Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

The Heart Shaped ballon at the WI capitol

Because we all know how evil heart shaped balloons are, right?  This is just beyond the pale.  Take a look at this excellent article by Rebecca Kemble at The Progressive.  Full Article here.

Outside the doors of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Leslie Peterson was reaching down into her shopping bag to remove a heart-shaped balloon so that her friend could take a photo of her with it. As soon as she pulled it out, someone came up behind her and repeatedly stabbed the balloon with a blade. “I’m sick of fishing these off the ceiling,” said the man with the round glasses and handlebar moustache as he walked away.

Shaken up by the sneak attack on her property, Leslie asked the man for hisname and identification. He did not respond to her so she asked him again, saying that she was going to file an incident report with the Capitol Police. At that point, he allegedly grabbed her and slammed her up against the door of a women’s bathroom. “I saw blood all over him and me. I didn’t know if he still had the knife, or whether or not I had been stabbed,” said Leslie.

There’s no doubt that charges are warranted in this case.  In fact, serious questions should be asked about why this person, Ron Blair, is not cooling his heels in jail at the moment.

More information from the Wisconsin State Journal here.

 

Wisconsin Total Recall. Photo by T. Evers.

Democrats made a clean sweep against the fake democrats fielded by the Republican Party of Wisconsin in order to force primaries and grant the republican incumbents an extra month to campaign…and grant them the  opportunity to receive plenty of money via independent expenditures from the likes of Americans for Prosperity and other corporate-backed special interests.

Despite GOTV efforts by local republican parties, the GOP failed.  Is Governor Walker  paying attention while lounging on his taxpayer-funded patio quaffing cloyingly insipid Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, a beer/lemonade mix from Wisconsin’s number one faux craft brewery. Gotta love a Wisconsin Governor who actively attempts to screw the vibrant and independent craft breweries at the behest of behemoth SAB MillerCoors. Never mind the deliciousness of him tweeting pictures of his sorority-girl style drink, then following it up with a photo of his…toothbrush.  At first I thought his twitter account had been hacked. Unfortunately, he’s that shallow.

Anyway, back to the recall elections.

A couple days before the election Wisconsin Right to Life sponsored 10’s of thousands of robo calls to likely voters in what many democrats assert to be an attempt at voter suppression. Here’s the script of the calls that democratic voters received:

“Hello, this is Barbara Lyons from Wisconsin Right to Life. I’m calling today to let you know that you will be receiving an absentee ballot application for the upcoming recall elections in the mail in the next few days. These recall elections are very important and voting absentee will ensure that your vote is counted and that we can maintain a pro-family, pro-life state senate. We hope that we can count on you to complete that application and send it back to us within 7 days.

Now why would anyone send an absentee ballot back to Wisconsin Right to Life rather than say, the county or municipal clerk? Looking a little deeper, the phone number used for the robo calls originates in VA, and it appears to be a number used by The National Right to Life Committee.

Barbara Lyons had this to say to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when challenged:

In a telephone interview, Lyons said the calls, “as best as we know,” were targeted to friends and supporters of the organization. She said tens of thousands of calls were made.

Right.  That’s why scores of democrats were called. Nice try.

Much thanks goes out to every individual and group who has been involved in the recall effort thus far.  We Are Wisconsin just reported that they managed to field the volunteers necessary to knock on  37,857 doors during the  Get Out The Vote campaign.  This is huge.

By any measure, turnout in the recall elections was huge.  Even when compared to fall primaries, it was impressive.  Former Oshkosh deputy mayor Jessica King received nearly 20,000 votes against her republican-recruited fake democrat opponentJohn Buckstaff. In  her first bid for senate in 2008 she received just 1849 votes in an uncontested democratic primary.  In the 2008 general election that saw her pitted against the now sex-scandal-embroiled Randy Hopper, she received  41,688 votes-this during a presidential election that saw enormous turnout around the state.

Only one fake democrat had a respectable showing.  Isaac Weix, of Menomonie,  realized 46 percent of the vote against legitimate democrat Shelly Moore.  This was in large part due to a GOTV effort by the St. Croix Republican party which used automated phone calls and emails to encourage Republicans to vote for Weix, the faker.

Rep. Jen Schilling, D-LaCrosse, won by over 70%.  She’ll now take on republican incumbent Sen. Dan Kapanke in the Aug. 9th general election.

The winners of Tuesday’s Democratic primary include Moore; Shilling; Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, who will run against Olsen; King, who will run against Hopper; former Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum, who will run against Cowles; and Rep. Sandra Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay, who will run against Darling.

Democrats Demand that Scott Walker and the Republican Party Must Reimburse Taxpayers for Primary forced by Fake Democrats.

In a press release issued yesterday, Mike Tate, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair stated “The Republicans have brazenly lied to Wisconsin and they must repay the taxpayers for their fraud,” he added “For a party that pretends to care about the tax burden of working families, they are sure willing to spend their money to finance pure political gain. Scott Walker’s GOP is sitting on mountains of corporate cash – they should put their money where their mouth is and repay Wisconsin for their outrageous conspiracy.

All six actual Democrats cruised to victory over their sham opponents. Reports have put the cost of these sham primaries at more than $400,000.

The next battle will take place August 9th, when the Democrats attempt to wrest control of the senate from the republicans. If successful, this will create a stalemate that will prevent the GOP from further remaking Wisconsin in Arizona’s image.  Then, it is on to the main event, The Recall of Governor Scott Walker.

Justice David Prosser: Probably shouldn't be granted a concealed carry permit.

What a special Saturday morning!  While the State of New York is recognizing the equal rights of gay couples by legalizing same sex marriage, newly re-elected “Gentleman Bachelor” Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is choking his female colleagues behind closed doors.  Perhaps if his GOP handlers gave him an opportunity to come out of the closet, the somewhat ambiguously gay Justice Prosser might stop lashing out violently at women.  This could very well be all about his personal frustration. But seriously, his alleged actions are egregious and he clearly demonstrates that he is unable to conduct himself professionally. Even more concerning is his apparent seething contempt for women.
Bill Lueders writes an excellent article detailing the incident at Isthmus

They say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. (Justice Ann Walsh)Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

Justice Prosser, contacted Friday afternoon by the Center, declined comment: “I have nothing to say about it.” He repeated this statement after the particulars of the story — including the allegation that there was physical contact between him and Bradley — were described. He did not confirm or deny any part of the reconstructed account.

On Justice Prosser being gay. Let me make this clear: I am not stating that David Prosser is gay. In fact, I’m sure the gay community would probably reject him. I am simply commenting on rumors that have been discussed for quite some time. They may be true, they may not. But in my sole  opinion, I vote David Prosser the Supreme Court Justice Most Likely to Be Arrested in A Truck Stop Restroom, While Tapping his foot and assuming a “wide stance”.

District 48 Assembly Candidate Andy Heidt

Press release from the Andy Heidt Campaign:

Candidate Heidt Says Bill Is Racist and Must Be Stopped

 

Forty-eighth District Assembly candidate Andy Heidt reacted today to the progress of Representative Donald Pridemore’s bill AB 173, the so-called the “anti-immigrant” bill, which mirrors Arizona’s SB1070. 

“This is wrong in every way, “Heidt said.  “We must protect the rights of each person who lives here, and must value each person’s contribution.  This bill fosters divisiveness, suspicion and fear. The safety of our communities will be undermined because people will be afraid to contact law enforcement, and as police time will be diverted to the non-issue of monitoring immigration status.”

 Like the Arizona bill, AB 173 makes racial profiling the law, requiring that police ask for proof of citizenship or legal immigration status from anyone questioned regarding civil or criminal violations if they have “reasonable suspicion” that person may be undocumented.  Anyone unable to provide documentation could be detained for up to 48 hours and must prove they are in the country legally. 

“Immigrants are already subject unfairly to detention and deportation, processes that tear families apart and traumatize communities,” Heidt said. “We should not criminalize being an immigrant. No human being is illegal.” He noted that immigrants contribute substantially to the state’s economy through spending and in taxes paid, and Wisconsin dairy farmers rely heavily on immigrant labor.

 In contrast to the anti-immigrant sentiment expressed in AB 173, Heidt called for specific measures to protect and expand immigrant rights related to education, social services and work.  

  • Providing for in-state tuition for resident immigrants regardless of documentation status; access to public scholarships and loan programs; and at the secondary school level, resources to address the drop-out rate among students whose families struggle with poverty;
  • Extending all services and programs, such as state identification, driver’s licensing, Badger Care, unemployment compensation and assistance with housing or food to all state residents regardless of national origin or immigration status;
  • Enforcing state-wide worker protection rules including worker’s compensation to address the abuses immigrant workers face in many situations due to their vulnerability.

 

“Improving conditions for the state’s 250,000 immigrant families will also raise the standard of living in communities across the state,” Heidt said. “We will all benefit from treating every Wisconsin resident fairly.” As volunteer co-chair of Covering Kids and Families Wisconsin, Heidt worked to extend Badger Care to pregnant, non-qualified immigrant women, a measure that was enacted by the legislature with unanimous support.

 “We can do much better than AB 173,” Heidt said. “The only possible benefit from the enactment of this bill would be to a private prison industry that might house those detained.’  At the same time, the economic cost of the bill would be borne by the public. Based on the experiences of other states, Wisconsin would likely have to defend the bill against legal challenges to its constitutionality.  The state could also lose revenue due to a national boycott and face the loss of economic contributions made by immigrants through consumer spending, work and taxes

Greed is the Enemy

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?  On the surface, there doesn’t seem a lot to be happy about in Wisconsin right now.  So what have those crafty corporatists been up to during the last few days? (photos at end of post) The republican majority called an Extraordinary Session in order to pass a reprehensible budget with as little interference as possible. This budget is so one sided, it may as well be a Teahadist fantasy come to life. The budget puts in motion a plan to award $2.3 billion in tax breaks for corporations over the next decade, strips $834 million from already cash-strapped public schools, expands the school voucher program that does nothing more than lay the groundwork for Education, Inc, cuts $250 million from the  UW System, and $71 million will evaporate from the Wisconsin technical college system. All of these cuts are necessary, says Governor Walker, because the state is broke. But it isn’t so broke that he’s willing to spend up to $2 Billion as a giveback to the Road Builders. To add insult to injury, the GOP snuck into the budget yet another special gift to private industry; James Rowan of The Political Environment Blogreports that:

…as the Joint Committee on Finance wound down towards the three-day Memorial Day weekend, it voted to add to Scott Walker’s proposed budget a fresh giveaway to the road-builders: a requirement that all 72 Wisconsin Counties hire private contractors for any job over $100,000.  And the measure bars counties and other municipalities from performing such work for another unit of government – – so a village can’t contract with a County to get an intersection rebuilt, for example, if the cost exceeds $100,000. All this work is to be privatized – – even though the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has said and documented that private contracting for road-building costs the public more money. These items are in the Omnibus Transportation Motion, sections 18-20, which was sprung as motion #352 before Joint Finance Friday around noon, and was sponsored by the co-chairs, Republicans Robin Vos and Alberta Darling.

There is no question that republicans are endeavoring to make the rich wealthier while ensuring that workers get less of an education and remain subservient to monied interests. Make no mistake; this is not a class war, this is a full-on putsch orchestrated by groups and individuals such as ALEC, The Koch Brothers, Americans For Prosperity, corporate-backed think tanks, large banks and others to destroy democratic institutions in order to facilitate the creation of a permanent majority.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in record time,  conveniently overturned Judge Marayann Sumi’s decision that voided the GOP’s attempt to remove collective bargaining rights for thousands of public employees.  It is now clear that the open meetings law is pointless and the conservative majority on Wisconsin’s high court is more interested in pandering to right wing idealogues than exercising the rule of law. Justice David Prosser, the conservative incumbent who nearly lost to little known challenger JoAnn Kloppenberg, should be especially ashamed. It wasn’t long ago that he desperately tried to characterize himself as independent. Everyone knew it was a sham, and his actions just serve to prove it. On her conservative colleagues, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson had this to say: “The majority justices make their own findings of fact, mischaracterize the parties’ arguments, misinterpret statutes, minimize (if not eliminate) Wisconsin constitutional guarantees, and misstate case law, appearing to silently overrule case law dating back to at least 1891”.  How convenient that Assembly GOP Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald threatened to put the collective bargaining measure back into the budget if the Supreme Court didn’t act on the original measure by Tuesday.  In Fitzwalkerstan, the Judicial Branch now serves the Legislative branch as evidenced by an e-mail obtained by WKOW- TV that suggests republican lawmakers knew the court would act ahead of the budget sessions.

Republicans Gone Wild – Encouraged shill candidates to run as democrats in order to force primaries. 

The Republican party fielded Republican candidates to run as Democrats in all six of the recall primaries, with the purpose of giving their incumbents an extra four weeks to campaign before facing general elections. The state’s recall law would require general elections July 12 unless there is more than one candidate in either party, in which case the election would be a primary, with the final general election held Aug. 9.  By engaging is such shenanigans, the self-described party of “ecomonic responsibility”  will fleece taxpayers to the tune of more than $465,000 by running fraudulent candidates and forcing primaries. This figure comes from election clerks in the recall districts. So much for concern about the mostly manufactured budget crisis.

Here’s a list of the fake democrats who should be ashamed of themselves:

Senate District 2 Incumbent: Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Allouez). Challengers: Democrat Nancy Nusbaum of De Pere, fake Democrat Otto Junkermann of Green Bay.

Senate District 8 Incumbent: Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). Challengers: Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-River Hills), fake Democrat Gladys Huber of Mequon.

Senate District 10 Incumbent: Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls). Challengers: Democrat Shelly Moore of River Falls, fake Democrat Isaac Weix of Menomonie.

Senate District 14 Incumbent: Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). Challengers: Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo), fake Democrat Rol Church of Wautoma.

Senate District 18 Incumbent: Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac). Challengers: Democrat Jessica King of Oshkosh, fake Democrat John D. Buckstaff of Oshkosh.

Senate District 32 Incumbent: Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse). Challengers: Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), fake Democrat James D. Smith of La Crosse.

This is further proof that these people will stop at nothing to hold on to power while making  a mockery of the electoral process.

Tuesday’s Mass Rally on the Capitol Square. 

Once again thousands of citizens massed in Madison to protest the corporate republican-backed horrendous budget and the war on working families. As expected, the calls for fairness and pleas for compassion went unheeded. Just before the rally started at 5pm, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced that it had reversed Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi’s decision that voided the original measure.  Instead of feeling defeated, protestors and activists were outraged and looked toward the upcoming recall elections as the next battle.

Marty Biel, Executive Director of AFSCME referred to the capitol as a “marble whorehouse” and announced to republican legislators that “we’re going to be spending  our summer in your neighborhoods”.

Marty Biel, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 24.

Video of Reverend Willie Briscoe’s speech

Introduced by Mahlon Mitchell, Phil Nuenfeldt, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President speaks.

Ellen Carlson speaks about budget impacts on education

Kim Hoffman, middle school teacher and 17 year veteran of the Wisconsin Army National Guard

Francisca Miras, member of Youth Empowered in the Struggle of Voces de la Frontera.

Mahlon Mitchell, President of Firefighters Union and Jackie Pokorney, SEIU member

We’re not going anywhere. We will fight, we will recall, we will keep the Wisconsin Idea alive until we successfully return a measure of sanity to the legislature, and ultimately, the governor’s mansion. The immoral actions of the republican majority will not be forgotten. What they’ve created is a new generation of activists, and ultimately a new national progressive movement. On Thursday, thousands of labor activists rallied at the NJ State Capitol to protest my home state’s bid to severely restrict collective bargaining rights. Just more evidence that this is a nationwide effort to destroy unions and advance a radical right wing agenda. Say goodbye to women’s reproductive rights, strong public schools, and critical social safety nets.  Unless we organize and fight.

Photos from the Wisconsin rally on Tuesday.

Firefighters and supporters at the July 14th Wisconsin Capitol Rally

Phil Nuenfeldt, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO president.

Mary Bell, President of the Wisconsin Education Association Council

Ellen Carlson and Son, speaking about education

Middle School Teacher and Wisconsin Army National Guard Veteran

Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Firefighters Union.

Rev. Willie Briscoe

Francisca Miras, Voces de la Fronterra

Marty Biel, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 24

Mahlon Mitchell, Firefighters union president.

And finally…the inspiration for the article title:

Welcome to Walkerville, Population: Awesome.

While the national media relentlessly covers Weiner-palooza, (if only the man himself had the sense to keep it covered) the Wisconsin Uprising continues.  Evoking comparison to the “Hoovervilles” of the 1920’s, an encampment dubbed “Walkerville” has sprung up on the Wisconsin Capitol square in order to keep up the pressure as legislators work through the Governor’s Budget.  If passed intact, the budget will provide millions of dollars in corporate giveaways while increasing taxes on Wisconsin’s working poor.

Tents on the square

The encampment is well organized and each day  has a particular theme. Yesterday’s focus was on Public Services and began with a march involving over a thousand nurses, police officers, teachers, steelworkers and concerned citizens led by Madison Firefighters around the capitol square.   The procession stopped at M&I Bank, which received approximately $1.7 million in federal TARP funds, and shouts of “Banks got bailed out, We got sold out!” could be heard reverberating off the glass, brick and steel of nearby buildings. Protesters flowed into the lobby at an alarming rate until they were physically removed by police. 2 protestors were arrested.

If brains was lard, Scott Walker couldn't grease a skillet.

In the evening, unions sponsored a “Mock Listening Session” in order to inform the public about services they provide. The panel featured  the US history-challenged Sarah Palin, David Koch, Governor Walker and a host of union characters like Rhonda the Road Worker and Helen the Healthcare Worker. Each of the various characters explained how their jobs are essential to maintaining infrastructure, keeping our neighborhoods safe, and providing care to the sick.  More info from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO blog here.

Mock Panel with Sarah Palin, David Koch, Gov. Walker and others.

Two Journalists Arrested At Wisconsin State Capitol. 

Meanwhile, more sinister events were unfolding inside the capitol building where two journalists were arrested. Watch the following video captured by a bystander to see how the Walker Administration views members of the press.

Burlington, Vermont based videographer Sam Mayfield and her assistant were arrested by State Police while shooting footage for a documentary about collective bargaining rights.  A police officer waved the two into the capitol when he learned they were members of the press, then completely turned on them when he realized they were capturing video of police pushing protestors.

From Bluecheddar.net

Sam Mayfield describes the incident, saying there was an entrance to the Capitol that was open. They walked in and in her own words:

“clearly (the situation had) already escalated…this was evidenced by him (the officer) running at people who were walking into the Capitol telling them to leave. He was forcefully grabbing and touching people who were literally just walking past.”

“He grabbed me. He told me to leave.” Mayfield identified herself as a journalist and he flagged her through. The officer also flagged Alex through after she explained she was working with Sam. Alex decided to stay in the area and film what was happening because, “he was being very aggressive with the protesters, physically.”

The officer pushed as many protesters as he could out the doors. He then pursued Alex, pushed her into the wall, and proceeded to handcuff and arrest her. He told her that when she tried to keep her camera from falling on the ground she was resisting arrest.

The two reporters were charged with “disorderly conduct”. Alex says she thinks she was arrested because she was filming a police officer pushing people out the door. Sam says she was told she was obstructing the officer’s ability to make an arrest. She says what actually happened is that she caught Alex’ falling camera, and started to use it. And then things changed:

“I think that when he saw she and I working together on that level,  he actually dragged Alex and dropped her to the ground …and he ran after me..I asked the cop “Why are we being arrested?” I really don’t understand at all. As soon as Alex gave me her camera he said, “You’re going to be arrested, too.” and then he grabbed my arm.

Both journalists were arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct.

On several occasions while working on stories for themudflats.net, I’ve been inside the capitol with press credentials. Generally, the police have acted professionally except for one incident where an imported rural officer confronted me and attempted to issue an order for me to stop taking photos.  I politely refused and showed him my press pass to which he responded “I don’t care”.  He then became distracted by others and walked away from me. Based on that experience, Sam Mayfield’s arrest doesn’t surprise me.

Wisconsin Republicans Back Spoiler Candidates in Recall Elections. 

Realizing that their recalled senators are deeply in trouble, the Wisconsin Republican Party has openly supported the recruitment of spoiler candidates in order to force primaries, affording the incumbents additional time to campaign. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the plan for Republican spoilers to run as Democrats in primaries for seats held by Republican Sens. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon.  They know their senate majority is at risk and are now openly playing dirty in order to continue forcing their agenda on the people of Wisconsin.

Stephan Thompson, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement Monday that Republican state senators face recalls for doing their jobs, unlike Democratic senators who he says deserted their constituents for Illinois.

Thompson said the Republican senators are busy crafting a state budget, which puts them at a disadvantage to challengers to have time to campaign.

“Because of this disadvantage, and the outrageous nature of elected officials facing recall for standing up for a balanced budget, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved,” he said in the statement.  Essentially, this would force democratic challengers to spend money on bogus primary challenges instead of saving it for the general election.

Sen. Mark Miller, Senate Minority Leader,  called the effort a “partisan, coordinated attack on democracy.”

“These dirty Nixonion tactics have no place in Wisconsin,” he said in a statement Monday. “And we don’t need to waste taxpayer money on phony elections to help these Republicans duck the voters and needlessly delay these elections.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained letters sent by local Republican parties to “fellow conservatives” asking them to support fake Democratic candidates.

Fake Democratic candidates.  Wisconsin citizens certainly deserve better than this.  The party of so-called fiscal responsibility, who balked loudly about the expense of the recall elections in the first place, has no qualms about increasing that financial burden to taxpayers as long as they themselves are the beneficiary.

 

 

 

Bye Bye Senate Majority

Madison, WI. Showing signs of sheer desperation, three GOP senators up for recall elections on July 12 have now resorted to asking the courts to stop the election citing dubious alleged “irregularities” in the filing of recall petitions. Never mind the wholesale recall petition fraud perpetrated by the Wisconsin Republican Party; substantiated with scores of affidavits and reports of dead people signing their names, felons stealing items while circulating papers, and the involvement of a shady out of state group that helped organize the republican efforts against democrats.

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

State Sens. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse; Luther Olsen, R-Ripon; and Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, all want judges to block the state Government Accountability Board from calling elections based on the recall petitions filed in April by groups seeking to recall the GOP senators.

Clearly, they know they are in trouble.  Two of these senators, adherents of the GOP “family values” mantra,  are essentially the crippled sheep in the Republican herd. Easy pickings if you will.  The third is simply guilty of supporting union busting. Let’s take a look.

Hopper and his mistress, Valerie Cass

Sen. Randy Hopper, R- Fon du Lac -Fortunate Son shacks up with young mistress, lives in Madison. 

Sen. Randy Hopper began his political career by winning his race in a 163 vote “landslide.” A member of the northern Wisconsin gentry, Hopper is the owner of Mountain Dog Media, a radio station and broadcasting company that owns Fon du Lac’s two major radio stations, KFIZ (1450) and WFON (107.1)  In addition, Mountain Dog owns WCLB (950) in Sheboygan and Chilton‘s WMBE (1530). It is more than likely that Mr. Hopper was the recipient of generous seed capital from his wealthy father, William Hopper, whose grandfather had founded Hopper Papers,  a company eventually sold to Koch Brothers-owned paper giant Georgia Pacific.  After selling the company and staying on a few years, Randy’s dad bought a majority stake in a small bank in Taylorville, IL and grew his interests to $150 million. The bank then merged with another banking firm in Springfield, Ill. When that combined company grew to $2 billion in assets, it merged once again with another bank, and that’s when Hopper sold out. He also owns/owned a 50% stake in a string of Illinois car dealerships.  My point is that young Randy is no self-made man.  He was born of privilege and grew up in Taylorville, IL while summering on a lake estate in Arbor Vitae, WI- the same lake that is home to Standard Oil’s lavish former retreat, Red Crown Lodge.  Sen. Hopper has little in common with the average Wisconsinite he pretends to represent.

In March of this year, recall volunteers accidentally knocked on his door and encountered Hopper’s estranged wife who was more than happy to announce that “Randy doesn’t live here anymore.  He’s living in Madison with his 26 year old mistress Valerie Cass”. She then wrote a letter to Milwaukee radio station WTMJ confirming her statement. Imagine the shock! According to Mrs. Hopper,  Randy began having an affair with the then 25 year old Cass who at the time was employed as an aide to  Senator Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield). After Senator Kanavas decided against another run,  Ms. Cass became employed by the aptly named political consulting firm “Persuasion Partners, Inc.”  Incidentally, Persuasion Partners counts as one of its clients the Koch brothers-funded front Americans For Prosperity. Yet another Koch connection to a Wisconsin legislator. To make matters worse, it appears that Sen. Hopper may have used his political connections to secure a sweetheart deal of a job for his mistress in the Walker Administration, circumventing the civil service process.  Regardless of your political persuasion, is this the type of man that would be inclined to represent you? Or would he be more comfortable championing the cause of corporations?

Sen. Dan Kapanke

Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse – Ethically Challenged and Paid no Taxes. 

In August of 2010, Wisconsin State Senator Dan Kapanke admitted to “unintentionally” violating the state ethics code by using his lobbyist funded charity as a personal slush fund to pay for improvements to the LaCrosse Logger’s Baseball Park. He and his wife own the LaCrosse Loggers, a summer collegiate baseball team.. The payments from the LaCrosse Logger’s Foundation to the City of LaCrosse totaled about $32,000 against a  $225,000 loan.

In 2009, Government Accountability Board representative Jonathan Becker said  Sen. Kapanke should not have used campaign funds for two “Economic Forums”. This was after the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit asserting that his staff improperly coordinated the forums. The board declined to take action against Kapanke, but fined his aid who worked at the second campaign-sponsored event.  Kapanke took responsibility for the actions of his aid and agreed that he shouldn’t have used campaign funds for those activities. The party twice requested records about the event and each time was told they did not exist.  During testimony as part of the Democratic party suit, a top Kapanke aide admitted that she routinely used personal email for state work. The state’s Technology Services Bureau recovered information from a backup that confirmed that Kapanke had been sending work related emails to a yahoo email address. Rose Smyrski, Kapanke’s chief of staff and capitol employee since 2000,  incredulously stated that she never received open records training and that she didn’t check her personal email in response to the Democratic Party open records request.

Once again, Kapanke maintained that this was an “honest mistake”.  He seems to make lots of “honest mistakes” involving campaign-related financial issues and obscuring information. In Sept, 2009 the taxpayers of Wisconsin paid $38,000 to settle his legal fees as a result of the suit. It should be noted that taxes to average Wisconsin citizens increased under his watch while he himself paid nothing in 2008. Full information about Kapanke ethics issues and the source article is here.

Sen. Luther Olsen, R- Ripon

Sen. Luther Olsen, R- Ripon. 

Sen. Luther Olsen has long been considered one of the more moderate republicans in the legislature. In the early stages of the Wisconsin Uprising, Sen Olsen was one of the very few republicans who expressed reservations about removing the collective bargaining rights of unions. “The concept is pretty radical,” he said.  “It affects a lot of good working people.” Olsen said he could support the changes on pensions and health care but had reservations about taking away other bargaining rights.  That spark of independence died when he voted lock-step with the Walker machine ultimately setting himself up for recall.

GOP Recall Organizers Call for Chief Election Referee to Resign

Finally, in another blatant act of desperation, the Wisconsin Republican Party recall organizers are calling for Kevin Kennedy, the Executive Director of the Government Accountability Board, to resign. The GAB is tasked with overseeing elections in Wisconsin and has been given the monumental task of certifying 9 simultaneous recall elections. This is unprecedented. Wisconsin republicans are crying foul because all recall elections against the GOP have been certified, while serious questions remain about the validity of the signatures collected by out of state firms against the democrats. In at least several cases it appears that signatures were forged from information contained within phone books. Most notably, the signature of the long deceased father of Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan appeared on one set of papers turned in by republican operatives.

The recall elections were scheduled for July 12th.

Dane County Judge MaryAnn Sumi

In what is seen as a win for public labor Unions, Governor Scott Walker’s controversial Anti-Collective Bargaining law was struck down. 

Thursday Morning, Dane County Judge MaryAnn Sumi issued a permanent injunction against the bill, effectively killing it until the Supreme Court is able to act. Sumi’s 33 page decision said there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Republicans who control the Legislature violated the state’s open meetings laws. This referred to GOP actions at March 9th committee meeting where the measure was passed without providing proper notice to the public.  Also at that time, the Capitol building was locked down tightly keeping many members of the public away.

“This case is the exemplar of values protected by the Open Meetings Law: transparency in government, the right of citizens to participate in their government, and respect for the rule of law,” Sumi wrote. “It is not the court’s business to determine whether 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 is good public policy or bad public policy; that is the business of the Legislature. It is this court’s responsibility, however, to apply the rule of law to the facts before it.”

“This is what we were looking for” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat who sued to block the law after Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) filed a complaint saying that Republicans had not given proper notice in convening a conference committee of lawmakers from both houses to approve Gov. Walker’s budget-repair bill.

In a press release, Mary Bell, President of the Wisconsin Education Association said  “Wisconsin public school employees applaud the ruling today that strikes down this backward legislation. The motives behind the collective bargaining bill were clearly political. Governor Scott Walker has already admitted the bill was never intended to be about ‘budget repair’ but instead a way to bust public employee unions.”

“Scott Walker and the Republicans broke the law that night,” explained Stephanie Bloomingdale, Wisconsin State AFL‐CIO. “This is a democracy, not a dictatorship, and Judge Sumi’s decision today makes it final that the union busting bill was passed illegally and will not stand.”

Reaction to the budget repair bill that seeks to eliminate all collective bargaining rights from public unions- except police and firefighters- has included over 100 days of mass protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol and around the state. At times, over 150 thousand people have massed outside and inside the building in opposition to this measure.

Unions Make Us Strong

The most recent mass protest was May 14th.

It is expected that the Supreme Court will hear arguments on June 6th to decide whether it will take up the case. GOP leaders have always had the option of noticing a hearing properly, and voting on the legislation again.  Many democrats, activists and union supporters believe that the lock-step political will that existed at the time of the measure’s original passing no longer exists.  This is why Republicans continue to spend thousands of dollars litigating the law, rather than calling for a re-vote.

Republican leaders and the Governor’s office have yet to comment on this decision.

District 48 Assembly Candidate Andy Heidt

Full Press Release from the Andy Heidt Campaign:

Andy Heidt, candidate for State Assembly in the 48th District, today called on members of the Joint Committee on Finance to reject Gov. Walker’s proposal to use the biennial budget to decimate Wisconsin’s medical assistance programs, including the immensely popular and successful BadgerCare Plus program.

“Real progressives understand that the only permanent fix for our country’s broken health care system is universal, single-payer insurance,” Heidt said. “While we work to overcome the political obstacles, many Wisconsin residents can rely on a pretty good stopgap system that includes BadgerCare and other Medicaid-funded programs.  It’s crucial that we protect those programs during this fragile economic recovery.”

Heidt noted that Walker’s proposed budget would slash state Medicaid spending by half a billion dollars over the next biennium, at a time when families are just beginning to get back on their feet in the aftermath of the “great” recession. “There’s probably no clearer testament to the warped priorities of the Walker administration than a budget containing massive handouts to tax-dodging corporations while telling sick parents and people with disabilities that they’re out of luck. Their health, in Walker’s twisted view, is less important than a bunch of new highways,” Heidt said.

Heidt also pointed out that because Medicaid spending draws millions of federal dollars into the state, these massive cuts in health care spending will also hurt Wisconsin’s economy. “Federal Medicaid dollars that come into Wisconsin spread around the state economy, stimulating spending in a bunch of related industries and creating and preserving thousands of jobs,” said Heidt. “If jobs were really the top priority rather than just a buzzword, we would be shoring up our health care system, not taking a sledgehammer to it.  Health care coverage, BadgerCare Medicaid Coverage is economic development.”

Heidt also objected to provisions in the budget repair bill currently hung up in the courts that would shift control over Medicaid policy from the legislature to the administrative branch, giving Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith, a key Walker ally, the power to rewrite state Medicaid laws with little legislative oversight and minimal opportunity for public input. Changes they are likely to seek include increased premiums and copays, more restrictions on services covered, tougher eligibility requirements, and more red tape for joining and staying in programs like BadgerCare. This sweeping power grab—unprecedented in Wisconsin history and, according to the very lawyer who wrote the actual language in the bill, probably a violation of the State Constitution—could affect as many as 1.2 million state residents currently enrolled in the state’s Medicaid programs, including over three-quarters of a million in BadgerCare. “And they won’t even be able to hold their legislators accountable for these changes because all the decisions will be made behind closed doors by unelected bureaucrats. Why do legislators want to abrogate their constitutional duty in regards to the separation of powers?  What are they afraid of?” Heidt said. 

In addition, Heidt blasted the proposed privatization of income maintenance program administration, which would affect Medicaid and a host of other supports for low-income households. “Privatizing these kinds of programs has been a catastrophe everywhere it’s been tried. Are we that desperate to follow the ‘small government’ mantra to its extremes that we don’t even care how much it will harm the most vulnerable members of our communities?” said Heidt, who has spent 13 years helping people navigate the often complex web of assistance programs in his capacity as ombudsman in the Dane County Department of Human Services .

“The budget proposals related to Medicaid being discussed today in Joint Finance are a disaster in every respect—economically, legally, and morally. We need more voices in the Legislature prepared to speak out forcefully against these sorts of greed-fuelled, anti-people assaults.”

WI GOP Legislative Aid Under Investigation for Voter Fraud

Madison, WI. Citing rampant and mostly-nonexistant voter fraud, The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Senate passed one of the most restrictive Voter ID measures in the entire country yesterday. Republican Senator Frank Lassee implied that democrats benefit from voter fraud. “Who benefits from the abuse? I think those are good questions to ask,” he said. “One fraudulent vote cancels out a single legal vote. The other side doesn’t seem to care about that at all”. Meanwhile,  in a rather ironic development, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that a legislative GOP staffer is under investigation for alleged voter fraud.

On April 28th, Dispatches from Fitzwalkerstan initially reported on this story.  Because the original article involved an acquaintance of mine I struggled with the moral dilemma of reporting on it. In November when the subject of the investigation, a Madison resident, first boasted about voting in a community over 100 miles from home, she was called on it.  She asserted she was living in Onalaska while running the assembly campaign of republican Dennis Clinard. Based on a facebook post that clearly advertised her intent to return to the city of Madison the very next day, which she did, she appears to have violated  State election law.  When this author subsequently discussed the matter with Ms. Malszycki in person several days later her response included the following statement “Why would I want to vote for Mark Pocan?”  (reference to the assembly democrat that represents her home district).

Why indeed.

Because you live here.  Because legislation that effects your community occurs here. Because you care about the community you live in.  Because regardless of political ideology, you are invested in your city and want it to remain/become a great place to live.  And if you are a republican, you at least care about your property taxes.

Or not.

It is important to remember that Ms. Malszyki works for a republican assembly representative that co-sponsored a bill seeking to prevent the very activity she engaged in on election day. When reviewing the drafts of the bill, as she must have at some point given her position, did she recognize her own behavior cited in examples? This Voter ID bill has long been planned by Wisconsin republicans with the assistance of the good folks at ALEC. No matter how you spin the story, it is inconceivable that a long-time GOP legislative staffer would be unaware that her nomadic voting activity would be in conflict with state law.

When this was brought to her attention, a few options were at her disposal:

  1. Contact the Onalaska City Clerk and admit that she voted illegally based upon her intent to return to her home district where she lives 20 out of 24 months.  If it was a mistake, admit it, and move on.
  2. Use her legislative position to correct the problem and educate poll workers if in fact it was their misinformation that contributed to her voting illegally.
  3. Say “I didn’t do anything wrong! I just didn’t want to vote for liberals!” and start blaming the author of the original story for her predicament.

She chose number 3.

On May 11th, while sitting in my yard with friends, Ms. Malcyszki came to my home and immediately engaged in a stream of foul language directed at me, in front of my pregnant wife,  three-year-old child, and friend. I asked her to stop. My wife asked her to stop. She refused.  I reminded her that my child was present.  She responded  with”I don’t care! The police went to my  mothers house because of you, so I don’t care about your family”.

Family values.

Ultimately, and I’m not proud, I responded in kind. After all, I’m just one of those “Union Thugs that trashed the capitol”.  Ms. Malszycki inexplicably started yelling about my first marriage that ended in divorce; information she clearly gleaned from the state court system website.  She inarticulately attempted to assert that “It was bad to get divorced, how about I blog about that, huh! Huh!”

Professionalism.

Clearly, she had been drinking as evidenced by the half empty 12 pack of miller lite she was toting around with her. Finally, in a moment straight out of COPS-including barking dogs, a screaming drunk person and precariously perched alcoholic beverages, she was led away by others. She continued to poke her head around the corner and yell things like “Hey big man, why don’t you come over here and have it out with me right now!” This went on until I retrieved my video camera.  When she realized I was taping, the direct assault finally ceased.

Responsibility.

There isn’t any.  Perhaps I’m naive because I truly hoped that writing about her nomadic voting history wouldn’t be perceived as personal and that common sense, and at least a veneer of social courtesy,  would be maintained.  I was wrong.

Why does any of this matter? Because it is indicative of the outraged indignation exhibited by the GOP whenever they themeselves are caught engaging in behavior that they so adamantly attribute to the other side.  While they willfully and aggressively dismantle Wisconsin’s progressive traditions through actions such as removing collective bargaining rights, disregarding open meeting laws, ignoring court orders, restricting public access to the state capitol and publicly ridiculing a sitting circuit court judge, they themselves expect to remain above the law. After all, Governor Walker himself refuses to respond to inquiries from Madison’s own police chief. 

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of hours now, debating on whether to publish it or not.  Especially because it was my intention that this incident involving alleged voter fraud not become personal.

Well, today I’m not a “liberal political blogger”.  Today I’m just a dad who is sad because a 30 year old GOP staffer who should know better made my kid cry. On purpose. Even the Mafia tries to separate “business” from the “personal.”

Why would anyone make this kid cry?