No burial ground safe from the desecration of Wisconsin’s Republicans

Because apparently the Republicans who control Wisconsin’s Legislature feel they haven’t completely desecrated our state.

Proposed state legislation could end a long legal fight over Native American effigy mounds in Dane County.

The bill would force the Wisconsin Historical Society to allow the owners of a limestone quarry in the town of Blooming Grove to excavate a 3-acre plot in order to prove whether human remains are actually buried there.

The State Journal says Wingra Stone and Redi-Mix have been mining around the plot at its 57-acre quarry for more than two decades. But as mining has exhausted other parts its quarry, the company has challenged the existence of human remains at the site in an effort to prove it should be removed from the state’s registry of protected burial sites.

Removal from the state’s burial site catalog would allow the company to extract between $10 million and $15 million in limestone aggregate that lies beneath the mounds, said Wingra president Bob Shea.

The Ho-Chunk Nation says history suggests it’s a protected burial site. But, Wingra says there’s no proof of that.

Not surprisingly, the bill that would allow Wingra Stone to squeeze out millions of dollars in profits from what’s currently a protected burial site is sponsored by Republican State Sen. Chris Kapenga.

GOP Candidates Continue To Sell Out Their Constituents!

As Zach mentioned yesterday there is a special election coming up to select a new state representative in the 99th district to replace Chris Kapenga who was recently elected to the state senate. There are four candidates in the GOP primary and nary a Democrat to be found (so much for Mike Tate’s 72 county strategy or contesting every election) so the winner of the GOP contest will be the nominal representative.

But it is interesting that three are kneeling at the altar of conservative dogma…particularly tax cuts…while important constituencies within their district are suffering…and complaining to Madison about it. Well first let’s start with the candidates”

Cindi Duchow is a Town of Delafield supervisor:

Duchow, 56, says she wants to reduce income and property taxes. “I’m ready to fight to save you every dime I can in Madison so that more money stays in your pocket here at home,” she says in a campaign statement.

Scott Owens of the Town of Genesee:

Owens pledged to eliminate corporate income taxes as part of a strategy to stimulate job creation and grow Wisconsin’s economy.

“I am running as a conservative who wants to go to Madison and continue the big bold reforms that were started by Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Chris Kapenga,” he said in a statement.

Dave Westlake of Hartland:

His central campaign theme is that “less government leads to more favorable results.”

Among his priorities if elected to the office Westlake lists increasing penalties for fraud, reducing taxes and spending and stimulating job growth.

Spencer Zimmerman of the City of Delafield:

This space intentionally left blank…because he didn’t respond to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Of course lower taxes has been Governor Walker’s mantra and he has done exactly that via all his biennial budgets. But it is seriously hurting Wisconsin constituents and particularly Wisconsin education. I am ashamed that I haven’t written about this before…but recently 35 Wisconsin principals wrote a letter to the governor and the state legislature, calling them to task for cutting state support for public schools. Which schools? Are they from the progressive hotbed in Madison? From the long suffering Milwaukee Public Schools? NO, they are from small towns and villages spread across the red counties of Wisconsin…including Arrowhead HS, one of the largest and most successful schools in the state, and right smack dab in the middle of the 99th!

So I would hope the principals come out against further cuts and shame the candidates that would be willing to cause further damage to their schools by continuing to cut state revenues…and let the parents know what’s going on!!

Here are a few choice excerpts from the coverage linked above:

“Since the onset of revenue limits in 1992, our school districts have been reducing and eliminating programs and resources,” the letter states. “We are burdened by the cumulative effects of budget cuts resulting in increased class sizes, cut programs and deferred maintenance plans.”

Jefferson High School principal Mark Rollefson, who spearheaded the letter-writing effort, said one reason for the principals to collaborate on a message was that most people in local communities know their principals and likely trust them.

“High school principals attend a lot of musicals, FFA events, community functions, athletic events, concerts, PT conferences, graduation and much more,” Rollefson said. “As such, the community can relate to us. A letter to the Wisconsin governor and copied to legislators signed by 35 area principals may catch Madison’s attention.”

Letter-signer Gregg Wieczorek, principal at Arrowhead High School, hopes so. He said principals are the ones who have their finger on the pulse of local education.

“They have cross integration of parents, teachers, students — they kind of get the whole thing,” Wieczorek said. “Yet they’re not consulted. They’re not involved in the decision making or even the advising stage.”

Rollefson said the same goes for local school boards whose hands are “hogtied” because of so many mandates preventing local officials from making decisions.

“The federal and state governments control curriculum, testing, funding, calendar, certification and more,” Rollefson said. “Is it not time to trust the people to make decisions rather than Big Government? Is this not why we have a school board?”

From a similar article from Madison.com:

“We do not support recent budgets and the underfunding of public education,” read the letter signed by Machell Schwarz, principal of DeForest Area High School; Brian Sniff, principal of Marshall High School; James Hickey, retiring principal of McFarland High School, and Jim Pliner, principal of Oregon High School, along with 31 others.

Budget cuts have meant smaller school staffs and less autonomy for local school boards, the principals said.

“Citizens trust these locally elected officials to set policy and support education in our communities. These respected school board members have far less control over local decisions than they did in the past,” they wrote.

The “business model” schools are forced to adopt results in “haves and have-nots” among school districts, the principals said.

If the principals were really smart they would now take their complaints to the voters and parents in their respective school districts and explain the lack of support coming from Madison…they probably can’t directly challenge the candidates or involve themselves in the campaign in their official roles…but they certainly can make the facts known. And maybe the voters can shame the candidates in supporting education instead of knee jerk reactions to ‘tax cuts’.

Republican State Rep. Chris Kapenga to submit “right to work” for less legislation

According to a report by Todd Richmond of Bloomberg Businessweek, Republican State Rep. Chris Kapenga is poised to submit “right to work” for less legislation here in Wisconsin during the next legislative session.

A Republican lawmaker promised Tuesday to introduce a right-to-work bill, prompting warnings from a Democratic leader that the state could see a round of protests reminiscent of the massive demonstrations against Gov. Scott Walker’s law stripping public workers of their union rights.

Rep. Chris Kapenga of Delafield, one of the most conservative members of the Assembly GOP caucus, said he’s convinced right-to-work legislation is right for the state. He said he believes giving people the choice of whether to join a union will boost incomes and the state’s economy.

“It’s the right direction to go,” Kapenga said in a telephone interview. “I’m convinced this is a very important piece of continuing growth in the state.”

According to the article, Rep. Kapenga noted Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports “right to work” for less legislation, and if that’s true (which it no doubt is) then we can expect to see Rep. Kapenga’s legislation fast-tracked in the Assembly.

Republican State Rep. Chris Kapenga has no clue what the federal minimum wage is

This is completely unsurprising, given how out of touch so many Republicans are with what the working poor go through.

At the public hearing for SB626 yesterday, bill author Representative Chris Kapenga was asked how much the federal minimum wage was. And guess what? He had no idea. 

Not only is it completely absurd that an elected official not know such basic information, it’s dangerous. It’s scary that someone so out of touch with the reality of many Wisconsinites is making decisions that drastically affect them.

The fact that Rep. Chris Kapenga doesn’t know what the federal minimum wage is shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering this is the same man who recently asserted that he understands the plight of low-wage workers in Milwaukee because he drives through Milwaukee every day to get to he company he owns.

Milwaukee’s living wage: a tale of two Chrises

This is just bad, bad, bad.

The “living wage” ordinance backed by the Milwaukee County Board last week — and others like it — would be barred under legislation up for a hearing Wednesday at the Capitol.

The proposed state measure prohibits local governments from enacting or enforcing a minimum wage law. It also would bar local officials from having residency requirements for workers on public works projects.

State Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), the bill’s author, said it was prompted by the pending county wage ordinance as well as long-standing local laws requiring that some public works jobs go to residents.

Milwaukee County has had an ordinance since 1995 calling for 50% of workers on county road and other public works jobs to live in the county, with some exceptions.

Kapenga said he is proposing a living wage revision that would bar local minimum wage ordinances only in instances where state or federal money is involved.

That should help quell concerns that the measure tramples on local control, Kapenga said. It would be unfair to permit state money to go to locales with such laws because it would effectively transfer money from other areas with lower minimum wages, he said.

County Supervisor David Bowen, the author of the Milwaukee County ordinance, called Kapenga’s bill “a slap in the face” to local control.

According to the Journal Sentinel’s report, Eric Peterson, the county lobbyist who works for County Executive Chris Abele, registered January 7 to lobby on a number of issues, including prohibiting local living wage ordinances such as the ordinance passed by the Milwaukee County Board.

However, in a Facebook status update posted yesterday, County Executive Abele denied any effort on his part to lobby in favor of state legislation prohibiting living wage ordinances.

Despite some of the things you might have seen posted by certain groups, I did not lobby for the state bill limiting living wage laws.
In fact, the hours listed on the GAB website are for hours we spent lobbying trying to RAISE the state minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers.
An effort I will continue to fight for.

In other Chris-related living wage news, during the hearing on AB750, Republican Rep. Chris Kapenga made it clear he understands the plight of low-wage workers in Milwaukee because he drives through Milwaukee every day to get to he company he owns.

Rep. Kapenga described himself as “a little unique” and very sympathetic to the struggles being faced by residents of Milwaukee, because even though he lives in and represents the suburb of Delafield in Waukesha County, he employs people who live in Milwaukee County and he drives through Milwaukee every day.

Sure enough, Chris Kapenga is the owner and president of a company with its headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. It’s just a few blocks off the Interstate. I’m sure he soaks up all the culture and feels the soul of Milwaukee’s many ethnic neighborhoods as he speeds past them on I-94. If not there are plenty of right wing radio stations in Milwaukee to help him understand “those people” while he commutes.

Just like former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin could see Russia from her house, Rep. Chris Kapenga can see Milwaukee from the driver’s seat of his car as he speeds through on I-94!

Nine Republican lawmakers in WI support arresting federal officials who try to implement Obamacare in Wisconsin

Apparently nine Republican lawmakers here in Wisconsin have boarded the anti-Obama crazy train…

As Gov. Scott Walker contemplates whether to create a state health care exchange under Obamacare, he will have to contend in the coming legislative session with nine lawmakers who have said they back a bill to arrest any federal officials who try to implement the health care law.

Eight of the nine Republicans also have gone on record saying they also want to write a law that would see airport screeners charged with sexual assault if they conduct overly invasive pat-downs of passengers going through security.

All nine also told a tea party-aligned group they backed passing so-called “right-to-work” legislation; allowing people to carry guns without having to get permits from the state; allowing people to buy raw, or unpasteurized, milk; and blocking state funding for the federal Real ID law that requires states to develop more secure driver’s licenses.

But their stance on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could cause the most fireworks in the upcoming session. Walker must decide by Friday whether the state will create a health care exchange under the health care law or leave those duties to President Barack Obama’s administration.

Republican State Rep. Chris Kapenga, one of the nine Republicans who supports allowing police to arrest federal officials who take steps to implement it in Wisconsin, said he believes Obamacare is unconstitutional, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that it is in fact constitutional. Kapenga, who is most certainly not a licensed attorney (or even a graduate of any law school anywhere in the civilized world), summed up his thoughts on Obamacare by saying, “Just because Obama was re-elected does not mean he’s above the constitution.”

Perhaps Chris Kapenga should look into taking a civics refresher course when he’s not busy legislating, because if he did he’d understand that Chris Kapenga doesn’t decide what’s Constitutional and what’s not – that’s the job of the justices of the United States Supreme Court.

Rep. Kapenga at Delafield Town Hall: Right-to-work legislation “ready to go” in Wisconsin

Republicans Jim Sensenbrenner and Chris Kapenga held a listening session on Monday night in politically conservative Delafield, Wisconsin; statements made at that meeting left some Waukesha County residents stunned. According to two attendees, Representative Chris Kapenga openly admitted that the GOP has plans to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state and that they’re just waiting for a politically opportune time.

According to Waukesha County resident Leanne Wied-Brusky, when a Town Hall attendee who seemed in favor of right-to-work legislation expressed discontent over the delay in implementation, Kapenga responded,  “We have right-to-work legislation in (three) different offices ready to go. If we had done it earlier, when we wanted, then Prosser would not have been elected. Right now is not the right time. We have to wait until it is politically feasible.”

Dave Heaster, also at the meeting, confirmed Kapenga’s statement and said he also heard him say, “…if we did it now, we’d be burning political capital, and we just don’t have excess capital to burn now.”

Heaster, who has filed the paperwork necessary to run against Sensenbrenner, told me that he “wasn’t surprised to hear that they were planning it in secret” but that what shocked him is “that this seemingly young guy, Kapenga, was stupid enough to tell us all about it!” Heaster added, “But then again, I’ve always said that if the people don’t bring down Walker, his own stupidity will!”

Unsurprisingly, Wied- Brusky said that after Kapenga made those shocking comments, Jim Sensenbrenner “did not look happy” and “tried to end the session.”

Funny how the truth seems to come out only when the Republicans think they’re in politically “safe” territory, and with huge gaffes like this one.

Added Heaster, “It’s funny – but more so, it shows how if we allow the Republicans to continue down this right-to-work vision, we are going to become a 3rd world nation.”

Agreed.

5/12, Madison, Wisconsin