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Archive for February, 2011

So What Were They Copying?

Inter­est­ing line caught my atten­tion in the AP story about the new changes Sen­ate Org kicked in today.  After get­ting rid of direct deposit last week for the AWOL “Bad­ger 14,” today the trio of Ellis, Fitzger­ald, and Groth­man changed the super­vi­sory off­set for Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­tic staffers to the Major­ity Leader (It’s a lit­tle hard for their bosses to sign their time cards being in Illi­nois you know) and then they had their copier access restricted.

Fitzger­ald is also not allow­ing Demo­c­ra­tic law­mak­ers or their staff mem­bers to use Capi­tol copiers, say­ing there has been some “highly unusual usage” of the machines in recent days.

Beyond the logis­ti­cal headache of hav­ing to ask the Sen­ate Clerk every time they need to make a Xerox (see my friend Moe Lane about that), there is a rather legit­i­mate ques­tion as to what, if any, copies the staff of the AWOL 14 Sen­ate Democ­rats could be making?

There’s been reports of all sorts of zany activ­ity that’s been going on in the state capi­tol over the past two weeks.  The State’s War Memo­r­ial was turned into an info booth.  A third floor hear­ing room was turned into “Protest Cen­tral.”  Madi­son Assem­bly­man Brett Hulsey appar­ently trans­formed his office into a dor­mi­tory.  What’s to say the State Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­tic staff hasn’t been abus­ing their copier priv­i­leges mak­ing fly­ers and the like for the pro­test­ers who took over the Capi­tol?  Per­haps an ethics inves­ti­ga­tion is in order?

It’s not like their bosses have been there giv­ing them actual dis­trict work they needed done?

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Appleton Dem: “We Have No Case on ‘Illegal Vote.’”

Rather shock­ing admis­sion from Apple­ton Demo­c­rat Penny Bernard Sch­aber to WFRV 5 in Green Bay.

The bat­tle over the Bud­get Repair Bill has moved on from the state assem­bly, but days after the vote is over oppo­nents are still upset with how it went down.

To say that we’re call­ing the vote: ‘Yes! No! Done!’ in 17 sec­onds doesn’t seem like it’s fol­low­ing any kind of Roberts Rules of Order,” said Natalie Bow­man, who opposes the Bud­get Repair Bill.

We are look­ing into what rule infrac­tions there are,” said Rep. Penny Bernard Sch­aber (D) Apple­ton. “We don’t believe we can legally say they did some­thing ille­gal because these are the rules the assem­bly sees for themselves.”

Oops, looks like some­one needs to get her talk­ing points with Madi­son in order.

For days, the Ass­Dems have been claim­ing the 1 AM vote last week was ille­gal, hell Mark Pocan and Kelda Helen Roys are hold­ing another unau­tho­rized “Kan­ga­roo Court” of a hear­ing on the bill right now — a bill that’s already been passed in the cham­ber mind you — just to keep the pro­test­ers inside the state capi­tol and here you have one of their own mem­bers telling a town hall in her dis­trict, “We don’t believe he have a case!”

I’ve said pre­vi­ously that I wasn’t too keen on the speed in how the vote occurred, but to call it “ille­gal” is grasp­ing at straws.  Then again, I’ve also heard the biggest regrets for some Assem­bly­men is that they weren’t in the Assem­bly Cham­ber when the vote was taken, it’s that they froze and didn’t push the but­ton in time.

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The Slow Career Suicide of Gordon Hintz Continues

Yeah, really not a smart move after the pros­ti­tu­tion charges.

Last Fri­day.… after the Assem­bly voted to engross the Bud­get Repair Bill, Hintz turned to a female col­league, Rep. Michelle Lit­jens and said: “You are F***king dead!”

New Tone” folks.

I got to meet Michelle on Elec­tion night at the cel­e­bra­tion party we as the John­son Cam­paign were hav­ing at the EAA.  She is a really nice, intel­li­gent woman and small busi­ness owner who wants to get things done in Madi­son to con­trol the cost and growth of government.

She’s set to be inter­viewed this after­noon on 620WTMJ by their after­noon host John Mer­cure on “Wisconsin’s After­noon News” at 3 PM cen­tral time.

(Lis­ten Live here.)

UPDATE: After this news went nation­ally viral, Hintz has apol­o­gized to Litjens.

Lit­jens said she accepted the apol­ogy, but has asked the Assem­bly lead­er­ship to dis­ci­pline Hintz.

Every­one was exhausted. We were on the floor 58 hours. (But) there is still no excuse for his com­ment,” Lit­jens said.

Lit­jens said she did not believe Hintz’ com­ments were meant for her per­son­ally. Rather, the com­ment was directed at the Repub­li­can Party as a whole for mov­ing ahead on the governor’s bill.

We should be able to civilly dis­cuss issues we are pas­sion­ate about with­out feel­ing threat­ened,” she said.

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Ziegelbauer: Walker’s Plan Has Merit

Again, the tra­di­tional disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: Assem­bly­man Bob Ziegel­bauer (I-Manitowoc); who both rep­re­sents south­ern Man­i­towoc County and serves also as Man­i­towoc County Exec­u­tive, is my cousin.  My dad is his mother’s younger brother.  We have not talked about the events in Madi­son at all since they began two weeks ago.  In fact, the last time we talked was some­time in late Novem­ber, early Decem­ber of 2010.

From yesterday’s Man­i­towoc Her­ald Times-Reporter:

Two weeks ago, Gov. Scott Walker unveiled the next step in his plan to put Wisconsin’s fis­cal house back in order, by realign­ing retire­ment and other fringe ben­e­fits for state and local gov­ern­ment employ­ees. It con­fronts head-on a prob­lem every city, county and school dis­trict in the state has been strug­gling with, and it filled the Capi­tol with protesters.

Total com­pen­sa­tion — wages plus fringe ben­e­fits — for pub­lic sec­tor employ­ees has been out of whack for long a time. It’s a sys­tem­atic prob­lem, one we can’t ignore.

When the econ­omy went down, state and local gov­ern­ment kept spend­ing as if every­thing was nor­mal. But, the truth is that when things went bad, nearly every­one in the pri­vate sec­tor took a big, per­ma­nent, finan­cial hit almost imme­di­ately and are only now work­ing their way back.

Pub­lic sec­tor employ­ees were pro­tected from the pain by con­tin­u­ing tax increases, medi­a­tion arbi­tra­tion and the polit­i­cal power of their unions. As unem­ploy­ment got worse, the gap between their total com­pen­sa­tion and the rest grew far­ther apart. Now, we need to adjust, to realign that as soon as pos­si­ble. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.

Of course this is a mes­sage that no one wants to hear. But, telling peo­ple the truth isn’t pick­ing on any­one. For too long, pub­lic employ­ees have been told by their lead­ers that they deserved more, and good peo­ple believed it. But now you can decide for your­self. At the county, we’ve posted pay and ben­e­fits for the past four years on our web­site. Every unit of local gov­ern­ment should do the same.

Many still say, just raise taxes, as if some­one else can pay for this. But rais­ing taxes would only make things worse for everyone.

The governor’s plan calls for most employ­ees to pay half of the cost of retire­ment ben­e­fits and increase their share of health insur­ance costs. The typ­i­cal impact would be about 7 per­cent of total com­pen­sa­tion, not pain­less, but com­pared to the rest of the world, a mod­est amount.

I agree with much more than I dis­agree with in the governor’s plan, and I’m work­ing to make it bet­ter; by adding civil ser­vice pro­tec­tions, address­ing con­cerns about senior­ity and includ­ing all local gov­ern­ment employees.

This will not only help the bud­get, but more impor­tantly save jobs all around us. Instead of con­stantly cut­ting jobs and pro­grams, cities, schools and coun­ties will end fur­loughs, bring back laid off work­ers and cre­ate sta­ble career oppor­tu­ni­ties for young people.

Of all the mem­bers of the State Leg­is­la­ture, the Walker Bud­get Repair Bill and the soon-to-be announced bud­get will effect Ziegel­bauer the most on a pro­fes­sional basis.  Unlike oth­ers (Madi­son Demo­c­rat Brett Hulsey comes to mind) claim­ing they were ex-city coun­cil mem­bers and the like, only Ziegel­bauer — as a county exec­u­tive — will be the only one actu­ally hav­ing to write a bud­get for a munic­i­pal­ity in the next few months.

He’s going to actu­ally have to live with the bud­getary mechan­ics of the leg­is­la­tion; not com­plain for purely polit­i­cally rea­sons which has been stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dure for both sides of the polit­i­cal aisle for years in Wisconsin.

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WWI Veteran Dies">Last U.S. WWI Veteran Dies

Thank you sir, for your ser­vice.  Rest in Peace.

Frank Buck­les, the last U.S. World War I vet­eran, has died, a spokesman for his fam­ily said Sun­day. He was 110.

Buck­les “died peace­fully in his home of nat­ural causes” early Sun­day morn­ing, the fam­ily said in a state­ment sent to CNN late Sun­day by spokesman David DeJonge.

Buck­les marked his 110th birth­day on Feb­ru­ary 1, but his fam­ily had ear­lier told CNN he had slowed con­sid­er­ably since last fall, accord­ing his daugh­ter Susan­nah Buck­les Flana­gan, who lives at the fam­ily home near Charles Town, West Virginia.

Buck­les, who served as a U.S. Army ambu­lance dri­ver in Europe dur­ing what became known as the “Great War,” rose to the rank of cor­po­ral before the war ended. He came to promi­nence in recent years, in part because of the work of DeJonge, a Michi­gan por­trait pho­tog­ra­pher who had under­taken a project to doc­u­ment the last sur­viv­ing vet­er­ans of that war.

As the years con­tin­ued, all but Buck­les had passed away, leav­ing him the “last man stand­ing” among U.S. troops who were called “The Doughboys.”

Buck­les tes­ti­fied before Con­gress in 2009.  His pur­pose, to get a memo­r­ial for those who served in WWI.  He also served dur­ing World War II, and was a pris­oner of war for three years after he was cap­tured in the Philippines.

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In Honor of the Oscars

Not watch­ing this year, I actu­ally have “Casino Royale” on in the background.

But I remem­bered this from last year, so why not bring it back?

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Weekend Quick Hits

And away we go…

Again, It’s All About The Kids

While most of the statewide press is hav­ing an orgy of “Oh My GOD!” about the num­ber said to be in Madi­son today at the protests, a note­wor­thy thing hap­pened.  Seems the National Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion, or NEA, is demand­ing their union mem­ber dou­ble their pay­ments to the teach­ers union.

Amid sub­stan­tial mem­ber­ship losses and a $14 mil­lion short­fall in its gen­eral oper­at­ing bud­get, the National Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion plans to dou­ble each active member’s annual con­tri­bu­tion to the national union’s polit­i­cal and media funds.

Cur­rently, $10 of each active member’s NEA dues is allo­cated to these spe­cial accounts. The more than $20 mil­lion col­lected each year is then dis­bursed to state affil­i­ates and polit­i­cal issue campaign.

Mean­while, in Labor News I Care About

The NFLPA, which rep­re­sents all the play­ers on all 32 NFL fran­chises, is on the verge of decer­ti­fy­ing itself as a means to pre­vent own­er­ship from lock­ing out the play­ers when the cur­rent col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment expires on March 3rd.

If the union decer­ti­fies, it is no longer a union, and the National Labor Rela­tions Board loses its hold over the NFLPA. The own­ers are expected to claim the decer­ti­fi­ca­tion is a sham and chal­lenge it in the NLRB.

But the NFLPA is poised to act this week before it is locked out. It already has obtained unan­i­mous approval from play­ers across the league to decer­tify, a process it under­took through­out last sea­son and the union’s exec­u­tive com­mit­tee reaf­firmed that vote this past Tues­day to empower NFLPA exec­u­tive direc­tor DeMau­rice Smith to take this action.

The pri­mary rea­son for decer­ti­fi­ca­tion would be to file for an injunc­tion that, if granted, would pre­vent the own­ers from lock­ing out the play­ers. NFLPA offi­cials and play­ers believe that this could be the only hope to have a full NFL sea­son next year. Fur­ther­more, decer­ti­fy­ing as a union prior to the expi­ra­tion of the CBA would allow NFL play­ers to seek injunc­tive relief and com­mence anti-trust action against own­ers in front of U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge David Doty, who has had juris­dic­tion over the cur­rent labor agree­ment since 1993. Own­ers have attempted unsuc­cess­fully to have Doty removed from juris­dic­tion and strate­gi­cally want the CBA to expire to effec­tively elim­i­nate his author­ity, a source said.

Play­ers and own­er­ship have been meet­ing with a federally-appointed medi­a­tor in the Wash­ing­ton, DC-area for the bet­ter part of the week, but word leaked to sports-talk radio and other NFL insid­ers is they’re not going any­where and both sides seem hell-bent on their respec­tive paths.

I’m mak­ing no con­scious effort to pick a side in this fight, and I think the idea of NFL own­er­ship open­ing up their books (Only the Pack­ers are legally required to because of their own­er­ship struc­ture) is a worth­while idea to cre­ate trust between two par­ties.  Of course, when the NBA did this years back, the play­ers claimed own­er­ship was lying.

[BTW, the NBA is bleed­ing cash.  Teams might actu­ally be con­tracted.  I’m root­ing for the Mem­phis Griz­zles to disappear.]

Once Again the Left Uses Rea­gan For Their Own Means

Funny, how when faced with a los­ing fight, sud­denly they remem­ber he used to head SAG…wished he got that sort of ref­er­ence at the Acad­emy Awards the year he died.

You could hear a pin drop at the Kodak The­ater when his pic­ture came on the screen.

And by the way “cap,” he’s talk­ing about pri­vate trade unions in that video, not the type you love and pro­fess over you AFSCME hack.

Finally, Who Says Unions are Compromising?

I’m sorry, but until I see it, I won’t believe it.  The media, the left, and the unions all say “Con­ces­sions are being made.  Con­ces­sions are being made.”

Well, where are they exactly?  All we’ve seen in the past few weeks is a flurry of activ­ity from local pub­lic employee unions from Madi­son to She­boy­gan and parts else­where in the state to ham­mer out new con­tracts with their munic­i­pal­i­ties and lock­ing down their cur­rent deals before any­thing hap­pens on the state level so any hit can’t effect them.  That’s disingenuous.

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DNC Resolution Honoring Her: The Queen is Not Pleased">Pelosi on DNC Resolution Honoring Her: The Queen is Not Pleased

(H/T RightWingNews)

Too funny.

The Demo­c­ra­tic National Com­mit­tee wanted to honor Nancy Pelosi Thurs­day — but its praise wasn’t good enough for the House minor­ity leader.

When the DNC’s Res­o­lu­tions Com­mit­tee brought up a res­o­lu­tion com­mem­o­rat­ing Pelosi’s years as speaker of the House, Pelosi’s daugh­ter sought to alter the pro­posal at her mother’s behest, adding some of the accom­plish­ments that the elder Pelosi felt the com­mit­tee had overlooked.

I have some friendly amend­ments,” said Chris­tine Pelosi, a polit­i­cal strate­gist, at the committee’s ses­sion dur­ing the DNC Win­ter Meet­ing at the Mar­riott Ward­man Park hotel Thurs­day after­noon. She is a mem­ber of the committee.

You think I’m kid­ding,” Chris­tine Pelosi added, to sur­prised laugh­ter from the room. The pro­posed changes, she indi­cated, came out of a dis­cus­sion with her mother.

First, Pelosi wanted to add a men­tion of her fight against HIV and AIDS, because it was “why she went to Con­gress.” Then, she wanted to insert a para­graph on her “accom­plish­ments for equal­ity,” men­tion­ing the Lilly Led­bet­ter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in December.

Humil­ity doesn’t exist in this fam­ily does it?

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Budget Repair Bill Passes Assembly

Well, this has been an enjoy­able three days hasn’t it?  And it ended pretty much how it was guar­an­teed to end — with child-like screaming.

After a bit­ter, 61-hour debate that was the longest in liv­ing mem­ory, the sleep-starved state Assem­bly voted in just sec­onds early Fri­day to approve a water­shed pro­posal repeal­ing most union bar­gain­ing rights held by pub­lic workers.

Just after 1 a.m., Repub­li­cans cut off debate on Gov. Scott Walker’s bill and in pell-mell fash­ion the body voted 51–17 to pass it. In the con­fu­sion, nearly one-third of the body — 28 law­mak­ers includ­ing 25 Democ­rats, two Repub­li­cans and the body’s lone inde­pen­dent — did not vote on the bill at all.

All Democ­rats voted against the pro­posal along with four Repub­li­cans — Dean Kaufert of Neenah, Lee Ner­i­son of Westby, Richard Span­bauer of Oshkosh, and Travis Tranel of Cuba City.

Democ­rats erupted after the vote, throw­ing papers and what appeared to be a drink in the air. They denounced the move to cut off debate, ques­tion­ing for the sec­ond time in the night whether the proper pro­ce­dure had been followed.

Shame! Shame! Shame!” Democ­rats shouted in the faces of Repub­li­cans as the GOP law­mak­ers qui­etly filed off the floor and a police offi­cer stood between oppos­ing lawmakers.

Cow­ards all! You’re all cow­ards,” yelled Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison) as another Demo­c­rat tried to calm him down.

Most Repub­li­cans had no com­ment on the vote after­ward and some were escorted out under police pro­tec­tion. Ear­lier in the night, Major­ity Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) said that Democ­rats had been given more than two full days and nights to make their case — effec­tively turn­ing the debate into a fil­i­buster — and that Repub­li­cans had done noth­ing wrong.

It seems clear our side wants to vote and I chal­lenge any­one watch­ing to say we have not held out for an ade­quate debate,” Suder said.

The democ­rats were clearly stalling,” said Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc). “That’s why Assem­bly rules allow for a vote on final pas­sage. We took that vote and did what the peo­ple of this state asked us to do on Nov. 2 – get spend­ing under control.”

At this time last year, I was doing some con­tract research jobs, and as part of it, had to watch hours upon hours of State Sen­ate and State Assem­bly debate footage.  It wasn’t stel­lar TV-watching, and in fact, if I wasn’t get­ting paid to go through it all, I would have turned it off five min­utes in.  That being said, what’s been going on in the State Assem­bly these past three days has been a dis­grace to the body and a dis­grace to the State Assem­bly Democrats.

38 six-year olds would have been on bet­ter behav­ior in that room than these 38 duly-elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Madi­son, Mil­wau­kee, and those hand­ful of parts in-between.  Speaker Jeff Fitzger­ald and his team — for all the grief they’ve been given over how they’ve been accused of “shut­ting down debate” — have been far more gen­er­ous with the rules than either for­mer Demo­c­ra­tic Speaker Sheri­dan and espe­cially for­mer Major­ity Leader Tom Nel­son was.

Debate should have been shut down days, not hours ago.  The only thing Fitzger­ald should be chas­tised over is the fact he was let­ting both the goons out­side of the cham­ber as well as the goons inside the cham­ber dic­tate the terms of debate.  The Assem­bly has rules, each and every­one of the 96 mem­bers in there (recall there are 3 empty seats due to ele­va­tions to Walker’s Admin­is­tra­tion) knows them.

As for how the vote itself went down, I’m not cool with it, but I also think those say­ing its “ille­gal” are grasp­ing at straws.  In clos­ing, I share what Ryan Gru­ber, aka “The Recess Super­vi­sor,” a for­mer State GOP Assem­bly Staffer and a man who pos­si­bly the only thing I share with him are a few friends at var­i­ous think tanks out in DC, wrote about the debate.

Good­ness knows that the Assem­bly GOP was none too excited about the man­ner in which Gov­er­nor Doyle and the Ass­Dems slammed the 09–11 bud­get through the Leg­is­la­ture, or any one of a num­ber of other bills. But they also didn’t try to hold the entire body hostage for days on end with tired, recy­cled argu­ments. They made their polit­i­cal points and then they sat down let the process move forward.

Guess what, Democ­rats? Everyone’s heard you. Every­one heard you Tues­day. Nobody’s even lis­ten­ing to you at this point, except to see if we can get some more witty Pocan/Kramer ban­ter, or take a drink every time Kelda gives the same pious, insipid good gov­ern­ment speech again — the one that sounds like she’s read­ing from the “How a Bill Becomes a Law” col­or­ing book.

For Democ­rats to ask — no, demand — addi­tional com­pro­mise beyond the changes made in Finance shows how badly they fun­da­men­tally mis­un­der­stand the pur­pose of the minor­ity. They can stomp around the build­ing and send their let­ters to the Gov­er­nor, on and on, but at the end, nobody’s oblig­ated to nego­ti­ate with them or give them any­thing. They aren’t in charge. It’s almost as though they slept through the Novem­ber elec­tions (well, their cam­paigns def­i­nitely did), and now they refuse to rec­og­nize that just as the 2006 and 2008 elec­tions had con­se­quences for the GOP, the 2010 has con­se­quences for them.

Now some­one tell those fugi­tives in Illi­nois to get their col­lec­tive asses back to Madi­son.  The tantrums lasted long enough and they’re kid­ding them­selves if they’re going to get some sort of “Prodi­gal Son” treat­ment upon their return.  This last week has been an embar­rass­ment of riches for any­one who’s called Wis­con­sin “home.”

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IL Lawmaker Proposes “Jock Tax” on “Wisconsin 14″">IL Lawmaker Proposes “Jock Tax” on “Wisconsin 14″

This is funny, but since Illi­nois Gov­er­nor Pat Quinn (and now Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel) have pretty much turned their state into a “Sanc­tu­ary State,” it’s not likely to happen.

State Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) is intro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion today that will apply the Illi­nois income tax to vis­it­ing leg­is­la­tors from Wis­con­sin and Indiana.

Not­ing that the Democ­rats passed leg­is­la­tion to “close cor­po­rate loop­holes” which resulted in Illi­nois tax­ing planes while they were fly­ing over Illi­nois, incomes of movie stars film­ing in Illi­nois, base­ball and foot­ball team play­ers on Illi­nois fields,

I think that ought to apply to vis­it­ing Democrats.”

What’s good enough for the Green Bay Pack­ers is good enough for the Wis­con­sin legislature.”

The rea­son he brings up the Pack­ers is because of the Wis­con­sin con­nec­tion no doubt, but he just as well could have listed any other sports fran­chise in his state­ment.  Illi­nois (and prob­a­bly Wis­con­sin too, since it’s a more com­mon prac­tice than you think) have what is com­monly called “a Jock Tax” on the books.  “Jock Taxes” are meant to tax the income of pro ath­letes for the time they are in the state or munic­i­pal­ity they are play­ing in for the length of the game.  Which means, if a player who resides in Los Ange­les or New York City comes to play a game in Chicago or Mil­wau­kee, they would be taxed on pretty much their game check.

No doubt the irony is lost on Illi­nois Democ­rats.  That said, I do believe Lance Burri is cor­rect.  This sort of tax is for those who are doing their jobs; not run­ning from it.

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