Sheriff’s Associations Endorse Chisholm for MKE County DA

That partisan pariah (in GOP and Tea Party circles), Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has been endorsed for re-election by both of the Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and the Milwaukee County Retired Deputy Sheriffs’ Association. Law enforcement officers think he’s doing a good job apparently.

“John Chisholm has been dedicated to keeping our community safe for the last two decades,” said Roy Felber, president of the Retired Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and business agent for the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs’ Association. “John Chisholm works tirelessly to improve our criminal justice system, and his leadership has allowed more resources to be directed to getting dangerous criminals off the street.”

Go figure…

Is Bubba A Wanted Man?

Over 85,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for the arrest of former president Bill Clinton. Clinton stands accused of violating Massachusetts law by campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place.

It’s worth noting that Hillary Clinton barely eked out a win in Massachusetts, with 50.1% of the vote to Bernie Sanders 48.7%.

While the Massachusetts Secretary of State has determined that Bubba broke no laws, what is abundantly clear is that he should have just stayed away from polling places altogether.

The Clinton camp is really playing with fire in this election cycle. If the new and young voters Sanders is bringing into the fold feel that Clinton won with a combination of below the belt smears and dirty tricks, they may decide to stay home in November if Hillary is the nominee. With Repub turnout already remarkably higher in the primaries than Dem turnout, it favors candidate Trump.

Yikes.

Senator Johnson May Withhold Support For a Candidate Trump

In an effort to remain out of the fray for the GOP nomination for president, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who is himself is up for re-election this November, has refrained from endorsing any candidate and has promised to support the eventual Republican nominee…well until today that is:

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has declined to rule out a future break with his party’s presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump — a shift from Johnson’s past statements that he would back whoever the GOP nominates.

Following Trump’s reluctance to disavow a former Ku Klux Klan leader in a Sunday TV interview, Johnson told radio host Charlie Sykes that he’s happy to disavow any form of white supremacy.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said he’s “praying” for leaders who won’t be divisive and — without naming Trump — said he’s demoralized by the current state of the presidential race.

“It’s depressing to see how this is devolving,” Johnson said.

Asked by Sykes in Monday’s interview if he’ll do the same, Johnson said: “let’s see how the process plays out.”

“I don’t like demagoguery on any side of the political spectrum, and we have it across the political spectrum,” Johnson said.

Johnson previously has maintained he will support whoever the GOP nominates for president.

This is one time that Senator Johnson is making the right call…too bad it’s because he’s afraid of losing his seat in the Senate instead of just using his better judgment.

Endorsement: Cavalier “Chevy” Johnson for Alderman from the Second District

This is the only endorsement that I am making for tomorrow’s primary.

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I have known Mr. Johnson for just a little over five years. I have always been impressed with his maturity, his intelligence, and his vision for our community. He is one of the next generation of leaders that we need to elect to public office to get the 21st Century into full gear.

From his website:

Cavalier “Chevy” Johnson is running for Alderman because he believes in Milwaukee. Through his work, Chevy has been committed to serving Milwaukee’s neighborhoods, residents, and it’s future. Chevy’s commitment to his district and city began at an early age. At 14 years old, he was selected by the YMCA to participate in a pre-college program for low-income MPS students. That very same program, Sponsor-A-Scholar, solidified Chevy’s life commitment to community service and making Milwaukee better for future generations. Chevy attended UW-Madison and returned home to work with the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB). While there, Chevy served at-risk youth, youth entering the workforce for the first time, and adults retooling to enter the workforce for the last time. Chevy has also served on boards at the Milwaukee YMCA, ACLU, and Milwaukee Community Brainstorming. Most recently, Chevy served our community through the Mayor’s Office, where he worked diligently with community and faith leaders to find creative solutions to some of Milwaukee’s most pressing issues facing families from all walks of life. Service has been the hallmark of Chevy’s life and that’s why he’s running for Alderman in Milwaukee’s Second District.

If you live in Milwaukee’s Second Aldermanic district, I urge you to vote tomorrow for Chevy!

Eleanor Wolf, Citizen Action’s 2014 progressive achievement award winner, endorses Jeff Smith for DPW Chair

Ask any progressive in western Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley who the hardest working activist in the Valley is and among the names you’ll hear is Eleanor Wolf, and she’s more than likely to be at the top of the list.

So when Citizen Action of Wisconsin held their annual vote last year to determine who should be honored with their 2014 progressive achievement award, Eleanor was nominated by her good friend Jackie Christner and dozens of people chimed in to put her over the top.

What makes Eleanor remarkable is that she’s 79 years old and has the energy of most people 20 years her junior. She’s a tireless organizer/activist and knocked on many hundreds, if not a thousand or more, doors in low income neighborhoods in Eau Claire County last year urging people to vote to raise the minimum wage and to expand Badgercare. Here’s what she has to say about Jeff Smith:

” I support Jeff Smith’s DPW Chair candidacy because he shares my values…..values that he pursues with a remarkable combination of idealism and determination (hard work). Jeff has inspired me, and many others to stay in the fight, to pool our skills and become actively involved in rebuilding and re-inventing progressive, caring communities and a progressive, caring Wisconsin. ”

How Wisconsin Should Select Its Chief Justice

Early last week I wrote a piece here on Blogging Blue about the proposed state constitutional amendment to change how the chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court is selected: Selecting A Chief Justice In The State Of Wisconsin.

The referendum is on this Tuesday’s ballot and I suggest that you vote NO on the proposal.

Ok, now let’s continue our discussion.

I am not opposed to changing how the chief justice is selected. I just don’t believe in the change in the proposed amendment. The current amendment puts the selection in the hands of the other supreme court justices…and they get to do it every two years following an election cycle. They essentially get to select their own boss. Currently the chief justice is the longest serving justice on the court…pure longevity.

Now the proponents suggest this improves democracy because the justices will vote for their leader. I say hogwash since it takes that selection one level further from the actual electorate. Now to counter that, a new argument in favor of the amendment was introduced in the past ten days or so. We aren’t really taking the vote away from our citizens because quite frankly the voters probably don’t know they are voting for a chief justice. That they don’t understand that seniority is the determining factor.

Well I’ll probably grant them this one fact. Many voters probably didn’t realize they were returning Justice Abrahamson to chief justice when they re-elected her to the court. And few probably realize that the justice with the next longest time on the court will by default become chief justice when Chief Justice Abrahamson retires as many expect her to do instead of running for re-election.

So, here is how I suggest we amend the constitution instead. One of the seats on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is declared the Chief Justice seat. And whoever is elected to that seat is the Chief Justice. Then the voter will be voting directly for the chief justice…they will know they are voting for the chief justice…and democracy will be better served than via an indirect election.

And if a sitting justice wants to be chief justice? He or she will have to run for the actual seat instead of hoping they can out wait everyone else on the court. And to make it very interesting it would be best if they had to give up their current seat to run!

If the GOP under the dome in Madison are actually trying to increase democracy in Wisconsin (sarcasm), how can they not support this change?

Selecting A Chief Justice In The State Of Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Constitution provides for a state supreme court of seven justices, each elected for a term of ten years. The justice with the longest tenure on the court is the chief justice.

In a move that many suggest is aimed at removing Justice Shirley Abrahamson from her role as Chief Justice, the GOP legislature has voted to amend the state constitution. Under their proposal the seven justices on the court would elect the chief justice every two years.

Since this amendment has already passed in two successive legislatures it will be on the ballot on April 7th for the voters to decide. If the vote is favorable the amendment will be added to the state constitution.

Of course the GOP denies that they are trying to remove Justice Abrahamson, one of the liberal minority on the court. But in her role as Chief Justice she has a fair amount of control on what happens in and around the court itself.

But what possible reason could they have for changing how the chief justice is selected? Well my goodness, it’s to enhance the democratic process in Wisconsin.

Republicans such as Rep. Rob Hutton of Brookfield, the proposal’s lead sponsor, say it’s a common-sense and democratic approach to running the court. They say that the measure is targeted at the court as an institution, not at Abrahamson specifically, and that only a handful of other states now rely on length of tenure to select a chief justice.

Other types of “organizations across the board never choose leadership purely on seniority,” Hutton told reporters before the debate.

Well, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin isn’t just any organization…and seniority isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’ll get to that in a moment.

But who gets to vote for their own boss? I don’t (and if my boss should happen to read this, I just want her to know that she’s doing a great job) but sure once or twice I’ve had a boss that should have been voted off the island. Why should the state supreme court be any different.

Well, and I can’t find the reference, but someone in the assembly stated that the supreme court should have the same rights to pick their leadership as the state assembly and senate have…but I don’t see the speaker or majority leader roles in quite the same light and chief justice.

But here’s what Rep. Hutton said in 2013 when he first introduced the bill:

The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield), told Assembly committee members that the current system is outdated and that letting the justices choose their leader would be more democratic. He denied that his amendment to the state constitution was a tactic to marginalize Abrahamson or shift more power to conservatives.

“It not only minimizes the politics but it introduces more collaboration and cohesion,” Hutton said of his proposal.

Ok…so let’s talk about democracy for a moment…and that pesky seniority thing. State supreme court justices are elected by the voters in the State of Wisconsin by direct election. If they thought that Justice Abrahamson or any other justice was doing a poor job or didn’t reflect the values of Wisconsin or enforced the laws in Wisconsin, they would be voted out. The fact that Justice Abrahamson has been re-elected indicates that we have confidence in her and that under the constitution we accept that she is Chief Justice. Taking that vote out of our hands decreases democracy in the State of Wisconsin…and that seems to be a growing trend in the actions come out of Madison.

Here’s a more eloquent and thorough op ed piece on the topic from Bert Brandenburg published at JSOnline:

The proposed amendment gives a few judges — not the people of Wisconsin — the power to choose the state’s chief justice. For 125 years, Wisconsin’s constitution has promoted experienced leadership by providing that the longest-serving member of the court serve as chief justice. The proposed amendment would overturn this and allow a majority of the court’s judges to pick the chief. It’s being pressed by politicians from one party in a bid to elevate political partisanship over impartial justice on Wisconsin’s highest court.

The current chief justice, Shirley Abrahamson, was re-elected twice by voters who understood that she would remain chief if returned to office. But politicians who rammed this proposed amendment through the Legislature on party-line votes would usurp the choice Wisconsin voters made. Voters should reject this virtual coup attempt, because it represents the kind of political tampering with courts that threatens everyone’s right to a fair day in court.

But the GOP has much of the electorate snowed on the issue…right to the point where their followers clearly state the issue but make it seem like a virtue:

People will have power

In his commentary, Bert Brandenburg opposes changing the Wisconsin Constitution with regard to how the chief justice of the Supreme Court is selected (“Proposed amendment takes power from people,” March 26).

He states, “The proposed amendment gives a few judges — not the people of Wisconsin — the power to choose the state’s chief justice.” The reality is just the opposite.

Because Supreme Court justices are elected for 10-year terms, Wisconsin voters have an opportunity to replace the chief justice only once every 10 years. On the other hand, since there are seven justices elected at staggered terms, Wisconsin voters will have indirect input (emphasis mine) in the chief justice selection process at approximately two-year intervals with the election of new justices.

While there may be reasons to oppose the amendment, Brandenburg’s argument isn’t one of them.

Lawrence Kaplan
Milwaukee

I don’t know…indirect input doesn’t sound like democracy to me…I would rather get my own hands dirty.

I wonder what reasons Mr. Kaplan could come up with that are more reasoned and accurate than Mr. Brandenburg’s?

This is a frivolous amendment from petty politicians aimed at a respected jurist and doesn’t deserve the light of day.

Vote NO on April 7th!

P.S. I have some other thoughts on this…I will try to get them published later this week!

Endorsements: November 2014

Governor: Mary Burke
Attorney General: Susan Happ

WI 1st Congressional District: Rob Zerban
WI 4th Congressional District: Gwen Moore
WI 5th Congressional District: Chris Rockwood

State Senate District 7: Chris Larson
State Assembly District 7: Daniel Riemer
State Assembly District 8: Jocasta Zamarippa
State Assembly District 10: David Bowen
State Assembly District 11: Mandela Barnes
State Assembly District 19: Jonathan Brostoff
State Assembly District 20: Christine Sinicki

These first four are simply advisory questions:

Referendum Question #1: Constitutional Amendment to reverse Citizens United (i.e. big money in elections); YES

Referendum Question #2: Should the state accept Medicaid funds to expand Badger Care: YES

Referendum Question #3: Increase the state minimum wage to $10.10: YES (altho I’d rather see it pegged to some type of index)

Referendum Question #4: Should the state allow Milwaukee County a county administrator in place of a county executive: YES

This is a binding resolution to amend the state constitution:

2013 Enrolled Joint Resolution #1 Segregate the transportation funds from the general funds or use for non–transportation needs in the state: NO

CORRECTION: Shame on me and all of you politicos out there…only one of you caught my error with Mr. Riemer’s first name