Jul 22-24: Newport Folk Aug 19: Ghostland Observatory (Philly) Aug 20: Prophets of Rage (Camden NJ) Aug 25: Tyler the Creator (Worcester MA) Sept 24: Copenhagen Beer Celebration (Boston) Oct 20: Die Antwoord (Boston)
One way to look at it is that we lost. Another way to look at it is that money won.
Walker outspent Barrett by about 8-to-1 in this race. He raised about twice as much as both candidates spent in 2010 combined.
I think Kathleen Vinehout, the state senator who got my vote in the gubernatorial primary, said it best: "Money buys the vote of the uninformed."
I'm not saying that money bought stupid people's votes, although that could be argued, but there is something to be said for having the money to dominate the airwaves. Even the left-leaning side of the media spectrum, our progressive talk radio & MSNBC, had more Republican ads than Democratic ads.
I kind of think we were a canary in the coal mine in a lot of respects. We're in an interesting new area of anonymous organizations and unlimited money in the wake of some recent court decisions.
I can assure you this much: this isn't over, this was just another round in an ongoing struggle.
We did flip the state senate, the goal toward which I spent much of last year working. Actually, that's tentative. The incumbent Republican senator, Van Wangaard, lost by about 850 votes and that race is in the recount process. If flipping the senate holds, we have at least earned one check/balance against the Walker administration.
I still feel as though my state is being colonized by corporate interests, and I'm not going to idly sit that out completely.
The original title of this thread was "Scott Walker is GOING DOWN!" and I think that still holds. There is still an ongoing investigation into Walker and his associates. Walker would be entitled to a letter of exoneration were he not the target of such an investigation, and the fact that he did not produce one before the election is very telling.
I am still not convinced Walker is finishing this term in office. I had hoped it would be "by hook or by crook." We didn't get him on the hook angle, but I think the crook angle is very much alive. The "We told you so" will be quite satisfying after all the crap we put up with.
We're still here, and we've still got work to do. I don't consider this thread's original nomenclature fulfilled, but it is perhaps time for a second renaming.
Thanks. Getting negative means I have to eventually consider altering our government through other-than-peaceful means. I'm not having it anytime soon.
Updates/Random Thoughts: The official recount determined that Republican Sen. Van Waangaard lost his recall election. Lawsuits are expected to follow, but since this just happened on July 3rd nothing new happened there today. I spent 2011 trying to Flip The Senate, but we didn't. I spent 2012 trying to Recall Walker, but we did manage to Flip The Senate. I keep telling people that one thing about change, amongst other characteristics, is that it does not happen as fast as people would like. I think this is just an example of that.
With the Supreme Court having recently upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Walker has stated that he will not do what is expected and take steps to establish a health care exchange for the state. He says he's waiting until November after the election. I smell another rush job of bad legislation on the horizon, or statutorily-mandated federal intervention to do it in the wake of his refusal. Terribly irresponsible governance in my mind.
There were a couple things near the end of that campaign which exemplify silly-season BS shenanigans. On both sides. On Walker's side: There were robocalls going out to recall petition signers leading up to the election, telling people that by signing the petition their vote had been counted. On my side: There was an unfounded rumor people were trying to push, claiming that Scott Walker had fathered a love child while at Milwaukee's Marquette University and that this was the reason that he ultimately dropped out. Both of them desperate tactics of which I do not approve.
I've had a lot of "What now?" conversations the past 2-3 weeks. One of them was with a friend and former co-worker, whose father was a teacher. He said he's not usually the vindictive type, but that he can't wait to see Walker indicted. When it does, he wants to rub it in the faces of Walker supporters who bought his claims hook, line and sinker. To those who proclaimed they "Stand With Walker," he can't wait to remind them that in doing so they stand with embezzling from veterans, stand with campaigning on taxpayer money, stand with secret email networks avoiding accountability, stand with an 11% True statements ranking from PolitiFact, stand with child enticement, and the like. The way he sees things, it's going to be the "We told you so!" of a lifetime. I have to say, I had to agree with him. I thought about all the middle fingers I saw... the heckles of "Get a job!" "Sore loser!" "Go back to Illinois!"... particularly high on my list was "Walker for President, smurfs!" shouted at our group gathering signatures outside the public library on opening day while children were within earshot. I had friends whose cars were egged, whose tires were deflated. The chronic yard sign thievery, and the fellow volunteer whose homemade sign was paintballed four times, run over once and eventually stolen in the night. Some volunteer friends of mine had an "I voted for an idiot!" bumper sticker affixed to their car next to theirs supporting Democratic recall candidates after the election. Those dickheads who heckled "Go back to Madison, union scum!" to me outside Lori's election night party, and called my girlfriend a "stupid bitch" for calling them out on it - they were wrong twice using six words - and drove off. The longtime friend who accused me of collecting Mickey Mouse signatures on my Facebook page, and - in the closing hours of voting while doing visibility at the busiest intersection in town - I pointed out that the public record clearly contradicted his accusation. I asked if he'd like to apologize for that; he laughed and drove off. At work the weekend after Bonnaroo, I had a particularly distressing encounter. My former band teacher (retired) and his son, who followed in his father's footsteps, came into the restaurant and we chatted while they waited for their to-go order. The son told me some of his stories, plenty similar to the ones I shared... he told me that he wasn't going to forget this, not for the rest of his life. It's things like these... beyond however many felony charges, arguably the worst job record in the nation, billionaire allegiance, Tea Party agenda, whatever... that will truly be Scott Walker's legacy on this state. Again, I can't wait to say "I told you so." I just wish it would take something more than pain to make people pay attention.
John Lehman, the only Democratic victor in the six June 5th elections, was sworn in as a state senator this past week. Democrats now control the Wisconsin Senate, 17-16. It's not going to do much, and it might be fleeting with half of the senate up for grabs this November... but flipping the senate was what I worked toward in 2011, so it's good to get that a year later. What of working toward Walker's removal in 2012, then? A boy can hope.
There will be no legislative sessions (unless called by Walker) until after the election, but that does not mean it is all for naught. There are a handful of things, particularly documents relating to the redistricting done by this legislature, about which Republicans were rather secretive. In flipping the senate, the Democratic majority leader is in a position to request/receive these documents from the Walker-friendly law firm representing the Wisconsin Senate in those matters. Of particular interest to me? My senator, Fitzgerald, had members of his office staff working - out of that law firm instead of the capitol - on those matters, using their personal email accounts to run afoul of open meetings law. I hope something comes of that. That practice seems to run parallel to exactly what Walker & his Milwaukee County staff did to spark an investigation.
Speaking of the investigation, it is starting to generate leads again. Tim Russell, the embezzler who ran the secret email network in his office, was due to stand trial this month. That has been delayed on account of his losing yet another lawyer. He is currently on his third or fourth. Darlene Wink, a Walker county office staffer whose actions prompted the investigation initially, was set to go to trial this month. That has been delayed until September, with a new twist. In addition to her Milwaukee County charges, the reporting now indicates she is cooperating with prosecutors on a charge in neighboring Waukesha County. This means one of two things: 1. She is cooperating with Russell's domestic partner in Waukesha, who is a party to the embezzlement and the child enticement charges arising from the investigation. Given that neither the partner nor Wink were mentioned in one another's indictments and that the charges appear unrelated, on to #2... 2. The Waukesha charge is related to the location of Walker's campaign headquarters. Some background: Walker has a P.O. box in Middleton (a Madison suburb) for campaign mailings & donations; Walker has an address in Middleton listed for his criminal defense fund. Walker's staff are intentionally quiet about the exact location of his campaign headquarters, but when prompted will disclose that it is not in Middleton. Given that in this investigation, the charges are landing in the counties where they occurred, the inclusion of another Waukesha County charge is curious. I think they might be onto something new here... but with the first cases going to trial in September, it's (sadly) unlikely that any of this will come to light before the November elections.
"Money buys the vote of the uninformed." - State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, who got my vote in the gubernatorial primary which was won by Barrett.
Not much to update.
The Walkergate investigation has definitely expanded into state government. An open records request by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel done into open records requests by the Milwaukee County DA found that the investigation is/was looking into emails from Walker's staff on the transition team and governor's office. A source who's told me a couple of other things which proved true says that, before the election, one of Walker's staff facing trial for related charges wanted to release information that the secret email network which had been operating in Walker's Milwaukee County office went to Madison with him... but was denied that opportunity.
Despite claims by Walker that Wisconsin would gain jobs once the recall election was over, the unemployment rate rose and this state lost 6-7K jobs in July. When confronted with this information, he blames the Affordable Care Act... because a megalomaniac won't accept responsibility for anything, after all.
I can't help but wonder whether Romney would have chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate if we had won that election...
This is Wisconsin Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee, one of our Fighting Fourteen, rocking my Forward cheesehead on the floor of the Democratic national convention:
It's something of a victory in my eyes. My county chair jealously calls us "besties" after the convention, and tells me she wants to get her in to speak for a fundraiser - but I have to make the ask.
A few updates:
There's a new police chief at the state capitol. One that's a bit more friendly to the Walker administration. With that comes a bit more of a crackdown on the Solidarity SingAlong and a change of tactics. Some of the regulars at this ongoing protest, which is upwards of its 450th occurrence, received citations - delivered after the fact, at their homes. Despite lack of warnings from police at the time of alleged offenses, and out of sight of ACLU observers. One of these citations was issued for holding up a copy of the Wisconsin Constitution, expressly permitting the right of the people to assemble in the capitol. Of course, they're challenging them in court. It's the first time in a while I've heard an "all hands on deck" call within the movement to appear at the capitol, for tomorrow's SingAlong. Sadly, I can't make it.
Scott Walker has proclaimed September 17th to be "Read the Constitution Day" here in Wisconsin. I find this to be mildly ironic, given the above circumstances.
The first of the Walkergate trials involving Walker's former staffers begins in about two weeks. Also, apparently the investigation is continuing to branch out into additional staffers, some of whose identity remains a mystery. Could get interesting, but I doubt we'll see any major breakthroughs before November...
A Wisconsin judge has struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers.
Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled Friday that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The ruling comes after a lawsuit brought by the Madison teachers union and a union for Milwaukee city employees.
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie says he is confident the decision will be overturned on appeal.
It was not clear if the ruling means the law is immediately suspended. The law took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most workers and has been in effect for more than a year.
Jul 22-24: Newport Folk Aug 19: Ghostland Observatory (Philly) Aug 20: Prophets of Rage (Camden NJ) Aug 25: Tyler the Creator (Worcester MA) Sept 24: Copenhagen Beer Celebration (Boston) Oct 20: Die Antwoord (Boston)
While the rest of the country focuses on the presidential election, here's what's going on here:
The first of Walker's Milwaukee County aides is (was?) due to have her trial begin next week. Thus far, Walker appears on the witness list for she and another aide, with possibly more to come. On Friday, Walker received a subpoena to testify. The DA says he "100%" planned on calling Walker as a witness, giving him three options: testify truthfully, perjure himself, or plead the fifth. It appears that this defendant now wishes to instead go through a plea hearing rather than a trial. Worried that she's not going to give up what she could be, though she's not the ultimate target. We'll see. (I didn't rename this thread to its current title for nothing...)
Coming into office, Walker eliminated the state Department of Commerce, instead creating the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (of which he chairs the board.) WEDC has been facing some heat lately. The federal department of Housing And Urban Development says that WEDC is technically not an instrument of the state. Also that guidelines were not followed in caps on loans and excessive lenience in deeming loans "forgivable" when the state gives them funds and jobs are not created. Oh, and there's about $8.5M missing from the WEDC fund which cannot be accounted for. Probably related to a recently-departed high-level staffer...
The documentary "As Goes Janesville" (centering on Paul Ryan's hometown) had a premiere on PBS' Independent Lens this week. This is the film whose b-roll provided the "Divide & Conquer" footage of Walker with his biggest recall campaign donor which came out a week before the election. I think it paints a picture of what's going on in a lot of small-town America as well as how out of touch capitalists can be, as well as a lot of blasts from the past from our protests last year. Two or three times watching it, I realized I was in the same chamber, within 20ft, whatever of the filmmaker. Worth a watch if you can find it.
Walker has been made vice chair of the Republican Governors' Association and has been (surprise!) spending a lot of time out of the state campaigning for Romney & other Republicans.
A couple weeks ago, Walker had proposed eliminating requirements on electrical safeguards in newly constructed homes. Firemen and construction companies pushed back, and he withdrew the proposal. Just an example of the kinds of things he'd probably be pulling off had we not pushed back ourselves.
No posts for two months, but that doesn't necessarily mean nothing's happening... I think some updates are due.
Walkergate Convictions for two former Milwaukee County staffers during Walker's tenure as county executive have been handed down since my last update. Both have copped plea deals with the DA, making the next wave of the investigation a bit more intriguing.
Kelly Rindfleisch pled guilty to using county time/resources to do campaign fundraising for Brett Davis, who was Walker's choice (unsuccessful) in the 2010 Lt. Gov. primary. Davis is currently the state's Medicaid director with Obamacare implementation looming. Since not moving into Walker's gubernatorial administration, it has been revealed she was on the payroll of a major vendor of the Wisconsin Republican Party... and probably not coincidentally, she was among the least cooperative of the defendants in these cases. She received a longer-than-expected prison sentence and is now a convicted felon.
Longtime Walker aide Timothy Russell pled guilty to embezzling funds from a charity for disabled veterans and their families, abusing a position which Walker put him into despite knowing of his history of abusing government credit cards. The embezzled funds went to vacations for he and his partner, domain registrations for Walker campaign websites, and a trip to coordinate efforts with Herman Cain's failed presidential campaign. Other charges were dropped. These other charges involve setting up the secret wireless network to circumvent transparency laws, child enticement charges spurred by his partner's activities on Craigslist, and more campaigning on county time/dime. Russell probably has some stories to tell, and considering that he went bankrupt in the course of this and had to use a public defender, he didn't have much leverage.
One last figure in the "campaigning on county time" first wave of this investigation has yet to face trial. Her next court date comes up later this month. The next wave of court proceedings in this, expected to take place next year, is expected to focus on bid-rigging for county contracts and more pay-for-play aspects of his time as county executive.
"Focused like a laser" on jobs Scott Walker's campaign promise of creating 250,000 jobs in his term was removed from his website... not because it was completed, but because it's gotten so far out of reach under his administration that it's not going to happen. He should be about halfway at this point, but wasn't even a quarter of the way there when the promise was removed.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a public-private partnership created by Walker to replace an existing state agency, is now over $50M missing in loans/grants to businesses which are currently unaccounted for.
November fallout Wisconsin has opted not to operate its own healthcare exchange under the Affordable Care Act, leaving it up to the federal government to do so.
Republicans gained two seats in the Wisconsin Senate, thanks to a retiring member of the Wisconsin 14 and narrow defeat of Sen. Jess King who took her seat in last year's recall elections. Overall, however, Democrats won 53% of the vote in state legislative elections. I call this a victory for redistricting undertaken by a GOP-dominated legislature.
On the Horizon Walker gave a speech at the Reagan Library in California, outlining his future plans. In the meantime, his touted series of town halls aren't open to the public - just friendly business leaders and invited guests. His weekly newsletter doesn't even have its "Ask The Governor" Q&A feature it once had. He also went to the White House as part of a meeting of a bipartisan group of governors this week.
The Wisconsin Assembly is looking at giving themselves a pay raise by increasing their per diem payouts, despite all the Chicken Little budget talk.
The aforementioned Sen. Fitzgerald, due to once again become Majority Leader, is making noise about replacing the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board with a new system made of political appointees... as if our state isn't hyperpartisan enough as of late.
Fitzgerald and incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos are the two most recent state chairs of ALEC, the corporate front group for producing legislation friendly to their causes. Rep. Vos currently holds the position of state chair.
Tops on the agenda with renewed Republican control of the state legislature are right-to-work legislation, another attempt at the mining bill proposed by a major Walker campaign donor, and attempts to limit recall statutes to apply only to those convicted of crimes. I'm opposed to all, particularly the last... we have an impeachment process for that very reason, and this would remove a layer of elected officials' accountability to their constituents.
Republicans want to eliminate same-day voter registration in the state of Wisconsin, which at 70+% turnout was among the highest in the nation. I'm sure that has nothing to do with the Democratic preference of the state's electorate...
Why am I still going on about this? Why does this still matter? Isn't this old news? The lack of economic growth, misuse of public resources, the pay-for-play corrupt politics, the divisive approach to our politics... they're not going away in my state. My worry? I swear to you, this man is going to take his (mis)management style national if he's not stopped. Unless the ongoing John Doe investigation takes him down (and keep in mind it took four years from the initial investigation until Blagojevich's downfall across the state line) I swear to you... this megalomaniac is going to run for president in four years unless he's stopped.
Also worth noting our neighboring Michiganders are swarming their own capitol rotunda in Lansing, in opposition to a right-to-work bill which took two hours to make it through the legislative process. It's still happening elsewhere...
It's a habit here to watch for the Friday news dump. You know, releasing bad news when the media's not going to be as likely to catch up on it. It was an interesting one this week.
Walker's former campaign manager, who ran former Gov. Tommy Thompson's unsuccessful U.S. Senate run, spoke at a forum about the Baldwin-Thompson race last night. He did reveal to reporters that he was cooperating with the John Doe investigation & declined to say he'd run a Walker reelection campaign.
The fifth of six lower-level Walker county staffers got two years in prison for his role in veterans group embezzlement and $51K restitution. One more verdict there, and the investigation moves up a level to those who worked directly under Walker. At least one of those top-level staffers is cooperating, though never yet formally arrested or even charged. Where it gets interesting is that the raid on her home was the first known involvement of the FBI in the John Doe probe.
Wisconsin leads the nation in new unemployment claims, with the month of October bringing us into negative job growth for the year to date. We double the rate of the second-worst state.
Also, checked PolitiFact to give a specific update on Walker's job creation record. Walker promised 250,000 jobs in four years. Walker has created 25,411 jobs nearing the halfway point.
On a personal note: forgot to mention that Wednesday marked a year spent with the lovely Tanya I met by way of recall volunteering. ;D
Today is the first anniversary of Walker winning the recall election. It was one of the most soul-crushing days of my life.
Tonight, Walker and the state GOP are having a rally in the Republican stronghold of Waukesha County to celebrate.
He promised 250,000 new jobs in his original campaign. He promised "unbelievable amounts of new jobs" if he were to win the recall.
This is what extremist austerity has wrought upon my state in comparison with national averages and neighboring states:
They told us "It's Working."
Walker's still a rock star among right-wing ideologues. His name is floated as a 2016 presidential contender. He spends a lot of time visiting other states - most recently, Iowa - to do the fundraising circuit. His weekly newsletter dropped the "Ask the Governor" section at year's end and never looked back. He avoids taking questions from reporters or the general public nowadays.
The next biennial Wisconsin budget is in the works. The Joint Finance Committee voted on measures to send to the Assembly at 6:15am today, after an all-nighter. Candidate Walker said "nothing good happens after midnight" and pledged to end the practice. But what's another broken promise? On the agenda: Expanding the private school voucher system beyond a handful of counties, without holding those schools to similar accountability levels of public schools. The sale of state assets (such as power plants, university facilities, possibly roads and even the state capitol building) via no-bid non-competitive contracts. Crony corruption to campaign donors if you ask me. Transvaginal ultrasound requirements.
This isn't over, but I hate that this state has to hit rock bottom before collectively realizing it and moving forward. I'm still doing what I can.