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Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive

Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive

Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive. Before moving to Green Bay in 2008, he was the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Milwaukee County. A graduate of UWM in 1971, he moved to Madison, where he was Executive Personnel Officer and Technology Manager for the State Department of Employment Relations. He is a former Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Brown County, Director at the Human Resources Management Association of S.E. Wisconsin (now SHRM), and Technology Commission Chair for the City of Franklin. Bob is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force (1965-1971).

Higher Ed Lower Debt Bill to Receive a Public Hearing

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Friday, 02 October 2015
in Wisconsin

uwgb-studentPublic hearing on Higher Education Lower Debt Act authored by Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay and Rep. Cory Mason of Racine set for the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges on Wednesday, October 7 in the State Capitol.


MADISON - Legislation which could help thousands of student loan borrowers throughout Wisconsin refinance their debt will receive a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges on Wednesday, October 7 in the State Capitol.

Senate Bill 194, authored by Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine), is often referred to as the Higher Education Lower Debt Act. If enacted, it would create a state authority to help borrowers refinance their student loans, allow borrowers to deduct student loan payments on their state income taxes, and require borrowers to receive counseling about student loan debt prior to taking out loans.

dave-hansen“I am very pleased that the committee will be holding a hearing on this bill,” said Sen. Hansen. “Since this legislation was first introduced last session I have heard stories from people across the state who are struggling to pay back their loans.”

“These are not deadbeats, these are hard-working taxpayers who sought to pursue the American Dream by furthering their education and training. They only want a better future for themselves and their families. This legislation seeks to help them lessen the burden of paying for that education.”

The hearing will be held in room 300 Southeast of the State Capitol at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 7th. The hearing is open to the public and individuals are encouraged attend and testify.

***

Legislative Staffer Jay Wadd contributed to this story.

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Walker, Republicans Want Return to Political Patronage in State Government

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 24 September 2015
in Wisconsin

scott-walkerWalker and GOP lawmakers want to eliminate the state's civil service exams and replace them with a subjective review of résumés. The current civil service system has kept qualified workers in taxpayer-funded jobs based upon merit for nearly 100 years, and kept out partisan political hacks.


MADISON - Just three days after ending his presidential run, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sought to reassert his conservative credentials Thursday by backing a proposed overhaul of the state's civil service system for 30,000 employees. The move comes four years after repealing most collective bargaining for public employees.

Walker and two top Republican lawmakers are seeking to eliminate the state's civil service exams, replacing them with a subjective résumé-based evaluation system. They also propose to stop allowing longtime employees to avoid termination by "bumping" other workers with less seniority and shortening by more than half the process for employees to appeal their dismissal or discipline.

More than a century ago, good-government groups engineered the civil service system as a way to place qualified workers in taxpayer-funded jobs and weed out partisan hacks. It has been working well ever since, much to the disappointment of each new group of politicians coming to Madison who normally want to get their friends, family, and donors into state jobs.

jennifer-shillingIn a statement released earlier today, Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said of the move:

"The repeal of civil service protections is an invitation to more corruption in a Republican administration that continues to be plagued by scandals, cronyism and special interest influence. Rather than looking for ways to tear down Wisconsin workers, we should be focused on strengthening our middle class, boosting family wages and ensuring greater retirement security."

peter_barca2Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said:

"This is yet another politically motivated attack on hardworking state employees. It is especially concerning that this attack on our civil service system opens the door for corruption and cronyism during an Administration rife with scandals and charges of unethical conduct. Also, this once again violates a giant promise the Governor made during Act 10 that public employees would be protected by civil service."

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The author was one of the chief architects of the civil service selection procedures implemented by the State of Wisconsin in the 1970s and 80s, and at one time ran the State's Civil Service Testing program.

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Scott Walker Quits Republican Presidential Race

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 22 September 2015
in Wisconsin

walker_wavesWalker leads by retreating following stunning presidential collapse. Democrats swift to rejoice, but good cheer has turned to resolve to undo the damage Walker has done to the state.


MADISON - Yielding to reality in the polls and the exit of donors, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced here Monday that he was withdrawing from the Republican Presidential Primary race. The move came as a surprise to few who had watched his disappointing performance in the campaign.

In his statement, Walker said "Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top". Like many of his other confused statements during his official 71 day campaign, it is hard to know what that means.

As little as a month ago, Walker had stood high among the potential Republican candidates. But then the first two debates forced him out from behind his shield of TV ads and staged events before rabid supporters and voters saw that he had little of substance. As of Monday his poll numbers had dropped to essentially 0% and his large donors, including the Koch brothers, were heading for the hills.

Despite Walker's stunning presidential collapse, some state Republicans appeared to harbor hopes of a comeback. Conservative radio host Charlie Sykes tweeted Monday that Walker's bow-out reminded him of when Walker dropped out of the 2006 race for Wisconsin governor: "Chose to live to fight another day."

Wisconsin Democrats were swift to rejoice. "We all let out a cheer when we heard the news that Governor Walker was dropping out of the Republican Presidential Primary," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said in a statement. "It was gratifying to see Governor Walker's divide and conquer strategy fail this time because everyone has seen what that has done to our state."

But democratic good cheer has swiftly turned to a resolve to undo the damage Walker has done to the state as he pursued his political ambitions. "Wisconsin still has to live with the results of the extreme agenda he pushed here to further his standing in the Republican Presidential Primary", said Laning.

Wisconsin union members have been stung by Act 10 and Walker's attacks on workers have left them disheartened. Jobs have been lost to other states and abroad. Wisconsinites pay more for health insurance and the once proud BadgerCare program has been weakened. Public school funds have been diverted to private voucher schools, and the once great University of Wisconsin system has lost $250 million in funding as Walker questioned whether its' faculty was "working".

It will be interesting to see how many allies the Democrats find among Republicans in Madison, many of whom were thrown under the bus when Walker was riding high.

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Public Hearing Needed on GOP Plan to Merge UW Campuses and Tech Colleges

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 27 August 2015
in Wisconsin

college-studentAssembly Republicans have been meeting in secret on a plan to merge the state’s 2-year UW campus system and the Technical College system. Such an important plan should not be hatched behind closed doors.


MADISON - According to recent news outlet reports, Assembly Republicans have been meeting in secret on a plan to merge the state’s 2-year UW campus system and the Technical College system. The plan could have a huge impact on the students, faculty, staff and the local communities the campuses serve.

Two Democratic leaders in the State Senate’s Universities and Technical Colleges Committee don't think such an important plan should be hatched behind closed doors. And they are doing something about it.

dave-hansenIn a letter to the committee's chair, Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and State Senator Janet Bewley (D-Delta) called today for a public hearing on the impact of the plan. In the letter they said it was “disturbing to learn that meetings on the proposed merger have been held out of the public eye. Such a significant change in our system of higher education is deserving of public input early on in the process rather than waiting until a deal has been struck behind closed doors.”

The senators are questioning why details of the plan, how it would work and how it would impact the campuses and the people and communities they serve have not been available to the public.

janet-bewley“The public hearing and committee process exists to provide people with not only an understanding of legislative undertakings but to make their voices heard during the legislative process," they say. "Certainly such a substantial and significant change to our system of higher education merits early and significant public input.”

Recently Republicans tried to slip major changes weakening the state’s open records laws and the board that oversees the Wisconsin Retirement into the state budget. It was only after the public became aware of those secret efforts that they were dropped from the budget. Hansen and Bewley believe given the complexity that would surround merging the two systems the public should be given a chance to weigh in before a plan is rushed through the legislature.

“We respectfully request that a public hearing be held as soon as possible so that the committee can hear firsthand from all stakeholders about the potential impacts of merging the UW 2-year Campus and Technical College systems," their letter continues.  "This hearing should include testimony from administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents and community leaders.”

Despite major changes made to the UW System including cutting $250 million from UW Campuses and making major changes to tenure and shared governance, to date the Universities and Technical Colleges Committee has held only one public hearing. The hearing was held on June 4th during which the committee heard testimony on five appointments and one senate bill.

***

Legislative staffer Jay Wadd contributed to this article.

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Green Bay Senator Hansen Calls for Passage of Non-Partisan Redistricting Bill

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Monday, 10 August 2015
in Wisconsin

dave-hansenResearch shows Wisconsin most gerrymandered state in the country and system for drawing legislative district lines is broken beyond repair. Gerrymandering districts thwart the will of the voters.


MADISON - Responding to recent research showing Wisconsin to be the most gerrymandered state in the nation, State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) called on the Legislature to pass his non-partisan redistricting bill to restore fairness in Wisconsin elections.

“Recently conducted research shows beyond a doubt that Wisconsin’s system for drawing legislative district lines is broken beyond repair,” said Hansen. “Regardless of which party is responsible gerrymandering districts to thwart the will of the voters is counter to fair elections and a cancer on our democracy.”

In 2011 the Republicans assumed total control of state government and set in motion a partisan redistricting process which was designed to protect their members in the State Assembly and Senate and preserve their majorities in both houses for years to come regardless of the overall popular statewide vote.

An example of the advantage Republicans gave themselves is reflected in the 2012 election results in which Democrats received 53.5% of the vote statewide but less than 40% of the seats in the State Assembly.

“Gerrymandering has existed for decades, but the kind that has occurred in Wisconsin under the republican majority is gerrymandering on steroids. It has corrupted our elections and state policy as the Governor and legislative Republicans have pursued an agenda that is far outside the mainstream with no fear of being held accountable at the ballot box.”

The study conducted by Professor Simon Jackman of Stanford University is being used to bolster nationwide challenges to partisan redistricting by both parties shows that Wisconsin’s districts are gerrymandered significantly more than states like Illinois and Texas, states that are commonly viewed has having long histories of corruption in both their elections and their governments. On the other side, Democrats in Rhode Island have gerrymandered their state’s legislative districts to freeze out the voices of Republican voters.

“In a democracy “one person-one vote” is supposed to matter. But here in Wisconsin there are thousands of voters whose voices have been frozen out of the ballot box and in turn their government because the elections have been rigged to the point their legislative votes don’t matter. It is time to begin the process of restoring people’s faith in their government and it starts with passing legislation to end partisan election rigging.”

***

Link to redistricting study here.

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