NYT: Excessive over votes recorded by electronic machines in New York results in thousands of lost votes

December 6, 2011
Sam Roberts
news photo

-As many as 60,000 of the votes cast in New York State elections last year were voided because people unintentionally cast their ballots for more than one candidate, according to a study being released this week. The excess-voting was highest in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including two Bronx election districts where 40 percent of the votes for governor were disqualified.

-The study, by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, blamed software used with new electronic optical-scan voting machines as well as ambiguous instructions for disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters. The old mechanical lever-operated machines did not allow votes for more than one candidate for the same office.

CAP TIMES: Capitol protest limits violate constitution

December 7, 2011
Cap Times Editorial Board

Gov. Scott Walker in February admitted on Greta van Susteren’s Fox News program that he and his aides considered using agent provocateurs to create violent incidents in order to discredit protests at the state Capitol. More recently he has made it clear that he will go to any length to stifle dissent against his policies.

DAILY KOS: Standoff Coming in Wisconsin Against Restrictions to Protest at Capitol

December 7, 2011
Harry Waisbren

Things may be coming to a head in Wisconsin soon, most interestingly, almost exactly when we will be doing a whole lot of analysis on the Wisconsin uprisings’ past and future at Netroots New York.

Jason Stein at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel lays out the specifics on what is going on in terms of Walker’s attempt to hold protesters financially liable and compel them to apply for permits for any demonstrations of four or more 72 hours in advance.

CAP TIMES: Madison lawmaker seeks to expose ties between Walker, mining interests

December 12, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, submitted an open records request Monday to Gov. Scott Walker, seeking all communications with Gogebic Taconite regarding the 183-page Republican mining bill released Thursday.

"Many conservation leaders believe this bill is a massive handout to big corporate polluters and the mining industry," Roys said in a prepared statement. "Secret corporate-drafted bills are bad for Wisconsin and the public deserves to know how much influence lobbyists for out-of-state mining companies had in drafting this bill."

NYT: From Finland, an intriguing school-reform model

December 12, 2011
Jenny Anderson

Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and author, had a simple question for the high school seniors he was speaking to one morning last week in Manhattan: “Who here wants to be a teacher?”

Out of a class of 15, two hands went up — one a little reluctantly.

“In my country, that would be 25 percent of people,” Dr. Sahlberg said. “And,” he added, thrusting his hand in the air with enthusiasm, “it would be more like this.”

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CAP TIMES: Solidarity Singers director says 'we're there to petition our government'

December 13, 2011
Steven Elbow

Chris Reeder doesn't think new state policies imposing permit restrictions and costs on protesters at the Capitol are directed at him and the group of Solidarity Singers he leads.

But you have to wonder. The new dictates come at a time when the singers are easily the most consistent voice of dissent. Since March 11, they've never missed a weekday — that's 232 singalongs as of Friday, most of them in the Capitol rotunda.

CAP TIMES: ACLU sues over Wisconsin voter ID law

December 13, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

A federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Milwaukee alleging that Wisconsin's new voter ID law is unconstitutional and will deprive people of the right to vote.

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, claims top state officials includng Gov. Scott Walker and Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the non-partisan state elections agency, as well as employees tasked with implementing the law at the state Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security offices have created a poll tax and other obstacles that present a "severe and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote."

WSJ: Waukesha County clerk 'likely broke state law' during April Supreme Court race

December 13, 2011
Scott Bauer

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said Tuesday she believes she has been exonerated even though her office is undertaking numerous changes in how it handles ballots following the non-reporting of 14,000 votes in the spring Supreme Court election.

State investigators in September determined that Nickolaus likely broke the law by not reporting the votes in the hotly contested race between Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, but her conduct was unintentional and not criminal.

MJS: Arrest made in John Doe investigation of current and former Walker aides

December 13, 2011
Daniel Bice

Another major shoe has dropped in the John Doe investigation of Gov. Scott Walker's current and former aides.

On Tuesday, authorities arrested Andrew P. Jensen Jr., a commercial real estate broker with Boerke Co. and a past president of the Commercial Association of REALTORS Wisconsin.

Fran McLaughlin, spokesman for Sheriff David Clarke Jr., confirmed that Jensen was behind bars on Tuesday night. But McLaughlin said no one had filed a criminal complaint against the 50-year-old Milwaukee resident.

The sheriff's website states that charges are pending against Jensen.

FORBES: Scott Walker Kills Women's Cancer Screening Program For Political Gain

December 17, 2011
Rick Ungar

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has set his sights on ending the availability of cervical and breast cancer screening —along with multiple sclerosis detection— for Wisconsin women who have insufficient health insurance to pay for these critical procedures.

It’s not about money or budgets or unions or any of the usual ideologically driven nonsense we’ve come to expect from Scott Walker. This time, it’s just all about politics.

ED GARVEY: More corruption among Wisconsin's Supreme Court justices

December 20, 2011
Ed Garvey

We know the marching song is "On Wisconsin," but not so today as corruption involving a justice of the state Supreme Court, a major law firm, members of the Legislature secretly working with a mining company, and WMC to "relax" environmental protections to help the mining company in the "new" mining bill that has no sponsor is now part of the new marching song. "Not Wisconsin, not Wisconsin, line your pockets now..."

Two stories. Let's begin with the Gableman saga. Gableman ran against Louis Butler for a seat on Supreme Court, a rather cushy position--high pay, good benefits, 10-year term...not bad!

HUFF POST: The Truth is a Lie? A Lie is Truth?

December 20, 2011
Jason Linkins

Paul Krugman wakes up this morning, mourning the death of Politifact. He has good cause! In announcing its 2011 "Lie Of The Year," the truth-squadding agency has settled on something that isn't so much a "lie" as it is "100 percent true on its face," and the selection seems to have been made because it doesn't seem to understand some very basic things about Medicare's defined health benefits.

NYT: Jury nullification a powerful tool to bring democracy to the judicial system

December 20, 2011
Paul Butler

IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.

The information I have just provided — about a constitutional doctrine called “jury nullification” — is absolutely true. But if federal prosecutors in New York get their way, telling the truth to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence.

CAP TIMES: Austerity in Wisconsin killing jobs

December 21, 2011
Mike Ivey

A liberal-leaning Milwaukee think tank is out with a new report blaming state budget program cuts and public worker paycheck reductions for exacerbating Wisconsin's job struggles.

The report from the Institute for Wisconsin's Future says the reduction in take-home pay for tens of thousands of public employees is now hurting the private sector, as are the drastic state budget cuts for K-12 education.

JOHN NICHOLS: Scott Walker's ton of cash can't counter people power

December 21, 2011
John Nichols

If money is speech, as the crooked courtesans of our high court would have it, then Gov. Scott Walker might imagine himself well-positioned for the recall election he is now all but certain to face.

Last Thursday the United Wisconsin movement announced that its thousands of volunteers had in less than a month gathered more than 500,000 signatures on petitions demanding that the agonizingly inept governor of Wisconsin be held to account for an agenda that just cost the state another 14,000 jobs. On the very same day, Walker was touting the news that his campaign had raised more than $5 million.

Surely, in the calculus of the corrupt, 5,000,000 dollars should carry 10 times the political power of 500,000 signatures.

JOHN NICHOLS: Former state legislator Frank Nikolay embodied the best of Wisconsin's progressive tradition

December 21, 2011
John Nichols

Frank Nikolay learned his New Deal Democratic politics the hard way, as a poor kid in the Great Depression. He knew what it meant when a family fell on hard times and he knew what the government — yes, the government — could do to help them get back on their feet and on the road to prosperity.

Nikolay, who would become one of Wisconsin’s most respected lawyers, a leader in the state Legislature and a contender for statewide office, had no taste for those who suggested that government was the problem. He said they were either lying to themselves or lying to the people.

And Frank Nikolay was no liar.

He spoke the plain truth, even when doing so entailed political risks.

TRUTHDIG: If You Can’t Beat Them, Enjoin Them (From Voting)

December 27, 2011
Amy Goodman
news photo

All eyes are on Iowa this week, as the hodgepodge field of Republican contenders gallivants across that farm state seeking a win, or at least “momentum,” in the campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. But behind the scenes, a battle is being waged by Republicans—not against each other, but against American voters. Across the country, state legislatures and governors are pushing laws that seek to restrict access to the voting booth, laws that will disproportionately harm people of color, low-income people, and young and elderly voters.

Using participatory budgeting to fight forced austerity

December 29, 2011
Giulio Caperchi

A Crisis of Legitimacy

Following the 2009 financial crisis, the ensuing bailouts and the passing of austerity measures, American and European voters increasingly feel alienated by their political representatives. The Tea Party in the US rails against politicians they believe to be incompetent, far removed and corrupt. Similarly, the Occupy and Indignados movements see their elected representatives as catering to the corporate elite, lobbyists and the so-called 1%. A recent Gallup poll (12-2011) reports that the approval rating for the US congress is at an all time low: only 11% of Americans think it is doing a good job while a whopping 86% believe they are performing abysmally[1]. 

CNN: Why vote on Tuesdays? No good reason

January 3, 2012
Jacob Soboroff

Today, Iowans will kick off the Republican nominating process for president of the United States with the first-in-the-nation caucuses. But why a Tuesday?

The short answer: We vote on Tuesday for absolutely no good reason. This is true especially when you consider the United States, arguably the world's most famous democracy, has ranked near the bottom of all nations in voter participation for more than half a century. And that's not because, as Mitt Romney suggested to me last month, we need great candidates to increase voter turnout. Heard of JFK? Reagan?

DAILY KOS: Pulaski WI Marching Band Plays "Union Maid" in Rose Bowl Parade

January 3, 2012

The Pulaski High Marching Band, of Pulaski Wisconsin, made an awesome statement in yesterday's Rose Bowl Parade.

It was quite an honor for the Red Raiders from this small town (pop. approx. 3000) northwest of Green Bay to be marching in 80-degree weather in Pasadena, while their proud community looked on from windy 18-degree Wisconsin.

The TV coverage started as they marched along playing "On Wisconsin," looking properly Badger-like in their red uniforms.

And then they got to the grandstand, at about 1:15 in the YouTube ... listen to what happened.

THE GUARDIAN: Unlimited super-pac money flooding Iowa before caucuses

January 3, 2012
Richard Adams

Iowa's Republican presidential contest is bringing out harsh attack ads from supporters of Rick Perry (left) and from Ron Paul's campaign. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

A tide is flowing through American politics: a tide of money unleashed by a supreme court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending on advertising by so-called "super pacs" – political action committees loosely affiliated with individual candidates.

UPPITY WISCONSIN: Request for data base tries to cause more chaos in recall process

January 13, 2012

Republican lawmakers have an unlimited capacity for mischief, especially when it comes to trying to delay the inevitable recall elections coming sooner or later this year.

State Rep. Robin Vos has asked the Government Accountability Board to create an online, searchable data base of everyone who signs a recall petition.

Why? So citizens can search the hundreds of thousands of names looking for mistakes, he says:


January 16, 2012
Arthur Kohl-Riggs

From the account of YouTube user arthurkr222:

Sherrilyn Ifill, a law professor and a civil rights lawyer speaks to the MLK Day event at the Capitol and shares how the Reverend felt about some issues that we still find ourselves dealing with, like housing discrimination and predatory banking practices, the culture of war and how money and resources spent on war is money and resources not spent helping those in need, but the biggest response of the day was when she brought up the discriminatory voter disenfranchisement law that Walker pushed through.

MJS: Contrary to Walker's claims state budget deficit still exists

January 22, 2012
Jason Stein

Madison - Gov. Scott Walker's administration has touted for months its efforts to balance the state budget, but now it also has acknowledged a significant way in which the budget isn't balanced.

To keep the possibility alive of making further cuts to state health programs, the Walker administration quietly certified to the federal government on Dec. 29 that the state had a deficit.

Federal law allows the state to drop tens of thousands of adults to save money on health care costs if the state can show it has a deficit. Walker has said he wants to cut health care spending in other ways, but hasn't ruled out dropping those 53,000 adults if the other methods aren't approved by the federal government.

WSJ: Indoor Capitol protest photos tell the 'real story'

January 22, 2012
Gayle Worland

For five of the 17 days last February that protesters lived in and slept in the state Capitol, photographer John Riggs was there, with little more than his camera. 

Shooting pictures inside the historic building was difficult: Light conditions were low and events were unpredictable. But Riggs, owner of Tamarack Studio and Gallery just east of Capitol Square, found the occupation sparked by political events so personally moving, so filled with creativity and so peacefully "utopian" that he felt it needed to be documented in a show and a book.

WSJ: Assembly committee passes devastating mining bill

January 24, 2012
Todd Richmond

Republicans on the state Assembly's jobs committee Tuesday approved a bill that would streamline Wisconsin's iron mining permit process, brushing aside Democrats' claims that the measure is a license to pollute.

The bill is designed to jump-start Florida-based Gogebic Taconite's plans for an iron mine in the Penokee Hills just south of Lake Superior. The measure has triggered a fierce debate between Republicans looking to deliver on campaign promises to create jobs and environmentalists who say the mine would ruin the pristine area.

US House Passes Bill To End Public Funding Of Campaigns

January 26, 2012
Catalina Camia


The U.S. House passed a bill today to end public financing of presidential campaigns, but the bid to kill a system considered outdated by some Republicans could end there.

The vote was 239-160. Ten Democrats supported the measure and one Republican voted no.

The Obama administration is "strongly opposed" to the bill and wants to see public financing for presidential campaigns "fixed rather than dismantled."

The Tea Party Plan to Save Scott Walker

January 31, 2012
Andy Kroll


As soon as April, millions of Wisconsinites will vote on whether to oust Gov. Scott Walker—a rising Republican star and arguably the most polarizing governor in politics today—just two years into his first term in office. Walker's recall election is a referendum on his hardline conservative agenda, including curbing collective bargaining rights for state workers and slashing education funding. For Walker himself it's a pivotal moment in his young political career.  

JOHN NICHOLS: How Scott Walker and ALEC plotted the attack on Arizona's Unions

February 3, 2012
John Nichols

Two days after Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Governor John Kasich’s anti-labor agenda by a sixty-one to thirty-nine margin in a statewide referendum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jetted to Arizona to launch the next front in the national campaign to attack union rights.

After meeting with former Vice President Dan Quayle, Walker was whisked over to the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, where he briefed a thousand Arizona conservatives on how they could attack “the big-government union bosses.”

JOHN NICHOLS: Chrysler Super Bowl ad features Wisconsin union rally, but edits out union signs

February 6, 2012
John Nichols

The one truly stunning ad on Super Bowl night was a moving two-minute Chrysler commercial featuring actor Clint Eastwood. Aired at halftime, the ad hailed the renewal of the American automobile industry and featured images of union firefighters and factory workers.

At the 50-second point in the ad, images from last year's mass pro-union protests in Madison were featured.

But something was missing: union signs.

The images from Madison were taken from a historic video by Matt Wisniewski, a Madison photographer whose chronicling of the protests drew international attention and praise. Wisniewski's work went viral, and was even featured in a video by rocker Tom Morello.

GOP Lawmakers, Pledged to Secrecy, Told to Ignore Public Comments on Redistricting

February 6, 2012
Patrick Marley, Daniel Bice and Jason Stein


As legislative leaders secretly developed new election maps last year to strengthen their majority, Republican lawmakers were told to ignore public comments and instead focus on what was said in private strategy sessions, according to a GOP memo that became public Monday.

Other newly released documents also show almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed.

GOP lawmakers fought releasing these new documents and testifying about the maps in a pending court case but relented after a panel of three federal judges based in Milwaukee last month found they had filed frivolous motions in trying to shield the information from the public.

GOP Redistricting Designed to Force Out a Top Progressive Congressmember

February 7, 2012
Sarah Jaffe

Two progressive champions are facing off for one seat in Congress. What's a voter to do?

Indiana's New 'Right to Work' Law: More Jobs or Lower Wages For All Workers?

February 7, 2012
Mark Guarino


After a protracted battle, Indiana in early February elected to make union dues optional for workers in union jobs. It's the first state in more than 10 years to adopt a so-called right-to-work law and the first state ever in the industrial Midwest to go that route.

Scott Walker and the Secret "John Doe" Investigation Explained

February 7, 2012
Andy Kroll


A dark cloud hangs over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

A "John Doe" investigation launched in May 2010 has embroiled former Walker staffers and appointees from his time as Milwaukee County executive, his job before winning the governorship in November 2010. The investigation, led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, has led to home raids targeting former staffers with close ties to Walker and numerous felony charges for election law violations,embezzlement, and misconduct in office. 

Koch Brothers Convene Super-Secret Billionaires' Meeting for 2012 Elections

February 8, 2012
Lee Fang
news photo

At a retreat last weekend, dozens of wealthy donors convened in a large golf resort in Indian Wells, Calif. for a four day conference to raise money and plot out election year strategy, the Republic Report has confirmed. We traveled to the conference, and spoke to a few of the attendees.

Walker Heads to Florida Fundraiser, Finds More Protesters Than Supporters

February 8, 2012
Kristine Gill


NAPLES — Although he was more than 1,500 miles from home, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker encountered a familiar sight upon arriving in Naples - protestors.

"I'm used to protestors coming from other states to protest me," Walker told 150 attendees during a speech at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Wednesday afternoon. At least that many people gathered outside to demonstrate against one of the country's most polemical political figures.

David Koch's Non-Profit Flouts Law And Spends $700,000 Against Wisconsin Recall

February 9, 2012
Brendan Fischer
news photo

The non-profit founded by the oil billionaire injects $700,000 to retain the embattled Wisconsin governor, possibly violating various laws on political activities.

Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor

February 9, 2012
Sabrina Tavernise


WASHINGTON — Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.

THE ISTHMUS: Wisconsin Wave leads "Wisconsin Day!" protest to kick-off anniversary week of action

February 11, 2012
Nayantara Mukherji

One year to the day after announcing a bill to eliminate collective bargaining for most public employees in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker continues to draw vociferous opposition. Hundreds of protesters returned to the Capitol Square on Saturday afternoon to kick off a week commemorating the anniversary of the announcement and weeks of demonstrations that followed.

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View complete footage of the event from SSWIDTMS:!