Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.
Is the only law that's going to call Wisconsin's riches resident on his malfeasances Milwaukee Magazine's "Murphy's Law"?
If you don't already subscribe to South Milwaukee City Clerk Jim Shelenske's SM eVents newsletter you might want to. Shelenske has been publishing this newsletter about all things South Milwaukee for the past couple of years. He'll deliver it right to your email inbox as a pdf attachment. To subscribe, send Jim an email at email@example.com. He also maintains a website at www.southmilwaukee.org. Check it out!
Hot on the heels of the very generous corporate-friendly lawsuit-limitations legislation that flew through Wisconsin's now-Republican-controlled Legislature last month and was even more quickly signed by the new GOP governor, the state's new Republican triumvirate has enacted another law that gives tax breaks to companies that "create" jobs in Wisconsin. This law gives companies thousands of dollars in tax deductions for each job they create.
Aside from why avowed small-government/free-market advocates would get their pro-small government involved in private-enterprise matters such as this, I wondered what kinds of safe guards this law might contain that would prevent some enterprising company or companies from engaging in a grab-the-tax-breaks-and-run scheme. So, when I learned that this bill was whip-lashing through the Legislature, I contacted our new state senator, Chris Larson, to ask that he try to protect Wisconsin taxpayers who are going to get stuck with the bill for these tax breaks by inserting some taxpayer safe guards into the bill. Some of the conditions I had hoped the law would contain are:
People who are called conservatives these days say they want smaller government and for government to keep its nose out of people's lives.
Yet, one of the first laws the newly elected "small government" Republican triumvirate of both houses of the Legislature and the governor enacted is a huge poke of the government's nose into Wisconsinites' lives. This law restricts individuals' rights to sue, and limits the amount of damages juries can award people who have been harmed. The law not only raises the bar on lawsuit eligibility, it caps punitive damages at $200,000 or double the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater, and keeps noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases involving nursing homes from exceeding $750,000. It further prohibits nursing home-abuse reports to be used as evidence in civil and in criminal cases!
E. W. Luther 4th grader's Invention Convention invention: Cover Clamps. (Sleep Tight, No Cover Fights) Good job, kid, and all of Mrs. Kloc's students who invented great inventions.
Most news reports of Saturday's rally in Madison put the number of Gov. Walker's anti-labor bill protesters at several times (one said possibly as much as 10 times) greater than tea party/Walker supporters.
Some people I know who attended the rally that day said they saw few Walker supporters compared to pro-union demonstrators. Milwaukee public radio said a small group of anti-demonstrator demonstrators (translation: pro-Walkerites) chanting slogans was surrounded by a large circle of pro-union demonstators that was 10 people deep.
But you would never have known that from Milwaukee's Sunday newspaper coverage. Anyone looking at our local paper would have been led to believe that it was pretty much of a draw, a stand off between evenly matched sides.
In fact, the inch-tall banner headline on Page 1 called it just that: "STANDOFF ON SQUARE." Two photographs of equal size were lined up side-by-side beneath that headline. One shows Walker supporters, the other union supporters. At first glance, the crowds look to be about the same size. But they weren't. The pro-Walker photo is a closer shot than the pro-union picture, so the people appear larger and more individual, and so the group might look larger than it really is. Also signs obscure the back edge of the group, so it isn't possible to see how far back it goes.
The Page 1 story continues on Page 20 where a large photograph at the top depicts a line of police officers facing a group of Walker supporters who hold professionally made signs. On the other side of the officers is a lone union supporter holding a handmade sign.
In a smaller photo beneath that picture is a woman standing alone with a handmade sign that says, "Silent Vigil for Workers' Rights."
In other words, the photos show what looks like many Walker supporters, but only two union supporters who are seen separately in different pictures.
That makes an impression, however subliminally, that Walker supporters outnumbered union supporters and that they were more well organized because of the quality of their signs. The rest of Page 20 is all text, except for a small street map of Madison's Capitol Square.
The page facing Page 20 is a full photo spread. No text, just pictures with captions. The two largest pictures and another smaller one, dominate the center of the page and are unmistakably of Walker supporters. Huge signs say, "Support Walker," "Thank you God for Scott" (their incorrect punctuation, not mine), "Vote for Freedom, sponsored by: Mayville T.E.A. Party" and "I Stand with Walker and Wynn" (whoever that is). The caption says a sign holder at the edge of the smaller photo is a union supporter, but the sign is partially obscured. Two small photos at the top and bottom of the page appear to be neutral, although a caption says one is of pro-union demonstrators. The only photo with easily and clearly identifiable union supporters is the smallest at the very bottom of the page.
Aside from a Page 1 subhead mentioning the "larger union crowd," little is said until the jump on Page 20 about crowd sizes or the lopsidedness of the huge pro-union crowd compared to the 1,000-to-4,000 tea party/Walkerite estimates in other news reports. In the second column near the bottom of Page 20 is a single sentence that says, "The number of protesters opposed to Walker's bill, however, outnumbered by far the groups representing tea party organizations and other groups backing the governor."
The Walker-supporters picture on Page 1 includes five readable pro-Walker signs--all but one professionally made--and a billowing American flag in the background. In the pro-union photo, one and part of another sign are visible, both handmade. No flags in sight. Again, subliminal impressions.
So were there no flags among the pro-union demonstrators? Well, there sure were when I was there on Friday, all over the place, large and small, and hard to miss by anyone taking pictures or not. And contrary to the dominance of handmade pro-union signs in the photos Milwaukee editors selected to publish in their paper, most of the union-supporter signs I saw on Friday were professionally made.
The Milwaukee paper did report that pro-union rallies had been going on at the capitol all week, so perhaps its editors thought the news was that the tea party had finally shown up. But after large crowds of tea partiers overflowing and disrupting town halls across the country during the 2009 summer of healthcare reform, and turning out in numbers large enough to determine many 2010 mid-term elections, it seems to me that the real news on Saturday was the pitifully weak tea party and Walker supporter turnout in Madison.
As a former newspaper journalist, I think the news media have a responsibility to the public to be truly objective and not misrepresent the reality of an event or go overboard in trying to "balance" something that isn't balanced at all.
Rachel Maddow ties Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to disgraced defense contractor Wackenhut, caught in a disgusting scandal on the job in Kabul, Afghanistan, and his attempts to contract out courthouse security guard duty, and the waste of nearly $500,000 in taxpayer money in the process. Here's a link to Maddow's clip. (Sorry for the brief ad that proceeds it.)
I keep hearing that Wisconsin Gov. Walker's agenda with his "budget recovery" bill isn't about money, it's about power. That might be, but if this article, "The Kock Brothers' End Game in Wisconsin http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/21/947947/-The-Koch-Brothers-End-Game-in-Wisconsin, is correct (despite the snarky rhetoric), Wisconsinites could have a whole lot more to worry about than public service workers losing bargaining rights and nonpublic-sector residents thinking public employees are getting a free ride.
It might be a good idea for everyone, not just Walker's political foes/critics/watchdogs, to keep an eye on Walker's moves to sell off state utilities, plants and other assets.
Could it be that this is what the real power play is all about, the supposedly "conservative" Gov. Scott Walker very liberally turning over Wisconsin's assets to someone who absolutely does not have us and our state's best interest in mind?
Here's the section of Walker's "budget repair" bill that would enable him to do that:
State of Wisconsin
SENATE BILL 11
Google Quick View of PDF:
Bottom of Page 23:
SECTION 44. 16.896 of the statutes is created to read:
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the
department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may
contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without
solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best
interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or
certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to
purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is
considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification
of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).