Scott Walker, post-recall: Wisconsin is heading in the right direction.

Scott Walker delivered his second (and, if all goes well, final) State of the State address last night.  I was asked to respond in the Citizen editorial forum at the Isthmus.  That post appears here.

Photo: Jenna Pope
The version they published is slightly different than the one I actually sent Walker, which is pasted below:

25 Jan 2012

I wasn’t expecting much from your State of the State address tonight, and you didn’t disappoint.
I expected the same old lies, and you delivered: Our schools are broken (never mind that we were at the top of the pack in more categories than we can count before you took office). Our teachers are inept, undeserving moochers who need to be penalized instead of protected - but hey, I couldn’t respect them more! - as evidenced by the same story you always tell (and told again tonight) about the one alleged award-winning young teacher who got laid off because she didn’t have seniority. And every problem that exists in our schools can be solved by your bizarre pet project about fourth grade reading. We’ve heard it all before and we heard it again tonight. 

I expected you to ignore the recall, and you did. I expected you to conveniently fail to mention your promise to create 250,000 jobs, and you did. I expected you to employ your usual shameful strategy of passing off your cuts to health care and education as “reforms” and dare to imply that these devastating cuts actually help local economies and Wisconsin families. You did. I expected you to use a few lame examples of people who saved a few bucks on property taxes as evidence for why all the union busting was “worth it” and you did (and really? One anecdote about one woman who saved a hundred bucks was the best you can do? Ours went way up, as I mentioned before. Guess you didn’t get my message). 

I expected you to pretend that the people support you, that you created jobs, that you balanced the budget. You did, you did, you did. Never mind that a million of us just stood outside in the freezing cold to sign a petition to recall you. Never mind that Wisconsin has lost jobs steadily under your administration, and never mind that Wisconsin has lost jobs every single month for the last six months since your budget went into effect. Never mind that you just last week – in an attempt to cut even more Wisconsin families off from much-needed healthcare benefits – told the federal government that we’re operating on a major deficit, and not a balanced budget, so that you could turn down federal health care funds. Those “facts” weren’t convenient tonight, and didn’t make the cut, as facts tend not to do in your speeches. I’m getting used to this.  Since you seem to be banking (literally) on the “tell a lie often enough people will start believing it” strategy of governance and perpetual campaigning/fundraising, I expected nothing less.

But I got a little more.  There were a few things I did not expect tonight, too.

I was expecting you to try to sugarcoat the pay-to-play mining legislation that’s being raced through the Assembly as a pro-jobs, environmentally friendly proposal. It’s the hot-button issue of the moment, and I knew you’d have to mention it. But I didn’t expect you to sink as low as you did in trying to defend it.  Anyone who’s been paying even the tiniest bit of attention to the facts in this case knows exactly what this legislation is: a political game in which the exchange of money buys political favor from wealthy benefactors and the people of Wisconsin suffer.  At the public hearings for this bill, at which Republican legislators shamefully ignored and openly disrespected constituents (as seems to be the new norm in Wisconsin politics during your administration), the tribal leaders and members of the Anashinaabe nation waited 9 hours to be allowed to speak, one after another, in opposition to this legislation, which violates not just our pristine environment, but local traditions and their sovereign rights. They were ignored.  To add insult to this injury, you had the nerve, in the lowest point in your speech tonight, to appeal to the “history of our badger state” as a reason to support this legislation. What history are you referring to here? The history of exploiting native Wisconsinites? A history of broken promises? That is not history the good people of Wisconsin care to repeat.  We have an opportunity, in this moment, to protect our environment and respect the people who live where these mines will negatively impact their lives.  Your condescending appeal to “respect” at the close of your speech betrays a hypocrisy that brings shame not just on you, but on this entire state.  I am ashamed to call you governor, and that is why I cannot bring myself to do so when I address you in my letters. You have brought shame to this great state, and you seem hell-bent on continuing to do so until you are deposed.  That day cannot come soon enough.

I expected protest; you get that everywhere you go.  We knew that was coming. Drums of protest were audible as you began, and resounding “boos” from the gallery, despite your best efforts to preclude the public from your talk (the NPR broadcasters said only 12 seats were open to the general public); I counted at least a half dozen audible disruptions of your speech (most notably the shout of “LIAR!” when you claimed, right after disparaging teachers by saying they do not “merit” the pay they currently receive, that you “respect” the people of this state). I expected some dissent. But I didn’t expect four people to get ejected during your speech for shouting out objections to your claims.  

And I didn’t expect you to receive ovations for being booed. I did not expect the force with which the Republican side of the aisle applauded these ejections.  The fact that your divisiveness is one of the things that your supporters seem to love most about your “style” of governance is absolutely baffling to me.  A great leader unites. You only divide. How can you take pride in that? How can anyone applaud it?  I find it shameful. How does this move us forward? Do you really think that by dividing us you can move us ahead?  How can anyone possibly find this admirable? This, to me, is the most puzzling problem of your administration: how you seem to thrive on, take real pride in, “dropping bombs” and bringing out the worst in people.

You asked us tonight “to imagine how much better we can make our government work if we share good ideas and suggestions.”  Well, I’ve been sharing my good ideas and suggestions with you for an entire year and not once did I feel as if we were having, as you claimed tonight, a “conversation.” We are engaged in a deadlock of monologues, and you clearly have no real desire to communicate in any way with constituents who challenge your politics or policies.  Even now that you have (a year into your administration) launched the taxpayer-funded campaign ads that you call “e-updates,” you will not engage with those who have tried hardest to reach out to you over the past year. I don’t expect you to start. I don’t expect Wisconsin politics to return to an equilibrium of respect and decorum until you are out of office.

I wasn’t expecting to agree with you at all tonight. I was expecting, in fact, to disagree with everything you said.  But when it comes right down to it, I have to admit that I couldn’t agree more with the central point of your address: Wisconsin is heading in the right direction. Having spoken loudly and definitively in producing, over the course of only 60 days, over 1,000,000 signatures to see you removed from office, the people of Wisconsin have launched an effort that will not be stopped. And I think you said it best yourself: “Now is the time for action.  Now is the time to get our state working again.  Now is the time to move Wisconsin forward.”  I could not agree more. And there is only one way to move  Wisconsin forward: by seeing you recalled.

Until then,
Heather DuBois Bourenane
Sun Prairie

Recalloholics Anonymous: A 12-Step Guide to Recovering Our Achievements

My name is Wisconsin, and I am a Recalloholic.

It's been 3 days since I turned in my last 1.9 million petitions.

I am a Wisconsin recall volunteer.  I have been active in the movement to take back our state from the first days of the protests against Scott Walker's betrayal of the people and I gave all I could during the recall effort to help in my community.  It was exhausting.  And I knew I might have some withdrawals, but I didn't realize how soon it would set in. The first couple of days were a blur of euphoria and pride: WE DID IT!  WE RECALLED SCOTT WALKER AND REBECCA KLEEFISCH!  We have made history.  We were all a part of that!  I was a part of that.  My name is inked forever into that moment and my signature has joined over a million others that we turned into the GAB on Tuesday.  We did it! We really did it!  WE RECALLED SCOTT WALKER! And REBECCA KLEEFISCH! And SCOTT FITZGERALD! And VAN WANGGAARD! And TERRY MOULTON! And PAM GALLOWAY! WE DID IT!

So.  Now what?  My clipboard is already getting dusty. My lanyard looks so lonely. What do we do now?

There's a ton of work to be done. We know that. We have to select a candidate, register voters, educate people about the new Voter ID law, get seniors and disabled people to the DMV to get their anti-disenfranchisement cards, elect a new governor.  We have to pay attention to all the big-money legislation that is being crammed through right now in the Capitol before balance can be restored. We have to be ready to fight each of these things. But that work cannot be done in a day. We can only make plans, get started, remain vigilant and involved. 

But today I am taking a few minutes away from that work to count my blessings, and think of the things that we have achieved in the last eleven months to help me get over my recall addiction. 

Recalloholics Anonymous: 
12 Steps to Recovering By Realizing What We Have Achieved:
  1. We have shown the whole world now knows what democracy looks like (and sounds like).  We have given the rest of the country the proof they need to know that when the people stand together and fight back, they do have a chance against the corporate elite trying to buy our government. Democracy means our voices count - and our voices have been heard around the world.
  2. We have built solidarity friendships that will strengthen our communities for years to come.  For every grievance we share, we’ve found a reason to connect. And it’s a beautiful thing.
  3. Scott Walker’s resume now says “future former Governor of Wisconsin” (right above “Education: N/A”).
  4. We have learned how to organize, how to act fast, and how to get things done. Even bagpipes now set off our protest reflex.
  5. We've changed the discourse. Wisconsin is now a symbol of resistance and citizen action. Even my 5-year-old says “Look! Blue fist!” every time she sees anything in the shape of Wisconsin.
  6. We've changed the way we see our state, and our role in it. The people's house is OUR house, and people who had never before entered its doors now call it home. Added bonus: macaroni and cheese pizza is now an official part of every Capitol outing. Thanks, Ian’s!
  7. In our occupation of our own future, we sparked a national movement. And people now have irrefutable proof that every vote counts, every voice matters and everyone can make a difference. From Madison to Wall Street, grassroots action works.
  8. We finally know all the words to “Solidarity Forever.” [1]
  9. We woke up a generation. Kids across Wisconsin think Walker’s first name is “Recall.”
  10. We brought attention to the importance of staying alert and the need for citizen watchdogs. We will not make the same mistake again of sleeping through an election, or not paying attention to what's going on in the Capitol. We are awake, and we won't be sleeping again soon.
  11. We're braver now, and stronger.  We learned that we don't back down, and that knowledge will get us through the next hard phase of making this world a better place.
  12. We are changing the future. If 2011 was the year of the protester, 2012 will be the year of citizen action. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we can’t wait to get started!  
Wisconsin, We Did It!  video by Nicole Desautels Schulte

[1] Debatable benefit.

Recalling the last 60 days...reflections from Ryan Wherley

Recalling Walker...
the Proudest 59 Days of My Life
by Ryan Wherley

Ryan posted this reflection as a facebook note. Republished here with his permission.

I just returned from the Dane County West Recall Office in Madison after submitting the last of my signatures. Although my door-to-door canvassing yielded no additional tallies this evening, I tried my hand at phonebanking and collected my final two signatures by contacting a friendly couple  and driving with petitions in hand to meet them at their house. After weeks of nice weather, the icy roads and plunging temperatures were a shock to my system.  Nevertheless, meeting and speaking with so many politically engaged indivduals made my final night a satisfying one.  Although I collected far fewer signatures than what I had initially hoped to gather, my final total submitted was 138 signatures to RECALL WALKER AND KLEEFISCH!!

This has been an exhilarating experience from start to finish, full of memories that will stay with me forever.  Taking off the Recall Walker Volunteer lanyard for the final time turned out to be suprisingly bittersweet for me, after expending so much time and energy devoted to the cause.  Thank you to all of my friends and family from around the country (and some in foreign lands) who have expressed their love, encouragement and support for what I've been doing over the past 59 days.  That positive response has kept me going, whether I've known you my entire life, only met you through Facebook groups or merely received a Democra-beep as you drove on by.  A big shout out to Erin Warner for helping me collect 20 sigs outside of the Willy St. Co-op on a cold November night, and to Rose Sime and the Middleton Action Team for providing me with locations to canvass during the final push, after my avenues had been exhausted and my signature tally had ground to a screeching halt.

 I am freakin' pumped for next Tuesday, when the Committee to Recall Walker turns in their vast quantity of petitions to the Government Accountability Board, officially triggering the RECALL OF SCOTT WALKER!! My guess is that we have over 750,000 signatures, but regardless, I am extraordinarily proud of my fellow Badgers...let's hope for a huge number on that historic day!  Finally, I can sit back and wait for all of the inevitable legal challenges to run their course.  But no matter how many attempts the Republicans make to slow this freight train down (and we all know how much Scotty LOVES trains) the movement is not going away...we're only gaining momentum.

An election campaign is imminent (only question is who will rise up to defeat our tyrant?) and Walker's days as Governor of Wisconsin are winding down.  I look forward to the next phase of this battle, and all of the challenges and excitement it will provide.  For the moment, I need to rest...after all, there's a big ass celebration to attend at the Monona Terrace on Tuesday evening!  Solidarity Wisconsin...FORWARD!!!

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Things We Do for Free: An Open Letter to Russ Feingold

Sat. 14 January 2012
Dear Russ,

Today is the 60th and final day of signature collection in the effort to recall Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch. This day marks a milestone in a historic victory for all of us, and for me personally in a huge way. I'm a United Wisconsin coordinator for Dane County and a grassroots organizer for the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC), a local progressive group. And I just finished the hardest political work I've ever done or thought I'd do. Yesterday was the final day of signature collection here in Sun Prairie and our office processed exactly 7,900 signatures to recall Scott Walker and just a handful fewer than that to recall Rebecca Kleefisch. We also collected enough signatures from District 13 residents eligible to sign the petition to recall Senator Scott Fitzgerald to make a difference in that effort as well.  There were many more petitions from Sun Prairie turned in in Madison, but that's how many we processed in our office. On Tuesday, I'll be representing our team and our part of Dane County when I help carry the petitions to the GAB with recall coordinators from around the state.  I couldn't be more proud of the work we've done, or hold more dear the friendships and connections that this recall has generated. The grassroots networks that were just thin webs before are now sturdy and lasting bonds that permanently and intimately connect individuals, groups, communities and all of the progressive minded people of Wisconsin.  With our awakening, we have united, and we take our call to action seriously.  In our town, and across the state, people who were never involved in politics at all are standing together to fight to move forward.  And we know now that it's a fight we can't lose.

One of Scott Walker's most insulting lies about our efforts has been that recall workers were being paid to collect signatures. Obviously, this is a joke of the lamest order and more of his usual attempt to paint the largest grassroots movement America has seen in decades as a "big money" effort by the "union bosses." A joke he actually had the nerve to make, most recently, while fundraising (as usual) for big money out of state for his own campaign, and in the face of his connections to campaign fraud allegations in both a federal John Doe investigation and over 1000 violations of campaign finance law in his own fundraising.

But however Walker tries to spin the recall as an "outside" effort, the truth is, it could not be more grassroots, or more progressive, or more about the power and necessity of citizen action.  In our own office, volunteers funded everything - their donations paid for yard signs, office rent, copy paper, hand warmers, office supplies, flashlights, recall signs, advertisements for our recall events...all of this came out of our own pockets. If the phantom "union bosses" we've heard so much about were supposed to be picking up the tab for this, they can send the check to me any time and I'll go about distributing the reimbursements.

But if the people who paid for this recall can't really afford it, they can afford even less to live three more years under a governor who talks constantly about tools and jobs but only has time (and money) for his corporate sponsors.  That is price none of us are willing to pay, and we expect nothing but justice in return for fighting against it. As one recall worker, Heather Bott, said:
You couldn't pay me enough to stand out there in the cold rain waiting for the next signer. If I were doing this for money, I would have packed it in when it got cold. My fingers hurt as they were warming up yesterday, my daughter gently rubbing them back to body temperature. And would that be minimum wage?? Double that? A hundred an hour? No, the biggest wage is the knowledge I have that I did not remain warm, that I did not remain silent, that I did not remain anonymous or hidden. And no amount of money could compensate me for the guilt I would have if I did nothing in the face of the evil that has come to this state.
We have been out there for the past 60 days working, for free, because we share a common goal for the common good. Because we know that if we don't win this round, we've got three more years of being kicked to the ground. Three more years for Walker and the corporate writers of anti-education legislation to continue their war on public ed. Three more years of families getting kicked off the BadgerCare that keeps their kids up to date on their shots, ensures medicine for those who need it. Three more years of watching our resources being sold out to corporate interests as Walker tries to privatize every last enterprise of State affairs. Three more years of Gaylord Nelson rolling in his grave over the shocking attacks on our environment.

But I'm not going to let that happen. I have worked as hard as my busy life would allow, and did it for free.  I stood with my brothers and sisters in the Capitol for free. I marched with my kids in the snow for free. I wrote letter after letter to Scott Walker for free. I spoke out publicly against his attempts to destroy public education for free. I volunteered my time as a United Wisconsin coordinator for free. I circulated petitions for free. I give up time I would rather be spending with my family because I know I couldn't look them in the eye if I didn't fight as hard as I could to see Walker recalled. And I apologized to them for not having spent more time in 2010 working on your campaign. It's a mistake I will not make in the future.  It's a mistake I tried to rectify by doing my part to see Walker recalled.

But as monumental as this victory is, it's just Phase 1. Getting signatures was the easy part. The hard part is getting you elected. We all know Walker has not wasted a single moment of the recall period; he's been taking in massive funds from around the country in unprecedented amounts. Big Money America would like nothing more than to buy him an extended stay in our mansion.  We can't match that money.   But we can work. 

I'm ready to knock on doors. I'm ready to make calls. I'm ready to work in the office, ready to do whatever it takes.  If you think we worked hard to recall Walker, you can just multiply that by infinity to see how hard we'd work for you.  Because the recall means nothing if we don't win the election.  And to so many of us, true "victory" means Governor Russ Feingold.

Don't get me wrong. We've got some other candidates, good and honest people who could win. And let's face it, some of them are obviously more interested than you are in running right now. I'm not trying to dismiss them. I would vote for any of them.

But I want to vote for you. And, more importantly, I want to work for you.

Wisconsin needs you. And not in a rhetorical, only-you-can-save-us kind of way. Not just because we like you best, or know you best. Not just because we think you're the most "electable" among our choices. But because you're the best person for the job. We need you, Russ Feingold, because you have a singular trait that no other candidate in any other state has, and our loss in the Senate would be our gain in the Capitol if we could get you back: because you get it. You get that this is not about politics as usual. You understand what's at stake here. And the work of Progressives United - the work you have done as a Senator in your service for so many years - all proves that you have the antidote to Walker's anti-democratic, corporate-run vision of governance.  You have earned our trust and our respect for all the right reasons, and we know you won't let us down. 

I have been told that you aren't interested in running. I have read interviews where you said you didn't want to run "this year." I've been told that calling for you to run is just a distraction from the job of finding a "viable" candidate. But the people who are telling me that are the same people who said recalling Scott Fitzgerald was a pipe dream not worth investing in.  And when you said you didn't want to run "this year" was 2011.  Now it's 2012. By now you might want to run very much!  I understand it might be a long shot, but the grassroots workers of Wisconsin live for long shots. And I'm not going to be counted among those who gave up before they tried. And I'm certainly not giving up on you. So I'm putting this out there and hoping you'll consider.  Knowing where you stand in your support for the future of Wisconsin does not weaken our efforts; it strengthens our resolve to move forward.

Russ, you have proven to us through your years of commitment and service to the people of Wisconsin that you have the integrity, principle, vision and fearlessness needed to enact real change.  And now, on this 60th and final day of the recall effort, we hope we've proven to you that we have the commitment and power to make your vision a reality.  We can do it.

Grassroots action works. And we are ready to work for you.  

Please run for Governor. 

In solidarity,

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Sun Prairie

The Republican Case Against Walker by Dee Ives

Dee Ives posted the following note on facebook on 9 Jan. 2012. Reposted here with permission.

I Recall by 

WI Progressive Naught TEA Republicans

I was born the same year that Collective Bargaining became Law in WI, became a Veteran serving under both Carter & Reagan, and I still remember when being a Reagan Republican was cool not for the policies he enacted, but for the sense of Patriotism and the sense of American Destiny he envoked. I remember President Reagan raising taxes on everyone (including Corporations) 12 times while in office, that is why I will help recall TEA Party Walker who cannot comprehend there was more to this Presidency than just busting the Air Traffic Controllers Union for an illegal strike.Paying taxes to provide government services is also required to be a burden shared by Corporations and millionaires if you are really a patriotic American! The Sacrifice is shared, not just placed on working families while giving millions in Corporate tax breaks.

I remember when being a Republican, the party born in Ripon WI, the party of Lincoln meant that Labor of the average citizen was of more value than the tricks of Lincoln put it best, "Any man who tells you he loves America, but hates Labor is a liar; Any man who tells you he trusts America yet fears Labor is a Fool!". When the Grand Old Party stood with family farmers and small business owners after "Fighting Bob" LaFollette beat the robber barons that our Grandparents told us with pride. Gov Walker and his TEA Party are not Republicans, they passed Act 10 to strip workers of our bargaining rights simply for political gain, and violating the open meetings law WI has enacted to protect our citizens from these new Political Robber Barons the Koch Brothers and their ALEC friends have bought...that is why we real WI Republicans will recall them. As a Union Veteran, like so many others, we used our educational benefits to obtain jobs serving our communities and protect our fellow citizens as Firefighters, police, Nurses & Teachers only to have the TEA Party call us "Union Thugs". We veterans swore to defend our Flag and the Constitution it represents against ALL enemies, both Foriegn & Domestic, and any politician who violates the Constitutional Right of Free Speech and to join a trades union like the TEA Party has under Gov Walker's direction is an enemy of WI Democracy,as much a dictatoras Hitler or Hussien, that is why we will recall him.Voter ID threatens to disenfranchise our elderly veterans from the very right to vote this year, the right to participate in the Democracy they served to protect, that is why we will recall Walker to regain our heroes'  voices .

I remember when the Democrats and Republicans under Gov Tommy Thompson were able to enact BadgerCare for our WI citizens, a program that Romney & Obama copied, but added the mandates to, now the TEA Party attacks Tommy as a Liberal as they threaten to underfund the healthcare program we all support...another reason we will recall him. But, the idea that it was okay to hire theives in Milwaukee County to positions where they embezzled charity funds from Operation Freedom, some of which were used to pay for Walker websites when running for Governor is the most compelling reason of all to recall this Governor as NO REPUBLICAN would ever think it ok to steal from our vets!

Walker's "revised" update: less math, more lies?

7 January 2012
Dear Scott Walker,

Thanks for taking my advice!  I see that you did, indeed, send a revised "E-Update" [below] to (some of) your constituents yesterday!  Not entirely sure why I didn't receive this update at the email address to which you sent the last one, but I hope that I remain on your mailing list.  If it is your policy to remove concerned constituents from this list, I fear we have a serious problem.  And if it is your policy to send different "versions" of your updates to different "lists," I fear we have even more serious problems.

I wanted to clarify, though, that when I recommended you send "a revised or redacted" version of the update, I didn't mean you should send one in which the same errors (or "lies," depending on your perspective), were just slightly more ambiguous and misleading.  In the original email, your figures were so blatantly off that a cursory glance made obvious that you seemed to be just making up the numbers you cited. This revised email is actually worse, as it just provides unverified generalizations that belie the facts of the damage you have done to our state.  Most glaring are the sections on job creation and property taxes. Property taxes are up significantly even as property values decrease all over the state, and your bad math on this issue has been repeatedly exposed over the past year, with experts assessing that the average Wisconsinite will continue to see property taxes increase over the next two years.  Wisconsin now leads the nation in job loss and lack of economic growth, as the chart below makes glaringly obvious. As the rest of the nation begins to see real economic growth under collaboration with President Obama's job plan, Wisconsin stands out like a sore thumb and continues to suffer under your all-tax-cuts, no-jobs, nothing-to-negotiate policy:

I am also concerned, since it's obvious that you have launched your recall campaign full force, that these "updates" consitute a very thinly veiled attempt to use taxpayer funds to distribute campaign propaganda. Since it took a full year of being in office to start considering it "one of [your] most important provide [us] directly with updates" and this timing just happens to coincide with your recall campaign, I suspect a misuse of your office that violates campaign laws.  I hope that you will take seriously your responsibility in providing accurate information in the future and not use taxpayer funds to campaign for reelection through "free advertising" in the form of electronic "updates" that simply repeat worn talking points from your campaign ads.

I am also concerned that, having changed the law this year to allow the State to file in a district of your choosing, you now plan to misappropriate the funds you have raised during the recall period.  The letter of the law [SS 11.26 (13)(m)] is very clear on this issue: the whole reason you're allowed this period of unlimited fundraising is to finance the legal fees associated with the costs of signature verification for the recall petitions, which the recall Statutes make clear is the burden of the incumbent.   Given the Waukesha judge's ruling this week, this burden would be shifted to the taxpayer.  I trust that you intend to offer the funds you have raised for this purpose since November to the GAB, since you are so clearly concerned with not imposing unnecessary expenses on the taxpayers of Wisconsin.  I am also concerned that your decision to "change the rules midstream," as has been succinctly critiqued by law professor Edward Fallone, reflects an agenda that has, from the start, been about gaining access to these unlimited funds more than justice.  This would explain why you chose to change the law about where you can file a lawsuit rather than the Statute you found unfair, and also why a Republican false-start on the recall petition filing gave you an extended fundraising period.  Given the continuing John Doe investigation and your history of connections to campaign fraud and embezzlement charges (as evidenced most recently in the felony charges against three of your associates, including your long-time campaign aide and Milwaukee County GOP Treasurer Timothy Russell), I find this lack of transparency extremely troubling. I request that in your next update you disclose what you will do with the "unlimited" funds you've raised since Nov. 5, 2011, which the law demands be used for the purpose of legal challenges you've just claimed you should not be responsible for.  If you accept the judge's ruling, you should offer those funds to the State to be used for their intended purpose.

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Sun Prairie

01/06/12 04:19 PM
E-Update from Governor Walker
E-update from the Desk of Governor Scott Walker

One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government.  In an effort to improve communication, periodically I will be sending out an e-update to provide you with more information about what is going on in state government.  Please feel free to share this update with your family, friends, and others who may be interested in state government operations.

Read for the Future
Making sure Wisconsin students know how to read by the fourth grade is critical to their education and success in the future.  We need to make sure we are not failing them.
There is no skill more important than reading.  Yet, over the past two decades, students in other states have been improving their reading achievement on national measures faster than students in Wisconsin.  The results from the 2011 NAEP reading assessment for 4th grade students show that while Wisconsin once ranked among the very top states in the nation, we now rank somewhere in the middle of the pack.  The literacy skills a child acquires in the early years of life provide the foundation for all later learning, and research has demonstrated that a child who is reading on grade level by the end of third grade is far more likely to graduate from high school than a student who is not.
In an effort to dramatically improve reading outcomes in Wisconsin, I convened the Read to Lead Task Force in the Spring of 2011.  We reviewed the state of reading in Wisconsin and developed a plan for improvement.  The impressive team of teachers, legislators from both political parties, researchers, and advocates worked together to reach a consensus on ways to ensure all of Wisconsin's children learn to read before they reach fourth grade.  Specifically I was happy to partner with State Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers, State Senator Luther Olsen, and Representative Steve Kestell.
The recommendations of the Read to Lead Task Force focus on improvements and changes in teacher preparation and professional development; screening, assessment and intervention; early childhood; accountability; and family involvement.  They include:
  • Implementing early literacy screening for all kindergarteners in Wisconsin to identify and intervene with struggling students as soon as they enter school;
  • Implementing improvements to teacher preparation programs around early reading, including a new, more rigorous exam for reading educators;
  • Requiring that the professional development plans for all new elementary educators explicitly focus on literacy, and require focused professional development educators whose students continually struggle to improve their performance;
  • Providing new, aggressive professional development opportunities to enhance the skills of current reading educators, including a new online professional development portal at and an annual reading conference for elementary principals and district reading specialists; and
  • Creating a new public/private partnership to engage Wisconsin philanthropic groups and businesses around the goal of ensuring every child can read by the end of third grade.  
The Task Force's recommendations also focus on how the state will hold our institutions accountable for improving reading results.  Specifically:
  • Wisconsin's new educator effectiveness system, released in November 2011, will require a portion of every educator's evaluation to be based on growth in statewide reading scores;
  • Wisconsin's new school and district accountability system, still under development, will place additional weight on third grade reading performance to underscore the importance of reading on grade level at that critical year; and
  • Schools and districts underperforming in reading will be required to implement targeted improvements, including a science-based reading program.
I am proud of the work of this non-partisan Task Force.  Working together I believe we have developed an important plan to improve reading in Wisconsin, laying the foundation for our students to excel.

One Year on the Job
Over the course of the first year serving as your Governor I made a number of promises aimed at improving our state.  Unlike many office holders who often make promises that they do not keep, I followed through on a number of important initiatives aimed at reforming government and leaving our kids and grandkids with a state better off than the one we received.  Below is a listing of the major promises I took action on during my first year on the job. 
  • I promised to balance Wisconsin's $3.6 billion budget deficit without increasing taxes or requiring massive public employee layoffs. On June 26th signed into law the 2011-13 budget. This balanced budget makes tough choices while providing a path to recovery and prosperity for our state and our people. Through honest budgeting, we are providing an alternative to the reckless tricks and gimmicks of the past.  Just as any parent would dread leaving their kids in debt, it is the dream of every mother and father to leave their children a little better off, and that's what our budget will do.
  • I promised to call the Legislature into Special Session to pass pro-growth legislation aimed at helping employers create jobs.  Earlier this year I signed legislation into law improving Wisconsin's litigation climate, improving the state's regulatory process, creating the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, creating a tax credit for employers that create jobs, and making health savings accounts tax deductible.  In these challenging economic times while Illinois is raising taxes, we are lowering them.  On my first day in office I called a Special Session of the legislature, not in order to raise taxes, but to open Wisconsin for business.  I am pleased to sign into law bills that provide tax relief to small businesses, create a job-friendly legal environment, lessen the regulations that stifle growth, and expand tax credits for companies that relocate here and grow here.
  • I promised to help the private sector create 250,000 new jobs by 2015.  After 3 years of net private sector job losses totaling 150,000, in the first 11 months of 2011 Wisconsin had a net increase of thousands of new jobs.  Because of the hard work done so far to improve Wisconsin's business climate, employers are willing to grow and invest in our state.  That is good for middle class working families and it is good for Wisconsin.  We are on our way to creating 250,000 jobs by 2015, but there is more work to be done in order to meet and surpass that goal.
  • I promised to pay off the debts and fund raids of the past.  Working with the Legislature we were able to pay off $800 million in unpaid bills, including $235 million to the Patient's Compensation Fund and $58 million owed to the state of Minnesota.  These are huge steps toward restoring confidence in our state's ability to manage its finances.  The era of illegal fund raids, job killing tax increases, one time money being used for ongoing operations, and massive budget deficits has ended.  Paying off outstanding bills, operating under a balanced budget, and working on bipartisan, pro-growth initiatives sends a clear message to job creators that Wisconsin is open for business.
  • I promised to take politics out of the woods.  Last year I appointed a Whitetail Deer Trustee and held a roundtable to listen to the concerns of hunters.  The Deer Trustee will provide an independent evaluation, study Wisconsin's deer management practices, and make recommendations.  It is vitally important that hunters, sportsmen and women, and conservationists trust the state to be a partner in helping to effectively sustain our deer populations.  The Deer Trustee will help ensure they have confidence in Wisconsin's deer herd management practices.
  • I promised to freeze property taxes.  The budget signed into law and reforms are saving taxpayers hundreds of dollars.  For the first time in six years the school portion of the property tax levy went down one percent on average across the whole state.  Our reforms are protecting taxpayers while keeping our schools great.  Taxpayers are seeing their levies go down for the first time in six years, while our schools continue to meet the needs of Wisconsin students.

It has been a pleasure communicating with you.  It is an honor to serve as your Governor and represent the residents of Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker

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Wisconsinites aren't buying Walker's "savings"

Last week, Governor Walker sent out an "E-Update" with some very shady math about how profitable his "reforms" have been in Wisconsin. As one of the many, many taxpayers suffering under his cuts and increases to local taxes, I had a lot to say about that.  Turns out I wasn't alone.
Isthmus published my own letter to Walker as a Citizen editorial on The Daily Page, and one reader shared her own response to Governor Walker's message:

Governor Walker sent me the very same letter! Here's my reply: 

Please post on complete and accurate information about the impacts of Governor Walker's reforms on the Hudson School District and on homeowners in the Town of Hudson, both of which are located in St. Croix County.

As reported in the Hudson Star Observer on 7/13/11, 7/21/11, and 9/21/11

  • The Hudson School District was unable to recoup the $2.6 million in state funding cuts it suffered-despite making budget adjustments by increasing staff contributions for retirement accounts and health insurance, getting competitive bids for staff health insurance, allowing no increases in staff salaries and benefits for union or nonunion employees, cutting forty (40) staff positions, recognizing savings from staff retirements and attrition, cutting operating costs, cutting transportation costs, and increasing student fees;
  • Property owners in the Hudson School District will see at least an additional two-percent (2%) increase in the property tax levy for the Hudson School District under the 2011-13 state budget and budget repair bill; and as a result,
  • Under the 2011-13 state budget and budget repair bill, the Hudson School District will be able to provide less to students in the next and future years, but will be able to do so at a higher cost to us local taxpayers.
As shown on our Town of Hudson residential property tax bill for 2011, the results of Governor Walker's reforms are that:
  • Although the 2011 assessed value of our home did not increase over the 2010 assessed value, our 2011 property tax bill did increase by 6.9% over our 2010 property tax bill because state aids to St. Croix County, Town of Hudson, Hudson School District, and WITC were cut significantly in 2011 compared to 2010 dollar amounts;
  • 2011 state aids declined from 2010 state aids by 7% for St. Croix County, by 7.3% for Town of Hudson, by 6.7% for Hudson School District, and by 30.6% for WITC;
  • The state portion of our 2011 home property tax bill increased by 1.8%;
  • The St. Croix County portion of our 2011 home property tax bill increased by 8.0%, even though the St. Croix County Board again reduced the annual County budget and the 2012 County budget is 24% lower than the 2008 County budget;
  • The Town of Hudson portion of our 2011 home property tax bill increased by 0.1%;
  • The Hudson School District portion of our 2011 home property tax bill increased by 7.5%, even though the Hudson School District took all possible steps to cut costs; and
  • The WITC portion of our 2011 home property tax bill increased by 5.4%.
Currently, the information posted on regarding the impacts of Governor Walker's reforms in St. Croix County appears to be an example of misleading, if not outright lying, through omission. Surely Governor Walker would not want anyone to be mislead about the actual effects of the 2011-13 state budget and budget repair bill.

- Posted by a reader from Hudson, WI on 01/05/12 (reposted here with her permission).