Archives for posts with tag: Wisconsin

A couple of days ago I posted this video of Scott Walker telling the stirring tale of the recall effort that led to his successful campaign for Milwaukee County Executive. I said that with a few edits, this would be a wonderful campaign ad for Walker’s own recall in a few months.  Well, thanks to the giver of all things, the internet, a clever person has in fact edited the video for just that purpose.  It still includes the majority of Walker’s recall = people taking back the government speech, but instead of featuring Walker’s insufferable mug, his voice is recorded over scenes from the ongoing protests at the capitol. The result is truly inspiring.  (Hat tip, AV Club.)

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Today’s news summary will be a bit harried, as I have a pint of Guinness waiting for me in a darkened pub.  As always, an archive of news clips related to Fitzwalkerstan is available on my “Save the State” page. Here are today’s highlights:

1. Governor Walker will balance his budget on the back of poor sick people

In light of the centuries of oppression and poverty endured by the Irish, today is as good as any to point out that Governor Walker’s budget will do the most harm to the most vulnerable in our community.  They will see tax increases, decreases in education and training funding, healthcare cuts and possibly death. That’s not an exaggeration, read my full post on it.   But, hey, at least the state will have more funding for their funerals!

2. More lawsuits, more ethics inquiries

Today, local activist Ben Masel filed a lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the state’s new event permitting process at the Capitol. Yes, he’s a marijuana activist, but in Madison our marijuana activists are informed and they know the law.

Also the Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board over Governor Walker’s meeting with a national republican pollster at the State Capitol.

3. Governor Walker and Wisconsin GOP leaders went to D.C. for a political payoff after “winning” against unions

Just in case you thought the republicans’ policies were based on doing what they think is best from Wisconsin, Governor Walker and the state GOP leadership went out to D.C. last night to receive a massive payout from Washington-based lobbyists and other corporate donors as a thank-you for ramming through Governor Walker’s anti-worker legislation last week. Amazingly, some in the GOP refrained from this payday, which could be a signal that some republicans actually care what people in Wisconsin think about them. From the Capital Times:

Absent from the gathering were the other 16 Republican state senators, including Senate President Mike Ellis, who took the lead in forcing majority leader Fitzgerald to back off his attempt to deny Democratic senators the vote. Capitol aides say that Ellis and a number of other senior senators have grown increasingly ill at ease with Fitzgerald’s erratic behavior and with his inability to recognize the damage that could be done to Republicans by flying into Washington to pick up corporate money in return for passing Walker’s plan.

“There’s just no way to spin this as a positive,” said one aide, who suggested that Ellis would look “like a bagman.”

(Notably, Congressman Sean Duffy, a Republican from northern Wisconsin, contacted media outlets to emphasize that he had not been invited to the event and would not be attending.)

As with anything Governor Walker does lately, there was a large protest outside the D.C.  fundraiser.  Visit dane101 for some some great pictures.

In perhaps the scariest article yet about Governor Walker’s budget proposals, Shawn Doherty with the Capital Times today drew attention to the fact that under Walker’s budget proposals, healthcare coverage for low-income people would take massive cuts.  This includes cuts to care for some life-threatening diseases such as End Stage Renal Disease and a rare disease called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei.  Without these treatments, Wisconsin residents with these diseases will die, which is probably why, as the Doherty pointedly illustrates, the Governor has requested a  $250,000 increase in funding for “funeral and cemetery aids” for low-income people.  That’s right, in Walker’s Wisconsin, the state will no longer pay for the healthcare that keeps you alive, but it will pay for your funeral, because that’s cheaper.  From the Capital Times:

The governor’s budget steps up payments for funerals for people on Medicaid even as it cuts nearly $500 million from the health programs that serve 1.2 million statewide.

Green, 45, is worried she could be one of them if she loses coverage through the state’s BadgerCare program.

The Manitowoc mom suffers from a rare disease called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei that requires surgeries every couple of years and regular monitoring with CAT scans. Last year, her medical costs totaled $140,000. Without help from the state’s public health programs, she says, she would have died. She still will die if she doesn’t get such help again, Green says. Her tumors are sure to return and require surgery in a year or so. After seven or eight of these operations, she says, the disease is usually terminal.

I am unemployed and have little money, but I am willing to pay more of what I do have if it means keeping people on healthcare that will save their lives.  I think it is wrong and disgusting for a government to prioritize any other spending over programs that protect our most vulnerable residents. Killing people is not a Medicaid efficiency.  Also interesting, according to the Capital Times, Governor Walker is not the only Republican governor to think it’s okay for a state to allow poor residents to die because of other funding priorities:

While kicking people off Medicaid who could die as a result may have once seemed unthinkable, it is happening in Arizona, where Republican Gov. Jan Brewer removed nearly 100 patients from organ transplant waiting lists late last year. (Interestingly, Brewer is now the subject of recall efforts for her defunding of Medicaid, which critics equate to “death panels of the poor.”) At least two of these patients have since died. Last December I wrote a blog post on this Arizona situation titled “Death by Budget Cut,” asking if our Medicaid patients in Wisconsin might face a similar fate.

This is the grimmest addition to what is now a clear pattern of Governor Walker targeting low-income people for budget cutting measures.  In addition to letting poor people die, Governor Walker’s budget proposals could force low-income seniors to lose drug coverage, it cuts family planning services for low-income people, and it puts talented, disabled adults at risk of being institutionalized because the state will no longer pay for the quality care that allows them to stay in their homes.  You may have heard Governor Walker say that his budget doesn’t raise taxes, but some Wisconsin residents will see tax increases under Walker’s budget proposal.  Guess who takes the hit? That’s right, the working poor.  And just yesterday we learned that Governor Walker’s education budget formula favors funding for wealthy districts, while cutting Milwaukee Public Schools (lots of poor kids go there) by 8%. For more details see this list by the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families.

Societies are often judged by how they treat their most vulnerable residents; under Governor Walker’s leadership we will deserve nothing but scorn.

With all the acts of political suicide taking place here in Wisconsin, it’s been hard to keep up with some of the things I enjoy in my normal, non-political life.  These include researching the gruesome deaths of my favorite poets, half-heartedly translating things from German and investigating the beers of the world.  But given the turbulence of local politics, isn’t now, more than ever, the time when I should be turning to the benevolent brewers for comfort? And so, I again dip my toes in that golden-hued pool of discovery as I recently tried for the first time, and probably last, Dogfish Head’s 60-Minute IPA.

The fact that I probably won’t have this beer again doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with its quality, but with the fact that Dogfish Head, based out of Delaware, announced last week that it is ending its distribution efforts in Wisconsin and handful of other states.  Madison Beer Review has a good analysis as to why Wisconsin is both a desirable and difficult market for out-of-state craft brewers, so I won’t try to recreate their analysis.  But I think they hit the point perfectly: In Wisconsin we support craft brewers with a passion, but we favor Wisconsin brewers above others.  I certainly consider myself a typical Wisconsin beer drinker in this respect; unless given a direct recommendation based on my proclivities, I will always choose a Wisconsin beer before anything made out-of-state.

Although this may certainly limit the variety of beers that come and stay in Wisconsin, I think our support of local craft brewers is one of the best things about Wisconsin.  And, for the record, our brewers are fantastic and are generally incredibly inventive.  These, often small-scale, brewers can afford to innovate because they have this local support.

So does Wisconsin need the presence of highly-regarded out-of-state brewers like Dogfish Head? Despite my unending support of Wisconsin brewers, I have to answer yes.  The more variety that can be brought to the state, the more local breweries will have to develop to remain relevant with the public’s taste preferences.  In other words, bring the beer to Wisconsin so that the Wisconsin brewers can make those beers even better.

So how was my first and possibly only taste of Dogfish Head?  Pretty good.

I tried the 60-Minute IPA, the loss of which several of the Fishdog Head mourners of Twitter had especially marked.  The initial taste of the 60-Minute IPA is really golden, almost like a honey feeling. It has an almost-sweet effervescence that eventually leads into a full-bodied hoppy finish, which is bitter but not especially daunting.  Overall, it was a pleasant drink that would go well with many of the heavier meals we cherish here in Badgerland.

My one gripe was that the hops, although well balanced and not overpowering in the beginning do eventually overpower all the other flavors of the beer. By the end of the bottle all that initial golden shimmering on my tongue was no more. It was hops and all hops.  But as the hop trend continues and I am forced to have more and more hoppy beer, I have begun to suspect that this is just the nature of hops.  Once hops get on your tongue for a while they just kill off more subtle flavors.

This is why I find the trend towards hoppy beers pretty annoying.  It’s not that I don’t like a full-bodied beer, but I like to taste all of the beer as I drink down the bottle.  Are we drinking works of art, or are drinking competitions to discover the human tolerance level for bitter flavor?  What’s the point?

People across Wisconsin were shocked this evening as senate republicans used legislative maneuvering to pass Governor Walker’s sweeping anti-union proposals. After weeks of claiming collective bargaining was a “fiscal matter” and, therefore, needed to be considered as part of the governor’s budget “repair” bill, republicans today changed their tune and decided it was NOT a fiscal issue and could be passed without a the democrats needed for a senate quorum.

To get the measure to the senate, republicans stripped all fiscal items from the bill in a legislative committee meeting that lasted for about two minutes, video of which is below. The only Democrat present, Peter Barca of Kenosha, asks repeatedly to have the changes to the bill read to him, but is rebuffed. The true kicker is that under Wisconsin’s open meeting law, the public must be given 24 hours notice before a public meeting unless there is good cause. Today we were given one hour and 50 minutes to get to the capitol. Most people were stuck in line at metal detectors as the republicans forced through these measures, which essentially ended over 50 years of peaceful labor relations in Wisconsin. In the video Representative Barca repeatedly tries to determine what “good cause” republicans have to justify the meeting, but is ignored. After a couple of short moments, the republicans pass the bill changes over the loud objections of Rep. Barca.

During the entire video you will repeated hear cries of “Shame! Shame! Shame” from within the capitol. Shame indeed.

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Travesty of Justice.MP4, posted with vodpod

This week Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker continued his undeclared war on the majority of Wisconsinites by announcing a budget aimed at cutting public education, environmental protections, support of local governments and safety net services for the poor and disabled.  Apparently Governor Walker’s plan for creating 250,000 jobs is to start by ensuring the elimination of about 100,000 of them first and essentially destroying Wisconsin’s quality of life??

But never fear, not everyone in Wisconsin will feel the pain. The Governor’s budget gives an additional $400 million in funding to transportation!  But by transportation I mean only road building, as the Governor’s proposed budget would also decimate bus systems and pedestrian/bike programs. I’m sure this “improved” funding for road builders is all about job creation or something and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that road builders gave over $120,000 to Governor Walker’s campaign–making them one of his largest donors.

At the bottom of the page is a run-down of some of the budget info I’ve compiled over last couple of days. But it is very, very bad.  Huge cuts to education (the poorest districts will suffer the most).  But more funding to choice and charter schools–so rich people in the Republican Milwaukee suburbs will be set! Major cuts to environmental programs, like recycling?? Cuts, to local government with the aim of forcing them to cut salary and benefits for teachers.  It’s truly reprehensible. You can find out all about the budget proposal PLUS information about the battle to save unions on my “Save the State” page.  I will update it as the debates and battles continue.  In the meantime, here’s an ad from Bold Progressives, which supports ActBlue (which is raising money for the 14 Dem Senators in Illinois and to get the word out across the state about the devastation contained within the Governor’s proposals).

2011-2013 Biennial Budget (By Subject)

General

MJS–The new normal of sacrifice

Politifact: Scott Walker says Wisconsin is broke (Ruling: False)

Governor Walker’s budget cuts would reshape the state

Cieslewicz, Falk blast Walker’s budget plans

In Madison–Governor Walker packed his budget address with ringers

Scott Walker’s Budget Address: The ego has landed

Transformative, yes, but is this budget fair?

Wispolitics Budget Blog

Transcript–Scott Walker’s Budget Address

Department of Administration Budget Page

Education (K-12, UW-System, Charter Schools, Technical Colleges)

State actions have local teachers weighing retirement

MJS–Don’t forget students when mulling what’s next for MPS

MJS–Wisconsin school districts studying impact of proposed cuts

MJS–MPS has to cut $74 million more

Facing cut to state aid: MATC officials wonder how they’ll pay for new buildings

Walker’s war on equality

Walker’s budget hits MATC hard

Budget cuts hundreds of millions from schools

University of Wisconsin System faces $250 million in cuts, restructuring

Walker plans to phase out Wisconsin Covenant

Budget would take more than $20 million from Madison schools

Walker gives charter more chance

Good news, bad news for UW tuition

Local Governments

Municipal, county governments target of large cuts in Walker budget

Health Care (Medicaid, Badger Care, Women’s Health)

CT–Guess why Walker wants to freeze State Life Fund

MJS–Experimentation yes, but done with transparency

CT–Right-to-lifers are on cloud nine

MJS–Women’s health–Culture war redux

Advocates for people on Medicaid pan Walker’s budget speech

Walker’s budget removes insurance requirement to cover birth control

Budget aims to end growth of Medicaid programs in the state

Taxes

Walker’s budget slashes that aid poor

Walker’s proposed capital gains tax breaks get lukewarm backing

Environmental Issues

CT–Energy Programs get Walker ax

Walker budget would eliminate office of energy independence (Also pulls back on mandates for agencies to use less gas)

State recycling mandate, funding eliminated under Walker’s budget

Walker’s budget removes $1.1 million for recycling in Madison

Transportation

MJS–Busting Bus Systems

Walker budget eliminates money for bike/pedestrian improvements

Full speed ahead for Zoo Interchange

Other

State pension shift faces a 401 (k) turn

Ethan Allen closing stows hope

Walker’s budget all but kills public financing for state supreme court elections

Budget would end early release program for non-violent prisoners

Due to this blog’s ongoing focus on the Governor Walker’s attack on middle-class workers and, as of yesterday, pretty much everyone else in Wisconsin, I’ve added a new “Save the State” page to try to keep track of advocacy pages, legislation, news articles, editorials, fellow blog posts and just the odds and ends of Governor Walker’s adversarial administration. It’s located at the top of the page.  Enjoy!

Even though he’s no longer a Congressman, Dave Obey continues to fight for the regular people of Wisconsin, unlike Wisconsin’s current governor.  There are many great Dave Obey moments in the following video: “[The governor] is a temporary occupant of this building.” “It’s like they are doling out a little piece of Democracy a bit at a time. It’s a joke.” (Note, the last 7 minutes of this video are just black for some reason.)

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Congressman Obey Denied Access to Wisconsin Cap…, posted with vodpod

One thing has become clear from the stalemate on Governor Walker’s budget adjustment bill, Governor Walker is very good at staying on message.  His message to Wisconsin has been: blame the Democrats who fled to Illinois.  He reiterated this message again this morning.  The Governor’s message is: if you don’t come back, every bad thing I do to this state will be your fault.  But such a message is incredibly disingenuous. Here’s why:

Democrats, Unions and even one Republican have come to the table with compromise legislation, Governor Walker refuses to compromise

  • As mentioned previously, Democratic members in the state assembly last offered a compromise proposal to the budget adjustment that gave Governor Walker 90% of what he wanted and would have saved the state even more money. This compromise was voted down by the Republican-controlled Assembly.
  • Further, leaders of the state’s largest public employee unions have made it clear that they will support the Governor’s concessions so long as they can continue to collectively bargain. These unions combined represent approximately 150,000 public employees–by far the majority. Again–such an agreement gives Governor Walker essentially everything he’s asked for, minus the incredibly controversial collective bargaining proposal that the majority of Wisconsin residents, even when polled by conservatives, do not support. But instead of doing the reasonable thing and agreeing to “win” by 90%, the Governor has been working to discredit the unions’ statements by pointing out recent (? not sure–no dates are given) union negotiations in which unions did not take big cuts. Walker’s logic in this regard is faulty.  He provides no evidence that the unions in question are part of the unions that have agreed to his concessions, or unions that would even be involved in negotiations on the state level (it appears they are all municipal unions). Wisconsin is full of tiny bargaining units of 100 employees or less, so yeah, not really the unions we’re talking about here. In other words, different unions, different employer at the bargaining table. Further, Walker’s release completely ignores the fact that the municipalities in question have made the choice to agree to these contract terms.  That’s likely because, unlike the state, the cities of Madison, Janesville and others know that it is in their best interest to retain their high-quality public workers.
  • Republican Senator Dale Schultz proposed, but ultimately did not allow a vote on, a compromise bill that would contain union concessions and suspend collective bargaining for two years.  Schultz claims he did not propose the measure because the Democrats were Illinois (I don’t get it either).  But the fact remains that the bill had no Republican support, and it appears that he may have been threatened by Republican leadership for even proposing a compromise.  Frankly Governor Walker and the Republican Legislative leadership are incredibly foolish in their disregard Sen. Schultz’s measure. Accepting such a term would again give them everything they want and also make them look like reasonable leaders.  Further, as Governor Walker has the ability to line item veto the sunset requirement for the collective bargaining measure, they could have passed the compromise and removed all the language that made it a compromise in the first place.

If public employees do get laid off in Wisconsin it will not be for any unwillingness to negotiate on the part of union supporters–it will be because Scott Walker and his legislative puppets (they are supposed to check and balance, right?) wants to win completely and at any cost.

One thing the Governor consistently ignores with his never-ending slew of same-sounding press releases and tweets: he is the leader of this state.  When there is unrest in the state, when there is a legislative impasse in the state, when Wisconsin voters are barred from their Capitol, when Legislative leaders propose violating labor laws to force the other party into compliance, when neighbors begin to feel anger against their neighbors–it is the state’s Governor who should step up to be the leader who resolves the conflict and find the road to compromise.

Shortly after 1:00 a.m. this morning the Wisconsin State Assembly passed Governor Walker’s middle-class punishing budget repair bill–essentially making Wisconsin 14 Democratic State Senators away from having virtually no collective bargaining rights for tens of thousands of public employees. The vote was done after nearly 60 hours of debate and with no warning to Democrats. In fact, Democrats still had 15 speakers left to talk about the bill. Only a handful of Democrats even voted on the measure before Republicans shut down voting. Here’ is the chaos that resulted:

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UNCUT: Assembly Calls Vote & Passes Budget Repa…, posted with vodpod

This was followed by calls of “Shame! Shame!” from Democrats as Republicans fled the Assembly floor avoiding any interaction with the media.  Peter Barca, a Democrat from Kenosha believes the vote may have been illegal and was quickly done as more and more Republicans began to waver on the bill.  Interestingly, four Republicans made up the 17 “no” votes their leaders allowed to occur.

Democrats tried without success to approach Governor Walker with compromise legislation that allowed union concessions while preserving collective bargaining–an alternative that actually left Wisconsin with more money than Governor Walker’s proposal.  But this measure was voted down by Republicans.  That’s right, a measure that would have ended all of the protests at the Capitol, provided the Governor with the concessions he asked for, protected the employees Scott Walker keeps threatening to lay off and left the state with MORE money was voted down by Republicans.

Why? It’s hard not to be cynical about this, but I can think of no other reason other than that the Republicans are so consumed by “winning,” or helping Governor Walker “win” by passing his measure without changes, that they are willing to allow the lay off of hundreds of  hard-working people.

Even more troubling, the Republican-controlled State Senate today pushed the budget repair bill past the amendable stage.  This means that the bill Governor Walker proposed will pass without changes or it won’t pass at all. Wisconsin Republicans have consistently criticized the 14 Democratic Senators who are hiding in Illinois as “not doing their jobs” by not voting on the bill. But the Republicans have made it clear they will not consider any of the Democrats ideas and they simply want them to rubber stamp a 144-page bill that Governor Walker has admitted will change the course of Wisconsin history.

Republicans aren’t listening to the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who have voiced concerns about the “repair bill” either in person at the Capitol or through letters and phone calls. Republicans aren’t listening to the minority party, which still represents millions of Wisconsinites.  Republicans aren’t listening to recent editorials from across the state that have asked the Governor and legislators to fully debate and pass a version of the bill less restrictive towards collective bargaining and with fewer executive branch power-grabs. (Examples can be found here, here, here, here, here, here.) Republicans aren’t listening to their own members who have offered compromise solutions.  Republicans aren’t listening to the growing concerns about Governor Walker’s ethics and leadership ability. (Some examples from across Wisconsin are found here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here,  here, here, here, here, here, here.) Republicans aren’t listening because they are too busy “winning” at any cost–even if that cost is irreparable damage to the people and the state they’ve vowed to serve.