Wednesday, July 1, 2015

This Is Why Liberal Democrats Cannot Stand Chris Abele

I don't like a work stoppage by employees just as much as the next person. But it's ALWAYS the last option, and I think it's important to remember that...

Chris Abele may be a Democrat, but statements like THIS are exactly why Democrats in Milwaukee become aggravated beyond belief with him. So, so often he doesn't seem to acknowledge that he has heard their side or that he has an understanding of why people disagree with him

He may be a dues paying and large democratic donor, but he sure as heck doesn't act like a good Democrat.

From his press-release yesterday, is the following statement: 
Proposed Contract Facts:
- The average MCTS bus driver makes more than $62,000 per year in salary and overtime. 
- Between cost of living increases, pay increases, and pension contribution decreases, ATU members would see a salary increase of up to 3.3% in the first year with an additional 1% increase to base pay on top of that in the second year. Additionally, ATU members were offered a $1,000 employer matching contribution to their Flexible Spending Accounts during today’s negotiations. 
- The net compensation increase (salary and benefits) for ATU members over the next two years is $3,580 for workers with an individual healthcare plan and $2,848 for workers with a family healthcare plan.
In a time when State transportation funding has been flat and Federal funding has declined, ATU members rejected multiple contract compromises that increased overall compensation while allowing for the continuation of full transit services, stable fares, and respect for County taxpayers.
Reading that press-release, you would think that the drivers are complaining about their total compensation and pay. If you analyze the reasoning behind Exec. Abele's release, you would think it's because he's trying to play to county residents and have them go against the bus drivers because they are asking for more of their tax money.


From THIS Journal-Sentinel article (which does contain some language that does make me cringe when thinking about professionalism):
The company offered significant concessions Tuesday to reach an agreement, including a cap on the number of part-time drivers it would hire, officials said. But union leaders asked for higher wages that would have added up to $8 million a year, according to the transit system. 
Wait... Did you see what happened right there?

THAT ladies and gentlemen is the Journal-Sentinel being lazy and framing an argument, and it's framing an argument against the union. ALL of that information in that statement was FROM the transit system.

"The company offered concessions," and "union leaders asked for higher wages," was ALL according to the transit system.

You could also rewrite that paragraph from the union perspective too. It would've looked like this - "Union leaders offered to exchange the loss of overtime and hiring of some part time drivers with a slightly higher wage for drivers who would see a significant loss in previously forced overtime pay."

Then again, you could also be factual down the line AND START THE STATEMENT WITH "According to MCTS officials..."

Okay, so what exactly DID the union say in the article:
Macon said drivers were halting work for three days to protest the company's push for hiring retirees as part-time operators. 
"We had no intention of going out on strike," he said Tuesday. "We wanted to sit down. We wanted to talk to them. We actually were willing to go arbitration on all this crap they said they were trying to give us. If there was a problem, why didn't they take it to arbitration?" 
You know what, that's a DAMN good point.

Why didn't the county take this to arbitration and get it over with? The only reason that I can think of as to WHY the county didn't want it to go to arbitration is because they would've been called out publicly for having bad provisions in the proposal. In arbitration, every side doesn't get what they want. But when one side is asking for it and the other isn't, that raises some flags.
Macon blamed Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele for the impasse. 
"This is Abele pretty much controlling MCTS," he said. 
Abele wasn't available late Tuesday to comment. 
Macon said the union was willing to work on the issue of using part-time drivers.
And why wouldn't they? Forced overtime money is nice, but the idea of forced overtime and working six days a week isn't. I've seen a lot of misinformation in the TV media about this whole debacle, from the county not using any part time workers now, to them already using them, and on and on.

The Milwaukee media has been horribly, horribly lazy covering this, which is exactly why people are naturally in the dark, unaware of what either side has said since April 1st when the contract ended, and are unsure of what side to support.

Later in the Journal-Sentinel story, they published some of what was being offered by the county. Now, I'm not sure if this is the TOTAL final best offer, or just what was being floated Tuesday, but it's something tangible:
Contract offer 
The company's offer would cut annual pension contributions by 1.3% beginning next year and provide a 1% pay increase on Jan. 1, 2017. Drivers would continue receiving cost-of-living pay increases of up to 2% each year. 
Cost of living this year is 1.62%, so that's what they'll get, plus a 1% bump in two years? That's a pretty paltry pay bump all things considered. (Hey white-collar office worker who thinks bus drivers are overpaid, calculate what a $45,000 1% increase is...)
Drivers are paid an average annual hourly wage of $23.78 this year. Average hourly wages would increase to $24 in 2016 and $24.45 in 2017, under the offer. 
So, still under $50,000 a year. While certainly not a horrible income, it's not exactly living high off the hog. Mind you, this is AVERAGE.

Drivers typically work eight hours or more of overtime each week. Average annual pay swells to $62,830 a year with the extra hours. 
So, they work essentially six days a week. Plus, this number has been floated around time and time again, but it's pretty bogus to just force this on people as "average" with overtime. That means people are making either substantially more or substantially less... It's not a fixed number.

Plus, who would want to be forced, every week, to work up to 8 hours of overtime? (This is me being a TOTAL Millennial... During the school year, I work far, far more than 8 hours in a given day. But I'm not in an hourly job. If I punched a clock, you damn well better believe I wouldn't want to be forced to work beyond it all the time.)
Transit system officials said hiring a limited number of part-time drivers is one way to reduce the burden of overtime hours on full-time operators. 
And the union so far seems to be able to work with that.
But union members oppose the company's insistence that it be allowed to hire a few hundred or more part-time drivers as part of a new contract, Macon said. There are no part-time drivers now. 
The union is concerned that the company plans to change most driving jobs to part time in several years, Macon said. At the same time, the company is not offering to provide part-time drivers with health or pension benefits, he said.
THAT is what this WHOLE thing is about and why I support the drivers. They'll hire retirees now, but when they are done, they will only replace them with part time drivers. It's the nature of taking hourly work and forcing it to part-time status.

It's the philosophical fight we haven't been waging in this nation for the last 30 years, but need to. It's what Bernie Sanders has been railing against. It's corporate mentality over the mentality of what's good for families, what's good for people. Eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure, eight hours of rest is what we need to get back to. Opening the floodgates to part time workers, who aren't even offered health insurance, is the road to sealing your own fate as losing your full time job.

This is a fight worth having. The fight for living wage jobs with benefits. Until we decide to do universal healthcare, health insurance is a pretty basic thing to fight for. (Plus honestly, can you imagine someone responsible for driving a whole bus full of people who isn't offered health insurance?!)
In mediation Tuesday, the company offered to provide flexible spending accounts to help offset increases in health care costs. The company's offer included matching an employee's contribution to the account up to $1,000, a spokesman said.
Nobody from the union side has really made a peep about the healthcare contributions.
Union members this week also criticized the company's unwillingness to provide adequate time on routes for bathroom breaks. 
The current contract guarantees only four minutes for a driver at the turnaround point of a route to clear the bus of passengers and walk to a business with an available bathroom, union officials said.
About 23% of daily routes provide a layover of just four minutes, according to information provided by the transit system. Layovers of five to nine minutes are scheduled on 57% of daily routes. The remaining 20% of layovers at the end of a daily route are scheduled for 10 minutes or longer.
Just because it's only 23% of routes that have four minute breaks, that's 23% too many if you ask me. Four minutes? FOUR MINUTES?!?! Office setting employees have literally no idea what this is like.

Monday, June 29, 2015

How Charter Schools Work Discipline Numbers In Their Favor

I work at a comprehensive high school on Milwaukee's north side. Statistically, based on the DPI report cards, we are one of the 10 "worst" high schools in the state of Wisconsin. Our reading and math scores for students being on grade level are low. Our graduation rate, while improving, certainly isn't stellar. (Although I would argue looking at the five and six year rate and not just the four year rate would suggest we do a good job of keeping students pursuing their degree.)

There are numerous issues at our school, that cannot be denied. But one thing is sure, we take whomever comes to our door. Poor, tired, huddle masses, we take them as they are.

THIS article from The Progressive dives into how charter schools work at having exclusionary practices, and how so many students "fall through the cracks." Those students who schools like mine accept, work with, get frustrated with, and often times see succeed after much blood, sweat, and tears.
On Monday, I attended a presentation where Paul Pastorek, the ex-superintendent of Louisiana schools, said that charter schools have “improved the quality of life for the New Orleans community."

The average reader might say, “What is the problem with that statement?” All over the country people think that New Orleans is a model for public education, that we have done it right. We're respectable! Successful! Disciplined! Obedient! Ready to go to college! Or work in Walmart, or be a best model prisoner! To be all you can be in today’s Army! That’s us! 
We’re a growth district. A lot of our schools have a 100 percent graduation rate. We also happen to have 14,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24, who are not in school or working. They are the lost youth. No, excuse me, I meant to say “opportunity youth.” Somebody clearly has the opportunity to make some money off them.

John White, Louisiana state superintendent of education, said that the state has 26,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school or working. More than half of them just happen to reside in our “successful” New Orleans all-charter school district. These are not children in alternative schools. These are the invisible kids. They are the kids who, despite all the wonderful educational choices we supposedly have, don’t fit in anywhere.
That, right there ladies and gentlemen, is what we DON'T have in Milwaukee. We don't have 15,000 students (which would be one of the 10 largest school districts in the state on it's own) who aren't in school or working in Milwaukee. That is because for all the "success" that is touted by the conservatives in the legislature about voucher and charter schools, MPS is there to accept everyone who isn't "easier to educate."

What we do have is too few) social workers, school psychologists, and community programs that work with parents and track them down when they are not attending school. We work with families to find transportation, to find alternative programs, to provide community based help where needed. Should the MPS takeover provisions that are in the 2015-17 Biennium Budget go into effect, what you see above WILL become the reality in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee has many issues right now. But one thing we don't have? En-mass students who are left without a school environment that will welcome them in.

This is why you should oppose the MPS takeover provisions in the 2015-17 Biennium Budget.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Friday

It's been a joyous Friday on my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed. If you're not someone who reads legal texts such as amicus briefs, court decisions, or legislation, I envy you. But EVERYONE can appreciate the very last paragraph in Justice Kennedy's decision this morning affirming marriage between couples in every corner of the United States.

It's quite possibly the most beautiful thing ever written in a court document:
And with that, marriage between ANY two people is legal in the United States of America.

Today's Friday song popped up on my Facebook news feed from rock band Foreigner:

News To Rep. Thiesfeldt - You're Not On SCOTUS

Fond du Lac area Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt really jumped off the deep end with his press release this morning about the Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states.

This quote from his release... This quote right here is huge:
There is no authority under the US Constitution for the court to define marriage for the nation. The US Constitution is silent on the matter, and the 10th Amendment makes certain that such matters are the purview of the individual states.
You mean just like slavery? Or just like separate but equal? Or like interracial marriage? Rep. Thiesfeldt in his huffing-and-puffing about education matters likes to note that he was a social studies teacher (in a private religious school mind you), but has he EVER really studied what the Supreme Court does?

The US Constitution is silent on the matter, and THAT IS WHY THE SUPREME COURT EXISTS!!! To interpret the Constitution! And you know what Rep. Thiesfeldt, just because YOU think that marriage issues fall under the 10th Amendment, the Supreme Court of the United States disagrees with you:

I LOATHE Citizens United... But it's the interpretation of the US Constitution by the Supreme Court. If I want to change it, and I do, I need to work at getting an amendment to the Constitution signed.

The Dead Scott Decision was one of many such decisions that necessitated the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution in the wake of the Civil War. The courts had interpreted the Constitution (which only mentions slavery with respects to the 3/5th Compromise and ending imports after 1808), that slavery was a states rights issue.

The Civil War happened, sentiment turned, and it was changed via amendments. That's the process.

Later on in Rep. Thiesfeldt's press-release, he says:
“Legally, marriage is a state matter,” continued Thiesfeldt. “SCOTUS bowed to public pressure and created a ‘right’ that clearly does not exist in the US Constitution. 
So... that whole 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topekia decision? What's your thoughts on that? I mean, that pretty clearly was a turning sentiment for a majority of the nation and creating equal justice and protection that wasn't written into the US Constitution.

Hey Rep. Thiesfeldt, what are your thoughts on Brown v. Board? I mean, we know how much you loathe federal involvement in education, and via your logic, it should be a 10th Amendment issue because the Constitution never mentions education. So, do you believe that states should have the right to segregate schools?

Thiesfeldt concluded:
Furthermore, because it was decided outside the normal legislative process by federal courts that lack jurisdiction, this decision will never be accepted by a large share of the American public. Decided in the same manner as the Roe v. Wade decision, this only adds to the deepening political divide in the United States.” 
The rights of the minority are not trumped by the desires of the majority Rep. Thiesfeldt. That is why courts exist and that is what our whole system of laws and government structure is predicated on.

And you were a social studies teacher? You want to allow the proliferation of independent charter schools where teachers aren't required to be licensed to teach? You really, really think this press-release bolsters your credentials about teaching and being an authority on education matters?

Rep. Thiesfeldt, you might as well be Ja Rule:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Walker In The Hot Seat On Budget - Is He Ready To Deal w/Dems?

Governor Walker's really in a bind on the 2015-17 Biennium State Budget. There's no way around it, his absence from Wisconsin has cause the budget he originally proposed in February to go off the rails and be mired down dysfunction within his own party over road building and the Milwaukee Bucks arena.

And apparently now, he's looking towards Democrats for support. Well, maybe... From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Madison— A Democratic lawmaker who met with GOP Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday said the likely presidential candidate told him he needs Democratic votes to pass his funding package for a Milwaukee Bucks arena and is considering vetoing a long list of items Republicans have inserted in the budget.
Wow, that's interesting. This is the first time we've actually heard anything about Gov. Walker in a LONG while with respect towards making sure the Bucks arena stays in the budget. Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald has been saying that for a while, but the governor? He's been conspicuously quiet in public. (Well, he's also been conspicuously absent from Wisconsin too)
A spokeswoman for Walker denied he had made the comments on vetoes and said his discussion about the Bucks arena had been mischaracterized. But Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton) stood by his description of his 20-minute meeting with Walker on Thursday.

"I said, 'Are you going to need Democratic votes to get this (Bucks deal) passed?' and he said, 'Yes,'" Jorgensen said. "I said, 'Beyond the city limits of Milwaukee?' and he again said, 'Yes.'"
So Laurel Patrick and Rep. Jorgensen are in a literal "he said, she said?" Why would Rep. Jorgensen lie about this? Seriously, what leverage does he gain by lying? Not to mention, am I the only one who thinks it's interesting that Rep. Jorgensen is the one who's talking about conversations with the governor over the Bucks arena and not someone from the Milwaukee delegation? More on that later...
Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said the governor believed support from Democrats was needed if the Bucks plan was dealt with as separate legislation, rather than part of the state budget as is now being contemplated. She said it was up to lawmakers to determine whether to strip the Bucks plan from the budget.
Ohhh jeez, so Gov. Walker didn't demand that the Bucks arena deal stays in the budget?

Seriously, is it that complicated to figure this stuff out guys?
Republicans who control the Legislature are hung up on the Bucks deal, transportation and the prevailing wage law, and appear unlikely to reach an agreement by the July 1 deadline for the budget.
Mind you, only two of those three have ANY business being in the budget, and one of them is the only one that MUST be included.
If they don't reach a budget deal on time, there is no immediate crisis. Funding levels will continue at current levels until a new budget is reached.
What's hilarious are all the UW Professors I've seen who've said in jest, "let's never pass a budget." I echo that sentiment in MANY respects.
But not having the budget completed on time would complicate Walker's presidential run as he positions himself as a reformer who can get things done. He hopes to launch his bid as early as July 13.
Oh BOO freaking HOO. Seriously, if you can't figure out a rinky-dink budget in Wisconsin that should've been buttoned up for a while now, ESPECIALLY considering you have control of both houses of the legislature, are you really sure that you're the person to cut through all the Washington gridlock?
Walker met with the Assembly Republican caucus on Wednesday and top GOP leaders from both houses on Thursday. At Thursday's meeting were Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna, Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills and Rep. John Nygren of Marinette. Darling and Nygren co-chair the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

They left that meeting with no deal and no immediate plans to meet again.
Mind you, this time last week, Sen. Darling and Rep. Nygren were in the middle of snipping at each other over transportation funding.

Democrats, you're paying the hell attention right with respect towards using this in 2016? This is the exact type of stuff that Republicans always place on Democrats as being stagnated because of infighting within their own caucus. That's not going to happen to you, right? And you're TOTALLY co-opting this incompetence into a message for voters in 2016 and 2018, right?

Walker also met one on one with Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), a member of the Joint Finance Committee, according to Jorgensen.
Huh, interesting... Is that because he hopefully listens to his farmer-constituents who are clamoring for him to understand what's happening with school funding?
Jorgensen, who is chairman of the Assembly Democratic caucus, said his members are frustrated that they have not received the detailed plan for the Bucks arena, despite Republican leaders saying they had put together a plan three weeks ago.

"The fact that I don't have a written-out plan for this is a big stumbling block for me," Jorgensen said. "It's the same concern throughout our caucus."
And it damn well doesn't give a lot of "oomph" behind Republican's complaints that Democrats are not signing on to the budget or somehow pushing harder to get a deal done. They just want to see what in the heck things look like!

Sigh, that's one thing these conservatives have never been good with. Transparency. (How'd that whole thing over redistricting end up?)
Jorgensen said he had asked for the meeting with Walker and was surprised the governor needed so many Democratic votes. He said Walker should be calling Democrats to push for their votes if that's the case.

Walker and top Republican lawmakers want to put $250 million in public financing toward a $500 million Bucks arena. The cost to the public would ultimately grow to $400 million as debt for the project was paid off over 20 years.

Most Senate Republicans have said they want the issue taken out of the budget to be dealt with as stand-alone legislation. All Democrats oppose the GOP budget, and some Republicans argued the Bucks proposal should have bipartisan backing, particularly from Milwaukee.
Ha... You'll get that bi-partisan support when you stop JACKING Milwaukee around!

You want Democrats to support the Bucks arena deal? Cut the MPS Take-Over provisions from the Budget in the form of the "Opportunity Schools Partnership." You want some Democratic support? Cut the independent charter school provisions, and the voucher provisions, and actually INCREASE support for schools.

It's amazing what you might get support from Milwaukee on if you'd stop kicking us all the damn time.
Democratic lawmakers argue they have been left out of the talks and say Republicans should negotiate with them if they want their votes.

Walker has proposed borrowing $1.3 billion for transportation over the next two years, but GOP lawmakers have said that's too much. They have discussed cutting that amount by as much as $800 million but have differed over whether to delay the rebuilding of the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee County as part of those cuts.

Jorgensen said Walker told him project delays were inevitable. Jorgensen said he asked Walker to compare the importance of the Zoo Interchange to the widening of I-39/90 from the Illinois state line to Madison and Walker said they were "on the same plane."
Sigh, they probably are (as is the 441/41 "Polish" interchange in Neenah), but damn nation, you can't flipping stop work on the Zoo as it sits! That just shows how incompetent we are to EVERYONE who will come through our state into SE Wisconsin for both business or travel.
The other major issue stalling the budget is the prevailing wage law, which sets a minimum salary for those who build roads, schools and other publicly funded projects. Some Republicans want to repeal that law, while others want to modify it instead.
They can find the nearest flagpole and spit up it as far as I'm concerned. That has absolutely ZERO fiscal impact on the budget in terms of expenditures. There's no earthly reason it should be in the budget.  This isn't the Bucks deal where money will be spent... It's a damn partisan issue.
Jorgensen said he had also asked Walker to veto changes to teacher licensing that Republicans have inserted into the budget. Walker didn't indicate he would do that, but said "there's a long list" of items he is considering vetoing, without specifying what they might be, Jorgensen said.
Oh, REALLY now?!
But Patrick, the Walker spokeswoman, denied the governor had said he had such a list. "Governor Walker did not say that," Patrick said in a statement.
Ha, of course he didn't... Wow, so, what are you trying to cover up here? Again, why would Rep. Jorgensen lie?
Jorgensen said he thought Walker's office was trying to downplay the comment because Republicans would be upset if the governor planned to veto some of their pet provisions.

"I absolutely heard it," Jorgensen said. "My staff heard it. They wrote it down."
That explains so much and reminds me of a classic line from the movie, Apollo 13:
"Tell me this isn't a government operation".

Friday, June 19, 2015

So You Want To Create A Charter School District? Here's What You Can Expect More Of

Banner School of Milwaukee isn't even a so-called "2R Charter" meaning that it is approved by either the City of Milwaukee, UWM, or MATC. This is a school that applied to MPS to be what's called a "Non-Instrumentality Charter School", meaning that the school is given a charter to operate by the MPS School Board, but is not staffed by MPS employees and run as a separate entity.

Non-Instrumentality schools, if granted a charter by the board, are almost always granted by the MPS Board for five years, with applicants meeting financial benchmarks and working towards specific student achievement metrics. It's a far, far more rigorous process than the City of Milwaukee has, and while I'm not a fan of Non-Instrumentality Charter Schools or the independent 2R Charter Schools, the ones chartered by MPS by in large are serving students with qualified teachers and schools that have well-defined plans. 

However, Banner School of Milwaukee is indicative of what will happen in Milwaukee should the Darling/Kooyenga MPS take-over portion of the Biennium Budget pass. Large national charter operators will come in, charter schools, and just like that, they can close with little to no warning. It's not quite as back as the fly-by-night voucher schools that close during the middle of the school year, but stability is still an issue.

From today's JSOnline:
Banner School of Milwaukee, a charter middle school overseen by Milwaukee Public Schools but not staffed by district teachers, is closing abruptly after just two years. 
An employee at Banner Educational Group, the school's parent office in Florida, confirmed Friday that the school at 7171 W. Brown Deer Road — the old Happy Hill school building in MPS that was previously vacant — is closing. 
The Milwaukee School Board will likely approve the termination of the school at its monthly meeting Thursday. According to a letter posted with the school board documents, Banner School has had trouble retaining qualified teachers, meeting the needs of students, handling costs, and meeting enrollment targets. 
An MPS spokeswoman said the district would work help families find new schools for 2015-'16. 
Sources say teachers at the school, which served about 200 students in sixth through eighth grade, were notified by Banner leaders just this week that the school was closing. 
Calls to Theresa Yeldell, the school's administrator, have not been returned.
Would you be okay having a school like this even be an option for your child to attend? How much time do you have to do research about which schools are operated by national chains, or local operators? Are you someone who lives in a house with a computer, high-speed Internet access, and someone who's graduated high school or college? Do you know what you're looking for in a school and which metrics are important, and which ones aren't?

Why is it okay for schools like this to operate on the north side of Milwaukee but Sen. Darling and Rep. Kooyenga constantly talk up their local public school districts and say they don't have to worry because they are high achieving? This is why the Darling/Kooyenga plan is imperialistic on Milwaukee, because it is implementing a plan on Milwaukee that they would never find acceptable for themselves. It's letting outside operators come in and mine the resources of Milwaukee (it's students) and take that money away through it's national chain, instead of investing it in students and providing quality paying jobs to people in Milwaukee.

Stop this madness, and get the MPS take-over provisions OUT of the state budget.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Assembly Rep. Jim Steineke... "Milwaukee Sucks"

Words cannot describe how angry this Tweet from Assembly Majority leader Jim Steineke makes me:
The twitter-tirade continued for over half an hour, with tons of Democratic legislators tweeting back and Steineke responding in kind. The whole thing makes me sick.

But, do you really know how Milwaukee drains the rest of the state?

It attracts young Millennials like myself away from places like the Fox Valley, which lack culture, diversity, entry level jobs for college graduates that are career building, and an openness to differing opinion. (I can't imagine moving back without some serious economic gain on my end, and that AIN'T happening based on my career field and what I've seen in economic development focused on $12-15/hour jobs...)

Milwaukee does drain resources from schools out state, because the Republicans have decided to fund voucher and independent charter schools and not actually fund the public system across this state at fair and equitable levels. Every school district sends money to schools in Milwaukee that have no public board or input. Oh, and yes, Rep. Steineke wants to expand those schools in this budget.

Minneapolis, the other city referenced in the tweet, is right now more of a liberal bastion and attraction for young people than Madison and Milwaukee. He really seriously thinks that Republican leadership would attract more people to our major cities?

Go home Rep. Steineke... You're drunk on power.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Don't Say I Didn't Tell You So... The Budget

School just got done yesterday, and as fate would have it, I'm under the weather. Just when I thought I may get a few minutes to collect my thoughts and get back to doing some writing in this space... Nope.
And grad school starts in two short weeks...

However, I'm going to channel my inner political Republican and toot my own horn.

Tonight JSOnline had THIS article about how the Joint Finance Committee is bogged down with transportation funding and the Bucks area. In fact, Finance Co-Chair Sen. Alberta Darling says the budget may get delayed until July: 
Instead, Republicans remain so far apart on major issues — such as funding for transportation and a new Milwaukee Bucks arena — that the finance panel will not meet this week, Darling said. Asked if she was worried the budget process could drag on until mid-July or later, she said she was "very concerned" that could happen.
Later in the article, it goes over some of the political in-fighting between Republicans over the issues, and does include Assembly Finance Co-Chair John Nygren isn't worried about the budget being pushed past June 30th:
Nygren expressed less concern than Darling about the possibility of budget deliberations stretching into July. 
"I think we're pretty close, actually," he said, adding that if talks suddenly improve, the Joint Finance Committee could be done as early as next week.
Either way... I told you this was going to happen. A long, long time ago.

Remember when there was all that hype about how the governor and legislature wanted to get the budget done quickly? Remember how they said they wanted to get it done by the end of May?

Remember why I don't trust Chris Kapenga?

Sure, I was wrong that education wasn't the last thing in the budget deliberations, but that doesn't mean what passed was any less shady. Not to mention, that last late-night session ALWAYS holds surprises.

But passing the budget by the end of May? NEVER believe it! NEVER, NEVER believe it!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bills Circulating To Fund Schools

Via the Wisconsin Public Education Network:

Dear friends of Wisconsin Public Schools,

Two education bills are circulating for co-sponsorship that deserve support from every legislator, taxpayer & parent in Wisconsin! At this stage the bills are given “LRB Numbers” before formal introduction. These bills respond to the needs and concerns shared by parents and school districts all over the state, and provide an opportunity for legislators to come together in bipartisan support of the public schools that are the hearts of our communities.

Contact your legislators TODAY and ask them to co-sponsor these bills. Then call on your local school board and adminstrators to show their support for this legislation. And be sure to thank them for their support of our public schools when they do!

LRB-2356 would allow locally elected local school boards to increase local levy limits to keep up with inflation. This would bring us back to a standard established by former Governor Tommy Thompson that puts control of levy limits in the hands of locally elected officials, who are accountable to local taxpayers. School districts all over the state have been asking for this flexibility, which would allow them to off-set the effects of decreased state funding to local schools.

LRB-2357 would provide some relief to local districts by increasing the state-level support for special education costs to 33%. While the state used to fund over 70% of special education costs, Wisconsin currently only pays for 26% of these high and growing expenses. Special education funding has been frozen for 8 years at this rate, and school districts all over the state have long been asking for more support. This modest increase would be a dramatic improvement from the current situation and help districts meet the needs of all students.

Deadline for co-sponsorship is Friday, June 19. Urge your legislators to sign on to this bill and vote YES on any bill or budget amendment that allows for more local control and fair funding of our excellent public schools!

See the bills here:

LRB-2356 (Increase Revenue Limits):
LRB-2357 (Increase Special Education Funding):
Find your legislators here:

Share this call to action via facebook here:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wauwatosa SOS... Kicking And Taking Names

This past week has been full of powerful actions across the state of Wisconsin surrounding the support of public education. From demonstrations in Sun Prairie, to Green Bay, Appleton, Racine, Milwaukee, and Wauwatosa, it seems that no matter the economic or geographic make-up of your local school district, people are ticked at the state budget.

So ticked, that Republican legislators are becoming snippy back at their constituents, and those same constituents are doing mic-drops to their talking points.

The moral of this post... Don't mess with Wauwatosa parents. 

Clearly, those parents got under the skin of State Sen. Leah Vukmir and Assembly Rep. Dale Kooyenga at their listening session on Monday evening. Of particular interest was THIS video, which shows Sen. Vukmir lecturing a parent who's been lobbying for a TRUE restoration of the cuts to public education.

For another view, I'm going to actually post a MacIver Institute video, which shows just how insane Sen. Vukmir and Rep. Kooyenga's arguments are, and how parent's just aren't buying it:

What I particularly love however, is how Rep. Kooyenga always chides Democrats for focusing on inputs (i.e. - resources, family background, etc) and instead wants to shift to outputs. Some of what he lists that are outputs to show if a school has been successful?

Teen pregnancy rate and incarceration rate.

Yup, must be REAL FREAKING EASY to be viewed as positive in conservatives eyes as a voucher or charter school when you can counsel students out because you don't "provide those services" or see that there isn't a support system around a student.

Why do Democrats talk about inputs? BECAUSE THAT'S ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS! If you have two hamburger restaurants next to each other, and one can reject beef that's too close to expiration date, hasn't been certified, or has been damaged in transport, while the other has to accept whatever they receive, one place is going to have an easier time with consistency and "outputs."

So... After such a contentious meeting, naturally, Sen. Vukmir and Rep. Kooyenga had to rush out a press-release to defend themselves: 

Lots of obfuscation and technical jargon about how they are increasing money in the education budget (but siphoning significant dollars from GPR revenue that could be going to K-12 public schools that will now go to vouchers, to say nothing of what would happen with charter schools), but I think this little portion of the release is endemic of what conservative's views on public education is all about:
“The JFC inserted a provision requiring public school districts to allow charter, voucher and home-schooled students to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities sponsored by the public schools – at the expense of the public school districts.”

The text of the motion proves this statement is incorrect. The motion clearly states that the school district can charge a fee for these additional students if they charge a fee for the public school students. Treating all students the same is a matter of fairness and we believe most individuals will agree. Denying a property taxpayer’s child from trying out for a sports team, musical or other extra-curricular activity does not save the school district any money.
The "if they charge a fee for public school students" is a laughing stock for anyone who's associated with high school sports. A sports fee of $75 in absolutely NO WAY covers the whole cost of running sports. Busses, coaching salaries, renting of facilities, it's all done through money that is budgeted from the general funds to provide a well-rounded set of opportunities to students.

Also, treating all students fair is allowing them access to those things if they attend that school. If they make the choice to not attend that school, they give up those opportunities. I'm sorry if the idea of homeschooling kids in 2015 provides fewer opportunities or only provides "club" sports opportunities, and the idea that because you pay taxes for something means you get to use it holds ZERO weight with me. If that were the case, I'd sure like to have access to some government run healthcare... I'm paying for it, right?

In a normal back-and-forth between a group of parents and legislators, that's where the story would end. However, the SOS parents decided to put out their own COUNTER press-release. (Ohh having economic privliage of time in order to do these things. It's something we wish more MPS parents had.):
“Stop the nonsense and tell the truth”

The fact of the matter is that we parents have not been able to mow our grass for weeks and have unwashed dishes in the sink because these knuckleheads keep coming up with new ways to take funding away from our kids’ schools. With all due apologies to our neighbors, we will do whatever it takes to protect our kids.
FANTASTIC rebuttal!

SOS has been out in force since February. The addition of charter schools has only come in recent weeks, and done without public input. So, if Sen. Vukmir is ticked that parents are "moving the goalposts," imagine how pissed they are with the legislators?

The rest of it is worth reading just by itself:
Our legislators are lying to us.

First, we have never changed our goals. We do not want our kids' schools to be cut. The actions by Senator Vukmir and Representative Kooyeng will result in a cut to our schools. The bottom line is this: our schools will see no increase in funding the first year and a $100 increase in the second year, an increase that becomes a decrease when the new voucher schools syphon the money away and when you account for inflation. A cut by any other name is still a cut.

What Senator Vukmir and Representative Kooyenga cannot deny is that they are taking money from our public schools and giving it to private schools. Also, they cannot deny that as a result of their actions, Wisconsin schools will fall below the national average for per pupil spending for the first time ever.

Second, we have not been listened to. While we have sent thousands of postcards, left hundreds of messages, and attended a number of listening sessions, most of which neither the senator or the representative were confirmed, we have never spoken directly to our representative or senator. We don’t know who our legislators are listening to but we can assure you that it is not us.

Third, contrary to our legislators assertions, we want all students in the state to attend quality schools like the ones where our children in Wauwatosa go. But contrary to what our legislators suggest, voucher schools are not accountable to taxpayers, they do not perform better than public schools (check the research) and a siphon on money that is earmarked for our kids' public education.

Taken together, our legislators are committed to a narrative that lacks the truth. As parents, we are committed to calling them on this and if necessary, giving then timeouts.
*Mic. Drop...

Then today came news that the district will have to increase up to their levy limit in order to maintain services. It must be nice to have that room, which many districts don't have, but the problems that are plaguing many districts right now or are forecasted for the future, are also confronting Wauwatosa.

Remember, this is a city that has pockets of dark red, but has been consistently trending bluer and bluer in recent years, almost to the point where it's hard to argue it has a discernible political bent.

From today's Wauwatosa NOW:
[Director of Business Services John] Mack said while the district is able to maintain service levels this year, he worries about future years if there are not increases in state aid or revenue limits. 
"My biggest concern is for four to five years from now," Mack said. "To get people to go into education, to get teachers to look at this field, we need to invest in education." 
After the budget presentation, all school board members except Anne Fee signed a letter to district families asking them to contact lawmakers about educational issues in the state budget they were concerned about, including expansion the state voucher program. Mack said if 1 percent of students are allowed to participate in the program, as proposed, about 60 Wauwatosa kids could use vouchers to attend private schools. That would pull more than $7,000 in state aid away from the district, to give to private schools for each kid.
Oh... But, I thought there were no cuts to public education and schools didn't have to worry about losses of services?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Jason Rae For DPW Chairperson

I wasn't planning on formally announcing my endorsement for DPW Chair, but the events of today leave me no choice in my consciousness.

I'm endorsing Jason Rae for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

There are many, many factors that have lead me to this decision, not the least of which was actually talking with Jason at the last Milwaukee Co. Democratic Party meeting. In my last posting about the chair's race, I noted that I had not met Jason until the April DPW meeting, and this is true. While I may now be a Milwaukee Co. resident, my attendance at meetings has been spotty at best over the last two years.

Those who are cynical will likely say that my decision is only the way it is because I'm 28, I'm from Milwaukee, and because I've been online friends with many longtime Milwaukee DPW activists. However, nothing could be further from the truth, and those who know me know that I don't have much in this world other than my own work ethic and ability to be true.

The nastiness of this race has been ratcheted up consistently by all sides over the last few weeks, and it's pained me considerably because many of the consistent clicks of the ratchet have been from people I consider friends. I was hoping to stay above the fray and not put my thoughts out online. I have no illusions about the fact that I'm not really anyone special and my "endorsement" means diddly in the real world.

As for some simple reasons why I shied away from some of the other candidates, I'll give those before I justify why I'm voting for Rae.

Steve Smith was just too green for me. I never really felt comfortable with someone who didn't connect with voters around the state. I think it's very safe to say that his candidacy was always a long-shot.

The same was largely true for Jeff Smith. I felt like the reason he kept citing for his wanting to be chair was that the party ignored him when he was running for office, and that he held a resentment against that. While I certainly appreciate the sentiment, I'm not sure if jumping from Assembly Representative to DPW Chair is the right leap, especially when I had never heard much from him before about ways he thought the party could function differently. I know that his name is better known in the north woods than Milwaukee/Madison, but the data shows that those are the richest pots of delegates and voters. If you're running for this race, you should be well known in those areas.

Then, there are the developments of today, where Smith put out an e-mail stating he is dropping out and endorsing Martha? From the Journal-Sentinel:
Former state Rep. Jeff Smith is withdrawing his candidacy for the state's Democratic Party chairmanship and throwing his support to Martha Laning, who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate last year. 
"I'm doing this for the health of the party," the former Eau Claire lawmaker said Thursday. "It's been a rough six months with five people campaigning for the same job. Now, it's time for us to come together." 
Smith said last week that he would hire Laning if he won.
That is not the hallmark of someone with back-bone and someone who can be the leader of a whole state party. More on this in the Laning section.

As for former Chair Joe Wineke, I feel like his time has passed. I think he served in an okay capacity looking at his time as chair, but he rode national waves and those are things he really had very little control over. Furthermore, the DPW was not exactly in a very positive state for Mike Tate to take over, as I've been told by many people who cite lack of an organization with the 2010 elections as being case in point. In his closing interview with Sly in Madison, Tate threw out a little nugget of information many people probably didn't read the same way I did.
"Whoever wins will inherit a party with no debt, half-a-million cash-on-hand, and a lot of gas in the tank."
That's not true of the party Joe left Mike, and that reason alone has given me a lot of reason to question why he deserves the nod. Plus, if things were TRULY that great under his leadership, I feel like more people would have rallied around him earlier. When that never happened, I've drawn my own conclusions that there's a reason, and it's that people weren't overly-enthusiastic about a return to his style.

Martha Laning...

I will admit, ever since Martha Laning threw her hat in the ring, I've been very skeptical.

Those who've followed my blog for a while know that I wrote a few posts about her running for State Senate in the Sheboygan area this past fall and was very supportive of her effort. In fact, I thought she was exactly the the type of candidate Democrats needed - a person who was locally known, civilly engaged, and could raise a lot of money.

However, when news broke that she wasn't even a party member until early 2014, and when Sly talked with Dan Bice about his story breaking that news and caught her in an outright lie about saying that he misquoted her in an article, I lost a lot of respect.

Now today, Jeff Smith puts out an e-mail stating he is dropping out and endorsing Martha?

Politically, that's smart to do, because I know a lot of people who are looking for "grassroots change" have split between those two candidates. However, I think that it happening at this stage of the game, in this environment, just shows how amateur hour it is with both of them. I don't want people who have to learn immense amounts of institutional knowledge on the job to be the people running my political party. I want people who know the woodshed and know how to take people to it, to be running my party from day one.

Call this the "Ron Johnson Syndrome."

No, not that Ron Johnson, THIS ONE, the one who ran JC Penny for a short time, and everyone thought it would be great because he would bring new and fresh ideas like those he used at Apple. Well, turns out, the old guy was brought back on because sometimes massive change isn't that smart and bringing someone in who doesn't know a thing about how your industry works is a really terrible idea. Just because something works in one sector, doesn't mean it works in another. This to me, embodies Martha Lanning. She's a fantastic person to run for political office. She's not the person who should be doing the dirty work and running the background of coordinating politics.

This finally brings me around to my endorsement of Jason Rae.

A lot of people who've tried to take Jason down have brought up his connections to Nation Consulting. While I admit, I  may not like how they have both liberal and conservative clients, I think those who are in the "grass roots" may need to wake up and see what the world is like in a post 2010 Citizens United World. This is the world we live in, one that's inundated with money, influence, and people who try to work both sides to their advantage.

I hold Jason harmless in this, or even at a plus.

I hold Jason harmless so much as I hold Martha harmless about her owning Target stock. She worked for Target, she SHOULD own Target stock! She should feel an investment in the company. Yes, I agree, their anti-labor policies are horrid, and yes, I agree, that's not something you want your party leader to be spreading, but to fault her for owning it because that's how she made her living? That's kind of low.

Same with Jason Rae. As much as people fault him for being with a consulting firm and blame consultants (sometimes rightly and wrongly) for the woes of Democrats, they shouldn't necessarily link the person with the overall organization. If anything, when you compare Martha, someone who just within the last 16 months realized there is such a thing as true paid party politics, with Jason as someone who's been engaged in the fight on a daily basis for the last 15 years, I give it to Jason by a long shot. He lives and breaths politics every day. Why is this a bad thing for the party chair?!?!?! Don't we want someone who knows what the game is like from both the paid and unpaid side?

I don't think Jason's job at Nation Consulting is a harm, I think it's a plus. His livelihood right now depends on results and production for Democrats. One would think that sets him up well to run a statewide party.

Furthermore, Jason has been an active party member since his teens, something even I can't say. He's been a DNC member since 2004 and understands the national apparatus. This is HUGE to me. The position of party Chairperson isn't just about recruiting candidates, it's about building national coalitions and understanding how the national party works. This is what Jason has done for over 10 years now. His experience with this to me is a huge plus, because he doesn't need institutional knowledge to be taught to him.... He has it.

Lastly, Jason isn't originally from Milwaukee, just like me. He grew up in a conservative area, and not even just grew up there, got involved in party politics there. He knows what it's like to do party work in Rice Lake, just like how he knows how it is to do party work in Milwaukee. He's actually run successful campaigns (something Mike Tate never had) and knows from first hand experience that the "Rice Lake Argument" isn't the same as the the "Milwaukee Argument." He's released plans on these things because obviously he's looked at the data and has a vision for where the party should go.

I want my chairperson to be someone who knows how the system works. Who knows the ins, the outs, the pitfalls, the shortcuts, the good, the bad, the ugly, the positives, the negatives. Joe Wineke knows that, but has demonstrated he can't manage money very well, which is crucial in the post-Citizens United world. Jeff Smith has demonstrated he's wishy-washy and doesn't have a solid plan to build on to bring the party past Scott Walker. Martha Laning as recently as January 2014 didn't know that you had to pay dues to belong to the Democratic Party, and lacks a historic knowledge of the struggle between the state party and local parties. Steve Smith hasn't shown he's a serious candidate with a real plan for change.

Jason Rae is the only candidate who has plans that can be implemented, who has the institutional knowledge of the party rules, who's seen the pitfalls and potholes of previous administrations, and who's been successful at both organizing on a local level for winning elections and worked nationally as a DNC delegate.

He's not Mike Tate. He's never once said he agrees with everything Mike Tate has done. He's clearly ready to chart his own course and put his own stamp of approval on the party.

This is why I'm endorsing Jason Rae for DPW Chairperson in Wisconsin.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Election Report - Why Aren't We Talking About This Thing?

I posted in this space a few months ago that I renewed my membership to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

The insanity of what’s happening right now in the Democratic Party Chairperson’s race is literally making my head spin. Quid pro quo accusations between the candidates, quid pro quo accusations between a candidate and the current chair, and nastiness all around that one really can’t quantify. I keep telling myself, only five more days of this madness.

Seriously, when THIS e-mail has to go out because of the accusations, you know it's getting bad.

So with all of this debate about either consultants being the problem in the DPW or unrealistic grassroots expectations being the problem, let’s actually take a look at something the current DPW leadership put out last month that has gotten surprisingly little analysis by people from either side. Their post mortem report, which can be found and read in full is located online HERE.

This 14 page document outlines many of the challenges the party has faced and does something that everyone hopefully agrees should be the guiding light for the party moving forward with wanting to win elections – data.

Data cuts kind of close to the bone for me as a teacher, because so often we’re forced to be data collectors and not really feel like there is any human element to what we are doing. (Kind of the essence of teaching IMO.) It also feels like data can be manipulated however best suits the latest political attack against us by either politicians, school administrators, students, or whomever else decides it shooting fish in a barrel and wants to attack us this week.

However, with politics there are some very real baselines we can use that are in very controlled environments. That can be beneficial to study. Politics should be all about data, and meta-data at that. Companies use data to streamline operations, provide the most efficient means of delivering products and services, and you know what, it works. However, the problem with incorporating data into the public sector, and this logic holds true for politics, is that data is cold, callous, and unforgiving. Mathematics doesn’t exactly embody the human condition and emotion, which is why 9.81 meters per second as the speed of gravity hurts no matter what distance you fall from.

So, connecting data and its cold heartedness to the very emotional world of politics, is challenging. ESPECIALLY for Democrats who need to "fall in love" with their candidate while Republicans "fall in line."

Democrats have incorporated data in some real measures already to be sure. The use of creating “walk packets” and cutting turf with frequent voters and the flood of constituent data after the 2011 and 2012 recall elections gave a lot of good stuff to both sides of the isle to figure out where their possible voters lie.

So if that’s the case, why have the Democrats sucked at elections outside the November 2012 general election? Well… let’s actually look at the data. (And then realize that they haven’t sucked nearly as bad as everyone seems to think.)

From the report:
The general election cycle which concluded on November 4, 2014 was generally not a good one for Democratic candidates.  Nationally the party was unable to escape the historical “six-year itch,” which is a trend of national losses during the sixth year of a sitting President’s term.  In fact the only President to avoid the six-year itch since Reconstruction is Bill Clinton, who actually gained seats in the House of Representatives. 
Again, there's that data coming back on us. There are anomalies, like the Clinton race, but really, the reason why we study history is so we can LEARN and see trends.
Nationally the losses were aligned with historical trends.  Democrats lost nine seats in the US Senate, thirteen seats in the House of Representatives, five Governors chairs and lost control of eight state legislatures. 
While this historical trend is real, we don’t accept it as an excuse.  We understand that it is a reality and a factor rather than accepting it as the sole rationale of the lack of victories in Wisconsin.  In Wisconsin we saw the loss of three seats in the State Assembly and one seat in the State Senate in the 2014 cycle.  This has provided the Republican Party with larger majorities in the Wisconsin legislature.  Consequently, the re-election of Governor Walker was certainly a disappointment for members, activists and democratic loyalists in our state.
One of the more important things for Democrats to learn from the report, in my humble opinion, is what the authors of the report call "the chained effect":
“Chained” elections: Wisconsin appears to be experiencing a phenomenon the ERC has dubbed the “chained effect”.  A majority of voters appear to be addressing each election cycle differently and selecting the party they will vote for during that cycle.  This shows that, for good or bad, candidates of the same party are linked together.  The chained election explains the highly partisan results and the lack of variance on down-ticket elections. 
The current variance is showing the following plus/minus range (+/-) for elections in Wisconsin based upon their differential to the top-of-the ticket appears to be: 
·       Statewide offices:  +/- 2%
·       State Senate races:  +/- 4%
·       State Assembly races: +/- 8% 
As indicated, the lower on the ticket the more likely a voter will be willing to vary from the top of the ticket, but variances from the overall result in a district are rare.  In fact the only current variances are: 
·       Democrats hold two assembly seats (92, 94) which Governor Walker won.
·       Republicans hold one assembly seat (51) which Mary Burke won.
·       Democrats hold one state senate seat (31) which Governor Walker won.
·       Democrats also hold the statewide Office of Secretary of State.  
This office has also experienced a chained effect for total Democratic votes; however the Republican candidate has experienced a severe under-vote in the past two elections.
This puts an extra emphasis on the top-of-the-ticket in the Wisconsin elections.  The committee recognizes that this is the current behavior of voters in Wisconsin.
This is VERY, VERY important for people who analyze elections to understand. If you live in an Assembly district where the Democrat for Governor only musters 35% of the vote, the likelihood that you will win the Assembly seat is darn near impossible. So, is it really worthwhile for the DPW to sink resources in that seat?


How much variance has there been historically in that seat? Not just the 2006 and 2008 elections, but HISTORICALLY. Back to the 90's? 1994, another wave election, is probably a good place to start.

Which yet again brings us to the cross-roads of data and human emotions. When someone decides to step-up and run, the fact that the state party doesn't give them help with resources can be a source of resentment. In fact, it's pretty much one of the central reasons one of the DPW Chair candidates are running. However, the data shows us that if we use numbers, and then adapt it with local-knowledge about wise investments with respect to how turnout affects things like State Senate and Gubernatorial races, it can make sense to dedicate some dollars.

Yes, I wish we had unlimited money too, but by reading the report, we need to be smarter with how we dedicate our resources and actually analyze elections. It shouldn't seem like the state party is dedicating resources because of "liking" people more, but be backed up by cold, hard data.
Makeup of elected officials: The committee reviewed the background of the current and historical elected officials in Wisconsin to determine if there were trends which could be identified to aid in the recruiting and planning process.  Here are a few takeaways the committee found: 
Elected experience often matters: 
·       State Senate makeup:  16 of the 33 members of the current Wisconsin State Senate held a prior non-partisan local elected office.  An overwhelming majority (30 of 33) either held an Assembly seat or a local office prior to election.
·       State Assembly makeup:  47 of the 99 members of the Wisconsin Assembly held prior non-partisan local office.
·       History of our Governor:  Wisconsin hasn’t elected a Governor who hadn’t held a prior partisan office since Lee Sherman Dreyfus was elected in 1978.  Dreyfus was previously known for his time as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. 
And damn well known at that.


But, but, Soapbox... Those are non-partisan elections.

Right, and so are Supreme Court judges....

The likelihood that someone will be just elected straight to an Assembly seat (outside of Milwaukee where traditionally it has been an reversed) without having served on a City Council, School Board, Parks Commission... is rare.

In short, even if you lose, don't be afraid to build your name recognition! This is something Democrats have not done well with in the past, taking the "one and done" strategy. This is precisely the OPPOSITE of what the 1950's Democratic Party did with people like Bill Proxmire.
Where statewide candidates come from:  One of the largest points of discussion after the 2014 election is that Democrats need to “stop running candidates from Madison and Milwaukee” in statewide elections.   To answer that question the committee did research on statewide candidates for both major parties dating back to 1994. 
Here is where likely there will be many people who go berserk on the report. Again, it's that wrenching problem of applying data to situations where emotion are involved, and in politics, it's all about capturing and harnessing the power of people's emotions.
Here are the results:
·       The bulk of Democratic candidates for statewide office come from Class 1 and Class 2 municipalities.
·       The bulk of Republican candidates for statewide office come from Class 2 and smaller municipalities.
·       Both parties generally draw candidates from geographic locations in which they have their greatest depth of elected officials.  The Democratic candidates are largely based out of the Madison and Milwaukee markets, while the Republican candidates are greatly trending towards the Milwaukee suburban region.
·       When a good candidate comes from outside of these regions, they can win their nomination.  In 2014 Susan Happ of Jefferson ran in a three-way primary against Jon Richards from Milwaukee and Ismael Ozanne of Dane County.  Despite not having a Madison or Milwaukee base, Happ won the nomination for attorney general with over 50% of the primary vote. 
There is no statistical reason for a candidate from outside of the Madison/Milwaukee region to not run for a Democratic statewide nomination.  The committee also understands that many candidates will likely come from those areas due to the depth of elected officials in place.  This phenomenon would likely evolve if and/or when other electoral strongholds emerge in the state.
Like La Crosse? (I'm looking at you Sen. Schilling for the 2018 governor's race... Oh, and hey Outagamie Co. Executive Tom Nelson. That Green Bay TV market could use some help...)
Ultimately in Wisconsin, neither political party has control over whether someone decides to run for a public office.   It is the job of the chair and party officers to provide counsel if a potential candidate seeks advice; however, candidates have the responsibility to make the decision to run for public office regardless of that advice.
And now... The report quasi-addresses one of the central attacks against Mike Tate in the fall of 2013... His endorsement (but supposedly not DPW's endorsement) of Mary Burke for Governor:
The current rules of the party state that candidates should be given equal opportunity to access party-based resources or acquire party-based resources in the event of a primary.  The only caveat to that rule is the event of an endorsement.  The endorsement process for primary elections has only been in play in our recent history and requires two-thirds approval by the Administrative Committee. 
Our Administrative Committee has used this endorsement process in a few recent races in which the committee identified that the race was not challenged, challenged by an opponent who was not actually a Democrat or a not a serious race.  Examples would include:
·       2014 – Mary Burke endorsed for Governor.
·       2014 – John Lehman endorsed for Lieutenant Governor.
·       2014 – Permission granted to the Milwaukee County Democratic Party to endorse Christopher Moews for County Sheriff.
·       2012 – Tammy Baldwin endorsed for U.S. Senate.
·       2012 – Lori Compas, Kristin Dexter, John Lehman, and Donna Seidel endorsed for State Senate during the recall elections when opposed by Republican “fake Democrats.”  When there has been an actual competitive primary, such as the 2014 Attorney General Primary race, the party has not only avoided an endorsement, but has not even considered it.  This is a sound practice.
Mind you, it says Mary Burke, but that formal endorsement came in 2014 after Sen. Vinehout had indicated she would not be running. That wasn't in 2013 when in October and November, it seemed like Tate was coordinating and using the resources he had as chair to advance Burke's cause.
Much of the confusion enters as our Senate and Assembly caucuses, elected officials and progressive partners have made endorsements in a primary.  We must acknowledge the fact that the party itself has no control over the actions of the caucuses or those progressive constituencies in the realm of endorsements.  We can provide counsel and advise our partners of the risk of alienating our base in these situations; however, those endorsements are outside of the DPW’s purview.
This is where I have to wonder if some more clarification and reform in rules are needed. This is a political party and politicians... So, if anyone things it's all sunshine, lolly pops, and rainbows, they pretty clearly are living in unicorn land. But the simple fact of the matter is that the way the Attorney General primary was run with respect to endorsements worked MUCH better than what was perceived with the Gubernatorial (faux) primary.

This next section is PURE, PURE genius and needs to be posted in every DPW office, every union hall, and every blogger's basement wall. (Well, I don't write in the basement. I write in my living room surrounded by a map of Wisconsin and painting of the Capitol...)
The basic argument:  Any public policy discussion includes a basic argument as to why you should support their efforts.  Since the mid-1980s, Wisconsin Republicans have been able to dominate the public discourse in our state with a simple argument based upon the politics of envy or as it’s so famously been named “divide and conquer.”
Pardon me while I hurl a brick at something...
By utilizing an academic argument structure entitled the “Toulmin Diagram”, we have charted the basic GOP argument:
Print. This. Out.
 Claim - Policy X serves a select few and takes money out of your pocket. 
Warrant (implied) - Your taxes go to pay for Policy X.        
Grounds - Evidence shows this item is out of line and is too expensive.  
Qualifier - You can't afford this. 
Backing - Data/study (often from a right wing think tank) demonstrates a lack of value and narrow beneficiaries. 
It's so damn simple that it's escaped so many of us for so long.

It doesn't matter that the claim is bogus... It's the fact that they can build this whole apparatus around the claim with an implied warrant, grounds to show how it works, a qualifier about how it affects you, and trumped up data from some right-wing think tank.

Now, the sad part:
And our rebuttal has looked like this: 
·Our rebuttal:  That's not fair and it will hurt people.
Which is 100% true, but looks comparatively weak, is reactionary and not proactive, and doesn't build an apparatus around our argument. Plus, their system is built while we are figuring out blue-prints.

From the efforts in the 1980s to reform welfare, Qualified Economic Offers (QEO), Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), and Act 10 this has been the debate in Wisconsin.  The committee not only recommends a stronger rebuttal to the basic Republican argument, but to proactively identify and present a different argument.  The current GOP argument, while unrealistic for good government, is working. 
From liberal Democrats everywhere.... NO KIDDING!!!

While there are TONS, and TONS of additional topics covered in the full report, I will touch on one more:
Proactive versus reactive:  One of the great frustrations of the public, activists and the committee is the fact that our message has been muddled at best.  This is causing us to play “defense” and be reactive to Republican initiatives.  Since the public policy discussion has been fought on the flawed GOP argument for nearly 30 years, this puts us at a great disadvantage with public discourse. 
The committee would like to see our party and its message become more proactive.  This should come not only in terms of public policy initiatives, but also in terms of campaigning and defining our candidates and their values earlier.  For too long we have “played nice in the sandbox” while the GOP and their partners have sullied our candidates without much reaction.
So, with all of this discussion going on about the DPW Chair's race, my question is this, which candidate is actually going to follow the data and utilize it? This wasn't produced by consultants, it wasn't dropped on high from some outside interest group, but instead produced by party volunteers who want to see the DPW win.

This weekend, if you're going to be at the convention, maybe it would be worth your while to ask the prospective candidates their thoughts about this report, if they've read it, and what they think.

I'm not sure I want a chair who hasn't at least read this report, knows it exists, and admits that those who are in the party right now have put forth their own ideas.