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.
Protesters took to the Wisconsin's capital once more on May 14th to prove neither pessimism nor weather could dampen their enthusiasm.
An estimated 10-15,000 Wisconsinites gathered on the State Street steps equipped with new chants and signs protesting Walker's collective bargaining bill, education cuts, Badger Care cuts and immigrant rights. Summing up the feeling of many, one protester held a sign saying "Too Many Bad Bills for One Sign!"
The Wisconsin protests have yet to become redundant or uninteresting and continue to reinvent the very notion of protesting. The May 14 rally, sponsored by unions and the Wisconsin Wave, wasn't any different.
Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the WI AFl-CIO, warned that even though the collective bargaining bill was tied up in the courts, Gov. Scott Walker "is attempting to ram through the legislation attacking workers by incorporating it into an already extreme budget proposal."
As the economy continues to sputter and new unemployment claims surge to an eight-month high, Fortune Magazine reports that profits of the 500 largest U.S. corporations have surged 81 percent. Fortune's editors write, "We've rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans." When Fortune is standing up for the workers, you know it's bad.
This afternoon, the People's Rights Campaign, a coalition of labor and community organizations, organized a community action on Madison's Capitol Square.
It seems wherever Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker goes, protesters seem to follow. This rule held true earlier this week in Washington D.C., when Walker used his newly burnished credentials as an extremist to address a forum promoting the privatization of public schools.
The American Federation for Children (ACF) promotes school privatization and voucher schemes that take away critically needed funds for public education to fund private schools. Inside the Marriott, The American Federation for Children's "School Choice Now: Empowering America's Children" policy summit attracted voucher boosters like Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Michelle Rhee, the former controversial head of the Washington D.C. public school system. Outside the Marriott, there were around 200 protesters with signs that read "Public Education Not Privatization," "Save Our Schools," and "Vouchers Aren't the Answer."
After Exxon Mobil posted first-quarter 2011 profits of $10.7 billion -- $6.3 billion more than it earned last year by this time -- the company put out a defensive statement arguing that it is not to blame for gasoline exceeding $4 around the country. Instead, the company blamed skyrocketing gas and oil prices on the U.S. government, saying Exxon makes about seven cents on a gallon of gasoline, while state and federal governments collect 40 to 60 center a gallon in taxes. Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry's lobbying group, spun his industry's record income as a positive, saying high oil company profits signal a stronger U.S. economy. Gerard said Americans "should be proud" of a high-earning oil industry, since it supports millions of jobs and provides income for retirees in the form of profits paid on shares in people's retirement accounts. Exxon vice president Ken Cohen portrayed the push to eliminate $4 billion in government subsidies for the industry as an attempt to raise taxes on the industry, saying the subsidies help keep jobs from being exported to other countries.
A wave of voter suppression legislation is emerging from newly elected GOP governors and Republican legislators that would make it much more difficult for traditional Democratic constituencies to vote -- just in time for the 2012 election. About a dozen states are are actively considering legislation that would make voting much more difficult for college students, minorities, the elderly and the disabled.
As the economy continues to sputter and new unemployment claims surge to an eight-month high, it hasn't escaped the notice of people on Main Street that the folks on Wall Street are back in the black.
According to Fortune magazine, profits of the 500 largest U.S. corporations have surged 81 percent this past year. Fortune's editors write, "We've rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans."
When Fortune is standing up for the workers, you know it's bad.
In an alternate universe scenario, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker released a video this week thanking Wisconsin public workers and asking the public for nominations for "public servants showing outstanding innovations, exceptional service and ongoing dedication." Just months after the governor spearheaded a bill that would take away almost all collective bargaining rights and slash benefits and pensions for unions and public workers, The Daily Cardinal reported that Walker announced May 4th a State Employee Recognition Day. "In challenging economic and budget times, state employees continue to cut costs and gain efficiencies in the delivery of essential services by utilizing taxpayer resources wisely and seeking better ways to provide high-quality services," Walker said in the proclamation."
The stripping of all power of the local government in Benton Harbor, Michigan has brought the national spotlight to the tiny town on the shores of Lake Michigan. The first city to be declared in a "financial emergency" by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, CMD reported that Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Joseph Harris was assigned to the city back in 2010 by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm. But it wasn't until March of this year that Harris essentially disbanded the local government and boards.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. responded to this takeover while on a tour of the state, calling for a rainbow coalition to organize against the EFM bill and others that Snyder and the Republican-led Senate has passed. At a protest in Benton Harbor, Jackson said that he, along with Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Benton Harbor Mayor Wilce Cook will file a lawsuit to challenge the law's constitutionality.