Tag: Milwaukee County WI

Joe Donald: Not an independent-minded jurist

Milwaukee County (WI) Circuit Judge and Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Joe Donald has made his claim of being an independent-minded jurist pretty much his entire campaign for state supreme court.

In reality, he’s just another politician in the political old boys and girls network in Milwaukee that includes people like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee County Executive Chris “Boss” Abele. In fact, Donald has supported Scott Walker’s hand-picked Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, Rebecca Bradley, on multiple occasions prior to Bradley being appointed to Wisconsin’s highest bench:

On Friday a WisPolitics report (unfortunately hidden behind a paywall) highlighted Judge Joe Donald’s past support of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley. According to the report Donald, one of two challengers vying to unseat Bradley, served as a reference on Bradley’s application for an appointment to the 1st District Court of Appeals and endorsed her campaign to retain a seat on the Milwaukee County bench in 2013.

When Rebecca Bradley, one of the most far-right judges in the entire country, ran for public office for the first time (for election to a full term to a Milwaukee County circuit judgeship that she was originally appointed to by Scott Walker), guess who was one of her biggest supporters…Joe Donald. When Rebecca Bradley sought a political appointment from Scott Walker to a seat on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, guess who Bradley listed as her reference…Joe Donald.

The truth of the matter is that Joe Donald is too connected to the political old boys and girls network in Milwaukee, which also includes people like Rebecca Bradley, Chris Abele, and Scott Walker, to be a truly independent justice. There is only one candidate who will be a truly independent justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court if elected, and that candidate is JoAnne Kloppenburg. Unlike her opponents, Rebecca Bradley and Joe Donald, Kloppenburg will interpret the U.S. Constitution, the Wisconsin Constitution, and federal and state laws if elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, not engage in any kind of judicial activism or making political decisions from the bench.

The non-partisan primary for Wisconsin Supreme Court is February 16. The top two candidates in the primary (likely Bradley and either Kloppenburg or Donald) will advance to the April 5 general election.

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ENDORSEMENT: Joseph Thomas Klein for Milwaukee County (WI) Executive

While many people are trying to paint next year’s race for Milwaukee County (WI) Executive as a two-way race between conservative incumbent Chris “Boss” Abele and Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson, I’m not endorsing either of those candidates. Instead, I’m endorsing Joseph Thomas Klein, who is also running for Milwaukee County Executive.

You may remember Klein from his failed Pirate Party bid in the 19th Assembly District of Wisconsin last year. Now, Klein is running in an officially non-partisan race in a bid to become the chief executive of Wisconsin’s most populous county. I’m not sure if he was an ancestor of the Joseph Klein who is currently running for Milwaukee County Executive, but an individual named Joseph Klein (not the same Joseph Klein who is running for Milwaukee County Executive today) was a Socialist member of the Wisconsin State Assembly for one term from 1919 to 1921.

While Klein’s campaign has gotten virtually zero attention by the corporate media, the Milwaukee-area webgazine Urban Milwaukee recently published this article on their website about the GO Pass program. The GO Pass program is a program that allows disabled people and senior citizens to ride Milwaukee County’s bus system for free, and it’s running a massive budget deficit. Klein has a very interesting idea on how he’d fix Milwaukee County’s GO Pass shortfall:

The other candidate in the county executive election is Joseph Thomas Klein, the Wisconsin Pirate Party organizer. His position on the Go Pass program?

He notes that the Milwaukee County Transit System suffers from the fact that it has little support from the current majority in the state legislature. “MCTS is in need of a dedicated funding source, such as the before proposed additional sales tax,” he continues. “I would also like to see parking revenues from County-owned parking lots, street parking, and structures go into the transit budget. I would not be adverse to metering on Lincoln Memorial Drive (or in any park served by MCTS) if the revenue could make a summertime ‘Beach-Bus’ and Park service possible.”

“I like the GO Pass idea,” Klein says, “but perhaps it should have been better planned with a goal of minimizing erosion of fare-box revenue. The fact that the GO Pass has created a budget shortfall is more a function of poor planning and a lack of realistic budgeting by the County Board, than a condemnation of a program that should have innumerable social benefits.”

I love the idea of using parking fares to fund public transit! If elected Milwaukee County Executive, Joseph Klein will bring fresh, common-sense ideas to Milwaukee County. The same can’t be said for Abele and Larson, both of whom serve political power brokers and their own egos. As county executive, Abele has repeatedly attacked organized labor, progressives, and anyone else who disagrees with him, and he’s one of Scott Walker’s biggest allies. Among the things that Abele has done in office have included pushing to gut the Milwaukee public school system, pushing to prohibit Wisconsin counties from enacting living wage ordinances, defending money in politics, and being worse than Scott Walker on labor issues. Larson, on the other hand, is best-known for handing Republican Howard Marklein a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate (17th Senate District, 2014 election) by backing establishment lackey Pat Bomhack over progressive patriot Ernie Wittwer in the Democratic primary.

Should more than two candidates make the ballot, the non-partisan primary for Milwaukee County Executive would be held in February of next year, and the two highest vote-getters would move on to the general election. The general election for Milwaukee County Executive, also officially non-partisan, will be held in April of next year.

ENDORSEMENT: JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court

Early next year, there will be an election to determine who will be elected to the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that was held by Justice Patrick Crooks prior to his death earlier this month. I whole-heartedly endorse JoAnne Kloppenburg, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge, for the seat.

Since this seat is vacant, but up for election early next year, Republican Governor Scott Walker will appoint someone to the seat, and that individual will serve the remainder of Crooks’s term. Next year’s election is for a full ten-year term, and I am endorsing Kloppenburg for the election to a full ten-year term. I would encourage Walker to appoint Former Wisconsin State Representative Kelda Roys to the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, but Walker isn’t going to appoint her or anyone else who is not a full-blown right-wing ideologue.

Prior to becoming an appellate court judge, Kloppenburg served as a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General under both Democratic (Peg Lautenschlager) and Republican (J.B. Van Hollen) state attorneys general, and she now serves as a state appellate court judge in Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV, which covers 24 counties (map here) in the south-central, southwestern, and central parts of Wisconsin. If elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, she’ll be an impartial interpreter of Wisconsin’s constitution and laws, not a judicial activist of any kind.

Walker will most likely appoint Rebecca Bradley, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge from the Milwaukee area, to the vacant seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Bradley was running for the seat prior to Crooks’s death and is still running for the seat. Bradley has earned a reputation as a far-right judicial activist. Bradley was once the president of the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization of far-right judicial activists who believe in using the courts to implement a far-right political agenda that would cost America millions of jobs and undermine the civil liberties of the American people. Furthermore, Bradley is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), an organization that, among other things, supports voter suppression schemes designed to keep people from exercising their right to vote.

The third candidate in next year’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race is Joe Donald, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, who, if elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, would become the first elected black justice, and second black justice overall, on Wisconsin’s highest bench. While Donald has endorsements from some progressives, most notably Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone, he’s accepted campaign cash from Peter Barca, the Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic Leader who supported Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Judges should be as independent as possible from state legislators and other elected officials, not accepting campaign cash from them.

If you’re a Wisconsinite who wants an actual justice who will interpret Wisconsin’s constitution and laws in a non-partisan manner, then vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg next spring! The non-partisan primary, provided that at least three candidates make the ballot (three candidates are currently campaigning for the seat), will be held in February of 2016, and the general election will be held in April of 2016.

Wisconsin State Assembly votes to gives taxpayer money to millionaire NBA team owners

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly voted to give millions of dollars taxpayer money from ordinary Wisconsinites the owners of professional basketball’s Milwaukee Bucks in order for them to build a new arena by a 52-34 vote, with 5 members not voting at all, 4 members casting paired votes in favor, and 4 members casting paired votes in opposition.

Here’s the Wisconsin State Assembly members who voted for the Milwaukee Bucks corporate welfare giveaway:

  • Scott Allen (R)
  • Joan Ballweg (R)
  • Peter Barca (D Minority Leader)
  • Mandela Barnes (D)
  • Janel Brandtjen (R)
  • Robert Brooks (R)
  • Bob Gannon (R)
  • Evan Goyke (D)
  • Gordon Hintz (D)
  • Rob Hutton (R)
  • John Jagler (R)
  • Adam Jarchow (R)
  • La Tonya Johnson (D)
  • Andy Jorgensen (D)
  • Robb Kahl (D)
  • Terry Katsma (R)
  • Samantha Kerkman (R)
  • Frederick Kessler (D)
  • Joel Kleefisch (R)
  • Dan Knodl (R)
  • Dale Kooyenga (R)
  • Jesse Kremer (R)
  • Mike Kuglitsch (R)
  • Tom Larson (R)
  • Amy Loudenbeck (R)
  • Cory Mason (D)
  • Jeffrey Mursau (R)
  • John Murtha (R)
  • John Nygren (R)
  • Alvin Ott (R)
  • Jim Ott (R)
  • Kevin David Petersen (R)
  • Warren Petryk (R)
  • Jessie Rodriguez (R)
  • Dana Rohrkaste (R)
  • Joe Sanfelippo (R)
  • Michael Schraa (R)
  • Christine Sinicki (D)
  • Ed Skowronski (R)
  • John Spiros (R)
  • Mark Spreitzer (D)
  • Jim Steineke (R)
  • Lisa Subeck (D)
  • Rob Swearingen (R)
  • Paul Tittl (R)
  • Tyler Vorpagel (R)
  • Robin Vos (R Speaker)
  • Dana Wachs (D)
  • Leon Young (D)
  • JoCasta Zamarippa (D)
  • Josh Zepnick (D)

In addition to those, Mark Born (R), Dianne Hesselbein (D), Bob Kulp (R), and Tom Weatherston (R) cast paired votes in favor of the Milwaukee Bucks corporate welfare deal. However, under Wisconsin Assembly rules, paired votes, which can only be recorded if members casting the paired votes have an excused absence, do not officially count as votes in favor or in opposition to legislation, but are officially recorded as paired votes in the official vote tally. Personally, I think the paired votes rule should be repealed in any jurisdiction that allows paired votes, since it seems  like a relic of the pre-automobile era, when it was very difficult for a state legislator who lived a long distance from the capital city of a particular state to get to the state capitol building.

This deal is a terrible deal for Wisconsin taxpayers from every corner of Wisconsin, and it would have been cheaper for the State of Wisconsin to let the Milwaukee Bucks leave for another state than to keep the team by way of corporate welfare for a new arena.

While proponents of the deal have claimed that the deal will pay for itself over time, the fact of the matter is that the deal would certainly not pay for itself. Over a 20-year period, the State of Wisconsin will pay $3.5 million annually to the Bucks, which will play 41 games per year (not counting any preseason or postseason games) in the new arena, starting with the 2017-2018 NBA season. It would require the Bucks to have an average home game attendance of 170,732 or greater to make up for the money that the state gave the Bucks owners to build the arena through the 50¢ cut of a $2/ticket surtax that the state receives. Since the maximum spectator capacity of the arena is going to be roughly somewhere between one-tenth and one-eighth of the break-even attendance figure of 170,732, it’s absolutely unrealistic to expect the state portion of deal to pay for itself over time.

By the way, here’s how I calculated the 170,732 figure for determining break-even attendance for the state portion of the deal:

  • State portion of expenditures to the Bucks is $3,500,000/year
  • There are 41 home regular season games for each of the 30 NBA teams, including the Bucks
  • The portion of the Bucks ticket surtax that the state receives is 50¢/ticket
  • 3,500,000/41/0.5=170,732, rounded up to nearest whole number

In fact, if one were to factor in every revenue and expenditure factor of the deal, such as any tax revenue created or saved by the Bucks deal and the costs that taxpayers in Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are on the hook for, the break-even attendance figure for the entire Bucks deal would probably still be more than any reasonable estimate of the maximum spectator capacity of the new arena. This is for two reasons. First, the portion of the money going to the Bucks owners that Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee taxpayers are going to be on the hook for is in the low nine-figures. Second, there isn’t a ton of tax revenue that will be created or saved by the deal due to a large number of tax exemptions associated with the deal. To put all of that another way, the deal isn’t going to pay for itself. Even if the state portion of the deal repays itself and them some, it would still short Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee a large amount of taxpayer money that could have been better used for local government services that serve a public purpose and that Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are legally responsible for.

Explaining why Scott Walker is a fascist

By my definition of a “fascist”, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker is a fascist. That’s because Scott Walker meets every single one of the 14 points of fascism, as compiled by political scientist Dr. Laurence Britt in 2004:

  1. Powerful and Continuing Expressions of Nationalism – In his presidential announcement speech (transcript here), Walker repeatedly talked about his patriotic love for America and used it to advocate for a far-right political agenda. While being patriotic in and of itself isn’t fascism, constant displays of nationalism, combined with all 13 of the other points of fascism that I’ll list below, is fascism.
  2. Disdain for the Importance of Human Rights – As Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has repeatedly disregarded the human rights of the people of Wisconsin, including stripping rights from workers, women, political dissidents, and voters. Since this point largely goes hand in hand with several of the other points of fascism, I’ll explain this in more detail in points 5, 8, 10, 12, and 14.
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – Walker and his political allies have repeatedly used progressives and others who have protested Walker’s policies in a non-violent manner as a scapegoat to justify their far-right agenda and (falsely) portray Walker as a strong leader. In fact, Walker himself has openly compared non-violent protesters who have criticized his political agenda to the Islamic fundamentalist terror group Islamic State (IS, commonly called ISIS).
  4. The Supremacy of the Military/Avid Militarism – During his presidential campaign announcement, Walker repeatedly used veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces to defend his far-right agenda. While Walker and his political allies were enacting legislation stripping collective bargaining rights from public employees in Wisconsin, Walker publicly threatened to use the Wisconsin National Guard, a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces, against state legislators that opposed Walker’s legislation.
  5. Rampant Sexism – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker and his allies enacted numerous laws that specifically targeted women, including a law prohibiting women who have been illegally paid less than their male counterparts by their employers from suing in the state court system, as well as numerous laws that determine what kind of reproductive health care women can and can’t receive.
  6. A Controlled Mass Media – While there isn’t formal state control of the mass media in Wisconsin, the corporate-controlled mass media in Wisconsin covers political news in an manner that is very biased in favor of Walker and regularly smears political opponents of Walker.
  7. Obsession With National Security – Since he started being taken seriously as a prospective presidential candidate, Walker has displayed an obsession with national security, including, as I described above, comparing non-violent protesters to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.
  8. Religion and Ruling Elite Tied Together – Throughout his political career, Walker has repeatedly shown complete disregard towards the separation of church and state that is supposed to be mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and Walker often deploys a religious tone on the campaign trail. Walker has repeatedly claimed that God is guiding him through his political career, and he and his allies have expanded school voucher programs designed to give taxpayer money to religious schools as Governor of Wisconsin.
  9. Power of Corporations Protected – During his time as Governor of Wisconsin, corporate interests have had virtually complete control of Wisconsin’s state government, including writing state laws through a far-right political organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
  10. Power of Labor Suppressed or Eliminated – I mentioned this in point 4, but Walker has suppressed the power of workers as Governor of Wisconsin, including stripping collective bargaining rights from public employees and allowing non-union workers at unionized places to effectively steal wages and benefits negotiated by a labor union without paying for them in the form of union dues or some other type of payment to the union.
  11. Disdain and Suppression of Intellectuals and the Arts – Walker and his political allies have repeatedly shown a deep-seeded hatred of intellectuals and the arts, most notably stripping University of Wisconsin System (UW System) professors of tenure protections and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from UW System institutions of higher education.
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker’s Wisconsin Capitol Police have illegally and repeatedly arrested non-violent protesters for singing in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol, which is legally a public forum. Additionally, Walker has refused to even consider issuing pardons to convicted criminals.
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – As Milwaukee County Executive and Governor of Wisconsin, corruption and cronyism have been and are absolutely rampant on Walker’s watch. Political allies of Walker have frequently been appointed to various government posts on the basis of being political allies of Walker, and, as Milwaukee County Executive, five of Walker’s allies were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, crimes involving stealing taxpayer money intended for providing for veterans and their families, campaigning on government time, and illegally funneling campaign donations to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign.
  14. Fraudulent Elections – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker has enacted voter ID laws designed to keep political opponents of him from voting. Additionally, Walker and his political allies gerrymandered Wisconsin’s congressional and state legislative districts in a manner that his political allies get a considerably higher percentage of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature than his party’s percentage of the statewide vote.

To fully clarify, in order for one to meet my definition of a “fascist”, one must meet all 14 points of fascism that I displayed above. As I explained point-by-point, Scott Walker fully meets my criteria of a fascist.

Wisconsin Republicans pass awful state budget, and how legislators should handle criticism of their legislative proposals

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly passed the most awful state budget in American political history in a 52-46 vote, and the budget is currently on Republican Wisconsin Governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker’s desk.

When I say that the Wisconsin budget that the Republicans passed is the most awful state budget in American political history, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the cold hard truth. The Wisconsin budget, among many other things, demonizes the working poor in Wisconsin by replacing the words “living wage” with the words “minimum wage” in state statutes, fast-tracks an expansion of a tar sands oil pipeline in Wisconsin and Illinois that will be even bigger than the Keystone XL pipeline would be, cuts funding to public K-12 and higher education in Wisconsin, effectively prohibits Wisconsin wineries from hosting weddings, and gives Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele even more unchecked power to sell off public property in Wisconsin’s largest county to his political cronies. This budget does a lot to pander to far-right voters that Scott Walker is trying to win over in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and does virtually nothing to benefit the people of Wisconsin in any way. You can read press releases from Democratic Wisconsin State Representatives Melissa Sargent of Madison, Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton, Amanda Stuck of Appleton, LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee, and Andy Jorgensen of Milton, as well as from Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha, at the links in this sentence.

However, prior to the Republicans in the Assembly passing the state budget, Katrina Shankland, the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Stevens Point, tried to amend the state budget to require that future proposals of non-fiscal policy measures in future state budgets get their own separate public hearing before a standing legislative committee (the Republicans rejected Shankland’s amendment). I criticized Shankland’s proposal, because it would not outright prohibit Walker or whoever else is Wisconsin Governor once Walker leaves office from proposing public policy in state budgets. Shankland responded to my criticism of her proposal via Twitter:

Anyone who holds political office, is running for public office, or is thinking about running for public office should take note of Shankland’s response to my criticism of her. She didn’t talk down to me, she didn’t belittle me, she didn’t attack me, and she didn’t try to change the subject. Instead, she directly addressed my criticism of her proposal by saying that she thinks that policy measures don’t belong in state budgets, and she defended her proposal by saying that the Republicans voted against allowing public hearings on policy proposals.

Katrina Shankland has been very respectful to me, even when I’ve disagreed with her, which isn’t often.

Corporate Democrat Chris Abele would represent Scott Walker’s third term in office if he were to run for and be elected Wisconsin Governor

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Executive Chris Abele has been making public appearances outside of Milwaukee County in recent days. Recently, and to my knowledge, he’s appeared on a talk radio program in Madison, Wisconsin, and he’s also appeared at a Democratic Party picnic in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Both of these locations are 60-90 miles or so away from Milwaukee, if I’m not mistaken. This seems to be unusual for Abele to make appearances at events outside of Milwaukee County.

While there was some speculation that Abele may run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin next year, Russ Feingold is already running in that race, and, for someone who is not known as a big-time fundraiser, Feingold has raised a ton of money for his campaign, so I’m guessing that Abele thinks that he doesn’t have a realistic path to victory in that race, although I could be wrong about that. I’m speculating that Abele may want to run for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018, and, outside of a few social issues, Abele would pretty much represent Scott Walker’s third term in the Wisconsin governor’s mansion if he were to run for and be elected governor.

Before being elected the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county, Abele once threw fireworks at a neighbor’s house. Since being elected Milwaukee County Executive, Abele has:

  • Enacted Scott Walker-style austerity measures in Milwaukee County, which have hurt Milwaukee County’s economy
  • Has openly antagonized Democrats, progressives, and labor union members
  • Tried to get the Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature to prohibit counties from passing living wage ordinances designed to boost local economies
  • Actively supported corporate welfare for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks
  • Actively opposed efforts to allow Milwaukee County voters to vote in a non-binding referendum on whether or not they want to get rid of Walker/Abele-style big-money politics
  • Allied himself with Deanna Alexander, a far-right Milwaukee County Supervisor who has made overtly racist and sexist remarks about Democrats, women, and ethnic minorities
  • Spent large amounts of Milwaukee County taxpayers’ money on items like a large SUV for himself
  • Has repeatedly had his vetoes of progressive ideals overridden by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, a Milwaukee County employee and progressive patriot, has documented Chris Abele’s horrible track record as Milwaukee County Executive at his blog over the past few years.

Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chris Abele’s right-wing record as the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county. When I say that Abele wouldn’t be significantly better as Wisconsin Governor than Scott Walker, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the truth. Hopefully, one or more actual progressives, or at least someone who believes that the government should serve the people and not big-money special interests, runs in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin Governor a little more than three years from now.

The special election that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin doesn’t want you to know about

There is absolutely nothing on the website or social media pages of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) that I have been able to find regarding an upcoming special election in the Waukesha-based 33rd State Senate District of Wisconsin, where Democratic candidate Sherryll Shaddock is running against Republican candidate Chris Kapenga.

While the DPW is trying to ignore the fact that there’s an election scheduled to take place on July 21st, Sherryll Shaddock is the Democratic nominee in an upcoming state senate special election in Wisconsin. Shaddock is running against Chris Kapenga, who, as a state representative, tried to work with corporate Democrats like Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to prevent Wisconsin counties from enacting living wage ordinances in order to boost their economies. Shaddock, on the other hand, supports fully funding public education, restoring Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government, protecting Wisconsin’s environment, allowing women to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive health, and protecting local control over matters that are best left to local governments to deal with.

While it would be glorious if Shaddock were to win election to the Wisconsin State Senate, she doesn’t need to win the election in order to secure a moral victory for her party. Given how wildly unpopular Republicans have become in Wisconsin in recent months, and given that the 33rd Senate District is about 20 percentage points more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole is, if Shaddock were to secure at least 35% of the vote, then Democrats and progressives in Wisconsin can easily make the case that the Republican agenda is very unpopular in Wisconsin.

I strongly encourage voters in the 33rd Senate District of Wisconsin to show up at the polls on July 21st and vote for Sherryll Shaddock for Wisconsin State Senate.

ANONYMOUS GUEST POST: How the Washington Generals learned to stop worrying and love the Harlem Globetrotters

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post was emailed to me by an individual who I will not publicly name, but is a resident of the State of Wisconsin who I will refer to as Progressive Activist A. The blog post is almost completely unedited (I did make a slight edit to remove a reference to a graphic that was not provided in the email) and not originally written by me, but written by Progressive Activist A with help of unnamed Milwaukee County (WI) Democratic Party members. The blog post compares the Republican Party of Wisconsin to the Harlem Globetrotters and the current Democratic Party of Wisconsin leadership to the Washington Generals. Below this author’s note is the blog post, and below that are my notes about the blog post.


In Wisconsin the Democrats are getting ready to practice democracy. In just over a week the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will be holding its annual, statewide convention.  There they will ask their delegates to vote to select a new Chair, or leader, for the statewide party.
The firmly blue, democratic leaning city of Milwaukee is the site of the convention. Milwaukee, the city that is surrounded by a collar of white suburbs that voted in Scott Walker as County Executive and then backed it up by voting in Tea Party darling in democratic clothing, mouthpiece and pawn of the uber-right Bradley Foundation, Chris Abele.
Oh well, democracy is a relatively new concept and is not yet perfected.  But still sometimes one has to wonder. Shouldn’t we be at least slowly moving towards a more perfect form of democracy?  As I look around it seems that not only are we no longer moving towards a more perfect democracy, but rather that we are running and leaping away from a more perfect democracy.
Most people by now should know that it is possible to become President of the United States by losing the popular vote (the vote of the citizens of the U.S. who cast ballots in elections) and winning the vote of the electoral college. But that rarely happens so most people shrug it off.  “That’s just politics” they say.
Most people by now should know that the combined Republican Party and Tea Party (or GOTea) has been working to prevent a great many Americans from voting.  Or at the very least, making it very hard for non-White, upper class Americans to vote.  This practice is called voter suppression and when you bring it up in discussion, most people shrug it off.  “That’s just politics” they say.
Between extreme redistricting and voter suppression techniques, the GOTea has sought to create a playing field for itself so tilted in their own favor that they can’t lose.  We have even seen them in Wisconsin pick their own judges in court cases who have allowed GOTea defendants to willfully destroy evidence and get away with it.
Kind of like the basketball team, the world famous Harlem Globetrotters.  You are all familiar with the Harlem Globetrotters right?  The Globetrotters are beloved and dazzle audiences as they…..well….trot all over the globe. Using trick shots, well practiced stunts and not to mention confetti, ladders, garbage cans and other props not allowed in the regular game of basketball, the Globetrotters delight their audience by essentially out-playing, out-tricking and out-cheating their perpetual counterparts, The Washington Generals.
The Globetrotters also bring to the show with them, their own referees who are part of the whole stage show. Referees who turn their back on the play off the game to watch confetti being sprinkled by one Globetrotter as the rest of the Globetrotters set a ladder up under the basket and practice a slam dunk, fire drill and score twenty points in five seconds. All the while their counterparts in the Washington Generals helplessly look on.
Everybody wants to join in the fun and be a Harlem Globetrotter. Nobody wants to be a Washington General.  Except in Wisconsin that is.  In Wisconsin there are some folks within the Democratic Party of Wisconsin who apparently have watched the Globetrotters decimate the Washington Generals by a typical score of say…..242 – 16. They watch and say, “man, it must be really nice to be a General!”
They probably don’t like the perpetual losing part as much as they love and adore the idea of having steady, lucrative work for life that doesn’t involve the risk of injury, the hard work and practice, the devotion required of players in the NBA.
They probably don’t tell themselves “I love to lose” but rather, they spin it into something like “It sure would be easy if all I ever had to do is show up and automatically end up in second place, just one step away from total victory.”  In other words, they think they would like to pursue being perpetual silver medalists, to use an Olympics metaphor.  They are refusing to realize that coming in second out of two is total and absolute failure.
And it is all about coming in second….as in second class citizens.  These would-be Washington Generals either haven’t thought about or don’t care about the people in Wisconsin who would become, have nearly become, second class citizens to the ultra rich and powerful.
And although there are five current candidates running for the office of Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, they are divided into two basic camps. Those who would learn from our past errors as well as the oppositions past victories and switch away from our previous losing ways in favor of a new winning plan.
And those who enjoy, indeed they profit from, the old status quo system.  It may mean that the citizens of Wisconsin lose and lose big, but by golly their jobs are secure as the old two party system is the only game in town.  Sure it may not have all the perks of winning every game, of being the Harlem Globetrotters.  But it does carry incredible job security to be a Washington General.
Under outgoing, current Chair Mike Tate, the DPW went from supporting, at least to some extent, all its candidates for legislative office in Wisconsin, to hitting up all its legislative candidates for cash for the DPW itself. They spoke of a 72 county plan but instead they concentrated on the heavily populated counties of Dane and Milwaukee which contain the cities of Madison and Milwaukee, and largely ignored the rest of the state as well as those who bravely entered the political ring as Democrats.
Also recently, the DPW has had only had one simple piece of advice for its candidates for legislative office.  And that message was “money, money and more money.”  The only way to win the DPW would say was to outraise and outspend the GOTea candidates.  Money was the answer to everything, the alpha and the omega.
One problem though, the GOTea has always been the party of corporate interests.  At a time when the GOTea is pushing for a nationwide takeover of American and state governments by the corporations, how in the world do you expect Democrats to be able to outraise and outspend the Republicans???  Farmers and factory workers, teachers and union members have all been financially decimated by Republican policy. They can’t donate more than the trillion dollar corporations and their billionaire owners.
But still the DPW kept saying that big money was the only possible solution to the problem of big money in politics. Democratic candidates had to have big money to pay for professional campaign staffers to come work for them in Wisconsin where the shiny suits and New Jersey accents stuck out like sore thumbs.  Folks in rural Wisconsin like anywhere else, don’t like people from out of state coming in and telling them how and who to vote for.
Mike Tate’s DPW kept telling candidates that big money for wardrobe specialists and hair stylists was the only way to win. Candidates would ask for the DPW’s VAN list, which is the list of democratic voters in their district and Tate’s DPW would say sure, for a couple of thousand dollars we will hit the print button on our computer for you.
Also the DPW kept telling candidates that they, like the DPW itself, needed the big money, corporate spin doctors of firms like Nation Consulting.  A huge player in the public relations business if they wanted to win their elections, it was the only way. Pay our specialists, pay our consultants, pay our hairdressers and image people.  Money, money, money and spend, spend, spend.
Guess how that worked out?  All three branches of Wisconsin government are firmly in GOTea control.  In other words, the big money, spend, spend and spend some more plan did not work.  It did not work at all!  In fact it worked so poorly that Mike Tate knew last year that he was going to have to step down as Chair of the DPW.
And so we will be saying goodbye to Mike Tate as Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.  And in all honesty Mike Tate is a good person with a very democratic heart. Things just came apart under his watch, not all of it his fault by any means, but things really came apart for his party in Wisconsin.
But in some ways, depending on who wins the election to replace Mike Tate, it could end up as essentially we have a new Tate.  Consider it Mike Tate version 2.1.  We may be stuck with the status quo, to keep trying to raise big money to give to the consultants, campaign managers from out of state, old friends and career cronies.  In other words we could all end up with a big plan to stay the same, which is to concede that the GOTea will always be the Harlem Globetrotters and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin should remain as it has, the Washington Generals of Wisconsin politics.
And this is why a good many people are very concerned about the candidacy of Jason Rae.  Jason Rae has been part of the big money, spin doctoring business  And Jason Rae many people scared that he is going to copy Mike Tate’s plan from the last election.  That seems to be how Rae plans on winning his bid for Chair of the DPW. Only this time there is a huge difference, this time focusing on Milwaukee County and forgetting completely about the rest of Wisconsin could actually work out for the Jason Rae big money machine.
You see, under the election rules of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, the Chair will be elected from among 5 candidates by plurality after a single round of voting. This means that getting 21% of the vote is all you need to win.
And guess what? Under the current (but hopefully not the future) way that the DPW chooses delegates to vote for its Chair and other officers, Milwaukee alone has enough votes to take it all.
And so Jason Rae and the staff of Nation Consulting have been focusing on Milwaukee with a fevered interest.  They know there is big money at stake for themselves in Milwaukee, even if it is only second place, Washington Generals money.  Hey its the only game in town folks.
And a big part of the Rae/Nation machine has been focusing hard, daily, on claiming for itself, the Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.  We have received so far, thirteen requests by Milwaukee County Democratic Party members to use this blog to let people know that under Rae/Nation, that the Chair of the Milwaukee County Dem Party is choosing their delegates to the state convention based on how much they support Jason Rae.  If you do not support Jason Rae and pledge to vote for Jason Rae, then you don’t become a delegate and you don’t get to go to the convention and vote for your candidate of choice.
Democracy?  Democrats?  Check the definitions at the top of this page again if you need to.  Because these tactics hardly represent the concept of democracy or the mission of the Democratic Party.
Now technically by the bylaws, charter and constitution of the DPW, Chairs are allowed to subjectively screen party members to find the best, most active people and reward them with delegate/voting status at the convention.
The system was not meant to be used to push for one candidate and one candidate only.  But the loophole exists and Rae/Nation is pushing it for all its worth to promote their own interests which are of course, going to be mostly financial in nature.
So under the current system, which most of the party seems to want to change to be more inclusive, our next Chair could be elected with the support of only 21% of the delegates over the opposition of 79%. This is not a recipe for party unity. This is a recipe for party implosion and even death.  And that would mean the complete and final decimation of any reasonable quality of life for Wisconsin’s citizens for as far as anyone can see into the future.
And Nation Consulting and its people in the Democratic Party are out to make it happen.  Big names in party politics, seemingly unconcerned about the DPW becoming the perpetual losers in Wisconsin politics, the Washington Generals of the badger state.  They are looking after their own interests first and let the rabble be damned is what is happening if you judge them by their actions and not their professionally spin doctored words.
Not that Thad Nation, owner and bossman of Nation Consulting has reason to care about the Washington Generals, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin or any of the state’s citizens.  Although Thad Nation is a known political insider to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, he is a huge financial supporter of the GOTea.
It sounds quite insane when you hear it altogether, doesn’t it?  Get rid of Mike Tate because his plan didn’t work out at all but hire his Jason Rae to maintain the losing plan so that the big dogs and insiders can maintain a lucrative lifestyle.  Why would anyone vote for that?
Let me ask you again….why would anyone vote for that?  There is no darn good reason to, not a one!  At a time when Wisconsin is not only socially but economically and politically torn apart, now is the worst possible time to maintain the status quo, to stick with the plan that so far has never worked.  Now is the worst possible time to stick with big money in government, special interests and shady, backroom deals.
Now is the best possible time to return to open and transparent politics in Wisconsin which are to the benefit of everybody. Now is the best time to return to politicians being held accountable for their actions and being made to work for all citizens of the state, not just their donors and the lobbyists.  Now is the worse time to maintain the status quo as our state sinks lower and lower in the rankings, as our standard of living lowers, as our people flee to other states in search of work and security.
Now is the worst time to vote in favor of the recent status quo.  Now is the worst time to give up on ever being a Harlem Globetrotter.
Thank you to the members of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County who reached out to us and trusted us to write and promote this article, we hope we have done right by you all.

Here’s some of my own notes regarding the blog post:

  • Chris Abele is the current Milwaukee County Executive, first elected to that post in a 2011 special election to replace Scott Walker, who vacated the post to become Governor of Wisconsin. Abele has governed Milwaukee County in a very conservative manner, in fact, he’s a political ally of Scott Walker despite being a Democrat.
  • Although not mentioned by name in the blog post, the Milwaukee County Democratic Party Chairwoman is Marlene Ott. The blog posts references Ott, who has endorsed Rae, trying to fill her county’s delegate slate with as many supporters of the Jason Rae for DPW Chair campaign as possible.
  • The blog post contains a large number of grammar errors, which I’ve left in the blog post because I’m not the one who originally wrote it.
  • Actually, 20%+1, not 21%, would be the minimum percentage of delegates that a candidate for DPW Chair in a five-way race would need in order to be mathematically able to win.
  • The reference to That Nation being a funder of Republicans is a reference to Coalition for the New Economy, a political organization led by Nation, giving money to right-wing political organizations that have supported Republican candidates and/or right-wing causes.
  • The Milwaukee County Democratic Party members who helped write the blog post were not named by the person who sent me the blog post.
  • The blog post is displayed without lines between paragraphs due to a bizarre technical problem that I’ve not been able to fix.

Martha Laning: The Corporate Candidate for Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairperson

It’s official: Martha Laning, who we last saw running unsuccessfully for a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate and running television ads claiming that far-right Republicans, who have, over the past few years, implemented a destructive agenda that has hurt Wisconsin’s economy and reputation, have “good ideas”, is running for state party chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW). Additionally, political fundraiser Mary Lang Sollinger officially dropped out of the race for DPW Chair on the same day Laning entered the race.

Since not long after current DPW Chairman Mike Tate decided not to run for re-election after leaving the DPW in shambles after six years of his failed leadership, Jason Rae, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) member, has been the insider candidate for DPW Chair. Now, Martha Laning is the corporate candidate for DPW Chair.

Laning has only recently entered the race for DPW Chair, but she’s already made a noticeable campaign blunder. Laning unveiled a campaign website that includes a “Why I’m Running” page riddled with grammar errors, such as failing to properly capitalize the first letters in the words “Democratic Party” more than once, referring to northern Wisconsin as “the north woods” instead of “the Northwoods”, and using the past tense verb “needed” to refer to elections that are scheduled to take place in the future. Additionally, the “Values” page of her campaign website also includes grammar errors, including using the grammatically incorrect phrase “equality opportunity” when either “equality and opportunity” or “equal opportunity” would be grammatically correct. I find it shocking that someone who was a business executive prior to entering politics would make repeated grammar errors on a campaign website for a state Democratic Party leadership post.

Regarding some of the promises that Laning has already made as a DPW Chair candidate, I do like a couple of ideas that Laning has, including expanding the geographical distribution of DPW staffers across the state, instead of having most or all of the party’s staffers in one city, and supporting year-round DPW offices, something that at least one other DPW Chair candidate, Jeff Smith, also supports. However, there are some terrible ideas that Laning has. One of Laning’s terrible ideas is to deepen the DPW’s relationships with partner organizations, and Laning cited Wisconsin Progress and Fair Wisconsin as two organizations that she wants the DPW to work more closely with. While I know very little about Wisconsin Progress, outside of the fact that they’re an organization that trains Democratic candidates to run for public office in Wisconsin, the fact that Laning wants the DPW to be more closely tied to Fair Wisconsin sets off alarm bells to any progressive who has followed Wisconsin politics for the past few years. While Fair Wisconsin is a pro-LGBT rights organization, and LGBT rights are supported by nearly all Wisconsin Democrats, Fair Wisconsin has received a lot of its funding from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who has implemented a right-wing corporate agenda as the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county. Among the things that Abele has done as Milwaukee County Executive include vetoing nearly every item of progressive legislation that the progressive-controlled Milwaukee County Board has passed, strongly opposing worker’s rights, publicly opposing efforts to put a non-binding referendum on the Milwaukee County ballot calling for a federal constitutional amendment to get rid of the undue influence of money in politics, and attempting to convince the Republicans who control the Wisconsin State Legislature to prevent counties from passing living wage ordinances. The fact that Laning wants the DPW to partner with an organization that is funded heavily by someone like Chris Abele indicates to me that Laning is not one bit serious about moving the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in a more progressive direction.