Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Racist Ferguson email also received by key, ex-Walker aide

[Updated] 

Hey, did you hear the one about the dogs?

One of Walker's trusted operatives did.

Seems that a senior aide during her stint in the Milwaukee Courthouse office on then-County Executive Walker's staff a few years ago was hanging out online with the same sort of bigot who had access to the official computers in racially-troubled Ferguson, Missouri.

Oh, these people with time on their hands to play with public resources online are so funny.

I'd noted the presence of a couple of racist emails found received by then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's #2 staffer on a computer in his office suite, including this one, with a photo, to which which the staffer responded, "Hilarious:"
"This morning I went to sign my Dogs up for welfare. At first the lady said, 'Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare'," the email, first reported by Buzzfeed, read. "So I expla ned [sic] to her that my Dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who the r [sic] Daddys are. They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty because they are dogs."
The Walker staffer, former Deputy Chief of Staff Kathy Rindfleisch, has been found guilty of misconduct in office for doing political work on public time for Walker and other GOP candidates and campaigns.

Rindfleisch, a long-time GOP operative in Wisconsin, traveled with Walker to a fund-raiser out-of-state after her arrest and resignation from Walker's staff.

Turns out this is one of the very emails which US Justice Department investigators found in official City of Ferguson, MO email accounts and cited as proof that the city discriminated illegally against its African-American citizens, The Washington Post reports:
An e-mail described a man seeking to obtain “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”

WI Governor back from travels, major bill appears on desk

Wisconsin is open to magic.

Why, I declare, somehow a bill Walker said would never get to his desk is just about there.

Poor fella must have been sooooo distracted by all that preparation to fight ISIS and put Putin in a headlock and figure out where the Dodd ends and the Frank begins that he never saw that 'right-to-work' bill coming.

Well, nuthin' left to do but sign it, I guess.

Divide-and-conquer 2.0.

Walker '16

Privatize The Downer Woods: UWM says not its idea

[Updated] More about that plan Walker has sneaked deep into the UW budget to remove the "permanent," legal preservation status for the Downer Woods
Downer Woods
and historic East side Downer campus buildings, raising the specter of condos or perhaps another campus area sub shop or two where the preserve now sits.

Hat tip to activist Virginia Small for nailing down that UWM did not ask for the preservation status to be removed:

"None of these legal changes were requested by UWM, according to Kevin O’Connor, who handles communications for external affairs. “UWM did not ask for the changes to state law that remove the legislative protection for the Downer Woods property and buildings,” he says. “The University has no plans to develop or sell the Downer property or buildings and is presuming that the current protections for Downer Woods would be maintained by the Public Authority that is being proposed for the UW System.'” 
"Did the UWM Real Estate Foundation request these changes? “No, this is the first that I have heard about this,” says David Gilbert, the foundation’s president."
Update 5:40 p.m. Some may argue these changes are merely paperwork shuffles - - drafting mechanics, if you will - - to move the property off the state's rolls and on to the books of to a new charter or Authority-run University under Walker's overall plan sprung with his signature stealth in the budget.

I'd say watching Walker's surprise remake of the entire UW system, to his Act 10 "bomb," to his sudden 'approval' of the right-to-work law to his unanticipated 13-year suspension of the Stewardship fund to his pandering and quick embrace of tougher abortion restrictions means it's foolish to take Walker or state leadership's word or credit them with good intentions. Period.

Also nice blog and photos by the essayist and photographer Eddee Daniel: 
It was a gloomy morning. Although it began with a light snowfall that might have been lovely, by the time I reached Downer Woods the snow had turned to drizzle and the overcast sky dimmed. Despite the undeniably dreary day, however, the gloom I felt had more to do with the news than the weather. 


Since I live clear across town in Wauwatosa I don’t go to Downer Woods often. But when I heard the news I was impelled to do the things that come naturally to me: to walk in the woods and make photographs. The news? Governor Walker’s latest budget proposal includes a provision to remove protection of the “the sole remaining natural area on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee”—in the words of the very Wisconsin Code that established that protection. 

Walker & Co. are borrow and spend wastrels

Walker's DOT Secretary warns against cuts to road-building borrowing. The only way out of that budget box and eventual costs to taxpayers of Walker's creation given the GOP/Tea Party opposition to a gas tax increase, higher fees or tolls (yeah, right) is...additional reduction to other non-road state services.

Which could easily happen.

Rare 2010 Walker transparency forecasted his 2015 'surprises'

We do not usually see a headline linking the words "Walker" and "transparency" like the one at the top of this post unless it's to disprove any real-world connection between the two.

But as we note the spate of 'sudden' Walker further-far-right reversals or lurches against legal abortion rights, or university funding and public land conservation crafted carefully to enhance his appeal to the farthest right-wing funders and voters - - do not forget he gave us warning in an unusually transparent remark to CNN:

"I was the original Tea Party in Wisconsin."
I'd posted and reposted his boast, so let's remind everyone, especially when you see commenting or reporting which suggest that Walker is somehow less extreme that other Tea Partiers, like Ted Cruz. 

More muddled messaging by the WI DNR

I've noted repeatedly at this blog that the PR flowing out of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - whether in the form of "Clean Air Tips" contradicted by DNR or Scott Walker priorities, or invitations to scenic sites in the state threatened by anti-conservation Walker policies - - continues to suggest that DNR publicity folks don't think through what they distribute.

I got another of these contradictions by subscription email today from the DNR - -  an invitation to visit the woods in the Baraboo Hills as part of its "Natural Areas Spotlight" series.
Plan a May pilgrimage to hike amid the striking spring flora at this rich, mesic mapleforest in the Baraboo Hills. Bring your wildflower guidebook and camera to record the diversity of ephemeral beauties like these Dutchman’s breeches. Keep an eye to the treetops formigrating warblers.
Sounds beautiful, right. Anyone who's ever been to the area knows it's special.

What I'm pointing out here is that we need to remember that the Baraboo Hills sit atop a deposit of iron ore similar to what is at the heart of controversial, and now-suspended open-pit iron ore mining plan in the Penokee Hills in Iron and Ashland Counties.

And while that plan has been shelved, for now, the sweetheart, pro-iron-mining bill with relaxed environmental regulation that would have enabled the mine is still on the books.

A law defended vociferously by the DNR's pro-development Secretary Cathy Stepp.

More than once, as we recall this Stepp talk radio appearance when the bill was being debated.

So perhaps we should say "thanks" to the DNR for helping raise, even if inadvertantly, more awareness about what a bad lawl could do to one of the great public assets in the state.

And why that law should be stripped from the books so the Baraboo Hills and the Penokee Hills don't turn into polluting open-pit scars to which no sane person would take the "pilgrimage" pitched by the DNR:

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program


McGilvra Woods (No. 206)

McGilvra Woods
Photo by Thomas A. Meyer


Location

Sauk County. T11N-R6E, Section 8, 14. 74 acres.

Description

McGilvra Woods is one of the richest southern mesic forests in southwestern Wisconsin and noted for its display of spring wildflowers. The forest is situated on a gentle to moderate northwest slope at the edge of the Baraboo Hills with a knob of exposed sandstone bedrock found near the southeast corner of the site. Sugar maple and basswood dominate the woods with black cherry, red oak, white ash, yellowbud hickory, bigtooth aspen, and white oak. The trees are medium-aged, but the site is intact and with protection could become an old mesic forest. The sparse shrub layer contains eastern prickly gooseberry, common elderberry, and alternate-leaved dogwood. The groundlayer flora is rich in spring ephemerals and contains more than 110 species including the rare cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis) along with uncommon plants such as leatherwood and putty root orchid. Showy species include spring-beauty, toothwort, woodland phlox, wild geranium, hepatica, May-apple, Virginia waterleaf, bellwort, nodding trillium, and several orchids. McGilvra Woods is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1986.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ferguson, MO racist emails, jokes condemned, and others?

The US Justice Department will release a report Wednesday documenting racist communications by Ferguson, MO police and other public officials found in official emails

Among the findings: At least two racist jokes and derogatory remarks made against African-Americans, including President Barack Obama:
One says Obama will not be president for long because "what black man holds a steady job for four years." Another says a black woman in New Orleans was admitted to a hospital to end her pregnancy and then got a check two weeks later from "Crime Stoppers."
Ugly and disgusting and worthy of complete condemnation.

Here's a snippet from another racist joke (in chain letter format, below) taken off another official government email account. See if you can guess where. Hint - - Not Ferguson:
In the nightmare ... I am a homosexual, and on top of that with a Mexican boyfriend. Oh, my God ... Black, Jewish, disabled, gay with a Mexican boyfriend, drug addict, and HIV-positive!!! ... Say it isn't so!!! I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted, Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, Oh dear God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat.
Stumped? Here's another non-Ferguson email, received and labeled "hilarious" by the official to whom it was sent with a photo of four dogs:
"This morning I went to sign my Dogs up for welfare. At first the lady said, 'Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare'," the email, first reported by Buzzfeed, read. "So I expla ned [sic] to her that my Dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who the r [sic] Daddys are. They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty because they are dogs."
Give up?

The emails were found on the computers of senior officials who reported to and were hired by former Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.

The first joke was in an email exchanged between then-Walker Chief of Staff Tom Nardelli (now deceased) and then-Walker Deputy Chief of Staff Kelly Rindfleisch, (since convicted of felony misconduct on the job for illegal campaign activity).

The second joke was received by Rindfleisch.

Source for racist joke #1. (link to full chain email text, here)

Source for racist joke #2. 

A pandering Walker backs abortion ban voided in six states

The no-abortion-after-20 weeks bill Walker says - - surprise! - - he'll sign now that his far-right-national presidential candidacy is in full right-tilt has been struck down as unconstitutional in five states' federal courts, and was just vetoed in very conservative West Virginia.

Then he will waste taxpayer money litigating it, as he did with the GOP's gerrymandering plan, voter ID, sam-sex marriage and, inevitably as will happen with the unconstitutional drug tests he wants all adults on any form of public assistance to endure.

No end to the people he has disrespected and manipulated for his own partisan and personal advancement, or to the flips on issues and positions that fit his accelerating and rightward tilting national campaign.

And proving that he was telling the truth when he said he was "the original Tea Party in Wisconsin."

Also verified, as I wrote in November: everything Walker does here in Wisconsin is now first measured against his presidential campaign agenda, not by what's best for the state or transparent, honest politics.


Belling again claims to know all about the Jews

A few years ago, 1130 WISN-AM right-wing talk show host Mark Belling said he was choosing his words carefully when he claimed a cabal of Jewish business leaders was trying to kill a downtown Milwaukee hotel development.

The late Tim Cuprisin posted a solid round-up of blog and online newspaper reporting about it at the time, including a blast back at Belling by Mayor Barrett.

On his show today, Belling has spent most his first hour bashing President Barack Obama, praising Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and slamming "American Jews" and the Democratic Party whom Belling claims are disconnected from Holocaust-era events or have abandoned Israel.

Once again, Jewish people are merely a group which Belling can stereotype, so he has absolutely zero credibility when it comes grasping what Jewish people may or may not think.

Belling also took a shot at Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore by saying he could not translate Moore's objections to Netanyahu's speech to Congress into intelligible English.

So goes the ongoing toxification of Milwaukee's airwaves by right-wing radio programming.


Shocking! Leading WI environmental critic defends Walker's anti-environmental budget

[Updated from 10:46 a.m.] Walker marionette and admitted enemy of DNR science Cathy Stepp's defending Scott Walker's plan to strip public oversight from the public agency she has publicly demeaned
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
DNR photo of Stepp's first gun deer kill
is as unsurprising as Paula Deen taking her time and ours to endorse making and eating butter popsicles.

And of course Stepp and Walker want to sell naming rights at state parks to corporate sponsors. Downer Offal Rendering Woods, or Peninsula Insecticides LLC or Governor Dodge Manure Spreaders State Parks have just the right ring to them.

We've seen this coming.

So now look to the Walker budget's multiple and widespread clear-cut across DNR and UW environmental programs, policies to understand what Stepp - - named by Walker to bring what he said was a "chamber of commerce mentality" to the agency's management - - is positioned and pledged to at the DNR.

Irked, surprised by Walker's reversals? Read the record

Groups and mainstream media and even some GOP money-bags are getting an up-close look at Walker-the-duplicitous-backtracking-double-talker, and appear surprised.

An exception: Joan Walsh at Salon.com has Walker's flip-flop on abortion wonderfully reported.

However, we here in Wisconsin are not surprised, as situational, slippery parsing and reversing his supposedly-deeply held beliefs has been a Walker hallmark.

Check this record accumulated in fifteen minutes of Google searching:

*  More than five years ago, then Milwaukee County Executive Walker attacked on ideological grounds the Obama stimulus plan, then agreed his departments could apply for stimulus millions he wanted to fund County programs while taking similarly earmarked transportation funding.

A Milwaukee business publication followed the zig-zag:
Walker says he never said never about matching stimulus funds
* Walker loudly campaigned for Governor in 2010 on ideological grounds against an $810 million stimulus grant to build a fast Amtrak line between Milwaukee and Madison (and a train assembly factor in Milwaukee).

He succeeded in killing the grant - - and then tried unsuccessfully to get back from the Obama administration he'd been dissing more than $150 million of the funding after realizing the grant had covered improvements to the Milwaukee train depot and the Amtrak line from Milwaukee to the Illinois border which the Milwaukee chamber of commerce had supported.

Oops.

*  Opposed all tolls or road use fees in Wisconsin, then later said, well, some lanes.

*  Has been on both sides of the stem cell research issue. Depends on which campaign is underway.

Walker budget kills UW-M Downer Woods 'permanent preservation'

Walker's budget clear-cuts environmental programming, science, institutes, public input, staff and long-cherished stewardship goals across the Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin system - - one summary post here with five documented links - - and goes out of its way to remove the permanent preservation status of the Downer Woods on the UW-M main East side campus.

Here is the State Statute that provides that protection and public mission.

UW-M's website has a description of this special scientific and public asset which Walker, with no warning or justification - - except his blatant servitude to corporate donors - - would hand over to developers, along with the historic Downer college buildings from which he is also deleting their protected status - - as a special, targeted stick-in-the-eye to a neighborhood which voted heavily against him:

DOWNER Woods

Downer Woods

The Downer Woods Natural Area is an 11.1 acre fenced forest, under permanent preservation, on the UWM campus, which became part of the UWM Field Station in the Spring of 1998. Prior to 1998, the woods were not managed as a natural area, and the vegetation bore little resemblance to that of the mature beech-maple forest which must have once occupied the site.
Perhaps the most immediately apparent feature of the plant community when the Field Station assumed responsibility for its management was a dense shrub layer of non-native buckthorn and honeysuckle.
After the Field Station began managing the site, exotic species started to be controlled, a formal trail system was constructed, a permanent grid system was constructed, and the vegetation of the forest was sampled.
The plant species list and vegetation data are available on request. Now that the thicket of non-native shrubs has been removed and adequate trails are provided, Downer Woods is being used extensively by neighbors and students for enjoyment of the natural area.


Related Links

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hope Scott Walker attacks Hillary Clinton personal email use

C'mon, secret email user Walker, go for it.

Let's reprise all of it, so the whole country can read up his big, bold evasive methods:
Madison — Thousands of documents unsealed Wednesday link Gov. Scott Walker to a secret email system used in his office that would avoid public scrutiny when he was Milwaukee County executive.
The records also show that on the day before he was elected governor in 2010, the secret investigation into links between Walker's county government staff and his political campaign was widened to include four more aides.

Walker again taking control of state agencies' hiring

Just imagine what Republicans would be saying if the headline and story read this way today:
Scott Walker Barack Obama budget gives governor president more control over hiring
And who remembers this 2011 story? 
Walker gives himself more power to fill high state jobs
You have to wonder how much power the GOP-controlled Legislature will grant Walker. He's already been given the power to sell any state asset and to approve - - with one exception - -  rules governing agency policy - - rules which have the power of state law and which had previously been approved or denied only after a public hearing before a legislative committee.

And speaking of Walker and jobs - - no, not those 250,000 private sector jobs he's so far behind creating that hardly anyone is counting anymore - - this job, a new senior advisory position he somehow could fund in his office for a senior state official, but which, so far, major media has not reported for more than three days.

In the context of Walker's expanding absences from the state, as well as his similarly expanding national traveling, speaking and deal-making, this hiring speaks volumes:



Not seeing return to original UW mission in Walker budget

Unless I'm working with the wrong URL, where's that promised skin-back of Walker's "drafting error?" The story broke a month ago tomorrow.

And the existing budget language also lets individual UW campuses opt out of mission statement adoption?  What kind of Wisconsin Idea is that?

From p. 473, UW budget...


6. ESTABLISH UW SYSTEM MISSION

Governor: Establish the UW System mission as being to develop human resources to meet the state's workforce needs; to discover and disseminate knowledge; and to develop in students heightened intellectual, cultural, and human sensitivities, scientific, professional, and technological expertise, and a sense of purpose.


Under current law, the mission of the UW System is as follows: "to develop human resources, to discover and disseminate knowledge, to extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses and to serve and stimulate society by developing in students heightened intellectual, cultural and humane sensitivities, scientific, professional and technological expertise and a sense of purpose. Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth."
[Bill Section: 1111]

7. INSTITUTIONAL MISSIONS AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS


Governor: Provide that the Board may, after a public hearing at an institution, establish for the institution a mission statement delineating specific program responsibilities and types of degrees to be granted. Provide that the Board would determine the educational programs to be offered in the UW System and may discontinue educational programs as it deems necessary. Provide that the Board would establish policies to guide program activities to ensure that they are compatible with the mission of the institutions of the UW System.


This differs from current law in that: (a) the establishment of institutional mission statements is made optional instead of being required; and (b) a requirement that the Board make all reasonable effort to provide night courses is deleted.

[Bill Section: 1130]

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN SYSTEM -- CREATE UW SYSTEM AUTHORITY Page 473 

Media choke on fresh Walker word salad

ISIS fighter and part-time, or perhaps already ex-WI Governor Scott Walker turned a simple question of the day about immigration into an extra-large helping of word salad, and Greg Sargent at The Washington Post notes it didn't go down well:
To hear conservatives tell it, the question of whether Republicans are prepared to use Department of Homeland Security funding to fight President Obama’s executive deportation relief is a test of their resolve to combat Obama’s lawlessness. So you’d think the GOP presidential candidates would have a good answer when pressed on this.
Yet when Byron York posed that question to Scott Walker, he did not have a clear answer at all. First, Walker claimed that Congress “needs to find a way to fund homeland security,” but added that it’s understandable if lawmakers are reluctant to give up their leverage to “to push back on the president’s questionable, if not illegal, actions.” 
Asked whether Republicans should stand firm against Obama’s actions, or agree to fund Homeland Security independently of continuing the battle against them, Walker replied: 
“I think they have to figure out some way to have the bridge to continue to fund homeland security, but in a way that doesn’t remove their ability to come back sometime in the not too distant future if the court rules or if the administration changes how they do this action in a way that could be upheld in court. They need to have the power of the purse string to offer a counter to that.”
York asks: “What does that mean, exactly?” It’s a good question.  
Not the first time national media recently balked at what is routine for Walker in Wisconsin.



Sloppy headline about Walker "liked" by Facebook

The story says Facebook counted all mentions on Facebook of Walker in a given period and found he rated tops among all GOP presidential hopefuls, but on Facebook, to "like" usually means an affirmation, so if Facebook is counting all likes, posts, shares and comments about Walker, I'll bet a lot of them were negative comments on negative status posts and do not support the implication of the headline:

Scott Walker 2016: Ripped by Rolling Stone, liked by Facebook


What I see in the headline and story was effort to balance out the number that might make Walker look good the mention of a no-holds-barred slam at Walker in Rolling Stone about which there is no ambiguity.

And, yes, I see the headline says "'liked' by Facebook," not "liked on Facebook," but given the foundational use of "like" on Facebook, I think, at best, the headline is confusing.

What do you think?

Major media missing DNR-related Walker cuts, staff moves

Walker's office posted it with little fanfare early Friday evening, I posted and gave it context Saturday, but unless I've missed it I see no major media reporting that Deputy DNR Secretary, ex-builder association executive and attorney Matt Moroney - - a leading figure in conservative policy-making in Walker's administration for the last four years - - has been moved to a new position of Senior Advisor in Walker's office.

Given that Walker is continually absent from the state while his controversial budget must be addressed by the Legislature, you'd think this staffing development would have gotten at least the same coverage as Walker's multiple campaign hires.

I also see little comprehensive mainstream media coverage linking cuts in Walker's budget to environmental programs at both the UW and the DNR.

I put together one summary.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters has put up a site with several budget-related analyses and documents, here.

Summary post of Walker budget hits to environment

[Updated from Sunday, 11:11 a.m.] Not meant to be complete, but here are several links to discoveries in Walker's budget about terminating or damaging state or UW environmental programs, policies and funds:

Program, policy cuts to the DNR, with 2011-'15 historical context.

UW-M and Downer Woods.

UW System programs.

Exempting UW System from renewable energy goals.

Promotion of DNR Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney to Walker Senior Advisor.

The most wonderfully revealing/disqualifying Walker stumble yet

[Updated] Walker has so talked himself into believing he is already the President-elect that he remembers to The New York Times those good old days he was Wisconsin's Governor. Our embarrassment is deep; his should be complete:
In an interview, Mr. Walker said he was unconcerned about the appearance of spending so much time and energy courting donors, noting that he expected to do plenty of retail campaigning in the months ahead. “Oh, I think along the way I’ll be at plenty of dairy events and farm events and factories just like when I was governor,” Mr. Walker said.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Online JS poll not backing 'right-to-work'

I know online polls are hardly scientific, but they can be interesting, like these jsonline.com home page results as of 11:10 p.m. Sunday night:
POLL
Do you support state legislative leaders' decision to fast-track a right-to-work bill through the Legislature? 
Yes, Wisconsin needs this now: 41% 
No, we need more discussion: 10% 
No, it's a bad idea any time. : 49% 
Total Responses: 3644

Archiving Walker's mounting fumbles

Couldn't help but notice in his ISIS=protesters FUBAR this "in their power" remark. Do we have multiple commanders-in-chief?
“I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists does not wash up on American soil,” said Walker, a likely Republican 2016 presidential candidate. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”
OK, OK - - you say I'm making too much out of a grammatical slip.

But Walker is so unprepared, and can think so poorly on his feet that he is leaving potential backers speechless. Take a look at this description of more Walker stumbles, some of which I'd written about yesterday. 

In front of big-time right-wing financiers, Walker revealed he knew so little about Dodd-Frank that it might as well have been thinking about a new-style hot dog:
At CPAC, he gave a forceful speech, but when asked how he would fight the Islamic State he gave a non-answer. He then suggested he was ready to be commander in chief after dealing with 100,000 union protesters. It was inaptly put, but the absence of substantive answers and the comparison to a handful of candidates who spoke in-depth on an array of national security issues left some supporters shaken.
Then came his appearance at Club for GrowthThe coverage has been harsh.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “The event was moderated by Frayda Levin, a member of the Club board who is supporting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in the coming presidential race. In addition to her direct questioning on foreign-policy, Ms. Levin grilled Mr. Walker on what changes he would make to the Dodd-Frank financial-markets reforms. After a lengthy answer in which the Wisconsin governor failed to suggest specific changes, she referred to concerns small community banks have with the law and asked him, ‘So, are you just not that aware of what’s happening with Dodd-Frank?’ ”
Asked about foreign policy, he said the most important foreign policy decision in his lifetime was Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers... in Walker’s lifetime there have been the Gulf wars, the Iraq surge, the response to 9/11, the reunification of Germany and a host of other events. 
An adviser with a rival campaign conceded that former secretary of state George P. Shultz, who has met with many presidential candidates, often observes that was a critical moment in the Reagan presidency, but the adviser argued that it was “not in any way a foreign policy decision and therefore no one would ever call this the most significant foreign policy decision in anyone’s lifetime.” 
The adviser added,”To call it a foreign policy decision is completely ludicrous.”

Walker taking right-wing attack on WI Progressive tradition national

[Updated] It's not a matter of rocket surgery, as one of Walker's apologists has framed it, to grasp where Walker and his far-right money machine is dragging us.

His new budget dilutes or terminates the public interest and the public sector in Wisconsin so Republican corporate donors and Tea Party advocates who have funded his campaigns can appropriate public resources, embed their partisan advantage and power and overturn decades of Wisconsin tradition.

Walker's budget will wipe away the core public service mission that has defined the UW, and similarly erases protections for the public's air, land and water maintained through science and public input at the DNR. (One summary post, here)

The budget continues Walker's ideological devaluation of scape-goated teachers and the concept of public education by diverting more public education millions to private, parochial schools.

The budget also unflinchingly withholds reasonable medical care and food assistance from thousands of our state's less-fortunate citizens (who are to be drug-tested, probably illegally, through this budget) already locked into another Walker choice - - the lowest legal minimum wage possible.

Add in an ethically-compromised conservative-bought-and-greased Wisconsin Supreme Court majority and you have the demolition in Wisconsin of what it is that separated Wisconsin from its midwestern neighbors - - The Progressive Era - - so that ideological agendas and Walker's personal presidential ambition could be served with public money and process.

That';s  how and why the GOP managed a secretive redistricting process. Or wrote a mining bill in private. or ambushed citizens twice with budgetary or legislative surprises through Act 10 or the new 'right-to-work' bill being rushed past democratic procedures and tradition for Walker's signature this week.

Never have so many people in this state been abused by so few with such shallow, extremist motives.

And with such widespread, long-term, negative consequences.

I'd been tracking in one posting those disrespected and manipulated by Walker, but the item is getting too long to manage. For the record, it is the fifth most-downloaded post on this blog out of more than 15,000 put up since 2/2/07.

If Walker were President, and Paul Ryan is steering the budget through a GOP-run Congress, and the conservative 5-4 majority on the US Supreme Court remains or grows with Walker appointments, you can also kiss good-bye the New Deal, public lands, voting rights, immigration reform (he's discovered yet another powerless group to hit with big government power), equal pay and medical-care access for women, and other long-held, hard-won American democratic values which Walker is on record opposing.

Walker hands insurers gravy from local taxpayers

I heard about one small SE WI city where taxpayers will pay out close to triple for private insurance what they were paying to the non-profit, state-managed pool. The costs of privatization. 

After three budgets, Walker's people now know how to manipulate their agencies to benefit Walker's backers, regardless of the hit to taxpayers, as the State Journal discovers:
 25 minutes ago25 minutes agoICYMI: Scott Walker proposes shutting down state insurance coverage for cities, schools,…  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Walker UW budget deletes protection for UW-M Downer Woods

Much of the open space on the UW-M main East side campus has fallen to the bulldozer, but now Walker's UW 'reform' budget deletes the promised and continuing preservation of Downer Woods as community space and park land - - and preservation of former Downer college buildings is deleted, too. 

What's next on the state/campus chopping block? If the Downer Woods can be sold off to a developer, why not Picnic Point, or the UW-Madison Arboretum? 

I'm sure the Walkerites would like to see a few hundred condos and a parking ramp in the Arboretum, and maybe an ATV rental agency, paint ball gun course and sports bar along Picnic Point?

Remember also that the Legislature, at Walker's direction, has given him the power to sell any state asset - -  up to and including the State Capitol building, with token participation by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance, the State Building Commission (also slated for a 2015-'17 gubernatorial takeover), and the Wisconsin Department of Administration - - all of which he controls - - and without normal public disclosure or negotiating procedures.

I'd catalogued many of the budget's attacks on the UW system's environmental programming and mission, but had missed this one. Mea culpa.


More about the similar impact on Walker's cuts at the DNR, too, here.

From the proposed budget document:

(p) Delete the following provisions related to the Downer Woods located on the UW- Milwaukee campus: (1) provisions requiring the UW-Milwaukee Chancellor to prepare and implement a Downer Woods natural area management and restoration plan to ensure that the
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN SYSTEM -- DELETE CURRENT LAW RELATED TO THE UW SYSTEM Page 511
area of the Downer Woods designated as the conservation area is managed properly as a natural area; (2) provisions requiring that the portion of the Downer Woods designated as permanently reserved woodlands be set aside exclusively for the purposes of community enhancement and relaxation; (3) provisions permitting the portions of the Downer Woods designated as park and woodland areas to be used by UW-Milwaukee as recreational and aesthetic corridors; and (4) provisions specifying that the buildings of the former Downer college be preserved and may not be razed without prior approval of the Building Commission. 

In CPAC poll, almost 80% wanted someone not Walker

After all his sleeves-rolled-up stage-craft and ill-fitting macho-man rhetoric, Walker couldn't out poll libertarian darling Rand Paul, as nearly 80% of those polled at CPAC said they were more in love with another righty darling.

Look for Walker to spin this rejection as a victory.

Walker would "totally privatize" Medicaid, transportation infrastructure

Lost in Walker's monumental foreign policy stumble before the Club for Growth was his answer to a question that Medicaid and transportation are programs he would "totally privatize."

Translation: Private health insurers are going to make out like bandits, plenty of poor people will make do without, highways and bridges are going to be leased to companies that will jack up the tolls (Google Chicago Skyway, parking meters, or Indiana tollway tolls) - - one summary post, here - - and a bus ticket on the few remaining lines will put low-income people back on the sidewalks.

WI Capitol cops play cold-weather rendition

Taking people into custody at the Wisconsin State Capitol, driving them to a remote Madison site, then not charging them while leaving them literally in the cold on their own has got to be against the law in 2015.

Earlier arrests of peaceful protestors at the Capitol have been dismissed, the Walker administration policy which led to the arrests has been declared unconstitutional and tens of thousands of dollars in civil damages have been paid by the state to those illegally ticketed and detained.

Please, empty-headed Scott Walker, just keep talking

The same presidential poseur who thinks ISIS and Putin will be cowed by how he 'handled' peaceful union protesters his own press aide had praised as peaceful and legitimate now wants you to believe that Ronald Reagan's firing of the nation's air traffic controllers was the most important foreign policy move in Walker's lifetime - - thus back to 1967.

It's so clear that Walker lives inside a little, talk-radio ideological echo chamber, where Reagan is give God-like status while his tax increases and legendary bi-partisan moderation are never acknowledged.

Walker has been inserting himself into a distortion of Reagan's legacy for years, as he'd let on during the infamous phone call he had with the fake David Koch (transcript), but only an uneducated narcissist treading intellectual water would put Reagan's union-busting ahead in foreign policy importance to, say, George W. Bush's catastrophic invasion of Iraq 12 years ago that now has spun off the very ISIS fighters whose defeat Walker is fantasizing.

Or, Richard Nixon's detente with China, the entire subsequent explosion of global trade and export of manufacturing which continue to undermine Walker's failed job-creating solutions.

Some pretty astonishing knowledge and awareness gaps there. 

Video shows Walker gifting little boy with talking points

Add another keeper to the Walker tape and video archive we've been collecting:

After finishing up his ISIS=peaceful protesters CPAC speech, a little kid asked Walker about climate change.

Fret not, little guy: Walker - - like a robot - - fires off his talking points, including suggesting the little fella clean up his camp site the way Walker says he always did.


Bad luck, evil DNR subculture wrecked WI mine plan

We;re beginning to get a fuller picture of the internal problems that led GTac to suspend more planning for a massive open-pit iron mire in a pristine watershed across Iron and Ashland Counties.

Start with some plain old bad luck: GTac said it had discovered a lot of wetlands in the forested, rain and snow absorbing Bad River watershed that is cross-crossed by trout streams, dotted with lakes and traversed by a river on its way to wild rice estuaries at the edge of the deepest of the five Great Lakes, Lake Superior.


You can see how it could miss the wetlands there.


And there was another roadblock that was also not the company's fault. After all, it had dotted all its "I's" and crossed off them "T's" when it lobbied through bill it helped write and even routed $700,000 to benefit Scott Walker's 2012 campaign.

Then more bad luck: like a cruise line executive finding positive samples after a full-ship Norovirus cleansing, mining boss Bill Williams said he discovered some lingering environmentalism among DNR employees apparently not fully excised by Scott Walker and the "chamber of commerce" tools he'd installed atop the agency:
"But there is probably still a subculture at the DNR, for lack of a better word, that is green," Williams said.
How many surprises should GTac have been asked to manage?

Clearly, Walker and the DNR have some work to do to get that toxic green thinking out of an agency were it has no business thriving, even in a subculture.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp had already revealed the subculture in her historic expose of the DNR that helped get her appointed to the position by Walker in 2010:
...people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA. So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with.
Walker's proposed budgetary elimination of 66 DNR science positions, along with other program cuts and structural changes - - along with several years of science-crushing policy-making - -  will go a long way towards finally ridding the DNR of what Williams and Stepp say ails it.

No business should ever again encounter "green" secret agents at a natural resource protection agency.



For the record, some GTac mine backers did OK

As we enjoy the apparent withdrawal of GTac from the Penokees to which they came to destroy, let's not forget that a couple of the major enablers of the massive mine plan or the sweetheart one-company bill shoved through the Legislature at the company's behest have come out the fiasco ahead of where they were at the beginning:

*  Former state Rep. Jeff Stone, (R-Greendale). He's the suburban Milwaukee legislator who made said Ojibwa tribal representatives did not have a seat at the table - - his words, watch the video - - when the putrid bill was up for Legislative consideration by Stone and his fellow committee members.

Where's Stone today? Walker gave him a $94,000-a-year senior administrator's job at the Public Service Commission last year that was initially ticketed for another GOP legislator, Scott Suder,  who'd gotten caught up in a DNR/grant scandal.

And the Wisconsin Paper Council picked Suder up. All's well that ends well.

*  Former GTac lobbyist Bob Seitz. Walker just appointed Seitz also to a senior position at the PSC, which is apparently what backers of failed mining projects also call Heaven.


Moroney, ex-DNR #2, now Senior Adviser to Walker

The Governor's office quietly moved Deputy DNR Secretary Matt Moroney - - via a Friday evening news release - - to a new position of senior adviser in the Governor's office.

Pretty much as I'd suggested in earlier posts.
...he is headed either to Walker's campaign, or to the Governor's office as Chief of Staff or filling a new, administrative/policy/campaign committee liaison position.
Walker is positioning a strong conservative policy adviser and experienced administrator at his side while multi-tasking as Governor and presidential candidate.

Moroney will be the functioning 'Deputy' Governor in a way that Rebecca Kleefisch cannot, much as was DOA Secretary Jim Klauser to Governor Tommy Thompson.

Matt Moroney
Matt Moroney
Use the blog index at the upper left corner for posts about Moroney over the years on the just-killed iron mining plan's sweetheart bill, plus work on wetlands, weakened DNR enforcement and a failed effort to stymie on developers' behalf the Great Lakes Compact, among others.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Walker press aide said protesters were peacefully exercising rights

They don't sound much like ISIS fighters, right Cullen Werwie?, as the Walker media aide described the protesters and Walker's view of them to CBS News during the protests in these words:
"Governor Walker has said time and again that the protesters have every right to have their voice heard, and for the most part the protests have been peaceful. We are hopeful that the tradition will continue," said Werwie.
Werwie, who'd served as media spokesman during Walker's 2010 run for Governor - - was also an immunized witness in the prosecutorial probe known as John Doe I that produced six convictions of Walker aides, associates and donors - -  has since been promoted to the Wisconsin Department of Administration. 

As I have been reporting, WI DNR's #2 is gone

The rumor mill was correct - - the powerful WI DNR Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney has left the agency, but as you will see in these emails circulated by the top people at DNR this evening, no one is saying where Moroney is landing.

He's a smart, organized and productive attorney and former metro Milwaukee developers' association leader. I watched him assertively push for Great Lakes water diversions when he sat on advisory committees to SEWRPC and the State Legislature as they grappled with the Great Lakes Compact and related matters.

My belief is that he is headed either to Walker's campaign, or to the Governor's office as Chief of Staff or filling a new, administrative/policy/campaign committee liaison position.

Here are the agency emails, verbatim - -  first from Secretary Cathy Stepp, followed by a note from Moroney.

My only comment is that Stepp betrays a not-so-surprising ignorance about the origins and implications of the cliche in praise of Moroney that he kept the "trains running on time." Suffice it to say it is not a compliment to him or their working environment. Look it up.

Dear Colleagues,
So, there’s been a lot of change going on in state government lately.  As I preach to others to embrace change, I need to remember that myself sometimes.  Matt’s departure has certainly brought a series of mixed emotions for me and many others in the department.  I’m thrilled for him personally and professionally, as his gifts of facilitation, people management, expediency, and follow through will be on full display for all of state government to gain from in his new role.  As you all know, he has kept the “trains running on time” on “the 8th floor,” making sure documents got signed, thoughtful decisions were made in a timely manner,  and that systems were implemented to support and streamline the good work of our agency.  He has defined “transparency” in state government with his innovative ideas on guidance documents, stewardship program implementation, meetings with staff on all issues you had concerns or questions about.  Always with an honest and frank answer, staff has grown to respect and admire the way he carried himself and portrayed the Office of the Secretary in the most honorable way.  He never let political ideology interfere with the use of sound science, the law, and common sense.  I can honestly say not one thing I tasked him with over the last 4 years has ever fallen through the cracks.  I have never known anyone with a stronger work ethic who still somehow managed to balance family life with his wife and two young children.  He is a role model for us all to look to.
My melancholy moments have been in the realization that I won’t be talking to him a minimum of twice per day, seeing him in the office regularly, and laughing instead of crying when the day’s events seem insurmountable.  Matt and I had a uniquely balanced relationship, running the agency as a team.  Each of us is acutely aware that the job of Secretary is so much more than any one person could manage without engaging gifted and talented people who commit themselves to the mission of our agency with a servant’s heart.
While I was hopeful this announcement would come before Matt reported for duty in his new role, the timing didn’t work out that way.  It would have been great to have time for those of you who wanted to stop by to wish him well and to share a laugh.  Alas, you’ll have to do that by email or phone call…which will probably be easier on him anyway.  We all know he wasn’t much about getting attention or actually having to show emotion!  
Below is a message from Matt that he wanted me to share with all of you:
I wanted to send a quick note to just say “Thank You”!   It was a privilege and an honor to be your coworker the last four years.   I cannot accurately describe in words how much I have appreciated your collective and individual willingness to share your ideas on how to move this organization from good to great! 
There are still many great things to come at the DNR due to the tremendous talent within the DNR at all levels of the organization.   I am confident that Secretary Stepp and the Department Leadership Team will continue to ask for your ideas and will continue to lead the Department forward in a positive direction as One DNR.   The best is yet to come, and I look forward to following your successes.
Once again, Thank You!!!
Matt Moroney