Category “Wisconsin News”

Grothman to Challenge Petri

Well…how to begin.

State Sen. Glenn Groth­man says he plans to run for Con­gress, chal­leng­ing fel­low Repub­li­can Tom Petri for the seat rep­re­sent­ing east-central Wisconsin.

Groth­man on Thurs­day called Petri a “very good human being” but says he rep­re­sents a time when Repub­li­cans stood for expand­ing government.

Petri is a 73-year-old mod­er­ate who’s held his seat for 35 years. He won most of his elec­tions hand­ily, fac­ing lit­tle or no com­pe­ti­tion from fel­low Republicans.

But Groth­man says Repub­li­cans in Con­gress have been lack­ing. He says he’s con­cerned about a cul­ture of depen­dency in the U.S., and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is over­reach­ing into every­thing from health care to education.

At least two other Repub­li­cans are con­sid­er­ing chal­leng­ing Petri, includ­ing state Rep. Duey Stroebel and John Hiller, a close con­fi­dante of Gov. Scott Walker.

As any­one who’s read this blog since 2003 knows, I’m no great fan or cheer­leader of Tom Petri.  That being said, I respect him nonethe­less hav­ing known him since high school and the years since.

I also feel that we who grew up in the 6th Dis­trict have more than earned the right to replace him with a can­di­date of our already exist­ing bench.  This entire stunt feels like a grand scheme from south­east Wis­con­sin to push its weight around with those of us here have been more than patient over the years.  That redis­trict­ing and a desire by Ozau­kee Co. to spread its wings since it is no longer under the thumb of the Wauke­sha Co. GOP machine have more to do with it.  That this might be Grothman’s only oppor­tu­nity to push for­ward his career since he clearly is not loved by the 5th Dis­trict estab­lish­ment (i.e. Sensenbrenner).

Let’s be clear here.  There are going to be many peo­ple out in the tra­di­tional 6th who feel the way I do about this.  They don’t “love” Petri, but they also feel this isn’t needed.  That’s going to be in She­boy­gan Co., that’s going to be in Man­i­towoc Co., and that’s cer­tainly going to be in Fond du Lac and Win­nebago Cos.

Trust me, it doesn’t take a rocket sci­en­tist to fig­ure out who I would pre­fer as my next Con­gress­man.  That being said, it sure as hell isn’t Glenn Grothman.

For starter’s Grothman’s too depen­dent on south­east Wis­con­sin media.  That might be great for the Ozau­kee Co. crew, but I’m fairly cer­tain no one in the Green Bay mar­ket has heard much about him. (Hell, the part of the dis­trict that’s in the Madi­son mar­ket sure has heard a lot about him…)

Sec­ondly, Glenn’s a gaffe machine.  That might work for some, but it tends to make me cringe when a head­line is “Groth­man Says Money Mat­ters More to Men than Women.” (It’s actu­ally on his Wikipedia page.)  Trust me, I get, under­stand and sup­port the ideas behind the pol­icy he’s push­ing for, he just seems to find the most asi­nine way to say it.

Hell, I can’t count the num­ber of times I’ve been asked to com­ment on the Joy Cardin Show about a law Glenn’s only proposed.

Amanda Terkel at the Huff­in­g­ton Post just got her dream ful­filled with this announcement.

I’ve already said my peace more at RightWiscon­sin on the entire idea of a pri­mary.  Now I’m just going to cringe as I watch Glenn cam­paign for it, because you know who else is hop­ing for a “Fun Race?”  The press, just to see Glenn crash and burn since he’s a pub­lic rela­tions hand grenade primed to go off.

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Guy Zima Recaptures His Old Green Bay Council Seat

He’s BAAAAAAAaaaaaack!

Well, I will give Zima’s folks up in Green Bay credit for this.  You can’t keep a fire­brand and cur­mud­geon down.

Among the win­ners in Tuesday’s local elec­tions was for­mer Alder­man Guy Zima, who reclaimed his Dis­trict 9 coun­cil seat by defeat­ing Angela Warner in a closely watched contest.

Zima defeated Warner by nearly a 2-to-1 mar­gin. Healso beat her hus­band, Jim Warner, who gave up the Dis­trict 9 coun­cil seat to try unseat­ing Zima in a County Board race decided Tuesday.

Zima said vot­ers sent a strong mes­sage that they were dis­sat­is­fied with the rep­re­sen­ta­tion they received after he was dis­placed from city gov­ern­ment two years ago.

The peo­ple spoke very loudly and clearly,” he said. “They want some­body who will speak up and have some debate, rather than just a rub­ber stamp.”

Of the husband-and-wife team that he van­quished on two fronts Tues­day, Zima said: “They kind of ran as a team, and that team lost. I think these folks beat themselves.”

Angela Warner, who was mak­ing her first bid for elected office, said she was shocked and dis­heart­ened that vot­ers had rejected she and her husband.

Warner, how­ever, defended the strat­egy of chal­leng­ing Zima in two races, say­ing that she thought vot­ers were ready to “get rid of him completely.”

What is wrong with our city?” she added. “They want it run by a bunch of crazy people.”

Zima isn’t crazy.  He’s just highly entertaining.

In real­ity Zima — who leans con­ser­v­a­tive and once upon a time was in the state Assem­bly I believe — has long been a light­ning rod for his actions, stances (and out­bursts) on the city coun­cil.  But, he also is known to be very respon­sive to his dis­trict even if that flies in the face of actions that Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmidt wants to accom­plish for the city.

It was a strange, silent two-year reprieve.  That is over now.

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Kestell Announces He Won’t Seek Re-Election

Well, heads up to Wis­con­sin Elec­tion Watch, they had this rumor over a month ago. (Dis­claimer: I occa­sion­ally write for them, but did noth­ing on this subject)

This now makes the third Repub­li­can retire­ment from the Assem­bly for She­boy­gan Co.  The 27th (where my par­ents live) includes the lower third of Man­i­towoc Co. and the north­ern part of She­boy­gan Co.  It should be a Repub­li­can hold, but I’m unsure who the bench is at the moment.

The last one who con­sid­ered chal­leng­ing Kestell in a pri­mary was She­boy­gan Falls Mayor Randy Meyer, and he’s fac­ing re-election today.

Just over a month ago, Rep. Steve Kestell said he hadn’t yet decided whether to seek re-election to his 27th Assem­bly Dis­trict seat.

Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake, has now decided, and the answer is no.

In a release sent to media Tues­day after­noon, Kestell, 58, said his deci­sion has the bless­ing of his family.

Dur­ing my years in the state Leg­is­la­ture, I’ve worked every day to uphold the belief that elected offi­cials should strive to do the right thing, for the right rea­son, and in the right way,” he said. “I am proud of what we’ve accom­plished together, and I look for­ward to new chal­lenges as the future unfolds.”

Kestell, who serves as chair­man of the Assem­bly Edu­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, was on the fore­front of the push this win­ter against a Repub­li­can bill that would have cre­ated sanc­tions for poorly per­form­ing pub­lic schools and pri­vate schools that accept taxpayer-subsidized students.

Repub­li­cans ulti­mately dropped the plan and instead adopted a bill that would require all schools that accept pub­lic dol­lars to include per­for­mance data on report cards the pub­lic can view.

Kestell was first elected to his seat in 1998.

That being said, if Jack Lech­ler is the best RACC can come up with on short notice, I’m going to bang my head against the wall.

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Burke: I Won’t Self-Finance My Campaign

Except for that $400,000 starter loan naturally…

This has got to be a blow to the Demo­c­ra­tic state estab­lish­ment.  Part of what they were said to be push­ing about Burke as a can­di­date was she was a “business-minded woman who was rich.”  All code words for “She can cut checks to over­come Walker’s fundraising.

Now, it appears that avenue is being closed.

Demo­c­rat Mary Burke says she won’t be able to self-fund her cam­paign for gov­er­nor, say­ing she does not have that kind of wealth.

When Burke first floated the idea of run­ning for gov­er­nor, her per­sonal wealth made her an appeal­ing can­di­date to some Democ­rats and made oth­ers think twice about enter­ing the race. The for­mer Trek exec­u­tive, whose father founded the com­pany, has not dis­closed her net worth, though she did donate more than $400,000 to her cam­paign in just its first few months.

But Burke says peo­ple should not expect her to spend as much as some of Wisconsin’s most famous self-funded candidates.

I will put into this race what I can, but I can’t self-fund it,” said Burke. “I’m not a Ron John­son or a Herb Kohl. I don’t have that type of wealth.”

John­son con­tributed nearly $9 mil­lion to his suc­cess­ful U.S. Sen­ate cam­paign in 2010. For­mer U.S. Sen­a­tor Herb Kohl gave his cam­paigns more than $19 mil­lion over the course of his polit­i­cal career.

Burke says she’ll be rely­ing on tra­di­tional fundrais­ing to get her mes­sage out.

Her “tra­di­tional fundrais­ing” hasn’t been going so well.  While she raised $1.3 mil­lion $1.79 mil­lion for the sec­ond half of 2013, remove the $400,000 loan and it was only around $900,000 $1.4 mil­lion in just six month.  Not the kind of num­bers that tend to help you in a polit­i­cal fight these days.

(Cor­rected from ear­lier comment.)

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Walker Partially Vetoes Early Voting Reform Bill

Hon­estly, these are changes I can live with.

Gov. Scott Walker has qui­etly signed into law a bill that lim­its in-person absen­tee vot­ing to no later than 7 p.m. dur­ing the week and no week­end hours.

Walker vetoed a por­tion of the bill Thurs­day that lim­ited the hours of early vot­ing to no more than 45 in each of the two weeks prior to an elec­tion. He kept the pro­hi­bi­tion on week­end voting.

Democ­rats strongly opposed the mea­sure, say­ing it was tar­geted at tamp­ing down turnout in the heav­ily Demo­c­ra­tic cities of Mil­wau­kee and Madi­son which held extended hours dur­ing the 2012 pres­i­den­tial election.

Walker also vetoed a por­tion of the bill that would have reim­bursed local gov­ern­ments for costs asso­ci­ated with early voting.

The bill was one of more than two dozen that Walker acted on Thursday.

Haven’t seen the exact par­tial veto, but my take on this is that Walker has added 1o hours to the oper­a­tional week of early vot­ing in Wis­con­sin.  The orig­i­nal word­ing was that clerks offices could allow early vot­ing hours between 8 AM to 7 PM, Mon­day through Fri­day, but not sur­pass­ing 45 hours. In essence it gave clerks the lib­erty to deter­mine which hours between 8 AM and 7 PM they would con­duct early vot­ing — aver­ag­ing nine hours a day for five work­ing days.

(9 times 5 is 45 last time I checked…)

So, by elim­i­nat­ing the 45-Hour cap, this pretty much gives you 11 hours (8 AM to 7 PM) where you can early vote, Mon­day through Fri­day, two more hours each day, for a total of 55 hours a week.

You’d think the Left would applaud get­ting 10 more hours, of course, they’re going to sue to kill this law nonetheless.


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90 Percent of Lake Michigan Covered with Ice

I’m sorry, you were say­ing some­thing about “Global Warm­ing?”  Too busy laugh­ing at you while I point to this!

After hav­ing a melt­down early last week, Lake Michi­gan is now just over 90 per­cent cov­ered in ice, which equals the high­est lev­els ever recorded.

The lake was also just over 90 per­cent frozen in 1976, 1979 and 1994, accord­ing to the National Oceanic Atmos­pheric Administration.

The unyield­ing cold weather has caused the ice on Lake Michi­gan to con­tinue to expand the last sev­eral days.

The below high-resolution vis­i­ble satel­lite image from March 2 shows wide­spread ice cover over cen­tral Lake Michigan.

A small area of open water remained on the east­ern side of the lake, well away from the Michi­gan shore.

Here’s a satel­lite photo of the ice:

ice_cover_lake_michigan(Photo via NOAA)

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Prominent Liberal Donor Accused of Beating his Wife

A lit­tle harsh?

So was this.

Accord­ing to a Dane County crim­i­nal complaint:

Police in Maple Bluff were dis­patched to Rottier’s lake­front home on the evening of Feb. 7 for a report of a dis­tur­bance between a man and a woman.

Rottier’s wife, Frankie, told police her hus­band was sup­posed to take their chil­dren to the movies but came home about 7:30 p.m. and had been drink­ing. She admit­ted being angry that he was no longer going to take the chil­dren to the movies and con­fronted him about being drunk.

Rot­tier then drew back his cane. His wife said she turned away, and was struck across her back. Offi­cers observed a red welt, about an inch wide and seven inches long, from her shoul­der blade to her spine. Emer­gency med­ical staff arrived and treated Frankie Rot­tier, but she declined trans­port to a hospital.

Rot­tier, 62, was arrested and taken to the Dane County Jail, where a pre­lim­i­nary breath test indi­cated a blood alco­hol level  of 0.13.

Rot­tier is charged with mis­de­meanor bat­tery, domes­tic abuse, use of a dan­ger­ous weapon. Nei­ther he nor his attor­ney, Stephen Meyer, returned calls seek­ing com­ment. The case is sched­uled for a plea hear­ing Friday.

“Offi­cers observed a red welt, about an inch wide and seven inches long, from her shoul­der blade to her spine…”

Wow, that’s old school.  Like “Rule of Thumb” old school.

Com­monly used term orig­i­nat­ing in the early 1900s, when it was legal for men to beat their wives, as long as they used a stick no wider than their thumb.

No word yet if Rot­tier will be try­ing to use that as a legal defense.

As for being a “promi­nent lib­eral donor,” accord­ing to the Wis­con­sin Democ­racy Cam­paign, Rot­tier has given over $107,000 in dona­tions to Demo­c­ra­tic and lib­eral can­di­dates since at least 1992.

That’s as far back as WDC’s data­base goes.  The last dona­tions listed are for Mar­quette law pro­fes­sor Ed Fal­lone, who unsuc­cess­fully ran for state supreme court last year.   Noth­ing reported to likely Demo­c­ra­tic can­di­date Mary Burke (yet), but any wise cam­paign or activist group now knows to make a head­line when it does.

Rot­tier is worth mil­lions, and if he’s got a lake­front home in Maple Bluff that’s likely worth mil­lions too.  You know what else is in Maple Bluff?  The Governor’s Mansion.

You know, quite the real “salt of the earth” neigh­bor­hood that is.

UPDATE: Remove the “Yet.”  Records from the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Board show that Rot­tier gave $4,500 to the Burke cam­paign on Decem­ber 20, 2013.  Let’s hold our breath col­lec­tively as to when a lib­eral women’s rights group demands they return the dona­tions — or bet­ter yet — donate the money them­selves to a bat­tered women’s shelter.

UPDATE II: Dan Bice reports the Burke cam­paign is indeed donat­ing the $4,500 it has received from Rot­tier and giv­ing it to a bat­tered women’s shel­ter in Madison.

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Brett Bielema Couldn’t Recruit

One of my biggest pet peeves dur­ing the “Brett Bielema Era” of Wis­con­sin Bad­gers foot­ball was that the man couldn’t recruit to save his soul.  While Ohio State and Michi­gan were con­stantly reload­ing (until “Big Blue” was derailed by the Rich Rodriguez exper­i­ment) with studs from across the coun­try, Wis­con­sin couldn’t find any­one beyond a bat­ter­ing ram run­ning back to fill the Bad­gers’ needs.

And let’s not for­get other over­sights — some of them due to the way the Bad­gers played, some due to his own deci­sions — of how top Wis­con­sin high school tal­ent was overlooked.

(Did you know that Pewaukee’s J.J. Watt — a top NFL Draft pick in 2011 — trans­ferred as a walk-on after spend­ing some years play­ing at Cen­tral Michigan?)

Sports Illus­trated has a piece online right now high­light­ing the per­ils Bielema now faces as the head coach of Arkansas.  Mostly, it’s about how his move from the Big Ten to the SEC has brought to light a lot of his faults as a coach.  Chief among them, his arro­gance, his swag­ger that he can’t back up (Cur­rent life­time record in the SEC: 0–8), and at the end  he can’t recruit with the big boys.

So says SI.

The bad news, though, is that even with the three league titles that Bielema won with the Bad­gers, his Wis­con­sin teams rarely beat oppo­nents with more touted high school tal­ent. Under Bielema, the Bad­gers went 1–5 against Ohio State, 2–3 against Penn State and 2–4 in bowl games. In a study that strongly cor­re­lates recruit­ing rank­ings with vic­to­ries, SB Nation’s Matt Hin­ton divided the major-conference FBS pro­grams into five tiers (five-stars, four-stars, etc.) based on their recruit­ing rank­ings from 2010 to ’13. Wis­con­sin fell into the two-star group, along­side the likes of USF and Pur­due, yet did not over­achieve to the extent that one might assume. “They were actu­ally very ordi­nary in that span against blue-chip com­pe­ti­tion, putting up los­ing records against five-star (2–3), four-star (3–6) and even three-star (5–6) oppo­nents,” wrote Hin­ton. “Much of Wisconsin’s suc­cess is based on thor­ough, con­sis­tent dom­i­nance of its two-star peers in the Big Ten — Illi­nois, Indi­ana, Min­nesota, North­west­ern, Pur­due — against whom the Bad­gers have won 17 in a row.”

That trend does not bode well for Arkansas, con­sid­er­ing five of its six SEC West oppo­nents (Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M) fell into Hinton’s four– or five-star tiers. Yet, so, too, did the Razor­backs, so the­o­ret­i­cally they’re not that far behind their com­pe­ti­tion. But there aren’t many Indi­anas on the sched­ule to help boost their record.

Any Bad­gers foot­ball fan already knows all these stats, I just don’t believe many wanted to believe them while “the Car­di­nal and Cream” were going to back-to-back-to-back Rose Bowls (los­ing all of them by the way…) and the Big Ten title plaques kept going up at Camp Ran­dall.  The truth of the mat­ter is, Wis­con­sin under Bielema wasn’t much of a national pow­er­house.  It was a just the big kid on the block beat­ing up on all the smaller chil­dren in the neighborhood.

Per­haps that will change in the new “East / West” divi­sional for­mat start­ing next year in Big Ten foot­ball (now encom­pass­ing 14 teams) and with a Bad­gers team that will now be much more the prod­uct of Gary Andersen’s than it was Brett Bielema’s.  Oh, I still have my issues with Wis­con­sin play­ing noth­ing but cup­cakes for its non-conference games, but that too appears to be changing.

Bucky will be tak­ing on a num­ber of SEC teams in the com­ing years, many of them at NFL sta­di­ums to ful­fill the demands of the public’s interest.

There are many things to dis­like about Brett Bielema post-Wisconsin — such as the com­par­i­son to Ander­sen per­son­ally call­ing all of his play­ers to inform them he was leav­ing Utah for Wis­con­sin, while most in Wis­con­sin found out about Bielema as he was clean­ing out his desk at Camp Ran­dall — but for me, it was always his recruit­ing and the inabil­ity to make Wis­con­sin Bad­gers foot­ball some­thing more.

Good luck with that atti­tude in the SEC, coach.  You clearly look like you’re going to need it if you’re going to make it past this sea­son still employed.

Until then, #KARMA.

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Bill Would Give Local Governments Right to Veto Roundabouts

Frankly, this is long overdue.

Wis­con­sin law­mak­ers are con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal which would give local gov­ern­ments more power over the Euro­pean import that’s becom­ing more famil­iar to state’s dri­vers: roundabouts.

Cur­rently only the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion or local county offi­cials can decide the spe­cific where and when deci­sions on the traf­fic cir­cles. The pro­posed bill would require munic­i­pal offi­cials to sign off before project man­agers went for­ward with a round­about project.

There are approx­i­mately 200 round­abouts in Wis­con­sin. Their pur­pose is to be in lieu of stop signs and traf­fic lights. A spon­sor of the bill says that devel­op­ers should have to con­sider busi­ness and motorist con­cerns before build­ing new roundabouts.

Accord­ing to DOT offi­cials although they are typ­i­cally dis­liked by dri­vers, once the traf­fic cir­cles are built they are more likely to be favored.The Assem­bly Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing on the bill Tues­day. The mea­sure isn’t expected to more fur­ther this session.

Sadly, this is far too late for my home­town of Kiel, which now has two round­abouts no one wanted but the state DOT.  Instead of try­ing to get a four-way stop or a stop light at the cor­ners of high­ways 67 and 57–32 as local res­i­dents would have pre­ferred, the state dic­tated the roundabouts.

I’ve long railed against round­abouts here and still see them as a nui­sance.  In fact, in my mind, they’re only pop­u­lar with the DOT because it gives road builders more sur­face area to play with as it sucks up more land that could be bet­ter used for other purposes.

We’re not Europe.  Stop try­ing to import their way of driving.

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WI Assembly Passes 1st in the Nation “Patent Troll” Bill">WI Assembly Passes 1st in the Nation “Patent Troll” Bill

Still has to clear the state Sen­ate, but this is a huge law if we want to see tech­no­log­i­cal busi­nesses (and the end users who often are the vic­tims of patent trolls) flour­ish in Wisconsin.

Patent trolls cost the U.S. econ­omy over $29 billion-plus annu­ally.  That’s lost inno­va­tion, lost jobs and lost rev­enue to peo­ple who didn’t cre­ate the ini­tial tech, but only bought an expired patent and then pro­ceeded to sue for money that never was right­fully theirs.

Madi­son – Today the Wis­con­sin State Assem­bly passed Assem­bly Bill 656, the Patent Noti­fi­ca­tion Act, a bill authored by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Ney­lon (R-Pewaukee) tar­get­ing “patent trolls.” The leg­is­la­tion makes preda­tory patent trolling ille­gal in Wis­con­sin by cre­at­ing a stan­dard­ized noti­fi­ca­tion process for patent asser­tion enti­ties to notify indi­vid­u­als or enti­ties oper­at­ing in Wis­con­sin, which they sus­pect are infring­ing on their intel­lec­tual prop­erty rights. Wis­con­sin is the first state to have passed such legislation.

Wis­con­sin is lead­ing the fight to pro­tect busi­nesses from patent trolls in Amer­ica. This bill sends a clear mes­sage to patent trolls around the coun­try to think twice before scam­ming Wis­con­sin busi­nesses. As new tech­nol­ogy devel­ops, this type of preda­tory behav­ior will per­sist unless some­thing is done to level the play­ing field. We must pro­tect the inno­va­tion lead­ing to job cre­ation, with­out over reg­u­lat­ing the process so com­pa­nies or insti­tu­tions mak­ing a legit­i­mate claim are protected.

I’d like to thank my col­leagues in the Assem­bly for join­ing me in the fight against patent trolls. By offer­ing this proac­tive solu­tion to address the issues fac­ing us today, we show our abil­ity to adapt to the times and pro­tect inno­va­tion to ensure eco­nomic pros­per­ity con­tin­ues in the state of Wis­con­sin now and into the future,” Ney­lon commented.

The bill passed on a voice vote, which means it likely passed on unan­i­mous consent.

ADDENDUM:  Obvi­ously, there is some legal ques­tion as whether this will have any teeth to it.  Patents are a fed­eral issue, and their rules may trump Wisconsin’s.

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