Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Tony Evers

Evers Stamps Feet and Sputters Nonsense

Good for the Republicans. They put forth a reasonable bill to deal with this and Evers vetoed it. Evers has proven to be untrustworthy in negotiations and is just grandstanding now. His legacy of refusing to come to the table and negotiate in good faith is biting him in the butt. Good.

The moves are the latest twist in the ongoing stalemate between Evers and the Legislature over the best way to combat PFAS chemicals that have polluted groundwater in communities across the state. Evers and Republicans have both said that fighting the chemicals is a priority, but they haven’t been able to come together on what to do about it.

 

Evers invoked a rarely used power and called a meeting of the Republican-led Legislature’s budget committee, urging it to release the funding that was previously approved in the state budget. But Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee did not show up, with the GOP co-chairs calling Evers’ move “blatant political game-playing.

 

”Although no Republicans came, Evers made a previously unannounced appearance in the Capitol hearing room and joined three Democratic lawmakers in blasting the GOP inaction.

 

“The Republicans are missing in action on this,” Evers said. “This is one they whiffed on, big time.”

 

[…]

 

Sen. Howard Marklein and Rep. Mark Born, the Republican committee co-chairs, said in a letter delivered to Evers on Friday that although the governor can call a meeting of the budget committee, he can’t actually require it to meet or take action. The committee will not meet, they said.

 

“We are disappointed in your disregard for a co-equal branch of government, as well as the legislative process,” Born and Marklein wrote to Evers.

 

[…]

 

Evers said in his veto message that he objected to the bill because it would limit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ authority to hold polluters liable. But Wimberger, the bill’s sponsor, said Evers wants to create a “slush fund” for the DNR and not protect landowners not responsible for pollution from possible costly enforcement actions.

WMC Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Governor’s 400 Year Tax Increase

This court won’t strike it down, but they should. No governor should have the power to raise taxes – especially not for centuries.

Attorneys with Wisconsin’s largest business lobbying group asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to strike down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers‘ use of a partial veto to lock in a school funding increase for the next 400 years.

 

The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Litigation Center filed the petition on behalf of two taxpayers. It will be up to the liberal-controlled Supreme Court to decide whether to hear the case before it goes through lower courts, which is where cases typically start.

At issue is a partial veto Evers made of the state budget in July that increased how much revenue K-12 public schools can raise per student by $325 a year until 2425. Evers took language that originally applied the $325 increase for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years and instead vetoed the “20” and the hyphen to make the end date 2425, more than four centuries from now.

 

[…]

 

“The law is clear,” said WMC Litigation Center Deputy Director Nathan Kane in a statement. “Voters and their elected legislators are the ones empowered to increases taxes, no one else.”

Illegal ballot drop boxes an invitation for election fraud

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

Gov. Tony Evers has called on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to allow election drop boxes throughout Wisconsin. It is telling that he is not proposing legislation to allow drop boxes, but is, instead, calling on his activist allies on the High Court to impose drop boxes by judicial fiat. There are two separate questions regarding this issue. Is it legal? Is it a good idea? Let us start with the first question.

 

During the 2020 election during the pandemic, the Wisconsin Elections Commission gave guidance for local election officials to use drop boxes to collect absentee ballots. Most likely, they gave this guidance at the behest of local officials trying to grapple with running an election during a pandemic when many people were not comfortable going out in public. While the WEC’s and local officials’ motives to use absentee ballot drop boxes may have been benign, it was not legal.

 

Wisconsin’s election laws are extensive and prescribe how elections are to be held, who can vote, what identification is needed, how ballots are to be secured, and how absentee ballots are to be handled. Despite the lengthy statutes setting how elections are to be conducted, they are silent on the topic of drop boxes. The law neither allows them nor forbids them.

The laws do, however, provide detailed rules on how to manage absentee ballots. The fact legislatures of the past under Republican and Democrat control wrote these laws without mentioning drop boxes is important. Drop boxes have been used in other states for years, but prior legislatures decided not to include their use in Wisconsin’s statutes. This is why, in the ruling issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court less than two years ago, Justice Hagedorn wrote: “We conclude WEC’s staff erred by authorizing a voting mechanism not authorized by law. The memos created a ballot drop box scheme entirely absent from Wisconsin’s election code. The legislature’s ‘carefully regulated’ procedures for absentee voting do not permit voting via ballot drop boxes.”

 

Ballot drop boxes are clearly illegal in Wisconsin. With the new leftist majority on the Supreme Court, however, the issue has been challenged again despite the recent ruling on the matter. None of the facts have changed. Only the justices have changed. This is why Governor Evers and his comrades are asking the court to reverse its earlier decision and allow ballot drop boxes without ever proposing legislation to allow them in the statutes.

While clearly illegal at this time, they may be a good idea. It is a subject that can be sincerely debated with good points on both sides. This is what the Legislature is for — for duly elected representatives of the people to debate and vote for laws that that set public policy.

 

If we are to have ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin, the procedure for how to manage and secure them should be defined by law to ensure consistency and secure elections across the state. They should be monitored in person or by video that is archived. People should not be permitted to insert a ballot into the drop box without first taking a picture of their face in case the ballot is challenged. And only one ballot should be able to be inserted at a time with a minimum 30-second interval between each inserted ballot.

 

The problem with drop boxes in the current usage — particularly unmonitored ones — is that they are easily susceptible to election fraud. Bad actors can drop hundreds or thousands of fraudulent ballots into drop boxes without the person ever having to identify themselves. It is a gaping hole in our election security. If we are going to have drop boxes, let us do it in a way that maintains secure and fair elections. Wisconsin law dictates how local officials must run elections and manage ballots in every other case. How we might use ballot drop boxes should not be left to the discretion of local election officials.

 

However, Wisconsin does not need ballot drop boxes. People who are unable or unwilling to vote in person can already mail in their absentee ballots without ever leaving their homes. Wisconsin also has generous inperson early voting times for weeks before an election. Wisconsin’s same day registration even makes it easy to vote if someone forgets to register in advance of the election. There are currently no significant barriers to voting that providing absentee ballot drop boxes would remedy.

 

The question is, then, why are Governor Evers and his comrades so adamant that Wisconsin allow ballot drop boxes? Evers took to X last week to declare, “Drop box voting is safe and secure. Period.” That is demonstrably false. A quick search reveals hundreds of videos and stories of people shoving dozens or hundreds of ballots at a time into ballot drop boxes throughout America. There is no good, legal reason that anyone should be putting multiple ballots into a drop box. One can deduce that Evers’ rabid support for unsecured ballot drop boxes does not come from honorable intentions.

 

Sadly, I expect the activist leftist majority on the Supreme Court to reverse the recent, and correct, decision of the court to prohibit drop boxes. Without statutory guidance to govern the use and security of the drop boxes, their yawning invitation to commit election fraud will further undermine confidence that Wisconsin truly has a secure and fair elections.

Evers’ Bad Friday

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

On Good Friday, Wisconsin’s Christians paused to reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus and plan for weekend family celebrations of his rising. Gov. Tony Evers used the time to veto 41 bills. This column lacks the space to catalog every bad decision Evers made on Friday, so let us try to narrow it down to the top five.

 

Evers has been very vocal about the need for Wisconsin to support child care providers. Child care is expensive and there are not enough providers to meet the demand. This problem has been exacerbated by inflation, regulations, the inability of providers to pay higher wages without raising prices, and the end of government subsidies from the various federal COVID bailouts.

 

The Republican Legislature passed a bill to help child care providers with a state loan program. Evers vetoed it. He did so claiming that it was not enough. Evers would rather that the state provide no help at all if it is not his plan. He does not really care about helping ease the child care crisis. He cares about it being a political issue for himself.

 

Evers vetoed another bill that would have prohibited John Doe investigations in cases where a district attorney had already declined to press charges because of self-defense or defense of others. Wisconsin’s John Doe laws are an old process intended to allow an independent investigator to investigate if a crime has been committed. Under John Doe, the investigation is done in secret to protect innocent people from being publicly maligned with an unfounded accusation while they are investigated. We saw during the Scott Walker era how the John Doe process was turned into a political weapon by activist leftist district attorneys and judges.

 

By vetoing this bill, those same prosecutorial and judicial activists can use the John Doe process to go after police officers and civilians who were already cleared of a crime for reasons of self-defense or defense of others. In particular, this will empower the anti-police activists to continually ruin the lives of good cops who had to use force to defend themselves or the public. Evers is helping to fuel anti-police activism.

 

Another bill would have prohibited credit card companies from tracking firearm purchases in the state. This has been advocated by anti-civil rights activists as a way to facilitate discrimination against people who legally exercise their rights to keep and bear arms. Evers is on the side of the oppressors and wants to make it easier to suppress our civil rights.

 

It may shock some to learn that government school districts do not have to put contracts out to bid. Some do so as a matter of good policy, but it is not required by law. This means that when school districts pass those massive building referendums, they can award those contracts to whomever they want without seeking competitive bids. This is an obvious avenue for massive corruption at the expense of taxpayers.

 

The Republican Legislature passed a bill that would have required government school districts to conduct a legitimate bidding process for any contracts over $150,000. Evers vetoed it. He wants to make it as easy as possible for government schools to dole out tax dollars to their favorites even if it is not a good deal for taxpayers. For Evers, it is not about the taxpayers. It is about political favoritism at all levels.

 

The last example is the most egregious. We have a mental health crisis in this country. The aftershocks of the government mismanagement of the pandemic coupled with a social media contagion leaves our kids lonely and depressed. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness each year and, “50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.”

 

The Republican Legislature passed a bill that would have allowed out-of-state mental health care providers to provide care for Wisconsinites via telehealth without requiring a Wisconsin license. The licensure requirements for mental health professionals varies little between states and the imperative of getting Wisconsinites timely care during a mental health crisis outweighs the need for a duplicative and meaningless state stamp of approval.

 

Evers vetoed this bill too. Instead of opening up an entire nation of qualified mental health professionals to treat Wisconsinites, he sided with ensuring that the state collect its $77 license fee over the mental health of Wisconsinites.

 

Governor Evers is on the side of antipolice and anti-2nd Amendment activists, the bureaucracy, and his personal political agenda. He is not on the side of Wisconsinites.

Two forgotten stories deserve attention

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

In the latter half of last year, two unsavory and revelatory stories about Gov. Tony Evers were reported and made headlines throughout Wisconsin. Here we are at the end of March and the headlines have faded and Evers continues to act with impunity, having suffered no consequences for his shady behavior.

 

The first story was broken by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in August of last year. They revealed that Evers’ longtime Chief of Staff, Maggie Gau, was living with one of her subordinates. Later reporting revealed that that subordinate was Evers’ communications director, Britt Cudaback.

 

While the initial story is outrageous enough, further reporting revealed it to be even worse than first thought. Cudaback was appointed as a deputy in 2019 for $62,000 per year. She was promoted to report directly to Gau in 2020 and her annual salary was increased to $100,006. In 2023, her pay was increased again to $112,008. Her 80% increase in pay came in just four years during the same period she was living with her boss.

 

Furthermore, during that period, Evers admitted that no formal performance reviews were administered and there is no documentation that shows that there was a competitive and inclusive hiring process for the position and compensation that Cudaback holds. Evers vigorously defended the practice.

 

Such relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate are strictly prohibited throughout the private sector and the rest of government because they are inherently discriminatory and coercive, but Evers accepts and applauds them. It has been seven months since that story broke and, as far as we know, nothing has changed.

 

The second story that further revealed Evers’ deceptive and unethical behavior was broken by Wisconsin Right Now in November of last year. Through a series of open records requests, Evers’ office accidentally let it slip that the governor had been using a secret email alias for years. Tony Evers had stolen the name of Hall of Fame Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn to conduct public business with other government officials and people outside of government.

Wisconsin’s Open Records Act is very strong and very explicit. The key to it is that the public has an explicit right to know what their government is doing. If a government official is conducting the people’s business, the public has a right to see it with a few very narrow exceptions. If the public official if using a private email account, chat platform, social media, paper documents, or any other medium on or off government property or technology, the people have a right to see it. Yes, that also includes if the government official is using a fake name in an attempt to hide what he is doing from the public.

Cudaback (still in the job three months after the previous story was revealed), defended the practice of a government official using a fake name as “common.” It would be troubling enough if that statement were true, but it still does not mean that the governor’s use of a fake name excludes those communications from public scrutiny. Furthermore, Evers’ fake email was on a Wisconsin. gov domain, which makes it subject to mandatory retention rules.

 

The governor’s office admitted to more than 17,000 emails written to and from Evers’ fake email address between 2018 and 2023. That equals about eight emails per day for six years. That is a tremendous amount of communication that the governor is hiding.

 

In early December, both Wisconsin Right Now and the Republican Party of Wisconsin filed open records requests for the 17,000 emails as is their right under Wisconsin law. Despite a legal and moral responsibility to hand over the emails, to date, Tony Evers has refused to do so. Our governor is flagrantly breaking the law by his refusal to allow the people to scrutinize the business he is purportedly doing on their behalf.

 

The fact that both stories flared and disappeared tells us something about the state of politics in Wisconsin. First, the combination of both stories tell us that Tony Evers is unscrupulous, immoral, and has a Trump-sized ego in which he believes he does not have to conform to strictures of law and morality to which we other mere mortal must adhere.

 

Second, the fact that the stories evaporated and Evers has not suffered any consequences reveals that Wisconsin no longer has a Fourth Estate that will hold the powerful accountable. In that sense, Evers is right to just ignore the controversies and continue to do whatever the hell he wants. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is worse for it.

Two forgotten stories deserve attention

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

In the latter half of last year, two unsavory and revelatory stories about Gov. Tony Evers were reported and made headlines throughout Wisconsin. Here we are at the end of March and the headlines have faded and Evers continues to act with impunity, having suffered no consequences for his shady behavior.

 

The first story was broken by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in August of last year. They revealed that Evers’ longtime Chief of Staff, Maggie Gau, was living with one of her subordinates. Later reporting revealed that that subordinate was Evers’ communications director, Britt Cudaback.

 

While the initial story is outrageous enough, further reporting revealed it to be even worse than first thought. Cudaback was appointed as a deputy in 2019 for $62,000 per year. She was promoted to report directly to Gau in 2020 and her annual salary was increased to $100,006. In 2023, her pay was increased again to $112,008. Her 80% increase in pay came in just four years during the same period she was living with her boss.

 

Furthermore, during that period, Evers admitted that no formal performance reviews were administered and there is no documentation that shows that there was a competitive and inclusive hiring process for the position and compensation that Cudaback holds. Evers vigorously defended the practice.

 

Such relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate are strictly prohibited throughout the private sector and the rest of government because they are inherently discriminatory and coercive, but Evers accepts and applauds them. It has been seven months since that story broke and, as far as we know, nothing has changed.

 

The second story that further revealed Evers’ deceptive and unethical behavior was broken by Wisconsin Right Now in November of last year. Through a series of open records requests, Evers’ office accidentally let it slip that the governor had been using a secret email alias for years. Tony Evers had stolen the name of Hall of Fame Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn to conduct public business with other government officials and people outside of government.

Evers Screws Taxpayers… Again

What an ass.

One of the proposals would have expanded the second income tax bracket to lower taxes on those earning between $19,000 and $150,000 per year.

 

Another bill would cut retirement income by exempting up to $75,000 retirement income for single filers and $150,000 for joint filers.

 

The third measure Evers rejected would have increased tax credits for newly married couples.

 

In his veto message, Evers expressed concerns the proposals could be risky given the state’s financial situation.

Financial situation? The state has a massive surplus that it’s hoarding.

Democrats keep the change

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

I recently had an infuriating experience at my local gas station. I stopped in for my morning coffee. Of course, I’m a sucker for the doughnuts in line, so I grabbed one of those too. My total was $3.49. All I had on me was a $20, so I promptly put it on the counter. The clerk smiled, put the $20 in the drawer, wished me a nice day, and beckoned the next customer up. Irritated, I asked about my change and was told, “oh, we keep the change now to use for other customers who we like better.”

 

Of course, this scenario is fictional and unbelievable, but that is exactly what the legislative Democrats and Gov. Tony Evers are doing with your tax dollars.

 

Ever since Republicans took control of the state Legislature in 2010 thanks, in large part, to anger over the massive state deficit that Democrat Governor Jim Doyle and the legislative Democrats had created, the legislative Republican majority has built fiscally responsible budgets that ran surpluses. Despite increasing spending every budget, the Republicans managed to bend the cost curves to ensure that all bills were paid while leaving plenty of change. Republicans have since filled up the state’s rainy day fund with billions of dollars and the state’s finances are stronger and more stable than they have ever been thanks to Republican fiscal management. Last week, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued its regular report about the state of the budget and projected surplus or deficit. The estimate is based on projected macroeconomic conditions and current state policies. Once again under Republican fiscal leadership, the LFB is projecting that the state will end the current budget in June of 2025 with a budget surplus of $3.15 billion — about $550 for every man, woman, and child in Wisconsin.

 

Let me write that another way: The state of Wisconsin is overtaxing every man, woman, and child in the state by about $550 and refusing to give any of it back. For the average family of four, they will be unnecessarily taxed $2,200 above and beyond the needs of government as expressed in the budget.

 

Noting this overpayment, the Republicans want to give the taxpayers their change and adjust the tax rates to reduce the amount of overpayment. Legislative Republicans passed their third attempt at a tax cut last week that would reduce income tax rates to bring the level of taxation in line with the amount of money that the government is actually spending. Yes, the spending is still too much, but Wisconsinites are still being taxed way more than even the spending justifies.

 

Democrats in the Legislature voted against this tax cut just like they voted against the last two tax cuts. Governor Evers vetoed the last two tax cuts and will probably veto this one too. Democrats refuse to give the Wisconsin taxpayers their change after funding government.

 

Why are Evers and his fellow travelers refusing to let Wisconsinites keep their money to afford the exploding cost of living despite government being fully funded? Simple. They do not think it is your money. They think it is their money and they want to spend it on things that they want.

 

Dressed up in the language of fake compassion, Evers and legislative Democrats have offered dozens of ways to spend the surplus instead of giving it back to hardworking Wisconsinites. They have proposed spending it on child care welfare, pouring more billions into the black hole of the government education complex, corporate welfare to big business to pay for paid leave and worker training, creating new government bureaucrats like the Office of State Employee Engagement and Retention, and all manner of spending.

 

All of the Democrats’ spending proposals have two things in common. First, they were not in the state budget. They are just more ideas to spend money after the budget was completed and signed into law by the governor. Second, every one of the spending proposals is designed to be spent on, or filtered through, the Democrats’ favored people. As the money flows, Democrats and their liberal constituencies throughout Wisconsin will get their beaks wet in a stream of tax dollars that were forcibly and unnecessarily taken from hardworking Wisconsinites.

 

If you are not angry about that, you should be.

Evers Signs Redistricting Maps

This is my shocked face. I really thought Evers would find a reason to veto them.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed new legislative district maps into law on Monday that he proposed and that the Republicans who control the Legislature passed to avoid having the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court draw the lines.

But remember why we are here. The activist Leftist majority of the court forced this and usurped the power of the legislature. The Governor encouraged it.

Governor Evers’ shadow government

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

“Wisconsin’s open government laws promote democracy by ensuring that all state, regional and local governments conduct their business with transparency. Wisconsin citizens have a right to know how their government is spending their tax dollars and exercising the powers granted by the people.”

— Attorney General Josh Kaul, Wisconsin Public Records Law Compliance Guide 

 

Based on the principle that transparency in government is both a right of the people and an obligation of government officials, Wisconsin has some of the best open records laws in the nation. That is why it is so troubling to learn that our Governor, Tony Evers, has been hiding his official email communications behind an secret alias for years. What else is he hiding?

 

The news came to light a few weeks ago when Wisconsin Right Now, a conservative news and opinion outlet, learned that Governor Evers has been using the name of Hall of Fame Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn’s name for the governor’s secret email address warrenspahn@ wisconsin.gov. According to a disclosure from the governor’s office, there are over 17,000 emails to and from the governor’s secret email address between 2017 and 2023.

 

Evers dismissed the disclosure as not newsworthy while pretending that using secret email addresses was normal government practice. As someone who has requested records for decades, the governor’s assertion is news to me, other open government advocates, and news agencies. Secret emails are not normal except for politicians who are trying to hide something.

 

Wisconsin’s Open Records Laws are clear and unambiguous. When someone requests records from a public official about a particular subject or time period, the official is compelled by law to provide all of those records irrespective of whether the records are from their official email account, personal email account, text, chat, or any other format. It is the content of the records that makes them government records and subject to disclosure – not the means of transmission. The fact that the governor has failed to disclose the content of his secret email account despite dozens of legal open records requests is a clear violation of the law.

 

This governor has a history of secrecy. In 2019, FOX6 had to sue the governor to get emails. FOX6 had filed a routing request for a couple of weeks of emails. They had a practice of this to just see what might turn up. The governor rejected the request claiming that the news agency needed to narrow the request to a specific search term. The governor’s novel interpretation of the law was ludicrous and against the law as written and practiced for decades. After FOX6 sued, the governor finally relented and released some emails. At that time, however, the governor did not disclose the governor’s secret emails as required by law.

 

Furthermore, during that imbroglio, Tony Evers scoffed at the request saying, “Oh, that’ll be pretty, pretty boring I’ll tell ya. If I do one email a day, that’s an extraordinary day… It’s pretty boring. I mean, I can’t remember sending an email all week.’ That is a lie. Evers knew at the time that he was using a secret email account that was averaging over nine emails per day for years.

 

Governor Tony Evers’ culture of secrecy is antithetical to good government. When politicians are acting above board in good faith, they do not mind the public looking at their work and communications. When politicians are doing wrong, they scurry in the shadows like rats. Evers is reflexively secretive and acts with the arrogance on one who has spent his life in government. In the case of his secret email account, he has clearly been violating the law by failing to disclose it in response to records requests.

 

Governor Evers’ shadow government

Boy, this story died quickly… so I’m bringing it back up. My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

Based on the principle that transparency in government is both a right of the people and an obligation of government officials, Wisconsin has some of the best open records laws in the nation. That is why it is so troubling to learn that our Governor, Tony Evers, has been hiding his official email communications behind an secret alias for years. What else is he hiding?

 

The news came to light a few weeks ago when Wisconsin Right Now, a conservative news and opinion outlet, learned that Governor Evers has been using the name of Hall of Fame Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn’s name for the governor’s secret email address warrenspahn@ wisconsin.gov. According to a disclosure from the governor’s office, there are over 17,000 emails to and from the governor’s secret email address between 2017 and 2023.

 

Evers dismissed the disclosure as not newsworthy while pretending that using secret email addresses was normal government practice. As someone who has requested records for decades, the governor’s assertion is news to me, other open government advocates, and news agencies. Secret emails are not normal except for politicians who are trying to hide something.

 

Wisconsin’s Open Records Laws are clear and unambiguous. When someone requests records from a public official about a particular subject or time period, the official is compelled by law to provide all of those records irrespective of whether the records are from their official email account, personal email account, text, chat, or any other format. It is the content of the records that makes them government records and subject to disclosure – not the means of transmission. The fact that the governor has failed to disclose the content of his secret email account despite dozens of legal open records requests is a clear violation of the law.

 

[…]

 

Furthermore, during that imbroglio, Tony Evers scoffed at the request saying, “Oh, that’ll be pretty, pretty boring I’ll tell ya. If I do one email a day, that’s an extraordinary day… It’s pretty boring. I mean, I can’t remember sending an email all week.’ That is a lie. Evers knew at the time that he was using a secret email account that was averaging over nine emails per day for years.

 

Governor Tony Evers’ culture of secrecy is antithetical to good government. When politicians are acting above board in good faith, they do not mind the public looking at their work and communications. When politicians are doing wrong, they scurry in the shadows like rats. Evers is reflexively secretive and acts with the arrogance on one who has spent his life in government. In the case of his secret email account, he has clearly been violating the law by failing to disclose it in response to records requests.

Evers’ Office Violates Standard Anti-Discrimination Practices

Another gem from Wisconsin Right Now. This wouldn’t fly in any professional private sector business in the country. It’s an office culture that breeds discrimination and discontent.

Gov. Tony Evers’ top Comms director did not receive any written performance evaluations despite her $112,008 taxpayer-funded salary, Wisconsin Right Now has learned through an open records request.

 

Evers chose her as his spokesperson with no other applications and no job posting, we’ve learned, although state law allows governors to forgo the civil service process when picking their office staff.

 

“Performance of all Governor’s Office employees is evaluated on an ongoing basis and is typically provided verbally,” the governor’s legal counsel wrote WRN in a letter.

 

We asked Evers’ office for “any documents indicating who conducted the evaluations of Britt Cudaback from 2019 to present” and for the “personnel evaluations/performance evaluations of Britt Cudaback from 2019 to present.”

 

By using passive voice (“is evaluated”), Evers’ legal counsel wrote around WHO evaluated Cudaback verbally, if at all.

Republicans pass massive tax and regulatory relief bill

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

Overall, the Republicans bill is a meaningful effort to reduce taxes for working Wisconsinites, make it easier for Wisconsinites to work, and target assistance for needed professions like nursing, child care, counseling, and commercial driving. It not only puts billions of dollars into the economy, it makes it easier to for more Wisconsinites to earn a living.

 

Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers vetoed everything. Wisconsinites will not get tax relief. Professionals moving to Wisconsin will still have to go through a laborious, expensive, and unnecessary credentialing process. Wisconsinites will not get financial help for expensive child care expensive. None of this is happening because Evers is pouting about not getting his way.

 

In his veto message, he repeatedly whines about wanting more government spending to expand the bureaucracy. He also contradicts himself saying that Wisconsin cannot afford a tax cut while simultaneously bragging about the massive budget surplus. Governor Evers called this thoughtful, comprehensive, compassionate Republican bill “completely unserious.” Sadly, it is completely serious that Wisconsinites are not going to get the tax and regulatory relief that they need because Evers and the legislative Democrats will not let it happen.

 

Wisconsin’s state government is bigger, more expensive, and more intrusive than it has ever been and Governor Evers and state Democrats want is to be even bigger, even more expensive, and even more intrusive. No wonder the state’s population is shrinking.

Tony Evers Denies Lawful Open Records Disclosures with Secret Email

From Wisconsin Right Now

Tony Evers has a secret state email account appropriating the name of a dead baseball legend, but he doesn’t think the public has a right to know about it.

 

Gov. Tony Evers has been communicating with state workers about public business using a secret government email account in the name of a deceased Milwaukee Braves baseball legend, and over 17,000 emails sent to and from the account exist, Wisconsin Right Now has exclusively documented.

 

But the governor’s office thinks the public has no right to know the account’s name and won’t provide most of the emails. We verified Evers is using the account, first through a source who saw communications between Evers and a state worker, and then through the open records request. The response provided other details that verified it, even though the address was blacked out.

 

We can reveal: Gov. Evers writes various state workers and cabinet secretaries using the account “warren.spahn@wisconsin.gov,” a state email account in the name of the Braves’ legend.

 

The state Department of Administration explained it was blacking out the email account name, writing of the redactions, “The Governor’s non-public official direct email address. Making this email address available would significantly hinder the Governor’s ability to communicate and work efficiently. There is minimal harm to the public interest, given that there are numerous public means to communicate with the Office of the Governor.”

There are two transgressions here. First, the governor is using a secret email account to conduct public business. This practice intentionally makes it more difficult for people to find them when conducting open records requests. You can’t ask for something you don’t know about.

The greater transgression is that even after WRN discovered the email, the DOA is still refusing to disclose the emails in response to a lawful open records request. Wisconsin’s government is required by law to provide any information for the asking. It is a cornerstone of transparency that promotes good government. There are few – very few – reasons that the government is allowed to redact requested information. “Evers doesn’t want to because it might embarrass him” is not a lawful reason to deny an open records request.

Evers has a history of thwarting the public’s legal responsibility and right to see what his office is doing. What is he hiding?

Evers Vetoes Middle Class Tax Cut

Realize that Evers really thinks that it’s his money to spend.

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday vetoed a $2 billion Republican tax cut bill, calling it “completely unserious.”

 

Evers’ veto was expected, as he opposed the GOP plan from the moment it was introduced as a substitute to the Democratic governor’s own workforce development package. Evers has previously vetoed a similar income tax cut passed by the Legislature.

 

[…]

 

Instead, the Legislature passed a measure that would have cut income taxes, created a child care tax credit, and increased income tax deductions for private school tuition. The vetoed bill also had provisions to recognize some out-of-state professional credentials in Wisconsin, and to prohibit state examining boards from requiring counselors, therapists and pharmacists to pass tests on state law and regulations.

 

Evers, in his veto message, said the Republican bill failed to “meaningfully and sensibly address the workforce challenges that have plagued Wisconsin for a decade.”

Evers hands out your candy

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

Gov. Tony Evers announced that he is providing over 36 million tax dollars to pay for five building projects. The announcement highlights just how broken our government has become.

 

Our government is intentionally built with divided powers and checks on those powers. The Legislature makes law. The executive executes that law. The judiciary judges the correct application of the law. The entire apparatus was built for the express purpose of avoiding the concentration of power that always precedes tyranny.

 

In this instance, last year the governor proposed a list of building projects to be funded by the taxpayers. The Legislature, which has the responsibility and power to allocate taxpayer money, passed a capital budget that agreed with the vast majority of the governor’s building proposals, but not all of them. Unlike the federal government, state governments cannot print money. The state Legislature must prioritize spending and balance the budget.

 

That is how the process works. The governor suggests how to allocate the budget. The Legislature writes the budget. The governor then checks the Legislature with his veto power. Everyone moves on. Not this time. Governor Evers announced that despite not being included in the capital budget, he is going to spend over 36 million tax dollars to pay for five projects. How? The answer illustrates our broken government. First, the money Evers is spending is slush fund money from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. This was the $1.9 trillion waste passed by the federal government to “change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate relief for American workers.” This gargantuan spending boondoggle fueled our current almost $34 trillion national debt and was a key contributor to the inflation and high interest rates that Americans are suffering with today. It is borrowed dollars that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be paying taxes to pay back. The American Rescue Plan Act was a generational theft.

 

Sold as a “rescue plan,” the spending also created gigantic slush funds for state governors to spend at their personal discretion. This is the money that Evers is using to pay for building projects. Our government’s structure is supposed to prevent the concentration of power and arbitrary government, but the slush fund allows Evers to allocate money — a power expressly granted to the Legislature — without any oversight. Such arbitrary exercises of power are the stuff of dictatorships.

 

Looking past how the money got there and how the governor had the unfettered power to spend it, let us look on what it is to be spent.

 

$15 million for the Janesville Sports and Convention Center

 

$9.3 million for the Milwaukee Iron District new soccer stadium $7 million for the Green Bay National Railroad Museum expansion

 

$5 million for the Bronzeville Center for the Arts

 

$330,000 for the Door County Peninsula Players Theatre upgrades.

 

No wonder the Legislature did not agree to spend millions of dollars on these projects. Is it really the role of state government to fleece the taxpayers out of their hard-earned wages to pay for a soccer stadium in Milwaukee? Is expanding the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay worth making a young family in La Crosse cut back on groceries to afford their rent? I am sure that the Door County Peninsula Players Theatre is delightful, but it is difficult for an elderly couple in Hudson to enjoy when the cost of gas is over $3.00 a gallon. Budgets are about priorities and there was a good reason why these projects did not make the list.

 

At the end of this money train are people who will be paid to do these projects and the very few people who will make money off of the facilities. Watch where that money goes and how it is spent. Then we will all know why Evers chose these projects.

 

We see how broken our government is. The federal government shakes down future generations by borrowing money to spend on the present generation. This triggers inflation, responded to by jacking up interest rates, thus lowering the spending power and quality of life of the current generation. The money is allocated into gigantic slush funds for governors to spend at their whims, thus bypassing small-“r” republican governments at the state level and creating arbitrary government. Then the money is spent on governors’ pet projects that have little to no value for the taxpayers paying the bills.

 

The scheme is not about a better Wisconsin or a better America. It is about fleecing the many for the benefit of a few.

Evers hands out your candy

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

Gov. Tony Evers announced that he is providing over 36 million tax dollars to pay for five building projects. The announcement highlights just how broken our government has become.

 

[…]

 

In this instance, last year the governor proposed a list of building projects to be funded by the taxpayers. The Legislature, which has the responsibility and power to allocate taxpayer money, passed a capital budget that agreed with the vast majority of the governor’s building proposals, but not all of them. Unlike the federal government, state governments cannot print money. The state Legislature must prioritize spending and balance the budget.

 

That is how the process works. The governor suggests how to allocate the budget. The Legislature writes the budget. The governor then checks the Legislature with his veto power. Everyone moves on. Not this time. Governor Evers announced that despite not being included in the capital budget, he is going to spend over 36 million tax dollars to pay for five projects. How? The answer illustrates our broken government. First, the money Evers is spending is slush fund money from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. This was the $1.9 trillion waste passed by the federal government to “change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate relief for American workers.” This gargantuan spending boondoggle fueled our current almost $34 trillion national debt and was a key contributor to the inflation and high interest rates that Americans are suffering with today. It is borrowed dollars that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be paying taxes to pay back. The American Rescue Plan Act was a generational theft.

 

[…]

 

No wonder the Legislature did not agree to spend millions of dollars on these projects. Is it really the role of state government to fleece the taxpayers out of their hard-earned wages to pay for a soccer stadium in Milwaukee? Is expanding the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay worth making a young family in La Crosse cut back on groceries to afford their rent? I am sure that the Door County Peninsula Players Theatre is delightful, but it is difficult for an elderly couple in Hudson to enjoy when the cost of gas is over $3.00 a gallon. Budgets are about priorities and there was a good reason why these projects did not make the list.

 

At the end of this money train are people who will be paid to do these projects and the very few people who will make money off of the facilities. Watch where that money goes and how it is spent. Then we will all know why Evers chose these projects.

 

We see how broken our government is. The federal government shakes down future generations by borrowing money to spend on the present generation. This triggers inflation, responded to by jacking up interest rates, thus lowering the spending power and quality of life of the current generation. The money is allocated into gigantic slush funds for governors to spend at their whims, thus bypassing small-“r” republican governments at the state level and creating arbitrary government. Then the money is spent on governors’ pet projects that have little to no value for the taxpayers paying the bills.

 

The scheme is not about a better Wisconsin or a better America. It is about fleecing the many for the benefit of a few.

Evers Uses Covid Slush Fund to Build Projects Rejected by Legislature

He really, really does not like working within a democratic system, does he?

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced he’s investing $36.6 million into building projects across the state in Janesville, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Door County that were previously rejected by members of the Wisconsin State Legislature in the 2023-25 Capital Budget process.

These projects were considered, and rejected, by the legislature. Evers is doing it anyway using the leftover Covid slush fund money. Remember that money? It was supposed to help Americans who were negatively impacted by the pandemic? Now the money is being used by politicians to fund pet projects.

Evers Appeals to Leftist Court to Reject Checks and Balances

Evers is moving fast to get the high court to give the Executive Branch more unrestrained power.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Democratic Gov.  on Tuesday sued the Republican-controlled Legislature, arguing that it is obstructing basic government functions, including signing off on pay raises for university employees that were previously approved.

 

Evers is asking the liberal-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, bypassing lower courts.

 

Evers said it was “a bridge too far” and “just bull s—” that Republican state lawmakers were telling 35,000 University of Wisconsin employees who were expecting pay raises to “stick it.”

Governor’s office not being run in accordance with societal norms

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

When I first entered the professional workforce long ago in the previous millennia, I recall the new employee onboarding process. Neatly pressed with my briefcase in hand, faux leather portfolio, and resume printed on crisp premium linen paper, I met with the Human Resources professional to read and physically sign all the paperwork. Included in that paperwork were the sexual harassment policies and the absolute prohibition of romantic or sexual relationships between superiors and subordinates. The existence of such a relationship was grounds for immediate termination.

 

It has been at least that long since such policies have been commonplace in the professional workforce, but Gov. Tony Evers’ office has not yet come into the previous century. His office is still one where bosses are allowed to have sexual and romantic relationships with their subordinates as long as the governor is closely monitoring the situation.

 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the story last week that Evers’ long time Chief of Staff, Maggie Gau, the power behind the throne, has been in a relationship with one of her direct subordinates for years. When confronted with the news, the governor reacted aggressively rejecting the implication that such a situation was inappropriate. He said, “I don’t think it’s anybody’s g****** business” and assured people that, “I monitor their performance on a regular basis.”

 

It was also revealed that the governor’s office does not have a policy prohibiting such relationships and that the governor patently rejects the idea that such a policy is necessary. The governor rejects that such a policy is necessary because it is a small staff of about thirty people and he can personally evaluate each member’s performance to avoid any possibility of inappropriate behavior based on who is having sex with whom.

 

Since the governor has taken personal ownership and responsibility for each member of his staff’s performance, perhaps he can explain the meteoric rise of Gau’s better half. Originally appointed as a deputy in 2019 for $62,000 per year, the employee was promoted to report directly to Gau in 2020 and given a raise to $100,006 per year. This year, that salary was increased to $112,008. That is an 80% increase in pay in just four years when other state employees are barely seeing cost of living increases in their wages.

 

Did Governor Evers conduct a competitive hiring process before signing off on the promotion? Were other candidates considered? What were the selection criteria? What experience or previous performance supported the promotion for that employee more than other employees of similar rank and tenure? If everything is above board, then surely the governor would willingly show the rigor behind his hiring and promotion methodology, no?

 

But, of course, even if everything has been done with full transparency and fairness, the mere existence of the relationship taints the office. Even the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the most leftist organizations in America, correctly points out the reason that they have a policy prohibiting romantic relationships between superiors and subordinates. Their policy states, “… such relationships create an environment charged with potential or perceived conflicts of interest and possible use of academic or supervisory leverage to maintain or promote the relationship. Romantic or sexual relationships that the parties view as consensual may still raise questions of favoritism, as well as of a potential abuse of trust and power.”

 

This is common sense and normal practice everywhere except in Governor Evers’ office. Furthermore, such relationships put the organization at great risk of legal liability. If the relationship goes sour, then the organization can be sued for allowing someone in a position of power to wield it over a romantic interest. Others in the office can sue the organization if they think they have been discriminated against or denied fair treatment based on the relationship. These lawsuits can result in the organization, in this case the State of Wisconsin, paying out millions of dollars in damages to the plaintiffs and their lawyers. In this case, it is just the taxpayers’ money, so we understand why Governor Evers is unbothered by the risk.

 

Governor Evers is running an office in which romantic relationships between superiors and subordinates is allowed at great risk to the taxpayers and at great consternation to others in the office who do not have exclusive access to his chief of staff’s ear in the wee hours of the morning. He has forcefully, and repeatedly, taken personal responsibility to ensure that all employment practices are appropriately followed irrespective of such relationships. It is his burden of proof to show that his office is being run in a professional way within the legal strictures and societal norms the rest of us live by every day.

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