Friday, July 3, 2015

WisGOP becomes the “Know-Nothing” Party on open records proposal

Republicans in legislature shun media requests to discover just who wants to end open records legislation

The blatant attacks on open records legislation in Wisconsin are nothing short of an attempt to stifle the public’s ability to become knowledgeable on the lawmaking process.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach says it best: "Somebody in this building, somewhere, wants to hide something."

The proposal, attached to the all-important state budget bill, would allow lawmakers in the legislature to restrict access to the drafting notes and records on how (and who) requests to changes in laws are made.

Several journalists rely on this information in helping them shed light into how controversial bills are made. The Capital Times has a short list of recent examples:
In January 2014, the Wisconsin State Journal used drafting records to report that a controversial bill to allow high-income parents to avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in child support was written with the help of a wealthy donor to the bill’s author, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc.

Drafting records showed in February that the University of Wisconsin had objected to a proposal in Gov. Scott Walker's budget to scrap the "Wisconsin Idea" from the UW's statutory mission statement.

And last month, a review of drafting records for a proposed 20-week abortion ban showed that it originally included language relating to the health of the mother that was later removed, then added once again as an amendment.
Emphases in bold added.

The biggest question on this issue, beyond why it’s being proposed, is who exactly is requesting the changes to open records law.

Reporters have asked several lawmakers that question, but so far they’re saying they don’t know who the author of the proposal is, or are just flatly refusing to answer the question when asked.
"It wasn't my motion," said committee co-chairwoman Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

Pressed on who asked for the changes, both Darling and co-chairman Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said there were "multiple requests." Asked by reporters to give names, Darling walked away.


"Don't ask me," Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, said when asked whether he thought the changes are good for Wisconsin. "I didn't write it."
This sort of behavior, of avoiding the answers with a citation of ignorance, makes the Republican Party of Wisconsin deserving of a new moniker: as the current “Know-Nothing” Party of the state.

And oddly enough, their claim to ignorance is precisely why the people of Wisconsin deserve the open records laws that Republican lawmakers are trying to dismantle.

This provision needs to be removed from the budget immediately. And if it isn’t, and this budget gets passed with it intact, Gov. Scott Walker needs to use his line-item veto powers to remove it himself.

It will become transparent that the Wisconsin GOP doesn’t stand with the people of state if he does otherwise. Unfortunately, it will be the only transparent thing the people will know until open records laws are restored.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Scott Walker jabs Obama on Twitter, but who's really winning on job growth?

Walker uses one metric (and ignores a slew of others) when attacking POTUS

On Thursday the staff that manages Scott Walker’s Twitter account released a statistic meant to poke fun at President Barack Obama’s jobs record.

Obama was visiting La Crosse to tout his plan to increase the number of Americans eligible for “time and a half” overtime pay.

So, just hours after Gov. Walker and President Obama shook hands, it seemed like the most opportune time for Team Walker to tweet something out against the president:

At first glance that statistic seems to say that Walker did a better job than Obama on unemployment, specifically in La Crosse County where he was speaking at. But the stat doesn’t look at anything beyond the unemployment rate, and doesn’t take into account the number of people who stopped looking for work.

And when you look at other measures, the statistic ceases to be relevant.

Take a look at total private sector jobs created in La Crosse County from the time Gov. Walker took office to December of 2014 (the latest date that the most complete QCEW jobs data is available).

During that time the county grew by about 2,073 jobs, or a growth rate of about 3.6 percent in private sector jobs over the course of four years.

If you look at the U.S. as a whole, that number is significantly higher – in fact, the nation grew private sector jobs over the same time frame at about 9.3 percent.

Wisconsin is also having a terrible year when it comes to layoffs. Just halfway through 2015, the state has already surpassed the number of planned layoffs we saw last year.

At the pace we’re going, it’s set to be the worst year yet for layoffs during the Walker era.

Finally, Walker and his staff neglect to mention the year-over-year data for the latest month available (May 2014) shows the county of La Crosse is doing dismally compared to the nation as a whole on jobs.

From May 2013 to May 2014, the U.S. gained just under three million new workers. The yearly growth in employment was about 2.16 percent compared to the figure from 2013.

In La Crosse County, their employment growth was only about 300 new workers from year-to-year, or less than 0.4 percent growth.

Gov. Walker and his campaign staff may think that they have one-upped the president with their tweet. But real Wisconsinites recognize that things aren’t going so great in the Badger State. Which is why, even if he does make a successful run for the GOP nomination for president, he won’t win the the public over in the general election.

Heck, he won’t even win Wisconsin.

Political Heat Radio: July 2, 2015

Political Heat Radio returns: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling