Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mary Burke's character shows why she'll be a better leader for Wisconsin

Walker works to further his own ambitions and to appease his donors; Burke will work to serve out her constituents' wishes and preserve Wisconsin ideals

There are two different paths that the citizens of the state of Wisconsin can choose to take come Election Day.

One option is to take a path already forged by the sitting governor. Scott Walker’s vision for the state is to appease business interests, with less emphasis on actual constituents. Easing regulations that pollute our waterways or make it more difficult to prosecute workplace discrimination, among other items, seems to be the endorsed M.O. for the Walker administration.

But it isn’t just his policies that matter -- how Walker goes about governing is also of importance. His “divide and conquer” strategy is all at once both startling and effective, and it has resulted in an unprecedented era of partisanship that the state has traditionally been unfamiliar with.

His poor managerial style is also worth noting. Has Walker selected only the best and brightest to hold positions in the executive branch, or for other appointments? No -- in fact, Walker has selected political surrogates and sons of campaign contributors to fill these roles over more qualified applicants. For Walker, it’s again about appeasement, using these positions to placate those who support him, furthering his own ambitions while doing so.

A different path is available for us to consider, presented by Walker’s challenger Mary Burke. This vision for the state emphasizes cooperation over division, inclusion over subjugation. Whereas ideas from one singular party is the preference in Walker’s Wisconsin, Burke will seek input from all political corners of the state, be they Republican, Democratic, or other.

To be sure, there will be challenges with this path as well -- cooperation can often mean compromising of some ideals to get things accomplished. But this path, which brings Wisconsin’s politics back to it’s modest origins, is more preferable than the path created by Walker.

For that reason alone, Mary Burke has gained my support, and I endorse her without reservation to become the first female governor in state’s history.

Yes, there are other specific policies held by Burke that are worth pointing out. Her support for a raise in the minimum wage, towards restoring much needed funding for our schools, and to preserve our natural resources for the enjoyment and health of our citizens for generations to come, all deserve praise from voters on the campaign trail. Burke has also stood for empowering women’s rights, marriage equality for all Wisconsin couples, and preserving the right afforded for all citizens to vote.

But it is her commitment toward cooperation and open discussion that warrants serious consideration for her as a candidate for governor. Wisconsin will face several obstacles over the next four years, some of them known to us currently, but others we have yet to discover. For these unknown situations that may come about, no policy position discussed on the campaign trail will describe how one candidate will lead versus another. Rather, it is the character of the candidate which helps us to understand how these individuals will react to these spontaneous situations that come about.

Burke’s character as someone who seeks input from multiple sources sets her apart in a positive way. It is a trait that should be desired by the citizenry in any leader they select, and distances her from Walker, who seems to thrive on divisiveness and partisanship. In short, Walker bases policy decisions on what can further his donors’ needs or his own ambitions; for Burke, the motivations are much deeper and nobler than that.

Wisconsin would be better off without Scott Walker in office. It will move Forward with Burke as governor.

Lunchtime musings: GOP operative makes wild claims we should all ignore

The allegations against Mary Burke, that she was fired from Trek, are completely unfounded and should be ignored. Why the mainstream media is picking this story up is beyond me, and it's irresponsible journalism in my view.

Here's what we know:
Gary Ellerman, the man making the claim, was himself fired from Trek. He is a Republican Party operative, and is known for not necessarily playing by the rules -- he was one of several "fake Democrats" to run against legitimate candidates in the 2012 recall elections; 
The organization that "reported" the claim, Wisconsin Reporter, is hardly neutral. It is founded in major part by the Franklin Center, which itself has major financial dealings with conservative groups like the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers, and the NRA; 
And Mary Burke's brother, John Burke, the current president of Trek, denies all allegations made against his sister. As the president of the company, who was present at the time of these allegations, he is the best person to consult when it comes to the veracity of these wild claims.
So why are we taking the word of a disgruntled former employee with political motivations, who spoke to a conservative media outlet in order to further his wild story? This is political junk at its worst, one week before the election. It should be ignored, and the Republican Party of Wisconsin should be ashamed of itself for promoting it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Wisconsin less safe under Walker's watch, concealed carry

Statistical analysis of crime data exposes crime rise in state during national plateau

In 2010, the year before Gov. Scott Walker took office, there were 97 gun related homicides in the state of Wisconsin.

This week, according to Wisconsin Public Radio, we’ve already reached that number for the year, with 65 days still remaining in 2014. If we keep up the current pace we should reach 118 gun homicides by the end of the year.

What has happened to have made Wisconsin (if it keeps this pace) surpass a 20 percent increase in annual gun-related homicides from 2010 to the present? Funding to police departments fell, in large part due to cuts to localities imposed by the Walker administration:
The governor's first budget, passed in 2011, delivered the single largest cut to shared revenue in a decade — $76 million, or 9 percent. Walker also imposed strict limits on local governments' ability to raise property taxes to make up for those cuts.
While not saying he is directly responsible for the crime rate increasing over the years, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association determined that due to those cuts, it could not endorse Walker in this year’s gubernatorial election, opting instead to support Democratic candidate Mary Burke.

There’s another important aspect worth pointing out: homicides from guns have increased as we’ve instituted concealed carry across Wisconsin.

During the concealed carry bill ceremony in 2011, Walker stated, “By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.”

While we can’t definitively say that concealed carry is responsible for these crime increases, we can look closely at the evidence and say that Gov. Walker’s assertion that the state would be safer with the law in place is patently false.

We now see that Wisconsin isn’t safer under Walker’s watch. Having citizens carry guns around didn’t make us safer, either. And cutting funding for municipalities by huge margins may have contributed to lower budgets for law enforcement, making crime a rising problem in the state, at a time when the rest of the nation is seeing relatively unchanged crime stats.

How could anyone who wants a safer Wisconsin support Walker’s re-election bid? It’s time to face reality, and to start fresh with a new governor. Wisconsin’s safety is depending on it.