Steve Hanson's blog

Motion 999 - the devil made me do it - Part 1

Devil in a suit

For those of you who did not take time out from your July 4 holiday weekend to read budget documents (and yes, I AM that much of a nerd, thank you) I wanted to point out that the much-ballyhooed issue with the Leg devastating open records in the state was only part of the last minute Motion 999 surprise. Over the next week or so I'll be bringing up some of the other actions that the Legislature has been taking to make life in Wisconsin less sustainable. But there's way too much to fit in one article, so I'll be dragging this out. 

First off, let's mention that the crazed recanting of the transparency provisions in the motion is a sham. Despite Walker and the other responsible parties saying "nope, didn't mean what you thought, we're all for transparency, nothing to see here", any reasonable reading of the motion makes it clear that what was intended was to gut the transparency laws for the legislature.  Either the English language is a mystery to the authors of this bill, or what we're really seeing here is another example of the Walker camp trying to slip something in, getting caught, and then trying to explain it away by telling us all that we cannot read. I will accept the fact that this is a group of people who have a limited grasp of our language, but still, it's pretty clear it's a matter of getting their hand caught in the cookie jar and acting like a 3-year-old.  "Cookies?  Jar?  Not me mommy.  I was putting cookies IN". 

Wis. Republicans - what you don't know will let us hurt you

Freedom of Information

At the end of every budgetary session the JFC usually passes a sort of grab bag of "stuff" that they want to throw into the bill at the last minute. This year is no exception, as they tossed in a pile of wishes and hopes. Worry about those wishes and hopes, particularly with the current legislature. 

Some things in the final motion are not unexpected, like removing the "anybody graduating from the school of hard knocks can be a teacher" provisions - for which the JFC was skewered widely. But some new stuff slipped in out of the blue, as seems to be happening with regularity during this legislative session. Particularly disturbing is a collection of measures intended to remove a lot of documents from public disclosure, including blocking access to almost all communications during the work of making laws. As always,  none of the legislators seem to have any idea where the proposal came from - it apparently just got there on its own.

These documents have been crucial to understanding what is going on in the legislature, and restricting access to them could make it very difficult to prove wrongdoing or illegal acts. Additionally all drafting documents for bills would no longer be retained by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Perhaps this is an attempt to stave off any future John-Doe-Like investigations, or just to save embarrassment. In any case, it's a terrible step in the wrong direction. If we have learned anything in the last few years it's that the public deserves to know more about what is going on in government, not less. 

The text of the motion is attached.

Bernie Sanders in Madison last night

Despite what everyone seems to be saying is a "long shot" campaign, Bernie Sanders managed to fill (and then some) the Coliseum in Madison last night. Reports go as high as 13,000 people in attendance. I could not get there for any number of reasons, but if you missed it as I did, here's video of the event. If we can convince the media that money is not the only thing that matters in dogfight politics, maybe they'll pay more attention to candidates like Bernie more than they pay attention to people like Donald Trump.

Why do we devote so much of our air time, web space, and newspaper space to the gazillion Republican candidates (because they're entertaining? ) and so little to someone like Bernie Sanders, who represents a real choice to the electorate? Because Sanders is frightening to the powers that be, I think.

Bernie Sanders Rally in Madison, Wisconsin

Talk Amongst Yourselves: - Democratic Convention

Russ Feingold

It's the second day of the Democratic Convention, and the day of the long-awaited/dreaded vote on DPW chair.  I've not expressed an opinion on this since I could actually understand the reasoning of anyone who would have voted for any of the candidates, and unlike some of my fellow bloggers, did not see any of them as evil incarnate. My preference was for Jeff Smith for a number of reasons, but it appears that ship has sailed.

I note that Russ Feingold gave a rabble-rousing speech last night, and has placed himself firmly in the race, which is a great thing. I could not make the Convention this year for a number of reasons, but am trying to keep up from home.  The vote for chair happens in the early afternoon today.

So -- what do you all think?  Chip in your opinions in the comments.

Jeff Smith asks supporters to vote for Martha Laning

A brief while ago Jeff Smith sent out an email to his supporters asking them to vote for Martha Laning. This is somewhat surprising, but the whole DPW chair race has been a little surprising this time around.

Dear friends and supporters,

This campaign has been an extraordinary adventure. I recognize that together we’ve been able to propel the conversation in the direction it needs to go. I am confident that our party can heal and unify. Together, we can be the progressive agents we should be. If we rally around each other and embrace our strength through unity, we will win back our state.   
In a recent letter, I stated how important it is that we unite. It is crucial that the leader of this party has majority support of all our delegates. We need to be able to restore trust and build confidence to make the Democratic Party of Wisconsin effective and return to the path of success.
My message has never wavered. It is a message of grassroots regional county party building and placing our faith in you, our members, over those of money changers.
Together with you, I will do all I can to fight for what is right for this great state and for our party. Therefore, I ask my supporters to join with me in casting their vote for Martha Laning for the next Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. 
I am excited for the potential that a new leadership style will bring to our party and to working with a team dedicated toward a true progressive Wisconsin.


Things that go bump in the night


Last night was another of those "monster rears its head in the middle of the night" events in Wisconsin. The JFC has opened yet another chapter in their "Little Golden Book of Bad Ideas" and have created a new school funding monster.

Where to start? It's another one of those "we'll take away a gazillion dollars from the schools, then give some back so we'll look good" moments. Only the amount they give back is nearly impossible to determine.  New school funding formulas confuse the issue. People with a bachelor's degree in - well, anything - get to be teachers. Expanded vouchers confuse the issue. And a new absolutely crazy idea to take over "failing" schools by a school czar in the Milwaukee County Government perhaps takes the cake as the worst idea to come out of the legislature yet.  Wisconsin education is recently subject to a lot of give and take, but take seems to be winning by a landslide.

The new school takeover plan not only allows Milwaukee County to usurp power over schools, but it also potentially expands the scheme to "failing" schools in Racine and Madison. It seems the legislature is hell-bent to privatize schools at any cost, and to not even consider programs to improve what we already have. And the impact on the schools and taxpayers in the state?  They don't really care. 

If only the monster they were creating was as friendly as the one here. He actually cared about kids.  Please note that there are two meetings in Milwaukee tonight to fight this - they're in the site calendar.  If you want to know more, i've provided a link to a great blow-by-blow of this at Monologues of Dissent, as well as a link to the bill.  Read 'em and weep. 


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