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Because Scott Walker Asked

We all knew it was going on, and we all knew it was deplorable. But it's always a great day to see the documentation.

Today's lead article on The Guardian's web site is Because Scott Walker Asked, an article based on a leak of the John Doe documentation which has been sealed by the courts. It is not clear who leaked these documents to The Guardian, but it's refreshing to see what it is that the donors to conservatives in Wisconsin have been so keen to cover up for years.  It's what we all expected, but worse to see all in one lump.





Menomonie School Funding

From  the Citizen Action Western Wisconsin Organizing Co-op. Click the image to enlarge it.





Legislative Audit Bureau Celebrates 50 Years of Service

Legislative Audit Bureau Celebrates 50 Years of Service

By Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“Happy Birthday!” I told eighty auditors and other legislative leaders at a recent Capitol gathering. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) recently celebrated 50 years of service to the people of the State of Wisconsin.

 

LAB is the agency that works quietly behind the scenes to ensure state government delivers quality services. The agency has earned high marks for its work in national circles and criticism from both sides of the aisle in its detailed depiction of problems and recommended changes to state government.

 





Wisc Assembly Candidates Utesch and Gorski Back from Factory Farm Summit

Fellow water warriors, Lynn and Nancy Utesch and Dave Gorski, attended the Wisconsin Factory Farm Summit in Green Bay this weekend. The some 300 attendees at the conference are working to guarantee the future of clean water in Wisconsin against unanimous Republican Party opposition to this effort. Lynn Utesch is a candidate for the First Assembly District. Gorski is a candidate for the 72nd Assembly District. Both Utesch and Gorski are making the future of clean water, small farming, tourism and recreation the basis of their campaigns.




Dakota Access Pipeline

The protests at the Dakota Access pipeline site continue with very little coverage in national news. The company building the pipeline has apparently purposely destroyed Native American burial and sacred sites, going out of their way to target exactly the sites the tribes have been trying to preserve.  Today a judge ruled that the construction can continue, overruling an emergency stay in construction.  This is coverage from Democracy Now from yesterday.





Scott Krug Used Wisc Office Phone for Campaign Fundraiser

The worst enemy of clean water in Wisconsin is Gov. Scott Walker. The second-worst is State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Rome), explaining why Walker held a fundraiser for Krug on Labor Day weekend. Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) listed his district's office phone for a campaign finance fundraiser Friday, Sept. 2, using taxpayer dollars.




Happy Labor Day Weekend

Happy Labor Day 2016! I will be visiting with folks around the district this weekend. Just wish to pay my respects to the people who brought us Labor Day, paid for with blood, lives and a lot of work from the American Labor Movement. Thank you. From our friend, Ralph Nader: "Labor Day should be used to reflect on the historic victories of American workers such as establishing the minimum wage and overtime pay, the five-day work week and banning of the use of child labor. Many in the U.S. would find it difficult to imagine living in a country where these things weren’t a given."




Who Will Be My Teacher?

Who Will Be My Teacher?
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Who will be my teacher?” my son asked me years ago. For a brief point in time, the teacher was the most important person in his young life.
 
As children head back to school and parents scramble with new schedules, schools are facing their own scheduling headaches. This year a teacher shortage hit many local schools. Around the state, school districts have hundreds of vacancies.
 
Recently, I presented an overview of state education budget issues in Viroqua. At least a dozen local superintendents, school board members, principals and teachers were in the audience. Following my presentation, the conversation turned to the teacher shortage.
 
Educators described an environment in which teachers in certain high demand subject areas move from one school district to another based on the best offer.
 
Two superintendents from neighboring school districts laughed when they realized they spent the summer bidding against each other to snag the same teacher. “Now we have teachers who come back [to our school] and say, ‘I’m getting a $6,000 increase in an offer from another school.’”
 
A staff member paid a $12,000 raise creates problems in districts where teachers went seven years with little raise in pay. John, a local teacher, told the group, “The impact on morale is just horrendous.” 




Scott Walker to Hold Fundraiser for Big Ag's Man, Scott Krug

Scott Walker is attending a fundraising reception in honor of State Representative Scott Krug (R-Neekosa) as Republicans work to raise money for the polluters' caucus against water warriors in central Wisconsin. Krug is being challenged by David Gorksi in a closely watch race pitting the environmentalist Gorksi against the polluters' man, Krug. David Gorski said today, "For Scott Krug to take the side of polluters against the people of the 72nd assembly district is a further betrayal that continues what Krug and Walker have done to Wisconsin. People are being brought to tears as they watch their homes and futures be sacrificed for corporate profits. We should be promoting our region's tourism and recreational treasures, not destroying them."




Republicans in Central Wisconsin Are Push-Polling

Richard 'Tricky Dick' Nixon invented push-polling in 1946 in his race against Jerry Voorhis, but even the big dick would be shocked to discover the defamation to which Republicans have sunk in their latest push-polling in central Wisconsin




Finding Help for Flooded Families and Farms

By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“It gets overwhelming,” my neighbor told me. We were walking through her flooded barnyard. Floodwaters left silt everywhere: in the house, the garden, the barn, and the farmyard.
 
Family members were working hard to clean up. But they were filled with unanswered questions: where to go and what to do?
 
Western Wisconsin was hit with several severe rainstorms in the past few weeks. Early morning on August 11 parts of Buffalo County received 5 ½ to 11 ½ inches of rain in just 45 minutes. The beautiful rolling hills intensified the power of the water as it raced towards the lowest point.
 
Huge gullies opened up. Roads washed out. Crops were damaged. Fence lines washed away. Pastures became lakes. Cattle and pigs were lost. Concrete buckled. Trees were uprooted. Small sheds floated away. Farm machinery flooded. Flower and vegetable gardens were covered with black muck.




Water Warrior David Gorski Gets Environmental Endorsements

State Assembly candidate David Gorski has received endorsements from Wisconsin environmental organizations, including from the Sierra Club - Wisconsin John Muir Chapter, Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors, and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. Gorski is running as the Democratic Party nominee for Wisconsin’s 72nd district assembly race in central Wisconsin.




David Gorski Champions Clean Water in Central Wisconsin Assembly Race

David Gorski' campaign for central Wisconsin's 72nd assembly seat is drawing attention as Gorski carries the fight for citizen action for clean water and opposition against a massive factory farm in the town of Saratoga




Clean Water Activists Eye Assembly Seats for Solutions

For two clean water activists, seeking elected office is one part of their activism protecting their communities, families and children, our future




Where Did All that Money Go? Business Tax Credit Costs Pile Up

Where Did All that Money Go? Business Tax Credit Costs Pile Up
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Where did all that money go?” Dennis asked me during a recent visit to the Jackson County Fair.
 
Dennis is one of many constituents who ask where the money for schools and roads is as our state recovers from the recession. Economic recovery means more money and more money should equal more resources for the public. Instead, state funds are very tight. For example, state aid to local public schools is less now than in 2006.
 
One reason is that the state is not collecting tax money from some large, and in several cases, very profitable companies. Recently I received a memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau detailing the awards given out for one large tax credit known as the Enterprise Zone Tax Credit. This credit – originally conceived to help rural communities – has morphed into large credits for single companies.
 
The memo contained a list of the total awards made and the companies that received them:
 
Amazon.com                                      $10.3 million
Bucyrus International, Inc.                     $20.0 million
Direct Supply                                   $22.5 million
Dollar General Corporation                      $ 5.5 million
Exact Sciences Corporation                      $ 9.0 million
Fincantieri Marine Group, LLC                   $28.0 million
InSinkErator                                    $15.5 million
Kestrel Aircraft Company, Inc.                  $18.0 million
Kohl’s Corporation                              $62.5 million
Mercury Marine                                  $65.0 million
MKE Electric Tool Corporation                   $18.0 million
Northstar Med. Radioisotopes, LLC               $14.0 million
Oshkosh Corporation                             $47.0 million
Plexus Corporation                              $15.0 million
Quad/Graphics, Inc.                             $61.7 million
Trane US Incorporated                           $ 5.5 million
Uline, Incorporated                             $18.6 million
W Solar Group, Incorporated                     $28.0 million
Weather Shield Mfg, Incorporated                $ 8.0 million
 
TOTAL (through Aug. 1, 2016)                $472.1 million
 




Voter ID - Plan 9 - or whatever

It's on - It's off - It's halfway on - It's a quarter of the way on.  It's off again. Now it's back.

Honestly, who can keep up with this mess? (and yes, I really wanted to work in that Plan 9 poster because it's a film I love for its pure enthusiasm and ineptitude - it could be a symbol of the Walker administration). Just when we thought we might know the status of Voter ID for the big November election, we get yet another court decision that puts the voter ID law back into place again - well, almost. I'm really glad I don't have to edit the bringit.wi.gov web site with Voter ID information. 





Have an Opinion about Your Internet Connection? Let Your Voice be Heard!

Editor's Note - I am one of the people in the state who is blessed with a great Internet connection by virtue of belonging to a phone co-op that has invested in infrastructure. My rural farm house has fiber connection for phone, tv, and internet. Most are not so blessed. Let your voice be heard, and fill us in in the comment section about your own internet experience.
Have an Opinion about Your Internet Connection? Let Your Voice be Heard!
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Do you have a great Internet connection? Less than what you’d prefer? Makes it impossible for you to do your work or your children’s homework? No service at all?
 
Make your opinion known!
 
The state is taking a survey of how Wisconsinites connect to the Internet. The survey is free – and ironically – available online. Those without Internet – or such a slow connection they cannot fill out a survey – can let their voice be heard by calling the following toll-free phone number - (877) 360-2973.
 
Home connections and businesses are measured in separate surveys. You can reach the residential survey here: https://www.research.net/r/WI_PSC_broadband_survey
Businesses can voice their opinion here: https://www.research.net/r/WI_PSC_business_broadband_survey
 




It's voting time --- go do it

Once again it's time to vote in Wisconsin. I know a lot of you are feeling disappointed and not in control of the political process. I understand, ths is part of the reason you've not been seeing a lot of posting here recently, at least from me. Some of the twists and turns of the political sphere of late make it difficult to have anything to say. A country where even a minority of people embraces Donald Trump as a potential leader is frightening.

But - all the more reason to go out and vote tomorrow. Here in Wisconsin we have some actual choices to make in a lot of districts, and some genuine progressive candidates are involved in those primaries.  Here in the 3rd CD we have Myron Buchholz running against Ron Kind. Now I have to admit that I like Ron Kind.   I also like Myron. And I think they are both genuinely good people who have their heart in the right place. But Ron Kind has always been a middle-of-the-roader and one of the "new wave" of Democrats who are trying to both be friends of the corporate world and the working class.  We seem to have reached a point where you cannot do both. Kind's position on trade deals is, I believe, not supportable, and I will be voting for Myron Buchholz tomorrow.  I encourage you to vote your own conscience - but more than that, I encourage you to vote. If we are going to see any meaningful change in Wisconsin, you need to exercise those voting muscles at every opportunity. Make us proud here at Uppitywis. Let's see an astounding turnout that will scare the bejeezus out of the powers that be. Be like the guy in the picture - go to the polls and smile.





Trump campaign also disturbs George Harrison estate

God knows it's hard to be amused by anything at the moment, so I am choosing to be amused by the current flap of the George Harrison estate being incensed that the RNC used Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun" as intro music for Ivanka Trump's speech. The Harrison estate joins a list of living musical artists who do not want to be associated, but in a more Beatle-esque way.

The unauthorized use of #HereComestheSun at the #RNCinCLE is offensive & against the wishes of the George Harrison estate.

More interestingly they followed up with

If it had been Beware of Darkness, then we MAY have approved it!

Seems in fitting with George's tongue in cheek sense of humor. And the song is appropriate, especially the "beware of greedy leaders" line. So I will leave you with his (and Leon Rusell's) performance from The Concert for Bangladesh.





Saying “Good Bye” to Benjamin

Saying “Good Bye” to Benjamin
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“I make the promises and my staff keeps them,” said former state Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center). I don’t know if Senator Schultz was the first to say this but his statement certainly describes the important role of Capitol staff.
 
Our 31st Senate District long-time staffer Benjamin Larson will be leaving soon for Minneapolis.




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Today, October 19

  • Steve Hanson
    2:07pm

    Nineteen states have called for a Constitutional amendment that would overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision. Representative Scott Allen won't even allow a public hearing on a resolution that would let Wisconsinites vote on this core issue of our timeWhile many politicians may like unlimited and often undisclosed campaign contributions, the rest of America is disgusted by it.

    Last week, Allen refused a request to have AJR 53 placed on the public hearing agenda, calling the advisory referendum, “politics at its worst”. Wisconsin law provides for advisory referendums. There was a statewide referendum in 2006 pertaining to the death penalty.

    "Politics at its worst"...really?? This is a cross-partisan issue. There are plenty of billionaires on both sides of the aisle. Both parties are raking in campaign cash. Money talks and the rest of us have no say.

    It’s outrageous that Chairman Allen won’t even allow this to be put on the agenda. This is the Constitution and Ethics Committee, after all. And Citizens United has torn a hole into our Constitution, drowning out our free speech rights as citizens, and ushering in all sorts of ethical problems.

    These resolutions (AJR 53 / SJR 54) were introduced by Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay). Polls show a vast majority of Americans view our election system as corrupt. Special interest money has enormous political influence and everyday citizens feel they are getting no representation.

    “It is stunning that Republican Representative Scott Allen considers giving the average Wisconsinite the opportunity to have their say at the ballot box to be ‘politics at its worst,’” said Rep. Subeck. “Wisconsinites are fed up with the massive corporate and special interest spending Citizens United has ushered into our elections, and it is time to let them be heard.”

    Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

    Please contact ...

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