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Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "2 GOP Payoffs" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 15 July 2016 10:19

follow-moneyMADISON - When we follow the money, sometimes something odd turns up.

That was the case with two of our stories this week.

The first seemed to be simply a gratuity for services rendered when the Republican Party of Wisconsin paid off $25,000 of Justice David Prosser’s campaign debt. But when we examined this “in-kind” contribution, it turned out to be even scuzzier, since the Party paid off a specific debt that Prosser owed to a particular vendor, who just happens to be one of Scott Walker’s chief fundraisers. Here are the gories:

State GOP pays $25K of Prosser’s campaign debt

The second story is about the DNR’s continued effort to give a sweetheart land deal to a couple that gave more than $6 million to try to get Scott Walker elected President. What’s doubly amazing is that the announcement of this renewed effort was obscured by an almost indecipherable bureaucratic notice. Somehow, I don’t think that was an accident, but see for yourself:

Walker’s DNR resurrects land deal with major contributor

And speaking of obscuring important information, this week there was a push in Congress to make it more difficult for consumers to find out if there are GMOs in our food—unless you’re in the habit of scanning barcodes into your phone while you hurry down the supermarket aisle. This is a bill not for consumers, but for industry, including in Wisconsin, as you’ll see here:

State food processors praise bill to restrict state food labeling

But here’s a happy note:

Three Koch Brothers’ groups were fined this week for illegal electioneering

We’ll keep following the money for you, and any more oddities that we can find.

***

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Last Updated on Friday, 15 July 2016 13:59
 
UWEC and Local Business "A flourishing relationship worthy of investment" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Tuesday, 12 July 2016 07:41

uwec-studentsThe UWEC Chancellor recently spoke to the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce about the synergistic relationship between the university and business, one that makes it a critical partner in the success of the region and very much worthy of state investment.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 July 2016 16:09
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It’s Time to Invest in Our Transportation System PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Janis Ringhand, State Senator Dist 15   
Saturday, 09 July 2016 10:56

road-closed-delayGov. Walker tells Transportation Secretary not to include any tax or fee increases in his budget request for state highway system improvement. As a result, system is going to continue to deteriorate and highway projects throughout the state will be delayed.


MADISON - Recently, former Republican State Senator and current Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow wrote that our transportation system is in crisis. I agree with him. Unfortunately, his former Republican colleagues in the State Senate and Governor Walker think the solution is to let our crumbling infrastructure continue to deteriorate while motorist safety suffers and economic development opportunities are lost.

Under the direction of Governor Walker, the Secretary of Transportation was told that his budget request should not include any tax or fee increases. Walker also says that proposed spending on megaprojects in southeast Wisconsin should be minimized. The result of Walker’s directive, according to the Secretary, is “that the non-backbone system, which is about 90 percent of the state highway system, is going to continue to deteriorate in condition" and “it would delay highway projects throughout the state.”

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 July 2016 11:55
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Blue Jean Nation "Ghosts in the graveyard" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Saturday, 09 July 2016 09:53

capitol-ghostsThere are not modern counterparts for the rural Democrats or middle-of-the-road Republicans of yesteryear. The disappearance of these species is a warning signal that we ignore at our peril.


ALTOONA, WI - American politics has changed immensely in the last generation or two. It used to be more of a hobby, something done on the side by people with lives outside of politics. Now it’s been taken over by professionals and most who are serious about it consider it a career.

There has always been lobbying in the halls of government, but the primary currency of lobbyists used to be information. That was before lobbying was married to election fundraising. Petitioning government and supplying campaign cash have now become inseparable.

When I got my first taste of the inner workings of Wisconsin’s State Capitol back in the early 1980s, being a lawmaker was a part-time job. Now it’s full-time. Not because there are so many more laws that need making, but rather largely owing to the fact that soliciting political donations has become a daily chore.

Abortion was a touchy subject back in the 80s and it remains a touchy subject today, but back then there were Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the issue. Republicans who favor legal abortion are no longer welcome in the party’s ranks, and Democrats who have qualms about abortion aren’t tolerated by their party either.

Two species of politicians have gone extinct in the last couple of generations. There used to be rural Democrats. Not anymore. The legislature used to be filled with small-town Democrats like Tom Harnisch of Neillsville, Harvey Stower of Amery, Dale Bolle of New Holstein, Gervase Hephner of Chilton, Bill Rogers of Kaukauna and Bob Dueholm of Luck, who followed in the footsteps of his father Harvey. In more recent years, there were still a few rural Democrats like Phil Garthwaite of Platteville, but they were few and far between. Now they’re long gone. The Democratic Party used to appeal to rural voters, but no longer does. It has become an urban party.

The Republican Party has become the political equivalent of a donut. No middle. There was an abundance of centrist Republicans in Wisconsin’s legislature in the early 1980s, many of them women like Barb Lorman, Sheehan Donoghue, Peggy Rosenzweig, Mary Panzer, Sue Engeleiter, Pat Goodrich, June Jaronitzky and Betty Jo Nelsen. Men too, like Dave Paulson, Bob Larson, Francis “Brownie” Byers, Brian Rude, Mike Ellis and Dale Schultz. Slowly but surely some like Panzer, Lorman and Rosenzweig were driven out by far more conservative Republicans who challenged them in party primary elections, while others like Schultz were replaced by right-wingers once they saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to leave the legislature. Republican moderates became a vanishing breed. The elements Republican leaders invited into their party to replace the moderates have given rise to extremism that invites comparisons to fascism.

The fact that there are not modern counterparts for the rural Democrats or middle-of-the-road Republicans of yesteryear is a symptom of illness in our political system. The disappearance of these species is a warning signal that we ignore at our peril.

 
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