Monday, February 29, 2016

Sup. Ct. candidate Rebecca Bradley shows she's willing to kowtow to special interests

Bradley, who doesn't have a WI hunting license, appears in flier as a hunter

It was dumb when John Kerry did it. And it’s dumb now that Rebecca Bradley is doing it.

But the current conservative state Supreme Court justice, who is gearing up for what will become a very contentious election campaign against challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, is trying to send a message to gun voters in the state: that you can count on her to be a rubber stamp for the NRA while she’s adjudicating.

Bradley’s latest campaign flyer includes her wearing blaze orange hunting gear, holding a rifle, and sporting an NRA cap. It is a clear indication that she will back up the gun lobby in her rulings.

Not that it was ever in doubt that she would. Bradley, a former member of the NRA and a concealed carry holder in Wisconsin, likely didn’t need to create this kind of photo op to show off her pro-gun credentials, despite not currently holding a DNR hunting license.

Still, it’s a bit bewildering why the sitting justice would make her opinions so blatantly obvious. It’s nice to know where her allegiances lie, of course, but broadcasting it so loudly (in her campaign flyer, no less) makes it clear that she cannot be an impartial justice when it comes to issues of guns. One has to wonder whether she can be impartial on other issues as well.

Perhaps, in this day and age where it’s normal to see corporations and super PACs buying our elections, we shouldn’t be too surprised by this turn of events. But it doesn’t mean we have to be comfortable with it. After all, we are witnessing a candidate for the state Supreme Court openly try to woo special interest groups to her campaign. That sort of behavior should be shunned, and Wisconsinites should rightly reject it.

We do have a choice, after all -- and Wisconsin voters ought to instead stand behind the candidate that is demonstrating independence and sound judgment when it comes to impartiality on the bench.

That choice is clearly JoAnne Kloppenburg, who brings a quarter of a century of experience working in the Wisconsin justice system under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Rebecca Bradley, on the other hand, has been appointed to judgeships three times by Walker in the past three years, and is the wrong pick in my view for our state’s highest court.

On April 5, be sure to support the candidate who will have your interests, not the NRA’s, in mind. Reject Rebecca Bradley, and vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Donald Trump becomes a "Know-Nothing" on David Duke, white supremacists

Trump refuses to acknowledge a vital (and dangerous) aspect of his presidential campaign

Donald Trump is apparently trying to unite the Republican Party with the failed “Know-Nothing” Party of the 19th century.

Trump was asked whether he’d repudiate the endorsement of known KKK leader David Duke. But Trump refused to acknowledge he knew anything about Duke, his ties to the KKK, or white supremacy altogether.

“Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump said to CNN on Sunday. He added, “I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists...I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

But in 2000, Trump had stated he did know about Duke and his ties to the KKK:
Trump cited Duke's participation in the Reform Party as one reason he no longer wanted the party's nomination.

"The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. [Pat] Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. [Lenora] Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep," he wrote in his statement.
Like the original “Know-Nothings,” Trump is refusing to acknowledge the troubled aspects of his political campaign, namely the racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant stances that he’s taken. Those ideals have garnered him support from people like Duke, and have resulted in violent outbursts from his supporters that he refuses to concede exists.

Later in the day, Trump tried to cover up his tracks, claiming he had already disavowed David Duke previously. But his words now don’t match what he’s said before, in this campaign and in the past.

Whether Trump acknowledges it or not, the American people need to be aware of his dangerous rhetoric and his troubling associations. Trump is not what America stands for, and he will not “make it great” by any measure should he get elected president.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Will Scott Walker be a liability for Rebecca Bradley?

Sitting Justice Rebecca Bradley, appointed by unpopular Walker three times, faces tough challenge from JoAnne Kloppenburg

The latest Marquette Law School poll released today indicates that attitudes haven’t changed all that much when it comes to Gov. Scott Walker -- Wisconsinites still, for the most part, are not happy with him.

Nearly 55 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the governor’s performance while in office, while only 38.8 percent thought he was doing a good job.

With less than two-in-five citizens approving of Walker, one has to wonder whether that will translate in the upcoming spring elections. Had he still been running for president (instead of dropping out early last fall), it would have been interesting to see Walker try to win his home state against the apparent juggernaut of the Republican field, billionaire Donald Trump, who has the current lead among GOP hopefuls in the Badger state.

But a separate election could provide some insight into how damaged the Walker brand may be. The Supreme Court race between sitting Justice Rebecca Bradley and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg is set to be contentious, currently a statistical tie according to the Marquette Law poll.

Kloppenburg, who lost narrowly to Justice David Prosser in 2011 by 7,006 votes (or about 0.93 percent of the vote), is once again seeking to unseat a sitting justice on the state’s highest court. Bradley, on the other hand, is in her first Supreme Court race -- rather than winning election to her current post, she was appointed to the position by none other than Walker himself, who has pretty much appointed her to every judicial position she’s held in her career.

Bradley did win one election to a judicial post, but it was after Walker appointed her to that position. She had the incumbency advantage, and it’s pretty clear Walker had intended to give her that same advantage with his appointing her to the state Supreme Court.

Which was well within his rights to do. There was a vacancy on the court, and Walker fulfilled his duties as governor in appointing a successor.

But now we have a thrice-appointed-in-three-years Walker incumbent on the court facing a challenge from a more experienced candidate in JoAnne Kloppenburg, who, in addition to her serving on the District 4 Court of Appeals, has 23 years of experience as an assistant attorney general in Wisconsin under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

While Kloppenburg knows the law inside-and-out, (she is a Yale and UW graduate), there’s no doubt that Bradley does, too -- she has an extensive list of credentials that shouldn’t be dismissed. But her interpretation of the law mimics that of Scott Walker’s, and it’s clear by recent polling that Wisconsin residents don’t want that any longer.

Bradley’s attachment to Walker could spell trouble for her in the upcoming April 5th spring election, if Kloppenburg’s campaign is willing to make it an issue. It will also be difficult for Bradley to maintain that she’s independent from Walker -- she has donated to his campaign in the past, and in recent cases before the court she’s sided with his position.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, and to see whether Wisconsin residents are willing to put a Walker-appointed judge on the state’s highest court for a ten-year term.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sen. Johnson deserves to be removed from office for his pro-obstruction agenda

Citizens should vote for change in Wisconsin senate representation come November

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin wants you to know it’s well within his rights, and the Senate’s rights, to deny President Barack Obama an appointment to the Supreme Court.

"He's [President Obama] got a track record. We know the type of justice he would appoint. We wouldn't confirm that individual," Johnson said. "Not acting is also withholding our consent, and that's within our right."
Certainly denying the president a chance to pick a new Justice to the Court is within the Senate’s rights. The Constitution doesn’t stipulate for what reasons the Senate may restrain the sitting president’s nomination to the Court. It simply states that the Senate will provide the president with “advice and consent” on whomever he nominates to fill the position.

But the Republican senators who are standing in the president’s way, including Johnson, are being incredibly transparent with their opposition. Their refusal goes beyond obstructing a presidential choice for the Supreme Court -- they won’t even allow hearings to take place on ANY nominee, a move that is unprecedented for that legislative body.

Put aside the blatant disregard for institutional traditions for a moment, though, and just look at the situation as it stands. The president, who is Constitutionally obligated to choose a replacement for any vacant Supreme Court seat, is being told by oppositional senators that they won’t even give consideration to any nominee he puts forward.

Their motivations are wholly political, and are being done at the expense of allowing the Supreme Court to operate as it was meant to function. But then again, for a party that is willing to shut down government, downgrade our economic ratings, or vote consistently on an issue that they have been defeated on more than 40 times already, should we really be surprised?

This type of behavior isn’t going to win over any voters for Sen. Johnson. He and his Senate colleagues should do their job, and allow the president to submit a name for consideration. Then, and only then, should they make arguments for or against the nominee.

And in November, Wisconsin voters should remove Johnson from office.

Monday, February 22, 2016

We should curtail solitary confinement for juvenile offenders

An honest conversation on whether solitary confinement is "cruel and unusual" punishment is needed

The ACLU of Wisconsin is urging the state to limit its use of solitary confinement, especially for juveniles in the state’s corrections system.

Citing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote in 2015 that “near-total isolation exacts a terrible price” on prisoners, the ACLU is recommending that the state Department of Corrections be open and transparent about its use of solitary confinement, and urges using it on a limited basis if it is to be used at all.

“[Incoming Department of Corrections] Secretary Litscher should seize the opportunity of his appointment to eliminate solitary confinement of juveniles, radically reduce its use among all prisoners, and submit to independent oversight,” the ACLU of Wisconsin wrote.

How we treat juvenile offenders in Wisconsin is especially concerning as of late. Recent investigations of the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls, which house young offenders from across the state, have revealed alarming allegations of abuse and mistreatment of children there.

In one instance a youth had to have his toes amputated due to an altercation with a guard who slammed his foot in the door. Other allegations of sexual and physical abuse abound, with the Walker administration apparently missing signs of the abuse as far back as 2012.
Records of the incident show clearly that despite Walker's repeated statements that he was surprised by more recent allegations of abuse, his office and his administration were told of troubling conduct at the prison in February 2012.
With these allegations in mind, we have to start considering what is the proper way to rehabilitate our inmates, especially juveniles who still have developing minds.

Solitary confinement is one topic that warrants attention. According to the Atlantic magazine, solitary confinement “wreaks profound neurological and psychological damage” for young offenders, “causing depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, cognitive deficits, obsessive thinking, paranoia, anxiety, and anger.”

The effects of solitary confinement on the young mind are indeed disturbing, and expose a cyclical pattern that sees no end for those that are subjected to its practice (emphases in bold mine).
One of the reasons that solitary is particularly harmful to youth is that during adolescence, the brain undergoes major structural growth. Particularly important is the still-developing frontal lobe, the region of the brain responsible for cognitive processing such as planning, strategizing, and organizing thoughts or actions. One section of the frontal lobe, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, continues to develop into a person’s mid-20s. It is linked to the inhibition of impulses and the consideration of consequences.
Prolonged exposure to solitary can cause lifelong problems. For others, the outcome can be fatal: half of all suicides that occur in juvenile prisons happen while the youth is in solitary confinement, and 62 percent of suicides occurred among inmates who had been frequently subjected to the practice (PDF).

It’s not necessarily possible to rid the system of solitary confinement entirely. Most recommendations, however, suggest limiting its use, arguing it should only be done when absolutely necessary for the safety of others (or of that particular inmate). And the time that a prisoner, especially a juvenile offender, should be exposed to solitary ought to be shortened, by no longer than two weeks by most recommendations.

When “troubled” kids get sent to juvenile detention centers, we often forget or explain away their ill-treatment. Many people believe even believe they are deserving of what they get exposed to. But prisoners, especially those who are still young, deserve proper treatment, even if they committed a crime that landed them in prison.

A conviction of a crime doesn’t allow us to expose offenders to cruel and unusual punishment. It’s high-time that we consider, and have an honest conversation on, whether using solitary confinement as a punishment (especially for juveniles) fits that definition.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

"Day without Latinos" sheds light on anti-immigrant bills

Bills demonstrate how mean-spirited GOP is when it comes to immigrants

Thousands of immigrants rights advocates plan to protest in Madison today in what’s being called the “Day without Latinos.”

The protests are meant to give Wisconsinites across the state a chance to recognize the important role that immigrants play in our state and our economy.

As Wisconsin Public Radio reports, farms across the state will feel the brunt of their importance, noting that “Latino immigrants make up more than 40 percent of the hired help on state dairy farms.” Cities across the state will also feel their impact, as several restaurants and other service industry jobs rely heavily on immigrant labor.

The protests are against two bills in the state legislature that are likely to hit Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.
One of the bills in question passed both the state Assembly and Senate Tuesday despite facing strong opposition from both immigrants and local officials in Madison and Milwaukee. It bars cities from creating local photo ID cards that immigrants can use when interacting with law enforcement. The Assembly also passed another bill that bars local governments from adopting ordinances that prevent police or other local officials from asking crime suspects about immigration status. The Senate is scheduled to take that bill up in March.
Emphases in bold added.

Protesters in front of
Nuestro Mundo School
on Thursday morning
Those two bills would make the lives of immigrants across Wisconsin much more difficult. Immigrants would feel like less a part of our society, and would be more inclined to hide in the shadows rather than cooperate with law enforcement during criminal investigations.

The bills also infringe upon local municipality rights and local control, a cornerstone of what it used to mean to be a Republican.

But more importantly, these types of laws are indicative of how Republicans feel about immigrants overall (whether we’re dealing with Republicans in the state or nationally). The GOP sends a clear message of disrespect for our state’s immigrant community with these bills, loud enough to be heard from Madison to Manitowoc -- that immigrants aren’t welcome here.

These protests are meant to counter that sentiment. I’m not an immigrant, I’m not Latino, but I do support immigrants who choose to make Wisconsin their home. These bills are not what this state is about -- and I am hopeful that these bills, if they do become law, will one day be repealed by a more open and more generous state legislature and governor.

UPDATE (11:05 AM): Per WKOW's Greg Neumann on Twitter, apparently Speaker Robin Vos is afraid of Latinos?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Waukesha's Water Application Fuels Sprawl and Pollutes Water

Great Lakes' water shouldn't bail out Waukesha's irresponsibility

This video is a must watch for anyone who cares about the current issue going on with Waukesha wanting Milwaukees water..

If you're not up to speed on this issue..heres a good breakdown:
Waukesha expects to use up to 10.1 million gallons of Lake Michigan water a day. It would buy water from the Oak Creek water utility, treat it and return it to Lake Michigan via the Root River.
Dan Duchniak, general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility, said the city has studied its water supply options since 2002. He said Waukesha has had more than 100 public meetings on the proposal. Waukesha is seeking Lake Michigan water because its current system of wells does not meet federal radium standards on days of heavy use.
Per the Wisconsin Gazette, there will be a public hearing tomorrow as well in Waukesha on this issue if anyone is interested in coming to testify or sending in testimony.

Milwaukee and Racine don't want to be Waukesha's toilet...and we shouldn't be using Great Lakes water to bail out Waukesha's irresponsibility. Make your voice heard.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Jobs study demonstrates why Walker’s policies failed to deliver

Trying to “lure” jobs from other states won’t produce meaningful jobs growth

A report released earlier this month laid out some important truths about job creation, namely that trying to lure jobs from other states isn’t the route to go.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “poaching” from other states fails to produce the highest yield for creating a large number of jobs. Instead, states should focus on policies that help startups and already-established smaller companies, which the organization cited as most responsible for job growth.

The group points out that 87 percent of new job growth “comes from startups and expansion of businesses already established in a state,” according to a recent Cap Times article. Conversely, trying to poach jobs from other states produced at best 4 percent of all new job growth, according to the study.

This could help explain why Wisconsin, which has had minimal jobs growth since Gov. Scott Walker took office, has struggled when compared to its neighbors and the rest of the nation.

Walker made it publicly known early on in his tenure that he intended to try and get jobs from elsewhere to migrate to the state. For example, in 2012 fresh off of his recall victory, the Walker administration spent half a million dollars in advertising alone within Minnesota and Illinois, urging companies in those two states to give Wisconsin a shot.

Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Walker’s plans fell short. Way short.

From Walker’s recall election in June of 2012 to June 2015, Wisconsin grew private sector jobs at a slower pace than both Illinois and Minnesota (data derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Illinois had an 11 percent faster rate of job growth, while Minnesota had a 42 percent rate advantage over Wisconsin.

Walker promoted tax cuts as a way to produce more jobs within the state as well. But when families earning less than $60,000 a year receive a tax cut of at most $117 (that’s less than $10 a month), that income can do very little to help promote growth.

What’s a better way to produce more jobs? Produce more income for workers. A $10 an hour minimum wage, for example, would put $110 per week more in the pockets of a worker earning the current minimum wage rate of $7.25, or almost $500 per month in extra income into that working family’s hands.

More income means more purchases, which allows for companies in Wisconsin to earn more profits, which allows for more hiring of workers to keep up with the demand for goods and services being sought after.

Tax cuts for big businesses, on the other hand, produce higher profits but lack the demand for more production. Without that demand, there is no incentive for companies to spend money on hiring. It’s simple economics.

Scott Walker’s policies were meant to try and lure jobs away from neighboring states and to grow jobs through failed trickle-down economics. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study shows quite clearly that those methods don’t work.

Wisconsin needs a change in direction if it ever hopes to revive its economy. That may require a change in government leadership.

Sen. Johnson, GOP take big risk in blocking Obama SCOTUS pick

GOP can block Obama Supreme Court pick -- but it’d be risky to do so

Republicans are trying to prevent President Barack Obama from picking a Supreme Court nominee to replace recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia.

Commenting that we’re in a contentious presidential election year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Obama to back off on nominating someone, believing that duty should be left to the next president in office.

“The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

Wisconsin’s own Republican senator, Ron Johnson, echoed McConnell’s comments.

“I strongly agree that the American people should decide the future direction of the Supreme Court by their votes for president and the majority party in the U.S. Senate,” he said.

There’s no law that requires waiting until the next president is picked before nominating someone to serve on a vacant spot on the Supreme Court. There’s an informal tradition set by the late Strom Thurmond that allows the Senate to delay a nomination in certain circumstances. But that “rule” (if you can even call it that) was originally adopted for a promotion for an already-sitting Supreme Court justice to become Chief Justice -- and it’s been improperly cited ever since.

Johnson’s statement is especially jarring -- the American people have already selected a president to fill vacant seats to the Supreme Court when they elected President Obama into office. The Constitution is quite clear on this: the president “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint...judges of the Supreme Court.” There are no time constraints or other requirements that limit when a president may nominate.

To suggest that the American people haven’t selected the current president to conduct his Constitutional duty is a slap in the face to the citizenry that voted him into office, and also demonstrates the disrespectful attitude that Johnson and other Republicans have for President Obama.

The Senate may choose to deny Obama’s appointment on whatever grounds they see fit, including the justifications above. But should they go forward in this manner, their actions will be decisively transparent, a political obstruction like none other that we’ve seen from Republicans during Obama’s time in office (and that’s saying something). It’s already transparent that the Republican Party is trying to stall for political reasons, given that Obama hasn’t even given any indication as to who he may nominate.

Choosing to go in this direction will be a risky gamble to make, especially in a year when 24 Republican senators, including Johnson, are up for reelection.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Will Madison's first homicide of 2016 change minds on gun laws in Wisconsin?

Murder on Madison's east side the sad result of repealing state's 48-hour gun wait law

A young man, enraged after his romantic advances were turned down and who was subsequently fired for his continued harassment of his co-worker, was able to buy a gun and kill a young woman within a single day.

Madison’s first homicide of the year exemplifies how the removal of the previous 48-hour waiting period law to purchase a firearm was a mistake. The “cooling off” period could have allowed Caroline Nosal’s assailant to consider other options, including finding help for himself.

Instead, the man who murdered Nosal described his efforts to get a gun in three simple words: “It was easy.”

Nosal’s story is a tragic one, and shouldn’t be so easily overlooked by our state legislators. The man who murdered her (I won’t dignify him by including his name) took advantage of the law allowing citizens to purchase firearms without waiting for more than a click of the mouse before doing so.

Let’s remember that State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) was a huge proponent of removing the 48-hour waiting period. His justification rested on the idea that those who wanted to defend themselves wouldn’t be able to do so if they had to wait.

In April of last year Wanggaard wrote:
For every gun violence story that [can be] cited as a reason for this antiquated law, I could write an equally emotional story showing that a firearm saved a life or that the waiting period cost someone his or her life.
When I called Wanggaard’s office to ask for those stories, they could only supply one, even when pressed for more. And that story didn’t have anything to do with the 48-hour waiting period either. The family of Bonnie Elmasri disputes the accounts that Wanggaard and other lawmakers have made regarding her death, and regularly shuns them for using her as a ploy to dismantle reasonable gun laws.

But now we have a legitimate, true story of how a young woman’s life was taken, a direct result of the new “insta-gun” purchase legislation that was passed last year.

We have also seen that removing waiting periods can lead to hikes in violent crime and suicide. South Dakota saw a 70 percent jump in violent crime just four years after it repealed its own 48-hour waiting period to buy guns, for example.

And violent crime has jumped significantly in our own state following passage of laws meant to deregulate gun ownership -- since concealed carry was signed in 2011, violent crime has gone up by 22 percent in the state, and murder is up 20 percent.

This happened despite Gov. Scott Walker’s promise that the state would be safer after he signed concealed carry into law

In light of this recent incident, and with overwhelming evidence contradicting both anecdotal and statistical arguments that conservatives have made, will Republicans in Wisconsin finally admit that they made a mistake in deregulating the state’s gun laws since they took office?

Or should we expect more of the same? Will they simply ignore these truths, and ponder more ways to make Wisconsin more like the wild west?

Let’s hope voters will wise up to this as well. We need more common sense gun laws, and for that to happen it will require legislators with rational minds writing reasonable legislation.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Walker doesn’t focus on his poll numbers -- but maybe he should

Governor tells reporters he’s been in this position before...except, he hasn’t

Thirty-six percent -- the number of Wisconsinites that want Gov. Scott Walker to run for a third term.

Sixty-one percent -- the number that want Walker to not run again once his term is up.

Fifty-seven percent -- the disapproval rating that Walker currently has among registered voters.

These numbers, from the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, are not good news for the governor. But in spite of them, Walker says he remains focused on possibly running for a third term.

“Well, in 2011, my poll numbers were so low that Time magazine called me ‘Dead Man Walker,’” he said on Wednesday, reminding reporters that he won the recall just one year after those poll numbers were taken.

But there’s just one problem with that assessment: Walker’s polling numbers from then weren’t as low as they are now. To compare then and now disregards huge jumps in his net approval ratings.

Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling company, published a poll at the height of those protests (PDF) in March that demonstrated Walker still had the approval of 46 percent of the state. Only 52 percent disapproved of his short time in office.

That’s a net disapproval of only six percent. Today, Walker is dealing with a net disapproval of 19 percent, more than three times as high as when he “dropped the bomb” on Wisconsin (his words, not mine).

That same PPP poll from 2011 showed that, while the governor suffered an approval rating of only eight percent of Democratic voters, Republicans approved of his job by a rate of 86 percent. Today, however, that Republican approval rating has dropped to 72 percent.

Among independents the drop was even sharper. In 2011, 45 percent of PPP surveyed independents approved of Walker’s time on the job. Today, only 15 percent of independents approve.

With Walker’s numbers dropping by 16 percent among his own party, and dropping by 30 percent among independents, it’s a safe bet to say that the governor is in trouble politically. How he somehow believes he will be able to run for -- and win -- a third term in office is a mystery.

Then again, this is the same governor that believed tax cuts for the rich would bring huge job numbers to the state (instead of the disastrous last-in-the-Midwest ranking we have under his leadership). So maybe his ambitions aren’t that mysterious after all.

Maybe Walker really is that ignorant.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On the fifth anniversary of the Wisconsin protests, there are reasons for optimism

Wisconsinites now understand just how terrible the governing style of Scott Walker really is

Five years ago this month, Gov. Scott Walker dropped a proverbial bomb on Wisconsin.

In one fell swoop, his proposal to restrict state workers from exercising their right to bargain contracts collectively ignited the passions of millions of Wisconsinites across the state.

His move led to hundreds of thousands of protesters descending on the Capitol lawn in Madison. The protests gained national attention and prompted a recall election against Walker.

The governor won that recall election, and a subsequent re-election two years later. His backers implied that these wins were a vindication of his ideas.

But we stand here now, five years on, and see that Walker is not vindicated in his actions. Six in ten Wisconsinites now see him in a disapproving way, and only 38 percent approve of the way he has handled his job as governor (PDF).

And it’s not hard to figure out why:
All of these terrible ideas (and much, much more) that have sent Wisconsin backwards began with Walker's collective bargaining law five years ago. We thousands that protested in the Capitol Rotunda came together to recognize his failure as a leader in the first few months that he had assumed power.

Sadly not every Wisconsinite saw what we did in February 2011. But I’m optimistic today because the people of this great state are starting to see the light.

They now understand that Walker has been a terrible governor. And a majority agree -- he should never run again for the office he currently holds.

That’s a positive sign that things in Wisconsin won’t always be this way. Walker won’t be governor forever, and the state’s voters are rejecting his methods of governance -- which means we can restore Wisconsin’s progressive values in the years ahead.