Saturday, April 25, 2015

In Presidential politics, payroll or prayer?

Walker could have an easy electoral ride through Iowa, and perhaps beyond, because, as The New York Times says in a long piece about Walker's fresh publlc embrace of his evangelical Christian faith:
During his political rise in Wisconsin, Mr. Walker did not often emphasize his faith. But evangelicals make up nearly 60 percent of Republican caucusgoers in Iowa. They are an important factor in Southern primaries. And they continue to have an outsize influence on the Republican nominating process.
So when Walker says from Iowa this weekend that the path to the Presidency runs through the Midwest - - presumably an advantage for him, he thinks - -  will media make these numbers about jobs in Wisconsin and the Midwest as relevant as the data about evangelical turnout?
In recent quarters, Wisconsin has been in the bottom half of state rankings for 12-month growth in jobs and average weekly wage. In the third quarter of 2014, Wisconsin was 40th for job growth over the previous year and 42nd for wage growth.
If 'it's the economy, stupid' still shapes campaigns and determines elections, will Walker be pressed to own his record (below), or will he be allowed to say, and campaign on, 'have faith."
Wisconsin lags Midwest: Job growth state rankings
Over the past decade, Wisconsin has mostly ranked in the middle of all states for employment growth. Among Midwestern states, Wisconsin was once among the leaders, but in recent years that trend has changed. How states rank in year-over-year percent change of private-sector employees for the third quarter ending in September each year.
Walker scrubs 100,000 jobs from talking points

No, Walker is not "pushing for higher wages for American workers"

An academic and think tank scholar has written an op-ed in The Washington Post that credits Walker with supporting new barriers to legal immigration and thereby "pushing for higher wages for American workers."

And while Walker's creation of a pro-worker campaign plank might be bogus, the author also adds:

When was the last time you heard a GOP presidential nominee talk about raising the incomes of American workers in a way that did not mention tax cuts?
Oh, brother. I could see this coming a few days ago.

I think the op-ed writer wanted to write something provocative that tied together reflexive Republicans' trickle-down tax policies with their everyday, anti-immigration xenophobia, but ignoring Walker's known anti-worker track record undermines the op-ed's premise and ends up giving Walker way too much credit-by-omission.

The record shows that Walker is no friend of labor, nor is he some kind of stealth GOP populist.

Remember that little game Walker played when he went to Washington, DC shortly after his election and claimed to be a "progressive?"

Some progressive. Unmasked by then-Cong. Dennis Kucinich.

Walker has reduced corporate and high-earners' taxes, fed huge loans, grants and tax credits to favored businesses through a flawed new state development corporation and cut public workers take-home pay while capping their future raises at 1% annually through Act 10 which he dropped on workers without warning.

Walker does not believe in the minimum wage, so has steadfastly blocked any increase above Wisconsin's bottom-of-the-barrel $7.25/hr. rate, just signed a 'right-to-work' wage-depressing law covering all private sector unionized workers, and is all but certain to sign an emerging bill that will throw out Wisconsin's "prevailing wage" law and the family supporting pay it provides for workers on major projects.

Nor did the op-ed  mention that virtually all the jobs created during Walker's first-term - - 100,000 fewer than promised - - have been concentrated in low-wage categories, data show, and that Wisconsin's job-creation now ranks 40th among the states.

Bottom line: Walker has done nothing to push for higher wages for workers.

He's trying in this case to be the ultra-rightist on immigration among the GOP presidential hopefuls while posing to gullible voters as a blue-collar Republican.

People need to see Walker and his manipulations for what they are.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bonus buzz words from DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp

Nothing lifts the spirits at a once-distinguished public service agency now run with a partisan,  "chamber-of-commerce mentality" - - especially when there's a hiring freeze, budget cuts and layoff notices floating around - - than an all-staff end-of-the-week email from the corporately-obesiant boss celebrating "very exciting...cutting edge" reassignments "improving and enhancing" the Human Relations staff.

Take it away, WI DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp - - ex-developer, former agency hater - - though I will show some true human relations compassion and edit out the details from her email about who among her newly-elevated management team enjoys camping, is fixing up a new house, or roots for the New England Patriots, among other personal information:

Good afternoon DNR Colleagues,
I am pleased to announce some very exciting changes to Human Resources at the DNR.  We have assembled a leadership team that we believe will transform our human resources function into a unified set of cutting edge services that support DNR managers and employees.

This team includes Amber Passno as the new Human Resources Bureau Director and Jennifer Gebert as a Deputy Bureau Director.  Additionally, Julie Graziano, who has done a significant amount of organizational development work for our agency, has also accepted a special assignment to partner with Amber and Jennifer to develop recommendations for improving and enhancing the services offered by Human Resources.

Amber Passno has been with the Department since 2011 as the Workforce Relations Section Chief in the Bureau of Human Resources...

Jennifer Gebert has spent the last sixteen years of her state career at the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER), with the last 12 years as the Bureau Director of Outreach Services...

Julie Graziano is a twenty plus year veteran of the DNR, with experience in human resources and organizational effectiveness...  

Human Resources plays a critical role in our agency’s success.  The combination of leadership skills of Amber, Jennifer and Julie have the potential to build the best Human Resources program in state government, a program of superior service excellence.
We are committed to service excellence.

Cathy Stepp
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
101 S Webster Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 267-7556

After layoff notices, DNR's Stepp motivates, leads with buzz words

As Walker and his "chamber-of-commerce mentality" corporate management team hollow-out and diminish the once-proud science-based Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the staff not on the Earth Day layoff list of 57 no doubt will be reassured and re-energized by the ultra-bureaucratic word salad served by Department Secretary Cathy Stepp in this all-staff Friday "accomplish mission" email missive.

This graf sums it up:

Regarding the comments circulating regarding reorganizing. As part of the position reductions and assessment of our business needs we have to consider how best to accomplish mission, when budgets and staffing changes occur. There is nothing to report at this time, however as the budget moves forward and we get some additional certainty, we will be engaging management teams to assist in our efforts.
The full email:

DNR Staff,
I wanted to share a brief budget update. As we shared with you back in January, prior to any budget discussions, this is a long, rollercoaster ride. The very next week, in early February, we got to see the first chapter, and as we’ve gotten clarity, we’ve taken actions along the way to make sure we are ready to address the proposed changes. That included the need to provide “at risk” notices to a number of employees this week. More information will be coming next week once affected staff members have been notified.
This week the JFC started their important work. As you have seen, the media is providing motion by motion coverage of this dynamic process.   Please know that your leadership team is engaged and as involved as possible in this process.  In fact, Cathy and Mike personally attended the JFC Executive Session, yesterday.  As most of you now know, the department was asked to work at balancing the fish and wildlife account and to eliminate some additional vacancies in the second year of the 2015-2017 State Budget.  As we did with the first round of proposed reductions we will work as a leadership team in the One DNR spirit to develop a plan to deliver our core services and we will continue to achieve our mission.
There will be many more motions and amendments before this budget is completed. Please know that your Secretary Office and Administrators are working tirelessly to stay on top of these changes, plan for the future and where we are able, and most importantly inform the decisions that are being made.
Regarding the comments circulating regarding reorganizing. As part of the position reductions and assessment of our business needs we have to consider how best to accomplish mission, when budgets and staffing changes occur. There is nothing to report at this time, however as the budget moves forward and we get some additional certainty, we will be engaging management teams to assist in our efforts.
We won’t be providing updates for every motion or action over the next month. The final budget is what will determine our ultimate direction. However, given the transition to a new chapter in the budget process, we thought it would be helpful to give you an update, and to let you know we are staying on top of these changes…so you can focus on doing the excellent work that our customers and citizens have come to expect.
We are committed to service excellence.

Cathy Stepp
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
101 S Webster Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 267-7556  

Time Warner customers miss chance to make direct deposits to Comcast

Walker scrubs 100,000 jobs from talking points

Wisconsinites know well the history of Scott Walker's signature, first-term failure to create 250,000 new private-sector jobs.

Here's a link with 2/23/2010 information from his then-campaign website recovered archivally, as other links to it produce nothing:
Scott Walker Unveils Plan to Bring 250,000 Jobs and 10,000 New Businesses to Wisconsin by 2015
Walker repeated the pledge throughout his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, the Journal Sentinel used it as the lede for its endorsement editorial that year, and Walker reaffirmed it during his 2012 gubernatorial campaign, too.

But Walker's boast never materialized, the Journal Sentinel rated it a promise broken, and Wisconsin still lags the country in new jobs added, data show.

So how does Walker, having had almost unbroken control of all branches of the government, and having used every tax-cutting, targeted spending, subsidy-offering trick in the GOP playbook to boost employment confront the true facts as tries to sell his record to national audiences?

And how does he mask that jobs added in Wisconsin on his watch are in low-wage categories, and when matched with his signature on 'right-to-work' legislation, and his refusal to boost the minimum wage, means the state workforce and the outlook are more or less permanently mired in recession-era reality?

Just change that 250,000 number to 150,000 and brag on that.

As he did on Twitter today to unsuspecting, less-informed readers:

Wisconsin job growth realized. Positive growth in Wisconsin starting on Day One. - TW
And, oh - - about those 10,000 new businesses which he promised and has said he wants credit for creating?

Turns out Walker is counting personal LLC's, and even non-profits, like Girl Scout troops, birdwatchers and Little League teams, records and published reports have shown.

Walker makes surprise visit to Wisconsin

Don't pay too much attention to the fact that several 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls are addressing Social Security issues and Walker just punted on the matter.

What's important to note about Walker's no-statement statement? That he made it in the Town of Grand Chute in Wisconsin, a medium-sized American midwestern state with only ten electoral votes.

Walker, a probable presidential candidate, has focused his time and attention in recent months in the politically more-significant states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and in larger states like California, Texas and New York, and also in resume and credential-building foreign countries including England, France, Germany and Spain, with Israel on the horizon.

It isn't clear if more visits by Walker are scheduled in the Badger state, though he's currently polling badly in a stalled economy there and would appear intimidated if he continued to absent himself from Wisconsin.

Walker PAC hires Reagan bio firm

The Conservative website Breitbart reports a big Walker PAC communications, strategy hire.

The news rates a mention in Friday's Politico Playbook, a key DC insiders' report:
2016 PLAYERS -- “Reagan biographer firm signs on for communications, strategy for Scott Walker Super PAC,” by Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle: “Shirley & Banister Public Affairs will be handling strategic communications for Walker’s Super PAC, the Unintimidated PAC.”

Organizing underway to ensure removal of Estabrook Dam

Glad to see an emerging informational and organizing campaign underway to make sure Milwaukee removes the Estabrook Dam - - finally - - to restore the health of the Milwaukee River and the integrity of the Milwaukee County budget.

More information in this recent, excellent post by Milwaukee Riverkeeper, and now at this new website explaining why the dam's removal is in the public interest:

Millions of dollars added back into the County budget, which is money local taxpayers won’t have to come up with.

A much healthier, significantly less polluted river. 

Reduced flood risk and likely reduction of insurance costs for homeowners in the Estabrook Dam floodplain.

Increased property values as flood risk is abated and this stretch of river is returned to a much cleaner, more beautiful and natural habitat.

Restoration of the natural and wild aspect of the Milwaukee River in the Estabrook and Lincoln Park areas, which will significantly improve wildlife habitat and reduce wildlife death caused by the dam.

Significantly improved fish habitat and better fishing throughout the Milwaukee River. Our native fish species cannot get past the dam to swim upstream to spawn, and its removal will increase fish populations.

Improved paddling – during normal river levels, you’ll be able to kayak or canoe from West Bend to Lake Michigan.

A significant decrease in the force of currents during severe rainstorms, which increases human safety and decreases erosion along the river.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kochs have been grooming Walker since 2007

Yes, word leaked out that the Koch brothers want Walker as their 2016 candidate, but that should not come as a surprise.

Do not forget that an official of the Koch brothers' funding and organizing arm Americans for Prosperity said about 15 senior rightists came to Wisconsin in 2007 somewhere "on the shores of Lake Michigan" and threw their support long-range behind Walker.

A scenario referenced here several times after its disclosure at a March, 2014 conservative conference in Washington, DC and reported by with the rest of the media's continuing silence:
How did we do it in Wisconsin?” RNC Chair Reince Priebus asked Saturday morning. “The simplest way I can tell you is we had total and complete unity between the state party, quite frankly, Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party groups, the Grandsons of Liberty. The [Glenn Beck-instigated] 9/12ers were involved. It was a total and complete agreement that nobody cared who got the credit, that everyone was going to run down the tracks together...” 
Panelist Luke Hilgemann, the current Americans for Prosperity COO who formerly led the Koch-backed group’s Wisconsin efforts, told the crowd that the 2011 [Walker inaugural] victory “started back in 2007 on the shores of Lake Michigan,” at a meeting of fifteen intrepid activists who’d “had enough of government overreach,” including then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.

An alternate headline for Walker/political travel story

The headline and more expansive lede on the State Journal story reads this way:
Scott Walker's political group says it will repay security travel costs 
Gov. Scott Walker's political nonprofit group said Thursday that it will reimburse the state for all of the governor's political travel costs, including his security detail.
How about this as an alternative headline:

Scott Walker's political group will repay taxpayers wrongly-billed for political travel, costs 

Clearly Walker is feeling the heat, and has polling numbers or focus group feedback showing people know he's been ripping off the people on obviously partisan, political travel and bogus 'trade missions.'

And by the way, what a crock that these co-called exploratory committees, spending freely on partisan goals, are non-profits.

In more successful MN, Walker touts less-successful WI

My favorite Walker story of the week, wherein he tries to convince Minnesota, with its faster-growing and more prosperous economy, that laggard-Wisconsin under his 'GOP leadership' is on the rise.

And the education spending gap favoring Minnesota over Wisconsin is highlighted by Walker three times misusing "Democrat" for "Democratic" in a single sentence.

April 30th conference aiming at cleaning SE Wisconsin waters

Sweet Water, the Milwaukee-based regional partnership that promotes water conservation across watershed, not political boundaries is holding its annual conference next week, April 30th, at the Harley-Davidson Museum. 

The public is invited, details below.  

Sweet Water’s annual Clean Rivers, Clean Lake Conference Thursday, April 30th 

MILWAUKEE – Leaders in state water quality work and residents alike will have an opportunity to learn about innovations and efforts to clean up area rivers and Lake Michigan at the 11th annual Clean Rivers, Clean Lake Conference, scheduled for April 30th at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

Conference highlights include a lunchtime plenary presentation-- River Restorations: the ecology, engineering and social benefits-- presented by Dr. Peter Levi of UW-Madison, David Fowler of MMSD, and Nadia Bogue, Environmental Project Coordinator for Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers. They'll present the value of river restorations from around Milwaukee from a diversity of disciplines.

“Southeastern Wisconsin is recognized across the nation for its rich water resources,” said Nancy Frank, board chair of Sweet Water. “The Clean Rivers Clean Lake conference provides the opportunity to learn about breakthroughs in cleaning up our valuable waters.”

Workshops include “Neighbor to Neighbor-- Building a Fresh Coast Network”, a collaborative effort presented by Breanne McDonald-Plier of MMSD, Nathan Guequierre from URS Corporation focused Northwest Side Community Development, and Pamela Ritger of Clean Wisconsin. They will speak about green infrastructure efforts at a neighborhood scale, tailored for diverse audiences.page2image9328

At the conference, as a part of its Mini-grant Program, Sweet Water will be awarding 13 small grants to community-based, neighborhood nonprofit organizations working at the grassroots level to improve water quality in their communities.

“From green infrastructure projects such as permeable pavement to building fish passages and involving the community in clean water efforts, this conference will cover a wide spectrum of topics related to improving water quality and have something for everyone interested in cleaning up area rivers and Lake Michigan,” explains Frank.

At this year’s conference, Sweet Water will be introducing its new executive director, Linda Reid. Reid was the director of the Water Business Institute, a collaborative effort with the Water Council. She has also taught Finance and Business Law at UW-Whitewater.

Registration remains open for Sweet Water’s 2015 CRCL Conference with general admittance for $90 or $110, $30 for students with current ID. For more information and to register, please visit the Sweet Water web site at

Sweet Water, the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc., is a unique partnership established in 2008 committed to restoring the Greater Milwaukee watersheds to conditions that are healthy for swimming and fishing. We bring diverse partners together and provide the leadership and innovation necessary to protect and restore our shared water resources.

Media please contact Heather Ullsvik, #646 234 1777/ with pre- conference inquiries or to attend the event.

Additional contact:
Nancy Frank, Sweet Water Board Chair, 414-382-1766,

Early warning: WI Legislature unleashing DNR Stepp's "thinking"

Alberta Darling, co-chair of the legislature's budget writing committee, has just thrown the fate of Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources, and by extension, the entire state environment into unprecedented jeopardy by giving agency Secretary and corporate servant Cathy Stepp unimaginable power.

Stepp, a former developer, has hated DNR science and regulatory work for years, got the job precisely for that reason, and is overseeing a pro-industry management team that, for example, is fighting the US EPA over cleaner air rules.

Darling, a River Hills Republican, said Stepp, chosen by Walker for her "chamber-of-commerce mentality" - - he said - - would be allowed to propose her own DNR reorganization as the former developer sees fit, adding:
"We're not putting any limitation on (DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp's) thinking," Darling said.
This is not putting the fox in the hen house. This is letting the fox which is already in the hen house to redesign it with extra entry doors for more foxes and other hungrier predators.

One clue to Stepp's thinking: She vented publicly as a partisan when the Legislature initially balked at passing an industry-written open-pit iron mining bill.

The mine proposal has fallen through because, as the critics had accurately pointed out, a giant mine in that location threatened a richly-forested watershed close to Lake Superior and treaty-protected Native American land and water.

She also favored the plan underway to sell 10,000 acres of DNR land, thinks it's good idea to let businesses buy naming rights to state parks and supported neutering the state natural resources policy-making oversight board above her agency - - something even too radical for Darling''s committee which has already nixed it.

And Walker didn't take Stepp's thinking into account on the matter of ending the oversight role of the long-standing policy board - - in fact, he didn't consult her and had it inserted into her budget without her knowledge.

She said.

And only yesterday, on Earth Day, Stepp managed to send out an all-staff email salute without mentioning that 57 of the people who received her missive would receive on the same day a layoff notice.

And here's Stepp's plan to curry favor with one key DNR constituency using a very small and defenseless prop:
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

Despite Earth Day layoff notices, program cuts, Walker's DNR issues pablum

[Updated] Walker and his corporate-obesiant DNR have had themselves quite the Earth Day, 2015 - - sending 57 layoff notices to science and other staffers as part of a four-year plan to undermine Wisconsin's environment - - but leave it to current agency Secretary and GOP cheerleader Cathy Stepp - - inveterate all-staff emailer - - to cap it off with a meaningless yet insulting, all-employee email:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Walker discovers Wisconsin, tweets about it

Like he hasn't been in England, Germany, France, Spain, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa, California, New York and DC lately:

Good meetings with lawmakers in the Capitol this morning.

Another beautiful morning in Wisconsin!