Category Archives: Politics

Tony Evers Uses Education Address to Campaign

Tony Evers is the state Superintendent of Schools. Every year, the person in that job gives a kind of “state of the schools” address. It’s normally a pretty mundane affair. This year, Tony Evers decided to use his official office to ramble on about all sorts of things that have nothing to do with schools, like transportation, Medicaid, etc. It’s clearly a political speech on the taxpayers’ dime. There isn’t much recourse for it since Evers is in a constitutional elected office, but it’s worth noting that Evers has little regard for separating his office from his campaign for governor.

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Thursday blasted the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker for not significantly increasing school funding in recent years, refusing to take federal money to expand Medicaid and for the condition of the state’s roads.

Evers, who announced last month he is challenging Walker in 2018, took aim at his future opponent and the Republican Party on several issues during his annual “state of education” address at the state Capitol — remarks typically focused on K-12 education, which he oversees as the head of the Department of Public Instruction.

Quoting President Teddy Roosevelt throughout what verged on a political stump speech, Evers told the Capitol rotunda full of school superintendents, lawmakers and other state officials that Roosevelt “is calling us to stand tall in the face of adversity.”

Hate at UW Madison

This is not art. This is just raw, bigoted hate.

MADISON, Wis. – A University of Wisconsin-Madison student released a controversial video portraying police officers being beheaded after they put an American flag noose around the neck of an African American man Friday.

Part of the First Wave scholarship program, Eneale Pickett, released the video to promote his clothing line with messages addressing police brutality and racism. In the video people wear sweatshirts that make statements about these issues.

[…]

The video portrays the police officer as a man in a pig mask. The sound of the video combines speeches from Donald Trump, with the sounds of protests and a consistent heart beat.

If you;d like to learn more about the First Wave Scholarship Program, here is their website.

Walker Issues Budget Vetoes

You can read the full list of vetoes here.

I’m still reading through them, but they look good! It looks like he stuck to his promise to the conservative senators who held out and he took a few further steps to make this budget a little better.

County Board Debates Golf Course Improvements

Heh.

Members of the Executive Committee voted during their Tuesday meeting to approve the expansion of a deck and patio area at the Washington County Golf Course. Supervisors Rick Gundrum and Mark McCune voted against the measure.

Another supervisor, Michael Bassill, supported the proposal, but only to allow his colleagues to weigh in when it appears before the full County Board in a few weeks.

“Basically, what we charged parks (staff) and the golf course with is, ‘Find a way to make yourself fiscally independent of the tax levy,’” County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said. “That is exactly what Craig (Czerniejewski) and Jamie (Ludovic) and their team have worked on over the last several months.”

[…]

“One of the only times I will have a bloody mary is after a golf game,” he said. “I can’t — because of some ridiculous rule that says I cannot have a bloody mary because I am at a county golf course. Treat me like an adult. It is not going to keep me playing golf there … By having a deck there, I don’t think we are committing this horrendous thing that is going to lead to some ridiculous amount of outings.”

So the County Board is debating how to pay for some capital improvements to the club house and how the golf course can operate without using tax dollars.

WHY THE HELL DOES THE COUNTY OWN A GOLF COURSE!?!?

In a county that has several golf courses – a couple of them that are world class – why do we need the taxpayers to run one? Sell the dang thing and then we don’t need 26 (yes, 26!) county supervisors debating whether or not they should be able to have a bloody mary after a game of golf at the county course.

If Washington County would actually cut some spending like this, it would be easy to eliminate the county sales tax.

Man Indicted for Frauding WEDC

Good.

A Green Bay-area businessman has been indicted on federal charges for allegedly defrauding the state’s job-creation agency of more than $1 million, U.S. Attorney Gregory Haanstad announced Wednesday.

The indictment of Ron Van Den Heuvel, owner of Green Box NA, for alleged fraud and money laundering marks the first time criminal charges have been leveled against a business owner who received taxpayer funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

According to the indictment filed in federal court Tuesday, Van Den Heuvel allegedly devised a scheme that ended up defrauding $9 million from WEDC, acquaintances and investors from Canada and China between 2011 and 2015.

WEDC loaned $1.12 million to Green Box on Oct. 21, 2011, according to the indictment. The funds were supposed to help the company create 116 jobs by December 2014 as part of a more than $13 million project to turn fast-food wrappers and other waste paper into synthetic fuel and paper products while producing zero waste, according to agency records.

Van Den Heuvel persuaded WEDC and other investors to give him money by falsely claiming he had entered into agreements with major companies to advance Green Box’s operations and produced false financial statements that grossly inflated his personal wealth and financial situation, the indictment said.

Sometimes investments don’t work out or one doesn’t get the anticipated results, but when someone commits outright fraud, we should throw the book at them.

Washington County Says “Hell, No”

This is a bit fascinating to watch. A little background…

In 1998, Washington County passed a temporary sales tax (I think you know where this is going). There were some major capital projects like at the county jail, courthouse, and UWWC, that the county needed done, but they didn’t have the money. So they bamboozled the public into accepting a “temporary” 0.5% sales tax to pay for those projects. By 2006, those capital projects were all done and paid for, but the County Board decided that they liked their new tax. Instead of killing off the tax as promised, they kept it going and redirected it to other things. Now the county sales tax is just another tax that the County Board uses to spend on whatever it wants.

Fast forward to 2017 and several of the county’s municipalities want a slice of that tax. The argument is simple. All residents of the county pay the sales tax so it makes sense to distribute that tax to several levels of government. The City of West Bend already sent a letter to the city earlier this year. Slinger voted to do the same last night. Other cities and villages are considering doing the same.

Last night, the Washington County Board didn’t just say “no.” They said, “hell, no.

“Based on what you are saying, I think we need to be very clear that — not necessarily that we are denying anything, but that we are declining even considering it,” County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said to committee members.

Well, that’s pretty clear. It is a dangerous business to try to get between a politician and a tax.

On the issue itself, I agree with the county, but only because I have a forlorn hope that the county might someday end the sales tax as they promised when they implemented it. That likelihood, however remote, becomes even more remote if other governments get their hands in that pie.

 

Assembly Democrats Elect Hintz as Leader

Wow. What a statement about the character and direction of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Rep. Gordon Hintz was elected Tuesday by his colleagues to replace Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, who announced earlier this month he was stepping down as Assembly minority leader after many of his members tried to remove him.

Hintz, a member of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee who also had been considering a run for governor, urged his colleagues on Tuesday to stop focusing on divisions within the party and present a united front against Republican-backed policies and Gov. Scott Walker.

[…]

Hintz, 43, has been in the state Assembly since 2006 and is a vocal critic of Walker and the Republican Legislature’s approach to road funding, K-12 education and tax policy. He entered the Assembly the same year he appeared in the documentary “Air Guitar Nation,” which documented the first time the U.S. competed in the Air Guitar World Championships.

State Republicans have criticized Hintz for a 2011 citation he received during a sting at an Appleton massage parlor while he was unmarried, and also for telling then-Rep. Michelle Litjens, R-Winneconne, “you’re (expletive) dead” during a contentious debate over Walker’s collective bargaining measure that same year known as Act 10.

Sen.Tammy Baldwin to face a tough re-election

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

The next big election is 14 months away, but the electoral combatants are already sallying onto the field. Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin will be seeking her second term and the liberal backbencher is facing a formidable challenge.

Baldwin’s resume is notable for its remarkable lack of achievement. Born and bred in the belly of liberal Madison, Baldwin was first elected to the Dane County Board during law school in 1986. She graduated from law school in 1989, worked as a lawyer for three years, and then became a full time politician in 1992 when she was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly. In 1998, Baldwin was sent by Madison to Washington as their representative in the House of Representatives, and was then swept into the U.S. Senate by the Obama wave in 2012.

It is difficult to serve in public office for more than 30 years, get elected to higher offices, and not have a single achievement to one’s credit, but Tammy Baldwin has accomplished that incredible feat. The secret to Baldwin’s success is that she is gay and a liberal’s liberal who reliably supports every leftist idea proffered. This attracts gobs of money from every liberal/socialist/Marxist PAC and activist group throughout the nation.

Most recently, she gave her fullthroated support to complete socialist health care in the failure of Obamacare. This is particularly ironic given that Baldwin callously ignored repeated cries for help from abuse taking place at the Tomah VA Medical Center. Why would anyone want to hand over more control of our healthcare to politicians like Tammy Baldwin?

Without Obama on the ballot next year, Baldwin is vulnerable to a credible challenge. So far, two formidable and well-funded Republicans are vying for the opportunity to be the senator that Wisconsin deserves. There is still time for more candidates to enter the fray, but the window is closing.

Kevin Nicholson is a Marine combat veteran who now works in the private sector. Nicholson defines himself as a social and fiscal conservative who is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-strong national security, etc. Running for office for the first time, Nicholson relishes his status as an outsider who can attack the liberal redoubts in Washington.

Nicholson does, however, have a nagging problem in his resume. He used to be a vocal, activist Democrat. When he was in college, Nicholson served as the chairman of the College Democrats and was eventually the national president for the College Democrats of America. At that time, he was pro-choice and spoke at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Of course, Nicholson would not be the first person to convert from liberalism to conservatism with the advancement of age, life experience and wisdom. Some of the best-known, thoughtful, and stalwart conservatives in the nation used to be liberals.

The other Republican seeking to challenge Tammy Baldwin has no such history to overcome. Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir has been a proven, reliable, accomplished conservative Republican for more than a decade. Vukmir is a registered nurse who worked as a nurse for more than 20 years before running for the Wisconsin Assembly in 2002 to replace Scott Walker. Vukmir was then elected to the State Senate in 2010.

Vukmir has been one of the driving forces in the Wisconsin conservative movement for her entire tenure in office. She has been instrumental in advancing school choice, tax reform, education reform, healthcare reform and every other pillar of the conservative agenda. It is difficult to name a conservative issue in which Vukmir was not a staunch defender and advocate. All the while, Vukmir has maintained her career as a registered nurse.

While I don’t doubt the sincerity of Nicholson’s conservative conversion, there is no need to put it to its first political test in the crucible of Washington when there is already a proven conservative candidate in Leah Vukmir. She has been a granite conservative throughout all of the tempests in Madison and would serve Wisconsin well in the U.S. Senate.

Walker Signs Foxconn Deal

Excellent.

STURTEVANT — Gov. Scott Walker signed a $3 billion incentive package Monday for Foxconn Technology Group to build a flat-screen plant in southeastern Wisconsin, a deal he says will provide thousands of jobs for generations.

The governor signed the bill during a packed ceremony at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant in Racine County, where the plant likely will be located. Legislators from around southeastern Wisconsin attended the signing. So did dozens of supporters.

“This is about far into the future,” Walker said. “This is about ensuring our children and our children’s children will have generational opportunities. This is one of those things that’s transformational.”

The governor told reporters after the signing that next steps call for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to finalize a contract with Foxconn to execute the provisions in the bill. WEDC’s board is scheduled to meet Sept. 28 to approve the agreement. Foxconn executives will then likely reveal the precise location for the plant before the contract is signed in early October.

Walker told WTMJ-AM radio on Monday morning that he expects groundbreaking this spring. Foxconn hopes to open the plant in 2020.

Wisconsin Senate Passes Budget After Veto Promises

It’s still not a good enough budget, but it will be better is/when Walker makes his promised vetoes. Now that the budget and Foxconn bills are done, let’s get to work on the rest of the agenda.

The state Senate put the final touches Friday on a nearly $76 billion state budget that would pump an additional $649 million into K-12 education over the next two years after a handful of holdout GOP senators received assurances from the guv’s office on a package of vetoes.

The budget, delayed by more than two months, came down to the wire Friday as Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tried to persuade three of his Senate colleagues to support the two-year spending plan.

GOP Sens. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield; Steve Nass, of Whitewater; and Duey Stroebel, of Saukville, ended up joining most of their Republican colleagues as the budget cleared the Senate 19-14 without any amendments to the plan the Assembly approved earlier this week. Sen. Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, was the only Republican to join all Dems in voting against the bill.

That clears the way for the budget to head to Gov. Scott Walker, who the three Republicans said promised to a series of vetoes to win their support.

Trump’s Green Acres

Because everyone should see this.

Hat tip David Mortosko

Medicare for All

They already have it in Venezuela.

As the food shortages deepened, nearly three-quarters of Venezuelans polled said they had lost at least 19 pounds last year, one poll found.

Shortages of basic medicine and proper medical equipment – as in Deivis’ case – are common. More than 750 women died during or shortly after childbirth in 2016, a 66% increase from 2015, according to the Venezuelan health ministry. Nearly 11,500 infants died, a 30% jump. Malaria cases soared to 240,000, a staggering 76% increase. That last one is especially telling: Venezuela had already eradicated malaria more than 50 years ago. I met three paramedics in a week who all said they’re low or out of gauze, gloves and bandages.

Galindez, Deivis’ mother, found a matching kidney to replace one of her son’s failing ones. But it was a temporary victory: Doctors stopped performing kidney operations in April because they didn’t have the resources needed for the operation, according to Dr. Belen Arteaga, the head of the nephrology unit at Hospital de Niños Dr. J.M. de los Ríos, where Deivis was treated.

Committee Vote Scheduled for Constitutional Carry

It’s good to see some progress.

A state Senate committee vote has been scheduled for Tuesday (Sept. 19) on a bill — Senate Bill 169 — that, as introduced, would repeal Wisconsin’s state “gun-free school zones” statute.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety included the SB 169, also known as the permit-less carry bill, as the final item in its public notice of an executive session (i.e., a committee vote on the bill) for Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South, State Capitol.

Sheriff Won’t Blame Guns for School Shooting

The media is really upset that this Sheriff won’t use a school shooting as an excuse to advocate for gun control.

The day after a Washington state high school student opened fire on his classmates, killing one and injuring three others, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich held a press conference to decry the frequency of such shootings.

“This is a situation that plays out in our society way too often, and we as a society need to make a determination as to what’s causing this,” he said Thursday afternoon. Knezovich then launched into a list of factors he believes were at play when 15-year-old suspect Caleb Sharpe, who has been identified in court documents, brought both a handgun and an AR-15 rifle to Freeman High School on Wednesday.

[…]

But when a reporter asked Knezovich how the shooter had access to the firearms used to kill classmate Sam Strahan and injure three others, the sheriff was reluctant to discuss gun control issues.

“Minors are not supposed to be in possession of a handgun until they’re 21,” he said. “You never know how people get ahold of weapons. Those are things we’ll be digging into in trying to figure out what exactly happened here.”

And, of course, the sheriff is right. It was already illegal for this to possess a handgun – much less carry guns onto school property and start shooting people.

Milwaukee Airport Director Fired

Boy… there’s been all kinds of scamming going on.

General Mitchell International Airport Director Ismael Bonilla has been released from his duties effective immediately.

[…]

According to the Audit Services Division report on the investigation, the airport awarded a $250,000 contract to Springfield, Illinois-based engineering and planning firm Hanson Professional Services Inc., to create a business plan for Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport. The Audit Services Division learned that Bonilla and airport deputy director Yul McNair had prior working relationships with Hanson personnel and a Hanson sub-contractor, according to the report. Bonilla has a current quasi-business relationship with Hanson personnel, outside of the Timmerman business plan contract, the report states.

Bonilla and McNair arranged for Hanson personnel to take a site visit of Timmerman prior to the release of the request for proposal for the business plan contract, the ASD report states. When the RFP was issued it did not include explicit notice that site visits were possible and the ASD report states that the division found no evidence that the three other companies that submitted a response to the RFP requested or conducted a site visit.

“ASD has determined that Bonilla and McNair, by arranging a site visit for a company prior to the publication of a RFP which did not include an option for a site visit, violated Milwaukee County General Ordinance…prohibition against disclose of privileged information,” the ASD report states.

Assembly Passes Budget. Senate Conservatives Hold Out.

Heh.

The Assembly tonight passed the state budget 57-39, with five Republicans joining all Dems in opposing it.

It now heads to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future as Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he doesn’t have the 17 votes he needs to pass it and three Senate Republicans circulate a list of demanded changes.

The Assembly vote came after nearly 11 hours of debate, the rejection of 19 Dem amendments and the adoption of a GOP amendment that makes what the authors call “technical” changes, including deleting a provision requiring DOT to install a railroad gate crossing in Winnebago County.

But in the end, Reps. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha; Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls; Bob Gannon, R-West Bend; Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake; and Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, all voted against the budget.

Good for my rep, Bob Gannon, for voting against this. This is not the kind of budget we expect from a Republican government. We don’t just want “well, it’s better than the Democrats would do.” We want a budget that actually moves the needle toward a better Wisconsin.

And good for my Senator, Duey Stroebel, for being one of the senators holding out for a more conservative budget. It’s almost frustrating because I can’t call and yell at my elected officials. They are already doing the right thing!

Three Senate Republicans are demanding a series of changes to the budget to win over their votes, including raising the income limit for the statewide school choice program and banning UW from spending money on diversity, sensitivity and cultural fluency training.

The three — Sens. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield; Steve Nass, of Whitewater; and Duey Stroebel, of Saukville — also want to move up the planned repeal of the prevailing wage on state projects to Jan. 1 rather than Sept. 1, 2018, and to delete language the Joint Finance Committee added to the budget that would pre-empt local regulations of quarries that produce material for road and construction work.

Trump Spins on DACA

Okay…. so somebody is lying. Given the track record of this crowd, it could be all of them.

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump pushed back Thursday morning against claims by top congressional Democrats that a deal has been reached over legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants and that a border-security package would not include a wall along the US-Mexico border.

“No deal was made last night on DACA,” Trump tweeted. “Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”
Late Wednesday, Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi said they had “agreed to enshrine the protections of (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”
But Trump also refuted that specific assertion by the Democratic leaders about a border wall, tweeting, “The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.”

Justice Gableman Being Vetted by Trump Administration

Interesting! Gableman is a smart guy and solid conservative. He could serve the country well in any number of roles.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is being considered for a job in the Trump White House, although it is not clear which position he is being considered for.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday that, according to multiple sources, FBI agents had been interviewing associates and colleagues of the jurist, a preliminary step in hiring someone for a top administrative position. Gableman, who declined to comment, announced in June that he would retire from the bench when his term expires next year.

Vos Makes Empty Threat

Heh.

“We’re not going to be held hostage to individuals who have some kind of a wish list,” Vos said.

The state Assembly began debating the budget shortly after noon Wednesday. A vote is expected by the late-night hours.

Senate Republicans, who have yet to take up the budget, are expected to meet Wednesday to discuss it. Fitzgerald said Tuesday that he hopes the meeting will produce agreement among his members on changes to the budget that can be sent to the Assembly, in the form of an amendment, before it votes on it. That would prevent the Assembly from having to approve the budget a second time after a Senate vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

Vos laid down the gauntlet at Wednesday’s press conference, saying he won’t revisit the budget after Wednesday.

“Once we vote for the budget today, we are done with the budget process,” Vos said.

Ummm… if the Senate votes for a different version of the budget, it goes to conference and then both houses have to vote on it again. It’s not really up to Vos unless he is saying that the Assembly is willing to not ever pass a budget.

 

Hillary Clinton’s Book

Even the BBC is poking fun at her.

The beauty of Hillary Clinton’s new book title, What Happened, is it can be interpreted in so many ways.

Perhaps it’s a definitive account of the 2016 presidential election. “Here’s what happened”.

Maybe it’s an exclamation, like someone reacting to an unexpectedly loud noise (or an electoral earthquake). “Yikes! What happened!?”

Then again, it could be a stern mom, who just walked in on the mess her children (the voters) made in the living room. “Whaaaaat happened …”

Or is she the dazed boxer, picking herself up off the canvas after getting knocked out by a surprise punch from her opponent.

“Wha-, wha-, what happened???”

It’s up to readers to decide for themselves, but in Mrs Clinton’s recent interviews and in her book, which was formally released on Tuesday, she offers plenty of explanations from which to choose.

Here’s a list of just some of the factors to blame for the fact that she’s hitting book stores across the country, while Donald Trump is redecorating the Oval Office.

Hint: it’s a looooooooong list.

What I find interesting is the media coverage of Clinton’s book tour. After all, it is a tour by a failed politician trying to sell her book. And yet, she is getting daily headline coverage from almost every media outlet in the nation. I think they are fare ore interested in Hillary’s post-defeat soul searching than we are.

All of her, and the media’s, explanations rest on the presumption that she could have won. It is entirely possible that Clinton was disliked by so many people that a bowl of hot steaming mayonnaise would have defeated her.