News

Republicans Extend Open Enrollment To Unleash Market Forces On School Districts

February 13, 2012
Matt DeFour

 

Wisconsin's public school open enrollment period begins Monday, and for the first time, families will have three months to decide whether and where to enroll their students outside of their home school district.

For the Madison School District, the extra time could mean more families choosing to leave for other districts or virtual schools, though Superintendent Dan Nerad said it's too early to know what the affect will be.

"By the nature that there's an open window, that's likely to happen for us as well as other districts around the state," Nerad said.

Few Wisconsinites Contributing to SuperPAC's

February 13, 2012
Kate Golden

 

Eighteen people with Wisconsin ties are among the donors to so-called “super PACs,” a new breed of campaign fundraising machine. But compared to Texas, New York and California, where super PACs raised upwards of $10 million, those Wisconsin donors contributed a whole lot less.

Itemized super PAC contributions with Wisconsin addresses totaled $428,301 in 2011, according to Federal Election Commission filings released last week.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has posted a searchable database of nearly $93 million in super PAC contributions below.

Just three donors with Wisconsin addresses contributed major sums.

Hostile Takeover: Turning MI Cities Over to "Managers" Who Can Sell Off City Hall, Break Union Contracts, Privatize Services—and Even Fire Elected Officials

February 15, 2012
Paul Abowd

 

When the city of Pontiac, Michigan, shut down its fire department last Christmas Eve, city councilman Kermit Williams learned about it in the morning paper. "Nobody reports to me anymore," Williams says. "It just gets reported in the press." This was just the latest in a series of radical changes in the city, where elected officials such as Williams have been replaced by a single person with unprecedented control over the city's operation and budget.

JOHN NICHOLS: David Koch Admits Big Spending to Help Scott Walker Bust 'Union Power'

February 20, 2012
John Nichols

 

Billionaire campaign donor David Koch, heir to a fortune and a political legacy created by one of the driving forces behind the John Birch Society, makes no secret of his enthusiasm for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

First Evidence of Foreign Money in the 2012 Presidential Race -- Santorum Takes $50K From London-based Securities Firm, Later Forced to Return It

February 21, 2012
Stephen Braun
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WASHINGTON -- A super political action committee supporting Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has refunded a $50,000 donation from a London-based securities firm because the contribution could have violated a U.S. law that guards against foreign money in American political campaigns, a spokesman for the group said Tuesday.

Just How Much Money Does It Take To Become President?

February 22, 2012
Dave Gilson

 

Barack Obama spent $730 million getting to the White House in 2008—twice as much as George W. Bush spent 4 years earlier and more than 260 times what Abraham Lincoln spent in his first election (as measured in 2011 dollars). Looking at the total costs of presidential elections over the past 150 years, it would seem that the White House is the ultimate recession-proof commodity:

The 0.000063% Election -- How the Politics of the Super Rich Became American Politics

February 22, 2012
Ari Berman

At a time when it’s become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed the nation’s political conversation -- drawing long overdue attention to the struggles of the 99% -- electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1%. Or, to be more precise, the .000063%.

Gerrymandering at its Worst

February 29, 2012
Erin Schikowski

COMMON DREAMS: Local Businesses Hit by 'Cash Mobs'

March 23, 2012
Common Dreams staff
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Move over, flash mobs. "Cash mobs" are coming.

Longfellow Books co-owner Stuart Gersen enjoying his store being "cash mobbed." The idea behind cash mobs is to get a group of people to flood a local business and spend a suggested set amount in order to give the local business an economic boost.

The first cash mobs were organized back in 2011 in Buffalo, NY and Cleveland, but now they seem to be spreading nationally and internationally, with tomorrow set for International Cash Mob Day.

HIGHTOWER: The Truth About the U.S. Postal Service

March 28, 2012
Jim Hightower
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What does 50 cents buy these days? Not a cuppa joe, a pack of gum or a newspaper. But you can get a steal of deal for a 50-cent piece: a first-class stamp. Plus a nickel in change.

Each day, six days a week, letter carriers traverse 4 million miles toting an average of 563 million pieces of mail, reaching the very doorsteps of our individual homes and workplaces in every single community in America. From the gated enclaves and penthouses of the uber-wealthy to the inner-city ghettos and rural colonias of America's poorest families, the U.S. Postal Service literally delivers. All for 45 cents. The USPS is an unmatched bargain, a civic treasure, a genuine public good that links all people and communities into one nation.

So, naturally, it must be destroyed.

BRAD BLOG: Columbia County, NY uses system of hand-counted paper ballots to verify their votes

March 28, 2012
Brad Friedman
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This is really great. But the subsequent information I've received from the Columbia County, NY commissioners in reply to my query is even better!

For a start, here's the key parts of the story from Debora Gilbert at The Columbia Paper near Albany, New York.

Note, in particular, how both the Republican and Democratic commissioners concur on what should not be a partisan issue. They are doing a great service to their voters. Read the story and then I'll share the even better news with you below that...

HUFF POST: Wisconsin Voters Reportedly Asked To Show Photo ID in April Election Despite Suspension Of Law

April 3, 2012
Amanda Terkel

Wisconsin's voter identification law reportedly caused some confusion at a polling place Tuesday, when workers asked voters to show identification even though the requirement is suspended.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed the voter ID bill into law last year, calling it a "common sense reform." While the law was in effect for February's election, two judges have since suspended the law, saying it is unconstitutional.

THE CHRONICLE: Protests highlight growing divide on Puerto Rican college campuses

April 13, 2012
Alejandro Bolívar

In the midst of a battered economy, Puerto Rican college campuses have been battlegrounds of differing ideologies, a Puerto Rican scholar said Thursday.

ALTER NET: May Day's Radical History: What Occupy Is Fighting for This May 1st

April 27, 2012
Jacob Remes
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American general strikes—or rather, American calls for general strikes, like the one Occupy Los Angeles issued last December that has been endorsed by over 150 general assemblies—are tinged with nostalgia.

May 1st 2012: No Work, No School, No Banking!

April 30, 2012
The Nation
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Occupy Wall Street hopes to capture headlines once again next week with the May 1 “General Strike”, long advertised by the group as an event that will prove to the public and media that OWS is currently experiencing a resurgence. Whether workers, students or banking customers, OWS is calling on all Americans to stop offering their labor and money to corporations for one day and join their local Occupy chapter for a day of resistance.

The plan initially drew the ire of some labor leaders who quickly declared their members would not participate in the so-called strike.

TRUTHOUT: Occupy vs. 99% Spring Movement?

April 30, 2012
Arun Gupta
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"The 99% Movement" has something for everyone, even the left, but is it Occupy?

By all measures the Occupy movement is a powerful brand. It has thousands of spin-offs such as Occupy Our Homes, Occupy Money, Occupy the Hood, Occupy Gender Equality and Occupy the Food System. It has powerful name recognition, snagging "word of the year" honors in 2011. And now, ardent supporters are manning the ramparts to defend its integrity.

NATION OF CHANGE: Five Tax Fallacies Invented by the 1%

April 30, 2012
Paul Buchheit
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We hear these claims often, even though they're entirely false. An analysis of the facts should make that clear.

(1) The Rich Pay Almost All the Taxes

That's simply not true. The percentage of total taxes paid by the very rich (the top 1%) is approximately the same as the percentage paid by middle class Americans (the 4th quintile, average income $68,700). Here are the details:

CAP TIMES: DNR enforcement down under Walker administration

April 30, 2012
Ron Seely
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Environmental enforcement activity by the state Department of Natural Resources has dropped dramatically in the past two years, according to data from the agency, with the number of permit violation notices hitting a 12-year low in 2011.

DNR officials say the decrease is partly caused by an enforcement staff that's been hit hard by budget cuts. But they also point to a philosophical shift that emphasizes cooperating with businesses by helping them navigate complex state and federal regulations and steering them into compliance when they violate their permits.

THE GUARDIAN: Quebec student protests mark 'Maple spring' in Canada

May 2, 2012
Martin Lukacs
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The social unrest roiling Quebec is colour-coded red. One cannot miss the hundreds of thousands of people with cloth of the colour pinned to their coats and satchels; the stickers pasted on street poles and storefront mannequins; and the sheets fluttering from balconies and windows. The red squares – punning visually on a French expression to be squarely in the red, or in debt – are a gesture of solidarity with university and college students on a massive general strike against government tuition fee hikes.

FAIR: Media Get Bored With Occupy—and Inequality

May 3, 2012
John Knefel
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Occupy Wall Street is rightly credited with helping to shift the economic debate in America from a fixation on deficits to issues of income inequality, corporate greed and the centralization of wealth among the richest 1 percent. The movement has chalked up other victories as well, from altering New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax plan (New York Times, 12/5/11) to re-energizing activists and unions, but bringing some discussion of class into the mainstream dialogue has been one of its crowning achievements.

NEWSWEEK: Serious doubts remain about the 2000 Florida recount's legitimacy

May 13, 2012
Michael Isikoff
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(originally published on November 18th, 2001)

After spending nearly $1 million, a consortium of big news organizations last week rendered what it once thought would be final word on last year's bitterly contested Florida recount.

The decision: a split verdict.

LA TIMES: Students protest tuition hikes at regents meeting

May 16, 2012
Larry Gordon

Student protesters angry about another possible tuition hike disrupted the meeting of the University of California regents Wednesday in Sacramento, with some demonstrators dressed in orange prisoner uniforms and singing about “working on the chain gang.”

The regents were about to discuss a recent report about the treatment of protesters on campuses and then analyze the impact of the governor’s May revision of the state budget on tuition.

Officials have said a 6% percent tuition hike may be in the works for July’s regent meeting if state funding does not increase.

Community rallies around striking workers in Ashland, WI

May 29, 2012
Sara Nemec
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For striking Ashland Industries welder James Pupp, of Ashland, the show of support Saturday afternoon from friends and neighbors at a rally held for the 43 workers was touching.

“It feels good to see all these people here to help our cause to get back to work again,” said Pupp, who has been employed at the firm for 10 years. “All we want is our security and our family health plan.”

Held in the H. Pearson Plaza, the rally featured live music, food and speakers, such as State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, and Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland.

PR WATCH: Right wing front group gins up fears of "voter fraud" during Wisconsin recalls

May 31, 2012
Brendan Fischer
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An out-of-state Tea Party organization recently called a "GOP front group" by a Texas judge is again intervening in Wisconsin's recall election and perpetuating unfounded fears of "voter fraud," a spectre also raised by right-wing media, Governor Scott Walker, and most recently, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus.

With polls showing the recall election between Walker and his challenger Tom Barrett tightening to a dead heat (49-49 in a recent survey by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake), Republicans have been invoking fears of "voter fraud" to cast doubt on a potential Barrett victory, despite repeated investigations finding no evidence of in-person electoral wrongdoing.

MOTHER JONES: Kathy Nickolaus may remain in charge of Waukesha Co elections on June 5th

May 31, 2012
Andy Kroll
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Republican Kathy Nickolaus may be the only county clerk known by name across Wisconsin—and not for a good reason.

Last year, Nickolaus, the top election official in Waukesha County, a solidly Republican suburb outside of Milwaukee, blamed "human error" for the late discovery of more than 14,000 missing votes in a bruising state Supreme Court race. Those votes erased liberal favorite JoAnne Kloppenburg's lead in the race, handed victory to conservative incumbent David Prosser, and later led to an expensive recount. This April, Nickolaus resorted to posting election results on strips of grocery-receipt-like paper after the county's reporting system failed on election night.

More Info: 

Take Action to Protect the Recall Elections: www.wisconsinwave.org/nmse

MJS: Major logistical problems mar Milwaukee elections

June 5, 2012
Larry Sandler and Nicole Levy

Heavy turnout in Milwaukee led the city Election Commission to call out the reserves Tuesday.

Extra poll workers were sent to polling places at Becher Terrace, Bradley Tech High School, Keenan Health Center, Morse Middle School, Rufus King International School Middle Years Campus and Cass Street, 53rd Street, Grantosa and Parkview schools, said Sue Edman, the election commission’s executive director.

The backup workers were needed to handle long lines, partly because a significant number of new voters were registering at the polls, Edman said.

“We knew things would be busy, but we didn’t know how busy,” Edman said.

MJS: More reports surface from Waukesha that Kathy Nickolaus is still in charge

June 5, 2012

While Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas and his chief of staff insisted both Monday and Tuesday that County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus is not the one in charge of election duties this recall election, her actions say otherwise.

While Nickolaus has refused to respond to this reporter's questions in her office, turning her back and closing her office door while the reporter waited at a service counter, her deputy, Kelly Yaeger, hasn't responded, either.

Nickolaus has been observed passing out election supplies to local clerks leading up to Tuesday's election, and she's the one who's fielded questions Tuesday from the field, said Gina Kozlik, Waukesha's deputy clerk-treasurer.

Reuters: Exit polls put Wisconsin recall at 50-50 dead heat as of poll closing

June 5, 2012
Nick Carey

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - The outcome of the Wisconsin recall election on Tuesday was too close to call between Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett as polls closed across the state, broadcast networks said based on exit polls.

Walker was forced to face voters in the Midwestern Rust Belt state after he pushed through severe restrictions on the collective bargaining of unionized government workers.

USA TODAY: Electronic voting is the real threat to elections

June 6, 2012
Editorial Board of USA Today

Imagine how easy voting would be if Americans could cast ballots the same way they buy songs from iTunes or punch in a PIN code to check out at the grocery store: You could click on a candidate from a home computer or use a touch screen device at the local polling place.

COLORLINES: Young and Black Voters Turn Out in Wisconsin Despite Suppression Efforts

June 6, 2012
Brentin Mock
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It may not feel like there’s anything positive to make out of the unsuccessful bid to recall Gov. Scott Walker in yesterday’s Wisconsin elections, but there were hints of optimism. Young voters and African-American voters did more than their part to show up, according to exit polls and early reports, despite significant efforts to confuse and challenge them from groups that profess to be fighting voter fraud.