Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Right To Some Honesty

BY Jeff Simpson

 While our neighbors to the West spend this time between elections deciding what to do with a $1 Billion surplus, the Republicans in Wisconsin keep finding ways to add to our $2.2 Billion deficit they created.   

Now, shortly after the election, Assemblyman Chris Kapenga says he has a "Right to Work" bill ready to go.  Of course Mr. Kapenga told us this in early December, forgetting to mention it during the election season that ended less than a month prior.   Not a single mention of "right-to-work" as part of his agenda on his campaign website.  

"It's my opinion it has to come up early" in the session that begins in January, Fitzgerald told reporters. "I don't know how we get through the session without having this debate.

Of course when Mr. Fitzgerald says "It has to come up early" he does not mean it should come up during the election season.  Now that he has faced the voters saying one thing, it is time to do something completely different.   In case you were wondering, the number of mentions by Senator Scott Fitzgerald of "right-to-work" laws on the campaign trail = 0! 
For those of you scoring at home, adding up the mentions of 'right-to-work" laws on the campaign trail ofSpeaker Robin VosRepublican Majority Leader Jim Steineke, and Joint Finance Committee co-chairJohn Nygren also add up to zero!

Spend months ducking the issues and spend millions muddying the waters, then when you are elected, claim a mandate and start talking about extremist legislation like it is why you won the election.   

How long we will let OUR elected reps continue doing this to us?

Politics Defined

You will never find a more accurate description of politics today:

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Hell Of A Time

From our friend Steve Carlson!  Happy Holidays!

RoJo Squared - Profiting At Taxpayers' Expense

The Milwaukee Business Journal did a story about Robin Vos' popcorn business with an interesting twist:
Probably the biggest surprise when Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos gave me a tour of his Burlington popcorn business was the female inmates working there.

I visited RoJo's Popcorn for a story on Rep. Vos' small businesses, which consist of the Burlington popcorn-processing and packaging plant and south side Milwaukee retail and online shop Knight's Popcorn.

At the time, Vos told me he used to oppose a corrections-system-to-work transitional jobs program, but in recent years had retained temporary workers from a women's correctional facility in Racine County at his Burlington business. He also employed a former inmate from the program at his retail shop.

I was reminded of my visit with Vos Friday when I read a Wisconsin State Journal article that Vos wants to expand prison work-release programs in Wisconsin. He told the State Journal that recent experiences at his factory changed his mind about "how we get people back to work."
It's not surprising that Boss Vos would support this. In his twisted worldview, it's a win-win-win scenario.

He gets to exploit prisoners who work for next to nothing, he gets to use taxpayer dollars for their healthcare and he has an operation to help cover his graft.

Coincidentally, another RoJo - US Senator Ron Johnson - had the same profiteering business scheme:
Republican Senate candidate Ron Johnson, who has campaigned against government subsidies to business, employs up to nine prison inmates at his plastics factories whose health care costs are paid by the state, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

Public records show that Pacur Inc. and Dynamic Drinkware LLC, two companies run by Johnson, employ up to nine inmates at a time through a state Corrections Department jobs program.

Johnson's companies offer private health insurance to the regular employees at the Oshkosh factories. But Melissa Roberts, an executive assistant with the Corrections Department, said the companies don't have to cover the inmate workers. "The benefit is that they don't have to pay health benefits," she said.
Isn't it quite convenient that these reprobates keep finding laws that are supposed to be for the good of the community but seem to be even better for their wallets?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Curious Point About Mike Ellis Hiring A Political Operative

Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that soon (but not soon enough) to be retired State Senator Mike Ellis is spending taxpayer money to hire a Republican state operative for a couple of months:
In November, outgoing Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) hired the campaign manager of Senator-elect Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), an ally of Ellis. Kyle Koenen will be paid more than $3,400 a month as a legislative assistant while waiting for a permanent job in Wanggaard's office to start in January.

As of the last reporting date on Oct. 20, Wanggaard's campaign had thousands of dollars in cash that could have been used to pay Koenen to do political work instead of state work so he wouldn't have been out of a job for the two months following Wanggaard's election victory.

But Ellis, who retires in January, said that he has been frugal overall with the money in his office's budget for personnel and that there has been enough official work for Koenen to do since one of his full-time staffers left his office this month to work for another senator. Including Koenen, Ellis has three staff members, one in Neenah and the other two in Madison.

"I still have constituents to take care of and phone calls to answer," Ellis said. "I can't take care of the district with two people."
Stein goes on to use the usual corporate media shtick of false equivalency, claiming both sides do it, as if that somehow makes it OK.

I think Stein missed a very curious point about Ellis' stunt.

As the gentle reader will recall, the Teapublicans put out a hit on Ellis earlier this year, having him secretly videotaped at a bar, in which Ellis boasted about creating a Super PAC to go after his Democratic appointment and stating that Scott Walker works only for himself.  They wanted Ellis out because he did not always toe the party line and they had a lot of money making ventures - like school privatization - to cash in on.

So, when his party stabbed him in the back like that, why in the world would Ellis turn around and help them out?

Did they break Ellis' ego like he breaks gavels?  Is Ellis that much of a sheep? Do they have compromising photos of Ellis with a sheep?

All I know is that if I had been betrayed like Ellis was, I would be loathe to do them any favors.

RIP Fuzzy Thurston

Sadness struck Packer Nation on Sunday when it was announced that famed Fuzzy Thurston passed away:
Fuzzy Thurston, a key player on Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers championship teams of the 1960s, died Sunday after a long illness. He was 15 days shy of his 81st birthday.

His family announced the death on Sunday afternoon via Twitter, prompting an outpouring of sympathy messages from Packers fans.


Thurston became the Packers' starting left guard upon his arrival in Green Bay. He missed part of the 1965 season because of injury. Thurston's last year as a starter was 1966. He was a backup to Gale Gillingham in his final season, 1967.

Thurston was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1975. He was inducted to the Wisconsin Athletic and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association halls of fame in 2003 and was a member of the Valparaiso Athletic and Indiana Football halls of fame.

"The Packers Family was saddened today to learn of the passing of Fuzzy Thurston," Packers president and chief executive Mark Murphy said in a statement. "Fuzzy was an endearing figure for Packers fans for more than 50 years, going back to his all-pro playing days and continuing through his rousing welcomes at Lambeau Field as a favorite alum. Our sincere condolences go out to Fuzzy's family."
I was fortunate to have met Fuzzy once.

My wife and I had taken Vangie, an elderly friend, out for lunch at a restaurant called King's Table in King, Wisconsin, just outside of Waupaca.

It was mid-October and my wife and I were decked out in our Packer gear.

When we asked the waitress for our bill, she said that a gentleman sitting halfway across the room wanted to compliment us on our outfits and the way we attended to our elderly friend. She further said that he would like to pay for our lunch tab.

I looked up in surprise and saw an older but vibrant man sitting at a table. Like us, he was garbed in his Packer finery and when I made eye contact with him, he broke out in one of the biggest smiles I've ever seen and gave me a thumbs up.

As I looked closer at him, I saw that he was wearing a hat with the number "63" on it.  My jaw bounced off the table when I realized that Fuzzy Thurston had just paid for our lunch.

I immediately went up to him and shook his hand, thanking him for his generosity.  It was only then that I noticed a large bandage on the front of his throat.

Still smiling, he held up his hand, indicating that I should wait.  He reached in his pocket and pulled out a wad of bills.  He flipped through the money until he found one of his business cards for his restaurant.  He pulled out a pen from his coat pocket and autographed the card for me.

It was a coincidental meeting, but it showed Fuzzy's character and what a generous and outgoing man he was.

Former VA Governor Bob McDonnell Could Face Ten Years In Prison

Well, well, well:
The matter is far from settled. The probation office recommended a punishment from 10 years and a month to 12 years and 7 months. Calculating an appropriate range of sentences in the federal system is a complicated, mathematical process that takes into account a variety of factors, including the type of crime, the defendant’s role and the amount of loss. The judge has yet to see the arguments from each side.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted in September of lending the prestige of his office to Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in exchange for $177,000 in loans, vacations and luxury items.

McDonnell is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 6. His wife’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20, and her guideline range is expected to be lower than her husband’s. The probation office has not yet filed a report concerning her.


The range is particularly notable because last December, prosecutors offered to let McDonnell plead guilty to just one count of lying to a bank as part of an agreement that would have meant he could be sentenced to three years in prison at the most and probation at the least. Importantly, though, McDonnell would have been required to sign a statement acknowledging that he helped Star Scientific, Williams’s dietary-supplement company, at the same time the businessman was giving him loot, fully shouldering blame for a relationship he has insisted was not criminal and was driven largely by his wife.
It is no great leap of logic to connect this to the way that Scott Walker, the Teapublicans and their dark money overlords are fighting so hard to kill John Doe.

Isn't that enough to make one wistfully dream what Wisconsin would be like if we had a legal system - both on the state and federal level - that wasn't so damn corrupted.

H/T to Crooks and Liars

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Another Day Another Religious Gaffe By Scott Walker

Just a couple of days ago, Scott Walker became a national laughingstock when it was reported that he signed a letter to a constituent with "Thanks again and Molotov."

Now, another religious gaffe by Walker has surfaced.

Last month, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Walker tried to justify his refusal to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin by saying:
“It’s probably not fair to ask the son of a preacher to use biblical metaphors,” Walker said. “My reading of the Bible finds plenty of reminders that it’s better to teach someone to fish than to give them fish if they’re able. . . . Caring for the poor isn’t the same as taking money from the federal government to lock more people into Medicaid.”
Blogger Chris Walker (no relation to the governor) caught the gaffe and pointed out that Walker was actually citing a Chinese proverb and not a Bible verse.

Walker (the blogger, not the despot) goes on to point out that Bible actually contradicts what Walker (the despot, not the blogger) is trying to argue.

That's gotta be rather embarrassing to the preacher's son.

But there's more.

Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finally got around to reporting on this gaffe and contacted Team Walker who had a curious response:
Team Walker disagrees.

"The governor specifically says it’s in his reading of the Bible," said Laurel Patrick, press secretary for Walker. "He’s not quoting scripture."
Well, doesn't that clear nothing up? He's citing the Bible but not the Bible? Huh?

The one thing we do know is that not only did Scott Walker drop out of college, he apparently dropped out of Sunday School too.

Cross posted at Crooks and Liars

Walkergate: Kelly Rindfleisch Asks John Doe To The Big Dance

Kelly Rindfleisch, one of Scott Walker's top aides who pleaded guilty to illegally doing political work while on county time, is appealing her conviction.  Again:
A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee county executive has appealed her conviction for misconduct in public office to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Kelly Rindfleisch filed the appeal on Friday. It comes after a state appeals court on a 2-1 vote upheld her conviction last month.

Rindfleisch was one of six people convicted as a result of a now-concluded “John Doe” investigation focusing on activities in Walker’s county executive office. Walker was never charged.

Rindfleisch had pleaded guilty to felony misconduct in office in October 2012 for doing campaign fundraising for then-lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis during the time she was receiving a county paycheck.

Her appeal is based on investigators’ seizure of roughly 16,000 emails from her Yahoo and Google accounts. She argues on appeal that the emails were obtained during an unconstitutional search and should be suppressed.
Keep in mind that she appealed this issue during her trial and appealed her conviction on this matter.

She is obviously hoping to do a Scott Jensen-like maneuver in getting the case in a friendly venue where the rule of law is not as important as the rules of their corporate overlords.

I also find it ironic that Rindfleisch keeps crying about how broke she is but keeps finding the money to pay high-end Attorney Frank Gimbel to file these frivolous appeals.  Then again, she's probably getting a discount rate since Gimbel is a big supporter of Walker, who is helping pay for Rindfleisch's legal defense fund.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Jensen Deception

BY Jeff Simpson

 In Monona Grove, like many other public school districts in Wisconsin, we have a code of conduct that students have to sign and we expect them to live up to.   In this code of conduct this line is prominent:
Honesty (Students will be trustworthy and truthful, no matter what the consequence.)
The Elmbrook School District hasa special policy on Academic Honesty:  
Policy 5131.2 - Academic Honesty
The District regards academic honesty as vital to the academic, social and emotional development of all students. Honest and ethical behavior is an essential component in the learning process. Academic honesty requires that all academic work is the legitimate, truthful effort and product of the student. In contrast, academic dishonesty is an attempt by students to claim and show possession of effort, knowledge and/or skills that are not their own. Academic dishonesty in any form shall not be permitted.
Which brings us to the issue of the day, public education, and the recent November elections.  
We will see an expansion of "school choice" and the head of the "school choice" movement in Wisconsin is formerly convicted felon, Scott Jensen.  Jensen was basically given a "get out of jail free' card from his good friend and fellow Republican, Attorney General elect Brad Schimel.    
After Jensen left in disgrace, he went right to be head lobbyist for American Federation for Children(AFC). AFC is funded by the Walton and DeVos family and their main goal is to privatize our public education.   
AFC's visions is defined as(emphasis mine):
The American Federation for Children envisions an education system where parents are empowered to choose the best educational environment for their child, where innovation and entrepreneurism revolutionizes our education system, ensuring all children, especially low-income children, are provided with the opportunity to receive the finest education possible, whether it be in a traditional public school, public charter school, virtual learning, private school, home school or blended learning.
Doesn't there seem to be a disconnect that the organization that just wants parents to be "empowered to choose the best educational environment for their child" hired as its point person someone who has a proven history of not being able to be trusted to help serve the public?  

To make matters worse, they give the ethically challenged Jensen lots of money to buy elections.  As Bill Lueders recently pointed out:
School choice proponents, many from out of state, funneled $64,000 directly into candidates’ coffers in 2014, through AFC and another group. (The AFC-affiliated funder, Wisconsin Federation for Children Political Fund, filed its last report Nov. 26, a month late, risking a penalty of up to $500. Its Washington, D.C.-based administrator did not respond to an emailed question about the late filing.)In addition, AFC made independent expenditures of $866,000 to boost or oppose candidates. This adds to the nearly $10 million in state electoral spending by school choice proponents between 2003 and 2012, as tallied by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
AFC’s spending in the Nov. 4 elections included $148,000 to help narrowly defeat Democrat Rep. Mandy Wright, a former teacher and school choice critic. It spent $123,000 to help Republican Todd Novak score a razor-thin win over Democrat Dick Cates. And it poured $240,000 into GOP choice proponent Howard Marklein’s successful bid for an open Senate seat.**
** To put things in perspective, while they are spending tens of millions of dollars on elections, our annual budget(approximately 3200 kids, 250 staff, six buildings is $32 Million).   Also average teacher pay in WI is approaximately $47,000/yr, while Scott Jensen makes a over $200,000/yr.   
 When you give Scott Jensen that kind of money to play with, he uses it just as you would expect!    
Yet, in its electioneering, AFC commonly doesn’t even mention school choice. It attacked Wright for allegedly using sick leave to attend a protest, which she insists is not true. It went after Cates for his vote on the local school board concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. And it ripped Democratic Rep. Gordon Hintz for threatening a female colleague and being cited in a massage parlor sting operation, both in 2011.
Now let's sum it all up, we have a disgraced former elected rep, who is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in small time races, to attack certain candidates disgracefully and dishonestly, late in the game, about every issue BUT school choice, and then AFC wins by razor thin margins.   Then Mr. Jensen declares:
Jensen is proud of these victories, which he says give it “a school choice majority in both houses.” He attributes this success to public support for school choice.
How Jensen sleeps at night is something he will have to answer, but why we continually reward this behavior in our political system is something that we have to take a long look at.  
Mr. Jensens behaviors, if he were a student in our district, would result in probably suspension and possible explusion(depending on the behavior plan we would work out between the principal, his teachers and parents).   
Is the person who would not be able to be hired into our schools, the person we want entrusted with millions of public education dollars?   
Do you feel safe knowing that YOUR children's future is in Scott Jensen's hands?    

Images from public profiles!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Corporate Media Tries To Cover Up Walker's Molotov Gaffe

By now, the gentle reader has probably heard about the gaffe by Scott Walker, found by the good folks at One Wisconsin Now, in which he signed a letter "Thank you again and Molotov."  The story has pretty much gone viral across the nation, including Jeff Simpson's coverage of the story at this here blog.

Unsurprisingly, the corporate media once again steps in to minimize the bad news for Walker.

First look at the coverage by Jessie Opoien from the Cap Times:
Presumably, Walker meant to write "mazel tov" and didn't intend to wish good tidings of incendiary weapons. Perhaps it was a case of AutoCorrect or that pesky Microsoft Word paperclip causing shenanigans.
Opoien then goes on to list other gaffes to show this one wasn't so bad on the grand scheme of things.

Things get ridiculous when one looks at the story by Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Walker, however, downplayed the mistake on Wednesday. He said that the letter probably dated back a decade and said he couldn’t remember if it went out in that form.

“My guess is it was a typo,” Walker said. “I figured nationally my thumb has healed up and my bald spot is boring now, so they’re going to talk about things like that.”


Walker's mistake could have been the result of Auto Correct, the program that offers sometimes not-so-helpful edits to misspelled words, even though the note to Gimbel appears to be a formal letter.

Microsoft Word doesn't have an automatic correction function. But if you type mozoltov -- a phonetic spelling of mazel tov -- Microsoft will suggest "molotov" as an alternative spelling.
The truth is that Walker really is that spelling-impaired.

As evidence, I would remind the gentle reader of Walker's tribute to Abraham Lincoln that was so strewn with spelling errors that it would give an English teacher a migraine:
Walker the historian gives us a comment on Lincoln's most famous speech, and misspells a great man's name twice in the process:
"At (sic) his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln famously said, 'Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal' This was not just lip service, as evidenced from the words of contemporaries like Frederick Douglas (sic), former slave and early civil rights leader. Douglas (sic) said Lincoln was 'the first great man that I talked with in the United States freely who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color.'"


Walker's screed against the Democrats, disguised as a tribute to Lincoln, goes on to say, "This sediment (sic) that all men are is equal is evidenced in the Republican Party's current platform of equal taxes on all, and opportunity for all regardless of race, gender, or age ... Contrast that with the tenants (sic) of the (sic) Barack Obama and the Democrat (sic) party ... "
Obviously, Walker isn't the brightest flame on the Menorah.  This wasn't a typo or an errant spell check.  It was just more evidence that Walker's poor cognitive skills.

Sadly, this isn't the first time Bice has done something like this.

Bice also wanted people to think that the reason he had fired Taylor Palmisano wasn't because of the infamous Black Friday fundraising email but because of some racist tweets she had made three years before, but just happened to coincidentally surface at the same time as the story about the email.

Scott Walker -- Still Not A Jew

By Jeff Simpson

As Adam Sandler sings in his famous Hanukkah Song(kinda):

OJ Simpson and Scott Walker ...... Still Not a Jew...

In an undated letter unearthed by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now during the August release of documents from the first of two John Doe investigations related to the governor, Walker responded to a letter from Milwaukee attorney and chairman of the Wisconsin Center District Franklyn Gimbel.

Walker told Gimbel his office would be happy to display a menorah celebrating "The Eight Days of Chanukah" at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, and asked Gimbel to have a representative from Lubavitch of Wisconsin contact Walker's secretary, Dorothy Moore, to set it up.

The letter is signed, "Thank you again and Molotov."

Pretty sure the Governor meant Mazel tov not Molotov.  However since Scott Walker likes to drop bombs on his home state, one never knows!  

Or maybe they are just his favorite band!

Wisconsin - run by 12 year olds since 2010.   

The Time For Dems To Get Busy Is Right Now!

From Chris Taylor:

Following his re-election, Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans immediately began talking about their “aggressive” agenda — including their continuation of privatizing public education. Not on their minds? Policies that actually help middle-income families thrive, like fair wages, a progressive tax structure and public investments.
And as Republicans plot to use more taxpayer dollars to pay the private school tuition for children already attending private school and balancing their $2.2 billion deficit on the backs of low- and middle-income families, they balk at a modest funding increase for our public schools.
Yet the newly elected crop of Republican legislators did not campaign on expanding voucher schools. Instead, they touted their “support” for their local schools and equal pay for women.
Simultaneously, the American Federation for Children, which exists to privatize public education and whose senior adviser for government affairs is corrupt former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, paired up with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which exists to maximize corporate profits. They infected legislative races with an avalanche of cash and the most salacious campaign literature in recent memory. These groups clearly divvied up their targets and vast resources to push candidates who would back their corporate agendas. At last count, Jensen’s group alone spent at least $148,000 to defeat the only public school teacher in the state Assembly. In total, outside groups spent at least an estimated $747,000 to $1 million in seven targeted state Assembly races.
We are entering unprecedented territory in legislative races, as money from conservative outside groups floods in at unprecedented levels.
So what is the answer for Democrats, who can’t compete with the cash?
In the last two weeks of the election cycle, I spent time in rural Wisconsin — in Rice Lake, Junction City, Rudolph, and Barron. As I knocked on doors in many small towns, the only noise breaking the afternoon quiet was the sound of children at their public school.
And as I talked with people in these communities, they indicated support for increasing the minimum wage, BadgerCare expansion and public school investment. They were struggling in the Walker economy, where only the wealthy seem to thrive. But they vote Republican.
In messaging, Democrats need to boldly tout our economic populist agenda, which Republican candidates obscured with a feigned interest in local schools and fair wages. At our core, Democrats are committed to creating a fair economy that works for those willing to work hard, through competitive wages and fair taxes and by investing in our communities and our children.
And we need to get back to what we do best — basic grass-roots organizing on the ground all year, not just during election cycles, around issues and values that are relevant to people’s daily lives. We need to contrast our agenda, which improves people’s lives, to the Republican agenda of improving corporate profits.
But it’s not just about finding a resonating message, but about delivering the message. So many people I spoke with who leaned Republican were unaware of the massive cuts to public education, and Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage and making sure the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes. A media structure in our state that can help get our message out is sorely lacking, but desperately needed.
The time for this work is now, not 2016.
Chris Taylor is a Democratic Wisconsin Assembly member from Madison.

It's a Sad Affair

By Jeff Simpson

When Corporations have higher standards than our Government!

Johnson Controls CEO, Alex Molinaroli, recently had an affair with one of Johnson Controls consultants.   The information became public in court records of his divorce from his wife of 28 years.  

This led to a conflict of interest and ethics violations for the CEO who had a total compensation package of $19.5 Million/yr.   After an internal investigation, they did find that Mr. Molinaroli did violate the company's ethics policy.

Tuesday's filing marked the first time that the company had announced that its executive committee found that Molinaroli had violated the Johnson Controls ethics policy, which required him "to timely alert the Audit Committee to a situation that could be perceived to raise issues of conflict of interest," the filing says.
After the investigation, they ended up reducing his compensation by $1,000,000 and firing the consultant.

As a result, the compensation committee of the board reduced Molinaroli's annual incentive performance payment program by 20%. His performance payment was $3.9 million, which the filing says is 20% or $1 million below the maximum payment of $4.9 million that he could have received for his performance last year.
The proxy statement said the board decided to terminate its long-term engagement with Ihle's firm, Lichter & Ihle, "in light of the nature of the work performed by the outside consulting firm for the company and to avoid any perception of conflicts or potential future conflicts.

 If only our elected officials had such an ethics code they had to live up to!

Time To Wake Up

By Jeff Simpson

 I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.
There has been a distrubing trend lately in Wisconsin and national politics.  We have been holding every other position in society to a higher standard than politicians.   
Case in point, The highest ranking Republican in the Assembly,Robin Vos, recently pointed out that the Milwaukee Bucks will have a hard time getting any help legislatively because their owner, Marc Lasry, was seen greeting President Obama when he visited MilwaukeeBoss Vos has decided that the well being of Wisconsin, and especially 600,000 plus Milwaukeans, takes a back seat to filling his campaign coffers.    
The statement by Vos was borderline illegal, highly unethical, petty, childish and plain ignorant there will be no repercussions.   Except for some random columnists scolding Mr. Vos, there will be no suspensions, penalties, disorderly conduct, inquiries, investigations or even reprimands. For those scoring at home, this means that Mr. Lasry had better ante up.   
Former Republican Majority leader and current Representative of the 97th DIstrict(Waukesha) of Wisconsin, Bill Kramer was recently sentenced to five months in jail. Mr. Kramer was originally charged with two counts of sexual assault, was given a sweet plea deal by his good friend and our Republican Attorney General elect Brad Schimel's office, to be able to plead no contest to one charge of fourth degree sexual assault.  
Mr. Kramer was also apparently allowed to use his campaign funds to pay for his lawyers in this case despite that being against the law.  While the charges were ugly, the sentence was light. Mr. Kramer now will be paid handsomely by the taxpayers of Wisconsin, while he sits in jail and also will receive his Cadillac Benefits along with a full pension.  Look for Mr. Kramer to emerge from jail and join the ranks of "school choice" lobbyists in Madison.  
In yet another case of truth being stranger than fiction, the person that the Republicans chose to replace Mr. Kramer was Jim Steineke(R-Kaukana) to be the new Majority leader. While Mr. Steineke does not have sexual assault on his resume, it is about the only crime missing.   Steineke has a past filled with criminal trespass, obstructing police and too many driving citations to list.   To be fair, this former real estate agent and proponent of limited government, has not had multiple citations for breaking the law since 2010. However this resume has allowed him to be promoted to a position of leadership in the Republican party, and by his own words "he mentors new representatives and their staff". 
I guess if it works for Frank Abagnale, it can work for Jim Steineke.  
Now contrast these stories to a Kindergarten teacher from Germantown.  At a county fair this summer, completely off the clock, destroyed a couple Scott Walker campaign signs.  This teacher was rightly charged with disorderly conduct and given a $169.00 ticket(which she has paid).   
This teacher, for the act of destroying a few cardboard signs, has been the subject ofnumerous stories a political witchhunt(For those scoring at home, number of stories said website did on this sign destroying incident - 7, number of stories about all incidences involving Vos, Kramer, Steineke listed above - 0)on Michael Grebe funded "investigative" websites since the incident happened.   By the way, the teacher involved is STILL SUSPENDED.   
Do we really think that Sexual asault or pay to play shakedowns by politicians are less important to the general populace than someone destroying political signs?  
As the late great Molly Ivins once wrote:
Oh, just that your life is at stake.
What stuns me most about contemporary politics is not even that the system has been so badly corrupted by money. It is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitols. "I'm just not interested in politics." "They're all crooks." "Nothing I can do about it, I'm just one person. I can't buy influence."
Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom you can decide you don't much care for. Is the person who prescribes your eyeglasses qualified to do so? How deep will you be buried when you die? What textbooks are your children learning from at school? What will happen if you become seriously ill? Is the meat you're eating tainted? Will you be able to afford to go to college or to send your kids? Would you like a vacation? Expect to retire before you die? Can you find a job? Drive a car? Afford insurance? Is your credit card company or your banker or your broker ripping you off? It's all politics, Bubba.
You don't get to opt out for lack of interest.
Maybe if we could see who these people truly are during non-election season, we would be in a hurry to make bacon out of the politicians and not be swayed by the millions of dollars of ads that the outside groups spend putting lipstick on their pigs!  
Nothing would scare the politicians and lobbyists in Madison more, than all of us paying attention.    

Monday, December 8, 2014

George WIll Say Anything

 George Will recently attempted to come to the rescue of W.I.L.L.(Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty)with his syndicated column.
The Justice Department’s perverse but impeccably progressive theory can be called “osmotic transfer.” It is called this by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), which is defending Wisconsin children against Washington’s aggression. 
  I know most people think that W.I.L.L. is just a tool, used by Michael Grebe, to help advance Scott Walker's career and file frivolous lawsuits.  They also serve another purpose - desperately trying to privatize our public schools.      Which leads us to the question, of who in Wisconsin's, children are they defending exactly?   
Not mine.  My children attend a public school that routinely outperforms private/voucher schools in WI.  
Nor are they defending the casual observer, who is a parent of a special needs child either.  If  they were to rely on the President and General Counsel of W.I.L.L., to help them make an informed decision on what is the best option for their child.   
Fellow Purple WIsconsin blogger Rick Esenberg, wrote a blog recently complaining that the voucher/private school(he mislabled it school choice)for-profit business was being unfairly scrutinized. 
  Mr. Esenberg told us that schools have to, by law, have to "take all comers"(with an exception for space.  While that is true, what Mr. Esenberg left out was that private/vouchers schools are currently being sued for "actively counseling students with disabilities out of their programs".  
For those of you who would ask - Why would they recruit these students and the counsel them out, it is because of something we have in WI called the "third Friday count".  School and district budgets are determined by the number of students in attendance on this date.  If the privat/voucher school can just keep these children enrolled long enough to reach this important date, they can then keep the money the state designates per student.   They can also then send the special needs child back to public school, the money per pupil stays behind but the costs for educating that child does not. 
Despite the hurdles, public schools welcome these children back, with open arms.  Not because of the money, which for a while is nonexistant, but because it is the right thing to do.  
Secondly, Mr. Esenberg misses the story again as he says these students  "may not get the same services or accommodations in a private school that they will get in a public school."   The reality is they will NOT get the same services, because by law the private/voucher schools do not have to provide them.    A voucher school is required to offer only those services to assist students with special needs that it can provide with minor adjustments.    There are not many special needs students that just need "minor adjustments" especially when you are a school not prepared for them run by unlicensed teachers. 
Then the closing argument that Mr, Esenberg makes is so incredibly mindboggling, that it makes me give thanks that it's not my money on retainer:
 Public schools get funding to provide these services that is largely unavailable to choice schools.
Public schools do get funding(albeit it nowhere near enough for most of these students) hence the "public" in the title,  Private schools, hence the private used as an adjective, are private and do NOT get tax money to provide these services.  
Just as importantly, federal standards for accommodating students with disabilities do not - and ought not - apply wholesale to private schools. The value of school choice is to encourage a multiplicity of approaches
Democratically elected(well semi-democratically elected anyway) legislatures, who after much study (hopefully), have put together best practice,  for the way to treat special needs children in the schools,  that public schools have to comply 100% with,  are fine but if a school run by a profiteer, wants to send unlicensed teachers into a classroom of special needs children and use proven ineffective ways to teach them.   That is the way the cookie crumbles I guess. 
*  Not all behavioral disabilities should be medicalized in the way typically encouraged by federal standards. Parents ought to be able to choose between alternative approaches for their children.
Seriously?  If Mr. Esenberg does not understand that every special needs child in a public school will have what we call an INDVIDUALIZED education program(IEP).  INDIVIDUALIZED being the key word there.   
For those like the President of WILL who do not know what an IEP is:
Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have anIndividualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability. 
A team of individuals get together, and decide what is individually best,  for each individual student.   Parents already get to choose what is best for their own children.  
If you are truly defending "Wisconsin's children" shouldn't you know what options are available to them currently?  Trying so hard to divert our desperately needed resources from public to private schools, It seems like you and your organization, are the one they need defending FROM!

cross posted at Purple Wisconsin

James Wigderson - Theater Critic

By Jeff Simpson

One of Madison's (you know the Wisconsin city perpetually voted as "Best Place to Live" in the US lists) gems is Broom Street Theater.   It is an actual non-profit theater that allows artistic freedom and their mission statement reads:

Broom Street Theater (BST) is a non-profit, member-controlled theater located in Wisconsin. BST volunteers and staff foster artistic freedom, growth, and expression through non-traditional experimental and/or original artistic forms.
Our goals include creating high quality and unique theater through
  • promoting communication, education, and entertainment;
  • challenging the cultural and intellectual assumptions of our audiences through unique and diverse productions;
  • producing world premiere adaptations or original concepts of extant works;
  • promoting and defending freedom of expression; and
  • supporting writer/directors’ visions of their own work without censorship.
BST respects and facilitates community access by maintaining reasonable ticket prices and by welcoming community members to become active in the theater, rewarding hard work with rights accompanied by responsibilities.

A future play is entitled “Greetings from Fitzwalkerstan”,         ! 

Artistic freedom, growth, and expression are foreign to right wing lapdogs like Jimmy Wigderson so when someone comes up with a play mocking our right wing extremist leaders, Jim does the only thing he can do.  Make fun from a distance.  

The plot is set against the chaos and protests surrounding the passage of Act 10. In case you were hoping for any subtlety, the Republican characters actually sing,

We’re deductive, reductive, Michele Bachmann-SeductiveDraconian, Nixonian, Not at all LincolnianEmpirical and spherical, as villains ShakespearicalWe’re the modern GOP pissing down on all you see
We all know that there is no one to parody in our modern day Republican party at all!

Wiggy thinks that gerrymandered districts and millions of dollars worth of negative ads and campaigning on false agenda's means that the state has taken a right word turn.  When you can only be entertained by right wing entertainers(which I believe, consists of Rob Schneider, Victoria Jackson and Fox News) that explains how dull and uncreative wiggy's blog can be.

Photo from public blog of Owen Robinson, Jimmy Wigderson, Freddy Dooley and Mikey Gableman apparently attending ethics fest. 

However there is good news, the write of Greetings from Fitzwalkerstan, has said that if the play is a success he will write a sequel and JWigs will get a part.    The tentative name to his character is called Noah Deas.

For those in the Madison area who have not been to Broom Street Theater before, its great inexpensive entertainment!   The current production is Gingerbreadcrumbs!