Milwaukee teachers union passes on endorsing one of its members, instead endorses Christine Sinicki

Earlier today, incumbent Democratic State Rep. Christine Sinicki announced on Facebook her campaign had received the endorsement of both the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) and the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC).

While neither endorsement is surprising given Rep. Sinicki’s strong support for public educators and the public education system, the MTEA’s endorsement of Rep. Sinicki is notable given one of that group’s members just happens to be Rep. Sinicki’s opponent in the Democratic primary. The fact that the MTEA chose to endorse Christine Sinicki over one of its own members certainly can’t bode well for Julie Meyer’s hopes of unseating Rep. Sinicki, and I’d be shocked if any labor unions endorsed Meyer.

All Hands On Deck

Last Friday’s meeting of the DNC platform drafting committee in St. Louis yielded the best evidence yet that President Obama intends to ram the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) through a lame duck congress after the November election. The TPP is the most sweeping trade agreement in history, and is opposed by Democratic Party leaders like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold and Elizabeth Warren, as well as organizations as diverse as the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, the National Organization for Women, the United Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, and the National Farmers Union.

Clinton delegates at the meeting voted down a platform proposal that would have put the party on record saying Congress should not take up the TPP this year. A Sanders campaign press release included this statement:

Sanders said it was “inexplicable” why Clinton allies on the panel at a meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, voted down proposals on trade that both Sanders and Clinton embraced as candidates. “It is hard for me to understand why Secretary Clinton’s delegates won’t stand behind Secretary Clinton’s positions in the party’s platform,” Sanders said.

The reason why, in my view, is obvious: Obama intends to bring this up in the lame duck congress, and Clinton and her delegates don’t want to buck him on it.

So who will Obama call on to champion the TPP in the House? 3rd congressional district Representative Ron Kind. Kind was Obama’s go to guy on fast track authority for the trade deal last Spring, and recently re-iterated his support for the TPP when he announced his ” Dairy Action Plan.”

So what’s the best way to defeat the TPP in a lame duck congress? Defeat Ron Kind in the August 9th primary. Kind’s primary challenger, Myron Buchholz, has made opposition to the TPP wellknown since first announcing his run last February, pulling a trailer behind his van in parades all over the district with large signs that read: ” Stop Bad Trade Deals, NAFTA, Panama, TPP “ If Ron Kind is a lame duck himself come November 9th, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be a TPP champion with any clout in the House.

If you haven’t yet made a contribution to the Buchholz campaign, please donate $25-$50.

Wisconsinites deserve to know, right now, where Ron Kind stands on the prospect of the largest trade agreement in history being passed through a lame duck congress. Who do you stand with, Mr. Kind, the Dem party leaders and the many hundreds of allied organizations who oppose the TPP? Or do you stand with Wall Street and the corporate board rooms who are eager to see it pass? Which side are you on, Ron?

Bernie Sanders: DNC vetoed labor leader from party platform committee

According to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the Democratic National Committee vetoed his nomination of a labor leader to serve as one of his representatives on the party platform committee, with Sanders being told not to pick anyone else from the labor movement.

When the Democratic National Committee announced that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont would get to pick five of the 15 people who’ll write the party platform, it was seen as a small coup. But at a news conference today, Sanders revealed that the DNC had actually vetoed his nomination of a key labor ally, and said he was told not to pick anyone else from the labor movement.

“What we heard from the DNC was that they did not want representatives of labor unions on the platform-drafting committee,” he said. “That’s correct.”

Yesterday, Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Nicholas was the first to report that Sanders had included RoseAnn DeMoro,  executive director of National Nurses United, on his list of preferred platform committee members. “He told me that he really wanted me on the committee to advocate for Medicare for All, especially,” DeMoro told The Washington Post today.

According to Sanders and DeMoro, the DNC nixed her, resulting in a Sanders delegation of four men, one woman (Native American activist Deborah Parker), and no one from organized labor.

According to the report, just one of the fifteen people serving on the party’s platform committee is a representative of organized labor, leaving me to agree with John Nichols.

The UAW’s Take On Donald Trump:

The man who wants to bring jobs back to America is willing to encourage companies in the United States to seek the economic bottom rung and then ‘allow’ employees to re-seek their jobs at lower (and lower) wages:

Julie Meyer to challenge Rep. Christine Sinicki because of Abele no-bid mental health facility?!?

Yesterday Julie Meyer, a middle school teacher, announced she’s going to be challenging incumbent Democratic State Rep. Christine Sinicki in the 20th Assembly district. Oddly enough, Meyer chose to announce her candidacy at a venue outside the 20th Assembly district (and at a meeting of a governmental body no less), but that’s not what really caught my eye about her press release.

Notably, Meyer’s press release neglected to mention if she’s running as a Democrat or a Republican, and it cited a very curious reason for her decision to run (emphasis added).

Julie Meyer, mother of three and middle school history teacher, lives across the street from the facility and has raised serious concerns about the company that have been ignored by the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board. Unsatisfied with the undemocratic decision-making process that has divided her community, Julie Meyer will announce her campaign to represent the 20th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

While I certainly give credit to anyone who wants to undertake a difficult task like running for office, I can’t help but wonder how Julie Meyer’s dissatisfaction with the placement of County Executive Chris Abele’s no-bid mental health facility in her neighborhood translates to a run against Christine Sinicki, who has opposed the facility on Uncas Avenue from the time it first began being discussed. Given Rep. Sinicki’s opposition to the facility in question, I’m not entirely sure why Julie Meyer felt the need to challenge her, but I suspect there’s more to this story, based on speculation I’ve heard and am attempting to confirm.

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.

Now About Those Street Cars Anyway!

As the debate continues around the fait accompli of the Milwaukee street car…it is interesting that Tucson AZ stole about 200 engineering jobs from Caterpillar’s South Milwaukee plant…and in order to convince engineers to accept a relocation to Tucson…what was one of the first things Caterpillar showed them?

Caterpillar Inc. employees in South Milwaukee have already been shown a streetcar map of downtown Tucson, and this week they will learn more about the southern Arizona city where some of them could be living as early as this year (emphasis mine).

BTW: Where is Governor Jobs on all of this?

The power of a primary challenge

Last week a good friend of mine from Eau Claire, a long time member of the Sierra club, got an email from an acquaintance out in Utah. The tone of the email was pure excitement. After more than ten years of citizen lobbying, 3rd congressional district Democratic Rep Ron Kind had finally signed his name to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. The Act would protect roughly 9.5 million acres of Utah wilderness from mining, oil and gas exploration and other developments. According to my friend, everyone in her environmentalist circle was stunned. Why had Kind suddenly signed onto the bill? She thought she knew.

She promptly wrote Myron Buchholz, who is running in the Democratic Party primary against Ron Kind on August 9th, an email:

” Many of us environmentalists have contacted Ron over the past ten or more years to urge him to co-sponsor “America’s Red Rock WildernessAct”. Seems all it took to persuade him was a Primary opponent. Thanks, Myron.”

So why would Ron Kind, an 18 year incumbent with over $1,000,000 in his campaign war chest, and the full resources and support of the DCCC if needed, be fearful of a primary challenger with no elective office experience who is running a shoe string budget campaign? I’ll tell you why.

In the April 5th Wisconsin presidential primary, roughly 72,000 people voted for Bernie Sanders in the 3rd congressional district. Roughly 45,000 voted for Hillary Clinton. Buchholz has been clear from the start that he’s a ” Berniecrat”, inspired to run by Sanders extraordinary campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency. Kind has been very clear and unyielding in his support for Clinton, endorsing her before the Wisconsin primary and pledging his superdelegate vote to her.

So in this most unlikely election season it appears almost anything is possible. If you haven’t already made a contribution to the Buchholz campaign, please do. Kind has been the most prominent Democrat in the US House of Representatives advocating in favor of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Who knows; maybe he can be persuaded to reconsider?

When is 49% Good Enough and 50% Isn’t

I know that I ragged on the voter turn out already last week. How everyone was extolling the high turnout yet only 49% of eligible voters turned out. So the minority of voters made some pretty important decisions about local governments and of course the biggy…the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. So even though a candidate needed to win 50% of the votes cast…they actually logged far less than a majority of the citizenry that they are going to represent.

I hope I made my point last week…but it comes to mind again as I’ve read a number of articles recently about the issues with keeping qualified teachers in public education. It’s not a case of how do you keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree…its an issue with why should they teach when they are being attacked at every opportunity. And as teachers leave the profession, there are fewer and fewer candidates in our universities who are pursuing education degrees. Again why pursue a job that may feel rewarding…that you know is important to our future…when you will be demeaned and demoralized at every turn.

And then my mind wanders to teachers unions. Because they have been effectively neutered and can’t provide the kind of protection and representation that professional teachers are entitled to. Thank you Governor Walker and Act 10.

But speaking of Act 10 (I am working from memory here and not looking all of this up so please correct me where I am wrong), for a union to recertify it has to take a vote every year (?) and the membership has to vote in favor of continued representation…and it has to carry with greater than 50% of the total membership in favor. Not 50% of those voting…50% of the total membership.

Think about that for a moment…we elected a supreme court judge with far less that 50% of those voting…no where near 50% of all eligible voters…but a union needs more than 50% of total membership.

We seem pretty cavalier with electing officials who may have longstanding effects on our lives and livelihoods and futures…compared to the onerous requirements to do something as simple as recertifying a union. I just don’t get it.

Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division employee files lawsuit, alleges racism

Meanwhile in the Behavioral Health Division of Chris Abele’s administration…

She has the most seniority on the job at Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Division, yet Doris Ellison says Milwaukee County is ignoring her seniority and she is alleging racism.

Ellison believes she has a good case, and so do some others.

Ellison, a certified nursing assistant for Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Division, came to the Milwaukee County Courthouse with paperwork in hand and the backing of her labor union.

“This week, the county forced her to work third shift for the first time since 1990,” Dennis Hughes, with AFSCME Council 32 said.

But there is more to this story than a simple shift change.

Ellison alleges racism and officials ignoring her seniority are factors.

Ellison was working in long-term care with psychiatric patients for the county. Milwaukee County officials closed the facility and Ellison said she applied to take other first shift positions, but never got one.

“They’ve been hiring people off the street and giving them positions over all of us,” Ellison said.

Representatives with Ellison’s union say Act 10 led to Milwaukee County officials ignoring seniority.