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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).

Time to Pass Independent Re-Districting

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, 30 June 2015
in Wisconsin

money-behind-politicsWhere political parties are allowed to pick their voters and protect their majorities we have seen growing polarization as the party in power feels protected from the wishes of the voters. Independent redistricting has been shown to reduce polarization.


GREEN BAY - In response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding independent drawing of legislative districts, it is time for Wisconsin to move forward with passage of legislation that would create an independent Redistricting Advisory Commission to oversee the legislative and congressional redistricting process.

dave-hansen-gb“The conservative U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the ability of states to enact laws creating an independent non-partisan redistricting process. It is time for Wisconsin to join the growing movement to end the ability of politicians and political parties to rig district lines to protect their jobs and their majorities,” said Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), author of Senate Bill 58 to create a non-partisan redistricting process.

In its decision, the Court upheld the right and interest of the public to have a fair and independent process that takes politics out of redistricting.

According to Hansen, “It doesn’t matter which party is in power, Republicans or Democrats, gerrymandering districts to protect the power of politicians for either party violates the spirit of a true democracy. The people have a right to free, fair elections where their votes actually matter, regardless of where they live.”

Research commissioned by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute showed that after independent redistricting was implemented in California, their state legislature became less polarized with the gap in polarization between the parties falling 15% in the Assembly and 10% in the state Senate based upon the votes taken by members of both parties.

Where political parties are allowed to pick their voters and protect their majorities we have seen growing polarization as the party in power feels protected from the wishes of the voters.

Here in Wisconsin the proposed state budget contains a number of items vastly opposed by Wisconsin residents including a $250 million cut to the state’s public universities, cuts to public schools and taxpayer funding for the Bucks arena.

“If legislators from both parties had to be concerned with the wishes of all the voters we likely would not have seen these provisions in the state budget," said Hansen.  "Instead we might likely see a budget that would have enough votes from both parties to have already been approved by the Legislature."

Now, the budget process is delayed as Republican leaders attempt to pass a budget bloated with special interest giveaways in exchange for cuts that harm the middle-class.

***

Senate Staffer Jay Wadd contributed to this article.

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Court Upholds Affordable Care, Walker Should Stop Political Posturing

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 Saturday, 27 June 2015
in Wisconsin

aca-workingNow that the U.S. Supreme Court has once again upheld the ACA as the law of the land, Governor Walker should do the right thing for the people of Wisconsin and take back our federal tax dollars to strengthen BadgerCare.


GREEN BAY - Thursday’s 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Affordable Care Act tax credits is an especially important victory for the 183,000 Wisconsinites, including 11,000 children, who stood to lose their health care coverage. Had the decision gone the other way, Gov. Scott Walker made it clear as recently as Wednesday that he would not take any affirmative steps to ensure those families would continue to be covered.

dave-hansen-gbAccording to State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), the “decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a win for those who believe everyone should have access to affordable, quality health care". It "brings peace of mind to more than 166,000 Wisconsin residents who are secure in knowing that their coverage under the Affordable Care Act will continue as it was intended."

Unfortunately, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites still cannot access health care because extreme legislative Republicans refuse to enact the same law that all our neighboring states benefit from, at least in part due to Walker’s presidential posturing.

Joining our Midwestern neighbors in reclaiming our federal health care investments would allow more than 80,000 Wisconsin citizens to access health care coverage at a savings of more than $360 million over the next two years and well over $2 billion over the decade. It would provide health care access to more people at a lower cost to taxpayers and could help Wisconsin invest tax dollars in schools and communities.

Hansen says “Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has once again upheld the ACA as the law of the land, Governor Walker should do the right thing for the people of Wisconsin and take back our federal tax dollars to strengthen BadgerCare. Doing so would provide health insurance to thousands while saving Wisconsin taxpayers over $360 million over the next two years.”

Adds Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha),  “The people of Wisconsin are tired of legislative Republicans forcing them to take a back seat to Governor Walker’s political career. It’s time to do the right thing by taking the health care money.”

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Leader of White Supremacist Group Cited in Charleston Shooter Manifesto Donated to Walker, Johnson, Ryan

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, 23 June 2015
in Wisconsin

roof-flagEarl Holt III, leader of white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens cited in 'Dylann Roof manifesto' donated to top Republican politicians, including ours in Wisconsin. Says it is "not surprising" that Roof learned about "black-on-white violent crime" from the group's site.


GREEN BAY - A white supremacist who influenced the Charleston church shooter gave tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and committees in the past five years, including $3,500 to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, $1,250 to Sen. Ron Johnson and $1,000 to Rep. Paul Ryan's leadership committee.

The Green Bay Press Gazette reported Monday that Earl Holt III, president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which was cited in a manifesto by shooter Dylann Roof, contributed $500 on seven occasions to Walker's campaign since 2011.

Holt also contributed $500 in 2011 and $500 in 2012 to Ryan's Prosperity PAC and gave Johnson's campaign $250 in 2010 and $1,000 in 2013. In Johnson's campaign filings from 2013, Holt lists his occupation as "slumlord."

AshLee Strong, a Walker spokeswoman, said, "The governor will be donating this money to charity."

A spokeswoman for Johnson said his campaign learned about the contributions on Monday morning and cut a check for the full amount to a charity to help the victims in Charleston.

"As soon as we discovered that Mr. Holt had contributed to the campaign, we immediately donated the full amount of his contribution to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund," Johnson campaign spokeswoman Betsy Ankney said.

A spokesman for Ryan's committee said the PAC will give the contributions it received from Holt to the Charleston church where the shooting occurred.

Roof, the suspect in last week's murder of nine blacks at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., said he learned about "brutal black-on-white murders" from the Council of Conservative Citizens website.

Holt said in a statement posted Sunday on the group's website that it is "not surprising" that Roof learned about "black-on-white violent crime" from the group's site. But the group "unequivocally condemns Roof's murderous actions."

The Guardian first reported Sunday that Holt has given more than $65,000 to Republicans in recent years, including presidential contenders Rick Santorum, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

***

Melissa Baldauff, WisDems Communications Director, also contributed to this article.

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Green Bay Senator Hansen Calls for Closure of WEDC

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, 22 June 2015
in Wisconsin

walker-wedcLatest reports confirm WEDC officials failed to perform critical underwriting for $124.4 million in taxpayer supported loans it made to 27 companies. Provide confirmation WEDC has failed at predicted economic development and jobs creation.


MADISON - State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) called for the closure of the troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) today after it was revealed that WEDC officials failed to perform critical underwriting for $124.4 million in taxpayer supported loans it made to 27 companies.

WEDC was created in 2011 by Governor Scott Walker and majority legislative Republicans, replacing the former Department of Commerce as the primary agency responsible for economic development and jobs creation in Wisconsin. Since then, it has consistently failed to meet its goals in both.

Governor Walker said the creation of WEDC was central to his promise to create 250,000 jobs during his first term in office. However, according to a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, Wisconsin ranks 35th in the nation for job creation since Gov. Walker took office and ranks worst in the nation for new business creation. Reports also showed that Walker created just 129,131 new jobs in his first term, or 51.7 percent of his 250,000 jobs promise.

In addition, a series of non-partisan audits beginning in 2012 show WEDC lost track of $56 million worth of taxpayer funded loans and found that the agency lacked basic internal accounting controls. The quasi-public agency has also written off more than $7.6 million in loans, to include a $500,000 loan to a troubled company owned by a major donor to Walker’s campaign.

dave-hansen-gb“WEDC has been an unmitigated disaster from the start. It has been one scandal after another, squandered millions of dollars and failed to produce any significant numbers of jobs,” said Hansen a longtime critic. “There is no way to justify its existence any longer. It is time to end WEDC. It is beyond repair and the taxpayers deserve better.”

"Since it was created WEDC it has given millions to companies that outsourced Wisconsin jobs, ignored its own rules and state law, and written off millions in failed loans to Republican campaign donors," said Hansen. "According to a recent audit, of the 19,306 jobs WEDC was expected to create during fiscal years 2011-2013 it created only 7,894—barely 40% of the number of jobs promised."

“Unfortunately those of us who said that WEDC was a failed model from the start have seen our prediction come true. After wasting millions of taxpayer dollars amid numerous scandals it is time to admit that the WEDC model is a failure and scrap it in favor of a more open and transparent model that is truly accountable to the taxpayers,” Hansen said.

The Senator concludes “By any measure, WEDC is a failure that taxpayers cannot afford to support. With Wisconsin’s economy still continuing to lag our neighbors and the nation, there is nothing left to do but shut the doors on WEDC and close the book on what has become a very expensive lesson in how not to create jobs.”

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Wisconsin Economy Flounders Under Scott Walker Plan

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 Wednesday, 17 June 2015
in Wisconsin

walkerWisconsin drops to 35th among the 50 states in the pace of job creation in the full four years of Gov. Scott Walker's first term, has consistently lagged behind under Walker's "Open for Business" strategy, bad press over  failures at his flagship jobs agency, the WEDC, to follow state and federal law.


GREEN BAY - While the rest of the country has made a huge recovery from the economic crash of 2008, the State of Wisconsin has consistently lagged behind with Gov. Scott Walker's "Open for Business" strategy.

According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report today, in the four years from 2011-'14, when the United States posted a 9.3% gain in private-sector jobs, Wisconsin created jobs at a rate of 5.7%, an increase that gives Wisconsin a rank of 35th among the 50 states in the pace of job creation in the full four years of Gov. Scott Walker's first term.

The data released last Thursday morning from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are based on a quarterly census of American employers that makes them the most accurate and definitive figures available. The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which tracks jobs and wages in rolling 12-month increments, is published every three months.

The U.S. hit its lowest point of the recession early in 2010, meaning the four-year period of 2011-'14 effectively encompasses most of the economic recovery from the worst national downturn since the Great Depression.

By the end of 2014, Wisconsin had failed numerically to return to its pre-recession employment peaks, before the financial market meltdown in mid-2008. By contrast, the United States had regained and exceeded its pre-recession employment peaks by the end of 2014.

By December 2014, Wisconsin posted 2,400,139 private-sector jobs, still below 2,412,898 in December 2007. By contrast, the U.S. had 117.7 million private sector jobs in December 2014, higher than 115.1 million in December 2007.

Walker continues to campaign outside of the state touting his "Wisconsin Comeback" which portrays his business development policies as a huge success, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

To compound his credibility problems, Scott Walker has been plagued with bad press over the failures at his flagship jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), to follow state and federal law.

A series of non-partisan audits beginning in 2012 show WEDC lost track of $56 million worth of taxpayer funded loans and found that the agency lacked basic internal accounting controls. The quasi-public agency has also written off more than $7.6 million in loans, to include a $500,000 loan to a troubled company owned by a major donor to Walker’s campaign.

The Wisconsin State Journal investigation also revealed  a forgivable taxpayer WEDC loan of nearly $700,000 to a Sheboygan company planning to build a combination helicopter and corporate jet, even though they had no experience in aircraft manufacturing and underwriters hadn’t reviewed the company’s finances.

Walker's "Open for Business" strategy has mainly consisted of giving huge tax breaks to the very wealthy to make "Wisconsin attractive" to new business development. Unfortunately for Walker, Wisconsin dropped to dead last among the 50 states in the latest business startup index published by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

***

Journal Sentinel report By John Schmid and Kevin Crowe. Journal Sentinel reporter Craig Gilbert in Washington, D.C. contributed.

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