Wisconsinites Get Revved up for Workers' Rights

Moto3Hundreds of Wisconsinites lined Madison's Capitol Square Saturday to welcome bikers from all over the Midwest and to protest Governor Scott Walker's attack on Wisconsin unions. Just when Walker thought he had memorized all the chants and signs, Wisconsinites revved it up a notch.

Every kind of bike, from Harley-Davidsons to Huffys, descended onto the Square from Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and South Hamilton Street. Eric Hartz, the organizer of the event, complemented the thunderous entrance with songs from the Raging Grannies, a social justice organization made up of older women. Other speakers included Sen. John Erpenbach, Sen. Mark Miller, Rep. Cory Mason, Rep. Peter Barca, Milwaukee Public School Teachers and the City of Middleton Fire Fighters.

CMD State Watch

Under the guise of fiscal austerity, legislation is under consideration across the country that would roll back much of the progress of the 20th century including universal public education.

Indiana Robs Public Schools to Pay for Private Schools

This week, USA Today reported that "In a major victory for Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana lawmakers today approved legislation that creates the nation's most sweeping system of taxpayer funding for private schools."

The Republican-controlled House passed the voucher program and a separate bill that will make opening charter schools easier by creating a pro-charter board that will approve charter schools. As of now, only the Indianapolis mayor, public universities and local school boards can open a charter school. No Senate vote has been made yet.

Leader of Utah Recall Group Exposed

Daniel Arthur Elliott, A.K.A. Dan BaltesBack in February, CMD wrote that a little-known Utah group was behind many of the recall campaigns in Wisconsin targeting Democrats. The story about the American Recall Coalition left many Democrats and Republicans in Wisconsin scratching their heads. Now more is being discovered about this mysterious group and its leader Dan Baltes.

The Salt Lake City Deseret News has done an in-depth profile of Baltes. For starters, Dan Baltes isn't his real name. His real name is Daniel Arthur Elliott. The Deseret News says, "He took his third wife's last name after they married about 3 ½ years ago. He said he wanted to distance himself from an ex-girlfriend and an ex-wife."

Fire Fighters Turn off the Spigot

Union.jpgRemember when the fight broke out in Wisconsin over the right to collectively bargain and President Obama and a phalanx of national Democratic leaders spread out across the country fighting for the rights of American workers?

Right, we don't remember that either.

As unions battled for their very existence, the thunderous silence from Washington, D.C. did not go unnoticed by working families fighting for their livelihoods or by powerful political players. At least one organization has decided to hold a few of their former friends accountable.

The International Association of Fire Fighters, announced yesterday it would no longer be giving money to federal candidates. Rather, the 300,000-member union said it would put its energy and resources into the fight at the state level over collective bargaining.

Could Michigan-style "Martial Law" Be On Its Way to Wisconsin?

Rumors have been circulating about a little-known initiative to subject Wisconsin local governments to "stress tests" and other new constraints. Many believe the proposal resembles the "martial law" bill that was recently passed in Michigan, which allows the state government to dissolve local governments in a "fiscal emergency," and worry that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker or his friends in the legislature could be cooking up a similar plan.

Madison's Battle of the Brats

Brats on the grillThe "World's Largest Brat Fest," which will take place over Memorial Day weekend at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center, will serve brats donated by Johnsonville Sausage of Sheboygan Falls, WI. Johnsonville owners (the Stayer and Stayer-Maloney families) and other principals of Johnsonville Sausage contributed a total of $48,450 to Scott Walker's gubernatorial and other 2010 Republican state campaigns, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's Campaign Finance Database.

Governor Walker Spins New Jobs Out of Whole Cloth

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (AP photo by Morry Gash)Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has pledged to create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin. He has an interesting way of going about it. Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Walker visited Curt Manufacturing near Eau Claire, Wisconsin last week to award the state manufacturing plant a $625,000 transportation grant and congratulate himself for creating 125 extra jobs as a result. "This project directly creates 125 new jobs and indirectly creates 129 jobs, resulting in $12.6 million in annual wages right here in Wisconsin," Walker said in a news release. "By providing these funds, we are bringing quality jobs to Wisconsin while improving road access to Curt Manufacturing's expanded facility." But credit for the same 125 jobs was already claimed back in December by then-Governor Jim Doyle when the Department of Commerce announced the administration was giving the same company $400,000 in tax credits and $11 million in tax-free bonds under a 2009 stimulus program. Doyle said the extra money would "create 125 extra jobs and result in $12.8 million investment to the community." Could the firm be creating 250 new jobs? Er, no says a company spokesman. Curt has committed to adding 125 positions by 2014. So Walker simply ladled out an extra $625,000 for the same 125 jobs. That amounts to a whopping $96,000 in taxpayer support per job. Let's hope they pay more than minimum wage.



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