Tag: Rebecca Kemble

Wisconsin Republicans and corporate Democrats attack a successful business

A large number of Republicans and twelve corporate Democrats in the Wisconsin State Legislature have decided to target a successful Wisconsin business: Union Cab of Madison Cooperative.

The Wisconsin State Legislature is on track to pass legislation, Wisconsin Senate Bill 106 (SB106), or, as I like to call it, the Julie Lassa-Cory Mason Bill to Revoke Local Control on Taxicab and Ridesharing Services, that would allow ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to operate statewide in Wisconsin with very few regulations. Ridesharing companies allow people who drive automobiles to offer rides to those who pay the ridesharing fee for a particular trip, usually via a mobile phone application that both the driver and the passengers are required to have.

These ridesharing companies engage in predatory practices that screw over customers, workers, and taxpayers. While I could write a 100,000-character blog post about the negative aspects of ridesharing companies, I’ll mention three of them in this blog post. First off, ridesharing companies screw over customers by raising their rates by using dynamic pricing, which is also called surge pricing. Surge pricing allows the ridesharing companies to raise their rates when their computer algorithms tell them that traffic is heavy, demand for rides is high, or something else that their algorithms factor in, such as, in at least one documented instance, a terrorist attack, allow them to raise their rates. Secondly, ridesharing companies screw over workers by taking a sizable chunk of the money that the drivers collect from offering rides. In some instances, ridesharing drivers are effectively paid a negative salary (i.e., effectively charged money to work) because the portion of the ridesharing fee that the driver keeps is less than the vehicle-related costs of the trip. Furthermore, ridesharing companies are a burden to taxpayers for two main reasons. First, taxpayers will end up on the hook for accidents involving ridesharing drivers who don’t have commercial automobile insurance. Second, there will be tons of lawsuits over liability claims over crashes involving ridesharing drivers, resulting in court cases that clog up the justice system and result in more taxpayer money being spent on trials.

However, the main reason why I oppose the Lassa-Mason Bill is because it’s clearly designed to take away local control from Wisconsin’s second-largest city, Madison, in regards to taxicab regulation. Furthermore, I highly suspect that this is part of a coordinated attack to put a successful business, Union Cab of Madison Cooperative, out of business for purely political reasons, something which I strongly oppose. Also, I strongly believe that any Democratic elected official who supports legislation that allows companies like Uber and Lyft to operate with very few regulations is effectively a traitor to the progressives who vote them into office, and I would have no problem supporting progressive-minded primary challengers to corporate Democrats who support the Lassa-Mason Bill and/or other parts of the political agenda of Uber and other ridesharing companies.

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Wisconsin Democrats and progressives, I’m proud of you all

Sadly, the Wisconsin wage theft (i.e., right-to-work) bill has passed both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature and is expected to be signed into law by Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

However, I’m proud of how Wisconsin Democrats and progressives spoke out and fought against the wage theft legislation.

I’m proud of Scott Wittkopf, Julie Wells, and the rest of the team at the Forward Institute, Wisconsin’s progressive think tank, for encouraging progressives to use better messaging against horrible wage theft legislation. You have been wonderful advisers of the Wisconsin progressive movement, and I hope that more progressives take your group’s advice.

I’m proud of Lori Compas of the Wisconsin Business Alliance, Wisconsin’s progressive business group, for exposing the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the main right-wing business group in Wisconsin that supported the wage theft legislation, as an organization that represents very few of its own members. You are truly the heart, soul, and brains of the progressive movement in Wisconsin, I wish there were more people on the face of this Earth that are as cool as you are.

I’m proud of Rebecca Kemble of The Progressive magazine for filming testimony and state legislative speeches in opposition to the wage theft legislation. You have truly been the eyes and ears of the progressive movement in Wisconsin, and I hope you win your election to the Madison Common Council next month.

I’m proud of those who protested, testified, blogged, posted on social media, and/or otherwise spoke out against the wage theft legislation in Wisconsin. Those who spoke out against wage theft include Heather DuBois Bourenane, Lisa Mux, Cheri Goetz, Jeff Smith, Randy Bryce, Jennifer Epps-Addison, Phil Neuenfeldt, John “Sly” Sylvester, John Nichols, Jenni Dye, Zach Wisniewski, Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, Meg Gorski, and countless others. Thank you all!

Last, but certainly not least, I’m proud of Wisconsin State Legislative Democrats for strongly opposing wage theft legislation from the moment Republicans signaled their intent to enact the legislation until the final vote was cast in the state assembly. Your opposition to the wage theft bill in Wisconsin is some of the strongest opposition to anything I’ve seen from Democrats in a long time.

I’ve never been prouder of a group of people than I am of Wisconsin Democrats and progressives who strongly opposed the wage theft legislation. To use a phrase that the odious Joe McCarthy turned into an epithet many decades ago, I’ve been a fellow traveler of the Wisconsin progressive movement despite being a lifelong Illinoisan who has never been to Wisconsin. I would love nothing more than to be able to visit Wisconsin someday in order to meet those wonderful Wisconsinites who stand for progressive values.

Wisconsin public education takeover public hearing turns into total farce, Republicans in full damage control mode

The Wisconsin State Assembly education committee, chaired by Republican State Representative Jeremy Theisfeldt of Fond du Lac, held a public hearing today on 2015 Wisconsin Assembly Bill 1 (AB1), a proposed “school accountability” bill that isn’t actually a school accountability bill, but rather a bill to shame, takeover, and privatize public schools in Wisconsin.

The original bill that was brought to the public hearing was so atrocious, the public hearing turned into a total farce and the Republicans that control the committee have gone into full damage control mode. I’ll let the tweets from The Progressive magazine columnist and Madison Common Council candidate Rebecca Kemble and the author of the progressive blog Wisconsin Soapbox, who have been livetweeting today’s public hearing, speak for themselves:

…and that was just the first hour or so of the 11 1/2 hour public hearing.

To summarize all of that, Jeremy Theisfeldt and his fellow Republicans brought the bill to the public hearing and was quickly criticized by Democrats over horrible provisions in the bill and the bill not having a fiscal note despite the bill having a significant fiscal impact on local school districts in Wisconsin. That forced the Theisfeldt to remove a provision from the bill that would have authorized a state panel that would have had the power to take over public schools in Wisconsin and give them to millionaire charter school operators, as well as some of the other more atrocious provisions of the bill, without scheduling a second public hearing for the modified bill. That forced Theisfeldt to go into total damage control mode as he was attacked by both Republican (Dean Knudson of Hudson) and Democratic (Sondy Pope of Verona and Christine Sinicki of Milwaukee) state representatives, with Sinicki pointing out that the modified bill would still allow for public schools in Wisconsin to be taken over by the state and given to millionaire charter school operators. Theisfeldt comes across as a guy who is way over his head and is making a total fool of himself.

In my nearly four years as a political blogger, this public hearing on Wisconsin AB1 has been the single biggest farce I’ve read about.

ENDORSEMENT: Rebecca Kemble for Madison (WI) Common Council District 18

Most of my attention on the Spring 2015 elections in Illinois and Wisconsin has been on the Chicago, Illinois mayoral race for obvious reasons, but I’m going to briefly talk about a race for a seat on the Madison, Wisconsin Common Council (“common council” is a Wisconsin term for the legislative branch of a city) in the northern part of that city.

The race I’m refering to is the District 18 Madison Common Council race between Rebecca Kemble, a columnist for The Progressive magazine and a worker-owner at Madison’s Union Cab Cooperative, and Peng Her, an assistant director at the Center for Resilient Cities. I’m endorsing Kemble in this race, and you can listen to WORT-FM’s interview of Kemble here.

Kemble has a long track record of standing up for progressive values. She’s been a fierce critic of Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the Wisconsin Legislature, and she has strongly supported progressive ideals, especially when it comes to workers’ rights and protecting the environment. More recently, Kemble has been one of the most vocal critics of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, companies that, among other things, don’t insure the cars their drivers use (ridesharing drivers are required to provide for their own insurance, and most car insurance policies don’t insure commercial activity, such as ridesharing), don’t provide workers’ compensation to their drivers, don’t provide rides for disabled people, and, especially in the case of Uber, bully anyone who dares to criticize them.

Make no mistake about it, Rebecca Kemble is a tough-as-nails progressive, and we need more people like her in elected office in this country.