Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Politics – Wisconsin

Return surplus to the taxpayers

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week.

Thanks to over a decade of solid budgeting from Republican Legislatures, the state of Wisconsin is in a strong financial position and forecasting a massive budget surplus when the current fiscal year ends next June. The Wisconsin Department of Administration issued a required report in November forecasting that the state will finish the current biennial budget with a general fund surplus of $6.6 billion. This is the largest forecasted surplus in Wisconsin history.

 

With the state’s coffers overflowing, every hog is at the trough jostling for position and every politician is eyeing their favorite one to fatten. There will be no shortage of requests, demands, justifications, and admonitions from advocates to spend every dollar of the surplus and more. Instead, the Legislature should give it, and more, back to the beleaguered taxpayers.

 

First, let us dig into the anatomy of the forecasted surplus. According to the 62-page DOA report, the state entered the budget with a $2.52 billion balance, added $1.78 billion to the balance in first fiscal year of the budget, and projects to add an additional $2.276 billion to it by the end of this fiscal year for a total biennial budget surplus of $6.576 billion. This is based on the current economic outlook and current tax policies. The reason for the surplus is relatively straightforward. The state spent every dollar it appropriated (actually, a little more), but it collected far more in taxes than it needed. For example, in FY22 which ended on June 30th of this year, the state collected $534 million more in income taxes than lawmakers said they needed in the budget. It collected $338 million more in sales taxes and $1.05 billion more in corporate taxes than it needed.

 

Why? The primary reason is inflation. While the underlying economy is struggling, the price of everything is going up. Incomes are up, corporate taxable profits are up, the price of consumer goods are up, and taxes are based on percentages of those things. The budget did not make any inflationary assumptions when it was created. Inflation has averaged 7.4% since the beginning of this budget in July of 2021. If the projected surplus is realized, it will be due to the state collecting about 10.6% more in taxes than it budgeted.

 

The assumptions used to forecast the surplus are telling, and troubling. The DOA uses economic projections from a single source — IHS Markit. It is concerning that in such tumultuous economic times that the DOA would rely on a single source. They forecast that the nation will have a mild recession in 2023 with a 0.2% decline in GDP before returning sluggish growth in 2024. It also forecasts that inflation will decline to 3% versus prior year by the end of 2023.

 

I hope they are right because those are relatively optimistic projections compared to many other sources. But it reminds us that a forecast is just an educated guess, and we should not spend money that we do not have.

 

The data also shows that while inflation is also pushing up wages, the buying power of those wages are not keeping up. According to the data in the DOA report, personal income rose by 7.4% in 2021 (inflated by COVID bailouts) and 2.3% in 2022. That compares to annualized inflation of 7.1% in 2021 and 7.75% year-todate in 2022 according to the Federal Reserve. Every dollar of wage increases is being consumed by inflation and then some. Wisconsinites’ expenses are increasing at a far faster rate than their wages.

 

Under normal circumstances, it is immoral for the government to overtax the people and then use that as an excuse to increase spending. With a suspect economic forecast and the buying power of Wisconsinites being eaten away by inflation, it would be unconscionable for our elected leaders to do anything other than to return the surplus to the people who paid it with a sheepish, “ope.”

Audit Finds 46.6% Error/Fraud Rate in COVID Grant Awards

This is just a scratch of the surface.

We performed a detailed review of 87 program grants totaling $805,000, including 61 small business grants and 26 restaurant grants. Our detailed review found that DOR did not follow the written eligibility requirements for 25 program grants totaling $375,000,

This was a limited scope review of just a couple of the COVID slush funds. Notice that in this case, they were just checking to see if the DOR actually enforced the eligibility requirements before awarding grants. Almost half the time, they didn’t. In other words, some DOR bureaucrat waived through the application and sent cash to people who weren’t even eligible.

This audit doesn’t even look into how many of those recipients lied on their applications or committed other fraud in order to get the money. For example, this is suspicious:

Our detailed review found that DOR awarded a total of $15,000 in three program grants to three small businesses that began operating in 2020 and had annual revenue that ranged from $1,200 to $4,200, which was less than the $10,000 minimum specified in the agreement. DOR indicated it:

Begun in 2020, eh? Could it be that these folks founded a fake company, threw a little cash into it, and applied to get the free COVID money? How many of these businesses continued operating after getting the money?

I know that we already knew it, but every audit of the COVID handouts confirms again that the entire operation was riddled with fraud, corruption, and incompetence. It’s possible that the COVID relief funds will prove to be the greatest transfer of wealth from American taxpayers to global criminals in the history of mankind. And politicians patted themselves on the backs with every dollar spent.

Michels Highlights Problems With Wisconsin GOP

He’s not wrong.

“I don’t mean to throw anyone under the bus here on the Republican side, but we’re probably operating in a lot of aspects as we did three election cycles ago. In some cases 10 or 20 years ago,” Michels added. “The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has 20 people on staff, full time, year round. … The Republican Party of Wisconsin has five people on staff.”

 

Michels said Wisconsin Republicans simply cannot keep up with Democrats by relying on volunteers every two years.

 

“[Democrats] are using the most modern Silicon Valley technology to do voter identification, ballot identification, following-up with these people, and getting them to the polls,” Michels explained.

 

“They had 90% voter turnout in Dane County. That’s incredible. I don’t know how you could get 90% of the people, in say Oconomowoc, to show up for anything. You could give out $100 dollar bills and I don’t know if 90% of the people would show up, ” Michels said. “But they drove all of those people to the polls. And then the results were 80-20. That is a huge, huge hurdle that has to be overcome by conservatives and Republicans.”

It is also worth noting that the Democrats have a structural advantage because their voters are so concentrated in Dane and Milwaukee Counties (with a couple of other pockets). It’s logistically easier to focus efforts on a smaller geography while Republicans have to turn out voters in 300 small towns.

If Republicans really increase staff, they have to get that staff out of Madison and into the communities where Republicans live. If there are 20 GOP staffers, they better be in places like Wausau, Oshkosh, Osseo, Hayward, Manitowoc, New Berlin, and other communities that turned out Republicans. If they hire 20 staffers to sit around Madison and Milwaukee, they will lose the next election too.

Return surplus to the taxpayers

Sometimes I feel like I’m spitting into the wind, but I’ll keep trying. My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

With the state’s coffers overflowing, every hog is at the trough jostling for position and every politician is eyeing their favorite one to fatten. There will be no shortage of requests, demands, justifications, and admonitions from advocates to spend every dollar of the surplus and more. Instead, the Legislature should give it, and more, back to the beleaguered taxpayers.

 

First, let us dig into the anatomy of the forecasted surplus. According to the 62-page DOA report, the state entered the budget with a $2.52 billion balance, added $1.78 billion to the balance in first fiscal year of the budget, and projects to add an additional $2.276 billion to it by the end of this fiscal year for a total biennial budget surplus of $6.576 billion. This is based on the current economic outlook and current tax policies. The reason for the surplus is relatively straightforward. The state spent every dollar it appropriated (actually, a little more), but it collected far more in taxes than it needed. For example, in FY22 which ended on June 30th of this year, the state collected $534 million more in income taxes than lawmakers said they needed in the budget. It collected $338 million more in sales taxes and $1.05 billion more in corporate taxes than it needed.

 

Why? The primary reason is inflation. While the underlying economy is struggling, the price of everything is going up. Incomes are up, corporate taxable profits are up, the price of consumer goods are up, and taxes are based on percentages of those things. The budget did not make any inflationary assumptions when it was created. Inflation has averaged 7.4% since the beginning of this budget in July of 2021. If the projected surplus is realized, it will be due to the state collecting about 10.6% more in taxes than it budgeted.

 

The assumptions used to forecast the surplus are telling, and troubling. The DOA uses economic projections from a single source — IHS Markit. It is concerning that in such tumultuous economic times that the DOA would rely on a single source. They forecast that the nation will have a mild recession in 2023 with a 0.2% decline in GDP before returning sluggish growth in 2024. It also forecasts that inflation will decline to 3% versus prior year by the end of 2023.

 

I hope they are right because those are relatively optimistic projections compared to many other sources. But it reminds us that a forecast is just an educated guess, and we should not spend money that we do not have.

 

The data also shows that while inflation is also pushing up wages, the buying power of those wages are not keeping up. According to the data in the DOA report, personal income rose by 7.4% in 2021 (inflated by COVID bailouts) and 2.3% in 2022. That compares to annualized inflation of 7.1% in 2021 and 7.75% year-to-date in 2022 according to the Federal Reserve. Every dollar of wage increases is being consumed by inflation and then some. Wisconsinites’ expenses are increasing at a far faster rate than their wages.

 

Under normal circumstances, it is immoral for the government to overtax the people and then use that as an excuse to increase spending. With a suspect economic forecast and the buying power of Wisconsinites being eaten away by inflation, it would be unconscionable for our elected leaders to do anything other than to return the surplus to the people who paid it with a sheepish, “ope.”

Millions for education. Not one penny for failure.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I sure did. As I settle in to watch the Packers and write my column for this week, here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week.

A few weeks ago, in a regrettable spurt of optimistic exuberance at the prospect of Tim Michels defeating Governor Tony Evers and ushering in an opportunity to make great strides in advancing progressive conservative policies, this column advocated that education reform should be at the top of the priority list. With Evers’ electoral victory and Wisconsin deciding on divided government for at least another two years, reforming Wisconsin’s education remains the absolute top priority, but the tactics and realistic goals must, necessarily, change.

 

By every meaningful measure, Wisconsin’s government education system is failing kids. There are, of course, individual success stories, but the overall performance is systemic failure at all levels. According to ACT Aspire, Forward, and ACT testing data from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin’s kids are failing to learn basic reading, writing, and math in our schools. Roughly two-thirds of Wisconsin’s kids at every grade level are not proficient in language or math. It is utterly intolerable.

 

Bear in mind that those testing results are statewide averages. A large number of individual districts and schools are even worse. Again, according to DPI data, there are some Wisconsin schools where not a single child is proficient in language or math. President George Bush once lamented the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” There is nothing soft about the bigotry that abandons kids to ignorance.

 

Tony Evers and the Democrats like to sell themselves as the party of education. If that is the case, then they are terrible at it. The Democrats have had a stranglehold on the state DPI and most government education districts for decades. The result has been a steady decline in performance punctuated by catastrophic failures. They have abandoned at least two generations of kids as they continue to fund failing systems.

 

To be frank, watching someone brag about our government education system when less than half of our kids can read at grade level makes me angry. They should be angry at such failure. It makes a lot of parents angry. It should make you angry. Republicans should be angry about it. Not only is fixing education a moral imperative, but it is also good politics. Whichever party actually fixes education and gets more than 96% of our kids reading at grade level will stay in power for decades.

 

I am firmly convinced that the best and fastest path to quality education for everyone is to privatize our education system. Getting the government out of the business of delivering education and unleashing the power of competition is the proven path to performance. Unfortunately, with a governor who is a wholly owned subsidiary of the state teachers union, such needed reform is unrealistic. Governor Evers has shown that there is no length to which he will not go, and no bill he will not veto, in order to protect the monied interests of the government-education-industrial complex.

 

In light of the political realities, the Republican leadership will not be able to make the substantial changes necessary to radically improve educational outcomes. What they will be able to do, and what they must do, is become the party of accountability. Over the last five years, state taxpayers have increased spending on education by 19% to over $16,000 per student. This was during a period when people were losing their jobs, paychecks were shrinking, and inflation was just beginning to bite.

 

What did taxpayers get for their generosity and willingness to invest in education? Dumber kids. Over that same five-year period, the slow decline that was happening before the pandemic accelerated into collapse after many government educators abandoned kids to their illiteracy while continuing to collect their paychecks.

 

Legislative Republicans must tie funding to performance and force the closure of failing schools. Speaker Robin Vos has floated the idea of passing a bill that couples universal school choice with more spending on government schools. This idea is flawed because Evers has the most powerful veto pen in the nation and could simply veto school choice while accepting the spending increase.

 

Instead, Republicans should freeze education spending at its already inflated level and impose performance goals for continued funding. There is no reason that taxpayers should pay for a school where less than 20% of kids can read. Funding failure is explicit support for failure. Republicans must stop supporting failure like the Democrats and become the real party of education.

 

If Republicans play the same old Democrat game of pretending that the system is great and only needs more money, they will fail to capture the powerful electoral support of parents. Worse, they will doom yet another generation of kids to ignorance and exploitation. Our nation will be worse for their complacency.

Senator Daring Ends Storied Career

While not without flaws (what politician is?), Darling’s positive impact on Wisconsin will reverberate for decades to come and legions of kids have a better future thanks to the School Choice she advanced. Thanks for the service, Senator.

Jay Weber
@JayWeber3
Early Exclusive: State Sen. Alberta Darling will announce her retirement later this morning. She’s 78, and has served in Madison 32 years (New Class of ’92). Alberta has been influential in School Choice and tax relief over the years.

Millions for education. Not one penny for failure.

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

To be frank, watching someone brag about our government education system when less than half of our kids can read at grade level makes me angry. They should be angry at such failure. It makes a lot of parents angry. It should make you angry. Republicans should be angry about it. Not only is fixing education a moral imperative, but it is also good politics. Whichever party actually fixes education and gets more than 96% of our kids reading at grade level will stay in power for decades.

 

I am firmly convinced that the best and fastest path to quality education for everyone is to privatize our education system. Getting the government out of the business of delivering education and unleashing the power of competition is the proven path to performance. Unfortunately, with a governor who is a wholly owned subsidiary of the state teachers union, such needed reform is unrealistic. Governor Evers has shown that there is no length to which he will not go, and no bill he will not veto, in order to protect the monied interests of the government-education-industrial complex.

 

In light of the political realities, the Republican leadership will not be able to make the substantial changes necessary to radically improve educational outcomes. What they will be able to do, and what they must do, is become the party of accountability. Over the last five years, state taxpayers have increased spending on education by 19% to over $16,000 per student. This was during a period when people were losing their jobs, paychecks were shrinking, and inflation was just beginning to bite.

 

What did taxpayers get for their generosity and willingness to invest in education? Dumber kids. Over that same five-year period, the slow decline that was happening before the pandemic accelerated into collapse after many government educators abandoned kids to their illiteracy while continuing to collect their paychecks.

 

Legislative Republicans must tie funding to performance and force the closure of failing schools. Speaker Robin Vos has floated the idea of passing a bill that couples universal school choice with more spending on government schools. This idea is flawed because Evers has the most powerful veto pen in the nation and could simply veto school choice while accepting the spending increase.

 

Instead, Republicans should freeze education spending at its already inflated level and impose performance goals for continued funding. There is no reason that taxpayers should pay for a school where less than 20% of kids can read. Funding failure is explicit support for failure. Republicans must stop supporting failure like the Democrats and become the real party of education.

Legislature must shore up elections

Sorry. We’ve had some technical issues with the blog for the last few days. It appears to be healthy now. Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. Given the disappointing election results, it’s fairly moot.

We have reached the culmination of another tempestuous election season with the capstone of Election Day. Self-governance imposes on us the responsibility of enduring the withering assault of political campaigns before choosing who will carry our priorities into government. Irrespective of the outcome of the election, our civic responsibility is to ensure that our elections are free, fair, and secure. We have work to do in Wisconsin.

 

The reason that some Democrats questioned the results of the 2016 election and some Republicans questioned the results of the 2020 election is because it is too easy to defraud our electoral process in many districts. America’s history is replete with examples of election fraud and cheating. There is little to suggest that the human condition has advanced to the point to think that such fraud is no longer possible. The fact that so many of our elections are decided by so few votes makes the consequences of even a little bit of fraud too dire to tolerate.

 

Wisconsin’s election laws are fairly good compared to many other states’. Voters are required to prove their identities with photo identification; same-day registration helps ensure voter access; and state law requires the regular purging of voter rolls. Unfortunately, the execution of the laws has been uneven and the holes have been exploited by bad actors. Many of the holes in our election process are the result of unclear or ambiguous laws that leave great discretion to state and local election officials.

 

As a general theme, the Legislature should take up the effort to codify specific election rules to ensure that all of Wisconsin’s voters have equal and fair access irrespective of their address. Specifically, the legislature should address the rules regarding early voting. If I had my druthers, I would severely curtail early voting to make Election Day great again, but the public has come to enjoy the flexibility of early voting. If we are to have it, it should be the same for everyone. The Legislature should set standard open hours for early in-person voting and restrict it to established municipal or county facilities like city halls or court buildings. The purpose is to ensure that every voter in Wisconsin knows when and where they can cast an early in-person ballot.

 

In respect to early voting, the Legislature should also prohibit drop boxes of any kind. Every early in-person ballot should be received, checked, and witnessed by an accountable election official. Not only does such a procedure provide a check against fraudulent ballots, but it also ensures that legal votes are not discarded due to clerical errors.

 

Speaking of clerical errors, the Legislature should also completely prohibit the counting of any mail-in ballots that are not legally completed and witnessed. This should not be left to the discretion of clerks.

 

Events last week exposed another hole in the mail-in ballot process when a Milwaukee election official illegally ordered three military absentee ballots to the address of Representative Janel Brandtjen. Current law does not require military voters to register to vote or provide identification to request a ballot. This must be remedied.

 

The Legislature should also prohibit ballot harvesting. This is simply when people — usually political operatives — collect people’s early ballots and submit them en masse. The issue is that there is no security to ensure that a voter’s ballot is cast and it allows for bad actors to intimidate voters. While homogenizing early voting laws will correct for some of this, the Legislature should affirmatively prohibit this practice. There is other work to do. The Legislature should also prohibit private citizens from administering or funding our elections. All elections should be administered by accountable public officials. They should also prohibit the practice of central counting which is more susceptible to fraud or the perception of fraud.

 

The biggest lift for the Legislature is to decide what to do with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The WEC has performed abominably through the pandemic with partisan and illegal actions. The Legislature should abolish it completely and replace it with a bipartisan bicameral legislative committee. That way elected officials will be accountable. By codifying much of the electoral process into statute, the actual duties of such a committee would be severely curtailed.

 

Good elections require a balance of ballot access, ballot security, and transparency. The end goal must be that we have confidence that everyone who is legally allowed to vote can do so, and everyone who is not legally allowed to vote cannot.

Winning the election is just the start

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

The outcomes of elections are always uncertain and replete with surprises, but it is looking more and more like the Republicans are going to do very well next week. If that should come to pass, I fervently hope that the Republicans govern boldly. Winning elections is the goal of politicians. Leaders act to use the power loaned to them by the voters to solve problems for the betterment of our state and nation, and boy, do we have some real problems.

 

The biggest problem facing our nation right now is inflation. There are many other problems, but runaway inflation kills nations. America is not invulnerable to the whirlwind economic forces that inflation unleashes that have obliterated a hundred nations before us.

 

Simply put, inflation happens when there is too much money in the economy chasing too few goods. Prices naturally rise and our dollar buys less than it did yesterday. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the core inflation rate was 8.2% in September and has been in that range since last year.

 

The core inflation rate is misleading because it assumes a basket of goods that is not meaningful to everyone. Inflation hits different goods unevenly. In that same September report, it showed that the price of food is up 91.4%, utilities are up 33.1%, and health insurance is up 28.2%. For people who eat and heat, inflation is hitting much harder than 8.2%.

 

The Federal Reserve has been trying to squeeze money out of the economy by increasing interest rates, but Fed actions are blunted in an era when the federal debt is 125% of our nation’s gross domestic product, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and federal government policies are swamping the country with cash. There has been a structural change in our economy where the levers of inflation have shifted to the federal government’s policies and the central bank is relegated to being an interested bystander. Our nation-killing inflation is a policy choice. If we want different results, we will need to make different policy choices. The federal government must dramatically reduce spending to get inflation under control. Reducing federal spending is the surest way to protect Americans’ wealth from the wildfire of inflation.

 

Should Sen. Ron Johnson be reelected, I hope he will use whatever power he has as one of a hundred senators in a bicameral legislature to oppose new spending and pull back existing spending. Lest we become Venezuela or Zimbabwe, getting control of inflation must be our top national priority.

 

At the state level, Wisconsin’s biggest problem is the deplorable state of our government education system. Despite lavish spending averaging over $16,000 per child per year (an increase of 19% in just five years), our kids are learning less than ever. Test scores have plummeted to the point that barely a third of Wisconsin’s kids can read, write, or do math at grade level.

 

Our government education system is not just an embarrassment, it is a generational brutality committed on our own children. We are condemning a generation of Wisconsinites to be less educated, less capable, and more ignorant than we are. We are robbing them of their potential and a lifetime of opportunities. Our state government schools’ failure to provide our kids with even a mediocre education – much less a good education – is a cruelty for which our kids will rightfully condemn us.

 

We are well past a time when tweaks and nudges will fix the problems with our government education infrastructure. It needs substantive systemic changes at all levels.

 

Wisconsin’s Democrats are the party of perpetuating failure. Last weekend, they even held a rally with President Obama at a Milwaukee high school where zero percent of the kids can do math or science at grade level according to the state ASPIRE exam. The only “solution” that Democrats champion for failing government education is to spend more money on doing the same thing. Their policy choices are about perpetuating and funding a solid Democratic voting bloc irrespective of the quality of the education our kids are getting.

 

Should Tim Michels be our next governor, it is imperative that he immediately tackle the task of fixing our government education system with meaningful changes like universal school choice, outcome-oriented funding, and even privatization. It will be hard and will spark the same kind of radical protests that we saw from government school employees when Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 10. Our kids and their futures are worth enduring whatever the entitled defenders of the status quo might do.

 

Elections matter. Good governance matters more. Our nation and state have real problems that need real leadership.

Flaming Liberal Spreads Hate in Hoax

Have you noticed how (1) rare that this kind of hate is real, and (2) how often it is a hoax perpetrated by a lefty?

WEST BEND — Michael J. Miecielica, a 38-year-old West Bend man, has been charged for allegedly posting in downtown West Bend notes containing hate speech and threats to Democratic candidates in the Wisconsin gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, as well as sending notes via email to Senator Ron Johnson’s campaign, on Monday.

 

Miecielica was charged with three counts of disorderly conduct and two counts of computer message- threaten/obscenity by the Washington County District Attorney’s office on Thursday. Each charge is a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty upon conviction of a $1,000 fine, 90 days’ imprisonment or both.

 

[…]

 

According to the criminal complaint, Miecielica’s alleged notes contained slurs about the African American, Latin American, Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities and women, as well as referencing hanging Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes from a tree.

 

The notes allegedly contained “88,” which is meant to represent “HH” for “Heil Hitler,” and “14 Words,” which represents a white nationalist slogan about securing a future for white children.

 

According to the criminal complaint, Miecielica claimed that “he was exercising his 1st Amendment Right and said the messages were not what he personally believed in. The defendant said he was a ‘flaming liberal’ and identified as LGBT. The defendant said his intention was to cause a ‘dust up’ to hurt Republicans.”

 

According to the complaint, Miecielica also stated he had a “Master’s Degree in philosophy, so he knew he did not cross the line with his messages.”

Appeals Court Keeps Rules for Absentee Ballots

Meh.

A Wisconsin appeals court and a circuit judge this week shot down attempts backed by liberals seeking orders that local election clerks must accept absentee ballots that contain partial addresses of witnesses.

 

The rulings come within days of Tuesday’s election and as more than 503,000 absentee ballots have already either been returned or cast in person.

 

[…]

 

Wisconsin elections have been conducted, and absentee ballots counted, the past 56 years without a legally binding definition of what constitutes a witness address on a ballot, Colas wrote in his order.

 

“Since then, until the present, clerks have been legally free to interpret the term,” he said. They have done that in good faith, Colas said, drawing on non-binding guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, its predecessors, and advice from attorneys.

 

Current guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission is that an address must include three elements: a street number, street name and municipality. Rise, Inc., a group that works to get young people to vote, argued that election clerks across Wisconsin are not consistently using that definition.

The ruling is correct. The WEC does not make law. They give guidance and it is up to the local clerks to interpret the statutes for themselves.

But the ruling is not a victory for people who support election integrity (conservatives). It means that clerks in liberal bastions like Milwaukee and Madison will waive all sorts of absentee ballots through irrespective of what is on the envelope and clerks in conservative areas will be sticklers.

This is not for the court, however, to fix. Hopefully the legislature will take up the task of ensuring uniform voting laws throughout the state.

Dead Heat in Wisconsin

Closing arguments underway.

The final Marquette University Law School poll found a tight race for U.S. Senate and a dead-even contest for governor.

 

Fifty percent of likely voters backed U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, while 48 percent supported Dem Mandela Barnes. The Marquette poll conducted earlier this month had Johnson at 52 and Barnes at 46.

 

In the guv’s race, 48 percent supported Dem incumbent Tony Evers, while 48 percent backed GOP construction exec Tim Michels. Another 2 percent favored independent Joan Beglinger, who has dropped out of the race, but remains on the ballot.

Earlier this month, 47 percent favored Evers, while 46 percent backed Michels and 4 percent supported Beglinger.

Winning the election is just the start

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

The outcomes of elections are always uncertain and replete with surprises, but it is looking more and more like the Republicans are going to do very well next week. If that should come to pass, I fervently hope that the Republicans govern boldly. Winning elections is the goal of politicians. Leaders act to use the power loaned to them by the voters to solve problems for the betterment of our state and nation, and boy, do we have some real problems.

 

The biggest problem facing our nation right now is inflation. There are many other problems, but runaway inflation kills nations. America is not invulnerable to the whirlwind economic forces that inflation unleashes that have obliterated a hundred nations before us.

 

[…]

 

At the state level, Wisconsin’s biggest problem is the deplorable state of our government education system. Despite lavish spending averaging over $16,000 per child per year (an increase of 19% in just five years), our kids are learning less than ever. Test scores have plummeted to the point that barely a third of Wisconsin’s kids can read, write, or do math at grade level.

 

Our government education system is not just an embarrassment, it is a generational brutality committed on our own children. We are condemning a generation of Wisconsinites to be less educated, less capable, and more ignorant than we are. We are robbing them of their potential and a lifetime of opportunities. Our state government schools’ failure to provide our kids with even a mediocre education – much less a good education – is a cruelty for which our kids will rightfully condemn us.

Leftist in Washington County Compares Self to Iranian Women

This was an amusing letter to the editor... and an insult to the brave women of Iran who are risking imprisonment and death at the hands of their government.

To the editor: Last week I got my yard signs up in support of Governor Evers and Mandela Barnes. Hardly remarkable in this season of yard signs and bumper stickers. Except for one thing: As a Washington County resident, it felt like an act of courage. We decided on no yard signs because of the open political hostility. It seemed prudent not to advertise our brand in our decidedly red neighborhood. During dinner with friends, I admitted my fear of putting up signs. When the conversation moved on, one friend said, “We mustn’t forget the women in Iran.”

 

That sentence was like a slap in the face. Immediately I felt ashamed of my cowardice. If a woman in Iran could face death for refusing the hijab, surely I could find courage to place yard signs. What good is it to live in America if I live in fear of expressing my beliefs?

 

I talked it over with my husband, sharing with him my thought that the same patriarchy which feels justified in killing Mahsa Amini operates here. Denying a woman’s right to choose comes from the same need to subjugate women, whether it’s the morality police or white Christian nationalism. I cannot let the patriarchy rule me; I must be part of the resistance. We posted the signs.

 

Always a person to speak my mind, I have been silent. My silence plays into the pathology of white Christian nationalism, which seeks to impose its interpretation of Christianity on us all. This view denies the rights of women, LGBTQ, people of color and those of a different religion.

 

I have recovered my voice. I invite you to join me in taking a courageous stand for human rights and using your voice to resist the patriarchy in all its forms. Your vote is your voice.

Education Emergency

Alan Borsuk has a piece highlighting how bad education has become in Wisconsin and the nation and laments that people are not treating it as the emergency that it is.

How willing are people, including education leaders and politicians, to tackle the needs of kids? The generally predictable reactions to the NAEP scores don’t provide encouragement.

 

The huge disruptions in schooling nationwide are become matters more for unhappy memories than present concerns. And it appears that many aspects of education are returning to the way they used to be. That’s good in some ways — and worrisome in others. There were big needs before COVID. There are big needs now. Is there much willingness to address them urgently and honestly?

 

To paraphrase a comment I read, the biggest emergency may be if people don’t think there’s an emergency.

Well, there happens to be an election in a couple of weeks. Who is looking at our deplorable education system and calling for substantive changes to improve it? Who is saying that the only answer is to pour more money into the same systems and have the same failed leaders spend it?

Partisan School Administrators Endorse Evers

This says far more about school administrators than it does about Evers.

MADISON — Members of the School Administrators Alliance (SAA), representing more than 4,000 public school principals, special education directors, business officials, school personnel administrators and superintendents throughout Wisconsin, have endorsed Governor Tony Evers for re-election.

 

SAA Executive Director Dee Pettack has issued the following statement regarding this endorsement:

“SAA does not often get involved in endorsing candidates in gubernatorial elections, as school administrators are nonpartisan in their approach to working with policymakers. However, we recognize that elections are about choices and priorities. This year, we believe the choice is so compelling and clear that we cannot remain silent. It is with pride and a clear sense of purpose for the public school children we serve that we endorse Governor Tony Evers for re-election due to his policy agenda for public school children in Wisconsin.

By virtually every single measure, education is far, far worse now than it was when Evers took office. Despite a lifetime in education, under the Evers Administration test scores have plummeted, violence in schools is up, and kids are struggling thanks to the disastrous policies of Evers and his ilk. And yet, we are spending more money than ever on government education.

What does it say about these “non-partisan” school administrators that they support Evers despite the damage he has done to our kids and their futures? Any school administrator who doesn’t disavow this endorsement should be fired immediately. They do not have our kids’ best interests at heart. And if they claim that they don’t want to weigh in on a partisan political issue… BS. Too late. They already have.

Be informed. Vote wisely.

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I take a look down ballot. Here’s a sample:

With two weeks until the election, most people have made their choices at the top of the ballot. Unfortunately, with the big races, like for governor and senator, rightfully dominating the news and advertising space, the races and issues further down the ballot are often overlooked. For most Wisconsinites, they will also be voting on a series of binding and non-binding referenda. Some of these referenda have sweeping consequences and should be carefully considered. I highly encourage every voter to go to myvote.wi.gov to see what is on their ballot as it will be different based on location.

 

To pick one of my favorite communities, voters in West Bend have three referenda on their ballots. Two of them are binding and will increase taxes. One of them is nonbinding. Let us take a look.

 

[…]

 

The second binding referendum is entitled, “Moraine Park Technical College General Obligation Bonds Referendum.” This referendum asks the voters to allow MPTC to borrow $55 million for four projects. These projects are to add and improve an advanced manufacturing and trades facilities to the Fond du Lac campus; expand the West Bend campus for manufacturing, automation, and a robotics lab; purchase land and build a fire training facility to certify fire fighters; and add and improve facilities for a health and human services education at the Fond du Lac campus.

 

Hell may be getting frosty, but this is a tax increasing referendum I would seriously consider supporting.

Evers’ Parolees Reoffend

That’s a pretty high recidivism rate given it’s only been a few months. What do you think the 5-year rate will be? Great reporting from Wisconsin Right Now.

At least 16 paroled killers and attempted killers have either committed new crimes or violated terms of parole and ended up on Corrections holds.

 

Evers’ appointee released more than 300 killers and more than 47 child rapists in discretionary paroles. More killers and attempted killers were freed on parole in 3.5 years under Evers than in 8 years under Scott Walker.

Monsters in our midst

Here is my full column from the Washington County Daily News this week. I watched a lot more of the trial later in the week and it only got worse.

Thanks to the live stream from Court TV, I have watched dozens and dozens of hours of the trial of Darrell Brooks. It continues this week. I highly encourage readers to tune in for a few hours to watch Brooks in long form instead of in snippets of news story. The man is a monster.

 

Brooks has been charged with 76 crimes including 6 murders after he drove his car through the Waukesha Christmas Parade last year running down at least 67 people. He has chosen to represent himself which puts him in the position of questioning his victims, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel who had to clean up his carnage. Throughout the trial, Brooks’ utter lack of remorse, callous revictimization of people whose lives he has devastated, and mockery of the rule of law is infuriating.

 

I take comfort knowing that when Brooks is convicted and sentenced that Wisconsin now has truth in sentencing. Brooks will never be paroled by the likes of Governor Tony Evers and released back into our midst.

 

When Tony Evers ran for office with Mandela Barnes, he promised to cut Wisconsin’s prison population in half.

 

He has been working hard to keep that promise through his appointed chair of the Wisconsin Parole Commission. Wisconsin ended its parole system about twenty-two years ago in the waning days of Governor Tommy Thompson’s administration, but criminals convicted before that time are still eligible for parole.

 

According to data released by the Wisconsin Parole Commission to conservative news site Wisconsin Right Now, the Wisconsin Parole Commission under Evers’ appointee has been releasing an average of two felons per week with discretionary paroles from January to May of this year. They are on pace to release over 100 of the most vicious murders, rapists, and child molesters this state has ever seen by the end of the year. These monsters will be roaming the streets of Wisconsin.

 

In the gubernatorial debate hosted by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association between Governor Tony Evers and challenger Tim Michels last week, Evers prevaricated and evaded a question about his liberal support of discretionary paroles. First, Evers said that the governor does not control the Parole Board. Then he took credit for reversing the discretionary early parole of murderer Douglas Balsewicz and firing the Chair of the Parole Board.

 

Then he pivoted to talk about his support for more government spending on shared revenue. At no point did Evers commit to slow or stop the emptying of our prisons of murderers and rapists with discretionary paroles even though he bragged about his ability to do so.

 

Tony Evers is choosing to release violent criminals. He could stop it, but he is not doing so because he wants it to happen. He wants violent felons to be released into our communities because social justice politics is more important to him than victims and their families. Evers’ choices will surely lead to even more victims and families. Wisconsin Right Now has been reminding us of some of the crimes that these criminals committed. Joseph Michalkiewicz was sentenced to life for killing a gas station attendant with a screwdriver, pipe wrench, and hatchet. He was released in January of this year after serving less than twenty years. He is 62 years old.

 

Dennis Steele brutalized and murdered a 3-year-old toddler by breaking his ribs and crushing his skull. He was sentenced to a life sentence. He was released in February after serving just 32 years. He is only 54 years old with many years ahead of him.

 

David Alliet grabbed a UW-Eau Claire student off the street and violently raped her. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison but was released in July after serving only 23 years. He is 53 years old.

 

The list is agonizingly long with hundreds of victims who were killed or forever traumatized by these crooks.

 

One case looks eerily familiar. Shannon Bailey raced his car down a crowded street and onto the sidewalk running down 30 people and killing one. 22 years later, he is back on the street thanks to Evers’ Parole Commission. This is a full 35 years before he would have otherwise been released. If this is the kind of monster that Evers’ Parole Commission released, would they release Darrell Brooks in 22 years if they could?

 

While the passage of time may diminish the memory, it does not diminish the savagery committed by these felons. For every criminal released by Evers’ Parole Commission, there are victims and families whose lives have been forever altered. In many cases, there are victims who never got to see another sunrise. While their lives have been shattered, the monsters who committed the crimes are now enjoying their freedom thanks to the policy decisions of Governor Tony Evers.

 

He could have stopped these felons from being released like he took credit for doing during the debate, but Evers chose to let them all out.

Monsters in our midst

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

Thanks to the live stream from Court TV, I have watched dozens and dozens of hours of the trial of Darrell Brooks. It continues this week. I highly encourage readers to tune in for a few hours to watch Brooks in long form instead of in snippets of news story. The man is a monster.

 

Brooks has been charged with 76 crimes including 6 murders after he drove his car through the Waukesha Christmas Parade last year running down at least 67 people. He has chosen to represent himself which puts him in the position of questioning his victims, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel who had to clean up his carnage. Throughout the trial, Brooks’ utter lack of remorse, callous revictimization of people whose lives he has devastated, and mockery of the rule of law is infuriating.

 

I take comfort knowing that when Brooks is convicted and sentenced that Wisconsin now has truth in sentencing. Brooks will never be paroled by the likes of Governor Tony Evers and released back into our midst.

 

When Tony Evers ran for office with Mandela Barnes, he promised to cut Wisconsin’s prison population in half.

 

He has been working hard to keep that promise through his appointed chair of the Wisconsin Parole Commission.

 

[…]

 

In the gubernatorial debate hosted by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association between Governor Tony Evers and challenger Tim Michels last week, Evers prevaricated and evaded a question about his liberal support of discretionary paroles. First, Evers said that the governor does not control the Parole Board. Then he took credit for reversing the discretionary early parole of murderer Douglas Balsewicz and firing the Chair of the Parole Board.

 

Then he pivoted to talk about his support for more government spending on shared revenue. At no point did Evers commit to slow or stop the emptying of our prisons of murderers and rapists with discretionary paroles even though he bragged about his ability to do so.

 

Tony Evers is choosing to release violent criminals. He could stop it, but he is not doing so because he wants it to happen. He wants violent felons to be released into our communities because social justice politics is more important to him than victims and their families.

Archives

Categories

Pin It on Pinterest