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Wisconsin in focus: Gov. Scott Walker to sign Wisconsin Foxconn bill Monday in Sturtevant

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:57

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gov. Scott Walker to sign Wisconsin Foxconn bill Monday in Sturtevant

Gov. Scott Walker Monday will approve up to $3 billion in subsidies for a Racine County flat screen plant, binding the state’s economic hopes and his own political future to the investment proposed by an Asian electronics giant.

The 2:30 p.m. bill signing at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant will clear the way for the Walker administration to negotiate a final contract with Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan in the coming days.

Walker and GOP lawmakers have promised that the Foxconn Technology Group plant will bring thousands of jobs and massive investment to Wisconsin, transforming the state’s economy.

Democrats have questioned the price tag, saying that there’s too great a cost to the subsidies and exemptions from environmental rules that will be going to Foxconn.

Wisconsin State Journal: State makes progress on some workforce goals, deems others ‘unreachable’

Wisconsin state government has been bracing for the looming workforce crisis for years.

“We’ve had quite a lot of warning for this,” said Dennis Winters, chief economist for the Department of Workforce Development. “I published on this back in 2000. We had two recessions through there that let some of the pressure out of the pot.”

The state has implemented a number of strategies — such as the Fast Forward worker training grant program, which will grow to a $76.9 million total investment since 2013 in the budget headed for Gov. Scott Walker’s desk this week.

But the Walker administration has deemed “unachievable” some strategies recommended by the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment, specifically encouraging skilled college graduates to stay in or relocate to Wisconsin by offering tax credits for student loan forgiveness and moving costs.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Scott Walker, Tony Evers clash over plan to comply with federal education law

The state plan outlining how Wisconsin intends to comply with the federal law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, but without Gov. Scott Walker’s signature.

Walker sent a letter to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers saying he would not endorse the plan and calling on Evers to submit another that incorporates “bold reforms” for turning around poorly performing schools.

“Your bureaucratic proposal does little to challenge the status quo for the benefit of Wisconsin’s students,” Walker said in the letter to Evers, who is also one of his Democratic challengers for the 2018 election.

Evers said the plan was drafted with input from a bipartisan group of stakeholders he calls the “equity council,” composed of educators, lawmakers, civil rights advocates, school choice proponents and others, including a representative from Walker’s office.

Wisconsin in focus: Senate plans to take up state budget without votes to pass it

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:02

Wisconsin State Journal: Senate plans to take up state budget without votes to pass it

The state Senate is scheduled to take up the months-overdue state spending plan Friday morning even though its Republican leader is still one vote shy of being able to pass it.

Four Republican senators from conservative counties surrounding Milwaukee on Thursday remained opposed to the 2017-19 state budget Assembly lawmakers passed on Wednesday.

A new state budget to cover spending through 2019 was due on Gov. Scott Walker’s desk on July 1, but Republicans have been at odds for months primarily over how to address a nearly $1 billion shortfall in the state’s pot of money for road projects.

Though state government does not shut down if lawmakers miss their deadline to pass a new state budget, some school district administrators have expressed concern about not knowing exactly how much money they will have from the state and local taxpayers as the delay carries into the new school year.

Wisconsin Public Radio: Walker Checks In From Trade Mission Abroad

Gov. Scott Walker is part of a contingent of five Midwestern governors visiting Japan and South Korea this week. According to press release from Walker’s office, the eight-day trade mission is aimed at boosting Wisconsin exports.

Other governors on the trip include: Rick Snyder of Michigan, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, and Bruce Rauner of Illinois.

The group belongs to the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association. In Japan, Walker said he met with executives from Japanese soy sauce maker Kikkoman, which has long had a Wisconsin presence, and Komatsu, a Japanese corporation that manufactures construction, mining and military equipment. Komatsu recently bought Wisconsin’s Joy Global, a manufacturing company located in Milwaukee.

Walker also met with executives from Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that is expected to build a large electronics plant in southeastern Wisconsin. In addition to speaking with Foxconn executives, he spent time talking with executives from companies interested in being suppliers to the plant.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Industrial barrel investigation goes national; Wisconsin plants hit with 16 violations

Federal regulators have expanded their investigation of industrial barrel refurbishing plants nationwide, examining operations and safety at 13 facilities in nine states.

The multi-agency investigation initially focused on three such facilities in the Milwaukee area, where a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation uncovered a host of problems endangering workers and residents.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recorded 16 violations at the three plants, including not properly cleaning and reconditioning the 55-gallon barrels, failing to give employees adequate training and not keeping required paperwork, according to a Notice of Probable Violation issued Aug. 31 to Container Life Cycle Management.

The department’s sanctions are the latest development as regulators continue to investigate the plants in Milwaukee, St. Francis and Oak Creek.

Wisconsin legislature approves Foxconn deal, sends to Gov. Walker for signature

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 15:21

The Wisconsin Assembly approved the massive Foxconn package Thursday, two days after the Wisconsin Senate did the same. The bill was approved on a mostly party line vote of 64-31. Four Democrats voted for the bill and two Republicans voted against it. It will now to be sent to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.

The Foxconn deal has been in a constant state of evolution since Walker announced in July that the company intends to bring a factory to southeast Wisconsin. What started with the state offering $1.25 billion in tax credits has increased to just under $3 billion. Foxconn has pledged to create up to 13,000 jobs in the state.

Democrats in both chambers have echoed concerns about environmental waivers granted to the factory and an expedited judicial process for Foxconn-related lawsuits. In the Senate, Republican legislators accepted an amendment that would give the state Supreme Court the option to hear Foxconn lawsuits faster. Neither the Senate nor the Assembly accepted any amendments on the environmental waivers.

In a statement, Republican Majority Leader Jim Steineke said, “I am excited by the prospects Foxconn will bring to Wisconsin. Every family and business throughout the state will see the benefits of this investment for our communities and economy. I look forward to Governor Walker signing the bill into law.”

In a tweet following the vote, Democratic Rep. Melissa Sargent, who represents Madison and Maple Bluff, said that “[I] Just voted NO on the Foxconn bill because it’s bad policy and #RiggedAgainstWI.” Democrats had tried to portray the deal as “rigged” against Wisconsin workers because of the massive tax credits the company will be receiving.

Minority leader Peter Barca voted for the bill, but is resigning his leadership post on Sept. 30 after a closed door session with Democratic legislators earlier in the month where his colleagues demonstrated their frustration with him.

The bill now heads to Walker, who is expected to sign it.

Wisconsin in focus: Wisconsin Assembly set to approve $3 billion Foxconn incentive package

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 10:34

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Assembly set to approve $3 billion Foxconn incentive package

The state Assembly is set Thursday to send Gov. Scott Walker a $3 billion incentive package to bring Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan to Wisconsin.

The governor and his fellow Republicans who control the Legislature have rallied behind the legislation as a way to bring thousands of jobs to Wisconsin and transform the state’s economy. Most Democrats have opposed it, saying it is too costly and includes too many environmental rollbacks for the technology company.

The Assembly approved the package 59-30 last month, but must take it up again because the Senate adopted changes to it on Tuesday under a deal between leaders from both chambers.

In the Senate, the deal – which is more than 10 times as big as any previous state subsidy to a private project in Wisconsin – passed 20-13, largely on party lines.

Capital Times: Two months past deadline, Wisconsin Assembly approves state budget

Wisconsin is one step closer to enacting a state budget, with the approval of the state Assembly granted late Wednesday night.

Lawmakers in the Assembly voted 57-39 after 11 hours of debate to approve the $76 billion spending plan, now more than two months past its deadline.

All Democratic members voted against the plan. They were joined in opposition by Republican Reps. Scott Allen of Waukesha, Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls, Bob Gannon of West Bend, Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake and Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin.

According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the budget, along with an incentive package for the manufacturing company Foxconn, would leave a structural deficit of just shy of $1 billion by 2021.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Crude oil shipping banned under new Milwaukee port lease

Crude oil would not be stored or shipped at the Port of Milwaukee, under a new lease agreement with U.S. Venture Inc.

The amended lease between the Appleton-based petroleum distributor and the City of Milwaukee through its Board of Harbor Commissioners was approved Wednesday by the city’s Public Works Committee.

Questions about potential plans for shipping crude oil at the port were raised recently during debate about the company’s plans to build a $3 million pipeline that will allow it to ship bulk supplies of ethanol over the Great Lakes.

The amended lease deal says the company shall not “receive, handle, store, ship or otherwise process or distribute crude oil” at the port.

Wisconsin in focus: Walker says he backs some budget changes to win votes as Assembly takes up plan

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 10:30

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker says he backs some budget changes to win votes as Assembly takes up plan

Gov. Scott Walker Wednesday backed at least some budget changes to win over conservative holdouts in the state Senate and pass the state’s already delayed spending plan.

“I’m still confident we’ll have a budget by the end of the summer that will … balance the interests of investing more dollars in K-12 education than ever before and lowering property taxes,” Walker told reporters in a conference call from a trade mission to South Korea. 

But at least four conservatives in the state Senate are holding up a budget vote in part because of their concerns about spending increases in the bill for priorities like education. 

To get the budget back on track, Walker endorsed the idea of agreeing to at least some other conservative demands, such as moving up the repeal date of a minimum wage for workers on state infrastructure projects.

Wisconsin State Journal: Foxconn $3 billion incentive deal edges closer to reality with state Senate passage

A $3 billion state incentive package for electronics maker Foxconn, the largest ever of its kind, moved much closer to becoming reality Tuesday by passing the state Senate.

The bill passed on a 20-13 vote with two senators breaking party lines. Republican Sen. Rob Cowles of Allouez voted “no,” while Democrat Bob Wirch of Kenosha, near where Foxconn may locate, voted “yes.”

Senate Republicans had moved more cautiously than their Assembly counterparts on the Foxconn measure. Its passage returns the bill to the Assembly for what likely will be a swift approval on Thursday.

The bill then would head to its champion, Gov. Scott Walker, for a signature.

Capital Times: Political activist Mike McCabe set to launch campaign for Wisconsin governor

Political activist Mike McCabe is the latest candidate to join the Democratic primary field for governor, with a campaign announcement planned in central Wisconsin on Tuesday.

The former head of the campaign finance watchdog Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, McCabe founded the nonprofit group Blue Jean Nation in 2015 with the goal of restructuring the priorities of the country’s political parties.

“Wisconsin is up to its eyeballs in problems. Same goes for our country as a whole. The problems grow out of political and economic inequality. Our society has been made more and more elitist, both politically and economically. It has been divided into royals and commoners,” McCabe said in a statement. “I am running for one reason and one reason only — to re-establish the ideal that our government should work as well for the commoners as it does for the royals.”

McCabe, 56, said in May he was “willing” to run after a group of 190 people published a letter encouraging him to do it.

Foxconn incentive bill approved by Wisconsin Senate

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 19:07

On a mostly partisan-line vote, the Wisconsin Senate approved a tax-incentive plan to bring a Foxconn manufacturing plant to the state.

The bill, which includes up to $2.3 billion in tax credits for the Taiwanese company, passed on a vote of 20-13. One Republican senator voted against, and one Democratic senator voted for it.

Senate Democrats have raised a number of objections to the package and attempted to pass a number of amendments during debate on Tuesday, which all failed on party line votes.

The Foxconn deal has been in a constant state of evolution since Governor Scott Walker announced in July that the company intends to bring a factory to southeast Wisconsin. What started with the state offering $1.25 billion in tax credits has so far ended up at just under $3 billion. Foxconn has pledged to create up to 13,000 jobs.

Democrats have taken issue with the size of the tax break as well as a Republican proposal that would allow lawsuits against the plant to proceed directly to the state Supreme Court.

In the Senate debate on Tuesday, Democrats offered nine amendments that sought to address environmental concerns as well as the appeals process for Foxconn-related lawsuits. All of the Democratic amendments were rejected, but the Senate accepted one proposed by Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald that will make it optional for the Supreme Court to hear appeals, instead of mandatory.

Republican Senator Van Wanggaard, who represents parts of Racine and Kenosha counties – where the factory will likely be built – said the deal is “mind-boggling” in scope and that “people all over Wisconsin will benefit” from the jobs that will be created.

Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach said that, “We’re going to turn in our environmental soul today,” referring to regulatory exemptions the factory will receive under the bill.

The bill now advances to the Wisconsin Assembly for a final vote on Thursday. If it passes there, it will be sent to Walker to be signed.

Wisconsin in focus: Wisconsin Senate takes up $3B bill for Foxconn jobs

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 10:20

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Senate takes up $3B bill for Foxconn jobs

Wisconsin’s multibillion dollar bid for a flat screen display plant and thousands of jobs comes before state senators Tuesday in a critical week at the Capitol.

In addition to this first Foxconn Technology Group factory, Wisconsin is also competing with other states for another undisclosed potential investment from the Taiwanese company, state records show.

When senators consider the display plant Tuesday, they will weigh two great considerations — the chance of up to 13,000 jobs at the proposed factory and its potential cost to taxpayers of up to $2.85 billion in cash.

No jobs deal in state history — and few around the nation — have come close to the size of subsidies being offered by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration.

Capital Times: Liberal group: WEDC not qualified to hold Foxconn accountable

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is supposed to make sure Foxconn keeps its end of the deal to create jobs in its proposed manufacturing plant in southeastern Wisconsin in exchange for tax breaks and other incentives.

But WEDC has a terrible track record of holding corporations accountable to their job creation promises, critics of the deal and representatives of liberal advocacy group Citizen Action of Wisconsin said in a media call Monday. That makes the Foxconn deal “a scandal waiting to happen,” they said.

“It’s already scandalous how badly WEDC’s existing tax credit programs have been managed,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action Wisconsin.

WEDC called Citizen Action Wisconsin’s statement “misleading and incomplete.”

Wisconsin State Journal: Wisconsin businesses grapple with a growing worker shortage

A Pulaski yacht manufacturer that cut 1,000 positions during the Great Recession now strains to fill 70 openings.

In Neenah, a business consulting company replaces print shop workers with tech-savvy programmers, some of them working remotely in other states.

At a Lancaster dairy farm a robot milks the cows 24 hours a day.

A Madison restaurant has raised pay for entry-level chefs in recent years more than 50 percent to $14 an hour, but still closes on Sunday evenings — not because of a lack of customers, but because workers are scarce.

Haupt: The White House press secretary, reporter or employee?

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 15:19

 “The news media isn’t there to tell you what has really happened. It’s there to tell you what it wants you to hear. It’s there to make their editors and advertisers happy, not inform you.”

– Joan Wheston

Thomas Carlyle praised political philosopher Edmund Burke, who publicly recognized the press as gatekeepers of a democratic society to protect it from government. As Parliament opened in 1787, Burke proclaimed, “There are three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sits the Fourth Estate, far more important than they all.” Though the press, lawyers and other non consorts have had access to governments throughout most reported history, Burke designated the press, as the lynchpin to secure the people’s government. He conceded an ill informed public was the subject of tyrannical abuse.

“Education is the cheap defense of nations.”

– Edmund Burke

Before the 19th century, the U.S. press didn’t have much interest in the White House since Congress was so accessible and eager to trade scoops for votes. But in 1893 during Grover Cleveland’s presidency when economic chaos gripped the nation and reporter William Pierce bullied his way into the White House, things changed. As Cleveland failed to right the economic ship and sway public opinion, the reporters capitalized on this Panic of 1893. A hyperbolic press ruined the Democratic Party’s image, which floundered dismally for decades. The yellow dogging of these reporters helped incubate the ontogeny of the progressive era.

“A nation run by reporters is a nation run by fools.”

– Alan Strong

In 1904, Teddy Roosevelt invited rain-soaked reporters into the White House. They were awestruck as he offered them an office to work in and brought them coffee and a meal. And this was the birth of the White House Press Corps. But as always, when you give the press an inch they stretch it to infinity. Soon, reporters grew their presence and influence and shortly they weaseled into previously un-chartered “off limit” enclaves. It was this tradition that has morphed into an uncontrolled arm of government used to control public opinion rather than to report the news. Far too many of these former reporters have forgotten:

“A free press needs to be a respected press.”

– Tom Stoppard

By 1933 when FDR took office, he realized the powerful weaponry of the press in pitching his “Bad Deal,” which set the stage for today’s political news circus. By now, the charges of the White House press secretary environed dealing with newspapers as well as radio media. This fueled the engine for FDR’s fabinistic social re-engineering. Secretary Stephen Early was a coy and able hireling for a cagey FDR. As a former journalist and elected official, he held the tools to delude press releases and promote FDR’s agitprop to reporters. He was keenly adept in helping FDR to subvert legal protocol to suppurate progressivism.

“Dangerous masters depend on a few willing servants.”

– Aldo Dolores

Press secretaries cautiously grapple presidential antics to appease the press. At times, they must breach journalistic ethics to barter news releases. They obfuscate facts in a way that sounds more optimistic than misanthropic to these famished predators. Secretary Mike McCurry was the first to televise live press briefings under Bill Clinton. Little did they know the White House would become Peyton Place-East. One of these briefings opened the can of worms where Monica Lewinsky was hiding out. As this soap opera crept into every U.S. home, it became the hottest topic on the comedy circuit since Watergate. In an interview years later, McCurry said he and Clinton regretted they ever authorized broadcasting TV briefings. “That was the dumbest thing we ever did!” Obviously, there isn’t any doubt:

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

– George Carlin

The job of press secretary has less security than that of the guy who hired them. Most remain on the job only a few years because it’s impossible to continually sugarcoat the blunders of their boss. They are not only hired and fired faster than a Vegas comedian can tell a bad joke, they are under the scrutiny of social media and alternative journalism and can’t play hide and seek with the truth. Maybe that’s why few women have ventured into this dark field of journalism? Bill Clinton’s first press secretary, Dee Dee Meyers, abruptly quit without notice. Obviously, few people wonder why. Dana Perino was admirable under George W. Bush but left to take a position as a political analyst.

“Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade since it consists principally of dealings with men.”

– Joseph Conrad

Presidents have unique and combative affinities with the press and the secretary works for them.

It is the reporter’s duty to disregard party hype and report genuine news. Some secretaries lose sight of their journalistic duties but reporters can’t. Last decade proved presidents can’t effectuate while at war with the media. Media segued further left, and turned the other cheek to progressive failures and took the liberty to report them.

“Liberal news outlets and their activist readers routinely reiterate the incendiary rhetoric and accusations fed to them by progressive politicians.”

– R. Kliner

The presses’ romance with the White House has been checkered since it’s up to them what they spin and how they spin it. And since the recent political divide, it has festered into a mass-media infection. To insure a progressive victory, with the help of liberal White House cronies they turned an economic downturn into the “Eve of Economic Destruction.” And after eight years of helping Barack Obama rewrite the Constitution, confidence in media dropped to 32 percent, its lowest in Gallup poll history. Since the election of Donald Trump, it’s down another 8 points! With arrant assailing of Sean Spicer and their tenacious underpinning of his new press secretary, Sarah H. Sanders, the third woman in history to permeate their good ol’ boys club, their credibility has gone belly up.

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a b****, OK.”

Madonna

Author Bernie Mares wrote, “Thank God I’m a journalist and no longer a reporter.” Yes, a reporter’s job isn’t easy but it was their career by choice. A good one disseminates the truth, even it they fall in disfavor with their editor or the White House. When they sit behind a typewriter they know they have no friends. A bad one goes along to get along if it sells papers or increases ratings. He will prostitute his oath of truth and dignity to please an editor or the White House. A D.C.  press secretary dawns a dissimilar hat the day he takes the job. He’s no longer a good cop or a bad cop, but an employee on the payroll.

“The boss is always right even when he’s wrong.”

– Blaine Fulbright

The best press secretaries have seen their job as two-way streets: from principle or pragmatism. Not only to convey White House minutiae to the media, but to represent the press in high councils of the government. There’s much to be admired about their work and dedication. But even the best ended up pounding sand when they showed more loyalty to their master rather than their oath of allegiance to the Fourth Estate. When asked about Watergate, Nixon’s patriotic and competent press secretary retorted:

“If my answers sound confusing, I think they are confusing because questions are confusing and the situation is confusing, and I’m not in a position to clarify it.”

– Ron Ziegler

Plutarch wrote, “No man delights in the bearer of distorted truth.” White House press reporters are distorting news worse than a fable written by a bad comic book science fiction writer. The enemy is not the press secretary, they are only the messenger. Let’s not continue to kill the messenger, but reporters who breach the ethics of their trade.

“Journalism is a profession. It takes skill, courage and conviction. If a writer does not possess that talent, they become a news reporter.’’

– Carla Rice

Wisconsin in focus: Gov. Walker could use powerful partial veto powers on Foxconn, budget bills

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 10:34

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gov. Scott Walker could use powerful partial veto powers on Foxconn, budget bills

Over the next several weeks, Gov. Scott Walker could have an unprecedented opportunity to use his partial veto authority — one of the most powerful in the nation.

In addition to the two-year, $76 billion budget bill, the Senate and Assembly will vote on legislation to provide up to $2.85 billion in cash payments to a Taiwanese technology company in exchange for a massive flat screen plant in southeastern Wisconsin.

So far, there’s been no public sign that Walker will use his veto to make any sweeping changes to the budget or Foxconn Technology Group bills — the GOP governor has been working with lawmakers of his party on both measures and has appeared largely satisfied with them.

But in a bill as large as the budget, at least some partial vetoes are inevitable and they wouldn’t be surprising in the sizable Foxconn legislation, either. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said that so far no agreements have been made between Walker and GOP lawmakers on vetoes.

Green Bay Press-Gazette: Wisconsin budget proposal opens the door to controversial online teacher prep program

A provision in the proposed state budget is raising the ire of educators and leaders of Wisconsin’s schools of education who say it would lower the quality of new teachers in the classroom, most likely in schools with the neediest children.

At issue is a measure that would require the state Department of Public Instruction to issue teaching licenses to graduates of an alternative certification program. 

The budget doesn’t explicitly name a particular provider; state law prohibits that. But members of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education said it’s almost certainly aimed at the Atlanta-based American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, a controversial nonprofit that operates in 12 states and has been trying to get a foothold in Wisconsin for years.

American Board offers a low-cost, fast-track online program for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree; it takes usually a year or less for under $3,000, according to its website.

Wisconsin State Journal: Wisconsin residents push back against mine looming just over state line

As Wisconsin lawmakers consider a bill aimed at attracting mining jobs, state residents are standing up against an open pit mine proposed for a site in Michigan 150 feet from the river that forms the state line.

The elected boards and councils of six counties, four municipalities and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin oppose the Aquila Resources Back Forty project in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Opponents say it could drain acid into the Menominee River, a fishing destination that empties into Lake Michigan’s Green Bay.

The tribe is contesting a mining permit issued by Michigan. The mine would disturb culturally significant sites, tribal leaders said. They have petitioned two federal agencies to step in.

Wisconsin in focus: Budget committee revives plan to track UW professors’ teaching hours

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 10:34

Wisconsin State Journal: Budget committee revives plan to track UW professors’ teaching hours

Lawmakers on the state’s budget-writing committee have revived a controversial plan to track how much time professors in the University of Wisconsin System spend teaching — five months after they initially rejected the proposal.

The budget provision requires the UW System to develop a plan for measuring the teaching hours of faculty and academic staff, and to reward those employees “who teach more than a standard academic workload.”

Data on teaching hours would have to be included in reports the System sends to the governor and Legislature, and published on UW’s online “accountability dashboard.”

It’s one of several policy changes included in a wrap-up motion members of the Joint Finance Committee added to the state budget Wednesday night as they finished their work on the spending plan, which is two months overdue.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Peter Barca to step down as Assembly minority leader on Sept. 30

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca is stepping down from his post leading the Democrats in his house after 6 1/2 years in that role.

Olivia Hwang, a spokeswoman for the Kenosha lawmaker and former congressman, confirmed he would be leaving his leadership post on Sept. 30 but remain in the Legislature.

Barca, who has led his caucus during a challenging time for Democrats in the state, resigned following an hours-long and private meeting with fellow Assembly Democrats Thursday at an office building across the street from the state Capitol. Legislators often caucus outside the Capitol when they are discussing legislative issues as well as campaigns and politics.

Those involved in and familiar with the discussions said members told Barca they had become frustrated with him, with some showing a willingness to quickly vote on whether to keep him as their leader.

The Capital Times: Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir announces U.S. Senate campaign

Billing herself as the only “clear, consistent conservative” in the race, State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, announced on Thursday that she will seek to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Vukmir, 59, completed work on the state budget Wednesday evening as a member of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. Her candidacy guarantees a Republican primary, as she joins Marine veteran and businessman — and former College Democrats of America chairman — Kevin Nicholson in the field. Madison businessman Eric Hovde is also said to be considering a run.

In a video announcing her candidacy, Vukmir emphasized her track record as a longtime advocate for conservative causes. A registered nurse, Vukmir was first elected to the state Assembly in 2002 and to the state Senate in 2010. She serves as assistant majority leader in the Senate.

“I have a track record that people know. They can count on me. I’ve gotten things done,” Vukmir says in the video.

Wisconsin in focus: Lawmakers approve business tax cut, more money for voucher school students

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 09:48

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Lawmakers approve business tax cut, more money for voucher school students

Republicans broke a more than two-month budget stalemate Wednesday, approving a property tax cut for businesses, more money for voucher school students with special needs and a new framework for regulating room rentals through websites like Airbnb.

In a series of tax changes, GOP lawmakers on the Joint Finance Committee dropped several of Gov. Scott Walker’s broad tax cut proposals in favor of tax cuts for businesses and narrow groups.

The budget panel nixed Walker’s proposals to cut the income tax, put a sales tax holiday on back-to-school purchases and increase a tax credit for the working poor. Instead, Republican lawmakers voted to cut taxes on broadcasters, business equipment and the wealthy.

“It’s definitely a shift in tax policy to the wealthier (people) in the state,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton). If Democrats were in charge, “we’d try to actually get it to the middle class because the middle class are the ones who actually need some help.”

U.S. News & World Report: Wisconsin AG’s Office Has Spent $83K on Promotional Material

The Wisconsin attorney general’s office has spent about $83,000 on promotional items since Republican Brad Schimel took office, including bags, pistol cases, candy and custom-made fortune cookies.

The Associated Press obtained invoices through an open records request that show Schimel spent $10,000 for coins emblazoned with Schimel’s “kicking ass every day” mantra. The spending also included $6,269 on messenger bags, $6,000 on pistol cases, nearly $3,200 on candy and $100 on fortune cookies containing custom messages.

Most of the items bought since January 2015 were handed out as gifts to attendees at state Department of Justice conferences.

Liberal group One Wisconsin Now also obtained the invoices through a record request. Joanna Beilman-Dulin, OWN’s research director, said in a news release titled “Attorney General Brad Schimel puts the ‘AG’ in Swag” that Schimel should spend the department’s money on fighting crime. She said thousands of Wisconsin rape kits haven’t been processed and there have been delays in testing evidence for DNA.

Green Bay Press-Gazette: No replacement for Green Bay Correctional in state budget proposal

Redevelopment of the Green Bay Correctional Institution could attract new apartments, stores and office space to Allouez and open a spigot of fresh tax revenue for cash-strapped local governments.

But there’s a long road ahead to get there.

The state Legislature’s budget committee did not include a proposal to close the prison and open a more modern facility elsewhere in northeastern Wisconsin in the next state budget.

However, State Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, has introduced separate legislation to relocate the prison. Steffen said he hopes to get the bill passed by early next year.

Many Republicans support legal fight to end Wisconsin’s partisan redistricting

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 06:24

Republicans are lining up to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to rein in the Wisconsin GOP’s abuse of the map-drawing process. But a famous California Republican says blue states are just as guilty of map-rigging as their red-state counterparts.

The partisan mapping practice in Wisconsin was struck down by lower courts in the case Gill v. Whitford. The lower court said the state GOP manipulated the legislative maps to gain a majority. Now, a group of high-profile Republicans is urging the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s ruling.

The list of Republicans that signed a “friend-of-the-court” brief is long. It includes presidential candidates Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, Sens. Bob Dole of Kansas and John McCain of Arizona, and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The former body builder and action movie star said Wednesday that abuse of the map-drawing process, such as what happened in Wisconsin, has kept competition out of politics for years.

“With no need for competition, the seats are fixed and they don’t really need to perform,” Schwarzenegger said, adding that lawmakers vote much more ideologically when the only competition incumbents may receive is from a primary challenge.

But blue states are just as guilty of adjusting the political maps to leverage their hold on the majority in their respective legislatures, Schwarzenegger said.

“When Democrats have the power, they gerrymander like in Maryland or Illinois,” he said.

Two independent efforts to change how Illinois redraws its maps after new U.S. Census data is released every 10 years have been ruled unconstitutional by state judges. Gerrymandered districts drawn by Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan often are blamed for the lack of competitive General Assembly races. For example, Just 46 of the 118 Illinois House races on the November 2016 ballot were contested. Of those, only a few were competitive.

Plaintiffs lawyers say that there would likely be a challenge in Illinois should the court rule in their favor in the Wisconsin case.

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and Lt. Governor Corinne Wood also signed on in support of the brief.

The court is scheduled to hear the case in October.

The full brief can be read here.

Many agree: Time for Congress to act after DACA decision

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 15:43

Illinois’ two Democratic U.S. senators agree with President Donald Trump on one one aspect of DACA: Congress now needs to act.

After calling Trump cruel, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Congress needs to step into the DACA fight.

“I have always held out the hope that President Trump would keep his word and ‘take care’ of the Dreamers. After all, the president told America, ‘We love the Dreamers,’ ” Durbin said in a statement. “Starting this countdown clock will require Congress to act fast.”

Democrat U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said much the same thing. So did Trump, for that matter.

And so does Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy expert at the Cato Institute.

“The ball is now in Congress’ court,” Nowrasteh said. “It is their job to pass a law. To provide a long-term solution to this immigration problem, specifically to try and legalize a lot of these DREAMers who were brought here as children.”

The Trump Administration said it ended President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy because it exceeded his Constitutional authority when he ordered as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants to be able to stay in the U.S. The White House said Trump is willing to work with Congress to find a solution.

Nowrasteh said the problem may be getting Congress to agree with itself.

“It’s a big ‘if.’ Congress hasn’t passed a substantive immigration bill since the 1990s,” Nowrasteh said. “This is different because the DREAMers are a very sympathetic group. I don’t think any bill that includes E-Verify, or a border wall, or a RAISE Act will pass because those are so unpopular.”

The president’s decision to end DACA won’t mean any changes for anyone for the next six months, and could allow some DREAMers to stay in the U.S. for as long as two years.

Nowrasteh said no matter what you think of DACA as policy, the best solution for all sides is to have Congress act.

Wisconsin in focus: Budget committee to take up transportation funding, Foxconn incentives

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 10:22

The Capital Times: Wisconsin budget committee to take up transportation funding, Foxconn incentives

Lawmakers on the state’s budget-writing committee plan to complete work on Wisconsin’s two-year spending plan this week, after stalling for more than two months.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is set to meet Tuesday afternoon to take up roads funding, tax cuts and a $3 billion tax incentive package for the electronics manufacturing company Foxconn.

As of last week, the Republican leaders who control both the state Senate and Assembly would only say they, along with Republican Gov. Scott Walker, had reached a deal on transportation funding “in principle.”

Lawmakers have struggled for months to reach agreement on how to close a projected $1 billion gap in the transportation fund. Assembly Republicans are resistant to allowing bonding without a corresponding revenue increase, while Senate Republicans have argued for more borrowing than what Walker’s budget originally proposed.

Wisconsin State Journal: Battle over mine pollution ramps up

Republicans say the repeal of Wisconsin’s so-called mining moratorium would leave in place a body of other Wisconsin laws to protect the environment.

But the repeal legislation contains 10 additional provisions that would relax those other protections, say conservationists who are fighting the proposal.

The proposal introduced last month would relax wetland and ground water protections, constrain the time regulators have to review mine plans, limit challenges to state mining permits, and exempt mine companies from fees that cover costs of ensuring safe handling of hazardous waste.

“The bill includes a laundry list of subsidies and give-aways for the mining industry at the expense of our environment,” said Dave Blouin, chairman of the Sierra Club’s Wisconsin chapter’s mining committee.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ex-Sheriff David Clarke to work for Trump PAC

Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. will be taking a job with the primary super PAC supporting President Donald Trump.

America First Action announced that Clarke will serve as a spokesman and senior adviser for the group. Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, took a similar job with the super PAC last month.

In its news release, America First Action emphasized that Clarke’s work for the super PAC represents just “one of his new endeavors.” Clarke abruptly resigned his $132,290-per-year job last week.

Clarke, sometimes dubbed “the people’s sheriff,” is scheduled to talk about his future during conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Tuesday night. The former fourth-term sheriff has become a regular on the show over the past year.

Wisconsin in focus: With billions at stake, lawmakers prepare for weighty week on budget, Foxconn bills

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:17

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: With billions at stake, lawmakers prepare for weighty week on budget, Foxconn bills

When measured purely in money, this could be the most momentous week of action ever at the Wisconsin Capitol.

After weeks of debate and delays, two big bills are expected to move forward in the next several days — the budget and a separate multibillion-dollar plan to bring a flat-screen plant to southeastern Wisconsin.

GOP lawmakers have said they hope to settle their differences over road funding and taxes, a challenging step that would clear the way for a final budget committee vote on the state’s two-year, $76 billion tax and spending plan.

In this same four-day work week, the Joint Finance Committee is also supposed to vote on paying up to $2.85 billion in cash to Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan to secure a factory employing as many as 13,000 workers. The plan would be the largest public subsidies ever offered to a private group in Wisconsin by a factor of more than 10.

The Capital Times: Report: Wisconsin unemployment rate great, but other economic factors are cause for concern

When Gov. Scott Walker took office in 2011, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 8 percent. Now, it’s at 3.2 percent, a fact the governor has celebrated.

But a report from from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS), a nonpartisan think-tank based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wants to remind Wisconsinites that the health of the economy can’t be encompassed in a single statistic.

“(The) unemployment rate, so often touted by the Governor, is just one indicator; other data helps draw a picture that is more nuanced and markedly less worthy of celebration,” it states.

For starters, that unemployment rate doesn’t apply to the African-American population in the state, the “The State of Working Wisconsin 2017: Facts & Figures” report, released Friday, said. Other areas of concern include a shrinking middle class, slow wage and private-sector job growth, and a decline in union representation.

Green Bay Press-Gazette: Allouez Village Board to discuss Green Bay Correctional Institution plans

It’s an especially important week in Allouez, where the Village Board will consider development news both good and bad.

Green Bay’s mayor also is taking steps to raise awareness about heart disease.

Here’s a rundown of key government meetings and events this week in Brown County.

The Allouez Village Board on Tuesday will talk about the Green Bay Correctional Institution, which has an uncertain future in the village.

Haupt: The forgotten faces of American labor

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 11:01

 “As we celebrate Labor Day, we honor the men and women who fought tirelessly for workers’ rights, which are so critical to our strong and successful labor force.”

– Elizabeth Esty

The dynamic contributions of our ladies of past generations are overshadowed by today’s “mock feminism.” Real American women had a profound effect on our society, economy, and our liberty during the course of our history. One needs only to look at the strategic roles women played during our war times. From the Revolutionary War’s “Molly Pitcher” to the thousands in our military today, our nation’s women have timely impacted our historical conflicts. They transformed necessity into opportunities for women today. This was cogent during Worl War II, when more than 200,000 women served in the military, and more than 6  million flooded the American workforce from 1941 to 1945.

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

– Margaret Thatcher

Rosie the Riveter is a U.S. cultural icon, representative of the patriotic American women who worked in factories and shipyards during WWII. Many of these patriots produced munitions as well as other strategic war supplies to propel our troops to an allied victory. These women stepped up and took jobs their male counterparts left behind. Male workers in machine shops and foundries needed replacing and they answered the call. Rosie the Riveter became a symbol of our women’s new economic and social power. Her story spread worldwide as images of female war-workers appeared in allied countries. They became media icons on government posters that encouraged us to support the war!

“Strong woman harvest the spoils of war with coy ennobled valor.”

– W. Howard

Today, few Americans are fully aware that women played an important part in providing them with many opportunities in the workplace. These are a result of the strategic roles that our mothers and grandmothers played in WWII. Unfortunately, what little knowledge we have is often limited to those such as Rosie the Riveter. We hear of the wives and mothers left to manage households, waiting to hear from their soldiering spouses abroad. Rosie was a trail-blazing feminist who captivated the world with her female might. But there were many essential roles our patriotic women filled during the second Great War that contributed greatly to our labor force. They are the forgotten “faces of labor.”

“It is amazing what a woman can do if only she ignores what men tell her she can’t.”

– Chris Carns

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, our government called upon our factories to produce war goods. The workplace atmosphere was often tense. This was due to resentment of labor union bosses dictating policy to reluctant manufacturers throughout the 1930s. Many companies were feeling the sting of aggressive attempts to control free markets. The last thing they wanted was the feds flexing their mussel over production-line, war-time profiteering. To appease them and minimize past friction, they sent an olive branch to our zealous women. They trained them and helped care for their children. The UAW produced a poster in 1942 showing management and women aligned maintaining an assembly line. This powerful poster read:

“Together We Can Do It!”

– UAW

The need to mobilize the population behind the war effort was so compelling, political and social  leaders agreed men must change their perceptions of gender with a national emergency at hand. This brought about sacrifices, new jobs, new skills, and opportunities for America’s women.  The new U.S. secret weapon was the women who mobilized to meet the new challenges demanded of  them. As U.S. government and industry rapidly expanded to meet wartime needs, our women made this possible. Women were needed to fill traditional male jobs and roles during the war and needed little encouragement to answer the call. As each U.S. factory retooled for war production, this greatly expanded industrial output made women the nation’s most dominant labor force. Our women kept the country running, working night shifts and weekends to meet the pressing needs of our war machine. They showed the whole world:

“We make the things that matter, matter.”

– Teresa Funke

Before the war, many occupations were reserved for men in most states. But the war changed this quickly. Women contributed in a variety of ways to preserve world liberty and national peace. They labored in factories and became civic leaders. They sold war bonds, rolled bandages, coordinated blood drives, and ran civil defense teams. They tended Victory Gardens, and entertained returning troops on leave. They recycled scarce materials needed by our armies. They managed the strains of rationing gas, tires, sugar, meat, silk; shoes, and even “nylons” and many other necessary war commodities. And they did this while sustaining their families, though many knew they would face mourning after the war. They were aware that:

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

– Plato

Before the war, there were few opportunities for women to make full use of their academics. But the government knew they needed qualified leaders to teach and to train, and turned immediately to readily identifiable women. The government was fully aware of the unleashed power possessed by our women in scholastic institutions. They tapped into this energetic labor force immediately. And they responded with fervor from networks of university-trained women. Women were recruited for government service, education, military and civilian management jobs. Our “Government Girls” came from all over the country to Washington, and ran our ever-expanding war-time machine. They were the army fighting on the home front behind lines to defend us and support the war.

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

– Gloria Steinem

After the war, some women returned to their former places in society, while others refused to do so. Many had learned new skills and were prepared to use them, and they continue to contribute each day to our nation. Many knew they had finally achieved that economic and political clout they had not entertained before the war. They proved they were capable in any chosen role and have made remarkable contributions to industry, politics, and the military for decades since. And industry today is reaching out to qualified women as a result of the attainments of our WWII women. It was our American women who proved:

“Work is valued by the social value of the worker.”

– Gloria Steinem

The intent of Labor Day is to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is a day of national tribute to the contributions so many made to the prosperity of our nation. The Industrial Revolution is considered the birth place of the modern labor movement. Although in 1830 women first appeared in this mechanized evolution, it was during WWII they brought the greatest influx of new faces in history to our workforce. They dispelled the mores and attitudes that reflected primeval values of past generations. They delivered lasting dignity to working women around the world. They opened doors that had been nailed closed. They challenged the credibility of social limitations with righteous indignation.

”Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.”

– Margaret Thatcher

America as well as organized labor benefited from these women. They voyaged into un-chartered waters and laid the cornerstone for modern labor today. Women are no longer an underclass in the work force because of these brave feminists.

“The abolition and suffrage movements progressed because we were never damaged by division; we should always remember that.”

– Gloria Steinem

 

Wisconsin in focus: David A. Clarke Jr. resigns as Milwaukee County sheriff

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 11:12

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: David A. Clarke Jr. resigns as Milwaukee County sheriff

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. — the controversial, Stetson-wearing official who rose to national prominence with his no-holds-barred conservative rhetoric — resigned his office Thursday.

Clarke, who is in his fourth term, submitted a resignation letter to Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson on Thursday.

“After almost forty years serving the great people of Milwaukee County, I have chosen to retire to pursue other opportunities,” Clarke said in a statement.

Craig Peterson, an adviser to Clarke, said the sheriff would make an announcement about his future next week. “The sheriff wants people to know that he appreciates his 15 years of service and the support he’s gotten from the residents of Milwaukee,” Peterson said.

Green Bay Press-Gazette: Wisconsin receives $66 million from feds to help ease its transportation budget

Wisconsin is getting $66 million in additional federal funding for roads, lending a small bit of good news for Republican lawmakers as they try to write the state’s transportation budget next week.

The state is receiving nearly twice what it normally gets in what is known as redistribution aid, but far less than the $341 million in aid that it sought.

The $66 million in additional aid could help the Legislature’s budget committee as it seeks to reach a compromise between Senate Republicans and Assembly Republicans. The GOP controls both houses, but have differed on how to fund roads and help close a $1 billion gap between the state’s road building plans and the amount of money it is expected to have available for transportation over the next two years.

The Joint Finance Committee could take up transportation funding as soon as Tuesday.

Wisconsin State Journal: Milwaukee, Dane counties most affected by proposed fee for hybrid, electric vehicles

A new fee for owners of hybrid and electric vehicles under consideration by lawmakers would affect drivers in the Madison and Milwaukee areas most, according to federal data.

Legislators are more than two months late in passing a new two-year spending plan as Republicans in both houses continue to disagree on how to fund road projects and to shore up a $1 billion shortfall in the state’s transportation budget.

But the idea of imposing a new fee on owners of vehicles that use little or no gasoline has popped up recently as one possible revenue source for Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker — who are divided over whether to borrow more money for road projects.

Their task got harder Thursday, when state Department of Transportation officials said the state received $66.4 million in federal funding — the highest amount the state has ever received — but less than the more than $300 million state officials sought.

Wisconsin in focus: Walker to lead trade mission to Israel

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 10:35

Milwaukee Business Times: Walker to lead trade mission to Israel

Gov. Scott Walker will lead a trade mission to Israel from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3, his office announced Wednesday. The trip will be his second trade mission of the fall after a September trip to Japan and South Korea.

“Not only will this mission provide Wisconsin companies with the opportunity to grow their international business, but it will allow us to encourage Israeli companies to consider establishing or expanding operations in our state,” Walker said.

The governor said Israel has one of the world’s fastest growing economies with an emphasis on technology and encouraged Wisconsin tech companies to join the trip.

The trade mission is open to all Wisconsin companies, but Walker’s office said the tech sector offered significant opportunities in the areas of information and communications technologies, safety and security equipment and services, renewable energy, defense equipment, and biotechnology.

Green Bay Press-Gazette: Unions in four Wisconsin cities among fastest-shrinking nationwide

Four Wisconsin cities are among 15 nationwide that registered the largest drop in union membership in the last decade, according to a newly released report.

Financial news site 24/7 Wall St. found union membership nationwide has fallen from its peak of 35 percent in the 1950s to 10.7 percent in 2016. The site leaned on numbers from Unionstats.com, a membership database.

The study concludes that policies such as Wisconsin’s Act 10, which restricts collective bargaining, and right-to-work laws, blocking requirements that private sector workers pay union dues, have helped pave the decline in union membership.

The Capital Times: Wisconsin Republican leader introduces resolution to condemn ‘antifa’ violence

Two weeks after the Wisconsin Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to condemn racism, violence and intolerance following a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, a top Republican is asking his colleagues to denounce violence committed by anti-fascist — or antifa — protesters in Berkeley over the weekend.

“Today I call on my colleagues to again stand together to denounce violence, this time perpetrated by antifa,” tweeted Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, on Wednesday.

Steineke has introduced a resolution that would “condemn the violence perpetuated by members of the group calling itself antifa, as well as groups that use similar means to achieve an end.”

Anarchists and antifa protesters interrupted a peaceful “anti-hate” rally in Berkeley on Sunday, injuring six people in attacks that resulted in 13 arrests, the Associated Press reported.

 

Wisconsin in focus: Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to serve as EPA deputy administrator

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 11:03

Capital Times: Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to serve as EPA deputy administrator

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp will leave her post to work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Stepp, 54, will serve as deputy administrator of EPA Region 7, which covers Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebrasksa and nine tribal nations.

“Cathy is a strong, trusted reformer who will serve the country well at the EPA,” said Gov. Scott Walker in a statement. “As DNR secretary since 2011, she has led an outstanding workforce committed to preserving and promoting our natural resources while placing a strong focus on customer service and common sense. We will miss her optimism and energy at the DNR, and we wish her success in her new role.”

Stepp, a former home builder, was appointed by Walker to head the DNR in 2011. She was the first woman to hold the position. Prior to that, she represented the state’s 21st Senate District as a Republican from 2003-2007.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Court won’t revive lawsuit against John Doe prosecutors

A federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to revive a lawsuit by a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker who alleged prosecutors had run amok.

Ruling unanimously, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago agreed with a lower court decision that found Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and his assistants were immune from the lawsuit brought by former Walker aide Cindy Archer. 

“Although this case presents troubling accusations of a politically motivated investigation, Archer has not met her burden in overcoming the defendant’s invocation of qualified immunity,” Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the court.

Chisholm investigated Archer as part of the first of two probes he conducted of Walker’s aides and associates.

Milwaukee Business Times: Mount Pleasant asking Racine for Lake Michigan water

Mount Pleasant is seeking help from the City of Racine to supply water for a portion of the village that could become the home of Foxconn Technology Group’s planned LCD panel manufacturing campus.

The Racine Waterworks Commission will consider an agreement between the two municipalities tonight that calls for  Racine to prepare a Lake Michigan diversion application to supply Mount Pleasant with water. Keith Haas, Racine Water Utility general manager, said the diversion would be for Mount Pleasant land that is part of the Des Plaines River watershed.

About 2.77 square miles, roughly 1,772 acres, of land east of Interstate 94, south of Highway 11 and north of Highway KR is part of that watershed. Real estate sources have said that land is a potential site for Foxconn’s massive investment while other reports point to potential locations in the Kenosha area. The memorandum of understanding signed by state and company officials calls for Wisconsin to help secure a minimum of 1,000 acres for the project.

Gov. Scott Walker said Monday he expects the company to announce a location once lawmakers pass a bill, likely in mid-September, giving the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. the ability to offer the company up to $3 billion in tax incentives. The agency and company would then have to finish their contract negotiations before an announcement would be made.

Haupt: Obamacare, corporate America’s stepchild

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 07:48

“Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the Socialized State.”

– Vladimir Lenin

The Social Transformation of American Medicine, by sociologist Paul Starr depicts the rise of our sovereign medical profession and how it became such a vast enterprise. He claims the autonomy of our medical professionals has been responsible for its evolution. He establishes their role as unique in our society and details how they used private capital to do this. Starr, a liberal activist in healthcare circles, admits government contributed moderately in developing the world’s greatest healthcare industry. But he cautioned, to maintain it, it would take corporate control of healthcare under government supervision to maintain it as the need for increased services became necessary in the future.

“Some feel the only way to survive is to sell out to establishment politics.”

– Jeri Keys

Transforming our free-market medical industry into a socialized nightmare came with the passage of Obamacare in 2009. When Obama led his “hit-squad” to the torture chamber that Christmas Eve, he had secured deals with corporations and special interest groups like AARP, the AMA and insurance companies. With the stroke of a pen he turned Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hide. His hocus pocus pulled off the most dastardly hat trick in American medical history. Like Dr. Jekyll, he convinced major players they would reap big profits with federal mandates to buy products from them. But like Mr. Hide, he deceptively fooled Americans while embellishing corporate conglomerates the real benefactors.

“It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Obama knew he could not sell socialized medicine in a country built on a free market. He cleverly skewed his sales pitch claiming his magical healthcare elixir of federal pixie dust was the panacea. He rallied select target industry players to endorse his plan. Then he could take small incremental steps at “reforms,” regulations and mandates that would eventually lead to rationing services and coverage. This would allow government to ration medical care and liability by consolidating free-market medicine under corporate banners. His corporate comrades would love this since they’d be off the hook providing health benefits and send employees off to Obama exchanges. Obama gave them a double dose of Kool-Aid.

“Yes, you can fool some of the people all of the time.”

– Al Thorn

Walter Scott said; “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!” Only a few years later people are waiting for the unicorns at their doorsteps to tote them off to local healthcare resorts, where mythical Tinkerbell wizards will cure them with magic wands. They’ll be waiting till the “12th of Never.” Instead of increasing access to services, ObamaScare limited their choices in the free market. Now the feds are dictating the coverage we must buy, and what insurance must cover, and every doctor must write a thesis to justify this. What happened to the free market? If everyone sells the same product and they know you must buy it, they will just kick back and wait for the phone to ring.

“A monopoly renders people complacent with mediocrity.”

– Neil Parcey

To progressives, freedom means their right to usurp our God-given rights so they can exploit the vulnerability of the public. When their dream of socialized medicine forced our trusted PCPs to abandon their practices and join corporations, this was a perilous blow to all Americans. When the public saw them fall, one by one, they envisioned Obama’s ultimate goal was a single-payer type healthcare system. When all individual medical providers ultimately disappear and are absorbed into HMO’s conglomerates, they will administer healthcare under government jurisprudence. One Obama spokesman said, “We can no longer pay for healthcare under the current PPO model. We must phase out all fee-for-service care for us to survive. We’ll pay doctors a finite amount to take care of a defined population, within our parameters, not theirs.” Even communist Karl Marx realized the importance of our personal care physicians: “Medicine heals doubts as well as diseases.”

As America watched their healthcare system erode under the rubric of mandated insurance, they rebelled. The next general election they replaced most of the progressives that had ganged up on them and stole their free market health care. This new group of Congressmen promised to dump Obamacare in favor of a legitimate free market system to assist in providing healthcare for all. But these promises went the way of the corset. And we have been re-electing them as our insurance premiums go through the roof! Although the House voted to defend Obamacare four times since then, nobody has come up with an alternative plan.

“Sometimes is takes intuitive thinking to come up with a plan that really works. That is something Congress is incapable of doing.”

– Theo Blane

One of the key ingredients of President Donald Trump’s campaign whistle stomping was to repeal the dreaded ObamaScare Americans despised more than a trip to the dentist to get a tooth pulled.

He talked a good talk and the people listened, and he had grandiose solutions that would make everyone happy. His plan would reduce premiums and provide assistance for those in need, and not arm wrestle anyone into buying something they didn’t want. He wanted to reduce the work our doctors did for the government so they could work more for us. This sounded great until Congress stepped in, and fooled with his proposal to appease their favorite sons. By the time they got done detonating his bill, it was just another Obamcare in disguise.

“Whenever everyone puts their two cents in, you end up with a bank filled with depositors who get little or no return.”

– Roy Small

There is no question, Obamacare will soon self-destruct. And the Trump administration along with the Republican Congress is faced with a crisis when it bites the dust. Most of the co-ops are gone. A large portion of the exchanges have only one plan to choose from. Money earmarked to shore up insurance companies has dried up. All attempts to secure funds to support Obamacare have been challenged in court. Although our economy, our medical system and our patients must be freed from the grip of this monster, if Congress can’t fix it now, maybe they should just watch it implode. Then they will be forced to prudently address real free market healthcare reform.

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

– Milton Friedman

It is the essence of pragmatism to acknowledge ObamaCare is not working. From its inception, too many ingredients of Obamacare were consolation prizes to Democrats, insurance companies and big corporations. We cannot “tweak” or reform Obamacare, we need to wait for it to self destruct so liberal Americans who thought they were getting the deal of a lifetime understand that free market healthcare is the only real deal of them and our doctors. In America, nobody is denied medical care at a trauma center or a county hospital. And there are many state and federal programs to assist all those in need.

“Some people need a hand up for help but too many want a hand out.”

– Jill Provo

If we wait long enough, Obamacare will collapse. It’s a fact Obamacare is bankrupting the nation with disastrous consequences.  It is suicidal. But if that is the only way we can open up health care to more competition outside of federal mother-henning we must watch this happen. Healthcare is not a government responsibility. Each of us is responsible to buy our own. Let’s hope sanity prevails, before more doctors go belly up. Congress must repeal ObamaCare for the good of all. If you recall, Karl Marx said, “First you socialize medicine and everything else follows like night follows day.”

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