Milwaukee teachers’ union sues over Viagra


The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association has filed a civil suit claiming that MPS’ exclusion of Viagra and other drugs that treat erectile dysfunction from its health insurance plans constitutes sexual discrimination against male employees.

Last September, an administrative law judge dismissed an earlier ruling that sided with the union, which filed an equal rights complaint in 2008. The state’s Labor and Industry Review Commission upheld the decision in June.

The union now seeks a review of that decision by a Milwaukee County circuit court judge.

“This is an issue of discrimination, of equal rights for all our members,” said Kristin Collett, spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

Reinstating the Viagra benefit would cost MPS $786,000 per year, money that will surely be cut in other areas – perhaps by laying off even more teachers – so I don’t understand this. Sure, I “get” the whole argument about equality, but this seems like a pretty foolish time to be pushing this issue.

Moving Forward

FINALLY Koua Fong Lee gets to move forward with his life and go back to living with his wife and 4 children. For those of you who don’t know the story:

Lee, who immigrated to the U.S. from a Thai refugee camp in 2004, was driving a Toyota Camry when it plowed at high speed into the back of an Oldsmobile as Lee exited a St. Paul freeway ramp in 2006. He insisted during his trial that he did everything he could to stop the car but couldn’t.

Lee’s attorneys had argued that evidence backed up Lee’s account he was trying to brake. Prosecutors had opposed a new trial, saying there was no compelling new evidence.

Now we have the benefit of hindsight and some questions should be asked:
1. Did Toyota know at the time that they had an acceleration problem?

2. Why would the prosecutors not want a retrial when overwhleming evidence showed that there was strong possibility he was telling the truth?

3. This illustrates the racial disparity in our justice system. WHy should he have had such an incompetent lawyer? Where is the outcry to get rid of incompetent public defenders?

Finally I think it is time for Toyota to start moving forward with Millions to the bank accounts of Mr. Lee’s family and the victim’s family!!

(ps: sorry I forgot to originally add the link!)

The Scam of the Flim Flam Man – Paul Ryan

Paul Krugman takes on the Golden Boy of the GOP – Paul Ryan – in today’s New York Times.  You can read his column “The Flim Flam Man” here.    I thought there were several points worth extracting from the editorial.

“But no: as long as someone on the right claims to have bold new proposals, he’s hailed as an innovative thinker. And nobody checks his arithmetic.

“Which brings me to the innovative thinker du jour: Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.”

“But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.”

“The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has, however, stepped into the breach. Its numbers indicate that the Ryan plan would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next decade. If you add these revenue losses to the numbers The Post cites, you get a much larger deficit in 2020, roughly $1.3 trillion.”

“The Roadmap wouldn’t reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich.And I do mean slash. The Tax Policy Center finds that the Ryan plan would cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population in half, giving them 117 percent of the plan’s total tax cuts. That’s not a misprint. Even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.”

“The Ryan plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.”

For those of you in his District or who believe in his scam, read the full editorial from Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman to understand how misguided Ryan and his “Roadmap for America’s Future” really are.

Target Feels the Backlash and Deserves It

Good old Target is feeling the backlash for their $150,000 corporate donation to MN Forward for ads to be run by anti-gay GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.  The anger at the corporation has led President Gregg Steinhafel (brother of WI-based Steinhafel’s Furniture President Gary Steinhafel) to issue an apology to employees (full text here) for the process that they undertook in giving the donation and vowing to support the rights of their gay and lesbian “guests” and employees.  It turns out that the senior executives of the corporation have been major donors to a broad range of anti-gay GOP politicians not only in MN, but outside the state. The biggest revelation of the senior management team’s bigotry is the revelation that Target employees  gave $3,250 to, a coalition that vowed to protect heterosexual marriage by supporting Proposition 8, at the expense of gay and lesbian relationships.

This damaging corporate revelation is coming at the same time that Target has announced plans to enter the San Francisco marketplace and has a new “urban” store under development at Madison’s Hilldale.

I for one am disappointed to see this history of right wing contributions from the senior management team and their support of anti-equality marriage groups.

For further background on the story see this insightful analysis by Jay Weiner at the Minnesota Post about Target’s damage control efforts and the impact of Citizen’s United on corporate donations.

The real David Rivera

It’s likely you’ve never heard of David Rivera, and I couldn’t blame you. After all, Rivera, a Republican, is running for the House seat representing Florida’s 25th Congressional District. However, as Down With Tyranny! points out, what’s really interesting about David Rivera is that he’s the anointed candidate for Repbulicans, despite Rivera being charged with repeated acts of domestic violence against the same woman. Rivera’s issues relating to him being charged with repeated acts of domestic violence were not unknown in Florida’s political circles, as the issue was brought up in 2002 when Rivera was running for the Florida House of Representatives.

It’s worth noting David Rivera is being publicly supported in his House race by tea party darling Marco Rubio, as well as former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, however I can’t help but wonder if either will continue to be vocal in their support of Rivera now that his history as a repeat domestic violence offender has been brought to light.

At any rate, I guess this just proves how little vetting actually takes place of candidates for elected office, either by the two parties or the media.

Feingold campaign knocks on 70,000th door

70,000 is a heck of a lot of doors:

The Feingold Campaign today eclipsed the 70,000-door mark in its aggressive grassroots field efforts across Wisconsin. The earlier-than-expected arrival at this number is due in part to the recent “July Twenty-Fourward” statewide canvass, where supporters knocked on more than 11,000 doors in one day. In addition to daily door-to-door canvassing, the campaign hosts nightly phone banks in each of the 16 field offices. To date, volunteers and supporters have made more than 63,000 phone calls to Wisconsinites around the state.

“Face-to-face contact with voters makes a difference – our past campaigns prove it,” said George Aldrich, Feingold Campaign manager. “Reaching 70,000 doors at this stage in the campaign sends a very encouraging message about the enthusiasm, strength and incredible dedication of our volunteers. We couldn’t be more pleased with this level of grassroots support.”

I wonder how many doors the campaign of Republican U.S. candidate Ron Johnson has knocked on…something tells me it’s nowhere close to 70,000.