One Wisconsin Now Blog
January 2009 Archives
There are multiple theories about its origins, but it usually refers to a politician using images of past violence to stir up the electorate's prejudices and win support. The word demagogue is often used in connection with it.
Which brings us to Judge Randy Koschnick's bloody shirt campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Koschnick doesn't let a day go by in his campaign against Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson without talking about a case he heard in Jefferson County, a case in which a majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, including Abrahamson, twice overruled him about whether a bloody shirt could be included as evidence.
Somehow, Koschnick even got the case to be discussed as part of his bio when he was introduced at a debate before the Wisconsin Newspaper Assn.
Here's how a Gannett reporter started her story:
A bloody shirt served as the starkest symbol of the contrasting philosophies of Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randy Koschnick in their first campaign debate.
But Koschnick only tells part of the story, and omits a major piece.
The gruesome case involves Matthew Knapp, who killed a woman with a baseball bat in 1987 but was not charged until 1999 and finally convicted in 2006.
These things are a little complicated, but bear with me. I usually write at about third grade comprehension level (and it's not on purpose).
When police came to arrest Knapp on a probation violation after the 1987murder, they asked him what he's been wearing the night before (the night of the murder)and he gestured to a pile of clothes, including a sweatshirt (now known as the bloody shirt), which the police took with them. They had not given Knapp a Miranda warning. DNA tests on the sweatshirt later showed the blood was the victim's.
The same day, police searched the entire apartment of Knapp's brother, with whom Knapp was living, with his brother's permission. Among other evidence, they found two pairs of blood-spattered shoes in Knapp's bedroom.
Knapp's lawyer tried to have all of the evidence excluded, on the grounds of no Miranda warning, and that Knapp's brother could not authorize the search of Knapp's room, even though it was the brother's apartment.
Koschnick admitted the sweatshirt but excluded the shoes and other evidence from the second search.
He got it exactly backwards, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said. (The decision.)
It said the sweatshirt should not be included as evidence, but the shoes could be. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision and sent it back for reconsideration, after which the Wisconsin court again overturned Koschnick, this time on state constitutional grounds. After that decision, Knapp went to trial-- and was convicted.
As Abrahamson noted in Thursday's debate, Knapp was convicted "with legally obtained evidence, of which there was a lot."
What she didn't say was that Koschnick had thrown out the prime pieces of legally obtained evidence, the bloody shoes.
How important were the shoes?
The prosecutor who handled the case said after the guilty verdict that the jury convicted him because, "The scientists showed the dead woman's blood was on his shoes."
So if Koschnick wants to keep talking about this case -- and he seems to be making it the key issue in his campaign so far -- more power to him.
But let's call it what it was: The Bloody Shoes Case.
And Koshnick was on the wrong side.
UPDATE: An attorney who looked into the case tells me that Abrahamson dissented from the decision to allow the shoes to be admitted. While relevant, it does not change the argument that Koschnick excluded evidence which the Supreme Court (even without Abrahamson) allowed to be admitted as evidence, and which was instrumental in convicting the murderer.
(Note: So yinz know, this guy's from dahn nere in Pittsburgh, n'nat.)
With so much going on at the national and state levels, one question progressives may still be asking themselves: Do I support the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday's Super Bowl?
The right wing and the Alliance Defense Fund are back at it.
Please read this from the Coalition to Protect Women's Health & Safety -- critical information about reproductive freedom and efforts by the right wing to stop women from accessing safe and legal reproductive services:
Dear Minority Leader Fitzgerald (the Assembly one),
We, the articles and sections which make up the Wisconsin Constitution, noticed that on top of financing the cost of you and your family's health care, that you are spending some of the people's tax dollars having your ample staff waste time and resources creating something called the Joint Committee on Economic Stimulus Accountability.
An important member of our team, Article IV, also known as “Legislative,” wanted to remind you that since your party is not in charge of the state Assembly, you currently do not enjoy the authority to create committees.
Walker’s obstinate refusal to work on behalf of Milwaukee County even ruffled feathers among his own staff and other in Milwaukee County government. It turns out that Walker’s chief of staff Tom Nardelli thinks that going after some of the stimulus money for public works projects was an “excellent” suggestion. Milwauke County Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo said “it would be nice to hit the ground running” should Obama’s stimulus package passes Congress.
The pressure is on Walker’s plan to do nothing from other corners too—labor leaders in Milwaukee have expressed the need to present a united front in efforts to get stimulus money. Others are asking if Milwaukee doesn’t get the money, where would it go? Kenosha County Exec Jim Kreuser said his county would gladly take any of Walker’s cast-off funds.
Walker’s only reason for rejecting the cash? He doesn’t want to “put money in the hands of the government. Well just what is Walker’s great idea then? Keep toting the failed Bush Administration’s talking points about “smaller government” (all the while, Bush ruled over the biggest expansion of the federal government…)? How is Walker working to help Milwaukee in these troubled times? Or is he too busy running for governor to take care of the people he currently represents?
Yesterday, Ripp stood against job creation and having Wisconsin tax dollars pay American workers when he voted against a common sense bill to ensure the state only do contract business with companies in the United States.
And currently there’s a $5,000 reward for information about an armed robbery in Juneau County on December 9, 2008.
One would think the top cop in that county, District Attorney Scott Southworth would have several important cases to work on—maybe even more drug kings or bank robbers to go after. After all, it’s his job to keep the citizens of the county he represents safe from drug dealers and other criminals. Heck, the taxpayers of Juneau County are paying him to investigate crimes and put hardened criminals behind bars.
But today, the people of Juneau County are apparently paying for their District Attorney to weigh in on whether or not he approves of a private decision made between a woman and her doctor…in Madison.
Earlier today, DA Southworth sent a letter to the President and CEO of UW Hospital and Clinics detailing his opposition to a new policy at UW Health that would provide safe, legal, and rare second trimester abortions to women in and around Dane County. The UW is stepping up to fill a critical public-health responsibility to provide the service to women who need it—due to a recent retirement of a women’s health provider in Madison, there are currently no providers in Madison who perform second trimester abortions.
Southworth says that he thinks the UW should “spend its time—and our valuable state resources—to invest in ways to assist low-income and uninsured individuals in obtaining quality health care services.” Well, DA Southworth, this is exactly what they are doing. And I would expect that District Attorneys in this state would spend THEIR time—and out state’s valuable resources—to butt out of a very personal decision that is made between a woman and her doctor. It’s bad enough when lawmakers try to insert themselves into the doctor’s office, but now women have to worry about an over-zealous COP and lawyer too?
Amy Salberg, a lawyer with Whyte, Hirschboek and Dudek, has been working with the Alliance Defense Fund to defend the Discrimination Amendment, which outlaws same-sex unions, in Wisconsin’s courts. It’s bad enough that the Discrimination Amendment passed, but now Salberg has stoked the flames of homophobia and outright lies in her defense of the exclusionary amendment.
In an Alliance Defense Fund press release earlier this month, ADF-allied attoney Amy Salberg of Whyte, Hirschboeck and Dudek said “activists shouldn’t put children at risk in order to pursue their own selfish desires.”
Salberg’s insinuation that by somehow extending equal rights to all citizens would be dangerous for Wisconsin’s children is outright wrong and downright disgusting. It’s this sort of homophobic fear-mongering that is so hurtful to the debate about this important issue, and it’s more proof that the rabid right will stop at nothing to deny basic rights to our LGBT neighbors.
In response to Salberg’s outrageous recitation of Dobson’s false talking points, OWN asked citizens from around the state on Monday to call Whyte, Hirschboek and Dudek to express their outrage about the firm’s work on the Discrimination Amendment and support of such dangerous rhetoric.
For more information about the phone campaign, visit http://www.OneWisconsinNow.org/WHDcalls.
Sherman is again sponsoring important legislation to ban prescription drug advertisements in Wisconsin.
The federal law change in the '90s allowing pharmaceutical advertising on television, is up there with deregulation of banking and finance rules and media consolidation legislation that the public is going to pay for decades and beyond.
How in the hell is a payroll tax cut going to help someone without a job?
And how do we pay for the lost revenue? Will you cancel your annual taxpayer-financed motorcycle trip to campaign for governor promote Milwaukee County? Stop offering 26% raises to your top staff?
University of Wisconsin-obsessed Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) launched a laughable attack yesterday against the UW and Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson because an internship with Abrahamson's campaign was on the UW Law School website.
Nass said this was misuse of taxpayer funds and by god, he wants justice. He wants answers. Funny, but we found out Nass said nothing when a similar call for election interns by the Republican Party of Wisconsin was sent out to the entire UW-Madison political science student body. Yep. Not a word from Nass.
Case in point: The Badger Herald's upbeat story, headlined, "Candidates to run cleaner Supreme Court race," which says:
After the negative tone of last election, during which one candidate accused the other of being sympathetic toward child molesters, both candidates are making an effort to help clean up this year's election, which will be held April 7.
What made the last election so negative? Just ask McCabe:
Despite efforts by both candidates to run positive campaigns, most of the negativity voters see is often a result of the efforts of third party special interest groups, according to Wisconsin Democracy campaign director Mike McCabe.
"The problem is that in both races the candidates were pushed to the sideline by special interest groups," McCabe said.
What McCabe chose to ignore, of course, is the fact that the most vile, untruthful, negative claim of last year's race did not come from any "special interest group."
The television commercial, which attracted national attention for its Willie Horton style sleaziness and was roundly condemned, falsely claimed Louis Butler had sprung a rapist from prison so he could rape again. The sleaze came not from some independent group but from -- Ta da! -- Butler's opponent, one Michael Gableman. That's Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to you.
If Gableman lost control of his campaign, it wasn't to some independent group, but to the slime merchants who advised him and ran his campaign.
(Disclosure: I am affiliated with one of those so-called "shadowy" independent groups McCabe loves to hate.)
Barely twenty-four hours into his first day as the nation’s 44th President, Barack Obama made it clear that he is not going to tolerate business as usual in the nation’s capital.
Obama’s first act in office placed a freeze on the salaries of top White House aides and to implement new limits on lobbyists working with the Obama administration.
The salary freeze affects those top White House aides making over $100,000 a year, demonstrating a clear break from the disastrous Bush administration by proving that Obama really can talk the talk and walk the walk. “Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington,” Obama said addressing the press this morning. Finally—a leader who’s REALLY in touch with the difficulties regular Americans are struggling with.
More importantly however, was Obama’s action to limit the influence of lobbyists in the Oval Office. Obama’s first executive order bans aides to the Obama administration who leave his staff to turn around and lobby the government. No more revolving door to K Street. Going even further, Obama also banned those staffers already hired from working on issues they had previously lobbied on, or to lobby government agencies they previously worked to influence. Even FURTHER, Obama banned all lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to those working in his administration.
Thank. God (if s/he/it exists). Perhaps now, regular folks won’t be shuttered out of a government that supposed to be by us, for us. Obama wasn’t messing around—he’s been waiting in the wings, forced to watch the lamest duck we’ve ever had twiddle his thumbs while the proverbial plane was crashing into the mountain. Now, with Obama at the rudder, it’s clear that simply doing nothing and maintaining the status quo is simply not tolerated. Thank. God.
Reince Preibus must not have gotten the memo about the over $288,000 the board members over at the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance have donated to his Republican and conservative pals.
Otherwise, he’d be using President Todd Berry’s talking point about the state finances not being as bad as the $5 billion-plus deficit everyone else understands as fact.
Well done, indeed. Specifically he was answering a question about waterboarding, a torture in which torturers torture the subject by inflicting torture -- in this case, making the person believe they are drowning by drowning them.
-- .. [Gov. Jim] Doyle said it's "total nonsense" for people to suggest the state shouldn't accept federal stimulus money...
Some have criticized the use of federal stimulus to fund state services, saying the one-time fed infusion will cause larger budget problems down the road...
"...I think it's a very good thing for the people of this state. I don't think many of our citizens would say, 'The federal government wants to help with the cost of education. Turn that money down so our kids can go to inferior schools,'" Doyle said.
What's curious is that after a week of daily publicity about Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker's insipid statement that his county doesn't want any federal stimulus money, WisPol would not identify him. "Some" includes only Walker and right-wing bloggers and talk shows who have felt obligated to defend his indefensible position.
Since he was elected the newly leader of the Assembly, Speaker Sheridan has made several meaningful gestures towards bi-partisanship in an effort to bring the minority party into the fold—a total 180 from previous GOP majority leaders Mike Huebsch and John Gard. Sheridan kept the Republican-appointed Chief Clerk, named a Republican staffer to the lead staff role on Joint Finance, and has said repeatedly since being named Speaker that he wants to meet with Fitzgerald about the budget and how the two can work together.
Sheridan doesn’t have to do any of this. He could just ram through a budget with the votes in his caucus. But he’s gone out of his way to hear ideas from all sides, and is working to get beyond the hyper-partisan ship that had locked debate in the Assembly for the past fourteen years.
Predictably, Moore was roasted on Republican talk radio, which has never met a war it didn't like.
She's no doubt feeling somewhat beleagured for doing the right thing. Contact her here to let her know others agree that both sides must stop the bloodshed and share the responsibility for the deaths of innocent civilians.
A story in the Capital Times today details the recent programming changes and the resulting listener uproar on the Mic, 92.1 FM, Madison’s only progressive talk station.
As 2008 ticked over into 2009, the Mic, rather quietly, announced that popular daytime show ‘The Thom Hartmann Program’ was going to be replaced by evangelical money-help host Dave Ramsey—the same Dave Ramsey who hosts a similar financial show on the Fox Business Channel. (I’ll leave my comments about having a right-wing, bible-thumping Fox mouthpiece on my progressive talk station for another post….)
However, the change won’t last. Ramsey is moving to the morning slot and Thom Hartmann is moving back to the 2-5p slot on the Mic.
As an avid Mic listener—the OWN office radio is tuned to the Mic at some point every day—I certainly welcome the change back to Hartmann. But the change and change back really drive home the danger of media consolidation that we’ve all grown accustomed to.
Iraq Moratorium activists in Wisconsin ponder that, with the weather forecast for Friday, Jan. 16, this month's Iraq Moratorium day, for subzero temperatures and even worse wind-chill readings. There are warnings about frostbite and hypothermia.
Iraq Moratorium-Wisconsin noted, in an email to organizers:
While standing at a vigil in sub-zero temperatures may be an expression of our commitment, frostbite and hypothermia will not end the war and occupation of Iraq.
This is not to suggest canceling planned events for Friday; our experience in Milwaukee is that it is almost impossible to get the word out to everyone even when a decision is made to cancel. Some people will come anyway.
However, if it is really as cold as the forecast indicates, it might make sense to think about shortening up the vigil and moving indoors after 15-30 minutes to a nearby coffee shop, restaurant or other location. Use the time to discuss the war, plan a February Moratorium event, write a letter, circulate a petition to bring the National Guard home, or take some other action to help get US troops out of Iraq.
Here's a list of scheduled Wisconsin events on Friday: Iraq Moratorium-Wisconsin.
That’s the amount of money the listed members of the board of directors at the oft-called non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance have donated to Republicans and conservative candidates since 1991.
Did they donate to Democrats and liberals? Yes. A whopping $25,475.
To sum: 92% to conservatives. Eight percent to liberals.
With Wisconsin facing its most difficult budget challenge in decades, the Institute for Wisconsin's Future (IWF) has a new report showing that increased investment in the state's Department of Revenue (DOR) could generate a substantial increase in tax collections without raising tax rates.
The report, titled "Investing in Revenue: How Wisconsin can profit by using the Minnesota model for closing the tax gap," shows how Minnesota used investments in its tax-enforcement capabilities to raise nearly one billion dollars since 2002, without raising tax rates.
Every dollar invested in building the tax-collecting capacity of Wisconsin DOR could return eight dollars in additional revenue for the state.
Increasing staff in the department's audit and collection operations would be the core of a more aggressive approach to collecting taxes that should be paid but are not. This money would help reduce the need to cut state services or increase state tax rates in order to produce a balanced budget for the 2009-2011 biennium.
Bolstering DOR enforcement capabilities would not only generate additional revenue, but also would make the tax system fairer for those who already pay their taxes on time.
However, Wisconsin's tax-collecting capacity has been eroding. 2008, for example, one out of every four jobs authorized in the 2001 DOR budget had either been eliminated or left vacant. By contrast, during the same period Minnesota was investing in the capacity of its revenue department. Minnesota's investment paid off, in the form of $900 million in additional revenue through enforcement activities, not tax increases.
See the full report at: www.wisconsinsfuture.org/publications/taxes/Press Releases/DORreport_1.09.09PR.pdf.
Good news is that Lazich, who despite her hatred of government has been in office and collected a salary, per diem, a pension plan and health bennies off of us for 15 years, will spend the next two years again being nothing more than a stammering back-bencher.
In the midst the failing U.S. economy and the “$300 million in backlogged repairs for parks, annual shortfalls of up to $43 million in transit and some $300 million needed to rebuild mental health complex” facing Milwaukee, Walker reassured concerned citizens saying, “I’m not asking for any new… things to be done here.” Rest easy Milwaukee County; no new things will be done.
Trouble is, Walker is the Milwaukee County executive, not some two-bit political hack from Elroy, as one of his GOP opponents once called Tommy "Stick it to 'em" Thompson.
Walker's already said county taxpayers shouldn't pay for programs that only help the city of Milwaukee.
In the name of holding the line on property taxes, he's decimated public services in the county, with deteriorating parks, and a bus system being purposely killed by neglect, just to cite the top of the list.
He's vetoed an attempt to ask county voters whether they would favor a half per cent sales tax to reduce property taxes and fill some of the county's financial hole.
Now he's turned his back on potential federal economic stimulus money, too.
The Journal Sentinel reports:
The only federal economic stimuli Walker endorses are tax cuts...
"The last thing you want to do is put money in hands of government," if the goal is to pull the economy from recession, Walker said.
Tell it to FDR. That's the quote that earned Walker the Herbert Hoover tag. (It was Calvin Coolidge who observed that, "When more and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment results." But it was the principle of Hoovernomics.)
Walker's county is arguably the one in Wisconsin that needs help the most. Janesville's unemployment rate may be higher, but Milwaukee's widespread and persistent poverty problems and central city joblessness are unmatched.
Calling him Herbert Hoover -- or even Hoobert Heaver -- maybe giving him too much credit.
Gretchen Schuldt asks a lot of pertinent questions, starting with the big one: Has Walker totally lost his mind?
Cory Liebman wonders if Walker knows that Milwaukeeans pay federal taxes, too.
A caller on Eric Von's show on WMCS radio this afternoon said he called Walker's office and was told by a staffer that Walker didn't support the federal spending because "we're going to have to pay for this sooner or later."
The point is that Milwaukee County taxpayers are going to pay for the stimulus anyway, whether they share in it or not. They're going to pay for those tax cuts Walker loves, too.
I seldom find myself quoting County Board Chair Lee Holloway as a sage observer, but he got this one right:
"The county executive is out of touch with the wishes of Milwaukee County residents. We're in a recession. The City of Milwaukee's poverty and unemployment rates are among the highest in the nation. It's nave for the county executive to take such a narrow position on this matter...
Rejecting a federal helping hand makes no sense given the severity of the recession, Holloway said.
"I support any stimulus package that puts Milwaukee County residents back to work and improves our infrastructure," he said.
The most bizarre aspect to Walker's positioning is that he clearly thinks this will somehow help him be elected governor.
It will set him apart from the field. I'll give him that.
It may earn him a spot in the Hoover-Coolidge hall of fame.
But it won't get him anywhere near the statehouse.
Koschnick told WXOW-TV the gun show gave him a chance to meet voters. It was such a good chance he campaigned there two days in a row.
It speaks volumes about the candidate and his candidacy.
And, yes, the gun nuts at the National Rifle Assn. do endorse in Supreme Court races.
If Koschnick doesn't advertise the inevitable NRA endorsement when it comes, the Abrahamson campaign should. The Gableman race notwithstanding, the NRA's track record is pathetic. The vast majority of Wisconsin voters support reasonable restrictions on firearms, which is why the NRA is so ineffective politically.
Doubt that? Ask Gov. Jim Doyle, who was the NRA's number one national target for defeat when he ran for re-election in 2006. How'd that turn out?
Let's hope that Judge Koschnick continues to spend his time at gun shows, while Justice Abrahamson continues to campaign with mainstream voters all across the state, as she's been doing for a quarter century.
The headline reads "Case could rewrite corporate law in Wisconsin" and arguments before the Wisconsin State Supreme Court begin this week.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has already made it known how it would like the Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule.
And who can forget the millions of dollars WMC spent supporting corporate-friendly and ethically-challenged judges Michael Gableman and Annette Ziegler?
It's time WMC-backed justices Gableman and Ziegler remove themselves from ruling on this case. Click here to demand Justices Ziegler and Gableman recuse from the Virnich and Moores case.
In 2006, A jury ordered the owners of Communications Products Corporation, Daniel Virnich and Jack Moores, pay $6.5 million in damages after the pair took over $10 million from the company as they drove it into the ground. Dozens of workers were out of jobs when the company went under, and Communications Products Corp. refused to fulfill its union contract and pay workers their due. All the while, Virnich and Moores continued to collect huge payments from the company.
Newly-minted Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald was barely installed as the official leader of his Republican caucus before letting us know his agenda is to protect big insurance companies ahead of Wisconsin children and families.
Asked about common sense legislation to require insurance companies to cover treatment for autism and hearing aids and cochlear implants for children, Fitzgerald registered his opposition. Reiterated, may be more accurate.
The Political Environment
PolitiScoop Left on the Lake
Water Blogged in Waukesha
The Other Side Of My Mouth
Eye On Oshkosh
Pretty Important Politics
WI Council on Children & Families
WI AFSCME Council 11
Citizen Action of WI - No Sacred Cows
Tea Party Pledge
Wisconsin Budget Project
The Wisconsin Happy Farm