May 10, 2012
CONTACT:Jay Heck – 608/256-2686
- Walker's Plan to Make Wisconsin a "Red State"
- Citizens, Legislators & Reformers Gather in Milwaukee for "Reform Forum"
- Wisconsin in the Post "Citizens United" Supreme Court Decision
1. As if there was any remaining question about what it was all about, there is none now. The surprise attack by Governor Scott Walker on public employee collective bargaining in February, 2011 was done, not to balance Wisconsin's budget, cut the state's structural deficit or to "save" the jobs of public employees. Oh, that's what Walker and his allies claimed and many Wisconsinites still haven't seen through it. Yet. There are many ways to balance the budget, eliminate the structural deficit and prevent employee layoffs. The Walker "bomb" was packaged to be sold as an economic measure to help Wisconsin.
But the action -- which has torn Wisconsin apart -- was done far more to gain partisan political advantage than it was to improve Wisconsin's economic climate.
Now we know, without any doubt, that the attack on public employees was first and foremost political. It was done to transform Wisconsin into a red state (solidly Republican) by crushing the political power of unions and others who have often supported Democratic candidates in Wisconsin. Walker, just two weeks after being inaugurated in January of 2011, went to Beloit to see Diane Hendricks, the billionaire owner of ABC Building Supply and a strong Walker supporter. Hendricks has contributed more than $500,000 to Walker since last year -- the single largest campaign contributor in the history of Wisconsin! She wanted something big from Walker and he told her he would deliver. And then, he did. It is quid pro quo politics at its most shocking.
In this amazing video, Hendricks and Walker have this exchange:
"Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions -"Here is the complete story which was broken by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"Oh, yeah," Walker broke in.
"- and become a right-to-work?" Hendricks continued. "What can we do to help you?"
"Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill," Walker said. "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer."
Still think big money plays no significant role in Wisconsin public policy-making? If so, you must be living in a cave in the woods. Under a rock.
2. Last Monday evening, about a hundred citizens gathered at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee for another in CC/WI's continuing series of reform forums entitled "What Ever Happened to Good Government in Wisconsin -- And How Can We Fix It?
Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, State Representative Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee), former State Senator Peggy Rosenzweig (R-Wauwatosa) and CC/WI Director Jay Heck discussed with the audience political reform issues, including Wisconsin's voter photo ID law -- the most extreme in the nation, public financing of elections and disclosure of special interest money, the need for redistricting reform, whether our State Supreme Court Justices should continue to be elected or should we look at a merit selection process, and the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. It was a lively discussion and exchange of views with the audience. Mary Kae Nelson, the President of the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County moderated the forum.
You can watch the event, filmed by Wisconsin Eye, here.
3. The January, 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. F.E.C. is transforming American politics for the worse. The flood of corporate money -- most of it undisclosed -- unleashed by the misguided 5 to 4 decision is drowning out the voices of voters, turning national and state elections into auctions and increasingly steering public policy decisions to the advantage of the few who spend the most campaign cash.
The national publication Governing Magazine recently published this article about what the Citizens United decision is doing to Wisconsin. CC/WI was interviewed for the article and provided extensive background information.
Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
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