How to Privatize the Post Office: Piece by piece, step by step

MJS: Major Walker donor gets probation for campaign finance violations

July 7, 2011
Don Behm

West Bend - William Gardner, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. and a major donor to Gov. Scott Walker, was sentenced Thursday to two years of probation for violating state campaign finance laws.

Washington County Circuit Judge James Pouros also sentenced Gardner to 100 hours of community service at Tenor High School, a charter school in Milwaukee.

Gardner hopes he can persuade a few high school students there to learn a skilled trade and pursue a career in railroading, defense attorney Dean Strang said.

Gardner was convicted May 5 of two felony violations of state campaign finance laws after he pleaded guilty to the crimes.

CAP TIMES: Women's groups, lawmakers call for Prosser to take a leave from Supreme Court

July 5, 2011
Judith Davidoff

Women's rights groups and women lawmakers from the city of Madison, Dane County and state Legislature are calling on Justice David Prosser to take a leave from the Supreme Court while an investigation proceeds into allegations that he physically assaulted Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument.

"As a member of the highest court in Wisconsin, Justice Prosser sits in a position of high trust," Lisa Subeck, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin and a member of the Madison City Council, said in a news release Tuesday. "No individual is above the law, especially an elected official sworn to uphold the very laws he is accused of breaking."

HUFFINGTON POST: Corporations Have 'Captured' 88 Percent Of All Of Post-Recession Income Growth

July 1, 2011
James Sunshine

Corporations have reaped in approximately 88 percent of the national income growth since the economic recovery began, states a report by Northeastern University, cited by The New York Times.

The report, entitled "The 'Jobless and Wageless Recovery' From the Great Recession of 2007-2009," outlines what has been the most corporate-friendly recovery in more than a generation. Worker's wages and salaries have only accounted for slightly more than one percent of all income growth.

IWF: Associated Bank pays no state income tax; M&I just a trifle

July 1, 2011
Institute for Wisconsin's Future

Who Does Not Pay Taxes logo

New IWF newsletter names corporate tax avoiders

Associated Bank pays no state income tax; M&I just a trifle

Associated Bank—the largest bank based in Wisconsin—made $2.6 billion in profits in the years before the recession, yet didn’t pay a penny in state income tax. M&I, newly sold to a Canadian bank, paid less than 1% on its pre-recession profits, despite a state tax rate of 7.9%.

THE PROGRESSIVE: Hundreds protest Walker at Devil's Lake centennial

June 25, 2011
Matthew Rothschild

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker came to Devil’s Lake State Park Saturday morning for a ceremony honoring the centennial of the park, but he found more protesters there than well-wishers.

An hour before Walker spoke, about 80 protesters gathered at the entrance of the park and walked in a procession that was led by two of the organizers, Sue and Tom Holmes, Sue was carrying an American flag and Tom the Wisconsin state flag.

Another organizer, Gail Lamberty, told the group at the outset: “We are here to deliver a message: This is our Wisconsin, and Devil’s Lake State Park is very, very dear to our heart.”

Many of the protesters were worried about Walker’s anti-environmental policies.

WDC warns of a "creeping fascism" in GOP backed bill to eliminate campaign finance transparency

June 24, 2011
Mike McCabe

[Update on 9/12/11- The Assembly will be begin disucssing this issue directly (AB196) beginning September 13th, 2011.  See this link for a schedule of the Assembly's upcoming buisensss]

After exterminating any and all public election financing in the state budget and thus handing state elections over entirely to private interests, legislators took steps this week to make it harder for the public to see how special interests are funneling money into political advertising campaigns.

AFP: Calls for mass rally to bring Egypt revolt 'back to basics'

June 24, 2011
Agence France-Presse

CAIRO – Egyptian activists are calling for a massive rally on July 8 to "save the revolution" that toppled Hosni Mubarak, urging politicians to drop debates on the timing of elections and focus on restoring basic freedoms.

YES!: National Nurses United rallies for financial transaction tax

June 24, 2011
Sarah Anderson and Marlee Blasenheim

Sandy Falwell, who has worked in a neonatal intensive care unit for some 20 years, could tell plenty of stories about the impact of the Great Recession on the lives of her patients. One of the most painful: After a woman gave birth to a 2-pound baby, she told Falwell that she blamed herself for her baby’s premature birth. During her pregnancy she had been unable to afford insulin treatments for her diabetes—in part because she was taking care of her elderly parents.

DAILY CENSORED: How the recall elections could be stolen

June 23, 2011
Sheila Parks

I cannot watch enough videos of the people in Wisconsin as you bold, brave, most decent Wisconsonites are out in the streets – resisting, doing non-violent civil disobedience/direct action, dissenting, protesting, rising up, standing up to and speaking and singing truth to power in the face of Walker and his cronies.

What is happening in Wisconsin now is a model for the whole country. Not only your  honorable actions, but also what Walker and the thugs behind him are trying to do in Wisconsin.

IWF: Job-killing budget bad for Wisconsin’s economy

June 22, 2011
Institute for Wisconsin's Future

We all want jobs. But the budget the Legislature is sending the Governor is a job-killing disaster.

The severe cuts in the budget will destroy the equivalent of 18,000 jobs in the first year and 22,000 in its second year, through direct layoffs of public employees and the ripple effects of reduced government spending.

That’s according to a simulation of the impact of the budget on the state economy, using economic modeling software.

MJS: Republicans in Legislature may try to make recalls harder

June 22, 2011
Lee Bergquist and Craig Gilbert

Republican leaders in the Legislature said Monday they would consider introducing legislation this fall to make it harder to recall state officials.

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said the upcoming recall elections had launched the state Senate into "full campaign mode" and was slowing down the legislative process.

Also, Gov. Scott Walker - speaking with reporters in Washington - called the recalls a "distraction" for most Wisconsin residents.

Fitzgerald said he believed some Democratic legislators would support a measure changing or weakening the current law.

WSJ: Wis. police remove Capitol metal detectors

June 22, 2011
Associated Press

Police quietly removed metal detectors from the state Capitol's entrances Wednesday, several days ahead of schedule.

Capitol Police set up the detectors at three Capitol entrances and closed all other ground floor doors after thousands of protesters descended on the building in February to demonstrate against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to strip almost all public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

AFP: Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards demonstrate against Austerity

June 22, 2011
Sylvie Groult

MADRID — Spain's "indignant" activists launched Monday protest marches culminating in a major Madrid rally July 24, showing no let-up just a day after rallying an estimated 200,000 protesters.

Seething over the destruction of millions of jobs, welfare cuts and corruption, the first of at least three nationwide marches set off from eastern Spain's Mediterranean city of Valencia.

Activists from Valencia will march and cycle on a 35-day, 500-kilometre (300-mile) route winding through 29 cities and villages in eastern Spain before arriving in Madrid.

WSJ: Solidarity singer punched in face by concealed carry supporter

June 22, 2011
Sandy Cullen

A participant in the daily, non-violent Solidarity Sing Along at the state Capitol suffered a broken tooth when he was punched in the face by one of two men who were draping a "Don't Tread on Me" flag over the heads of singers, the leader of the sing-along said.

State Department of Administration spokeswoman Carla Vigue said the singer who was punched, Michael J. Dickman of Madison, saw the two men draping the flag over others and came over and grabbed it. Dickman was cited by Capitol Police for disorderly conduct, she said.

Henry C. Rahr of Green Bay was arrested on a tentative charge of battery, and another man holding the flag, Eugene C. German, of Shorewood, Minn., also was cited for disorderly conduct, Vigue said.

WSJ: Iron ore mine plans on hold in northern Wisconsin

June 22, 2011
Clay Barbour
The company looking to build a $1.5 billion iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin has stopped the project until state lawmakers agree on a new set of rules for reviewing such projects.

State Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, said this week that Gogebic Taconite is turning its attention toward sites in Michigan and Minnesota after a bid to push through new legislation failed recently.

"I hear they would come back if there was a law in place," Jauch said. "I have told the company to shoot for getting a new bill in the fall session, which would give the public a full discussion on this issue."

Opposition lawmakers outline how budget will destroy Wisconsin communities

June 22, 2011
Kelda Helen Roys, Brett Hulsey, Janis Ringhand and Fred Risser

It’s a sad day in Wisconsin. Legislative Republicans attacked middle-class families across Wisconsin when they rubber-stamped Gov. Scott Walker’s deeply flawed budget. This wasteland budget will take us backward and turn Wisconsin into Wississippi in many ways.

Here are some ways the Walker/GOP budget hurts middle-class families, our freedom and our future:

• It takes taxpayer investment away from our public schools, some of the best in the nation, and gives it to unaccountable private voucher schools.

• It raises taxes on senior citizens who want to stay in their homes and low-income working families.

• It slashes funding for our universities and job retraining programs.

CAP TIMES: What’s good for fat cats is bad for rest of us

June 22, 2011
Dave Zweifel

Gov. Scott Walker never misses a chance these days to take credit for Chief Executive Magazine moving Wisconsin up 17 notches — 41st to 24th — in its ranking of the best and worst states for business.

Although the poll of 500 CEOs, the fattest of America’s fat cats, was conducted less than two weeks after Walker became governor, it’s clear that the Wisconsin governor’s war against public employee unions and ever-greater tax breaks for the interests of big business have impressed the ranks of those who typically get multimillion-dollar end-of-the-year bonuses whether their companies do well or not.

CAP TIMES: State budget attacks credit unions

June 21, 2011
Brett Thompson

Dear Editor: The Wisconsin Credit Union League is asking Gov. Scott Walker to veto provisions in the state budget bill that would allow direct conversions of member-owned credit unions to shareholder-owned banks.

The direct-conversion provisions subvert the interests of a credit union’s full membership to that of a few who intend to own and profit from a stockholder-owned – and not member-owned – business structure.

MJS: GOP primaries to be held in recalls of Senate Democrats

June 21, 2011
Tom Tolan

Two Republicans have filed nomination papers in each of three recall elections against Democratic state senators, meaning that July 19 likely will be primary day in all three races, with final elections Aug. 16.

The deadline for filing nomination papers was 5 p.m. Tuesday; 400 valid signatures were required for filing.

In the 12th Senate District, represented by Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover), Kim Simac, a tea party leader from Eagle River, will face Robert Lussow of Tomahawk, who is chairman of the Lincoln County Board.

CAP TIMES: Bipartisan group asks Walker to veto beer distribution bill

June 21, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

A bipartisan group of seven lawmakers stepped in on the side of the state's craft brewers Tuesday, asking Gov. Scott Walker to veto a bill that favors beer distributors and MillerCoors.

The bill, which was stuck into the budget without a public hearing, would solidify the state's three-tier beer system by preventing brewers, distributors and any retail outlet that sells beer from owning a license to operate in more than one of these business categories.

Specifically, the state's small craft brewers could no longer have a brewer's license and a distribution license, a restriction they say would stifle their ability to grow and hurt their future profitability.

The letter to Walker reads, in part:

WSJ: Great Dane, Vintage, to no longer sell MillerCoors beer

June 21, 2011
Chris Drosner

Two Madison brewpub businesses have stopped selling MillerCoors beers in support of other craft brewers who fear the effects of the beer distribution provisions in the state budget.

MillerCoors is a key supporter of the legislation, along with the Tavern League of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Grocers Association. 

Though brewpubs apparently won't be affected by the legislation, Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. and Vintage Brewing Co. confirmed this week they had ended sales of MillerCoors brands such as Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, Leinenkugel's, Blue Moon and Molson.

Cap Times opinion piece predicts the rapid decline of Wisconsin's public schools

June 21, 2011
Margaret Krome

Two years ago a new job prompted former Wisconsin neighbors to move to the Dakotas. We chatted about their life there this week, when they stopped by. They love their congenial community, and the landscape and natural areas are beautiful. Their jobs are good, and they have a lot of time to devote to family life. But the K-12 public educational system is so mediocre that they’re considering leaving. Years of diminishing resources for the public school system in their community have spawned a citizenry with low expectations, limited ideas of what’s possible, and very little urge to fight for education.

WSJ: Collective bargaining law to take effect June 29

June 21, 2011
Clay Barbour and Mary Spicuzza

Gov. Scott Walker's controversial collective bargaining bill will officially be law by the end of the month, but it will likely be late August before state employees see a difference in their paychecks.

Secretary of State Doug LaFollette said Wednesday that he would publish the bill June 28, meaning it will be effective June 29.

The act will bring to an end the long, tortured process of enacting the measure, which survived a more than 60-hour Assembly session, the largest continued protest in state history and a legal challenge that went all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Justices on Tuesday ruled by a 4-to-3 vote that a Dane County judge overstepped her authority when she voided Walker's bill.

CAP TIMES: Walker puts himself ahead of Wisconsin

June 20, 2011
Cap Times Editorial Board

Scott Walker, the governor who rarely makes public appearances in Wisconsin and never has time to meet with citizens who want to raise issues regarding his budget priorities, has finally found a forum in which he is comfortable.

He is hosting CNBC’s morning business show “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.

And this is not just a quick hit. The governor will devote two hours to the project, hosting from 6 to 8 a.m. Central time.

Walker and his apologists are, of course, claiming that the hosting gig will be used to promote Wisconsin as a good place to do business. But does anyone seriously think CEOs make their calls about where to site factories, warehouses or research centers based on what politicians say on “Squawk Box”?

FORBES: No Public Hearings On Medicaid Cuts As Scott Walker Tightens His Grip On Wisconsin

June 20, 2011
Rick Ungar

What’s a governor to do when he has a big agenda but little tolerance for the nagging voice of the people?

He either loads up on the anti-acids and the aspirins, or he finds the peace and quiet he requires to bring his society-changing schemes to life by simply legislating away the annoyance of having to listen to the voice of the voters.

Apparently, Gov. Scott Walker has decided to skip the Maalox and go for the muzzle.

POLITISCOOP: This is what judicial corruption looks like

June 18, 2011
Carrie Wifore-Ward

Madison Wisconsin -- WKOW in Madison Wisconsin is reporting that they have obtained an email sent prior to the Wisconsin Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Circuit Court Judge Sumi's decision to block the heavily contested collective bargaining law. WKOW reports that four Republican legislators met with Sheboygan County Department Heads Monday as part of regular monthly meetings of state and local officials. Carl Buesing (the Sheboygan County Corporation Counsel who encouraged JoAnne F. Kloppenburg not to seek a recount) informed other county attorneys across Wisconsin of the following via email:

THE PROGRESSIVE: Netroots Nation proves Wisconsin uprising still inspiring activists nationwide

June 17, 2011
Elizabeth DiNovella

At the sixth annual Netroots Nations gathering, the Wisconsin Uprising has taken center stage. So many attendees are inspired by the organizing efforts that Wisconsinites get rounds of applause wherever we go.

Several panels on the first day of this progressive blogging conference focused on the fight-back against the Governor Scott Walker’s radical rightwing agenda.

“Wisconsin is Ground Zero right now,” said Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a PAC that supports “bold progressive candidates,” according to its website.

CHANNEL 27: Email reveals Republican lawmakers may have coordinated with Supreme Court on timing of decision

June 17, 2011
Inside Scoop

An email obtained by WKOW27 News indicates several local officials Monday were assured by Republican lawmakers the state Supreme Court would rule on the contentious collective bargaining case this week.

In a 4-3 decision, state Supreme Court justices Tuesday upheld the collective bargaining bill and vacated a Dane County judge’s restraining order against it.

Four Republican legislators met with Sheboygan County department heads Monday as part of monthly sessions involving state and local officials.

IN THESE TIMES: Wisconsin to be GOP’s Own Privatized Idaho? Or Will Voters Strike Back?

June 17, 2011
Roger Bybee

To borrow a phrase from an old B-52’s song, Wisconsin’s out-of-touch Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his legislative allies hope to be living in their own privatized Idaho (or perhaps Mississippi).

By 3 a.m. yesterday morning, the Republicans had rammed through the State Assembly a budget plan that is aimed at radically re-configuring Wisconsin as a Southern-style state where corporate CEO "job creators" are enthroned and enriched with new tax breaks, workers are reduced to near-sharecropper status, and public services like education and health suffer massive cuts and privatization. 

THE PROGRESSIVE: Wisconsin's worker's uprising demobilized by some in the movement

June 17, 2011
Matthew Rothschild

The mood in Wisconsin is dejected.

After a string of defeats, first losing the state supreme court race against David Prosser, then losing the decision at the state supreme court on the anti-collective bargaining law, and finally losing the vote on Walker’s hideous budget in the state legislature, people are down.

People see that Walker won everything big that he asked for, and despite all the great activism, we don’t have anything to show for it—at least not yet. As a result, lots of people are going to suffer.

The mass protests that I expected this week at the capitol in Madison did not materialize. On Tuesday, there were maybe 5,000 people there. On Thursday, barely 1,000. I’m sorry, but that was pathetic.

Mark Pocan: State budget taxes poor, gives to the rich

June 17, 2011
Mark Pocan

Last night, I was the second member of the Assembly Democratic caucus to talk about the Republican budget on the floor of the Assembly. I’ve received good feedback from my speech, so I’d like to summarize it here:

1) Republicans have created so many corporate tax breaks in this budget that the Legislative Fiscal Bureau pegs the 10-year cost in reduced revenue to the state at $2.3 billion.

2) Republicans use credit card spending to push $338 million dollars in state debt off into the future, costing us an additional $89.9 million in interest.

3) The GOP budget includes, at a minimum, $411 million in fund raids.

WSJ: Republicans run fake Dems in all six Republican recall districts

June 17, 2011
Dinesh Ramde

The state Democratic Party is pulling its "placeholder" candidates out of several upcoming recall elections, saying it only devised the tactic to defend against a possible Republican ploy that has since failed to materialize.

The announcement Friday was the latest act of gamesmanship between the two parties ahead of as many as nine recall elections this summer.

Six GOP state senators are being targeted for recall because they supported Republican Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to cut collective-bargaining rights from most public employees. Three Democratic senators are also being targeted for opposing those efforts.

WSJ: Effects from the passage of devastating budget already being felt

June 17, 2011
Mary Spicuzza and Clay Barbour

Gov. Scott Walker's aggressively austere budget is one step from becoming law, but state officials say its effects are already being felt across Wisconsin.

The state Senate on Thursday night passed the $66 billion plan, which uses a combination of budget cuts and corporate tax breaks in an attempt to close an estimated $3 billion budget hole while trying to spur the economy and promote business growth.

The measure passed at about 10 p.m. on Thursday on a 19-14 party line vote, and Walker said he will sign it before June 30.

"I remain confident that the Senate and Assembly passed a budget that met and exceeded the goal of balancing the budget by cutting spending and not increasing taxes," Walker said.

The Cap Times reports on UW system admins positive reaction to budget; links to articles about Martin's departure

June 17, 2011
Todd Finkelmeyer

Catching up on a couple higher education-related items ...

** Although no one is doing back flips because of an impending cut of $250 million in state taxpayer support over the next two years, University of Wisconsin System officials are generally pleased with the budget bill now awaiting Gov. Scott Walker's signature.

Op-ed in the Cap Times promotes a 'Wisconsin Values Budget' over Walker's devastating budget

June 17, 2011
Robert Kraig and Ken Taylor

Gov. Scott Walker and his supporters in the Legislature have asserted throughout the budget process that the only way to balance the state's books is to raise taxes on low-income workers and make slashing cuts to public services. It did not have to be this way.

CAP TIMES: Women particularly harmed by state budget

June 17, 2011
Cap Times Editorial Board

Don’t let legislators who voted for Gov. Scott Walker’s trash-and-burn budget try to tell you they believe that all women are full citizens with equal rights and equal protections under the law.

They don’t.

Forward Lookout reports on the new court order that reopens the Capitol building

June 16, 2011
Brenda Konkel

Well, lets see if they follow this court order . . . From Peter Barca . . . .

A victory for the people in the People’s House
Lawsuit forces Walker to reopen the Capitol to its rightful owners: Wisconsin citizens

Mark Pocan thoroughly debunks Republican claims that the state budget is balanced

June 16, 2011
Mark Pocan

Tonight, I was the second member of the Assembly Democratic caucus to talk about the Republican budget on the floor of the Assembly. I’ve received good feedback from my speech, so I’d like to provide my Assembly floor speech here.