Nyjer Morgan’s career as a Brewer over

T-Plush, we hardly knew ya…

The “Tony Plush” era came to an abrupt end Thursday when the Milwaukee Brewers announced they sent outfielder Nyjer Morgan outright to Class AAA Nashville.

Morgan cleared waivers before that move, and as a player with four-plus years in the majors must wait 24 hours before declaring free agency. He will do so Friday, severing ties with the club.

While I certainly appreciate Nyjer Morgan’s contributions to the Brewers in 2011, I think this is the right move to make. Morgan’s production in 2012 fell off dramatically, and given his likely salary for the 2013 season, the Brewers are better off seeing if Carlos Gomez’s career-best performance in 2012 was a fluke or a sign of things to come.

When will Cudahy finally develop the Iceport parcel?

As reported by Sean Ryan of the Business Journal, Cudahy’s plan to develop the parcel associated with the failed Iceport project with a distribution center for Central Storage & Warehouse Company has been dropped. According to Ryan’s report, there’s interest from another developer in developing a mixed-use project at the Iceport site that would include some housing.

What I’m at a loss to understand is why Cudahy has had such a hard time developing a parcel that would seem to me to be ideal for a mixed-use project that included a hotel, given the proximity of our airport to the site. In my opinion a sensible, balanced development on the Iceport site would certainly help to revitalize Cudahy’s “downtown” while hopefully providing a much-needed boost to the city’s tax base – depending on what kinds of incentives the City gave to developers.

Marina Dimitrijevic-led County Board moves to consolidate its power

Looks like County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic is consolidating her base of power in Milwaukee County…

The board voted 17-1 to declare the board as “the primary and principal policy-making body for Milwaukee County government.” That means the board committee that crafts lobbying strategy and Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic get to declare the county’s position on issues before the Legislature.

Also, under the new rule, no county department head can talk to state officials unless they get the OK ahead of time from the board.

Abele or one of his department heads could still talk to legislators or Gov. Scott Walker, but they would have to make it clear they were expressing an opinion and not the official position of county government.

Defending the move, Dimitrijevic described the effort to consolidate power with the County Board and the County Board Chair thusly, “It’s a way to work together and have a clear and transparent process.”

I can’t wait for the inevitable Dimitrijevic challenge to Chris Abele in 2016….should make for some fascinating political theater!

Mitt Romney’s vulture capitalism knows no bounds

As reported by Greg Palast, earlier today United Automobile Workers PresidentBob King announced that his union and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have filed a formal complaint with the US Office of Government Ethics in Washington alleging Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney improperly hid a profit of $15.3 million to $115.0 million in Ann Romney’s so-called “blind” trust.

The Romneys’ gigantic windfall was hidden inside an offshore corporation inside a Limited Partnership inside a trust which both concealed the gain and reduces taxes on it.

The Romneys’ windfall was originally exposed in Nation Magazine, Mitt Romney’s Bail-out Bonanza after a worldwide investigation by our crew at The Guardian, the Nation Institute and the Palast Investigative Fund.   [Ed. – The full story of Romney and his “vulture fund” partners is in Palast’s New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.]

According to ethics law expert Dr. Craig Holman of Public Citizen, who advised on the complaint, Ann Romney does not have a federally-approved blind trust.  An approved “blind” trust may not be used to hide a major investment which could be affected by Romney if he were to be elected President.  Other groups joining the UAW and CREW include Public Citizen, the Service Employees International Union, Public Campaign, People for the American Way and The Social Equity Group.

President Obama’s approved trust, for example, contains only highly-diversified mutual funds on which Presidential action can have little effect.  By contrast, the auto bail-out provided a windfall of over 4,000% on one single Romney investment.

In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division.  Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bail-out fund provided Delphi with huge payments.  While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

As a result, the shares Singer and Romney bought for just 67 cents are today worth over $30, a 4,000% gain.  Singer’s hedge fund made a profit of $1.27 billion and the Romney’s tens of millions.

Is California’s Proposition 32 a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

So what is California Proposition 32, and why does it matter if you’re from Wisconsin?

Proposition 32 is a “campaign finance reform” ballot initiative in California that seeks to ban corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates, contributions by government contractors to the politicians who control contracts awarded to them, and to ban automatic deductions by corporations, unions, and government of employees’ wages to be used for politics.

At face value, Proposition 32 seems like a step in the right direction towards getting special interest money out of political races, but while Proposition 32 would ban corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates in California, business Super PACs and independent expenditure committees would be exempt from Proposition 32’s controls, leaving those groups free to spend unlimited amounts of money to elect candidates of their choosing, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.

Here’s Peter Dreier explaining on BillMoyers.com why Proposition 32 would put labor unions at a tremendous disadvantage in California in the age of Citizens United.

While I support the idea of real campaign finance reform that removes the influence of special interest money from elections, that campaign finance reform needs to also address the issue of Super PACs and independent expenditure committees being able to spend unlimited amounts of money to assist candidates favorable to their interests. As it’s written, California Proposition 32 isn’t the kind of campaign finance reform that will give average citizens a stronger voice in elections – it will simply serve the interests of billionaires and big businesses.