What a Perfect Mess…

It’s day 102 of Wisconsin budget watch, with what seems like no end in sight. Republicans, led by Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, are stalling the passage of a budget to score cheap political points with their rapidly dwindling conservative base, but this debacle is only likely to backfire once elections roll around in 2008.

Now I’ve never been one to believe folks who start talking about doom and gloom when it comes to an overdue budget, but as a state employee I’m more than a little disturbed at the fact that our management is talking about deep program cuts and layoffs due to the fact that we have no budget for the current fiscal year. Mind you, program cuts and layoffs likely won’t affect me, but cuts in staff will no doubt affect an untold number of state employees, and that’s simply unacceptable. Mike Huebsch and his Republican allies ought to be ashamed of themselves for letting things get to this point. I understand Huebsch is trying to look tough against Governor Doyle for his own inevitable run to unseat Doyle, but he’s simply gone too far. Democrats have shown time and time again they’re willing to compromise to get a budget done, a fact that stands in stark contrast to Huebsch’s “all or nothing” approach to getting a budget done. Huebsch wants Democrats to give him everything he wants while he gives nothing in return, and at the risk of sounding juvenile, he’s acting like a jackass of the highest order.

When the jobs of hardworking folks all across Wisconsin are put on the line simply because of some political posturing by lawmakers, it’s time to send those politicians a message that enough is enough.

Lawton to Lead Historic Drive for Workforce Wellness

Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton will lead Wisconsin’s largest-ever observance of National Depression Screening Day, hosting events in Madison and Green Bay today. She will be joined by representatives of major employers and organizations to announce record-setting participation in employee depression screening. It’s estimated that as many as one million people in Wisconsin live with depression. Depression impacts their daily lives, their families, their ability to work, and their productivity. That makes it a tremendous drain on Wisconsin’s economy, because a healthy, happy workforce our workforce is our competitive edge, and we need a workforce that is healthy and happy.

Lt. Governor Lawton has organized a free, completely confidential online mental health screening as part of National Depression Screening Day, available at Lt. Governor Lawton’s website. National Depression Screening Day is designed to identify mental health concerns in the workplace in an effort to improve employee productivity and build a better workforce for Wisconsin.

Richardson Campaign In Trouble?

Could New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign be in trouble? Earlier today, CNN’s Political Ticker blog reported Richardson’s South Carolina state co-chair Fletcher Smith is leaving the Richardson campaign because of Smith’s belief that Governor Richardson’s plan for the hasty withdrawal of American troops from Iraq is a bad idea.

“Right now we have a quicksand of a civil war, and I don’t believe we can just pull out precipitously in a six month period of time without jeopardizing our interests in the region. We don’t need another evacuation that we had in Vietnam.”

The loss of a campaign co-chair in an early primary state surely can’t be a good thing for the Richardson campaign, and what’s worse, the Richardson campaign stands poised to alienate Democratic voters throughout the Great Lakes region after Governor Richardson went on record as supporting the diversion of Great Lakes water to the southwest. A lot of folks here in the Great Lakes region – folks from both parties, I might add – are fiercely protective of the Great Lakes. Speaking about Governor Richardson’s comments, Wisconsin State Senator Rob Cowles, a Republican from Green Bay, said, “It’s another scary reminder that we need to get going and pass a compact – and a strong compact – so this kind of thing is off the table.”

As someone who’s supported Governor Richardson, I can honestly say I’m more than a little disappointed at his willingness to pander to folks in Las Vegas on an issue this important to folks here in the Great Lakes. I know Nevada’s going to be a key state for Governor Richardson early in the primary season, but considering his status as a “second tier” candidate for the Democrats, he’s hardly in any position to start alienating large groups of folks.

Now I don’t know that the loss of a key advisor and his comments about Great Lakes water will have a hugely negative impact on Governor Richardson’s presidential campaign, but they certainly won’t help things much.

John Jazwiec is Certifiably Insane

First of all, I have to give props to Michael Mathias over at Pundit Nation for his entry on John Jazwiec, as well as links to emails Jazwiec has sent to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. For those of you who are unfamiliar with John Jazwiec, he’s the Milwaukee-hating CEO of RedPrairie Corporation who recently alleged his family were the victims of a home invasion by a large black man, only to turn around and refuse multiple attempts by Milwaukee police to investigate the incident he is alleging occurred. Instead, Jazwiec decided to send an email directly to Mayor Barrett and the media, apparently figuring the problem would be solved if only he got some press.

What I find to be most interesting in this whole situation are the emails Mr. Jazwiec sent to Mayor Barrett. The first is a bizarre rant that mentions “de-annexation” and allude to the fact that his family were the victims of an “inside job” by the Milwaukee Police Department. The second email came in response to a polite email from Mayor Barrett’s office, and in it Mr. Jazwiec rants that the Mayor works for him.

Whether the incident happened or not, John Jazwiec is seriously unhinged, and his behavior shows just how out of touch rich folks are with the reality that the rest of us average folks live in.

Domestic Violence

October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As someone who’s experienced domestic violence first hand – both on a personal and professional level – I find myself thinking a lot about domestic violence in all its forms, and I challenge all six of you who read this blog to take a moment to think about domestic violence.

The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence has issued a report on a study that explores the stories behind each of the 46 domestic violence-related deaths (including 6 suicides) in the state of Wisconsin in 2005, and I’d encourage you all to take a moment to read one or two of the accounts of 34 people became domestic-violence homicide victims in Wisconsin in 2005. The accounts aren’t long, but they are both brutal and tragic, and they give readers a snapshot of what domestic violence really is.

So take a moment, click the link I’ve provided, and read the report – you’ll be glad you did.

The Truth About State Employees

It seems like an all too commonly held belief in some circles (i.e. Republicans and small-government kooks) that state employees are lazy and overpaid, and throughout the Joint Finance Committees’s budget negotiations, some Republicans have floated ideas on how to really stick it to state employees, such as only paying state employees once a month, cutting health care benefits, not giving raises, etc. State employees have become a bogeyman of sorts for some conservatives, and that’s why I was so amused to see someone finally stick up for state employees.

The following was sent to the LaCrosse Tribune in response to an article on a recent Citizens For Responsible Government meeting and the meanderings of Scott Walker and Todd Berry about public employee benefits.
Continue reading “The Truth About State Employees”

Taylor’s In.

Earlier today, State Senator Lena Taylor announced she is running for Milwaukee County Executive, confirming what’s been one of Southeastern Wisconsin’s worst-kept secrets. Even though her announcement is less than twelve hours old, Taylor’s already begun picking up support from prominent Democrats, with Governor Jim Doyle calling Taylor a “great candidate.” In addition, State Democratic Party Chair Joe Wineke has said he plans on endorsing Taylor within the next few days.

I think this is going to be one of the more entertaining races to watch during the 2008 election season, with Taylor and incumbent County Executive Scott Walker holding starkly contrasting positions on many of the issues that will no doubt be at the forefront of the race. Walker and his supporters will no doubt attempt to paint Taylor as a “tax and spend liberal” – and in fact that drumbeat has already started over at Badger Blogger. To be honest, if I were a conservative – and thank God I’m not – I’d be worried about Lena Taylor running against Scott Walker, because I’m willing to bet she’s going to be able to mobilize City of Milwaukee voters to cast their votes for her, and without a significant amount of votes from the City of Milwaukee, Scott Walker can kiss this race goodbye. If I were Lena Taylor, I’d spend some time talking about Scott Walker’s record of deception, from his promise not to run in 2008 to his veto of a voter referendum on taxes, after he previously said he supported referendums. Scott Walker’s a liar and a terrible County Executive, and I I think Scott Walker’s got little chance of prevailing.

However, if there’s an upside for Walker in losing to Lena Taylor, at least he’ll have plenty of free time to plan his run to succeed Jim Sensenbrenner as the U.S. Congressman for the Fifth Congressional District.