Archive for April, 2012

I like Jerry Petrowski, too — (just not as my state senator.)

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19, 2012 by Jim Rosenberg

When it comes to people that I genuinely enjoy running into, Rep. Jerry Petrowski has always been one of them. We’ve had occasion to run into each other from time to time over his time in the legislature, which began in 1998 – the same year that I was first elected to the Wausau City Council. He was a good person to know, since beyond the issues of local government, I was also working on energy issues. He served on and chaired the Assembly Transportation committee while I served on the Marathon County Infrastructure Committee and the Central Wisconsin Airport board. All of that stuff gave us things to talk about and he was very helpful in those areas. I even went to a few of his fundraisers. We shared first pitch honors at a Woodchucks game once. The very last person that I had lunch with before leaving Madison in December 2010 was Jerry Petrowski.

Of course, that was before all hell broke loose in early 2011 in Madison and prior to the resignation of Pam Galloway from the Senate after more than enough signatures were gathered to force her into a recall election after little more than a year in office. Enter Jerry Petrowski, on cue from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

It appears that Jerry will be passing nomination papers for his 86th District Assembly seat prior to the Senate recall election, in which he is running against Rep. Donna Seidel of the 85th. The Senate recall election is June 5 and with signatures due to the Government Accountability Office by June 1 for the regular fall election, I can’t blame him for wanting to hedge his bet. And speaking of hedging bets, I need to mention here that I while I have generally not joined my friends in the Democratic Party as they worked to run candidates against Petrowski, Jerry has never been my own representative in the Assembly, since I don’t live in his district.

All of that would change with his candidacy for the Wisconsin Senate. He would then be my Senator, if he wins, and I have to tell you that while I’ve always liked Jerry, there is no way that I can support any extension or expansion of the GOP’s my-way-or-the-highway philosophy and policy positions by way of another all-Republican legislative session.  That is exactly and all that electing Petrowski would accomplish. As much as I may like him as a person, this election is about policy.

And I have to say that after getting to know a person’s style over a dozen years in the legislature and learning to agree on the things we could agree on, I was surprised at what he was willing to support, with no objection, in this legislative session. He stood lockstep with Scott Walker and the most extreme elements of the Republican Party at every turn. There were draconian cuts to education. There was “dropping the bomb” with Walker on public employee unions long after the money part had been resolved – and some of which has now been reversed in court. We had the gerrymandering of the state and the secrecy agreements. Jerry helped repeal the rights of women to make their cases against pay discrimination and to limit access of consumers to fair recompense in the courts. Then there was turning back the clock on sex education, making it more of a hassle for people to exercise their right to vote while making it less of hassle to carry concealed weapons — and passing a bevy of non-jobs related social legislation during so-called “jobs sessions” of the legislature. Jerry Petrowski can share the credit with Scott Walker for helping Wisconsin to lead the nation in job losses last year and for sucking tens of millions of dollars annually out of our local economy to support corporate tax cuts.

I don’t want to see any more. I don’t want to give a guy a promotion for advancing an extremist, divisive agenda. I think it is really important to put some checks and balances back into Wisconsin government.  If you don’t like what Scott Walker has been doing to divide the state with his no-compromise approach to ruling instead of leading, then there is no reason to support Petrowski because he has supported and enabled the Walker agenda at every opportunity. I’m not standing with that. I’m standing with women, workers, poor people, gays, students, teachers, minorities and the middle class. So is Rep. Donna Seidel.

Petrowski never campaigned as an extremist, but that is exactly what he has become, nice guy or not. There were a few Republicans in the legislature who didn’t vote for all of that stuff, but Petrowski wasn’t one of them. You can’t slide a sheet of paper between him and Sen. Glenn Grothman — the fellow who chose to argue  that ‘money is more important for men’ to rationalize reversing the Equal Pay Enforcement Act — when you look at their voting records. Petrowski  just doesn’t talk about it as much because he knows how that kind of commentary plays around here. But extremist is as extremist does, momma always said.

So be sure to take a look at those disclaimers when the ad blitz begins and all of the usual folks – mostly from elsewhere and a lot of them not even from Wisconsin – start trying to buy that senate seat again, just like they did for Pam Galloway.


Republicans insult Wisconsin with fraud candidacies

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6, 2012 by Jim Rosenberg

It was interesting to receive a nomination paper for fake Democratic 29th Senate District candidate Jim Buckley today, together with a letter attempting to rationalize what is nothing more than a cynical mockery of this state’s elections. Buckley, who doesn’t even live in the district, isn’t a protest candidate, as the GOP likes to euphemistically call the candidates that they run in the other party’s primary. Buckley’s candidacy is a fraud, just like the other fraudulent candidates that the Wisconsin GOP is running in the coming recall elections are and just like those that they ran last year were. The Wisconsin Republican Party should be ashamed of itself for sponsoring such a sham. Of course, they’re not. 

It will be interesting to see if the people who sign nomination papers for the GOP’s fraud candidates will have their names published by “voter integrity” monitors in the same manner that these folks published the names of those who signed recall papers. We saw a nearly hysterical reaction from right wingers who felt there was something scandalous about their fellow citizens exercising a constitutional right to call for an election, even though there was no particular reason to doubt the sincerity of those who signed. So what about those who sign papers to perpetrate fraudulent candidacies in this state in an attempt to make a political gain for their partisan interests? And what of all that hand wringing over the cost of extra elections that they willingly add to by their own acts of mischief? What about all that hollow, hypocritical talk about protecting the integrity of the vote while the governor and GOP legislators were ramming through the now injunction-sidelined Voter ID law? Really, can’t the GOP just wait to cash in on their gerrymandered redistricting plan next November?

Good luck ever regaining the moral high ground, folks. Blatant deceit as a core value has a way of eventually catching up with people. Trotting out charletons AGAIN? Really?

Most importantly, what will it take for most of Wisconsin to figure out that there are some people running this state’s Republican Party who are so pathetically devoid of integrity and who have so little respect for the proper exercise of democracy that they are simply unfit to govern?


Meet one of the GOP’s fake Democrats, black hat and all: 

Think there ought to be a law about election fraud like this? This attorney opines that there just might be:

Happy to be back on board

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2012 by Jim Rosenberg

Election night always finds me glued to my computer keyboard with the television on, following bunches of races from all over the place. Of course, nothing makes election night more exciting than to be involved in a race myself and that has been the case in April of every even-numbered year since 1998, although I think I recall having an uncontested cakewalk back in 2000 or something, when I ran unopposed. (For some reason, I never seem to have much trouble finding opponents.)

This year found me running as a challenger instead of an incumbent for Marathon County Board, since I left the seat in the summer of 2010 to join Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton’s staff in Madison for the last six months of her term. It was an unusual opportunity and I’m glad that I took it. Happily, the voters in my district didn’t hold that sabbatical from local office against me and they were kind enough to let me pick up where I left off on the county side.

For the first time in 14 years, I left the city side of politics alone. The most interesting development of the night was challenger Keene Winters taking out incumbent alderman Gary Lee Klingbeil in District 6 on the northeast side. Winters captured more than 63 percent of more than a thousand cast in that district. This was not as much of a surprise as it might seem to be, at first blush. Just eyeballing things, it was obvious that Winters spent thousands of dollars to win the seat, which is pretty much of unheard of in Wausau. That said, it looks like the former leader of the local chapter of the Grover Norquist founded Center Right Coalition will be on his own. A de facto running mate on his conservative slate in District 4, Duane Maatz, executive director and lobbyist for the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, lost to incumbent Alderman Jim Brezinski by nearly the same lopsided percentage margin as Winters was able to win by.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I find all of this pretty interesting. First, why would Winters spend all that money to become an alderman and second, what was the deal with an experienced Madison lobbyist trying to be part of that palace coup? It should be fun to watch the positioning continue over the coming term.

For their part, the local TEA Party group decided to try to shine a light on everyone who signed the recall petitions, as if that was some kind of unethical act. This kind of stuff doesn’t bother me personally, since anyone who reads this blog wouldn’t be surprised to find out where I land. Moreover, the nature of extremism – and make no mistake, these are extremists – is that there are low numbers when you get out to the margins on either end of the political spectrum. I will give them credit for one thing, however: having the most totally paranoid disclaimer I’ve ever seen on a website to date. I was looking for a tinfoil hat before I was halfway through it.

Also of passing interest locally is that Rick Santorum was the top choice in Marathon County for the GOP presidential primary by a fairly wide margin. Romney managed to take the state with a plurality. And Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus managed another election night operation that was good enough to get her an editorial in the state’s largest newspaper calling for her to step down:

While the turnout was very decent in some Wausau districts, including my own, the overall turnout in the city wasn’t all that great, considering that the mayor was up for re-election and there were some hotly contested city council and county board races, along with the GOP presidential primary. Jim Tipple easily won re-election, but his vote total wouldn’t have been enough to win in a big turnout year. (That said, there’s nothing to say that the same percentages wouldn’t have prevailed anyway.) Ed Gale, returns to the Wausau City Council and the Marathon County Board seats; races for which he was unopposed.

The most welcome change: not getting a half dozen or more robocalls daily from the Romney and Santorum campaigns – but don’t expect the peace to last long. There are recall primaries in May and the final recall vote in June. Walker and his allies have millions of dollars to spend over the next eight weeks and the Republicans have rolled out their fraudulent Democratic candidates for the four Senate recall races. (No, they’re not “protest” candidates. They’re brazen frauds. Wisconsin’s GOP doesn’t see any problem with sponsoring that kind of cynical mockery — just like the local TEA Party group thinks that freedom of speech and the right to petition for redress of grievances are constitutional rights that should only be afforded to people who agree with them. They’re also fine with chipping away at the fundamental right to vote, although courts now seem to be seeing things differently than our Republican legislators in Wisconsin, along with their union busting adventures.)

Following the recall elections, there are state legislative primaries in August and then we head toward November. In short, don’t look for the din of political campaigns to let up any time soon.