News Articles By Mary Bottari

Recall Walker? It's Up to Feingold

Popular T-shirts in WisconsinFor the first time in the state's history, Wisconsin recalled two sitting state senators simultaneously. While it was a difficult and historic achievement in two districts that voted for Scott Walker in 2010, it fell short of the three seats needed to flip the Senate from Republican to Democratic control and put the brakes on Governor Scott Walker's radical agenda.

While Walker's collective bargaining bill sparked the recalls, voters were also worried about the state budgetary moves which cut $800 million from local schools while giving out $200 million in tax breaks for big corporations. No jobs plan (other than tax breaks) has been proposed and, contrary to spin from the Governor, joblessness is growing in this state at twice the rate of the federal level.

Money Still Owed In Federal Bailout: $1.5 Trillion Still Owed to Treasury, Federal Reserve

A new study released today by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) shows that, despite rosy statements about the bailout's impending successful conclusion from federal government officials, $1.5 trillion of the $4.8 trillion in federal bailout funds are still outstanding.

The analysis, presented in charts and an online table and program profiles, is based entirely on government records. This comprehensive assessment of the bailout goes beyond the relatively small Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) program to look at the rest of the Treasury and Federal Reserve's multi-trillion dollar response to the financial crisis. It shows that while the TARP bailout of Wall Street (not including the bailout of the auto industry) amounted to $330 billion, the government also quietly spent $4.4 trillion more in efforts to stave off the collapse of the financial and mortgage lending sectors. The majority of these funds ($3.9 trillion) came from the Federal Reserve, which undertook the actions citing an obscure section of its charter.

Consumer Bureau Launches in Shark-Infested Waters

Dangerous waters lay ahead for the Consumer Financial Protection BureauThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) throws open its doors to consumers this week, officially starting its mission to safeguard Americans from overly complex financial products and malignant banking practices. The bureau is the culmination of a national grassroots effort to hold the big banks accountable for the 2008 economic collapse caused by Wall Street's insatiable appetite for dangerous mortgage products. Millions of Americans signed petitions to create the bureau and new polling shows that 74% of Americans think it is a terrific idea.

ALEC Exposed: Milton Friedman's Little Shop of Horrors

Milton FriedmanAlthough he passed away in 2006, states are now grappling with many of the toxic notions left behind by University of Chicago economist, Milton Friedman.

In her groundbreaking book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein coined the term "disaster capitalism" for the rapid-fire, corporate re-engineering of societies still reeling from shock. The master of disaster? Privatization and free market guru Milton Friedman. Friedman advised governments in economic crisis to follow strict austerity measures, combining radical cuts in social services with the full-scale privatization of their more lucrative assets. Many countries in Latin America auctioned off everything standing -- from energy and water utilities to Social Security -- to for profit multinational firms, crushing unions and other dissenters along the way.

ALEC Bills in Wisconsin

ALEC Exposed (A project of CMD)In the 2010 elections, Republicans emerged with seven more governor's mansions. They also won control of 26 state legislatures, up from 14. In many trifecta states, where a new Republican majority won control of both houses and the governorship, an odd thing happened. A steady stream of almost identical bills -- bills to defund unions, require Photo ID's make it harder for democratic constituencies to vote, bills to privatize schools and public assets, bills to enshrine corporate tax loopholes while crippling the government's ability to raise revenue, bills to round up immigrants -- were introduced and passed. An almost identical set of corporations benefited from these measures.

It is almost as if a pipeline in the basement of these state capitols ruptured simultaneously, and a flood of special interest legislation poured out. The blowout preventer -- political power-sharing -- was disabled. The source of the contamination? The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

This week, the Center for Media and Democracy unveiled its ALEC Exposed website to display an archive of over 800 ALEC "model bills." This archive will allow reporters and citizen journalists to identify the ALEC bills moving in their states. We encourage researchers to search for some of the measures written about below.

Women’s Groups Call on Judge to Step Down Pending Investigation into Choking Incident

WI Supreme Court Justice David ProsserIn the wake of allegations that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser placed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in a chokehold in her office, women's rights organizations and elected officials across the state are calling for him to step down until investigations are complete.

Tense Confrontation Over Collective Bargaining Ruling

On June 13, the day before the state's highest court issued their politicized contentious split decision upholding Governor Scott Walker's controversial collective bargaining law, members of the court were debating whether to issue an opinion. At that point it was uncertain if the court would get involved, since no hearings had been held and no facts had been presented to the court. Prosser and the conservative justices tracked Justice Bradley and Chief Justice Abrahamson down in Bradley's chamber. According to new reports, Bradley demanded Prosser leave her chamber after he made disparaging remarks about Abrahamson. That was when Prosser is alleged to have put his hands around her throat and placed her in a chokehold. "It was in no way playful," said one source who was present.

Wisconsin Judge Declares Walker’s Collective Bargaining Bill “Null and Void”

On May 26, Wisconsin Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Governor Scott Walker's "budget repair bill," which would eviscerate collective bargaining rights for most public workers in the state, "null and void."

Sumi ruled that lawmakers clearly violated the state's open meetings law in their rush to pass the bill at the height of the capitol protests, and that the public interest in the enforcement of the state's open records law outweighed the public interest in sustaining legislative action.

Move Over Machiavelli: Wisconsin GOP Kills Public Financing to Pay for Voter Suppression

protestYou are a new Governor pursuing a radical, budget-slashing agenda. In your spare time, you work to pass the most restrictive Voter ID law in the nation, which turns out to be quite costly. What to do? Here is an idea. To pay for your voter suppression efforts, why not rob public financing for elections, a system designed to encourage a diversity of candidates and a flourishing of democracy?

Robin Hood Storms Chase Castle and M&I Execs Get Piggish

On Tuesday, the shareholders of Marshall and Ilsley (M&I) Bank of Wisconsin "voted" to give $71 million in bonuses to failed executives as part of an acquisition deal. "Voted" may not be the right word, since CEO Mark Furlong opened and closed the meeting within the span of five minutes, allowing no discussion and no questions from the dozen or so shareholders in the room. Furlong has apparently learned Robert's Rules of Order from his friend Governor Scott Walker and the rest of the gang in the Wisconsin Capitol.

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