Thursday, December 28, 2006
It is also entirely conceivable that Walker did not want the errors made by his administration in calculating costs and relying on unreliable consultants to get the attention that public testimony would bring. Walker thought he would have an easy knockout in the 15th round. Instead, he is flat on his back on the mat, and the boot of AFSCME District Council 48 is planted hard -- with spikes -- on his chest.
Yet nobody raised an eyebrow when road building execs made substantial donations to the gov's campaign fund while attending a fundraiser held by a top Department of Transportation official during a period when the firms were negotiating an $8 million deal with that very Department of Transportation. (OK, an eyebrow was raised about the fundraiser, but not about it being held during those negotiations. That should have been at least a double-eyebrow-raiser.)
Where is the balance here?
After all, Doyle was re-elected, right? The Dems took the Senate, right? No way would the concealed carry crowd try in this state at this time.
But then that short-lived hope was crushed like a rose under a city salt truck. Their shrill voices nag at us about our local Milwaukee and Wisconsin politics all the way from Bellevue, Wash.
BELLEVUE, WA – Anti-gun Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett should financially reimburse armed robbery victims who have been left unable to defend themselves, thanks to the policies of these two politicians, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.
In case you didn't quite get who CCRKBA (Pronounced "Crackba"?) holds responsible for thwarting its demand for concealed carry, here's another clue:
“When armed outlaws are not afraid to impersonate police officers,” (Crackba Executive Director Joe) Waldron observed, “and can simply stop someone at gunpoint on a public street to take their money, you know the philosophy that created this mess is morally bankrupt to its core. And that moral bankruptcy rests in the offices of Mayor Barrett and Gov. Doyle.” (Emphasis added)
The other robbery, involving two apparent juveniles who drew handguns on the clerk at a Radio Shack last week, was just as brazen, Waldron said.
One more time...
“Teenage thugs and bogus cops can carry guns,” Waldron said, “but not the law-abiding citizens of Wisconsin, and we can thank Jim Doyle and Tom Barrett for that.
And, then, finally, this:
“The blame for this kind of crime lies in the governor’s office, and among the ranks of Democrats in the House and Senate who failed their responsibility to public safety by not overturning Doyle’s veto,” Waldron said. “And because we know who to blame, we know who should be held financially liable for every penny that is stolen from every shopkeeper and every citizen in Wisconsin. It’s time for Doyle and Barrett to dig into their pockets and put their money where their mouths were.”
So Crackba Joe knows enough about Wisconsin to know the names of the governor and the mayor of the largest city, but then refers to the Assembly as the House and gives himself away as the total hack carpetbagger that he is. Stay away, Joe. Let Wisconsin be Wisconsin.
Wisconsin state and local governments pump $351 per student more into the wealthiest districts than into poorest ones, according to The Education Trust; the gap in funding between the whitest districts and those with the most minority students is a whopping $1,043 per student. Those gaps are greater if you factor in the additional costs of education children in poverty to a standard similar to wealthier children.
Here is something from the Trust for the governor to think about as he prepares his budget.
Once states assume more responsibility for education funding, they should target funds to help educate lowincome children. In Massachusetts, for example, local taxes account for a majority of public schools’ revenue, but statefunding is highly targeted, which allows the state to do more to address funding equity than some other states.
Wisconsin, in contrast, actually allocates a majority of all public education revenue at the state level, but still maintains funding gaps that disadvantage both high-poverty and high minority
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Under current TRI rules, companies have to report emissions of any toxic chemical that exceed 500 pounds in a year. Under the new rules, facilities could fill out a simpler form that omits reporting the amount of toxic chemicals if they created less than 5,000 pounds of it in a year and released no more than 2,000 pounds of it into the environment.
The rule change is supposed to benefit small businesses. The BizTimes Daily, for example, reports that
Under the previous rules, a neighborhood auto-repair shop was required to fill out the same set of forms as a large oil refinery, the NFIB said. A 2005 Small Business Administration (SBA) report found that the smallest firms pay nearly 1.5 times as much per employee as large firms to comply with federal regulations.rule change is supposed to benefit small businesses.
The rules, though, will help huge corporations hide the damage they are doing to the creatures who are unfortunate enough to be required to breathe. The Christian Science Monitor again:
But one largely hidden element of the rule change is that big companies are among the largest beneficiaries, says Tom Natan, of the National Environmental Trust, a Washington environmental group.
"The idea that this change is meant to benefit small independent business is just not true," he says. "When they first issued the proposal last year, EPA was saying it's mom and pop businesses this will help, but it turns out it's really General Motors, Sunoco, and companies like that."
While thousands of facilities will see major reductions in their paperwork, Dr. Natan is most concerned about the 3,600 facilities, about 15 percent of the total, that his analysis shows will no longer have to report any emissions details at all. Many such facilities, which emit thousands of pounds of toxins, are operated by some of the nation's largest companies.
An Ashland Distribution Co. facility, located in Birmingham, Ala., a division of the Fortune 500 giant Ashland Inc., released seven toxic chemicals totaling 4,405 pounds in 2004, according to the most recent TRI data. But because each chemical is below the new 2,000-pound threshold, the facility may no longer have to report any data on amounts and types of releases, Natan says. It also leaves room for emissions to rise without data being made public, he adds.
This rule change may lead to a fight with the new Democratically-controlled Congress. Let's hope so.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Barrett first made the proposal last summer, and prefers it to an alternative proposal for a 0.5% thee-county sales tax to support transit.
That's what he says, anyway.
Right now, his sales tax proposal sure does not seem to be a top concern for him -- the issue does not rate a single word on the city's legislative agenda for the upcoming session, even though a new sales tax would require state approval.
It may be that neither proposal stands a chance of being adopted, but both are surely doomed if Barrett opposes the three-county tax, but his own proposal doesn't rank among his Administration's legislative priorities.
Secrecy News reports that:
The use of a subpoena was not intended as a threat, a government attorney wrote to the court, but was issued in response to a "request" from the ACLU, so that the organization would not have to voluntarily surrender the document without "due process":
"The Government issued the subpoena based on [...] what it believed to be the ACLU's request for a subpoena in lieu of voluntarily returning the then-classified document."
What a crock. How can the DNR expect a reasonable person to even begin to believe that? It's not just the pipeline with its potential for devastating leaks that can cause a great deal of environmental harm, but also the construction and maintenance activities that will be part of the pipeline under the best of circumstances. C'mon, DNR, do it right. Do the full study.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Would Bush consider paying for the new troops more important than preserving his tax breaks for the rich or would he just let the deficit grow and grow until the country is destroyed through financial mismanagement while troops are fighting and dying overseas to protect it from enemies we have helped create?
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The very, very, very conservative State Sen. Glenn Grothman is chairing the Wisconsin legislative committee, so it is safe to assume it will not entertain a particularly balanced discussion on the issue.
State Rep. Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) is not happy that Connerly is coming to town.
"To pretend that this Committee is going to take an unbiased look at the affirmative action policies relating to state contracting and education and come to some fair and equitable resolution is a total farce,”she said in a news release. “The invitation extended to Mr. Connerly by Sen. Grothman gives us a clear indication of the direction of this Committee.”
Rep. Grigsby further noted, “This is not a public hearing, and only invited speakers will be allowed to address the Committee. It is unfortunate that Senator Grothman is more interested in hearing the views of a hired gun from California than from the citizens of Wisconsin.”
Rep. Grigsby went on to say, “I am confident that students and other members of the public who could be harmed by the measures proposed by Mr. Connerly will attend this hearing in great numbers. I know they will want to demonstrate their opposition to the threat this could pose for equality in the marketplace and in the academic institutions of higher learning.”
Grigsby said she and other community leaders in Milwaukee will be holding their own affirmative action hearing here.
This time around the Justice Department is trying to use a subpeona to force the ACLU to turn over all copies of a classified document that it has in its possession. Legal experts say it is the first time a subpoena has been used in an attempt to seize leaked documents.
From the Washington Post:
The ACLU says that the 3 1/2 -page document contains no information that should be classified and that the memo is only "mildly embarrassing" to the government....
In a motion filed in federal court, the ACLU called the subpoena an "unprecedented abuse" of the government's grand-jury powers that violates the First Amendment and is aimed at suppressing information rather than investigating a crime.
The civil liberties group -- which has been sharply critical of the Bush administration's terrorism and detainee policies -- said it is prohibited from disclosing the contents of the document. But it described the document as "nothing more than a policy, promulgated in December 2005, that has nothing to do with national defense."
"No official secrets act has yet been enacted into law, and the grand jury's subpoena power cannot be employed to create one," the ACLU wrote in its brief, which was filed with U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.
First Amendment advocates and experts in national security law said the subpoena represents a dramatic bid by the government to punish or intimidate media organizations and advocacy groups that attempt to publicize government policies and actions.
Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the subpoena "disturbing," saying it would be easy for the government to attempt a similar move against a news outlet that had obtained a sensitive document as part of its investigative work.
"It shows me a pattern of aggressiveness to retrieve information that has escaped from the bubble," Dalglish said. "It's intimidation. It's trying to use all sorts of different methods at their disposal to stop proliferation of leaks from the federal government and to prevent public oversight of the executive branch."
Monday, December 18, 2006
Remember Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, and how he wouldn't let anyone even know who was on it? DOA Chief Legal Counsel John Rothschild has a similar view of open government -- he thinks it should be closed. He has decreed that any budget document prepared by DOA or the governor's staff need not be released to the public. His loopy reasoning? Making the records public may “jeopardize the candor and complete evaluation of the state’s finances in the preparation of the budget for the governor.”
I guess that we, the people that actually pay the bills, aren't entitled to that kind of candor. Doesn't that just make you wonder what they aren't telling us?
There absolutely is a need for confidentiality in certain aspects of budget preparation, but this isn't one of them. Rothschild's sweeping denial was in response to a request for records related to the Department of Transportation's delay in submitting its 2007-09 budget request. The event is over, and does not bear on Gov. Doyle's ongoing budget preparations. There is simply no reason to deny release of all those records.
This is a dangerous precedent, one that drips with arrogance and disdain for the public's right to know.
Jim Doyle is just starting his second term. We will have to see if Rothschild's high-handedness is an aberration or whether part of Doyle's legacy will be the imperial governorship.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
"A blind person can shoot a rifle by mounting an offset pistol scope on the side of the rifle instead of on top," said Terry Erwin, the Austin-based Hunter Education Coordinator with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
"This allows their companion behind them to peer over their shoulder and help them sight it, but the blind person can pull the trigger," he told Reuters.
That sounds like a real sport, doesn't it?
"I've had dealings with them while I've been here and I like how they practice," Bucher said, according to the JS.
That, and it's a job. Having a young kid at home means no rest for the defeated Attorney General candidate.
Gatzke & Ruppelt now has six lawyers and is headed up by attorney Mark Ruppelt and former New Berlin mayor and Milwaukee Sentinel correspondent Jim Gatzke.
So Amber alerts can't be shown under the current ordinance that allows message changes no more than once a minute? C'mon, Mike.
D'Amato's proposed ordinance, which he co-sponsored with Ald. T. Anthony Zielinski, did not pass, but the council did OK 30-second message changes.No word yet on whether that will be enough time for Amber alerts.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The Coast Guard's modernization program turned into a fleet fiasco after program management was turned over to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, two large military contractors.
My question is this: why does the Coast Guard think dumping thousands of lead bullets into the Great Lakes during live fire exercises will keep us safer when its most fundamental equipment -- its fleet -- is screwed up? And why should we trust one major Homeland Security contractor, CH2M Hill, when it assures us thousands of bullets won't harm the lakes' water quality when Homeland Security has proved itself so inept and/or corrupt in the contracting process?
The report starts out with a simple, yet ungrammatical, question:
Does evidence support there is a cumulative educational or societal benefit to having 4 year
olds in structured programs?
One of the report's conclusions:
The State should define a clear cut purpose for publicly funding 4 year old kindergarten. Included in this purpose should be mastery of the English language...
The Biz Journal doesn't identify the "political observers" it consulted for its story, although the frequently-quoted-lately-for-no-discernable-reason Einar Tangen is clearly among them. It would be nice to know who is floating the names and why these particular names are being floated. Some seem just loopy. Jeanette Mitchell? Thelma Sias? Greg Wesley? No way. Mitchell and Sias won't run, and Wesley can't win. He would have to spend way too much time explaining his role as a finance team member on former Mayor Marvin Pratt's campaign when there were so many questions about that campaign's finances.
The most likely to run is D'Amato, who is no Barrett fan. D'Amato also is said to have his eye on the county executive's office.
So far though, it is a mayor's race with only one candidate, if an anonymous staffer can be believed: Tom Barrett.
Friday, December 08, 2006
The story says:
Wal-Mart managers at 4,000 stores will meet with 10 rank-and-file workers every week and extend an additional 10 percent discount on a single item during the holidays to all its employees, beyond the normal 10 percent employee discount.
Overwhelming generosity, ain'a? And there's more!
The program includes several new perks "as a way of saying thank you" to workers, like a special polos shirt after 20 years of service and a "premium holiday," when Wal-Mart pays a portion of health insurance premiums for covered employees.
Better than a living wage!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Falk explosion and its many, many repercussions for the workers, the company, the city and the region are issues on which Barrett should be the public leader.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
He said he did not notice until after he rifled through it that the name and title of Matt Swentofske, director of the state Democratic Senate Committee, were duly noted on the title page. What a surprise for a document like that to list the name of the owner where the name of the owner is very likely to be listed!
Good citizen O'Brien, so very dutifully concerned that the campaign document he found showed evidence of illegal coordination between the committee and independent advocacy groups, copied it and turned it over to -- theElections Board? Nah. The State Ethics Board? Nah.
The district attorney's or the US attorney's office? No. Why would anyone concerned with illegal activity contact the DA or the US attorney?
O'Brien gave the copy to the top aide to Sen. Majority Leader Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center). Why didn't O'Brien turn over the orginal book, if he was truly concerned about illegal activity? We don't know. O'Brien doesn't say. Guess he didn't understand that law enforcment folks generally prefer original evidence, not copies made by someone with a vested interest in the case.
Schultz' aide promptly turned the copy over to a Republican campaign committee. The campaign committee said the documents had been found on a capitol copier -- a largish hint that maybe the Dems were illegally using state resources to pay for campaign material.
Concerned citizen O'Brien did not step forward to correct the record -- the records were found on a microwave cart, and there was no evidence they had been copied.
The Republicans then sat on the copied plans for almost five months -- until just a few weeks before the November election -- before they alleged illegal coordination. The State Elections Board no violations of the law.
O'Brien's spate of good citizen feelings must have taken a vacation during those five months. He gives no indication that he followed on his concerns about illegal activity or asked a single question about the status of the issue.
O'Brien also says that Kapanke didn't know anything about his making the copy until Dec. 1. Well, I guess that is at least as believable as the rest of O'Brien's stinky explanation.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Thanks for posting a meeting date list for this year, but I'm not sure that comes close to keeping the public informed about where these millions of dollars are going.
And your youth employment page? Wow, there is an entire four employers offering jobs listed there. The employers haven't changed for several weeks now, so I'm wondering about your efforts to keep even this key page up-to-date. Below is the entire youth job listing, as presented by the PIC. Another reason more city officials are questioning the performance of this agency.
|Job Title sort||Company sort|
|Classified Sales Representative||Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|
|Customer Service Representative||Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|
|Sales Associates||The Paradies Shops|
|Stock Replenishment||The Paradies Shops|
|Team Leaders||The Paradies Shops|
|Various||Columbia St. Marys|
"It's not right, so I'm not going to be taking it," she said.
What the JS doesn't mention, but probably should have: State Rep. Sheldon Wasserman (D-Milwaukee), the leading opponent of the current state of the legislative sick leave benefit, is looking to challenge Darling for her seat in 2008. If Darling didn't return the money, Wasserman would have been able to use that against her in the campaign. He still may able to draw attention to how long it took her to return the money, but the issue loses a lot of its oomph once that cash is back in the state's hands.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Wow, what a bad idea, and soon-to-be former Congressman Mark Green is a co-sponsor. Public Citizen put the issue in perspective:
At a recent Wisconsin high school swim meet, a student became quadriplegic after diving into a pool that was not deep enough. The athletic association's standards for pool depth were not up to national standards. Because the student filed a claim against the association, it changed its standards to comply with the National Federation of State High School Associations. If this bill passed, the association would be completely off the hook.
The reasoning behind the measure is suspect to say the least.
Sport involves intense physical activity. It also involves a certain element of danger. Rule making is anticipatory, and hence a difficult balancing act. Rules committee members face a constant struggle to balance the tradeoffs of limiting risk and preserving the key elements and sound traditions of the sport. Rules makers must draw unambiguous lines; they do not have the luxury of self-protective vagueness. Given the large number of participants and the risks inherent in sport, injuries cannot be avoided. By deciding to partake in competition, athletes assume such risks. Allowing lawsuits based merely on the good faith development of the rules is wrong and unfair.
This immunity, though, would extend to organizations that did not engage in "good faith development of the rules." It would apply to organizations that demonstrated incompetence, ill intent or indifference. It puts athletes unnecessarily at risk and blocks the fundamental right of citizens to seek redress in a court of law. Let's not do it.
Friday, December 01, 2006
She ordered the five-day subscription back in September, and has been a dissatisfied customer ever since. She absolutely cannot get the great minds in the JS circulation department to understand that five days means five days and those days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
The paper regularly ends up on her doorstep on Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes the paper is not delivered on the days she does want it.
If she's not home on the weekend, which is sometimes the case, the paper sits on her front step, a beacon to bad guys who might interpret it as an invitation to come on inside and help themselves to her stuff.
She's called the circulation department at least 10 times and is on a first-name basis with one of the employees there. Her newspaper woes are now a regular topic of family conversation: in what creative ways has the JS screwed up such a simple request this time?
We very likely will have to find something else to talk about. She's a little tired of being put at risk by the JS' inability to understand the her order.
The paper is real close to losing another subscriber it really can't afford to lose.