TCD’s winners and losers
The lowest common denominator
After allegedly crossing out signatures on recall petitions, Jeffrey Karnitz has been charged with election fraud for defacing a petition. If the allegations are true, Karnitz broke the law and should be prosecuted. But that’s not the issue. The issue here is that both sides of the recall have been slinging mud at a breakneck pace since the recall began, and it’s becoming a problem. There are legitimate, fundamental issues at stake of who we are and what our priorities should be, and regardless of your views, they need to be taken seriously. If the people in charge of the respective campaigns can’t stay focused on the larger issues at hand, how can the people of Wisconsin?
Fans of privatizing medicare
Politico.com unveiled its 2011 Policy Report Card this week, and Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan was named Health Care Policymaker of the Year. Politico states that Ryan “instantly changed the conversation on health care” when he released his budget plan in April, which included provisions for privatizing Medicare. Though many pundits have criticized Ryan’s plan, (including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who panned Politico’s selection), as Politico executive editor (and UW-Oshkosh grad) Jim Vandehei said in the nine-minute interview at Politico’s Conference and Awards dinner, “there’s few people in politics that have been more consequential over the past year than [Paul Ryan].”
The wrongfully accused
Wisconsin Right to Life and Wisconsin Jobs Now were cleared on all charges of election bribery after a John Doe investigation by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office. Wisconsin Right to Life was accused of offering gift cards in exchange for voting for pro-life candidates in absentee ballots. Wisconsin Jobs Now was accused of “BBQ-for-votes,” in which the coalition was accused of offering free food and a ride to City Hall to cast absentee ballots against Sen. Alberta Darling in the summer recall election.
Green Bay Packer wide receivers
Donald Driver and Greg Jennings each made appearances in Milwaukee over the past week to promote their charity work in the area. Driver was in town Tuesday for appearances at area Goodwill locations to sign his new children’s book (Quickie Goes To The Big Game) and promote the Donald Driver Foundation. Along with organization “Blessings in a Backpack,” Driver’s foundation also sponsored a statewide charity event Dec. 7 at Buffalo Wild Wings locations. Jennings also spent his Tuesday in southeastern Wisconsin, where he spoke to area middle school students at St. Marcus Lutheran School and made a donation to the school’s library. “It’s a great day to be great” is Jennings’ trademark phrase, and for these Packers, it’s more than a game day rallying cry.
Who announced for first time in the school’s history that more than 10,000 degrees were conferred in the 2010-2011 school year. The number includes undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. Of course, it’s been a pretty good week for UW-Madison sports too, as the Badgers won the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State and punched their ticket to the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row. To top it off, Badger running back Montee Ball was also selected as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. On, Wisconsin!
Voter suppression claims
Activist liberal media outlet Daily Kos claimed that Gov. Scott Walker had plans to close DMV offices in low-income areas as a way to make it more difficult for voters to get new forms of identification required under the new voter ID law. The claim was entirely false, according to PolitiFact Wisconsin. In September, PolitiFact gave a “Pants on Fire” rating to similar claims by the AFL-CIO and the Wisconsin Democratic Party, which stated “Gov. Walker is denying Democrats the right to vote.”
Manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin
In another blow to Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector, 450 employees at Wausau Paper will be out of a job, as the company announced plans to close its Brokaw mill by March 31, 2012. Still open, however, is the Mosinee mill, which employs 400 people. The company’s premium print and color paper edition will be sold to Neenah Paper. The news comes one day after Gov. Walker signed AB-1, a bill aimed at creating jobs by doubling the amount of new employee tax credits available to employers.
Quadruplets inside the state Capitol
Widely slammed by the “evil, liberal media,” Gov. Scott Walker’s office announced a plan to require groups of four or more to obtain permits to protest inside the statehouse or any state building. According to WUWM, “The plan also makes demonstrators liable for the costs of police protection and cleanup.” Wisconsin ALCU executive director Chris Ahmuty said the Walker administration overreached, and indicated legal action could be taken against the state if the policy isn’t modified. I wonder whether this is a concerted effort to stifle free speech or a desperate move to silence the unflinchingly dedicated Solidarity Singers.
Requiring permits isn’t the only new policy included in the the Wisconsin State Facilities Access Policy (which outlines the new rules for congregation at the capitol). It also includes this: “Permits shall be granted for public events or exhibits without discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color handicap, marital status, sex, national origin, ancestry, and arrest or conviction record.” Omitted from that list is “sexual orientation,” as Fair WI and The Progressive noted earlier this week. In 1982, Wisconsin Governor Lee Dreyfus signed a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s like the Dylan song says: the times, they are a-reverting back to thirty years ago for no apparent reason. I love that song.
Victims of sexual assault
The Wisconsin Department of Justice announced it will cut funding to agencies that help sexual assault victims by 42.5 percent. Cuts will affect employees of Sexual Assault Victim Services, as many of the services they provide rely on these grants. In the AP report, Pennie Meyers, interim executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault called the cuts “disastrous” and indicated they will have a serious effect on members’ ability to provide services to sexual assault survivors.