Kathy Nickolaus insists she’s still 100% in charge of the upcoming recall elections

It is widely assumed that Kathy Nickolaus plans to “assist” but not run the upcoming recall elections based, in part, on a report by the Waukesha Freeman on 4/24/12.  But on Saturday Nickolaus told Karen Herzog and Tom Tolan of the Journal Sentinel, “I have not relinquished any authority or responsibility in upcoming elections through the end of my term.” In fact, statements made to JS reporters indicate that she never planned to cede any responsibility to anyone in the first place.

From JSOnline, 4/28/12:

But the embattled clerk said in a prepared statement that she would not relinquish “any authority or responsibility” for upcoming elections through the end of her term because “I am the Waukesha County constitutional officer charged with the responsibility of elections.”

According to her campaign manager, Nickolaus never planned to cede duties to her deputy, despite statements made to the Waukesha Freeman on 4/24/12 which seemed to indicate otherwise, specifically, “I’ve assigned the duty of election night to Kelly.”

Additionally, Shawn Lundie, Vrakas’ chief of staff, had told the Freeman on 4/24/12, “She is the County Clerk but Kathy has agreed to and has delegated the election night responsibilities to Kelly Yaeger.”

And from Saturday’s JSOnline report…

After problems in the election earlier this month, Nickolaus reportedly agreed under pressure from County Executive Dan Vrakas to cede election responsibilities to her deputy for the upcoming recall races.

But, from the same JS report from 4/28/12:

Her campaign manager said Saturday she “never ever agreed to hand over the responsibility given to her constitutionally as clerk” to administer the elections. “Kathy is still in charge,” said the manager, Dan Hunt, adding Nickolaus was unavailable for comment.

The deputy clerk will serve as liaison between municipal clerks and county clerks, oversee election result processes and make sure the results are reported to the Government Accountability Board, Hunt said.

“This reflects the agreement between the county clerk and county executive,” he added.

My head hurts.

Vrakas issued a statement after Nickolaus announced she wouldn’t run for re-election this fall.

“Our goal all along has been to restore public confidence in our elections,” Vrakas said. “The Clerk’s announcement does not affect our plans to improve the election process. I remain committed to doing whatever I can to ensure our elections are smoothly run and that the unofficial vote totals on election night are tabulated accurately and released to the public in a timely manner.”

So…were the Waukesha Freeman statements misinterpreted? Did somebody mis-speak? Because these comments provided by Nickolaus to JS on 4/28/12 clearly indicate she doesn’t just plan to “assist”:

“Residents of Waukesha County and the state of Wisconsin should know that election integrity has always been my primary focus,” Nickolaus said Saturday. “Because of this and the fact that I am the Waukesha County constitutional officer charged with the responsibility of elections I have not relinquished any authority or responsibility in upcoming elections through the end of my term.”

If Dan Vrakas is really serious about his focus on restoring public confidence in our elections and election integrity, he should make Nickolaus’ involvement in the upcoming recall elections crystal clear. And if he doesn’t, voters should demand it. We deserve to know the truth.

The Economist Goes Full Wingnut

Crooked Timber comments on this slice of wingnutty goodness at The Economist!

France desperately needs reform .. .neighbours have been undergoing genuine reforms … deep anti-business attitude … proposing not to reform at all … refusal to countenance structural reform of any sort … resistance to change … hostile to change … Until recently, voters in the euro zone seemed to have accepted the idea of austerity and reform. … would undermine Europe’s willingness to pursue the painful reforms it must eventually embrace.

I’ve no idea what Hollande is going to be like (except that he’s certainly going to be disappointing). But I do know that this is one of the most exquisitely refined examples of globollocks that I’ve ever seen. It’s as beautifully resistant to the intellect as an Andropov era Pravda editorial. A few more years of this and the Economist won’t have to have any human editing at all. Even today, I imagine that someone with middling coding skills could patch together a passable Economist-editorial generator with a few days work. Mix in names of countries and people scraped from the political stories sections of Google News, with frequent exhortations for “Reform,” “toughminded reform,” “market-led reform,” “painful reform,” “change,” “serious change,” “rupture,” and 12-15 sentences worth of automagically generated word-salad content, and you’d be there.

I’ve been a long-time subscriber to The Economist and I am deeply disappointed in the recent editorial direction, the doubling-down on the austerity foolishness that is creating a trans-European economic wasteland.

What is the Defending Wisconsin PAC spending its money on?

In the aftermath of Republican Gov. Scott Walker “dropping the bomb” on Wisconsin public employees in the form of his union-busting Act 10, which stripped public employees of virtually all of their collective bargaining rights, a number of groups came into being with the mission of working towards a recall of Gov. Walker.

Among those groups was the Defending Wisconsin PAC, led by its Executive Director (and professional protester) Jeremy Ryan. You may remember Jeremy Ryan as the same individual who in 2011 solicited online donations to support his lifestyle because he didn’t want to get a job, and at the time I opined that if I were someone looking to support the recall efforts here in Wisconsin, I’d be hesitant to donate to Defending Wisconsin, given the financial difficulties of its Executive Director.

According to the January 2012 Continuing Report filed with the state Government Accountability Board by Defending Wisconsin PAC, the group raised $2,507.89 during the last reporting period (July 2011 to December 2011). During that same period, Defending Wisconsin PAC spent a total of $2,941.51, with $2,283.50 (just over 77%) of the total spent having gone towards food, lodging, and travel expenses.

Interestingly, much of the money spent on food, lodging, and travel expenses during the January 2012 reporting period seems to center on a trip Jeremy Ryan made to Washington, D.C. in early October 2011 to attend the Take Back the American Dream 2011 conference and do a little protesting with the “Occupy D.C. K Street” protests. While in Washington, D.C., it appears Ryan (pictured, left with Van Jones) stayed at the Historic Churchill Hotel (total bill: $1,048.48). Between October 2 and October 12, 2011 nearly $300 ($294.01, to be exact) was spent on meals in Washington, D.C., while another $683.05 was spent on travel/transportation. If you add in the $264.40 spent on plane fare to Washington, D.C., the Defending Wisconsin PAC spent $2,289.94 for one trip to Washington, D.C. – a trip that may have had absolutely nothing to do with the political upheaval in Wisconsin in 2011 and more to do with Jeremy Ryan’s desire to take a trip to Washington, D.C. to do some protesting without having to foot the bill himself.

To be honest, as I’ve investigated the Defending Wisconsin PAC, I’ve had a hard time figuring out exactly what role the Defending Wisconsin PAC has played in “defending” Wisconsin over the past year. A quick glance at the Defending Wisconsin PAC Facebook page shows a lot of activity by Jeremy Ryan to promote his personal blog, but there’s not much to be found to clarify what the Defending Wisconsin PAC is doing to “defend” Wisconsin. What’s more, the Defending Wisconsin PAC website is equally devoid of any concrete information on how the group has “defended” Wisconsin over the past year.

Attempts to reach Jeremy Ryan for comment on this story went unanswered, leaving far too many questions (not to mention concerns) left unanswered about how responsibly – or perhaps more appropriately, how irresponsibly – Defending Wisconsin PAC has been spending the contributions it’s been receiving.

Considering Jeremy Ryan has announced he’s a candidate for the State Assembly, the public deserves some transparency about how the PAC he runs spent the contributions it received and the citizens he aspires to represent deserve to know that he’s trustworthy and deserving of their votes, not just an individual looking for yet another helping of publicity to fuel his ego.

Register Now for the Milwaukee Manufacturing Career Expo

This is reprinted in its entirety from the April 29, 2012 Letters to the Editor section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Expo connects jobs, workers
If you are looking for work, here’s a tip: Register now for the Milwaukee Manufacturing Career Expo on May 10 at the State Fair Exposition Center. If you’re a Milwaukee-area manufacturer with jobs to fill, you should register, too.

More than a job fair, the expo is open only to job seekers with a ticket and employers with openings. The state Department of Workforce Development and its partners, including the Milwaukee Urban League, are working to make it a success.

For job seekers, getting an admission ticket involves three easy steps:

1) If you haven’t already done so, register with the DWD online employment site.

2) Using “Job Seeker Tools,” create or update a résumé, then take an assessment survey. Save and print both for the final step, a one-on-one session with an employment specialist.

3) Check the schedule of sessions, and go to one. A specialist will review your materials and help you prepare for the expo.

After three years of roughly 145,000 in job losses, Wisconsin’s economy is improving. Employers are optimistic and hiring. Still, many people are unemployed or underemployed. The expo represents our best efforts to connect job seekers with employers and to address the skills gap.

Whether you’re a job seeker or manufacturer, registering today may well be one of your best decisions.

Reggie Newson
Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Ralph Hollmon
President and CEO, Milwaukee Urban League

Concealed Carry Law Creates Jobs!

Obviously the Wisconsin Concealed Carry Law has created a number of local jobs running the training courses that applicants are required to complete before sending their forms and checks off to Madison. But now the New York Times also reports job growth in the fashion industry for clothing that is not only chic, but helps actually conceal your weapon!

The clothing lines address a perceived need in the concealed-carry subculture. Gun owners say they want to practice “maximum uncertainty,” meaning that if a gun is sufficiently concealed, a potential criminal will be unsure whether to attack. Gun experts say the research is inconclusive about whether such tactics reduce crime. Regardless, the clothing makers are jumping on the line of thinking.

But this new fashion trend is not everyone is a fan:

Not everyone who carries a concealed gun is a fan of the new fashion. Howard Walter, 61, a salesman at Wade’s Eastside Guns in Bellevue, Wash., said he preferred to carry his Colt — and a couple of knives and two extra magazines — in a durable pair of work pants.

“They don’t shout ‘gun,’ they shout ‘average guy in the street,’ ” said Mr. Walter, who years ago worked in sales at Nordstrom. But really, he said, the most important thing in picking clothing is to choose something that works for the weapon. “They should dress for the gun,” he said he advised his customers. “Not for the fashion.”

I just wonder if these new threads are all-American or Chinese?? Whadja think?

Declining City of Milwaukee property values mean shrunken tax revenues

Most Milwaukee property owners received their property assessments with yesterday’s mail. And most of them will see decreases in their assessed valuations (me included). Over all the valuations dropped 8.9% or with residential declines of nearly $2.3 billion. From the April 27, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Citywide, assessed residential values fell nearly $2.3 billion, to less than $14.8 billion, from Jan. 1, 2011, to Jan. 1, 2012, city Assessment Commissioner Mary Reavey reported. Assessed commercial values held up better, dipping less than 1%, to just under $9.1 billion. Those figures don’t include manufacturing properties, which are assessed separately by the state

This may create a real budgeting crisis in the greater Milwaukee area next fall as bills passed in Madison during 2011 put extreme limits on how much local government taxing authorities can raise property taxes. Based on these 2012 property assessments, local property tax revenues will be down significantly and it will be ever more difficult to maintain the current level of city and county services. It’s going to take determined and creative local reps to keep the joint running!

MKE Journal Sentinel has moment of glasnost in recall coverage

I apologize to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel political writers, Mr. Joel Stein and Mr. Patrick Marley, for being so tardy in making this post. I have been critical of them for ignoring two of the candidates in the Democratic primary for governor in a number of their posts (my post one and two). But on April 22, 2012, they published another article in their series on the gubernatorial recall race about the candidates positions on restoring budget cuts made by Governor Walker. So to be fair, I feel I should discuss their efforts!

This time they included a more significant mention of Senator Kathleen Vinehout’s position and a brief mention of the alternate budget that she proposed in 2011 that has become a focus in her current campaign.

Vinehout last year offered an alternate budget in which over two years she would redirect $589 million from Walker’s priorities to new ones. To free up that money, she proposed rolling back transfers of tax dollars from the state’s main account to its road fund; eliminating tax breaks for multistate corporations and investors; undoing expansions of taxpayer-funded private voucher schools; and scaling back support for the state’s quasi-public jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

With the new money, she would restore part of the state funding cuts or restrictions to schools, technical colleges, tax credits for the poor, and long-term care for the elderly and disabled outside nursing homes.

She acknowledged in a recent interview some of her plans could not be pursued now that Walker’s budget has been enacted. For instance, she opposed expansions of voucher schools but said she would leave them in place because they have been approved.

If elected, Vinehout said, she would push for emergency funding that would provide schools with tens of millions of additional funding for the coming school years. She would then repeal Walker’s tax changes and try to restore funding for education to pre-Walker funding levels as much as possible, she said.

Unfortunately Secretary of State La Follette earned only a cameo appearance in two sentences in the very last graph.

La Follette has his own plan to help fund education by increasing the state sales tax to 6% from 5%. That would work out to a rough increase of $873 million a year, or a 20% increase to $5.24 billion from $4.37 billion, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Their open spring glasnost lasted just long enough to accommodate this article but since then most Democratic primary recall coverage has reverted along the lines of: “Also running in the Democratic primary are state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma and Secretary of State Doug La Follette”.

And in an attempt to continue in some type of fairness doctrine, MJS has done an article or two focused only on Senator Vinehout. And two articles about Sec. of State La Follette’s advertising campaign (one and two)!

And since this is a blog and not a hypocritical mass media outlet that restricts employees Constitutional rights, in full disclosure, I have endorsed Senator Vinehout!