Tag: political appointment

One of the most right-wing newspapers in the entire country couldn’t find a single Betsy DeVos supporter in the education community

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post was originally written on Medium by the administrator of this blog and has been republished in full.


Above the fold on the front page of today’s issue of The News-Gazette, a Champaign, Illinois-based newspaper that covers the east-central part of Illinois and has a very right-wing reputation, was this story about how many in the public education community are opposed to the nomination of Betsy DeVos to the office of U.S. Secretary of Education.

In The News-Gazette’s attempt to find a DeVos supporter, they couldn’t find a single one in the educational community in East Central Illinois.

The strongest opposition to DeVos came obviously from teachers’ union leaders, although many in management (i.e., public school administrators) strongly opposed DeVos as well. Sheila Greenwood, the superintendent of schools in the Bement, Illinois public school system (covering southern portions of Piatt County, Illinois), said this about DeVos:

Bement Superintendent Sheila Greenwood was so appalled by how DeVos answered senators’ questions last month that she contacted her legislators, “begging them to put a stop to this insanity.”

“She couldn’t answer basic questions about schools, funding or assessment. She is uber-wealthy and has no experiences with public education because she lives like the 1 percent and knows nothing,” Greenwood said. “I think Trump will have his puppet and others will run the department.

Jeremy Darnell, the superintendent of the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley public school system in Illinois (map of district here), said this about DeVos:

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Superintendent Jeremy Darnell was unimpressed with her hearing, as well, saying it was “very evident” she lacks understanding of current education issues.

[…]

“Votes should be cast on merit, preparation and the ability to effectively fill an essential role in our national government, not party line politics,” Darnell said. “All appointments should be considered for their ability to effectively advise our elected leadership. No leader can be a master at all so the essential need to surround yourself with experts in their field is more important today than ever.

The Bement and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school districts are located in some of the most Republican areas in all of Illinois, and voters in both school districts voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

The closest person that The News-Gazette could find to a DeVos supporter was Mr. Seth Miller, the superintendent of the public school system that I attended, the Westville Community Unit School District in Illinois. I’m paraphrasing, but Mr. Miller’s thoughts about DeVos were basically of the “give DeVos a chance if she’s confirmed” mentality without offering any explicit support of DeVos:

“We have the best educational system in the world. A leader who is committed to children, who need access to public education, would receive my support,” Miller said. “… Spirited debate with informed constituents helps make us a strong country — big enough and brave enough for diverse opinions. It is my hope that whoever is confirmed as the next secretary of education will help perpetuate this democratic ideal in our public school system.”

Having seen video clips of the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, it is clear to me that, if confirmed, DeVos would be a downright horrible Education Secretary.

Advertisements

Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing POSTPONED because Trump’s appointees aren’t being properly vetted

The controversy regarding Republican President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress attempting to ram through Trump’s appointees without Trump’s appointees being properly vetted by federal ethics officials is not going away. In fact, one of Trump’s appointees, Betsy DeVos, who is Trump’s pick for U.S. Education Secretary, has had her confirmation hearing postponed until next week because the federal Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has not been able to complete its end of the vetting process:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee announced late Monday that it had rescheduled the confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos.

“At the request of the Senate leadership to accommodate the Senate schedule, we have agreed to move the nomination hearing of Betsy DeVos to Tuesday, January 17th at 5:00 p.m.,” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a release late Monday.

While Betsy DeVos has made it clear for a long time that she wants to destroy public education in America, what is an even bigger problem than that is the fact that multiple Trump appointees, apparently including DeVos, have not been properly vetted to the legal standard, not a political standard, for vetting a presidential appointment. I’ll even add that, given the seriousness of the fact that OGE has not been able to properly vet Trump’s appointees, the letter from the OGE Director regarding the issue should have been addressed to the entire Senate, not just Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Nation Consulting employee ADMITS that Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Joe Donald blindly backs incumbents

Remember when I wrote about Nation Consulting founder Thad Nation also being the head of a political front group that donated thousands of dollars to several right-wing political organizations? That was during last year’s race for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) chair, and Nation Consulting employee Jason Rae got trounced in that race.

Now, Nation Consulting employee Andy Suchorski is the campaign manager for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Joe Donald, and Suchorski is doing Donald’s campaign no favors by admitting the truth on why Donald backs far-right Republican judges:

“Joe usually, unless he has a serious problem with the person, usually supports the incumbents. Left, right, doesn’t matter,” Suchorski said. “That was primarily it: as a fellow incumbent judge, he supported her.”

Suchorski said when (Rebecca) Bradley asked Donald to be a reference for her 2015 application, from his perspective, it was like an employee asking a boss for a reference for another job. Donald was the presiding judge on the Milwaukee County children’s court during the time Bradley was assigned to it.

The fact that Rebecca Bradley views her job as a judge as serving Scott Walker and his far-right political network and agenda (she won’t say this in public, but she does) wasn’t viewed by Joe Donald as a serious problem gives you a general idea of how awful Donald is. Thanks to people like Scott Walker and Joe Donald, Bradley is now a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, serving Walker and his far-right political agenda.

There are three distinct candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court. One of them, Bradley, wants to serve Scott Walker and his far-right political agenda for the next ten years. Another one of them, Donald, wants to serve a political old boys network in Milwaukee that props up corporate-minded politicians at nearly every opportunity. The other candidate, JoAnne Kloppenburg, wants to actually do the job of a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice by interpreting the law and serving the people of Wisconsin. I strongly encourage Wisconsinites to vote for Kloppenburg in the February 16 non-partisan primary.

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.

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.