Showing posts with label wisconsin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wisconsin. Show all posts

Aug 31, 2014

Report: Adams, Southern Wood Counties' Property Values Tumble; Proposed CAFO Site 'Red-lines' Area

Proposed Sand Valley Golf Resort
in Adams County in Central Wisconsin
is in area red-lined over concerns of
massive, proposed Wysocki CAFO
Update: Retired Rome, Wisconsin (Adams County) resident, Patt Pisellini, notes the new preferred name of CAFOs, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, and Factory Farms is "Production Agriculture," a term she heard of an radio advertisement this morning.

Wisconsin Soil Survey by the U.S. Department of Agricultural-Natural Resources Conservation Service concludes: "Saratoga's sandy soil is not very suitable for the proposed land use. The report shows that Saratoga's soil is susceptible to blowing hazards, high seepage of sewage lagoons, and high susceptibility to concrete corrosion, among other concerns."

Naturally, the Wysocki Family of Companies wants to site a massive CAFO in Saratoga, surrounding by four counties.

No matter, perhaps we should rename the Wysocki Family of Companies: Sustainable agricultural practices. Actually, Wysocki already has, and it calls itself "family farmers" who are "dedicated to giving back to the community and employing sustainable agricultural practices" on its website.

Wyscoki leaves out the millions of tons of liquid cow manure it gives back to Adams and Wood counties, and other central Wisconsin communities with the misfortune of having CAFOs stuck in their backyards.
---
"In centrally located Adams County, (property) values tumbled 20.3 percent, the most of any county in the state," according to a new Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report. (See Logan T. Carlson, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.)

On the surface, this drop in valuation is odd, considering that the region's "existing (lakes') recreational area developments like the Wisconsin Trapshooters home facility in Rome, and the Sand Valley Golf Resort just begun in Rome will have a positive impact on the entire area. ... Golf Digest suggests Sand Valley could be the 'Midwest Golf Mecca,' drawing people from all over the country," said retired business consultant, Donald Ystad, in an email today.

Indeed, the tourism and recreational potential to existing resorts in the area such in Lake Arrowhead and Northern Bay make this dream Sand Valley resort the type of synergistic economic engine that has people who don't even golf excited.

"We want to help the existing economy," Mike Keiser, often described as a golf "visionary," says modestly in Golf Digest (July 2014).

Aware of the success of the Bandon Dunes golf resort in the state of Oregon where Keiser built a golf resort that turned around an entire region, hard core golfers and recreational and tourism business owners in Wisconsin are gushing.

"A Chicago businessman who turned the tiny coastal town of Bandon, Ore., into one of the world's premier golf destinations is planning to build a similar multi-course resort on sand dunes that formed the bottom of a prehistoric lake in what is now Adams County," notes Gary D’Amato in a November 2013 piece in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "It would make Wisconsin the best summertime place for golf in the world," Keiser said.

At Bandon Dunes, "Six restaurants and lounges provide the fuel and a variety of accommodations -- from single rooms to spacious four-bedroom cottages -- offer a peaceful escape where guests can relax, rest and revive," boasts the Bandon Dunes site.

Proposed Massive Golden Sands Dairy,
 in Adams and Wood Counties, Wisconsin
Enter the liquid cow manure invading the peaceful, relaxing escape.

Recent area beach closings from manure-generated Ecoli, private drinking wells polluted, and area lakes being added to the DNR impaired list make this area suspect with clear and present potential to knock Mike Keiser's dream out of Wisconsin.

Leading the central Wisconsin counties in property value declines between 2008-13 are Adams (- 20.3 percent), Juneau (- 15.7 percent), and Waushara (- 11.5 percent) (site of the Richfield CAFO in the Village of Coloma). Wood County is a stagnant - 0.7 percent.

"Speaking with our (Town of Saratoga) neighbors in (southern Wood County), the threat of the proposed CAFO has created an informal 'red lining' of homes in the area of 10-Mile and 7-Mile Creeks (located in the middle of the proposed CAFO site). Rumor has it that banks have turned down mortgages for properties there because of the unknowns associated with the proposed CAFO, even with prices 20 percent below assessed (values)," said Ystad.

Said another Adams County resident, "This CAFO is going to bring our property values back to the great recession days six years ago; it's crazy politicians are letting this happen, even considering this. Water, land, private property, what's next?"

The Wysocki Family of Companies, whose corporate officers live safely away from their CAFOs are to blame.

Scott Walker's new "presumptive approval" policies of CAFOs and high capacity water permits at the DNR "appear to correspond to a proposal the state’s powerful Dairy Business Association has put forward for 'automatic approval' of permits if the state environmental agency does not reach a decision within six months." (Diana Jean Schemo, Remapping Debate)

Continues Schemo:

Kimberly Wright, executive director of the Midwest Environmental Advocates, pointed to Rosendale Dairy, Wisconsin’s largest industrial farm and the state’s fourth largest source of sewage, lagging only behind the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. "People would think you’re crazy if the fourth biggest city in the state figured in six months what to do with runoff from all its waste" she said.
Crazy is right, and corrupt and destructive to a state once known for its natural resources and clean politics.

Aug 6, 2014

Desperate Scott Walker Asks Appellate Court to Kill Fed Injunction Against Voter ID

Updates II: See The Wisconsin Supreme Court Is Not Conservative (Fischer).

Update: See also Firestone, New York Times: "An enduring Republican fantasy is that there are armies of fraudulent voters lurking in the baseboards of American life, waiting for the opportunity to crash the polls and undermine the electoral system. It’s never really been clear who these voters are or how their schemes work; perhaps they are illegal immigrants casting votes for amnesty, or poor people seeking handouts.  Most Republican politicians know these criminals don’t actually exist, but they have found it useful to take advantage of the party base’s pervasive fear of outsiders, just as when they shot down immigration reform. In this case, they persuaded the base of the need for voter ID laws to ensure 'ballot integrity,' knowing the real effect would be to reduce Democratic turnout."
---
Rick Hasen and Josh Gerstein have the story.

Scott Walker is running the numbers on his reelection and he is scared, so desperate that he wants to keep as many people away from the polls as possible.

Hence, Wisconsin's corrupt GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed a new motion for Scott Walker asserting that the federal court's April 2014 "injunction purports to permanently enjoin a voting regulation that is designed to preserve the right to vote of all eligible Wisconsin voters," notes Gerstein.

Though Scott Walker and Van Hollen have produced zero instances of in-person voter fraud, Van Hollen asserts anyway that in-person voter fraud is "real."

And so is the Devil whom Justice Antonin Scalia fears.

Evidence is a bad thing in the minds of Walker and Van Hollen.

Van Hollen and Walker both publicly refuse to comment on the mountain of evidence presented at trial last year that showed 100,000s of people would be disenfranchised by Act 23, the GOP's voter obstruction law now enjoined.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman recognized this evidence on fabricated notions of voter fraud and real people whose right to vote would be destroyed, writing, "The evidence at trial established that virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin. The defendants (Scott Walker et al) could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past." [pp 11,12]

Nov 20, 2013

Glenn Grothman: Those Prevented from Voting "really got a problem," their problem

Glenn Grothman has made idiotic statements his trademark.
In 2012, campaigning for Rick Santorum he said
"money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job,
maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday,
ma be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a
so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”
Grothman made his remarks about women and money
"following Gov. Scott Walker's decision to repeal his state’s equal pay law,
a move that makes it more difficult for victims of wage discrimination
to file lawsuits for lost earnings and back wages,"
reported Aliyah Shahid in the New York Daily News
Simpletons populate any political jurisdiction, but in Wisconsin are over-represented in the state legislature, in which State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend, Wisconsin) has reached the level of the most prominent dolt in Wisconsin's upper house.

From Emma Rollor in Slate Magazine:

If there were an annual award for Zaniest State Legislator of the Year, Glenn Grothman probably wouldn't win, but he'd come close. ... Grothman has spoken out against Martin Luther King Jr. Day and denounced Kwanzaa as a liberal scam. ...


Now, Wisconsin Senate Assistant Majority Leader Grothman is speaking out on behalf of black Wisconsinites again, this time on the issue of voter ID:
Wisconsin Republicans are pushing a bill to end early voting on the weekend. The measure would make it harder for people in the state’s most populous areas to cast a ballot—and it would hit blacks especially hard.
But state Sen. Glenn Grothman, a Republican who is sponsoring a Senate version of the bill, told msnbc it’s already easy enough to vote.
"Between [early voting], mail absentee, and voting the day of election, you know, I mean anybody who can’t vote with all those options, they’ve really got a problem," he said. "I really don’t think they care that much about voting in the first place, right?"
Understandable that Grothman's arguments on voting were not proffered in open court or in briefs by Wisconsin Dept of Justice attorneys in the federal, potentially landmark trial on states' voter ID laws just concluded.

Grothman has made off-the-wall political remarks over his long career in the Wisconsin legislature his trademark.

Glenn Grothman campaigning for Rick Santorum in April, 2012 also said "money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”

Grothman made his remarks about women and money "following Gov. Scott Walker's decision to repeal his state’s equal pay law, a move that makes it more difficult for victims of wage discrimination to file lawsuits for lost earnings and back wages," reported Aliyah Shahid in the New York Daily News during the 2012 race for Republican nomination for president.

From MSNBC:

 (S)crapping weekend voting will hit African-Americans particularly hard, Rev. Willie Brisco, who leads an alliance of Milwaukee churches, told msnbc. "A lot of people in our community are working two or three jobs, odd hours, having difficulty with childcare," said Brisco. "So the weekend and the early voting reaches a lot of those people. Brisco said his organization ran a "Souls to the Polls" drive last year, encouraging congregants to vote en masse after church on Sunday. "We really need our community to stay engaged in the political process, and to be a determining factor," Brisco said. "And there is a concerted effort to make sure that doesn’t happen."

Nov 19, 2013

Scott Walker: I care about you too much for you to have Heathcare

Update: Jack Craver of the Capital Times writes: Will Obamacare problems deliver another term for Scott Walker?

Craver notes: "Walker refused to set up a state-specific insurance exchange and rejected hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid funds, meaning that many state residents would be pushed off the Medicaid rolls and on to what has turned out to be a dysfunctional federal exchange," and downward pressure on health insurance costs are not applied in Wisconsin.

How stopping Wisconsin people from getting healthcare helps Scott Walker is not explained by Craver.
---
"I care too much about the people of this state not to empower them to control their own destiny," Walker told the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce earlier this year after rejecting federal money for Medicaid that may end up dwarfing the $800,000 Walker shooed away in highs-speed rail infrastructure.

Earlier this year Scot Walker made it clear that healthcare is not a right, and that society ought not be organized for people's welfare.

Sure, it;'s good Walker for who has had his own healthcare subsidized since 1993, by the public. But Walker has an in with God and David Koch. Normal rules don't apply.

"I want to have fewer people in the state who are uninsured," Scott Walker said in February 13. 2013, in the Wisconsin State Journal. "And I want to have fewer people in this state who are dependent on government."

"U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, a La Crosse Democrat who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, said that the federal money was in place and Walker was 'putting politics before people in Wisconsin.'
'I do not foresee a better deal being offered to Wisconsin or any other state in our lifetime,' Kind said. (Stein. Milwaukee Journal -Sentinel, February 13. 2013)

"Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said Walker was taking the right approach. She said she worries federal money now available for a Medicaid expansion could be withdrawn in future years. Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said Walker was taking the right approach. She said she worries federal money now available for a Medicaid expansion could be withdrawn in future years." (Stein. Milwaukee Journal -Sentinel, February 13. 2013)

By that logic, "Then don't take highway money. Don't take education money," Robert Laszewski, a consultant with Health Policy and Strategy Associates LLC siad. "Don't take any federal money. Of course they (federal government) can renege." (Stein. Milwaukee Journal -Sentinel, February 13. 2013)

Matt Rothschild says Republicans have no answers on healthcare as President Obama scrabbles to find a way to bring healthcare to American families. Rothschild is right that Republicans have answers; they don't believe healthcare is a right any more than they believe public education is a right.

The Medicaid expansion alone would cover some 20 million people within the next decade, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Only some one half of the states have decided to take the Medicaid expansion, paid for in full by the federal government for the first three years.

Those state rejecting Medicaid are  disproportionately hurting those living in urban ares.

“The economic argument is completely overwhelming for the big cities,” says Anne Dunkelberg with the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Texas, which has advocated (unsuccessfully) for Medicaid expansion there. “They’re paying 100 percent local tax dollars instead of getting 100 percent federal funding.”

Take Wisconsin.

"Governor Walker of Wisconsin has made history in this regard by not only refusing to expand Medicaid but by kicking more people from the program than any other state in the country. If they accepted federal funds to assist low-income Americans through Medicaid, governors could help approximately 5.4 million more people receive health insurance coverage by 2016. Despite Republican resistance and the challenging rollout, the overwhelming need for quality and affordable health insurance cannot be ignored", notes Rep Gwen Mppre (D-Milwaukee). Congress, we are divided on many issues, but whether Americans across this nation deserve quality and affordable health care should never be one of them. Despite the wishes of some, the Affordable Care Act will survive its constant threats, and in doing so American lives will be saved as well."

On one side we have Democrats working through the barriers of the health insurance industry and the Republicans to get people healthcare. On the other side, we have Republicans pulling out all the stops to prevent health care for American families.

Moore's right, the AFC will survive and people's lives and health will be saved.

Oct 9, 2013

GOP Gov Shutdown Devastates Veterans

The Republican-Tea Party government shutdown is far worse than Scott Walker appointing cronies with no veteran advocacy experience to non-profits only do watch as his cronies embezzle $10,000s.

From the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Americans are starting to grasp the full impact of the federal government shutdown on veterans and troops. Today, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki appeared before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to discuss the impact of the shutdown on veterans. In his testimony, he said that if the shutdown continues, veterans won’t receive disability and GI Bill benefits on November 1.

The hearing also included testimony from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which called for Washington to end the shutdown that has a damaging effect on veterans and troops. IAVA continues to call for an end to the shutdown, and clarity for those veterans trapped in the uncertainty of how the shutdown will continue to affect their benefits and services. IAVA has launched a Change.org petition calling for Washington to put a stop to the political games and ensure that veterans get the care they need:

“Veterans are hurting and are tired of being used as political chew toys, said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “They need Washington to end the shutdown so they can receive and benefit from the services and support they have earned. But until the government re-opens, our veterans deserve clear, reliable, and accurate information.” 

Jul 27, 2013

Former Madison Mayor Distorts Fed Judge's Ruling; Sides with Scott Walker Again

Photo taken Friday at capitol. By Overpass Light Brigade
As combined police forces acting under Scott Walker's orders attempt to halt speech based on anti-Walker content, former Mayor Madison David J. Cieslewicz (2003 to 2011) has apparently gone off the rails and is now supporting Walker in the latest unconstitutional crackdown this week.

As Walker has literally taken over the state of Wisconsin and turned our state into what Esquire's Charles Pierce aptly termed, "Wisconsin Inc.," Cieslewicz—ever the ambitious if not coherent politician—has decided again to employ the false equivalence fallacy.

Everyone just needs to let Scott Walker continue his work and "move on with their lives," Cieslewicz intones.

Strange conception of democracy. But yes, this is what David Cieslewicz writes in his Thursday column in the Isthmus.

The first reader commenting, Bill Dunn, writes for many, concluding: "At times, but not all the time, Dave is merely annoying. The above [column of Cieslewicz'] is merely pathetic, with a unhealthy dash of clueless."

Police manhandle frightened boy Photo: Dawn Henke
Why citizens redressing their government as corrupt and dangerous is regarded by Scott Walker as being "unreasonable" is mystifying.

But this is not the first time Cieslewicz has veered deeply into incoherency.

Getting back to Cieslewicz, a former Cieslewicz supporter has grown disgusted and speaks for many in her column, reprinted below.

This is Karen Bassler's response to former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's  recent column  in The Isthmus about the arrests of peaceful singers at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Dave:

I can no longer refer to you as Mayor Dave, or Citizen Dave, though up until yesterday I had been using both interchangeable.

I’ve been your biggest fan up until yesterday. I’d praise you to the skies, laud your vision for urban areas, your happy-go-lucky attitude, your non-confrontational style of governing. If I heard anyone maligning you, I’d be the first to lead to your defense: “That’s not the Dave *I* know!”

You had me at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. You had me with your wit and wisdom and can-do approach. You had me in your honesty and forthrightness.

But you lost me on the Sing Along.

I’ve been a part-time participant in the Singalong since the first days it sprang to life. While I freely admit I cannot carry a tune, the mass of voices singing together in irrepressible strength always sends a shiver down my spine, no matter how terrible the marble of the Capitol acts as a sound chamber. “We shall not be moved.”

The people singing are not how you seem to see them, Dave. They are retirees, city and state employees, union workers, students, regular schmoes and long-time activists. They are east-siders and west-siders and north-siders. They represent what is best about this city and this state.

We are not people who need to “get on with” our lives. Our lives are intertwined with our love of Wisconsin’s proud progressive tradition, and we are fighting to keep that alive, so that our lives can go on, too.

We are not a bunch of stinky hippies (in fact, the hippie-to-ordinary-citizen ratio is strikingly low). We are state patriots, who see our history and tradition of open government being trampled and destroyed willy-nilly, and who will not stand idly by and let that happen. We are testifying in public that whatever rules or laws or under the table payments may be made by Walker and his fellow Koch-owned legislators, we honor the greater good, the importance of government by the people, for the people. We are those who sob to see what made us proud to call Wisconsin home is now openly mocked and cast aside by people in power for the moment.

We will not apply for a permit because the Capitol has always been an open forum, free for anyone to come and speak their piece, and we will not kowtow to a frightened governor demanding order.

You are correct that the Capitol is a public space, but you are so wrong in saying that we dominate it at the expense of others. One hour a day, 4 days a week (Friday Singalongs are held outside, regardless of weather) is not too much time to spend articulating our belief in the traditions of open, progressive, involved government. (Actually, it is somewhat less than one hour a day, four days a week — if another group has a permit to use the rotunda, we take it outside.)

You lost me Dave, as you pontificated from your comfy home about people you don’t know. Come out and meet us and see why we sing, and maybe I will be able to forgive you. But right now, from where I sit, you have outed yourself as a complacent tool.

I used to admire you.

I don’t any more.

Karen

PS: I can tell you haven’t really heard us when you say that we sing "old protest songs." Over half the song catalog is made up of new tunes written by outraged Wisconsinites.
 ###
Statement from the Madison, Wisconsin Lawyers Guild: State Distorts Court’s Ruling to Justify Dissident Arrests

To understand why mass arrests are illegal, an understanding that eludes Cieslewicz, consider the Statement from the Madison, Wisconsin Lawyers Guild: State Distorts Court’s Ruling to Justify Dissident Arrests.

So, whatever job Cieslewicz is angling for, a possible Walker appointee perhaps, he ought to consider what Madison citizens and civil libertarians are writing, viz:

An injunction was issued because the court determined that the permitting scheme was improperly content-based and overly broad, and that the plaintiff Michael Kissick had shown a likelihood of success in his case against (DoA Sec Michael Huebsch and (Chief David Erwin. One of Kissick’s attorneys, Larry Dupuis of the A.C.L.U. of Wisconsin, issued a press release condemning the misrepresentation of Judge Conley’s ruling by Secretary Huebsch and the DOA’s media handlers

MADISON, WI – Citizens singing traditional civil rights songs, some with lyrics rewritten to criticize the current governor and state legislative priorities, were again subjected to mass arrest in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda July 24 and July 25. After U.S. District Court Judge William Conley issued an injunction against enforcement of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and Capitol Access policies on July 8, the Wisconsin Department of Administration tried to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in their ongoing campaign to stifle voices of dissent in the Capitol. Twenty three people were arrested Wednesday, and another twenty or so on Thursday, some more than once, while hundreds sang along or looked on, including a number of Democratic state legislators.

Dept. of Administration Secretary Michael Huebsch, announcing the impending arrests on Wednesday, which included two people aged 80 and over and two journalists, claimed that the state was “enforcing” Judge Conley’s ruling, as if the judge had directed arrests. The decision issued in the lawsuit filed against Huebsch and Capitol Police Chief David Erwin did not direct arrests. Nor did it find that the state’s permitting scheme was constitutional, despite such claims by DOA spokesperson Stephanie Marquise.

“Rather than impose a blanket prohibition on enforcing the existing permitting scheme, however, the court will preliminarily enjoin defendants from (1) distinguishing based on the content of the speech between “rallies” and other events for permitting purposes inside the Capitol and (2) enforcing the permit requirement for gatherings expected to draw 20 or fewer persons inside the Capitol rotunda itself. Of course, nothing in this decision prohibits enforcement of existing laws and regulations that restrict disruptive noise or other disorderly conduct,” wrote Judge Conley granting the injunction against enforcement of the rules as rewritten by the DOA on an “emergency” basis in April, 2013.

All the singers and others present arrested Wednesday were charged with violating an administrative code provision that describes what kind of activity would justify a declaration of an “unlawful event” by Capitol Police. Yet no access was blocked to any part of the building, and no violence, threats of violence or any interference with the operations of state government during the lunch hour singing was observed during the event, which has continued for over two years every weekday in or outside the Capitol. The tickets merely listed “No Permit” as the basis for getting a citation, and when citizens asked why they were being arrested, Capitol police, state troopers and DNR wardens told them they would “find out downstairs,” but no further explanation was offered. Agents of the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice Criminal Investigations unit were called in to help process the large number of people arrested.

The Madison Mass Defense group, involving attorney and legal worker members of the National Lawyers Guild, ACLU and others concerned about federal and state constitutional rights to petition and protest the government, has represented most of the 40 defendants given over 160 tickets in the “crackdown” ordered by Capitol Police Chief Erwin since he became chief a year ago. Only one case has gone to a jury trial resulting in a guilty verdict, and over 70 cases have been dismissed by the prosecuting Wisconsin Attorney General’s office or denied prosecution by the Dane County District Attorney. An appeal is pending in the Court of Appeals which may result in the state being ordered to pay the defendants’ attorneys’ fees if the prosecutions were not “substantially justified.”
Anyone needing legal assistance for arrests while singing or observing singing at the Capitol can call the NLG at 608-520-0654. The coordinator will then attempt to find legal representation for the person who has been arrested.

The Madison Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is the local arm of the national organization of lawyers, legal workers, law students, and jailhouse lawyers. The National Lawyers Guild represents progressive political movements, and its motto is that human rights are more sacred than property interests.

The New Face of Wisconsin under Scott Walker


Disgust is widespread; but does Walker care or is he too busy with his hand out at a fundraiser?

Will Scott Walker issue apology? Will local broadcast television broadcast the despicable action of Walker, the Dept of Administration and the Capitol Police.?

Under Orders from Scott Walker, Police Arrest Marine, Step on His Folded U.S. Flag on the Ground

Wisconsin Capitol police arrest a child for singing
(circled in red shirt)
This is Wisconsin under Scott Walker: Arresting a Marine and stepping his flag into the ground; and then arresting a young child for singing.

See also Walker Distorts Court’s Ruling to Justify Dissident ArrestsMadison National Lawyers Guild Again Calls for Capitol Police to Respect Constitutional Rights of Peaceful Anti-Walker Singers.

Writes Blue Cheddar:

Dept. of Administration Secretary Michael Huebsch, announcing the impending arrests on Wednesday, which included two people aged 80 and over and two journalists, claimed that the state was “enforcing” Judge Conley’s ruling, as if the judge had directed arrests. The decision issued in the lawsuit filed against Huebsch and Capitol Police Chief David Erwin did not direct arrests. Nor did it find that the state’s permitting scheme was constitutional, despite such claims by DOA spokesperson Stephanie Marquise. An injunction was issued because the court determined that the permitting scheme was improperly content based and overly broad, and that the plaintiff Michael Kissick had shown a likelihood of success in his case against Huebsch and Erwin. One of Kissick’s attorneys, Larry Dupuis of the A.C.L.U. of Wisconsin, issued a press release condemning the misrepresentation of Judge Conley’s ruling by Secretary Huebsch and the DOA’s media handlers.

“Rather than impose a blanket prohibition on enforcing the existing permitting scheme, however, the court will preliminarily enjoin defendants from (1) distinguishing based on the content of the speech between “rallies” and other events for permitting purposes inside the Capitol and (2) enforcing the permit requirement for gatherings expected to draw 20 or fewer persons inside the Capitol rotunda itself. Of course, nothing in this decision prohibits enforcement of existing laws and regulations that restrict disruptive noise or other disorderly conduct,” wrote Judge Conley granting the injunction against enforcement of the rules as rewritten by the DOA on an “emergency” basis in April, 2013

Arresting a Marine and stepping his flag into the ground

Jul 24, 2013

Republicans Again Arrest and Detain 20 Citizens at Capitol, Including Journalist

Madison Capitol Police Arrest Singers and Observers
Via  Blue Cheddar, GilesGoatBoy and Support for Solidarity Sing Along

Scott Walker and Republican are starting up again their mass arrests of Wisconsin citizens for singing in public today.

Not good news for the Republicans as this time WKOW TV was there, as well as the Madison Radion Station, 92.1 The Mic personality, Dominic Salvia who was not singing and was arrested.

Said Bob Jauch (D-Poplar, Wisconsin): "My God, people have a right to sing. The administration is upset with the views of the people who are there and they’re trying to remove them from their Capitol."

Greg Neumann of WKOW has lots of shots of the mass police civil liberties violations.

Look at these dangerous people surrounding by Madison Capitol Police - Maybe these guys need to get outside more and understand that serving as Walker's palace guard does not square with their oaths to defend the Constitution.

Jul 15, 2013

Dump False Equivalence of Conservationists v. Mining, Corporate Militias

Dump anything you want here, just watch the PR message
Wisconsin State Journal needs to begin thinking about the communities of Wisconsin, and forget the silly riffs on PR tactics

Not expecting rigor when I read Wisconsin State Journal editorials but its equating indignant Wisconsin citizens with armed, unlicensed, corporate, and illegal (look it up) militias is ludicrous.

The editorial from the Scott Walker rah-rah sheet concludes: "... [B]oth mining and protesting can proceed as planned."

No.

Actually, many federal laws and regulations have to be followed, and Wisconsin citizens retain their right to free speech, disregarded by Republicans after they sold out Wisconsin.


Yelling obscenities at out-of-state corporations poisoning our land and our water is self-defense.

If you don't agree, why not have your children or your parents drink the wastewater discharge that comes from huge open pit mines like that proposed up north. Personally, I don't drink anything with sulfuric acid.

Have some fish from the poisoned water, which is so predictable, Republicans actually wrote into the statute language that they expect environmental damage, so the numerous coming legal challenges can be met with the argument: We contemplated and wanted this pollution. [See "There are going to be some impacts to the environment above the iron ore body."]

The mine in fact will be stopped. The GOP's stating: We don't care about federal law; that's in the state law our party passed is in fact not an argument that will prevail in federal court.

Doesn't the State Journal have a problem with this? Is the State Journal so out-of-touch now that it can only think about Wisconsin families and communities in terms of good or bad PR?

The State Journal begins, "The message from northern Wisconsin last week was unmistakable: One giant public relations blunder can be topped only by ... another giant public relations blunder."

Firstly, the public has the right, guaranteed access, to the Iron Mine site.

Secondly, opening shop and operating as a private security firm is illegal without a license. It's the law and breaking the law is not a "PR blunder."

Since when is civil a prerequisite to stopping operations like Cline's new outfit Gogebic Taconite, coming in our backyard and poisoning the water and earth? You expect everyone to say, thank you.

No, 'get the hell out,' is appropriate for these trespassers, corporate terrorists like 'Bulletproof,' and the sick minds that would come in and poison families and their environment which they call home.

This is not about PR.

This is about preserving the environment and the health of Wisconsin families.

And these mining operations are in this for the money period.


What do you think, these are committed environmentally conscious, full-employment activists who care only about strengthening Wisconsin communities?

The State Journal needs to begin thinking about the communities of Wisconsin, and not worry about the profits of huge mining conglomerates and its political patrons.

Are you  the Wisconsin State Journal or the Republican State Journal.

Nothing wrong with being a party paper, but be honest about it.

Jun 6, 2013

Wisconsin Dem Chair's Losing Streak Makes Even Brewers Look Good

The Wisconsin Republican Party deserves credit in achieving its aims and objectives—not just credit, an A-Plus.

As the extremist GOP moves ahead with its crash project of dismantling Wisconsin that includes everything from attacking voters to destroying state budgets, to halting women's choice, to smashing community control, public schools, to plundering virtually every corner of the state the GOP can raid, the response from the Wisconsin Democratic Party has been muted, incoherent and utterly ineffective in moving public opinion, much less stopping the Republican wrecking ball.

Scott Walker's campaign promise—jobs, jobs and jobs—is a dismal failure, an easy win for the opposing party.

Never has Wisconsin seen an extremist political party like these Republicans. And never has Wisconsin seen a more ineffectual opposition.

And no institution is safe.

Even Joe McCarthy knew better than to screw with the University of Wisconsin, but Republicans are targeting the UW now and finding the response weak and the Democratic Party an impotent advocate.

Without the grassroots uprising against Walker, things would be worse.

Yet, maddeningly, the Dem bureaucrats saw this as an opportunity to preen in front of the camera and take personal credit for the grassroots flowering.

Now, the Democratic Party message penetrates the electorate about as effectively as the Milwaukee Brewers play baseball.

I don't know what the Democratic Party chair makes a year, he keeps this secret, but I can tell you it's way too much.

The Democratic Party is having a convention this weekend, June 7-8. The Party event website reads:
State Convention is the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s biggest event of the year. Democrats from all corners of the State will be gathering in Oconomowoc on June 7th and 8th to build the Party ...
Building the Party. That's a good idea; maybe the exec director should get on that kinda soon, or better yet bring in some fresh blood.

At the Dem convention this weekend, a little innovation, creativity, and a radical change in communications strategy and permanent field work might be worth a talk or two.

Because if the Wisconsin Democratic Party reelects the same Chair— former Madison mayor

Nov 8, 2012

Wisconsin was 10th closest race, notes Cillizza

Wisconsin's status as a swing state won't change despite President Obama's 6.7 percent victory Tuesday.

Chirs Cillizza notes today in the Washington Post that Wisconsin proved to be the tenth closest race in the country.

The difference propelling Obama to victory is Milwaukee County. Obama won 320,654 votes, garnering 66.97% in Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee County turns out and Democrats win. The City of Milwaukee had a 87 percent turnout rate, reports the MJS.

For the Republican Party and the Tea Party, something must be done to stop Milwaukee voters from voting, especially those black Milwaukee voters trying to pass themselves off as good Americans.

Something must be done.

Well, the Republicans have their gerrymandered legislative districts now.

One wonders what they will try to do in a state where the right to vote is well protected.

Nov 3, 2012

RNC Scandal Includes Wisconsin

Nathan Sproul
Nixonian. One could say Reince Priebusian, Wisconsin's own voter obstruction operative now atop the RNC.

Criminal Investigation of GOP Voter Registration Worker Arrested for Destroying Forms in Virginia Expands to Broader Probe of RNC-Hired Firm

Brad Friedman has a must read this morning on Nathan Sproul's Strategic Allied Consulting firm that suppressed Democratic-leaning voters in a far-reaching program of illegal, political dirty tricks committed by a shady outfit hired by the national Republican National Committee and state Republican parties.

Friedman has broken numerous stories on Sproul and his Strategic Allied Consulting:

When the RNC invested $3 million to hire Strategic Allied Consulting, a company quietly created this August by Sproul, a paid political consultant to Mitt Romney, and then instructed state GOP affiliates in seven key battleground states (Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin and Ohio) to do the same, they knew very well about his companies' long documented history of alleged electoral misconduct and voter registration fraud.
Nixonian. One could say Reince Priebusian, Wisconsin's own voter obstruction operative now atop the RNC.

Sep 19, 2012

Cops Blast Walker, DOA, and Capitol Police Brass for Violations of Freedom

Update II: "In response, [Chief] Erwin said that it was 'unfortunate' that the unions issued a statement without talking to his department first. 'Our officers would never judge another police department's enforcement without knowing the facts of the situation,' Erwin said in a written statement (PDF)." (Davidoff. Isthmus)

Chief Erwin ought to consider that his walking out of a meeting with a state representative and his actions against Wisconsin citizens present an unacceptable situation, and that making this public communication in support of constitutional rights ought not to present a problem for a police force if in fact it is dedicated to upholding the law, and not merely a political force for Scott Walker.

Blue Courage, Chief Erwin, look into it.

Update: Worth noting as Chief Erwin and Scott Walker's regime expend $10,000 of tax payer money to stop sing-alongs and sign holding is the fact that the federal (and Wisconsin's) constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press are so expansive in our country (though not so very popular) that the state cannot lawfully halt even the "advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action." Brandenburg v. Ohio (395 U.S. 444) (1969) [per curiam opinion of the United States Supreme Court] And we're just talking about Wisconsin folk gathering together to sing a song.

I recommend reading the concurring opinion in Branderburg by Justice William O. Douglas as well. "One's beliefs have long been thought to be sanctuaries which government could not invade," writes Douglas.

Jurists such as Douglas and Justice Black were champions of free speech. When one considers their commitment and contributions to the annals of freedom, and then considers Scott Walker, Sec. Huebsch and Chief Erwin, it is clear why law enforcement associations below write, "If the current trajectory of these policies continues, we do not believe that history will judge the leaders of this state kindly with respect to the free speech rights of its citizens."

---
The Madison Professional Police Officers Association and Dane County Deputy Sheriffs Association released the following joint statement on the denial of freedoms by Capitol Police acting under order from DOA Sec. Huebsch and Scott Walker.
The statements reads:

In February of 2011, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites travelled to our state Capitol in order to have their voices heard. It was truly a remarkable time in Wisconsin's history, where people from all sides of a political issue came together in one place to peacefully demonstrate. There was an exceptional relationship between the protesters and on-duty law enforcement officers during this time, and Madison saw none of the strife or violence that has touched other protest movements nationwide.

The on-duty officers acted in a truly exemplary manner during the 2011 protests. They were professional and courteous, and performed their duties impartially in order to protect the free speech rights of all parties involved. These officers, from countless jurisdictions across Wisconsin, set an example for the world to follow regarding the role of the police during peaceful citizen protests. Part of the reason they were able to accomplish this was that the leaders of these agencies were extremely sensitive to the free speech rights of all participants, and as such, did not place their officers in positions that would infringe upon those rights.

It is within this context that we have been watching with alarm the recent developments at the Wisconsin State Capitol. In recent weeks, the Department of Administration (DOA) and the leadership within the Capitol Police have commenced enforcement action against peaceful protesters coming to the Capitol. Officers have been ordered to arrest and cite protesters whose only offense is the silent carrying of a sign. Other protesters have been cited for gathering for the "Solidarity Sing-along," a non-violent group of citizens who sing every day over the noon hour. The Solidarity Singers have been particularly cognizant of the needs of other groups who also want to utilize the Capitol, and frequently relocate outside the Capitol to be respectful of those needs. They are now being cited for assembly at the Capitol without a permit.

The right to free speech and the right to peaceful assembly are two of the fundamental rights upon which our democracy is based. Since the birth of our nation, the courts have taken great pains to protect these rights vigorously, and view any infringement upon these rights with great skepticism. We believe the recent enforcement action at the Capitol clearly violates these rights in a way that should be unacceptable in a free society.

To be perfectly clear, our grievance is not with the officers of the Capitol Police. These officers have performed admirably for over a year and a half under very trying circumstances. We believe that the recent policy change at the Capitol presents a substantial safety risk to the officers who are tasked with its implementation. Simply stated, these officers are being forced into emotionally-charged confrontations that are neither necessary nor advisable.

The Capitol Police officers are also the only participants in this situation who stand to lose their livelihood and ability to support their families. These officers are particularly vulnerable due to the fact that they lost their collective bargaining rights with countless other public employees under Act 10. This statement is as much a statement in support of these officers as it is a statement condemning the policies of the DOA and the leadership of the Capitol Police. These officers are being placed in an impossible position.

We are asking the Department of Administration, the leadership of the Capitol Police, and the Governor's Office to respect the core values and freedoms upon which this great state and nation were founded, and cease their infringement upon these freedoms. Wisconsin has a rich tradition of open government and free expression of ideas, and we ask that these individuals uphold this tradition in a manner worthy of their positions of public trust. If the current trajectory of these policies continues, we do not believe that history will judge the leaders of this state kindly with respect to the free speech rights of its citizens. .

Jun 19, 2012

Study: 63,000 eligible voters would be blocked by GOP voter obstruction law

Update: In a continuing and blatant lie, GOP still crying, "voter fraud." This time is in John Lehman (D)-Sen. Van Wanggaard (R) recount. Corporate media plays dumb again; media may not be pretending.

In one county alone.

Plaintiffs in Frank v. Walker, (Case No 2.11-cv-1128), challenging the GOP voter ID act in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin have released social scientific research concluding that Latino and African American eligible voters in Milwaukee County are disproportionally likely not to have Republican-approved voter IDs.

The social scientific findings in the study specifically researching the February 2012 Wisconsin primary present evidence in the federal challenge bolstering the plaintiffs' case in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (No 07-21) (2008) upholding an Indiana voter ID law.

The landmark Crawford case is seen by civil rights experts as compelling "future challenges to voter laws [to] be filed with respect to the application of a specific law—after its controversial mandates are already applied in an election," as noted by the Brennan Center, a leading civil rights organization. [See also Justin Levitt's The Truth About Voter Fraud.]

The Crawford case featured a challenge to Indiana's law as unconstitutional on its face, a high legal hurdle that many observers see as a tactical mistake in retrospect as one rationale behind the Crawford ruling is lack people disenfranchised presented in the court record.

With a mountain of evidence demonstrating disenfranchisement, the Frank plaintiffs may end up in the U.S. Supreme Court amid national and state Republican determination to obstruct non-Republican voting citizens.

For more information see Out in the Cold at Age 84: Wisconsin's Ruthelle Frank Fights for Her Right to Vote and the Frank et al v. Walker complaint.
---
From the Pew Center on the States

The battle over voter ID continues, and in Wisconsin, it is being fought in the courtroom. Two (state) judges recently blocked the state’s law requiring photo ID at the polls from taking effect.

Plaintiffs opposing the law in federal court retained researchers to examine the rates of possession of accepted photo ID among the voting eligible population (VEP) and registered voters in Milwaukee County, the state’s most populous county.

Based on survey results, 9.5 percent of the county’s VEP—slightly more than 63,000 eligible voters—and 8.7 percent of registered voters were found to lack the proper ID.

The findings also revealed the rates of inadequate identification were significantly higher than the countywide figure among minorities but lower among white voters:
  • 14.9 percent of eligible and 11.3 percent of registered Latinos
  • 13.2 percent of eligible and 15.3 percent of registered African-Americans
  • 7.4 of eligible and 6.0 percent of registered Whites
The study concludes in part:

....Wisconsin('s) voter ID law, which requires individual to possess an accepted form of photo ID before being granted access to a ballot, disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, an those of low socio-economic status. (Barreto, Sanchez. p. 32)

Apr 4, 2012

Ethics Complaint Against 43 Republican WI Legislators: Inappropriate Gifts from ALEC

By Ernest A. Canning in the BragBlog

The War for Wisconsin continues.

In one of the latest Battles for the Badger State, Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a broad-based ethics complaint [PDF] with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B) charging that 43 Republican state legislators are in violation of both the state's ethics and lobbying laws. The named respondents in the March 23 complaint include three Republican Senators, Scott L. Fitzgerald, Van H. Wanggard and Terry Moulton, who are now facing recall elections.

The complaint alleges that lawmakers now serving in the Wisconsin state legislature violated state ethics laws by accepting corporate lobbyist-funded "scholarships", in order "to attend meetings of the American Legislative Council (ALEC)" and that many of them failed to list receipt of monies from the ALEC scholarship fund on their 2011 Statement of Economic Interests, as required by state law. In several instances, the complaint also asserts, legislators received prohibited "gifts" from corporations and their lobbyists in violation of Wisconsin ethics and lobbying laws.

Mar 30, 2012

Federal Judge finds Scott Walker's assault on workers unconstitutional

FDR signs the Wagner Act in 1935
Update: Federal Judge Partially Strikes Down Wisconsin Act 10, the Anti-Collective Bargaining Bill - "... in a clear victory for the public-sector unions in Wisconsin, the onerous recertification and anti-dues check off provisions, which again only applied to non-public safety employees, were enjoined on both equal protection and First Amendment grounds. The court found absolutely no connection between the Walker Administration’s purported justifications for treating these two groups of public employees differently and the need for these two punitive provisions."

"The Labor Relations Act now forbids an employer to say to a laborer: 'Give up your union or give up your job,'" said the great jurist, Robert H. Jackson in 1939. "... Are our great constitutional guarantees in danger? The answer really lies with the people themselves. Civil rights are pretty generally safe except in periods of widespread emotional instability. In such times there are always those who, either because they lack balance themselves or because they see an opportunity to exploit the anxiety of others, institute scares and make drives to save the country from exaggerated dangers by suppressing free speech, or censoring free press, or punishing free opinion."

Jackson was U.S. Solicitor General at the time of this national town hall and had the idea that law and politics ought be the sphere of the American public: Open and public, or civil rights will die.

Jackson could have been speaking to Scott Walker, J.B. Van Hollen and the rest of the GOP regime who concocted the law and after law for cynical, partisan purposes, and even admitted so. See videos of State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Walker below. Repeatedly, Walker cried crisis and danger, and used fear to ram through an anti-citizen agenda, with Walker supporters harassing Wisconsin volunteers.

“Today’s ruling affirms Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans once again overreached in their attack on public workers’ rights to belong to a union. This is a tremendous victory for public workers and the rule of law. These abuses of power should have no place in our public policy decisions. The court has affirmed these were political decisions in an attempt to bust unions, not sound public policy,” said State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison).

Scott Walker has a different notion than Justice Jackson on civil rights; mocking and ridiculing them, and bragging about collusion with Attorney General Van Hollen, and using working families' livelihoods as political fodder.

"The other thing is I’ve got layoff notices ready. We put out the at-risk notices. We’ll announce Thursday, and they’ll go out early next week. And we’ll probably get 5 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, you know," said Walker in his infamous taped phone conversation before ramming through Act 10.

It comes as great comfort that U.S. District Judge William M. Conley rules in Wisconsin Education Association Council et al v. Scott Walker et al (Case: 3:11-cv-00428-wmc; U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin) that Act 10, the so-called Budget Repair Bill, is a violation of union members' First Amendment rights.

"[U]nions engage -- indeed, one of their core functions is to engage -- in speech," writes Justice Conley.

Though the Republican Party thought that it could pick and choose which union members' First Amendment rights to violate, the Court disagreed.

"So long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights," writes Judge Conley.

"Wisconsin citizens have long known Gov. Walker's attack on workers was not honest and today's court ruling shows his attack was not legal," said a statement from former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, a Democrat running against Walker. (Bruce Vielmetti and Patrick Marley. MJS)

GOP leader Fitzgerald expanded on Falk's assessment on Fox News last year, saying busting unions will help the GOP defeat President Obama: "If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin," said Fitzgerald.

Nothing about saving tax-payers' money; and all about a corrupt brand of politics that has seen Scott Walker's closest aides convicted and facing multiple felonies in a criminal investigation of Walker's campaign while Walker tries to stall the investigation in hopes of surviving the recall election.

Walker's signature assault on civil rights is under countetattack by those dedicated to the rule of law, and his legal and political malfeasance is only just beginning to be revealed some 14 months into office.

From Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

“Gov. Walker’s extreme attacks on public sector workers has, in part, been reversed by the court of law today and found in violation of the U.S. constitution,” explained Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “This proves that Gov. Walker rammed through his radical and secret agenda without regard to the U.S. constitution, the rule of law, or to what is right and fair for Wisconsin families. There is still much to be done to reverse the harm that Gov. Walker has done to nurses, teachers, snow plow drivers and other public workers. The fight to fully restore public employee’s voices on the job and a strong middle class for Wisconsin continues.”

“This is a better day for public sector workers but unfortunately does not fully restore the ability of public employees to have a meaningful voice in the workplace so that they can speak out on behalf of the communities they serve,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Limiting collective bargaining, as Scott Walker has done, is unjust and un-American. The fight to reclaim Wisconsin and restore the rights of working people to collectively bargain continues.”

While this is a step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all working families have the right to collectively bargain. We must stand together until justice is restored to all Wisconsin workers.

In Solidarity,

---

Mar 25, 2012

Scott Walker created a United Front not seen since WW II

Dante Atkins at Kos has an excellent piece explaining the unprecedented Recall movement in Wisconsin that has brought together Republicans, progressives, reformists, women, first responders, liberals, working families, organized labor, democrats and the ordinary Joe and Sue 12-pack [this is still Wisconsin] in a way not seen since the 1930 and 40s.

Targeting working families will do that.

The coalition of citizens is what used to be called a United Front, and Scott Walker, besides amassing $Millions, still does not have an idea how to react to this demonstration of democracy. Locking down the capitol, aka the people's house, now in the middle of the recall campaign would be political suicide.

Woody Guthrie - And now the 21st Century United Front,
United Wisconsin
So, our own governor is in hiding, and in an even more arrogrant display than Richard Nixon refuses to meet with the press in a no-holds-barred press conference to explain to the Wisconsin people why his six close aides are facing 15 felonies, six misdemeanors, and the extent to which Walker lorded over his secret, illegal campaign for governor. Many more have struck immunity deals, it is believed, including press secretary, Cullen Werwie, and former Republican Lt. Governor candidate Brett Davis.

Walker has veered into out-and-out fascism; and his rare public appearances are armed displays of police power that keep Walker securely inside the bubble of Fox News, Milwaukee talk radio, and Republican events. Never has a Wisconsin governor been so pathologically afraid of the people whom he is supposed to be representing.

The question that may emerge this Spring is will Scott Walker resign and take the $Millions of out-of-state campaign money and use it to pay his legal bills from his criminal defense attorneys; his legal defense fund would have to be mighty successful to meet the criminal defense costs.

Dante Atkins at Kos

The Wisconsin recall elections in June could very well set the tone for how Democrats do the rest of the year. A successful recall of Gov. Scott Walker and a recapture of the Wisconsin State Senate could energize Democrats nationwide and foreshadow bigger gains in November.

Wisconsin Democrats certainly couldn't have predicted that they would be the epicenter of pushback against the extreme agenda of the corporate right, but they have already been successful in winning two state senate recall elections in redder districts and are poised to take advantage of the grassroots energy throughout the state to deliver more victories in the months ahead.

As you will see, the peculiarities of Wisconsin law give a major financial advantage to Walker and his allies. To help fix this imbalance, you can donate here to our Wisconsin Recall Fund.

The interview is below the fold.

Tell me about how you became the Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

I became chair in June of 2009. Obviously, it was a rough time. But prior to that, I had worked on different political campaigns and other progressive nonprofits for the past twelve years. I started out as a college kid helping to organize students for Democratic campaigns. I worked on a governor's race, and for a labor union. I ran a same-sex marriage initiative, and ran a large independent expenditure field program for that. After 2008, I was looking for what was next, and it was suggested to me by some of the people who worked for then-Governor Doyle that I should run for Party Chair.

I bet you didn't expect to be at the forefront of the national debate right now.

This is not what I anticipated when I became party chair in June of '09. It's not even what we anticipated a year ago when we went through the occupation of the Capitol, the Senators leaving. It has been an incredible, exciting, stressful, but historic ride.

Where are we in this recall process?

It will likely be made official a week from Friday, but we are likely to have elections scheduled next week. The primary will will be May 8, and the general election will be June 5.

What does the polling look like right now?

The polling has been fairly encouraging. The last poll that was out had both County Executive Kathleen Faulk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett leading Scott Walker. Walker continues to have a negative job approval rating, and continues to have a majority of voters pretty inclined to fire him from his current job.

We had the situation before where we took back two of the Senate seats, but didn't get a majority. What's going on in terms of the upcoming Senate recalls?

The important thing is that we have four state senate recall elections happening. These are all districts that have substantially better Democratic performance than the recall races that we had last year. These are substantially better districts, all but one, and we need just one seat to take back the majority. There has been no public polling, but our internal polling has shown that we have a strong path to victory in every race. We feel confident that we have great candidates, that we'll have a good chance of winning.

How does the recall election work in the senate seat where the senator resigned?

This is in the Wassau area of central Wisconsin. What happened here is that the senator in question, Pam Galloway, resigned because of health concerns in her family. This is a real story, not something fabricated. We feel confident that we have a fantastic candidate there who is a current member of the State Assembly from that district, Donna Seidel. The Republicans will be running a state representative, Jaret Petrowski, from that area. This puts us in a stronger position to win that seat right now.

So there is going to be, in addition to a Democratic primary, there will be a Republican primary?

We don't know if there's going to be a Democratic primary at all. The question is whether the Republicans will pull the maneuver they did last time and run fake Democrats to prolong the process.

Explain more about that process for readers who may not be as familiar.

First, if there's no primary, the recall election procedure is only six weeks long. So in the state senate races, the general election will be May 8 if no primary opponents file. What the Republicans did last time was elongate the race because they figured their biggest advantage was money. So they wanted to prolong it and spend us down. So in all of the six districts where we were recalling Republicans, they recruited a fake Democrat--a Republican who was willing to appear on the ballot, collect signatures and run in the primary. Then the Republicans ran a turnout operation to drive out the vote for them.

You mentioned finances. Can you talk about the quirky rules that are in place for these recalls?

It's a total quirk of the law. The individual being targeted for recall does not have to adhere to our fundraising limits, which are pretty strict. They're allowed to raise unlimited money from individuals and PACs. We've seen Scott Walker pull in half a million for Bob Perry, who just gave $3 million to Mitt Romney's super-PAC. We was a funder of Swift Boat Veterans For Truth. So we've got some of these Republicans taking money from some pretty bad actors.

They've accused you of trying to raise money from outside the state. Is that a bit hypocritical?

Not only is it hypocritical, it's actually comical. Scott Walker has spent more time in the last few months outside of the state raising money for the campaign as he has inside it. The majority, overwhelming majority are from the state, but we have a lot of grassroots donors from around the country who have been giving us twenty, thirty dollars at a time. Some live in Los Angeles, some are from Denver, some live--we have people from every state in the country giving us money.

Let's say that the recalls are successful, we have a Democratic governor in June, and Democratic control of the Senate. Walker and Fitzgerald have managed to do a lot of damage. How do you repair that if the State Assembly is still in Republican hands?

We have a long road back. It's important that the story doesn't get written that if we win on June 5, all the problems are solved. It's a long road back to fix the damage that Scott Walker and his allies have done in a little over a year. The biggest opportunities for repairing these breaches well come in the next state budget, which is the only bill that the state legislature actually has to pass. And we'll see strong moves toward restoring collective bargaining rights and repealing these dogmatic anti-Wisconsin laws that have come into existence in the last year.

What are the odds, since people haven't been focusing on this, that Democrats can capture the State Assembly in November?

Let me say this: I think we have a great shot at taking it back. I think that especially if we take back the Senate, that a lot of time and energy and resources can be focused on the Assembly. We're working hard on recruiting good candidates and a lot of people have been inspired by the citizen activism that we've seen in the past year and have stepped forward. I feel optimistic about our chances at taking back the State Assembly.

Ever since the state capitol in Madison got occupied, it seems like Wisconsin has turned into the epicenter of Democratic activism and people power. How do you maintain that and keep that going after November if Walker is recalled, you re-elect Barack Obama and have him win Wisconsin--how do you keep it going?

This is been the most incredible story of this whole thing. When we, the people of Wisconsin, embarked on these Senate recall elections last summer, people questioned whether we would have the ability to recall these senators. But the people were incredibly enthusiastic and fired up, but we had to wait until was in office for a year. And people said that the Senate recalls are one thing, but you can't recall Walker, you can't keep this energy going, this momentum, this enthusiasm. And two things happened. One, Scott Walker and [Senate Majority Leader] Fitzgerald continued to make laws that are absolutely offensive to anyone who cares about this state, and looks at the state the way we do. And the momentum grew. We have more people involved now than were involved when we occupied the capitol. We've had tens and tens of thousands of people from all across the state get involved. A million people signed the recall petition. We feel pretty good about our ability to maintain momentum, and it's something we'll keep working on.

How can people who aren't in Wisconsin help with this effort?

There are two or three things that can be done. One is obvious: we could use financial help. People can give online. Sign up for our email alerts. Stay in the loop. The other side has the Koch brothers, and Bob Perry. We done have big donors writing us six-figure checks. We have thousands of small donors giving us fifteen or twenty dollars at a time. The second is, if you have any friends or family in Wisconsin, please reach out to them, talk to them. Please get out the votes for our nominees. And third, there are going to be a number of programs where people who don't live in Wisconsin but want to call voters will be able to do that through out website, and we've had a lot of success with that in the past. It's reaching out to people you know, giving a little bit of your hard-earned money. Or you can get down and dirty and talk to voters.

One last thing on this: the voter ID law. What's the status on that, and how could it affect this race?

Wisconsin passed what many have said is the most regressive photo ID law in the country, which is saying something, considering South Carolina and Alabama and some of these regressive Southern states. But our law is pretty extreme. About two weeks ago, though, we won a big court case where a state judge said that the photo ID law violated the Wisconsin constitution, and he permanently enjoined the law. So today, the law is not valid. However, our Republican Attorney General, at Scott Walker's insistence, is vigorously appealing that decision. We have a conservative majority on our Supreme Court. The best justices the Chamber of Commerce can buy! And I'm concerned that it's possible and probable that this law could be back in place for the recall elections.

Now, this law allows people to use gun ID's to vote, but not government-issued student ID's?

You cannot use tech school ID's, and there are restrictions around the student ID's as well.

Is that intentionally designed to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies?

That's all this bill is. There is no voter fraud in Wisconsin. In fact, Wisconsin has one of the highest participation rates of any state in the country. How our laws were a year ago should be a model for the nation. We have same-day voter registration. We have the ability to vouch for someone if they can't offer identification on them. We have a system of laws that was designed to enhance participation and provide no barrier or impediment to voting, and the Republicans didn't like that because they can't win elections when everyone votes. It turns out, more people are Democrats than Republicans. So the first chance they got, the decided to restrict the ability of minorities, restrict the ability of college students, of seniors as well, to vote. It's appalling and it's un-American.