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Put On Your Rally Caps!

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

Throughout history, when a tyrant goes over the line and starts taking away the rights of the people, treats them scornfully and with disrespect, and threatens their very well-being and even their lives, the people have rallied together to set things right.

Colonial Americans had theirTea Party (the real one, not the Koch Brothers supporters of today) and the American Revolution.  The French followed suit by storming the Bastille and having their own revolution.  In Poland, there was the Solidarity movement led by Lech Walesa.  There are literally scores of examples, the most recent was when the people of Egypt ousted their tyrant, Hosni Mubarak.

In Wisconsin, we have our own version, which culminated in the Bay View Massacre.

Now, here in Wisconsin, we have Scott Walker. Walker, as almost every living person in the state knows, wants to take away workers rights, whether they are public or private sector, unionized or not.  To make matters worse, he’s violated our civil rights by threatening military force for anyone who dares to protest his tyrannical maneuvering.

In response, the workers and those that simply give a damn about their home state are rising up to protest these assaults on our rights and our freedoms.  And they are doing it from all over at all sorts of times.  My inbox has been a flurry of activity over the past two days as more and more information comes in.

Here’s what I got so far:

The first rally that I know of will be today, Sunday, February 13th.  It will be from 12-3 pm and will be held at 204 W. Lake Street, Horicon, WI.

On Monday, there will be a Valentine’s Day rally at the Spaights Plaza on the UW-Milwaukee campus. (Spaights Plaza is the north end of the library.  The rally is at 10:30 am to 1:30 pm.

Tuesday, the 15th, and Wednesday, the 16th, are the big days.  AFSCME, AFL-CIO and SEIU are holding a huge rally in Madison each of the days.

Locally here in Milwaukee, AFSCME will be having buses leaving from Racine, at the Hwy 11 Park and Ride at 7 am, from DC 48 at 7:30 am, and from the Goerkes Corners Park and Ride at 8 am.

The SEIU will be having buses leaving from 17 different cities around the state.  The details can be found by clicking here.

WEAC will also be coming in from all over the state.

Everyone will be meeting at the Masonic Lodge at 301 Wisconsin Ave, Madison at 10 am.  Then at 11 am, the lobby will proceed to the Capitol and lobby legislators until the rally which will be at noon. (On Tuesday, the rally will be on the State Street Capitol Steps and on Wednesday it will be held at the King Street Capitol Entrance.)  At 1 pm, the lobby will go back in to meet with legislators.

There will also be vigils each afternoon on the Capitol Square from 3-7 pm each afternoon/evening, with speakers towards the end of the vigils.

If you can’t make it to any of the rallies, or even if you can, there is still more than can be done.

The AFL-CIO has put up an online petition protesting the usurption of power and the violation of our workers’ rights and our civil rights. By the way, the petition is insanely easy to sign.

Finally, you can call 877-753-5578 and get connected with your legislator.  Or you can find their numbers here.  Call them and ask them, politely, to stop the insane attack on working families, using the facts that I laid out a little earlier.

However you do it, make sure your voice is heard along with the rest of ours.

Remember, these aren’t union thugs Walker is after.  These are the teachers who we entrust to teach our children.  These are nurses, doctors, home health workers, social workers, highway maintenance crews, correction officers and the all the other people that go into making our lives safer and better.


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And Now For The REAL Facts About Public Sector Workers

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

1) Public employees have already made painful cuts to keep government running:

State workers have already taken 16 days of furloughs, equivalent to a three percent cut in pay.  Between the furloughs and other concessions, state workers have saved tax payers more than $100 million.

Milwaukee County workers have taken 26 furlough days in 2010 and our in the process of having to take another 26 in 2011.  This is equivalent to a ten percent cut in pay and does not include pay freezes, higher payments to health care and other savings measures.

The City of Milwaukee workers had to give up to four furlough days and make other concessions.

2) Public employees in Wisconsin make 4.8 % less than their counterparts in the private sector:

The Economic Policy Institute found that Wisconsin public employees are paid 4.8% less than private sector workers with similar education levels.

In order for Scott Walker to bring public sector worker’s salaries and benefits in line with the private sector, as he claims he wants to do, he’d have to give them all 5% raises. (Now that I could go for!)

3) The State’s Pension Fund is fully funded and face no crisis:

So is the City of Milwaukee’s pension fund.

The only one that is a mess is Milwaukee County’s and guess who was in charge of that one.

4) Walker ignores the real cause, and the real solution, the current fiscal problems the state is facing:

Walker blames the state’s fiscal mess on the public sector nurses, teachers, doctors, social workers and other workers.  This is not only wrong, it’s stupidly dishonest.  Anyone who is paying attention already knows that the main problems is the Wall Street induced global economic meltdown.

If Walker was interested, really interested, in fixing the economy, he would be creating new revenue. To do that, he needs to put Wisconsinites back to work by investing in our infrastructure like repairing roads, bridges and schools.

Another big time solution would be to actually get the tax scofflaws to pay the taxes their supposed to be paying.  And by tax scofflaws, I mean, of course, the more than 60% of business that make over $100 million each year, but don’t pay a dime in taxes.  If Walker would face up to his masters, he could easily collect another $1.2 billion dollars.  Yes, that’s billion, with a capital B.

5) Walker’s tax and spending cuts aren’t about creating jobs, they’re about making the rich richer:

The corporations and fat cats that have backed Walker, such WMC and the Koch brothers don’t give a damn about us as citizens, whether we are working or not, whether we keep our homes or not, whether we live or not.

The only thing they care about is increasing their own wealth, by buying political puppets like Walker who then give them huge tax breaks and grants, calling it “investments.”  But these same miscreants call job creation, like maintaining our infrastructure, or having teachers, nurses, social workers as “wasteful spending.”

And this is happening across the country.  Look at the other sociopaths that should never have been elected, like in Ohio, New Jersey, and Florida, just to name a few.

Oh, and they’re not done yet.  The crooked Koch brothers, who pay for the teabaggers and front groups like Americans for (the rich’s) Prosperity (not yours), have already committed $88 million to the 2012 elections.

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Rep. Tamara Grigsby’s Statement On Walker’s Attack On The Middle Class

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

Thank goodness we have leaders like Rep. Tamara Grigsby willing to stand up the the would-be-emperor Scott Walker:


Republicans launch assault on working families, Wisconsin Values on the line

Madison – Today, State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) issued the following statement in response to Gov. Walker’s proposal to eliminate worker rights and put Wisconsin in a position to reduce state support for vital services such as public safety and education:
Real harm is going to be done to everyday people if this bill becomes law. This legislation is nothing but a formal assault on working families in Wisconsin. It is neither a real budget adjustment, nor is it a realistic way to solve Wisconsin’s long-term fiscal condition.

“This gimmick is an outrageous affront to the Wisconsin Idea and the values many Wisconsinites cherish as proud members of this state. In this legislation, we see the glimmer of a future in which Republicans will use slash and burn tactics to hobble the institutions and values that make Wisconsin great. Gov. Walker cannot be allowed to simply pass the mess in his fiscal house into the homes of every other person in Wisconsin, which is why we cannot allow him to declare war on working families.”

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Today’s History Lesson

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

In 1886, Wisconsin made history right here in little old Bay View.  The situation then is being eerily repeated by our own Governor Rusk Walker who is calling for the removal of all worker rights in both the public and private sectors, and has threatened said workers with the National Guard if there is any “unrest.”  What is worrisome is that he has not defined what he considers “unrest.”

Back in 1886, workers were joining forces and demanding pay raises and eight hour work days.  They almost shut down every business in the city until they agreed to start treating their workers with respect and as people.  When the strikers came to Rolling Mills in Bay View, where things got ugly.  Governor Rusk, at the pleading of big businesses (WMC, anyone?), sent out the state militia.  The rest, as they say, is history:

After this incident, the strikers left the Guard alone and they proceeded into the Mills joining the other units called. The strikers then asked the supervisors to wire their headquarters in Chicago to start negotiations on an eight hour work day. They agreed but the answer from Chicago was fast and short “No”.

At this point no one in the crowd knew about the ugly events unfolding in Chicago, where police had killed striking workers, and a bomb killed a police officer in Haymarket Square and wounded several others.

Governor Rusk was under considerable pressure from employers to stop the strike. Employers were saying that they would turn the entire society upside down and use the bombing in Haymarket Square as their proof that a revolution is under way.

Rusk called the Mills and told Captain Treaumer of the Lincoln Guard “if the strikers try to enter the mill, shoot to kill.” Captain Treaumer then ordered his men to pick out a man, concentrate and kill him when the order is given. The strikers spent the night in open fields nearby while the Militia camps stayed at the Mills with sentries posted. During the night the sentries were shooting at anything that moved. A Navy tug brought provisions for the guard.

May 5

Around nine in the morning the strikers gathered again chanting “eight hours,” a reporter who slept with them reported that it was odd that this was a group with no real leadership, but everyone was united in one single purpose.

The crowd approached the mill and faced the militia who were ready to fire. Before Treaumer knew the crowd’s real intentions he ordered halt, but the strikers, who were about two hundred yards away, did not hear him.

He ordered the militia to fire. The crowd was in chaos as people fled the scene. The Milwaukee Journal reported that six were dead and at least eight more were expected to die within twenty four hours.

Meanwhile, some strikers called for revenge on the militia but to no avail. For several days afterwards a few strikers were still marching throughout the city but no one would join them. The dead included a thirteen year old boy who tagged along with the crowd wondering what was going on and a retired worker who lived in Bay View. He was struck down by a stray bullet, as he was getting water and was not part of the strike.

One would hope that Scott Walker isn’t as stupid as Governor Rusk was.  Unfortunately, there is little to show that he is not, since he already threatened to use the National Guard.

It is simply unbelievable that he would threaten people for wanting to make a living wage.  He’s got to go.

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Sullivan On Walker’s Budget Repair Bill*

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

Hot off the presses:

The working men and women of Wisconsin must have the right to collectively bargain for good wages, quality health care, and decent retirement benefits. Scott Walker’s divisive attack on the people who keep our communities safe, clean, and prosperous is about politics and not good public policy. Working families deserve better. As County Executive, I will respect the work done by employees, both public and private, and I will never scapegoat one group to score partisan points.

Government works best when all sides work together to build a stronger future for Wisconsin. Scott Walker struggled to learn that lesson here in Milwaukee County, and sadly he has taken those same factious policies to the governor’s mansion.

Now, that’s what leadership looks like!

*Or should I say, Attack on anyone who isn’t part of WMC bill?

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Madison: Crony Capitol Of The World

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

Scott Walker has taken cronyism to a whole new level.

It started out relatively quietly, when he appointed Cindy Archer as Deputy Director of Administration.  Archer was Walker’s Director of Administration at Milwaukee County, She apparently earned her reward for her skill at obfuscation and intimidation of her underlings. (Rumor has it that she bullied one high level administrator into resigning because he didn’t want to aid in the cover up of the ongoing John Doe investigation.)  Ironically, he has also appointed Archer to his inappropriately named Fraud Commission.

Then he gave Judas Plale his thirty pieces of silver for the work he did for Walker by voting against the union contracts just before the end of last year.  Walker appointed Plale as the administrator of the Division of State Facilities.  It is beyond me why the media hadn’t made more of a stink about this or that no one has filed an ethics complaint.

More recently, Walker named Stephen Fitzgerald to head up the State Patrol.  If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he is the father of the Fitzgerald boys, Walker’s head thugs in each branch of the legislature.  Even the media started to notice that Walker’s actions were starting to fail the smell test on this one.

Most recently, we learned that Walker has taken his former Chief of Staff, Tom “Executhug” Nardelli and gave him a $15,000 a year raise by appointing him as administrator of Buildings and Safety.  Nardelli also was a name rumored to be involved in the ongoing John Doe investigation.

Also noteworthy is the fact that if Nardelli manages to stay employed with the state for five years, that will be his fourth pension.  So much for Walker’s claims of wanting austerity.

Perhaps the 250,000 jobs that Walker was talking about during the campaign was for his cronies and campaign donors.  Is it any wonder why Walker wanted to do such a blatant power grab early in his regime? Without it, he probably would have been under a half a dozen ethics investigations by now.

All of this leads to one question: Has anyone seen Tim Russell or Darlene Wink lately?

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You Get What You Pay For

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

From Rich Abelson and Phil Neuenfeldt:

Let’s start out by acknowledging a basic truth: Cheaper is not always better or more efficient.

This is especially true when it comes to government.

If our roads and bridges aren’t well-maintained, if a social worker isn’t available for an at-risk teen, if there are delays in processing disability claims due to understaffing, if a parole officer has more cases than he can thoroughly follow up on, these kinds of shortfalls all have very real social and safety costs that don’t show up as line items on any budget.

It is politically fashionable at the moment to attack public workers and their unions. At the county, city, state and national level, it is easier to look for scapegoats than to offer real solutions that will create good jobs, increase the tax base and get our economy going again.

Rhetoric that demonizes public workers, seeking deep cuts without recognizing the reality of deep consequences, does little to balance the books and even less to make sure that vital services are delivered consistently and well.

Read the rest here.

Also very much worthy of a reading is this piece by Brewtown Gumshoe:

If only we could honestly discuss the proper roles, actual effectiveness, and realistic impacts of our public and private sectors. History and our current recession have shownus the tax cut, deregulation, and privatization experiment is a  failure. Government can do, and does, many things well. A little more positive government and labor press seems a necessary corrective to the injudicious narrative we are being fed.

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Put Steve Kraeger In The Also-Ran Bin

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

You know, it’s bad enough that you send out a press release to local bloggers which is so filled with errors that one of them has a field dayshredding the thing to pieces.

But then to send out the same press release two weeks later – without making a single correction – well, that should put you automatically into the also-ran bin.

If Kraeger doesn’t know what the county does and doesn’t do, and isn’t willing to learn, much less learn how to run a campaign, why would anyone vote for him?

Besides, all the cool kids, and all the informed voters, are voting forJason Haas.

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The Volleyball Budget Approach

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

In volleyball, the basic strategy is to have a blocker hit the ball to the setter, who in turns sets the ball up for the spiker to take the kill shot.

Scott Walker is using a similar approach to the state budget.

He managed to do his block by campaigning on a jobs platform.  He repeatedly boasted that he was going to create 250,000 jobs in the state in four years.  By doing so, he duped the voters into electing him, which is when he really got to work.

Granted, he was given a formidable debt to contend with, but nothing that couldn’t have been handled with some judicious management.  Unfortunately, as anyone paying attention to Milwaukee County for the past eight years could attest, judicious management is far from being one of Walker’s skills.

Now he is setting the budgetary volleyball up for the kill shot with the announcement that the state is facing a budget deficit that has mysteriously ballooned up to $137 million for the rest of this year and up to $3.6 billion for the next two-year budget cycle.

First of all, I would be hesitant to trust the accuracy of any of numbers coming from Walker’s administration.  One doesn’t have to look too far into the past to see the year that, as Milwaukee County Executive, Walker started out claiming a $15 million deficit, only to have that proven to be a lie (in a hearing, nonetheless) and then tried to claim a huge surplus at the end of the year.  I would not be surprised in the least if we found something similar happening now, but on a larger scale.

Besides wondering about the accuracy of Walker’s numbers is the question of how much he has contributed to them.  Since his first day of being in office, Walker has been hell bent to get the WMC agenda shoved through the legislative process before anyone catches on to what was really happening or before other bad news might break for him.

So far, the Walker/WMC agenda has cost the state in the area of $152 million in lost revenue.  So much for the mantra of stop digging when you’re in a hole.  And the best part? All of this money being squandered, not to mention the environment and our collective health, and not one single job has been created.  (Unless you count the two additional security guards that Walker feels he needs.)

But now that Walker has the budgetary volleyball set up with his self-inflated deficit numbers, he is getting ready to spike the ball.  He’s even doing it with a slight feint.

In his announcement of the deficit, he has his mouthpiece start putting the fear campaign into things:

“Bill collectors are waiting at the door of the state Capitol,” Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a statement. “Without taking action to reduce the deficit in the current fiscal year, thousands of Wisconsin children and families could lose their health-care coverage through BadgerCare, and there would need to be even more aggressive spending cuts in the future.”

Does anyone really believe that Walker gives a darn about the poor people who need that health care coverage?

I’ve already discussed what Walker will be doing, but here is a recap:

Walker will use the deficit to state that he needs certain concessions from the state workers.  These concessions will never materialize, however, for the simple fact that he will never actually put them down as a proposal in negotiations with the state’s unions.  He will simply continue to use them as dishonest talking points to try to influence the public’s perception.

Then, when the concessions don’t materialize out of thin air, he will go for the spike, by both slashing Badger Care rolls by tens or even hundreds of thousands of people and laying off state workers by the hundreds, if not the thousands.  He’ll also use this as an excuse to continue with other nefarious activities such as eliminating worker’s rights from all workers, not just public sector union members, giving even more lavish benefits, grants and tax cuts to his campaign supporters and WMC members (yes, those two categories do have a great overlap).

The money he will actually save, if there is indeed any, will be negligible at best. The laid off state workers will be collecting unemployment benefits that will further that desperate situation, and negate most of the savings by not having them on the payroll.  Any benefits financial gains the tax payers would see by abandoning the needy would be more than destroyed by the subsequent astronomical hikes in health care costs and insurance premiums.

In summary, Walker is setting himself up quite well, even I have to grudgingly admit.  Sadly, for some inexplicable reason, unless you count sheer greed and/or malice, he has chosen the poor, the working class and the tax payers as his opponents.

The only question now is do we roll over and play dead or do we try to block his attack?

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Stone Is Misrepresenting Himself

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 13, 2011

Check out Jeff’s Stone’s letterhead:

Not the lack of words such as elect or for in the letterhead.  It should read either “Elect Jeff Stone…” or “Stone for Milwaukee County Executive.”  This makes it seem like he has already been elected.

Not that that is likely to happen.  Milwaukeeans are tired of getting crapped on and don’t want another Scott Walker.

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