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.

Wisconsin Upside Down

What has happened to Wisconsin?

Like many others in Madison I spent a part of Tuesday at the Wisconsin State Capitol.  The weather was fantastic, the sun made the statehouse  stand out against the blue sky, and the new trees which have been planted on the lawn looked healthy.  All seemed perfect.

It was not.  Far from it.

Inside the Capitol an “Extraordinary Session ” had been called to pass a state budget.  Outside thousands gathered to protest Governor Walker and the Republicans concerning the collective bargaining law.  The State Supreme Court sent down a major ruling before the end of the day allowing the union law to take effect, and as newsworthy as the decision itself were the Chief Justice’s blistering words for the majority.  To top the day off  it was announced that six Republicans are running as Democrats to force a primary election on July 12 in the recall elections.

What has happened to Wisconsin?  Our political process?  To our shared sense of being Wisconsinites?

After today I can hardly believe there are any Republicans or Democrats that can say this is how we want to be remembered for having conducted our political affairs. Win or lose, this is not a day to be proud of.  I am also certain that the average citizen is not amused or pleased with the relentless rhetoric and high-stakes power plays that have come to dominate the public arena.

Not so long ago there was a time when differences between the political parties under the dome did not mean all out rancor and meanness.

Before going to the Capitol I encountered a friend who once worked as an aide for a state representative.  I asked about his views on some issues, and if he ever thought about working at the statehouse again.  He quickly said no, and added “Things are just so mean now.”

There was a time when staffers at the end of the day, regardless of party or political differences, gathered here and there around the Capitol for a drink and perhaps a game of darts.  I now hear reports of staffers being unable to say hello to each other in the hallways under the dome since the rancor and partisanship has settled in so deeply.

As I stood in the sunshine Tuesday and looked up at the Capitol, that grand building where powerful ideas are to be sorted out in order to move our state forward, I wondered how things could have changed so much.    Walking on the sidewalk I saw a man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “F… Scott Walker”.  A car driven by someone who wanted to make a point blared the radio with a shouting right-wing talk show host.   No one could be pleased with any of this!

I love a frothy debate as much as the next guy in this state.  I like the tug and pull of ideas.  Spirited campaigning is fun too.  Throughout our nation’s history we have always had intensity in our political affairs.  That is a good thing for democracy.

Yet in Wisconsin something has happened in the recent past that leaves those of us who have followed politics here feeling uncomfortable and uneasy with where the road lies.  The shared sense of purpose at finding the way forward seems to have become lost by both sides due to hyper-partisanship and gutter-ball politics.

We have now come to a place where there are nine recall elections slated for this summer!  If that does not speak to the level of anger that has developed I do not know what would.

I certainly feel the anger about the way the collective bargaining issue was handled, and have scored my political punches in the past months on this blog.  As such, I take my share of the blame for the problem of which I write today. 

I think the recalls are needed in light of not only what happened, but more importantly how it happened.  The political process should not be discarded as we witnessed this year.  Having said that, however, I am not completely at ease with recalls for policy disputes.   My old-fashioned sense tells me regular elections are the best remedy for these matters.   Somehow I wish elder statesmen on both sides of the aisle could have used reason to tame the electorate away from jumping off the cliff with the recalls.

At the end of the day there must be a level of civility maintained in the political process or the worst will play out and claim the day.  I fear that we are perhaps too far down the road of anger and resentment for things to change anytime soon.

Something tells me we have been sucked into this mess and will have to ride it out.  Not even a sunny day on the Capitol Square can save us now.

Ethics Complaint Filed Against State Senator Luther Olsen

This surely is not the biggest problem facing State Senator Luther Olsen.  But on top of his political problems, and the plight of  his family concerning the ethanol mess, another bad news story will not please him. 

I do have to wonder why Luther Olsen would have been the one to insert the language in question.  Surely he could have had someone else do it in the legislature, and at least made the issue never seem one of favoritism or self-interest.

There are times when elected officials seems to be oblivious to the obvious.

The complaint, filed Friday by One Wisconsin Now with the state’s Government Accountability Board, says Olsen inserted language in a bill that would allow a nonprofit headed by his wife to establish a charter school, and thus qualify for additional state funding.

Olsen co-sponsored a bill that would allow cooperative educational service agencies (CESAs) to establish independent charter schools. CESAs are regional nonprofits created by the Legislature to provide educational services to school districts. Olsen’s wife, Joan Wade, is the administrator of CESA 6, which serves east-central Wisconsin.

Ohio Phone Number For Kim Simac Who Wants To Be Wisconsin Recall Candidate…Say What?

Thanks to MAL Contends we have this nugget of news.

This seems typical of Wisconsin Republicans as they attempt to not only undermine the working class of Wisconsin, but also thwart the will of the people as it relates to an honest recall effort of elected officials.

Republican and Tea Partier Kim Simac (Eagle River) is challenging State Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover) in a recall election verified yesterday by the Government Accountability Board.

But according to Simac’s press release, if you want to contact the Simac campaign, you have to call the 216 area code that covers greater Cleveland, Ohio.

That’s because the campaign contact, Samantha Osborne, has not established her Wisconsin residency, said Osborne this morning. Osborne is new to the district

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald Supports Nixonian Tactics

This is just astounding to me.

This whole story is something akin to a lie that one political party might spread about the other one in an attempt to dirty the water.   But instead if this being a smear about the GOP, this whole story is true!

No one would think any political party would step up and announce dirty tricks as a viable plan from their playbook.  Yet that is exactly what the Wisconsin Republicans are doing.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald fully endorsed the idea Tuesday of fielding fake Democrats in recall elections against Republicans in an effort to delay the general elections.

“It gives us another month to campaign,” said the Republican from Juneau.

Yesterday I denounced this idea, and urged the GOP to do the same.

In other words, voters are in no mood for political chicanery.

That is, however, what the GOP is hoping to have happen in Wisconsin. While those hatching such an idea might think it down-right brilliant, citizens of the state understand this tactic is another sign of how frightful Republicans are of the voters.

If the GOP are playing these games now, what will they concoct by the time Governor Walker’s recall election is nearing early next year.

I suggest that the Wisconsin Republican Party just…what was the term from the 2010 mid-term elections they used….oh, yes…’man up’….and face the electorate.

All the additional political bombast, money, and wasted time that would result from this political dirty trick will only make for a rougher outcome for those Republicans who have already riled the average voter.

Now however, if seems that Wisconsin Republicans are taking the low road as they fear the voters.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald seems unaware that there is a backlash that will likely slap him and his fellow Republicans that will only worsen the condition they are presently in as result of their actions this past winter.

Fitzgerald said Republicans would be recruited to run as Democrats — likely in all six races — so that the elections would be pushed back a month. He said he was persuaded by campaign staff that it was a good idea and consulted with state election officials to make sure it was allowed.

Fitzgerald said the idea was developed in response to a fake Republican running last year against Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc. Ziegelbauer was a Democrat who long voted with Republicans; he quit the Democratic Party last year and ran for re-election as an independent.

A fake Republican ran in an attempt to split the vote between him and Ziegelbauer, giving the Democrat a chance to take the seat. The move didn’t work, and Ziegelbauer kept his seat.

Mark Jefferson, the state Republican Party executive director at the time, called that move a “nasty, cynical ploy.”

Wisconsin Republicans Beware: Voters Do Not Want Longer Recall Campaigns

It is one thing to be tone-deaf.  It is another thing to be oblivious to reality.

The news that Wisconsin Republicans think it a grand idea to plant protest candidates to force Democratic primaries in the upcoming recall elections is clearly one of those ‘oblivious to reality’ moments.  If a primary is held for either party, that would push back the general election by a month, thereby giving the incumbent lawmakers more time to campaign.

I am not sure who the Republicans are talking to, or plotting with, but they should be aware of one fact.  From La Crosse to Fond Du Lac, from River Hills to Coloma the last thing the electorate ever wants is for an election cycle to be elongated!   Good Lord!

But that is precisely what Wisconsin Republicans have in store for many citizens in the state, all for the sole purpose of allowing the challenged Republican state senators more time to defend their actions regarding collective bargaining. 

The last thing voters want to hear in the heat of summer are even more campaign ads, all for a primary race that did not have to happen.  No one wants to find another reason for a brochure on the door handle, or another series of robo-calls on the answering machine.  No one wants another plea for campaign donations that would only fund a race that is actually nothing more than a partisan game.

In other words, voters are in no mood for political chicanery.

That is, however, what the GOP is hoping to have happen in Wisconsin.  While those hatching such an idea might think it down-right brilliant, citizens of the state understand this tactic is another sign of how frightful Republicans are of the voters.

If the GOP are playing these games now, what will they concoct by the time Governor Walker’s recall election is nearing early next year.

I suggest that the Wisconsin Republican Party just…what was the term from the 2010 mid-term elections they used….oh, yes…’man up’….and face the electorate.

All the additional political bombast, money, and wasted time that would result from this political dirty trick will only make for a rougher outcome for those Republicans who have already riled the average voter.  

For all the artlessness of his statement, Senator Randy Hopper said what most are thinking.

Frankly, Hopper said, he would prefer to have his election as soon as possible. He would hope that neither he nor his likely opponent, Jessica King, has a primary race.

“Let me freakin’ be done,” Hopper said.

The Republican Party knows the day of reckoning with the voters is growing near, and they also correctly do not sense a lowering of the anger that exists around the state over the collective bargaining issue.

To stir the pot with a dose of dirty political tricks will only make the electorate even more frustrated and more prepared to cast a ballot in the recall elections.

Wisconsin Democrats Will Attempt Recall Of Governor Scott Walker

The time is coming when Governor Scott Walker will need to stand before the Wisconsin voters and honestly address why he felt the need to take a power blow to state workers and public employees.  That day is coming at the start of 2012.  In just a matter of months Scott Walker will face a recall election.

“We will recall Scott Walker from office next year,” shouted Wisconsin party chairman Mike Tate, sparking chants of “Recall Walker” from the crowd at what the party is calling its recall convention.

That’s a reference to the efforts to recall six Republican senators, certified for election Friday by the state Government Accountability Board.

The convention sought to continue the energy generated by the tens of thousands of demonstrators who flooded the grounds of the state Capitol in February and March. After Tate asked the Democratic senators who left the state to prevent a vote on Walker’s budget-repair bill to stand, the senators couldn’t be seen because the whole crowd was standing.

“Gov. Walker, are you listening now?” Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) asked when it was his turn to speak.

Tate stated why the recall needed to be done.

“We will not stand down — and next year, we will recall Scott Walker from office,” Tate will tell the crowd, according to the excerpts. “We will begin to repair the damage done to this state and we will begin anew with a Democratic Governor who will fight for our children, who will fight for our families, our teachers and our firefighters. We will fight for the people — not the powerful.”

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.