Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has promised to create 250,000 new jobs. In advance of a planned gubernatorial recall election, Walker announced last month that the State Legislature would focus "like a laser" on job creation. With his "special session" on jobs now concluded, it is clear that the legislative package had little to do with jobs and much to do with spin, special interests and the illusion of momentum.
Real Economy Project
After two tours of duty in Iraq, 24-year-old Wisconsin native Scott Olsen managed to escape unscathed and with seven medals for valor. But Olsen was critically injured in an Occupy Oakland march last week by a police projectile. According to eyewitnesses, Olsen was acting as a human barrier between unarmed civilians and Oakland police in riot gear who were charged with keeping a public park cleared for sanitation purposes.
Whether this was a case of an inexperienced Mayor (check) or a historically aggressive police department (check), the incident underscored the potential for catastrophe as cops increasingly confront peaceful protesters with riot control weapons.
Governor Scott Walker's new "Reforms and Results" website touting the successes of his policies is allegedly a campaign website funded by taxpayers, according to a complaint filed Tuesday by the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
Darrell Issa is going postal. In the name of "Saving the Post Office," the head of the House Government Oversight Committee is ready to knock off 200,000 jobs and put the U.S. Postal Service, founded in 1775, on the path to oblivion. President Obama's rescue plan is only slightly better -- 80,000 people might lose their jobs.
The bipartisan eagerness to sink the Postal Service has Ben Franklin, the first Postmaster General under the Continental Congress, rolling in his grave.
Wisconsin was riveted the week of September 20 by reports that more of Governor Scott Walker's top aides may be implicated in an ongoing "John Doe" investigation into potentially illegal campaign practices related to Walker's 2010 gubernatorial race. Although the investigation, first reported on by Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has been underway for at least a year, a recent FBI raid on the home of Walker's chief lieutenant, Cynthia "Cindy" Archer, has the state abuzz with speculation about who may be the target of the investigation.
The 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.
As the first half of 2011 has revealed, Wisconsin is not a moderate "purple" state, but a state divided between staunchly "blue" progressives and righteous "red" right-wingers. That rift is particularly apparent in legislative conflicts over the criminal justice system, a debate spurred by corporate interests represented in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and perpetuated by ALEC legislative members, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Wisconsin's history and public policy reflects the red/blue divide. It is the state that gave birth to the Republican Party, which supported slavery abolition, and the John Birch Society, which opposed the civil rights movement. In the first half of the 20th Century, the state elected both progressive hero Robert "Fighting Bob" LaFollette and right-wing extremist Joe McCarthy. It is the state that elected both former Senator Russ Feingold (D) and Representative Paul Ryan (R).
Wisconsin also produced Paul Weyrich, who in 1973 co-founded both the Heritage Foundation and ALEC (and in subsequent years, Free Congress and Moral Majority). Weyrich's ALEC, it seems, has been a factory for many of the state's most recent right-wing policy initiatives.
Inside the Wisconsin state Capitol on Monday, June 6, Supreme Court Justices began hearings on the controversial collective bargaining measure proposed by Governor Scott Walker. Outside the Capitol, thousands of community members and employees from across the state rallied against the Walker-sponsored budget, chanting "Recall Walker" and "Walker, we won't back down! This is a union town!"
Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold led the march from Madison Fire Station 1 toward the Capitol. Feingold was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, and marched up to the Capitol with Rock County AFSCME member past the standing "Walkerville" tent encampment, whose friendly inhabitants set up refreshment tables to help crowds battle the crushing heat. Feingold refused to address speculation that he might oppose Scott Walker in the next election, but signs, T-shirts and chants of "Russ for Governor" indicated mounting support for his candidacy.
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.
You 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?