Why Martha Laning should resign as DPW Chair

When Martha Laning ran for chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin back in 2015 she touted as one of her greatest strengths her ability to raise money. In fact, it was really the only strength she brought to the table. In January of 2014, when Laning was approached by party operatives to run for state senate, she didn’t even know that the party had members that paid dues, so experience and knowledge weren’t her long suit.

A political party needs money, to be sure, but the leader of any political party must possess the qualities of character that define true leadership, like integrity, courage and honesty. Those are the qualities that inspire people, and ones that Laning is, apparently, lacking.

The single most striking example was Laning’s full flip flop on how she would cast her superdelegate vote at the DNC convention last July. In November of 2015, Laning told the Associated Press that she’d be casting her superdelegate vote for whichever candidate won the Wisconsin primary. By mid-March of 2016, when it likely started to dawn on Laning that Wisconsin’s Democratic Party primary voters were going to hand the state resoundingly to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, she changed her tune. Any reasonable person might well conclude she did so in order to be able to cast her vote instead for Hillary Clinton, which would suggest that she was quietly supporting Clinton all along.

Laning should have either stated right upfront who she was likely supporting, Hillary Clinton, or she should have stuck to her word and cast her vote for Bernie Sanders at the convention. Flip flopping on major issues, via the use of dubious explanations, is not a quality people care for in elected officials.

And now Laning has presided over an election worse than anything Mike Tate was ever involved in: Wisconsin turning red in a presidential election year.

Time for Martha Laning to do the right thing and step down.

The Considerable Power of a Primary Challenge

A few weeks ago I wrote about how 3rd congressional district Rep Ron Kind had abruptly decided to co-sponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act after ten plus years of refusing to do so. . The Act would protect 9.5 million acres of Utah wilderness from mining, and oil and gas exploration. A good friend and former treasurer of the Chippewa Valley chapter of the Sierra Club emailed Myron Buchholz, Ron Kinds progressive challenger in the Dem August 9th primary, and thanked him writing ” apparently all it took ( to convince Kind to do the right thing ) was a primary challenge.” Indeed.

In what is nothing short of a stunning development, on Wednesday, May 18th, Kind joined a gaggle of progressive democrats in the House and voted for California Rep Barbara Lee’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have restored congressional oversight to our ongoing wars in the Middle East. The amendment would have repealed the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which gave President Bush the authority to launch the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why is Kinds vote a big deal?

Just last June Kind earned the dubious distinction of being one of only 14 House Dems to vote against all three NDAA amendments that would have checked limitless, unaccountable war. In less than a year Kind has done a complete turnaround. Long time Veterans for Peace member Tom Chisholm, a Retired US Army Colonel/physician who lives in Chippewa Falls, had this to say of Kind’s vote last week:

I guess it’s better late than never. I’ve called and emailed Mr. Kind many times over the last ten years on this issue. I’m glad he’s finally come to his senses. Maybe what it took was a primary challenger.

Hmmmmmm. Seems to be a pattern developing here?

So what’s next for Mr Kind? Well, he’s been President Obama’s main Dem ally in the House when it comes to advocating for the Trans Pacific Partnership, the largest trade deal in history, even as everyone from Hillary Clinton, to Russ Feingold, to Bernie Sanders, and the undoubtedly execrable Donald Trump declare their opposition to the agreement. What would it take to change Mr. Kinds mind?

If you haven’t yet made a donation to Myron Buchholz’s campaign, please do. It might be the best $50 you spend this election season.

Has DPW Chair Martha Laning flip-flopped on who she’ll give her superdelegate vote to?

From the files of, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” it appears Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning has flip-flopped on who she’ll give her superdelegate vote to at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

The Hypocrisy Of The County Board About O’Donnell Park

I maybe could have resurrected my Whither Milwaukee County for this…and it does have one future installment coming…but not yet:

It was announced in several venues today (including Facebook postings by County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic) that the Milwaukee Art Museum will make an offer to purchase O’Donnell Park from the county.

Just a few months ago the County Board rejected an offer (admittedly an under market offer to start with) from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance for O’Donnell primarily for the parking lot…parking they coveted for the employees of their new office tower. This would have been a great deal for NML but a poor one for the county on a number of levels.

But the board rejected the bid and rightly so…park land is park land and shouldn’t be sold to a private party…period.

Now the parking garage portion of the park needs some maintenance…any where from a couple of million to five million depending on the repairs being talked about. But since O’Donnell actually brings in revenue from parking and rent for the Coast Restaurant and Betty Brinn Museum…seeing the way to do the necessary repairs isn’t a financial burden for the county.

But low and behold the board offered O’Donnell to the Milwaukee Art Museum…and since they rely on the parking garage for a majority of their patrons…they would like to buy it. Of course now the board is excited to sell parkland to a private party…albeit a non profit…because it will insure public access for years to come!

The Milwaukee Art Museum will offer to buy O’Donnell Park and its multilevel parking garage from Milwaukee County, museum director Dan Keegan said Tuesday.

The museum wants to ensure long-term access to parking and the lakefront for its visitors and the public, Keegan told the County Board’s parks committee.

“Parking is critical to the art museum,” Keegan said.

Up to 60% of the museum’s visitors park in the O’Donnell garage. A lease could not provide the museum with guaranteed parking for the next several decades, should the county decide to sell the property to a private developer, he said.

No purchase price or other details were discussed Tuesday. Keegan said he expected a deal to be negotiated by September for the board’s approval.

The County Board in April gave the museum 90 days to study a possible lease or purchase of the park.

O’Donnell Park includes a plaza at the east end of Wisconsin Ave., between E. Michigan and E. Mason streets, that sits atop a multilevel parking structure west of N. Lincoln Memorial Drive. The three-story Miller Pavilion is on the southwest corner of the plaza and houses the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and the Coast restaurant.

County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said selling the park to the museum, rather than a private developer, would give the public access to the plaza for years to come.

A museum purchase would “preserve valuable open park space while proposing the kind of visual enhancements that only the Milwaukee Art Museum can offer,” Dimitrijevic said.

Look…either O’Donnell Park is a park and county treasure or it’s a real asset available to the highest bidder or ‘bff’ of the county board…if you know what I mean. When the original 90 day look see was proposed, I countered on social media on a county supervisors site that I thought it was hypocritical to not sell because it was a park last fall but readily sell now. But I got the proverbial earful because it’s still in the public arena and will be owned by a friendly non-profit. Bulloney is bulloney whether you slice it on the grain or on the bias.

Full Disclosure: I am a long term holder of NML life insurance and have investments with them…I love the Milwaukee Art Museum and have been a long time member and supporter. This isn’t about either institution…it’s about the hypocrisy in the County Courthouse.

Scott Walker, circa 2015: the decision on abortion shouldn’t be between a woman and her doctor

During a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker did a complete reversal on abortion, telling Ingraham that he doesn’t believe the final decision on whether a woman should have an abortion should be between the woman and her doctor.

Ingraham responded: “But you don’t believe — I just want to clarify this, governor … you don’t believe the final decision should be between a woman and her doctor—”

“No,” Walker replied.

So here in 2015, Gov. Scott Walker believes that the final decision on whether a woman should be able to receive an abortion shouldn’t be between a woman and her doctor, but back in 2014 when he was in a reelection campaign he ran an ad in which he said, “Hi, I’m Scott Walker. I’m pro-life,” he says. “But there’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

Here’s Walker’s ad from 2014.

At the rate he’s going, Scott Walker will have flip-flopped more during his presidential campaign than 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney could have ever managed to do, and that’s saying something. What’s more, Walker’s most recent statement that he doesn’t believe the final decision on abortion should be between a woman and her doctor leaves me wondering just who Walker believes the final decision should be left to.

Should it be left to Scott Walker, or will he designate some government bureaucrat to hover over women and their doctors in exam rooms with final say-so over the final decision?

Chris Christie takes shots at Gov. Scott Walker for flip-flopping to pander to voters

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve outlined some of the flip-flops Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has made during his career as a politician. At the time former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had already started to take shots at Gov. Walker for his “evolving” positions on issues, and this report by Zeke Miller of Time Magazine noted that during a reception in Boca Raton, Florida on March 21, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took a few not-so-thinly veiled shots at Gov. Walker as well. (emphasis added)

“We need to make sure that we make our party bigger and broader than it’s been before,” Christie told a sunset gathering of about 250 donors who have given more than $15,000—and as much as $330,000—to the GOP. “And that’s not about pandering, it’s not about flip-flopping on issues.” Walker stood a few dozen feet away mingling with the well-heeled crowd. “People want folks who they believe believe in what they say and don’t change depending on what state they’re in,” Christie continued.

I really hope Gov. Walker continue to come under attack by his fellow Republicans for his numerous flip-flops during his career in politics, because it’s high time he be forced to answer questions about his propensity for shifting positions as it suits him.

Scott Walker– Serial Flip-Flopper (Part 2)

On Monday I shared just a few of the flip-flops Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has made during his career as a politician, and at the time I noted that throughout his career in politics – a career that has spanned virtually his entire adult life – Gov. Walker has tried to portray himself as a man of principles who can’t and won’t be intimidated by standing up for what he believes. However, while Scott Walker wants us all to believe he’s an unintimidated leader with steel in his spine, the fact is he’s a political opportunist who’s had arguably as accomplished a career as a flip-flopper as former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

With that in mind, I’d like to take a look at a few more of Gov. Walker’s more high-profile flip-flops during his career as a politician.

Scott Walker on Legislating After Midnight:

This is an issue on which Scott Walker has actually flip-flopped twice, if you can believe it.

While running for governor in 2010, then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker was critical of late-night legislative sessions, saying “I have two teenagers and I tell them that nothing good happens after midnight. That’s even more true in politics,” Walker said, adding, “The people of Wisconsin deserve to know what their elected leaders are voting on.” Walker even promised that if elected governor, he would sign legislation prohibiting the Legislature from voting after 10 p.m. or before 9 a.m. Walker’s promise to put a stop to late night legislating represented a complete reversal from his record as a member of the State Assembly, as he joined with the Republican majority in January 1997 to eliminate a rule that required lawmakers to finish their floor sessions at 8 p.m.

While he promised to sign legislation prohibiting late night legislating by members of the Legislature, once elected governor Scott Walker quickly reversed his position on late night legislating for a second time, as he signed two biennial state budgets into law despite the fact that both budgets were voted on in the very wee hours of the morning by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Notably, not once in Gov. Walker’s five years as governor has he ever called for a ban on late night legislative sessions, despite his promise as a candidate to call for such a ban.

Scott Walker on Right-to-Work Legislation:

While running to keep his job in the 2012 gubernatorial recall election Gov. Walker promised that so-called “right-to-work” legislation would never reach his desk after being challenged by his opponent on whether he’d sign right to work legislation into law. However, like so many “promises” Gov. Walker made in order to get elected, Gov. Walker broke his promise as soon as Republicans in the Legislature signaled in 2015 they would attempt to enact right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin, saying in February he’d sign any right-to-work legislation pushed through the Republican-controlled legislature.

Backlash to Gov. Walker’s reversal on right-to-work was swift, with thousands of private sector union members gathering in the State Capitol to protest Gov. Walker’s decision to weaken private sector unions in Wisconsin.

For a little context, here’s some video of Gov. Walker’s 2012 promise that right-to-work legislation would never cross his desk.

Scott Walker on Discrimination:

In advance of his 2014 gubernatorial campaign against Democratic challenger Mary Burke, Gov. Walker gave an interview in 2013 in which he celebrated Wisconsin’s non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community as a “healthy balance” with the state’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality (a ban that has since been struck down by the United States Supreme Court).

“In Wisconsin, we’ve had anti-discriminatory laws that are very similar to [the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act] for more than 30 years and they work quite effectively. We’re also a state that has a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man and one woman,” he told Al Hunt. “We’ve had no problems… I should say, limited problems with that.”

Just two short years later, Gov. Walker appears to have had a change of heart regarding anti-discrimination laws, as he’s now come out in support of Indiana’s discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act

But Walker, that erstwhile champion of a “healthy balance” — a little inequality here, a little equality there — is now lending his support to Indiana’s discriminatory law. Asked for the governor’s position on the measure, Walker press secretary AshLee Strong told CNN on Sunday, “As a matter of principle, Gov. Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience.”

It’s ironic to read a statement from Gov. Walker’s staff that references matters of principle, because it should be pretty obvious to anyone who’s paying attention that Gov. Walker has no principles beyond one – do or say whatever it takes to win elections, regardless of consequences.

Scott Walker on Ethanol:

During his failed run for governor in 2006, then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker declared his opposition to all ethanol mandates, whether state or federal.

“Currently, we have a problem with big government in Madison. On principle, I cannot support this proposal.

“It is clear to me that a big government mandate is not the way to support the farmers of this state,” he continued [in a statement]. “Central planning will not help our family farmers, protect our environment or provide jobs. The free-enterprise system must drive innovation to relieve our dependence on foreign oil, not mandates from the state or federal government.”

Fast-forward to 2015 and Gov. Walker, anxious to pander to voters in the Iowa Caucuses, appears to have had a change of heart regarding ethanol.

“I’m willing to go forward on continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard and pressing the EPA to make sure there’s certainty in terms of the blend levels set. […]

“Now, long-term […] my goal would be to get to a point where we directly address those market access issues and I think that’s a part of the challenge. So that eventually you didn’t need to have a standard just like you no longer need in the industry to have the subsidies that were there before to help insure we had a strong system. I think eventually you can get to that. But you can’t get to that unless you deal with market access. […]

“That’s ultimately the best way, to let the market decide, but right now we don’t have a free and open marketplace. So that’s why I’m willing to take that position.”

After he was called out on his ethanol flip-flop, Gov. Walker had the gall to to turn around and deny that he flip-flopped on ethanol.

On a telephone town hall meeting sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots, the all-but-declared Republican presidential candidate insisted that, when he spoke out against ethanol mandates during his 2006 run for governor, he was specifically referring to state-level standards, not federal ones.

The weekend before last, at an industry-sponsored agriculture summit in Iowa, Walker said he opposes the Renewable Fuel Standard philosophically and would like to phase it out “long-term” but that he would keep it in place indefinitely to help out farmers.

Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin’s first question to Walker during the hour-long Monday call, which drew thousands of conservative activists, was, “What made you switch your position?”

“From our standpoint, our position is consistent,” Walker replied. “I talked about not wanting a mandate in Wisconsin as governor. We do not have one. I do not support one. I have not enacted it. I’ve kept it out of the state of Wisconsin. What I said in Iowa was … I think we need to phase it out, but I don’t approve of putting in new mandates.”

Gov. Walker’s flip-flop on ethanol, along with his subsequent denial of the flip-flop illustrates the difficulty Scott Walker is having in reconciling the perception he’s fostered that he’s a principled leader with steel in his spine with his numerous position reversals when those reversals further his political ambitions. In fact, these reversals demonstrate unambiguously that Scott Walker’s sole guiding principle as a person is the belief that he belongs in political office.

This entry is cross-posted to DownWithTyranny.

Wisconsin Progressives Need To Make Up Their Mind

After Mary Burke announced her candidacy for governor in 2013, the pundits and progressives across the blogosphere and social media were heard weeping, whining and gnashing their teeth about the hand picked candidate of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Everyone wanted anyone but the anointed Ms. Burke.

Some of us suggested that those unhappy should recruit their own candidate. Dozens of names of other elected officials were bandied about in hopes they could be coaxed to run. Russ Feingold, Peter Barca, etc. Finally Brett Hulsey threw his hat and fake confederate uniform in the ring and a primary season circus was on.

And the progressives lamented that the party was preventing other candidates to enter the fray…and doing everything possible to clear the way for Ms. Burke. Maybe…maybe not. But my guess is most other elected officials didn’t want to get involved in the lost cause of unseating the incumbent, Governor Scott Walker. Probably a wise move…but I digress a bit.

Of course the loss to Governor Walker is wholly the fault of a forced candidate picked by the party.

And just over a week ago there was the meet and greet with a question and answer period for three of the four candidates for chair of the DPW. Zach posted a few comments about this event earlier.

During the event more than a few attendees complained that the party didn’t recruit enough qualified candidates across the state. That the 72 county strategy was a failure because the party didn’t recruit a democrat to oppose the GOP candidate every available race in 2014. Hmmmm.

So, first the candidate perceived to have been recruited by the party to run for governor was tainted because she was recruited by the party? But across the state the party didn’t recruit candidates? Recruit or not recruit?

Wisconsin progressives, you gotta make up your mind!

Governor Walker Already Reneges On UW Budget Proposal

As part of Governor Walker’s budget proposal to reduce state support of the University of Wisconsin System by $300 million, the university is supposed to gain additional flexibility in operations and the expiration of the tuition freeze in 2017.

Under Walker’s proposal this year, the Legislature would have no ability to stop the university from raising tuition as much as it wants starting in 2017.

But apparently the governor had too much time to mull the plan over and decided he didn’t like the idea of the university setting it’s own tuition…so he’s already changed his mind:

Gov. Scott Walker raised the prospect Thursday of limiting tuition increases at University of Wisconsin schools to inflation after his proposed freeze expires in two years.

That set the stage for a debate over whether imposing a cap on resident undergraduate tuition once the UW System were spun off from the state as an autonomous public authority would immediately take back a critical part of that authority.

Tuition has been frozen by Walker and the Legislature since the 2013-’14 school year and Walker wants to extend that through 2016-’17. On Thursday, he said he was open to putting a lid on future tuition increases — even though he has proposed giving tuition authority to the UW System and its Board of Regents as part a new UW System Public Authority.

This has got nothing to do with finance or the economy or education. This is all about power!

Scott Walker’s flip-flop on outsourcing

Back in 2012, Gov. Scott Walker shared his thoughts about what he thought of President Barack Obama’s attacks on his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, over the issue of outsourcing.

At the time, Walker made it clear that he felt President Obama was attacking Romney on outsourcing to distract voters from President Obama’s poor job performance, saying, “The president’s team desperately does not want to run on his record, so they are desperately trying to have it about anything other than his record.”

Fast-forward to 2014, and Gov. Walker, in a desperate attempt to distract voters from his broken job creation promise, has started running ads attacking Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Mary Burke for supposedly profiting from outsourcing done by Trek.

It’s amazing what two years – and his own failed job creation record – will do to change Gov. Walker’s mind when it comes to outsourcing as a political attack.