The People of Rural Wisconsin are driving Walker Recall success – it’s local, and about community

A holiday weekend in rural Wisconsin demonstrated the real grassroots effort leading the campaign to recall Scott Walker. While Milwaukee and Madison may have a dense concentration of activity (and much of the media attention); rural areas like Jackson County (Western Wisconsin)  are quietly exceeding expectations in gathering recall signatures. Based on the previous Gubernatorial Election vote, Jackson County’s 25% goal was around 1,700 signatures. They likely reached that total over Thanksgiving weekend. County Democratic Party Chair Gaylord Oppegard set the goal at 3,000 signatures prior to petitions being circulated, and they may well reach that goal using an all volunteer coalition of petition circulators and coordinators.

The result of this true grassroots effort will make the difference between just making the required number of signatures, and gathering an overwhelming number of signatures statewide. It may also seal the fate of Scott Walker, considering how close his election was in 2010. The reason for success in the rural areas – everyone has a story. And the stories are not from or about self-interest, like keeping more of your money in property taxes. The stories are about the effect of Scott Walker’s policies on the well-being of the community, and the people just trying to make a living in rural Wisconsin.

There is the woman in Jackson County who wanted to start a small catering business (an entrepreneur). As a start-up business, she could not afford to hire employees, and her husband helped her part-time. Her husband works at the prison in Jackson County, and after the passage of Act 10, lost the ability to work a flexible schedule. In addition, he has lost over $400 per pay period in salary due to increased contributions – a nearly 25% pay cut. Now, they struggle to make ends meet; as she cannot keep her catering business going without his help, and his decreased income barely pays the bills. Not to mention the stress of working as a prison guard without active on-the-job representation or protection.

Another woman has an autistic child, who due to the budget cuts in public education and special needs services, has a child who is now being placed in mainstream classrooms. The lack of special needs education and services previously available has her pre-teen child extremely discouraged and stressed – to the point that she attempted suicide recently. She called Scott Walker an “uncaring, evil man.” From her point of view, that is a justifiable characterization.

People drove up to sign petitions who had actually voted for Walker in the 2010 election; but seeing the effects of his policies on their neighbors, the loss of jobs, and the power he now holds, felt compelled to sign the petition. One woman, signing with her adult daughter, stated “…this isn’t what I voted for.”

These stories are being repeated all over the county, and indeed, the state. They are being told by a community of people who understand, whether Republican or Democrat, that as a society we have an obligation not only to the people we see every day – but to the strangers who may be the weakest and neediest among us. The word-of-mouth stories from neighbor to neighbor are becoming the most powerful message in the recall battle. No amount of money can overcome a factual accounting of the negative impact Scott Walker is having when conveyed by a familiar and trusted friend.

All over Wisconsin, people are considering the recall of Scott Walker the last, best resort for saving and restoring their communities. Whether it is the effects of Act 10, cuts to Education, cuts to Badgercare casting thousands out of the plan; Wisconsinites are grasping the detrimental effects of Walker’s policies on their communities. Walker and the GOP have grossly underestimated the pushback – and their panicked response is evidence of this miscalculation.

Pro-Walker activists have stooped to felonious activities in destroying recall petitions; as well as creating websites promoting the gathering and destruction of petitions. While in Jackson County, this writer heard firsthand accounts (one from a 70 year-old retired schoolteacher) of being sworn at and threatened. Most recently, the mantra from the Walker supporters has been to characterize the recall effort as being driven by out-of-state interests.

The irony of this GOP talking point, of course, is where the majority of Walker support comes from. The Center for Media and Democracy recently reported the source of $2 million dollars in television ads is out-of-state Koch Foundation-funded Americans for Prosperity. A recent email sent to supporters of “The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama” solicits funds to support Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The email contains a list of the most recent $200 contributions to “defeat the recall”, and there is only ONE from Wisconsin: 

Lewis of Mattituck, NY – $2,000
Margaret of Mattituck, NY – $2,000
Harry of Denver, CO – $500
Peter of Newport Beach, CA – $500
Fred of Cape Coral, FL – $250
Thomas of Seattle, WA – $250
Steven  of Washington, IL – $250
Richard of Napa, CA – $200
Robert  of New York, NY – $200
Norman of Atlanta, GA – $200
John of Maumee, OH – $200
Dick of Greenwood Village, CO – $200
Richard of Tuscaloosa, AL – $200
Michael of Fernandina Beach, FL – $200
Ernest of Vero Beach, FL – $200
Richard of Milwaukee, WI – $200
Emily of Neptune Beach, FL – $200
Kenneth of St. Marys, GA – $200
Harry of Northport, NY – $200
Mary of Des Moines, IA – $200
John of Tucson, AZ – $200
 
Where is the out-of-state money and corporate influence on Wisconsin politics? Squarely behind Scott Walker and the GOP.
 
 Spending time in rural Wisconsin gives one a great perspective on not only this recall effort, but on how Scott Walker’s policies have negatively impacted communities. Instead of speaking in hyperbole and talking points; elected Republican Legislators such as the Fitzgerald brothers, Robin Vos, Leah Vukmir, and Joel Kleefisch should follow the lead of Republican State Senator Dale Schultz. Schultz went around Wisconsin with Democrat State Senator Tim Cullen on a listening tour of Wisconsin. And he really listened. Schultz has not held to the GOP caucus partisanship policies because he knows they are not the best for Wisconsin communities.
 
That’s the point. Robin Vos should spend a weekend in Jackson County with Kathleen Vinehout’s constituents involved in the recall. Not to engage them in a quasi-philosophical or ideological debate – but to listen. Pretend for one weekend that you actually care about the average Wisconsinite, and listen to their concerns for their communities. Listen to their reasons for recalling Scott Walker. Listen to the people who live in Wisconsin and are committed to the recall of Scott Walker. If their stories and situations don’t move you to question and re-examine the policies you are sponsoring, there is something very wrong.
 
The GOP leadership won’t listen. They had the opportunity to listen when the people were speaking out – and they refused. They walked the party line behind Scott Walker and supported policies that have damaged Wisconsin communities. The single party rule in Wisconsin has repealed decades of progressive, representative government.  So yes, something is very wrong. The people know it instinctively, and in rural Wisconsin, they are doing what they know is their Constitutional Right to restore Democracy in their state. The Recall of Scott Walker.
         

As Kleefisch stays “under the radar” for most Wisconsinites, her recall lags in signatures…why she deserves recall

At 7:30 this evening, United Wisconsin will make an announcement within a few hours regarding the number of signatures gathered in the Walker Recall effort, so far. A United Wisconsin official spoke with Badger Democracy this evening, and the number will greatly exceed expectations for the first two weeks of the effort.

The recall of Rebecca Kleefisch is lagging slightly behind the Walker Recall, mostly due to the fact that Kleefisch has operated under the radar in the Walker Administration. Many Wisconsinites just don’t know who she really is, what she has done, or what she stands for. In some areas of the state, people are expressing hesitation in signing a recall petition for a politician they know nothing about. Here is a re-posting of “Ten Reasons to Recall Rebecca Kleefisch” – share widely (also available at www.unitedwisconsin.com).

1. Kleefisch lied in the 2010 election about the level of tax increase under Doyle, misrepresenting it by over $2 billion – a lie Politifact couldn’t even miss.

2. In the 2010 election, during an interview with Fox 6 in Milwaukee, compared same-sex relationships with having a relationship with inanimate objects, in spite of her uncle being in an openly gay relationship for over 18 years.

  
3. Frequent speaker at Tea Party rallies(such as Sheboygan) in summer 2010 – coined the phrase “open for business” and railed on the role of Government in ruining the economy in Wisconsin, even when the real cause of the recession was lack of regulation on speculative and risky investment ventures; not too much government.

  
4. After leaving WISN-TV in Milwaukee, became a “conservative correspondent” for Charlie Sykes, conservative radio talk show host in Milwaukee.
 
5. Kleefisch pushes for abstinence only sex-ed.
 
6. She is anti-reproductive rights, even in cases of rape, incest, or the mother’s life being in danger.  
 
7. Anti-embryonic stem cell research, in spite of scientific evidence that adult stem cells are not as effective for research.
 
8. Considers the top quality necessary for a Governor  is “…to be a Christian man…”, in her own words, 28 seconds in on the video.

9. Along with Scott Walker, broke a campaign promise to immediately begin paying their increased pension contribution upon taking office. They only complied when mandated to do so by newly enacted law, along with other state employees.

  
10. Kleefisch has never before been elected or appointed to public office, has no fiscal managerial experience, and has no qualifications to serve as Governor. Being a middle market news reporter does not qualify you for the high office of Lt. Governor, or Governor.

The fact is, Kleefisch was not qualified to be Lieutenant Governor in the first place – a fact simply ignored by the media during the campaign, and Wisconsin voters who either didn’t vote, or were seduced by Scott Walker. She is a fundamentalist, whose ideology does not (contrary to her speeches and ads) reflect or care about the majority of Wisconsin. Now is the time to call her out for what she is, and for her support of Scott Walker.

Together, Walker and Kleefisch have brought a fundamentalist ideological crusade to Wisconsin disguised as governance. They touted a so-called “fiscal crisis” to justify their social agenda; a crisis which turned out to be largely overstated and created by Walker – in his first act of authorizing tax breaks to the wealthy corporatics. The progressive traditions of Wisconsin (which are still reflected by its people) have been turned upside down. Time to right the ship.

Recall them both – Solidarity!

Sensing Walker recall inevitable, GOP focus becomes election control

Scott Walker and the GOP have made it perfectly clear that when it comes to keeping their crusade alive, the end justifies the means. Amongst threats of violence against recall volunteers from out-of-state area codes (Minnesota), Walker has refused to comment or condemn the threats. Posts by right-wing aligned groups on Facebook threatening to collect, then destroy petitions; and a “drive-by”  petition theft prompted a stern press release from the GAB reminding Wisconsinites that defacing or destroying recall petitions is a Class I Felony. One Wisconsin Now held a press conference Tuesday, with Scot Ross announcing a $10,000 reward for information leading to conviction for destruction of a recall petition. Charlie Sykes and Media Trackers even went so far as to disseminate incorrect information about the ages of two petition signers, in an effort to characterize the effort as an unmitigated fraud. Both Sykes and Media Trackers backed off their claims, when confronted with photos released to local media confirming the ages of the two signers.

The sense of panic on the part of the GOP in Wisconsin is palpable. The initial response to the petition drive has exceeded expectations. In Wisconsin, the tide is turning – which means the time to call out the GOP and push the recall effort to the finish is now. In the midst of the Walker recall, the GOP is laying the groundwork to execute a last stand for power in Wisconsin, and it will be at the polls – attempting a takeover of the electoral process to secure their one-party rule.

The power grab and disenfranchisement of thousands of minority voters through the hastily-passed Voter ID Act laid the foundation for controlling voter turnout. This electoral restriction continues with the redistricting lines drawn by Jim Troupis for the GOP. How do you disenfranchise 12,000 Hispanic voters in Waukesha? Divide them into Districts where they vote with Brookfield, New Berlin, Mukwonago, Menominee Falls, and Palmyra – because one of the fastest growing ethnic populations in Wisconsin can’t possibly deserve their own representation. They have more in common with Rich Zipperer, don’t they? Waukesha County politics are indicative of the effect single party rule is having on Wisconsin.

New developments indicate the GOP is looking to electoral control as their new lynch pin of power. Just as the power grab started with ending collective bargaining; it appears the end game for the radical right is elections.

As the redistricting process is now being heard in Federal Court, several Republican citizens (“operatives” – one ran unsuccessfully against Mark Radcliffe – D – Black River Falls, for Assembly in 2010) have asked the State Supreme Court to make new Districts effective for any recall election immediately, instead of in 2012, as the law intends. Although this would not have an effect on a Gubernatorial Recall, it would effect a potential Senate recall. There are currently four GOP State Senators facing recall – Fitzgerald, Galloway, Moulton, and VanWaangard. This suit, in essence, looks to take the case out of Federal Court and have it be decided as a state issue only – one that would be decided in the Republican-controlled (although supposedly “non-partisan”) State Supreme Court.

The Republicans will also take advantage of a seldom used law to control the political alignment of poll workers in upcoming 2012 elections. The GOP will submit a roster of names to County Clerks around the state for selection by the clerks. The poll workers must be selected from that list, and correspond proportionately with the number of votes received by each party in the previous General Election for Governor or President. Under this process, the GOP may control the majority of poll workers in many municipalities statewide.

Even after a scathing investigative report, the GAB has decided to allow Kathy Nickolaus to oversee the effective training for election workers in Waukesha County – and would oversee any subsequent recall election. In an email to Badger Democracy, Reid Magney (GAB spokesman) stated that Ms. Nickolaus has met the necessary requirements to perform this training.

While the radical right and GOP supporters attempt to distract with recall shenanigans, there is something much larger and devious afoot. Walker and his ilk have the foundation in place to attempt an electorate “coup”, if you will. In the coming weeks, the battle will be fought primarily in the courts – in courtrooms presided over by an elected  Judiciary. And that is a good thing for Democracy.

The key, therefore, is a massive display of recall passion – and signatures. Even the State Supreme Court is an elected body. Subject not only to a non-partisan election every ten years; but to the same recall laws which govern Scott Walker. The message sent with the recall must be so overwhelming, that it reverberates to every Legislator and Supreme Court Justice who would potentially stand in the way of the Will of the People, and what is Just for Wisconsin.

One Million signatures. That should be the goal – ignoring any forecasts, reports, or predictions. In this situation, they are meaningless. The only message that Progressives must send through this effort is “We the People will be heard, and we will have a progressive state government – not a corporatic plutocracy.” There is no elected official who would dare stand in the way of a Freight Train of Democracy bearing down with one million signatures on a recall petition for a sitting Governor.

The tide is turning, indeed. In the power-hungry, ideological crusade that Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, The Fitzgeralds, Robin Vos, et al. are engaged in, however – the end will always justify the means. We must guard our electoral process through an overwhelming display of unity in the recall effort, our demonstrations, then at the polls.

Spread the word – Solidarity!

 

 

Beyond the polls…Moderate Wisconsin Republican voters are ditching Walker as radical right panics

The new poll released by St. Norbert College/Wisconsin Public Radio points to a trend that has the radical right in a frenzy. Scott Walker’s approval rating has dropped since April – from 46% down to 38%; with his disapproval rating jumping from 48% to 58%. More telling, the 18%, ultra right-wing conservative “strongly approve” rating is unchanged. What has changed, is he has lost 8% in the “approve” column – indicating a loss of moderate Republicans. Consistent with this trend is the response to the question of voting to remove Scott Walker, if the election were held today. 58% respond they would remove Walker from office; only 38% would keep him in office. This indicates a 10 point loss for Walker in just over six months (the numbers were 47% remove, 48% keep in April). The neo-con wing of the GOP is in full crisis mode as the recall drive proceeds full steam ahead.

As new job numbers for Wisconsin were released, showing more lost private sector jobs in October, it is apparent Walker’s propaganda to “create jobs” as his highest priority is just that – propaganda, and Wisconsinites are seeing through it. Even in conservative Waukesha County, groups are forming to discuss progressive politics, recall Walker, and promote Democratic candidates in local elections – a clear pushback to radical policies and power grabs which would have been unheard of one year ago. My own parents – longtime conservative Republican Brookfield residents, have openly stated they will vote AGAINST Scott Walker in any future election – whether recall, primary, or general. One year ago they defended him as the Governor that will save Wisconsin from fiscal collapse. Now they see him as having more power than any one politician should posess.

Both the polls and personal experience confirm what we all know instinctively – Scott Walker’s power grab is beyond what the average citizen in Wisconsin would accept as responsible governance. So much, that 58% would vote against him in a recall election. This fact has right-wing extremists going to any extreme to protect their champion, Scott Walker. These extreme shenanigans are being well documented in alternative (and some mainstream) media. The Government Accountability Board has already issued a stern warning that falsifying, defacing, or destroying a recall petition is a Class 1 felony, and has already been working with some District Attorneys on filed complaints.

As expected, the Koch money machine is already pouring a reported $500,000 into TV ads to promote the “successes” of Scott Walker’s policies – through ads paid for by Americans for Prosperity and the MacIver Institute, both financially supported by the Koch Foundation.

Our hope is in each other. The most important thing we can do now is participate, and bring our family, friends, and neighbors into the dialog. The eye to eye, face to face conversation with people we know and trust will carry a greater weight than any commercial aired over, and over, and over, ad nauseam.

Circulate petitions, exercise your first amendment right to talk politics at work, share truths and facts on Facebook, twitter, and other social media. This is our battle to win or lose. While 50,000 signatures is a start, and exceeds early expectations – we have a long way to go. Engage the population, and count every signature as the one that will recall Scott Kevin Walker, because it is.

The tide is turning, it is our time to seize the moment – FORWARD, and SOLIDARITY!

Walker’s GOP “Cronies” end four short years of GAB autonomy, shred constitutional checks and balances

The non-partisan Government Accountability Board (GAB) fell under the GOP hammer today, in Leah Vukmir’s powerful Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) hearing. In a 6-4 partisan vote, the committee passed resolutions which will force the non-partisan and independent GAB to create “rules” regarding opinions they have rendered on voter ID and recall petitions over several months. These “rules” under the newly adopted Act 21 are subject to a virtual “veto” from Scott Walker, essentially eliminating any legislative check on the Governor’s authority. The move also puts the very autonomy of the GAB at risk – autonomy which kept watch over the partisan electoral process in Wisconsin; and was created in 2007 out of a bi-partisan effort to enforce fair election standards in Wisconsin.

The following motions were adopted by JCRAR :

1.  “JCRAR finds that the GAB motion to permit technical college IDs meets the definition of a rule and directs GAB to promulgate its action as an emergency rule within 30 days.”

2. Same as above but related to permitting the use of stickers on student IDs to put them in compliance with voter ID requirements.

3. Same as above but related to requiring that address information on recall petitions may only be filled out by the signer or circulator and may not be pre-populated using a database.

In all instances, GAB had already issued opinions which supported the use of college IDs, and the use of stickers to come into compliance with new Voter ID Laws; as well as opining on what was acceptable electronic format for recall petitions. GOP leadership vehemently disgreed with GAB opinion, and the adopted motions will force GAB into creating an Administrative Rule, which, under new Act 21, can be overturned by the Governor. This amounts to pushing the GAB into creating a rule which can be used in the partisan politics of the recall, as opposed to being a neutral regulator.

In a statement to the media, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) expressed his outrage at the Committee’s actions :

“Today is the day Scott Walker’s political cronies walked away from a bipartisan deal to create the independent GAB that I am proud to say I was a part of creating,”

“Republicans are trying to make it harder for students to vote and they should be ashamed of themselves,” said Pocan, who negotiated with Republicans in 2007 to take partisanship out of our election and ethics agencies. “Today, Republicans sent a strong signal that Scott Walker wants the fairest election he can rig.”

The G.A.B. is made up of six former judges, nominated by a panel of four Wisconsin Appeals Court judges, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The six board members serve staggered six-year terms; one member’s term expires each year.  Both the Board and its staff must be non-partisan.

The GAB was created by a bi-partisan act of the Legislature, and is funded independently of the Legislature to maintain its autonomy. The Board currently consists of six former Circuit Court Justices from around the state:

Judge Thomas Barland
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Chair Eau Claire Eau Claire County Circuit Court, 1967-2000 May 1, 2015
Judge Gerald C. Nichol
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Vice Chair Madison Dane County Circuit Court, 1988-2004 May 1, 2012
Judge Michael Brennan
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Member Marshfield Clark County Circuit Court, 1971-2001 May 1, 2014
Judge Thomas Cane
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Member Wausau Wisconsin Court of Appeals, 1981-2007Outagamie County Circuit Court, 1972-1981 May 1, 2013
Judge David G. Deininger
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Member Monroe Wisconsin Court of Appeals, 1996-2007Green County Circuit Court, 1994-1996 May 1, 2016
Judge Timothy Vocke
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Member Rhinelander Vilas County Circuit Court, 1979-1983
Reserve Judge, 1983-1992 and 1994-present
May 1, 2017

In a commentary titled “The Persistence of Partisan Election Administration,” Ohio State University law professor Daniel P. Tokaji states: “The best American model is Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, which consists of retired judges selected in a way that is designed to promote impartiality.”

Scott Walker and the GOP have discarded the national role model the GAB was; as they have for Collective Bargaining, Public Education, Badgercare, and Wisconsin’s Progressive traditions.

The recall of Scott Walker must succeed – as a message that NO Governor, or single individual, is above the Constitution. Nor is one person or party entitled to such broad and sweeping power so as to effect single party rule in Wisconsin, suppress the true will of the people, and trample the rights of the minority.

Put Wisconsin First – Forward with the recall!

Scott Walker – will run on his record by revising history, creating fiction

Scott Walker, while responding to questions at his recent breakfast engagement in Chicago, stated he would defend himself in a recall election by showing the people of Wisconsin “how well his programs have worked.” Adding, he would be happy to use Illinois as a comparison to how well Wisconsin is doing under his Administration.

Badger Democracy wondered exactly what economic measures the Governor was talking about, and emailed Cullen Werwie to find out. A response was received via email from John Dipko, Director of Communications for the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The email received contained a link to the DWD website, and a “marketing” page titled “How Wisconsin Stands Apart.”  Upon review of the tables, it became evident that Governor Walker is engaging in a campaign of pure propaganda, ignoring the facts about the economic situation in Wisconsin. The data displayed in the graphs pre-date Scott Walker’s time in office – the Labor Force Participation rate being from 12/07 – 12/10; the Tax Rates on Capital Investment survey from 2009. Not to mention that Scott Walker has had nothing to do with Wisconsin’s always high labor force participation rate.

Based on a follow-up email, Mr. Dipko revised the argument for the Governor by using the following information:

1. Wisconsin has a lower unemployment rate than Illinois, and has for all of 2011.

2. Wisconsin personal income growth grew at a higher rate than in Illinois.

3. Net per capita job growth in Wisconsin exceeded Illinois – by a mere .71% to .67%

At their base level, these statistics are correct, when confirmed at Wisconsin and Illinois Labor Department Bureau of Labor Statistics websites.  The fiction here, is engaging in a “which apple is the least rotten” argument. Both states have economies that were badly damaged by the recession. Add to that the inherent corruption in Chicago politics (which effect the entire state of Illinois), the anti-labor stance taken by a majority of the Illinois state legislature, and the push to privatization of both Republicans AND Democrats (in name only) in Illinois, and it is easy to see the similarity of outcomes in both states. For Scott Walker to engage in running on HIS record by comparing Wisconsin to Illinois is an act of pure propaganda; as under Scott Walker, Wisconsin government has (sadly) taken a turn toward the style of politics Wisconsinites have long reviled. It is a rotten apple-to-rotten apple comparison. And the Walker Administration will spin any numbers available to their favor in their most desperate time.

Many of Walker’s policies have created greater personal income – at the highest level of earners. His tax cuts and incentives for the wealthy upon taking office created a spike in personal wealth. Again, spinning any numbers that benefit Governor Walker. What about numbers that really matter? Let’s set the record straight about Scott Walker’s record, and what he has brought to Wisconsin. These are the numbers that need to be attached to Scott Walker’s tenure as Governor; along with the lies he engages in to deceive the people.

From Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development statistics:

1. Unemployment in Wisconsin has risen from 7.4% in January to 7.8% in September. The national rate has been relatively steady, at 9%.

2. The average workweek in Wisconsin has increased from 40.8 hours (1/11) to 41.2 hours (9/11). This while overtime wages have dropped. As population increases, the top 1% are earning more, while the average hourly employee earns less while working more hours. A number with great consequence to quality of life for the average Wisconsinite.

3. Initial jobless claims rose from 13,994 (1/11) to 14,739 (9/11). In December 2010, the number of IJC was 11,577.

4. While the number of manufacturing jobs (based on DWD definition-having no relation to wages, benefits, or employment status) rose from 437,000 (1/11) to 442,000 (9/11), the number has been on the decrease since July (450,000). In September 2008, there were  487,500 manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin.

5. Average weekly manufacturing earnings have dropped from $736.64 (1/11) to $718.07 in September.

6. Construction employment has been on a steady decline. From 117,200 (9/08), 94,800 (9/09), 94,500 (9/10), down to 88,200 in September 2011.

Generac has recently announced the creation of over 400 jobs; this has been touted as a success by Scott Walker. Generac has not responded to inquiry as to the ranges of wages for these new positions, stating they do not comment on “personnel matters.” It is interesting to note that over the years, Generac has given nearly $140,000 in campaign contributions to conservative GOP candidates including Scott Walker, Reince Preibus, Leah Vukmir, Mike Gablemann, and Annette Ziegler. It will be interesting to see what Generac considers to be “family supporting jobs.

Welcome to the new Wisconsin – or “Fitzwalkerstan.” Scott Walker has brought the state politics and economy down to the level of Illinois, then holds himself up as superior to the lowest common denominator. The People of Wisconsin deserve better. Wisconsin deserves a Governor who will serve the People, not wealthy donor corporatics such as Generac. Yes, Wisconsin needs the jobs – at what cost have those jobs come to us? And what will be the societal cost of those jobs – and for the future, if we become accustomed to the right-wing mantra of  “just be happy you have a job.”

Wisconsin has always, and should always demand more out its political leaders. More honesty, more compassion, and more accountability to the people. Scott Walker has lied, and continues to spin propaganda to further his ideological crusade in Wisconsin. Share the real economic story in Wisconsin – you won’t hear it on the news.

Five more days, Governor. Wisconsin will say “Forward” with the recall.

Walker, Kleefisch, GOP supporters turn partisan politics into crusade

As David Brandt of Muskego (a Walker supporter and small businessman) filed the papers to launch a recall of Scott Walker on Friday, the recent sequence of events have made one thing perfectly clear. For the current incarnation of the Republican Party in Wisconsin, the ends justifies the means.

The recall petition filed by Mr. Brandt is a fraud. He has no intention of recalling Scott Walker. His sole motivation in filing the petition was to open the floodgates to unlimited contributions (under Wisconsin law) to the coffers of Scott Walker, at the earliest possible opportunity – which was Friday. It was no coincidence the weekend the petition was filed, that Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is holding their “Defending the American Dream Summit” in Washington DC. Rumors have been circulating of Scott Walker showing up today to collect checks, as AFP is funded by Koch Foundation money. While that has not (as of yet) been confirmed, Walker wouldn’t need to make a personal appearance. Wisconsin AFP Director Matt Seaholm is leading a seminar on “Case Studies in Effective Grassroots Mobilization” today (Saturday) at 1:15pm, and no doubt he will leave Washington with plenty of money and support for Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch.  John Nichols appeared on Ed Schultz last night, explaining the motivation to launch this effort. The Koch brothers now have unlimited access to saving their golden boy – Scott Walker. David Brandt is a willing pawn in the conservative crusade, apparent in Walker’s agenda and the actions of GOP lawmakers.

Since Walker, Kleefisch, et al. took office, there has been a litany of indications that their interest is ideological, not fiscal or even political. Recently, the “Special Session on Jobs” heralded by Walker has been revealed as a failure on jobs – heavy on conservative social engineering, even in conservative papers like the Oshkosh Northwestern. Walker’s appointment of Mark Gundrum to the District 2 Court of Appeals, based in Waukesha, comes with Gundrum serving only one year as a Circuit Court Judge – vastly underqualified. Gundrum, however, is an “ideological ally” of Walker’s – working with him in the Assembly on conservative legislation. Rebecca Kleefisch is a fundamentalist Christian conservative, who uses her platform as Lieutenant Governor to push ideological policies such as abstinence-only sex ed, stem cell research bans, and anti same-sex relationship policy.   

The broader picture could not be clearer – Walker, Kleefisch, and the GOP are involved in a fundamentalist ideological crusade to push their social vision onto the People of Wisconsin. Contrary to what their propaganda cites; this crusade is neither the “will of the majority”, nor is it American. It is, in fact, extremely anti-American; as well as against the Progressive heritage of Wisconsin – the place where the Republican Party of Lincoln was born, and Robert M. LaFollette Jr. fought and won for the middle class decades ago. The current incarnation of the GOP has abandoned that history, and along with it, one of the fundamental reasons the Founders of this Nation abandoned Europe for a new world. Religious persecution at the hands of government.

Thomas Jefferson in July of 1801, wrote in a letter to Edwards Pierrepont:

 “[If] the nature of government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope.”

Jefferson knew of the dangers of “ecclesiastical power” rising above and usurping civil authority. In Scott Walker and the GOP, that is what this crusade is all about. It is the ends justifying the means, in an attempt to usurp the civil authority inherent in our political system at any cost; to justify the promotion of their fundamentalist social engineering agenda. Consider the depths of corruption Americans for Prosperity sinks to, as Herman Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block, was formerly the head of AFP in Wisconsin. Allegations of campaign finance abuse are circling Block, along with questionable dealings while head of the AFP in Wisconsin. No wonder the Koch Brothers and AFP are so desperate to keep Walker in power. They are part and parcel of the fundamental crusade being waged against our deliberative social Democracy.

This crusade amounts to a betrayal of American principles of “liberty and justice for all,” where all have equal access to social and economic opportunity that had once been reserved for the privileged few. We are on the brink of that fundamental right, as defined by founding documents of this nation, being usurped by a small yet powerful privileged few. A few fundamental ideologues who would take us back to a time not seen since the late 19th – early 20th century.

These contemporary crusaders, disguised as Republicans, deny a fundamental hypocrisy in their policies – an hypocrisy which is as dangerous as the outward threat from fundamental Islamic extremists. While it is outwardly hypocritical to profess the killing of innocents in the name of any religion, the covert actions of politicians like Scott Walker pose a greater threat.  While that may seem to be an extreme position, it is true. The Scott Walkers of our current system are co-opting that system for the benefit of the few, and are pronouncing a death sentence on the poor, working, lower class in America through their actions. As Senator Bernie Sanders noted, the GOP Corporate powers are ignoring the socio-economic reality facing the poor, working class in America. The result is greatly diminished life expectancy, and less upward mobility for the nation’s poor. Not only is this a betrayal of our societal structure, it is a betrayal and hypocrisy to their so-called “Christian values.” 

Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, and the extreme GOP politicians in power are promoting a fundamentalist ideological crusade of grand hypocrisy. An hypocrisy which is leading Wisconsin (and the nation) to a time which we have long since outgrown. The irony of these fundamentalists creating a system of such socio-economic Darwinism – where only the strong can survive and prosper; seems to be lost on them (as they believe in strict creationism versus evolution). As does the fact that our Democracy and society is only as strong as the collective wisdom and experience of all of us – and no one succeeds in a vacuum.

The necessity of the recall lies basically on this principle – that Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch are using the offices they hold, entrusted by the People of Wisconsin, not for the advancement or benefit of the state as a whole; but to advance their fundamentalist ideology through a crusade of social and economic engineering. This crusade is disenfranchising and denying equal protection and access to a vast majority of the people of Wisconsin; leaving them to wonder what happened to the great middle class in America. Worse yet, this crusade (as noted by Senator Sanders) has left a growing number of citizens struggling just to provide the necessities to survive (never mind “the pursuit of happiness). The numbers of the poor are growing, and with it, more citizens facing a “death sentence” because of an ideology that places the self above the social contract.  

Walker and Kleefisch are dangerous to our Democracy, and deserve to be recalled for using their high offices to promote a “…subordination of the civil to ecclesiastical power.”  The Founders left Europe to escape this oppression, and understood its danger to Democracy. We are faced with this same threat today, in the face of Walker and the GOP crusade. They will do anything to retain power, as is already evident. Most people of common sense do not believe “the end justifies the means”, nor do they believe there is a place in state governance for fundamentalist ideological crusades. From Jefferson’s quote, we must be the “tow rope.”  It is our obligation to recall them.

 

Recall petition triggered by Walker donor from Muskego, records show

David Brandt of Muskego filed the petition to launch a recall of Scott Walker today, earlier than grassroots and Democrats has intended.

Campaign finance records show that David and Bettie Brandt of Muskego were first and one time donors to Scott Walker’s 2010 campaign. David giving $50, and his wife Bettie donating $100. these are the only records of campaign contributions that could be found for either individual.

This would confirm suspicions the recall has been triggered to allow Walker to begin raising unlimited campaign funds, as is the case for an incumbent potentially facing recall.

Phone calls to the Brandt residence have so far not been answered.

 

Top Ten Reasons to Recall Rebecca Kleefisch (in case you need a reminder)

The case for Scott Walker’s recall continues to build, as he recently spends more time speaking (and hearing protests) out-of-state than in Wisconsin. So much for job creation – he’s left that up to Republicans in the Legislature. Unfortunately for Scott Walker, and the people of Wisconsin, GOP lawmakers were more interested in social engineering than job creation, as noted recently by statewide editorial boards

With JB VanHollen’s recent opinion coming at the request of the GAB that Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch would have to face separate (but equal) petition drives, it seemed like a good idea to begin a list of reasons (suitable for sharing) to recall “Rebecca for Real.” Here then, are Badger Democracy’s current top ten reasons to recall Rebecca:

1. Kleefisch lied in the 2010 election about the level of tax increase under Doyle, misrepresenting it by over $2 billion – a lie Politifact couldn’t even miss.

2. In the 2010 election, during an interview with Fox 6 in Milwaukee, compared same-sex relationships with having a relationship with inanimate objects, in spite of her uncle being in an openly gay relationship for over 18 years.

  
3. Frequent speaker at Tea Party rallies(such as Sheboygan) in summer 2010 – coined the phrase “open for business” and railed on the role of Government in ruining the economy in Wisconsin, even when the real cause of the recession was lack of regulation on speculative and risky investment ventures; not too much government.

  
4. After leaving WISN-TV in Milwaukee, became a “conservative correspondent” for Charlie Sykes, conservative radio talk show host in Milwaukee.
 
5. Kleefisch pushes for abstinence only sex-ed.
 
6. She is anti-reproductive rights, even in cases of rape, incest, or the mother’s life being in danger.  
 
7. Anti-embryonic stem cell research, in spite of scientific evidence that adult stem cells are not as effective for research.
 
8. Considers the top quality necessary for a Governor  is “…to be a Christian man…”, in her own words, 28 seconds in on the video.

9. Along with Scott Walker, broke a campaign promise to immediately begin paying their increased pension contribution upon taking office. They only complied when mandated to do so by newly enacted law, along with other state employees.

  
10. Kleefisch has never before been elected or appointed to public office, has no fiscal managerial experience, and has no qualifications to serve as Governor. Being a middle market news reporter does not qualify you for the high office of Lt. Governor, or Governor.

The fact is, Kleefisch was not qualified to be Lieutenant Governor in the first place – a fact simply ignored by the media during the campaign, and Wisconsin voters who either didn’t vote, or were seduced by Scott Walker. She is a fundamentalist, whose ideology does not (contrary to her speeches and ads) reflect or care about the majority of Wisconsin. Now is the time to call her out for what she is, and for her support of Scott Walker.

Together, Walker and Kleefisch have brought a fundamentalist ideological crusade to Wisconsin disguised as governance. They touted a so-called “fiscal crisis” to justify their social agenda; a crisis which turned out to be largely overstated and created by Walker – in his first act of authorizing tax breaks to the wealthy corporatics. The progressive traditions of Wisconsin (which are still reflected by its people) have been turned upside down. Time to right the ship.

Recall them both – Solidarity!

“Blame Waukesha…”: an in-depth study of Waukesha County politics

I was recently asked to write the cover story for this week’s Isthmus on a highly relevant topic to Wisconsin politics. In this turbulent political climate, Waukesha County has emerged as a statewide influence in Wisconsin fiscal policy, legislation, and politics. The article is an in-depth expose on the multitude of factors effecting this county’s continual shift to the right. It also reveals the background of one of the lesser-known, but key players in this “evolution” – Don Taylor. Key Dane County political players provide a backdrop, and former Speaker-turned-lobbyist Scott Jensen was interviewed, offering a unique perspective. For any progressive, it is a must-read to understand why it is what it is. Through understanding, it may be possible to overcome. Follow the link, and Solidarity!

“Blame Waukesha – The Conservative stronghold dukes it out with Dane County to win statewide elections”