Wisconsin Protests, Monday, April 11 - Sunday, April 17, 2011


Poodle is smarter than "Caribou Barbie"10:00 p.m. - Mary Bottari reports for CMD:

Tax Day was approaching and the righties were out to denigrate government workers and government spending. Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, who quit her job in 2009, headlined a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, bought and paid for by the front-group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), but billed as a "grassroots" Tea Party event.

The Koch Brothers-funded AFP set up the stage and programmed 13 buses into Madison, but only six were labeled "full" on their website on Saturday. AFP also likely paid the airfare and fees of the national speakers. Braving the sleet, snow and raucous counter-protestors, Palin earned her money.

Read more here.


Sarah Palin's Speech at the Americans For Prosperity Rally

Andrew Breitbart Tells Workers to "Go to Hell"


9:00 p.m. April 17, 2011, Brendan Fischer reports for CMD:

Scotty, corporate puppetMADISON -- Sarah Palin graced Wisconsin with her maverickness on a cold, wet Saturday where counter-protesters outnumbered Tea Party supporters. Wisconsin Wave held an early rally on the opposite side of the capitol, giving progressives a platform for the day but ending in time for attendees to march in opposition to Palin's speech.

Despite the Wisconsin Wave event's separation from the Tea Partiers, Palin was on everyone's mind. For instance, in discussing Madison's months of protests, Madison Mayor-elect Paul Soglin asked, "do you know what I see when I look out there?" Before he could give the answer a crowd member yelled, "Russia!" (Soglin's intended answer was "democracy"). Hundreds of protesters brought hand puppets to the event, illustrating the theme "Walker and Palin are corporate puppets" of the Koch Brothers and other corporate interests. READ MORE.


6:00 p.m. - Jennifer Page reports for CMD:

Scott, Pull A Palin, QuitThe wet snow and tense atmosphere did not deter thousands of people from coming to the capitol for Americans for Prosperity's Tax Day Rally. The major draw was former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was announced as a speaker days before the event on Saturday. Crowd estimates vary from hundreds to thousands. One local reporter paced-off the AFP area and said it totaled 20 by 35.

Barely audible over the anti-Walker counter-protesters that ringed the barrier of the tea party crowd, Palin, claiming she herself was a former union member and the wife of a union member, said Gov. Scott Walker isn't trying to take away rights like the powerful "union thugs" do.

"He's not trying to hurt unions. Hey folks! He is trying to save your jobs and pensions," said Palin.

Read more here.



Dump Tea! Dump Palin!



BRING PUPPETS -- sock puppets, hand puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets, finger puppets and muppets!

BRING LIBERTY BELLS -- that means cowbells, dinner bells, doorbells, jingle bells, you name it, and let's ring in Wisconsin's independence from corporate rule!

Speakers and Music: Mayor-elect Paul Soglin, Comedian Dan Potacke, The Kissers, MC's John "Sly" Sylvester, Sarah Manski and more.

Let's show 'em how we really feel about big corporations passing the tax burden on to the rest of us! And remember folks, come on out early and support family farmers at the seasons first outdoor farmers market. Now more than ever it is important to spend locally.

For more information, visit ,http://www.WisconsinWave.org WISCONSIN WAVE].


5:00 p.m. - Brendan Fischer reports for CMD:

The ex-girlfriend of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad CEO William Gardner is speaking out about her decision to tell authorities about his illegal campaign activities and their apparent pay-for-play relationship.

Read more here.


The Mad Hatter called - He wants his Tea Party backAFP is sponsoring a Tea Party rally tomorrow at the Madison state capitol starting at 12 noon. Sarah Palin, who is headlining the AFP-sponsored rally, has become the poster child of the tea party movement, speaking at dozens of events that have been directly and indirectly linked to Americans for Prosperity, which is a Koch-funded "grassroots" organization.

It has also been reported that Palin is making somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 for each speaking engagement, many of them for Americans for Prosperity events.

Below are two FOX News videos where Palin gave her two cents about the workers' rights battle in Wisconsin:

Palin Calls the Kettle Black

Palin Weighs in on Wisconsin Protests

Palin: The [Wisconsin Fab 14] lawmakers should absolutely be fired, they should be recalled. They've retreated, its not like they're reloading, they've retreated, they're not doing their job. Plus its hard that the Wisconsin governor is doing all that he can for his state to be solvent, and he's certainly isn't getting any help from the Democrats.

Palin: You know you do need to call them back and get them to be held accountable and have them do their job. What a dill this governor of Wisconsin is having to deal with. In states, for most of us, we have constitutional mandated to balance our budgets, we can't just go out and print more money. We have an obligation to live within our means, and that's what this governor is trying to do.


Other veteran Tea Party Protest and "Americans For Prosperity" speakers include: Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund who appeared at a 2010 "Defending the American Dream" Summit in Austin, Texas, as well as a 2007 AFP-Wisconsin Health Care Roundtable in Milwaukee. He's slated to speak at a RightOnline conference later this summer, a project of the Americans For Prosperity-funded front group. Conservative commentator James T. Harris also a favorite of AFP, spoke at their 2009 Tax Payers Tea Party in Milwaukee.

Also on the program for the Americans For Prosperity-sponsored rally is AFP's Wisconsin State Director, Matt Seaholm. Seaholm secured the leadership role after working as Republican Congressman Sean Duffy's campaign manager and eventual chief-of-staff. During his 2010 campaign, Duffy received a direct $10,000 contribution from Koch Industries.

The Tax Day Rally will also feature some of Wisconsin's locally known Tea Party figures. Nancy Mistele, former Madison school board member and creator of a website dedicated to growing the Tea Party movement, will speak and joining her will be is Meg Ellefson, organizer of the Wausau Tea Party, whose letter to Sarah Palin describing her local chapter of Mama Grizzlies helped lure the former governor to Wisconsin.


AFP is providing buses for Tea Party supporters to attend the Tax Day Rally in Madison on Saturday, April 16th.


The Wall Street Journal: State-Debt Hearing Focuses on Wisconsin Union Fight

WASHINGTON—A congressional hearing on state debt Thursday ended up focusing largely on Gov. Scott Walker's labor policies in Wisconsin -- and the divisions over public-sector benefits nationwide. Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee peppered Mr. Walker, a Republican, and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, with questions about defined-benefit pension plans, collective bargaining for public employees as well as state budget deficits and unfunded pension and retiree health-care liabilities. Republicans expressed concerns that states could turn to the federal government for bailouts if pension liabilities lead to insolvency. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Walker to Washington: 'Sometimes bipartisanship is not so good'

WASHINGTON — Gov. Scott Walker defended his school of union hobbling as a route to fiscal discipline to budget-weary Washington on Thursday, telling a House committee that protracted, nail-biting negotiations in tough economic times can produce inaction and bad policy. "Sometimes," the Republican governor told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "bipartisanship is not so good." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker hears praise, criticism during testimony before Congress

Washington — Introduced by fellow Republican Jim Sensenbrenner as a "very polarizing figure," Gov. Scott Walker lived up to that mantle in a highly charged appearance Thursday at a congressional hearing on state budget problems. Lawmakers from his own party hailed him as a gutsy politician making tough choices while Democrats seized the chance to cross-examine a governor they regard as a poster boy for conservative overreach. Democrats called him a union-buster, a divider and a vehicle for corporate interests. They derided his contention that cutting collective bargaining rights was a fiscal necessity rather than a politically motivated choice. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Governor grilled on controversial promotion

The controversy over the hiring and promotion of the son of a major campaign supporter followed Gov. Scott Walker to Washington, D.C., on Thursday. In his appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Walker was quizzed about his administration's decision to hire and promote Brian Deschane to an $81,500-per-year job overseeing environmental and regulatory matters in the state Department of Commerce. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: State investigating vote irregularities in Waukesha County going back 5 years

The state's investigation into vote irregularities in Waukesha County will stretch back at least five years, the head of the Government Accountability Board said Thursday. Questions over vote totals in Waukesha have lingered over the last week, after County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced she failed to report more than 14,000 votes from the city of Brookfield in initial vote totals. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Bloomberg: Wisconsin Judge Dismisses One of Three Lawsuits Over Union Bargaining Law

A Wisconsin county official was ruled ineligible to sue to block a state law stripping government employee unions of most of their collective bargaining power. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and County Board Chairman Scott McDonell lack standing to challenge the law on constitutional grounds in their official capacities, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled yesterday. Falk and McDonell may be able to sue as individuals, Sumi said. "Under longstanding Wisconsin law, an agency or arm of government lacks authority to challenge the constitutionality of state statues," Sumi wrote in her opinion. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee election panel approves rules

In the wake of the state's hotly contested Supreme Court race, a sharply divided Milwaukee Election Commission voted along party lines Thursday to prohibit its own members from speaking to reporters or seeking aid from law enforcement agencies on the commission's behalf. Robert Spindell, the lone Republican on the three-member panel, angrily accused majority Democrats of trying to muzzle him, while the two Democratic commissioners insisted they were trying to prevent chaos from individual commissioners "going rogue." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Wall Street Journal: Congress Puts Haggling Aside to Pass 2011 Budget Bill

Congress on Thursday ended months of political haggling and passed a bill cutting nearly $40 billion from the 2011 budget, taking only a small bite from the burgeoning federal deficit but hitting a milestone in Republican efforts to slow the growth of government spending. Secretary of Defense Gates is warning the U.S. military would have to scale back some of its commitments and shrink in size if it is to meet Obama's target of deeper defense cuts over the next decade. Nathan Hodge has details. The House voted 260-167 for the measure. The Senate followed soon after, voting 81-19 for the deal. The bill, which is the biggest fiscal measure to pass Congress since voters elected a politically divided government last year, was passed with bipartisan majorities in both chambers that overrode conservative complaints that it didn't make enough spending cuts. Liberals said the deal cut too much from social programs for the needy. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Sarah Palin coming to Madison? You betcha

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and current tea party sweetheart, is coming to Madison Saturday to serve as keynote speaker for the now-annual tea party Tax Day Rally. Thousands are expected to turn out at the Capitol for the rally, which is scheduled to run from noon to 2 p.m. and feature a series of conservative speakers, including radio personality Vicki McKenna, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, talk show host John T. Harris, and Americans for Prosperity State Director Matt Seaholm. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Plain Talk: Fitzgerald fundraising letter makes his motives clear

During their first three months in power, the legislative brothers Fitzgerald, better known as the rubber stamps for their political soulmate Scott Walker, have succeeded in splitting a once-sanguine state apart at the seams, leading some to rename Wisconsin Fitzwalkerstan. Ah, but it has just been to get our budgetary house in order without having to raise taxes. It has had nothing to do with waging war against public employee unions, the triumvirate assures us, only getting employees to accept more responsibility for their "lavish" benefits. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Your Right to Know: Open meetings case presents tough issues

The key question in the ongoing legal tussle over Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill comes down to this: "Must the Legislature comply with the state's open meetings law?" At first glance, the answer might seem obvious, since the Legislature itself pledged to comply when it passed the law in 1975. Here's the exact language: "In conformance with article IV, section 10, of the constitution, which states that the doors of each house shall remain open, except when the public welfare requires secrecy, it is declared to be the intent of the Legislature to comply to the fullest extent with this subchapter." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.


The Tea Party rally tomorrow at the capitol, organized by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, will feature Sarah Palin and several other speakers. To make sure tea party members actually come on what may be a rainy day, AFP is organizing buses to bring them in.

Scott Walker's Congressional Testimony - The Ed Show: Walker appears on Capitol Hill

New Video From the Barrymore Theatre With Ed Shultz - Ed's Wisconsin Town Hall


The Koch Brothers funded, Americans for Prosperity crowd is rallying the tea party crowd at the Wisconsin Capitol at noon Saturday April 16. Former Alaska governor and current tea party sweetheart Sarah Palin will be headlining the now-annual Tax Day Rally (do they know its not really tax day?)

Organizers are planning the event to run noon to 2 p.m. at the state Capitol. It's expected to be a gathering of conservative activists from around the state.

The April 16th Taxpayer Tea Party in Madison will feature:

  • Sarah Palin - Former Alaskan Governor, VP Candidate, pundit, author
  • John Fund - The Wall Street Journal
  • Tony Katz - Pajamas Media
  • James T. Harris - talk show host
  • Chuck Day - vocalist
  • Nancy Mistele - The Founders' Compass
  • Matt Seaholm - Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin State Director
  • Vicki McKenna - WIBA/WISN
  • Meg Ellefson - Wausau Tea Party
  • Kim Simac - talk show host, Northwoods Patriots
  • Tiger & Shannon Heberling - Stood up to union threats
  • Nancy Milholland - Racine Tea Party
  • Ross Brown - We the People Madison chapter

The Wisconsin State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Matt Seaholm, says he is excited the Mama Grizzly will be attending the tea party on Saturday. "Governor Palin is a strong voice for taxpayers and for reforming government to make it more accountable," Seaholm said, "She doesn't pull punches and is one of the most influential and followed commentators in politics today."

Time for those "Drink Milk Not Koch" signs again!


2:55 a.m. - Mary Bottari reports for CMD:

On Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Darrell Issa (R-CA), held a hearing on state and municipal debt where the key question was State Budget Cuts: Choice or Necessity?

Chairman Darryl Issa started off by framing the issue in a manner that was thrilling to Wall Street barrons and corporate big wigs. He said that states will face a shortfall of $112 billion in 2012 and the reasons for this were "obvious." The primary reasons, according to Issa, are reckless spending and unfunded or underfunded pension funds. The 2008 Wall Street financial crisis and the staggering job loss, which caused state and federal tax revenues to tank, were not mentioned.

Read more here.


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today:

Madison — Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit over a controversial plan to limit collective bargaining for public employees. Sumi's order dismissed the suit by Dane County, Acting Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Dane County Board Chairman Scott McDonnell. Falk and McDonnell were dismissed in their official capacities, but may be able to continue the suit as private citizens. The case is one of three against the collective bargaining measure. Sumi has blocked the law from being implemented in one of the other cases.

Political Correction, Media Matters Action Network: Rep. Braley Demands Gov. Walker Apologize For Crony Hire

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) attempted to use a hearing today before Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) Oversight Committee to tout his efforts to destroy collective bargaining rights for public employees, but his efforts hit a bump when Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) demanded that he apologize for the crony hire of Brian Deschane, who lacked experience but whose father had financially backed Walker's campaign. Walker replied that Deschane was "five levels below me," and said he had him demoted when the hiring came to his attention: READ THE FULL ARTICLE.



Governor Walker's Congressional Testimony

Madison – The following is the written testimony of Governor Scott Walker for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's April 14 hearing on "State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead." The hearing is being held at 9:30 a.m. in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.


Budget Hoax Brought to You by the Koch BrothersChairman Issa and Distinguished Committee Members, I appreciate this opportunity to testify before you today and look forward to our discussion regarding the budget challenges faced by states across this nation, Wisconsin's current state budget deficit and our committed approach to putting our state back on the path to prosperity.

In nearly every state across America, Governors are facing major budget deficits. In fact, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 44 states and the District of Columbia face shortfalls in Fiscal year 2012 totaling more than$111 billion and ranging from 2 to 45% of their total state budgets. In Wisconsin, we are currently facing a biennial budget deficit of $3.6 billion.

Many Governors, Democrat and Republican alike, are cutting state aid to schools and other local governments -- which forces massive layoffs, massive property tax increases or both.

In Wisconsin, we are doing something truly progressive. In addition to holding the line on spending and finding efficiencies in state government, we are implementing long term budget reforms focused on protecting middle class jobs and middle class taxpayers.

While our idea may be a bold political move it is a very modest request of our employees. We are reforming the collective bargaining system so our state and local governments can ask employees to contribute 5.8% for pension and 12.6% for health insurance premiums. These reforms will help them balance their budgets. In total, our collective bargaining reforms save local governments more than $700 million each year.

Most workers outside of government would love our proposal. For example, my brother David works as a banquet manager and as a part-time bartender. His wife works at a local department store. They have two beautiful children. They are a typical middle class family.

He told me that he pays about $800 a month for his health insurance and the little he can set aside in his 401(k). Like many other workers in our state, he would love a deal like the one I offered government workers.

Over the past several months, I have visited numerous factories and small businesses across Wisconsin. On these tours, workers tell me that they pay anywhere from 15% to 50% of their health insurance premium costs. The average middle class worker is paying more than 20% of his or her premium. Like my brother, they would love a plan like the one we are offering.

Even federal employees pay more than twice what we are asking state and local government workers to pay and most of them don't have collective bargaining for wages or benefits. These facts beg the question as to why the protesters are in Wisconsin and not in Washington, D.C. By nearly any measure, our requests are quite reasonable.

Beyond helping to balance current and future budgets, our reforms will also make our government work better.

In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she received a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. So why would one of the best new teachers be one of the first let go? Because her collective bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority.

Ms. Sampson received a layoff notice because the union leadership would not accept reasonable changes to their contract. Instead, they hid behind a collective bargaining agreement that costs the taxpayers more than $101,000 per year for each teacher; a contract which protects a 0% contribution for health insurance premiums; and a contract that forces schools to staff based on seniority and union rules.

Our budget reforms allow school districts to assign staff based on merit and performance. That keeps great teachers like Ms. Sampson in the classroom.

And it works at the state level too. In 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels reformed collective bargaining in Indiana. In turn, the government became more efficient, more effective and more accountable to the public. Governor Daniels even encouraged employees to come forward with ways to save taxpayer dollars and they responded. Eventually, the state was able to reward top performing employees. This is true reform -- making government work for the people.

Since January 3rd, we passed some of the most aggressive economic development legislation in the country. And on nearly every measure, many Democrats joined with all of the Republicans and an Independent to vote in favor of the various pieces of legislation. The Wisconsin legislature recognized that we are growing, not Republican or Democratic jobs, but Wisconsin jobs. Together, we worked to show that Wisconsin is open for business.

But sometimes, bi-partisanship is not so good. During several of the past budgets, members of both political parties raided segregated funds, used questionable accounting principles and deferred tough decisions. This, along with the use of billions of dollars worth of one-time federal stimulus money for the budget two years ago, left Wisconsin with the current $3.6 billion deficit.

Our reforms allow us to take a new and better approach. Instead of avoiding the hard decisions and searching for short-term solutions, we make a commitment to the future. The choices we are making now in Wisconsin will make sure our children are not left picking up the pieces of the broken state budget others left behind. Our reforms create the lowest structural deficit in recent history ensuring our budget is stable for decades to come. Moody's called our budget proposal "credit positive" because of our dynamic efforts to reduce the structural deficit.

These changes do more than just balance the budget; they give small businesses the confidence they need to grow and invest in our state. Investors want stability and our budget provides long-term fiscal certainty for our state and local governments.

We live in the greatest nation on earth. For more than 200 years we've had leaders who cared more about their children and grandchildren than themselves -- leaders who have demonstrated the courage to make decisions in the best interest of the next generation -- and not just the next election. This is truly a concept that America has always admired, but many have now forgotten as we face our greatest challenge -- balancing our budgets.

My hope is that our actions in Wisconsin will remind the rest of the nation what makes our country great, but more importantly my sincere hope is that by reforming our state budget for the long haul we will be sending a strong signal to job creators from around the world that Wisconsin is Open for Business.



9:55 a.m. - Brendan Fischer reports for CMD:

Last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker put a deceptively positive gloss on the legal battles surrounding his stalled union-busting bill in an interview with the right-wing Newsmax website. The Walker Administration's petition was discussed during the Governor's videotaped interview with mustachioed Newsmax anchor Ashley Martell.

Read more here.

The Ed Show: The fight for Wisconsin


8:30 a.m. Mary Bottari reports for CMD:

MSNBC's Ed Shultz taped a rocking radio show at the Barrymore Theatre last night in Madison. A wildly pumped packed house of over 1,000 cheered as one by one, members of the Wisconsin 14 -- the WI Senators who left the state to prevent a vote on the Governor's collective bargaining bill -- took to the stage behind Shultz.

Senator Vinehout thanked Ed Shultz for coming to Wisconsin again and handed him a poster signed by all 14. "We needed you, look at how the national press covered this, we had palm trees in the middle of winter!" said Vinehout, referring to Fox new coverage of angry protesters in Wisconsin featuring palm trees in the background. Shultz demurred, "if you didn't get out of town [to Illinois] none of this would have happened." Vinehout retorted: "If the people hadn't responded we would have had nothing to do [in Illinois]."

Senator Fred Risser, the longest serving state legislator in America explained that he had served under 12 Wisconsin governors: "This governor has done more damage in the first 100 days than all the others combined. We are at war with the right wing. But we have an exit strategy -- Recall Walker!" The crowd went wild. "We lit the candles the public is carrying the torch. The passion of the human spirit will prevail over the almighty dollar," said Senator Fred Risser.

Milwaukee Senator Spencer Coggs talked about what Walker's budget cuts would to the Milwaukee school system: "If our school district was a city we would be the fourth largest in the state." Coggs explained that "when a voucher kids gets kicked out of his charter school, he comes back to the public school system but the money does not come back... Milwaukee has lost 700 teachers already. What is going to happen to class size? Fewer kids and more teachers is a recipe for disaster. What we have is a budget borne on the backs of poor black children."

Jazzed by the energy of the crowd Shultz went on a tear on the crisis of the middle class "we have lost 50,000 factories in this country in the last 10 years. If you are 40, 50 or 60 you have two strikes against you. One you are overqualified, two you are too damned old!" How we bring manufacturing back in America "is one of the greatest challenges we have."

At some point in the night Shultz gestured to the audience "look out there, what we have is the vanguard of a New Democracy Movement!" Later he encouraged the crowd, "You are being watched by the rest of county, you are the artery, the left ventricle of the heart beating in America. If you give up, if you lose your heart we lose the story of America."

The taped radio show will air across the country today. In Madison at 11 a.m. on the MIC 92.1.

Watch the final Joint Finance hearing live here.


9:00 a.m. - Brendan Fischer reports for CMD:

At Monday's public hearing in Milwaukee on Governor Walker's budget, Wisconsin Republicans once again resorted to anti-participatory tactics to avoid criticism of their far-right agenda. Despite these efforts, strong criticisms were squeezed-in by longtime Milwaukee school choice advocate Howard Fuller, calling GOP efforts to lift income limits on school vouchers an "outrageous" program "that subsidizes rich people."

Read more here.

The Nation's John Nichols on the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Scandal - The Ed Show: Is Walker fighting against jobs?


Wisconsin Reporter: GOP pushes for constitutionally mandated rainy day fund

MADISON — A joint resolution designed to beef up the state's surplus cash coffers by constitutionally requiring a "rainy day" fund passed the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday on a party-line vote. Republicans praised the legislation as a potential roadblock to budget crises like the deficit the state is facing for the upcoming biennium. But Democrats -- and Independent Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc -- voted against the legislation, questioning the necessity of a constitutional amendment. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bill voiding sick leave law sent to Walker

Madison — Milwaukee's ordinance requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave would be voided under a bill Assembly Republicans sent Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday. Walker said he is likely to sign the measure. The city's sick leave ordinance was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2008 but has never gone into effect because of legal challenges. The Assembly voted 59-35 to ensure it would never be implemented. "This bill is a slap in the face to the people of the City of Milwaukee," said Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee). "This was not just some fluke referendum. This was a hard-fought campaign. People were well educated on both sides." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Reuters: Obama deficit plan to seek tax reform, spending cuts

Obama, accused of lying low on an issue polls show will be a major factor in the 2012 presidential election, will explain his vision for tackling the long-term U.S. deficit and debt in a speech in Washington at 1:35 p.m. (1735 GMT). "The president will lay out four steps to achieve this balanced approach," a White House official said, citing defense budget savings, waste from healthcare, domestic spending control, and "tax reform that reduces spending in our tax code" -- a reference to closing tax loopholes. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Politics blog: Walker launches national fundraising tour, including Florida stop

Gov. Scott Walker has launched a national fundraising tour in an effort to defend the eight Republican state senators facing recall elections, a conservative website is reporting. Walker was in Florida on Friday, the Newsmax website said, to drum up support for FrontlineWisconsin.com. The FrontlineWisconsin website urges people to donate up to $8,000, or $1,000 for each state senator, to "send a message across America that the people we elect can take courageous votes and stand by their convictions." Walker said little about the Florida trip or other fundraising efforts during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Politics blog: Waukesha County clerk rejects calls for her resignation

The Waukesha County clerk is rejecting calls for her resignation. County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, who botched her count of last week's Wisconsin Supreme Court race, apologized again Tuesday afternoon but said she has no plans to step down. "I will serve the remainder of my term," Nickolaus said. "I understand why people are upset and I am taking this matter seriously. Again, I am sorry for my mistake."READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Politics blog: Nickolaus fends off calls for resignation

Waukesha — Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, under blistering attack by critics since an election night reporting error that temporarily reversed results of the Supreme Court race, on Tuesday rejected calls that she resign. "I will serve the remainder of my term," Nickolaus said in a written statement. "I understand why people are upset and I am taking this matter seriously. Again, I am sorry for my mistake." Earlier Tuesday, Waukesha County Democratic Party Chairman Victor Weers said in a news release that not only has the clerk's vote-counting and reporting process produced problems, but "Ms. Nicholaus (sic) has willfully ignored pleas to repair her broken reporting process in an open and technologically reliable way."READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Still in protesting mood? Alternative brat fest is in the works

Fallout from the controversy surrounding Gov. Scott Walker's bid to strip collective bargaining rights from most public employees, as well as his proposed budget cuts, is sizzling around Madison's World's Largest Brat Fest. Brat-lover Carrie Dainty, a longtime patron of the annual Memorial Day weekend charity fundraiser, isn't relishing the thought of munching the brats donated by Johnsonville Sausage, whose executives, family members and employees have donated $44,250 to Walker since 2005. So she and brother-in-law Joey Dunscombe, a chef at the Weary Traveler Free House at 1201 Williamson St., are planning an alternative fest serving locally-produced brats and other food, while also donating all proceeds to charity. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Plain Talk: Pound-foolish governor now seeks rail aid

After observing him for roughly three months in the governorship, I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that this guy Scott Walker isn't all that bright. How else do you explain a politician who as his first act in office sends $810 million in federal stimulus funds back to Washington under the pretense that Wisconsin can't afford high-speed rail and then just a few weeks later turns around and asks Washington for money to upgrade rail that the $810 million would have covered? It shows just how little thought this governor gives to the consequences of his actions. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

John Nichols, The Cap Times: Democracy demands a fair recount

Democracy, to have any meaning, must have as its first and highest goal the proper accounting of votes cast in elections. That counting of votes is never complete until every ballot has been reviewed and the marked intentions of every voter are tabulated. That's where recounts come in. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.



9:55 a.m. - Brendan Fischer reports for CMD:

The Wisconsin state elections board and Milwaukee County District Attorney's office have revealed a money laundering scheme involving illegal contributions to Scott Walker's campaign committee by the head of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Company.

The months-long investigation found that William Gardner, the CEO and president of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad (WSOR), instructed employees to make political campaign contributions for the 2010 elections and then reimbursed those donations from WSOR's corporate account. Through this money-laundering scheme WSOR spent a total of $53,800 on political contributions in the 2010 election cycle, vastly exceeding the $10,000 per person (or per corporation) limit required by Wisconsin law; Gardner used corporate funds to reimburse 11 contributions from himself, his girlfriend, his daughter, and several employees. The majority of that spending, nearly $50,000, went towards the Friends of Scott Walker campaign committee.

Read more here.

A free bus will travel from Madison to Neenah for Wednesday's Joint Finance Committee hearing. Click here to reserve your spot.


The Cap Times: Railroad executive charged with making illegal contributions to Walker campaign

A Wisconsin railroad magnate accused of illegally donating to Gov. Scott Walker's campaign said Monday he would plead guilty to felony charges but didn't realize he had done anything wrong when he asked employees to donate tens of thousands of dollars and then reimbursed them. Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. president and chief executive officer William Gardner was charged with one count of excessive political contributions and one count of unlawful political contribution. Both charges are felonies that carry a combined maximum sentence of seven years in prison and $20,000 in fines. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

La Crosse Tribune: Waiting for final count: Milwaukee, Sauk, Crawford counties aren't done yet

MADISON - Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is on track to lead challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by about 7,300 votes after all counties finish verifying the ballots cast in last week's election -- a margin that would be difficult to overcome even with a statewide recount. As of Monday, 69 of the state's 72 counties had finished verifying the vote totals from last week's election and reported them to the Government Accountability Board. The last and largest county -- Milwaukee -- likely won't be finished with its work until Wednesday at the earliest, according to the GAB. Votes from Crawford and Sauk counties also have not been submitted yet. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Prosser camp's 'validator' validates skepticism about 'found' ballots

All weekend long and for much of Monday, backers of Supreme Court Justice David Prosser's re-election campaign claimed that the i's were being dotted and the t's were being crossed on his "win." After all, former Prosser aide Kathy Nickolaus, who now conveniently serves as the Waukesha County clerk, conveniently discovered all the votes the justice needs to get outside the official "recount zone" -- meaning that Prosser would have enough of a lead to prevent a state-funded review of all the ballots. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

John Nichols, The Cap Times: Waukesha matters, but so does the rest of Wisconsin

The confusion over the vote count in Waukesha County has made it the focus of the debate about the unsettled state Supreme Court contest between Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. That's reasonable, as the machinations of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, who says she forgot, then found, 14,000 votes cast in the county's second-largest city, Brookfield, certainly deserve scrutiny. But Waukesha County is not the only one where vote totals are shifting. During the course of the canvass of returns, Kloppenburg has picked up votes in many counties, as has Prosser. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Bill Berry, The Cap Times: Ryan cuts hurt poor as wealth flows upstream

On a gorgeous spring day last week, schoolchildren piled out of buses and onto the National Mall. They streamed into the Museum of Natural History, to explore its vast collections of everything from tiny trilobites to massive dinosaur skeletons. The kids were having a ball, and their minds weren't on the battles being waged in the Capitol at the business end of the mall. It's good the kids weren't paying attention to the fray. Better to spare them the reality that their futures are what's really at stake in the modern-day civil war of ideology rumbling across the nation. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: No trust left in Wisconsin's political relationship

It's been said that once trust goes out of a relationship, it's pretty much over. What does that say about the state of Wisconsin politics these days? At a public hearing on Gov. Scott Walker's two-year budget at State Fair Park on Monday, I talked to several people in attendance who didn't trust the Joint Finance Committee's decision to hold the event during daytime hours, when many working people were at their jobs. Some suspected it was all a GOP plot to keep attendance low in the Milwaukee area for a hearing that was likely to draw thousands more if held at night. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: U.S. education secretary criticizes Walker on teachers unions

The country's top education official criticized Gov. Scott Walker's confrontational stance with teachers unions at a national conference of education writers Friday. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan pointed out that the Wisconsin Education Association Council had proposed reforms such as performance pay and evaluation reforms, which Walker praised just days before introducing a bill to sharply restrict their bargaining. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Waukesha Democratic Party posted the following statement regarding the Waukesha vote count controversy.

Statement & Account of Ramona Kitzinger, Waukesha Board of Canvassers member since 2004

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Tuesday night, I received a voice message from someone in the office of Clerk Kathy Nickolaus informing me of a Wednesday canvass meeting, which I returned the next morning and said I would be able to report into the canvass by noon, which I did. Normally the canvass would begin at 9am on Thursday, as has been the general practice for many years. No one explained why they were beginning the canvass on Wednesday, just to please report immediately. Before this telephone call, I had not been contacted as the designated Democratic observer, and I saw no public notice of the abnormal canvass time. The phone call simply instructed me to report by noon to begin the canvass, which I did. The canvass then proceeded as normal, with no glaring irregularities or mention of a possible 15,000 vote error in Brookfield City.

On Thursday, I then showed up as per normal procedure at 9am and the canvass again went normally and concluded sometime between 4pm and 5pm. During the course of the day, the issue of minor vote corrections in New Berlin and Lisbon came up, but again nothing of a historic nature or reflecting glaring irregularities. In fact, the matter of vote totals in Brookfield City came up specifically during the course of Thursday's canvass. In retrospect, it seems both shocking and somewhat appalling there was no mention of discovery of this 15,000 vote 'human error' that ultimately had the potential to tip the balance of an entire statewide election. How is this possible? Once the canvass had been completed and the results were finalized, I was called into Kathy's office along with Pat (the Republican observer) and told of an impending 5:30pm press conference.

It was at that point that I was first made aware of an error Kathy had made in Brookfield City. Kathy told us she thought she had saved the Brookfield voter information Tuesday night, but then on Wednesday she said she noticed she had not hit save. Kathy didn't offer an explanation about why she didn't mention anything prior to Thursday afternoon's canvass completion, but showed us different tapes where numbers seemed to add up, though I have no idea where the numbers were coming from. I was not told of the magnitude of this error, just that she had made one.

I was then instructed that I would not say anything at the press conference, and was actually surprised when I was asked questions by reporters. The reason I offer this explanation is that, with the enormous amount of attention this has received over the weekend, many people are offering my statements at the press conference that the numbers jibed as validation they are correct and I can vouch for their accuracy. As I told Kathy when I was called into the room I am 80 years old and I don't understand anything about computers.

I don't know where the numbers Kathy was showing me ultimately came from, but they seemed to add up. I am still very, very confused about why the canvass was finalized before I was informed of the Brookfield error and it wasn't even until the press conference was happening that I learned it was this enormous mistake that could swing the whole election. I was never shown anything that would verify Kathy's statement about the missing vote, and with how events unfolded and people citing me as an authority on this now, I feel like I must speak up.


Human ErrorsThe Cap Times: Plain Talk: A lobbyist, his son, and the need for a strong civil service system

It has been nearly 106 years since the Wisconsin Legislature enacted one of the first civil service laws in the nation, a crowning achievement of the progressive wing of the state's then Republican Party. Gov. Robert M. La Follette signed the new law in June of 1905 and sang its virtues because it called for state employees to be hired based on competitive examinations, rather than jobs being filled at the whim of whoever was in political power at the time. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Election turnout magnified divide in Wisconsin

This was Gov. Scott Walker's take on last Tuesday's election, in which he wasn't on the ballot but loomed over the campaign debate: "You have two very different worlds in this state. You've got a world driven by Madison, and a world driven by everybody else. ... What that tells me is just as you've seen in past elections, for president, for governor, for other offices, Wisconsin is not a red state. It's not a blue state. In many ways, it's a purple state. And it's divided on these issues." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Man on a tall bicycleMilwaukee Journal Sentinel: Prosser open to Waukesha County recount

Justice David Prosser's campaign said Saturday that it was open to a recount of votes in Waukesha County as the state Supreme Court race remained without a declared winner. "If you need to do a recount in Waukesha (County) and Waukesha (County) alone to satisfy heightened interest, that's fine," said Prosser campaign manager Brian Nemoir. "We believe it will only affirm the margin of victory we now enjoy." In Waukesha County, thousands of votes from the city of Brookfield were not reported by the county clerk on election night but were discovered the day after. Prosser's margin of victory in Brookfield helped push him ahead of challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Baldwin calls for investigation of Waukesha County vote reporting

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a federal investigation into the handling of vote records in Waukesha County in the wake of Tuesday's election for the state Supreme Court. Baldwin's office said she sent the letter Friday night. Baldwin wrote Holder: "Following this week's election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, numerous constituents have contacted me expressing serious doubt that this election was a free and fair one. They fear, as I do, that political interests are manipulating the results." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Election fraud protestThe Cap Times: Is Wisconsin 'broke'? Answer is in the eye of the beholder, experts say

In his inaugural budget address, Gov. Scott Walker stood before a joint session of the Legislature and delivered the somber news: We're broke. "Too many politicians have failed to tell the truth about our financial crisis," he said. "The facts are clear: Wisconsin is broke and it's time to start paying our bills today so our kids are not stuck with even bigger bills tomorrow." The governor has repeated the message time and again, from his Inauguration Day speech to a "fireside chat" to discuss his proposal to limit collective bargaining for most public employees. It is usually followed by calls for budget cuts. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.


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