Scott Walker’s “I am not a crook” moment

This morning, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Scott Walker insisted that he was not a target of the ongoing John Doe investigation. Walker went further in saying that if he had knowledge of wrongdoing in his office, he would have put a stop to it.

Gov. Scott Walker tells The Associated Press that he remains “absolutely” confident that he is not a subject of a criminal investigation involving former aides in his Milwaukee County office.

Walker says he had no knowledge of county workers doing campaign work while on the clock for their county job. He says if he had known what Rindfleisch was doing, he would have taken action to stop it.

Less than twelve hours after Walker made that statement, news broke about former top Walker aide Timothy Russell, scheduled to go on trial December 3rd.

A plea agreement has been reached in the felony embezzlement case against Timothy D. Russell, a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker.

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf said Monday a hearing on the plea deal is set for Thursday but declined to discuss terms of the deal. Russell’s lawyer, Parker Mathers, didn’t immediately return a phone call late Monday.

Russell, 49, was charged in January with embezzling more than $20,000 from a veterans group through a nonprofit organization that Walker assigned him to lead. He’s accused of siphoning money raised for Operation Freedom, an annual veterans fair and picnic at the zoo hosted by Walker during his time as Milwaukee County executive.

Russell served as deputy chief of staff and housing director at the county during the period he’s accused of plundering the veterans money. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Thursday will be an interesting day. Of more immediate concern is Walker’s claim on the record that he is a complete innocent. The record will show, eventually, that today was Scott Walker’s “I am not a crook” moment (shades of Nixon). There are several emails that make it abundantly clear that only one of two possibilities is true. Either Scott Walker lied today, or he is an incompetent fool duped by his campaign staff whom he had no control over. You decide…to the exhibits.

Power Point Slide #42

Email from Walker Campaign Manager (Friends of Scott Walker) Keith Gilkes (kgilkes@scottwalker.org) to candidate Scott Walker (skw@scottwalker.org). Copied to County Exec Walker’s staff including Kelly Rindfleisch, now guilty of campaigning on County time, in this case 11am on a Friday. The email is coordinating an official statement from County Executive Walker regarding the County tax levy, prepared for political expediency by his campaign. This goes beyond schedule coordination, and directly involved Walker.

Power Point Slide #44

Email from Rindfleisch on County time (1:30pm  on a Wednesday), from her “secret” Gmail account to bypass County email systems, to Scott Walker and Campaign Manager Gilkes (among others). More direct coordination of messaging and strategy for a WTMJ radio spot, even recommending “SKW might want to do a letter…asking for an appeal.” Noteworthy is that Walker and his state Capitol staff have continued message coordination and control with conservative talk radio pundits, as previously reported.

Power Point Slide #45

Perhaps one of the most damning email chains of all. This email chain is initiated by Scott Walker from his campaign email (skw@scottwalker.org) to combined County/Campaign staff including Rindfleisch and Gilkes. While we are unable to view the full first email, Walker is unhappy with how corporate counsel is handling media inquiries. The end result is Campaign Manager Gilkes telling Rindfleisch that the Walker campaign would “…like him to stop being a lawyer and think political.” Understand, this is a political campaign telling the County government how its corporate counsel should respond to public record inquiries from media, through Scott Walker, candidate. Again, on County time.

Power Point Slide #70

Extremely revealing email. Sent from campaign manager Gilkes to candidate Walker, Rindfleisch, and other County staff.  Sent on Friday afternoon May 14, 2010 when Walker would know Rindfleisch would be on County time. The subject is Darlene Wink, who had just left her County job under fire days earlier. This email is coordinating damage control and spin between the County Executive and Walker Campaign. The exact text (emphasis added):

Scott – we would like to discuss this further. We got a briefing from Kelly (Rindfleisch).

There are a few key thoughts on this that our (sic) critical to a response and diffusing this report.

Make no mistake, this is the start of a cover-up, with Scott Walker fully in the loop. Each of these email slides shows not only knowledge, but full participation in this activity. It is little wonder Kelly Rindfleisch’s attorney Frank Gimbel was beside himself, wondering how his client is the only one currently facing jail time in this scandal. As the emails on display were several of thousands, it is highly likely things are going to get very heated for Scott Walker.  This scandal will end up being of unprecedented scope in Wisconsin politics. A scandal that makes the Caucus Scandal look like a childish kerfuffle…

It comes down to this, and we must consider not only the emails referenced in the Rindfleisch sentencing, but the full record of Scott Walker.

He is one or the other…Walker is either lying; or he is an incompetent fool, completely ignorant and immune while his minions run roughshod over the law and the office just steps away from him.

Which is it?

 

 

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Midwest Family Broadcasting anything but “family,” drives a dagger into the heart of local news

In a cynical and despicable move the day before Thanksgiving, WTDY radio in Madison dismissed its entire award-winning news team and long-time progressive radio personality John “Sly” Sylvester. The following post appeared on Sly’s Facebook page this afternoon:

Message to everybody: I just want to inform you that today was my last day of employment at WTDY. After 15 years, I was told that my services were no longer needed. I would like to thank everybody that’s supported my program. It’s been a pleasure to share this wonderful experience with you. I need to take a big deep breath this weekend and figure out what my future plans are. But, old Winter Soldiers NEVER DIE, and I look forward to letting you know what lies ahead. Solidarity!

-SLY

Also let go are news director Amy Barrilleaux, political correspondent Dylan Brogan, Shawn Prebil, Crystal McKenzie Parker, and Deana Wright. No comment has been received from management at Midwest Family in Madison, though numerous messages have been left by this writer.

A post on Crystal McKenzie Parker’s Facebook page dismisses any rumor that ratings were down:

After the best ratings book in 10 years, WTDY released us all from our duties today! I’m still in shock!

The news team at WTDY had gained a reputation amongst all journalists in the state as being focused on local impact and independent of corporate influence.

Badger Democracy has made several attempts to obtain comment from station management. General Manager Rick McCoy took over at WTDY in June, according to a MWFBG staffer, arriving from a group station in Springfield, Missouri.

According to the station receptionist, Rick McCoy is not in today. A message was left at (608)273-1000, ext. 3606

Rick McCoy’s email is rick.mccoy@mwfbg.net

This Thanksgiving, be sure to include these stalwart Winter Soldiers who kept us informed, entertained, and engaged in your thoughts.

Solidarity!

 

 

John Doe Power Point implicates Walker; Source Discloses Continuing Pattern of Corruption

The seventy-eight slide Rindfleisch power point presentation given by Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf is now available for public viewing (follow link). There can be no more speculation as to whether Scott Walker had firsthand knowledge regarding campaign activity occurring in his Milwaukee County Executive office. There was, and he did. Walker’s private campaign email address appears on numerous slides, and the campaign/county staff were one in the same. Significant questions remain.

Does the Milwaukee County DA have the goods on Walker? Or is this part of a coordinated chess match to “flush out” Walker for the Feds? Will the indictment come from Milwaukee County or another law enforcement agency? If this revelation came out in the Rindfleisch sentencing (she is a fairly small-time player in this network), what will come out in the Russell trial starting next month?

The one certainty in all this is that Scott Walker has continued his pattern of building an appointed, political network at the state level to carry out his policies unencumbered; and likely coordinate with his campaign. We already know the investigation has expanded to Madison, and Badger Democracy has previously published an email from Keith Gilkes’ state email account discussing campaign assistance from a Walker supporter.

A highly placed Administration official has recently communicated information to Badger Democracy which confirms Walker’s pattern of crony appointments and corruption continues in Madison. As additional information is disclosed, additional blogs will be posted. Of specific importance are recent events at one of Walker’s newly reorganized agencies – Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS – formerly Regulation and Licensing). All information has been confirmed through independent inquiry.

Cronyism

The Walker Administration has replaced all Division Administration heads at DSPS with political appointees. The last non-appointee left on April 12, 2012. Former DSPS HR head Martha Zydowski retired from her $90,000/year + job earlier this year. Shortly after her “retirement” she was rehired at a part-time job working 3 days a week, earning $67,000/year. She is assigned to working “special projects.”

Only two raises have been awarded since 1/1/11 for full-time exempt employees. One was to Angela Herl, who is married to Dane County GOP chairman Mike Herl. The other was to Kathy Sotak, who was promoted to a Bureau Director. Just months after her promotion, she resigned. State records show Sotak formed “Sotak Solutions LLC” in 2010 – while working for the state. Sotak’s LinkedIn profile claims to have worked at Sotak Solutions since 1999. Her business specialty:

Chemical management and industrial hygiene, risk management, safety, training programs

This is identical to the work she was performing at her state job. Badger Democracy found state Vendornet records showing Sotak as a state subcontractor in 2007 (Kathy Sotak as Safety Consultant 2004-2007). It is apparent that Sotak has spent her time in state government coordinating subcontract opportunities for her own LLC. The revolving door of state government at work.

Further cronyism exists in the appointment of Bill Wendle as Assistant Secretary of DSPS. Wendl is the former CEO of the Wisconsin Builder’s Association (WBA); one of Walker’s largest donors, supporters, and lobby for Scott Walker’s policy agenda. According to Badger Democracy’s source, through Wendle, WBA “bought the codes.” Wendle is said to be planning to write and update the new building codes, favorable to WBA interests “after the committee hearings” are held. Current code updates are said to be receiving “little to no oversight” due to “lack of manpower.” Building Code review is 6 months behind any updating activity.

Secrecy and Corruption

Badger Democracy has received information that a private Gmail network has been set up in more than one Administration Agency – including DSPS. There is also an initiative being pushed to eliminate the IT support at DSPS and transition all IT/Email to DOA. This would place control of IT at DSPS into the hands of DOA. Noteworthy is the private email account which Kelly Rindfleisch conducted her illegal campaign work on was a Gmail account. Also, greater opportunity for corruption exists now that DSPS is led by political appointees of Scott Walker.

As with WEDC, it is apparent that DSPS is now in disarray, sacrificing effective administration for cronyism and secrecy. Badger Democracy will have more information in future posts.

While the John Doe investigation continues to roll on, it is unclear what the next move for the Milwaukee County DA will be.  We now have confirmation that Scott Walker had direct knowledge of campaign work happening in his County executive office. We also know that Walker has continued this at least immoral, possibly illegal activity in Madison.

It is also known that Walker is also being investigated at the Federal level. Of that, we have heard nothing…yet.

 

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Expect more of the same from Scott Walker on Health Insurance Exchange Plan

If there was ever a time for Scott Walker to prove he is willing to work with “both sides of the aisle,” tomorrow is the day. Friday, November 16 is the deadline for states to announce their plan to implement state-run exchanges, or face implementation of a Federal Exchange. Walker and other GOP Governors went all-in on a Romney win, and subsequent repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  

Romney lost. “Obamacare” was declared constitutional. Don’t expect anything from Scott Walker – except business as usual.

Once again, Scott Walker and the extreme far-right GOP Legislators are choosing ideology over good governing, and it is the majority of Wisconsin taxpayers who will pay. Sadly, it didn’t have to be this way. The structure of an exchange has been in existence for over one year.

On November 1, 2011 State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) introduced 2011 SB 273 “Badger Health Benefit Authority.”  From the Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis:

This bill creates the Badger Health Benefit Authority (authority) that is a public body corporate and politic that is created by state law but that is not a state agency.

Under the bill, the authority must establish and operate a Wisconsin Health Benefit Exchange in this state, must make qualified health plans, with effective dates on or before January 1, 2014, available to qualified individuals and qualified employers, and must seek federal grants and other funding for the purpose of the exchange. A qualified health plan is defined in the bill, generally, as a health benefit plan that covers the costs of health care services and that meets the certification criteria described in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

In the past, Legislators from both side of the aisle would have spent the year hammering out an Exchange unique to, and to the benefit of Wisconsin. This is how Badger Care came into existence. Not today.

Enter the ideological crusaders. So extreme are these ideologues, nine of them have gone on public record as promoting legislation authorizing the arrest of any Federal Employee who would attempt to enact ACA in Wisconsin – including a Health Exchange.

Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Sen. Mary Lazich of New Berlin; Reps. Don Pridemore of Hartford; Erik Severson of Star Prairie; Tom Larson of Colfax; Scott Krug of Wisconsin Rapids; and three Republicans elected for the first time last week who will be sworn in early next year – Rob Hutton of Brookfield, Mark Born of Beaver Dam and Dave Murphy of Greenville. (MJS)

These are not responsible legislators. They are hacks.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin recently released an email from DHS to Walker Administration officials containing a Power Point presentation – the closest thing we have seen to a blueprint from the Governor’s office.

We can be certain of one thing. The Walker plan for a Health Exchange will be consistent with his previous governing record. The WEDC Block Grant fiasco, the current Talgo breach of contract lawsuit, cronyism in Administration appointments and State Agencies, and corporate patronage at the expense of fiscal responsibility are now the hallmarks of the Walker Administration.

The Walker plan for a Health Exchange will be nothing more than a sub-contracted, privately operated online market “clearinghouse” serving existing for-profit insurance companies – and doing nothing to reduce costs or increase access to the nearly 500,000 uninsured Wisconsinites.

The result will be the same as well – a giant boondoggle which will set up a significant battle with the Federal Government over whether the Wisconsin Exchange conforms to the ACA. And we all will lose.

Scott Walker will again live up to our expectations of him, which are continually decreasing.

Walker, Vos and Darling Train Fiasco – Everybody Pays…twice

The day before Election Day, Badger Democracy reported on the train maker Talgo filing a lawsuit against Governor Scott Walker, DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb, and the state for “default of contract.”  In brief:

Train manufacturer Talgo filed a “Default of Contract” suit against Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb in Dane County Circuit Court today. Court documents filed today show that the Washington-based train manufacturer notified the state on April 4, 2012 that the “trainsets” were ready for required service testing to be conducted by WisDOT.

The state has attempted to claim that Talgo is responsible for testing, but the contract makes clear that WisDOT bears that responsibility.

The trainsets in question were not ordered for the controversial rail expansion to Madison. These trains are for use on the highly traveled Milwaukee to Chicago “Hiawatha” line. Coming on the heels of the WEDC/HUD block grant fiasco, DOT Secretary Gottlieb quickly issued a statement on November 5 to Badger Democracy, in full damage control mode:

The Department of Transportation participated in a formal mediation process with Talgo just last week in a good faith effort to resolve disputes related to the delivery of completed trainsets. We are disappointed that process was not successful.

Talgo has failed to complete or test the trainsets and they do not meet even basic federal standards, such as those required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The department will defend against this action and continue to act in the best interests of Wisconsin taxpayers.” (emphasis added)
Badger Democracy forwarded Secretary Gottlieb’s response to Lester Pines, Attorney for Talgo. In an interview, Pines offered the following response:
1. As stated in the lawsuit filing, the State of Wisconsin failed to make a $4.5 million contract payment to Talgo, as a means to attempt to force Talgo into conducting “pre-revenue” testing of the trains. Per the contract, this “pre-revenue” testing is the state’s responsibility. Contract excerpt below:
All parties acknowledge and accept that 49 CFR 238.111 provides that the Operator (or railroad, as the case may be) not the Contractor is responsible for performing a pre-revenue service acceptance testing plan. Contractor will diligently work with Department and such Operator to ensure that the Operator’s pre-revenue service acceptance testing plan is efficiently implemented.
2. The state is alleging in the statement that the trainsets do not meet ADA accessibility requirements. This is not true. The trains have been warranted by Talgo to meet every FRA and ADA standard. One minor deficiency has been corrected by a simple part replacement.
3. The state has had an escape clause in the contract which it could have used at any time. It did not. The state could also have declared Talgo in breach of contract at any time for legitimate reasons. It did not.
4. The state of Wisconsin put up a $50 million capital bond issue to pay for the trains. If the state is found in breach of contract, Talgo gets their trains back, and the state no longer will own the capital for which the bond issue was made. The state would be required to repay the $50 million – out of General Program Revenue.
A Legislative Fiscal Bureau March 14, 2012 memo to Robin Vos and Alberta Darling’s Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) confirm many of Talgo’s assertions. The memo also  gave legislators plenty of advance notice on this issue, and made specific recommendations (emphasis added):

The state purchased two passenger car train sets in 2009 from Talgo, a Spanish train manufacturer.

A total of $68.9 million in passenger rail development bonds has been approved for the purchase of the rail cars ($48.5 million), as well as other costs related to construction management, purchase of maintenance equipment, and a temporary maintenance facility.

The train sets are now nearing completion, and are scheduled to be delivered to the state for initial testing in mid-March. Following testing, the cars would be ready for use on the Milwaukee to Chicago service, likely in late 2012.

Under that agreement, the state is responsible for providing a facility for the maintenance and for making payments to Talgo for
ongoing maintenance costs. [In anticipation of the completion of the Talgo cars, 2011 Act 32 provided $4,450,000 SEG in 2011-12 and $6,700,000 SEG in 2012-13 in the Department's passenger rail service appropriation for start-up maintenance costs.]

According to the LFB memo, maintenance costs were an issue of significance. Alternative solutions were offered, including a renegotiation of the maintenance agreement:

ALTERNATIVES

1. Approve the Department’s request for the approval of $2,500,000 in passenger rail development bonding for final design engineering for a permanent maintenance facility for the
State’s passenger rail cars.

2. Deny the request.

3. Deny the request and direct the Department to reimburse any expenditures for the maintenance facility preliminary engineering that were made with bonds from the Department’s SEG appropriation for passenger rail service, to the extent that unencumbered funds are available in that appropriation.

4. Deny the request for additional funding and direct the Department to attempt to renegotiate the maintenance agreement with Talgo to reduce ongoing maintenance costs and, if feasible, the cost of the permanent maintenance facility. Direct the Department, in any subsequent request for funding for maintenance-related services, to report to the Committee on
the status of these negotiations.

Walker, Vos, and Darling all knew exactly what this contract entailed. They wanted to kill any new rail development as payback to their transportation construction political cronies, so they did nothing – even though it would cost taxpayers millions above and beyond the cost of honoring the contract. Vos and Darling were very vocal about how they were “saving taxpayers money” in a May 2012 edition of the Conservative-Digest.

Unfortunately, they failed to tell the whole story about the Talgo contract, and the specific issues surrounding the inevitable trainset replacement costs. You can read the entire LFB memo linked above. The LFB estimates do not include extra costs associated with continuing to use Amtrak maintenance – so the Vos/Darling  article is conveniently leaving out key details. The last few lines of their joint article are the most important:

Luckily, the state has options. According to
the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, if no funds were
given for the Talgo maintenance facility, the
“agreement can be terminated by either party.”
So that’s where we are now.

Wisconsin taxpayers were taken for a ride by
Doyle and the Democrats. We’re proud to say
that the ride is coming to an end.

Not quite Governor Walker, Representative Vos, and Senator Darling. When Talgo wins this lawsuit, Wisconsin taxpayers will be the ones paying back the $50 million in revenue to replace the bond issue – as you will have lost the capital purchased by those bonds.

And the trains – they will still have to be replaced in just a few short years anyway. In essence, we will end up paying for them twice. Though, after defaulting on the Talgo contract, will anyone do business with Wisconsin? Maybe we’ll be able to ride Chinese trains from Milwaukee to Chicago.

Lost loans at WEDC, federal block grant money distributed without authority, contract breaches, lost capital from bond issue, former aides convicted…

This is acting “…in the best interests of the taxpayers of Wisconsin…?”

Paul Ryan retains his Congressional seat…but is Tuesday’s biggest loser

Paul Ryan will still have a job, having defeated challenger Rob Zerban in his most competitive race since he first won election. What is getting very little attention in the mainstream media is that Ryan failed to carry his home communities of Janesville and Rock County. Zerban won his home County of Kenosha and Ryan’s home County, Rock. Not surprisingly, Ryan has the GOP-friendly redistricting and Waukesha County to thank.

Total vote:

Ryan –      199,715 –  55%

Zerban – 157,721 –  43%

Difference – 41,994

(Source – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

First, Ryan loses his home of Janesville and Rock County:

Rock County

Paul Ryan (Rep) 46.39% 18,826
Rob Zerban (Dem) 51.50% 20,902

Zerban + 2076

(Source: Rock County Clerk)

Zerban wins his home Kenosha County:

Kenosha County

Rob Zerban (DEM) 41101 52.27
Paul Ryan (REP) 36092 45.9

Zerban +5009

(Source: Kenosha County Clerk)

Zerban is competitive in Racine county:

Racine County

PAUL RYAN   –   50,106 –  48.21 %
ROB ZERBAN  -  47,618  - 45.81 %

Ryan +2488

(Source: Racine County Clerk)

Racine and Rock basically cancel each other out, leaving Zerban with a 5,000 vote lead. Walworth County gives Ryan a slight lead:

Walworth County

PAUL RYAN REP 27,890
ROB ZERBAN DEM 16,546

Ryan + 11,344

(Source: Walworth County Clerk)

After Rock, Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth County, Ryan is only ahead 6,747 votes out of 259,081 cast in those four counties, or 2.6%. Enter the GOP behemoth Waukesha County.

Paul Ryan    -   36,843

Rob Zerban –  12,688

Ryan + 24,155

(Source: Waukesha County Clerk)

After Waukesha County, Ryan’s lead is increased to 30,902 out of 308,612 votes cast, or 10% – a huge increase, and insurmountable.  Waukesha County accounts for nearly 50% of the margin of victory. Southern Milwaukee County adds almost the same pro-Ryan vote as Walworth County.

More Waukesha County for Ryan, larger margin of victory for the GOP, and a relatively “safe” seat.

2001 WI 1st CD map

2011 WI 1st CD map

Ryan wins thanks to favorable redistricting, even after losing his hometown. In the final analysis, Paul Ryan may have retained his House seat, but after the fight of his political career. This on the night he failed to deliver a critical Wisconsin for Mitt Romney, and Tammy Baldwin defeated a state political legend in Tommy Thompson.

The 43% of voters in the 1st Congressional District will undoubtedly have a close eye on Paul Ryan – as will Rob Zerban.

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Time for Wisconsin Progressives to get to work…again

A short time ago, the AP called the election for Barack Obama, and Tammy Baldwin – with Wisconsin leading the way. Earlier today, Badger Democracy posted predictions and commentary on the state races. Fortunately, I was correct on the Obama/Baldwin win. Unfortunately, I was also correct in saying the GOP would take back the State Senate. It appears Wisconsin will be controlled at the state level by a very conservative GOP led by Scott Walker.

We should take the next 24 hours to celebrate. As Wisconsin progressives, we have led the way in re-electing Barack Obama, and sending Tammy Baldwin to the US Senate. After the celebration, we have along road ahead of us. The recent redistricting has assured an uphill climb for the next decade to maintain a balance in the State Legislature.

More importantly, as progressives, it is time to change the way messaging and campaigns are run at the state level. The Democratic Party, on the whole, has been beaten badly in that regard over the last 18 months – and appears not to have learned from its mistakes. It is time to remedy this as progressives, and again lead the way to change the way we communicate our values and our message – because what is being done now is not working.

The election is over. The campaign for a progressive Wisconsin is in its infancy. See you in the trenches…

Solidarity!

 

 

Election 2012 – Prognostication and Portends

Election 2012 is in full swing, and by all accounts Wisconsin will have record turnout. That is encouraging, as the Voter ID provisions still in effect do make new voter registrations more difficult.  Based on voter registration data from 2008-2012, turnout will be key to an Obama victory and the hope that there will be a “coat-tail” effect in Wisconsin.

Voter registration data from the GAB shows that the slow and steady attempt by the GOP to disenfranchise younger voters (who vote more Democratic) has been having an impact – even in Wisconsin which has same day registration (numbers in thousands):

Year 18-24 25-34 35-49 50-64 65+ Total
2008 340.8 576.1 955.1 932.8 668.9 3,473.8
2009 336.2 614.3 930.4 926 675 3,481.90
2010 327.5 554.8 900.8 984.3 692.5 3,460
2011 273.9 506.3 826.1 967.2 697.2 3,270.60
2012 332.9 560.4 855.9 1,013.20 738.6 3,501

Notice the trend over the past 5 years. As this table shows, the under 50 age group registrations have dropped, while the over 50 registrations have increased (numbers in thousands):

 

U50 total 50+ total
 2008 1872 1601.7
 2009 1880.9 1601
 2010 1783.1 1676.8
 2011 1606.3 1664.4
 2012 1749.2 1,751.80
Diff 2008-2012 -122.8 150.10

 

122,800 less under 50 voters registered, as there are 150,010 more over 50 registered voters.

When expressed as a percent of the total registered voters, it is clear why turnout is key:

 

 2008 0.54 0.46
 2009 0.54 0.46
 2010 0.52 0.48
 2011 0.49 0.51
 2012 0.50 0.50
Diff 2008-2012 -0.04 0.04

 

The two age groups have converged, each comprising 50% of the registered voters. Badger Democracy has compiled graphs on this data as a PDF available at this link:

Voter Registration Graphs 2008-2012 PDF

A quick look at the 2011 registrations are one significant reason the Walker recall election failed. Another will be referenced later. Now, on to the prognosis.

President – Barack Obama defeats Mitt Romney. I believe in math and statistics. Nate Silver has the most unbiased, mathematically sound analysis and he has a history of being right. This morning, Silver updated his Five Thirty-Eight blog to give Obama a 90.9% chance of winning – largely due to Obama momentum gains in key swing states. Silver’s analysis takes into account the possibility of a bias for Obama.

In order for Mr. Romney to win the Electoral College, a large number of polls, across these states and others, would have to be in error, perhaps because they overestimated Democratic turnout. It’s this possibility, more than the chance of a successful hail-mary in a state like Pennsylvania, that accounts for most of Mr. Romney’s remaining chances of winning the Electoral College.

The chances of Romney winning the electoral college is given in poker terms by Silver:

…in poker, making an inside straight requires you to catch one of 4 cards out of 48 remaining in the deck, the chances of which are about 8 percent. Those are now about Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College.

If Obama were to lose, I would consider the results very suspect – especially if the difference is Ohio and the vote suppression methods under way there (addressed below).

While I expect Obama to win the electoral college, Hurricane Sandy has made the possibility of Romney winning the popular vote a bit higher. The area affected by Sandy typically accounts for about 30% of the total popular vote nationwide. There is a good possibility that enough people will be unable to vote due to the storm, still giving Obama the electoral vote win, but reducing the poplar vote outcome in the Northeast corridor. Can’t wait to hear what Rush Limbaugh would say about that…

Obama will win Wisconsin as well. The final Marquette Law School Poll shows Obama with a 51-43 lead over Romney. The Marquette poll called the recall election nearly spot-on, and had been consistently accurate. That brings us to the Senate.

The Wisconsin Senate Race – Nate Silver has Tammy Baldwin at a 79% chance of defeating Thompson, but the poll margins are extremely close. The voter registration numbers referenced above make the split even closer. The last Marquette poll gives the slightest edge to Baldwin as well, 47-43 (just outside the Margin of Error). I’m going to use another factor in making my prediction – momentum.

The January Marquette poll  showed that 50% of respondents had not heard enough of Tammy Baldwin to form an opinion of her. Only 17% said the same of Thompson. Baldwin had a 23% favorable rating, Thompson 49% favorable. By the June Marquette poll, 39% had not heard enough of Baldwin, 12% had not heard enough of Thompson to form an opinion. The favorability gap was closing – 27% Baldwin, 48% Thompson. In the first head-to-head poll of likely voters, Thompson had a 49-41% lead over Baldwin.

Fast forward to the second August Marquette poll. Baldwin continued to close the recognition gap; 27% not knowing enough of Baldwin, 17% not knowing enough of Thompson. The favorability gap also continued to close – Baldwin at 32%, Thompson at 40%. Among likely voters, Thompson continued to lead 50-41%, virtually unchanged from June.

The second September Marquette poll shows a greater shift in momentum taking place. Only 20% of voters had not heard enough of Baldwin to form an opinion (down from 50% eight months before), with Thompson holding steady at 12%. In the favorability rating, Baldwin had closed the gap – 37% Baldwin, 36% Thompson (compare to 23-49% January). In likely voters, Baldwin gained her first lead in the poll, 48-44%.

That brings us to the last Marquette poll pre-election. Among likely voters, only 13% had not heard enough of Baldwin – about where Thompson started. Favorability ratings are identical – 38% to 38%. More importantly, as more people have come to know Tommy Thompson, his unfavorable rating is 6 points higher than Baldwin’s, 51 – 45%. This was the first poll Thompson had a 50%+ unfavorable rating.

My prediction – based on the momentum of Tammy Baldwin, and the corresponding “coat-tail” effect of Barack Obama winning in Wisconsin by a fairly wide margin, that will be enough to give the razor’s edge victory to Baldwin. Tommy won’t go down without a fight – expect a recount. In the end, Baldwin wins and the Wisconsin US Senate is split.

This entire scenario relies on a fair and accurate election – which is in question and highly suspect. The Brad Blog  has been at the forefront of following election hijinks perpetrated by private corporateers who control the software and data involved in elections. It is astounding that in the first democracy, our election system is controlled by private corporate profiteers with significant conflicts of interest and political agendas – much as would be expected in a third world country election.

Investigative reporter for the BBC Greg Palast has (and continues) to follow the systematic disenfranchisement of minority voters in state like Ohio and Florida – with hundreds of thousands  of registered voters being dropped from voter rolls. Voter registration and ID laws are working in that regard – look at Wisconsin data above. Younger, more Democratic voters are being intentionally purged from the voting rolls – and it is worse in states without same day registration.

If the fix is in, we are in for a long 4 years. Under a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan Administration, the United States would become a vulture capital economy. After all, Ryan was Paul Singer’s (“The Vulture”) number one pick to be the GOP Presidential candidate. Mitt Romney was Singer’s last pick – Ryan was the VP pick to satisfy Singer.

The vultures would run the show – and the economy. What Singer and Elliott Management are doing to Argentina would become the model for domestic and foreign economic policy. Romney’s financial dealings as a profiteer aligned with Bain Capital and Singer’s Elliott Management would become the new business model in the US. The whistle has just been blown on Romney’s dealings and profiteering – and if he is elected would never see the light of day.

The Obama Administration and mainstream banks like JP Morgan Chase understood the threat to worldwide economics when they recently filed amicus briefs in favor of Argentina’s sovereignty, and against Paul Singer and the vultures. There are theories this election is a battle of the titans for control of the US (and world) economy. Obama wins, and more reasonable heads prevail. A Romney win, and it is back to the Robber Barons – only on steroids with the Vultures in charge.

My concern is for State Senate and Assembly races. All politics are local, and while there may be a small carry over from Obama to the state races – it will be limited. A miracle is necessary for the Democrats to maintain the State Senate. The retirement of Jim Holperin (D-Eagle River) made that a difficult retention with the pro-GOP redistricting. The Assembly may become more evenly divided – but will remain GOP controlled. That leaves Wisconsin where we were after the 2010 election, with the need to remain ever vigilant, the struggle to continue.

There were lessons from the recall that went unlearned by state Dems, as has been written of previously. It must be our priority as progressives to push for a change in messaging and campaigning at the state level to counter the GOP machine. Wisconsin will likely remain under control of the GOP, with some balances at the federal and local level. Again, unless the fix is in. Our election process must be reformed and taken away from the privateers.

Get out and vote – and do your part to protect your right to vote. As for Scott Walker and the GOP in Wisconsin, I’ll be here along with other progressive bloggers long after the election is over to expose their continual abuse of power.

I leave you with the words of Thomas Paine, patriot:

“It is possible to exclude men from the right of voting,
but it is impossible to exclude them from the right of
rebelling against that exclusion.”

What is your right to vote worth?

 

 

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Walker Administration “Default of Contract” cost to taxpayers nearly $50 million

Train manufacturer Talgo filed a “Default of Contract” suit against Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb in Dane County Circuit Court today. Court documents filed today show that the Washington-based train manufacturer notified the state on April 4, 2012 that the “trainsets” were ready for required service testing to be conducted by WisDOT.

The state has attempted to claim that Talgo is responsible for testing, but the contract makes clear that WisDOT bears that responsibility (emphasis added):

All parties acknowledge and accept that 49 CFR 238.111 provides that the Operator (or railroad, as the case may be) not the Contractor is responsible for performing a pre-revenue service acceptance testing plan. Contractor will diligently work with Department and such Operator to ensure that the Operator’s pre-revenue service acceptance testing plan is efficiently implemented.

Wisconsin was sent an invoice for $4.599 million dollars on April 23, 2012 which has remained unpaid. On July 25, 2012 Talgo served a “notice of default” on Mark Gottlieb, DOT Secretary. The notice gave the state 30 days to cure default (emphasis added):

In short, Wisconsin is in default of its testing obligations under Section 14.02 of the Purchase
Contract, which has caused significant and costly delays on the project. Talgo is also very concerned with WisDOT’s stated intent to place the train sets into storage rather than in revenue service, which also constitutes a material breach and default under the Purchase Contract, as the Purchase Contract clearly requires WisDOT to place the train sets into revenue service (see, for example, Article 9 of the Purchase Contract).

Meanwhile, Wisconsin is also in default of its payment obligation regarding Invoice number 2012- 1.6, dated April 23, 2012. In addition, WisDOT has also wrongfully terminated the December 30,2009 Maintenance Agreement between WisDOT and Talgo - constituting an Event of Default under both that agreement and the Purchase Contract - which Talgo will address by separate letter.

Wisconsin did not reply within the required 30 days to cure default. The Maintenance Agreement referenced in the default letter between Wisconsin and Talgo was terminated by the trainmaker on November 1 as another breach of contract (emphasis added). Gottlieb was hand-delivered notice of Purchase Contract termination on November 1. If the state is found in breach of contract, Wisconsin (and its citizens by default) would lose all rights under the contract, and be on the hook for nearly $50 million plus court costs(emphasis added):

It has been more than one hundred days since Talgo served its Notice of Default upon Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has still not cured its default.

Accordingly, pursuant to the terms of the Purchase Contract, Talgo is hereby immediately
terminating the Purchase Contract. Wisconsin remains obligated to pay all its “previously accrued liabilities” under the Purchase Contract. You have received invoices for the balance of the Purchase Contract prior to your receipt of this Notice of Termination.

Talgo CEO  Antonio Perez hits the nail on the head with his statement today (emphasis added):

“We invested in the State of Wisconsin by building a manufacturing facility in
Milwaukee and creating manufacturing jobs. We built the trains and
otherwise performed our obligations under our agreements with the State of
Wisconsin. In return, rather than being “open for business” the State used
every conceivable excuse, whether fair or not and whether lawful or not, to
ensure that Talgo did not receive what it bargained for, including by refusing
to pay for the trains that Talgo completed. I don’t see how any company
would in the future choose to do business with the State of Wisconsin when
the State has shown that it cannot be trusted to honor contracts that it
signed.”

“Talgo has become the innocent victim of a political agenda. Before
Governor Walker was inaugurated, he wrote an open letter to President
Obama saying, “Governor Doyle and Secretary La Hood say we can’t stop
the train. I say, just watch us.” The Governor chose to “stop the train” by
breaching its contract with Talgo.”

WEDC and Walker’s budgeting tricks are just the tip of the iceberg. Ideology and cronyism over responsible governance have become the hallmarks of the Walker Administration. Not only did Walker’s actions regarding Talgo COST jobs, they will now COST taxpayers millions of dollars payable long after he is out of office.

The Office of DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb emailed the following comment to Badger Democracy:

The Department of Transportation participated in a formal mediation process with Talgo just last week in a good faith effort to resolve disputes related to the delivery of completed trainsets. We are disappointed that process was not successful.
 
Talgo has failed to complete or test the trainsets and they do not meet even basic federal standards, such as those required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
 
The department will defend against this action and continue to act in the best interests of Wisconsin taxpayers.”

The Walker Administration has yet to respond to request for comment.

 

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Fake Democrat will be elected to the Assembly…a picture is worth 1000 words

On August 9, 2012, Badger Democracy wrote a story questioning the legitimacy of former Monona Mayor Robb Kahl running as a Democrat for the 47th Assembly District. Kahl easily won his primary as a Democrat, and is expected to easily defeat his Republican opponent Sandy Bakk in next Tuesday’s General Election. Badger Democracy has obtained exclusive photos which every elector in Kahl’s District must see before casting their ballot.

The photos confirm that Robb Kahl has hoodwinked not only his future constituents; but every good progressive Democrat and organization who has endorsed him. While fraud may be too harsh a term, Kahl can now truly be called a “Dem-in-name-only.” Worse yet, his future constituents will have no idea who he will serve if elected. This writer’s advice – vote for the Republican. At least you will be certain what she stands for. Every progressive who has endorsed Kahl should withdraw their support, and he should be shunned as a self-serving opportunist.

On the night of November 2, 2010 most Democratic candidates and voters were overwhelmed by the nature of the GOP/Tea Party surge in Wisconsin. Most were experiencing emotions running the gamut from anger to depression to shock. Where was Robb Kahl? Celebrating at a victory party. The party was not for a Democratic candidate. Not Tim Cullen, or Kathleen Vinehout. Kahl was celebrating a Scott Walker victory. And he wasn’t celebrating in private. He was on stage – with Scott Walker.

The following photographs obtained by Badger Democracy show Robb Kahl in the back row, left hand side, as the victory confetti drops, holding his Scott Walker campaign sign over his head. He is above, and between Joel and Rebecca Kleefisch in the shot (sign is circled in black). This has been confirmed and is not photo-shopped:

Robb Kahl at Walker victory party 11/2/10 – 1

Here is a closer view of Kahl after the confetti drop (Kahl is circled in black):

Robb Kahl at Walker victory party 11/2/10 – 2

If you need one more view (again circled in black):

Robb Kahl at Walker victory party 11/2/10 – 3

The archived video of the Walker speech from 11/2/10 can be viewed for confirmation. Kahl’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

In case there is any doubt – a file photo of Kahl:

If you want more information on Kahl’s ties with Walker since the 2010 election, the Badger Democracy article from August 9, 2012 referenced above provides the necessary background.

The question is – will Kahl be held to account by the electorate and those who have endorsed him under false pretenses?

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