Category Archives: Politics – Wisconsin

Washington County to Have an Executive

This is a reversal from the vote in June.

September 11, 2019 – Washington Co., WI – With two Washington County Supervisors absent, (Roger Kist and Brian Gallitz) the County Board voted for a second time on a resolution to change the form of government to an elected county executive, rather than an appointed county administrator.
[…]
This means in April 2020 there will be a race for the seat for Washington County Executive. So far county administrator Joshua Schoemann has not indicated if he will run for the post. He said he’s going to take a couple days and then make a statement on his decision.

I support this move. As I wrote in my column a few months ago, Washington County has reached a size and complexity that it makes sense to exist in the American model of three co-equal branches of government. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if we left it alone, but I’d prefer to have an elected County Executive. Now what…

There will be a scramble for people to run… maybe. We’ve never had this elected position before so nobody has really been looking at it. It’s a full time gig that requires some executive leadership skills. That doesn’t appeal to everyone. The obvious lead candidate is Josh Schoemann, the current County Administrator. Certainly nobody could argue against his knowledge of County Government. At the same time, he could be viewed as just part of the county swamp. Why bother having an elected County Executive if you are just going to put the same person back at the helm? Of course, all that will depend on if he runs and who runs against him. It’s going to be an interesting few months to see who throws their hat into the ring.

A couple more side points…

With this move, the county is violating Schoemann’s contract and will have to pay out about $130k to him. That’s a temporary expense and no reason to hold back from changing our form of government if we think that’s the right way to go, but it is worth noting. It would have been nice if they could have timed the change with the expiration of his contract.

Also, this is exactly the kind of attitude that frustrates me:

Supervisor Jenkins – “I brought it back and then voted against it a second time because it still deserved time to do the research and get feedback but for me I feel our electorate voting has pretty limited knowledge on county government. To me now laying this task on the people in the county to have this very important vote, honestly it scares me a bit. So now that it’s past there’s going to have to be a lot of education on what sort of role (county executive) this is. I also feel the difference in position is we will now be tasking the operations of the county to someone who wins a popularity contest. There’s a role for that in democracy but I hope we find a balance.

So… we shouldn’t have elected government because the people are too ignorant? That’s the same argument that’s been used against representative government by tyrants for millennia. As the saying goes, “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms.”

UPDATE: Chris Jenkins sent me a note clarifying his statement:

I view the county exec as the day to day administrator who should come with some sort of knowledge and background to run this immense operation. That is why I was worried about electing this kind of position. I am obviously all for elected positions, as I have been in multiple roles myself. I just hope we now surround our county exec with the staff he/she needs to successfully run the operations of the County.

Tiffany for the 7th CD

Cool. I appreciated Tiffany’s initiative and leadership in the state legislature.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, formally launched his campaign for the 7th CD today, vowing to be “the ally President Trump needs to keep moving our country forward.”

Meanwhile, a Wausau thoracic surgeon is now looking at a run, as is an aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh.

Tiffany said in a statement the president needs a “proven conservative with a track record of getting things done,” touting the “tough choices” he’s made in the Legislature, where he’s served since 2011.

“I don’t plan to go to Washington looking for a fight, but I can guarantee I will never back down from one,” Tiffany said.

Sensenbrenner’s final term

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a taste, but go pick up a copy!

One of the reasons for Congressman Sensenbrenner’s success and longevity in office is that he never forgot his constituents. Every year, in good times in bad, in power or in the wilderness, in the heat or cold, Congressman Sensenbrenner could be found out in his district. He walked in parades, attended the rubber- chicken dinners of local organizations, worked through local festivals, enjoyed the county fairs, and so much more. There used to be a joke that whenever and wherever three residents of the Fifth District gather, one would find Jim Sensenbrenner.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will be justifiably lauded for his accomplishments. He has truly been an anchor for Wisconsin Conservatism for a generation and an instrumental part of Wisconsin’s history. But I hope he will also be lauded for never losing sight of the fact that he was, first and foremost, a representative, in the full and truest sense of that word.

Jim Sensenbrenner will have a successor, but he will never have a replacement.

Open for Business?

This is the kind of stuff that really annoys me. From this week’s Around the Bend:

The West Bend Plan Commission reviewed the redevelopment plan for 1610 W. Washington Street, formerly home to Pizza Hut. A representative for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins was called before the Plan Commission to answer questions about parking, signage, and traffic.

[…]

Mario – What you’re seeing with this building is new for Dunkin and new for Baskin. This is a national brand that wants to make some identification, so you have the big slogan “America runs on Dunkin” or “West Bend runs on Dunkin.” The other slogan is a catchy phrase – in the past we’ve had situations where the facades become open and blank and the criticism is can you do something to break it up.

We break up the building with materials we see, and we are open – if it’s concerning, we don’t want too much going on but we do want something.

Sara Fleischman – I agree need to break it up but I won’t support the slogans. I won’t give my vote if slogan stays on the side.

[…]

Plan Commission member Chris Schmidt – I agree with Sara – not to add slogans on signs of buildings.

I get that the folks on the Plan Commission are doing their job by looking at plans and making sure that everything is kosher, but come on.

For a little bit of background, Washington Street (HWY 33) through West Bend isn’t some pristine real estate. It has its fair share of old strip malls, gas stations, older houses, empty lots, etc. It looks like any other street in almost any town in America. The property that Dunkin is wanting to replace is an old Pizza Hut that’s been empty and degrading for years. Like several old properties on that street, it’s just a dumpy old abandoned property with grass growing in the driveway.

So when a national chain comes in and wants to replace that dilapidated eye sore with a brand new establishment, I’d prefer that our city representatives say “thank you” and “how may we help you?” Sure, make sure the plans are safe and not a 40-story strip club or anything, but let them build the building they want. It’s their money and they want to spend it in West Bend. Who the hell cares if they have their slogan on the sign? It’s not the job of the Plan Commission to micromanage the aesthetics of every property in the city.

Stout’s New Digs

When you hear the UW System crying poor again, think of stuff like this and ask yourself, “did this improve education?”

A new fireplace in University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Merle M. Price Commons ties in the history of Dunn County with a gathering place for students.

The  10-foot-6-inch wide by 9-foot-6-inch tall natural gas fireplace is built from Dunnville sandstone, a creamy stone from the Downsville area just south of Menomonie.

[…]

Thirty-five sandstone pieces make up the fireplace, weighing in at about four tons. The hearthstone weighs 1,300 pounds.

The fireplace was built by R. J. Jurowski of Whitehall. The blocks were cut by Coldspring out of Cold Spring, Minn. It took workers about a week in August to build the fireplace, moving most of the pieces by hand and mortaring them into place.

“It’s difficult because sandstone is very fragile,” said Tim Abley, site superintendent for R.J. Jurowski.

[…]

Menomin Lounge will be open in mid- to late September, with other meeting rooms opening in mid-October. The work is part of an $8.5 million renovation of 19,000 square feet in the building, mostly the first floor and exterior.

Price Commons will also have meeting rooms named for area waterways including Elk Creek, Cranberry Creek, Gilbert Creek and two smaller meeting rooms named for the Hay River and the Eau Galle River, Witucki said.

Price Commons, built in 1967, also has new windows and sills. The new first floor features refurbished offices for the LGBTQ center, the Qube, which opened in April. There is a new main entrance on the east side as well as expanded entryways on all sides.

Milwaukee Proposes Sales Tax Increase

Do it! I love it when Milwaukee pushes shoppers to Washington County.

Milwaukee County leaders are proposing a 1 percent local sales tax increase that could be reinvested into the community through property tax relief and refurbishing the county’s aging buildings.

State Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, and state Sen. La Tonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, plan to introduce a local option sales tax to the Wisconsin Legislature this fall. If approved, a referendum would be brought to Milwaukee County voters in Spring 2020.

The proposed plan could bring in an extra $160 million in the first year, with more than 25 percent of that money projected to come from visitors and non-residents, according to the county.

Waukesha School District Proposes Massive Tax Increase

Yikes.

WAUKESHA, WI — Citing the need to cover the costs of a 2018 schools referendum, Waukesha School District officials rolled out a preliminary budget for the 2019-20 school year that carves out a roughly 11 percent property tax levy increase.

According to district officials, the proposed 2019-20 budget includes a tax levy increase of 11.35 percent. The tax rate per $1,000 of property value would be $8.51 compared to $7.80 in last year’s budget cycle. The increase amounts to about $142 for the owner of a $200,000 property.

I would note that the Waukesha School District, in a trend being repeated all over Wisconsin, has declining enrollment. According to DPI, they have 415 fewer kids than they did five years ago. That;s a decline of 3%. Yet they still want more and more money.

We have a major spending problem in our school districts. I think everyone understands that school districts can’t necessarily cut spending when enrollment declines slightly in a year. But when that decline is sustained over several years and the district is educating hundreds of fewer kids, shouldn’t spending go down at some point? And if spending declines in a district where the aggregate property values are steady or increasing, a decline in spending should result in a tax decrease.

And yet that never seems to happen. What is the breaking point? Will it take a 10% decline in enrollment before the school board starts to scale back spending to be in line with their responsibility? 15%? 25%? When can the taxpayers reasonably expect school boards to cut spending when enrollment is declining?

K-12 Spending Continues to Balloon Despite Declining Enrollment

From Senator Duey Stroebel.

The largest portion of our property tax dollars go to support for our K-12 educational systems.  According to the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, K-12 spending has seen an increase of $4 billion since 2013.  This $4 billion figure does not even count debt service payments for referendums passed in the same time.

How is this massive K-12 spending increase possible while local property taxes statewide remained flat?  It’s because of state appropriations that “back filled” (or reduced) local property taxes.

In total, the Legislature appropriated $4.25 billion in local property tax relief from the 2014 fiscal year through the budget ending in June of 2019.  That’s right — money all Wisconsinites paid, predominantly in income tax, has been used to back fill local property taxes statewide.  To put that sum into perspective, those funds could have been used to lower income taxes from our current four tax brackets topping at 7.65% to only two income tax brackets of 4% and 5.5%.  Viewed another way, if that money were pooled into our current budget, we could cover all funds for the entire two year commitment for these departments: Corrections, Natural Resources, Justice, and all of our appellate courts.

The billions of dollars in state level spending was necessary to keep local property taxes statewide flat despite the 13.1% increased spending by local K-12 school districts from 2013 to June of 2019.  Interestingly, during this same period, statewide student enrollment declined 0.8%.

Sensenbrenner Won’t Seek Reelection

The Dean to step down. Sensenbrenner was on Mark Belling’s show to make this announcement this afternoon.

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner says he won’t seek re-election next year after serving four decades in Congress.

The Menomonee Falls Republican’s decision comes soon after another GOP House member from Wisconsin, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, announced he is stepping down later this month.

Sensenbrenner’s decision will open the door for a crowded primary race in the solidly Republican Milwaukee-area 5th Congressional District.

The dean of the Wisconsin congressional delegation, Sensenbrenner, 76, previously served in the state Legislature before first getting elected to Congress in 1978.

I’ll have more thoughts later, but this will create a frenzy in Republican circles. But before we get to that, we thank Jim Sensenbrenner for 40 years of faithful service. I’ve always been impressed that despite being in office for so long, he always stayed very close to his constituents. He’s been accessible, helpful, informative, a master of the detail, and a conservative lion of the House. His successor has big shoes to fill.

Another year, another tax surplus

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

In a fitting coda to the two remarkable terms of Governor Scott walker, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a report last week showing that the preliminary general fund tax collections for fiscal year 2019 came in a whopping $702.6 million more than anticipated. Such a number demonstrates the remarkably good shape in which Walker left the state economy and the state’s finances.

When the Legislature and the governor write a budget, they have to estimate the amount of revenue that the various taxes will generate for the state. This estimate is based on the tax laws in place combined with economic forecasts. As with any estimate, the further one looks into the future, the less certainty there is with the number.

When the Legislature passed the previous biennial budget which just came to a close, they estimated that they would collect $16.6 billion in taxes including income taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes, excise taxes, public utility taxes, and the other many and varied taxes extracted from the people of Wisconsin. Based on the preliminary data, the state actually collected $17.3 billion in taxes leaving a $700 million surplus. For a little historical perspective, the state of Wisconsin ended the fiscal year with more tax collections than expected in six of the eight Walker budget years.

This tax surplus gives us a few critical insights. First, it was not that long ago that Wisconsin’s budget was in an annual crisis with tax revenue falling short of projections. Coupled with overspending, Wisconsin had massive annual deficits. You might remember when Governor Walker first sat behind the governor’s desk, he was handed a massive budget deficit that required an immediate Budget Repair Bill, a.k.a Act 10. Governor Walker and the conservative Republican majorities in the Legislature, quickly righted the ship of state over the violent objections of the Democrats. Wisconsin has enjoyed budget surpluses ever since.

Second, recall that tax surpluses are simply a factor or the state collecting more than they estimated they would collect. These estimates have often been used in other states and in previous eras in Wisconsin to create phony budgets. Wisconsin must pass a balanced budget. Unlike the federal government, a state does not have the power to print money, so the state must account for every dollar spent.

In order to create the fiction of a balanced budget to support more spending, politicians will inflate tax revenue estimates for the budget. Then, when actual tax revenues fall short of the inflated estimates, the same politicians will enact new taxes or borrowing to pay the bills. It is a cynical method of budgeting by crisis. The consistency of the tax revenue surpluses during the Walker budgets show that the Republicans used responsible, conservative tax revenue estimates to create their budgets.

Third, the tax surplus is a result of the fact that Wisconsin’s economy is booming thanks in part to the economic policies Governor Walker and the Republican- led legislatures of recent years. Taxes are generated when money moves. Money moves when the economy is healthy. With more people employed in Wisconsin than ever before, businesses thriving, new construction happening everywhere, and people spending their higher incomes, the state of Wisconsin gets a slice of every dollar that moves.

As the Republicans cut taxes several times over the previous eight years, the money that people kept was put to good use in our economy, thus creating more wealth, more income, more spending, and, yes, more tax revenue. As has been demonstrated time and time again, when the tax burden is too heavy, cutting taxes always feeds more economic activity and results in more tax revenue. And the tax burden in Wisconsin is still far too heavy.

The one significant black mark on the Walker budget years is that while the state had budget surpluses, Walker and the Republicans still increased spending every single budget. And in the most recent budget, with Republicans controlling the Legislature and Governor Evers in power, the notion of any spending constraint was abandoned. At some point, the economy will enter a recession, tax revenues will collapse, and we will all regret that we failed to control spending during the good times.

 

Lena Taylor Runs for Milwaukee Mayor

This could be fun.

MILWAUKEE — State Sen. Lena Taylor is looking to be Milwaukee’s next mayor.

Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who is currently serving her fourth term in the Wisconsin Senate, made the announcement Tuesday morning.

[…]

“I wake up every day to fight for every corner of our great city. We’ve overcome a decade of national economic hardship and caustic attacks from Madison politicians. We’ve sparked a renewal in Milwaukee that is reinvigorating our city center and our communities as well, investing hundreds of millions of dollars directly into our neighborhoods. Homicides and nonfatal shootings are down two years in a row. And we can’t stop now making this city a place that works for you, your family, your neighbors, and your hopes for the future.”

Taylor has been elected to the Wisconsin legislature for almost 15 years by a substantial portion of the City of Milwaukee. She has a substantial base and a strong following in her district. She is also black in a city minority-majority city. There are a few interesting dynamics at play here:

First, Taylor is not in step with the modern liberal Democratic Party of Wisconsin. She is very liberal on social and financial issues, but she supports School Choice and the 2nd Amendment. Those are both popular positions in much of Milwaukee. Her policy positions, assuming she doesn’t flip-flop, have the potential to pull support from not only traditional Democrats, but from Conservatives in Milwaukee looking for someone closer to their policy positions than Tom Barrett.

Second, Taylor is clearly going to make the case for all of the residents of Milwaukee who don’t live downtown. While downtown Milwaukee has thrived under Mayor Barrett, the rest of the city is falling apart. Infrastructure in the neighborhoods are crumbling. Crime continues to plague many of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods. Economic opportunity, lead pipes, jobs, potholes, etc. etc. etc. – Barrett has completely neglected 90% of the city while he clinks glasses with the downtown elite. Barrett’s Trolly Folly is merely the most visible example of his misplaced faulty priorities. Taylor is sure to make the case that the rest of the city deserves attention. This will also come into focus as Barrett is hobnobbing around downtown with elites during the Democratic Convention. Do you think anyone west of 16th, north of Walnut, or south of National are going to see any benefit from that convention as they watch their taxes being poured into it?

Third, there’s no getting around the fact that Taylor is a hot head. She has a reputation for being abusive to her staff, a bully, and incredibly arrogant to anyone she feels lacks the appropriate respect for someone of her self-appointed stature. This should keep the race interesting as we all await the next meltdown.

If it comes down to a race between Barrett and Taylor, I’d vote for Taylor. At least she is interested in the whole city.

Wisconsin is Still Waiting on Evers to Call a Special Election for 7th CD

Heh.

Gov. Tony Evers says he is waiting for a recommendation from his legal team about when to call a special election for the congressional district being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy.

Evers told reporters Thursday that he doesn’t know yet if he will have the special election correspond with the state’s presidential primary in April. There is also state Supreme Court election that day.

[…]

The Democratic Evers said he is more concerned with finding a date that works well for that northwestern Wisconsin congressional district than one that might benefit Democrats.

Uh huh… it should take about eight minutes to check the law regarding calling a special election, pull out a calendar, and pick a date. And that date should be one of the regular election dates coming up so that it isn’t an extra cost for the taxpayers. It’s not that difficult if that is your only consideration.

If, however, you are waiting to see what Democratic candidates are jumping in, allowing party leaders to coalesce behind a favorite and get an organization together, and pick a date that gives the Democrats maximum advantage, then it takes a little longer to decide. It’s certainly Evers’ prerogative to use this duty in a way that gives his party as much advantage as possible. Let’s just not pretend that he’s doing otherwise.

Green Bay School District Leads the Way in Wasting Taxpayer Money

The Green Bay School District is hardly unique, but this story is a revealing insight into why the cost of public education in Wisconsin is out of control.

Concerns about student misbehavior, safety and poor academic performance at the school came to light in June 2017, when a former teacher resigned during a Green Bay School Board meeting.

She said students physically assaulted peers and staff, vandalized property, carried weapons and used vulgar language.

A Press-Gazette review of police calls and discipline records in the 2015-16 academic year found a disproportionate percentage of black students were being suspended at both Washington and Franklin middle schools. While black students constituted just 13% of Washington’s 904 students that school year, they accounted for nearly 40% of the suspensions.

After staff increases at Washington failed to trigger the desired improvement, the district hired Olson and brought in American Institutes for Research of Washington, D.C., to guide the turnaround effort.

[…]

The Green Bay School District paid AIR nearly $400,000 in the first year and would’ve paid an additional $216,000 this school year.

Based on internal student achievement tests from the last school year, the district anticipates Washington students will show improvement in language arts, while math scores will fall, when scores are reported later this year for the Wisconsin Forward Exam, the state’s standardized student achievement test.

A quick scan off the Green Bay School District’s staff directory shows no fewer than 4 Deans; 65 Principals and Associate Principals; 23 Directors, Executive Directors, & Associate Directors of something education related; an Associate Superintendent and the Superintendent. That’s a full 94 people (at a fully-burdened cost of probably between $14 and $18 million per year) whose job is to wake up every day and figure out how to provide a great education for all of the kids in their charge. These professionals are presumably all trained, certified by the State of Wisconsin, and have centuries of cumulative experience behind them.

Yet what does the district do when faced with a problem? Do they hold the people running the show responsible for the poor performance? Do they gather these immense internal resources together to divine a solution?

No. They hire a consultant for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once again, the fetish to “do something,” like spend money on a consultant, is preferable to the hard work of getting results.

Another year, another tax surplus

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s the start:

In a fitting coda to the two remarkable terms of Governor Scott walker, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a report last week showing that the preliminary general fund tax collections for fiscal year 2019 came in a whopping $702.6 million more than anticipated. Such a number demonstrates the remarkably good shape in which Walker left the state economy and the state’s finances.

Mayor Sadownikow Talks about School Task Force

The Washington County Insider was at the meeting of the Common Sense Citizens of Washington County on Thursday at which West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow gave an update on the city and on the West Bend School District Private Task Force, of which I am a member.

You can read the whole story here. Here’s the first of four video where he lays out how it started and what the scope is.

Republicans Sign Blanket Confidentiality Agreement

This is an interesting story.

Under Republican lame-duck laws limiting Kaul’s authority, he is required to seek approval from the Republican-controlled legislative budget committee to settle a number of lawsuits. But Republicans, up until their announcement on Thursday, had been unable to agree on a procedure for doing so.

Kaul on Tuesday told committee members they would each need to sign confidentiality agreements to review and approve the cases he brought to them. But all lawmakers objected to doing so for different reasons. The unprecedented saga this week has tested how the lame-duck laws will work in practice.

The blanket secrecy agreement is meant to ameliorate concerns from lawmakers over signing individual nondisclosure agreements.

“This action should resolve the Attorney General’s confidentiality concerns, and he should send over all of the relevant settlement information for review,” Darling and Nygren said in a statement. “The Committee stands ready to review and approve any settlements that are in the state’s interest.”

It’s unclear whether the agreement passes legal muster. Kaul in a statement said the department is assessing the proposed confidentiality agreement.

“We will continue attempting to reach agreement on this issue, as we began attempting to do more than six months ago,” Kaul said. “Our interest remains in ensuring that Wisconsinites are represented as effectively as possible and that the enforcement of our environmental, consumer protection, and other laws is not impeded by partisan gamesmanship.”

On the one hand, I understand Kaul’s concerns. He is litigating cases where his office is bound by confidentiality agreements and it is in the best interests of Wisconsin to keep things confidential until there is a resolution. By extending the circle to include legislators, he wants them to be bound by the same confidentiality requirements. This is particularly an issue because politicians are notoriously leaky – particularly when they believe there might be a political advantage in leaking.

On the other hand, the Attorney General works for the state and the legislature sets the rules. The legislature passed a law requiring the AG to include them and the AG, by forcing this requirement, is refusing to comply with the law. Kaul doesn’t have the legal authority tp refuse to comply with the law without a confidentiality agreement.

Our rights are not ‘BS’

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Gov. Tony Evers is still pushing for the Wisconsin Legislature to pass new gun-control legislation and threatening to call a special session to do so. He went so far as to call people’s concerns over his gun-control measures as “BS,” as if adult deliberation and constitutional considerations are now unwelcome in Madison. At the risk of our governor stamping his feet and pouting, let us explore the legitimate concerns with his proposals.

Evers is advocating two new gun-control laws. The first law he wants is universal background checks. The concerns over universal background checks are not so much constitutional as practical. Under current law, any person who purchases a firearm from a gun store or licensed firearm dealer is required to pass a background check. This includes sale of guns at gun shows.

Current law does not, however, require background checks for a private sale or transfer of a firearm. Universal background checks would require that someone undergo a background check in virtually all circumstances. In some versions, this includes when a firearm is passed through inheritance, given as a gift, or even loaned. While probably not constitutionally prohibitive, such checks are monstrously unwieldy. It puts the burden of conducting a background check onto private individuals and criminalizes them if they fail to comply. In their worst derivations, universal-background-check laws require a firearm registry to track the movement and ownership of firearms. The cost and hassle of enforcement and compliance far exceed the usefulness of the law.

A red flag law is far more problematic. The premise of a red flag law is that people who are about to commit mass murder often exhibit troubling behaviors that could be reported so that government officials could confiscate their firearms before they do something bad. The problem with a red flag law is not even its flagrant assault on our Second Amendment rights. The problem it the fact that it tramples on our First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights to get to our Second Amendment Rights.

Under a red flag law, a person’s First Amendment right to speak freely would be infringed. If a person makes some uneasy, outlandish, or even violent statements, the government could seize their firearms. For every mass killer who said something stupid and violent, there are a million other Americans who have said something stupid and violent and never acted on it. A red flag law would have the government cracking down on people for the simple act of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time in front of the wrong people.

Our right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” is protected by our Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. Under a red flag law, the government would be given the power to arbitrarily seize a person’s firearms because another person thinks they might be dangerous. Surely, such a low standard cannot be construed to be reasonable, or the notion of being secure in one’s person is rendered meaningless.

Our Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protects the people from being “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Under a red flag law, the entire point of it is that the government seizes the firearms without needing to actually convict someone of a crime. The person whose firearms are seized is utterly deprived of due process except for the process to get his or her firearms returned. Even then, the burden rests on the accused to prove that he or she does not intend to commit a crime in order to have the firearms returned. The shift of the burden of proof, coupled with the impossibility of proving a negative, undermines the rule of law.

With a red flag law in place, the government would bulldoze through at least three constitutionally protected rights before depriving a person of the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

When considering any proposed law, a good rule of thumb is to imagine the law being enforced by your worst enemy. Universal background checks and a red flag law could be brutally enforced by a despotic government and still not stop a single mass murder.

Governor Evers knows that the Republican Legislature is too responsible to pass these laws, so he has the luxury of posturing for the media. But the governor’s casual and crude disregard for the rights that these laws would trammel is precisely why they should not be passed.

Madison School Board Member Compares Police to Nazis

Yes. It’s just like the Nazis and concentration camps. Sure it is. /sarcasm

On Saturday, [Madison School Board Member Ali] Muldrow said on Facebook that “I think that (it’s) important to talk about what it is like for the students who are arrested at school and end up in the Dane County Jail. We would not talk about the role of the Nazis and act as if the experiences people had in concentration camps is a separate issue.”

Oh, and she doubled down before finally apologizing.

Muldrow initially didn’t back down from her Saturday Facebook comments, saying Monday that “the rounding up (of) specific demographics of people, including LGBTQ folks and folks with disabilities, then institutionalizing them in locked facilities, is being done now in a variety of ways and was also done in Nazi Germany.”

Madison gonna Madison. This person is in charge of educating kids.

Give. It. Back.

There are only three acceptable uses for a government surplus. 1) return it to the taxpayers; 2) pay down debt; & 3) put it in the rainy day fund. In this case, the rainy day fund is already well funded. In this case, they should just give it back.

Wisconsin collected $76 million more in taxes than anticipated last fiscal year, prompting lawmakers from both parties to claim credit for a sign of positive economic growth in the state.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Monday announced general fund tax collections for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which ended June 30, were up 7.4% from the previous year.

The $17.3 billion collected in taxes was $75.5 million, or 0.4%, more than anticipated in May when the state was finalizing its 2019-21 budget.

Oh, and tax cuts work… just sayin’.

Our rights are not ‘BS’

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Go pick up a copy, but here’s how I sum it up:

With a red flag law in place, the government would bulldoze through at least three constitutionally protected rights before depriving a person of the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

When considering any proposed law, a good rule of thumb is to imagine the law being enforced by your worst enemy. Universal background checks and a red flag law could be brutally enforced by a despotic government and still not stop a single mass murder.

Governor Evers knows that the Republican Legislature is too responsible to pass these laws, so he has the luxury of posturing for the media. But the governor’s casual and crude disregard for the rights that these laws would trammel is precisely why they should not be passed.