5
October
2012

Clarke Changes Deputy Uniforms, Tosses Another Tradition

This may seem like small potatoes to some, but there is something to be said for tradition — especially in careers like the military and law enforcement. Now I understand that every administrator wants to have made some impact on their department but as Milwaukee County’s Sheriff David Clarke likes to point out, he’s no administrator; he’s a constitutional officer and he will do as he pleases.

Well, not quite.

Clarke may call most of the shots, but he doesn’t control his own budget. He has to work cooperatively with the County Executive who puts together a budget, and the County Board that ratifies the budget.

Two weeks ago I was on jury duty. Although I served in the jury pool and was considered for the trial of the creepy gynecologist, I was not selected. I left my service with an appreciation for jury service and the importance of having a jury of ones peers decide upon the guilt or innocence of a defendant. That being said, one thing surprised me.

Deputies uniforms have changed. The brown shirts and tan pants have been replaced. They’re now wearing gray shirts and black pants. Should this be a big deal? No, of course not. But is there something to be said for tradition? Yes there is. It just seems as though Clarke is making these changes to make the department closer to the Milwaukee Police Department from which he came. Is there a reason? There doesn’t seem to be. This seems like just another wasteful and whimsical change for change sake.

And it’s not Clarke’s first one.

Clarke changed the traditional 7 point star to the 5 point star a few years ago — a change that matches his tattoo. Petty? Well yeah.

But I’m old school. If there’s a tradition that doesn’t hurt anyone, is recognizable, and adds to the consistency of the office, then by all means don’t fix what isn’t broken. If it’s a problem, then go ahead and make the change.

Was there a big cost to stroke Clarke’s ego? Probably not. But the point is, should taxpayers be shelling out money to stroke the ego of a Sheriff who publicly says he doesn’t intend on providing top notch security for President Obama because he doesn’t have the money in his budget? I understand that Clarke is not a supporter of any democrat, but it smacks one as a little petty to claim poverty when it comes to providing security for the President of our United States while squandering money on new uniforms.

As a business owner, I can appreciate the need for branding. If you invest time and money building up a positive reputation, a smart business owner won’t be quick to toss their invested in and earned reputation by changing things like their company logos or employee uniforms. What Clarke has done just doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint. Milwaukee County Deputies have a good reputation. Their brown uniforms have been recognizable and respected for decades. Why change the branding?

In all fairness to Clarke, I did manage to talk to a deputy who shall remain unnamed, and the deputy said that changing the pants from brown to black was probably a good idea because they’re easier to keep clean (it didn’t make sense to me either) but changing the shirt was just another effort to stroke Clarke’s ego.

Clarke should suck it up and admit he made a mistake. Return to at least the old shirts which carried with them the respect that the deputies have earned.

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24
June
2012

Walker won. Now get over it.

Walker won for one reason — people are sick of recalls. Despite the fact that many people are not pleased with the outcome, myself included, I understand it and accept it. The unions got exactly what they deserved. Teachers sat by and voted for him the first time as did police officers and firefighters. Now they are reaping what they have sewn. My opinion — too bad. In politics you don’t get a mulligan.

Union members got lazy and listened to the rhetoric. Rather than taking the time to examine what would happen if they elected a divisive neo-con, many listened the vague generalities. They drank the kool-aid Walker was serving.

Walker deserved the recall, not because of his radical policies, but because his entire political career is now stained by his organizing a recall that brought him to power in the first place in Milwaukee County. You can’t be for something when it benefits you and then against it when the same policy hurts you.

That being said, Wisconsin would be better served by changing the recall laws to reflect the law in Georgia where petitioners must first go before a judge and prove malfeasance in office prior to being allowed to move forward with a recall election. But why won’t we do that here? Because we have a state filled with cowardly politicians running to cover their own backsides instead of putting the needs of the people first.

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6
June
2012

Walker’s Punch Gives Unions and Milwaukee a Black and Blue Eye

The night everyone was waiting for is over. Governor Scott Walker has survived the recall attempt against him. We can only guess what the aftermath will be.

The 46% of the state voters that cast a ballot for Tom Barrett feel that this Governor is deaf to their values. They know that this election wasn’t about union greed but Walker successfully made it a referendum on whether public employees were paid and compensated too generously. He succeeded in selling envy to the public and made people believe their pockets were being picked by unions.

Sometimes the best lie is believable when you add a sliver of truth. The teachers union has protected bad teachers for decades in Wisconsin. Only after they were told they could no longer run the union on funds automatically deducted from their members paychecks did they start to make concessions. The public saw that. Enough middle of the road voters saw specific instances where there were problems in education and Walker was able to blame the teachers. Even now, districts who wish to hire a teachers with their masters over a teacher with a bachelors degree must pay the higher educated teacher more. If a person stays in school and gets their masters before teaching with their bachelors, they are effectively unemployable as districts would have to bring an untested teacher on at a higher rate of pay.

Still, are all teachers bad? Of course not.

But the impact on public employees will be long and painful. Many people who would have otherwise gone into public service will just say no. And why should they work for the government? Yes they will get a salary, but they will be scoffed at by even people they know — in some cases friends. The most educated among us will not seek to improve the efficiencies in government because they will have no interest in working for it. No longer will bright little boys and girls want to be firefighters, police men, teachers or principals. Tonight voters cast a clear message — we’ve paying you too much.

The loss of talent in government will be staggering. An entire generation will grow up seeing public service as a scourge at worst, a necessary evil at best. Why would they decide to join any company that they know will make them a magnet for ridicule? And why would they spend thousands of dollars on a college education to go to work for a company that doesn’t appreciate them? That is how our young people will look at public service.

Hate and innuendo are not qualities we should look for in an elected official, but let’s not forget, we are the state that elected Senator Joe McCarthy.

I count myself as fortunate. Like many from a generation or two before me, I have a small summer cottage I go to. What I have heard from my neighbors in Winnebago County is eye opening. It is a different world up there. They think that all of Milwaukee is a morass of crime and poverty. Racism isn’t an occasional thing. It is a way of life. After the Walker commercials lambasting Milwaukee, the home of the Democratic Gubernatorial challenger, Mayor Tom Barrett, they think I live in a cesspool. Their impression is that Milwaukee sucks all the money out of the state and contributes nothing. There is nothing, ever since the Walker ads came out, that I can do to convince them that Milwaukee is a thriving community with culture, night life and commerce.

They see it as a city they don’t want to stop in, let alone get off on a freeway exit.

The damage that has been done to our state and the city I love is just staggering. And to think that it has been worsened by a politician hoping to score a few polling points to keep his job is mind numbingly painful.

###

Update: The vote totals are in.
Name Party Votes Vote %
Walker , Scott (i) GOP 1,327,152 53% ($33.90 per vote most donations from out of state donors)
Barrett , Tom Dem 1,150,642 46% ($7.82 per vote, most donations from Wisconsin residents)
Trivedi , Hari Ind 14,238 1% (seriously, who cares?)

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1
June
2012

Walker will never come clean

During last nights debate between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Barrett urged Walker to come clean and release the documents and emails in his possession that are related to criminal wrongdoing among Walker’s staff.

Walker dodged the question.

Richard Nixon and Scott WalkerWalker claims that District Attorney John Chisholm doesn’t want him talking about the case but Barrett called him on it. As it turns out, Walker could release any and all of his emails into the public domain. He simply chooses not to — and, like Richard Nixon didn’t want to release the Watergate tapes, Walker has his own reason; self-preservation of his political career.

Next Tuesday voters will go to the polls to decide if they want to toss out Walker in a recall election. With Chisholm remaining tight lipped about the ongoing John Doe investigation, it is no shock that Walker wants to keep wrongdoing out of the news.

Of course this begs several other questions — why is Chisholm taking so long in his investigation when clearly the people who are being charged are available and at his disposal? It is understandable that he does not want to politics to influence the outcome of justice, but he himself was elected and now he is responsible for investigating other politicians. Try as he might, he cannot divorce himself from the fact that politics will have an influence regardless of the outcome of his findings or of any trial. Just as Nixon claimed, if Walker is found to have been involved in the criminal activities in his own office, Walker will claim it is all because of his enemies.

There is no small irony here. Just a few years earlier, Walker accused former Governor Jim Doyle of wrong doing in the Aldelman travel fiasco. Contracts were found to have been steered toward Adelman travel who were contributors to the Doyle campaign. Doyle stated that he was unaware of this. Walker said that anything that happened in Doyle’s office showed misconduct by Doyle and he was responsible. Now that Walker’s staffers have been charged with felonies for activities in Walker’s offices, Walker claims he knew nothing of their activities and he cannot be held responsible.

Walker will continue to stonewall the public and any reporters who dare to ask the hard questions but that does not mean they should stop asking. Former Milwaukee County Executive, now Governor, Scott Walker has in his possession emails relating to illegal campaigning while being paid on the county taxpayers dime. It is no shock that he does not want those emails released.

As reporter Dan Bice‘s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article points out, there are serious problems in the Walker camp.

(Assistant District Attorney Bruce) Landgraf‘s filing is the first public suggestion Walker’s office later reversed course and quit cooperating. “As part of the pre-Doe investigation, Investigator Jeffrey Doss sought to obtain documentation that would form the basis of tracing the funds from Milwaukee County to the Order,” Landgraf wrote in his May 2010 petition. “The Office of the County Executive has been unwilling or unable to provide such documentation. It is unclear at this juncture why the Office of the County Executive has not produced (or has not caused another Department to produce) these records.”

The public would be best served by having the information released prior to the election but Walker clearly knows what it says and the only reason he would have for not releasing it is it’s damaging effects on his political career.

Just as Nixon did not want his secret tapes made public, Walker does not want his secret emails made public.

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27
February
2012

Barrett must look to himself for guidance on Governors race

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett may very well be the nicest guy in politics. Unfortunately nice guys sometimes finish last. As Barrett balances his decision on whether or not to make another run for Governor he needs to assess whether he is willing to get down in the mud and scrap with the well known mudslinger — incumbent Governor Scott Walker.

Walker has big money allies that will throw a lot of mud. They will keep throwing it until they find something that their pollsters believe will stick.

Barrett needs to return fire and he needs to return it hard. If Walker lies, Barrett must be willing to say that Walker is a liar. If Barrett can not stand in front of a crowd of people and say “Scott Walker is a liar”, he should not run.

Barrett has been truthful in his dealings with both businesses and the community. Walker has not. But truth is often not something that matters in Wisconsin.

This race cannot be solely won on Barrett’s experience or integrity. It must be won by matching everything that Walker claims with a response. It will be expensive and exhausting.

But if Barrett wants to win, this is the time. Republicans are being exposed nationally for their extremist views and Walker is no exception. Walker’s claims that his policies of cutting taxes for millionaires (repackaged of course into something that doesn’t sound nearly as straight forward) will help. It has not. Wisconsin is dead last in job growth — even worse than another state that hates taxes; Mississippi.

Barrett needs to highlight these flaws if he hopes to win.

For now, the only candidates who are planning to run are former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and State Senator Kathleen Vinehout. Neither candidate has generated much excitement among democrats. Barrett’s entry into the race would change that dramatically.

The political tide is favoring democrats and Barrett could ride that tide, better than either Falk or Vinehout. The facts are that voters are frustrated. Barrett could use that frustration to his benefit but he has to decide if he’s willing to be a scrapper. Simply showing up and decrying what is right and what is wrong will not work when fighting Walker.

Walker will enter the race as he always has — brandishing any weapon he can find and recruiting any thug he can to do the dirty work for him. If Barrett isn’t willing to meet weapon with weapon he should continue to serve as Mayor of Milwaukee where he does a great job and is appreciated for his efforts.

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2
February
2012

DWD using Tax Dollars to Promote Governor Walker

If you have to choose what to spend your tax dollars on, my guess is that it wouldn’t be to make sure that you received Governor Scott Walker’s mundane tweets (updates from his Twitter account). Unfortunately for Wisconsin taxpayers, that is oneof the things you are paying for with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development website.

But let’s say you are interested — fascinated even with what is going through the mind of the man who is running our state. You can find out what he’s eating, where he travels and about his pastors sermons.

Here are just a few of his tweets that the DWD is spending our money advertising:
GovWalker Had some really good meat loaf for a late dinner. 9 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
GovWalker Ran over to Walgreen’s to get a prescription filled. What a beautiful day! yesterday · reply · retweet · favorite
Governor Walker @GovWalker Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
Our pastor spoke on Beatitudes @ church. Very interesting.

How this relates to promoting employment in our state is lost on this writer. Walker also tweets about businesses he has visited and plants he has toured. Again, not a benefit to taxpayers and not a way to create jobs which begs the question as to why one of Walker’s Department heads is using public funds to promote a political candidate.

Unfortunately what is happening in Wisconsin under Walker is the opposite of workforce development since the state is losing jobs. And while Walker’s twitter account has a banner that says “Wisconsin is open for business”, the numbers don’t seem to support Walker’s claim or for that matter his promise to add jobs. Simply cutting business taxes has not drawn businesses to Wisconsin.

The old saying “Nero fiddled as Rome burned” may reflect a different culture, but todays modern day equivalent could easily be “Walker tweeted as Wisconsin suffered”.

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