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Wisconsin re-elected Walker?

Seriously?

The state just to the north of me decided to re-elect this putz despite his antics concerning the alleged reasons behind his budget "repair" bill and the wholesale assault on collective bargaining rights for public employees that followed, and other simply wonderful pieces of legislation including a voter photo ID bill (which, oddly enough, seemed to come before the closure of Wisconsin DMV offices in - shall we say - oddly convenient locations), repeal of the Wisconsin Equal Pay Enforcement Act and several bills attacking reproductive rights. And then there's his completely shame-free admission of why he's doing all this (not that a certain prank by the Buffalo Beast didn't already make that perfectly clear), as well the fun, fun stuff that political friends of his like David Prosser, John Koskinen, Darlene Wink, William Gardner and Tim Russell (among others mentioned in an older piece from Mother Jones) have done either directly or indirectly on his behalf.

In other words, Illinois may no longer have a singular reputation as a Midwestern state that produces phenomenally suspect governors, especially since the two-man Ryan and Blago clown show is now past tense. 
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I coughed up $25 to Barrett for Wisconsin, largely due to the fact that the alternative is to elect this idiot again, not that he'll probably be around for much longer if that John Doe complaint hits paydirt.

(Yeah, I know: I'm from Illinois. The Kochs aren't residents of Wisconsin, either, and a corporation-underwritten crook is just as bad (if not worse) as the non-subsidized variety we ended up getting down here with Ryan and Blago.)
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It must feel odd to the Koch brothers that their wholly-owned little Governor of Wisconsin is so incapable of keeping his mouth shut about tactics like a good employee should.
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Since Der Burgher Wa*ker might potentially be in a lot of trouble back home that actually isn't related to a recall vote, getting to talk to a sympathetic crowd at the Union League Club of Chicago about how his "budget repair" bill fixed a problem of his own making must've seemed like political heaven to him.   
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As much as it might amuse me to visualize the aforementioned peddler of lousy pizza trying to crudely come on to anything wearing a skirt, the Cigarette Smoking Man Mk. 2 (i.e, Mark Block) will probably be a bigger problem down the road for him instead, especially since violating Federal electoral and tax laws is still considered much more serious than a party-happy trade association lobbyist who only failed at mentally keeping it in his pants.
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Wa*kerstan continues to be a very, very suspicious place indeed, unless you think that potential issues of voter suppression (also brought up Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), weirdly timed fires and a choke-happy state Supreme Court justice allied with Der Burgher himself are now signs of The New Normal up there.  

I have to hand it to the Dairy State: these days, you're making politics here in Illinois seem downright boring.
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...is still an incredible asshat:

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became one of the many GOP governors to sign a law disenfranchising voters who do not have a photo ID— a law that disproportionately affects elderly voters, young voters, students, minorities and low-income voters. Having disenfranchised tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters, Walker is now making it harder for many of these voters to obtain the ID they need to regain their right to participate in the next election:

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is working on finalizing a plan to close as many as 10 offices where people can obtain driver’s licenses in order to expand hours elsewhere and come into compliance with new requirements that voters show photo IDs at the polls.

One Democratic lawmaker said Friday it appeared the decisions were based on politics, with the department targeting offices for closure in Democratic areas and expanding hours for those in Republican districts.

Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, called on the state Department of Transportation to reconsider its plants to close the Fort Atkinson DMV center. The department plans to expand by four hours a week the hours of a center about 30 minutes away in Watertown.


"What the heck is going on here?” Jorgensen said. “Is politics at play here?”

Remember when Wisconsin wasn't a stand-in double for Old South-style electioneering chicanery a few years ago? Those days are dead, and you can largely "thank" Der Burgher for it.

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You know you're better off running a dead parrot for office when you're the Wisconsin GOP and you choose this guy to run in a recall election:

Madison - A GOP candidate from Green Bay running in a Senate recall race has been convicted of two misdemeanor counts, arrested on other occasions, and now faces another probe by the Oconto County Sheriff's Department.

The incidents involving David VanderLeest, which were raised by Democrats Wednesday, stem from domestic violence allegations. VanderLeest, 34, helped organize the recall against Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and is the only Republican on the ballot challenging Hansen in the July 19 election.

(snip)

VanderLeest, a Green Bay wind farm developer with a history of other legal troubles, was convicted of two misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges in 2007 as part of a plea deal in Brown County Circuit Court. Also Wednesday, Democrats pointed to at least two other dates in which VanderLeest was arrested for alleged domestic abuse involving his ex-wife in 2006 and 2009 but was not convicted.

His former wife also obtained restraining orders against him in 2005 and again in 2006. VanderLeest, who is not a lawyer, represented himself in the court cases.

As part of the 2007 plea deal, VanderLeest avoided a felony charge of intimidating a witness and misdemeanor battery and bail jumping charges. VanderLeest entered an Alford plea, which means he maintained his innocence but acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him. In the plea hearing, the judge in the case stressed VanderLeest had received leniency, according to a court transcript released by the Democratic Party.

(snip)

The Democratic Party Wednesday also released Green Bay Police Department reports on separate incidents in 2006 in which VanderLeest was arrested for pulling out a chunk of his ex-wife's hair and for throwing her to the kitchen floor to keep her from calling police. Those arrests led to the later charges and 2007 plea deal.

VanderLeest was also charged in 2009 with battery and disorderly conduct - those charges were dropped by prosecutors, according to court records.

First, David "Chokey" Prosser, and now this. My, Wisconsin politics is interesting in the Chinese sense of the word, isn't it?

Classy

Jun. 25th, 2011 04:39 pm
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Two quick questions to David Prosser: (1) what in the hell were you thinking when you grabbed Ann Walsh Bradley by the neck? (2), how much are the Koch brothers paying you through that Swiss bank account?

(Yeah, yeah, I know; there's no proof of [2]. No factual claim put forward, so no libel. I suspect that he is that much of a rat bastard, though, proof or not.)
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This is the last thing I intend to post on the Late Unpleasantness in Wa*kerstan today, but it seems perfectly appropriate in the wake of truly obnoxious beer distribution legislation buried in the Budget Destruction Bill that was slanted against the state's craft brewers: if you're from WI, check out the page opposing Chapter 125 Branch Legislation and then everyone should do thenselves a favor and support the state's craft brewers (such as Sprecher or New Glarus, among others) by buying some of their fine product. 
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I'm increasingly under the impression that Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is in some sort of competition with Der Burgher Scott Walker for 2011 Dairy State Asshole of the Year. BTW, Fitz, tampering with elections in this fashion might be considered a  crime by some. Here's hoping one of them is a state or Federal prosecutor. 
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This really shouldn't surprise anyone (emphasis mine):

Madison - In a move that hastens a larger showdown, a Dane County judge has struck down Gov. Scott Walker's legislation repealing most collective bargaining for public employees.

In a 33-page decision issued Thursday, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said she would overturn the legislation because GOP lawmakers on a committee broke the state's open meetings law in passing it March 9. The legislation limits collective bargaining to wages for all public employees in Wisconsin except for police and firefighters.

On March 18, Sumi had placed a temporary hold on the law, but Thursday's ruling voided it entirely - at least until the Supreme Court decides whether to act in the case.

"It's what we were looking for," said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat.

Ozanne sued to block the law after Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) filed a complaint saying that GOP legislative leaders had not given proper notice to the public in convening a conference committee of lawmakers from both houses to approve Walker's budget-repair bill.

I'm sure that Burgher Walker will now go and whine to the courts for redress and the Kochs for some mo' money, but he can't even keep the rationale for his union-busting in the "up" position either, so screw him.
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 The fun never ends with Der Burgher, does it?

First off, a major campaign contributor (and an in-state railroad CEO, no less - now we know why Der Burgher was reticent about high speed rail and enthusiastic about renovating the Amtrak Hiawatha line) gets charged with funneling $60K in illegal contributions through his employees at Wisconsin & Southern Railroad and ultimately pleads guilty. 

Next up, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus - a former employee of Walker ally and Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate David Prosser  -  miraculously discovered thousands of votes for Prosser that were stored on her PC but somehow not included in the initial tally from Waukesha County in the Prosser/Kloppenburg race. Nickolaus has a fishy history concerning voting irregularities, of course, but not to worry: she has no real intention of resigning, meaning that all sorts of legal Happy Fun Ball stuff can come her way in court while she's still in office. And maybe - just maybe - somebody will find the fact that Waukesha canvasser Ramona Kitzinger didn't accept the validity of the new totals after she knew of the error or its source of some significance.

Oh, and top of all this, if you're a public employee of any kind in Wisconsin, don't get sick.
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New flash: somebody in the Burgher Wa*ker administration wised up to the fact that when a judge imposes a temporary restraining order, they mean it - but only after the third such one is issued:

In the latest legal volley in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's new law curtailing public employee unions, Dane County (Madison) Judge Maryann Sumi issued on Thursday morning an amended restraining order, declaring that the law has not been validly published in order to take effect -- following efforts by the state Republican leadership to sidestep her earlier orders against publication by going through different agencies.

This followed a declaration on Wednesday by Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch, stating that the law was still in effect, despite two different orders by Sumi to block it, and maintaining that the law was validly published and that Sumi's order did not apply to his department.

A link to the current TRO can be found here, but I'm sure that given the Wa*ker administration's bull on mescaline in a china shop approach to jurisprudence he'll figure out a way to eventually ignore this one as well.
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It seems to me that as downright silly as Der Burgher Scott Wa*ker has looked lately (just consider his political friends' attacks on Willam Cronon or his administration's complete misunderstanding of what makes a law valid, especially in the wake of a temporary restraining order or two), he just keeps getting sillier and sillier:

Less than four months after losing nearly all of an $810 million grant, Wisconsin is again seeking federal high-speed rail money - this time to upgrade the existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago passenger line.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration announced Tuesday that the state will seek at least $150 million to add equipment and facilities for Amtrak's Hiawatha line.

Granted, the Journal Sentinel actually agrees with Wa*ker on this one, but riddle me this: how in the hell do you go back to the Feds after turning down a much larger block grant for high-speed rail and all the whining you're done about state budgetary matters with a straight face?

Oh, wait. Maybe passing the buck could help, right? 

If you live up there, you have my condolences. And a six-pack of your choice of libation if you email me a sob story.that's convincing enough, provided you're over 21. I'm only half kidding on that last part.  
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Well, Burgher Wa*ker got his way - barring potential court challenges to the way he rammed his "budget repair" power grab through the Wisconsin legislature - but judging by the way the public and newspapers like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel turned on him, he's not going to enjoy a particularly long political career. From the aforementioned paper:

In these days of massive budget deficits, the cost of government labor at all levels must be reined in. Limits on collective bargaining, carefully drawn, are reasonable. The state is $137 million short for the rest of this year alone.

But the Republicans went too far in their zeal to bust the unions and too far in their stubborn tactics to accomplish that mission. They are forcing these changes on an unwilling state at great cost - and they still haven't filled the budget hole the original measure was designed to fill (emphasis mine). 

The Republican's blinkered blitz may have violated the state's open meetings law. Robert Dreps, an attorney and expert in the law, said he didn't think the conference committee could meet on such short notice. Normally, 24 hours are required, although an "emergency" meeting can be held with just two hours' notice. The furious pace raises a question: Once Republicans decided to split up the bill, why not debate it? What are they afraid of?

Both sides in this sorry affair have opened wide the door to extremism. The Democrats should not have fled the state. The Republicans did not need to resort to the petty contrivances of the Fitzgerald brothers - Scott in the Senate, Jeff in the Assembly - who called votes without Democrats in the room, played games with Democratic paychecks and even resorted to fining their absent colleagues.

Why the rush? This is, in my opinion, the best part - but only if you actually like gawking at the political equivalent of a multiple-fatality car crash:

Republicans, in the end, did what they had said they would not do: They cast aside provisions in the "budget-repair" bill that actually dealt with the budget and took an up-or-down vote on ending most collective bargaining. Fiscal matters require a Senate quorum of 20; the Republicans have only 19 members.

That's right. The Repubs in the Senate effectively did this as a naked, entirely opportunistic "get the unions" move and not much more despite all protests to the contrary. And the Journal Sentinel smells an ugly precedent being set in the offing:

Both parties are playing with fire. A walkout to thwart legislation will be as attractive to Republicans when they are no longer in power as it is to Democrats now. And scorched-earth tactics, such as those practiced by Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald, will seem just as attractive to Democrats when they regain control of the matches and accelerant.

Walker never campaigned on disenfranchising public-employee unions. If he had, he would not have been elected. He got a spare 52% of the vote - hardly a mandate for what he is trying to do.

My guess is that more than a few of the 52% who voted for Der Burgher greatly regret making that decision. They should.

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...with his Bizarro World News take on events in WisconsinWarning: I'm not sure if laughing or vomiting is more of an appropriate response to this link. 
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The BB was down after a successful prank call to Wisconsin utilities salesman/ "Governor" Scott Wa*ker, hopefully for all the right reasons (unmanageable traffic, not a DDoS or hack attack), but the Raw Story chimes in instead:

A few highlights included the alleged governor warning the phony oil baron that Wisconsin House Rep. Tim Cullen, a Democrat who's voted with Republicans on numerous issues, was "not one of us;" Walker supposedly commenting that he's "got the layoff notices ready" and bragging that he's got a baseball bat with his name on it; and accepting an offer to be flown out to California for "a good time."

The call also allegedly reveals that Wisconsin Republicans are planning to hold Democrats' paychecks hostage by changing the rules to end direct deposit, placing their printed checks in their desks on the floor of the senate, forcing them to physically come in to pick them up.

The voice alleged to be Walker also said he was trying to find ways to prosecute Wisconsin Democrats on ethical violations if they accepted favors from union organizers.

Moments later in the call recording, Walker allegedly accepts an offer for similar favors from the fake Koch.

These are your state gummint tax dollars at work, Wisconsin. Hope you've got enough air sickness bags to go around.

The BB's page on the Wa*ker call is here if the site is currently available.

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Scott Wa*ker (c'mon, go ahead and make the joke, it's easy enough) is being a bit less than truthful about the Wisconsin budget deficit and its causes, as Brian Beutler helpfully points out:

The previous governor, Democrat Jim Doyle, passed a budget that left the state poised for a surplus this year. When Walker took office in January he chipped away at that surplus with three conservative tax expenditure bills, but not severely enough to trigger a budget repair bill. The current, small shortfall was "manufactured by Governor Walker's own insistence on making the deficit worse with the bills he passed in January," (former state Senator Pat) Kreitlow said. But Walker cited that shortfall to introduce a "budget repair bill" anyhow -- a fully elective move that includes his plan to end collective bargaining rights for state employees.

"The trigger had not been reached prior to Governor Walker adding to the previous year's deficit by passing bills that didn't create a single job," Kreitlow said.

It's just another example of the latest crop of identikit Class of 2012 Republican governors (Christie in NJ and Kasich in Ohio being two obvious others) to use a budget shortfall or the recession to take us back to the Gilded Age, where the vast majority of us probably don't want to be - unless you're actually into living in crowded tenements and possibly dying of Cholera and the like, that is. 

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