TCD’s week in review (1/27/12)
1. The $214 million dollar man
After months (if not years) of speculation, beloved Brewer first baseman Prince Fielder signed a nine year, $214 million contract to suit up for the Detroit Tigers. Ever since Prince signed with super-agent Scott Boras, it’s been a certainty that Fielder would receive a Princely payday, one that baseball’s smallest market could never afford. As much as I’ll miss watching Fielder play 162 times a year, as a Brewer fan, Detroit is about as good a city for Prince to land as any; he’ll play in the American League for a team and a city with a storied baseball history (and it’s not in New York or Boston), occasional DH-ing will allow him to extend his career, the Tigers will be competitive and fun to watch for the foreseeable future, and he’ll do great things for the city of Detroit.
2. Biker business
Harley-Davidson reported a 5.9 percent worldwide retail sales increase in 2011, which included a 10.9 percent increase in the fourth quarter alone. Revenue for the quarter rose from $917.1 million in 2010 to $1.03 billion in 2011. “The solid improvement in new Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales reflects the strong appeal of the company’s product lineup to a diverse customer base,” said Harley-Davidson president and CEO Keith Wandell.
3. Walker’s war chest
Since Dec. 11, Gov. Scott Walker has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign. More than half of that money came in contributions of $20,000 or more, and 61 percent is from outside of the state, including $750,000 from three donors in Missouri. In that same time period, the Democratic Party and United Wisconsin reported raising $480,000.
4. Calling a spade a spade
State Rep. Richard Spanbauer (R – Algoma) opted against seeking a third term in the upcoming election, and his reasoning came with some stark honesty about the toxic nature of Wisconsin politics in 2012. According to the Oshkosh Northwestern, Spanbauer said, “They’re more obsessed with politics than the real reason we’re elected: to serve the people. Madison is different. Politics is different. Today, compromise has gone out the window and I’m coming to that point where I don’t have the patience for it anymore.” Spanbauer has served in the Assembly since 2008 and was one of the few Republicans to vote against the removal of collective bargaining.
Gov. Scott Walker and President Barack Obama are the frontrunners for elections in 2012, according to a Marquette University poll. In the poll, Obama leads Mitt Romney 48 percent to 40 percent for the presidential election. For the likely recall election, Walker currently leads potential challengers Tom Barrett, Kathleen Falk and David Obey by at least six percent.
1. A startling record low
A study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center for Economic Development released this week says Milwaukee has one of the worst black male employment rates in the country, at 44.7 percent. Only Buffalo and Detroit had lower. This is the level on record in Milwaukee, which has dropped from 73.4 percent in 1970 to 52.9 percent in 2008, to the alarmingly low rate it is now.
2 . Time constraints
State election officials were granted an additional 30 days to review the nearly two million recall signatures submitted last week. In the meantime, you can watch the verification process on the Government Accountability Board‘s website. This is good news for the Walker campaign, which is allowed to raise money freely until the signatures are verified and the race officially begins.
3. Conflicting stories
In a state that can’t agree on anything whatsoever, recent reports indicate that whether or not Wisconsin actually has a balanced budget is still in question. According to WUWM, “Governor Walker has been touting the state’s balanced budget. Yet his administration submitted a report to the federal government asking for clearance to cut thousands of people from Medicaid because the state faces a three billion dollar deficit.” The manner in which certain accounting principles have been used to analyze the deficit is also in question.
4. Campaigning on the clock
Charges continue to come forward in the the John Doe investigation of former staffers of then-County Executive Scott Walker. Tim Russell was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors for stealing more than $25,000 from a veterans group. Kelly Rindfleish was charged with four felony counts of misconduct for working for Walker’s gubernatorial campaign while on the clock for her taxpayer-funded job. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “During work hours between February 2010 and early July 2010, it says, Rindfleisch sent more than 300 emails to Davis and some 1,380 fundraising emails. The John Doe also turned up more than 1,000 emails between Rindfleisch and top staffers on Walker’s 2010 campaign during work hours over the same period.” Darlene Wink, who was also accused, has agreed to work with prosecutors in the ongoing investigation.
5. The so-called safety net
The Social Development Commission is in jeopardy of losing contracts for Head Start and Wisconsin Works (W-2). Head Start has a $21 million contract with the SDC, and W-2’s contract is for $24 million. The SDC is the state’s largest anti-poverty social service agency. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “in the last year or so, some new members have joined the commission, including former Democratic legislator Shirley Krug and others who are more vocal in raising questions about the agency’s accountability, priorities, management and effectiveness in carrying out its mission to deal with a poverty rate in Milwaukee that’s among the highest in the country.”
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