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Friday, June 5, 2015

Walker's Wisconsin now ranks Dead Last, 50th, when it comes to startup businesses!!!

WISC had this short but important story:

"2nd Amendment" Gun thugs confident, responsible, and safely order cops around.

I've mentioned this before, but the wide spread use of guns to settle arguments is here to stay. It's become a more natural solution to settle disagreements, replacing fist fights.

That's why we're seeing an increase in senseless killings that still seem hard to believer or explain, as the headline here shows.

Then there are the leaders of gun rights groups who continually prove that they are some of the most irresponsible gun owners ever. Law abiding...until something goes wrong or they accidentally breaks the law. And even then, Republican legislators pass laws protecting those same irresponsible acts, making them responsible again.

Enter Larry Pratt. Would Pratt have said the following if he didn't feel confident other "responsible" gun owners had his back, or if we didn't have a black president?
RawStory: Gun lobbyist Larry Pratt has proposed a Second Amendment solution for lawmakers with whom he disagrees, and now he wants gun owners to train their sights on President Barack Obama.

“The Second Amendment was designed for people just like the president and his administration,” Pratt told right-wing radio host Roger Fredinburg. Right Wing Watch reported that Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, understood his apparent call for the assassination of the president might create a stir. “If the New York Times and the Rolling Stone, and whoever else wants to have a hissy fit – yes, our guns are in our hands for people like those in our government right now that think they want to go tyrannical on us, we’ve got something for them,” Pratt said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
In every state open carry advocates are scaring the daylights out of everyone not carrying guns, the majority of people. It's like the public should be able to sense how safe these gun toting absolute strangers are. What could go wrong?

But their arrogance and ego will only get worse, like the video here shows. Turn down the volume , this guys a loud obnoxious gun carrying patriot.
Open Carry Texas posted aYouTube video on Wednesday, showing president CJ Grisham argue with police officers over his right to stand on a corner with two colleagues and an assault weapon each, strapped to their backs.

Grisham instructs one officer to order “[his] man” to “stop threatening me” and to “stand down.” When police attempt to speak with Grisham, he announces, “I want your hands off the rifles before I get comfortable.” Grisham asks why cops felt compelled to give a warning armed with AR-15s. When police pointed out Grisham too was in possession of a large weapon, he dismissed the concern since the gun was “on [his] back.”

“I’m a law-abiding citizen. I’m minding my own business,” Grisham complains to police. “Do you know why I’m feeling this way right now?” “I feel threatened,” Grisham explains loudly, “because you are a police officer and you have people with rifles here that are threatening me.”
Grisham tells local news outlet KTAB that “an armed society is a polite society.” Guns are “not designed to kill,” Grisham tells reporters. “They’re not designed to shoot up movie theaters and schools. We’re trying to show what law abiding citizens look like that carry firearms and really remove that stigma.” 

In his Twitter profile, Grisham writes, “I don’t pull punches. I’m an Oath Keeper, a veteran, & I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I own my opinions & won’t apologize for them. Liberty, justice, freedom.”
Sounds very polite. By the way, local officials apologized for the cops, and said they would try and improve their uncalled for behavior. Really.

Scott Walker Stacks Regents and Legislators make UW Tenure Meaningless.

Let's start with the tenure problem created by the republican legislature. The GOP plan creates a loop hole to easily fire and lay off UW faculty and staff, no matter what UW tenure policy is in place:
jsonline: Under the GOP plan, it would allow tenured faculty and indefinite-term staff to be laid off or terminated "when deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision regarding program discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection."
That's the tenure poison pill, and UW Pres. Cross isn't being honest:
UW System President Ray Cross said tenure would still exist, regardless of the layoff language the GOP plan would insert into state law. He said the Tenure Task Force, which includes faculty, can still define the terms that guide layoff language.
The republican plan would let tenure exist, but in name only. Otherwise, skies the limit when it comes to intimidation and political firings. Here's a report from WKOW. Check out the very last comment:

Tenure by definition offers protection for academic freedom, grounded in a conviction that creating knowledge and expressing ideas should be free from intimidation or retaliation. Under policy currently in state law, tenured professors can only be dismissed for just cause or a campuswide financial emergency.
The old rules disappear, thanks to our big government republican friends, intentionally.

From WISC, a little more on the faculty brain drain to come:

Donald Moynihan, a professor of public affairs at UW Madison said, “This is going to happen very quickly, within a couple of years if UW Madison and the UW System don’t keep a robust version of tenure.   You’re going to see these faculty poached away.” Moynihan says the loss of those top faculty members could make a troubled financial situation for the university even tougher. “Thirty percent of the UW Madison budget comes from federal research grants.  If star faculty, who won those grants depart that is going to create a huge fiscal problem for the university,” says Moynihan.

Walker encourages costly energy over-use by consumers, which will only get worse over time.

Maybe we should listen to the following two credentialed individuals and not believer everything Scott Walker and our “citizen” partisan republicans are saying about jobs and the economy. 
William L. Holahan is emeritus professor and former chair of the Department of Economics at UW-Milwaukee, and Charles O. Kroncke is retired dean of the College of Business at UWM. They are co-authors of “Economics forVoters.”
Besides trashing supply side economics and highlighting the hit consumer demand took when public employee pay fell dramatically, they nailed it on Scott Walker’s problematic borrowing for transportation. 

As it turns out, Walker is not just determined to continue our addiction to fossil fuels, he's also making things worse, whether he knows it or not:
An increase in the gas tax would both add revenue as well as create proper incentives for efficient use of our road network. The current proposal to use borrowing to fund much-needed road repairs needlessly subsidizes drivers and encourages over-useThe gas tax works like any price, requiring drivers to treat the roads like a scarce resource.  Roads deteriorate as they are used, so it makes sense that drivers should be made to pay for what they use. Under the current proposal, borrowing to fix roads crowds out pro-growth borrowing to invest. 

Walker’s lawsuit to stop the EPA’s actions to move our economy away from coal (which is getting more costly because we’re now exporting it to other countries), raising the base rate on customer utility bills instead of charging more for over-use, and preventing drivers from seeing a need to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles by keeping the gas tax low, are all long term costly moves a real “fiscal conservative” would object to.

They're not objecting. Talk about being in the (gas) tank for Scott Walker. Just as bad, an increase in our registration fee instead of a gas tax, forces Wisconsinites to pay for out-of-state drivers use of our roads. That's a huge revenue stream I'd like to tap. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Disney proves trained workforce not the point. Businesses want H-1B visas and cheap imported labor, not job skills.

While republican politicians brag about training the unemployed and cutting off their food stamps and UC benefits, they're also cutting this well trained work force for cheap imported labor.

Would I kid you?

On the federal end of the GOP agenda is the ever present effort to import cheap labor, making some of this "job training" worthless, by increasing the number of H-1B visas:
NY Times: About 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.

“I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” said one former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30. “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.”
Here's where the story is wrong, treating this like a "new" problem. If you look under my blog tab "Video History: failed Republican Policy" you'll find archived videos from 2003-2005 examining the same issues. Here's just one example:



It's not just at Disney:
But the layoffs at Disney and at other companies, including the Southern California Edison power utility, are raising new questions about how businesses and outsourcing companies are using the temporary visas, known as H-1B, to place immigrants in technology jobs in the United States. 

According to federal guidelines, the visas are intended for foreigners with advanced science or computer skills to fill discrete positions when American workers with those skills cannot be found. Their use, the guidelines say, should not “adversely affect the wages and working conditions” of Americans. Because of legal loopholes, however, in practice, companies do not have to recruit American workers first or guarantee that Americans will not be displaced.

Vouchers? Pure right wing politics...and not what the public wants!!!

I would like to think that voters will change affiliation for one election at least to send a strong message it's not alright to destroy the quality of local school districts for the almighty quest to privatize schools for profit.

It's never been about giving parents a choice, since they're not familiar with the strides made in recent years in curriculum and teaching techniques. It's about parent insecurity and fear, and playing on that to push a profit driven system of education. It's parent and child exploitation, clear and simple.


jsonline: The superintendents, who predominantly hailed from high-income suburban schools and many districts that voted Republican in the last election, gathered at Range Line School in the Mequon-Thiensville School District to urge lawmakers to amend the budget changes for K-12 schools approved by the powerful Joint Finance Committee in recent days.

"We're asking them to reconsider (the amendments passed by the committee) and reinvest in public schools," said Mequon Superintendent Demond Means, flanked by superintendents from districts such as Kettle Moraine, Glendale-River Hills, Wauwatosa, South Milwaukee, Elmbrook, Greendale, West Allis-West Milwaukee, Hamilton and Northern Ozaukee.

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget wasn't kind to public schools, but the committee's amendments had made things worse by adding items such as a significant expansion of the statewide voucher program, a special-needs voucher program, a new civics test graduation requirement and teacher-licensing changes.  Mequon Superintendent Demond Means (said) "There's been so much dialogue between public officials about the Bucks and what's best for that building, but limited dialogue between elected officials and education leaders about what's best for schools."
 Want even more proof this politics driven? In the Racine Journal Times:
No charter schools, Gateway says: Even if it gets the power, don’t look for Gateway Technical College to open charter high schools anytime soon … a state budget provision allowing Gateway to authorize charter schools emerged, the college says it has no plans to open a school and that it is not being discussed. Gateway instead plans to continue working with local high schools on initiatives already in place, a Gateway official said. “We’re going to continue to work with the secondary schools in the tri-county area to develop those successful partnerships.”

State Rep. Thomas Weatherston, who authored a bill earlier this year giving all technical colleges the ability to authorize charter high schools, is holding out hope that Gateway would reconsider … “I think under the right circumstances, they might go ahead and try it.”
Proof of Partisan agenda: See, no one was asking for this. I think this says it all about the disconnect between the public and the arrogant Republican majority's prepackaged nationwide agenda:
Gateway met with Weatherston about his legislation about a year ago but noted it did not initiate the bill and “even indicated it wasn’t a direction we were moving.” Gateway has several successful programs with local school districts, like an initiative with Racine Unified called career pathways, in which students can earn college credits or industry certification before they graduate high school. “That is the path we have moved forward with and will continue to move forward with,” Sklba said.
Proving the point that these know-it-all republican politicians are sticking their noses in places they have no right to be meddling. 

State Republicans give Men the right to sue over Abortions, and take the word of cherry picked doctors over major Medical groups opposed to 20 wk abortion bill.

The instinctively brutal and punishing nature of the republican party is on full display now, and the state Capitol has never felt more repressive. The vicious attack on women's health choices borders on religious fundamentalism.

And Democrats, while putting up a great fight, failed to mention this important part of the 20 week abortion ban. Oops?:
Rolling Stone: Men can sue abortion providers for "emotional and psychological distress," The Huffington Post reports ... citing Guttmacher Institute data, "6 of the 11 states that currently ban abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization -- Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma -- have similar language tucked into their respective laws that allow the parents to sue a doctor who performs an abortion after that point."
Sure it's unconstitutional, but that's the point. Republicans want to take this to the activist conservative supreme court, where outcomes are pretty easy to predict:
Twenty-week abortion bans are unconstitutional because they ban abortion before the point of fetal viability (today, considered to be around 24 weeks' gestation), the standard established for legal abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. As such, these bills, which have been enacted in over a dozen states and blocked in three, are designed to directly challenge Roe and ultimately end legal abortion in the United States.
Here's coverage from Madison's WISC and WKOW newscasts, along with a frightening Q&A showing the arrogance and callousness of the bills supporters:



Brutal! WMC and Big Business now trying to remove state Medical Leave benefits for employees, saying they're too confusing.

The major business lobbyist, Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce, wants to take your state Family and Medical Leave Act benefits away. What, life isn't difficult enough already?

The business takeover of our state has been breathtaking. WMC's recent request is just another extreme example of the winner take all conservative plundering of our state. Another solution to a non-existent problem. A cruel power play against a battered worker force Scott Walker left twisting in the wind by Act 10. It wasn't just an attack on unions, it was a threat to all fair labor practices:
WISC: A coalition of business and government groups is pushing for changes to the state's family and medical leave law. The measure would nearly wipe out Wisconsin's law in favor of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, with employers saying differences between the two create confusion. The two versions of FMLA have co-existed since 1993.


Here's what WMC wants to remove from Wisconsin law (pictured):
Wisconsin's added benefits beyond the federal coverage.
1. Leave to more part-time workers. 2. Taking care of an in-law or domestic partner. 3. The ability to apply or not apply sick or vacation time to leave. 4. The ability to take intermittent leave for a birth or adoption.
Who could have imagined anyone opposed to the common sense added benefits to the Family and Medical Leave Act?
The motion ... pushed at the Capitol by groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairman Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, tells News 3 that he is personally supportive of the measure, but thinks it may be "too controversial" to get the votes on the committee this session.
Rules helping workers and families dealing with dramatically difficult health situations...outrageous? Not worth the effort? Confusing?
"Mainly because it's a confusing administrative nightmare" said Curt Witynski, assistant director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. 
Or they're lying:
But Beth Miller of the South-Central Federation of Labor and 9 to 5 Wisconsin said "Employers have managed to cope with this for over 20 years. The laws have co-existed for two decades and I haven't heard complaints from anyone except Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce."

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Walker's ObamaCare Temper Tantrum could drop 247,000 from the Health Care Exchange getting tax credit.

Scott Walker hasn't had to work very hard as governor. Its been a cake walk really, handing off an easy 40 year agenda and ALEC legislation to his party leaders in the assembly and senate. 

No compromise, no debate and complete control statewide of local governments. The hard work of making something work, or at the least, seeking a solution that actually solves a problem is not on his radar. 

Even so, it's still jaw dropping to think that he'll let so many Wisconsinites lose their health insurance to make the false point ObamaCare is bad. It's vengeance, bordering on a tantrum: 
Bloomberg: "We will ultimately push back," Walker said. "This is a problem created by this president and the previous Congress. It's something that requires a solution at the federal level. States didn't create this problem, the federal government did. And they should fix it."
That's irresponsible, no matter how you look at it. So let's take a look at a Democratic governors response:
Pennsylvania became the first state to announce a plan to save people’s ObamaCare subsidies if the Supreme Court rules against the federal government sometime this month.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement late Tuesday that he has submitted a blueprint to create a state-based exchange to save subsidies for nearly 350,000 people with ObamaCare, which he called “the responsible thing to do. I am committed to protecting hardworking Pennsylvanians from losing the assistance they rely on to purchase health care coverage.”
 So who will Walker kick to the side of the road, and leave without health care to suffer and in some cases die:
A new report by the Urban Institute, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, outlines "the combined effect of not expanding Medicaid and losing marketplace (exchange) assistance" for Wisconsin in 2016:
* 247,000 more uninsured if exchange tax-credit subsidies are lost;* 21,000 additional uninsured if Medicaid is not expanded;* $1.128 billion in federal exchange spending lost;* $481 million in Medicaid expansion funds lost.

The lack of a Republican Learning Curve, from Jon Stewart.

This is everything the press should be saying about the Republican calls for war and arming militias, but doesn't. This makes Republicans look like the silly party.

Walker Kills more Jobs, good paying ones, when he repeals Prevailing Wage Law.

Why are we debating prevailing wage, when the concept behind it is so easy to figure. Common sense apparently isn't enough, especially for republicans who don't need a reason anymore to do whatever the hell they want.
Proven wrong again...

But now we finally have research that delves deep into the effects of prevailing wage.

It's interesting to note the rightwing loony tune "fellows" at the MacIver Institute came out with the headline story pictured here, a day after the research below nuked their wildly inaccurate conclusions. There will always be a whole bunch of low information voters who will their propaganda:
New Research Exposes Folly of Wisconsin's Prevailing Wage Repeal Proposal: Just completed research by Colorado State University Economist Kevin Duncan and Smart Cities Prevail Researcher Alex Lantsberg reveals that Wisconsin’s proposed prevailing wage repeal (AB 32) will cost the state nearly 9,000 jobs, $1.2 billion in economic output, $77 million in tax revenue, and will export an estimated $500 million in construction investments out of state.

The study uses data from the Economic Census of Construction and industry standard IMPLAN software to compare and model spending shifts in public construction that occur in prevailing wage and non-prevailing wage states. Factors include the economic ripple effect that wages have on spending, job creation, and tax revenue; industry responses to wage rates in terms of workforce productivity and worksite efficiency; and rates of in-state vs. out-of-state contracting on public works.

“The data clearly shows that repealing prevailing wage in Wisconsin will have no effect on project costs—but it will eliminate thousands of jobs across all economic sectors, suppress economic output, necessitate millions in cuts to other public services, lead to reduced productivity and efficiency at the job site, and export hundreds of millions of construction dollars out of state,” said Lantsberg. “Repeal will benefit are those who live in states other than Wisconsin.”

In their research, Lantsberg and Duncan devote an entire section to debunking the myth of cost savings by repeal proponents, noting that lower wage standards will deprive Wisconsin of favorable industry responses from prevailing wage standards. In Wisconsin’s case, this includes a 7% increase in worksite productivity and 2% reduction in materials and fuels usage rates that come from employing higher skilled, local workers.

“These factors would, by themselves, more than exhaust any savings realized from imposing lower wages—especially since labor (wages and benefits) comprise less than 20% of the total cost of any public construction project,” Duncan added. “Ultimately, over ten years, this measure will not save money, but it will reduce real income to Wisconsin families by $5.1 billion, shrink Wisconsin's economy by another $12 billion, and degrade the quality of construction on highways, schools, hospitals, and other public works. The facts are clear—repeal of prevailing wage in Wisconsin is just bad policy.”

Pentagon can't find Trillions of Dollars, Republicans want to give them more with no offset.

Our mighty Republican warriors are always talking about increasing Pentagon funding, as if that's the test of our patriotism and strength.

But as the video here explains, the Pentagon is a GOP black hole for taxpayer money. This is an old CBS News broadcast that warns us all that things will only get worse.

Here's why I thought it was important to mention this:
The Hill: The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday advanced a $579 billion bill to fund the Pentagon in fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1. Republicans are proposing to circumvent budget caps that are set to return in October by boosting the Pentagon’s war fund to $88 billion, about $38 billion above President Obama’s own request. The additional funds are not offset.
The funds are not offset, even though most of that money will disappear with no trace. You really won't believe this; the Pentagon lost track of $2.3 trillion...TRILLION:


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Surprise! People don't trust Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck or Fox News!

The following Pew graphs tell the whole story. It's interesting to note the higher trust level for MSNBC, despite average ratings. As a former talk show host, I can't imagine doing all the show prep Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity do (fabricated or not), knowing the audience doesn't believe a word I'm saying. A total waste of time:

Americans don't like Food Stamp Shaming, and Hate Citizens United/Money is Speech.

A few big time polls came out today, gauging public sentiment about big time issues, and low and behold, Republican politicians are not on the same page as their voters. You’d think Republicans would lose a few more elections if that were really true.
Food Stamp Shaming and Food RestrictionsMost Americans think poor people shouldn't feel ashamed for using the safety net, according to a new YouGov poll. Just 14 percent of survey respondents said they thought people should feel ashamed for using welfare, while 62 percent said people shouldn't feel ashamed. Republicans were more likely to favor shame than Democrats, 20 percent to 9 percent.
Don’t celebrate yet. Republicans have managed to make Americans suspicious of poorer Americans, enough so to warrant drug testing without suspicion, which is pretty unconstitutional.
Two-thirds of Americans surveyed in the new YouGov poll supported welfare drug testing.
And like the public’s lack of support for ObamaCare, even though they like the details, two things; Republicans have successfully messaged food buying restriction on the poor, a form of shaming, something they’re really against; but the public doesn’t like the food restrictions when they’re confronted with the actual choices:
Sixty-four percent in the YouGov poll supported government restrictions on what people can buy with public benefits, but only 28 percent said they supported prohibiting food stamp purchases of steak, seafood, cookies, chips or energy drinks.
Poll Says We all Hate Citizens United: Boy, if you talk to “stand with Walker” Borg-ites, they’ll agree money is speech. But away from the nut job activist, not so much:
A new NY Times poll was just released that targets the insane amounts of money being funneled into politics ever since the Roberts Court decided corporations were people and the results are staggering. 

NY Times: Americans of both parties fundamentally reject the regime of untrammeled money in elections made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other court decisions and now favor a sweeping overhaul of how political campaigns are financed, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

The findings reveal deep support among Republicans and Democrats alike for new measures to restrict the influence of wealthy givers, including limiting the amount of money that can be spent by “super PACs” and forcing more public disclosure on organizations now permitted to intervene in elections without disclosing the names of their donors.

And by a significant margin, they reject the argument that underpins close to four decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence on campaign finance: that political money is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Even self-identified Republicans are evenly split on the question.

Walker's Voter Suppression Law get Election Year Challenge!!!

This is an unusual but welcome challenge to the various untested regulations designed to suppress votes in Wisconsin, especially when you consider who's taking Walker on. It looks like Democrats are ready to put up a fight and highlight Republicans attempts to keep people from voting. Surprised too by the challenger:
Hillary Clinton’s top campaign lawyer has filed a new legal challenge to a slew of restrictive voting laws signed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

If successful, the suit could knock down barriers to voting in a key 2016 battleground.

The complaint, filed Friday in federal court, charges that the “right [to vote] has been under attack in Wisconsin since Republicans gained control of the governor’s office and both houses of the State Legislature in the 2010 election.” 

The campaign itself isn’t officially involved. “The lawsuit was not filed on behalf of the campaign, but we are aware of it and strongly support its goal of ensuring the right to vote is not unduly burdened,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement. 

Last month, Elias brought a similar lawsuit against restrictive voting laws in Ohio. Walker isn’t named as a defendant in Friday’s challenge against Wisconsin’s voting laws (but) it (does) accuse Walker of making a “racial appeal” during his 2012 gubernatorial recall election, when he declared: “We don’t want Wisconsin to become like Milwaukee.” 
Here's what might be more unique, and even successfully litigated this time:
But the other challenged provisions haven’t yet been considered by a court. In addition to the voter ID law, the GOP-led legislature has passed, and Walker has signed, measures that: Also being challenged is the state’s requirement that early voting can take place only at the clerk’s office. The restriction, which has existed since early voting began in the state, means Milwaukee will have hundreds of thousands more voters at its single early voting location than some smaller municipalities will have. 

Conservative Think Tank backs Scott Walker's vision: UW Faculty all Corporate Lobbyists and Consultants.

Local control has become a laugh line in Wisconsin since Scott Walker and his band of plundering pirates have taken the helm. The only time local control is important to these freeloading clowns is when they’re shifting the blame for tax increases to local officials via school referendums and soon, road maintenance.

Transform the UW to a Tech College Please: Scott Walker’s rewrite of the Wisconsin Idea was a gift and bold mistake we all could learn from. It was also intentional. Walker’s focus on the old economy, based on manufacturing, is not just bordering on ridiculous but it's also part of his plan to change the UW.

And now Walker is getting help from a conservative think tank. Help us all. These "institutes" are actually bill writing lobbyists, offering cover and “suggestions” that would take us back to the old economic model and cronyism that built this great country:
A report (by the) Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, on the University of Wisconsin System's four-year campuses, calls for local flexibility in setting tuition, changes to the shared governance system and a review of tenure.
That’s BS. It’s a call to turn faculty into business consultants and special interest lobbyists. Here are their suggestions:
1. Help the UW System better fulfill its mission to help produce economic development, give them the authority to eliminate programs with little market demand or academic value.

2. Give local campuses expanded latitude to attract private investment and convince local businesses and investment of the potential return on that investment.

3. Talent and those intellectual assets on those 11 campuses are badly underutilized. The campuses and their faculties could be much more involved in their local and regional economies — working with local businesses, industries and economic development specialists in tech transfer, second-stage economic development, industrial process applied research and development, and business consulting, especially in new product development, market research, export assistance and business management.

4. The campuses are perfectly positioned geographically and intellectually to work with businesses and industries in every community around the state.
Oddly the report concludes teaching + academic research doesn’t result in economic improvement. What are they on? They followed that up with examples that disprove that theory, and then made the case to turn faculty into classroom industry lobbyists…I mean “specialists:”
The reasons they are not more involved are historic and cultural. The management structure of the system combined with the faculty cultures at these institutions are in many cases rooted in their teaching and academic research mission, not the third leg of the Wisconsin Idea: working to improve Wisconsin’s economy and society. To be clear, all of the 11 four-year campuses are engaged in some forms of economic development outreach, and there are strong examples around the state of important economic and industry successes. 

Almost every campus has — or is building — a regional economic outreach and partnership effort, and many of the campuses have several. In general, faculties at those campuses face substantial obstacles and disincentives if they devote too much time to serving as industry specialists, business consultants or strong players in regional economic development. In others, the obstacles are system wide — and they’re onerous.
The “institutes” report is replete with business references downplaying a broader more diverse curriculum. You can't miss it...:
…leveraging university expertise and research to help existing area businesses and industries compete, grow and expand … involving students in developing — and implementing — solutions for industry, manufacturing and business … instructive on how universities can play a greater role in second-stage business development … the use of student fees to improve buildings or offer a new program requested by an industry partner.
The Wisconsin Idea solidly rejected, like Walker wanted:
The potential dividends for success are especially high at the state’s 11 four-year colleges that were not originally created as partners in the Wisconsin Idea. All those campuses truly require is the ability and authority to take the lead in their local regional economies with the UW System and Board of Regents as partners. Now is the time.

Middleton Superintendent's Open Letter to Public exposes real world effect of Walker cuts to Education.

The voices of educators statewide made it clear to touring Republicans legislators they did not like the purely conservative agenda targeting education for cuts and privatization.

Their voice, and the massive turnout of parents who also spoke in opposition to education cuts, are now just a part of the GOP's fading memory. 

That is until this open letter to the Middleton-Cross Plains Area Community hit the media today.

Residents and Parents in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area Should Know…
Ten items in the State Budget that significantly impact our schools:

1. Middleton-Cross Plains Area Schools, and school districts across the state, will have their state aid cut to allow for voucher expansion; these are public tax dollars used to pay for a student’s private education. Voucher expansion will mean less money for public schools, including our school district. Any decision that is made to publicly fund religious and other private schools will diminish the quality of education for our students.

2. This budget drives Wisconsin under the national average in per pupil spending (according to Michael Griffith, a senior policy analyst for the Education Commission of the States). Wisconsin has had a proud tradition of adequately funding our public school system. The legislature is pouring money into private schools at the expense of maintaining a public system that has been a source of pride in our state for more than 100 years.

3. In Year 1 up to 67 students from MCPASD could receive vouchers to attend private religious or secular schools. $7,856 for each high school student from our district would go with each student for a total of $526,560 in the first year. In Year 2 up to 134 students and $1,052,704, in Year 3 up to 201 students and $1,579,680, etc. In Year 10 up to 670 students and $5,265,600 could leave MCPASD to support private and religious school education- these funds are state tax dollars (these figures would be 9% less for K-8 level students). After year 10 there would be no limit on the number of vouchers offered to students in our school district. If private schools are publicly funded as proposed, the MCPASD will struggle to maintain the educational quality that people in this community have worked so hard to build.

4. The legislature plans no future cost-of-living increases for teachers and other staff. This threatens our ability to attract and retain high quality faculty now and in the future. Offering nothing will undermine our ability to maintain, let alone, improve the high quality education our children currently receive.

5. The new law would allow home schooled students and virtual school students to participate in any extra-curricular or athletic team our district offers. Students from area private schools would also be eligible to participate on our school teams in certain sports. This raises a multitude of eligibility questions and different eligibility requirements for members of the same team. The WIAA has come out strongly against this proposal as have many home school advocates.

6. The new law would allow “learning portfolios” to replace up to one-half the credits needed to graduate from high school. The law would require a diploma earned in this manner be the equivalent of a diploma earned through actual course completion. This proposal has the potential to change what high schools look and feel like across the state; including the likelihood that the rigor needed to earn a high school diploma will be significantly reduced, jeopardizing both in and out-of-state college acceptance.

7. The new law eliminates many standards for licensing teachers, with no bachelor’s degree needed to teach our students in multiple subject areas. Educational programs and training have been built and improved over decades with Wisconsin having one of the top performing educational systems in the nation. With this one legislative change, students could have under-trained and ill-prepared educators without the prerequisite knowledge to meet the many needs of our students. MCPASD does NOT intend to hire non-certified teachers or teachers without a college degree, but we are concerned about the deprofessionalization of teaching in Wisconsin.

8. The proposed law allows students in special education to use $12,000 in publicly funded annual vouchers to attend private and parochial schools. In these schools they would not be guaranteed the legal rights and protections afforded to them by federal law. In addition, the dollar amount is completely arbitrary as actual costs vary drastically from student to student. At the same time the legislature is allocating money for special education students in private/parochial schools, it has not increased funding for public school special education students in eight years.

9. There is a new requirement in the law that mandates passing a civics assessment for high school graduation-this would be a 100-question test. This test is in addition to the multitude of other state-mandated tests that students are already required to take. This proposal, set to become law, has had very little discussion and a plan for implementation of this test does not exist.

10. The tests that students are required to take will be different for the third consecutive year. Districts will not be required to take the same test; making district-to-district comparisons very difficult. Our students do extremely well on the standardized test they are given and we welcome the opportunity to compare ourselves to any competing school. Common sense tells us adequate comparison can only be made when students in each district are taking the same standardized tests.

The time is now to voice our opposition to policies and legislation that will undermine our ability to support quality education. Please be active in advocating for our schools with the legislature and Governor Walker. The future of our children depends on your involvement.

Sincerely,Dr. Donald Johnson, SuperintendentMiddleton-Cross Plains Area School 
I have no doubt "Stand with Walker" conservatives will continue to bring up the one time savings brought about by Act 10, and ignore the long term effect of cuts, tax increases via referendums and the sneaky creation of a second school system.

As that second private school system flounders, taxpayers will eventually start asking questions and demand answers, which ironically will require government control, intervention and oversight all over again. Maybe we'll even bring back "classic" public schools. It worked for Coke.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fiorina gets "F" on Common Core opinion.

Carly Fiorina is a corporate failure, and now bullshitting Republican presidential candidate. That can't be good.

Fiorina also has no idea what Common Core is, or how well its been working for my kids and others around Wisconsin. But she does know it gets a few right wingers angry, and that's a vote getter.

Let’s start with her mindless and meaningless Common Core jab:
GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said on Sunday she would give Common Core a failing grade for how it teaches American students.
Fiorina, like all Republicans, doesn’t like public education, and lumps all states and school districts into an incredibly misleading talking point:
“Our education system is a big problem,” Fiorina told host Chris Wallace.
Our world ranking suffers because we average in a greater proportion of low income, lower scoring children than other countries. Blame supply side economics.
“When a Washington bureaucracy gets involved in program, it becomes heavy-handed and standardized,” she said.
Nothing is standardized, she’s pulling that out of her ass.
Fiorina pointed to China on Sunday as an example of how federal involvement in education could hurt a country’s knowledge base.
Fiorina must not be aware of all the European countries with national curriculum's and tests. Oh, and these countries are always near the top of the rankings.
“Common Core, unfortunately, limits parents’ choices,” Fiorina said. “It will, over time, limit our children’s options.”
It doesn’t limit anything, so we can only assume she has no idea what Common Core is. Districts across the nation pick and choose how and what they’ll teach.

I hope reporters start educating themselves about Common Core, vouchers and charter shools. 

Big Oil's Scott Walker wants you to spend your tax savings on higher energy bills.

Both Scott Walker and Republican legislators have been very upfront about their intention to stuff insurance company pockets with lots of money, by forcing poor people into the private sector health insurance market. From IRIS to BadgerCare, they want you pay insurers. 

A similar method of cost shifting is now jacking up your energy bill. You want to save energy? Don't bother, it won't be worth it in Wisconsin, where over consumption is encouraged.

It's ironic too. Minnesota’s Xcel Energy tried and failed to get their own state to approve a customer base rate increase, the industries new way to soak consumers who may be creating their own energy with solar panels or saving energy with new appliances. No longer based on usage, big energy is doing everything they can to discourage customers from supplying their own power and selling that surplus back to the utility. But unlike Minnesota, Wisconsin will give Xcel Energy everything they want, including the money you saved with Walker's tax cuts.

This obvious power play by energy suppliers hasn't worked other states. But funny thing, Scott Walker’s crony packed PSC is more than happy to consider a rate hike, stripping customers of their hard earned cash.
Xcel is following the example of several other large utilities in asking to increase the flat fee applied to all residential, farm and small commercial bills. If approved, the customer charge would more than double -- from $8 a month to $18. In the past two years, three of the state’s five largest investor-owned utilities have significantly hiked customer charges. Madison Gas & Electric went from $8.70 a month in 2012 to $19 this year. Wisconsin Public Service nearly quadrupled its charge. Since 2001, the average customer bill has risen by about 25 percent after adjusting for inflation.

Critics say increasing these flat fees unfairly penalizes those who use less energy and creates a disincentive for home-based alternatives like solar panels. Kira Loehr, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board said “It hits those who use less and makes them pay more. That’s the exact opposite of what we think should be happening. It encourages increasing consumption, which raises costs for everybody in the long run.”

While acknowledging it favors big users. Don Reck, regional vice president of rates and regulatory affairs said, “We’re trying to make ourselves the provider of choice.”
Love the honesty, hate the utility.Walker is making sure whatever money you saved tax wise is going to campaign lobbyists and fossil fuel industry supporters in the form of higher monthly bills:
Wisconsin has been ground zero … The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has made it clear that it welcomes requests for increased fixed charges and related measures … The Minnesota PUC denied the monthly fixed rate increases. The Alliance for Solar Choice spokesperson Amy Heart. “That this isn’t necessarily a trend in the Midwest. The decision in Minnesota demonstrates just how out of step the Public Service Commission is in Wisconsin.”
Their rate hike does not compute: How out of step is our PSC? It’s hard to argue with the following explanation and big PSC problem:
The fixed-rate portion of an electric bill is meant to cover the cost of grid infrastructure … Since Minnesota essentially rejected that argument, and since the grid infrastructure delivering to Wisconsin Xcel customers is largely the same system as in Minnesota, experts say Xcel would have a hard time justifying higher fixed charges for Wisconsin customers. In other words, if it costs only $8 a month to deliver electricity to Minnesota Xcel customers, it doesn’t compute that it would cost much more to deliver to customers only a few miles away over the Wisconsin border.
The Minnesota PUC decision was in keeping with the June 2014 findings of the state commerce commission and the December ruling of an administrative law judge, which both said that Xcel should reduce its rate increase requests. The PUC also approved the state’s first decoupling program, a structure where the utility does not get more profit the more energy it sells. That program should theoretically alleviate the need for the utility to increase its fixed rates.

As RENEW Wisconsin program and policy director Michael Vickerman and others see in Wisconsin ... the staunchly ideological position of the Public Service Commission, “It’s really the Public Service Commission in Wisconsin that’s driving the rate restructuring change, more-so than the utilities.” Vickerman said, “This commission has rang the dinner bell.”

Walker wants the NSA's mass surveillance program if president, no changes.

Scott Walker said he would only consider running for president if the Senate flipped to Republicans in 2014. And it did! 

That’s because guys like Walker can’t function without one party rule. One party passage of his one-sided agenda makes him look like an effective leader. But also under his leadership, Walker took the long term approach of crushing the opposition for years to come, using such tactics as his recall petition "blacklist" to character assassinate his targets.

Eyeing the presidency, Walker knows he’ll need every resource to not just hold power, but lessen the threat of dissent nationally that could change the balance of power in congress.

That’s why he opposes any changes to the NSA’s mass surveillance program:

Governor and likely presidential candidate Scott Walker made clear that he does not support a House bill that bans the National Security Agency's mass surveillance program, suggesting the measure goes too far in limiting the government's ability to monitor phone records.

"I think there needs to be the capacity, if we have in America enemy combatants, or people in line with enemy combatants, we need to be able to gain access to information that would help assist us … Congressman Sensenbrenner, I think, is trying to create some sort of balance to make sure the Patriot Act doesn't run out."
It's a comment like that that even scares members of his own party, like Sensenbrenner, who helped write the USA Freedom Act.
"I was absolutely surprised" to hear of the governor's position, Sensenbrenner said ...  "because all of the Wisconsin Republicans in Congress have voted for it and publicly expressed support for it" … it ends the bulk collection of Americans' call records. Sensenbrenner said that, "where I think the governor was misinformed on the USA Freedom Act, is that it does give the NSA access to the materials they need, but the privacy of Americans is protected because the government is not storing the data." 

Under Sensenbrenner's bill, the government would not collect the data in bulk but could access data from the phone companies with a court order. The measure passed the House on May 13 on a lopsided bipartisan vote. It is backed by the Obama administration.

"Continuing the present program is not the proper balance between privacy and national security," said Sensenbrenner.
Here’s the key reason Walker opposes any changes:
(Sensenbrenner said,) "There is no privacy if the government ends up collecting trillions of phone records made by Americans and storing it for five years."
It's important to remember what Republican, writer and researcher John Dean first saw in Scott Walker, and why he described him this way back in 2012:
Desirous Of Personal Power: As governor, Walker sought to remove civil service jobs, in order to make them political appointments, and thus subject to his control.  Most strikingly, he has sought to undercut the public-employee unions so that he would not have to deal with them, thus increasing his power. He has increased his personal power over some fifteen state agencies, and I suspect that he is just getting started. Walker’s push to get Act 10 passed into law was done in about as authoritarian a fashion as you will ever see, outside of a dictatorship.  

About 25 percent of the population has, in varying degrees, the disposition to follow a double high authoritarian, many blindly or simply because it assuages their fears.  And, of course, these are aggressive followers who can attract others who are unaware of the nature of the person they are electing, thus enabling an authoritarian leader like Walker to gain ever-growing control. Good luck, Wisconsin.