Tag: letter

An open letter to America about Scott Walker from an Illinoisan who has blogged about Walker

My fellow Americans,

Sometime tomorrow, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker will formally launch his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

As someone who has blogged about Walker on a regular basis for the past few years, I’ve come to know Walker as a horrible politician who, with the help of his political allies in the Wisconsin State Legislature, has destroyed Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. In a sane world, Walker’s record as Governor of Wisconsin would be an immediate disqualifier for any future campaign for public office. To give you a description of Walker’s style of politics, if one combined the worst elements of Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Jerry Falwell, and Grover Norquist, you’d get Walker.

Since taking office as Wisconsin’s chief executive four and a half years ago, Scott Walker has, among other things:

  • Stripped collective bargaining rights from public employee unions
  • Enacted wage theft laws allowing non-union workers at unionized workplaces to refuse to join a labor union and/or pay union dues despite receiving union-negotiated wages and benefits
  • Drastically cut the pay of public employees
  • Made it harder for Wisconsin women to seek legal recourse if they’ve been denied equal pay for the same work as their male counterparts
  • Established a corporate welfare agency in Wisconsin that is rife with corruption, cronyism, and mismanagement
  • Cut funding from public elementary, secondary, and higher education
  • Expanded Wisconsin’s school voucher programs that funnel taxpayer money to religious schools
  • Made it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want
  • Given out tax breaks to big businesses and the wealthy
  • Weakened environmental protections
  • Arrested people for singing
  • Enacted discriminatory voter ID laws designed to keep Wisconsinites from voting
  • Stripped local control from counties and communities in Wisconsin that usually vote for Democratic candidates
  • Openly compared the people of Wisconsin to terrorists
  • Blatantly violated campaign finance laws
  • Given wealthy right-wingers and big business interests virtually complete control of Wisconsin’s state government

Walker’s policies and actions have, among other things:

  • Driven down the wages of Wisconsinites
  • Stifled economic growth in Wisconsin
  • Has made Wisconsin one of the most corrupt states in the entire country
  • Lowered the percentage of middle-class Wisconsin households
  • Left Wisconsin with severe budget problems
  • Made Wisconsin the laughingstock of America

However, we don’t live in a sane world. Walker has been elected Governor of Wisconsin three times in a four-year period against weak, uninspiring corporate Democrats. I believe that, if Democrats do not nominate Bernie Sanders for president, Scott Walker will become the next President of the United States, and, given how he’s wrecked Wisconsin over the past four and a half years, that is a truly scary thought. If Walker is elected president, what little remains of the American middle class and American sovereignty will be completely destroyed, big business interests will completely take over the federal government at every level, America’s federal budget deficit and national debt will grow massively, social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare will be privatized or outright eliminated, America’s economy will crash again, and corruption will run amok in the federal government.

You can read about Scott Walker’s horrible track record here, here, here, here, and here, among many other places. Furthermore, if you ever get in touch with these people either in person or by other means, you can ask people like Lori Compas, Wendi Kent, Karen Vieth, Kati Walsh, Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, Zach Wisniewski, Kelda Roys, Chris Taylor, Melissa Sargent, Kathleen Vinehout, Rebecca Kemble, Fred Risser, Kelly Westlund, Barbara With, Randy Bryce, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Heather DuBois Bourenane, Ingrid Laas, Sachi Komai, Laura Komai, Jenni Dye, JoCasta Zamarripa, Laura Manriquez, Mandela Barnes, LaTonya Johnson, Angela Walker, Christine Sinicki, Lisa Mux, and Mike McCabe, just to name a few, about what they think about Scott Walker…they’re all Wisconsinites, and they know how horrible Scott Walker’s policies and actions have been for Wisconsin.

As a lifelong Illinoisan and proud progressive, I would walk through fire to vote for the Democratic opponent to Scott Walker if he were to be nominated by the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States if that’s what it took for me to get to the polls.

Sincerely,
Aaron Camp
Westville, Illinois

Martha Laning makes a huge impact in her first week as Wisconsin Democratic chairwoman

It’s only been a week since Martha Laning was elected Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), but she has already made a huge impact in Wisconsin politics by being, to my pleasant surprise, a critic of some forms of corporate welfare and a supporter of good government.

On Thursday, Laning sent this letter officially asking far-right Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel to do his job by helping to facilitate the release of official Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) records. As uncovered by audits, the WEDC, a state corporate welfare agency in Wisconsin created by Scott Walker and Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2011, has repeatedly refused to comply with federal and state laws, as well as mismanaged Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money. While I’d never support the campaign of someone like Schimel for any public office, it would be the right thing for Schimel to help release records pertaining to the morbidly corrupt and incompetent WEDC, because Wisconsinites should have the right to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.

That’s not the first time Laning has railed against some forms of corporate welfare and publicly supported good government policies.

In this interview on Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) stations across Wisconsin, Laning outlined the Democratic strategy in Wisconsin for the November 2016 elections and beyond, as well as gave some of her own opinions on various political issues in Wisconsin and nationally. Laning emphasized messaging heavily in the WPR interview; in fact, Laning pointed out a major flaw in the Democratic messaging that has been used in recent Wisconsin election cycles: many Wisconsinites don’t know what the Democratic Party stands for! Additionally, Laning publicly supported Move to Amend, an organized political movement that is pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution designed to remove the undue influence of money from our nation’s political system, and, to my pleasant surprise, sharply criticized a state tax break for Wisconsin manufacturers that all but eliminated taxes on Wisconsin manufacturers, even emphasizing how tax revenue funds things that are commonplace in society, such as roads, the judicial system, police departments, and fire departments. Regarding the 2018 gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, Laning strongly suggested that “several” potential candidates would at least consider running for Governor of Wisconsin as a Democrat, although she declined to name any potential candidates. Laning also strongly implied that she would prefer whoever Wisconsin Democrats nominate for governor in 2018 to emphasize “building strong communities”, “opportunity for all”, and “fairness”.

Needless to say, this is not what I expected from Martha Laning when she was elected to lead the Democratic Party in a critical swing state. I was expecting Laning to be a backbencher of sorts as DPW Chair, mostly working behind the scenes and rarely issuing public statements of her own about political issues. Instead, Laning has, to my pleasant surprise, publicly railed against preferential tax breaks for large businesses and has strongly supported restoring Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government. Will I agree with every single thing Martha Laning does as DPW Chair? Likely not, as I’ve never agreed with anyone 100% of the time. Do I think that Martha Laning will be a wonderful DPW Chair? She’s certainly off to a great start!

Why I’m pulling my endorsement of Jeff Smith and endorsing Martha Laning for Wisconsin Democratic chairperson

I’d never thought that I’d say this, given how I’ve criticized Martha Laning multiple times on this blog, but I’m actually pulling my endorsement of Jeff Smith and endorsing Martha Laning in the race for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW).

Obviously, you’re probably wondering why I would do something like that. It’s because of this letter from the Jeff Smith campaign, which was sent to at least one DPW member that I’m aware of, in which Smith offered Laning the post of DPW Executive Director if he were to be elected chair, and then criticized Laning in the same letter, which is something I’d never do if I was offering someone a job. After I notified Laning’s campaign of Smith’s letter via Facebook, the Laning campaign issued this statement, in which Laning strongly stated that she had refused Smith’s offer and criticized Smith for mentioning the offer in campaign literature. What Smith did was the single most asinine thing I’ve ever seen someone who I’ve sincerely endorsed ever do. I think that a candidate offering an opposing candidate a job if the candidate making the offer wins is, in my opinion, downright unethical. Do I think that Jeff Smith would make a good leader of the DPW? I think he would. However, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support Jeff’s campaign after he sent out that letter.

Do I agree with everything Martha Laning has said or done in her life? No. Do I agree with every single political position Martha Laning has taken? No. Is Martha Laning the most electrifying person in all of politics? No. What I can say about her is that Martha Laning has promised a more inclusive Democratic Party of Wisconsin. If she is elected chair, I will hold her accountable to that promise. Laning also has some interesting ideas, including helping candidates send out literature in foreign languages to Wisconsin voters who don’t speak English as their first language and providing more funding to county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin.

Also, regarding the race for First Vice-Chairperson of the DPW, if Laning is elected chair, David Bowen, a Wisconsin State Representative representing a district containing Shorewood and part of Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, would automatically become first vice-chair, because the chair and first vice-chair of the DPW are required to be of the opposite gender, and no male candidate is running against Bowen that I know of. Consider my endorsement of Laning as, by extension, an endorsement of Bowen. If one of the male candidates is elected chair, I would encourage DPW delegates to vote for Dottie LeClair. This is an extremely rare example of a dual endorsement from me; the only reason I’m issuing a dual endorsement is because of the way DPW conducts elections for chair and first vice-chair, as well as the fact that both male and female candidates are running for DPW chair and first vice-chair.

Bruce Rauner paying former charter school executive $250,000 per year out of the budget of a social services agency

You may remember Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hiring Beth Purvis, a former Chicago charter school executive, to a newly-created post that could best be described as an “education czar”.

Well, you may be surprised about where the money for Purvis’s ridiculously high $250,000/year salary is coming from.

Rauner is paying Purvis’s $250,000/year salary out of the budget of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS is not responsible for overseeing education in Illinois (the Illinois State Board of Education oversees K-12 education at the state level in Illinois), instead, it’s a government agency that, among other things, administers social safety net programs run by the state and provides assistance to people with developmental disabilities. This revelation comes not long after Rauner authorized a funding cut of $26 million from DHS, which would make it harder for Illinoisans who need the state’s social safety net to survive and get their lives back on track to get the help they need.

Democratic Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who is the chairman of the Illinois House Human Services Appropriations Committee, has called for Rauner to testify over cutting funding meant to help our state’s most vulnerable residents and using it to pay the ridiculously high salary of a mouthpiece for Rauner’s political agenda to destroy public education in Illinois (official letter here). I agree with Harris on this issue, because it’s absolutely ridiculous for Rauner to cut funding from the most vulnerable Illinoisans and give it to his political cronies.

43 Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin elected officials call for the end of “shameful racial disparities” in letter to the community

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post includes a letter signed by local elected officials in the City of Madison, the Madison Metropolitan School District, and Dane County in Wisconsin, republished in its entirety with the permission of Dane County Board First Vice-Chair Carousel Bayrd.

A total of 43 members of the Dane County (WI) Board of Supervisors, the Madison (WI) Metropolitan School District Board, and the Madison (WI) Common Council signed a letter calling for the end of “shameful racial disparities” in Madison and Dane County in Wisconsin after 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was biracial, was shot and killed by Matt Kenny, a white Madison Police Department officer.

You can view the full letter and list of signatories below:

To the residents of our community:

The death of Tony Robinson is a horrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tony Robinson’s family and friends. We are sorry that we have lost the life of an African American teenager in our community.

Black lives matter. Our history, both nationally and locally, with respect to our African American community is unacceptable. Many of the incidents, shootings, and deaths that we see reported on the news find their root cause in the intolerable disparity present in our community. That disparity and its attendant injustice may have arisen from our history, but we allow it to continue.

This past weekend in Selma, President Barack Obama said “[Our national creed is] the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo. That’s America.” We thank those community leaders and citizens who enacted those words before they were spoken. It is time we all joined them.

We must do better. We are here to ask each of our constituents to accept along with us the challenge of ending the shameful racial disparities in our community. Every one of us must be a part of the solution. Black lives have to matter to each and every one of us. We must be the City and County where a Black youth, a Latino youth, an Asian youth, a Native American youth, a White youth, where any young man or woman feels that this is a community they belong to, a community full of opportunities. A community where their dreams can happen, not end.

Jointly signed by the following City of Madison Alders, Dane County Supervisors, and Madison Municipal School District Board Members:

Sup. Carousel Bayrd
Ald. Shiva Bidar‐Sielaff
Sup. Jerome Bollig
Ald. Maurice Cheeks
Ald. Joe Clausius
Ald. Mark Clear
Ald. Lauren Cnare
Sup. Sharon Corrigan
Ald. Lucas Dailey
Sup. Patrick Downing
Sup. Jenni Dye
Ald. Denise DeMarb
Sup. Chuck Erickson
Sup. George Gillis
Sup. John Hendrick
Board Member Ed Hughes
Sup. Tim Kiefer
Ald. Steve King
Sup. Mary Kolar
Sup. Dorothy Krause
Board Member Dean Loumos
Sup. Patrick Miles
Ald. Larry Palm
Sup. Leland Pan
Sup. Jeff Pertl
Ald. Matt Phair
Ald. Scott Resnick
Sup. Kyle Richmond
Sup. Michele Ritt
Ald. Marsha Rummel
Sup. Paul Rusk
Sup. Andrew Schauer
Ald. Chris Schmidt
Sup. Robin Schmidt
Board Member Arlene Silveira
Ald. John Strasser
Ald. Lisa Subeck
Ald. Mike Verveer
Sup. Heidi Wegleitner
Ald. Anita Weier
Sup. Abigail Wuest
Ald. Ledell Zellers
Sup. Nick Zweifel

Please note that Lisa Subeck is both a member of the Madison Common Council and a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly; Subeck signed the letter in her capacity as a common council member.

I admire the fact that those elected officials in the Madison/Dane County area of Wisconsin who signed the letter recognize that, despite being one of the most progressive places in the entire country, racial disparities are a systematic problem in Madison and Dane County. If there’s one place in the entire country that can become a model for a more racially equal society, it would be the Madison/Dane County area of Wisconsin, but it will take a large community effort to achieve a more racially equal society there. In fact, it will take a large effort by every person in this country to achieve a more racially equal society all across America.

My thoughts about the 47 Republican Senators who signed the traitorous letter in an attempt to undermine U.S. diplomacy with Iran

I find it highly outrageous that 47 members of the United States Senate, all Republicans, signed a letter in a blatant attempt to undermine attempts at negotiating a deal with Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, apparently violating the federal Logan Act in signing the letter.

The 47 Senators who signed the Cotton Letter are as follows:

  • Richard Shelby of Alabama
  • Jeff Sessions of Alabama
  • Dan Sullivan of Alaska
  • John McCain of Arizona
  • John Boozman of Arkansas
  • Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the ringleader of the effort to undermine diplomacy with Iran
  • Cory Gardner of Colorado
  • Marco Rubio of Florida
  • Johnny Isakson of Georgia
  • David Perdue of Georgia
  • Mike Crapo of Idaho
  • Jim Risch of Idaho
  • Mark Kirk of Illinois
  • Chuck Grassley of Iowa
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Pat Roberts of Kansas
  • Jerry Moran of Kansas
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader
  • Rand Paul of Kentucky
  • David Vitter of Louisiana
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Steve Daines of Montana
  • Deb Fischer of Nebraska
  • Ben Sasse of Nebraska
  • Dean Heller of Nevada
  • Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • John Hoeven of North Dakota
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • James Lankford of Oklahoma
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Tim Scott of South Carolina
  • John Thune of South Dakota
  • Mike Rounds of South Dakota
  • John Cornyn of Texas
  • Ted Cruz of Texas
  • Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate President Pro Tempore
  • Mike Lee of Utah
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
  • Mike Enzi of Wyoming
  • John Barrasso of Wyoming

All 47 of those individuals who I named are traitors to this country who are more interested in starting World War III by undermining the sitting President of the United States and allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons that they could use to bomb the United States and our allies than doing anything that would actually be productive, such as fixing crumbling roads and bridges, making it easier for Americans to go to college, helping the private sector create more good-paying jobs, and so on.

Also, regarding the so-called “pro-Israel” lobby’s support for the Cotton Letter, the Cotton Letter puts Israel, as well as other U.S. allies and the U.S. itself, of even greater danger of an attack by Iranian forces, since the Cotton Letter is designed to undermine efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used by Iran in an attack on the United States and its allies.

I’m calling for the U.S. Justice Department to bring up all 47 of the senators who signed the Cotton Letter on federal criminal charges for violating the Logan Act, which legally prohibits U.S. citizens who are not authorized diplomats from negotiating with a foreign government.

Scott Walker’s new wage theft law is shipping Wisconsin jobs to Minnesota

You want to know how bad wage theft (i.e., right-to-work) legislation is for states that enact them? Well, Wisconsin, which is the most recent state to enact a wage theft law thanks to Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the Wisconsin State Legislature, just lost some construction jobs to Minnesota due to Wisconsin becoming a wage theft state:

Before Walker signed the wage theft bill into law, Pat Garofalo, a Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives who has publicly opposed right-to-work laws, authored an official letter inviting Wisconsin companies who are owned by people who oppose wage theft for whatever reason to move their jobs to Minnesota, where workers’ rights are more protected than they are in Wisconsin. Now, because of the wage theft legislation in Wisconsin, at least one company that I’ve been made aware of has moved their jobs from Wisconsin to Minnesota.

Busting unions and driving down wages does absolutely nothing to create jobs, and Scott Walker’s Wisconsin is proof of that.

Jeff Smith launches campaign for Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairperson with some interesting ideas

Former Democratic Wisconsin State Representative and YouTube legend Jeff Smith is the third person that I’m aware of to formally launch a campaign for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW). Smith sent out this email to his supporters outlining his vision for the DPW and what he’d do if elected DPW chair:

Dear Democrats,

I’m writing to let all of you know that I’m running to be the next chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. I made this decision because our party is in trouble and we need someone with the grit, determination, resolve and experience required to get us back on track. I strongly believe I’m that person and I’ll tell you why.

I’m the only candidate for DPW Chair who has won a seat in the legislature against a long serving Republican in a republican leaning Assembly district. I did that in 2006 by running my own campaign, with my own local volunteers, raising my own money, developing my own messaging, and by talking with voters from dawn until dusk. I’ll bring that kind of work ethic to my job as DPW Chair.

I’ve also served as a Regional Political Director for the DPW. I’ve seen firsthand what does and doesn’t work. There are changes we need to make in how the party functions and I know how to implement those changes.

The 2012 election results showed us that there are more democrats who vote in Wisconsin than there are republicans, but not all of those voters go to the polls in the mid-term elections. This has turned our state government to a deep red. How do we begin to turn that around?

Messaging. Our platform and resolutions contain bold policy ideas that resonate deeply with a broad swath of voters, but our candidates tend to rely on highly paid consultants for their messaging. This has to change. We need strong county parties that can educate voters about the policy positions grassroots democrats embrace, and that can influence our candidates to promote those policies. Strengthening our county party infrastructure is of the utmost importance and priority.

The outgoing chair campaigned for the job in past years by stating that we need year round organizing and a 72 county strategy; great ideas that never came to realization. I will make that a greater focus. One of our biggest problems is not in raising money but rather in how we’re spending what money we have. I’ll start by breaking down the budget to find the money we need to staff multiple field coordinator positions in key areas around the state. I will put my money where my mouth is by cutting the salary of the state chair position and use the savings to fund full-time field coordinators. These field coordinators will work with county party officials, activists and allies to develop outreach strategies to find, educate and engage new and sporadic voters on a year round basis.

Pride in being a Democrat is essential. I want every progressive and liberal thinking person in Wisconsin to boast about being a Democrat. Just as I want laborers to be filled with pride in belonging to a union, I want the professionals in our classrooms to hold their head high and proclaim to be a teacher without having to feel that they should be ashamed. It is up to us as leaders of the Democratic Party to make that happen. First we restore trust, respect and fight, which will equate into pride in ourselves and in our party.

We all should be very grateful to our brothers and sisters in Dane and Milwaukee counties, but we can’t take this state back with only democratic majorities in Dane and Milwaukee. We need a leader who understands the concerns and challenges rural Wisconsin people and voters face. We also need a leader who will take a bold and creative approach to strengthening our party in rural Wisconsin.

I am that leader. I’ve lived in the Chippewa Valley my entire life. I owned a small business for 25 years in the Eau Claire area and raised a family there, and as a Regional Political Director I’ve traveled across all of western, northwestern and central Wisconsin to hear from rural people about the issues that matter to them. It was a good mix of urban and rural voters that sent me to the legislature.

These are just a few of the ideas, strategies and leadership qualities that I’ll bring to the job as your next Chair. As I travel the state in the next few months I look forward to hearing from all of you. Together we can start down the path that will return Wisconsin to its progressive roots. Let’s do it.

Sincerely,

Jeff Smith

While I live in a neighboring state, Wisconsin is very important to the November 2016 elections on a national level, due to the fact that Wisconsin could decide which party controls the White House and the U.S. Senate. There are a few things I strongly liked about Smith’s vision for the DPW. First, Smith promises that, if elected DPW chair, the DPW would strongly emphasize progressive ideals and values, instead of consultant-driven campaigns, on his watch. Second, Smith promises that, if elected DPW chair, he’d cut the chair’s salary, which is currently in the low-six figures. Third, Smith promises to run an actual 72-county strategy in Wisconsin instead of running a 72-county lip service strategy like what the current chairman, Mike Tate, who is not running for re-election, has run for the last six years.

While, in my opinion, Joe Wineke and Jeff Smith are two good candidates for DPW chair, I’m not going to endorse a candidate for DPW chair yet, since there’s a certain individual who is believed to be considering running for DPW chair, and I think that certain individual would be a fantastic chairperson for the DPW if that certain individual were to run for DPW chair and win…