Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Politics – Wisconsin

Washington County Exec Campaigns for Raising Taxes

With raging inflation, an economy in recession, and people seeing their nest eggs plundered, Washington County Executive Josh Shoemann is campaigning to raise property taxes. And he thinks you’re stupid enough to believe that he can raise taxes and you got a tax decrease. When I supported moving Washington County to an Executive structure, I really didn’t think that the first one would try to build his political resume on tax increases.

Schoemann described increasing the sheriff’s office’s share of the county tax levy from $15.2 million, 43.7 percent, when he took office to $20 million, 55 percent, today, a 33 percent increase.

 

He then spoke of the $3.6 million Anti-Crime Plan referendum, which will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

 

“[The plan] will provide more law enforcement resources to our schools; more mental health resources in times of crisis and with non-acute cases out of the justice system; more inter-county and cross-county drug task force engagement; more mental health support and additional resources to combat substance use in our jail; and improved emergency and crises response and management,” said Schoemann.

 

The referendum would see an increase of 30-and-ahalf staff positions across multiple departments in the sheriff’s office, including teaming up three social workers and three sheriff’s deputies to address mental health crisis calls.

 

The referendum, if passed by county residents, will raise the tax levy 9.89 percent, but there will still be an estimated nine cent per $1,000 of assessed value decrease in the county tax rate, at least.

 

“Whether the referendum is adopted or not, your county portion of the property tax rate will likely go down, it’s just a matter of how much. … This referendum is not about whether we want a new shiny building or field. It is about whether we need a proactive response to the crime plague seeping across our border,” said Schoemann. “So, the question our community must decide is this: What do we hate more, growing government or growing crime?”

No, this is not a binary question. Government can stay the same size and reallocate budget to priorities like fighting crime. The threat that the county will be unable to grapple with crime without a tax increase is an admission of failed governance.

Michels to Challenge Evers for Governor

I can almost guarantee that Evers had this statement written irrespective of who won. He just needed to fill in the name.

Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers responded to Trump-endorsed Tim Michels’ projected win in the Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday by labeling him as “radical” and “divisive.”

 

Michels defeated former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and two other Republican candidates in the GOP primary, and will face off against Evers in the general election in November.

 

In a statement following Michels’ projected primary victory, Evers’ campaign said his upcoming Republican opponent is “the most extreme and divisive nominee possible” who will say anything to appease former President Trump.

A couple comments on the GOP primary…

As I stated before, I supported Kleefisch because I think she would have been an indefatigable champion of conservatism as governor and I thought she stood the better chance of beating Evers. But… it’s close. Michels is a lifelong conservative and experienced business leader. He would also be a fine governor. I hope that Michels learned the lessons from his 2004 loss and makes the appropriate changes to his campaign strategy. I also hope that Michels has the same energy to move the conservative cause as governor as we saw in Walker’s first term.

Also, it is clear to me that the Republican base in Wisconsin has changed significantly since the Tea Party movement swept them into power in 2008 and 2010. It is more Trump than Reagan. More Hannity than Buckley. It is a different brand with different priorities. It’s good from the standpoint that it is an aggressive style that can get some big things done. Unfortunately, it is also a brand of conservatism that believes in big government doing big things – even if they are conservative things. It is not a brand that believes in small government. It’s not my brand, but it is far preferable to the Marxists on the Democratic side.

All that being said, I’m firmly in the Michels camp. Let’s git er dun.

On Abortion

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I put a taste below. I realized that as the abortion debate has moved to the state houses where we, the people, will actually have to debate the issue and come to some decisions, the rhetoric of abortion politics is still frozen in the theater of inaction in which SCOTUS froze it in 1973. This is one guy’s attempt to explain his position on the issue. Hopefully those with other opinions will offer them with the same sincerity and not resort to the crutch of “you hate women” or some such nonsense and we can have a grown-up debate about public policy. Pollyannish? Probably, but a guy can hope.

Our nation’s Declaration of Independence set forth that we are all created equal and, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life.” Our United States Constitution went on to protect people from being deprived of life without the due process of law in the fifth and fourteenth amendments. Both documents are based on a fundamental understanding of Natural Rights.

 

Natural rights are universal and inalienable. They are not dependent on government, laws, customs, traditions, or societal norms. They are rights that are embedded in the very essence of humanity and are enjoyed by each individual irrespective of age, color, creed, nationality, gender, or station. The just duty of government is to protect those rights from being infringed upon by others and to regulate the outcome of when two rights collide.

 

The most precious Natural Right is the right to live. Life is the right from which all other Natural Rights flow. The only real question regarding abortion, then, is to determine when life begins, for once we have determined that a life has begun, it is incumbent on us to protect that life through the power of government.

 

Fortunately, here in the 22nd century, the mysteries of reproduction and gestation have been largely solved. Once an egg is fertilized, a unique DNA is created and cells begin to multiply until they form a human that we would recognize. Some would pinpoint the start of life at when the heartbeat starts, or when brain activity begins, or when the baby would be viable outside of the womb. Some would allow abortion even in the moments after birth under the argument that the baby is still woefully dependent on the mother. That is the same argument that could be made for infanticide well into the toddler years.

 

For me, the most ethical and logical point at which to mark the start of life is when that unique DNA is created. That is when there is a unique life. There is clearly nothing separate from the parents before that moment and there is someone unique after it. While one could argue that life begins at a more viable state, each of those benchmarks seem arbitrary. Our moral, ethical, and legal obligation to protect life should make us err, if we are to err, on the side of prudence. It is better to accidentally protect people’s pre-lives than it is to intentionally kill them.

 

With life beginning at fertilization, we must structure our laws to protect those lives. In the case of a mother not wanting a baby, we come into a conflict of the rights of two individuals. The baby has a right to life. The mother has a right to bodily autonomy. In such cases of conflict, we make laws to decide the best, least harmful, outcome. In no other area of law do we permit the killing of one individual to protect the bodily autonomy of another. Neither should we in this case. The consequences for the mother are significant, but the consequences for the baby are cataclysmic. In such cases, we must protect the life of the baby even though its very existence imposes obligations and consequences on the mother.

Appleton Library Struggles to Stay Within $40 Million Construction Budget

Really?

APPLETON – The architect and construction manager of the new $40 million Appleton Public Library have doubled down on value engineering in attempt to keep the project within budget in a time of high inflation.

 

The extra work has caused several delays in bidding the project. Under the latest schedule, the bids are due Aug. 31, and the completion of the project is targeted for spring 2024.

 

“We don’t know what will happen on bid day,” library project manager Dean Gazza told the Common Council. “No one can predict that, but I can tell you that we put ourselves in the best possible position to bid and hit our target.”

 

[…]

 

The existing library at 225 N. Oneida St. dates to 1981 and is considered outdated, inefficient and, at 86,600 square feet, undersized. The new library will total 107,380 square feet.

 

The library closed its doors in April in anticipation of construction. It is operating at a temporary site in the former Best Buy store at 2411 S. Kensington Drive.

 

The budget for the library project totals $40.4 million. The amount consists of $26.4 million in city property taxes, $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and $12 million in private donations.

Cancel the project and leave the library in the old Best Buy. Use the $12 million in private donations to spruce up the place a bit. In a time of raging inflation, we have to stop. Stop spending. Just. Stop. Spending.

Wisconsin’s opportunity for another turn of the conservative revolution

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:

With the primary election a week away, most primary voters have made up their minds. Many of them have already cast their votes. In the Republican primary for governor, the voters are blessed with three great choices. Any of the three candidates would be a solid governor and far superior to Gov. Tony Evers. I continue to strongly think that Rebecca Kleefisch is the best choice both in terms of her ability to defeat Evers and her ability to move the conservative agenda as governor, but I can’t fault any Republican primary voter for making a different choice.

 

Whichever Republican makes it to the general election stands a good chance of winning in a red wave year. Should that occur and should the Republicans retain control of the Legislature (they should), it is another opportunity to move bold conservative ideas like the Republicans did in Governor Scott Walker’s first term. There are three big agenda items that the Republicans should pass in the first 100 days.

 

First, the Republicans must pass universal school choice. The pandemic taught us that when push comes to shove, too many of our government schools will abandon their duty to education. The educational destruction wrought upon Wisconsin’s children by negligent government school administrations will reverberate through the rest of their lives. Couple that with the pervasive Marxist indoctrination that is seeping into much of the curriculum, and it is time for change. Universal school choice will allow parents to find the best educational option for their children. Universal school choice is based on the premise that the taxpayers have a duty to educate kids — not sustain failing government institutions. The tax dollars that are spent to educate children should follow the children and trust parents to make the best choice for their own kids. A Universal school choice law should be very simple. Every child should get a voucher for the amount that would have been spent by state taxpayers on that child’s education and any accredited school the child attends can cash that voucher. Trust parents. Let us focus on funding education instead of government bureaucracies.

 

Second, Republicans should eliminate the state income tax. Instead of tinkering with the formulas and tweaking the exemptions, they should be bold and eliminate it outright. They can balance the elimination with a modest increase in the sales tax and aggressive spending reductions. This is a necessary step for Wisconsin to attract and retain the workforce of the future.

 

Nine states do not have a state income tax. It is no coincidence that five of them were in the top ten states with the largest net population growth in the last 12 months according to the U.S. Census. In an increasingly virtual workforce where high-income workers can live anywhere, they are choosing to live in states where they get to keep more of the money they earn. The sales tax, like other consumption taxes, is a tax that spreads the tax burden more evenly. Even highnet- worth people who do not currently earn an income have to pay the sales tax. For Wisconsin to attract the mobile, highincome earners to live and work in Wisconsin, they must be aggressive in making it financially attractive to them.

 

Third, Republicans must swiftly reform the state’s election apparatus. Hopefully everyone can agree that we want a state where it is easy to vote legitimately. When the people lose confidence in the integrity of our electoral process because it is riddled with inconsistent rule enforcement, obvious opportunities for fraud, and the outright illegal actions of government officials, the government loses the justification of having the consent of the governed. It is a republic-killing crisis.

 

For the most part, Wisconsin’s election laws are good. There may be a need for minor tweaks like uniform early voting laws, but as written, Wisconsin should have some of the fairest, easiest, and securest elections in the nation. Where it breaks down is that it is being administered by activist officials and a dysfunctional enforcement apparatus. Republicans should abolish the Wisconsin Elections Commission and replace it with a bicameral bipartisan legislative committee comprised completely of elected officials. Elections are how the citizens hold government officials accountable.

 

The transformative Walker administration reminded us what bold conservative leadership looks like. Whoever the Republican nominee is, conservatives’ expectations are rightfully high for them if they win a term in the big chair.

Barnes’ Anti-2nd Amendment Stances

I admit that I didn’t know/remember this. Of course, Barnes was a non-entity in the Assembly, so I’m not sure anyone noticed it at the time.

As a legislator Barnes held a press conference to announced he would introduce legislation to require gun owners to undergo psychological examinations before being permitted for concealed carry, and outlawing deer hunting in the state by banning the only ammo legal for use during gun deer season.

 

While now his rhetoric on guns is largely about assault rifles, it’s worth remembering as he poses in rural Wisconsin farm fields, that Barnes would end deer hunting, and send over 12% of the adult population for psych exams.  One in eight adults now have a concealed carry permit, a figure that increased after the unchecked riots Barnes praised as “inclusive community building.” 

Wisconsin’s opportunity for another turn of the conservative revolution

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

With the primary election a week away, most primary voters have made up their minds. Many of them have already cast their votes. In the Republican primary for governor, the voters are blessed with three great choices. Any of the three candidates would be a solid governor and far superior to Gov. Tony Evers. I continue to strongly think that Rebecca Kleefisch is the best choice both in terms of her ability to defeat Evers and her ability to move the conservative agenda as governor, but I can’t fault any Republican primary voter for making a different choice.

 

Whichever Republican makes it to the general election stands a good chance of winning in a red wave year. Should that occur and should the Republicans retain control of the Legislature (they should), it is another opportunity to move bold conservative ideas like the Republicans did in Governor Scott Walker’s first term. There are three big agenda items that the Republicans should pass in the first 100 days.

 

First, the Republicans must pass universal school choice.

 

[…]

 

Second, Republicans should eliminate the state income tax

 

[…]

 

Third, Republicans must swiftly reform the state’s election apparatus.

Washington County Board should reject tax increase referendum

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

On August 10, the Washington County Board will vote on whether or not to submit to the taxpayers a referendum asking to forever raise taxes above the statutory limit to increase the size of the Sheriff’s Department. Let us hope that they come to their senses and forgo the referendum. If they do not, let us hope that the good people of Washington County have the good senses to vote it down.

 

The wording of the referendum may be tweaked by the County Board if they put it on the ballot, but the essence will be to ask the voters to increase taxes by almost 10% forevermore for the purpose of permanently increasing the staff of the Sheriff’s Department by about 15. The money would also be used to generally increase pay to attract and retain staff.

 

The increase in staffing is part of the county’s anticrime effort to combat increasing crime in the county. Is crime really increasing that much? Is the increase in crime just a reflection of the population growth? Are current resources appropriately allocated? How much of a crime reduction will the increase in staffing cause? Some of these questions were asked by supervisors on the Public Safety Committee, but answers were not forthcoming. Promising that more information would be available at the full County Board meeting, the committee unanimously approved the question to go to the full board.

 

There is no doubt that crime in this country is increasing largely thanks to intentionally lax law enforcement in our largest cities and the unending tide of illegal aliens flowing across our borders. Fighting crime is a legitimate duty of government and citizens in Washington County have always been supportive of law enforcement.

 

Budgets, however, are about priorities. Washington County spends almost $140 million per year on all functions. The Sheriff’s Department takes about $23 million, or 16.4% of the budget. If fighting crime is truly a priority, are the County Board and county executive really not able to reallocate funding from the other 83.6% of the budget? Instead, they want taxpayers to reallocate their family budgets to pay for that increase in spending?

 

County supervisors should also remember that they do not operate in a vacuum. The citizens who pay those taxes are facing a hard time financially. President Biden’s inflation economy is making prices rise faster than they have in 40 years. Unfortunately, most people’s incomes are not keeping up, so real income is dropping like a rock. Fuel prices are robbing people of mobility and everything is just getting more expensive. Families are cutting back on unnecessary expenses.

 

Meanwhile, times are good in government. After several years of money raining out of Washington from the Trump and Biden administrations to attempt to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic, local governments have been awash in spending cash. Now they are reaping the benefits of inflation because taxes are based on percentages. As the median home price in southeast Wisconsin has risen 48% since January of 2020, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, property taxes have risen accordingly.

 

So, too, has the sales tax. Washington County passed a county sales tax years ago that was sold as a temporary emergency need. They have since made the tax permanent and continue to spend the proceeds. As the prices of goods and services have risen with inflation, so has the money spent on sales taxes. Washington County will likely see a record year in sales tax collections in 2022. Where will that money go? Could it be used to fund a spending increase in the Sheriff’s Department instead of asking the taxpayers to send even more money to the county?

 

Nobody questions that fighting crime is important and that Washington County deserves a properly funded Sheriff’s Department to meet the needs of the day. But using the current heightened concern about crime to call for a tax increase during a time when inflation is rampant and the economy is slipping into recession borders on the kind of cynicism we expect in Milwaukee – not Washington County.

 

The Washington County Board should decline to ask the taxpayers for more money and fund the increase in spending for the Sheriff’s Department if it is truly needed. The county has enough of our tax dollars to deliver on their obligations.

Barnes’ Radical Past

The Washington Post seems concerned that Mandela Barnes radical past and love affair with Marxists will hurt him in Wisconsin. Hmm.

MADISON, Wis. — In 2019, Mandela Barnes traveled to neighboring Minnesota, where he visited a recycling facility with Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The Democratic lieutenant governor of Wisconsin danced with the member of the “Squad” of House liberals, both of them grinning in front of a truck that read “Zero Waste.” The footage was packaged into a GIF and broadcast from Barnes’s official Twitter account.

“She’s brilliant. She cares about the environment,” read the tweet.It also said: “She’s exactly who we need in Congress right now fighting for what’s right.”

And what the heck does this mean?

“A staff person tweeted that out,” Barnes said in an interview with The Washington Post last week, speaking of the August 2019 tweet about Omar. “That wasn’t even my Twitter, that was the official side Twitter.”

So if it’s an official statement from his office, it’s not him? He’s somehow not responsible for his office’s official Twitter account? That’s a curious stance.
More:
He was photographed posing with a red T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Abolish ICE,” a slogan some on the left embraced that references U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It’s not clear when the photo was taken, but it was posted on Reddit in 2018. Also in 2018, Barnes wrote “I need that” on social media in response to a person who offered him an “Abolish ICE” T-shirt in his size.
[…]
“Things were bad. Things were terrible. The founding of this nation? Awful,” Barnes said. “The impacts are felt today. They’re going to continue to be felt unless we address it in a meaningful way.”

Wisconsin Democratic Party Endorses Barnes

Is this a thing? I don’t remember this being a thing. Barnes is about to be the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. Of course the Wisconsin Democratic Party endorses him. Who else would they endorse? Has a political party ever endorsed someone other than their own candidate?

“The Democratic Party of Wisconsin proudly endorsed Mandela Barnes for the United States Senate,” Chair Ben Wikler said in a statement.

Washington County Board should reject tax increase referendum

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

County supervisors should also remember that they do not operate in a vacuum. The citizens who pay those taxes are facing a hard time financially. President Biden’s inflation economy is making prices rise faster than they have in 40 years. Unfortunately, most people’s incomes are not keeping up, so real income is dropping like a rock. Fuel prices are robbing people of mobility and everything is just getting more expensive. Families are cutting back on unnecessary expenses.

 

Meanwhile, times are good in government. After several years of money raining out of Washington from the Trump and Biden administrations to attempt to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic, local governments have been awash in spending cash. Now they are reaping the benefits of inflation because taxes are based on percentages. As the median home price in southeast Wisconsin has risen 48% since January of 2020, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, property taxes have risen accordingly.

 

So, too, has the sales tax. Washington County passed a county sales tax years ago that was sold as a temporary emergency need. They have since made the tax permanent and continue to spend the proceeds. As the prices of goods and services have risen with inflation, so has the money spent on sales taxes. Washington County will likely see a record year in sales tax collections in 2022. Where will that money go? Could it be used to fund a spending increase in the Sheriff’s Department instead of asking the taxpayers to send even more money to the county?

 

Nobody questions that fighting crime is important and that Washington County deserves a properly funded Sheriff’s Department to meet the needs of the day. But using the current heightened concern about crime to call for a tax increase during a time when inflation is rampant and the economy is slipping into recession borders on the kind of cynicism we expect in Milwaukee – not Washington County.

 

The Washington County Board should decline to ask the taxpayers for more money and fund the increase in spending for the Sheriff’s Department if it is truly needed. The county has enough of our tax dollars to deliver on their obligations.

State Senate Minority Leader Involved in Fatal Accident

Yikes.

MADISON – Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley was involved in a fatal car crash Friday that left a mother and her 5-year-old daughter dead.

 

Bewley, who represents a district that covers the northwestern part of the state, pulled out of a Lake Superior beach entrance and into the path of a car driven by 27-year-old Alyssa Ortman of Pennsylvania, according to the Ashland Police Department. When Ortman’s car collided with Bewley’s, it spun across Highway 2 and was hit by another vehicle driven by 45-year-old Jodi Munson of Mason.

 

Ortman’s 5-year-old daughter was pronounced dead at the crash scene. Ortman was transported to a nearby hospital where she later died, according to police.

 

[…]

 

Ben Baker, a reporting intern for the Journal Sentinel, was on the phone with Bewley on Friday afternoon for an interview he had arranged with her staff about this fall’s elections for the Legislature.

 

Shortly after the interview began, Bewley told Baker she had cataract eye surgery the day before. Minutes later, she stopped talking mid-sentence and the call went silent. When Baker asked Bewley if she was still on the line, she sounded concerned. When Baker asked if she was OK, she said, “Yeah, I’m OK. This is not a good accident.”

Nelson Drops Out of Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate

That’s a shame. He was one probably the most qualified and earnest candidate for Wisconsin on that ballot.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson’s long run for the U.S. Senate is over.

 

Nelson announced Monday that he was ending his Democratic primary campaign and throwing his support to Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

 

Although Nelson was running fourth in the polls, the move could provide a significant boost for Barnes, who is locked in a tight race with Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, with state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski further behind.

I do wonder how many of a candidate’s supporters actually follow the candidate’s recommendation for an alternate candidate. Political followers always seem to assume that most or all of them will. I do it too. Can we really assume that all of Nelson’s 7%-10% will go to Barnes because Nelson told them to? Or will they split to the other candidates along the same lines as they would had Nelson not made a recommendation? Do failed candidates really have that much sway over their former supporters? Has anyone studied this?

Democrats should nominate person of substance and character

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:

Despite the projected red wave in November, control of the U.S. Senate is still very much in doubt. The electoral map is such that there are 21 Republican senators up for reelection and only 14 Democrats. The Republicans are fighting uphill to take control of the Senate. Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson is on the ballot and facing a tough reelection race in a deeply divided state. Wisconsin could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate to serve as a check on President Biden’s disastrous presidency.

 

Ron Johnson absolutely deserves to be reelected. Unlike many of Wisconsin’s previous senators (and the current junior senator for the state), Johnson has become a major player in Washington, advocating for Wisconsin at the forefront of every major issue. He is unabashedly conservative and passionate about the state. But if Wisconsin decides to replace their consequential senator and possibly hand the Senate over to Biden and the Democrats, then we must consider the Democratic primary.

 

According to the most recent Marquette poll, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is leading in the primary, but he is within the margin of error to second-place Alex Lasry. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is a distant third place with Outagamie County Administrator Tom Nelson close behind in fourth place. There are other candidates, but none of the others are polling over 5% with two weeks remaining until the election.

 

As a conservative who wants to see Ron Johnson reelected, I would like to see Barnes win the primary. He is an unserious person with truckloads of ethical issues that make him the least electable Democrat in the group. His history of not paying his taxes on time, using the State Patrol as a car service when he did not have a license, lying about graduating from college, and myriad other issues make the job of the opposition researchers easy. As far as I can tell from his Twitter feed, the most important issues to him are legalizing marijuana and him being a senator. Wisconsin deserves better than that.

 

While I should want Barnes to win the Democratic primary because he is such a flawed candidate, I care too much about Wisconsin to advocate for that. Too many bad politicians have been elected when they shouldn’t have stood a chance. They go on to embarrass the state for years. If elected, Barnes would be Wisconsin’s Jesse Ventura. Given that there is a slight chance that the Democratic nominee might win, I implore Wisconsin’s Democrats to evaluate their choices seriously and think hard about which candidate would be a senator of quality and integrity.

 

The candidates are all from the leftist side of the political spectrum. Their differences on the issues are trivial. The differences lie in experience and personality. Lasry is a bona fide carpetbagger and almost a caricature of East Coast elitism. The son of the billionaire owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, his only accomplishment is working for his dad’s company. As a conservative, I would like to see Lasry win the nomination. Should he win the seat, he is most likely to be just another rich and ineffective warm body who vacillates between supporting radical leftist causes and corporate interests. He is an empty suit, but that is how I like my Democrats.

 

Tom Nelson is a creature of the Wisconsin Democratic swamp. The scion of a multigenerational Wisconsin family, his roots run deep, and he is knowledgeable of the state and its issues. For Wisconsin, he would probably be the best candidate. He knows the state and knows how to work in a legislative chamber. With so little time left in the primary, he stands little chance of rising to the top, but Wisconsin’s Democrats would do well to give him serious consideration if they are looking for an actual Wisconsinite who might be an effective senator.

 

Just between us, Sarah Godlewski is the candidate that worries me most in the general election. She is independently wealthy, passionate, a good communicator, and very knowledgeable about issues. She has been working in leftist activism and public policy for many years and, having worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, is well connected into the national Democrat power structure. Were I a leftist, I would have confidence that Godlewski would be much more effective than Sen. Tammy Baldwin in advancing the leftist agenda and would represent Wisconsin well on the national stage.

 

It is always folly for a conservative to poke his beak where it does not belong. I fervently hope that Ron Johnson wins reelection, but in the best interests of a state I love, I equally fervently hope that the Democrats nominate someone of substance and character. Should the Democrat win, I would much rather spend the next six years writing about sincere differences in public policy than the latest goat rodeo in Washington.

Washington County Headed to Referendum to Pay for “Safety”

Call me skeptical. From the Washington County Insider:

July 21, 2022 – Washington Co., WI – The Washington County Joint Safety Committee approved a proposed $3.6 million public safety referendum to increase the budget for the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
If the referendum is approved the $3.6 million would continue in perpetuity meaning it would be a regular tax every year moving forward.

[…]

A couple of bullet points from the Wednesday, July 20, 2022, Public Safety Committee meeting. The full draft of the Washington County Anti-Crime Plan is also below.

  • The referendum would cover an additional 30.5 full-time positions; there would be an increase in staffing with Sheriff’s Department patrol or mental health. There were several requests for additional data for specifics and supervisors were told that information is forthcoming.

  • County Executive Josh Schoemann said, “The county board could fund it (the $3.6 million) if they so choose.”

  • “Bottom line is, if the county board chose to fund all these positions on their own, they have the ability to do that. My concern is it’s such a big increase, relatively speaking, I think the people of Washington County should make that choice. If they don’t want to increase their tax rate, increase the levy, then we don’t,” said Schoemann.

  • “There’s enough property tax levity and flexibility, because we have not been taking the full amount of levy for years. The three times in the last eight years that we’ve cut the levy, the state allows you to go back and take some of that, if you so choose,” Schoemann said.

  • “There’s major crimes back to the 1990s and in the 80s. I think it’s just the frequency is happening much more, and I think this is at the top of people’s mind right now. And as I mentioned, the sheriff’s office crime in particular is the highest concern of the county board and the community,” said Schoemann.

  • Sheriff Martin Schulteis said, “There is minimum staffing to properly serve Washington County. We haven’t kept up with the county itself.”

  • Schulteis said some changes would include eliminating some administrative positions and “really focus on boots on the ground serving citizens of Washington County.”

  • The Sheriff and county administration were not prepared with data on out-of-county bookings, crimes committed outside area. More data was promised at a later date, however the committee had to vote on the proposed referendum during its meeting July 20, 2022 as it was an action item on the agenda.

  • In past government scenarios there is a study conducted or committee formed to discuss major issues, similar to how Washington County approached the issues surrounding the Samaritan Home. There was no study or committee formed to review the Washington County Anti-Crime Plan.  Schoemann said he met with Schulteis and they discussed the issue.  The meeting July 20, 2022 was the first time it was brought before county supervisors.

  • The decision to put the referendum on the November 8, 2022, ballot must be made by the county board at its August 10, 2022, meeting as the deadline to place it on the ballot is August 15, 2022, according to Schoemann.

Thanks to inflation, tax collections are at all time highs while personal real income is dropping. Is it really necessary to permanently increase taxes now?

Here’s the thing… budgets are about priorities. If we start from the position that almost all governments are adequately, if not over, funded, then it takes an extraordinary situation to justify increasing funding even more. But here we are with the supposedly “conservative” Washington County Board casting unanimous votes to proceed with a referendum to raise taxes. Are you telling me that there isn’t any superfluous spending in the budget that couldn’t be reallocated to public safety? None? Are they taking advantage of the increasing crime and public worry about it to raise taxes?

I’ll remind the reader that the county implemented a “temporary” sales tax that has since become permanent. The bite of inflation makes that sales tax hurt even more – and pushes more money into county coffers. Local governments are awash in money. They do not have a funding problem.

Let’s hope the large board comes to its senses and does not put this on the ballot. If they do, let’s hope the voters have more sense than their supervisors and vote it down.

Democrats should nominate person of substance and character

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

As a conservative who wants to see Ron Johnson reelected, I would like to see Barnes win the primary. He is an unserious person with truckloads of ethical issues that make him the least electable Democrat in the group. His history of not paying his taxes on time, using the State Patrol as a car service when he did not have a license, lying about graduating from college, and myriad other issues make the job of the opposition researchers easy. As far as I can tell from his Twitter feed, the most important issues to him are legalizing marijuana and him being a senator. Wisconsin deserves better than that.

 

While I should want Barnes to win the Democratic primary because he is such a flawed candidate, I care too much about Wisconsin to advocate for that. Too many bad politicians have been elected when they shouldn’t have stood a chance. They go on to embarrass the state for years. If elected, Barnes would be Wisconsin’s Jesse Ventura. Given that there is a slight chance that the Democratic nominee might win, I implore Wisconsin’s Democrats to evaluate their choices seriously and think hard about which candidate would be a senator of quality and integrity.

 

[…]

 

It is always folly for a conservative to poke his beak where it does not belong. I fervently hope that Ron Johnson wins reelection, but in the best interests of a state I love, I equally fervently hope that the Democrats nominate someone of substance and character. Should the Democrat win, I would much rather spend the next six years writing about sincere differences in public policy than the latest goat rodeo in Washington.

Michels’ NRA Endorsement Flub

Heh.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The National Rifle Association on Monday issued a stinging rebuke of former President Donald Trump’s pick for Wisconsin governor, accusing him of misleading its members after his campaign falsely claimed the gun advocacy group had endorsed him.

 

[…]

 

Michels’ campaign sent out a flyer that landed in mailboxes Saturday that claimed the NRA had endorsed him. Scott Meyer, a Wisconsin lobbyist who has done work for the NRA, said the group hasn’t endorsed anyone in the GOP primary and doesn’t plan to do so.

 

[…]

 

Michels’ campaign spokesman Chris Walker said in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that the claim was an “unintentional error” and has been immediately corrected with a new mailer that says Michels received an “AQ” grade on an NRA questionnaire about his stances on gun rights. Meyer said that grade indicates he answered the questions to the NRA’s satisfaction.

I have no doubt about Michels’ 2nd Amendment bona fides. He has a lifelong history supporting gun rights. I also have no doubt that this was just an honest mistake.

But it does worry me that this is yet another unforced error by the Michels’ campaign. He has some of the most experienced, highly-paid campaign people in the state working for him. How do they let something like this happen? It’s all fun and games in the primary, but every day lost to a stupid mistake like this in a general election is a day that Evers is winning.

On a side note, the first campaign I covered in depth as a blogger was the 2004 Senate Republican primary election. There were three candidates. I interviewed them all and wrote exptensively about it. It really was the race the pulled this blog to some modicum of prominance. Michels ended up winning the primary and losing the general election.

Years after the election. It was probably 2014… 2016 maybe? I stopped at Midwestern Shooters Supply in Lomira to look for a new carry holster (I didn’t find one) and ammo. Looking down the aisle I see Tim Michels. He recognized me immediately, said “Hi,” and we chatted about guns for a couple of minutes before we went on our mutual ways.

Republican primary race enters final stretch

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:

With three weeks to go until the primary election for governor, the Republican race just took the last turn toward the finish line and the cars are starting to swerve with melting tires and engines are smoking. I will forgo any more hackneyed race car metaphors for the remainder of the column and allow the reader to conjure their own relevant imagery.

 

In a somewhat surprising twist, Kevin Nicholson dropped out last week. Although his name will still appear on the ballot, he is no longer campaigning and has withdrawn himself from consideration. With a consistent 10% of the Republican electorate supporting him, he acknowledged that his odds of winning were slim. Also, in correctly understanding the mood of the Republican base this year, he stated that he did not want to go negative on his opponents in an effort to change the election’s dynamics.

 

Nicholson affirmed his commitment to support whichever Republican wins the nomination, which is also the mood that most Republicans are in this year. In a year when frustrated Republicans are looking for an outsider to shake up Madison, Nicholson was the only true outsider and could not attract enough support to win. His withdrawal from the race was done in a smart and classy way such that we hope to see him remain a significant figure in Wisconsin Republican politics for years to come. With Timothy Ramthun still struggling to get more than 3% support, the primary election is really down to two Republican juggernauts — Tim Michels and Rebecca Kleefisch. Up until last week, all of the candidates had been working very hard to stay positive and focused on how bad Governor Tony Evers has been for Wisconsin. After pouring money into advertising with a message that is resonating with voters, recent poling seems to indicate that Michels is pulling into the lead. This has triggered a change in the campaign with Kleefisch and her surrogates beginning to take some negative shots at Michels.

 

Negative campaigning is a necessary and important part of politics. While voters always carp about negative ads, they are also reliably swayed by them. Politics has never been pickleball. Negative campaigning also serves an important role in making sure that the voters are aware of a candidate’s bad spots before casting their votes. After all, the candidate is not going to go negative on themselves, so it is up to the candidate’s opponents to do so. It is up to the voters to decide if the negative aspects of a candidate are legitimate and important. Negative campaigning is particularly important in a primary election so that the eventual nominee has been properly vetted and considered before entering the general election. While the whole process can be unseemly, it is the best way to weed out unseemly candidates if it is done well.

 

The Kleefisch campaign is criticizing Michels for being a leader in industry trade groups that have supported increasing infrastructure spending and the increased taxes that go with it. Michels claims that while he served in leadership on behalf of his family’s company, he has never personally supported raising taxes. Both assertions may be true. Interestingly, Kleefisch is not attacking Michels for the well-documented fact that he has been a part-time resident of Wisconsin for several years with a large home on the East Coast. Evers will surely attack Michels for that if he is the nominee, but Kleefisch is keeping her fire on perceived policy differences.

 

What is really happening is a continuation of the generational and ideological clash in the Wisconsin Republican electorate. With support from the old Republican guard like Tommy Thompson and coming from the conventional Big Business-Republican symbiosis, Michels represents an older style of conservatism. With support from the new Republican guard like Scott Walker and coming from a grass roots with a sharper edge, Kleefisch represents the modern conservative mold. Both candidates come from established wings of the Wisconsin Republican Party that have been wrestling for supremacy for almost 20 years.

 

While not preordained, it is probable that whoever the Republican nominee is will oust Governor Evers and set the direction of the state Republican Party for years to come. Do Wisconsin’s Republicans want Thompson Republicanism or Walker Republicanism?

Mandela Barnes Is Better at Spending Taxes than Paying Them

Ope.

At a campaign stop last weekend in Milwaukee, Gov. Tony Evers’ part-time second-in-command and full-time Democrat candidate for U.S Senate brushed off being delinquent on his property taxes, but “who among us?”

 

Barnes blamed the distractions of campaigning for lieutenant governor in 2018 for his late payments on his Milwaukee condo property.

 

“And, you know, with property taxes, I was late paying them, you know? I was late paying them. Again, who among us?” Barnes said during the candidate meet-and-greet.

 

Here’s the video.

Republican primary race enters final stretch

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

In a year when frustrated Republicans are looking for an outsider to shake up Madison, Nicholson was the only true outsider and could not attract enough support to win. His withdrawal from the race was done in a smart and classy way such that we hope to see him remain a significant figure in Wisconsin Republican politics for years to come. With Timothy Ramthun still struggling to get more than 3% support, the primary election is really down to two Republican juggernauts — Tim Michels and Rebecca Kleefisch. Up until last week, all of the candidates had been working very hard to stay positive and focused on how bad Governor Tony Evers has been for Wisconsin. After pouring money into advertising with a message that is resonating with voters, recent poling seems to indicate that Michels is pulling into the lead. This has triggered a change in the campaign with Kleefisch and her surrogates beginning to take some negative shots at Michels.

 

[…]

 

What is really happening is a continuation of the generational and ideological clash in the Wisconsin Republican electorate. With support from the old Republican guard like Tommy Thompson and coming from the conventional Big Business-Republican symbiosis, Michels represents an older style of conservatism. With support from the new Republican guard like Scott Walker and coming from a grass roots with a sharper edge, Kleefisch represents the modern conservative mold. Both candidates come from established wings of the Wisconsin Republican Party that have been wrestling for supremacy for almost 20 years.

 

While not preordained, it is probable that whoever the Republican nominee is will oust Governor Evers and set the direction of the state Republican Party for years to come. Do Wisconsin’s Republicans want Thompson Republicanism or Walker Republicanism?

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