Scott Walker has Failed Wisconsin…Part 2

Two readers of Scott Walker has Failed Wisconsin…Part1 (“CG in WI”, and “Melissa”) suggested two topics with tremendous potential impact on this and future generations – and can be connected in one blog…The Environment, and Privatization of State Power Plants.  Unbelievably, from the land of Aldo Leopold, Gaylord Nelson, and a little bit of John Muir, comes the story of Scott Walker and the Charter Street Power Plant. A tale of environmental apathy, corporatic politics, and political greed. Scott Walker has failed Wisconsin in environmental stewardship and responsible resource management.

On November 21, 2007 The Western District Federal Court issued summary judgement in Sierra Club v. Michael Morgan and Jay Ehrfurth. In brief, the judgement found the state in violation of the EPA Clean Air Act at the Charter Street Power Plant on the UW-Madison campus. The State of Wisconsin was ordered to submit and execute a plan to reduce emissions by15% at the coal-fired power plant. Under a settlement reached by the Doyle Administration, the state received approval for a plan submitted in 2009, and subsequently funded in the 2009-2011 biennial budget to the tune of over $200 million. This plan design would put Wisconsin at the leading edge of using native biomass resources to generate power at the Charter Street Power Plant, bring emissions in line with Clean Air Act standards, and create hundreds of green jobs.

One of Scott Walker’s earliest decisions as Governor was to announce his abandonment of the 2009 design to utilize native biomass, and instead pursue a cheaper plan to convert to natural gas. This plan does not comply with the judgement and subsequent settlement in Sierra Club v. Morgan and Ehrfurth, and potentially exposes the state to new action in Federal Court. In addition, and more dubiously, opens the door for privatization of state power plants through Administrative Rule already in place. Scott Walker has willfully ignored environmental standards, and a court order to further his political career and line the coffers of his supporters – in this case, most likely Koch Industries.

An email obtained by Badger Democracy from Scott Walker’s office indicates the early concern and colluding going on in mid-January. The Walker Administration had been approached by the law firm of Foley and Lardner (who has significant ties to the Walker people – Legal Counsel Brian Hagedorn is an alumnus of F&L) with an offer of 30 free minutes of consulting time to “pick their brains” regarding strategy in the Charter Street Plant case.  Some important points of note here – acceptance of this offer could be considered an ethics violation. Also, the individual making the request from Foley and Lardner is Ray Carey  – a prolific lobbyist in Madison, most notably for Koch Industries. The very same Koch Industries positioning themselves with Scott Walker (as one of his primary donors) to receive no-bid contracts for control of state power plants. Badger Democracy has been unable to confirm whether this meeting “officially” took place. In a phone interview today (August 30), Ray Carey stated that he has “no knowledge of this meeting taking place.” He also stated that the inquiry was made “to see if any opportunity existed to do business with the state.” An interesting comment considering Koch Industries would benefit greatly from the abandonment of biomass, and conversion to natural gas (should the state choose to privatize with Koch). Neither DOA or DOJ have any record of any such consultation taking place. It is unlikely any official comment or record of any meeting such as this would be credible, as it is an ethically and politically charged situation.

A little over 6 months later, on July 27, 2011, The Sierra Club has filed a Notice of Termination of Non-Consent Decree in United States District Court in “Sierra Club v. Mike Huebsch et al.” For now, the Department of Justice is representing the Department of Administration. It could be determined the DOJ has a legal conflict in so much as it must enforce the law, and the DOA is in violation of Federal Law (Clean Air Act). If this is the case, and DOJ withdraws, would Foley and Lardner be awarded the lucrative state legal contract?  No doubt, Scott Walker knew what his actions would bring in Court. He is likely counting on what his actions will bring politically and financially – more control and Koch money. Never mind the State of Wisconsin’s people and environment. Never mind the green jobs. Never mind the Koch Corporate profiteers circling like vultures around Wisconsin’s resources. Never mind the hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spent defending this irresponsible decision. And never mind over a century of responsible environmental stewardship and leadership.

Scott Walker has failed to lead Wisconsin ethically and responsibly in environmental stewardship and energy resources – which will cost the people of Wisconsin millions of dollars in revenue, hundreds of jobs, and priceless natural resources for future generations. For this, he deserves to be recalled.


Scott Walker has Failed Wisconsin…part 1

Seven months into Scott Walker’s term as Governor, and there is one perfectly clear fact – he has failed Wisconsin. Despite the Walker machine spin doctors, whose script the media follows as it were carved in stone; Walker’s programs will do more to set back Progressive Wisconsin in his first year than anyone thought possible. The middle class will continue to erode; sustainable, well-paying jobs will be replaced, necessary services will disappear or be privatized, public education will be defunded to the point of obsolescence, and access to wealth and prosperity will be available to fewer and fewer people. As the media fails to report the truth and facts about the Corporatic takeover of Wisconsin (and the nation), it falls to those of us in the alternative media to attempt (in some small way) to fill the void. The facts are clear, the economic reality is clear – under Scott Walker and the current GOP leadership, Wisconsin is on a course parallel with that of any governmental unit that practices these economic and social policies. High unemployment, low wage jobs with no stability or security, little or no social safety net, and two classes – the very wealthy, and the working poor. Yet the historic facts are not only overlooked, they are lied about. Lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy have never produced more jobs. Many of the “deficit crises” we are facing have been manufactured by the very people who stand to benefit from them. The list goes on, and on, and on.

It is time for Progressives to take the message to the people of Wisconsin. The media are sitting this one out, and conservative propaganda has owned the message (take the “Prosser vindicated” chatter before the entire report was even released). Wisconsin mainstream media is beginning to portray Scott Walker as a moderate, reasonable and benevolent  Governor (he just wanted to give municipalities the “tools” they needed to balance their budgets). This is a complete fallacy – Wisconsinites deserve the truth, and as Progressives, it is our obligation to shine the light of day on these dark times. In that spirit, Badger Democracy today begins a series of blogs titled “Scott Walker has Failed Wisconsin.” Each posting will address a specific Walker agenda item, expose the lie behind the propaganda presented to media and the public, and the failure to the People of Wisconsin it represents. It is the hope of this writer that each item can be consolidated and shared widely, to take the message to the people in preparation for the imminent recall of Scott Walker. These are messages we can own, and put Scott Walker and the entire Corporatist movement on the defensive – responding to Progressive terms and values.

Badger Democracy encourages participation in this process, and welcomes questions or suggestions on topics – we are all in this together. The following topics are currently in the loop:

Public Education – Scott Walker has failed in the theft of funds from K-12 public education under the pretense of balancing the state budget, the effects on educational outcomes, children’s welfare and performance in public schools, Districts financial stability in future years, and teachers ability to be an active participant in establishing educational policy. All these items are deluded by lies and propaganda surrounding the “benefits” of Act 10, which by all accurate accounts are few, and temporary.

Healthcare, especially for Seniors, Children, Women, and at-risk populations – Scott Walker has failed to sustain availability to low-cost, necessary healthcare for our most vulnerable populations. He is on track to place Wisconsin’s healthcare program in the hands of a commission which is tied to corporate and big-med lobbies, who will make millions by privatizing any aspect of the healthcare system made available to them. He has distorted a study commissioned by the Doyle Administration, prepared by Jonathan Gruber (MIT, an expert in healthcare economics), to the point where Gruber was omitted from the press release, and facts about the benefits of Obamacare to Wisconsin were completely ignored to further Walker’s agenda. This will never be reported by the mainstream media, and the propaganda machine rolls on…

Wisconsin’s fiscal reality before, during, and after Scott Walker – Wisconsin was no more in a budget “crisis” when Scott Walker took office than under Jim Doyle. In fact, Legislative Fiscal Bureau updated information show that Scott Walker not only exaggerated the “crisis,” he exacerbated it with his first action – tax breaks and incentives for the wealthy and corporations, creating a greater revenue gap. Scott Walker’s policies will fail to produce the necessary secure, good paying, family supporting jobs Wisconsin needs. His economic policies in fact “kick the can” down the road more than any other previous Governor, which could lead to a real debt crisis for Wisconsin – one Walker himself has created. Scott Walker’s policies will leave Wisconsin (long after he is gone) revenue-short, jobless, further in debt, and without a strong middle class. This is a message that moderates and swing voters need to hear – Walker’s economic policies are, and will, fail Wisconsin.

Collective Bargaining, Unions, and ALL Working Families – This has been the source of the greatest propaganda drive on behalf of Scott Walker. The fact is, collective bargaining, strong unions, and worker participation in the workplace have proven benefits to safety, productivity, the economy, and wage/workplace equality. The decline of these ideas have had a research-proven, negative impact on the earning power, wages of the middle class. As these rights (as recognized by the United Nations Human Rights Commission) have eroded, so have the conditions of the middle class, leading to a swifter rise of plutocracy. The Corporatists have created a demonized class of workers – pitting worker against worker. We must end this and come together, taking a stand against the true enemy – Corporate takeover of our economy and political system. The facts will counter this propaganda, and we will own this message.

Specific points will be addressed in detail in coming weeks, under the heading “Scott Walker has Failed Wisconsin.”  You are invited to participate, share, create a dialog, and spread the message. This movement started with the people, and we the people will have to carry it forward on foot, email, Facebook, twitter, phone, whatever means necessary. We stand together for Wisconsin and its future.


Dane County Sheriff’s Investigation Report confirms Prosser’s politicization, conflict, arrogance

The seventy page incident report released by the Dane County Sheriff’s Office today did not lead to Criminal Charges being filed, but the interviews conducted paint a clear picture of David Prosser’s behavior in Chambers. And it is not a pretty picture.

What is clear upon reading the manuscripts of the investigation (which will not be thoroughly reported by the media), is that Prosser was driven by desire for personal and political gain in his conduct. Prosser’s continued pressuring on behalf of the Fitzgerald brothers to gain a quick decision by the Court, along with his insistence on writing an individual opinion demonstrates his drive for political gain. His desperation for a partisan political decision in this case created, in his mind, a situation where he must win at all costs – causing him to come unhinged. The police report, along with all the interviews conducted, demonstrate that David Prosser has a history of “disruptive behavior” (Chief Justice Abrahamson), and no one knows what will “set him off” (also Abrahamson). It is obvious also by the record, that Justice Prosser now has no business being on any Court, much less the State Supreme Court. This investigation proves that even his peers on the bench are concerned over his behavior, and lack of judicial ethics. Moreover, this report also proves that Prosser did indeed touch Justice Bradley inappropriately in a workplace environment. The decision by Prosecutor Barrett was cowardly, at best – in most work environments, these resulting interviews would lead to immediate discharge and charges filed.

Read the report this weekend – David Prosser should face serious reprimand by the State Judicial Commission, and his peers on the bench should pressure him to resign, as he is an embarassment. Barring that, he should face impeachment or recall at the earliest possible time. Show Justice Bradley your support, as she is the victim of an unstable, self-serving, angry individual – who in any other workplace situation would be out of a job. If the State does not act upon this, the people should. David Prosser, you will follow Scott Walker down the recall road.

November and the Walker Recall

As Autumn draws near, there are groups such as “Recalls United Wisconsin” (not to be confused with “United Wisconsin”), and individuals demanding the recall effort for Scott Walker begin on the earliest possible date in November. As posted August 18 in a previous Badger Democracy blog, there are four strategic areas that need to be addressed and developed for  recall success – Communication, Education, Get Out the Vote (for the new voter ID era), and Money. As a follow-up to that writing Badger Democracy authors the opinion that initiating a Recall Petition of Scott Walker in November is, at this time, premature and strategically flawed – barring any significant changes in the recall effort and co-ordination. The November date, in fact, works to the GOP advantage. This is apparent from the GOP- rumored plan to launch a “false”  recall effort themselves; and was confirmed during an interview with a high level GOP operative conducted recently.

The first strategic obstacle to a successful recall petition in November is the calendar itself. Sixty days to collect in excess of 600,000 valid signatures is itself an enormous task. It will require hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers working seven days a week, 12+ hours a day. Any recall effort recall which begins in November will face holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, etc.) as well as Badger and Packer football scheduling conflicts. These issues alone will detract from the absolutely necessary volunteer availability. Ask your friends and family who may be dedicated to the cause how many days they would be available to circulate petitions from November 22 – December 26. Then ask yourself the same question.

The greatest obstacle to a successful recall effort beginning in November was revealed by a GOP operative during a research interview with Badger Democracy for an upcoming piece. Simply stated, GOP confidence is high that they own the message. They also believe they can position Walker in the coming months as a moderate to the mainstream press, and therefore, most of Wisconsin. In the messaging, a fair analysis would conclude they are correct. Democrats, Progressives, and Labor have been playing defense since Walker’s attack on the middle class began. The message from Dems is constructed around a response to the Walker agenda. If you disbelieve their theory they can position Walker as a moderate, you haven’t been paying attention to local media coverage of this movement. Remember, most Wisconsinites get their news from local media outlets – who have done a horrible job disclosing the far right-wing agenda at work in Wisconsin. The GOP strategy here is sound – and Progressives need a strategy just as sound to conduct a successful recall.

As stated in the August 18 blog – the key is to drive home a message that places us on the offensive, and puts Walker on the defensive, answering to our message. It is this writer’s opinion that November does not give us time to effectively communicate, nor educate in regard to that message. A co-operative, grassroots effort is necessary, and should stand to disclaim any pre-mature recall effort, to avoid confusion. A leader, either group or individual, is necessary to provide the initiative and message – especially when reached from a collaborative effort. As it is unlikely such a groundswell will occur in the next 30 days, a November launch would be ill-advised, and play into the hands of the GOP – who desire such a timeline. As groups collaborate on message, communication, and coordination, the organic (not forced) recall timing will emerge. In the meantime, it is our obligation to continue to fight, engage, and rally united as the course becomes clear. It is also our obligation to stand together, as Scott Walker’s policies will continue to harm all of us – and while that provides great emotion to recall him immediately, it will also begin to turn the moderate undecided, whose votes we will need to prevail. Although this will be an opinion many will see as “unpatriotic,” it is a conversation which needs to happen now, and all must be willing to set aside personal emotion and agenda to ensure a successful recall of Scott Walker – for the greater good of Wisconsin.

The Walker Recall – are you ready…are we ready…?

As of today, only eleven weeks until Scott Walker is eligible for recall. After a successful (by most objective observations) season of Senatorial recalls, declining popularity of Scott Walker, and people feeling the impact of the Collective Bargaining changes and Walker’s budget – passions are running high for the Governor’s recall. All one needs to do is search Facebook and Twitter to find this passion, and all the various timings and scenarios involved in beginning and executing the recall. Upon examination, all are with merit. An immediate recall embraces the passion of the moment, as well as getting Walker out of office ASAP – minimizing any further damage to Wisconsin working families and middle class. Those who hesitate with an immediate recall express concern over the timing, not only with the election itself, but the challenge of collecting petitions from November through December. Think football, school, homecomings, holidays, etc. Look at your calendar and be honest – how many of you could commit to six or seven days a week of volunteering during those months? Remember the numbers. Assume the need for 650,000 signatures – to be safe in the face of strenuous challenges. That requires the gathering of 10,833 signatures per day. Working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day (one must sleep and eat) requires 903 an hour, which brings us to 15 signatures a minute to achieve the goal of recalling Scott Walker. There is even a school of thought that sees the potential to re-take the Assembly and/or Senate in 2012, and that Walker could be a lame duck Governor, making him easy pickings in 2014. ALL these scenarios have merit. In the next few weeks, a consensus must be arrived at, along with floating the names of potential candidates – the right person would add a great deal of momentum to the movement. 

On June 22, Badger Democracy called for a summit of the groups with vested interest in the Recall of Scott Walker. While that may have seemed premature, consider that the Senatorial recalls are now over, and November is close at hand. As of today, that summit has not happened. A consensus must be reached, unity prevail, and we must come together in this effort, addressing four critical points at the basis of this effort.

Communication – Not only between the grassroots groups, PACS, Unions, etc. – but with our fellow citizens. The organizational blueprint must exist for communicating and owning the message. We cannot play defense, speaking to Scott Walker’s rhetoric and propaganda – we must be on offense with our simple, resonating messages, so he is on defense from the start. That time is now, before the Club for Growth, American Federation for Children, Americans for Prosperity money comes in by the truckload. This message must be spread not only through social media, but face-to-face in as many municipalities as we can find volunteers to spread the word. Grassroots “boots on the ground” will make the difference in this race – people will listen to their neighbor eye-to-eye more than any television ad. Effective, coordinated communication statewide.

Education – Follow-up to communication. Once the chain is established, simple and poignant messages telling the truth about the budget’s effects on the issues people care about– Collective Bargaining, Education, Healthcare, and Elderly/Child/Disabled Care – all issues Progressives win on. Use the communication structure to educate and deliver a simple, powerful message of how Scott Walker has failed to serve Wisconsin, and succeeded in representing Corporate takeover of Wisconsin.

Get Out The Vote – Follow-up to Education. The new Voter ID (read “suppression”) requires a key strategy to assure every eligible voter is indeed eligible and educated come election day. It would be a mistake to trust this to the GAB. An important task for any grassroots organization at this “summit” would be to take on an aggressive voter education/assurance program. The GOP has done everything it can to disenfranchise – Democrats must make it known that they are the party to “re-enfranchise” voters.

Money – A very unpopular topic in elections. Let’s be honest with ourselves – recalling Scott Walker cannot happen without major fundraising efforts – if nothing else, to support concepts 1-3 above. Wisconsin law allows for “conduit funds” which can be specified for a single candidate. Should that candidate emerge, there would be potential to establish this fund to channel monies in support from around the state, legally, transparently, and ethically. As much as we would like to think we can do this without an enormous expenditure – consider the money spent on just the 9 Senatorial recalls – how much is Scott Walker worth to Koch, WMC, SC Johnson, Kraft, AFC, CFG, etc.?

The reality from the summer recalls is clear – Scott Walker is vulnerable to recall, and the winds of change are blowing in Wisconsin. Fueled by a tremendous surge in progressive populism and grassroots efforts, WE can take back Wisconsin and send the world a message from the Badger State “with love for Democracy.” Come together, organize around the key issues, recall Scott Walker and move FORWARD.

Prosser Arrogance in Plain Sight on Refusal to Recuse

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will soon be hearing a case involving the Government Accountability Board and its authority to oversee campaign funds coming from, you guessed it, Corporate interests and PACs. Arguing for corporate interests wanting to continue the practice of non-reporting of soft money is Attorney James Troupis. The same attorney who represented the GOP in its highly partisan redistricting process; as well as the attorney representing Associate Justice David Prosser in the recent recount process. This is the same James Troupis who goes back to the Prosser/Scott Jensen days in the State Assembly. Also the same James Troupis who was thanked personally, and by name, by David Prosser in his “victory reception” held in Legislative Chambers after Joanne Kloppenburg conceded. In fact, Prosser used the words “owes a great debt of gratitude” when naming both Troupis and Jensen. Yet David Prosser would have us believe he is able to hear this case impartially. Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recognizes the clear conflict for Prosser.

When the State Supreme Court heard a case which involved Prosser’s former staffer Scott Jensen, Prosser recused himself in a case which opened the door for Jensen’s trial to be moved to Waukesha County. Jensen was able to avoid serving jail time and receive a plea bargain from a politically sympathetic Waukesha County Court system. As was the case then, Prosser has direct personal, political, and financial ties to Troupis. If not through Troupis’ representation on behalf of Prosser in the recount; through political financial contributions and the parties who will benefit from Troupis’ success in this case. Both Troupis and Prosser share the same deep-pocketed political allies.

The inability of Prosser to recognize, or worse yet acknowledge this conflict makes him a dangerous presence on the bench. He is obviously willing and capable of putting personal and political motive above that of the Constitutional interpretation of the law. Prosser’s arrogance in this matter is a clear violation of conflict of interest, and he should be held accountable by the State Judicial Oversight Commission, and more importantly, his peers on the bench and voters.

Breaking – Risser clarification of Secretary of State statement

A statement just released from State Senator Fred Risser clarifies any rumor that Risser would support a Constitutional Amendment eliminating the Office of Secretary of State, or further weakening said office.  A portion of the statement reads:

“To suggest that I am leading the movement to do away with the office is misleading and simply inaccurate.” Risser concluded.

Last session, a similar proposal (2009 Senate Joint Resolution 26) was referred to Senator Risser’s committee for consideration. That proposal was not reported out.

Link to the full statement here – Risser Statement on Sec State Amendment .