers to suggest captions for the image of the raging lunatic.


Monologues of Dissent - Protest planned against WisGOP's pre-abortion ultrasound bill

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Area Legislators Describe Same Budget Committee Nightmare

Rep. Kolste critical of JFC budget process and result

I got my first close, personal look last week at how the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) produces a budget from the governor’s original proposal. The process was not a model of healthy democracy. The committee, with a 12-4 Republican majority, careened off the rails in the dark. The crash dented my remaining illusions about transparent state government.
-- Rep. Debra Kolste, Janesville (44th) Assembly

Read more here.

Rep. Jorgensen: Devastating Budget Changes, Made While You Were Sleeping

They say nothing good ever happens after midnight.

I think that’s probably true, at least in our State Capitol.

In the dead of night – or rather, in the wee small hours of the morning – this past week, members of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee approved terrible new policies on taxes, health care, and education.

I have no doubt the timing of the votes was calculated. I can’t imagine the Republicans wanted anyone to be paying attention.

They hoped you’d be sleeping when they rejected federal money – our tax dollars – to strengthen BadgerCare, and instead approved a plan that will cost us $119 million more to insure fewer people. In fact, the Republican plan stands to jeopardize health care for 29,000 Wisconsin children.
-- Rep. Andy Jorgensen, Fort Atkinson (43rd) Assembly

Read more here

Then there's the ever comical and out-of-touch Janesville Gazette editorial justifying the budget changes. For instance, on school vouchers they said, "No kid should be trapped in an underperforming school."

No. It should be, "No school should be trapped economically by a legislature into underperforming."

Monday, June 10, 2013

TX Fertilizer Plant Explosion Was No Accident

Huff Post Excerpt:
Almost everyone in America knows the names of the two young terrorists allegedly responsible for the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, but few can identify the owner of the fertilizer plant that exploded in West, Texas, two days later. Both are culpable of killing innocent people, but the media, along with government regulators and law enforcement agencies, poured much more time and resources into finding the two Tsarnaev brothers than they did in investigating Donald Adair. Crime in the streets (particularly by terrorists) is big news but crime in the suites rarely makes headlines.

Why isn't the American public calling for the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of Adair, the owner of the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, where an explosion on April 17 killed 14 people, left 200 others with injuries (including burns, lacerations, and broken bones), flattened houses and a 50-unit apartment building, destroyed a nursing home, damaged a local school, and left a crater 93 feet by 10 feet?
Full Story here.

If they put profit before people, and allow greed to put lives at risk, they should be punished. Even if a local, state or federal inspector hadn't visited their operation for the past six months, year, or ten years, they can't demand government must get out of the way and then blame government for being out of the way whatever the reason.

Also, did you know that Rep. Paul Ryan voted against HR 5522 in 2008? HR 5522 would override weaker state rules with stronger OSHA regulations for controlling dust hazards in the workplace to prevent, yes you guessed it ...EXPLOSIONS!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Asking PBS To Pursue Citizen Koch Documentary Is "As Goes Nowhere"

I just received the email response from PBS Audience Services about my request asking them to pursue the documentary "Citizen Koch" for broadcasting distribution. Basically, they sent a canned response explaining that the public television system is comprised of a wide array of organizations, producers and distributors and is independently owned, operated and blah, blah, blah. And this ...

The Independent Television Service (ITVS), which funds, presents and promotes documentaries and dramas for public television and cable networks, was the organization that was in discussion with the makers of the film “Citizen Koch.” ITVS did not submit the film to PBS for consideration.

The email also contained a link to the ITVS Response to the recent New Yorker article describing public television’s attempts to placate David Koch. In their response, they waffle around with a series of meaningless production statements and finally claim that they ceased negotiations to move forward with the documentary because its filmmakers shifted away from the editorial direction as described in their written proposal.

End of story.

So, what effort can we expect from PBS or ITVS to schedule "Citizen Koch" for public broadcasting?