Archive for the ‘Wisconsin’ Category

Ripping away the curtain

Targets in secret probe of Wisconsin conservatives sue state board

The targets of a politically charged investigation in Wisconsin are now targeting the state’s Government Accountability Board, alleging in a lawsuit the agency that oversees election and campaign finance law has created a “Frankenstein monster” out of its enforcement authority.

The GAB has “exceeded its statutory authority and evaded its statutory obligations by pursuing and funding a far-reaching criminal investigation into virtually every conservative-leaning group in Wisconsin,” according to the lawsuit, filed Friday morning in Waukesha County Circuit Court by conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and his Wisconsin Club for Growth, and on “behalf of others similarly situated.”

O’Keefe takes particular aim at the GAB and its involvement in the John Doe probe, a nearly three-year investigation into 29 conservative issue advocacy organizations.

The court-administered dragnet, launched in late summer 2012 by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, is nothing more than a partisan witch hunt, O’Keefe asserts in a civil rights lawsuit filed earlier this year in federal court against John Doe prosecutors.

In that complaint, O’Keefe argues that the prosecutors violated his First Amendment rights via an investigation that, sources say, involved pre-dawn, “paramilitary-style” raids on the homes of conservative targets.

And it was all done with the backing of the Government Accountability Board, using powers not ascribed to the board, O’Keefe’s lawsuit alleges.

Triple Play for Free Speech in Wisconsin

Three legal battles demolish tight restrictions on issue advocacy and political donations

On May 8th, federal Judge Rudolph Randa ordered prosecutors to halt their months-long investigation. Wide ranging subpoenas – which I’ve seen – demanded that some conservative non-profit groups turn over lists of donors, strategy memos, fundraising pitches and other internal documents. Pre-dawn raids at the homes of several conservatives gathered personal computers and records so prosecutors could search for evidence of a potential crime.

Targeted organizations and individuals fought back, suing in federal court to say that their free speech and 4th Amendment rights were being violated. Prosecutors argued that they needed to use their power to raid and subpoena so they could find out if there was cause to file felony charges alleging illegal coordination between political and non-profit groups, and between donors and the groups they support.

It was a terrifying abuse of power by prosecutors bent on exacting political revenge on only one side of the ideological spectrum while forcing hostage groups, operatives, and donors to be silent or face certain felony charges. Thankfully, Judge Randa put an end to the liberal prosecutorial jihad.

Transparency is only a virtue to liberals when it applies to conservatives or serves as a helpful talking point.

We’ll see how long he lasts in prison…

Officer who forced dozens of anal cavity searches for fun gets only 2 years in prison

This gentleman violently inserted his finger into dozens of victims’ anuses. Sometimes his friends held guns to the victims’ heads to force them to comply. Why was he sentenced to just two years in prison? Because he was an officer with the Milwaukee police department!

I bet he won’t find it as “fun” as he thought…

Wisconsin Teachers Sue to Support Gov. Walker’s Act 10

New twist for the unions! Or maybe it’s AGAINST the unions…

Arguably, the biggest state education story of 2011 was the political war between Wisconsin teachers’ unions and GOP Gov. Scott Walker over the latter’s ultimately successful proposal (Act 10) to severely restrict collective bargaining rights for educators in the state. But as the law has labored its way through and been tested in the state’s courts, there’s been an interesting development—a small group of teachers has filed suit to uphold some of the act’s provisions.

The recent news involves recertification. The Wisconsin Education Association Council has a useful tipsheet on what recertification means, but essentially if a local union is “recertified” through an annual vote by its members, it can officially represent school employees to districts in negotiations, although under Act 10 the unions have extremely little leverage in those negotiations. Historically, the union points out, recertifying in this fashion has never existed, and WEAC has stressed to members that the process, instituted by Walker’s Act 10, “does not define us as a union” since the local union can exist and support members without getting recertified.

Why does this matter? As Jason Stein at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, these recertification elections are difficult for unions to win. Opponents of Act 10 say that was Walker’s whole purpose: Elections in which the union loses its recertification bid are cynically designed to show “union failure.” Statistically, that argument isn’t always born out though: In 2011, out of 206 school-employee union recertification elections, 177 unions were recertified. But many unions don’t seek to recertify because of the high vote threshold required.

Don’t say ‘raw milk’ at the Vernon Hershberger trial

Isthmus.com

If this weren’t true, it’d be laughable. Oh, wait. It’s still laughable…

There is a hilarious scene in the Monty Python movie Life of Brian where a trial is taking place of a man who allegedly said the word “Jehovah.” If he is convicted, he will be stoned to death. But the word “Jehovah” is so forbidden that no one can say it even at the trial. Eventually, the judge himself accidentally says “Jehovah” and is stoned to death.

The situation is similar in the Vernon Hershberger trial that opened Monday at the Sauk County courthouse in Baraboo. But instead of “Jehovah,” the taboo words are “raw milk.”

In fact, every time the words “raw milk” are about to come up during the proceedings, the jury is ushered out of the room. It happened Monday morning and again Tuesday afternoon.

It would be funny if conviction for Hershberger didn’t mean jail time — for a father of ten children. Laughter breaks out in the gallery anyway, to the scorn of Judge Guy Reynolds.

The state is arguing that Hershberger violated the law by selling milk (raw) while he was not licensed. But here’s the problem: licensing requires that milk producers sell to a licensed processing plant. If you don’t sell to a plant, you aren’t licensed. At issue is not the fact that Hershberger failed to obtain a license, but that he cannot get a license, period, to sell milk because he was no longer shipping to a plant. Instead, he was attempting to sell raw milk directly to buyers or buying club “members” who had purchased shares in cows. But no one is allowed to say that.

Judge Reynolds ruled in the prosecution’s favor before the trial started that there will be no discussion of whether Hershberger had criminal intent in not obtaining a license, no discussion of the safety of raw milk and no discussion even of why his farm was raided in 2010.

When the defense tried to bring evidence of a second page of the licensing forms, the prosecution objected that it was extraneous. “This gets into the conditions of…well you can see what it gets into, judge,” the lead prosecutor said. Out goes the jury.

A telling moment during Tuesday’s testimony was when Teresa Butterworth, witness for the prosecution and employee of DATCP’s Bureau of Food Safety & Inspection whose responsibility it is to license and maintain dairy farm records, could not tell the defense what dairy plants do. Lead defense attorney Glenn Reynolds (no relation to the judge): “What do dairy plants do?” Butterworth: “I don’t know.” Later she stated: “I just process the paperwork.”

By circumscribing so narrowly the rules of engagement before the trial even began — despite the defense attorneys’ best efforts — the state is counting on the jury to also just process the paperwork.

 “I think it was “Blessed are the cheesemakers”.

 Aha, what’s so special about the cheesemakers?

Well, obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.” – Life of Brian or in this case, Life of Hershberger…

AFL-CIO Pulling Funds From Obama Campaign

WashingtonWhispers

The AFL-CIO has told Washington Whispers it will redeploy funds away from political candidates smack dab in the middle of election season, the latest sign that the largest federation of unions in the country could be becoming increasingly disillusioned with President Obama.

The federation says the shift has been in the works for months, and had nothing to do with the president’s failure to show in Wisconsin last week, where labor unions led a failed recall election of Governor Scott Walker.

“We wanted to start investing our funds in our own infrastructure and advocacy,” AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein told Whispers. “There will be less contributions to candidates,” including President Obama.

While there were “a lot of different opinions” about whether Obama should have gone to Wisconsin, according to Goldstein, “this is not a slight at the president.”

The AFL-CIO has been at odds with the president before Wisconsin on issues such as the public health insurance option and renewing the Bush tax cuts.

The shift in funding is significant due to the federation’s role in past presidential campaigns, where the AFL-CIO built up a massive political structure in the months leading up the election, including extensive “Get Out The Vote” efforts, as well as financial contributions.

This time around, Goldstein says, the federation wants to build a more long-lasting structure, giving “different kinds of support to different candidates.”

And that may mean more politically independent candidates.

In a May speech at the National Press Club, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka threatened to reduce support for the Democratic party and launch “an independent labor movement” if Democrats didn’t more fully support the union agenda.

“We will change the way we spend, the way we do things and the way we function that creates power for workers,” Trumka said, according to the Associated Press.

AFL-CIO donated $1.2 million to Democrats in 2008, and $900,000 in 2010, according to the Christian Post. It is unclear how much will be donated in 2012.

In April, the Huffington Post reported that Workers’ Voice, the super PAC arm of the AFL-CIO, was also changing its funding structure.

In an “unprecedented” move for organized labor, Workers’ Voice gave control of its $4.1 million in funds over to both union and non-union members who participate in campaign activities, including phone banking or canvassing.

On its website, Workers’ Voice promises: “Make phone calls, knock on doors… and you’ll earn the ability to direct dollars towards… your local or federal candidate of choice.”

Come fall, that choice may or may not be Obama.

Update, 1:55 p.m.:

Goldstein clarifies that in the new deployment of funds, “Some candidates will get more, some less, some the same — but overall we’ll be focused more on spending resources to build our own structure [that] works for working people instead of others’ own structures.”

The end is near for public-sector unions

Boston.com

In retrospect, there were two conspicuous giveaways that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was headed for victory in last week’s recall election.

One was that the Democrats’ campaign against him wound up focusing on just about everything but Walker’s law limiting collective bargaining rights for government workers. Sixteen months ago, the Capitol building in Madison was besieged by rioting protesters hell-bent on blocking the changes by any means necessary. Union members and their supporters, incandescent with rage, likened Walker to Adolf Hitler and cheered as Democratic lawmakers fled the state in a bid to force the legislature to a standstill. Once the bill passed, unions and Democrats vowed revenge, and amassed a million signatures on recall petitions.

But the more voters saw of the law’s effects, the more they liked it. Dozens of school districts reported millions in savings, most without resorting to layoffs. Property taxes fell. A $3.6 billion state budget deficit turned into a $154 million projected surplus. Walker’s measures proved a tonic for the economy, and support for restoring the status quo ante faded — even among Wisconsin Democrats. Long before Election Day, Democratic challenger Tom Barrett had all but dropped the issue of public-sector collective bargaining from his campaign to replace Walker.

The second harbinger was the plunge in public-employee union membership. The most important of Walker’s reforms, the change Big Labor had fought most bitterly, was ending the automatic withholding of union dues. That made union membership a matter of choice, not compulsion — and tens of thousands of government workers chose to toss their union cards. More than one-third of the Wisconsin members of the American Federation of Teachers quit, reported The Wall Street Journal. At the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, one of the state’s largest unions, the hemorrhaging was worse: AFSCME’s Wisconsin rolls shrank by more than 34,000 over the past year, a 55 percent nose-dive.

Did government workers tear up their union cards solely because the union had lost its right to bargain collectively on their behalf? That’s doubtful: Even under the new law, unions still negotiate over salaries. More likely, public-sector employees ditched their unions for the same reasons so many employees in the private sector — which is now less than 7 percent unionized — have done so: Many never wanted to join a union in the first place. Others were repelled by the authoritarian, belligerent, and left-wing political culture that entrenched unionism so often embodies.

Even before the votes in Wisconsin were cast, remarked Michael Barone last week, Democrats and public-employee unions “had already lost the battle of ideas over the issue that sparked the recall.” Their tantrums and slanders didn’t just fail to intimidate Walker and Wisconsin lawmakers from reining in public-sector collective bargaining. They also gave the public a good hard look at what government unionism is apt to descend to. The past 16 months amounted to an extended seminar on the danger of combining collective bargaining with government jobs. Voters watched — and learned.

There was a time when even pro-labor Democrats like Franklin D. Roosevelt would have regarded it as obvious that collective bargaining was incompatible with public employment. Even the legendary AFL-CIO leader George Meany once took it for granted that there could be no “right” to bargain collectively with the government.

When unions bargain with management in the private sector, both sides are contending for a share of the private profits that labor helps produce — and both sides are constrained by the pressures of market discipline. Managers can’t ignore the company’s bottom line. Unions know that if they demand too much, they may cost the company its competitive edge.

But when labor and management bargain in the public sector, they are divvying up public funds, not private profits. Government bureaucrats don’t have to worry about losing business to their competitors; state agencies can’t relocate to another part of the country. There is little incentive to hold down wages and benefits, since the taxpayers who will be picking up the tab have no seat at the table. On the other hand, government managers have a powerful motivation to yield to government unions: Union members vote.

In 1959, when Wisconsin became the first state to enact a public-sector collective-bargaining law, it wasn’t widely understood what the distorted incentives of government unionism would lead to. Five decades later, the wreckage is all around us. The privileges that come with government work — hefty automatic pay raises, Cadillac pension plans, iron-clad job security, ultra-deluxe health insurance policies — have in many cases grown outlandish and staggeringly unaffordable. What Keith Geiger, the former head of the National Education Association, once referred to as “ our sledgehammer, the collective bargaining process,” has wreaked havoc on state and municipal budgets nationwide.

Now, at long last, the pendulum has reversed. The 50-year mistake of public-sector unions is being corrected. Walker’s victory is a heartening reminder that in a democracy, even the most entrenched bad ideas can sometimes be unentrenched. On, Wisconsin!

The Main Message From Madison: The Jig Is Up

InvestorsDaily

By far the most amusing and telling result of the thumping the corrupt public-employee unions and out-of-state far-left zealots suffered in Wisconsin is the whining and hand-wringing now being exhibited by a growing collection of liberal pundits, politicians and ultra-wealthy activists who are uniformly saying this is a “major wake-up call for the left, Democrats and unions.”

No, it’s not. It’s a loud and clear pronouncement that big government and big-government giveaways to people who want something for nothing is over. Look at the actual results. Listen to the actual people of Wisconsin.

Many were flat-out offended and angered that the far-left flooded into their state to attempt to overturn the voice of the people. These voters, like the majority of the American people, are tired of being fooled or even fooling themselves. They look at the life-destroying economic collapses in Greece, Spain, Italy, Illinois, New York and California and now know exactly the cause and who is willingly spreading the disease.

The voters of Wisconsin know that the Democrat Party is for the most part owned and operated by corrupt public-employee unions that want to suck every last dollar out of their pockets to fund bankrupt pensions and health care plans for themselves and their members.

The voters of Wisconsin have realized that these unions and the politicians who support them are literally stealing from them and endangering the economic future of their children.

The false “major wake-up call” the far-left pundits, union officials and politicians want to shout is that rather than the corrupt and budget-destroying policies of the unions being at fault, were it not for the money of “evil” conservatives and corporations, all would be well in liberal utopia.

Said an official from the American Federation of Teachers: “It’s pretty clear that the voices of ordinary citizens are at permanent risk of being drowned out by uninhibited corporate spending.” Laughingly wrong.

The voices of “ordinary citizens” just spoke. And guess what? These far-left pundits, politicians, wealthy liberal activists and union leaders know that. They know the jig is up and that the American people have finally caught on to their outright thievery.

Just as they have caught on to the dangers of the nanny state, especially in the hands of inexperienced “community organizers.” It does not take much to read between the lines to realize that a number of Democrats with real-world experience see the wheels flying off the big-government wagon and its operators being exposed as the real problem of the moment.

As Ed Rendell, former Democrat governor and head of the Democratic National Committee, just said with regard to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, “I think she would have come in with a lot more executive experience. I think the president was hurt by being a legislator only.”

OK, let’s be honest. Obama was not even a legislator, and Rendell knows that. During his barely two years in the Senate, Obama was running full time for president. During his time in the legislature in Illinois, he was voting “present.” Hardly a profile in courage.

Former President Bill Clinton keeps making comments that sure seem to validate the real-world experience of Mitt Romney. Then, when the liberal media become aghast at this affront to their Messiah Barack Obama, they have Clinton on to “correct” the record. Except, he keeps doubling down on his at least modest praise of Romney.

To paraphrase Col. Jessup from “A Few Good Men,” the far-left “can’t handle the truth” — that being there’s no magical wake-up call for them. The hypercorrosive effects of big government and something-for-nothing policies of Obama and his supporters have finally been exposed for all to see.

Americans are now choosing self-responsibility and fiscal sanity over the suicidal power grabs of the public-employee unions and their political protectors. Not only will these corrupt public-employee unions continue to take a pounding across the country but come November, Obama will too.

That is the real “wake-up call” the far-left most fears.

“The Reality is, he won”

NewsBusters

Want some cheese with that whine, Ms. Wasserman?

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made ludicrous accusations against Republicans before and the media have failed to admonish her, but CNN’s Piers Morgan stomped on her argument on Wednesday night that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s policies were “extremist.”

“If you keep calling him an extremist but you accept that he won, what does that say about the people of Wisconsin? Are they all just a bunch of mad extremists?” Morgan challenged Schultz. [Audio here.]

Schultz laughably tried to spin from Gov. Walker’s victory in a recall election by noting that the state senate will probably be controlled by the Democrats – even though more seats are up for election this November and the legislature is not scheduled to convene before then.

And Morgan challenged her other claim that Walker was punished with an expensive recall election for his “extremist” policies. “You could argue, of course, that Scott Walker’s probably thrilled that he had to go through it now because it’s made him a national superstar,” Morgan told her.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 6 on Piers Morgan Tonight at 9:37 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

[9:37]

PIERS MORGAN: So I don’t know if you were listening to Donald Rumsfeld there, but he concluded that the only possible reason President Obama didn’t go down to Wisconsin to try and win this thing is because he knew he’d lose. Your thoughts?

Rep. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-Fla.), DNC chair: Well, I wouldn’t — it’s not really surprising that the Secretary would say something like that. The President deployed his entire machinery, grassroots machinery on the ground in Wisconsin, 40 offices, more than a million and a half dollars, our key neighborhood team leaders and volunteers. And we put an unprecedented effort of grassroots into this recall.

We came up short, but at the same – of the ultimate goal, which was to make sure that Governor Walker couldn’t adopt his extremist policies and continue to hurt middle class and working families. But we did apparently succeed in flipping the state Senate. The state Senate is likely now to be controlled by the Democrats.

And so we’re going to be able to stop Governor Walker from being able to really continue to pursue those extremist policies. So ultimately we were at least in part successful. And we’re – what we demonstrated, Piers, was that Democrats are not going to just lay down and allow the middle class and working families and workers to get run over when an extremist governor has run amuck like Scott Walker does –

MORGAN: You keep calling him this great extremist who everyone apparently, is terrified of and everything else, but the reality is he won. And he won pretty convincingly. So the only people laying down, it would seem to everybody else, are the Democrats on this. So how are you claiming some kind of weird victory out of all this?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well there’s nothing weird about flipping the state senate. Last year, there were recalls of state senators that were put on the ballot and there were recalls last night. And as a result of those victories, the state Senate has gone from being Republican to very likely being Democrat now. And really I’m certainly not going to call it a victory. Like I said, we lost the actual recall of the governor, but –

MORGAN: Let me just jump in there. I mean, that is my point. If you keep calling him an extremist but you accept that he won, what does that say about the people of Wisconsin? Are they all just a bunch of mad extremists?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No. What it says is that voters look at a recall very differently than they look at a straight-up election. And if you look at the exit polling, about 70 percent of the voters that cast ballots yesterday were uncomfortable in some way with the actual recall of a governor.

So while they didn’t like his policies, they didn’t think that they were comfortable with a recall. At the end of the day, I think if you asked any Republican governor in the country if they would trade places with Scott Walker for the last year, and if they would, if they had it to do it over again, take the same steps that Scott Walker did and had to go through a full recall and raising $31 million –

(Crosstalk)

MORGAN: You could argue, of course, that Scott Walker’s probably thrilled that he had to go through it now because it’s made him a national superstar. It’s revved up his party. He’s the hero of the hour. So I would imagine he’s thinking, bring on the recalls. Let’s move on to something else –

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, I can’t imagine that he would be saying that. And that more would – most governors in the country would trade places with him having to raise 31 million dollars, and really having to spend the last year defending policies that were –

MORGAN: We will agree to disagree. I suspect Scott Walker’s chuffed to bits tonight.

Romney goes for a Walker

WashingtonPost

Well before the Wisconsin recall transfixed the political scene, Mitt Romney had accumulated a raft of proposals designed to minimize the power of organized labor.

His Web site lists a number of these:

● Appoint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) experienced individuals with respect for the rule of law;

● Amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to explicitly protect the right of business owners to allocate their capital as they see fit;

● Reverse executive orders issued by President Obama that tilt the playing field toward organized labor;

● Amend the NLRA to guarantee the secret ballot in every union-certification election;

● Amend the NLRA to guarantee that all pre-election campaigns last at least one month;

● Support states in pursuing right-to-work laws; and

● Prohibit the use for political purposes of funds automatically deducted from worker paychecks.

Romney has also proposed cutting the federal workforce and repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, the New Deal-era statute that requires government contractors to pay prevailing union-wage rates. This jacks up the cost of projects, which can force small contractors out of the bidding.

In this, however, Romney should be careful of overreach. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) took on public employee unions, not private-sector unions, and he did so in order to directly benefit the taxpayers and improve government efficiency. If Romney is perceived as going after “working stiffs,” he will fall prey to the “rich-guy ogre” stereotype.

He, therefore, would be wise to keep his proposals in perspective. First, focus on the inequities and inherent conflicts of interest regarding public employee unions — by, for example, prohibiting elected officials and their designees from collective bargaining with those who have given campaign donations (or by making such agreements subject to confirmation by a supermajority of the state legislature).

Second, don’t appoint business flunkies to the NLRB just because President Obama put his stooges in. There are attorneys and non-lawyers (such as professional labor arbitrators) who are perceived as balanced and unbiased. The focus should be on finding qualified board members with integrity. And finally, return the Labor Department to its original charter, which is to provide a level playing field where employees can choose to organize or not to organize.

The real pitch for Romney is that he’s not in the pocket of Big Labor and can therefore make the tough decision on the side of the taxpayers, not on the side of a narrow special-interest group. That message will resonate in many parts of the country.

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