Sunday, October 22, 2017

Walker's '18 campaign baggage getting heavier

[Updated from 10/21/17] Watching WI GOP Gov. and faithful Trump servant Scott Walker withhold his formal re-election campaign announcement reminds me of a harried Dad at the airport baggage carousel.

Has anyone seen Ned's suitcase? Who has Molly's backpack? Can grandpa's van carry everything?

Scott Walker, campaigner-and-baggage-handler-in-chief.

*  Are you aware Ron Johnson & friends just voted to kill the deductibility of state and local taxes - - including property taxes - - from taxable federal income? You bet Walker and his consultants are trying to figure out how to spin it. More precisely, away from it.

Those are hugely important deductions for people in high-tax states like Wisconsin, but Trump needs to gather additional revenues to pay for bigger, long-sought giant tax cuts for the rich, leaving politicians like Walker holding the bag.

Walker may bob, weave and brag his way around this campaign land mine with word salad about the standard deduction - - which people who itemize don't take anyway.

And he'll remind people that he has modestly cut taxes for average filers (will he also feature his tax cuts that favored high-earners and businesses?) to the tune of a cup of coffee a week or a Happy Meal every month, but I don't think that's going to make people forget they won't be able to deduct their property and state tax payments if Trump and fellow WI GOP right-winger Sen. Ron Johnson prevail on behalf of the Koch & Friends who are making the demands.   

*  And it will be interesting to see how Walker explains to voters, especially seniors and working families who are pitching in for their elderly relatives' care that his pals Trump, Johnson and leading Congressional fiscal ideologue Paul Ryan want to slash billions from the Medicare and Medicaid programs which Trump pledged during the presidential campaign not to cut - - a campaign and candidacy which Walker supported:

Scott Walker Throws Support Behind Donald Trump in Convention Speech
But let's not suggest that all of Walker's campaign trail burdens are Trump's doing. 

Walker is the one whose administration has failed to stem the spread of chronic wasting disease in the state deer herd, and whose corporate servitude has led to an ever-expanding number of bills, laws, one-sided settlements and special favors to businesses that are filling wetlands and giving polluters a green light.

I don't think Walker can campaign in rural Wisconsin this fall on the strength of his ritual deer-stand photo and, then come springtime, his fishing season opener appearance as state natural resources are constantly on his chopping block.

Wisconsin deer stands and favorite streams these days are accessed on the second-worst roads in the nation which have deteriorated on Walker's watch

In Small Wisconsin Towns, paved roads return to gravel
While it’s unclear how many towns have turned old blacktop back to gravel, Wisconsin’s worsening road conditions are well-documented. A recent state audit found about 14 percent of local paved roads in Jackson County — home to Northfield and Garfield — were in poor or very poor condition. In Douglas County — where Lakeside is located — that figure jumped to about 23 percent.
Conditions on state highways have also been getting worse in just the past five years, according to the audit, and the proportion of Wisconsin highways in good condition is considerably lower than in other Midwestern states. 
*  Walker also has to sell taxpayers statewide on the notion that the Foxconn deal isn't just a $3.74 billion public subsidy to a foreign-based company pledging to build and hire in the southeast corner of the state.

And to make voters forget that he's failed after nearly eight years in office to create the 250,000 new jobs he'd said would be a snap after just one, four-year term, as was reported earlier this year

The total number of jobs created since Walker took office is 185,208, or 64,792 short of Walker's goal of 250,000.
And that last year, Wisconsin showed little growth and had a net loss in manufacturing jobs, according to data released in May: 
Wisconsin lost manufacturing jobs in 2016, the first year that's happened since the Great Recession.
Detailed job numbers released Friday afternoon by the state Department of Workforce Development show Wisconsin lost 3,776 manufacturing jobs.
The job losses came at a time when Wisconsin was spending nearly $300 million a year to cut manufacturers’ income and corporate taxes in an effort to grow the state’s economy.
The same set of job numbers also showed overall hiring slowed in 2016 as the state added just 11,590 private sector jobs.
* Business startups haven't been going well, either. Actually, the Walker record is horrible: won't find him tweeting about this data-driven, 50-state comparative business ranking showing Wisconsin frozen in the 50th spot - - again - - in the always-significant business category: entrepreneurial, start-up activity. 
Update - - Now last in the Kauffman survey for the third year in a row.

And we're approaching day five six of a cover-up by Walker and his always-troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation of just what was discovered at the 11th hour in the proposed giveaway agreement with Foxconn - - a summary post about the deal with dozens of links is here - - that is holding up contract signatures.

*  While Foxconn is supposed to be built in GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' SE Wisconsin district, and he won again in the budget when his beloved quarter-billion I-94 North-South expansion project shoved other ongoing highway projects to the shoulder when it was rolled into the Foxconn bill, too, it might take a while for the Speaker to get out on the hustings and sell Walker to the GOP base:
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos vented frustration to Gov. Scott Walker in text messages this month over a budget deal Walker cut with Senate conservatives.
“I won’t forget this,” the Rochester Republican texted the GOP governor after he announced his veto plans...
The messages underscore the depth of animosity between two of the state’s leading Republicans and come after protracted budget negotiations.
Add party disunity to Walker's expanding campaign-trail load, even though last year he was said to be a party unifier.

Ironies abound: Remember that Walker likes to say that Wisconsin is open for business, but maybe his rush to bring in Foxconn with a one-page super-maximum hand-written offer was a little too open.

Now, where's that baggage cart? Get an extra, as I don't think Vos is available to help. 


Saturday, October 21, 2017

With Zoo Interchange unfinished & I-94 E/W widening dead...

Consider that today's I-94 congestion west of Milwaukee has been made worse because a passenger rail option like this - - 
with construction funding in hand could have opened in 2006, but was killed by the suburban and and anti-urban GOP right, as this 2008 article explains
A starter light rail system was recommended for Milwaukee County in a major state-funded regional transportation study in the 1990s that had considerable public and private sector support.
But conservative AM talk radio and opposition in Waukesha County blocked further study of light rail for Milwaukee, even though $241 million in federal funds was set aside specifically for transit improvements in Milwaukee County.
Had plans unfolded on schedule, the starter light rail, with an estimated 21,000 riders on weekdays, would have opened in 2006 and run about 10 miles from the Third Ward to Summerfest, downtown, Miller Park, the Milwaukee County Zoo and the County Grounds.
Talk about a missed opportunity.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Scott Walker, clean-up on aisle '18

That the GOP/Walker-led WI government is maneuvering, spinning or burying some major public policy problems suggests that Walker's 2018 re-election announcement is imminent.

Call it the pre-campaign de-cluttering. Might work. Might not, but what's partisan and self-preserving will take precedence over the public interest when Walker and his allies are involved.

*  The DNR has settled a power play lawsuit on terms favorable to the special interest that brought it - - Big Dairy - - which means there will be more muck flowing from big CAFOs already running amok.

The dairy interests claimed that the DNR was over-regulating them even though state auditors had found multiple problems with DNR enforcement actions, and the term "nitrate nightmare" has shown up in recent new reporting in La Crosse.

In case you don't think the settlement was on Big Dairy's terms, read no further than the headline on the industry's reaction:
Dairy Business Association wins victory in settlement of lawsuit with state regulators
Though environmental organizations had petitioned to intervene in the litigation, so this may not be the end of the story.

*  Work continues behind the scenes to fix the multi-billion tax dollar and water rights giveaway contract the WEDC has delayed signing with Foxconn, and to date, WEDC has managed the story by a) keeping secret what has been FUBAR, and b) not using, so far as I can see, words which can never again be associated with Walker: "drafting error."

Though "cover up" does cover it.

*  And while the state touts awarding municipalities some federal funds for lead removal, I do not see any new state dollars to supplement already-insufficient state appropriations to address this critical public health activity in Walker's 2017-'19 state budget.

Final thought.

These issues are still rolls of the dice for Team Walker.

A pollution event at a big Wisconsin dairy operation or fresh findings of lead contamination in drinking water systems, given what is already known from Flint and other cities' experiences, won't make for great campaign optics.

And if the Foxconn contract 'fix' ever surfaces, a drafting error due to simple human or computing incompetencies would actually look better than someone in the Walker machine having inserted an unspeakably sour concession at public expense in what was already the sweetest deal for a business in state history.

Stay tuned.

A Foxconn Fever primer

[Updated continuously throughout July, August, September, and October] Foxconn wants to build in Wisconsin, so here is a growing archive of coverage and commentary on this blog, beginning with what's most recent:

*  Foxconn giveaways targeted to SE WI, now mysteriously delayed
Walker's '16 campaign baggage getting heavier
*  Fixing FUBAR Foxconn contract w/out saying "drafting error." And more
Scott Walker: Clean up on aisle '18
*  The Foxconn contract FUBAR is being covered up
Walker's Foxconn coverup clock is running
*  Foxconn deal delayed
What? Foxconn deal isn't ready at WEDC? 
*  Foxconn now driving the WI highway budget, away from everyday needs
Hurried $252 Foxconn million for I-94 N/S is both outrage and chicken feed
*  Villages take more time to ponder building a school
Locals pushed to hand Foxconn $764 million
*  Will Racine area cabbage fields sprout lemons?
Foxconn's $764 million local shares get aired this week
*  Saying 'trust the company' overlooks reality and the record
Booster discharges murky Foxconn spin
*  Yipes! Local taxpayers will pony up $764 million local dollars For Foxconn
$764 million cost of Foxconn 'win' for WI local government
*  Rush in WI to legislate broad environmental rollbacks statewide, Foxconn-style
In post-Foxconn WI, GOP is done w/air, wetlands law 
*  The Foxconn measuring stick
Foxconn gets swift [WI AG] Schimel boost, rape kits get indolence
*  About Walker overpaying for Foxconn by a factor of five
So Scott Walker walks into an auction...
Major fox in the Foxconn chicken coop
Walker names Great Lakes Compact foe as key Foxconn aide 
*  Oh, those Foxconn obstacles
Fast-tracked Foxconn mix could sour
*  $3 billion bet on his re-election campaign. Then on jobs.
Note to NY Times: Foxconn is about Walker re-election. Then jobs.
*  Walker-led GOP group whitewashes his past, Foxconn future
Walker shills rewrite his job creation record, Foxconn outlook
*  Really painful, stupefying irony alert
Foxconn bill signing to spotlight Walker/Vos transportation incompetence
* Walker, Foxconn and the "s" word
Scott Walker's missing Foxconn word
* Foxconn deal underscores Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality 'governance
Walker's WI is model hard-right "chamber of commerce" state 
*  Oh, and about that little overlooked Foxconn item - - a Lake MI diversion
Foxconn water diversion story needed more attention 
*  Viewing Foxconn through Walker's discarded ethics lens
Walker's deleted ethics code could have skewed Foxconn giving, lobbying
*  Foxconn is Walker's biggest use of gov't to pick winners and losers, yet...
Despite denials, Walker uses gov't. to pick winners & losers
*  WI Senate joins the Foxconn parade
Wis conned. GOP-led State Senate gives OK to unprecedented giveaways.
*  Not this special favor for Foxconn, this one!
WI GOP Senate Leader adds phantom judicial 'restriction' to Foxconn deal
*  Foxconn settles on Racine County, despite flooding history there
Foxconn headed for flood-prone Racine County
*  Foxconn might feel it's the one which got conned
For new WI mines, more env. giveaways than Foxconn got
*  Along with tax breaks, free highway work - - special Supreme Court access
WI GOP lawmakers hand Foxconn newer, bigger favor
* One potential Foxconn locale is struggling with the opportunity
With Foxconn looming, Mount Pleasant had a meltdown
* Out-going DNR Secretary Stepp spills the beans
DNR's Stepp says a Foxconn was the plan all along
* Holding Foxconn to the Walker/Trump environmental (will-wink) 'standards'
Exposing Walker's environmental Foxconn con
'No-tax-increase Walker' might just raise local taxes
Add local taxpayers to school on cusp of Foxconning
*  WI may find Foxconn draining education funding
WI legislators, on educ. funding today, could show Foxconn effect 
*  Latest news: Foxconn's billion-dollar 'strain' on state budgets, or "D'uh!"
Go suck on $1 billion worth of lemons, Bucky
*  At least this time he didn't call you an ISIS fighter.
Vintage Walker uses Foxconn to flip off the people
*  A rushed project would not need so many corrections.
Another day, another Foxconn data correction.
*  GOP leaders Walker/Vos/Stepp have long failed job creation, environmental protection pledges.
On Foxconn assurances, consider the sources and histories
*  13,000 jobs? No accident that the Assembly and public didn't have all the facts
Put Foxconn on hold until Walker explains data suppression
*  Robin Vos, reckless and feckless.
Robin Vos trivialized $3 billion, ignored shocking jobs info
*  Dispensing with clean blue water, green legacy. 
Green? WI GOP likes brown, orange, perhaps blackish and 'sudsy'
*  And the next shoe drops. 
Seeing Foxconn 'win, WI GOP env. wrecking crew eyes mining favors 
*  Walker, GOP laid Foxconn groundwork years ago.
Foxconn favors are basic to Walker, GOP's sloppy playbook
*  Walker evades leadership from #Foxconn to #Charlottesville.
On jobs, moral leadership, persistent Walker con
*  Reality, troubling numbers, no state budget mean nothing to GOP legislature.
GOP Foxconn votes proceed robotically as jobs, revenue estimates fall
* New Foxconn bill version, same environmental rollbacks, records show.
Amended Foxconn bill retains env. waivers, special privileges
*  Changing the rules to fit the players.

As WI, GOP change the rules for Foxconn, a reminder
*WI will subsidize Foxconn jobs paying nowhere near family-supporting wages.
WI now talking about <$15-per-hour Foxconn jobs
*  Now they're just wishing and hoping.
Witless Walker's farcical Foxconn fix
*  The Chicago Sun-Times 'thanks' Walker for pro-Illinois Foxconn plan
Another bad review for Walker's Foxconn deal
*  Now we look for solace to Scott Fitzgerald (!) as Foxconn gets horrible reviews.
Foxconn doubters turn their lonely eyes to...Scott Fitzgerald!
*  Foxconn is to get a pass from normal DNR reviews, which is fine with the DNR.
Stepp puts the DNR in on Foxconn env. evasion
*  Walker told his Foxconn critics to 'go suck lemons.' Then...
Sucking lemons - - or absorbing buyer's remorse - - for 26 sucking years
*  Walker's fake-news Foxconn projects are collapsing.
Foxconn taxpayer projections zoom, payroll benefits plunge
* No surprise that major WI polluting industry. wants env. exemptions.
If Foxconn is exempted from env. oversight, why not CAFOs?
Who's to say that Foxconn privileges won't be applied statewide?
And if environmental rules and laws are waived for Foxconn...  
* Does Michigan have better deal-makers than Wisconsin? 
Foxconn eyes Michigan for high tech development site
*  Water law expert says Foxconn environmental rollback endangers the deal.

Noted water law expert predicts WI officials' Foxconn 'bungle'
*  The Walker/WMC tag team.
Foxconn to locate at intersection of Walker and WMC avenues
*  Big business laughs off Foxconn project environmental concerns.
Wisconsin Biz lobby sneers at routine Wisconsin conservation guarantee
*  Walker never saw a wetland he didn't want filled.
Walker's giveaway Foxconn bill extends his war on wetlands
*  Zoo Interchange completion $$ rerouted to another project for Foxconn.
Because the I-94 Vos/Foxconn exit isn't in the Zoo Interchange
*  Foxconn process 'open,' says Walker after closed door briefing for GOP caucuses.
Walker opens 'open' Foxconn FavorFest behind closed doors
*  Walker, Ryan producing Foxconn political ads.
Walker giveth to Foxconn, taketh for his re-election
*  Walker would allow Foxconn 19th century 'environmental' practices.
'Wisconsin Valley' or Wisconsin, Inc. dead zone?
*  The Legislature pushed to re-create Wisconsin as Wisconsin, Inc.
Rushed Foxconn special session set for 11 a.m. August 1
*  SE WI communities should worry about what Walker wants to do with their budgets, tax collections:
For Foxconn, Walker bets your farm, breaks the bank(s)
*  Walker, AG and legislature could give away what's not theirs:
Foxconn favors face WI Constitutional barrier
*  GOP Wi Attorney General Brad Schimel weighs in, pre-emptively and rhetorically.
Greenlight for Foxconn in WI AG's Tweet, rhetoric
*  Walker to convert Wisconsin to Wisconn without a constitutional convention, and if you don't like it, 'go suck lemons."
Walker to sacrifice DNR, PSC and WisDot integrity for 'Wisconn'
*  The cynical pot has his say.
Walker - - Gov. Cynicism - - decries Foxconn 'cynics'
*  Walker already has '18 campaign in Foxconn frame:
About Walker's '18 election Foxconn over-under
*  In Walker's Wisconsin, some blue-collar jobs are more important than others:
Walker touts Foxconn construction jobs, threw away Amtrak's
* Walker, Trump should become the new champions of Great Lakes preservation and climate change science: 
Great Lakes water lifts Foxconn deal
*  About jobs:
3,000 Foxconn jobs would not = 3,776 WI mfg. jobs lost in '16
*  Are HB-5 $$-for-visas in the deal:
Are green cards for investment in a Foxconn-WI deal?
*  Public dollars needed:
How many WI dollars will Walker give super-wealthy Foxconn?
*  When Foxconn stiffed another state:
If you've got Foxconn fever, remember Pennsylvania's hangover
*  Vos blocked transit Foxconn workers could have used:
Vos' long transit blockade does not help Racine's Foxconn future
* Walker killed Amtrak service Foxconn might have loved: 
Amtrak line killed by Walker could have fed Foxconn


Thursday, October 19, 2017

More media focus on voter suppression WI knows too well

Props to Mother Jones for informing a national audience that Scott Walker's Voter ID law suppressed the 2016 election day turnout in Wisconsin and helped tip the outcome to Donald Trump. 
The state, which ranked second in the nation in voter participation in 2008 and 2012, saw its lowest turnout since 2000. More than half the state’s decline in turnout occurred in Milwaukee, which Clinton carried by a 77-18 margin, but where almost 41,000 fewer people voted in 2016 than in 2012...This is where Clinton lost the state and, with it, the larger narrative about the election.  
Neil Albrecht, Milwaukee’s election director, believes that the voter ID law and other changes passed by the Republican Legislature contributed significantly to lower turnout...
“I would estimate that 25 to 35 percent of the 41,000 decrease in voters, or somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 voters, likely did not vote due to the photo ID requirement,” he said later. “It is very probable that between the photo ID law and the changes to voter registration, enough people were prevented from voting to have changed the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin.”
But it is frustrating and galling to point out that this is not a new story.

It is frustrating and galling to point out that Wisconsin has known all too well the consequences of Walker and his allies contorted into law were predictable.

So frustrating and galling because the motives behind the voter suppressionistic tactics referenced by Mother Jones and Milwaukee election director Albrecht referenced were obvious to anyone who was paying attention when Republicans took control of the state after the November, 2010 elections.

I wrote at the time

Scott Fitzgerald wants voter photo ID because he knows there has been phantom voting by people using multiple ballots.
How does he know this?
The fortune teller who brings his weekly delivery of magic beans heard it from a unicorn - - and that's how legislation will be written in the new Legislature.
The newspaper finds his claim false.
Will this dissuade Fitzgerald from codifying voter photo ID, banning same-day registration and other voting suppression schemes designed to tamp down turnout in Democratic student and low-income wards?
Not a chance. Like the Amtrak like from Milwaukee to Madison that Scott Walker killed purportedly over the annual operating costs, voter photo ID and the related legislation is not about facts.
It's all about partisan advantage and power politics.
Opponents of Walker's Voter ID and the partisan mythology on which it was purportedly based tried over the years to frame the law as voter suppression; I find the phrase showing up 98 times on my blog, as this 2016 example again notes
National media reports show Wisconsin GOP led voting suppression 
[Updated from 3:26 p.m., 10/26] State officials ordered by federal judge to find ID-seekers improperly turned away at DMV offices; federal election oversight sought. 
[Updated from 5:30 p.m., 10/25] Our intentionally-corrupted state with Scott Walker at the helm is leading the news today. 
From The New York Times: 
And today, separately from a story spreading across the Internet originating with discoveries made by One Wisconsin Institute and published in The Nation: 
Walker policies and allies are throughout these stories.
Updated with past articles:
*  Behind closed doors, Republicans were giddy over voter ID's partisan opportunities. 
*  In a separate interview, Glenn Grothman, a former Wisconsin GOP state senator promoted to the US Congress said the voter ID law would help a Republican presidential candidate win Wisconsin this November. 
And Wisconsin Republicans and their allies have acknowledged using suppressionist laws and tactics for partisan benefit: 
Deep in a trove of leaked documents made public this week was the latest example of Republican candor over voter ID laws — this time in Wisconsin. 
There, as a tight race for election to the state’s Supreme Court came to a close in April 2011, conservative leaders wondered aloud how to respond should Justice David Prosser Jr. — a reliable opponent of legal challenges to the agenda of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican — go down in defeat. 
A senior vice president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce, Steve Baas, had a thought. “Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number?” he wrote in an email on April 6 to conservative strategists. “I obviously think we should.”
MADISON, Wis. — It seemed a clear victory for voting rights advocates in July when a federal court invalidated much of Wisconsin’s restrictive elections law, concluding that it discriminated against minorities by requiring voters to produce photo ID cards that blacks and Latinos too often lack. The remedy was straightforward: Henceforth, the state was to “promptly issue a credential valid as a voting ID to any person” who applied for one. 
But this month when Treasure Collins visited one of the Wisconsin motor vehicle offices that issue IDs, she found something entirely different.
A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW–Green Bay Because ‘Students Lean More Toward the Democrats’

Walker's Foxconn cover-up clock is ticking

[Updated from 10/18/17] 

Day two of the Waslker/Foxconn coverup and Wisconsin's democracy slides further into Imperial Kleptocracy.

So...the con in Foxconn extends to the contract.

The longer Walker and his always-troubled, long-failing, detail-free Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation withhold from the public key details from the multi-billion-public-dollar contract FUBAR prepared for Foxconn's signature, the more we move from incompetence mode to cover-up. 

I'd posted this earlier today, and so far, I see nothing from Walker or the WEDC to bring the people into the Team Walker's little secret:

...a State Senator says a surprise delay holding up the approval of the state's $3+billion commitment to Foxconn is due to the discovery of an oversight in the deal on the level of a "nuclear bomb." 
But don't fret about it; in fact, there's no need for you to know anything particular about it at all:
WEDC board chairwoman Lisa Mauer confirmed the vote was pushed back because of a particular concern but also declined to provide specifics. She said it was detected late in the negotiating process.
“We want to get this right,” Mauer said. “When something goes awry, you step back and you address that specific issue, and that is what’s going to happen.” 
People have a right to know and Walker's people have to provide the information, 

Clarke: Carry along a white Congresswoman, just in case...

Intentionally stupid Tweet of the week:

The Dem Party gives license to black members of Congress to go after President Trump because if he responds they’ll just call him racist.