Bay View Candidates’ Forum: The Rumble In Humboldt (Park School)

I know I promised to have something posted this morning, but, you know, life.  If you followed my twittums feed last night (@folkbum, people–I only need 7 more followers to 400!), you can probably guess the themes and don’t need this wrap up.  But here it is anyway.

The easy wrap is that Milwaukee County Supervisor for the 14th district–my turf!–Jason Haas, who is running unopposed, knows his parks.  And he opposed privatizing the airport.  And he has no control over US marijuana policy.  I approve!  Vote Haas!

There was also an hour set aside for the candidates in Milwaukee County’s 4th district, currently (and ably, if I may suggest) represented by Marina Dimitrijevic.  Her opponent is businessman Bill Buresh.  (NOTE TO BURESH CAMPAIGN: Your website is the 7th google result in a search for your candidate’s name.)

Buresh (left) and Dimitrijevic

Buresh is clearly an amateur–which is not by itself an issue.  I don’t mind a nervous guy who doesn’t do a lot of public speaking and stuff if there’s a good message behind it.  But Buresh only has one note:  Milwaukee County has too much debt.  Every question–how do we fund the parks? how to improve transit?–the answer was, eliminate the debt and then there will be funds for that.  Buresh railed–well, spoke nervously about–small-change projects like bus shelters and suggested that Milwaukee County would be better off applying those funds to the debt.

Dimitrijevic spent much of her hour bragging about her two major legislative accomplishments of the last couple of years, the domestic partnership benefit and her “greenprint” initiative.  She critiqued Buresh’s attacks as “sound bytes” of the Sykes/Belling variety, and demonstrated a pretty thorough command of the issues, from transit to South Shore Park Beach.

In terms of the policy differences between the two, the single biggest one was on the size of the Milwaukee County  Board.  Buresh favors a smaller board–he noted the cost of the board itself was over $11 million–while Dimitrijevic feels that diluting the voice of residents any further (each supervisor represents more than 50,000 residents) is unwise.  With a billion-dollar budget, she says, you need more accountability.

In all, Buresh was outclassed.  My hat’s off to anyone willing to put themselves out and run for office, but he’s not ready for prime time yet.  (He’s also up against one of Milwaukee’s most popular incumbents; a competent challenger would have a hard time, too.)

(Buresh supporter–and advisor?–Aaron Rodriguez was there last night too, and he may at some point have a different take.)

Zielinski (left) and Pierce

But the night’s main event, the one everyone was there to see (almost literally–the crowd list 3/4 of its size after this part was done) was the debate between 14th district Alderman Tony Zielinski and challenger Jan Pierce.  (Also my turf!)

I cannot overstate how tense this portion of the program was.  There was tension between the candidates almost from the start; and there was WWE-like participation from the crowd.

The first question set the tone.  It was written by Pierce for Zielinski (the second question went the other way) and it was about liquor licenses.  Zielinski has been criticized in the past for the way he handles liquor licenses (for example), but I think Pierce made a tactical error by aligning himself, at least in terms of this question, with Ald. Bob Donovan, who is the closest thing this city has to a professional rodeo clown.

But the liquor license issue is emblematic of how the whole hour went:  Both men were on almost exactly the same page in policy–get neighbor input, slow the traffic on Kinnickinnick Avenue, attract more new and small business, fix Bay View High School somehow.  Instead, it’s an issue of attitude.

Zielinski stood proud of running a positive campaign, not, for example, talking badly about his opponent “on Facebook” and the like.  In the face of implications (Pierce had to actually backpedal from a more direct accusation) of being influenced by campaign contributions, Zielinski said, repeatedly, that money didn’t matter and that “my district comes first.”

But then repeatedly the Pierce supporters in the crowd called back ,”It’s OUR district.”  This is Pierce’s big argument, that people in the community, from business owners to liquor licensees on down, feel they have to–and I’m paraphrasing here–kiss Zielinski’s ring to get things taken care of.  Zielinski fired back that in every instance Pierce could name, Zielinski had documented the support of the community for his positions, not simply campaign contributions.

But then the Pierce crowd, many of whom are motivated to oppose Zielinski because the alderman hasn’t satisfactorily listened to their concerns, fired back again, with catcalls for the incumbent and cheers for every Piece barb.  Zielinski supporters, meanwhile cheered every time Zielinski noted that Pierce was going negative.

Again, it was hard to see daylight between the two on substantive issues.  Instead, the debate was about style and aldermanic privilege, and there is no question that both candidates’ supporters will be claiming victory.  Pierce because Zielinski defended “my district” and Zielinski because Pierce looked like a desperate challenger attacking negatively.

Unlike Bill Buresh, Jan Pierce held his own against a well-prepared incumbent and had talking points that weren’t simply sound bites.  But can he win against an opponent he claims is running a fiefdom by going negative?  Remains to be seen.  Me, I’m staying out of this one for a while.

Robin Vos Is (STILL) A Hingst

In case you didnt know., Robin Vos is a Hingst. Robin Vos has a history of not telling the truth and having complete disdain for the people of Wisconsin. In case there was any doubt, the events of recent days prove that Vos is still a Hingst!

Thanks to persistence from the Journal-Sentinel, over much resistance from the Wisconsin Republicans, we finally were able to get a look into how the republican party handled the redistricting process and it was not pretty! We found out that they were forced to sign "secrecy agreements" between themselves and Erik McLeod of Michael Best & Friedrich. They were forbidden from talking about this process(at least talking truthfully about it more on that in a bit) from not only their constituents(you know the ones who elected them – the whole WE THE PEOPLE thing) but also their democratic counterparts in the Senate(the ones they say they want to start working in a bipartisan effort with). These secret meetings and agreements have cost the (broke) taxpayers of Wisconsin $400,000+ and counting. So much for Fiscal Conservatives.

So not only did every republican(almost) have to sign a secrecy agreement beholding to Erik McLeod, our friend and unethical slumlord Robin Vos, plays a special part. See Assembly leader(term used lightly) Jeff Fitzgerald’s young staffer, typed up a set of "talking points" that we originally thought were meant for all republicans. However after a little more digging we found out that these were written specifically for Robin Vos. Apparently Fitz “the lesser” felt that Robin Vos was not qualified enough(ie smart enough) to be let out in public without being given exact directions by his twenty something aide Adam Foltz. While Vos denies using these, everyone knows that Robin says many things and no one really takes him seriously.

Fast forward to a separate but semi related story, the democratic side of the race. Some unions want any democratic candidate who is running for Governor to sign a pledge that they will veto any budget that does not restore collective bargaining rights. Well Robin Vos was beside himself upon hearing that. Let me set the stage:

The unethical slumlord, who likes skinny dipping, who signed a pledge of secrecy to an ethically challenged lawyer, who had to be given talking points by a twenty something low level staffer to be able to function in public, who uses his position to make sure no one can see his popcorn customers, who is the Wisconsin head of the anti- democratic shadow agency ALEC, had this to say about the unions wanting collective bargaining restored:

“I cannot see a scenario under which Assembly Republicans would capitulate to big labor bosses. The fact that they are exacting concessions out of a would-be candidate is the biggest threat to democracy, not the (collective bargaining repeal),” Vos said.

O yea one last thing: Robin must have forgotten about the pledge he signed with the extremist Wisconsin Club For Growth. Vos also still owes 1,529,560 people an apology!

The verdict is Robin Vos is still a Hingst!

Finally we at BloggingBlue have exclusive footage of Jeff Fitzgerald and Adam Foltz going over talking points with Robin Vos:

John Kasich, Parkinsons impersonator

Watch as Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio does his best impression of a Parkinson’s patient during his recent “State of the State” speech.

Here’s the full transcript of Gov. Kasich’s speech, which would certainly seem to underscore why elected officials use teleprompters. Speaking off the cuff is rarely a good idea, and in John Kasich’s case, it’s absolutely stupid.

WEAC endorses Kathleen Falk….but why so early?

Well, it looks like the unions are trying to dissuade any Democrats other than Kathleen Falk from running in a Democratic gubernatorial recall primary, as earlier today Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) has recommended Kathleen Falk for governor once a recall election against Republican Gov. Scott Walker is certified.

In a related story, Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported earlier today that the American Federation of State, County and Muncipal Employees (AFSCME) will be making a gubernatorial endorsement in the coming weeks, with sources reporting Falk is expected to win AFSCME’s endorsement.

I find the timing of these endorsements curious, given there’s still no set date for the recall election against Gov. Walker. It’s still reeeeeeeaaaaaalllllllyyyyy early, especially considering there are only two announced candidates, leaving me to wonder if organized labor is lining up behind Kathleen Falk in order to dissuade any other Democrats from jumping into the race.

I’m finding it really hard to get enthusiastic about the possibility that I’ll be forced to choose either Kathleen Falk or Kathleen Vinehout to be the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

New Walker tool: The WisDems’ Interactive Map of Corruption

Forget the Kardashians, the hottest new reality show around is “Keeping Up with the Corruption” starring Governor Scott Walker. This drama is not just for political nerds anymore; proverbial ratings have soared as citizens across the state of Wisconsin have tuned in to see what’s going to happen next. The WisDems just unveiled the perfect new tool, a TV Guide, of sorts, to help us keep up with the saga. Here it is:

Map of Corruption