State Senator Luther Olsen Proves He Is Not Fiscal Conservative, Recall Elections Proof

There is no way to deny the fact the will of the people are being expressed in the recall elections that are being waged in many sections of Wisconsin.  Be they Democrat or Republican, the people of this state are making a statement about collective bargaining, the political process, and their views about government in general.

With that being said should anyone try to get in front of the anger and steer it off to the side, or ham-string the intent of the electorate when they are in so foul a mood?  Would that decision to slow down the recalls even be more fool-hardy if there was a hefty price-tag associated with it that the average taxpayer would have to be pick up?

Call me whatever you wish, but I do not think I am politically naive.  For many weeks I have thought the actions of State Senator Luther Olsen have been nothing short of a series of mistakes.  From court challenges to his recall, and Olsen endorsing “protest candidates” in order to slow down the recall process, have all seemed to me signs of desperation, and not the image of a firmly-grounded elected official. 

I think Olsen should have just stood on his position, and fought from there as a senator.  The actions he has taken concerning the recall makes him look smaller, and far less assured that the vote he cast on collective bargaining was a good one.

Today comes another story that is set to undermine Olsen, and further illuminate his past blunders,

A recall election for Republican Luther Olsen’s state Senate seat is likely to cost local governments nearly $350,000, according to an analysis by the Baraboo News Republic.

The cost otherwise would have been half that amount had Republicans not decided to run a fake Democratic candidate against Olsen’s opponent, Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, in order to force a primary contest.

To conduct its analysis, the News Republic requested cost estimates from the 10 county clerks within the 14th Senate District.

The cost tally for those who responded was $172,749 for the general recall election. Clerks said the primary contest forced by the candidacy of Rol Church of Wautoma will double their costs, which would bring the total to $345,498.

Church is a Republican supporter, but has filed paperwork as a Democrat in order to force Clark to face a primary election.

State Senator Luther Olsen Hiding Behind Lawyers, Seems Fearful Of Voters In Recall Election

This has not been a good week for news headlines if your last name is Olsen and you have legal problems. So why would State Senator Luther Olsen opt to make another headline concerning lawyers at this time in his fragile political career?

I am not sure who is advising the Republicans in Wisconsin these days.  I have not been sure about who provides counsel for many months to the ones that are now in charge of this state.  Things are in such disarray that no one wants to admit they were the brainchild for all we have seen unfold since mid-February.  

However, if there is anyone who does have the ear of Republicans facing a recall election, such as State Senator Luther Olsen, you might pass along this free piece of advice.

Stop hiding behind your lawyers regarding the recall elections.  It makes you look weaker than you already are at this time in your political career.

Today comments appeared by Luther Olsen in the Wisconsin State Journal that will make lawyers happy to read, as they always like when a client follows orders.  But I strongly suspect that Olsen’s constituents, who know they are truly his boss, might find his words discomforting.

Olsen said the court challenge to throw out his recall was filed because “that’s the position of our lawyers.”

“You always listen to your lawyers,” he said. “That’s what you pay them for.”

Why is Luther Olsen afraid to face his constituents this summer at the voting booth?

There is real anger with the actions by Olsen and other Republicans who threw a punch to state workers and public employees regarding the ending of collective bargaining.  As such, the voters in Olsen’s district. like other places around the state, gathered more than enough proper signatures for a recall election.

In Olsen’s district enough signatures were gathered and then determined to be correctly obtained by the Government Accountability Board.  A decision was made by the GAB, following a review of the signatures, to place Olsen before his constituents for a recall vote this summer.

The Republicans have shown no honor this year, and seemingly have no lack of shame given how they rammed the collective bargaining bill through the process only to have it called into question once it was ‘law’ by the courts.  Now Republicans, like Olsen, are trying to undermine the legitimate right of voters to follow through with the recall elections.

If this ‘hide behind your lawyer’ tactic is seen as a wise one today, I suggest Luther Olsen evaluate closely the mood of his constituents, and ponder if it will be a wise one in six weeks.  The voters were not in a good mood about Olsen’s actions before this latest move, and once hearing about his legal trickery will only be further incensed.

Judge Sumi’s Ruling On Wisconsin Bargaining Law Notice To Republicans That Process Matters

One of the foundations that makes our government work, be it at the local, state, or federal level is that the process for making laws must be uniform and fair.  The reason for this is that if all the players understand the rules, and follow them accordingly regardless of the outcome, no one can claim they were not treated fairly.  While there can be, and often are, extreme differences over policy directions there should never be a time when the process itself is shredded in order to favor one partisan group over the other.

During my time in government while working in the Wisconsin State Assembly I saw the process play out over and over.  It is a most remarkable process, and one that has proven over time to work.  Sometimes my side were the victors, and at other times we came up short.  But I never recall when the process itself was the result of the anger among the players.

Until this past winter when the conservative Republican forces that seemingly can not play fair, or shoot straight attempted at every turn and bend in the road to ram down the throats of this state a bill to severely curtail collective bargaining rights for state workers and public employees.

It was jarring to me as I saw the shortened voting procedure in the Assembly when the Republican leadership did not even hold the roll open long enough to get all of their own votes tallied.  The open meeting fiasco that led to the legal challenges were not only the last straw for most of my fellow citizens, but perhaps the worst political theatrics I have heard about in the Wisconsin Statehouse.  Mind you, I have seen and followed my share of events over the decades.  Nothing reeked as much as what the Republicans were doing to the process this winter.

Today, then, the only outcome that could take place happened.

A Dane County judge has struck down a law taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most state workers. 

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled on Thursday that Republican legislators violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law during the run up passing the controversial measure. She said that renders the law void. 

In her ruling, Sumi said that there was “no conflicting Senate, Assembly or joint rule in effect on March 9, 2011, that would have excused compliance with the public notice requirement” of 24 hours notice. She went on to say, “The evidence also demonstrated a failure to obey even the two-hour notice allowed for good cause if 24-hour notice is impossible or impractical.”

It should be noted all along that Judge Sumi stated that all Governor Walker and his Republican allies needed to do was pass another collective bargaining bill, in a proper and legal way.  That the GOP is nervous as hell about this route, and know the results that will follow is not the concern of the courts.  That is a political matter that the people of this state will handle.

The process of government is important, and it is quite marvelous when looked at closely.  It works as a system for passing bills and making laws.  However, when it is tampered with and made to be the object of partisan chicanery it can become dangerous, and even force a judge to straighten it out.

Today the political process was the victor in Wisconsin thanks to Judge Sumi.

Wisconsin State Capitol Security Needs To Be Scaled Back

When elected members of the Wisconsin State Legislature resort to this amount of excessive security they might need to take a group retreat and ponder if they are indeed doing the people’s business?

I do not recall security at the Wisconsin State Capitol being as excessive following the events of 9/11, as it has been since Governor Walker proposed curtailing collective bargaining earlier this year.  I was not sure if I should be angry or sad on Saturday while watching the grim-faced officers at one of the two open entrances.  

Regardless of how I felt it was clear that there was a dramatic flair being put forth to somehow continue to insinuate that labor ‘thugs’ had bad intentions, and only the ever-vigilant law officers could protect the building and all inside.  There clearly is a desire to convey a political message with the use of these officers that far exceeds the actual results of their work. 

One needs to ask how much political theater is enough at a time when budget shortfalls make almost every issue of the newspaper.  How much more do taxpayers need to spend in order for Governor Walker’s administration to feel that they have made their point? 

We all get it.  Republicans think labor unions are comprised of violent people who are out to create mayhem.  The lack of any such violence, however, underscores the reason the over-reach by the Wisconsin Department of Administration needs to be stopped.  

Even when tens-of-thousands gathered at the Capitol there was nothing more serious than full-throated expressions of outrage.  All the protesting that took place was peaceful.   It was only when attempts were made to curtail entrances that some pushed and became unruly.

As I watched my fellow citizens enter the statehouse Saturday, all who looked as lethal as I do, I wondered how law enforcement would handle the children who entered the building.  Could they do their work and not smile at the absurdity of making a kid feel like they were just shy of a police lineup? 

What were the officers thinking the 8-year-old looking African-American girl was bringing into the statehouse?  Radioactive M&M’s?  Is that why they not only had her walk through a metal detector, but then pulled her aside to be wanded?  Following her standing with arms outstretched she was then allowed to walk into her Capitol.   Are they sure she should not be followed and monitored as she laid on her back to look up at the dome in the center of the building?

What I saw again on Saturday offends me!

Over and over the parade took place as scores of taxpayers went through the charade just in order to make entrance to their statehouse.  I realize this has been happening every day for many weeks, but to again see this up close makes me wonder how anyone thinks this is logical.  More importantly, who will fight to bring this to an end?

At the north entrance many years ago was the office I temporarily worked in while our wing of the Capitol was undergoing remodeling.  People came in and out, the halls were alive with lobbyists, school groups, and fellow staffers.  There was accessibility and freedom of movement.   Now there is a law enforcement set-up that makes me wonder just what type of nefarious plot is hoping to be caught.    As I stood there Saturday I pondered the changes that have taken place and wondered how far can we slip into this wave of needless hysteria.

That this is being done for political reasons, as opposed to sound security purposes, should alarm and anger us.  If there is something to be frightened over, this hyped-up security for political purposes would be it!

Wisconsin Voters Do Not Agree With Reason Why Gov. Walker Attacked Public Workers

Everyone knew it in February.  

Everyone knows it today.

It can come as no shock to anyone in Wisconsin that the raw political power grab by Governor Walker against collective bargaining was not about actually balancing the budget.  No one ever really thought the rationale for the action had anything to do with helping to balance the budget in Wisconsin.  The numbers never added up, and the more Walker and Company tried to explain the reasoning for attacking public workers the deeper they got stuck in the mud. 

What the attack on state and public employees are really all about is nothing more than a naked partisan move by the Republicans to trim the sails of the unions, undermine the Democratic Party, and play to the red-meat conservative base.

How is all that going, Scott?

We all know that it blew up in the face of Gov. Walker who is now going to need luck to stay in office after a recall move which  will be made early next year.  The numbers do not look good.  The poll results also show that  a majority of survey respondents support collective bargaining!

There is now a statewide poll released by Wisconsin Public Radio and St. Norbert College that underscores the mood and mindset of the voters who have been watching Walker and Company operate.

Plainly put the voters are not buying what Walker is trying to sell.

A new poll finds skepticism around Gov. Scott Walker’s stated reason for trying to remove collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

Walker has said the law will help balance the state budget and help local governments absorb deep cuts in state aid.

Wisconsin Public Radio released its poll results Friday. It finds that 57 percent of respondents think the issue was more about decreasing the power of public-sector unions, while 31 percent say it’s about decreasing the budget deficit.

FAUX News Unable To Find Palm Trees For Sarah Palin’s Madison Speech

I just saw a report on FAUX NEWS about Sarah Palin in Madison.  The problem was NO footage of the crowd  was shown.  I guess they were embarrassed about being out numbered at their rally with mostly anti-Walker and anti-Palin signs.  No footage of that, just a close up of Sarah on stage!!!  Couldn’t they find fake footage again with palm trees in the background??

Was the anemic crowd in Madison for Sarah Palin just another sign her star is fading?  Her poll numbers are dreadful, and the only one that seems not be aware of all this is Palin herself.

On Eve Of Spring Election Madison Honors Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Jackson Pays Tribute With Call To Vote

There was no way not to feel the tug of history Monday night at the Wisconsin State Capitol.  The broad sweep of history was on display and acted as a backdrop to the political events that are unfolding in the state.  

A large crowd had gathered while gray clouds passed overhead spitting some ice pellets.  In spite of the weather it was clear that those assembled  were in a reflective mood.  While collective bargaining rights and hopes for the spring election on Tuesday were very much a topic of discussion, the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the dreams not yet realized had also settled over the crowd.

There was no way not to feel the religious spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. as the opening music allowed for a spiritual quality to the evening.  More than one person must have experienced goose bumps as the bagpipes played and the crowd sang “Amazing Grace.”  There are times when ‘the moment’ just moves a crowd, and I think that was the case at the Capitol.  I noticed some wet eyes at times in the crowd around me.

The backdrop to the event was the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The murder of King took place in Memphis on April 4, 1968.  On the balcony of the  Lorraine Hotel that night was Jesse Jackson.  At the same hour King was killed 43 years ago Jackson stood before those assembled  in Madison and solemnly, but earnestly spoke from the heart.  

“Dr. King is alive because he lives in us,” Jackson told the crowd.

King had been in Memphis to stand with the sanitation workers, and so it was touching to have Jackson bring out two of those workers from 1968, and have them stand alongside him. 

The rich background of history weaved an amazing tapestry on the steps of the Capitol.  I have never seen anything quite like that before at the Statehouse.  The past rose up and spoke to the fight we still need to undertake to complete the vision that King laid out for this nation.

I have watched and heard Jackson many, many times since 1988, but this was the most meaningful.  There was no way to look at Jackson and not see the mental images of the news stories from Memphis.  There was no way to hear Jackson call for a better nation, the need for all citizens to exercise their right to vote,  and the need for racial barriers to be lowered and not hear the voice of King.

This was a special night in Madison.  One I hope that deepens our commitment to the shared values of making this city a better place to live, and our state a more fair place for all our workers.

Dan Kapanke Will Need To Update His Resume, Search Want Ads

The voters are mighty ticked off in Wisconsin at not only the collective bargaining ‘law’, but the process in the state legislature that was undermined and short-changed for the most base of reasons.  That being the over-reach of conservative Republicans.

Today came word that the first recall signatures have been gathered that will result in the ass-whooping of a Republican State Senator. 

Democrats say they collected enough signatures to force Dan Kapanke to look for another job.  I wonder what the unemployment rate in the La Crosse area is at this time?  I wonder if Kapanke knows what a fool he made of himself, and how his assault on state workers backfired, not only for him, but his party.

Far more than the required 15,500 signatures were gathered.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board will determine whether the signatures are valid.

If approved, it would be only the fifth recall of a state lawmaker in Wisconsin history.