Tag: press release

Katrina Shankland knows more about the NFL’s player salary structure than Scott Walker does

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of the blog post is a New England Patriots fan who lives in Illinois, and Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) is, like the vast majority of Wisconsinites, a Green Bay Packers fan. Anyways, the Chicago Bears are a bunch of losers.


At a recent private, invite-only “listening session”, Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, while claiming that the NFL’s free agency system should be a model for paying public school teachers, demonstrated that he has no knowledge of how the NFL’s player salary structure works. Here’s what Walker said:

If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that…They don’t pay them for how many years they’ve been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games.

Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, issued this brilliant response to Walker’s absurd claims about the NFL player salary structure and absurd comparison between NFL player salaries and Wisconsin public school teacher salaries. I encourage everyone who is reading this blog post to read Shankland’s statement in full, but I’ll summarize three points that Shankland made in her statement:

  • NFL teams often have a total player payroll that is well under the league’s salary cap, whereas public school districts in Wisconsin are barely able to make payroll thanks to Walker’s funding cuts to public K-12 schools in Wisconsin
  • NFL players have a strong labor union representing them, whereas Walker and his Republican allies severely weakened Wisconsin public school teachers’ unions by restricting collective bargaining rights.
  • For the third point, I’ll directly quote Shankland: “…the NFL does pay their athletes regardless of whether or not they win games. Ask the Chicago Bears about this.”

For those of you who are wondering, the Chicago Bears compiled a record of 6 wins and 10 losses, and failed to make the playoffs, in the 2015 NFL season. Oh, and NFL players do not lose a penny of their base salary if their team loses a game.

The salary and unionization structure of NFL players and that of public school teachers in Wisconsin are not identical by any rational person’s imagination. I applaud Katrina Shankland for having a far better knowledge of the NFL player salary structure than Scott Walker does.

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Wisconsin Republican state legislator calls for gun owners to carry out vigilante executions

Wisconsin State Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) issued a press release calling for state legislators to pass legislation designed to put guns in the hands of drunk Wisconsin college students.

If you think that’s irresponsible, what’s even more irresponsible is Gannon’s remarks calling for concealed-carry permit holders to shoot and kill alleged criminals:

Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scum bags. Criminals no longer have any fear of our courts or our prisons, so it’s time that the citizens of this fine state stand up and fight back. A gang banger in the mall with a gun is going to think twice if there could be a law abiding CCW holder standing behind them fully prepared to shoot center mass, as this is how you’re trained to eliminate the threat these creeps pose to you, your family, and all law abiding citizens unwillingly dragged into their public crime spree.

If Republicans like Bob Gannon get their way, Wisconsin will become a state full of George Zimmerman-like gun-toting stalkers hunting and killing people, especially minorities and women. That’s downright barbaric.

Hillary Clinton took $1,000 from one or more individuals employed by Koch Industries-affiliated organization

I managed to stumble upon a Federal Election Commission (FEC) list of campaign contributions to Hillary for America, the official Hillary Clinton presidential campaign committee, sorted by employer of the individual campaign donor (individual donor names were not listed, although donations came from individuals and not the corporations themselves). Roughly halfway down the list, I found that one or more individuals employed by an entity called Koch Companies Public Sector (KCPS) donated a total of $1,000 to the Hillary campaign. The list is based on the Hillary campaign’s July 2015 quarterly report to the FEC.

KCPS is an entity affiliated with Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by Charles and David Koch, commonly referred to as the Koch Brothers and notorious for bankrolling Republican politicians and right-wing political causes. Although I’m not 100% certain of this, KCPS appears to me to be a right-wing political organization affiliated with the Koch Brothers: they have issued press releases that are clearly political in nature and attack Democrats (example here) for opposing the Koch Brothers’ political agenda in the recent past. Additionally, KCPS has spent, if my calculation of data provided in a graph here is correct, $101,192,700, on lobbying federal legislators. I’ve not been able to find any information online regarding any non-political activity by KCPS.

Given that the $1,000 comes from one or more individuals employed by KCPS, it is possible that there is one or more individuals employed by KCPS who are not strongly supportive of the Koch Brothers’ political agenda. However, since KCPS appears to be a primarily political organization affiliated with the Koch Industries, I would be shocked if there was anybody who even remotely resembled a political moderate or liberal employed by KCPS. I could see someone working in, for example, a milling job for Georgia-Pacific being a Hillary donor, but the fact that one or more KCPS employees donated to Hillary leaves me two big questions: 1) Why exactly would one or more employees of an organization like KCPS donate money to a Democratic presidential candidate? 2) Does Hillary Clinton privately support at least part of the Koch Brothers’ right-wing political agenda?

As he launches his presidential campaign, Scott Walker compares Wisconsinites to special interests

Approximately 19 seconds into Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign announcement video, an unnamed narrator for the Walker campaign said that Walker “beat the special interests” over a video clip of progressive protesters supporting the unsuccessful recall attempt against Walker in 2012. At around the 39-second mark of the video, Walker himself spoke in front of the camera and talked about taking “power out of the hands of big government special interests”.

In reality, Walker compared the people of his state to special interests, while allowing special interests like big business interests and the school voucher lobby to benefit from the very big government that Walker rails against.

For Walker to compare Wisconsinites to special interests is not only false, it’s also offensive. More specifically, Walker compared Wisconsin progressives to special interests, and, having followed many of them on blogs and social media for the past few years, I can certainly say that they are not special interests. They’re people who want to make their state and their country a better place to live. They care about their communities, and they support workers’ rights, women’s rights, the middle class, open government, equality, and other progressive ideals. As Meghan Blake-Horst, a co-founder and the market manager of the MadCity Bazaar flea market in Madison, Wisconsin, put it, “Yes, we have special interests in feeding, educating and providing our kids a healthy place to grow up. And running our small businesses.” Comparing people like Blake-Horst to special interests dehumanizes people.

The truth about Walker’s record is that he and his political allies in Wisconsin have given special interests, such as big business interests and the school voucher lobby, effective control over Wisconsin’s state government. Those special interests have, in turn, helped Wisconsin’s state government, among other things, hand out tax breaks to the wealthy, give out tons of corporate welfare to businesses, privatize and cut funding from public K-12 education, cut funding from higher education, strip tenure away from college professors, make it harder for Wisconsinites to vote, make it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want, bust unions, drive down wages, hurt Wisconsin’s economy, run up massive state budget deficits, and destroyed Wisconsin’s reputation. Martha Laning, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), didn’t mince words one bit in her statement criticizing Walker as he launches his presidential campaign. Laning stated that Walker’s record “is one of unprecedented corruption, division, extremism and a failure to foster economic growth and opportunity”. Laning also took Walker to task over “stagnant” wages in Wisconsin, “job growth that’s dead last in the Midwest and trailing most of the nation”, a corporate welfare agency “that’s known more for scandal than economic development”, and a massive Wisconsin state budget deficit “created by his failed policies”.

While Scott Walker compares the people of his home state to special interests, the truth of the matter is that Walker is beholden to real special interests that own him and his political allies, and they’ve completely wrecked Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. If Walker is elected president, Walker, his political allies, and big-money special interests will turn America into a third-world country by enacting the same far-right political agenda they enacted in Wisconsin.

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.

Russ Feingold is back with a more boring attitude

Russ Feingold, who represented Wisconsin for three six-year terms in the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2011, is officially running for his old job. Surprisingly, for someone who is a longtime political figure in Wisconsin and claimed in his first statewide campaign that he knew Wisconsin like the back of his hand, he stated in his campaign announcement that he wanted to listen to Wisconsinites (presumably, this means holding listening sessions, but I don’t know if Feingold’s campaign intends to schedule any in Wisconsin):

If that campaign video is indicative of the “new Russ Feingold”, while he’s still very progressive, he’s a lot more boring, stale, and generic than the “old Russ Feingold”, who was known for running some very populist, creative, and funny TV ads, especially the first time he ran for U.S. Senate in 1992. Keep in mind that I do regard Feingold as a political hero, as he was the only U.S. Senator to vote against the anti-Fourth Amendment PATRIOT Act, which established the Bush-Obama surveillance state, and he led the fight to enact stricter federal campaign finance laws in the early 2000’s. In fact, Feingold’s call for bipartisanship was incredibly tone-deaf, given how much of a progressive patriot Feingold was during his first three terms in the Senate and how polarized America is nowadays.

However, I’m not a fan of how the Mike Tate-led (for only a few more weeks) Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) is handling Feingold’s campaign. To me, it seems like they’re trying anoint Feingold as the Democratic candidate in a backroom, which is very un-Feingold-like. There will be a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, if I’m not mistaken, sometime in late summer of next year, although it remains to be seen whether or not any other candidates decide to run against Feingold in the primary. I’d love to see someone like State Representative Melissa Sargent of Madison run against Feingold in the primary, although I highly doubt that she’s interested in higher office, and I don’t think that anyone worth my endorsement would run in a primary against Feingold. In fact, the DPW tried to paint Feingold as two different people, one of them being the “bipartisan” Feingold and the other being the “progressive” Feingold:

“After four years of Ron Johnson’s failure to serve our middle class, Wisconsin voters are ready for a leader who isn’t beholden to wealthy special interests and won’t waste time on petty, partisan, political battles that stand in the way of ensuring economic opportunity for all.

“That’s why there is an incredible sense of optimism and enthusiasm for Russ Feingold entering this race. Russ Feingold is a tried and true champion for all Wisconsinites who will put their interests first and work every day for seniors, veterans, students, and working families – not the millionaires and billionaires who have already gotten everything they wanted and more from bought-and-paid-for Ron Johnson.

The first paragraph sounds more like someone of the mold of Democratic State Representative Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton (i.e., someone who is personally progressive, but can be very annoying with the “bipartisan” shtick) than Feingold, and the second paragraph sounds like the old Feingold that Wisconsin progressives remember and admire. It’s worth noting that Hesselbein is the only current Democratic elected official in Wisconsin that I have knowledge of Feingold meeting with between the time he left the U.S. State Department and the time that he announced his intention to run for his old U.S. Senate seat.

However, let’s be 100% clear who the eventual opponent for Feingold or, in the unlikely scenario in which Feingold loses the Democratic nomination, whoever else Democrats nominate, will be: Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, considered by some to be the #1 Democratic target in the next year’s U.S. Senate elections. Johnson is about the closest thing to a pro-sex abuse politician there is anywhere in the entire country. Johnson has, in the last several years, either protected or fought to protect perverts like disgraced former Republican State Assemblyman Bill Kramer and Catholic priests, both of which have sexually abused women (in the case of Kramer) and/or children (in the case of Catholic priests). Johnson is also on record as claiming that the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is unconstitutional, which is a false statement. If the Democratic opponent to Ron Johnson is completely unwilling to attack Johnson over that, than he or she shouldn’t be running against him, since, in my opinion, not attacking Johnson over his pro-sex abuse record amounts to not really wanting to defeat him.

If Russ Feingold doesn’t start sounding like the brave progressive patriot that Wisconsin progressives know, admire, and remember, they might start looking for another Democrat who will stand up to the failed, corporate Democratic leadership, fight to restore the American middle class, stand up for the rights of the American people, fight to end corporate welfare as we know it, and refuse to compromise their core progressive values.

Jeff Smith outlines what he’d do if elected Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairperson

Make no mistake about it, Former Wisconsin State Representative Jeff Smith has an actual plan of what he’d do if elected Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Chairperson, and he’s going to run the party as a progressive organization whose main goals are helping progressive-minded people vote and promoting progressive values across the entire state of Wisconsin.

Smith, if elected to lead the Democratic Party in the state that will likely decide control of the White House and the U.S. Senate in next year’s elections, has promised to:

  • Work with whoever is elected to be the new leader of the DPW County Chairs Association (DPW CCA)
  • Direct county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin to help voters obtain Voter IDs in order to allow them to vote (Wisconsin’s discriminatory Voter ID law will go into effect at the next election of any kind held in Wisconsin)
  • Implement new DPW messaging based on recommendations by Scott Wittkopf of the Forward Institute
  • Provide proper support for Democratic candidates, campaign managers, and volunteers in Wisconsin
  • Open year-round DPW field offices in every region of Wisconsin
  • Help county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin maintain a strong online presence

Notice that Smith made absolutely no mention of Scott Walker in his press release. That’s because Walker is no longer trying to hide the fact that he doesn’t care about Wisconsinites, and that provides a great opportunity for Wisconsin Democrats to lay out their own vision for Wisconsin’s future.

Jeff Smith is the only one of the five candidates for DPW Chair who, at least to my knowledge, has laid out a highly-detailed plan for rebuilding the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and that’s why I encourage DPW Convention delegates to vote for Jeff Smith.

The Koch Brothers’ political organization thinks there’s more than two million people in Montana

Zach Lahn, the Montana state director for the Koch Brothers-funded political organization Americans for Prosperity, claimed that “millions of Montanans” oppose expanding Medicaid after the Republican-controlled Montana House of Representatives passed a Medicaid expansion bill:

McCarthyism comes to East Central Illinois

AUTHOR’S NOTE: One of the members of the Vermilion County (IL) Board, Edwin Barney, Jr. (D-Westville), is my cousin.

Even on the websites of the local newspapers here in East Central Illinois, I’ve found it hard to find good information about local politics, since most of the local political news reporting around here has a right-wing slant to it and/or isn’t all that detailed.

Well, I was looking through a email inbox that I rarely use, and I stumbled upon a press release by the Vermilion County Democratic Party, issued last month, about the politically-motivated firing of Nikki Bogart, who was the Financial Services Director for the Vermilion County Board for seven years before being terminated by far-right Vermilion County Board Chairman Mike Marron (R-Fithian), apparently because Bogart ran as a Democrat for county auditor in 2012 (Bogart lost to Republican office jumper Tom O’Shaugnessy, who was elected to a circuit court judgeship last year). Bogart was fired by Boss Marron despite the fact that Bogart had never been officially reprimanded prior to her firing, as well as the fact that Boss Marron had praised Bogart by name for her work on the 2014-2015 county budget. Bogart filed an appeal in an effort, but the grievance committee had not been convened at the time the press release was issued a little over a month ago. (In case you’re wondering, this is the only time that I’ve ever received any kind of email containing official Vermilion County Democratic Party documents of any kind).

Sadly, Bogart isn’t the only person to either be fired or pressured out of a job because of Boss Marron’s reign of terror in Vermilion County. In one instance, a qualified mental health professional was either fired or effectively forced out of a job by Boss Marron and the hostile, hyperpartisan work environment that Boss Marron has created throughout Vermilion County government and was replaced by mother of the county board chairman.

Vermilion County lacks an official chief executive of the county, although Boss Marron thinks that he can act as the de facto chief executive of the county because he ran unopposed last year in a county board district that includes one-ninth of the county (specifically, his district includes the west central and north central parts of the county) and was elected Vermilion County Board Chairman by his fellow Republicans, who control the county board. Instead of doing anything to make Vermilion County a better place to live, Boss Marron is doing everything he can to purge Democrats from what few positions they hold in the county government for purely partisan reasons. In fact, what Boss Marron is doing is eerily similar to the witchhunts against alleged communists who weren’t communists by former U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) in the mid-20th century. The only thing that is missing is Boss Marron presiding over a special county board committee conducting a public shaming and character assassination of someone who Boss Marron disagrees with for some reason.

Quite frankly, Vermilion County needs a directly-elected county executive, because I don’t think that Boss Marron could win a county-wide election in a hypothetical county executive race because of his highly vindictive style of politics, even against a stubborn-headed progressive like me and with a local Democratic Party organization that could be best described as barely existent.

The Cap Times misrepresents Peter Barca press release on Wisconsin right-to-work-for-less legislation

In a blog post which I have since deleted, The Cap Times, a left-leaning newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, published this article, which made it sound like Peter Barca, the Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, wasn’t even talking about the negative effects of so-called “right-to-work” legislation that is actually wage theft legislation.

In reality, Barca’s full press release, which The Cap Times did not bother to link to on their online article, did mention that wage theft legislation drives down wages:

Wisconsin is already lagging behind most of the nation in jobs and wage growth and ‘Right to Work’ would only make things worse. In fact, the average worker in Right to Work states makes between $5,000 and $6,000 less than the average worker in other states…

Even though the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and other far-right news media outlets in Wisconsin are more notorious for this kind of garbage journalism, even left-leaning news media outlets in Wisconsin, like The Cap Times, have been known to publish garbage journalism as well from time to time.

I apologize to Representative Barca for the misguided outrage I directed towards him earlier today.