Waukesha County – Prosser, Jensen, Nickolaus in Corruption, Inc.

In five months, the political powers in Wisconsin have co-opted all three branches of government to overturn nearly a century of Progressive political philosophy. The LaFollette idea of Wisconsin Government (called the “Wisconsin Idea”) states that government is responsible for doing the greatest good to the greatest possible number of citizens. Under Scott Walker (Executive Branch), the Fitzgerald brothers (Legislative), and David Prosser (Judicial) – the neoconservatives have colluded in a systematic dismantling of civil discourse and deliberative democracy. Instead of the “Wisconsin Idea,” we now have consolidation of power away from local governments and into the Governor’s office, a powerless Legislature (Act 21), Corporate tax welfare, slashed Public Education, increased taxes on working families, elimination of Public Worker’s rights (don’t worry private union workers – you’re next), and deficit spending. Wisconsin is politically unrecognizable from twenty years ago – and not for the better.

Right-wing talk shows (Sykes, Belling), op-ed pages, and bloggers have (ironically) been pointing the finger of blame for Wisconsin’s problems at Madison and Dane County for years. Madison is the seat of liberalism, rife with corruption and graft. Dane County is the source of blame for bad governance and wasteful spending, corrupt with patronage and corporate favors. These boisterous allegations deflect attention from the actual hub of political corruption in Wisconsin, and the source of GOP power – Waukesha County. The GOP has been consolidating power in Waukesha County for over two decades; creating a fortress for themselves and resulting in insulated single-party rule.

Since the early 1980’s, Waukesha County has become the perfect setting  for GOP consolidation. The area has changed from being “cow county” to being one of the most affluent in the state. Population has steadily increased, as has income medians. From the above link, Waukesha county has become “…older (Wisconsin’s median age is 38; Waukesha County, 42), whiter (Wisconsin, 86%; Waukesha County, 98%),  more families (Wisconsin, 64%; Waukesha County, 71%), fewer female-headed households with no husband present (Wisconsin, 10%; Waukesha County, 7%) and has more owner-occupied housing units (Wisconsin, 68%; Waukesha County, 76%).” The perfect target GOP demographic. The change can be seen in Gubernatorial Election Trends since 1982. In 1982, when Democrat Tony Earl won the Governorship, Waukesha County voted Republican by less than ten points. Thirteen Counties in the state had higher GOP vote margins. 1986 – 2006 saw Waukesha solidify its GOP fortress. Noteworthy is in 1994, even Dane County voted for Thompson. In 2006, Waukesha County was one of only three Republican voting counties. The Waukesha – based GOP powers now answer to a very narrow segment of wealthy, corporate interests – and it has been the difference in key elections, recently David Prosser.

When Kathy Nickolaus broke the news of finding thousands of votes, swinging the election in favor of Prosser, allegations of fraud immediately surfaced. The connection between Prosser and Nickolaus was easily made. Nickolaus had received immunity in exchange for her testimony in the Caucus Scandal that brought down Scott Jensen (Prosser’s former boss in the Assembly). Enter the Scott Jensen connection, and Waukesha County political corruption.

Scott Jensen was convicted on three felony counts of campaign fraud in 2006, and sentenced to 15 months in prison. The conviction was overturned on a “jury instruction” technicality in 2007. Jensen appealed the case, attempting a change in venue from Dane County to his home of Waukesha County, which the Appellate Court denied. The basis for his appeal was made possible by a new law passed for Jensen’s benefit – allowing campaign fraud trials to be held in a lawmaker’s home jurisdiction. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and in May, 2010, ordered a change in venue (with Prosser recusing himself). He had testified for Jensen (his former boss) at the trial, saying he was an “honorable” politician. Prosser’s fellow conservative, Patience Roggensack authored the opinion based on the new State Statute in a unanimous opinin from the Conservative Court. Jensen’s case was moved to Waukesha County, and based on Prosser’s recent behavior, can there be any doubt in spite of his recusal, that he carried a great deal of influence on the Court’s decision to even hear the case?

In friendly Waukesha County, Jensen was able to arrange a plea bargain with Republican DA Brad Schimel. In December, 2010, one month after Republicans secured the Governor’s office and the Legislature, Jensen walked away with a civil forfeiture of $5000, and $67,000 in repayment of attorney’s fees to the state. He served no jail time. Kathy Nickolaus continues uncontested to control elections in Waukesha County. Was the delivery of Waukesha County to Prosser payback for his years of loyalty to Jensen and the GOP?

In filing their complaint to the GAB demanding an independent investigation into Kathy Nickolaus and the Waukesha County election results, the Kloppenburg Campaign submitted the following email from DA Brad Schimel (whose office would be responsible for prosecuting any alleged fraud) to Kathy Nickolaus as evidence of impropriety:

Sent: Friday, April 8, 2011 8:24 AM

Kathy,

You handled everything as well as possible yesterday. I had several events last night, and everyone I spoke with was very understanding about how something like this could happen.

I think it will be ok. Hang in there and keep your chin up.

Brad

Jensen, Prosser, Nickolaus – just the beginning of the list. County Executive Dan Vrakas – running virtually unopposed faced a cocaine possession conviction, yet was “anointed” by Charlie Sykes as the best candidate for the job. Vrakas raised huge sums of money ($114,000+) in his election bids to the Wisconsin Assembly prior to becoming County Executive. Judge Linda VanDeWater faces disorderly conduct charges from March in Racine County involving a domestic dispute (she is a Walker supporter, and vice-versa).  Jefferson Davis, former Menominee Falls Village President, was forced out of office as part of a plea for campaign violations (Mr. Davis is a frequent GOP campaign contributor).

The population in Waukesha County is insulated from the rest of the state by a well established GOP machine. Right-wing talk radio, big money, and corporate influence in a virtual single-party rule have created the perfect environment for run away power and corruption. There should be little question regarding motive, opportunity, or ability of the GOP machine in Waukesha County to do whatever it takes to achieve their desired outcome in an election.

For the conservatives reading this who claim Dane County is just as bad in its liberal leanings – I would point out one eye-opening fact. The Democratic Legislators whose trials remained in Dane County Circuit Court went to prison. Brian Burke received a six-month sentence and had to pay almost $88,000 in fines. Chuck Chvala served 9 months, with two years probation. In both cases, the “Liberal Dane County Judges'”  sentences exceeded prosecutor recommendations. Scott Jensen walked.

The next time you hear the GOP call for moving the State Capitol, you will know where they would love to have it – Waukesha County. The real home of political corruption, patronage, and power in Wisconsin.

The “Big Five” Lies in the Walker Budget – in his own words…

To all the hard-working, Democracy loving, fiscally responsible people of Wisconsin,

You have been misled. Governor Scott Walker has completely misrepresented his budget and Wisconsin’s fiscal state. Before, during, and after debate on this budget, Walker has lied to you. His statement released after the Legislature’s budget passage continues these lies:

“I am proud of the work done by the Legislature, which passed a budget today that isn’t built on accounting gimmicks, use of one time money for ongoing expenses, or tax increases.  The budget approved by the Legislature is an honest document that balancesWisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit so that our children and grandchildren aren’t saddled with mountains of debt in the future.” 

Moving forward, I plan on taking time over the next two weeks to review the changes made by the Legislature prior to signing the bill before June 30th.” 

These lies were repeated so many times by Walker, GOP Legislators, and the media they have passed for conventional wisdom. As a service to the people of Wisconsin who may have fallen prey to Scott Walker’s budget hijinks, here are the lies in Scott Walker’s statement exposed:

Piece #1 – The “…budget today…isn’t built on…tax increases.” (see quote above)  In a January 13, 2011 memo from LFB Director Bob Lang, the LFB specifies two significant tax increases. These tax increases affect poor, lower-income residents who rely on the Earned Income Credit and Homestead Tax Credit to simply make ends meet. Through this budget, the state is increasing the tax burden on the lowest wage earners by nearly $70 million over two years. In addition, fees will increase by over $100 million,  targeted primarily at tuition increases for UW students, and vehicle title fees to segregated funds.  A tax is a tax – it is a lie to consider these anything but what they are.

Piece #2 – “The budget…isn’t built on accounting gimmicks”  Scott Walker promised, backed by GOP Legislators, to not raid segregated funds to balance the budget. This was a practice he slammed Jim Doyle over, and repeated this promise again and again. A June 14, 2011 memo, again from LFB Director Bob Lang, proves this to be a blatant lie. The memo itemized over $400 million in segregated fund “transfers”. Most of the raids transfer funds from General and Environmental Funds into Transportation Fund (to fund road construction boondoggles). The LFB memo confirms these funds are “used for purposes other than…the funds have traditionally been used.” The fund raids themselves are gimmicks used to give the appearance of a “balanced” budget.

Piece #3 – “…our children and grandchildren aren’t saddled with mountains of debt…”  In the biennial budget, Scott Walker has given huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest individuals to make Wisconsin more “business friendly.” Regardless of the fact that tax breaks don’t create jobs (see item #3 of the link – includes charts!); there will be a significant price for our children to pay – long after Walker is out of office.  The June 9, 2011 LFB memo from Rob Reinhardt itemized the long-term consequences of these tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy. The total LFB projection in lost revenue over ten years – over $2.3 Billion. Yes – BILLION. Most of the revenue loss is due to the changes in Capital Gains and Combined Reporting, benefitting the highest income earners and largest corporations in Wisconsin. Scott Walker will be out of office long before this revenue loss impacts Wisconsin’s children.

Piece #4 – “…our children and grandchildren aren’t saddled with mountains of debt…” (part 2) The June 14, 2011 LFB memo from Fiscal Analyst Al Runde unveils the most disturbing lie about the Walker budget. Walker’s debt restructuring plan provides for longer term debt service, incurring greater interest costs for the state. The plan simply allows the Governor to delay debt service payments beginning in 2013. Scott Walker will delay debt payments, accruing higher interest, and literally “kicking the can down the road.”   The impact? The state standard for debt-to-revenue ratio is no greater than 4%, with a target debt ratio of 3-3.5% of General Program Revenue. Table 2 in the linked memo shows the debt-to-revenue ratio projections.  THIS IS CRITICAL – Debt ratio grows from 2.28% this year, to almost 5% next year. In 2013-2014, it grows to OVER 5%, even with a generous 4% growth in revenue. A debt-to-revenue ratio of over 5% is higher than ANY budget under Jim Doyle. This literally saddles Wisconsin with increased debt AFTER Walker’s term is over.  

Point #5 - This budget “…balances Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit.” No, it doesn’t. The June 15, 2011 LFB memo specifies the fiscal condition of the Transportation Fund. The fund will operate in a deficit after this fiscal year. Through the raiding of the General Fund (see above), which is a one-time transfer, the Transportation Fund will be in a $244 million deficit for the 2013-2015 bienium.  In addition, because of Walker’s method for debt restructuring (see above), the Transportation Fund will require higher levels of bonding to maintain equal levels. The total deficit, over the 2013-2015 bienium - $319 million. A deficit which will come due AFTER Walker is out of office, and after the Road Construction lobby has been paid – with money raided from the General Fund, and debt sold to our children.

Simply stated, Scott Walker has lied. He has raised taxes, raided funds, created a critical future revenue shortfall, sold debt to future generations, and created a budget deficit. Spread the word, share the facts, and make sure Wisconsin knows the truth about this fiscally (and socially) disastrous budget – which doesn’t work for anyone!

Thanks to all contributing legislators in sharing their research, time, and efforts in this unprecedented time. On Wisconsin!

Breaking – Prosser allegations investigated

WPR, as reported in the Capital Times, reports authorities are investigating allegations that Justice Prosser “grabbed” Justice Bradley “around the neck” during heated arguments – prior to the release of the controversial decision overturning Judge Sumi’s Open Meetings ruling. If these allegations are true, it proves an often rumored pattern of behavior by Justice Prosser. If true, he should be unilaterally called on to resign, period.

ALEC Letter to Scott Walker Exposes Influence, Denial

(See updated entry at end of blog regarding Walker veto of this amendment.)

A letter to Governor Scott Walker from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the group’s response to questions, are a glaring demonstration of the group’s influence and desire to remain underground while imposing their influence. The June 20 letter from an ALEC Director, Courtney O’Brien, congratulates Walker on the legislature’s passage of an amendment to AB40 during the budget process. The Amendment exactly mirrors an ALEC “model resolution” on tax policy for moist smokeless tobacco products – chewing tobacco, or MST. Simply stated, the amendment changes the way MST is taxed. The product used to be taxed “ad valorem” based on unit price. The new tax is calculated by weight, and will (surprise) result in a tax break (and higher profit margin) for tobacco wholesalers. The tax change has nothing to do with tax “fairness” – it puts more money into the hands of the tobacco company and wholesalers. It is no surprise that ALEC has drafted a model resolution, which Wisconsin has copied and implemented, considering where their money comes from. The surprise is that in the letter they admit it. Especially considering the lengths they go to remain underground, and the money and influence they wield.

When contacted via phone for comment on the letter; a spokesman for ALEC stated that they have no “preferential” contact with Governor Walker, that ALEC does not “push” model legislation on states, and that ALEC merely acts as a “clearing house” for like-minded legislators to exchange ideas and legislative philosophy. Really. We’ll see about that. First, the money.

RJ Reynolds has much to gain by the passage of this budget amendment. With recent crackdowns on public smoking, smokeless tobacco is still legal in public, addictive, and profitable. This amendment would increase those profits. In ten years, the company has reported over $63 million in campaign contributions – the vast majority (67%) going to Republicans. They are the main lobby to this legislation. In fact, Reynolds American, Inc. is a registered lobbyist in Wisconsin. The lobbying firm RAI Services Company lists a North Carolina office, but has two full-time lobbyists in Madison, and one working out of Oak Park, IL. RJ Reynolds money and influence is also omnipresent in ALEC.

RJ Reynolds is one of the leading financiers and supporters of ALEC – participating at the “Chairman” donation level. Not only do they give massive financial support, their influence is present on the ALEC “Private Enterprise Board.”   Scanning down the page to the 2011 “Private Enterprise Board” is the name David Powers – Reynolds American. David Powers is able to exercise his significant influence to the legislators (many from Wisconsin) in this position. This amendment alone demonstrates outside corporate influence in Wisconsin policy-making, something David Powers is very good at.

David Powers is the “Vice President of State Government Relations” at Reynolds American Inc. Prior to this position, Powers was Regional Director in Washington DC for the Smokeless Tobacco Council.  Prior to that position, he served as Senior Intergovernmental Affairs Officer in the George H.W. Bush Administration. David Powers knows how to peddle influence – and he uses it to get what he wants for RJ Reynolds, and for himself. What does that mean to Wisconsin?

In the context of this legislation, the ALEC spokespersons’ statement is a farce on several levels. First, Scott Walker was an ALEC member as a legislator - he has a history with the group. They would certainly see Wisconsin as ripe for the picking with that history. Second, it is historically inconceivable that a power and influence broker like David Powers would serve on the “Private Enterprise Board” of ALEC without exercising that influence to his benefit. Finally, based on the facts and nationwide consistency of these policies, it is clear that Legislators like Robin Vos and Alberta Darling are spoon-fed this type of Corporatic policy by people like David Powers. Never mind what is best for Wisconsin or its people.

Wisconsin’s Governor and GOP continue moving us to a Corporatic Government, with an all-powerful Executive – after the ALEC Corporate structure. Spread the word – Legislation and policy for Wisconsin, not multi-nationals. Join the people’s revolution – make your voice heard. And tell everyone about ALEC – that is exactly what they don’t want, and what the movement needs.

UPDATE: Scott Walker has vetoed the change in tax structure for smokeless tobacco products. Pressure from The American Cancer Society and other groups caused Walker to veto the provision. Fortunately, in this case, common sense and pressure prevailed. If only that were the case with this entire budget – taking away the ALEC – corporate sponsors’ slush fund and taking care of the people of Wisconsin.

Wanted in Wisconsin: Recall Leadership from WisDems, Unions, PACs

A recent conversation with Democratic leaders from rural Wisconsin confirm the effectiveness of Scott Walker’s “shock and awe” budget process. In brief; the people sense of a lack of direction and disengagement at high levels from groups that need to be engaging at this pivotal moment in Wisconsin political history. People are looking for and need inspiration after a “blitzkrieg – like” (to quote Naomi Klein) onslaught of legislation aimed at reversing nearly a century of progressive policies. In this period of a “vacuum” – they are waiting for a leader in the movement to emerge, capable of bringing home a coordinated takeover of the Senate, followed by the recall and defeat of Scott Walker.

Recent polls show not only are Republican Senators highly vulnerable, so is Scott Walker. This fact confirms word from rural Wisconsin (and beyond) that people are engaged in the recalls, and interest is high. If there is a leader that emerges, there are many avenues in rural areas to solidify a true grass-roots movement. Town hall-style meetings, listening sessions at schools, county fairs, etc. The primary questions – who will lead and bridge the gap between local and state party communication? Who will inform beyond the electronic and alternative media available in more densely populated areas? Who will re-energize the unions in rural areas – the perception is they have “disengaged,” and are “kind of dead” in rural Wisconsin.

Rural Democrats suggest this leadership is needed soon, to bring all the groups together (Unions, Democratic Party, Activists) to create goals and a cohesive, simple message. A message simple enough to be communicated and coordinated at the local level by the people who KNOW the area, and the means to spread the message. A message supported by statewide resources addressing the ideas people are passionate about – Education, Voter Suppression, Budget realities, with factual rebuttals to common GOP mis-information readily available. The people are craving a cohesive message they can communicate to their neighbors, to win this struggle.

Fortunately, there is reason to be optimistic – if we act now. The poll numbers demonstrate  the public’s growing dissatisfaction with Scott Walker’s policies and ideology. The structure already exists for a successful, grassroots organization with a winning record – the Obama Campaign, as reported in this article by Robert Routledge. Here is the blueprint for a successful organization, and it is similar to the concepts discussed by rural Wisconsin leaders. A strong, simple message, time to communicate it, clear goals (signatures in this case, translating to votes), and resources empowering local leaders to utilize their local passion and expertise. The structure is there, ready to be adapted.

There is reason to be optimistic, but we have little time to waste. Very soon the hounds of hell, in the form of massive GOP corporate money, will be unleashed on the Wisconsin electorate. The Senate recall elections are mere weeks away. Now is the time for a leader to engage, inspire, collaborate, and cooperate to bring all the interests together – getting people all over Wisconsin personally engaged BEFORE the corporatist onslaught.

Badger Democracy calls on the Wisconsin Democratic Party leadership, Union Leadership, and Recall  Committees to hold a “Leadership Summit”,  scheduled within five days of this writing. Many of the basic tenets for a successful recall movement are referenced above, and the people have the will. Wisconsin is looking for inspiration and optimism, along with a unified plan to carry this effort forward. Five days – waste no more time, we all have to be “all in” on this recall revolution, for the sake of generations to come.

Five days…The people of Wisconsin are waiting – will you bring them forward out of the Walker Corporatist State?

Scott Walker’s Coronation is Complete with Publication of 2011 Wisconsin Act 21

The greatest blow to the system of political checks and balances in Wisconsin did not come in the form of a politically biased, legally vacant, and ethically bankrupt Supreme Court Decision.  The State’s High Court rendered a hastily and poorly constructed decision that was lambasted by the Chief Justice and legal scholars. While its decision sent a message that the Conservative majority was willing to recognize Walker as Sovereign; the true coronation came on May 23, 2011 – published on June 7, 2011. The Legislative Branch forfeited its role as a Constitutional check of power to the Executive Branch in passing revisions to Act 21. The recent Court and Legislative action has succeeded in creating a modern-day monarchy in Wisconsin under Scott Walker, King.

Wisconsin Act 21 began its life as Assembly Bill 8  in the 2011 January Special Session. The bill was introduced by the Joint Committee on Organization at the request of Governor Walker and Rep. Thomas Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst). The sweeping implications of the bill received little public scrutiny, in light of current events. There was one public hearing in the Assembly and none  in the Senate(the meeting was waived by the rules committee). There was a suspension of rules during debate in both houses, and Democrats offered multiple amendments to moderate the bill in vain. This nefarious Act deals with the rule-making authority within the Executive branch of State Government.

In the past, Governors have had authority to make rules that were subject to Legislative scrutiny and oversight. The scope of these rules is wide and far-reaching, so there has always been both legislative and judicial checks to this power. The 2011 Act 21, published on June 7, repeals the balance of power from the Legislature over the Chief Executive. The Governor now has the authority to originate and author any Administrative or Emergency rules. He also has the final authority to decide which are enacted, and which are not. In the past, the Legislature could suggest alterations or changes to rules, and send them back to the Governor for revision. The Joint Rules Committee could even prevent a rule from taking effect. Under the new Act 21, the Legislature has given Governor Walker free reign over any rules he may choose to enact.

When reached for comment, an Erpenbach staffer verified that under Act 21 Scott Walker has the authority to “write and originate any rules,” and that the Legislature has “no oversight.”  There is no limit to the scope of a rule. The only remaining Constitutional challenge against unlimited rule-making authority at this time lies in the courts – and most of Wisconsin knows how that would play out.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Fitzwalkerstan. The courts and legislature have voluntarily neutered themselves, relinquishing power to Scott Walker. The Wisconsin Constitution provides for three co-equal and separate branches of Government, each with checks and balances against the other. Our elegant Constitution was written to preserve the rights and freedoms of the minority against the tyrannical will of the majority – as our forefather’s had experienced in fleeing their homelands for a newer, freer nation. In present day Wisconsin, however, the tyrannical majority party has fulfilled its mission of a bloodless coup d’etat. The minority party is now under the rule of a single, authoritarian branch of Government – the representative of a tyrannical majority that forfeited any constitutional oversight within a matter of weeks.

It can be understood why people voted for Scott Walker – they were afraid. The constant drum beating of fiscal doom, the thought that our “way of life” itself is threatened has scared people into relinquishing their basic rights in a Constitutional State for financial and physical security. The majority party has gone too far. The Constitution lies shredded on the Assembly, Senate, and Supreme court floors. Shredded by the lies, laziness, and ideology of the Corporatic Republicans.  The time for the peaceful Revolution is now. The time to communicate the truth to the people is now. Spread the word – we will not be subjugated by the tyrannical majority. The minority is, in reality, the majority. Organize, tell the truth of the story, take back the principles of Democracy for everyone. The recalls are the Revolution – take part in Democracy, you are the future of Wisconsin.

On Budget Eve – Letter to Republican Legislators; and Citizen Call to Action

Dear Wisconsin Republican Legislators and Citizens of Wisconsin,

On the eve of what may likely be the passage of the most divisive budget in Wisconsin history, a letter from Badger Democracy to serve as a Call to Action to its citizens; a harbinger of fiscal and social disaster to Republican Lawmakers. It has become apparent that the GOP fully intends to pass Governor Walker’s budget in lockstep. Every sensible amendment being offered by Democrats today, which normally would bring bi-partisan support, have been defeated. The “moral document” being forwarded by the GOP is about to serve its purpose – a re-shaping of the very social and financial structure of Wisconsin. It is an indisputable fact – that is the purpose of this budget.

To the Republican Legislators – History is repeating itself in Wisconsin. Your failure to observe and learn from the lessons of the past doom us all to learn its harsh lessons.Your lazy governing has caused you to be blind to the very consequences of Legislation you are about to impose upon the people of Wisconsin. You object to the term “lazy.” You have been busy, yes – but the accusation is intellectual laziness. Laziness of being seduced by corporate influence and philosophical ideology instead of holding true to the “Wisconsin Idea” – that government is to function in the greatest interest of the greatest number of people. You are leading all of us, as lemmings to the sea, over the cliff and into the sea of a Corporatic State.

“What history,” you ask? Are these ideas of ours not new to Wisconsin? Are these not innovative, bold ideas to lead us out of our fiscal desert? No – had you listened, paid attention, researched, LEARNED…instead of practicing talking points over and over – you would realize this “bold experiment” has been performed before, on a much larger scale. Where? In this hemisphere. Twice, two decades apart. The results in each case had the same outcome – corporations and the wealthy saw incredible profits and prosperity, leading some economists to refer to the events as “miraculous.” In real, human terms, these countries saw a dissolution of the working class that they still have yet to recover – as well as “middle class” jobs. I implore you to read on… 

Chile and Argentina in the 1960’s saw an emergence of the “Southern Cone” of the continent. Their prosperity was due to Democratically – elected leaders that established a nationalized, socialist government under which the working middle class thrived. Low unemployment (3%), healthcare, education, low inflation, by all standards a successfully emerging economy with an engaged population. The undoing of that system has been documented extensively in a Senatorial investigation, and first hand documentation. In brief, the multinational corporations doing business in the Southern Cone were unhappy at trade and profit restrictions (Ford, Del Monte, Exxon, etc.). The CIA funded and expedited a coup, placing ruthless dictators in place of elected Presidents. This is fact, indisputable – for the sake of brevity, I leave it to the reader to further research. These dictatorial governments received direct economic policy advice from “The Chicago School,” Milton Friedman and his disciples. Funded with money from Washington and the CIA, Friedman viewed these nations as “labs for practicing radical capitalism” (Gunder Franke, Economic Genocide in Chile, 1976). Previously nationalized utilities, education, healthcare, and industries were privatized. Banks, businesses and trade were de-regulated opening the door for unfettered profits. Unions were broken, and the minimum wage eliminated. The result was an abject failure. Unemployment rose to 30%, the rich got exceedingly richer, and the working class became destitute. Any proclamation of capitalist gains was diminished by the human cost of “radical capitalism.” The brutality of the dictators is not understated here – the point is an economic one – the population lived in terror and torture from the corporate/CIA sponsored regimes, or “junta.” The regime brutality aside, do these economic policies sound familiar?

Bolivia in the 1980’s was emerging from a tyrannical dictator for its first democratic elections in decades. The nation faced hyperinflation (30,000% – not a typo), national debt greater than its national budget, and a full-blown economic crisis. Enter Jeffrey Sachs as economic advisor to the new Bolivian President Victor Estenssoro Paz – with the full blessing and funding of the Reagan Administration (NY Times 9/12/84). Friedman disciples working in the Reagan Administration convinced the President to make aid to Bolivian recovery contingent upon it adopting Sachs’ prescribed “shock route” of fiscal policy – after “Chicago School” principles.

The “shock” prescription? Deep austerity measures including deregulation of banks and commodities, deep budget cuts, freezing government workers’ wages, eliminate unions, lift import tariffs, adopt “free trade” policies, privatize everything from schools, healthcare, public services, and energy utilities. Bolivia created an unfettered capitalist zone in one sweeping budget bill, known as “The Brick” due to its sheer weight and impact (Foronda, Latin American Press 2/16/89). Again, the regime had to brutally control a citizenry resisting these draconian measures – the human cost was terrible. For the purpose of this writing, the fiscal effects on Bolivia were striking. Inflation was brought under control – falling from 14,000% in 1985 to 10% in 1987. A remarkable feat, yes – causing Friedman “Chicago School” proponents to again pronounce a “miracle,” especially considering the record profits generated by multi-national corporations.

The real financial costs - In the same two years, unemployment rose to 30% while real wages dropped by 40%. The top 2% of earners saw wages skyrocket, while the bottom 98% saw wages plummet. The job situation was so dire, that under the new austerity measures, the number of workers eligible for Social Security plummeted by 61%. This created an even more desperate working class while corporations sent record profits home to the United States. When the masses attempted to organize and protest, there was an extra legal “special police” crackdown on the population at large. Setting aside the violence of the regime, do these economic policies sound familiar? They should, they are the same policies Scott Walker has been pushing from day one – privatize, eliminate unions, freeze wages, “business friendly,” free-trade, de-regulate business practices. They have had the same effect every time they have been practiced. Now in Wisconsin.

Call to the Citizens of Wisconsin – The “experiment” being pushed in Wisconsin is nothing new. The proof is in history, which for convenience sake the Republicans have chosen in their intellectual laziness to ignore. There will be record corporate profits, and the working people of Wisconsin will suffer for it. Their laziness in following a hollow ideology will cause a downward shift in the social structure of Wisconsin. We have an obligation to the future of this state to fight this corporatic agenda. This link contains the Republican Senator’s email addresses – all of them.

Badger Democracy is emailing this writing to every Republican Senator – this is a call for everyone reading this to do the same, sending the following statement:

“As Legislators in Wisconsin, you have had a choice in the budget you vote for. You have had options and differing opinions available to you. Your historical and factual ignorance; your intellectual laziness has caused you to follow ideology and not fact. You have chosen to follow, not lead. While you may temporarily rest in security that your corporate sponsors will tend to you when you leave office,  you will receive no respite from the PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN whom you serve. As the impact of this budget unfolds, so will the ire of the people increase. In making this choice, you will feel the quiet and peaceful rage of the people at the polls. As these fiscal policies affect the working families and population of Wisconsin, you will feel the effect of the “silent and peaceful” revolution that is coming.”

The Corporatic agenda may speak for you as a Republican Legislator – it does not speak for the people.

Sincerely,

Scott Wittkopf for Badger Democracy

“Extraordinary Session” Requires Extraordinary Action

A call to action to the citizens of Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Legislature will be convening in an “Extraordinary Session” at 11am on Tuesday morning. A legislative Fiscal Bureau Guide to “Special and Extraordinary Sessions”  explains these sessions have existed under Legislative Rule since 1977. In this case the Session was called by a majority of the Committees on Organization in both houses – perfectly legal under Legislative Rules. Under this “Extraordinary Session,” the Legislature is free to suspend most rules regarding bill notification, debate, and may consider the entire budget, as the purpose of the Session dictates. The Legislature may also expand the Extraordinary Session to whatever other business it chooses upon completion of the budget. This due to the fact that the Legislature “makes its own rules” (so to speak) under this type of session. As long as the Republicans have the votes, they can remain in Extraordinary Session, free to pass whatever they choose. The entire State Budget being taken up in Extraordinary Session is unprecedented. This type of session has only occurred 6 times since created in 1977 (see link above, page 15). Obviously, Republicans are going to attempt pushing as much through this session as possible before the recalls. This leads to two very important issues – and these are specific calls to action for anyone reading and sharing this blog.

1. To The Democratic Party – Enough of this nonsense of running “legitimate” Democratic challengers to force and lose in a primary. Your time, energy, and resources are needed to back the amazing people who have stepped forward in each of the Senate Districts we need to win. It will be paramount to retain the three Democratic seats likely up for recall as well. With the public, perception is reality – we need the “on-the-fence” voters to swing our way to win the recall elections and establish a base for the Walker recall. A play like this will create a “perception” of impropriety. We are better than that. Challenge the fake Democrats’ petitions under Wisconsin Statute with the GAB and Dane County DA, and hasten the recall elections – which need to happen sooner rather than later due to the radical action being taken in the Legislature. Don’t divide the party at such a crucial juncture in history. If you pursue this course of action, you have negated months of effort to be seen as above such self-destructive political games for short-term gain.

To All The Citizens of Wisconsin – This is a defining moment in the Progressive Movement and State history. Governor Walker, The Fitzgeralds, and GOP Legislators have committed many wrongs against the people of this state. Collective Bargaining aside; they have violated Wisconsin Law to hastily pass unjust legislation. They have given hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest and largest corporations. They have pushed a lazy and corrupt agenda in Wisconsin that was formulated decades ago in Corporate board rooms, bent on seizing control of every resource in the state for their own profit at taxpayer expense. They have cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the great Wisconsin Public School system, and put millions into a private school experiment with zero public accountability or obligation. They have broken their promises – spending is increasing in the Walker Budget (over the last biennium), taxes are going up on the working Wisconsinite (property and income), and they are raiding segregated funds to pay for their corporate – sanctioned policies. The Budget would require the State of Wisconsin to BORROW start-up funds for a speculative business program (state risk for private gain). All this justified by the lie that Wisconsin is “broke.” If you are reading this, you know what this Budget means for Wisconsin. Therefore: 

This is a call for ALL THE CITIZENS OF WISCONSIN to participate in peaceful, mass, SILENT DEMONSTRATION THIS WEEK! Stand together in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, LaCrosse, Eau Claire, every city, town and village in stone silence during the protests. The message is simple – Scott Walker and the Republicans are silencing the voice of Democracy by closing the Capitol, closing the Legislature, and selling off Wisconsin to the highest bidder. When 11AM on Tuesday arrives – stop what you are doing, no matter where you are, and be silent. Be still. Be a rock. The power of this message will resonate to EVERY citizen. A violent mob will serve to damage our public perception and strengthen the GOP position – a massive wall of silence and stillness will impact every witness. Imagine the enormity of the message all across the state. Movement leaders should be called on to support this “SILENT STRIKE” in Wisconsin.

   You are angry – if not, you haven’t been paying attention. There are calls for mass protests this week, the nature of which the Governor has planned for. It was “leaked” last week the story of hundreds of State Troopers being bussed in for added security. Reports of surveillance teams monitoring social media from GEF 2 (Hi!). Let me say this bluntly – Governor Walker is planning on violence. It plays directly into his hand, and strengthens it. We cannot win when we play into his plan – avert it. Stand strong, stand silent, stand united. Then sing, or chant, or hum – but remain peaceful in protest. Show the entire state by our numbers and our resolve that we will not resort to THEIR tactics to win. We win because we are right. We win because WE are Wisconsin. 

11:oo AM Tuesday. Wherever you are we will stand together, strong and silent. Let your voices be heard through email, phone, letter, and civil discourse. Spread the message, share the strength of unity. Show them who we are. Support a “Silent Strike” for Wisconsin.

“We Are Wisconsin Recall” Statement Takes Us To The Edge – Take a Step Back

Kelly Steele, Communications Director for “We Are Wisconsin” PAC released the following statement today regarding confirmation that Republicans will attempt to run “false” Democratic candidates in some Senate Districts, forcing a primary election – giving GOP incumbents time to prepare, communicate, and raise money:

“The unprecedented conspiracy being propagated by some combination of the Wisconsin GOP, operatives at the RNC, and individual Republicans in recall districts to hijack the election process has fundamentally changed the dynamic of the upcoming elections. Despite how innocuous their unseemly tactics might appear, placing Republican operatives purporting to be Democrats to force Democratic primaries could allow the Republicans to manipulate the process in a way that could severely disadvantage efforts to flip the Wisconsin State Senate.

This includes a number of factors, including being able to make last-minute decisions as to elections for which they’d like to move the general election to August 9th and those they’d like to keep on July 12th. (Remember, the Republicans have merely announced their intent to file fake Democrats in these elections and are collecting signatures, but they have no obligation to follow through. They could easily, for example, stand in the GAB office on June 14th and decide at 4:59pm to leave 3 races of their choosing on July 12th and move 3 races to August 9th.) Allowing them this control and ability to manipulate the calendar would severely damage the chances of taking back control of the Wisconsin State Senate.

Another potential scenario created by the Republican chicanery in the primary that could severely disadvantage Democratic candidates is that Republican incumbents who do not face primary challengers advance automatically to the general election ballot. This creates a scenario where “legitimate” Democratic challengers are exposed to unlimited spending by outside groups and pro-Republican forces, which could cause the “legitimate” Democrats in the race to lose the sham primary. There would be no check on millions of dollars in shady outside money coming in to relentlessly attack “legitimate” Democrats, and full-scale mobilization of Republican resources to turn out their voters in the Democratic primary and to advocate a message such as “if you support Randy Hopper, vote for fake candidate X.”

Given the situation Republicans have so despicably concocted to manipulate these recall elections, it is the opinion of We Are Wisconsin that it would be in the interest of Democrats to run candidates in the Republican primaries to ensure the dates of the general election are predictably on August 9th, and that Republicans are forced to win a primary election instead of diverting their unlimited resources to back their “fake” candidates against “legitimate” Democrats. To that end, it would be in the interest of flipping the Wisconsin Senate that interested Democrats contact the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

This opinion is not rendered lightly. This is the most cynical manipulation of the Wisconsin electoral process in our state’s history, and is being done by a Republican party that has demonstrated no respect for the rule of law and our state’s tradition of clean elections and good governance. Unfortunately, however, after evaluating the strategic implications of their despicable tactics, to simply stand idly by would amount to unilateral disarmament and would almost certainly thwart the will of the hundreds of thousands of voters who support recalling Republican Senators in the upcoming elections.

Ideally, GAB could step in and prevent the Republicans from deploying this despicable tactic. However, GAB spokesman Reid Magney said the staff doesn’t believe the Republican scheme “raises any significant legal issues.” Therefore, it our official position that Democrats have no other strategic option – that because the Republicans are hell-bent on spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on sham elections to manipulate the process, that adding an additional name to the ballot in the form of a Republican challenger constitutes the only way to level the playing field and prevent being steamrolled by their nefarious tactics. This is truly a sad day for Wisconsin’s political process.”

The anger and frustration expressed in this statement is understandable. However, when one considers the reprehensible conduct of the GOP throughout this process, this tactic they are plotting should surprise no one. It should not lead to panic; and it should not lead to advocating unethical activity(at the least), and most likely illegal activity. Wisconsin Statute 12.05 makes it illegal to falsify or mislead an electorate, and as of today there are already complaints filed and being investigated by Dane County DA Ozanne. There are also existing statutes whereby citizens can file complaints with the GAB against falsified election petitions. There are legal remedies for this conspiracy.

Moreover, let me be clear. Our message and movement depends on our ethical, moral, and just behavior. How do we invoke the trust of a cheated and betrayed electorate, to turn over governance to a progressive resurgence, if we behave no better than the GOP who stole their state for the new “Robber Barons.” Even considering this type of tactic puts our credibility at risk. It is true that desperate times call for desperate measures. But desparate does not need to cross the line to illegality and fraud. desperate is thousands of Wisconsinites standing arm in arm for their just rights – in a right and just protest, and winning elections ethically and legally.

That is how we win. That is how people know the difference between the Scott Walkers of the world, and the Fighting Bob LaFollettes of the world. The message to We Are Wisconsin – live up to your name. Live up to what We say we stand for. Retract your statement and denounce anything but free, fair, open, and legal elections.

Scott Walker and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have long history

Scott Walker served in the Wisconsin State Assembly representing the 14th District from 1993-2002, before becoming Milwaukee County Executive. There has been growing speculation surrounding the influence of the ultra-conservative think tank ALEC on Walker’s policies. There are already direct ties between Koch Industries, Smart Government Inc. (Greater Milwaukee Committee’s lobbying interest), and radical change in Municipal Governance legislation. Badger Democracy has found proof in the State of Wisconsin Blue Book 1997, (page 12) that then-Assemblyman Walker was a member of ALEC. In fact, he was the only legislator besides Rep. Hoven to list ALEC in their biography. The power and influence ALEC had on Walker in his formative years in absolutely clear in his authored legislation at the time.

The legislation introduced by Rep. Walker in 1997 strictly follows “model legislation” being pushed by ALEC not only to this day, but in 1997. The following bills were authored by Walker in the 1997 session (the preceding link allows for a search by bill number):

AB740 – Prohibits Public Funding of Abortion

AB953 – Releases Doctors, Nurses, and Pharmacists from liability for refusing on religious or creed beliefs, to provide services such as birth control, abortion, and end-of-life actions such as feeding or breathing tube removal.

AB441/SB46 – Justice Substitution – an almost exact version just recently passed the Joint Judiciary Committee.

AB634 – Authorizes the DOC to contract for privatized inmate services, including transport and incarceration, outside OR inside the state.

All the bills above are carbon copies of “model legislation” in the ALEC playbook. They also have  (and had) powerful corporate money and influence in their development. The major power players in ALEC today:

  • Don Bohn – Johnson & Johnson
  • Jeff Bond – PhRMA
  • Bill Carmichael – American Bail Coalition
  • Derek Crawford – Kraft Foods, Inc.
  • John Del Giorno – GlaxoSmithKline
  • Matt Echols – Coca-Cola Company
  • Jim Epperson, Jr. – AT&T Services, Inc.
  • Michael Hubert – Pfizer Inc
  • Bernie McKay – Intuit, Inc.
  • Mike Morgan – Koch Industries, Inc.
  • Kevin Murphy – ExxonMobil Corp.
  • Sandra Oliver – Bayer Corporation
  • David Powers – Reynolds American Inc.
  • Maggie Sans – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  • Russell Smoldon – Salt River Project
  • Roland Spies – State Farm Insurance Co.
  • Pat Thomas – United Parcel Service
  • Jerry Watson – Chairman Emeritus

The above corporations also donated heavily to the election of GOVERNOR Scott Walker. AT&T alone gave over $20,000 to the Walker campaign. ALEC’s influence on Walker also manifested itself in his relationship as Legislator and County Executive with the Greater Milwaukee Committee. While legislators are not members of the Committee, they are frequent “guest speakers” (quote from GMC Communications Director). County Executive Walker also served on the Board of The Milwaukee 7 – a policy entity of the Greater Milwaukee Committee pushing privatization and consolidation strategies in the Milwaukee 7 county region. Obvious connections can be made to the Greater Milwaukee Committee agenda and the “Toolkit” forwarded by ALEC – as presented in the “Make It Your Milwaukee County Initiative,” by Smart Government Inc (GMC’s lobbying firm). Not only do these large corporate interests dominate the policies of ALEC, they also carry a heavy influence in the Greater Milwaukee Committee. Note the similar corporate “partners” between ALEC, GMC, and those who donate heavily to the Walker Campaign.

Undoubtedly, Scott Walker carried a heavy influence with the policies of the Greater Milwaukee Committee in his formative years as a legislator; just as ALEC carried a heavy influence on Scott Walker. One only needs to look to the fact that he “proudly” listed ALEC in his biography, one of only two to do so. This relationship goes way back, and one needs only to look to the ALEC and Koch-sponsored agenda of corporate dominance to see where his priorities lie. It is the tenacity and knowledge of these facts that will lead Wisconsin to be the first state to defeat the new “Robber Barons.” They do not represent the Wisconsin Idea, and they do not represent us. This nationalized agenda of a new corporatic state ends with the people of Wisconsin. Scott Walker, funded and brainwashed by ALEC/Corporate interests, has revealed his true values – they are not of Wisconsin – any more than his legislative ideas of 1997. The attempt of these groups to monopolize and privatize state resources requires massive pushback from the people of Wisconsin. Support recall efforts, rally, share, and vote – we are greater in numbers than they can ever hope to be, and as the truth of this co-opting of Democracy is revealed, more will join the cause. On, Wisconsin!