Politics

Who is on the Public Records Board? Privately taking this Gov thing private

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? Well, we don't know, really, because the State of Wisconsin Public Records Board apparently did a lousy job keeping records on itself.

Minutes of the board's August 24 meeting are without detail or an accounting of votes on an motion -- illegally ignored in the board's public meeting notice -- that effectively limits access to selected public documents by citizens, journalists and others.

Tech nerds are smart. But they can't seem to get their heads around politics.

An interesting post I read this morning from Vox - I'm not sure I completely agree with the details, but it presents a strong and interesting argument for why people, particularly those of us in the Nerd community (and I guess since I'm speaking at the Nerd Summit in a couple weeks I must be there) don't really get politics, or apply politics to our lives.

In Walker's Wisconsin, the chronic wasting of political responsibility

Wisconsin's economic strength, its strong educational system and its vital natural resources are wasting away, needlessly, because of a conservative, laissez-faire political philosophy ascendant in this state. Giant iron ore strip mines, frack-sand mining, gigantic animal factories and business development on wetlands have received much more attention than another tragic environmental situation: the continuing spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the state's huge deer population.

Memo to Wisconsin's star chamber: Just the facts, please

Those of you old enough might remember the disclaimer that accompanied every episode of TV's 1950s-'60s police show, "Dragnet." A narrator would entone: "The story you are about to see is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent." That also roughly describes one of the reasons Wisconsin law has enshrined the John Doe investigation, a kind of closed grand jury process, minus the grand jury.

Walker and Menards: Gov's dark money exploits worse than previously reported ... $1.5 million worse

Michael Isikoff, pictured here, is an award-winning national investigative journalist who has worked for Newsweek, NBC, the Washington Post and other news media. Yesterday Isikoff broke a literally huge Scott Walker story. His report shows just how reckless and damaging the U.S. Supreme Court's recent "money is speech and anonymity is cool" rulings on campaign finance have almost by themselves turned our democracy into a kleptocracy and even oligarchy. And how Walker is at the heart of darkness.

BIG FAIL: The incredible shrinking Walker candidacy

While his poll numbers among rather insular tea party Republicans in Iowa may at the moment be high, wider evidence suggests the Walker worm may be turning.

The biggest sign of trouble? Growing questions about Scott Walker’s campaign style and performance, especially from within the conservative and Republican camp.

If you seek evidence that the Wisconsin governor’s national political rise already is slowing, look no further than today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The paper's opinion and news pages today are blanketed with increasing skepticism about Walker's political acumen and policies.

Walker budget deficit not special, but right-to-wreck law is extraordinary

Wisconsin Republicans all the way up to Scott Walker are quickly re-establishing themselves as liars, hypocrites and opportunists of the first rank in their contrary approaches to the state’s current budget deficit and their rush toward a so-called “right to work” law (it’s more like a “right to wreck” law).

Consider just a few facts:

1. Republicans from Walker on down seem unconcerned about the state’s constitutional requirement that a projected deficit obliges the governor to call a special session of the legislature to make fixes to the state budget. That, apparently, would be too embarassing for the nationally ambitious Walker, who paints himself as a fiscal conservative. Republicans in charge of both houses of the legislature have sat silently while the Walker administration insist the budget will magically fix itself without legislative action -- even while Team Walker is busy off camera freezing state employee merit raises, skipping payments on state debt and otherwise racing around in apparent panic trying to close a quarter-billion-dollar gap before July.

Walker's just-in-time, stealth budgeting screws state workers yet again

According to Wisconsin President (er, Governor) Scott Walker (R-Hopeful), the state's fiscal condition is simply great; so swell, in fact, that he can dump a couple hundred millions of dollars into a new, privately developed basketball arena for Milwaukee while maintaining tax cuts that mostly benefit the state's wealthy. And, he proclaims, he'll have enough left over so that, in his proposed 2015-'17 budget, he'll return to you another ten bucks in tax savings. Wow. Ten bucks. That will get you half of a sit-down pizza. Don't eat it all in one sitting, though, because it's got to last two years.

Moreover, Kochwalkerstan is so fantastically, fiscally strong that Walker feels unconcerned about increased borrowing -- in the billion-dollar range -- to build more highways and freeways than many of us think we need.

But if that tale of fiscal strength is all true, why trim more benefits for at-risk Wisconsin families, seniors and the disabled? Why whack already stressed public education on up through the UW System by another 400 or so million? Why cut natural land preservation funding? But most telling, why this sudden move, reported in the Wisconsin State Journal today:

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

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