cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
Entrenched power is under assault by Republicans writing the new state budget in the Joint Finance Committee. Those two areas are organized education and labor unions. Organized education sees the relaxation of teacher licensing in Wisconsin as the beginning of the end of excellent education. Organized labor sees the prospective repeal of the prevailing wage rules as the ultimate loss possible for certain unions.
Chicago seems a city destined to close once all its citizens have been shot to death.
It seems that every time I am at something of a loss for the subject of a nearly-daily blog, there are two possibilities that seem to be omnipresent: The Wisconsin Supreme Court and the never-ending John Doe investigation. Actually there is probably a third, and that would be whatever is the current revelation concerning Hillary Clinton.
Today’s Journal Sentinel front page talks about Shullsburg, WI and the most unique naming system for the streets running through the community. The streets were named by an Italian Dominican priest and architect in the 19th century.
A new report was just issued by a firm named Medscape that addresses the average compensation for physicians state-by-state. It sounds like the results should make us Wisconsinites happy at least for the fact that we should be an attractive place for doctors.
Our state Supreme Court is really “a Supreme embarrassment” given the so-far irreconcilable mess created by the suit filed by then Chief Justice Abrahamson over her loss of position as the Chief Justice determined by tenure given the votes of the people of the State of Wisconsin and the certification of that vote.
It is a shame that I’ll not be able to read the various tomes authored by Christian Schneider in the Journal Sentinel any more, but, since he decided to foolishly go up against John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County DA, and actually talk about the John Doe investigation this morning, I suspect he’ll be incarcerated rather quickly. If not incarcerated, then almost certainly he’ll be subject to a defamation suit.
Assurant Health, basically the former Time Insurance Company that used to be headquartered in Milwaukee is being put on the block by its parent organization and the blame for that can be laid at the feet of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Time Insurance made money on health insurance using smart underwriting of the risk. The use of health underwriting is forbidden by the ACA, something that people with prior health conditions and without insurance found to be great. Consequently, a formerly profitable health insurer is now losing big money due to adverse claims needing to be paid. It has other business that is largely comprised of life, dental and short-term and long-term disability policies which can still be underwritten but which is insufficient to keep the company alive in its present form.
This past Sunday’s Crossroads section in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured the headline: A violent spring in Milwaukee. We have all heard about and probably have all read about the increases in crime in the metropolitan area. It would’ve been almost impossible to have missed that news.
Wisconsin was/is one of seven states that use length of tenure as the factor in determining which Justice is deemed the Chief Justice of its Supreme Court. Twenty-two other states have rules that permit the seated Justices to decide by vote which of them will serve in that capacity, and that is what Wisconsin voters decided should be the case in Wisconsin two days ago.
Time to regroup if you are a Badger fan. We came close but that only counts, as the saying goes, in horseshoes and hand grenades. Fans (obviously from the word ‘fanatics’) get their identity from the team they choose to support and there is the ever-present danger that the team won’t deliver the ultimate win that is the desire of its fans.
The election coming next week has two items that I need to comment about, not that I think my comments will change anybody’s vote but at least I’ll feel better. A fellow Germantown Now blogger has already staked out his position and his position is basically the opposite of mine…as if that comes as a surprise to anyone who watches both Blogs regularly.
Trooper Trevor Casper is to be laid to rest today after being involved in a shoot-out at the end of his first solo day on duty. This has been a sad episode for his parents and friends, his community and the Wisconsin State Patrol. The flags flying at half-staff brought on an eerie feeling just knowing the tragedy he had driven into.
There are occasional stories that simply grip my senses to the point that I have difficulty in comprehending how I would feel if directly involved on one side or the other. One of those is the story on page one in the morning Journal Sentinel titled “Parents sue over screening delay”.
John Doe reform seems long overdue if you are of one political persuasion and seems terribly misguided if you are of another political persuasion. Generally, people who are more liberal seem to believe, or at least appear to believe, that the John Doe laws as those exist today are perfect. The idea that a person who is innocent until proven guilty can be coerced, legally, into not talking about the process is foreign to conservatives generally.
The non-partisan race for state Supreme Court Justice is obviously underway. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley is running for her second ten-year term and is opposed by Circuit Judge James Daley from Rock County. Bradley met Wednesday with members of the Journal Sentinel editorial group, and, according to the report in the morning newspaper “seemed almost stunned that he (Daley) would report in-kind contributions of about $7,000 from the Republican Party of Wisconsin”.
Right-to-work has taken center stage within the Wisconsin Legislature. As was to be expected, this became an immediate political football with the Democrats decrying the possibility and the Republican leadership saying they can pass it and will pass it.
Let me try to get this straight…the special prosecutor in a John Doe investigation that has been in the news for some time now, has asked one or more members of the state Supreme Court to recuse themselves. We can be reasonably sure that those members of the Court are from the conservative element of that Court. We can be reasonably sure that if he is asking that one recuse himself or herself, he has likely asked all of the usual conservatives to do so.
My father was a cheese man; he was a licensed cheese maker, owned several cheese factories at one time or another in Vernon and Crawford counties and was buyer/manager of a Borden’s cheese collection warehouse in Viroqua, WI for years during my youth. I worked in that warehouse during the summers placing cheddar cheeses on a rack that dunked them in melted wax to seal them for shipment or aging as the case was to be.
The Wisdom of Solomon would be handy for our U.S. Supreme Court as it decides the issue raised concerning government subsidies to help pay for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. A look at the current information for Wisconsin gives some background:
John Doe limbo. That is where we seem to be for the moment. There is no sign that the John Doe investigation in which the Government Accountability Board (GAB) has been involved is going forward, but there also is no sign that it has really ended. The players and those people who were ‘played’ are in a state of limbo as this slow-motion process unfolds…or doesn’t unfold.
Is Governor Walker simply a flash in the political pan or is he actually catching wind in his sails as he trods the Presidential campaign trails? I don’t profess to know the answer to that question, but I can imagine how discombobulating that potential reality of wind in the sails must be for his opponents.
The Government Accountability Board (GAB) seems sometimes to have difficulty getting out of its own way. Rep. Vos (R), the Assembly Speaker, has been critical of the GAB and suggests that the GAB staff personnel have acted without the guidance of the GAB Board of Directors comprised of six retired judges from around the state. The Board is expected to act in a non-partisan manner as well as is the GAB proper.
The Journal Sentinel front page this morning carries the header for the Dan Bice column No Quarter: “Baldwin ousts aide over VA controversy”. Bice details the following:
M.D. Kittle of Wisconsin Reporter has been the rough equivalent of a Pit Bull as it relates to his dogged (pun intended) pursuit of the story surrounding the Government Accountability Board (GAB) and the investigations it has been part of over interpretation of Chapter 11 of Wisconsin’s campaign financing statutes. This chapter is essentially the driving force behind the John Doe investigation in which the GAB participated alongside Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm for low these many, many months consuming untold amounts of taxpayer funds. Not to mention the toll that this whole experience has taken on those who have had their lives turned upside down in late night raids on their residences
The Tomah, Wi Veteran’s Hospital has earned a nickname that is astounding. It is called “Candy Land” and that is not a sought-after euphemism. That name evolved from the heavy-handed distribution of narcotic drugs to veterans.
One of the first of these kinds of salvos we can expect to see fired at Governor Walker appeared in the Washington Post this morning. It concerns the lack of a college degree for Scott Walker and equates that to an implied finding that he is inadequate for the job of President of the United States. Walker left college in his senior year a few credits short of his degree, as he explains, to take a job thinking he’d go back and complete his work to obtain his degree.
The Government Accountability Board (GAB) has obviously been in the news for some time concerning its involvement in John Doe investigations aimed at Republicans. The John Doe in question was launched by Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm and the GAB joined in that effort a short while later.
With their victories firmly in hand, the question now is this: Will Republicans be able to play well together?
A Journal Sentinel reader sent a letter to the editor that appeared yesterday. The writer opined about the Wisconsin Supreme Court and politics, and particularly about the proposition by Sen. Tom Tiffany (R) Hazlehurst that would see the Chief Justice determined by vote of the members rather than by simple seniority. She was apparently aghast that politics might flavor the court and its decisions.
The Government Accountability Board (GAB) is a fairly popular target these days. It, according to some, has earned that target status through its actions as well as through its inactions.
Let’s hear it for OPEC…and especially for OPEC’s continued greed and perceived lack of alternatives. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has decided to avoid reducing the production of its member countries which almost assures a continued slide in the price of gasoline that you and I pay at the pumps. I paid $2.689 as a Costco member yesterday; I cannot remember paying this little for a long time (little, of course, being a lot more than I used to pay).
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has landed the job of a lifetime for a policy-wonk such as him. He is the incoming Chair of the United States House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee. This committee position is often referred to as the fourth most important position in our nation’s government after those of President, Senate Majority Leader and House Majority Leader. It has been chased after by some of the greatest political figures in our history and has been typically held by people at much more advanced ages.
The Capital Times in Madison seems to have difficulty in accepting the fact that Governor Walker managed yet another victory. Oh, it accepts the fact that Walker has won three times in a row but it somehow has managed to reach the conclusion that even if Walker won, his policies lost.
Being a hypocrite can come easily to many if we do not defend against that status. It seems that the Democratic Party is running afoul of that definition.
It is good that our election season is rapidly drawing to a close given the daily slippage in taste of commercials being aired and printed. As candidates become more desperate, it seems too many are willing to throw good taste out the window in the attempt to win at any cost.
(Note: Early voters can change their votes if they choose to do so before the election. They must go to the Clerk in their jurisdiction, indicate they wish to change their vote and the ballot will be located for them.)
Mary Burke being referred to by her predecessor at the Department of Commerce as “She’s a disaster” apparently was rather soft compared to what we now learn courtesy of Matt Kittle at www.WisconsinReporter.com who dropped the bombshell that now explains the time lapses in her resume’ that we’ve discussed earlier. Mary Burke was recalled from Europe and fired by her family over “steep overseas financial losses” and the “plummeting morale” of her staff.
An article in the morning Business section of the Journal Sentinel caused me to reflect on my childhood. The article discussed the three new cheese plants that are to be built in Wisconsin in the course of the coming year to year and one-half.
The Journal Sentinel reports this morning that it cost less to restore the Capitol than earlier estimated by the Walker Administration. The actual cost was 'only' $197,459 as of March 15th, so obviously the Walker Administration was guilty of over-estimating the costs when it initially forewarned that costs could be as high as $7.5 Million. The actual costs were comprised of the following:
The races for Germantown School Board seats were about as I had expected in this largely conservative district. The group of three who were touting their conservative perspectives won rather decisively (with margins of 2-1 or better). This was a highly contentious set of races and we will now observe what this means for the School Board. Will there be contentious issues through-out the terms of these new Board members, or was that discussion largely politically-driven? Will these races prove to have been the precursor to a more contentious overall political climate, or was that largely the result of the 'education system' being the driver of those feelings?
A person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, esp. one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.
Governor Walker's Act 10 bill was hit by a federal judge who found that unions could not be required to re-certify on an annual basis, and who found that the State of Wisconsin must collect union dues as has been done for many years. That was not quite the victory that it is being billed to be, but it does take a little of the sting out of Act 10 from the unions' perspective. It is a long way from overturning the law.
Paul Ryan, as you already know, made Mitt Romney his selection in the race for the Republican nomination. That may be enough of a push to assure a significant victory for Romney in our election.
Our two Supreme Courts, one in Madison and one in Washington,D.C., are showing how important this third branch of government truly can be.
The flyer from Menard's this morning announcing another 'Crazy Days' sale made me think of the current climate in our Badger state and in our country. We are in the midst of what is becoming perpetual 'Crazy Days' in all things political.
The every-decade experience of redrawing the maps that determine where each of us votes is nearly finished. For all the machinations by the opposition that virtually every decision taken by the Republicans was taken in error (with malice aforethought likely), it appears that only two districts were determined in need of change by the federal judges hearing the case. The judges also were not kind to the Republicans so far as the manner in which the maps were created with oaths of secrecy signed. No mention was made, interestingly, about the complaint by one of the plaintiffs being filed before the new lines were made public; this complaint apparently supposed the new lines would be a violation of their rights even before they knew what they were to be, and these were the two districts cited by the judges.
Ethics allegations against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser were unveiled yesterday in a continuation of what, to me, is among the more farcical things to come out of Madison. Admittedly, there is a wide selection of things farcial that eminate in Madison from which to choose, but at least for now...this takes the Most Farcical award.
"Can you even begin to imagine the size of the crowd cramming itself into Erin on this St. Patty's Day?"
Circuit Judge Richard Niess of Dane County ruled yesterday on another challenge to the Voter ID law. He didn't mess around with a 'temporary' restraining order; he issued a 'permanent' injunction.
The "Energizer bunny" of Wisconsin politics just keeps on running. Tommy Thompson has been out of office for 13 years according to an article yesterday, but leads the field of candidates running to replace Sen. Kohl (D).
Private sector adds 233,000 jobs was the headline on the story in the morning Journal Sentinel. Then followed the statement: Unemployment rate unchanged at 8.3% after 3 strong months.
Eric Hovde is officially in the race to replace Sen. Herb Kohl (D) who is not running for re-election. Hovde has a lot of competition and will take his lumps as the long-time politicians who are his opponents in the Republican primary work him over. Hovde has made a lot of money, so he is similar to our other Senator, Ron Johnson (R), in that he can provide a lot of funding from his own bank account if need be, and that is likely to be needed given the number of hands already reaching out for contributions.
I awakened this morning to newspaper stories telling me that a Dane County Judge who signed a Walker recall petition has declared the voter ID law is likely costing some 220,000 people to lose their right to vote because they do not have ID cards and therefore has ruled that it cannot be enforced in the coming April elections. I also read of the decision by Democrat Senators in conjunction with one Republican "moderate" Senator who have decided many people in Northern Wisconsin will continue to hover near poverty. I read that Gogebic will withdraw from its efforts to develop mining operations that would employ several hundreds of Northern Wisconsin folks and uncounted hundreds more in Southeastern Wisconsin who would've built the mining equipment.
It was interesting to hear what one of the independent groups has found in its review of the 152,508 pages of signatures submitted to recall Governor Walker.
There is a phrase that comes to mind as the re-districting case winds its way through the courts: "to the victor go the spoils".
It is interesting to see the very open, and some would say blatant, attempt by major unions in Wisconsin to hand-pick their candidate to go against Scott Walker in the almost certain recall election to come. It is very simple really; either you pledge to veto any budget that doesn't restore full union rights or you run the state without a new budget. There is no inbetween; no 'ifs, ands or buts' as it were.
Just when you think it isn't possible for the GAB to continue to be in the press, it makes some decision or announcement that propels it back into the news. That is sort of the "gift that keeps on giving" from a talk show host's or a blogger's perspective.
It was no surprise to see the Court of Appeals render its decision to vacate the decision of Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge J. Mac Davis. The Davis decision, of course, was the one in which he chided the GAB and said it needed to be more aggressive in its role of reviewing recall petition signatures.
The Government Accountability Board (GAB) finds itself in the news again this morning with its decision to withhold the signature petitions involved in the Walker recall effort. Supposedly this is for a brief period during which the GAB will ponder the request of some signers that their signatures and address information be kept from public view. One of the examples mentioned involves a person who was a stalking victim.
I served in the Wisconsin Army National Guard during the Berlin crisis that saw the 32nd Division activated and sent to then Ft. Lewis, Washington. We trained for possible deployment involving what was then called the "Cuban Missile" crisis. That never occurred and we were released from active duty some ten months later. Then that was quite the big deal; today that is little more than an extended summer camp at Ft. McCoy.
As I read the morning Journal Sentinel today, I was struck by the political inferences across the main section even though this publication claims to be unbiased. (1) Dan Bice continues on the 'expose Walker' bent that he has made standard fare of late. His "sources say" that charges will be issued in the coming days and that they likely will involve Walker operatives. He mentions that "at least eight" of Walker's "former aides and associates have hired criminal defense lawyers". "Insiders" have told Bice that the "next phase is focusing on the role of some of Walker's closest associates". (2) There is now an 'issue' over whether or not Wisconsin is in a deficit or not in a deficit. The gap of some $3.6 Billion that Walker encountered when he took office was closed by the Walker government but that was on a cash basis. So now we are exposed to the fact that under GAAP accounting there is still a deficit and that this fact was used recently in a petition to the federal government to gain its permission to cut some 50,000+ people from a state health plan if necessary. I don't recall the continuing series of articles during the former government's time in office that traced the ever-increasing budget deficit or that condemned the use of various 'funds' (transportation and patient compensation, for example) to make possible increased state spending. (3) A story on the national 'health care overhaul' from the Associated Press states that Wisconsin is among the states "lagging" in implementation of the wonderful new PPACA legislation that has yet to withstand U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny. This story mentions some 500,000 Wisconsinites who have no health insurance but does not indicate that this state is among those with the lowest uninsured population in the nation. Nor does it bother to mention that each of these 500,000 people have access to health care under federal laws that have been in force for years. Maybe this was simply accidental story selection. Maybe not.
The union workers (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 516) at the Manitowoc Company have been fighting with the company for the past two months to get a new contract. There have been at least three votes of which I am aware. Each time the proposed deal was voted down, the union and company went back to the table and came up with a revised contract proposal. In the meantime, the company hired temporary replacement workers.
The Milwaukee Brewers made a great signing yesterday and it was a former player. Craig Counsell joined the front office staff under GM Doug Melvin having decided that it was time to hang up his spikes.
She was a real pretty little thing. Big brown eyes. Lovely light brown hair. Slender legs. Probably about 150 lbs.
Our Packer season is over. Wow! That came too soon and it was sort of ugly as those kinds of things tend to be.
So the GAB (Government Accountability Board), in response to the decision by the Waukesha county judge saying that it needed to be more proactive in reviewing recall campaign signatures, has decided that it can create spread sheets. Instead of sixty days to review the signatures collected as it said it would need before the decision, the GAB says it will need more time and it will seek that permission from a judge. That has been granted in each case I can recall.