Statistics and the Recall

Before he passed away in 1995, my dad was the Deputy Director of the US Census.  So I spent a lot of time hearing about statistics growing up.  I was pleased to see that someone, in this case the Journal-Sentinel, decided to test a statistically significant sample of the Recall petitions and reached the conclusion that only 15% of the signatures could not be verified.

After randomly selecting petitions and names from the accountability board web site, the newspaper checked available public records including the Wisconsin courts database, a state voter database,, the White Pages and other online search engines.

For most of the 73 signatures that couldn’t be verified, there was a record that the person existed and was of voting age, but no address could be found to match the one listed on the petition.

A name was considered invalid in the newspaper review if no record could be found for the signee at the address listed, if they weren’t old enough to vote or if they were a felon under state supervision.

What’s interesting that the errors discovered were not for the breathless GOP fears of Mickey Mouse and Adolf Hitler, but instead it was real people who, for some reason, got some piece of their information incorrect.  Lassitude and not fraud seem to be the source of these errors.

But even with a 15% error rate, there will be no problem bringing Scott Walker to justice recalling Scott Walker.

Recall Petition Fraud, Tea Party Style

The Racine County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a case of signature fraud in the drive to recall GOP  Senator Van Wangaard. The fraudulent signatures were submitted by a man, Mark Demet, who may have ties to the Racine County Tea Party and the Racine County chapter of Citizens for Responsible Government

For several weeks now Tea Squawkers around the state have been hollering at the top of their lungs about signature fraud within the various recall efforts statewide. What a prescient bunch, indeed! How did they know in advance that fraud would be discovered? Hmmmmm.

Here’s hoping Demet is charged and that any other suspicious signatures discovered throughout the process are investigated as well.

Bay View/ South Side candidates’ forum tonight

Tonight’s the big throw down between candidates in Milwaukee’s 14th aldermanic district (incumbent Tony Zielinski vs. challenger Jan Pierce) and Milwaukee County’s 4th supervisory district (incumbent Marina Dimitrijevic and challenger Bill Buresh).  County Supervisor Jason Haas, of the fighting’ 14th, is running unopposed and will also take questions from the audience.

It’s happening in Humboldt Park School’s auditorium at 7 PM.

Your humble folkbum will be there live tweeting (many updates if there’s wifi or a few updates if I have to scratch it out on my phone), so follow me @folkbum before it starts.  I will also post a wrap-up here in the morning of any fireworks and interesting happenings.

Erpenbach Strikes Back

The story came out yesterday that The republicans were unanimous in swearing their secrecy, to Michael, Best & Freidrich while they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to make sure they had as many republican friendly districts as possible.

The problem with that(ok there are numerous problems, but one of the problems was the republicans denied the democrats legal representation. The republicans pointed out that thanks to MB & F, everyone was represented. They just forgot to ever let the democrats get involved. That did not sit well with Jon Erpenbach and he let them know with this letter:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Eric McLeod

Michael, Best and Friedrich

One South Pinckney St.

Suite 700

Madison, WI 53707

Dear Mr. McLeod,

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has insisted from the start of the redistricting process that the process has not been political in nature. He even went so far as to deny Senate Democrats legal representation in this process, saying that the Senate already had a law firm: yours. That fact was restated by his staff, when ask by myself, as a member of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities and Government Operations during a recent hearing. During that hearing, I asked Sen. Fitzgerald’s staff on more than one occasion, and more than one way, if politics were involved with redistricting. His answer was always the same, “no.”

Therefore, it is my understanding, as the elected State Senator of the 27th Senate District, I am your client. As your client I would like to review the file regarding your firm’s work on redistricting.

Attorney client privilege should not be an issue here because I am one of the 33 clients you represent.

If it’s not your understanding that your firm represents all 33 Wisconsin State Senators, then perhaps we need further clarification from Sen. Fitzgerald. Otherwise, please provide me with a copy of the entire redistricting file.

To be very clear, I really have a disdain for reading about a case that involves me and the entire Wisconsin State Senate in the newspaper.


Jon Erpenbach

State Senator

27th Senate District

I will anxiously await the response to this letter! This is starting to get interesting!

The Snake that Ate the Elephant

This is a post I’m proud to write.  Yesterday, as many of you may have noticed, Blogging Blue was… unreliable.  Well, there’s a good explanation for that.  Apparently, one of the Gods of Reddit voted up Zach’s story on the Louisiana Congressman who thought the Onion article on the new Planned Parenthood Abortionplex was a true story.   Funny, yes.  But what happened next drove the site to it’s knees.

Take a look at this 48 hour snapshot of site activity I captured this morning.

The Snake that Ate the Elephant
The Snake that Ate the Elephant

Those little dots represent a normal day here at Blogging Blue. But that spike? Well, in agregate, that bulge represents a day with 25X the number of average hits we see here.  That’s huge!

I think I’ll let Roy Scheider explain…

The Once and Future Shill

Shill:  A shill, plant or stooge is a person who helps a person or organization without disclosing that he or she has a close relationship with that person or organization. Shill typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that he or she is an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) that he or she is secretly working for. The person or group that hires the shill is using crowd psychology, to encourage other onlookers or audience members to purchase the goods or services (or accept the ideas being marketed). Shills are often employed by confidence artists.

Rick Esenberg is, and always will be, a partisan hack.  A mouthpiece trotted out before the press by the state GOP to render his “opinions” on a variety of topics that affect the lives of the people of Wisconsin.  The trouble is, Professor Rick is a lawyer, and his opinions are different from yours or mine.  I don’t mean that he holds different opinions, I mean that his opinions are part of his job as an attorney.  When he is asked to “render an opinion,” he is bound by the canons of ethics for lawyers in Wisconsin.  Lawyers are paid and expected to render opinions based on the facts and not on the party line.  In his zeal to play the slavish lapdog to his Republican masters, he sometimes forgets this.  He and Michael Gableman share this trait.  But Professor Rick has never been bothered by ethical conflicts in the past, so why should he start now?

He can be guaranteed to toe the party line each and every time.  The GOPs pet law professor.

So it’s always satisfying when he gets his ass handed to him in public by Peter Earle. Watch from a hearing on redistricting from July, 2011.

What makes this video so disturbing (and it is disturbing) is that, at the time, Peter Earle wondered publicly what information Professor Rick might have had access to that the rest of the hearing participants did not.  How was Professor Rick able to render a legal opinion on data in such a short period of time?

Well silly me for thinking the GOP would ever play by the rules of governance.  As it turns out, Voices de la Frontera, Earle’s client at the time, have now filed a complaint with the state that the GOP violated the open records law in their redistricting process.

Documents released yesterday showed that virtually all G-O-P lawmakers signed confidentiality agreements which promised not to discuss the maps while they were being written. And they were told that those who speak out could be called as witnesses in court. The documents also said that 33-of-the-58 Republican Assembly members would pick up additional voters under the new districts. The documents were released after three federal judges in the redistricting suit said G-O-P legislators filed frivolous legal requests, so they could hide their actions in creating the new maps. Those maps will be used for the first time in this fall’s elections unless the courts overturn them.

The complaint states, in part:

On June 20, 2011, Adam Foltz drafted a document captioned “General Talking Points” which he described during his sworn testimony on February 1, 2012, as talking points to guide the discussion at each of the individual meetings he had with each member of the Assembly who had previously signed a secrecy agreement.  The talking points memo stated that the redistricting bill was a “placeholder map” and that “if the Senate comes back in the majority, we may come back and adjust.”  Mr. Foltz testified at his deposition that the preceding sentence was referring to the then pending recall elections that were scheduled for August 9, 2011.  The talking points memo also stated that “Public comments on this map may be different than what you hear in this room.  Ignore the public comments.”  The talking points memo then explicitly stated that the previously signed secrecy agreement applied to the individual meeting between Mr. Foltz and each individual Republican representative….  (emphasis in original)

The complaint asserts that this entire process is a violation of the Open Meetings law, a law these clowns have tripped over in the past.

So the real question I have is what did Professor Rick know and when did he know it?  He certainly seemed to have some special knowledge back in July to which no one else was privy.  He rendered an opinion of the fairness of the redistricting.  We’re left with only two conclusions:

1. Professor Rick is incompetent and rendered a legal opinion on a limited understanding of the facts in evidence
2. Professor Rick is corrupt and rendered a legal opinion on preferential access to facts not in evidence

Which is it, Professor Rick?  Take your pick…

Karen Handel Bent on Further Destruction of the Komen Brand

I wrote last Thursday that the worst result of the underhanded intrigues at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation was the harm that occured to the Komen Brand.  Once one of the most respected and popular nonprofits in the nation, the powers that be at Komen decided through intrigue and deception to defund their partnership with Planned Parenthood, a partnership that provided tens of thousands of poor women the screenings and breast exams necessary for the saving of countless lives.  That’s the crux of the issue, that donors can no longer trust Komen to either race for a cure or to race for prevention without the ugly politics of abortion getting in the way. 

The story really hasn’t changed much over the last five days.  Sure, Komen has given over a nonapology apology, failing to admit to their underhanded political manueverings.  And they say that Planned Parenthood will still be eligible for grants in the future, though I’m interested to see if they follow through on that pledge.  They have squandered their trust, after all.  As I noted on Thursday, Elizabeth Thompson, and perhaps especially Vice President Karen Handel, were responsible for an unprecedented destruction of the Komen brand.  Today’s news?  It appears that Karen Handel has decided she has not done enough as yet to destroy the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. 

Karen Handel is resigning.  That is necessary for Komen to cure itself, and surely Komen must also come clean about its deceptions in order to regain the trust of donors.  Handel’s resignation letter, available from several sources online, such as at The New Civil Rights Movement, gives much insight into the backroom manueverings at Komen, but clearly with her own PR spin.  All that’s going to do is further alienate those already offended by Komen’s actions.  Handel’s press conference later today will only exacerbate the matter.  And Komen sits on its hands all the while. 

What’s the real takeaway here?  Karen Handel will further damage the Komen brand, and seemingly willfully.  As indicated at this column in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and in Handel’s resignation letter, Karen Handel has refused severance pay from Komen, which almost certainly would have required that she not spill her guts in public. 

The self-congratulatory spin Karen Handel gives in her resignation letter throws both Komen President Elizabeth Thompson and Komen CEO Nancy Brinker under the bus, showing that the excuses they have given for the Susan G, Komen for the Cure Foundation’s actions have been all lies and spin.  That’s Handel’s first action in further damaging the Komen brand.  Today Handel will hold a press conference where she will surely show more clearly how all the PR spin laid out by Komen over the last week has been a tapestry of lies.  More damage to the Komen brand and to the organization to which Handel claims reverence.  And I GUARANTEE Karen Handel will be appearing on FoxNews, that most political of outlets, tonight, where she will likely claim that none of this was political at all. 

Nancy Brinker needs a new strategy here, and that is to own up to everything, and to commit to a program of doubling its outreach to the underserved women served by the Planned Parenthood grant.  Brinker claims she is working to learn from mistakes, but she needs to be proactive with more than words on a website.  That’s the only way out of this mess.  Komen won’t take this route if they continue to rely on Ari Fleischer for advice, that’s for sure.

Drinking Liberally MKE: coming 02/20/12!

Here’s some news on this month’s Drinking Liberally meeting here in MKE:

Hi Folks:

Just a friendly reminder that at this month’s meeting we’ll be joined by a very special guest, as Mike McCabe, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, will join us to talk about the vital role his organization plays in serving as a clean government watchdog. We’re excited to have Mike join us, and we hope you’ll mark your calendars to join us for what promises to be a lively discussion.

Here are the details for our February meeting:

When: Monday, February 20, 2012 @ 7:00 p.m.
Where: Transfer Pizzeria & Cafe, 101 W. Mitchell Street

We hope to see you next month!

Zach, Ed, and the MKE Drinking Liberally crew

I hope to see you there, because it should be a great time!