So, When Do the Foxconn Lawsuits start?

Despite multiple assurances from the CEO of Foxconn, President Donald Trump, former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzegerald, it looks like the Foxconn LCD plant ain’t a gonna happen!

Foxconn Technology Group is reconsidering plans to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at its Racine County campus, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Foxconn “said it intends to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised,” the report says.

The report is based on an interview with Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou.

Over the last 10 months, the company has radically altered its planned employment mix and the nature of the manufacturing operation, and failed to create enough jobs in 2018 to qualify for state tax credits.

In the wake of the Reuters report, though, Foxconn on Wednesday pledged again – as it has repeatedly amid earlier developments – to creating 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin. The latest statement did not say anything about investing up to $10 billion in the Racine County manufacturing and research complex, another element in the state’s contract with the company.

Woo said in the Reuters story “that the company was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high,” Reuters said.

“In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.,” Woo said. “We can’t compete.”

Rather than a focus on LCD manufacturing, Foxconn wants to create a “technology hub” in Wisconsin that would largely consist of research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations, Woo said.

This probably comes as little surprise to many of you considering Foxconn’s track record on announcing plants around the world and then not following through.

I can’t imagine that any of us are surprised that it costs more to manufacture TVs in the US than it does to manufacture them in Asia or elsewhere. And that should have been apparent to Foxconn and the Republicans in Madison…because it’s been that way for decades and isn’t likely to change anytime in the near future.

So who gets to sue whom first? WEDC sues Foxconn (yes the article says the WEDC has no interest in changing their contract)? Citizens sue WEDC? Citizens sue the former governor and the majority leaders in Madison? Racine County or the villages in the county sue Foxconn? or WEDC? Will the residential property owners get to sue their respective locales for condemning and seizing their property for the plant that won’t exist?

This thing is going to play out in the courts for years.

Where Are The Airlines On The Government Shutdown?

One of the federal employee groups working without pay are the TSA agents who insure air travel safety. Recently it’s been reported that some TSA workers have been calling in sick at higher that usual numbers. Certainly no surprise under the current circumstances. A stressful thankless job is hard enough without wondering how you are going to meet your household expenses in the near term.

BTW: it isn’t particularly well paid even when they are working…with starting wages in the mid-20s and overall average wages in the mid-30s.

So where are the Airlines on this? They certainly are the most at risk if the TSA fails or shutdowns or makes an error. They are the major customers of the airports across the USA. They obviously have some of the biggest lobbying efforts in Washington. So why haven’t they spoken? Why aren’t they pestering their hometown senators and representatives to end the shutdown? Why aren’t they pestering the White House? Why weren’t any of them on the Sunday morning talk shows? Certainly their voice is louder than mine.

Extra Credit Reading: Aviation workers protest in Milwaukee: Shutdown poses dangers, they say

Robin Vos, $850,000, You and Me!

The Wisconsin State Legislature has contracted with a Chicago law firm to defend the legislative districts that the GOP drew back in 2011. But for some reason Assembly Speaker Robin Vos won’t release the details of the contract to the press:

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos won’t make public a legal contract that will cost taxpayers $850,000, despite a state law meant to ensure government records are widely available. 

Advocates for open records say the Rochester Republican is in the wrong and must release a copy of the contract with the Chicago-based law firm Bartlit Beck

Assembly Republicans recently retained the firm to help defend the state in a long-running lawsuit over legislative district lines they drew in 2011 that have helped them win elections. Taxpayers have already spent more than $2 million in legal fees to draw and defend those maps.

There are two major questions that come to me immediately after reading this…before I even get to the Robin Vos refusal. And maybe some of you who have been following this more closely than I can fill in the details in the comments.

First, Why aren’t we relying on the Attorney General to handle this? I imagine we were under Brad Schimel but are they running away from a Democrat as AG?

And second, if they can’t use the AG for whatever reason, there isn’t a Wisconsin law firm capable of handling the defense of their redistricting?

Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer declined to release the contract to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, claiming it was subject to attorney-client privilege. The Assembly has made public its contracts with other firms handling redistricting work and Govs. Scott Walker and Jim Doyle routinely released copies of contracts with law firms they hired.

Beyer did not say why Vos believed this contract was different.

Attorney-client privilege? Who is the client here? If it is the State of Wisconsin or the Wisconsin legislature…the client is the residents of Wisconsin as a whole and we have a right to see the contract.

If the client is Speaker Vos as an individual or other elected officials as individuals…the residents of Wisconsin shouldn’t be liable for $850,000 in legal fees.

Releasing the contract would make clear when the Assembly finalized it and explain how the fee arrangement with the firm works. Unlike many firms, Bartlit Beck typically charges flat fees rather than by the hour.

According to Beyer, the state will pay the firm $850,000 to work on the case through trial this spring. She has not said what the firm would charge for any appeal work.

So it seems that the contract is with the State of Wisconsin…the taxpayers are funding the contract…and it should be released to the public post haste. Transparency!!! The linked article above includes opinions from both sides of the controversy and is worth reading.

But if you scroll down and read to the end…in later paragraphs…is the explanation of what is probably going on. Once again the legislature is taking power from the executive branch…in this case the attorney general…and in fact covering their posteriors!

Litigation has been ongoing over the election maps since lawmakers began working on them in 2011. In October, Assembly leaders with the help of Bartlit Beck asked to intervene in the case in part because they feared Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel could lose his November election. 

Schimel lost to Democrat Josh Kaul and a week later the court allowed Assembly Republicans to intervene in the case.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise…well…other than hiding the contract from public scrutiny…since the legislature gave themselves additional authority during the lame duck sessions to hire outside law firms to defend or prosecute state laws and statutes going forward.

Yeah, yeah, I know…it’s just to balance the power between the executive branch and the legislative branch. My thoughts: [redacted]

The GOP Hypocrisy of 2016 vs. 2018

Early in 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly. As would be expected, President Barack Obama nominated a qualified jurist, Judge Merrick Garland, to replace Scalia on the court. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t having any of that. Saying that the voters should have input on the selection of the next justice via their votes in the November 2016 presidential election…he withheld hearings on Judge Garland and the seat remained unfilled until President Donald Trump was sworn in. A despicable action on the part of the majority leader and absolutely awful precedent.

Now in Wisconsin in 2018, the voters actually spoke and elected Democrats into office for every statewide position on the November ballot. So the voters had spoken! Well the Wisconsin legislature was having none of that and during a lame duck session called for an entirely different reason, passed a number of bills restricting the powers and authority of the incoming governor and attorney general. Totally despicable actions taken in the dead of night behind the closed doors of the Republican caucus…and absolutely awful precedent.

And then we have the more recent appointments by lame duck governor Scott Walker. Appointments to courts and departmental positions that could have easily been left for the incoming governor. Particularly given the precedent set by Senator McConnell in the first paragraph above ^^^^.

So when the Republicans say they are doing something ‘for the people’, I guess I have to look just a little askance!

Republicans Continue To Negate The Voice Of Wisconsin Voters!

Governor-elect Tony Evers is still a few weeks away from taking office and once again the Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature are rounding up ways to usurp his authority and the preferences of the voters in the State of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is on a biennial budget cycle and the incoming governor will be suggesting a new budget for fiscal 2019 – 2021. He and Lieutenant-governor elect Mandela Barnes have been touring the state and holding OPEN town hall meetings in public facilities to hear what Wisconsin residents need from their state government. The expectation being that the wishes of the constituents would influence the decision on where to spend Wisconsin’s money. Well the Republicans in Madison are apparently having none of that!

In a shift from recent past practice, the Republican leader of the state Senate said Thursday he assumes GOP lawmakers will craft their own plan for the next state budget instead of building from what’s proposed by Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also hinted at that possibility Thursday in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. Vos, R-Rochester, said whether Assembly Republicans build from Evers’ plan for the next budget could hinge on whether Evers proposes to raise taxes or expand Medicaid — both of which Assembly Republicans oppose.

So the very cornerstone of the Evers gubernatorial campaign…expanding Wisconsin’s Medicaid program needs to avoided by simply ignoring it in a GOP developed budget. They obviously don’t have the political courage to allow Mr. Evers to exercise his authority to write a budget…include the programs he promised during his campaign…and then pull them from the budget in the legislature. So much for supporting the voters decisions. So much for transparency in Madison. So much for allowing democracy work as originally designed!

The reply from the governor elect:

Evers’ office responded by noting he has been touring the state to hear what Wisconsinites want in the next state budget.

“It’s unfortunate that Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Fitzgerald are once again going to ignore the will of the people of Wisconsin by disregarding a budget crafted by and with the people of our state without ever having seen it,” Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback said. (emphasis mine)

But I suppose I should let House Speaker Robin Vos have his say too:

In an interview, Vos drew a red line on tax increases, saying Assembly Republicans “are not going to raise income or sales taxes, period.”

“If (Evers) starts with a massive tax increase, well, that means his entire budget is built on a house of sand,” Vos said. “So we’ll have to sweep it away, and start all over with what we have said, which is we’re not going to raise taxes.”

I guess I really wonder what Rep. Vos and Sen. Fitzpatrick are afraid of. They control both houses in Madison by a fair margin. If the governor proposes tax increases, they can start their song and dance about tax and spend liberalism ad infinitum. Why are they afraid to let that stuff come out of the governor’s office? Because maybe the voters are starting to see through their charades?

And as a side note: I don’t have a dog in this fight but there were a fair number of referenda in November concerning the legalization of marijuana in one form or another. They all won by very large margins. But the Madison Republicans are tone deaf to this too:

Fitzgerald also said he doesn’t think Senate Republicans will support legalizing medical marijuana, as Evers does.

“I don’t see it,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t support it.”

And Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s final word?

Fitzgerald said a budget deal with Evers “can be done” but said he has been discussing with Vos the prospect of GOP lawmakers crafting their own budget.

And the last word from the Wisconsin State Journal?

That’s a sign of the new dynamic at the state Capitol under divided government starting in January. For the last eight years GOP lawmakers used Gov. Scott Walker’s budgets as a starting point to craft the state’s two-year spending plan.  (emphasis mine)