When Supervisor Joe Rice had been talking a big game over the past few years about reducing the size of the County Board, he must have meant reducing the size by getting rid of Supervisors other than himself.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Joseph Rice filed a motion Wednesday in court seeking an injunction to stop the County Board from giving final approval to a redistricting plan that eliminates Rice's North Shore district.
Rice alleges that the board violated the state open meetings law by failing to give adequate notice it would consider a preliminary redistricting plan on April 21.
Rice is seeking an order declaring the supervisors violated the law and fining them $300, as well as forcing the board to start over on redistricting. Rice's district would be split among two others in the plan up for final OK by the board Thursday. – jsonline.com
It basically comes down to this: Rice, absentee Supervisor but also a conservative, has his district split. He throws a fit because he wasn't included in the discussion (not being on the redistricting committee) (not showing up for work on a regular basis) and goes with the lame "they didn't notice a public meeting in enough time!" argument (One that conservatives had no problem with, it should be noted, when they rammed through the legislation to kill collective bargaining. That was OK!) while his pals on right wing talk radio rally their troops to show up at public meetings and call for the Board to be downsized. Just not Rice that is.
Only liberal Supervisors should have their districts combined in Milwaukee County because that's what Charlie Sykes thinks and that would more accurately reflect the wishes of the conservative residents of Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee Counties. Additionally, this would pacify the mostly non-Milwaukee County residents who frequent the comment section of any and every Journal Sentinel posting that has anything to do with redistricting, the size of local government or black kids in the City.
Seriously though, if any legislator who ends up on the wrong side of redistricting is just going to bring the whole mess to courts, why even call for reducing the size of the County Board as Rice has repeatedly done?
From the "no surprise here" department:
A review of major studies on school voucher programs concludes that vouchers have not strongly affected student achievement and that the rhetoric used to support vouchers has shifted over the past 10 years, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center for Education Progress.
"The major finding across all the studies was that there was no clear academic benefit for voucher users," said Alexandra Usher, a research assistant for the nonprofit and independent center in Washington, D.C.
The national review examines 27 major studies on voucher programs since 2000 from a variety of cities, including Milwaukee. - jsonline.com
Voucher proponents may use the "academic benefits!" argument, but the real reason is so that people who don't want to have to pay to send their kids to a private or religious school can have taxpayers pick up the tab instead.
Ironically, a lot of supporters of the voucher system are self proclaimed "free market" believers. Without the support of taxpayers and vouchers many of the schools wouldn't survive in the free market.
Another good example of just how out of touch the Republicans are when it comes to taxes in America. Their argument of, "Just remember, we don't have a revenue problem in the United States! If we don't lower the oppressive corporate tax rate so companies like Google aren't overburdened, they'll move overseas. And jobs! So let's cut Medicare." doesn't seem to line up with the reality of the situation:
Google Inc. cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.
Google’s income shifting — involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” — helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries. – Bloomberg (Video with pretty graphs is here)
But again, I keep hearing that we don't have a revenue problem and corporations like Google are taxed way too much. That's the conventional wisdom and it would take a lot of work by a talking head on TV to challenge it.
It's hard to say that corporations are overtaxed when they're not actually, you know, paying taxes.
Today is me and Jenny's eighth wedding anniversary of our (2nd and real, long story!) marriage. As Jenny reminded me earlier today, every day continues to be an adventure, and there's no better partner than her to experience them all with!
Look at those cute kids!
The first paragraph of this story pretty much says it all:
Wisconsin taxpayers could wind up paying more to keep existing passenger train service from Milwaukee to Chicago than they would have paid to run new high-speed rail service from Milwaukee to Madison, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis of state figures.
The Legislature's budget committee voted 12-2 Tuesday to spend $31.6 million in mostly borrowed state money on Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line, costs that could have been paid largely by an $810 million federal grant that would have extended the Hiawatha to Madison.
But Tuesday's vote doesn't cover all the spending that will be needed to keep running the Hiawatha, a growing service that carried nearly 800,000 passengers last year.
And, like the spending approved Tuesday, all or most of those new costs would have been covered by the federal grant spurned by Gov. Scott Walker last year. That's because the Milwaukee-to-Madison service would have operated as an extension of the Hiawatha, as part of a larger plan to connect Chicago to the Twin Cities and other Midwestern destinations with fast, frequent trains. – jsonline.com
To sum up: Wisconsin taxpayers are now going to pay more for the Chicago to Milwaukee line than we would have if we'd taken the federal money to pay for a complete overhaul of the Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison line. Why? Because Gov. Walker "spurned" the federal money – which we were due and other states quickly lined up to accept.
Any time you hear Republicans talk about how they're looking out for taxpayers, this single instance should serve to prove without a doubt that they're full of it. Ideology (anti mass transit in this case) always trumps common sense and any benefit to the average taxpayer. They talk a big game when it comes to looking out for taxpayers, but if that were the case, the obvious benefit to taxpayers (even with operating expenses!) would have been to accept the federal money for high speed rail.
But Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling called it a "boondoggle" and said "Choo-choo!!!!!@#!". Since they're the official media arm of the GOP in Wisconsin, that became all the reason Republicans would need to vote against it. What the perpetually outraged & responsibility free hosts on right wing talk radio say goes. Forget research, common sense or the facts say. Saying boondoggle(!) is all it takes.
Road builders lined the pockets of Republicans in recent elections. Their payoff is now coming as we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on rebuilding roads between Nowhere WI and Middle of Nowhere WI while completely screwing over high speed mass transit between the largest population centers in the State and the region.
Right wing radio talk show hosts and wealthy road builders are the real people in charge of public policy in Wisconsin right now, and it shows with situations like this where the average taxpayer will end up paying more as a result.
I've been a bit busy over the past few weeks with the "Run for the Parks" and political blogging has taken a back seat for a while. It's going to be a fun event tonight even with the heat and I'm really really excited. A lot of people have put a ton of work into the run and it's exciting to watch it all come together.
There are still a few hours to register for the run, otherwise stop by to watch and enjoy the weekly free "Chill on the Hill" concert afterwards!
I was on WMTJ's "The Morning Blend" morning show yesterday to talk about the "Run for the Parks" 5k run / 2k walk next Tuesday at Humboldt Park (Register here!). The video is online now if you watch it on their site by clicking the image below.
Last Friday afternoon the Wisconsin GOP announced it's plan for redistricting the State's legislative districts. The catches – naturally – all of the changes benefit Republicans and they'll be rammed through before the recall elections are done!
This is what passes for governance in the modern Republican Party: Ignore everyone, ram through whatever you want with no regard for precedent or the law, ignore everyone, screw over those who disagree and then claim you were simply "doing what you were elected to do" as cover.
Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) would see her 8th Senate District become far more Republican.
Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie), who is facing a recall election, would be drawn out of the 22nd District he has long represented.
Democrats said two Democrats challenging Republican senators in recall elections – Rep. Fred Clark of Baraboo and former Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum – were drawn out of the districts they are seeking, Nusbaum by a single city block.
Obviously coincidence that every single change was meant to reinforce Republicans and put Democrats at a massive disadvantage.
And if you don't think they're ramming through these changes, ask why they're taking the unprecedented step of drawing up legislative boundaries before local municipalities have even finished the initial step (when you play by the rules at least) of drawing up their own ward lines?
The result will be districts which span ward lines, which is unheard of, causing more confusion and higher elected costs. But when it's long term power and control on the line, the GOP is more than willing to ditch those "principles" of efficiency, local control and smaller government.
It's a blatant power grab and it's shameful. If the shoe were on the other foot, the outrage from the right and their sycophants on right wing talk radio would be massive and non-stop. As it is, it benefits the party they and the media companies they work for support, so it's no big deal.
So they choose instead to focus on places like Milwaukee County and continue to harp about it's "over sized" Board of Supervisors and demand they cut their own numbers. Never mind Milwaukee has one of the smallest County Boards in the State, or conservative Counties that neighbor us have significantly larger Boards. It's not about anything other than trying to kill off the opposition in Wisconsin.
Ramming through this redistricting plan is an important first step in that direction.
I was lucky enough to catch every game of the Reds series this past week and what a great series it was as the Brewers won 3 out of 4 games against them to remain in first place in our division heading into the all star break.
The game on Sunday that included a dramatic walk off victory really capped the first half of the season for me. You can read a bit about that game here and watch some video of the win and the run by Nyjer Morgan that tied the game which is equally enjoyable to watch. It's also a great example of why he is quickly becoming a fan favorite here in Milwaukee and on a team full of exciting players to watch, one of the most exciting to wear a Brewers uniform in some time.
It's going to be an awfully fun second half to watch. The Brewers are obviously in contention and I believe one or two players away from going deep into the playoffs.
For example, we'll need to address the unfortunate year that Casey McGhee is having at 3rd base at some point soon if we're going to stay in contention. You just can't stick with a guy at 3rd base who's batting in the .220's and fielding in the .930's. Yes, he's had a couple of nice pinch hits but we championships are won with consistency, not charity.
Regardless, it's going to be a great second half of the season and one that a lot of Brewers fans are looking forward to!
Good to see Milwaukee County Supervisors continuing to push to end the discrimination against County employees in domestic partnerships. From the press release issued by several Supervisors this morning:
This morning, a broad coalition of Milwaukee County Supervisors, joined by representatives from Aurora Health Care and other public, private and religious groups, formally introduced a resolution to offer health benefits to domestic partners of County employees.
“This is a pro-business move, and we’re taking a page out of the book of some of the largest private-sector employers in Milwaukee. They use this tool to recruit the most talented employees in the marketplace,” Supervisor Dimitrijevic said. “The time has come, and the time to act is now.”
Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Eyon Biddle, Sr., Gerry Broderick, Peggy A. Romo West, Jason Haas, Nikiya Q. Harris, and John F. Weishan, Jr., attended the news conference and thanked County Executive Chris Abele for supporting this change.
Having nearly half the County Board signing on as co-sponsors is a good sign that this legislation will move forward. There are still a few Supervisors who have indicated they won't support the equal rights of those in domestic partnerships, hopefully they see the light soon and vote in favor of supporting this legislation.