Scott Walker's Open Letter Challenge: Budget Addition!

Take the Scott Walker/MoD Open Letter Challenge - 2013-2015 Budget Edition!
Rarely do the governor and I collaborate on a project, but I am totally on board with his letter to the editor suggestion!

Using this handy form, you can let your local
paper know what you think of Walker's budget!

Governor Walker had the fine idea of providing his supporters with an handy auto-form for sending "original" letters to the editors of their local papers, telling them how swell they think his new budget plans are.

Here's the propaganda template Walker's staff provides:
Governor Walker’s proposed budget puts the focus on Wisconsin families and presents a clear path to economic prosperity for our state.

The Governor’s optimistic plan highlights his continuing commitment to taxpayers by cutting income taxes for the first time in more than a decade, while maintaining a freeze on property taxes. Reducing these financial burdens puts money back into the hands of families who need it most.

His significant investments in education and workforce development renews his commitment to job creation, and by putting additional focus on infrastructure and government reform, he is ensuring growth of businesses as well as the personal economies of families across Wisconsin.

Governor Walker has laid out a plan that builds upon the firm foundation he and the Republican legislature put into place with their last budget; he has given us a viable path forward. Now, we must do our part to stand with Governor Walker by spreading the message of his reforms and encouraging our representatives to pass his budget. The Governor continues to stand up for the taxpayers of Wisconsin, so we must stand with him and help him keep Wisconsin moving forward.
Analiese Eicher had the fine idea of encouraging people to customize this form:
So Walker's budget website has a form letter for you to sent to you local newspaper. All you have to do is fill out your name, email, and zip code.

Oh, and the form letter? You can edit it.

Edit and send away, my friends.
I put this challenge to my friends at the MoD facebook page, and below are some of the customizations we've seen so far.  If you take the challenge, please post your letter in the comments below, on the facebook page, or send them to me by email and I'll add them in!  And be sure to send them by email to your paper...never know what "filters" might be at work on the governor's end.

Governor Walker’s proposed budget puts the focus on handouts to corporations and rich political donors while completely ignoring the needs of Wisconsin families. His budget presents a clear path to widespread poverty across our state.

The Governor’s c
ynical plan highlights his total lack of commitment to taxpayers by a symbolic and largely worthless cutting of income taxes for the first time in more than a decade, while maintaining a freeze on property taxes so as to ensure that public education continues to wither under his administration. Reducing these financial burdens puts money back into the hands of his corporate masters who are always at the forefront of his thoughts.

His significant attacks against public education and restricting any workforce development renews his commitment to job destruction, and by putting additional focus on handouts to donors and partisan reform, he is ensuring the growth of corporate profits while destroying personal incomes of families across Wisconsin. The few jobs that Governor Walker HAS managed to create have all been out of state as he seems to favor awarding contracts in any state OTHER than the one he was sadly elected to serve.

Governor Walker has laid out a plan that builds upon the partisan and radical foundation he and the Republican legislature forced into place with their last budget; he has given us a viable path backwards. Now, we must do our part to stand against Governor Walker by spreading the message of his "reforms" and encouraging our representatives to vote against his budget. The Governor continues to stand against the taxpayers of Wisconsin, so we must stand against him and help turn Wisconsin around so she is once again moving forward. 
- Jeff Woosley
Governor Walker’s proposed budget puts the focus on corporate interests and presents a clear path to economic prosperity for his campaign sponsors.

The Governor’s optimistic plan highlights his continuing commitment to road buil
ding lobbyists by creating more lanes of traffic for the first time in more than a decade, while maintaining a lock down on public transportation funds. Reducing donation obstacles puts money back into his hands rather than the hands of families who need it most.

His significant investments in pay-to-play charter schools renews his commitment to killing jobs that support Wisconsin families, and by putting additional focus on corporate sponsorship and donations, he is ensuring his national exposure to the Teabaggers across the United States.

Governor Walker has laid out a plan that builds upon the firm foundation he and the Republican legislature have been bought and paid for; he has given us a viable path backwards. Now, we must do our part to stand with Governor Walker by spreading the wealth amongst his closest campaign donors and corporate sponsors. The Governor continues to stand up for the corporate interests of Wisconsin, so we must stand with him and help him keep Wisconsin moving towards even greater debt and division.

- Daniel Lyons
Governor Walker’s proposed budget puts the bull's eye on Wisconsin families and presents a clear path to economic ruin for our state.

The Governor’s cynical plan highlights his continuing commitment to corporations by cutting services for the first ti
me in more than a decade, while maintaining a freeze on property taxes. Reducing these financial burdens puts money back into the hands of richest 1% who need it least.

His significant cuts in education and workforce development renews his commitment to corporations, and by putting additional focus on infrastructure and government subsidies, he is ensuring growth of profits as well as the personal fortunes of millionaires.

Governor Walker has laid out a plan that builds upon the foundation he and the Republican legislature put into place with their last budget; he has given us a path downward. Now, we must do our part to battle against Governor Walker by spreading the message of his abuses and encouraging our representatives to oppose his budget. The Governor continues to stand up for the corporations, so we must stand up to him and keep Wisconsin moving forward.
- Tim Stachoviak 
Governor Walker’s proposed budget puts the burden on Wisconsin families and presents a clear danger to economic prosperity for our state.

The Governor’s plan highlights his continuing commitment to his overlords by these financial burdens. It puts mo
ney back into the hands of his business cronies, while cutting income taxes in amounts that do nothing for the majority of the people.

His significant disregard for one of the finest education systems in the country, now a disaster, as he continues his goose-stepping to privatization. Workforce development consists of job creation in, well actually nothing. He is a plague to the families across Wisconsin.

Governor Walker has laid out a plan that builds upon the firm foundation he and the Republican legislature put into place with their last budget; divide and conquer. Now, we must do our part to stand up to Governor Walker by spreading the true message of his reforms and encouraging our representatives to show some spine and represent their constituents. The Governor continues to be controlled by outside influences, so we must stand up to him and help Wisconsin from becoming worse than a third world country.

- Jim Ross
GovernEr Walker’s proposed budget puts the focus on placing average Wisconsin families at a further disadvantage as he continues to gut public education and healthcare. It represents a clear and present danger as the path to economic disparity continues to widen the distance between the haves and have nots in our state.

The GovernEr's unrealistic plan highlights his continuing commitment to his wealthy masters. By cutting income taxes for the first time in more than a decade, which will amount to almost nothing for the average tax payer, while maintaining a freeze on property taxes that caused a decrease in public services, he is able to fool the tools. Reducing these financial "burdens" puts money back into the hands of families who need it least and further disadvantages families already floundering in his jobless economy.

His insignificant investments in education underscore his commitment to privatization favored by his handlers. His focus on non-existant mining jobs give away our resources and concentrate profits to an unaccountable out of state extraction corporation that will destroy the environment, deplete our water supply and leave Wisconsin citizens with the bill for mitigation of the devastation. His mismanagement of 52 million dollars in workforce development funds, lack of focus on infrastructure and concentration on dismantling of individual civil rights, ensure the further degradation of small businesses, as well as the personal economies and freedoms of citizens across Wisconsin.

GovernEr Walker has laid out a plan that builds upon the firm foundation he and the Republican legislature put into place with their last budget to destroy the State of Wisconsin; he has put us on a path to poverty and illiteracy with the intention of making Wisconsin a southern style red state. Now, we must do our part to stand against GovernEr Walker by spreading the message of his "reforms" and encouraging our representatives to vote against his budget. The GovernEr continues to lie to the taxpayers of Wisconsin, so we must stand against him to prevent him from moving Wisconsin further backward.

Thank you to Friends of GovernEr Walker for providing this handy editable form and encouraging me to submit a letter to the editor.
- Chrissy Morrissey


Guest post: Walker launches nuke #2...because he "cares too much"

Another stirring post from my friend, frequent contributor, and president-for-life of the MoD fan club, Ryan Wherley.  Ryan published this first as a note on his facebook page, and linked up a deluxe version for his Wisco Wherls diary at the Daily Kos.  Cross-posted here with his permission, and my thanks. Oh, and Happy Birthday, little brother! Ryan turned 30 today. 

Guest post:
Scott Walker prepares to launch another budgetary nuke as reassurance that he "cares too much" about Wisconsinites
by Ryan Wherley

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 

When Scott Walker releases his 2013-15 biennial budget with a public address tonight at the Wisconsin Capitol, I hope people are paying close attention to the health care portion.  In it, GovernEr Walker will codify his cruel rejection of $4 billion in federal money proffered (not to be confused with "Prossered") to fully expand Medicaid (BadgerCare in Wisconsin) as part of the Affordable Care Act and extend direct health care coverage to approximately 175,000 additional Wisconsinites.  This ignominious decision will cost the state thousands of new jobs that would have accompanied a full Medicaid expansion.  It will lower the maximum income threshold for those who are currently childless adults on BadgerCare, kicking them off BadgerCare and over to the federally implemented, private health care exchanges that Walker so despises where they can hopefully afford coverage. It will force countless individuals, who would have otherwise been covered, to avoid preventive care and risk their lives if they become sick, while relying on the last-resort Emergency Room care that drives up everyone's health care costs.

Scary Budget
Photo courtesy of Erica Case

On top of all of that, Scott Walker's ridiculously shortsighted decision to play politics and reject another facet of the Affordable Care Act, after already punting on the opportunity for Wisconsin to create its own exchanges, will cost Wisconsin taxpayers $250 million MORE through 2020 than if he had simply accepted the billions in federal funding.  For the first three years, the feds would have fully covered the expansion and by 2020, the coverage would have dipped to 90%.

However, by rejecting the full expansion, Walker has ensured that not only will Wisconsin leave all of those funds on the table, the feds will continue to match only 60% of our Medicaid costs, as they currently do.  Even John Kasich (OH), Rick Snyder (MI), Jan Brewer (AZ) and now Rick Scott (FL) accepted the steal of the deal that was laid before them by the federal government, and nobody would ever accuse any of those four governors of being even remotely left of the Tea Party.

That was OUR money that will simply move along to other states because of his rejection, in exactly the same manner this had previously happened after GovernEr-elect Walker convinced then-Governor Jim Doyle to needlessly turn down hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money that would have brought high-speed rail and sustainable jobs to Wisconsin in 2010.

So what about those "hardworking taxpayers" Walker endlessly drones on about protecting when he's bashing unions, the poor, the sick, the elderly, the left? I cannot stress this enough: SCOTT WALKER DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE CITIZENS OF WISCONSIN.  He is willing to demolish the foundations of our state at the drop of a hat if it means scoring political points and to prove his ideological purity and devotion to his corporate puppet masters who paid so handsomely for his two gubernatorial electoral victories.

In the meantime, he continues to travel around the country (and occasionally the state), posturing and pandering to right-wing extremists while moving Wisconsin decades in reverse socially, economically and culturally, all with an eye toward the 2016 presidential campaign.

Speaking to an audience last week at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce in front of many of those who have contributed mightily to his rise to, and continued hold on, power, Walker dropped this little anecdote on the crowd on his decision to reject the federal Medicaid funds:

"Some people will portray this as not caring about people.  I think it's just the opposite.  I care too much about the people of this state not to empower them to control their own destiny."

Translation: "If you think this removes all doubt that my photo will be placed next to the word "sociopath" in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, you're dead on.  Since I have no regard for the impact my actions have on the lives of poor Americans, I will carefully extricate myself from the responsibility of holding onto the social safety net that protects our nation’s most vulnerable individuals.  I understand that elected officials are supposed to look out for the best interests of their constituents.  However, while in practice I oversee a government so “small” it can fit inside a woman’s uterus, in theory I swear allegiance to a belief in government so small it can drown in a bathtub. Thus, we’re making the calculated decision that those of you most in need are better left to the whims of an austere worldview that grows increasingly antithetical to protecting and achieving those best interests.   But hey, at least I’m "freeing" you from the throes of governmental assistance to help you in your time of need.  Although some of you may die in the process, at least you'll know you died while independently pulling up your own bootstraps."   
It’s a line straight out of the playbook of an abuser.  Walker repeatedly assaults and victimizes the poor and middle class, while blaming the victims for the pain he is inflicting and rationalizing that he is doing it out of love. “I’m doing this for your own good, Wisconsin.”

America, meet Scott Walker, grand protector of his lessers, We the Little People. Scotty’s Munchkins! (H/T to my friend and fellow Wisconsin Kossack Plankbob for the Munchkin line.)

If Walker is rejecting the $4 billion Medicaid lifeboat being extended by the federal government because he cares about us so damn much, when else had Scott Walker taken such drastic action to “empower” us out of compassion?  Did Scott Walker “care too much” about the sick, the poor and the elderly when he tried to kick 60,000 individuals off BadgerCare in 2011?

Did Scott Walker “care too much” about all the “hardworking taxpayers” when he admitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that the state budget was not only NOT balanced, as he squawked at every breath, but was ACTUALLY running a $2.6 billion deficit, in an attempt to legally kick those 60,000 BadgerCare recipients to the curb?   Did Walker “care too much” about those in need when he left tens of thousands of openings in BadgerCare unfilled while tens of thousands of Wisconsinites were left to anxiously flounder on the waiting list?

Did Scott Walker “care too much” for homeowners whose lives were thrown into turmoil during the Wall Street-induced devastation of the economy when he used over $25 million of the $31 million allocation in federal funds from the mortgage crisis settlement to plug holes in his budget? Did Walker “care too much” about teachers, snowplow drivers, janitors, prison guards, social workers, nurses and public servants when he slashed their pay and stole their rights to organize and have a say over the conditions of their workplaces?  Did Walker “care too much” about these public sector workers when he shamefully vilified and scapegoated them for Wisconsin’s budgetary shortfall that he created when he simultaneously issued $2.3 billion in corporate tax breaks shortly after taking office?

Did Scott Walker “care too much” about the children of our state, undoubtedly the lifeblood of its future, when he slashed an estimated $1.6 billion from public education funding through direct cuts and freezes on local revenue caps, while ensuring that thousands of experienced teachers and potential mentors for those same children would opt to leave the state or retire?

Did Scott Walker “care too much” about women and minorities when he signed off on the repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, a law designed to help protect anyone discriminated against in the workplace by providing an additional avenue to pursue litigation in state courts? Did Walker “care too much” about same-sex couples when he decided to discontinue the state’s defense of the Domestic Partner Registry that protected those couples’ rights to hospital visitations and end-of-life decision-making?

Did Scott Walker “care too much” about women and their ability to take preventive and potentially life-saving measures to control their health and their bodies when he moved to defund Planned Parenthood, worked to limit access to birth control and removed Planned Parenthood as the state’s provider of the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, putting thousands of uninsured and underinsured rural and poor women at risk?  Did Walker “care too much” about  all citizens, especially minorities, students, the elderly and the poor when he worked to curtail hard-won  voting rights by implementing a draconian Voter ID law and floating his enthusiasm for the elimination of same-day voter registration?

Did Scott Walker “care too much” about the working poor in Wisconsin when he slashed the Earned Income tax credit for hundreds of thousands of low-income citizens?  Did Walker “care too much” about children with special needs and disabilities and their families when he snuck $21 million worth of “Special Needs” vouchers into his soon-to-be-released budget, despite zero support and overwhelming opposition from specialists, educators and parent advocacy groups for children with special needs?  Did Walker “care too much” about these beautiful children when he offered their families the option of leaving the public schools system for private schools, leaving their federally protected rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act behind along with any guarantee of receiving the focused attention and educational plans they so dearly need?

Did Scott Walker “care too much” about the citizens of Wisconsin when his right-hand man, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, authorized the Capitol Police to harass, intimidate, profile, ticket and arrest peaceably assembling citizens for the crimes of holding signs, waving banners and daring to sing songs in defiance of his authority in the public forum of OUR Capitol Rotunda?

Did Walker “care too much” about our state’s indigenous Ojibwe peoples and their livelihood when he repeatedly made the construction of Wisconsin’s own Grand Canyon (a 21-mile-long open pit iron mine and environmental disaster-waiting-to-happen in the heart of the sacred Penokee Hills and on the headwaters of the equally sacred Kakagon Sloughs wild rice beds) the centerpiece of his mythological and rapidly tanking “Fountain of Jobs” plan? Did Walker “care too much” about Wisconsin’s native peoples and their federally protected and guaranteed rights when he allowed his Teapublican underlings to ram this mining bill through consecutive sessions of the state legislature without ever once sitting down to consult with the affected Ojibwe bands?

Did Scott Walker “care too much” about the people in the streets when he discussed with his henchmen the idea of planting agents provocateur into the throngs of hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters (which included children, the elderly and the disabled) in order to incite violence and turn public opinion against the massive, peaceful uprising that broke out in February 2011? Did Scott Walker “care too much” about the people of our state when he backed away from this idea, not because it would have been an unconscionably dangerous action and reprehensible violation of the public trust, but rather because the ensuing public outcry may have been politically untenable and forced the GovernEr to compromise on his signature Budget “Repair” Bill?

(Skip ahead to the 4:20 mark of the video to hear Ian Murphy from the Buffalo Beast acting as "David Koch" during his disturbing conversation with Walker over the idea of "plantin' some troublemakers.") 
I fully believe that Scott Walker cares about people.  He cares about the ridiculously wealthy corporatists and special-interest lobbyists who bought and paid for his seat on the throne of Fitzwalkerstan. He cares about the corporations that spread his propaganda, laid the foundations of his ALEC-driven agenda and reap the benefits of his fully realized and transparently extremist ideologies.  After all, Scott Walker is a strong proponent of the post-Citizens United, Mitt Romney School of Absurd Thought that holds that “Corporations are people, my friend.”  For the rest of us, who have been taken hostage and cast by Scott Walker into his vast sea of “caring,” it will take decades of maneuvering through the wreckage he and his minions have wrought before we eventually return to the shores of the land we once knew as the great state of Wisconsin.

During a particularly vindictive and ominous rant last January, Senate Majority Leader and Walker rubber-stamp Scott Fitzgerald was quoted as saying, “If you think this budget was scary, wait until the next one.”

Well, the “next one” is nearly upon us.  If Feb. 11, 2011 was the day that Scott Walker “dropped the bomb” on the citizens of Wisconsin, Feb. 20, 2013 will be the day Scott Walker unleashes the full nuclear arsenal at his disposal.  I don’t know how much more of Scott Walker’s “caring” we will be able to withstand before irreparable harm has been done to our once-progressive Wisconsin.

I consider it extremely fortunate that we Badgers have established such a well-developed sense of community and a tenacious fighting spirit over the past two years in order to withstand these trying times.  After all, if we’re going to stay afloat, we just have to keep paddling — Forward.

2 year Uprising anniversary
Photo courtesy of Callen Harty from the 2nd anniversary of the Wisconsin Uprising on Valentine's Day 2013

Round 2 of Walker's "Reforms": Bigger bombs, smaller targets

Round 2 of Walker's "Reforms": 
Brace yourself.  And put your legislators on speed dial

Many thanks to Isthmus for publishing my latest letter to Governor Scott Walker as a Citizen post, "Gov. Scott Walker's 2013-14 budget is even more radical than his last one, belying his new 'moderate' mask,"  in which I catalog just a few of the abuses of power Walker is trying to slip into his budget plans.  From healthcare to education, the list is long and sobering, and it doesn't even include the news leaked yesterday that Bomb #2 intends to conquer what has been divided by going after private sector unions.

I hope you'll take a minute to read it and find out why round two of his budget cuts are even more radical than the first, and why you need to contact your legislators NOW to let them know what's at stake in rubber stamping Walker's dangerous agenda.  

Let's put enough Citizen pressure on our legislators to ensure that Walker's budget plans do not make it to his desk. Click here to read the rest of the article and please it share with your friends, family, and anyone else who cares to pay attention to what's being done in our name, with our money. 

Roggensack & special interests, or: why contributors can count on a "return on their investments"

Pat Roggensack
Pat Roggensack addressing a crowd of people who paid a minimum of $50-$65 each to attend the Jefferson County Republican's annual Lincoln Day Dinner.  Photo: Daily Union

Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack has well-established during her tenure that she is not immune to the lobbyists and legislation-pushers who have so generously supported her campaign.  Just this week she appeared at the Republican Party of Jefferson County's Lincoln Day event (at which Senator Ron Johnson likened Democrats to Marxists) but she has refused invitations to attend the nonpartisan citizen-organized forums she has been invited to throughout the state.  The message this sends to voters is clear: you don't pay, I don't play.
Pat Roggensack not sitting in the seat reserved for her at a free and open to the public  non-partisan community forum.

Like the other members of the conservative bloc on the Court, she freely accepts funds from party-affiliated and special interest groups, even those who are directly involved in crafting controversial legislation in Wisconsin.  And yet she continues to claim that she is nonpartisan and impartial, and continues to deny dysfunction on the Court and dismiss the import of the physical altercation between Justices Prosser and Bradley .  By refusing to acknowledge the blatant facts of her allegiance, she forces voters to question her integrity.

I'm particularly wary of her acceptance of funds from out-of-state contributors like Dick DeVos, who paid $250,000 to stop Walker from being recalled, and whose wife Betsy has been called "the Four Star General of the Voucher Wars."  Betsy DeVos leads the American Federation for Children, an education-privatizing outfit that has played a long and very active role in shaping radical legislation under the Walker administration (and beyond) and has contributed millions to electing voucher-friendly candidates (like Senator Alberta Darling and Rep. Robin Vos) in Wisconsin. Betsy DeVos once famously said she "expects a return" on all of her political "investments." Since similar policies are being challenged in other states on the grounds that they are unconstitutional, it's no mystery why people like the DeVoses would want to buy "allies" on our Court. 

To me, that is the opposite of how democracy should function, and no self-respecting justice should accept such contributions without simultaneously promising that she would recuse herself from hearing any cases related to the "investments" these funders are paying her to "protect".  The Supreme Court must be comprised of people who can be trusted to put their personal politics aside to ensure a system of checks and balances.  If special interests can just buy another cog in the Walker machine, democracy is meaningless. 

The primary in this election is Tuesday, Feb. 19. Early voting ends Friday.  Experts are predicting only 10% of voters will care enough to show up.  For justice's sake, I hope this is not true.

For more on Roggensack's ties to special interests, check out this very revealing piece from the Capital Times: "Pat Roggensack's Out-of-State Cash." 

For more on why I'm supporting Ed Fallone - a much-needed voice of reason, integrity and justice - in this race, click here.

Guest Post: "How Many Guns?" By Jim and Laurel Tangen-Foster

Friends of MoD Jim and Laurel Tangen-Foster shared their timely and evocative thoughts on gun violence with this heartfelt poem.  They ask that we add your own verses and pass it on, but I think they've captured the heart of it:
And how false the cares and unjust the fears
Of the totes who stand tall on their caches?

How many prayers and petitions must we send
Before a weapons bill passes?
I'm honored to reprint their poem here with permission and hope it inspires action.
How Many Guns? 
By Jim and Laurel Tangen-Foster

How many rounds must a gun addict have
To keep his assassins at bay?
And how many puppet-playing Washington clowns
Make their nut off the clan NRA?
And how vile the scenes, how pierced the screams
Of the boys with their toys as they play?

The answer they say, that clan NRA,
The answer is blowin' 'em away.

And how many tears must one mother shed
As she waits at the doors to the school?
And how big the guns and the fears of the kids
And the teachers whose bravery is true?
And how much grief must a father withstand
As he waits at the church for the news?

The answer they say, that clan NRA,
The answer is blowin' 'em away.

And how fierce the sound of a rapid fire gun
Does it take to make macho a man?
And how great the need to stand out from the breed
Make their mark with their blood in the sand?
And how many moms camouflaged in their pride
Teach their sons with their guns in their hands?

The answer they say, that clan NRA,
The answer is blowin' 'em away.

And how false the cares and unjust the fears
Of the totes who stand tall on their caches?
And how barbarous the plan of the inglorious clan
Who link arms, with honor, as fascists?
How many prayers and petitions must we send
Before a weapons bill passes?

The Majority has spoken. Our hearts have been broken.
Act:  Sign Senator Diane Feinstein's petition in support of reinstating the assault weapons ban here, and use this handy form from the Brady Campaign to contact your legislators.  You can also sign the petitions here and here.

Protect kids, not guns. 
Image from Laurel Tangen-Foster via UPI.
The White House calls on Americans to stand up for gun reform.
Learn more at

Justice Matters: Vote Ed Fallone

ed fallone

"I have spent my entire career fighting
for equal access to Justice."

- Ed Fallone  

I have been a huge fan of Ed Fallone since I first chanced upon his brilliant entries in the Marquette University Law School Faculty blog, and he has been a consistent voice of reason at a time of chaos on the Supreme Court and in Wisconsin in general.  He earned my respect through his intelligent and well-reasoned writing, but he's earned my trust through his community involvements and where he chooses to volunteer his time, and after meeting him in person and hearing him speak at the recent forum our grassroots group organized, he's earned my vote. He stands up for the constitution, stands up for integrity and civility, stands up for those most struggling for equal access under the law, and stands up - in every instance - for justice. And justice is exactly what I want from the Supreme Court.  Patience I can do without.  I have very little myself at this point.

Here's what I like about him: even though he's a professor of constitutional, corporate, and criminal law (translation: he's a genius), he continues to do amazing work to equalize access to justice that proves he's rooted to and invested in the community.  He insists that the Court needs to hold itself accountable, and to the highest standard, and work together to be an effective body - something we all know they aren't doing right now, as their bickering and partisanship has disrupted the number of cases they hear, and even their ability to conduct disciplinary hearings when one of their own (Justice David McChokey Prosser) assaulted a fellow Supreme Court Justice in the presence of witnesses (including his esteemed colleague, Patience Roggensack, who recused herself from the disciplinary hearing to avoid testifying against him).

If elected, he'll be Wisconsin's first Latino Supreme Court Justice, and the Court would infinitely benefit from both the diversity and Fallone's expertise in immigration law and experience with the communities disproportionally disenfranchised by our (admittedly flawed) justice system in Wisconsin, where minority incarceration rates are among the worst in the nation. (While the number of white males in our prisons is in tune with the national average, we are second only to South Dakota in the number of African Americans currently incarcerated.)

Meanwhile, we're gearing up for another Prosser/Kloppenberg-style spendfest as the out-of-state ALEC/Koch $ is pouring in to team Roggensack.  We know much of that money is coming from the same education privateers who paid so handsomely to re-elect Prosser (and Roggensack is already being accused of not properly reporting these contributions).  Why are these "pro-choice" out-of-state voucher-pushers so invested in buying seats on the Wisconsin Supreme Court?  Because other states are already challenging the constitutionality of these programs, which pour public money into private schools with little to no accountability and in violation of the free and equal education clauses of the constitutions of most states.  These major funders want to fix the Court so their investment remains unthreatened, and they can ultimately profit on the lucrative fleecing of Wisconsin taxpayers that these voucher programs provide.

Roggensack's reelection assures the status quo and prolongs Walker's increasingly brazen powergrab with a Republican majority in every seat of government.  Her allegiances to her party and its funders over the letter of the law are no secret.  And those on the right are not being shy about the need for securing this imbalance of power:  According to the "Fairly Conservative" blog:
Justice Pat Roggensack is up for re-election. If Wisconsin wants to keep the changes our elected Republican Governor, Republican State Senate, and Republican Assembly have made and will make, Wisconsin Republicans have to flat work their butts off to keep this woman elected.

Yes, I’m going to be that blunt about it.
Personally, I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican or (like me and many others) an independent voter who just wants a government that puts the welfare of the people before any political agenda. This kind of "us vs. them" thinking is what got us into so much political trouble in the first place. 

We need balance.  We need reason. And we need justice.

Wisconsin has a clear choice in this election, and a good one: vote for Ed Fallone. 

Justice matters. And so does this election.

I've said my peace.  Look forward to hearing me say it again and again until April 19.  In the meantime, you can do two things:

VOTE.  Early voting NOW until Feb. 15 (at City Hall or wherever they do it in your town), primary is Feb. 19 (at your usual polling place).  Please take 10 minutes to stop and vote in this primary to make sure Ed Fallone's name is on the spring ballot.  Then vote in the spring election on April 2 (early voting will take place from March 18-29 (note that March 29 is Good Friday; might want to check with your clerk about hours for early voting that week).  But vote. And bring a friend.

SUPPORT. You can donate, you can volunteer, you can write letters to your local paper, you can spread the word to your friends and family to let them know how much this election matters. Support Ed Fallone for Justice however you can, but don't sit this one out.
Campaign website: Fallone for Justice.  Facebook : Ed Fallone for Wisconsin Supreme Court!  

- Heather DuBois Bourenane

The most telling photo from a recent forum with the candidates for the Supreme Court organized by the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition.  While her busy schedule allows her to attend fundraiser after fundraiser, Patience Roggensack has declined invitations to all of the dozen-plus citizen-organized forums to which she's been invited.  Wisconsin's tradition of an elected judiciary means this sort of pay-to-play politics should have no place on our court. 

Pridemore's Dangerous Proposal: Get volunteers in schools. To shoot people.

With the election still a couple months away, there's been little talk so far of the absolutely critical race for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, a position currently held by Dr. Tony Evers, but every person who cares about education in Wisconsin needs to know what is really at stake here.

Evers, who is running for reelection, is being opposed by Tea Party operative and current State Representative Republican Don Pridemore, a man so supremely unqualified to hold this office that he actually thought it could help his campaign to release this unfathomably reckless statement, which he's also sent around as a letter to the editor:
Dear Editor: School boards should be given the freedom to hire a competent, well trained school official or employee who is experienced with applying force whenever force is required. Police officers, either retired or still on duty, that are trained to respond to school safety situations are the best example of such a qualified person. 
The most cost-effective approach would be to permit local school boards, administrators and parents to be able to ask qualified people from their own communities to volunteer to do this work as a public service as a way of giving to their communities while they are in retirement. The point is that each school district is different as well as each community. The availability of qualified people will be different but the rules and the criteria established for choosing this “safety officer or protection service” should rest in the hands of the local community and not with the Department of Public Instruction or any other level of government. 
DPI can certainly make recommendations on how to proceed but the final decision should be made by the local officials and must be a priority in today’s world. 
— Rep. Don Pridemore. R-Erin, and candidate for state superintendent of public instruction

I'll give you a second to clear your breath of the "wtf?s" and "holy craps" that you are undoubtedly uttering.

[patient pause]

Now. Let's take a moment to process what Pridemore just suggested:
That schools invite volunteers into their buildings.  To shoot people.
A man who thinks he has what it takes to be in charge of all schools in the entire state said that.  And he didn't just "say it," in an interview, or off the cuff, in some kind of "gotcha" moment.  He thought it out.  Drafted it. Presumably (though there's no evidence of this) revised it.  Tried to make it "sound good." Issued a press release. Sent it to the editor for publication.

But here's the thing.  That idea is crazy. Tea Party crazy.  The kind of crazy the rest of us just stare at, open-mouthed.  First of all, districts are already free to establish their own volunteer policies, provided they follow state law and don't discriminate, etc.  This is a non-issue, and one that Pridemore is obviously just trying to create to pretend he has something to list on his campaign agenda next to "make sure my financial contributors get privatization contracts."  School boards do have control over local hiring. That's a non-issue. Wisconsin Statutes 118.001 and 102.13 if anyone cares.  And most districts do require background checks for people who volunteer in schools.  Is that the Trojan-horse "big government" restriction Pridemore opposes here? Because I'd like to think we'd all agree that's a pretty good idea, running background checks on people who might be shooting people for free, or alone in a room helping kids with math, in our kids' schools. 

The liability issues are the real concern, and obviously Pridemore doesn't know or care enough about our schools to even consider them. The legal ramifications of allowing volunteers to "respond to safety situations" are enormous. Volunteers aren't even supposed to HUG kids, much less "apply force whenever force is required." The legal consequences alone make this idea an absolute joke, and that's not even taking into consideration the fact that allowing local-level appointment of "safety officers or protection services" without following established vetting procedures could be a logistical nightmare of unthinkable proportions.

Further, Pridemore's suggestion that this is "the most cost-effective" approach (because it's free) is dangerously scary evidence of how completely disconnected he is from the serious reality that is education administration.  His suggestion that schools could simply be "free" of the rules and regulations established the state, local goverment, and the Department of Public Instruction, on THIS, the most serious of issues, is evidence that Pridemore's agenda as Superintendent would be to completely dismantle the structures that ensure our schools are operated equitably.

Suggesting that this deathly serious work should be done for free is further evidence of how very little respect Pridemore has for the professionalism required to operate and maintain safe schools, and the people who are entrusted to do that work, or the law enforcement professionals who have well-earned their retirement.  But having respect for the people of Wisconsin has never been Pridemore's strong suit, as he's made clear on numerous occasions, most disgustingly when joining Glenn "Kwanzaa is a Hoax" Grothman's bandwagon to suggestion that single mothers are responsible for all of our social problems - most significantly, child abuse.  It's difficult to imagine that someone with a long history of being so openly hateful of single-parent families and minority issues would - or has the desire to - magnanimously address very serious  issues of race and gender inequities in our schools.  The same man who wants laxer rules for things like puppy mills and racist mascots thinks we can solve the problem of gun violence in our schools with a simple editorial solution: by finding people to "apply force" for free. 

This is probably the stupidest idea anyone could possibly come up with to respond to one of the most serious concerns facing our schools. It's the kind of idea that would have been laughed under the table of any teacher lounge and scolded out of the room at any school board meeting. It's the kind of idea that comes from the desk of a man who does not think things through, or perhaps does not think at all.

Don Pridemore has, with the most asinine stroke of a pen imaginable, just proven to all of Wisconsin why he has no business whatsoever running for this office.  I'd rather get together with my community and just see if we can't find some retired person who would do the job, in his or her spare time. It would be much more cost-effective, and the person would, undoubtedly, be well trained and experienced enough to handle any situation that should arise.  Certainly that person would be better qualified than Don Pridemore.

That's one option. And it's a better alternative than Pridemore's for sure.  But I think on April 2 I'll be casting my vote for Tony Evers, with all the other people in Wisconsin who care about quality public education and keeping our schools safe.

Pridemore, who shows contempt for the 14th Amendment by openly calling for "the state of Wisconsin to nullify the Federal Affordable Health Care Act, and for Wisconsin police to arrest Federal authorities attempting to implement the Act," is a dangerous choice for Wisconsin.  Photo: Whitney Steffen/wcmcoop.