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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).

United States Supreme Court Blocks Wisconsin's Voter ID Law for November

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, 10 October 2014
in Wisconsin

supreme-court-2013WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Thursday night blocked Wisconsin from implementing the Walker Administration's voter identification law on the eve of next month's election.

In a related action, a district court judge in Texas ruled that state's voter ID law is racially discriminatory and violates the Voting Rights Act. The Texas attorney general's office said it would appeal.

Both Wisconsin and Texas had claimed the new rules were intended to crack down on instances in which voters impersonate others at the polls. Such incidents are extremely rare, courts have found.

The court gave no reason for its action, as is routine for such emergency orders. But Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, arguing that the court cannot block an appeals court ruling unless the lower court "clearly and demonstrably erred in its application of accepted standards."

The Wisconsin law requires voters to produce a photo ID at the polls based on a 2011 law that was rolled out in time for low-turnout primaries the following year. Because of early problems, a state court blocked further use of the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project, a civil rights group, contended that the law jeopardizes the votes of some 300,000 residents, mostly racial minorities, seniors, students and people with disabilities and that imposing the photo ID requirement on such short notice "will cause chaos at the polls".

Although the Supreme Court has wavered in the past, such as allowing discriminatory practices like the southern poll tax to stand during Jim Crow years, as a general trend it has supported of the right to vote as the fundamental constitutional right of each citizen that should not be superseded by administrative convenience.

State officials argued that they had been implementing the photo ID rule since early September. "Plaintiffs are asking this court to pinball state and local election officials between enforcing and not enforcing the law with November elections dgless than four weeks away," their brief said. "Voters would get the pinball treatment, too."

Thursday's ruling blocks, for now, the vision of large numbers of registered voters, mostly racial minorities and seniors, being turned away from polls. If that were to happen, the result of the election might have to be blocked or reversed by the courts.

The Walker Administration, through it's Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, has pledged to continue the fight to implement the law.

But, at least for now, it's off again.

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Senators Demand Answers to Walker’s $1.8 Billion Budget Deficit

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, 09 September 2014
in Wisconsin

walker_tells_big_oneThe Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) on Monday estimated the budget for state government will face a nearly $1.8 billion shortfall for the next two-year budget.


MADISON - The expected shortfall for the next two-year state budget starting in July has risen to nearly $1.8 billion, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported Monday. The report paints a dire picture of Wisconsin's finances under the leadership of Governor Scott Walker.

These new budget numbers prove that Gov. Walker has not been honest with us.

Despite having had budget surplus that came at great expense to our public schools and local communities in the form of reductions to shared revenue and local road aids, and the thousands of Wisconsin residents who find themselves without health care, Walker’s Administration has squandered that surplus leaving us with both an actual and structural deficit.

As noted in the LFB Memo, the $115 million shortfall exceeds the 0.5% statutory trigger requiring action by the Secretary of the Department of the Administration and possibly the Governor and the Legislature. Unless corrective action is taken the structural deficit is likely to reach or exceed $1 billion.

Because this budget deficit will have short-term and long-term implications on the residence of Wisconsin, on Monday four Wisconsin Senators, including our Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), demanded in writing that Gov. Walker address this crisis and outline all the decisions he might make that will impact Wisconsin families and communities.

The memo asks Walker: "Will our neighborhood schools take another funding hit? Will our streets be plowed so people can go to work? Will more students be denied financial aid to attend the UW or State technical College? These questions need to be answered sooner rather than later."

The Senator’s memo went on to request “that you provide us with the specific actions you intend to take to resolve this fiscal crisis including but not limited to which programs you intend to cut, by how much, how your cuts will impact the services they receive from their government and when you intend to act?”

The memo concludes “There is no positive way to spin our state’s perilous financial position. Despite the claims made by the Walker Administration and others a deficit that exceeds the trigger for emergency action and sets the stage for a billion plus structural deficit is not good news.”

The Walker campaign continues to run glossy ads trumpeting the "success" of the Walker Administration and Walker himself continues to dodge responsibility for the crisis, saying that "increased revenue" could erase the deficit.

dave_hansenAccording to Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay:

“With what seems like each passing day the economic news for Wisconsin under Governor Walker and the Republicans seems to get only worse:

  • 37th in the nation for job creation.
  • Last in the Midwest for job growth.
  • $281 million revenue shortfall.
  • $115 million budget deficit.

"And now this:

  • A nearly $1.8 billion structural deficit.

"When Governor Walker ran for Governor he promised to get rid of the structural deficit, balance the budget and create 250,000 jobs.

"Instead we got some of the biggest cuts to public schools in the entire country, deep cuts to our UW campuses and state technical colleges and cuts to local communities to help fund police and fire protection and repair local roads.

"In return Wisconsin’s economy is failing and we’re facing a nearly $1.8 billion structural deficit that will cost the average family $1,200 over the next two years.   With this latest news from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau the results are in: Governor Walker and the Republicans have not only broken their promises, they have failed Wisconsin.”

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State’s Own Tax Collectors Undercut Walker Balanced Budget Claim

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, 30 August 2014
in Wisconsin

scott-walkerThe Walker Administration tried to hide the bad news by delaying the release of the final revenue numbers putting the Fiscal Year 2014 budget on a pace to be $115 million in the hole by next June 30.


MADISON - Wisconsin tax collections for the past year came in 2 percent short of estimates, the state Department of Revenue reported Thursday, news that puts the state's budget on track to be out of balance next year.

The figures show the state collected $281.2 million less for the fiscal year that ended in June than was anticipated by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. That puts the two year budget to be on a pace to be $115 million in the hole by June 30.

The Walker Administration tried to hide the bad news by delaying the release of the final revenue numbers for Fiscal Year 2014. The delay lead to several State Senators, including Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), to demand release of the numbers in a letter to Mark Huebsch, Walker’s Secretary of Administration on August 25.

A shortfall of this size will have a significant impact on the State Budget process, beginning with the agency budget proposals which are already being developed, and could lead to cuts in existing services. Such budget shortfalls also have a magnified impact on the long term structural deficit already run up by Walker. For example, a $100 million shortfall could lead to a structural deficit of $1.042 billion over time.

Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature have cut taxes by nearly $2 billion since Walker took office in 2011, including $500 million in March, a fact they've trumpeted on the campaign trail. Walker has also repeatedly claimed credit for ending the deficit in his ads as the justification for many of his actions against public workers and schools.

dave-hansenIn a statement on the new State Budget Crisis, Senator Hansen said on Friday:

"This is the worst possible news. The size of the shortfall is even worse than expected-far worse.

Under the Governor's and the Republicans' failed leadership we now have a $281 million deficit, we are lagging our neighbors in job growth and family incomes are falling behind.

Not only are we dead last in job creation in the Midwest since the Governor took office, but he and the Republicans have driven our state finances into the ground while our neighbors pass us by.

Minnesota for example has a $168 million surplus, they eliminated their structural deficit and they are leading us on job growth.

Under Governor Walker and the Republicans Wisconsin is clearly not moving forward."

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Can a Company Have Religious Beliefs?

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, 30 June 2014
in Wisconsin

supreme_corporate_courtGREEN BAY - The Supreme Court ruled today that private corporations can deny contraception to workers, in violation of the insurance requirements under Obamacare. (Hobby Lobby vs. Sebelius). The owners at Hobby Lobby argued that their religious beliefs trump the rights of their 13,000 employees and the ruling opens a pandora’s box that employers may use to discriminate against individuals in one way or another.

One wonders, by what legal gymnastics, did the conservative justices on the court convince themselves that one individual or group gets to impose their personal prejudices on another and still stay within the intent of our constitution?

Are all of us equal or are some of us more equal than others, as the phase from Animal Farm goes?

If you work in some else’s household do you have to attend the church of the masters? If you live in a town where the majority of the city council is Christian, do you have to be the same? What exactly is the difference?

The Supreme Court conservatives tried to hedge around the issue by saying only “closely held” corporations get to discriminate. But what exactly does that mean? You can be sure that the lawyers at thousands of companies are checking out ways right now to use this ruling for their own benefit.

And finally, where exactly does the constitution say that a company can have religious beliefs? And if so, whose beliefs are they? The one or five owners? The majority of the workers in the company? The people in the central office? It goes on and on.

Unless you accept the logic, as the Supreme Court conservatives apparently did, that the owners get to impose their beliefs on everyone within their domain, perhaps under the divine right of kings.

Wasn’t that what we fought a revolution and wrote a constitution to end?

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Why Can’t Scott Walker Just Give A Straight Answer?

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, 04 June 2014
in Wisconsin

scottwalker-questionGREEN BAY - I was watching Governor Scott Walker last Sunday morning on Up Front with Mike Gousha and was struck by a repeated question. Can’t this guy just give a straight answer?

When Gousha tried to tie him down on his repeated 250,000 job creation campaign promise, he said we were doing better than Illinois. When Gousha pointed out that Illinois was the only one of 10 Midwestern states that we surpassed, Walker changed the subject to the last three months.

I was struck most by his answer on the John Doe investigations into illegal activities by himself and his staff at Milwaukee County. “Those who know can’t talk” Walker said, and “those who don’t shouldn’t talk”. I really don’t know what that was supposed to mean.

Back in February, I went on record in this blog, under my own name, saying Scott Walker knew as far back as 2002 about the “secret network” in the Milwaukee County Executive’s office. I knew because I helped his staff, namely Tim Russell, set it up.

What was most interesting was the reaction from the Governor’s staff. Scott Walker wouldn’t talk about it, and they said the charge came from a known Democrat. They didn’t deny it, they just implied it was only politics and that seemed to satisfy folks.

Only, I wasn’t a Democrat in 2002. Back then, I was running around with a group of Milwaukee County inner ring suburban Republicans called the Franklin Citizens for Responsible Leadership. Scott Walker and Tim Russell most likely thought I was one of their own.

But by 2014 the story changed and it was all politics.

We should not accept these evasions. That there is no real truth in politics, that it is all just spin from one side or the other. To do so demeans ourselves was well as the standards we set for our political leaders.

Mike Gousha tried to get a straight answer from Scott Walker, and you could tell he was getting frustrated. But for a guy like Walker, the answers he gave to Mike and me will be good enough unless we show him we are not buying it any more.

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