Tag: Wisconsin conservatives

Even the far-right doesn’t like the Wisconsin GOP’s attack on open records laws

Ladies and gentlemen, hell has frozen over.

For once, I’ve found myself on the same side of an issue as the MacIver Institute, a far-right political think tank with ties to the billionaire Koch Brothers, and Christian Schneider, a far-right political columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the largest newspaper in Wisconsin. That’s because the Republican members of the Wisconsin State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) passed “Motion #999”, an omnibus committee motion to attach, among other things, a provision exempting “deliberative materials” like legislative drafts and legislative briefings from Wisconsin’s open records laws, to the Wisconsin state budget on a party-line vote. A total of 16 Wisconsin state legislators, 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats, sit on the JFC.

Here’s the full Motion #999; the provision in question is provision #28, located on pages 9 and 10 of the PDF file linked to in this sentence.

This is an actual MacIver Institute video criticizing the gutting of Wisconsin’s open records laws by the JFC:

When the MacIver Institute finds itself siding with State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) on an issue, you know that Republican legislators in Wisconsin have done something truly heinous. Remember that the MacIver Institute once filed an open records lawsuit against Erpenbach as part of a right-wing political witchhunt against him and won their case in court.

These are actual tweets by Christian Schneider sharply criticizing the Republicans’ move to gut Wisconsin’s open records laws, citing his experience as a state legislative staffer:

Schneider is certainly no liberal. He’s one of the most conservative figures in the usually very right-wing corporate media in Wisconsin, including writing a piece for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel website that repeated┬áthe lies of Kyle Wood, a Republican campaign volunteer who falsely claimed to have been physically assaulted because he’s openly gay and refused to support Mark Pocan during his successful 2012 congressional campaign. The piece in question has long since been removed from the Journal-Sentinel website.

The move by Republican state legislators to gut open records laws in Wisconsin is so asinine, even some of the most conservative people and groups in Wisconsin are opposed to it.

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Many conservatives don’t like the Republican takeover of public education in Wisconsin one bit

I may be an Illinoisan, but I proudly stand with Wisconsinites who support public education! (Feel free to use this picture as you please with no photo credit necessary)
I may be an Illinoisan, but I proudly stand with Wisconsinites who support public education! (Feel free to use this picture as you please with no photo credit necessary)

You might be surprised to find that opposition to 2015 Wisconsin Assembly Bill 1 (AB1), or what I like to call the “Wisconsin school shaming and partisan takeover bill” because, if enacted, it would result in, among other things, poorly-performing Wisconsin K-12 schools being taken over by a board controlled by political appointees and possibly handed over to millionaire charter school operators, is not solely from teachers’ unions, Democratic and progressive elected officials, and various progressive groups, although all of these are strongly opposed to the legislation for a large number of reasons.

As Heather DuBois Bourenane, the author of the Wisconsin progressive blog Monologues of Dissent, wrote, the opposition to Wisconsin AB1 is broad, bipartisan, and across the ideological spectrum.

Former Republican State Senator Dale Schultz of Richland Center, a center-right Republican, publicly called the bill “a disaster” and warned that the bill could very well result in “eliminating completely the authority of local school boards and making them subject to a political board”.

Even many conservatives are opposed to the proposed Republican takeover of Wisconsin public schools.

Stop Common Core Wisconsin, a right-leaning political organization that is opposed to the implementation of Common Core State Standards in Wisconsin, publicly called the school grading system that would be implemented if the bill were to be enacted “a sham” and criticized the legislation for taking away local control from K-12 school districts in Wisconsin. Additionally, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), a far-right legal organization, criticized the legislation for putting political appointees in charge of private schools. While I usually disagree with conservatives and their political organizations, these two groups are making valid points in this particular case: This bill would take away local control from public school districts in Wisconsin, and, although WILL will disagree with my firm belief that private schools shouldn’t be able to receive taxpayer money at all (whether it be in the form of school vouchers or otherwise), I strongly believe that private schools shouldn’t be under the control of a governmental body of any kind.

As DuBois Bourenane pointed out in her blog post, the only groups not lobbying against the single worst anti-public education legislation in American history “are those with direct links to the organizations lobbying for “reform” (read: privatization) of public schools”. Sadly, school privatization interests wield a ton of influence in the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and they have large majorities in both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature.

I strongly encourage Wisconsin state legislators to vote NO on AB1, as the bill is not a school accountability bill, but a school shaming, takeover, and privatization bill that would destroy public education in Wisconsin. Additionally, I strongly fear that Bruce Rauner, who will be sworn into office as Governor of Illinois tomorrow, will propose legislation similar to Wisconsin AB1 here in Illinois.

It’s official: Wisconsin right-wingers now pushing for right-to-work-for-less legislation

It’s official: The right-wingers in Wisconsin are now pushing for even more union busting in Wisconsin.

Lorri Pickens, a former political operative for the Koch Brothers front group Americans for Prosperity (AfP), is now leading a front group called Right to Work Wisconsin, whose mission is to convince the Republicans that control the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass a so-called “right-to-work” bill. Other individuals behind this group include Chris Martinson, Kenosha School Board member Bob Nuzzo, and 2014 Wisconsin State Treasurer Republican primary candidate Randy Melchert. This group may have the backing of the Koch Brothers and other big-money Republican/conservative donors.

If enacted in Wisconsin, a “right-to-work” bill would allow public-sector and private-sector workers who are not members of a union to benefit from collective bargaining agreements between management and union workers without joining the union or paying union dues, effectively allowing non-union workers to benefit from the wages, benefits, etc. of union contracts without paying for the benefits. To put that another way, “right-to-work” is actually the moral equivalent of legalizing shoplifting, since allowing non-union workers to not pay for benefits negotiated by unions is just like allowing shoppers at department stores to not pay for clothes, toys, video games, and so on. Additionally, a “right-to-work” bill would drive down wages in Wisconsin, put thousands more Wisconsin families into poverty, decrease the amount of revenue that Wisconsin receives from income taxes, hurt economic growth in Wisconsin, and cost Wisconsin thousands of jobs.

I hope enough Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature come to their senses and oppose a “right-to-work” bill, because Scott Walker would sign it into law in a heartbeat if it were to hit his desk and Wisconsin can’t afford it.