When right-to-work group says jump, tribe seeking Walker's Kenosha casino OK asks how high, then drops deal with labor unions

Here's the awful truth, in two parts. For years now, the Menominee Tribe has been trying to get the state's permission to build a gambling casino in the Kenosha area. Gov. Scott Walker has delayed deciding that issue again and again, for what seems no good reason other than politics. Well, in mid-December, Wisconsin Right to Work, a conservative anti-union group, decided to help Walker come to a decision. From a report in the Appleton Post Crescent newspaper:

Wisconsin Right to Work, a newly formed organization aimed at the passage of right-to-work [legislation] in Wisconsin, has expressed concern over a potential deal between the Menominee Indian Nation and two labor unions that would recognize the union[s] via card-check.

Yup, it's true. The very most important and critical issue in the Menominee proposal isn't whether gambling is good or whether the casino would create jobs or anything else about the proposal other than the fact the the tribe has openly been dealinig with -- HORRORS! -- labor unions.

And as of this week, the tribe blinked, big time. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel let its readers know that today in a story under the following headline: Tribe, union dissolve pact in bid to sway Scott Walker on Kenosha casino

Taxing hybrids and electrics: WisDOT's proposal and the shunning of common sense

All ye need know about the current mindset of transportation planners in Wisconsin -- and the politicians who direct them -- is contained in a new radio feature that just aired on National Public Radio's "Here and Now" program, which focused on Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) proposals to raise new road construction revenues by creating new fees on hybrid and electric motor vehicles.

The program, reported from WUWM-FM News in Milwaukee, quoted Chris Eichman, who with his wife bought the first all-electric Nissan Leaf ever sold in Wisconsin two years ago. The Eichmans also own a Toyota Prius hybrid and are okay in concept with paying their fair share in gasoline taxes or alternative fees. But, said Eichman, "“A flat fee really doesn’t take into account that we chose these cars because they’re energy efficient and we purposely don’t drive as much,” he says. “And I don’t think it takes into account all the rest of people in the state who drive a standard car — or even the less efficient cars that just pollute more.”

Mark Gottlieb, WisDOT secretary, defended his proposal:

“So the hybrid owners ask me, ‘Well, I drive a hybrid car, you’re taking away all my incentive to do a good thing,'” he said at a Chamber of Commerce gathering in Milwaukee. “No we’re not, we’re not!”

Pay Attention - There’s a New Legislature in Session

“Raise your right hand and repeat after me,” the Supreme Court Justice directs newly elected and re-elected lawmakers.
 
So begins the new 2-year Legislative Session.
 
On the first working day of 2015 a new group of freshman legislators began their work. Ordinary folks from ordinary lives receive a crash course in state services, agencies, budgeting and parliamentary procedure.
 
Soon an onslaught of proposed bills will appear in the email in-boxes of lawmakers.
Over 1,500 bills will be introduced before the 2-year legislative session adjourns. These bills will flow through 16 Senate and 33 Assembly committees. Certain proposals will also be reviewed by 10 joint committees.

Ron Johnson: "I Do Orders of Magnitude More" Outreach than Feingold Did

Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold was known far and wide being for staying in touch with his constituents.  He came home to Wisconsin every weekend; he had listening sessions in every county, every year; and he had five Senate offices set up across Wisconsin.  

His successor, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson?  Not so much.

Johnson bought a house in D.C.; he permits only a handful of secretive townhall meetings every year (he doesn't allow anyone to record them); and he maintains only two Senate offices in Wisconsin, both on the East side of the state. 

This stark contrast hasn't been lost on Wisconsinites.  On one of the rare occasions when Johnson ventured out to meet with constituents, one participant challenged him on it and remarked that he should come to every county, every year like Feingold used to, adding, "We see you on TV all the time but where the work gets done is in a room like this."  

The Year of Living Doltishly: Ron Johnson's Top 20 Face-Palms of 2014

Here it is folks-- the best of the worst of Ron Johnson during 2014.  It really is quite a body of work:  

20.) Earned his first "Pants on Fire" Rating from Politifact for claiming that "20 to 25 percent" of all money spent on "Medicare" and other "programs" is lost to fraud.  Dang, Ron!  One in four dollars is lost to fraud!  Do tell: You just figured out a quick way to balance the budget and keep Medicare solvent! 

19.) In June, Johnson intense criticism for being one of only three senators to vote against the bill to fix long wait times for war-injured veterans seeking health care. 

CAVEAT EMPTOR: Wisconsin right wing moves from stealth candidates to stealth web sites, ads and "news"

Craven and sensationalist though it is, at least you can say the Drudge Report web site comes right at its readers and doesn't pretend to be anything but a collection of right-wing talking points. It's been that way since its inception in 1996, when the site hyped the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton tryst from an initial news break right past impeachment.

With the Drudge Report, as with many right-wing trolling operations in the '90s and the following decade, at least what you saw is what you got. Such a quaint era, compared to our own.

Whether it's arrogant overreach or a sign that ordinary measures don't work, fakery and trickery have become increasingly manifest as tools commonly used by conservatives. What you see is what you don't get -- or, rather, what you don't see is what you do get.

The GOP noise machine early in this new century widely adopted an echo-chamber method of spreading malicious factoids, political memes and outright lies. A "leak" of information (actually, a suggestively edited accusation) would be circulated round-robin among conservative blogs, web sites, print media, TV operations like Fox's "O'Reilly Factor" and elsewhere until someone in the mainstream news media couldn't resist jumping in to make the meme seemingly respectable.

First outsourcing, then downsizing -- The Incredible Shrinking State of Wisconsin

Given the Wild Bunch that's now running Wisconsin state government, it's easy to fall into a dark, fearful and conspiratorial mood that their actions are spreading among us. So I was momentarily surprised to see what seemed like a gloating headline today on the intro page at the state's Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection web site. It reads:

Referendum open to downsize Wisconsin ...

Well! It was already clear that Team Walker and the repo-Ledge of GOP lawmakers are intent on further reducing the size of state government and sending most of those savings to their rich, fat-cat buddies in the form of tax cuts, as they consistently have in the past -- a sly form of upwards wealth redistribution. But this headline seemed to demonstrate just how openly crass our klepto-government was becoming.

But upon closer examination: Not so fast. The full headline was this: 

Referendum open to downsize Wisconsin cherry board

THE DAILY DYSFUNCTION: Of police overreach and mandatory ultrasounds

Welcome to another, not-really-daily edition of all the news that's hissy-fit to print. It might seem unkind to mention these disturbing accounts on Christmas Eve, but no Christian should forget the violence and mindlessness that followed the original Christmas. Evil does not rest, nor should we.

Cautionary Tale No. 1: At Salon.com, , an assistant professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, yesterday published a thorough examination (link below) of the Dontre Hamilton case, where a Milwaukee cop put 14 fatal shots into Hamilton, an unarmed black man with a history of mental illness. The Milwaukee County DA just ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge the ex-cop. The title os the Salon.com piece: “It may out-Ferguson Ferguson”: Why Milwaukee’s police violence will horrify you." Carriere provides a larger context of police racism in the city and compares it to the events in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere. Forewarned is forearmed.

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