The Irony Around Judge Recusals

This morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a little side story to the recent court cases around water pollution resulting from factory farming, particularly large dairy farms housing thousands of cows. It seems one of the judges who recently ruled against big farming has in the past, donated to one of the environmental groups involved in the case…an environmental group who won reimbursement of legal fees from the farm in question in the hearing before the judge.

A judge who has directed the Department of Natural Resources to pay nearly $45,000 in legal fees to environmental groups in a case involving the expansion of a large dairy farm declined to remove himself from the case after disclosing he made past donations to one of the groups.

But now several groups from the right who support big business and oppose environmental regulation are complaining that the judge should have recused himself from the case. One has to question the late date of the complaint since the judge made his contributions known nearly ten months ago as part of the hearing:

The dispute over Markson’s contributions began when he notified parties in the case on Dec. 21 that, as he was making year-end charitable contributions, he realized he made annual contributions to Clean Wisconsin “for many years.”

Markson told the parties he would not make contributions in 2015 and while the case was pending. An attorney for the Justice Department who was representing the DNR said his past contributions raised concerns. She asked Markson recuse himself.

Markson declined.

Now here’s the irony (or in this case hypocrisy). Judge Markson apparently donated about $50 per year for a number of years to Clean Wisconsin. So this is several hundreds of dollars. For money he DONATED to a non-profit organization. OMG…it’s a big deal.

Yet when Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices refuse to recuse themselves from major cases that include organizations who provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to their CAMPAIGNS, well of course it’s no big issue.

So let’s see…hundreds of dollar in charitable notations…big todo….hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions…crickets. One might be a bit of gray error…the second one a total red flag.

If you want a more elegant take on this…see Bruce Murphy over at Urban Milwaukee!

Has Robin Vos had a change of heart on “divide and conquer?” I doubt it.

In advance of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s visit to Green Bay today, Republican Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos took to the Right Wisconsin to blast Trump for not endorsing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who’s facing a primary challenge for his seat in Congress.

Here’s just one snippet from Vos’ piece.

Politics is about addition and multiplication; not subtraction and division. As a party we need to do all that we can to unify

Of course, Robin Vos’ sudden desire for addition and multiplication versus subtraction and division is rich, given how supportive Vos has been of the “divide and conquer” strategy Gov. Scott Walker has used time and time again to screw Wisconsin’s public employees and middle class.

The fact that Robin Vos – who has used and directly benefited from a “divide and conquer” strategy – is now upset at the division and discord Donald Trump has sowed is both ridiculous and ironic, and I’m glad to see the Republican Party reaping what it has sown in the form of the hot mess that is Donald Trump’s candidacy for president.

Private Communication for Government Business Since The Revolution:

A lot going on and not enough energy to get into anything too deep tonight. So I thought I would just share this little bit of twisted insight and snark! From an article from Foreign Policy .com about the devious machinations of our founding fathers during the Revolutionary War and the creation of our nation, I pulled this little bit of a quote:

In one instance, in 1804, Jefferson used a private citizen to carry a secret letter to an American envoy in France, which contained an elaborate cipher and a statement in support of using private channels for public business.

So citizen couriers…private channels for public business…to private email servers. Nothing to see here…just business as usual for 240 years!

Short Takes: Beer, Guns, Trump and UWM

I should be writing about a lot of other things tonight but I am lazy and watching returns and can’t even motivate to go to one of the five campaign parties I’ve been invited to.

The Boulder Junction Shooting Range, a non profit organization that runs one of the DNR gun ranges in northern Wisconsin blasts the state for changing the rules and starting a ban on alcohol at state owned ranges. I mean beer and guns…what could possibly go wrong! (yes I know they only sell alcohol after a shooter is done on the range per NRA suggested rules but…).

And although the big news about Donald Trump’s appearance at UWM yesterday surrounds the fact Milwaukee Police officers covered their names while patrolling the protests…to me the bigger issue was the UWM faculty attitudes. Several professors complained to the Chancellor in an open letter that the university should not have rented a theater facility to the candidate. That’s utter nonsense. The letter is correct when it states the fact that Mr. Trump is a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, fascist…but he is still a candidate for president and he should be heard on campus…AND the campus should come out in protest just like they did.

OTOH: why didn’t the actual protest get any press??

MPS Cancels Foreign Travel For Students.

Travel alerts from the US State Department have caused the Milwaukee Public Schools to cancel any foreign travel for school students. Specifically the warnings urged people to avoid large crowds…which of course would be at sites that would attract student tourists. Well here’s the rationale:

MPS spokesman Tony Tagliavia said Tuesday that the ban affects a half-dozen student trips. The destinations of planned trips include Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada.

He said the district was moved to cancel the trips because the State Department alert specifically urged travelers to avoid large crowds.

“When you look at these student trips, they inherently involve going to places where there are large crowds — museums, houses of government,” he said. “It was really difficult to imagine how you would put together a trip like that within the confines of the alert.”

MPS also will evaluate out-of-state trips on a case-by-case basis and has banned all trips to Washington, D.C., through the end of the year. However, none had been scheduled, Tagliavia said.

Don’t look now but most school buildings attract large crowds of people on an almost daily basis…and based on the history of mass shootings in the liberally armed United States…my feelings say you have a higher risk of being shot in an American school than in the Louvre or Westminster Abbey…

P.S. Recently an Australian member of Parliament suggested that they issue a travel advisory about violence in the United States…and he wasn’t kidding all that much.

This popped up on JSOnline while I was working out this post:

A Milwaukee lawmaker is blasting Milwaukee Public Schools for canceling all planned international trips over security concerns, saying the move only emboldens terrorists and suggesting that students face greater risks in some neighborhoods of the city.

“Did MPS ban travel to NYC or major American cities after September Il?” state Rep. Josh Zepnick asked board members in a letter dated Wednesday. (It did, according to the district.)

“Has MPS ever banned student activities in Milwaukee neighborhoods plagued by gun violence and other illegal street activity?”

Walker Tone Deaf to Irony

Cleaning off my desktop…this probably should have been written while the governor was still vying for the GOP presidential nomination…but it still outlines his inability to see the bigger picture to what he is saying/doing. Of course safely back in Wisconsin where the media regularly give him a free pass…where he only speaks at closed invitation only sessions at businesses or organizations that support him…it’s less of an issue.

But let’s relive those thrilling days of yesteryear…well almost a month ago…when Governor Walker decided to give a major policy address (roundly ignored by the tea party, GOP and media) at President Reagan’s alma mater: Eureka College.

The irony here?

Standing on the stage where Ronald Reagan “found his voice,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sought to find his own Thursday as he promised to repeat his actions in Wisconsin by taking down federal workers’ unions on his first day in the White House.

Well Governor Walker totally overlooked how President Reagan found his voice…he was urging his fellow classmen to go on strike to protest budget cuts at the school! The king of education budget cuts doesn’t see the irony in this? The leader in handcuffing the world renowned University of Wisconsin system doesn’t get it…no, he didn’t get his eureka moment!

Walker and Theocracy

In his ‘foreign policy’ speech at The Citadel today, Governor Walker suggested that we ‘…roll back the theocrats in Tehran”.

For someone who is avidly seeking support of evangelical Christians who would like nothing better than to establish their own little theocracy here in the United States…he doesn’t quite grasp the irony here, now does he?

VIDEO: Terrified “Tea Party Patriot” realizes he could lose Obamacare if GOP wins in 2016

There’s huge heaping dose of irony in this story of James Webb, a conservative video blogger who said this week he would likely vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton because he was terrified a Republican president would take away the affordable health insurance he now enjoys thanks to ObamaCare.

Watch for yourselves.

It’s my hope that more and more people like James Webb will continue to wake up and realize that they’ve been voting against their self-interests by voting for Republicans.

Elmbrook School District faces $1.5 million budget shortfall thanks to Gov. Walker’s budget

According to a report in BrookfieldNOW, the Elmbrook School District in Waukesha County faces a $1.5 million budget shortfall for the 2015-16 school year thanks to cuts in state aid in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed biennial budget.

During annual calculations to prepare its 2015-16 school year budget, the Elmbrook School District anticipated a $75 increase in state aid per pupil.

The assumed state aid increase would bring in an additional $480,000 for the district.

The district’s anticipated increase in revenue, of course, came before Gov. Scott Walker announced his proposed state budget would include deep cuts in public education.

Walker’s proposed budget would eliminate the $150 in state aid per pupil for the next school year, adding up to a total loss of $127 million for school districts across the state the first year, according the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Walker’s proposal would restore those lost funds in the second year, but districts would still see a net loss.

Instead of seeing an increase of $480,000 next school year, the Elmbrook School District will face an approximate $1.5 million deficit under the governor’s budget. The district has about 7,000 students.

The irony here, of course, is that the municipalities that make up the Elmbrook School District (the village of Elm Grove, the city of Brookfield, and the city of New Berlin) all voted for Gov. Scott Walker by large majorities in the 2014 election.