Conservative “think-tank” Wisconsin Policy Research Institute releases new poll, and puts itself in spin mode

Let the spin begin. The WPRI October poll released by the conservative think-tank Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) is bad news for Scott Walker and the Republicans, and gives recall supporters a clear indication of issues that resonate with voters. But you wouldn’t know it by reading the headline, sub-headline, or the October 30 article itself in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS) online today. The headline of the article – “Gloom Lessens on economy, poll shows“, is followed by “Poll also shows fewer think state is on the wrong track.” Stopping there, as most casual readers do, one would think the recall effort is finished, and the Republicans have succeeded in turning the tide of public opinion. That is exactly what WPRI  wants you to think the poll shows – and exactly why digging deeper into the poll is so important. Something the Journal Sentinel won’t do – but Badger Democracy will.

The MJS report literally “cherry picks” poll results that, at face value, could be considered positive for Scott Walker and the Republicans in the Legislature. Out of over 30 responses given, the article highlights just a few select responses – public perception of Wisconsin’s economic future, attitude about the potential Walker recall, perception of President Obama and National political policies, attitude about Occupy Wall Street versus Tea Party, and perception of Public School performance. The tone of the article would imply that the anger and passion from early spring has waned, and the majority of people are ready to move on. What the MJS, and to a great extent, the WPRI press release on its own poll fails to report, is the bad news for Republicans – and who WPRI is.

WPRI publicizes itself as “non-partisan.” They are not non-partisan, any more than Americans for Prosperity is non-partisan. WPRI was founded in 1987, and is now based in Hartland, WI – Waukesha County. The group believes that “competitive free markets, limited government, private initiative, and personal responsibility are essential to our democratic way of life.”  WPRI funds conservative-friendly research, blogs, radio podcasts, and publishes a quarterly magazine. One of the principle editors for WPRI is conservative Milwaukee radio talk show host Charlie Sykes. Significant benefactors of WPRI include Northwestern Mutual Foundation, Wausau Paper Foundation, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Charlotte & Walter Kohler Charitable Trust, the Lubar Family Foundation, and the Roe Foundation.

In an October 2000 report by Phil Wilayto, it was disclosed that “…in 1997, the Washington, D.C.-based National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy published a list of 100 conservative organizations, think tanks, institutes and publications that had received the most funding from the 12 largest right-wing foundations for the years 1992 to 1994. The first five were well-known: the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, the Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound Economy.  Number Six – out of 100 – was the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. Between ’92 and ’94, the WPRI received nine grants totaling $3,372,500.00. That was the largest amount given any state conservative think tank, and indicates how important Wisconsin is to the national conservative movement. 4 From its beginning in 1987 through 1998, the Institute received 36 grants totaling $5,158,890 from the John M. Olin and Lynde and Harry Bradley foundations, most of it from Bradley.” 

The omissions from the MJS article are telling. In spite of this conservative bias, the new poll, when contrasted with the March WPRI poll,  shows how much trouble state Republicans are actually in – and demonstrates the inherent Progressive heritage in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Political Environment – First, public opinion on Walker, Republicans, and Democrats. With a margin of error (MoE) of 4 points, public opinion of State Democrats in the Legislature are virtually unchanged since March (50% favorable in March, 48% now – within the MoE; 42% unfavorable in March, 41% now). Scott Walker’s unfavorable rating also is virtually unchanged, in spite of the poll results being 7 months removed from the largest protests (53% unfavorable in March, 56% now; 43% favorable in March, 42% now – all within the MoE). Now the bad news for Legislative Republicans. In March, state GOP lawmakers faced an unfavorable rating of 46%, with a favorable rating of 46% – an even split, with 8% undecided. Now, GOP lawmakers received an unfavorable rating of 52% – a significant increase in 7 months; garnering only a 38% favorable rating, also a large decrease. This indicates a growing disapproval among Wisconsinites for the way the state GOP is legislating, along with continued low ratings for Scott Walker.

When asked if the state was “going in the right direction,” or is “off track,” the response differences in 7 months are significant. In March, 33% felt the state was going in the right direction, while 62% felt it was on the wrong track. Now, 38% feel the state is going in the right direction, while 57% feel it is “off track.”  While this may initially look like good news for Scott Walker, think again. Although more people think the state is moving in the right direction, what does that mean? How do people interpret “right direction?” If Scott Walker’s poll numbers are unchanged, and he is still getting highly unfavorable numbers, that increase must be independent of Walker, as people’s attitudes about him are unchanged – the same is true of the Democrats. The change is in attitudes towards Republicans – they are getting lower ratings than 7 months ago. Since then, GOP Senators have been recalled, there has been a groundswell of grassroots efforts to move back to more Progressive politics, and a date has been set for the Walker recall. There is a noticeable shift occurring in the politics of the state. If one considers the plummeting GOP favorable rating, and the pushback against GOP policies; the perceived movement back to Progressive politics could explain the slight increase in “right direction” response.  People would not respond favorably to the policies of GOP legislators if they rate them so unfavorably – the two are mutually exclusive. They would respond favorably to a percieved shift away from GOP lawmakers and their policies they rate “unfavorable.” Bad news for the GOP.

The next significant numbers in the poll indicate people’s attitudes about the future economy and quality of life – again, bad news for the GOP. Question 19 begins with the statement that the current state budget slows the growth of spending and included cuts in many areas. Do you believe this approach will improve the quality of life, or lead to decline in the quality of life? While the question is softened by framing it as  “lead to decline”, as opposed to “has caused”, or “will cause decline”, the results are significant – a full 53% believe such cuts will “lead to decline” in quality of life, only 41% believe it will improve.

In the MJS article, it was highlighted that fewer people think the economy will “get worse” in the future. That assertion and conclusion requires a little insight. In March, 29% said the economy would “get better”, 36% said “get worse”, 31% “stay the same.” Now, 28% say “get better” (no change), 19% say get worse (decrease), 49% “stay the same (increase). The significance is in the nature of the economy in March as compared to October. The economy HAS gotten worse – including unemployment in Wisconsin rising since March. There is likely a “regression to the mean” which has occurred, as people could be perceiving we have “bottomed out” and a majority believe (or hope), it won’t get worse – thus, “stay the same”. The most significant number is that there are no more people in seven months who see cause for optimism in the economy – the “get better” number is virtually unchanged.

Completely ignored in this corporate media spin on the WPRI poll are the facts – this poll is bad news for a state Republican party clinging to a sinking ship of its own design and destruction. The same poll in March warned Scott Walker and the GOP of public attitudes about their failure to negotiate and acidic tone. They ignored the people, and they now face a storm of public criticism, skepticism, and potential recalls. While these political numbers are telling, the rest of the poll gives recall supporters a good look at what issues resonate with Wisconsinites – and what other issues the GOP is losing ground on.

Tomorrow in Badger Democracy – results on Environmental Regulation, Prisons, Unions, and Public Education.


Scott Walker, GOP attack on Public Education picks up steam

In recent weeks, it has become obvious that the assault on Public Education in Wisconsin is high priority to Scott Walker and the GOP. While the attack began with revoking collective bargaining rights for teachers with Act 10, it extended to nearly one billion dollars in cuts to public school districts in the Walker budget. The assault moved on to the University of Wisconsin system last week – singling out the flagship UW-Madison campus with a biased study on admissions; and additional lapses to the UW system budget which hit the Madison campus particularly hard. Now, the Legislature is moving on to approve sweeping Charter School authorizing policies which will encourage expansion of private charter schools, and continue de-funding Wisconsin’s public education system – long the envy of the nation.

The ideological attack on the University of Wisconsin-Madison last week took place in the Committee on Colleges and Universities hearing chaired by Representative Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater).  Rep. Nass invited Roger Clegg, President of the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) to testify to a study released by the organization recently. CEO is chaired by Linda Chavez  , and funded by extreme right-wing foundations such as the Bradley Foundation, Olin Foundation, and Sarah Scaife (formerly Mellon) Foundation. The group has a history of acting as a partisan “think tank” to promote anti-affirmative action policies nationwide. This includes the work of Althea K. Nagai, PhD, author of theCEO Study on UW-Madison Undergraduate Admissions, as well as her late husband, Robert Lerner, PhD. Together they started a research consulting group utilized by CEO to push their agenda. The late Dr. Lerner and Dr. Nagai have regularly come under fire for “data sifting,” or using data in a way that pre-determines an outcome one wishes to see. These concerns were raised when Dr. Lerner was chosen by George Bush to be the US Education “data czar”; and by the University of Michigan recently in response to a CEO study accusing U of M of hiding data which indicates racial preference.  This biased, non-peer reviewed UW-Madison study was considered as “expert testimony” in the hearing. A study so flawed, it would have no possibility of being published in a scientific journal (the statistical data failed to include sample size – a statistics 101 omission).  CEO refused to comment on who commissioned the study, and a statement by Mark Pocan (D-Madison) sums up the racial bias in the study.

In the same week, DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch dropped a fiscal bomb shell on the UW System. The University is required to meet a one-time budgetary lapse of $65.7 million. While the Administration would not comment on the reason for the higher than expected shortfall, speculation is high that revenues will be lower than anticipated in the fiscal year. Likely an “unintended consequence” of Walker’s budget repair bill (his plan is working perfectly…for the recall). The University of Wisconsin, facing record enrollment and stiff competition is now scrambling to respond to the shortfall in the budget.

The attack on the Wisconsin Public Education system continues with SB-22, the expansion and creation of the Charter School Authorizing Board (CSAB). This bill not only created the Board, but will have a direct negative impact on public schools by decreasing resources, enrollment, and funds.Amendments to SB22 recently passing committee offer an insight into the nature of this legislation:

1. From 2012 – 2017, the authorized number of Charter Schools under contract with CSAB rise from 5 to unlimited.

2. Currently, in order for a School Board to convert ALL District schools into Charter Schools requires an authorizing vote of 50% of all teachers; and the School Board must provide a public alternative for pupils whose parents do not want them to attend a charter school. The amendment repeals those requirements – teachers do not need to authorize, and districts do not need to offer a public alternative if all schools in a district are converted to charter schools.

3. Preferential enrollment would be given under the new law to siblings of current charter students, founder and board member children, and employees’ children, should a school reach maximum capacity.

4. Current law limits the amount of shared revenue deducted from a public school due to charter enrollment within the district. This law would lift that cap – increasing the revenue lost to public schools.

5. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is required to create a “Charter School Teaching License,” allowing for teachers to be licensed in more than one subject, and with alternative certification requirements for charter schools.

6. The enrollment cap on students in virtual charter schools is lifted.

The effects of the CSAB creation law would be enormous on public schools. Charters would be cheaper to run, have access to state resources, and receive special treatment for certification and licensing. A district so inclined, and under strain from budgetary requirements could simply “contract out” to a private charter under this law – converting the entire DISTRICT to private charters. Thus ending the public accountability in Wisconsin Public Education, and awarding private charters to corporations funneling money through American Federation for Children to make it so ($2.7 million in 2010-11 so far).  The CSAB is an appointed board – not elected, and it would serve as the governing body for these new charters.

The attack on Public Education in Wisconsin continues. From grade school to the University – the influence of privatization is on the doorstep. Collective bargaining and public education should serve as the rallying point for the people of Wisconsin in the coming year – in taking back Wisconsin.

Two Radical GOP Bills closer to passage – more corporate patronage, zero jobs

Two radical pieces of Legislation have gone virtually uncovered by the mass media, and are closer to passage in Scott Walker’s Special session on “Job Creation.” The results would be lost tax revenue to the state and open season on “court shopping,” removing Dane County as the seat of judicial authority in Wisconsin. These bills have as obvious benefactors corporate interests, who have spent thousands of dollars lobbying for their passage – and placing their cronys in high places in the Walker Administration supporting them. The net result will be more pain and less jobs for the people of Wisconsin.

SB117 was disclosed in Badger Democracy in an October 3 post. Authored by Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), the bill, simply stated, would allow a plaintiff bringing suit against the State of Wisconsin to originate the action in ANY county in the state – regardless of residency or interest. Staffers in Jon Erpenbach’s office (D-Middleton) have nicknamed it the “court shopping” bill. SB117 passed out of committee recently, and has been calendared for first reading in today’s Senate Session; and will most likely be voted on by the end of the week. The bill has drastic ramifications for the state; and research by Badger Democracy shows the likely benfactors will be corporations bringing suit against the state disputing tax delinquency (see October 3 post for 2010 case analysis). An ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) legislative member, Leah Vukmir has pandered to corporate sponsors repeatedly in this and previous sessions. When asked about the ALEC influence of this bill, Center for Media and Democracy researcher Brendan Fischer said this seems to be a “combination of ALEC principles. If passed, it could be presented as model legislation around the country.”  As the current legislative pattern has proven, the bill provides no jobs – only “regulatory certainty” for corporations to maximize profit, and avoid paying taxes. Senator Vukmir’s ofiice provided no comment or clarification for her motive in authoring this bill.

SE1AB-23 was first disclosed by Badger Democracy in an October 4 post. First disclosed before introduced as a bill, it has now been assigned a bill number, and received its first public hearing this morning in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. The Senate version of the bill (SB23) was authored by Rich Zipperer and the Assembly version of the bill was authored by Pat Strachota (R-West Bend), with the Assembly version being fast-tracked by Governor Scott Walker. The bill would drastically change the authority of the Department of Revenue to conduct audits, assess penalties, and collect taxes owed from previous years. The bill also changes the transparency in public access to tax records of corporations. While this fact is disputed by Rep. Strachota’s office, the bill language is clear as to the change in record availability. The Department of Revenue support is also highly suspect in regard to motive. The October 4 post revealed DOR Secretary Richard Chandler’s prior lobbying record on behalf of corporations who stand to benefit from such a law. In addition, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce is registered in support of the bill, and continues its practice of lobbying against the people of Wisconsin, and for Corporate Anarchy.

The two bills combined are a perfect demonstration of the misguided jobs approach of Scott Walker and the GOP nationwide. Despite years of contrary evidence, they continue to promote the conservative myth and propaganda that deregulation and tax breaks for the corporate elite will create jobs.

The mainstream media is failing to inform the people of Wisconsin as to the true consequences of these “job bills.” There is not a single bill on the calendar which creates jobs. It is up to us – spread the word, share the truth, stay informed. The recall of Scott Walker is a necessity to preserve Democracy and equal representation, and fight the overwhelming corporate influence in the legislative process. Call your Legislators, and insist they stand for the people, not Corporate Anarchists.

What the media, Republicans don’t get – The Founding Fathers would Occupy Wall Street…and on a personal note

The media – Fox in particular, Republicans, and many corporate Democrats miss the point of not only Occupy Wall Street; but the massive implications of Scott Walker’s policies ending collective bargaining rights for Public Employees. The push back that is the current Progressive movement in Wisconsin and Occupy Wall Street represents the real spirit of the American Revolution. A plutocracy has been formed at the expense of the middle class, and our political system has been sold to the highest bidders – who now use it to continue their plunder of society, for their own benefit.

The mass media has fallen for the basest propaganda, as have many Wisconsinites, Americans, and citizens of the world. This propaganda falsely promotes greed and avarice above the well being of a majority of the population – creating the myth that labor works at the whim of the few who control existing capital. And those controlling few made their fortunes through their own toil and effort – therefore they are entitled to the spoils alone.

Benjamin Franklin, in 1783, wrote on just this subject:

“All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil society on these terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”

Franklin and other Founders would stand with us in this peaceful revolution against the Corporatist power that deprives the majority of the people of the basic rights Franklin addresses.

That is what the recall is about; that is what Occupy Wall Street is about, and what the people of the world are waking up to. The American system has been turned upside down. It is our duty and obligation to right it by any peaceful means necessary – Recalling Scott Walker is our right and obligation.

On a personal note : those of you who follow Badger Democracy have likely noticed a decrease in posts recently. I have been finalizing a two-month project examining the politics of power in Waukesha County. The piece will be run in the Isthmus as cover story next week – look for it! Special thanks to Dean Robbins, Kristian Knutsen, Judy Davidoff for their help; and the people who were interviewed…Sly, Mark Pocan, Jon Erpenbach, Kathleen Falk, Paul Soglin, Don Taylor, Scott Jensen, Dean Marquardt, Barry Burden, John Nichols, Mike McCabe, and my father, who related a personal story about Don Taylor that provided the direction for the piece.

See you this weekend at the Leftist Cocktail Party, Great Dane Fitchburg, 4:30… Solidarity!

Walker Recall moves Forward – Time to Occupy the Capitol…again

Tuesday night Wisconsin State Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate announced the date Scott Walker’s Recall begins – November 15. The Democratic Party has made the announcement after weeks of discussion and consultation with true grassroots organizations – primarily United Wisconsin and Wisconsin Recall Network (volunteer organizations); Labor Unions, and Progressives from around the state. United Wisconsin is poised to lead the effort with resources from all vested groups – utilizing a database of signatures, statewide volunteers, and coordination with local grassroots, State Democrats and Labor Unions. All interested groups report readiness to recall Scott Walker from office. The recent polls confirm Wisconsin is ready – a majority of Wisconsinites believe Walker should be recalled. An additional poll soon to be released will show numerous potential candidates polled against Walker would succeed in defeating him in a recall election. The table is now set – we must all fulfill our obligation to Wisconsin, and the world.

What started in Madison on February 14th, with Peter Rickman leading UW Teaching Assistants in a “Valentine Protest” to the Capitol grew into the largest labor protests in Wisconsin (and US) history, occupying the Capitol for weeks. Since then, the entire world is awakening as city after city embrace the “Occupy” movement. From Wall Street to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Madrid, Greece, even Grenoble in the French Alps will be occupied October 15 – the People’s Movement has looked to Wisconsin as a model, and for inspiration. In the coming months, Wisconsin will show there is hope for working people of the world – as the People recall Scott Walker for his assault on the rights of working Wisconsin and the Corporatization of a once-Progressive State. Thus, the circle will be complete, as the “Occupy” movement comes home – to Wisconsin. As the recall moves forward, the People will again occupy Wisconsin, driving out the Corporatist Scott Walker and re-asserting Government “of the people, and by the people.” It is time to return – to Madison!

To all Progressives, Labor, Democrats, working People of Wisconsin – it is time for a return to the Capitol…a “reunion” of Democracy, to celebrate the coming recall of Scott Walker and stand in Solidarity with each other – “an injury to one is an injury to all,” and Walker has done injury to many of our neighbors. A rally of epic proportions as demonstration we are ready, and to send word around the world that again – Wisconsin will show the world “what Democracy looks like.” 

This is a call to action – between now and November 15 – let us all meet at the Capitol in Solidarity for the Recall Movement; and unite in standing up for working and middle class people of Wisconsin and the world. Stand with your fellow citizens, brothers and sisters, neighbors, United Wisconsin, Wisconsin Recall Network, One Wisconsin Now,  Wisconsin Dems., Progressives, Independents, Republicans, and ALL who despise what Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin. FORWARD – SEE YOU IN MADISON!!

Jeff Fitzgerald announces Senate run on Sykes’ show

Horicon Republican Jeff Fitzgerald appeared on Charlie Sykes’ talk show  in Milwaukee early Tuesday morning to announce his candidacy for Herb Kohl’s vacant US Senate seat; putting him in direct contention for the seat against Tammy Baldwin.

On the heels of Mike Tate (Democratic Party of Wisconsin) announcing November 15 as the recall initiation date, Fitzgerald chose the ultra-conservative Sykes’ Milwaukee-based talk show to make his announcement. As Sykes has a heavy conservative base in the state’s most populous area, the announcement is an obvious attempt to court out-of-district money to support his statewide campaign; as Fitzgerald has shown to be a highly divisive politician since becoming Speaker of the Republican-controlled Assembly.

More on the Recall kick-off date later today…

Walker Crony Stephen Fitzgerald and Capitol Security

During the height of Capitol protests in February and March, the sight of State Patrol Troopers in the Capitol became common. Today, when controversial committee meetings occur, a Progressive demonstration is planned, or the Legislature is in session, the presence of the Wisconsin State Patrol is more visible and active than the Capitol Police. Chief Tubbs has come under scrutiny by the GOP, led by right-wing talk show hosts and State Representative Stephen Nass, even after being praised for keeping his poise and professionalism at the height of mass demonstrations – which were by all objective accounts, peaceful. The presence of Fitzgerald as State Patrol Superintendent, and the scrutiny of Chief Tubbs are connected to a recently completed “After Action Report” by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). The results will be politically driven by Scott Walker’s motivation to have complete control over Capitol security, especially in the likely event of more mass demonstrations this autumn.

A source inside the Department of Administration (DOA) recently informed Badger Democracy that there is growing interest within the Walker Administration and DOA in combining the Capitol Police and Wisconsin State Patrol. The source explained that this consolidation had been floated during the Doyle Administration, but former Superintendent David Collins made compelling arguments against – primarily the difference in mission. The State Patrol being a mobile force charged with highway/transportation enforcement, The Capitol Police being primarily a building-specific security force. The timing of GOP and Rep. Nass’ scrutiny of Chief Tubbs is of interest in light of this information. Inquiries along this line received no denial, only no comment from the Walker Administration, Rep. Nass, Chief Tubbs, and DOA. The appointment of Stephen Fitzgerald as Superintendent by the Walker Administration gives the Governor a crony to green light such consolidation, and address one of the weaknesses outlined in the “After Action Report.”  

                The “After Action Report” was requested by the Department of Administration (DOA) shortly after DOA re-opened the Capitol. The report was completed and submitted to DOA by the DMA in July, and impresses the need for more centralized control in security at the Capitol. This report stands as “expert testimony” on behalf of the DOA, and justifies its ability to implement increased security measures at the Capitol. The report specifies “…onsite incident management was a state issue and State Patrol should have more of a role (emphasis mine).”  The report is critical of other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA), including Capitol Police, Madison PD, and Dane County Sheriff’s Department –“ …LEA unity was skewed due to lack of willingness to enforce…by some LEAs” and “…some LEA self-deployed away from assignments they did not like…a lack of willingness to support the changing Rules of Engagement…” The bottom line from this report calls for more “centralized leadership” in security at the State Capitol. Scott Walker placed Stephen Fitzgerald in the perfect position to provide such “centralized leadership.”

                Accusations of cronyism surrounded Fitzgerald’s appointment due to his sons Scott and Jeff serving as Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker, respectively. There is significant evidence to back that claim. Badger Democracy obtained the resumes of all finalists who were interviewed for the position (Darren Price, David Collins, Major Sandra Huxtable, Stephen Fitzgerald, Benjamin Mendez ). Undoubtedly, David Collins, the prior Superintendent, is the most highly qualified candidate. In addition to a B.S. in Law Enforcement Administration, he is a graduate of the FBI Academy, and is a career law enforcement officer of over 30 years. Collins spent 18 years with the State Department of Criminal Investigation, including 8 as the Investigative Bureau Chief.  Mr. Collins was contacted for this piece, and respectfully declined comment on the interview process. Stephen Fitzgerald, on the other hand, has served most of his recent Law Enforcement positions due to political appointment or election. Inquiries into Fitzgerald’s experience with Chicago Police Department from 1966-1974 raised more questions than answers regarding his time there – due to absence of (and incompleteness of) records from that time, lack of willingness of current CPD officers to discuss that turbulent time, and some sources (including former CPD Superintendent Richard Brzeczik) relying on distant memory and speculation.  What is apparent, according to a to the Senate Judicial Committee on US Marshall qualifications, is Mr. Fitzgerald was under qualified for that position, attaining only an Associate Degree; the vast majority of Marshalls hold a Bachelor’s Degree. He was selected by Congressman James Sensenbrenner for nomination by President Bush in 2002. Congressman Sensenbrenner’s office was asked via phone and email inquiry to disclose the names of the other candidates, if any. They refused. The current US Marshall in Wisconsin Western District, Dallas Neville, was also Marshall prior to 2002, having been appointed by President Clinton. Marshall Neville applied for the position in 2002, but never received any reply to his application from Sensenbrenner. It is likely Fitzgerald was the only candidate considered by Sensenbrenner. It is solely these appointed positions which put Fitzgerald remotely in contention for his current job. When Badger Democracy asked Secretary of Transportation Mark Gottlieb if he felt the “most qualified candidate” had received the State Patrol position, his office replied with the following statement:

                “Stephen Fitzgerald has had a long and distinguished career in law enforcement that makes him highly qualified for the job of State Patrol Superintendent.  I am very pleased with the leadership he has provided since taking the position.”

                                Badger Democracy followed up that statement with request for clarification, that Secretary Gottlieb had not directly answered the question of Mr. Fitzgerald being the “most qualified candidate.” There was no further comment. The appointment of Stephen Fitzgerald is another example of cronyism in the Walker Administration, only slightly tempered by Fitzgerald’s experience gained by other convenient political appointments. In this case, it gives Scott Walker the ability to assemble his own private security detail at taxpayer expense.

                                The Legislature reconvenes in October to take up Scott Walker’s “jobs session” and unveil the new State Employee Handbook in the absence of a negotiated contract. Protests around the nation are building, recall strategies are increasing, and there is greater likelihood that mass protests will again return to the State Capitol. The “After Action Report” from the DMA gives the Walker Administration the expert testimony they need to rationalize more centralized and higher security at a moment’s notice. In the person of Stephen Fitzgerald, Walker has a State Patrol Superintendent who will act to do his bidding and use the troopers as a political security force. The DOA has a Superintendent who would support a consolidation of dissimilar forces for his own political and professional gain – as well as his ideological support of Scott Walker. The end result could be Scott Walker’s own private political security force, not unlike a third world dictator. Stay peaceful, stay united, stay strong.