Smoking Gun Found: Scott Walker's Bag Man Paid for Hit on GOP Senator

In Walker's Wisconsin, it's never "agree to disagree"-- it's agree to agree with the Governor.

If you don't, you'll end up like former Republican State Senator Mike Ellis. Ellis was Wisconsin's longest serving Republican state senator and, although he historically had been considered a staunch conservative, after the Walker caliphate was installed in 2011, he came to be viewed more and more as a moderate because he dared to be something other than a yes man.

So, Walker had him whacked-- at least that was the rumor. No, no, no silly rabbit, not that kind of whacked-- he killed his political career by having the notorious political mercenary, James O'Keefe (of New Jersey) pay a visit to Wisconsin and bait Ellis into saying embarrassing things into a hidden camera. (So embarrassing, in fact, that Ellis decide not to seek re-election in 2014.)

At the time, everyone in Wisconsin was scratching their collective cheeseheads wondering why in the hell James O'Keefe would be interested in A) putting a hit on a fellow Republican and B) wasting his time with an obscure state Senator in Wisconsin. The only obvious answer: Scott Walker was tired of Ellis being only a 90% head-nodder and put out a hit on him. But like most rumors, there wasn't any proof tying Walker to O'Keefe and it faded into the political ether.

We Don't Need No Education

Walker

I am a native Wisconsinite who currently lives in Wisconsin and works overseas as a higher education consultant.  I have worked with ministries of education in developing nations throughout Asia and have regularly used the University of Wisconsin System as an example of an outstanding public university that serves the population of the state.  In 2009 while serving a consultancy with the Asian Development Bank in Vietnam I made a point of illustrating how the traditions in a state like Wisconsin with a population of less than 6 million people could have supported a major research university like the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which at that time was ranked as the number seventeenth Research University in the World. 

My work in higher education in developing nations involved developing and implementing policies and strategic plans that would move these nations ahead by developing World Class Universities in the region.  These involved plans that were over twenty years long and included an entire rethinking of university governance. The World Bank consultants agreed that a World Class University needed the following;

Concentration of talent

The concentration of talent involves not only the best teachers and researchers but also the best students.  World Class Universities must plan to attract both.

Ron Johnson Chooses Out-of-State Chain to "Showcase Local Businesses"

As his re-election looms, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson is making a desperate attempt to fix his image of being Senator Snipe-- the Senator who is rumored to exist, but who nobody ever actually sees.

So, his staff came whipped up the idea to do a "Supper Club Tour," which is described as a two-fer:  It gives his constituents the opportunity to verify that he is actually real and it gives Johnson the "opportunity to showcase local businesses."  After all, what says, "I am not the elite gazillionaire that married into ridiculous wealth" more than going out for a beer and burger at the local supper club?

You know what I'm talkin' about --some place like the Kall Inn near Hazel Green, that has been in the Kahle family since 1945.  It doesn't get any more local than that!

Yeah, well... that's not quite what Johnson had in mind.  

Myth Busting Walker's "Outstanding Teacher of the Year" Getting Fired Story

This past weekend in Iowa, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rolled out one his favorite talking points:  The story of how Wisconsin's 2010 "outstanding teacher of the year" winner Megan Sampson got laid off days after receiving the award and how his "reforms" prevent that from ever happening again.

This would be a compelling true if it were true, but it’s mostly fiction. 

Yes, Sampson did get an award in 2010, but it wasn't for "outstanding teacher of the year" as Walker claims.  Sampson was awarded something called the Nancy Hoefs Memorial Award, which is given by a small group called the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English (WCTE) for "an outstanding first-year teacher of the English language arts." In order to be considered for the award, a first year English teacher must apply for it by writing a cover letter and including two letters of recommendation. 

A few thoughts on Scott Walker's latest budget ironies

What's wrong with this picture? Scott Walker says his coming state budget proposal will include $220 million in bonding authority for a new Milwaukee sports arena even while he's planning another $300 million budget cut for the University of Wisconsin System.

So, more money for bread and circuses (well, since Walker has trimmed food assistance programs for low income residents, actually it's just circuses) and less money for higher education and advanced research.

A couple of points on each of these proposals, starting with:

NEW ARENA FOR THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Bonding is essentially borrowing authority, backed by the state for public and private projects. The Milwaukee arena would be an essentially private development. Without a new arena, the Bucks probably leave the state. On the other hand, Republicans profess to hate borrowing.  I stress the word "profess."

Walker is already past the billion-dollar point in borrowing for highways and other state government needs, as much and more indebtedness than past Democratic governors ran up. The GOP legislature has blessed that approach. Message: borrowing is bad...but, hey, it's good!

Let’s Not Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water

Let’s Not Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water”

GAB Audit Hearing shows path to improved operation

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“I’m not a clerk. I’m just a citizen who observed several recounts and recalls,” Bill Wasser of Reedsburg told the Audit Committee. “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s make some changes and make it work.”

Mr. Wasser responded to some lawmakers who threatened to dismantle the Government Accountability Board (GAB). The state agency oversees elections, campaign finance, lobbying and ethics.

One of the lawmakers intent on dismantling the nonpartisan agency is Assembly Speaker Robin Vos who told reporters the GAB “will not exist in its current form much longer.”

At the recent public hearing many local elected officials from across the state testified in support of the GAB. The work of the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) confirmed what clerks were saying: GAB staff members were consistent and inventive in training and supporting clerks during a tumultuous time in Wisconsin’s history.

Real David Koch Keeps "Fly You Out to Cali" Promise Made to Walker

I'll give Scott Walker this:  No one can accuse him of having deflated balls.  

Despite getting caught on tape accepting an illegal offer from someone he thought was billionaire David Koch to "fly you out to Cali and show you a good time" after Walker "crushed those bastards"-- and then later lying about the conversation under oath, saying, "I don't even know where Cali is"-- Walker now has the cajones to accept a real trip to the real California from the real David Koch... where he is sure to be shown a real good time. 

He  definitely knows where "Cali" is now. 

RICH GET RICHER: New study says that under Walker, everyone in Wisconsin pays higher taxes than the wealthiest one percent

CLICK TO ENLARGE; last line shows total tax burden by class

Scott Walker frequently gabs about how his tax-cut policies are benefitting many taxpayers when, in reality, Wisconsin's middle class and poor pay are now paying higher tax rates than the wealthiest state residents.

If you're not among the top 20 percent of Wisconsin taxpayers, you're paying a higher, combined state and local tax rate than those wealthiest state residents. And the state's very most wealthy residents -- the top one percent -- pay a measley 6.2% in those taxes, less than everyone else and nearly three points lower than the poorest state taxpayers are made to hand over.

To see the details, click on the table, above left, to enlarge it for easier inspection.

Joel McNally, columnist at Milwaukee's Shepherd Express and Madison's Capital Times, dug out statistics from a new national study released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization. The study refutes the kind of political rhetoric on tax policy that Walker has used to win re-election and run for president.

Former Walker Aide Flashes Big Smile as He's Released from Prison

Tim Russell is back, baby!

After two years in the slammer,* the mastermind behind the criminal scheme** to steal taxpayer dollars to fund Scott Walker's 2010 gubernatorial campaign is no longer prisoner #00597584.

And this isn't the old sourpuss who went into prison two years ago  No, this is Tim Russell version 2.0-- complete with a cocky smile that seems to be letting all the various players in Wisconsin politics know that he's ready to resume his place as Walker's Karl Rove.       

* A cushy minimum security facility on the shores of Lake Winnebago where he was able to leave during the day to go to work for a wealthy Walker donor. 

** Alleged mastermind.  Just because Scott Walker explicitly emailed Russell to ixnay ethay illegalyay ampaigncay orkway inyay ethay overnmentgay officesyay when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal started sniffing around doesn't prove anything. Zero. Zip. Nada!

The planned Milwaukee streetcar system makes another stop, for Alderman Joe Davis and his political ambitions

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Proposed Milwaukee streetcar station at Courture high-rise

Milwaukee Alderman Joe Davis seems like a nice guy, well-educated, and devoted to his north side district, many of whose residents are black and low income. He's worked hard on economic development and appears to genuinely care about the city. But now he seems to care more about becoming Milwaukee's next mayor. And to do that, it looks as if he has decided he should mimic the hard-right, anti-mass transit rhetoric of Scott Walker, now governor and previously Milwaukee County executive.

Specifically, Davis, like Walker before him, has come out swinging against the new streetcar network pushed by Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, a project supported by many other aldermen. Davis has joined forces with Ald. Bob Donovan, another mayoral hopeful, and a panoply of right-wing groups, including the Koch-fueled Americans For Prosperity, among some of the same outfits that backed Walker; strange bedfellows, allied for varying reasons to defeat a key Barrett project.

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