Wisconsin Protests, Monday, April 18 - Sunday, April 24, 2011


9:30 p.m. - Summer Abdoh reports for CMD:

On Saturday, April 30, the fight for collective bargaining will bring a different type of activist to Madison's Capitol Square. As many as 10,000 motorcyclists from around Wisconsin and across the Midwest will ride in support of Wisconsin workers at the "Thunda Around the Rotunda" event.

Read more here.


2:15 p.m. - Brendan Fischer reports for CMD:

Union supporters celebrated and right-wingers raged when the Associated Press reported on April 15 that Governor Scott Walker admitted Wisconsin saves no money by "weakening government workers' collective bargaining rights." When responding to a question from Rep. Dennis Kucinich during congressional testimony, did Walker really admit the union-busting bill costs no money? And will implementing the annual recertification requirement actually cost Wisconsin taxpayers?

Read more here.

A Wisconsin bartender is caught on tape offering free shots for signatures on a recall petition for a Democratic state Senator - The Ed Show: Shots for signatures


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Candidates reach recount deal

Madison — Backing off stronger stances, Supreme Court Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg found a courtroom compromise Thursday that called for a statewide recount, with a hand tally for ballots from the entire city of Milwaukee and other communities. The hand recount will apply to ballots from some communities in 31 counties, including another 14 municipalities in Milwaukee County and 34 municipalities in Waukesha County. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess approved the deal Thursday, allowing the first state recount in more than two decades to proceed with a cast that could include troops of observers for both sides. "I think this is absolutely the right way to go," Niess said. The deal came after Prosser representatives said he would strongly oppose any statewide recount as frivolous and Kloppenburg signaled that she wanted a hand recount of ballots from across the state. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Poll shows Wisconsinites split on Walker recall

A new poll suggests Wisconsinites would be about evenly split on the question of recalling Gov. Scott Walker. The idea of recalling the Republican governor arose during protests over his efforts to remove collective bargaining rights from most public employees. The question is moot for now, since lawmakers must be in office for one year before they can be recalled. Walker was inaugurated in January. Still, if there were a recall election, Thursday’s poll suggests a tight outcome. It says 48 percent would vote to keep Walker in office, while 47 percent would vote to remove him. The poll was commissioned by Wisconsin Public Radio and performed by St. Norbert College. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points and was conducted from April 5 through Monday. The poll also found Walker’s approval rating to be about 46 percent. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Labor's last stand? Living in a state divided

For years, Katherine Cramer Walsh has had college students come into her office with concerns about grades or assignments. Lately, however, she has found herself being asked to offer romantic advice. “I’ve had students coming to me in tears, saying, ‘I’ve been dating this person for a year and I don’t know if I can do it anymore,’” said Walsh, a UW-Madison political science professor. The problem wasn’t fidelity or commitment — it was Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining law. For some families, friends or even young couples in love, the debate over the bill and its move to curtail public worker union rights has become a dealbreaker that is fraying nerves and relationships all over the state. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Recall frenzy hits state agency as more petitions are filed

The third-floor offices of the Government Accountability Board are a blur of activity these days as the state’s election watchdog works through an unprecedented number of recall petitions. On Thursday, the busiest day in what has become the busiest recall year ever, officials submitted the signatures for four state senators. The filings push GAB deep into uncharted waters. The agency has never dealt with more than a single recall election at one time. But after Thursday, it now faces eight — a number that could easily grow by mid-May, the last deadline for the remaining eight senators targeted with recalls. Meanwhile, the agency is preparing to conduct a recount of this year’s state Supreme Court election. “It’s supposed to be slacking off now, but it isn’t,” said GAB spokesman Reid Magney. “Not this year." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.


2:45 p.m. - Jennifer Page reports for CMD:

The almost $200 million in tax cuts that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has given to corporations have been both lauded and hated by the public and media. When it was discovered that businesses like M&I Bank and others who were large contributors to Walker's gubernatorial campaign were receiving extra provisions through changes in the consolidated reporting law, questions started cropping up about why Walker was giving handouts to corporations even though he declared the state broke.

Read more here.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kloppenburg requests recount in state Supreme Court race

Madison — Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg asked Wednesday for a statewide recount - the first in 22 years - to check the results in the April 5 state Supreme Court race she lost to Justice David Prosser. That recount will start next week, at taxpayers' expense, the state Government Accountability Board said. The official tally shows Kloppenburg lost to Prosser by 7,316 votes - less than 0.5% of the 1.5 million votes cast in the race. The election initially appeared much closer, with Kloppenburg up by 204 votes, before Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced her initial, unofficial tally failed to include the 14,315 votes from the City of Brookfield. Kloppenburg also called on the board to appoint a special investigator to probe Nickolaus' "actions and words." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Another Walker pick causes stir

Madison — In picking a new register of deeds for Marinette County, Gov. Scott Walker picked a Republican campaign worker with no experience with land records and vital records. He passed over three candidates with detailed knowledge of how the office of the register of deeds works, including two deputies who have worked in the office for years. The appointment comes after the GOP governor faced criticism because the son of a campaign supporter landed a top job at the state Department of Commerce. Renee Miller started as Marinette County register of deeds on Wednesday, after being appointed to it earlier this month. Miller is a friend of Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), has worked on his campaigns for five years and is married to Nygren's campaign treasurer, Paul Miller. The appointment has upset employees in the register of deeds office who applied for the job. One of the three employees in the office transferred to another county job, and another said she was considering doing the same, which would leave Miller without an experienced staff as she gets to know the office. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: John Nichols: Recounts aren't just what democracy looks like, they are what democracy demands

JoAnne Kloppenburg faced a great deal of pressure to let it all pass — to accept an initial canvas of ballots that said she lost the intensely contested Wisconsin Supreme Court race by less than one-half of 1 percent of 1.5 million votes, to forget about election irregularities in a number of Wisconsin counties, to neglect the fact that the Waukesha County clerk (a former employee of her opponent and longtime ally of authoritarian Gov. Scott Walker) found the decisive votes in the contest almost two days after the other 71 Wisconsin counties had reported their results. Despite the fact that this was the closest high court contest Wisconsin has seen in modern times, despite the irregularities and open questions raised by an initial count that everyone admits was problematic, Kloppenburg was told by her opponent, Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, that seeking a recount of the votes and a full examination of the irregularities would be "frivolous." Right-wing talk radio declared that seeking a recount -- which must be paid for by the state in so close an election -- would "waste" taxpayer dollars. Even some of Kloppenburg's allies warned that it was highly unlikely that a recount would overturn Prosser's 7,316-vote lead, as such reversals are rare -- if not unheard of -- in American politics. And they warned that, against a well-funded incumbent who had hired top lawyers -- including Ben Ginsberg, who represented George Bush in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Florida recount fight -- Kloppenburg's grassroots campaign would be required to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions, to wage the legal battles associated with so high stakes a recount. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Reps. Fred Clark and Brett Hulsey: Stop Walker’s giveaways to polluters and special interests

With Earth Day approaching, we all want to create cleaner lakes and air and more green jobs. Wisconsin has a long bipartisan tradition of working to protect our land, water, habitat and outdoor resources. Unfortunately, Gov. Scott Walker has shown in his short time in office more efforts to protect special interests than to protect our environment and good jobs. This makes no sense, because outdoor recreation, fishing, hunting and tourism are top state job-creators, bringing more than $12 billion into Wisconsin. Early on, Walker sent $810 million of federal train money and 5,500 jobs to other states. Then he proposed the most restrictive rules in the nation for wind energy. This has already driven two projects out of the state and threatened 1,000 jobs. These actions are payback to the oil, coal and gas industries that, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, contributed $127,693 to Walker. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Groups to file recall petitions

Organizers say they'll submit recall petitions Thursday against three Democratic state senators - the first time since the state went recall happy in February that filed petitions have targeted that party. The campaigns against Sens. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), Jim Holperin (D-Conover) and Robert Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) said separately Wednesday that they'll file enough signatures to force each senator into a recall election. Efforts are under way to recall eight Democratic and eight Republican state senators, but before Thursday, the only signature filings had been against four GOP senators. All three Democrats said paid circulators had helped gather signatures against them, and state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said there were "serious discrepancies" in the signatures and promised to investigate them as part of the challenge process of state recall procedures. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Rachel Maddow: Wisconsin Supreme Court challenger wants a recount


6:00 p.m. - Brendan Fisher reports:

JoAnne Kloppenburg has announced her request for a recount in the Supreme Court race against Justice David Prosser. "With a margin this small -- less than one half of one percent -- the importance of every vote is magnified and doubts about each vote are magnified as well," she said.

Kloppenburg also asked the Government Accountability Board to appoint a special investigator to "professionally, thoroughly and completely investigate the actions and words of the Waukesha County Clerk." That clerk, Kathy Nickolaus, announced two days after the election "human error" had caused votes to go unreported, flipping Kloppenburg's apparent victory to favor Prosser.

In addition to Waukesha County's vote irregularities, Kloppenburg said a recount was necessitated by evidence of undervotes in Milwaukee and Racine counties, reports of long lines and photocopied ballots in Fond Du Lac, and significant changes in the Winnebago County vote totals.

Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said in a statement: "The Government Accountability Board is prepared to move forward with a statewide recount of votes for Supreme Court Justice, as requested by the Kloppenburg campaign today. We have been preparing for a recount since Election Night. We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. We anticipate the recount will begin the week of April 25, and plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks on Monday afternoon."

While Nickolaus' initial "discovery" of uncounted votes had pushed Prosser's lead into territory where Kloppenburg would have had to pay for a recount, statewide canvasses reduced his lead to less than one half of 1 percent. State and local governments will cover the costs of this recount effort.

PCCC's Adam Green talks about recall efforts on The Ed Show - The Ed Show: Wisconsin in disarray


2:00 p.m. - Rebekah Wilce reports for CMD:

The Nebraska legislature gave unanimous first-round approval in late March to LB606, a measure to close a loophole in state campaign funding regulation which currently allows organizations like Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to spend unlimited funds to influence state politics without filing finance reports with the state Accountability and Disclosure Commission, as long as they can claim that they don’t specifically advocate voting for or against a candidate.

Read more here.


The Nation: Big Brothers: Thought Control at Koch

The Nation obtained the Koch Industries election packet for Washington State—which included a cover letter from its president and COO, David Robertson; a list of Koch-endorsed state and federal candidates; and an issue of the company newsletter, Discovery, full of alarmist right-wing propaganda. Legal experts interviewed for this story called the blatant corporate politicking highly unusual, although no longer skirting the edge of legality, thanks to last year’s Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which granted free speech rights to corporations. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: State elections officials satisfied with Waukesha County vote counts

State investigators say they are satisfied that the April election numbers from municipalities were consistent with those reported by the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers. The state Government Accountability Board said on Tuesday that staff identified "a few anomalies," but no major discrepancies in the information from Waukesha. The agency reviewed totals from the county after County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced she had failed to report more than 14,000 votes from the city of Brookfield. Those votes gave incumbent Justice David Prosser the lead over challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Washington Post: Poll shows Americans oppose entitlement cuts to deal with debt problem

Despite growing concerns about the country’s long-term fiscal problems and an intensifying debate in Washington about how to deal with them, Americans strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey finds that Americans prefer to keep Medicare just the way it is. Most also oppose cuts in Medicaid and the defense budget. More than half say they are against small, across-the-board tax increases combined with modest reductions in Medicare and Social Security benefits. Only President Obama’s call to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans enjoys solid support. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s, for the first time, shifted its outlook on U.S. creditworthiness to “negative” because of the nation’s accumulating debt. The announcement rattled investors and could increase pressure on both sides in Washington to work out a broader deal as part of the upcoming vote over increasing the government’s borrowing authority. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Labor's last stand? The middle class squeeze

WHITEWATER — Jeff and Denise Ehren aren't clear on the exact definition of middle class, but they're pretty sure their place in it is shaky. They both work full time at UW-Whitewater — he's a custodian, she helps run the sports and recreation center — but those jobs together grossed just under $50,000 last year, they said. They've got a mortgage, student loans, credit card debt and a list of side gigs, from bartending to secretarial work. "I certainly don't feel middle class," said Denise Ehren, 34. "Sometimes I think we should just call ourselves poor and be done with it." The middle class — that shapeless body that most Americans aspire to and politicians court — has become one of the biggest subtexts to the budget battles playing out in Madison. Union protesters say Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposals will destroy it. Walker's supporters say his approach very well could save it. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: John Nichols: Walker ‘progressive’ to bust unions? No way

Gov. Scott Walker appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and claimed that his assault on public employees and public school teachers, public services and public education was a “progressive” policy. “In Wisconsin, we are doing something truly progressive,” Walker told the committee, during a remarkable session that lasted the better part of four hours. “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.” What sort of “progressive” reforms? Stripping Wisconsin state, county and municipal employees and teachers of basic rights in the workplace. Rendering public employee and teacher unions dysfunctional by ending basic protections for their existence in the workplace and political sphere. Undermining local democracy at the town, school district and municipal level. Restructuring state government in a manner that allows the governor to limit access to health care and sell off public properties in no-bid deals with campaign donors. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Biz Beat: 'Only little people pay taxes'

Biz Beat couldn't let tax season pass without honoring Leona Helmsley, the late New York hotel magnate, who was famously said: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." Like in Wisconsin, where two tax programs helping "little people" are on the block. Here's the skinny: Gov. Walker's proposed 2011-2013 budget calls for nearly $200 million in tax cuts for corporations and others over the next two-year budget cycle. To help make up the difference, Walker wants to cut $41 million from the state's Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families. What does this mean? A single working parent with two kids making $25,000 would see their income tax bill more than double from $193 to $394. While $200 may not seem like much, it's a big chunk of money to someone just getting by. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.


9:00 a.m. - Jennifer Page reports for CMD:

The Institute for One Wisconsin, a non-partisan organization, released a report (pdf) last week that says that "despite claims from Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin is not 'broke.'” Their research found that the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen in the past twenty years, and though the state is overall quite wealthy, the bulk of that wealth has shifted to the richest people of the state, while Wisconsin's tax structure "is built around the middle class."

Read more here.

John Nichols talks about the detrimental effects losing local government control will have on the state - The Ed Show: Radical Michigan governor strips local governments of control

The Ed Show: Palin rallies Tea Party in Wisconsin


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: S&P cuts U.S. bond outlook

Investors put Washington on notice Monday: Do something to fix a massive, unsustainable government debt or else. Ratings agency Standard & Poor's changed its long-term outlook on U.S. government debt to "negative" from "stable." In doing so, the agency kept its Triple-A rating for U.S. debt, but fired a warning shot over the heads of politicians who agree on hardly anything much less changing way the federal government spends money. "More than two years after the beginning of the recent crisis, U.S. policy-makers have still not agreed on how to reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures," wrote Nikola G. Swann, an S&P credit analyst, in a statement announcing the change Monday morning. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Reuters: Incumbent Wisconsin judge claims election victory

Incumbent Justice David Prosser said the tally from the April 6 election showed him beating challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, by 7,316 votes -- a margin of just below 0.5 percent of the almost 1.5 million votes cast. Prosser, a former Republican legislator, said "powerful forces, not always clearly identified" tried to turn the election into a referendum on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who pushed for and signed the anti-union bill. "Fortunately, Wisconsin voters rejected this effort," Prosser told reporters. "They ultimately understood that this election was about filling a 10-year term on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin and that candidates for the office should not commit themselves, directly or indirectly, on cases that have not yet come before the court." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Capitol Report: As recall petition is filed against third GOP senator, GAB seeks to consolidate recall election dates

An effort is under way by the state Government Accountability Board to prevent confusion among voters by consolidating the number of recall election dates across the state. Reid Magney, a GAB spokesman, said Monday the agency plans to file a petition in Dane County Circuit Court sometime this week seeking an extension to the 31-day period the agency now has to review signatures on completed recall petitions. The third completed recall petition was turned in Monday, and it is likely a fourth will be coming shortly. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Securing fiscal future ignores today's plight

The document is called the "State of Black America." Many years, it's more like the "Plight of Black America." It's a report that's been released by the National Urban League for the last 35 years about a place that doesn't actually exist unless you carve it out of raw numbers and demographic information. There is no more a separate "black America" than a separate "black Milwaukee." But if you go by perceptions, yes, it's a very real place indeed. According to the "2011 State of Black America" report by the Urban League released last month, black Americans continue to lag behind whites in an equality index that ranks significant areas like family income, homeownership, access to loans and health insurance. Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial summarized the bleak outlook in a recent column. "The Great Recession is officially over. But, with overall unemployment now at 8.9% and 13.7 million people still out of work, the recovery has been painfully slow and has yet to make a significant visit to communities of color," wrote Morial. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Labor's last stand? Education reform will come at a cost

Gov. Scott Walker's move to curb collective bargaining for most public workers gives school districts unprecedented authority to run schools as they see fit, without consulting teachers unions. But that freedom could come at a price. By shutting unions out of discussions about teacher pay and performance, districts risk losing a key partner in developing and carrying out education reforms, some say. And with the changes accompanied by deep budget cuts, districts will keep grinding out efficiencies to stay solvent, not necessarily to improve public education, said Miles Turner, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators. "You can run a McDonald's with one employee," Turner said. "But it's going to be dirty, you're going to have poor service and bad food." READ THE FULL ARTICLE.



Chase Bank will pay no taxes in 201010:00 p.m. - Rebekah Wilce reports for CMD:

At a rally held in front of Chase Bank on Capitol Square in Madison, Wisconsin today, a few dozen people gathered to air their grievances against Chase and other U.S. corporations who will pay no taxes for 2010. Jeff Kravat of MoveOn hosted the rally along with Gene Lundergan, who gathered a group of four or five people to present a tax bill of almost $2 billion to the branch bank manager. This bill, for $1.988 billion, was drawn up using Chase's 2010 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a December 2008 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (pdf). When Lundergan, Steve Hughes of Young Progressives and several others approached the front entrance of the bank, they were refused admission by the security guard, so they left the bill propped in the front window. Read more here.


Trickle Trickle Never A Nickel1:00 p.m. - Jennifer Page reports for CMD:

Last week saw the layoff of every public school teacher in Detroit, and the initial fruition of the highly-contested bill that allows emergency financial managers to have unconditional control over a city in a financial emergency. The city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, declared to be in a financial emergency by Governor Rick Snyder, now knows that, according the Snyder, the voter’s voice doesn’t really matter anymore.

Read more here.


The Nation: Winter Soldiers Outshine Sunshine Patriots as Palin's Madison Rally Is Overwhelmed by Protest Crowd

Tom Paine wrote at the toughest moment of the American revolutionary struggle: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” On Saturday, in Madison, Wisconsin, there was plenty to be thankful for. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Palin draws a crowd at the Capitol, and not all are friendly

JP Morgan Chase Wanted!Sarah Palin was the top draw for at least one supporter who came to the tea party rally Saturday at the state Capitol. And he likes the former governor of Alaska as a 2012 presidential pick. "I want her as president," said John, a software engineer from Des Plaines, Ill., who declined to give his name because he feared his tea party affiliation might bring him retaliation at work. "She stands for everything I stand for." Those values, John said, are a strong defense, conservative ideals and limited government. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Wall Street Journal: Detroit Moves Against Unions

DETROIT—A new state law has emboldened the Detroit mayor and schools chief to take a more aggressive stance toward public unions as the city leaders try to mop up hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink. Robert Bobb, the head of the Detroit Public Schools, late last week sent layoff notices to the district's 5,466 salaried employees, including all of its teachers, a preliminary step in seeking broad work-force cuts to deal with lower enrollment. Earlier last week, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing presented a $3.1 billion annual budget to City Council in which he proposed higher casino taxes and substantial cuts in city workers' health care and pensions to close an estimated $200 million budget gap. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Washington Post: As debt ceiling vote nears, the pressure’s on House Republican freshmen

GE pays no taxesThey ran against debt. They swore and swore again that they’d cut up the nation’s credit card. But now the 87 freshmen House Republicans are facing intense pressure from administration officials and even some natural allies on why they should — indeed, why they must — vote to allow the federal government to go even deeper into debt. Financial industry executives, business leaders and Treasury Department officials are visiting the freshmen in their offices, briefing them in small groups and even cornering them at dinner parties. It’s all part of a behind-the-scenes campaign to school congressional newcomers in the economic stakes of Washington’s next big fiscal fight: over the debt ceiling. The freshman class that gave Republicans the House majority will be a critical voting bloc in the looming clash over whether to raise the amount of money the government can borrow to keep it from defaulting on its loans. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

The Cap Times: Ed Garvey: Walker plots to OK financial martial law

"The best government is closest to the people" and other such axioms are headed for Gov. Scott Walker's trash can. Take the latest development discovered by friends and delivered to FightingBob.com anonymously. We thought Walker was bad when he took on the right of public employees to form unions and bargain collectively. While that is a huge mark against him, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was, we suggested, even worse than Walker. Snyder asked for legislation that would permit him to declare a "financial emergency." If he found a unit of government on the local level that was under stress, he wanted the legislature to agree that he could swoop in and take over the governmental entity whether it is a school board or a city council - in other words, declare financial martial law. The financial manager (FM) would have the power to dismiss local officials whether elected or appointed; cancel union contracts; sell assets of the entity; eliminate services from snow removal to garbage collection; even eliminate a city or a school district! Guess what. The legislature agreed and Snyder signed his first bill - you got it - the FM bill. READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

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