Friday, January 23, 2015

Scott Walker Hammers Another Nail Into Education's Coffin

Last week, Wisconsin Republicans came out with the bright idea that if public schools aren't meeting their standards, those schools should be forced to become private voucher schools.

As Scott Walker is trying to get some attention in his presidential bid, he's laying out parts of his platform in the upcoming state budget. One of his agenda items is to allow just about anyone to teach:
Anyone with “real-life experience” and a bachelor’s degree would be able to get a teaching license in any subject as long as they pass a test proving they are knowledgeable, under a budget provision Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday.

The proposal would expand the non-traditional routes available to become licensed without an education degree. But many details weren’t disclosed Thursday, including whether it would call for any preparation for teaching, which is required in many of the current ways to get a teaching license without attending an education school.

Under Walker’s proposal, people with experience in fields they intend to teach could get licenses as long as they have a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate “that he or she is proficient in the subject or subjects that he or she intends to teach,” according to Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.
Walker must figure that if we aren't going to have real schools, we don't need to have real teachers. Obviously, if the teachers aren't really teachers, the voucher school doesn't have to pay them as much and the voucher school owner can increase their profit margin.

Cross posted at Crooks and Liars

He's Baaaacccckkkkkkkkkk

By Jeff Simpson

H/T Jud @ Uppity WI:

Tim Russell is back, baby!
After two years in the slammer,* the mastermind** behind the criminal scheme to steal taxpayer dollars to fund Scott Walker's 2010 gubernatorial campaign is no longer prisoner #00597584.

Mr. Russell is very happy camper, but I recommend that you check your underage sons phone for messages, and look for suspicious vans!  

No word yet, on what role Mr. Russell will play in the Scott Walker for President Campaign.

I Won Both Of Them!


This is the President I voted for!   

Scott Walker Will Send YOUR Kid to War!

By Jeff Simpson

Scott Walker is running for President and he knows what it takes to win.   War Hawks are very popular in the Republican circles for numerous reasons and if Scott Walker has a talent, it is appealing to the mouth breathing hard core base.

Scott Walker runs to Fox News every chance he gets, to let you know, he has no problem sending our your children to war!

Scott Walker is supremely qualified in the realm of foreign policy, because he broke the unions.

You can not make this stuff up.   Scott Walker knows what its like in a war zone because, after "dropping the bomb" on the people of Wisconsin, his wife was forced to see a couple protests.   The events scarred her so deeply that she was given the "You too could be best friends with a blood thirsty Chilean dictator" award by Right Wisconsin.

Don't worry while your chidlren are fighting terrorists in the desert, Scott Walker's kids will be here holding down the dance floor:

The Wisconsin Thrift Shop

By Jeff Simpson 

The law of supply and demand is finally taking place in WI.  Under Scott Walker and his pay for play system, there are so many people anteing up to have a piece of our State that the prices are coming down.  

Now it only costs $1600 to become a judge on the 1st district court of appeals!

Seven judges and lawyers have applied for an opening on the 1st District Court of Appeals.
But there is only one favorite: Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Bradley.
Bradley once belonged to the Republican National Lawyers Association and led the local chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers group.
Walker appointed Bradley to the court in 2012, and she was later elected to a six-year term. She has given $1,600 to Walker's campaign. Bradley considered running for the state Supreme Court this year but decided against it.
Also applying for the post are Milwaukee County Circuit Judge William Brash; Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Koenig; and Lisa Lawless, attorney at Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek. The three other applicants asked that their names remain confidential, which is their option.
A judicial selection committee interviews candidates and makes recommendations to the governor's legal team, which then does the same. Walker makes the selection after doing his own interviews. The process usually takes eight to 12 weeks.
If Scott Walker had an ounce of economic sense, he would know that with 6 people vying for a spot, he could get at least $2000 out of someone.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Scott Walker's Capitalistic Adventure To Save Us All From Welfare Fraud

Word broke today that Scott Walker is indeed going to be going after government assistance users in the form of drug testing. While this is a clear and present constitutional privacy violation, it's also a major waste of tax payer money. Florida is the perfect example of how this doesn't work and the theory of it is rooted in racist, bigotry and obsessive love of capitalism. Of course, the only reason the GOP's current boy wonder is doing this is due to his presidential aspirations, as laughable as they are. But when we look at who this will hurt, I wonder if Scott Walker realizes that a lot of his base will be the ones affected by it. Some of the most red counties in Wisconsin tend to have the highest amounts of drug use.

I moved to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin a little over two years ago when my husband and I were dating. Prairie itself is conservative, while Crawford county is blue. Eventually, after the culture shock of no longer being in a big city wore off, I got into the small town swing of things and have met wonderful people and friends. It's down to earth atmosphere and friendly attitude are reasons alone to live here. The Mississippi river runs between here and Iowa, making for some of the most beautiful natural scenery I've ever been privy to see. So why am I explaining this? Because not only is Prairie du Chien conservative, it's also become a hot bed for methamphetamine production and use and an elevated rate of welfare and food stamp assistance. For the point of this post, I'm going to be using Crawford county, the county in which Prairie du Chien is, as my example.

According to FARC, the Food Research and Action Center, data collected on Wisconsin SNAP users between 2007 and 2012 shows a serious uptick in the amount of people collecting benefits. Their data shows that in 2007, Wisconsin had 393,943 SNAP users, while that number climbed a high 848,832 users in 2012, a 114% increase. To put a small silver lining on those numbers, when the they are looked at over a one month period, between October 2012 and November 2012, it drops from 849,574 people to 848,832 people. A microscopic 0.1% change. Go team. And of course, Republicans will spin that to suggest it had everything to do with President Obama. Unfortunately for Scott Walker, that's not a viable excuse. While he's been out telling us Wisconsin's economy has improved, he has yet to provide much in the way of explanation for the increase in government assistance.

Crawford county has a 13.2% participation rate in the SNAP program according to Madison's most recent numbers. That's a lot in a population of only 16,617 people, a lot of whom are incredibly conservative Walker supporters. I'm eager to hear the reaction of this legislation from people around town. How can Walker and his GOP controlled legislature explain 13.4% of just ONE Wisconsin county on SNAP during his first two years in office? Walker has been selling us the same tired story that we're in the midst of a Wisconsin comeback. People are getting hired, the economy is improving and everything is roses and puppies. But the data doesn't lie. This graph, courtesy of Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, doesn't lie. The hungry kids, unemployed parents and struggling citizens don't lie. Walker however, does lie. And he does it with no remorse. Interesting though, how the numbers were much lower under Gov. Doyle.

An overview of how SNAP has grown in the state due to failed Walker economic policies.

And what is Walker going to do with all the money he'll be saving the tax payers from having to spend on SNAP? Open rehab clinics so that people can get off drugs and get jobs? Oh wait, haha, that means he'd have to be helping people! My mistake! We all know Scott Walker is interested in helping one person - Scott Walker.

We could talk numbers and stats until our eyeballs fall out from having to look at math (I hate it passionately.) So I'll get right down to it - the point I'm trying to make here is that while Walker is on his anti-drug, anti-welfare crusade, he maybe doesn't realize (but doesn't care regardless) that he's hurting his own loyal base. Some of Wisconsin's reddest counties have some of the highest usage of drugs in the state. I grew up in Ozaukee county, and while the use of government benefits isn't nearly as high as it is the rest of the state, the usage of heroin has become epidemic. I knew several kids I went to high school with either died from usage or had come close to it. And the most important thing of this entire issue is who it's really hurting - babies, kids, teenagers and the sick. Can Scott Walker, a man from the "family values" party, really take food out of a kid's mouth? Can he look them in the eye and explain that due to a capitalistic love of money and power, they don't get to eat? Of course he can.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Want To Be Happy? Join A Union!

It is well documented that unions bring direct and indirect benefits for its members and the
community at large.  Union members earn better wages, have better benefits and have safer working conditions.  Communities that enjoy a union presence tend to have less poverty and better education systems.

A recent study shows yet another benefit from belonging to a union - higher life satisfaction.

From the New York Times:
But a recent study may give some workers reason to reconsider. For those who belong to a union, membership seems to bring a benefit that perhaps surpasses better wages or generous health insurance: higher life satisfaction.

The study authors, Patrick Flavin, an assistant professor at Baylor University, and Gregory Shufeldt, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, used data from five different years between the early 1980s and mid-2000s, conducted in the United States, of the World Values Survey, a research project focusing on people’s beliefs. As they write in the report, they found that “union members are more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union membership on life satisfaction is large and rivals other common predictors of quality of life.”


Yet as Mr. Flavin and Mr. Shufeldt told Op-Talk in an email: “Labor union membership still has benefits, and that this is true for all union members. Simply put, if one goal of labor unions is to boost the quality of life for their members, our study provides empirical evidence that they are succeeding.”

In their study, they tease out four “pathways” by which being a union member might improve quality of life compared with not being a member: “These include having greater satisfaction with one’s experiences while working, feeling greater job security, being afforded numerous opportunities for social interaction and integration, and enhancing the participatory benefits associated with more engaged democratic citizenship.”
That last part needs to be emphasized: "enhancing the participatory benefits associated with more engaged democratic citizenship.”

The corporate special interests are not spending hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy unions just because of a few bucks but also for control of our government so that they can further their agenda of a plantation economy. As Thomas Donahue said: "The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor."

AFSCME has quickly jumped on the good news and is spreading the word.  Along with that, they created this fun little video:

So when Scott Walker, Chris Abele and the other right wingers attack unions, you need to ask yourself why they want to take away your money, your benefits and your happiness.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Frontier Airline's New Mascot

Frontier Airlines used to be a big name in Milwaukee, but have cut hundreds of jobs as Scott Walker's and Chris Abele's austerity agenda has continued to ruin our state and regional economies.

Now Frontier is doing their own part to ruin the economy:
Denver-based Frontier Airlines on Friday said it will lay off 140 Milwaukee reservation employees as part of its plan to transition management of its reservation department to a business partner, Nashville-based Sitel.

Frontier also will lay off 1,160 airport employees in Denver as part of the outsourcing efforts.

Many of the employees laid off in both locations will be rehired by the business partners, a Frontier spokesperson said. In addition, the airline is offering “significant” severance that employees will receive even if they are rehired.

“Today’s announcement is by no means a reflection of the service or level of work provided by our team members,” Frontier said in a statement. “The business partners we have selected are high-quality organizations and employees will be given priority in interviewing.

“These changes continue to be part of a comprehensive companywide strategy that is crucial for Frontier to successfully compete in the marketplace as an ultra-low cost carrier, allowing it to offer customers much needed relief from high airfares nationwide. Low fares are only achieved through low costs.”
We have seen this type of vulture capitalism too many times.

The workers that are lucky enough to get jobs with the new company will surely see a big cut in pay and benefits. Meanwhile, consumers won't see any significant savings - and maybe no savings at all. However, it's also safe to say that the CEO and board of directors will see huge bonuses and pay raises.

One of Frontier Airlines' gimmicks is to have pictures of animals on the tails of their planes. They should switch those pictures of vultures to honor the vulture capitalism they continue to practice.

Quote Of The Day

“The essence of the Progressive movement, as I see it, lies in its purpose to uphold the fundamental principles of representative government. It expresses the hopes and desires of millions of common men and women who are willing to fight for their ideals, to take defeat if necessary, and still go on fighting.”

— Robert M. LaFollette

Scott Walker Attacks Hillary Clinton And Loses

One might think that after Scott Walker got slapped around by Ohio Governor John Kasich and TV caricature Chuck Todd, he'd be more careful about the things he said. One might think that, but obviously one does not know Walker very well.

Last week, speaking at Republican National Committee's winter meeting, Walker attacked Hillary Clinton for being a Washington insider and career politician:
“She lives in Washington. She works in Washington. She came to Washington through this president and his administration,” Walker said of Clinton, whom he described as the all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee. “She was in Washington when she was a United States senator. She was in Washington when her husband was president of the United States. You look at everything that people dislike about Washington, and she embodies it.”
It didn't take long for him to get burned on this:
The liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now tweeted on Thursday: "um, @ScottWalker, elected official 76% of his adult life. @HillaryClinton, elected official 16% of her adult life."

The math checks out.

Walker, 47, was elected to the state Assembly in 1993. He represented the 14th Assembly District until 2002, when he was elected Milwaukee County executive. He held that position until 2010, when he was elected governor. Twenty-two of his 29 years of adulthood — or 76 percent of his adult life — have been spent in elected office.

Clinton, 67, served in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009. Eight years of her 49 years of adulthood — or 16 percent — were spent in elected office. Including her tenure as U.S. secretary of state — not an elected office, but a political position — would add four years to the total, or 24 percent of her adult life.

"What people don't like about Washington are politicians who are more focused on helping the elite few than the middle class, and politicians who are more interested in dividing us than coming together to help the middle class," said Democratic National Committee communications director Mo Elleithee. "By those measures, Walker is the last guy to talk about any sort of new approach. He’s pushed tax cuts geared toward the wealthy, while Wisconsin has shifted toward a low-wage economy. And his divisive style has polarized state government in a way that would make Ted Cruz proud. Scott Walker has already taken the worst of Washington and brought it to Wisconsin."
Usually, politicians will tout their achievements when trying to sell themselves to the voters. Sadly for Walker, he doesn't have any positives to tout so he is left looking like a bitter, emotionally-stunted fool.

Cross posted at Crooks and Liars

Martin Luther King And #BlackLivesMatter

Unless the gentle reader only gets their information from Faux News, you are aware that the protests of police brutality and epidemic of unarmed black men being killed wantonly are ongoing in cities throughout the nation.

Republicans, like Milwaukee County Supervisor <a href="">Deanna Alexander</a>, have sunk so low as to mock these deaths. Republicans, like Alexander, have also complained that these protests are causing inconveniences by doing die ins at malls and blocking freeways.  Republicans, like Alexander, have also complained that special interests (read: the Labor Movement) has tried to hijack the same movements that they deride:

(Wisconsin Jobs Now is a pro-labor organization that has also been leading the #BlackLivesMatter protests.)

They really take the cake when they say that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would never have approved of these tactics or Labor's involvement in the protests.

For all their carping and complaining, the only thing that these people have accomplished is to put their ignorance on display for everyone to see.

Dr. King addressed these issues in 1961, when he spoke to the national convention of the AFL-CIO:
Negroes in the United States read this history of labor and find it mirrors their own experiences.  We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us.  They deplore our discontent, they resent our will to organize, so that we may guarantee that humanity will prevail and equality will be exacted.  They are shocked that action organizations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and protests are becoming our everyday tools, just as strikes, demonstrations and union organization became yours to insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table.

We want to rely upon the good will of those who oppose us.  Indeed, we have brought forward the method of nonviolence to give an example of unilateral good will in an effort to evoke it in those who have not yet felt it in their hearts.But we know that if we are not simultaneously organizing our strength we will have no means to move forward.  If we do not advance, the crushing burden of centuries of neglect and economic deprivation will destroy our will, our spirits and our hopes.  In this way labor's historic tradition of moving forward to create vital people as consumers and citizens has become our own tradition, and for the same reasons.

This unity of purpose is not a historical coincidence.  Negroes are almost entirely a working people. There are pitifully few Negro millionaires and few Negro employers.  Our needs are identical to Labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.  That is why Negroes support labor's demands and fight laws which curb labor.  That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.
Indeed, the ties between the labor movement and race equality goes all the way back when union organizers went to the Deep South to help blacks fight for better wages and working conditions.  Conservatives who want to restore a plantation economy have been bitter ever since.

Cross posted at Crooks and Liars.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Jason Rae Announces Bid For DPW Chair

As the gentle reader is surely aware of by now, Mike Tate, current chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) has finally made his decision  not to run again for the chair.  If he had any sense of decency, he would have stepped down two months ago, like his counterpart in Ohio did.  Some say that Tate's delay was due to wanting to milk his six figure salary for all its worth, he wanted to secure a job first and/or that he wanted to set up his heir apparent for the chair position.

A few people have already confirmed that they are running for the now open seat, including former DPW chair Joe Wineke and former state legislator Jeff Smith.

Also announcing his intent to run is party insider Jason Rae:
Dear Fellow Democrat,

Over the last several weeks, I’ve met with grassroots activists and leaders all across the state to talk about the future of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. I’m overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I am receiving as I talk to leaders from Kenosha to Ashland and from Platteville to Marinette.

It’s because of that support and encouragement I’m excited to announce today that I am running for Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair.

I’m ready for the next challenge and I’m ready to work with you more as we build an even stronger, more diverse party that will help win elections in 2016, 2018, and beyond.

For those of you that may not know me and my story, I wanted to share a little of my background. I got my start in politics in my hometown of Rice Lake, where I would ride my bike to county party meetings before I could even vote. I was soon elected Vice Chair of the Barron County Democratic Party and started on a path of passion and love. I learned in Barron County what I still know to be true now – Democrats need to compete all over Wisconsin, especially in the rural communities, if we want to be successful.

For more than a decade, it has been my honor and privilege to represent Wisconsin on the Democratic National Committee. I’ve worked hard since my election in 2004 to help elect Democrats up and down the ballot and to continue to expand and grow the party. Through that work, I’ve served on the DNC Executive Committee, on the DPW Administrative Committee, and as Chair of the DPW Constitution Committee.

Over the next several months, I look forward to traveling the state and explaining my positive vision of change for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and for our state.

Together, we are going to regroup, refocus, and reenergize so that we can grow the party and be successful in 2016 and beyond. I am running for Chair because I want to work with you to grow our party.

Together, we will strengthen the Democratic Party infrastructure by investing in county parties, building a strong bench of candidates, and growing our constituency caucuses.

Together, we will regain a digital advantage that will differentiate us from Republicans and help to win. We need to provide candidates and county parties with new tools and technologies that will help them be successful in the work that they do.

Together, we will reclaim our progressive values and put forward a positive vision for the future. We need to start talking about what we stand for and not simply what we stand against.

Together, we’ll win elections. We have too much at stake to lose and watch Republicans continue to roll back the progressive programs and ideals that our party’s founders and leaders fought for over many decades.

By investing in county parties and strengthening the party infrastructure, reclaiming our progressive values, and creating a digital advantage, we will win elections and take back the State Senate, State Assembly and the Governor’s Mansion, and elect a Democrat to the United States Senate and Presidency in 2016.

I’d be honored to count you in as a supporter of my campaign. You can click here to sign up as a supporter.

You can also visit my website at to learn more about my vision for the future of the DPW and why I’m running for State Party Chair.

There is a lot of work to be done – and it’s work we will do together. I’m excited to work with all of you to grow and strengthen the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

I’d be honored to have your support on June 5 and 6 at the State Party Convention in Milwaukee.

Democratically yours,

Jason Rae

PS: In addition to visiting our website, be sure to "like" our Facebook page to follow updates from the campaign trail around the state.
A few things strike me about this announcement.

First, it's awfully full of fluff and light on any specifics. His website it not any better.

Secondly, I find it curious that he claims to have been spending weeks talking to grassroots groups and other party leaders when Tate only announced a couple of days ago. Furthermore, I don't recall Rae ever saying that a change needed to be made. That strikes me as sounding like he knew for weeks that Tate wasn't going to run and was using that insider information to leverage an advantage. That type of behavior is frowned upon in public office. I would hope it's frowned upon in the party as well.

Add to that point that I've had grassroots leaders tell me that they haven't heard from Rae at all.

Thirdly, given the current atmosphere in the state and across the country, I'm not sure bragging about being a political insider is the smartest move.  It seems rather tone deaf.

I do like the idea of bringing the party's technical aspects up to date. Unfortunately, it will probably just mean that they will be more efficient with their ineffective messaging.

As if this isn't enough, Rae is rather cozy with Boss Abele, who has become toxic for the party.

It would seem that Rae would only maintain the status quo for the party, which is painfully obviously not working.

This Is What Leadership Looks Like!

Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf is putting principles first during his inauguration ball and it is making the Republicans apoplectic:
A Pennsylvania lawmaker claims the Yuengling brewery has been banned from donating free beer to the inaugural ball of Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Tom Wolf (D).

State Rep. Mike Vereb (R) said during a radio interview Thursday that he thought Wolf's transition team was punishing Yuengling because the company's president, Richard L. Yuengling, has supported so-called right-to-work laws in Pennsylvania, which would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize.

Vereb said that he wasn't sure if Wolf personally was aware of the Yuengling ban.

"What we found out last night is that there will be beer at this event, but there is a specific restriction and request to not have Yuengling product there,” Vereb said. “Somebody, there’s a bureaucrat in this transition team that does not like Dick Yuengling because of his stance that he took in defending Governor Corbett on right-to-work a few years back."

Pennsylvania is not among states with right-to-work laws. Labor leaders called for a boycott of Yuengling in 2013 after the brewery president announced his support for such a law.

A Wolf spokeswoman declined to tell The Philadelphia Inquirer whether the beer, which has been brewed in Pennsylvania since 1829, had explicitly been banned from the inauguration ball.

"We met our beverage needs, and we have a variety of choices for attendees from a number of breweries including Pennsylvania-based breweries," spokeswoman Beth Melena told the Inquirer.
The Republican goes on to say that it is "unAmerican" to turn down free beer. I don't know but I would like to think that it is most American to stand up for what's right and honoring the workers of his state.

I just wonder how many Wisconsin Democrats would be willing to make that stand? Judging by the way the Democratic Party pays homage to the anti-union Chris Abele, I'm afraid that it wouldn't be nearly as many as we would like to think.

Facebook Ad Of The Damned

One would think that if one is going to spend money to advertise, even if on Facebook, one would want to be careful with imaging.

Not so with WISGOP, when they think it's a good idea to run this:

Wow! What a winner! Join the WISGOP and learn to give Nazi salutes!

Why The Packers Lost Today

The Green Bay Packers lost a heart breaker today, snatching defeat from the jaws of victories.

One might blame Aaron Rodgers' injured calf. One might blame Mike McCarthy's poor and ultra conservative play calling.  One might blame the defense imploding at the end.

But we know the real reason why the Packers lost today. They were jinxed:

Scott Walker can't touch anything without it turning to shit.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Scott Walker Ball

Caption This:

Friday, January 16, 2015

Shotgun Rider

Scott Walker Quote of the Day

By Jeff Simpson

Let us take a trip back to 2012 and we see Scott Walker on the Neil Cavuto show and Mr. Walker was asked who Mitt Romney should pick as his Vice Presidential candidate(emphasis mine).

In the midst of his recall election, Walker shot down speculation that he could be Mitt Romney's vice-presidential pick. Instead, he told FOX Business Network's Neil Cavuto in June 2012 that if Romney were to ask him who would be a good pick from Wisconsin, he would suggest Paul Ryan—who Romney did eventually choose as a running mate. "I am not going through a year and a half of this to then take off," Walker told Cavuto, according to The Huffington Post. "I have to fulfill my commitment to the voters of the state of Wisconsin."

AFSCME And The Janesville School Board

When Scott Walker dropped his bomb - Act 10 - on the unsuspecting people of Wisconsin, many
people figured that the public sector unions, especially AFSCME, were busted and done for.

They couldn't be more wrong.

Oh, there is no denying that Act 10, which is nothing more than the misnamed "Right to Work" legislation for public sector workers, had hurt the unions. But the unions are using this opportunity to learn how to fight smarter and harder.  But AFSCME is a long way from being busted.

There are a few people in Janesville that can vouch to this, however unwillingly.

The Janesville School Board has nine members, five of which are conservative and supporters of the corporate agenda for education in our state.  The board was poised to implement a number of draconian acts on the employees of the school district - both the teachers and the support staff.

As part of his duties, Dennis Hughes, staff representative with AFSCME District Council 40, was making routine inquiries into signature counts for the spring elections. When he learned that two candidates for the Janesville School  Board - David DiStefano and Diane Eyers - had only two or three signatures over the minimum, he went to follow up to make sure that the the nomination papers were legally sufficient.

What happened next quickly escalated into a bizarre and troubling series of events.  With his expressed permission, I am repeating Hughes' own words to describe what happened when he went to examine the nomination papers:
Dennis Hughes
On Friday, January 8, I arrived at the Janesville Education Services Center to examine
signatures for the April 7th School Board election. The Asst. School Board Clerk, Debra Blazer, was not available on Wednesday, January 6, or Thursday, January 7, so I only had one day to examine signatures and file a complaint before the Friday deadline.

Debra Blazer immediately gave me all candidates’ nomination papers, a map of the district, and space to examine signatures in the School Board conference room. I immediately noticed that candidate Diane Eyers did not have both a signature and printed name for her electors. I notified Debra Blazer and she stated that she needed to tell Dr. Karen Schulte, the Superintendent of the School District of Janesville.

I moved on to examine David DiStefano’s signatures. After examining his signatures for nearly two hours, I told Debra Blazer that DiStefano had an incorrect heading on all but one of his nomination papers. In the heading’s office, district, and jurisdiction boxes; DiStefano had written “School Board”, checked the box for “Seat” and left the rest of the district box blank, and wrote only “Janesville” in the jurisdiction box. By not identifying the “School District of Janesville,” DiStefano created a likelihood of confusion for those that signed his sheets because there are two different school districts in Janesville.

After notifying her of the problem, Debra Blazer left to speak with Dr. Schulte. She came back into the School Board conference room fifteen minutes later and I told her there was another problem because both Eyers and DiStefano had failed to include page numbers, which were necessary for my challenge. Rather than add the numbers, she asked to take the papers and said she would need extra time because she was eating lunch. Thinking nothing of it, I said it was not a problem.

Twenty minutes later, Debra Blazer entered the School Board conference room and presented me with DiStefano’s nomination papers. She pointed to the district field in the header and said, “isn’t this number enough to identify the district?” After examining the forms for nearly two hours, I can say with certainty that there were no numbers previously written in the district field, yet the forms now included the number “2695,” which is the District’s official district number. I immediately asked who wrote that number and Debra Blazer did not answer. I followed her back to her office, and she finally admitted that she had witnessed DiStefano fill in the headings of his nomination papers before submitting his collected signatures. Though she did not resolve the situation of fraudulently falsifying the nomination papers, I was satisfied because the information she provided was enough to remove the candidate from the ballot. I immediately asked her to sign an affidavit stating what she witnessed and she agreed to do so.

I left Debra Blazer’s office to return to the School Board conference room to finish my complaints and, fifteen minutes later, Dr. Karen Schulte entered the conference room followed by Dr. Steve Sperry, the Human Resources Director. Dr. Schulte asked what I was doing there and why I was wasting the time of “her clerk.” I said I would have been there Wednesday or Thursday, but the election clerk was unavailable, so I was forced to monopolize her time due to the election time constraints. She asked what I needed. I stated I only needed to print out, sign, and notarize my complaints. She asked what else I needed and I stated that Debra Blazer had agreed to sign an affidavit explaining the improper conduct she witnessed when DiStefano was submitting his nomination papers. Dr. Schulte stated that Debra Blazer would not be signing the affidavit until Dr. Schulte was able to speak to legal counsel. I stated that it was none of the District’s business, that there were no legal issues, and that the deadline was quickly approaching.

Dr. Schulte forced me to leave the conference room and would not let me get my complaints notarized by Debra Blazer. Therefore, I left the Education Services Center to print my documents. For the DiStefano complaint, I printed a version that stated Debra Blazer’s affidavit was enclosed and another version explaining that Dr. Schulte had blocked Debra Blazer from signing an affidavit. I went back to the Education Services Center and asked Dr. Schulte which version I should have notarized to give her one more chance to allow Debra Blazer to testify to what she witnessed. She did not change her mind. At the time, Dr. Schulte was in a meeting with Debra Blazer.

I left to get the documents notarized and returned to the Education Services Center an hour later, around 4pm. I went to Debra Blazer’s office to drop off my complaints and she was not there. I went to the front desk and the receptionist went directly to Dr. Schulte’s office. Dr. Schulte walked out of the office and asked to take the complaints. I refused to give them to her and requested to deliver them to Debra Blazer. Dr. Schulte escorted me to her office, where she was still meeting with Blazer, and I handed her the complaints. Debra Blazer looked to be in extreme distress. Dr. Schulte then stated that Debra Blazer had decided on her own not to sign the affidavit and I stated that a reasonable person would find that someone coerced her because she agreed to sign the affidavit and then decided not to do so ten minutes later after speaking to her boss. Especially considering the news was delivered by her boss. Debra Blazer never told me herself that she would not sign the documents.
Unfortunately, events became more bizarre after this.

The following Tuesday, Hughes went back to follow up on his complaints.

Dr. Karen Schulte
School district Clerk Karl Dommershausen and assistant board clerk Debra Blazer determined that Hughes' complaint was invalid since he did not live in the school district. This finding is in error, since state law says that the papers in any race can be challenged by an elector. The elector can live anywhere in Wisconsin. They mistakenly believed that it had to be an elector from that district.

Despite their incorrect finding that Hughes' complaint was invalid, they also determined that the nomination papers for DiStefano and Eyers were legally insufficient and their names were struck from the ballot. Both candidates have the right to appeal this decision to the Government Accountability Board (GAB). Both candidates also have the right to run as write in candidates.

The complete findings and evidence can be seen here.

But as I said, it gets even more bizarre.

While Hughes was waiting for the results of  his complaints, he was in the lobby area, reading a book.  Apparently, someone reading in the school district's main office was enough to put Dr. Schulte in a panic. She called the police and had not only removed from the building but had him temporarily banned from the building.  The ban has since been lifted.

Complaints have been filed with GAB regarding Dr. Schulte's interference with the election process and the concern that some of the nomination papers have been falsified.

As mentioned above, the Janesville School Board had a 5-4 majority of conservative members.  Because AFSCME provided due and diligent service to make sure things were legal, there is a chance for the majority to be pro-education, helping to protect all the workers in the school district, whether they are members of AFSCME or not.

Is it any wonder why that the dark money special interests are pouring money into trying to destroy unions?  Without the unions, they would be able to run rampant in their attacks on workers and trying to profiteer off of public services, such as education.

Joe Wineke

Yesterday we brought you the story of Mike Tate's long overdue and ungraceful eventual exit from the Democratic Party chairmanship.  Today Joe Wineke declares his candidacy for the post!  

January 16, 2015

Dear Fellow Democrat

I am writing to let you know that I have decided to run again for Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

When I chose not to seek a third term as Chairman in 2009, I left feeling that things in our State were in pretty good shape.  During my tenure, we had retaken both Houses' of Legislature, added a 5th Congressional Seat, held the Governor's Office, and had both U.S. Senators.

Six years later, we have lost the Governor's Office, one of our Senate Seats, and both Houses' of Legislature.  We can...and better.

I am not running for Chair to point fingers at others.  I am running because I truly believe we have an opportunity to lead an effort that will create positive change for the people of Wisconsin, beginning right now.

Here's how:

First...let's quit playing defense all the time.
The public agrees with us on the issues, but we are constantly letting Republicans define the message, and by definition, defining us.  We do that by playing offense.

Second...we do that through messaging.
Message matters.  We need to create an "Opportunity Agenda" based on putting people first.  Our "Opportunity Agenda" will be based on economic, educational, and equal opportunity for all.  In musical terms, we must create a symphonic message based on these themes.  Variations to our symphonic theme will be based on:

·         Economic Security:  People know they are falling behind.  We, as Democrats, have not given enough people the belief that we will help them succeed.  Supporting the working class is paramount to their security.  Better wages, reducing student loan debt, support for the right to collectively bargain, making housing more affordable and attainable need to be key to that effort.

·         Educational Opportunity:  Democrats need to stand behind public schools.  Let the Republicans side with the rich and powerful on this issue.  We need to remind people that public dollars should go to public schools...period.  Rural schools in Wisconsin have reached a crisis point.  If we quit playing on the edges and show the public whose side we are on, we can win this issue.  We are currently losing it.  I believe that the Democratic Party renaissance will begin in rural Wisconsin and the issue is education.

·         Equal Opportunity:  Political parties must stand powerfully behind core issues.  Equal opportunity for all, whether one is straight, gay, black, white, Native American, or anything else must be defined by Democrats.  Republicans have been allowed to pander to prejudice for too long.  Let it define them and define us.

If handled properly, the core issues of the "Opportunity Agenda" will rise to a message crescendo that will help lead us to victory in 2016 and beyond.  Of course, there will be other issues that will matter in our fight to reclaim Wisconsin, but it is far better to stick to a handful of powerful issues than to get bogged down in a hundred battles at once.

Third...we need to rebuild our Party from the bottom up.
Neither a "top down" Party, nor a "top down" message, resonates with average people.  We need to create a better message, more effectively using modern communication mediums on social media, like Facebook and Twitter.  I propose the creation of a Social Media Advisory Council within the Party to create a daily message based on our "Opportunity Agenda".

Fourth...there is an old saying that states, "You can't beat somebody, with nobody".
When I was Chair, we fielded a variety of candidates in every legislative and local race we could, not just competing in the "so called" competitive seats.  Not to mention, we were pretty darn successful in doing it, filling the vast majority of seats for the Assembly and Senate.  In 2014, we left 31 of 60 Assembly Republicans off with "free rides".  If I am elected Chair, those days are over.  We won't win a lot of those seats, but we might just steal a few.  In addition, it is a smart way to build a local party base that will likely increase our percentages in GOP counties enough to get a few more percentage points at the top of the ticket.

2016 has the potential to be a very good year for Democrats in Wisconsin.  Republican control in Washington and Madison will expose the stark difference between the two parties.  We can win Wisconsin in the Presidential election and retake the Senate seat Ron Johnson currently holds.  We can also gain seats in the Legislature and add seats in city, county, and school board elections.

I want to lead that effort.  I strongly believe that if we follow the plan I have laid out in this letter, we can become a majority party again....and I will put my money where my mouth is...if we don't add seats to what we already hold electorally, I will not seek re-election as Chair.  Promises that are made, must be kept.  I will do just that.

I intend to be a full-time chair if elected in June, 2015.  I will run an aggressive campaign aimed at meeting as many of you as I can during the course of the next six months.  I ask for your support and guidance.  I have been around politics long enough to know that I don't have all the answers, and will make some mistakes.  We all do.  But, I will work as hard as I can to make a better and stronger Democratic Party in this State.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don't hesitate to contact me.


Joseph Wineke