Another story about failures at the WEDC.
Wisconsin’s flagship jobs agency has routinely failed to follow state laws, didn’t track loans and awarded money to ineligible projects, a scathing audit released Wednesday found.
Auditors also said employees of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., a quasi-private entity, made a number of questionable and unexplained purchases, including season tickets to UW-Madison football games and iTunes gift cards, and contracted for services without conducting open and competitive selection processes.
The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said WEDC, which was launched by Republican Gov. Scott Walker nearly two years ago, needs to overhaul numerous policies and should report back to the Legislature’s audit committee later this year.
It’s clear that the WEDC is horribly flawed. It’s an embarrasment for a state government that has a stated focus on bringing jobs to Wisconsin. Governor Walker and the legislature need to find a way to fix it… now. BEFORE they have to report back “later this year.”
(CNN)—Twenty years ago, a team of researchers shared the Web with the world. Now they want to show a generation that grew up online what it was like in its earliest days.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the date it released, for free, the technology and software needed to run a Web server.
In honor of the anniversary, a team has been assembled to recreate a working version of the first website, a how-to guide hosted by the project’s creators.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History held a press conference on Wednesday to announce breaking, albeit gruesome, colonial news: Evidence of the dismemberment and cannibalization of a 14-year-old British girl in Jamestown, Va., in 1609.
Forensic anthropologists say marks found on the girl’s bones, uncovered during a recent archaeological excavation, suggest her brain, among other parts, was eaten by starving settlers.
“The chops to the forehead are very tentative, very incomplete,” Douglas Owsley, a forensic anthropologist at the institute, said on Wednesday. “Then, the body was turned over, and there were four strikes to the back of the head, one of which was the strongest and split the skull in half. A penetrating wound was then made to the left temple, probably by a single-sided knife, which was used to pry open the head and remove the brain.”
College Station - Texas A&M University today received approval from the A&M System Board of Regents to proceed with one of the largest college football stadium redevelopments in history, with a project cost of $450 million and a future stadium capacity of 102,500.
The renovation and expansion of Kyle Field will start immediately following the 2013 football season and is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2015 season. The Aggies will continue to play at the historic stadium, which dates back to the 1927 season and has a current capacity of 82,589, during the entire construction process.
As much as those who want to make our immigration polices even easier don’t want this to impact the debate… it will.
(CNN)—Three friends of Boston Marathon bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been jailed on charges they tried to throw investigators off Tsarnaev’s trail, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Two of them, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, were already in federal custody on immigration charges, their lawyers told CNN. Both are from Kazakhstan and had student visas.
The third, Robel Phillipos, is a U.S. citizen. All three are accused of removing items from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the April 15 bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev are charged with obstruction of justice, while Phillipos is charged with lying to federal agents probing the bombing, according to court papers. They made their first appearance before a judge Wednesday afternoon, when they were read the charges against them and informed of their rights.
Posted by Owen at 0627 hrs
The state cut overtime costs 22 percent across all agencies last year, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration said Tuesday.
Walker credited his controversial 2011 collective bargaining law, Act 10, for the savings.
Posted by Owen at 2057 hrs
Now, DNA and other tests suggest the individual was a human and was 6 to 8 years of age when he or she died. Even so, the remains were just 6 inches (15 centimeters) long. [See Images of the Alien-Looking Human Remains]
“While the jury is out regarding the mutations that cause the deformity, and there is a real discrepancy in how we account for the apparent age of the bones … every nucleotide I’ve been able to look at is human,” researcher Garry Nolan, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford School of Medicine, told LiveScience. “I’ve only scratched the surface in the analysis. But there is nothing that jumps out so far as to scream ‘nonhuman.’”
SOUTH MILWAUKEE — United Steelworkers Local 1343 on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a proposed six-year contract with Caterpillar Inc. that would have frozen wages, increased contributions to health care costs and offered senior union employees fewer protections.
“Everybody is scared,” said Ross Winklbauer, a Steelworkers subdistrict director for southeastern Wisconsin. “But our membership has stuck together.”¿
A vote count was not divulged.
The proposed agreement covers about 800 workers in South Milwaukee who, under the current contract, make $18 to $34 an hour. Caterpillar acquired the South Milwaukee plant in 2011 when it purchased Bucyrus International Inc., a maker of mining equipment, for $8.8 billion.
In voting down the contract, workers also authorized a strike. However, the union has yet to call for it. Workers are scheduled to work a normal workday Wednesday.
I don’t blame some union members for voting down the deal. It is crappy to take a pay cut, but the manufacturing industry has shifted. It is no longer a regional or national industry. It is global. And it’s never going back to how it was. You can change with it, find some other career, or be unemployed.
This is interesting.
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Monday signed legislation forcing municipalities to resell firearms from gun buy-back programs rather than destroy them, closing a loophole in the conservative state’s laws.
Brewer, a Republican and staunch gun rights advocate, signed the bill preventing local governments from melting down the weapons obtained from these popular civic events. Before the new law, the state had allowed such firearms to be destroyed.
Supporters of the measure said municipalities were wasting taxpayers’ money by not realizing the revenue from reselling turned-in weapons.
On the one hand, it is a waste for taxpayers to buy a bunch of guns just to melt them down. Some of those guns still have value. On the other hand, the whole motivation behind these programs is to allow people who want to get rid of a gun a good way to do it with no questions asked. The presumption is that if the people don’t want any questions asked, then they must not be allowed to have a gun. But many times, it’s just more convenient to get rid of ol’ great uncle’s crappy shotgun with one of these programs than it is to go through the hassle of selling it.
Should these guns be melted down? Not? Should it really be a state mandate or left up to whoever is running the buy-back programs? If the people running those programs see them as a revenue source by reselling the guns, is that really the role of government at all?
SO WHEN DEMOCRATS ARE PUSHING TO BAN PEOPLE ON THE “TERROR WATCH LIST” FROM BUYING GUNS, they’re really pushing to have a constitutional right blocked by your placement on a secret list put together by unaccountable bureaucrats with no due process. Just to be clear what they’re really talking about.
My column for the Daily News is online. It’s called, “Rent-to-own unites polar opposites.” Here you go:
It is said that politics makes some strange bedfellows, and that is certainly true with the provisions that Gov. Scott Walker put into his budget proposal regarding the rent-to-own industry. What else could unite ultra-conservative Sen. Glenn Grothman, liberal Sen. Lena Taylor and former Gov. Jim Doyle?
Walker’s budget proposal includes some loosening of regulations that the rent-to-own industry has been advocating for many years. If passed, they would exempt the rent-to-own stores from the requirement to disclose the annual interest rate and limit the damages a consumer could receive in a lawsuit against the business. Wisconsin has some of the strictest regulations on rent-to-own businesses and these changes would bring Wisconsin more into line with most other states.
There are really two issues with Walker’s proposals. The first issue is that the proposed regulatory changes for a controversial industry are clearly not fiscal items that should be included in the budget. The Legislature has always included nonfiscal items in the budget because it is a way to get them pushed through without requiring a stand-alone vote. The minority party always complains about it and it always happens anyway. Such is the sausage of legislation, but given the diverse opposition to these regulatory changes, they should be put into their own bill to receive the appropriate debate.
The second issue with Walker’s proposals is their substance. First, we must take a step back and understand how the rent-to-own industry works and why it is so maligned.
Consumers come in all shapes and sizes. Some folks have cash or good credit to purchase goods outright.
Some other people do not have much cash or have bad credit, but they have a steady income. The latter people are the ones that the rent-to-own industry serves. It is a way for some folks to obtain that furniture, television, computer, appliance or whatever without having to make a large cash expenditure all at once. Essentially, it is allowing the person to convert a capital expense to an operational expense.
For this service, however, the rent-toown stores charge a significant surcharge. The same dishwasher that a person can buy for $400 may cost over twice that when eventually paid for through a rent-to-own store. This is the part of the industry that motivates the opposition to the industry. By its very nature, the people who tend to rely on rent-to-own stores are those on the lower rungs of economic success. The high total cost of goods purchased through a rent-to-own store is perceived by some as predatory on the poor.
This perceived predation is what unites those like Democratic Sen.
Taylor and Republican Sen. Grothman in opposing the loosening of regulations for the industry. Such a negative view of the industry is rooted in the paternalistic perspective that poor people do not understand that they are paying a premium for their goods. It is a valid argument and we do look to government at times to protect the more vulnerable in our society.
Yet at the same time, these same poor people would not have access to those products at all if the only option was to buy them outright. Which is more in line with the greater good? When things are tight, some folks make the rational decision to pay a premium to rent-to-own a necessary appliance or piece of furniture while they build their finances.
While we look to government at times to protect us, we do not necessarily have to do so by absolving personal responsibility. It is incumbent on the buyer to take ownership of their purchasing decisions. After all, no consumer is obligated to make a purchase from a rent-to-own store and more than any other store. Nor is it the role of government to protect us from ourselves.
Overall, Walker’s proposals for the rent-to-own industry are fairly benign.
They do not belong in the budget, but they warrant serious consideration.
The rent-to-own industry serves a legitimate segment of Wisconsin’s consumers and should not be singled out for overly burdensome regulation.
Tomorrow could be an interesting day.
The proposed contract also calls for a lower wage rate for workers hired after May. It would additionally freeze pensions and would, instead, direct employee retirement contributions toward a new 401k plan.
Caterpillar told workers in March it plans to lay off 40 percent of the workforce by June, citing lower demand for mining equipment.
On Sunday, some workers who attended the union meeting expressed frustration over the contract.
“There was a lot of anger in the room,” said Dewey Lewis, who was the union’s president when the current contract was negotiated. “It’s totally unfair. No self-respecting union would accept it.”
Caterpillar is also offering a $2,500 ratification bonus and annual bonuses through a new employee reward program.
My guess is that’s a low estimate.
Posted by Owen at 1851 hrs
Unemployment fraud is costing the government billions of dollars in paid benefits to people who are still working, no longer alive or are behind bars, according to a new report.
A study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve released last week found that of the $108 billion paid out in unemployment benefits in 2011, some $3.3 billion was paid out dishonestly The largest share of the fraud payments—$2.2 billion—went to people who were still working.
After two years as West Bend’s mayor, I have experienced the full spectrum of the ups and downs that come with public office. Recently, a seasoned politician told me “Kraig, you know you are doing a satisfactory job when you don’t hear from constituents. You know you are doing a great job when those against you question your ethics. Get used to it or get out.”
Unfortunately, local political adversaries have established they are willing to destroy anyone or anything that comes in contact with me. Apparently, nothing is sacred to these types. My personal friends, local employers, city employees, City Council, my local business, and even my family all seem fair game.
Fortunately, there are experiences that put things into perspective and remind me how much I appreciate the opportunity to serve the public. This past week displayed several of those experiences:
· Monday I spoke at the Lac Lawrann Learning Center opening. This facility along with our new Museum will forever change the quality of life offerings in West Bend.
· Tuesday was my 19th wedding anniversary – Happy Anniversary Jo and thanks to the Poplar Inn for a great dinner.
· Wednesday was Junior Achievement government day. I spoke to a bright group of Holy Angels 2nd graders about our citizen responsibilities to both support and limit the role of government in our lives.
· Thursday one of my daughters and I judged a cake contest at the Masonic Lodge. I met several high quality young men, one of whom was eager to smash a cream pie in my face as a fundraiser.
· Friday was an Arbor Day celebration. Thanks to the students and staff at Fair Park, the Beautification Committee, WE Energies, and the City Park Department for planting West Bend’s newest Maple Tree.
· Saturday I greeted guests with three of my daughters at the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day. The Y continues to find new ways to add value to our City.
Instead of allowing national politics to interfere with local progress, the focus should instead be on awesome weeks like this past one. Non-partisan mayoral responsibilities do not require me to govern the Democrat way or the Republican way. I am required to perform the West Bend way. My commitment to you is honest, open government that reflects this City’s constituents at all times.
Kraig Sadownikow – Mayor – West Bend
So help me understand this... Palermo hasn’t done anything wrong and people still want them punished? For what? Providing jobs for Wisconsinites? I sure hope that none of these kids need a job someday.
A dozen students occupied University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor David Ward’s office in Bascom Hall on Monday afternoon, demanding the university cut ties with Milwaukee-based frozen pizza manufacturer Palermo Villa., Inc., over the company’s labor practices.
Palermo’s has a licensing and sponsorship agreement with UW-Madison that allows them to brand themselves as ‘the official pizza of Bucky Badger.’
Meanwhile Monday, the National Labor Relations Board’s Washington, D.C., office upheld a local decision that Palermo Villa Inc. did not violate labor relations laws when it fired dozens of workers last year because they didn’t have appropriate documentation proving their eligibility to work in the United States.
“We’re well aware of the decision by the NLRB,” said UW-Madison senior Maxwell John Love, spokesman for protesters occupying the chancellor’s office. “But we don’t think it influences things here. Chancellor Ward should have cut the contraact already.”
The decision by the NLRB’s Office of the General Counsel denies an appeal filed by the Palermo Workers Union alleging unfair labor practices by the Milwaukee pizza manufacturer. The organizations claimed that the company fired the workers in retaliation for union-organizing efforts.