The Moment We All Have Been Waiting For . . .

The Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate today, launching the legislative battle to restore workers' freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life.

Check out this awesome statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney marking the occasion:

Today is a banner day for working Americans, a milestone on the road to rebuilding our nation’s middle class – and it couldn’t come at a more crucial time.  We thank the House of Representatives and the Senate for introducing the Employee Free Choice Act, which will restore workers’ freedom to bargain for fair wages, job security, better health care and secure pensions.  Special thanks also goes to Congressman Miller, Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Harkin for being the lead sponsors and champions for America’s working families.

We are confident the Employee Free Choice Act is going to become the law of the land. 

Employee Free Choice Act Press Conference: March 10, 2009

Saving Our Farmland

“We must protect our land,” urged the Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture. “Land is our most precious natural resource.”

Secretary Rod Nilsestuen testified before a Joint Hearing of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Higher Education. I had the distinct honor of chairing the Joint Hearing. The topic was protecting farmland – specifically the Working Lands Initiative.

We are permanently losing farmland at an alarming rate. State-wide we are losing about one township of productive farmland every year. UW research documented our state lost about 100,000 acres in the first five years of this decade. We simply cannot sustain such a loss of a vital part of our economy, our heritage and an irreplaceable natural resource.


Recall Doyle? As I recall, this is where we came in

The anti-tax, anti-government fanatics known as CRG (We call them Citizens for Republican Government) say they're going to recall Gov. Jim Doyle.

CRG, which made its bones taking out former Milwaukee County Exec Tom Ament and a number of county sups over the pension scandal, haven't fared so well in recent years, especially when they've ventured outside of the Milwaukee metro area.

CRG's announcement Saturday had a familiar ring. No wonder.  Here's a 2005 story, the year before the 2006 election.  In those days, CRG was riding high. 

Recall group aims to grow, take on Doyle;

Citizens for Responsible Government broadens its ambitions statewide

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Publish Date: November 28, 2005

Fresh from its role in recalling Pewaukee Mayor Jeff Nowak, Citizens for Responsible Government is aiming to spread its influence away from its southeastern Wisconsin base to challenge politicians statewide. Nowak’s ouster marked the latest triumph for CRG, a populist movement born of the 2002 Milwaukee County pension scandal recalls.

Write On! Representative Kagan’s Constituents Thank Him for Supporting Employee Free Choice

In the weeks since Steve Kagen became an official cosponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, dozens of letter to the editor have been sent to newspapers across District 8. Check out these awesome letters from union members, many of which directly thank Kagen for supporting this important piece of legislation:

Frank Helebrant, March 6:

William Mencheski, March 6:

Jesse Jacques, March 1:

Ingrid N. Justman, March 1:

McCain's Nuts, Feingold and Ryan Following

Update: Herbert: "Freaking out over earmarks is like watching a neighborhood that is being consumed by flames and complaining that there is crabgrass on some of the lawns."

Sen. John McCain is like a man on the Titanic complaining to the bartender that there’s not enough vodka in his drink as outside the iceberg approaches.

Reads a fundraising e-mail from McCain complaining about “pork” in a big spending bill (now blocked by Republicans threatening a filibuster in the U.S. Senate) as McCain seeks reelection in 2010:
My Friend, … I have called on the President to take a principled stand and veto the bill if it is sent to him, but unfortunately, he appears ready to sign it into law, which is nothing more than politics as usual.

On Ruling The Arctic Frontier, Or, Polly Want A Reindeer?

We have an epic tale of history to tell today, and it has everything you’d want in your standard-issue epic tale: the vast expanse of ocean, exploration on the shores of an unknown land, questions of race and slavery and opportunity and torture…and in the center of it all, a real larger-than-life sea captain (and his parrot) who some say was more powerful in Alaska than the Territorial Governor and Circuit Judges who were his frequent shipboard guests. Such was his influence on the Revenue Cutter Service (later to become the United States Coast Guard) that two Coast Guard Cutters operating today are named with him in mind: the USCGC Bear, named after the most famous ship our sea captain commanded, and the USCGC Healy, the newest icebreaker in the Coast Guard’s fleet. And with that, Gentle Reader, allow me to introduce you to Captain Mike “Hell-Roaring” Healy—and the Arctic which was his domain.
"Captain Mike Healy is a good deal more distinguished person in the waters of the far Northwest than any president of the United States or any potentate of Europe has become.

Koschnick's Bucher endorsement; Garbage in, garbage out

Mike Gousha, in a recent TV interview, asked Judge Randy Koschnick about his time as a public defender:
GOUSHA: Let me talk for a moment about the issue of your past; you were a public defender and there are some political conservatives who say they cannot support you because you defended a guy convicted of killing a police officer, Ted Oswald. Are you surprised?

Koschnick defends himself, citing Paul Bucher's admiration for his work in that case:

KOSCHNICK: ...(W)hen I was a public defender I did the cases that were assigned to me, I did them ethically and to the best of my ability. And I am proud of the work that I did as a public defender.

In the Oswald case, the DA in that case, Paul Bucher who prosecuted the case, wrote me a letter after the trial commending me for my ethics and following the rules of procedure in court. He supported me when I ran for circuit court judge about 5 years later in 1999, and he has publicly supported me now in my supreme court race.

Golly, gee, Paul Bucher must have mellowed as he's aged. We know he wouldn't support Koschnick because he's a conservative Republican, because the Supreme Court race is non-partisan (wink, wink.)

Doyle Reverses Himself on DNR Secretary

Governor Doyle has for years supported the idea of an independent DNR secretary.  This system served Wisconsin well for many years, until the Thompson administration, which changed the DNR secretary from being chosen by the DNR board to being chosen by the Governor. Yet, now that for the first time there is a real chance for the bill to move the secretary back to being appointed by the DNR board, Doyle has magically reversed his position.  The position that he has held for most of his term in office.  The position he has campaigned on. The position on which he possibly could now win.  Yet - this week he explained to conservationists around the state that he has changed his mind, and that a governor-appointed secretary serves the state best. 

This is ironic, as it was only last week that I and over 600 other Wisconsinites went to Madison for Conservation Lobby Day - at which one of the primary agenda items was to lobby to pass the bill currently under consideration to put the DNR secretary back under control of the board. Doyle's response to this lobbying effort was to send an email saying that he had changed his mind (letter attached below).