Category Archives: Politics – Wisconsin

Schoemann Runs for Washington County Executive

As expected

WEST BEND — Washington County Administrator Joshua Schoemann on Tuesday became the first person to file papers for the newly-created position of county executive, in effect asking voters to elect him to a job he has held for six years.

The County Board voted last month to eliminate the administrator form of government and moved to an elected one. It was the second vote the County Board took on the matter — the first one failed in June.

“pragmatic policies that Wisconsinites absolutely support”

So… according to our governor, Wisconsinites absolutely support drivers licenses and taxpayer-subsidized college tuition for illegal aliens. Uh huh.

Gov. Tony Evers knocked Republican lawmakers for striking the budget provisions he backed that would have granted driver’s licenses and in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants.

“At the end of the day, it was all about politics,” Evers said of the decision Thursday. “Republicans put divisiveness and ideology before pragmatic policies that Wisconsinites absolutely support.”

Madison Mayor Prioritizes Rapid Transit over Safety

Budgets are a statement of priorities. It’s pretty clear what her’s are.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is looking to impose an additional $40 vehicle registration fee on Madison drivers to get the motor running on an approximately $130 million Bus Rapid Transit proposal that was a main plank of her spring campaign.

The first-term mayor’s first city operating budget proposal, released Tuesday and totaling $340.4 million, also keeps police staffing flat — a move that former police chief Mike Koval said in July will necessitate moving 12 positions from units focusing on neighborhood policing, gangs and other proactive work to patrol. Koval had long complained of inadequate police staffing. He retired Sunday with one day’s notice.

Taxes Matter

Yup

A recent Tribune investigation found jobs (or shorter commutes), better schools and proximity to family among the top three motivations for leaving the Land of Lincoln. But those who pack up in search of more affordable housing and cheaper property taxes are also a motivated bunch.

Real estate professionals like Tom Keefe, owner of Keefe Real Estate in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, have noticed an influx of Chicago residents moving to The Badger State for a number of reasons, but the lower tax burden seems to trump them all.

“For the same size house in Illinois, taxes are triple and quadruple what they are in Wisconsin. And a lot of people think the services here are just as good, if not better, particularly when it comes to schooling,” he said.

Illinois property taxes average 2.31% (based on the state’s median home value), surpassed only by New Jersey’s rate of 2.44%, according to the most recent analysis by finance website WalletHub. Wisconsin ranked 5th at 1.94%, Indiana ranked 29th at 0.87%.

Evers Continues to Lie About Dates for Special Election

Look, we’ve had special elections before. He’s not reinventing the wheel here. The law is pretty clear and accounts for this exact scenario:

Evers has not yet finalized the new schedule, but his aides are in talks on the issue with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Aides to Evers are focused on two possibilities for the new schedule.

Under one scenario, the primary would be held Feb. 4 and the general election would be held April 7. That would mean the special election would be held the same day as Wisconsin’s presidential primary and regular spring election for state Supreme Court and local offices. Under that schedule, the congressional primary would be held two weeks before the primary for Supreme Court and local offices.

Under the second schedule being considered for the special election, the primary would be held Feb. 18 and the general election would be held May 5. That would mean the congressional and Supreme Court primary were on the same day, but the general elections would be held at different times.

Evers doesn’t have the option of having the special primary and special election on the same dates as the spring primary and spring general election, according to his office.

Here’s the relevant statute:

(2) Date of special election.
(a) The date for the special election shall be not less than 62 nor more than 77 days from the date of the order except when the special election is held to fill a vacancy in a national office or the special election is held on the day of the general election or spring election. If a special election is held concurrently with the spring election, the special election may be ordered not earlier than 92 days prior to the spring primary and not later than 49 days prior to that primary. If a special election is held concurrently with the general election or a special election is held to fill a national office, the special election may be ordered not earlier than 122 days prior to the partisan primary or special primary, respectively, and not later than 92 days prior to that primary.
(b) If a primary is required, the primary shall be on the day 4 weeks before the day of the special election except when the special election is held on the same day as the general election the special primary shall be held on the same day as the partisan primary or if the special election is held concurrently with the spring election, the primary shall be held concurrently with the spring primary, and except when the special election is held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of an odd-numbered year, the primary shall be held on the 2nd Tuesday of August in that year.
In other words, the excuse that he can’t just have the special election on the spring election schedule is bunk. Of course he can. He’s looking for an excuse not to.

Special Session Coming

If I were Vos or Fitzgerald, I would use the special session to pass Constitutional Carry or criminal justice reform.

The governor of the state of Wisconsin says that we should soon expect the state legislature to address the issues of gun control.

Governor Tony Evers went 1-on-1 with WTMJ’s John Mercure during WTMJ 2020 (listen above at 23:38 in the podcast player above). In their discussion, Evers spoke of what he says is expected to come.

“We will have a special session,” said the Governor.

“I’m convinced we will be making that announcement within a week, maybe two weeks.”

Evers chooses partisan politics over good government

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. This morning I’m seeing that Evers is reconsidering the date, but is still considering some arbitrary date in January. The easiest and most sensible thing is to just hold the special election during the April cycle. That is, it is the easiest and most sensible thing if Evers isn’t trying to use this for political advantage.

Despite the attempts by his media allies to portray him as a genteel great-grandfather, Gov. Tony Evers has proven to be as rabidly partisan as any governor in recent memory. In the most recent example, Governor Evers has used his routine power and responsibility to set the date of a special election in a way that baffles voters, depresses turnout, and unnecessarily costs taxpayers thousands of dollars. He was willing to do all of that in order to create a possible political advantage for the Democratic Party.

[…]

The date that Evers chose for the special election is Monday, Jan. 27, with a primary on Monday, Dec. 30. Evers claimed that he wanted to ensure that the citizens of the 7th District were without representation for as little time as possible and January 27 was the soonest he could have called an election. That is untrue. By statute, the governor could have called the election as early as December 24. Christmas Eve would have been a poor time for election but holding the election a full 33 days later is not the earliest convenient date.

Then, Governor Evers chose a Monday. There is not a law that says that special elections must be held on a Tuesday, but generations of Wisconsinites have been conditioned to go to their polling places to vote on Tuesdays. There was no compelling reason to change that tradition in this case other than Governor Evers was trying to leverage some angle.

So why would Governor Evers schedule a special election on a Monday in late January? The date will depress turnout and cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars to pay for the special election. Why? The simple answer is: partisan political advantage.

First, in a Republican-leaning district, Governor Evers is hoping that by depressing turnout, it will benefit the Democratic candidate. An energized minority can beat a complacent majority if the turnout is small enough. It is a long shot, but Evers is willing to do his part.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the voters of Wisconsin will be electing a state Supreme Court Justice on the April ballot. While a nonpartisan race, recent history has seen liberals and Democrats line up behind one candidate and conservatives and Republicans support the other. Evers is hoping to minimize turnout in the Republican-leaning 7th District for the April election by not giving the voters something that may motivate them to vote on more than a dull Supreme Court race.

The most sensible thing for the governor to have done would have been to just hold the special election during the April election. It was the most cost-effective choice and would have ensured the largest turnout. Choosing the April election would have been just good government. Instead, Governor Evers chose a date designed to benefit his party at the expense of the voters and taxpayers of the 7th Congressional District.

Wisconsin’s Unnecessary, Expensive, Full-Time Legislature

Yup.

MADISON — State legislators in Wisconsin are among the highest paid in the country, according to an analysis by The Badger Project.

That’s one of a few eyebrow-raising facts about the Wisconsin Legislature when compared with legislatures from other states.

Wisconsin state senators and representatives make a base salary of $53,000 per year, ninth highest among the 50 state legislatures.

And Wisconsin is one of the smallest states to have a full-time legislature. At about 5.8 million residents, Wisconsin ranks 20th in population and yet finds itself in the same position as much larger states — including California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Massachusetts — when it comes to employing full-time lawmakers.

Being a well-paid, full-time legislator in a state may be good work if you can get it. But it also can be a dubious distinction, especially when compared to other legislatures.

I’ll point you to a column that I wrote for the Washington County Daily News in February of last year about this very subject. The nut of it is, when you have politicians sitting around full time, they naturally feel compelled to do something to remain relevant. That leads to more laws and bigger government being created by people who are further and further from the people they serve.

Madison Cop Haters Drive Out Police Chief

What a shame.

After serving more than five years as the head of the Madison Police Department, Police Chief Mike Koval announced his retirement Sunday morning in his daily blog.

Starting Monday, Koval will no longer be chief.

“I did my best to be a guardian to the community and a guardian to the ‘guardians’ (cops),” Koval said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this community.”

Koval’s sudden announcement came as a shock even to those who knew it was coming. Ald. Paul Skidmore, 9th District, said “probably around a year ago” Koval told him he was thinking of retiring this fall.

“I know it was coming, but it was still a shock when he called me this morning,” Skidmore said.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said Koval told her Sunday morning that Sunday would be his last day.

[…]

Skidmore said over the last couple of years, Koval has been “beaten bloody” by “cop haters.”

In his blog post, Koval said he was “eternally grateful” to constituents who have encouraged and supported of the police department. He said those supporters will “never know how important” their efforts were “to the morale of our Department.”

Koval also had a message for those who have spoke in opposition to local police.

“To the ‘haters,’ thanks to you as well — for through your unrelenting, unforgiving, desire to make the police the brunt of all of your scorn — I drew strength from your pervasive and persistent bullying,” Koval said.

I give massive credit to those willing to wear the badge in a place like Madison. It’s a dangerous business in any community, but imagine going to work every day, putting your life, health, and livelihood on the line, for people who generally hate your guts.

Who is going to patrol Madison’s streets when nobody wants to do the job anymore?

Evers Criticized for Special Election Dates

He’s even taking heat from the liberal Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Who holds elections on a Monday, anyway?

And why would anyone in their right mind choose to hold a primary right smack dab in the middle of the Christmas and Hanukah holidays? (Speaker Robin Vos has just asked Gov. Evers to change the date, ostensibly out of tender regard for the sensibilities of Wisconsin Jews, who would be celebrating the last day of Hanukah on Dec. 30.)

“I’m not aware of any elections being held before on a Monday, nor between Christmas and New Year’s Day,” says Reid Magney, public information officer for the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The Elections Commission suggested a range of dates for Evers to choose from, including holding it concurrent with the spring election, Magney adds. And the Commission alerted Evers that there might be problems holding a primary during the Christmas holidays, including difficulty finding poll workers, Magney says.

Having a primary during the holidays just isn’t cool.

As Rep. Mark Pocan told reporters a few weeks ago, “If you have a primary or a general around Christmas … you get terrible turnout. … That doesn’t benefit anyone. You should want as many people as possible to participate.”

That’s precisely the point here: Evers has made a decision that is anti-democratic, small “d.” Because of his decision, the turnout is likely to be one of the lowest in Wisconsin history.

Evers Lied About “Earliest Date”

From Dan O’Donnell

The Governor’s office told WisPolitics.com that state law mandated that the earliest a special election could have been called is January 21st, but with a statutorily required primary four weeks earlier, the primary date would have been on Tuesday, December 24th—Christmas Eve.

This is a bald-faced lie.

The Wisconsin Election Commission confirms that the earliest that the special election could be is actually December 24th, and that Governor Evers could have scheduled it any day between then and January 31.

“If an [executive] order was issued on the effective date of the vacancy, Sept. 23rd, the special election could be no earlier than December 24th, with the special primary on November 26th,” Elections Commission staff attorney Michael Haas said in an email. “An order could be timed to schedule the special election anytime between December 24th and January 31st.”

Evers, then, could have avoided the holiday week altogether by scheduling the special election on Tuesday, January 14th with a primary on Tuesday, December 17th or on Tuesday January 7th with a primary on Tuesday, December 10th.

He just didn’t want to.

Governor Evers is considering tyranny

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

Not willing to concern himself with Constitutional constrictions or with concocting actual solutions to America’s crime problem, Governor Tony Evers announced two pieces of anti-civil rights legislation. The first bill is for Wisconsin to implement red-flag laws. The second bill is for universal background checks. Neither bill stands much chance in a legislature where civil rights are valued and protected, but it was what Evers said during the announcement that revealed his more tyrannical inclinations.

As for the bills that Evers proposed, this column detailed how red-flag laws are unworkable if we are still insistent on maintaining our 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendment rights, and I hope that we still are insistent. So-called universal background checks are not necessarily constitutionally odious, but they impose a heavy regulatory burden on law-abiding citizens without actually doing anything about crime. The worst part about the imposition of universal background checks is that it allows politicians to claim that they are doing something when, in fact, they have done nothing except inconvenience a bunch of innocent people.

During the press conference announcing his proposals, Governor Evers was asked by a reporter if he would be willing to support a mandatory gun buyback program. Evers answered by saying that he would “consider it.” Only someone completely devoid of any respect for history and our civil rights would even consider such an oppressive idea.

The key word in mandatory gun buybacks is “mandatory.” We have had gun buybacks for years where misguided do-gooders and cynical politicians give people money for their old guns so that they can pretend to take guns out of the hands of criminals. Voluntary gun buybacks are useless in terms of crime prevention, but harmless.

“Mandatory” gun buybacks are exactly that. It is the government forcing citizens to surrender their firearms to the government, and if the citizens refuse, the government will use the full violent force of government to compel the citizens to comply. This force includes depriving citizens of property, liberty, and in the case of an armed confrontation, possibly life.

If you think that mandatory gun buybacks would stop at the “scary-looking gun du jour,” like the AR-15 or the AK-47, you have not paid attention to history or human nature. Once all of those are wrested from the hands of unwilling citizens, the despots will simply move onto the next target in the gun safe.

This is what Governor Evers casually said that he would consider. He would consider a full assault on our civil rights by having our government use its police power to confiscate firearms from law-abiding people. It is a disgraceful and tyrannical attitude from our governor.

Unfortunately, Governor Evers’ willingness to violate our civil rights is part of a growing trend in the radicalized Democratic Party. In the past, even liberal Democrats who supported more gun control laws would insist that they would never advocate taking away our guns. Now liberals like Governor Evers are quite willing to admit that they want to take away our guns.

With the liberals’ resurgent interest in trammeling our civil rights, it is important that all of us make a firm statement in the voting booth that we will not tolerate such an assault on our rights. In April, Wisconsinites will have the chance to affirm that we insist that our government remain restrained by our state and federal constitutions by electing Justice Dan Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

After spending a career in private practice, Justice Kelly was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Walker after Justice David Prosser resigned from the court in 2016. In his almost three years on the court, Justice Kelly has honored his promises and honored his commitment to be a humble defender of the rule of law and our individual rights.

Governor Evers may consider assailing our rights and seizing our guns, but he and his fellow liberal travelers will never be able to do it as long as judicial conservatives sit on the Supreme Court. Electing Justice Kelly to a full term on the bench is our next chance to make our will known at the ballot box.

Evers Picks 7th CD Special Election Date

Earlier this month, I said that Evers was going to, “pick a date that gives the Democrats maximum advantage.” Sure enough.

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday called for a special election in January to fill the vacancy in northern Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District. The announcement came the same day U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, resigned the position.

“Our rural communities have been directly affected by unproductive trade wars, political attacks on health care and public education, and economic uncertainty because of the volatility we’re seeing in Washington, D.C.,” Evers said in a statement announcing the Jan. 27 special election. “The people of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District deserve to have a voice in Congress, which is why I am calling for a special election to occur quickly to ensure the people of the 7th Congressional District have representation as soon as possible.

[…]

As governor, Evers can order a special election once a congressional seat becomes vacant. If a primary is required, it will be held Dec. 30.

Never mind that this creates all sorts of unnecessary expenses for the taxpayers to hold a special election. Never mind that the normal primary election day of February 18th is only three weeks later. Never mind that it’s weird to have an election on a Monday. In a district that is fairly strongly Republican, Evers picked a date that would give the Democrats the best chance possible by depressing turnout. Also, it has the added benefit of not boosting Republican turnout during the April election for Supreme Court by putting something else for Republicans to vote for on the ballot.

As I said before, it’s the governor’s prerogative, but let’s not pretend that he’s doing anything other than leveraging his constitutional duty in a way to benefit his party.

Governor Evers is considering tyranny

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Pick up a copy!

“Mandatory” gun buybacks are exactly that. It is the government forcing citizens to surrender their firearms to the government, and if the citizens refuse, the government will use the full violent force of government to compel the citizens to comply. This force includes depriving citizens of property, liberty, and in the case of an armed confrontation, possibly life.

If you think that mandatory gun buybacks would stop at the “scary-looking gun du jour,” like the AR-15 or the AK-47, you have not paid attention to history or human nature. Once all of those are wrested from the hands of unwilling citizens, the despots will simply move onto the next target in the gun safe.

[…]

With the liberals’ resurgent interest in trammeling our civil rights, it is important that all of us make a firm statement in the voting booth that we will not tolerate such an assault on our rights. In April, Wisconsinites will have the chance to affirm that we insist that our government remain restrained by our state and federal constitutions by electing Justice Dan Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

West Bend School District Annual Meeting Tonight

It’s tonight.

September 22, 2019 – West Bend, WI – The annual meeting of electors in the West Bend School District is Monday, September 23. The budget hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium and the annual meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Some of the information regarding the tax levy resolution for 2019-20 is posted below.

The annual meeting is the advisory meeting where citizens can vote on resolutions put forth by the board. The primary function is to vote on the tax levy, but as I said, it’s advisory. Based on information shared in the last school board meeting, it looks like the district saw a dramatic drop in enrollment:

“Last week, with a year ago – a week ago, it looks like we’re actually not just down about 75 to 100 students we’re actually down possibly 200 – 240 children,” said Andy Sarnow.

That obviously has an impact on state funding and the levy.

Thank goodness for the Washington County Insider for putting out this story. I consider myself pretty well-informed and this totally snuck up on me. The school district did the bare minimum in public notice for the meeting.

I don’t see a notice about the meeting on the district’s social media pages. It’s not in their events on Facebook. I get other email announcements about the district and I didn’t get anything on this. On the district’s website, there is no mention of the meeting on the District Calendar, or under “news and updates,” or under “public and annual notices,” or on the main page. The only place I found it was by clicking on “School Board” and looking at the meeting schedule.

I assume that the district put the legal notice in the newspaper, but with all of the available ways that the district has to reach out to the community, that is truly the bare minimum. Keep in mind that the district has a full time Communications Manager (PR person). This is the best they can do? One might think that they don’t want the citizens getting involved.

 

 

Dems Come to Pimp School

The decision by the DNC to have their convention in Milwaukee is making more and more sense.

MILWAUKEE — Big events, such as political conventions, come with a dark side, and the crime of human trafficking is already a big concern in Milwaukee as tens of thousands plan to head to the city for the Democratic National Convention in July.

[…]

“Milwaukee is considered the Harvard of pimp school,” Dana World-Patterson said.

I had no idea that Milwaukee was held in such high esteem by pimps.

Governor Evers Open to Gun Confiscation

I wonder if Evers has one of those Banksy frames that shreds the Constitution.

During the governor’s news conference, a reporter asked Evers if he would support a mandatory buyback program.

Evers first said he’s focused on red-flag and universal background check legislation, but when pressed, said he’s open to the idea of mandatory buybacks.

“I’d consider it, but my focus is on these two bills,” Evers said.

O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, turned heads during the presidential debate last week when he proclaimed, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” in arguing that guns meant for warfare should be banned. He called for a mandatory buyback of assault-style rifles to prevent gun violence after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso in early August.

Nass Sticks up for Farmers

Governor Evers wants to impose onerous and expensive new restrictions on farmers. Thankfully, Nass is sticking up for the farmers.

A key Republican lawmaker vowed Wednesday to block new state restrictions designed to protect farmers’ neighbors from the stench of manure following a flurry of complaints from Wisconsin’s agricultural community.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has spent the last three years drafting revisions to farm siting regulations. The latest version calls for dramatically expanding manure storage facility setbacks from neighbors’ property lines for new farms and farms looking to expand.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, co-chairman of the Legislature’s rules committee, issued a terse statement Wednesday accusing department “bureaucrats” of ignoring the industry’s concerns and making life harder for farmers. He promised to do everything he can to block the rules if they reach his committee in their present form.

I don’t remember who first said it to me, but whenever I am in the country and that manure smell wafts through my nostrils, I say, “mmm… smells like money.” That smell represents the hard work that farmers do to feed their families and ours. Instead of trying to make farms smell better for the sensibilities of suburbanites and city dwellers, let’s educate people on the importance of farming, because nobody cares about the smell of shit when they are starving.

Washington County to have an elected executive

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

After much debate and a second vote by the County Board, Washington County will have a county executive. The structural change in government offers the citizens of Washington County an opportunity to reset the direction of the county for years to come.

The vote by the County Board last week to change the county’s form of government from a county administrator to a county executive came after the same board rejected the idea in June. Washington County has long had a form of government where the executive function is delegated to a hired administrator by the County Board. The county administrator is unelected and responsible to the County Board that hired him or her.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a county administrator form of government. In it, the elected County Board exercises both the legislative and executive functions of government with the executive functions being completed by a hired employee. This form of government ensures that the executive function will be completed by a competent executive, but all of the power is retained by the County Board.

The choice by the County Board to enact a county executive form of government represents a distinct ceding of power from the legislative branch of government to the executive branch of government. An elected county executive has to power to hire and fire department heads and veto County Board actions. Perhaps most important of all, an elected county executive is responsible to the voters, not the County Board. The County Board will no longer be able to fire a recalcitrant executive. In our county’s new form of government, the executive branch will truly be an independent, coequal branch of government.

The two things that a county executive form of government provides are accountability and direction. In our current county administrator form of government, accountability is diffused and it is difficult for citizens to hold their county government responsible. For example, if a county citizen is upset with a pockmarked county road, or the fee for county parks, or county transit, what can he do?

He can complain to the relevant county officials, but they are all ultimately responsible to the County Board. A citizen can complain to his or her County Board supervisor, but no single supervisor can enact change. It would take a citizen, or a coalition of citizens, complaining and getting 14 individual County Board supervisors to support making a change. If those supervisors will not act, it would take finding 14 people of like mind to run for office and win in order to change the makeup of the County Board. Ultimately, the county administrator form of government insulates the county bureaucracy from accountability.

As we see in other counties that already have an elected county executive who is responsible to the voters, having a single executive allows the citizens to hold that executive accountable if he underperforms or otherwise misbehaves. The county executive is not wholly responsible for policy, but he or she is responsible for the fair and quality execution of that policy. That kind of accountability has a ripple effect through any large organization.

The second thing that an elected county executive provides is the opportunity to establish a vision for the county. Washington County is in transition. While still largely rural with important rural interests, the county is becoming increasingly urban with important commercial and residential interests. What will the Washington County of 2025, 2030, or 2050 look like? With an interstate, land to build, airports, and a fantastic workforce, will Washington County aggressively compete for the economic growth being spurred in the rest of southeast Wisconsin? Or will we prefer to leverage the county’s idyllic natural beauty to attract commuters and nature enthusiasts? Or something in between? What is the right mix and balance?

These are the things that a county executive will help define and give the voters the opportunity to choose the direction they want. And, more importantly, if a county executive takes the county down a path that the voters do not want, it only takes a single election to change direction.

As candidates for county executive step forward to ask for our votes over the next few months, I welcome an array of competing visions for the future of our county so that we, the voters, may debate and decide the future direction of Washington County.

Madison Agrees to Pay Teachers More

Heh.

The Madison School District and the teachers union reached a tentative agreement Tuesday to increase base wages for teachers and district employees this year by the maximum allowable amount.

It’s not much of a negotiation when everyone at the table agrees on the maximum amount. Were the taxpayers represented in this negotiation?