Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

After spending two days up north with my grandparents, I'm back in Milwaukee for Labor Fest today!

Labor Day is as much about celebrating the power of unified workers as it is about celebrating EVERYONE who goes out and dedicates themselves to their job. It's about people who WORK in any fashion or style.

Eric Cantor apparently just likes talking points. He doesn't get it:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Greater Wisconsin Committee's Education Ad

The ads against Gov. Walker are ramping up. Now, list the Greater Wisconsin Committee as yet another one of the 3rd parties who've decided to get into the fray.

It's a pretty classic 3rd party ad with little factual substance. Unfortunately the message is 100% true.

Just wait until after labor day. Then you'll really see the deluge.

$282 Billion - Winnebago Co. Executive Mark Harris on The State Budget

Even though he's running for Congress, that doesn't stop Winnebago Co. Executive Mark Harris from taking a keen interest in the state budget and how Republicans have done nothing but mess it up.

Jessie Opoien, a great reporter for the Cap Times and former Oshkosh Northwestern reporter, has a great story on Exec. Harris and his views on the budget. Nobody's ever said that Exec. Harris was the most exciting and riveting politician to grace a campaign trail, but I'll be damned if he's not the most experienced with budgets. 

You can read the article HERE. 

A few great points:
Harris, the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District, is a numbers guy. He holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and is a trained accountant. And he saw the state's revenue shortfall coming from miles away.
Who are you going to trust in Washington? Just askin'....
State revenue for the 2013-14 fiscal year came in $281.2 million short of expectations, according to numbers released by the Department of Revenue on Thursday. The state collected $13.9 billion in taxes — about 1 percent less than the previous year and 2 percent less than what was projected.
You had to be living in a damn wrapped lie of insanity to not see how this situation was likely.
"Our state will end the fiscal year with a significant positive fund balance and we will finish the biennium with a balanced budget," said Laurel Patrick, spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker. "The total revenue collections are less than 2 percent lower than estimates. As we have done in the last several years, we will continue to manage the Wisconsin taxpayers’ money well and keep the state’s fiscal house in order." 
But Harris and other Democrats warn that serious cuts may be required to get the state's finances on track.
Remember when I said that this was likely the Gov.'s plan the whole time? From March 2013:
Dan Bice points out that the Governor's road budget and tax cut is really mucking up the State Budget going into the future. The Governor says, "it doesn't take into account the positive effect of tax cuts" which is where I shook my head in disbelief, because it's statements like that which Conservatives believe is Gospel truth but Progressives know will bite us in the ass in the end. That's not to say there won't be a positive effect in the next two year budget, but assuming it is damn dangerous.
 Sigh... I'm not even that smart.

Back to Harris:
Harris expects that to be achieved first by lapsing appropriations that have already been approved, rather than making direct cuts right before an election in which Walker faces a tough fight against Democratic challenger Mary Burke. 
"They really need a budget correction, but this administration is not going to do that before the election," Harris said. "The fiscal years run from July 1-June 30. We'll be a good ways into this year before they're willing to address this." 
Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis told WisPolitics on Thursday that the administration does not anticipate needing a budget repair bill to address the shortfall.
Politics trumps the good.
Harris said the conditions of the current shortfall differ from those that triggered the state's last budget repair bill, when Walker took office. 
"There was a big shortfall, but it was caused by lower revenues from a slower economy (that) had been in decline for a time up until then," Harris said. "This one’s a little different. The economy’s growing, and that’s boosting revenues. This largely is a result of tax cuts that went beyond the revenue they had available."
News flash to Republicans - You need money in order to pay for government expenditures. Governments gets money from taxes. (Shhhhh, don't tell Sen. Gudex that.)

So, how the heck did our budget get so jacked up? Well, the reasons are twofold:
The biggest revenue discrepancies came from income tax and corporate tax collections. Walker has signed about $2 billion worth of tax cuts since he took office, including some that haven't yet reached their full effect. The effects of a $500 million tax cut passed in March are being seen in the amount of income tax withheld from paychecks.
So that little extra bit that wasn't withheld from your check, that you probably didn't even notice? Well, if the Gov't had that money and then gave it back to you when you filed your taxes, things would be less jacked-up.

But there's more:
But another tax package could be affecting current revenues and have a greater impact in years to come, Harris said. The domestic production tax credit, slipped into the 2011-13 budget at the last moment, will effectively eliminate state income taxes for many of Wisconsin's corporations, factory owners and agricultural producers by the time it's fully phased in. 
The credit kicked in last year, giving businesses classified as manufacturing or agricultural a dollar-for-dollar tax credit of 1.875 percent on reported income. The credit increased to 3.75 percent in 2014, and will increase to 5.526 percent in 2015. Fully phased in, the credit will amount to 7.5 percent in 2016 and beyond. 
That means the policy would someday end up providing more in tax credit than taxes owed. Wisconsin's income tax rate doesn't hit the 7.75 percent maximum level until a tax filer reaches $300,000 in income.
At $300,000, there would be enough credit left over to shelter another $39,400 in outside income. The amount of credit exceeds state taxes due until a filer reaches $1.5 million in income.
And means that when Mary Burke is elected and rolls some of that back to levels that are in the realm of sane and common effing sense for state budgets, Republicans will claim she is an uber tax and spend liberal. Again, politically brilliant but disastrous for Wisconsin's betterment.
"I have a strong suspicion they did not realize how many of those credits were going to pass through individual tax returns," Harris — who has been critical of the credit since it passed with the last biennial budget — said. 
Because the tax credit still has more phases to come, Harris said "the taxes will continue to be cut, and it’s not clear if there will be sufficient growth in the economy to offset that."
Welcome to a conservatives set of logic. We'll cut taxes, and that somehow automatically is going to jump-start the economy. If it doesn't, (which there's never been any scientific evidence that it does), all the more excuse to cut the government and give another round of tax cuts.

Never mind the fact it's circular logic that has fallacies galore.
Harris said he doesn't think Republicans have been responsible with their budgeting. 
After the revenue numbers were released, Republican lawmakers heralded an increase in sales tax revenue from the previous year, although the amount brought in was still lower than projected. 
And how do we know this is the case?
"We are having a recovery," Harris said. "Obviously what’s caused the revenue to drop is that the tax cuts exceeded what that recovery was providing. That really proves my point." 
In remarks delivered during a conference call on Friday, state Democrats criticized their Republican colleagues' interpretation of the numbers. 
"Only someone who doesn’t understand how budgets work or someone who intends to willfully mislead voters could make such an absurd claim that a $281 million shortfall is somehow proof of thriving economic conditions instead of a disappointing reminder that these failed policies aren’t working for Wisconsin families," said state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.
Yet somehow in 2014 we are back debating whether or not an economic system described in 1980 as "voodoo economics" is working or not, when pretty clearly it has failed time and time again.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mary Burke's Latest Ad

Mary Burke put out a new ad today. It focuses on how she created the Avid/Tops program, which prepares students for college. It's a good, short, positive ad that doesn't feature her speaking at all, but instead has a student and brief voiceover.

Teacher Friday

I've featured this song a few times before.

But, considering it's going to be the first week of of school next week, I want to again feature Jethro Tull's "Teacher."

I think it's a little sad that you don't hear the song on the radio that much in the Milwaukee area. I miss the days of WOZZ in the Fox Valley where you had a mix of progressive, album rock, and Top 40 from the mid 60's to late 80's. These days, you can hear Fleeetwood Mac on any one of 5 radio stations, but good luck hearing some King Crimson during any rotation.

I love my job. It's stressful as all hell many days and so often I feel like I go home and have done so much wrong. But I know there's a lot I do right. I try to remember that, and that's what keeps me going.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Common Core Letter to the Editor - Get the Facts About Wisconsin Getting On Board

Former Fond du Lac School Board Candidate Linda Uselmann and her colleague Corey Andreasen published a letter to the editor in today's Fond du Lac Reporter about the Common Core State Standards.

It covers the background of where the standards came from, how Wisconsin became involved in the process, and what type of legislative support has been given to them since 2010 under Republican leadership.

You can read the letter online at the Reporter website HERE.  However, I have posted it in full below:

The Common Core State Standards are good standards.

We speak as experts in the field, as members of the group that was reviewing and offering feedback on revisions to the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for mathematics around 2008. We used research about how kids learn, where they struggle, and what improves achievement to help clarify and add cohesion to the standards.

When we heard what was going on nationally, we got really excited. The same ideas we had in Wisconsin about excellence in math and English language arts were being discussed on a national scale, which would ultimately produce a better product, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The CCSS were introduced by education experts, one of whom was the director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, to Bill Gates. Gates was asked to fund this effort; it was not his brainchild, nor was it President Barack Obama's (this effort predates the Obama administration). The movement was also picked up by the National Governor's Association which, like the CCSSO, saw this as a chance for the states to have a national level conversation about what goals would best serve students in their respective states. There was broad support across party lines.

In Wisconsin, we watched as Common Core evolved in response to comments from ourselves, other educators, businesspeople, and the public. The claim that this was some secret underground effort by a handful of people is not the truth. Leaving out the "State" part, calling them the Common Core Standards or CCS, implies that states were not involved. That is also dishonest.

CCSS offer an incredible opportunity. At national conferences, we are all speaking the same educational language. At a recent meeting for summer professional development, we used resources from Utah, Arizona, North Carolina, and New York to inform our work. Students who move frequently (for example, military families) can have some expectation that they will have a better fit academically, wherever they are.

While the CCSS were embraced by the current administration and tied to federal dollars, we in Wisconsin did not receive those dollars. So defining this as a "federal takeover" of education is false. The teachers and educational leaders of this state helped decide to adopt the CCSS. The legislature, including Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, passed two budgets both signed by Gov. Scott Walker, including provisions for the implementation of the CCSS.

The assessments designed for CCSS, while still imperfect, are an improvement over previous standardized tests. Teachers get more information about student understanding with shorter turnaround time. We do share concerns with critics about the high-stakes nature of these assessments. We should focus on the purpose of assessment — to provide information about students to make sure they are learning and to shape the next steps for their advancement.

If you have concerns about the CCSS, please read them. The Standards are good standards. There have been recent controversies about poor teaching, confusing worksheets, or reading lists attributed to the CCSS, but this is again not truthful. None of those are outlined in the Standards.

The Standards are the goals. The curriculum, books, and teaching methods used to achieve them are still under local control — curriculum at the school district level, and teaching style at the most local level of all, the classroom. The purpose of CCSS is not "cookie cutter" classrooms or students.

The CCSS opens up new opportunities for students to use their strengths flexibly to become the best citizens of the district, state, country and world that they can possibly be. Let's not hold them back.
I've been more than clear in the past with my support for the standards as a concept and well defined working framework that could be tweaked and adjusted instead of carte-blanche replaced. As a teacher, it's not the standards that normally make us aggravated, it's the testing that's aligned to the standards craziness and tying funding to those tests that governments use that makes us bonkers.

It's to the point where it's almost like when someone hears CCSS, they think it's the tests themselves. They aren't.

The authors of the column above do a good job at disproving several things that Fond du Lac area Rep. Jeremy Thiesfedt likes to put out as fact, when it is actually blatant falsehoods. First, the authors note that Wisconsin was convening groups in the late 2000's to revisit the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards that were adopted in 1998. (In fact, they were members of one such group.) So, when you hear that DPI Sup. Tony Evers somehow just adopted these things without absolutely any input and in some fly-by-night fashion, it's total bunk.

Never mind the fact that when I was in college in the late 2000's studying to become a teacher we were constantly told that there were groups meeting to update the state standards we were having ingrained in our minds. It was only in the last year of my program that it started becoming clear that the Common Core would become the likely reality for Wisconsin.

The next thing the authors do a good job of is untying many of the notions out there that the Common Core somehow comes directly from the Obama Administration or Department of Education. They didn't. Yes, they were adopted in essence by them for allocating block-grants, but they were not their brainchild. Sure, I have some issues with the Bill Gates connections to Common Core, but again, it's not like it's his brainchild either. It was a truly collaborative effort in many respects.

Lastly, the authors talk about how several times over the last four years the legislature has used the Common Core in legislation on school and student achievement. If it was good enough then, why is it somehow not good enough now? How could those standards become so watered down in such a short amount of time? Especially considering they weren't rewritten?!

It's politics folks, pure and simple. This Common Core nonsense is pure politics.

Student Classroom Population, Teachers, and Budget Stress

According to a new analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project, which essentially confirms what teachers have been preaching about for a while now, there has been a decline in the number of teachers in Wisconsin over the first part of the 2000's. That has lead to larger student populations sitting in classrooms over a time when student poverty has increased steadily across Wisconsin.

You can view their report HERE. 

While the data only goes through 2011, and newspaper headlines in 2013 suggested that there was a minor increase in total staff numbers, with the advent of revenue limits now forcing districts to tighten belts again, those numbers likely will go down again.

But even that slight increase doesn't negate the relative standing that Wisconsin fell to after years upon years of decline.  From the article:
Wisconsin has 1.2 more students per teacher in 2011-12 than in 2004-05; nationally, schools averaged an increase of 0.2 students per teacher over this period. Only three states — California, Arizona, and Nevada — had larger increases in student-teacher ratios than Wisconsin between 2004-05 and 2011-12. 
Wisconsin still has fewer students per teacher than the national average, but our rank has been dropping. In 2004-05, Wisconsin ranked 18th among the states in the number of students per teacher. By 2011-12, Wisconsin’s ranking had dropped to 30th.student teacher ratio
Dropping from 18th to 30th is not what we want for education in this state.

And no, my gripes aren't directed entirely at Walker here, there's a lot to be said about the Doyle years and their cuts to education too.

However, it's important to remember that's why in 2011 teachers were absolutely furious at the Governor and his attacks on teachers. Education had been getting cut, and cut, and cut during the Doyle years. Teachers constantly took their share of budget woes, so when the Governor started attacking us as not having done enough or like we somehow were insulated from all the "hurt" that state budgets had put on other agencies, it pissed us off something royally.

These numbers back that up. The Doyle years were painful for teachers at times. It's also important to note that this again speaks to our nation's stagnation of wages during this time period and beginning of funneling the creation of wealth to the upper-upper class.

The next section of the report is on increasing poverty in Wisconsin. I've already touched on that HERE. The DPI YouTube video really speaks for itself.

I also think this passage speaks to why MPS has decided to give free meals to all of their approximately 80,000 students this year:
In each of Wisconsin’s five largest school districts — Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha, Green Bay, and Racine — more than half the students are from low-income families and qualified for assistance for school meals. More than 8 out of 10 students in Milwaukee Public Schools were from low-income families in the 2013-14 school year. Put another way, about 69,000 children in Milwaukee Public Schools received assistance to help pay for school lunches.
Just look at the relative gray around Milwaukee's dark red in the YouTube video and you can understand why the message of conservative talk radio resonates.

The section on shrinking resources is entirely worth reading:
Wisconsin’s public education cuts are among the deepest in the country. The state budget provided 15% less resources for public schools per student in 2014 than in 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research organization. Only six states, mostly in the South and West, made deeper cuts over this period, measured as a percentage change in spending per student. 
When measured as dollars lost per student, Wisconsin’s cuts to public education over this period are second only to Alabama. Wisconsin provided $1,038 per student less in state support for public schools in 2014 than in 2008. 
Changes to the state retirement system and collective bargaining rules made in 2011 allowed school districts to cut compensation for teachers and other school employees. Some school districts have been able to use these savings to compensate for cuts in state support, and have avoided scaling back academic programs. Other school districts have been forced to eliminate courses in core subject areas. 
At the same time lawmakers were cutting state support for schools, they passed tax cuts that add up to $1.9 billion over four years. The tax cuts didn’t do much to lower tax bills for Wisconsin’s lowest-wage earners, but they did drain revenue that could be used for education or other priorities. 
Cuts in state aid and uncertainties about future funding have caused turmoil in Wisconsin schools. But even before the significant budget cuts and changes to collective bargaining that began in 2011, the trends in Wisconsin were toward fewer teachers, more crowded classrooms, and higher levels of poverty.
Why am I voting for Mary Burke this November?

Because more so than Gov. Walker, she's going to stem this tide of  slash and burn in public education.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obama Coming To Milwaukee Labor Fest

I told you he'd come.
President Obama is coming to Milwaukee and celebrating Labor Fest with us!

I will be there proudly wearing my MTEA shirt and supporting my local.

For everyone who tried reading into reporters who said "Obama's under water" and that "Obama is dragging voters" forget the 100% truth in politics - ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL.

Obama's approval numbers in Milwaukee are huge. He's still wildly popular in the black community, and when you talk about turning out the vote for Mary Burke in November, him giving her his blessing is huge for driving turnout up. Considering there are still many in the black community who think Mary Burke snubbed him for not visiting in Waukesha when their schedules didn't coincide last year, this is huge.

As incredible as it is to see the President of the United States come and speak, there are still those of us who can't forget the fact he fell silent in February and March of 2011. To say that there's still not a tingle there would be a lie. And don't get me started with his Department of Education and being enamored with charter schools.

However, as one of my political friends quipped this afternoon on Facebook, let's see if one of the Clintons come. There's some serious politics for you.

Today's Marquette Poll

Welp, today's Marquette University Law School poll held great news for Mary Burke supporters!

But sadly, the Walker supporters will also find some positives as well.

The FULL pull results can be found HERE. 

First, the big news on Burke, she leads among likely voters:
That likely voter number is huge for Mary Burke. Gov. Walker's numbers have been incredibly flat over the course of the last few years. In fact, he's hit his ceiling.

When you see the 53% number from the recall, or similar number in 2010, remember what Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate has said time and time again. Walker has ALWAYS gotten voters to come to him in days before the election because he's the least, worst option. At this point, voters know who he is, they know what his shortcomings are, and the people who disagree with him aren't going to simply break for him because they don't agree with a recall, or will think Mary Burke is Mayor Tom Barrett.

This is is why you see Gov. Walker constantly trying to tie Mary Burke to Gov. Doyle. His numbers were not very good at the end of his time in office and any way he can try and make Burke seem like a worse option is how he can win. If turnout goes up in this race, Mary Burke wins.
Ever wonder why they just brought back news of the Voter ID thing? Seriously folks, this isn't conspiracy theory stuff, it's blatant political reality. Gov. Walker always works in political reality. Just look at this number:
That number has been 50% or over for the last three polls. That's not good for Gov. Walker and exactly why Mary Burke's been using the "not working for you slogan."

How about jobs and job creation? What do voters think about what has already become the central issue in the race?
As for Common Core, there are some interesting results that basically mirror what the Fox 11 TV report from the other night said, support falls somewhat on political lines.
As for overall support:
Now, for photo ID, it gets a sadly high number of people who think that it actually means something when casting a ballot. Nevermind that registering is a colossal pain in the butt where you have to demonstrate you are who you say you are.
Now, the next time you hear Gov. Walker or Speaker Vos say a vast majority support voter ID, let's just remember that support for the concept of voter ID is not the same thing as restricting college ID's or saying that expired photo ID's are not actually something that can verify a person is who they say they are.

How bad was the Great Recession on Wisconsinites?

Don't think that those people aren't going to be looking at the Medicare money being rejected and considering voting against Gov. Walker about it. In fact, a majority of people in the poll think the Governor should accept the money.

I'm telling you right now, this thing is winnable for Democrats. It's just all about the turnout!

WLUK - Fox 11's Kelly Schlicht on Common Core

The Common Core craze has calmed down a little over the last few weeks, but that doesn't mean that the issue is out of the minds of legislators in Madison.

While it was generally considered to be a "distraction" issue that was brought up this summer, as an educator, it's a very real concern that could come back to haunt us in January.

The story interviews Gov. Walker, Sup. Evers, Sen Vukmir, Sen. Olsen, and Sen. Hansen, and you can view the story HERE. 

I think what bugs me the most about the Common Core debate is how common-sense Sen. Olsen talks about why messing with them is pointless. It's almost as if his opinion doesn't matter because he's a Republican bucking his party. While there's lots that I don't agree with him on, I at least have a respect for his views on education.

This series of reports will continue over the week, so stay tuned.

Oh, and don't forget about today's Marquette Poll being released at noon!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What The Hell Is Happening In SD 17?

The WisPolitics Election Blog had a very interesting bit of news today. Apparently the seven vote margin of victory Ernie Wittwer over Pat Bromhack may not hold due to some missing ballots in the City of Monroe in Green Co.
Green County Clerk Michael Doyle said election officials have been unable to track down 110 missing ballots in the 17th SD Dem primary and he will have to certify final results for the county without them.

That could swing the race in favor of Pat Bomhack, who finished the county canvass seven votes behind Ernie Wittwer for the party nomination.

The missing ballots are from Monroe, where the county canvass had Wittwer beating Bomhack 523-337. Doyle said he did not have exact numbers from the recount available tonight. But the missing 110 ballots favored Wittwer by a similar proportion and he will be impacted more by losing them from the final count, Doyle said.

Doyle said the Monroe Police chief and a detective helped him search City Hall today and interview poll workers, but no signs of the missing ballots were found.

"I can't count them. I don't have them, so I don't know what to do," he said. "We counted the ballots we did have, and we'll certify the results we did obtain with the ballots we have."

Doyle said the Board of Canvass will convene at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to certify the recount results.
So, where the heck does this leave the Democrats?

In a hole and getting closer and closer to losing the chance of regaining the State Senate if you ask me. Every day that the Democratic candidates have to worry about flipping or flopping the result is another day that Republican Howard Marklein can raise ungodly amounts of money and spend it. Despite the fact that SD 17 should in theory be a Democratic district, it's hard to underestimate the power of Republican money and disorganized Democrats.

So where does that leave Democrats and their chances or retaking the State Senate? In a hole...

Even before this latest dust-up, many people I've talked to have considered Mike Ellis' seat in SD 19 to be the best possible pick-up for Dem's. Despite Republicans efforts to talk up Roger Roth and the signs that have popped up over the last week in the district, Rep. Penny Bernard-Schaber has been working hard and raising some nice campaign cash.

If Democrats are pinning their hopes on a pick-up this fall, their eyes should first turn to SD 19.

After that, another lady is really rockin' it for the Dems in SD 9, Martha Lanning.
While Sen. Joe Leibham may have fallen short in his bid for Congress, it's created the second best opportunity for Democrats to pick-up a seat. Devin LeMahieu (Rep. Dan LeMahieu's son) has had poor fundraising numbers and has fewer ties with the community than Lanning. Her fundraising efforts for community projects in the Plymouth area have given her name recognition and avenues to fundraising that many candidates don't have.

If Democrats really want to have Mary Burke win in November, they need to drive turnout up in these two districts in east-central Wisconsin.

After those two races, it's a toss-up.

If SD 17 ever get's sorted out and if Democrats can be united, they may still have a chance at picking the seat up. By all measures, Democrats should win based on election maps. But with Rep. Marklein having a war-chest that rivals the GDP of some smaller countries, it's hard to have whomever the Democrat's candidate is get their message out.

After that, SD 1 which is held by Republican Sen. Frank Lassee and being challenged by Democrat Dean DeBroux. That district covers from East of Appleton to the lakeshore and up the Door peninsula. It's an area that has been represented by Republicans in the Assembly, including longtime member Rep. Al Ott, (insane) Rep. Andre Jaque, and retiring Rep. Gary Bies. While the number of Assembly seats being held may look formidable, there is a blue streak in the district when Democrats get their voters to the polls.

But let's be honest, if Democrats could sort out the 17th, it would just make their lives easier!

What Happened To Joe Leibham?

Yesterday, the Sheboygan Free-Press' (and former WisPolitics Reporter) Jason Smathers dissected the fall of State Sen. Joe Leibham in his bid for the 6th Congressional District race. 

You can read the full article HERE. 
At the start of the 6th Congressional District race, State Sen. Joe Leibham was the favorite to succeed U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond Du Lac. 
Political pundits viewed him as having an established "statesman" approach suitable for Congress. He was expected to have a built-in fundraising and name-recognition advantage that few in the area could match.
The problem with this is that these political pundits obviously don't understand the fractured nature of the 6th CD. The supposed name-recognition of Leibham's was a farce. Even during the height of the 2011 protests, when did you hear statements from Joe Leibham? Where was he on the TV talking about issues or staking out a position before running for Congress.

Time and time again, I kept saying, Glenn Grothman was the best known candidate in that district. While I thought Duey Strobel would win (and for a while early on, I thought his money put him in good position), it was ultimately Glenn Grothamn who garnered more votes from both true conservative and mischief making Democrats.
But with two other state legislators running to his right, those advantages disappeared. Leibham played defense most of the race. He was blasted in attack ads and press releases and lost to his main opponents in all but two counties — Manitowoc and his home of Sheboygan. 
Oh, hey Martha Lanning running in the 9th State Senate District! Is it any wonder Democrats see this as a great opportunity for a pick-up? If Gov. Walker should be concerned, it should be in Sheboygan and Manitowoc Counties where moderate Leibham supporters could very easily flip their tickets.
While the margins in those two counties made it closer, he ended 219 votes short.
Now it's Grothman, not Leibham, who will face off against Democrat Mark Harris, the Winnebago County executive, in November.
Mark Graul, a GOP operative who runs Arena Strategy Group in Green Bay, said two reasons Leibham narrowly lost to state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-Campbellsport, were money and talk radio. 
Leibham led Grothman in cash on hand with about $22,000 in the reporting period ending July 23, but Grothman managed to keep pace by dumping $130,000 of his own funds into the campaign. Leibham, in comparison, contributed only around $13,000 to his bid. While Leibham had enough to be competitive, Graul noted that the geography of the 6th District makes it hard to compete everywhere. 
Which is why Glenn Grothman's name recognition for crazy stances on things like Kwanzaa madeGrothman, that makes it's way out to places like Portage. Leibham's seat of Sheboygan didn't really penetrate past the drumlins of eastern Fond du Lac Co.
him a known name. Rightly or wrongly, when the Madison Isthmus does a cover story on Glenn
"With both the Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison media markets, it's really tough to get to those folks who don't already know you," Graul said. "It's a tough media market to run in, especially when you're given no time to put together a campaign." 
In addition, conservative talk radio personality Charlie Sykes announced days before the election that he was voting for Grothman in the race — though he clarified on his show that he did not formally endorse him. That bump likely had an impact on Grothman's lead in those counties that receive his show. 
You have no flipping idea how those people vote lock-step with whatever chief Charlie says.
GOP operatives also pointed to Grothman's work ethic as key to the race. Capitol Group lobbyist and strategist Brandon Scholz said he saw echoes of Grothman's initial run for the state Senate against then-Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer. Grothman, then a state representative, attacked Panzer's conservative credentials and ended up crushing Panzer at the polls, capturing 79 percent of the vote. 
Scholz said people underestimated Grothman that time and may have done so in the 6th district race as well.
"He's relentless, he's detailed, he'll work harder than most people and he doesn't take time off," Scholz said. 
I've said Glenn Grothman's crazy. I've never said he's not a hard campaigner. Glenn's great with retail politics. He's out there talking just plain-speak and feeding in to what people's darkest corners hide. Then, when Glenn says it, it makes their feelings somehow vindicated and they reward him with their vote because he "gets it."
Leibham, on the other hand, ran a positive campaign that played up his family, history in the district and time as a leader in the state Senate. 
You know, stuff that mattered before money repopulated elections in this state.
While his pull in Sheboygan and Manitowoc was a given, both operatives noted that Leibham pulled far more of the vote in that area than most observers thought was possible. Leibham won Manitowoc County with 73 percent of the vote, while he took his base of Sheboygan with 61 percent. 
In the end, part of the outcome can also be attributed to Stroebel. 
It absolutely can be. Hey northern Ozaukee Co. How you doin'?
The second term state representative put a whopping $790,000 of his own money into the race — an amount that single-handedly eclipsed the combined fundraising of Leibham and Grothman. Political insiders expected Stroebel to eat into Grothman's vote margin as both were vying for the most hardcore conservative voters in the district, while Leibham was expected to attract the moderate GOP voters. 
But both Scholz and Graul said that Stroebel seemed to hit the wrong notes in the campaign. Stroebel wasn't a complete political newcomer and had some name recognition in Ozaukee, but his message – that his rivals were entrenched with special interests and voters needed an outsider — was viewed as ineffective against someone like Grothman, who delivered results for conservative supporters. 
And with people who don't care that their elected officials were entrenched with special interests. They want people who are entrenched with the RIGHT special interests.
"I think this whole idea that the main reason to vote for me is I've only been in elected office for a couple of years, I don't think that's a very salient message," Graul said.
It's not. Obama didn't win in 2008 because he was a newcomer against Clinton. He won because he was against the Iraq War from the beginning.
While Grothman and Stroebel took the vast majority of Ozaukee County, Stroebel still lagged Grothman 36 percent to 48 percent there – Grothman's biggest margin of victory in any of the district's 11 counties. Stroebel only won two relatively small counties – Waushara and Green Lake.
And it was his victories in places at the complete opposite end of the district that made me think he would take the whole thing with a closer 3 way race.

Either way, at this point, it's all about getting Mark Harris' message out to voters.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Teachers Get Three Months Off! - Wait, What?!

Tomorrow, I officially report back to work as a proud MPS employee. After having "officially" left school June 17th, I can say that the summer really did fly by.

Which brings me to the lie conservatives love to propagate - Teachers get three months off during the summer.

I'm a proud member of my union, the Milwaukee Teachers Educators Association. The MTEA does great work on the part of helping teachers voices be heard by the community, their schools, and central office, to affect positive change for their students. Until you've actually taught in a large urban school setting, you really don't know how bungled communication can get.

While I am extremely fortunate to have time off in the summer, it's not exactly a time when we teachers just booze at all hours of the day. In fact, much of it is spent trying to prepare for the next year, doing training activities, and learning curriculum for new classes.

In fact, the MTEA's tumblr page had done a great job of documenting the work we teachers do.

You can read the full blog posting HERE. 

Walker All Happy Go Lucky

Gov. Walker's flipped from his dark and gloomy ad's to his faux "regular guy" who talks all calm about how we're somehow now ranked in the top of the Midwest for job growth.

Yet another instance of Gov. Walker cherry-picking his numbers how he wants. He even attacks Mary Burke about how she's trying to act like everything's doom and gloom.

Sorry, the fact of the matter is that so many of us in Wisconsin are not better off under the Governor.

You can view the drivel here:

Diane Ravitch on Bill Moyers - Public Schools For Sale?

Daine Ravitch, who's coming to Milwaukee this fall after having to cancel a date this spring, was on Bill Moyers over the weekend. As a proud public educator, I want everyone to take 27 minutes out of their day and watch this wonderful interview: