Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why Prof. Franklin MacIvered the Marquette poll - because the righties paid him to (Part 2)

So the question becomes, "Why did Charles Franklin allow such as obviously flawed poll to be printed?" And this is the scary part- he did it because printing pro-Walker polls is what he's really paid to do.

And it's happened before in Wisconsin. UW-Madison had to withdraw its name, students and logo from polls conducted by UW professor Ken Goldstein when evidence surfaced that WPRI was compromising the integrity of the polls. In this case, the WPRI "guidance" came on the subject of school vouchers, as polls weren't going the pro-voucher way the Bradley boys wanted it to.
Scot Ross, a liberal muckraker who runs the group One Wisconsin Now, was critical of the deal from the beginning. He said his "worst fears were confirmed" after he obtained e-mails under the open records law showing WPRI President George Lightbourn lobbied Goldstein to publicize results from one question in a way favorable to its agenda.

The question asked whether government funding should be used for school vouchers, which WPRI supports. A majority of residents statewide were opposed, but those surveyed from Milwaukee County were in favor.

Lightbourn wrote Goldstein he was concerned critics would portray the data as showing a lack of support for vouchers and asked for the Milwaukee County results to be emphasized. The university's press release read: "School choice remains popular in Milwaukee."
With that in mind, check out this great post from Ed Garvey at Fightin' Bob, which explains how Franklin left UW to do this similar project with Marquette Law, in no small part because it let him get around the Open Records Laws that allowed Ross to expose Goldstein's unethical setup.
The key participants in this drama were Lightbourn, Ken Goldstein and Charles Franklin. It should be noted that Mike Gousha is part of the Marquette poll and that pro-voucher former MJS education reporter Alan Borsuk has joined Team Marquette as well.

When WPRI found to its dismay that open records laws applied to its deal with UW, because the UW is a public institution and the public has a right to know what the UW is doing, that killed the partnership. Instead of fighting the decision, Goldstein and Franklin took leaves from UW Poli Sci while they proceeded to pursue their plans. Goldstein formed a company, and Franklin went to Marquette Law School to "provide unbiased polling results in a volatile political year like 2012."

How would Marquette define Franklin's role? Who would pay for the expenses of polling? Who would frame the questions? Who would have final say? Does MJS still have an exclusive?

We asked the MJS several times if the paper knew who was funding the polling, who had final say on questions, and what Franklin's title would be. We never got an answer. Nada, nothing, no-way.
And then Garvey's concerns are backed up in the column by an interesting comment from "Gareth".
My wife's elderly cousin in Milwaukee received a phone call from the Marquette poll last week. She is very skeptical of the poll and asked the caller "What part of Marquette, The MacIver Institute?" After a pause the caller said "Yes" at which point the cousin hung up the phone.
So Charles Franklin is clearly in partnership with the Milwaukee right-wing bubble world notorious for organizations like WPRI and the MacIver Foundation releasing flawed studies which magically support positions that favor their points of view. And given that Franklin's paycheck is reliant on keeping the bosses happy, it would make perfect sense for him to put his fist on the scales toward the favored candidate of WPRI, MacIver and Bradley- Scott Walker. Add in the uncritical, pro-Walker antics of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and it is no surprise that they joined in to get exclusive interviews with Franklin to go over the data, and spread these "scientific" polls to an unaware public.

It's much like how the Koch Brothers set up shadow organizations and think tanks in D.C. to create an echo chamber that tries to tear down our social fabric. A great illustation of how this works is described by the awesome Sen. Bernie Sanders in the movie Koch Brothers Exposed

A related story is how the Koch-funded Heartland Institute tried to set up Operation Angry Badger to make up stories about the "success" of Act 10 with Wisconsin schools to support Walker's pro-voucher policies.

Given the evidence of Charles Franklin's connections to right-wing organizations like MacIver and WPRI, why would I not believe this new Marquette Law polling outfit is nothing more than a disguised propaganda outlet? Especially when I know and the Koch/Bradley leaders know that our state's lazy media is likely to run with any results that come out of this Marquette Law poll to mold their storylines?

Now Charles Franklin may be tricking the foolish transcribers at the Journal-Senintel and State Journal (or just appearing to fool them, I bet some of them are in on this sick joke), but those of us on the ground in Wisconsin are not fooled. We know that Charles Franklin chose his paycheck over credibility, and MacIvered this poll so that it could appear on the surface to show Scott Walker comfortably ahead.

Walker's has recently released panicked, fear-filled ads, which tells me they know they are in serious jeopardy of getting blown out of power. And combined with the massive and increasingly pathetic spinning Walker continues to do on John Doe, I'm becoming convinced that if the real Wisconsin continues to march over to the polls, and especially shows up on June 5, that we will end the age of Fitzwalkerstan. And there isn't anything Charles Franklin's MacIvered polls can do about that.

MU Law poll massively rigged to favor Walker. Ignore it. (Part 1)

Given the clear momentum that Tom Barrett seems to have grabbed, you just sort of knew there would be a garbage poll coming out to try to show Scott Walker ahead to try to blunt the movement. And Marquette Law Professor Charles Franklin did not disappoint, throwing up a poll today showing Walker up 52-45 among likely voters, and 49.93- 44.35 among all voters. So given that Franklin and Marquette notoriously skewed their last poll to show Walker up 5, I figured I'd go inside the numbers and test this out as well.

Immediately what jumped out at me was this question.

What region of the state are you from?
Milwaukee City 13%
Rest of Milwaukee media market 33%
Madison media market 17%
Green Bay/Appleton media market 18%
Rest of state media markets 19%

That's right, this sample is based on 46% of the state being from the Milwaukee media market. Immediately, this seems like bullshit, but I wanted to test out this theory with the 2010 final results from the Walker-Barrett governor's election, which had a relatively high Milwaukee (and especially 262) turnout. So I took the results from Dodge, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Waukesha and Washington Counties, and compared it to the rest of the state.

Total votes cast in "Milwaukee media market", 2010- 866,576
Total votes cast for state- 2,160,832
Percent of votes cast from Milwaukee media market- 40.1%

So Franklin's oversampling them by 6%, and probably more than that given that other parts of the state (like the Madison market) will probably have higher turnout than we saw in 2010. Now interestingly, Walker only leads 48-45 in this part of the state, but that's still is a whole lot better than the 54-40 he's losing by in the Madison media market (which is equally undersampled at only 17% of all respondents and even 54-40 seems low for Barrett, because Walker might be lucky to hold Barrett to 54% in ANY county in the Madison media market.) This move to emphasize Milwaukee seems sketchy at best, but there are more obvious ways to show how skewed this poll is.

And the best is through ideology questions. As mentioned before, the the 2010 Wisconsin exit poll showed ideology at 21% liberal, 43% moderate and 36% conservative. So how does Franklin measure up? Check out question number 13 on the cross-tabs.

Ideology, Marquette poll
Very conservative 9
Conservative 33 (42% total)
Moderate 32
Liberal 16
Very liberal 7 (23% total)
Don't know (v) 2
Refused (v) 2

Somehow a 42-32 con-to-mod breakdown might go a bit better for Walker than the 36-43 one like he had in 2010, don't you think?

So let's turn these numbers and match the responses to the actual 2010 turnout (which is itself is more favorable to Walker, as the 60-65% predicted turnout on June 5 will probably skew more moderate and liberal). And we get...

Walker 48.62 - Barrett 46.11. Very close race, even with the pro-Milwaukee skew allowed. And do you really think any undecideds would vote for Governor John Doe?

On a realted note, Franklin also makes the same mistake last week's St. Norbert poll made- underpolling 2010 Barrett voters compared to 2010 Walker voters.

(Among those answering) Who did you vote for in 2010?
Walker 50.34%
Barrett 42.36% (actual result, Walker 52.25%, Barrett 46.48%)

So that's 2.2% of a higer gap than the real result. A 2.2% drop in Walker's edge among possible voters would lower Walker's advantage to 3.3%, and would be portrayed as a near toss-up, which wouldn't sound so good if you wanted Walker to stop Barrett's momentum now would it? Strangely, Franklin refuses to give cross-tabs on this question, and you can't see who those people are voting for specifically, but it's probably a good guess that they'd be more likely to favor Walker. And while Franklin includes a lot of interesting questions about attitudes and how people may have done things like discuss politics and yard signs, but he mysteriously dropped a question he had a month ago on whether a person had signed a recall petition. Makes you wonder why. Maybe a low number of voters woud expose this sample as even more GOP-leaning (remember, the equivalent of 42% of the 2010 voter turnout signed a Walker recall petition).

And the last skew I want to bring up goes to another major problem I've had with Franklin's polling all the way through, the Marquette Law School's habit of weighting certain groups if they can't get them on the phone. As Marqutte Law explains in their methodology statement
Post-stratification, or weighting, compensates for patterns of non-response that shift sample characteristics from
known population values. In telephone surveys it is common for potential respondents who are younger to
exhibit higher rates of non-response resulting in these groups being under-represented in the sample. To
compensate for these non-response effects the sample is weighted to bring sample characteristics into line with
the population values.
And they sure lived up to it in this poll, as they talked to virtually nobody that wasn't near Boomer age in this poll.

Unweighted average of Marquette Law poll
18-29 6%
30-44 16%
45-59 34%
60+ 43%

That's right, 77% of respondents were 45 or older. Sure, the Marquette people tried deflating down from that with their weighting, but let's be real about this, it's going to be flawed. You can't get anything close to a representative poll with that lack of age diversity, especially when you realize that more than half of the voters in Wisconsin in 2008 were under 45. Does anyone really believe that Walker leads 47-46 among voters under 30, when that same demographic voted 64-35 for Obama in 2008? That doesn't pass the "Bullshit" test, but that's possible when you have such a small sample size of young voters.

I'm going to make this into two parts now due to length, because in Part 2, I'll explain why Franklin let this faulty data in. And the evidence points to propaganda, and not necessarily shoddy research. But be sure, this poll is basically junk, and that's without any suspicion of the motives behind the poll and the pollster.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What we Recall- The hiring of cronies and incompetents

You know how you can tell a leader isn't very smart? They hire dumb, manipulative, incompetent people like them. And Scott Walker has lived down to this truth in several ways.

For example, check out how the Walker campaign's press secretary handles simple "yes or no" questions from reporters. Hooters girl Ciara Matthews may know the 2 or 3 lines she's been given by WisGOP, but that doesn't mean she has a clue.

Of course, the Hooters girl from Nevada is hardly the only one that's benefitted from Walker's affirmative action program. Do you remember Valerie Cass, a 20-something who did some campaign work up to 2010, and then got a nice gig at the Department of Regulation and Licensing and got paid $12,000 more than the previous person in the job? Of course, it also didn't hurt that she was banging State Sen. Randy Hopper.

Val wasn't the only young 'un to get promoted. You also have this guy.

Remember Spaulding Smails, I mean Brian Deschane? The 2-time DUI-convict and college dropout son of the main lobbyist for the pro-Walker Wisconsin Builders Association was given an 81,000-a-year job dealing with environmental and regulatory oversight, despite having no apparent expertise on the subjects.

Among other members of Walker's suck-up kiddie corps include the under-immunity Cullen Werwie, who hasn't cracked 30 years old but landed the $61,000 chief spokesman position with Walker, probably in no small part because of the fund-raising prowess that Kelly Rindfleisch crowed about in her Walkergate criminal complaint.

Also can't forget Keith Gilkes, Walker's former Chief of Staff who's also named in the Rindfleisch complaint. He quit within 8 months, and his tenure is probably best marked by letting this guy get through to the boss. "Hi, this is Scott Walker."

Oh, and what about the high-school educated developer Cathy Stepp running the state's DNR, and having former GOP hack legislator Scott Gunderson take a high-ranking job below her? What could possibly happen? Oh, how about allowing a GOP contributor to deposit illegal amounts of raw sewage onto Jefferson County lands and then cover up the violations by minimizing the fines that the contributor could face? James Rowen also relays the report that the Walker Administration's response to those who live in the area and need to get their wells tested due to this negligence is to tell the innocent homeowners to pay for their own damn test! But hey, average Joes don't give donations and therefore we shouldn't really expense any extra effort to help them out, right Cathy?

And I didn't even talk about Walkergate criminals Tim Russell, Brian Pierick and Darlene Wink, all of whom are long-time friends of Walker who clearly got their positions not because of their great brainpower or dedication to public service, but because of their dedication to furthering the career of Scott Walker, whether they did it legally or not.

Then again, when you don't think government can be a force for good, why not fill the ranks with cronies, dingbats and morons who don't know what they're doing? That way, you can shrug your shoulders when they incompetently let things drop or bad things happen, and then say "See government doesn't work!" This allows you to sell off those services, hopefully to campaign contributors, who give you a nice kickback with a campaign contribution. The only people that lose in the matter are the everyday citizens.

So where did Walker learn this method of management? From another guy with Walker in his name who put a guy who used to head the U.S. Arabian Horse Association to run FEMA. What could go wrong, right Brownie?

And re-electing Walker would do to Wisconsin what re-electing Bush did to America in 2004- set it back years, if not decades. The past history of brutal hires will only get worse if Walker is given a free pass for the next 30 months, just like it did with George Dubya, with the damage becoming more permanent. Which is why Scotty Dubya needs to be cut off NOW.

Philly Fed sure doesn't think "It's working", only failing governors do

Today's when the companion report to last week's Philly Fed survey on state coincident indexes gets released, with the Leading Indicators report for states. This measures the expected economic growth in the next 6 months, or through October 2012 in this case. And the more the months change, the more they stay the same in Fitzwalkerstan- we have the worst economic growth in the Midwest since Walker took office, and we have the worst outlook in the Midwest as well.

In fact, Wisconsin is slated to only grow by 1.07% in the next 6 months, and when you put together Fitzwalkerstan's bad past and the dim outlook, you'll see that every other state in the Midwest, as well as the U.S. in general, is slated to triple Wisconsin's growth since Walker took office. And that gap really began to widen when Walker's budget became law in July 2011.

This is bad enough, but there's one other item of note to discuss related to the leading index report, and it relates to the upcoming recall elections in another way. Walker has been having a few out-of-state governors show up in support of his policies and to rally the troops in a "we really like what that boy in Wisconsin's doing," sort of way. Included in that was a visit from New Jersey governor Chris Christie on May 1, Lousiana governor Bobby Jindal last week, and Walker's scheduled to have a Koch-infused fund-raiser/event with South Carolina Governor "Darling" Nikki Haley this Friday.

What do these governors have in common with Walker? Union-bashing GOP media whores? Well, that's true, but not the biggest similarity. No, the biggest thing they have in common is that ALL OF THEIR STATES' ECONOMIES ARE EXPECTED TO SUCK - all 4 are in the bottom 10 for expected growth the next 6 months!

Exepcted growth next 6 months and national ranking, Philly Fed

U.S. 1.70%
South Carolina 1.12% (41st)
New Jersey 1.10% (42nd)
Wisconsin 1.07% (43rd)
Louisiana -0.68% (49th)

So apparently one of the things these out-of-staters like about Scotty is that it makes them competitive in a tallest midget contest when it comes to "who's screwing up our state more?" In other words, if the governors of losing states like Louisiana and South Carolina like what you're doing, a real leader might reconsider their strategy.

Call me crazy, but I'd rather be hanging out with people who excel and push me higher than want me to take a ride on a race to the bottom. But then again, I'm not a divisive professional grifter like Scott Walker, and I actually want Wisconsin to improve and become better instead of using the conflict that I created as an excuse to raise money and my national profile. The self-absorption and unquestioned failure of the Walker Administration is a huge reason why he has to be taken out in a week, because unlike the bubble world of RW talk radio and GOP rallies, results (or the lack thereof) DO MATTER in reality.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beer taxes- let's raise em!

I'm in the mood to write about something a bit lighter to end the weekend that officially starts Summer. And that's our state's beer tax.

What tipped this off was an intriguing article in today's Cap Times going over declining beer tax collections in the state. However, the judgment that the article makes is that this is an indication that the state's beer industry has been hit by the recession, and I don't see it that way at all.

First of all, as mentioned in the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's report on alcohol and cigarette taxes (fun reading if you want to learn about these things, since it goes over laws in other states), the state's beer tax is based on volume (barrels/gallons), not price. And this has been fixed at $2 a barrell (6.5 cents a gallon) since 1969, making Wisconsin's beer tax the 3rd-lowest in America. So when you see the beer tax collection numbers, it shows that the amount of beer drank in Wisconsin, which was a relatively steady number over the last decade, until it declined nearly 6 percent in the last 2 years tracked.

Beer tax collections, 2001-2011
2001-02- $9.60 million
2002-03- $9.52 million
2003-04- $9.60 million
2004-05- $9.77 million
2005-06- $9.76 million
2006-07- $9.53 million
2007-08- $9.62 million
2008-09- $9.91 million
2009-10- $9.61 million
2010-11- $9.30 million

So volumes are definitely down, but which beers are being drunk also seems to be different. In the same time period that total beer consumption has declined in Wisconsin, craft brewing has increased as a share of business nationwide. The Brewers' Association reports that the craft brewing industry was up 13% in 2011, and 26% between 2009 and 2011, while overall U.S. beer sales were down 1.3% in 2011, and down 2.5% from 2009-2011. It is reasonable to assume Wisconsin was part of the nationwide trend of more craft beer sales, as Wisconsin was 7th among all U.S. states with 72 breweries in 2010 (despite being 20th in population), and was 9th in the U.S. for breweries per capita, along with being Number 1 per capita in the Midwest. And Wisconsin craft brewers Minhas, New Glarus and Point are among the top 50 brewers by volume, along with Number 2 Miller/Coors and Number 3 Pabst.

So perhaps the drop in beer tax collections is a reflection of more Wisconsinites choosing to buy smaller amounts of craft beers instead of shelling out for cheap 30-packs of High Life (I'm enjoying a Pull Chain Ale from Milwaukee Brewing as I wrtite this, so I'm doing my part). Which leads to a suggestion that some may find radical.

Double the beer tax in Wisconsin. Hell, raise it to $5 a barrell instead of 2.

Not that this would be a huge revenue-raiser for the state. The amount the beer tax currently raises is only 0.07% of all taxes in the state. But even raising the beer tax to $5 a barrell would still keep it well below the level of inflation of the last 43 years, as the inflation calculator shows that $2 a barrell in 1969 would equal $11.76 today. $5 would only be half that amount. In 2011, if the same amount of beer was drunk, raising the beer tax to $5 would have meant nearly another $14 million in revenues. And if you assume that 80% of the extra beer tax gets passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices (and even that is probably low, do you really think we're going to slow down the amount that we're drinking?), the 5% sales tax that would be paid due to the extra beer tax would be in the neighborhood of another $700,000.

More importantly, this would reduce some of the price advantage many macrobrewers would have over our state's growing microbrew industry. A $5 a barrell tax translates to just over 16 cents a gallon, or about 9 cents a 6-pack or 36 cents a case. Not that this is a whole lot, but then when you remember state law allows a 50% tax credit on brewers who make less than 300,000 barrells a year (which is basically anyone not named Miller or Pabst), half of that 36 cents a case would go right back to the microbrewers. And at $5 a barrell, Wisconsin would still be below att of its neighbors in the Midwest except for Minnesota (which is $4.60 a barrell), so there would be no advantage to going over the border to pay lower taxes.

Sure, the brewmasters may not like the cosmetics of doing so, but I think in the long run, this would be a help to them as a good way to protect our growing beer-making industry. And at the same time it would kick in a little more revenue into the state coffers. So yes, I'll say it on this Memorial Day. RAISE THE BEER TAX!

Thanks vets, and unlike politicians, our actions should match our words.

Like all decent Americans of all political stripes, I want to wish our great veterans and their families a Happy Memorial Day. I appreciate that you have done things that I probably would not have the guts to do, and often in thankless, no-win situations. Your sacrifice and hard work is not forgotten, and I'll also borrow the same picture that Chris has at Cognitive Dissidence.

But in addition to remembering the fallen, we need to create a world where we respect what our troops have had to do, and work to make sure there aren't many more that we have to memorialize the future. And we need our politicians to reflect those values. In the great words of Einstein,
You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.
And we have far too many politicians who are constantly preparing for it, and not for reasons of security. They shed crocodile tears over the nation's debt, but then people like Wisconsin's Paul Ryan refuse to consider cuts to our military-industrial complex, nor do they want to tax the corporates and rich stockholders who seem to be the only Americans who benefitted from our adventure in Iraq.

And this also goes back to the actions of Wisconsin's governor and his buddies. Scott Walker was more than willing to be part of TMJ's pro-GOP "Support the Troops" posing for Operation Freedom, but when it came to actually helping and caring for the troops and their families, he did worse than nothing. If you read Page 4 of the criminal complaint against Tim Russell, you'll see how Walker decided to take care of his lackeys first.
Due to alleged financial mismanagement, in about 2009, Operation Freedom donations were entrusted to the Alonzo Cudworth American Legion Post. While by all reports thge Cudworth Post discharged their financial duties in exemplary fashion, in October 2009, then County Executive Scott Walker transferred the Operation Freedom funds - some $19,000 - to HGPS, the corporation controlled by [Walker's then- Deputy Chief of Staff] Tim Russell.

Russell actively operated the HGPS entity for the purpose of raising funds for Operation Freedom during 2010. This included having County Executive employees process donation payments for ultimate deposit in an HGPS account that Russell controlled.

In 2009 and 2010, Russell transferred in excess of $20,000 from the GPS accounts into his personal accounts. These funds were used to pay for Caribbean and Hawaiian vacations, at least in part. They were also used to fund a political trip to Atlanta, Georgia for the organization of a presidential campaign [Herman Cain's, which was run by Mark Block, who was banned from Wisconsin politics for illegal campaign activities for Koch-sponsored groups].
And also, Russell used that money for the families of fallen veterans to buy up the doman name of, which sure makes you wonder what else Walker wanted Russell to use that money for.

Fortunately, Wisconsinites who laid it on the line for this country are seeing through Walker's pose, and are speaking out. Last Friday, Veterans Against Walker presented speeches and gave the real truth about Scott Walker's exploitation and disregard for the lives of veterans. As former Marine and Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan put it. Walker "routinely cut funding for Veteran programs, services and for the War Memorial at the Lake Front."

So on this Memorial Day, don't be like a scummy Wisconsin politician. Don't just say that you're happy for what the veterans have done for our country and use Memorial Day as a means to beat your chest and show off your alleged "patriotism". Instead, back it up with actions that truly do show respect to the sacrifice that troops have given, and demand politicians back up their words with serious actions that do more than just use the troops as props, but instead treats them as the valued class of citizens that they are.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wisconsin State Journal- sinking to new depths with election article

I was just going to do a breezy Sunday note, and then my girlfriend and I had brunch and we had to stumble upon the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal. And just when I thought the Lee Enterprises moutpiece couldn't go further down on Scott Walker, they did.

Read this pile of crap from Clay Barbour on Walker without wanting to throw your phone or computer. Seriously, I dare you.

Let's go over Barbour's claims in the article's sidebar, shall we?
Balanced the state's budget and closed a $3.6 billion hole without a widespread increase in taxes, and without relying on one-time funds to cover big gaps.
ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. 1. The budget deficit was never $3.6 billion, that was a number the Walker Administration threw together to create the impression of a budget crisis. As I mentioned yesterday, the real structural deficit was less than half that, at $1.74 billion. 2. We know the budget isn't balanced, as evidenced by the news that came out this week showing the Walker Administration borrowed $558 million over the last 16 months, and kicked the expenses into future years. The Walker budget also built in $899 million in unspecified lapses for this budget, and has several ballooning tax credits and backloaded expenses that'll create masssive budget deficits for 2013-15 and future bienniums. Only a Walker campaign worker would believe this budget is balanced.

And 3. Using the weasel word "widespread" is intentionally done to give cover for the fact that Walker did raise taxes on certain groups of people. Page 3 of the LFB's budget tax change rundown shows this, as the state's Earned Income Tax Credit was cut by $56 million, and refusing to index the Homestead Tax Credit for inflation raises taxes for those people by another $13 million. In addition, Walker's budget builds in $107 million in tuition increases for UW System schools, and I'd like to Clay Barbour tell a parent sending their kid to college that higher tuition isn't the same as a tax increase on them.

Here's two other whoppers from Barbour's article, both relating to jobs.
• Presided over a sustained drop in unemployment, which now sits at 6.7 percent, the state's lowest mark since 2008.

• Is way off pace on his 2010 campaign promise to bring 250,000 to the state by 2014. According to the latest, unofficial numbers, the state has added 33,000 jobs since Walker was elected. Official numbers from the federal government put Wisconsin last in the nation in job growth in 2011.
Note that Barbour leaves out that the U.S. has also dropped in unemployment since Walker took office, from 9.1% to 8.1%, which is the same 1.0% drop that we've seen in Wisconsin, and unlike Wisconsin, the U.S. has done it with a growing work force. The U.S. work force has grown by 1.165 million since January 2011, while Wisconsin actually had 800 fewer people in the work force in the same period. Remember, unemployment is based not only on number of respondents saying that they're working, but also who is in the work force looking for work. So let's take Wisconsin's alleged job growth that this survey shows, and then add in the 0.76% growth in the work force that the rest of the nation has, and see what our unemployment rate would have been.

Wisconsin unemployment April 2012
Wisconsin reported April 2012 rate- 6.7%
Wisconsin April 2012 rate with U.S. work force growth- 7.4%

So Barbour is intentionally deceptive for trying to credit Walker with the unemployment drop, because the main reasons for the drop are the Obama recovery raising all parts of the U.S. and Walker driving people into retirement and out of the state.

Second, Barbour buries the "last in the nation" job growth number further down in the sidebar, while having the unemployment rate drop mentioned at the top. He also accepts Walker's sketchy, unverified jobs numbers. The only people that buy those numbers as legitimate are Walker supporters and campaign workers, but Barbour uses it as a false equivalency to the "apples-to-apples" report that the BLS uses. And by the way Clay, Wisconsin wasn't just last place in 2011, it's also in last place since Act 10 was passed in March 2011, and the decline didn't start until the Doyle-Dem budget was replaced by Walker policies. So yes, this goes directly on Scott Walker's record, and it is an objective FAILURE. When Barbour pulls the false equivalency game, it is being done to intentionally muddy the waters and favor Walker.

But why would I be surprised that Hat Boy Barbour would write a pro-Walker article? Barbour was a co-writer on the disgraceful WSJ article in March that described as "underwhelming" this smoking gun video of Walker lying to the Oshkosh Northwestern in 2010 about his plans to remove collective bargaining rights.

This video is especially damning when you realize that Walker was forced to admit this week that he was working on Act 10's collective bargaining restrictions the day after his November 2010 election. And it's not like that plan came out of the sky on November 3, either. Hmm, wonder why crack WSJ reporters Clay Barbour and Mary Spiccuza or any Journal-Sentinel reporters haven't touched this issue when it's been out in the public for 4 days now? (Dylan Brogan broke the story for 1670AM WTDY on Thursday).

Then again, maybe Clay's just following the orders of his bosses, as State Journal owner Lee Enterprises is allied with a group that bought over $1 million in ads supporting Walker, and has busted unions at several of their work places. And of course, the State Journal infamously went against the wishes of 69% of Dane County voters and endorsed Walker in 2010 (and are probably setting things up to do so again in the mealthy-mouthed fashion the Journal-Sentinel did last week).

Look, we know the State Journal and Journal-Sentinel are in the bag for Walker, and have been intentionally ignoring big stories like Walker's many lies and deceptions over the last 16 months and the $558 million in borrowing his administration pulled. But to take Walker claims at face value and uncritically print this propaganda without any critical analysis is a dereliction of jouralistic duty. When you write down what politicians say and do "he said, she said" pieces with no digging into the claims, you're not a journalist, you're a transcriber. And you're defrauding the unsuspecting public that shells out money to buy your product.

Which is why I don't pay a cent for the State Journal or the Journal-Sentinel, because they aren't newspapers, they're accomplices in spreading propaganda. I'd encourage you to do the same if you haven't done so already, because when you're dealing with corporates, all they understand is the hit to their bottom lines.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The big WisGOP lie- Wisconsin never had a $3.6 billion deficit, and it's not fixed

My post from Thursday has apparently caught wildfire, as it has over 1,400 pageviews in less than 48 hours, making it the second-most read column in this blog (the most is my article exposing the WisGOP lies about Kaukauna Schools last July- something Walker-types still try to pull over on people). Thanks to all of you for spreading the word.

Let's pick up from that article by discussing another common claim from the Walker Administration- that Wisconsin faced a $3.6 billion budget deficit when Walker came in, which forced the huge cuts to schools, colleges, Badger Care and other services. But where did the $3.6 billion come from, and was it really ever that high? The short answer is: It came from Walker officials who had every incentive to inflate the number, and it was never close to that high.

I'll first direct you to an excellent blog entry from commentator Feeling Blue Seeing Red who claims that Jim Doyle had a balanced budget when Walker took office, and the "structural deficit" he allegedly left Walker was largely bunk. The numbers are a bit off, but the main point of the blog is correct - that the structural deficit is based on all agencies getting everything they wanted.
Of course not all agency budgets could be held to FY11 numbers. They had to be reviewed and adjusted, and priorities identified . It's a process every agency – and budget – goes through. But, it is patently absurd to claim that the budget requests equaled a ‘structural deficit’.

Doyle’s Federal stimulus-enhanced 2009-11 budget appropriations added up to $62,192,112,300. Walker signed into law $64,323,927,000 of spending, $2.1 billion more than Doyle’s 2009-2011 Budget.
As someone who's worked on budgets in the public sector, this is absolutely true. Sure, you give a number and explain that this is what you'd need to take care of everything you'd want, but like any other business, there usually isn't enough money to go around to actually get it, so you go through the work of figuring out what you CAN do.

So let's look at what the Doyle report in November 2010 with all agency requests and go to Page 13 to see what was asked for. And you'll see that over $2.07 BILLION is requested in increases. A lot of this is offset by $1.633 billion in projected lapses, but even if you get rid of all lapses, just keeping things under current law with no changes takes $437 million out of the structural deficit.

But the Walker folks don't do that. The "$3.6 billion" figure they cling to comes from DOA Budget Director Brian Hayes, who threw this document out less than a week before Walker dropped the bomb. Hayes basically backs out a lot of these lapses and created an overly-high Medicaid bill to reach this figure.
The adjustments include adding $1.2 billion GPR to the Department of Health Services budget request to reflect questionable caseload and federal aid assumptions in the Medicaid program. The other change removes over $800 million in assumed lapses included in the Department of Administration budget request for prospective cuts. Taken together, these changes add over $2 billion GPR to more accurately portray the budget challenge facing the Governor and Legislature.
Well, overestimating Medicaid costs as an excuse to cut services has been a bad Walker habit, so much of that $1.2 Billion should be immediately questioned. And the feds have consistently continued to fund Medicaid, bailing Wisconsin out of costs that Hayes seems to be projecting onto the state.

And as for the lapses, let's not forget that Walker also built his budget on $899 million in lapses, or $86 million more than the projections given by Hayes in Feburary 2011. So between about $600 million in Medicaid costs (I'll assume only half of it was bullshit) and $86 million in increased lapses, let's reduce that structural deficit by $686 million.

Then let's not forget that Hayes' budget numbers include tax breaks given out by Walker and the WisGOPs when they took over in January 2011. The LFB broke down what those tax cuts were projected to do:
(a) SS SB 2, which federalizes the treatment of health
savings accounts; (b) SS AB 3, which would create an income and franchise tax deduction or
credit for businesses that relocate to Wisconsin; and (c) SS AB 7, which would create an income
and franchise tax deduction for businesses that increase employment in the state. SS SB 2 has
been enacted into law as 2011 Act 1. The other two bills have passed both Houses of the
Legislature, and the Governor has indicated that he will sign them. It is estimated that, together,
these three bills will reduce general fund tax collections by $55.2 million in 2011-12 and $62.0
million in 2012-13.
So there's another $117 million added to the deficit. So take that out of the $3.6 billion.

And last but not least, remember the famous "BROKE MY ASS!" revenue surprise in May 2011, where the Doyle-Dem budget of 2009-2011 was yielding much higher tax revenues, and improved the budget picture not only for 2011, but also the 2011-2013 biennium because it led to a higher starting point.
Based on our review of the collections data and the new economic forecast, we now believe
that general fund tax revenues will be higher than the previous estimates by $233 million in 2010-
11, $204 million in 2011-12, and $199 million in 2012-13. The three-year increase is $636 million,
or 1.6%.
So let's go over these adjustments that happened, shall we?

Walker DOA budget deficit- $3.603 billion
MINUS removing all Dept. increases- $437 million
MINUS overestimated Medicaid- $600 million
MINUS extra budget lapses- $86 million
MINUS tax cuts in January 2011-$117 million
MINUS better revenues May 2011- $636 million

ACTUAL structural deficit 2011-2013 - $1.740 billion

In other words, less than half of the $3.6 billion the Walker folks said it was. It's also below a couple of structural deficits that Doyle had to deal with, and right in line with the Doyle Administration estimates in November 2010. You think Walker could have cut $1.6 billion to schools, hundreds of millions to universities and hundreds of millions more to localities if the public knew there was a lot more money there to handle these services? Not that Walker wouldn't have tried- he's paid big bucks to screw up services and get them sold off to contributors- but it would never have flown with the casual bystander or even the transcribers that pass for Wisconsin media.

But the sad part is that the structural deficit probably IS that high or higher for the future. Mike Ivey of the Cap Times had a story about this week showing a Walker tax break that allows business to write off $360 million in taxes over the next 4 years, with a rate that falls to "below zero" by 2016. The lack of corporate taxes due to this tinkle-down measure is going to have to be made up by someone, or else it'll throw the state into further deficit

There are a number of other "fiscal bombs" that Walker has set to go off over the next few years, with the funneling General Revenues to the Road Builders in the Transportation Fund as a good example. This starts on July 1 for $35 million, could be well over $125 million for the 2013-2015, and near $250 million by 2021. And of course, let's not forget the $558 million in credit-card borrowing revealed this week, which'll cost Wisconsin taxpayers nearly $419 million in extra costs over the next 3 budgets.

And because of Walker's tax credits to business and the wealthy, those taxpayers won't be the rich, they'll be people who actually do work like you and me. So not only did Walker never face a $3.6 billion deficit, he also has left us fiscally worse off than we were before he took office. Don't bet on the media to make this effort themselves, but feel free to spread around this truth in these last 10 days. Because I really don't want to be blown up by more Walker fiscal bombs.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wisconsin economy continues to lag the Midwest

Hidden in all the craziness of the last few days was the release of the last Philly Fed coincident index of state economies before the recall election. And as it's been for the better part of the last year, Wisconsin has been trailing the rest of the Midwest for the last 3 months.

Wisconsin's anemic 0.60% growth in the last 3 months also is behind the U.S.'s 0.82% rate, and these figures look even worse if you take it back to Scott Walker's inaguration in January 2011. The Philly Fed says Wisconsin's economy has grown only 0.78%, while every other state around us HAS GROWN 4 TIMES AS FAST, as we're well behind the U.S. pace of 5.13%. Wisconsin's the red line on the bottom of this chart.

And all of that tiny bit of growth is contained to the last 4 months. Wisconsin basically flat-lined in 2011, and Uppity Wisconsin has a great link to a report from economist William Fruth, which measures the "economic strength" of all U.S metro areas. You'll see that Walker's damage hit nearly every corner of the state, as Wisconsin's cities fell significantly among the 366 metro areas measured.

When you have metro areas dropping 7-10 percentiles or more (as all metros past Janesville do on this map), you've got a major problem. And you are clearly not "Open for Business." The Philly Fed's Leading indexes are coming up next week, and don't count on much improvement on the near-term horizon.

Well, it will continue to look bad unless you change leadership at the top on June 5. And given these figures, you'd be out of your mind to keep the CEO that kept Wisconsin in the doldrums while the rest of our neighbors have been growing and eating our lunch. So don't let it happen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Walker has given Wisconsin bigger deficits and debt than Doyle

I knew I liked State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, and she gave me even more reason to like her today. Vinehout took a look at the bogus "Walker surplus" and noticed that a lot of it was based on "refinancing", which is basically re-borrowing to get money up front and then paying it off at a later time. Well the LFB came back with the numbers, and we found out that the Walker Administration's borrowing was more rampant than we ever knew.

The LFB says the Walker boys borrowed more than $558 million over the last 16 months to balance the budget, and that it'll cost Wisconsin taxpayers will have to pay back that $558 million, and add on an EXTRA $158 million to pay off those bills overt the next 20 years. In fact, instead of paying off these $558 million in bills during the 2011 and 2012 fiscal year (which would be on the current budget), these bills will now be paid in future years, and the LFB runs down the costs that taxpayers will now bear in future years as a result of Walker's credit card spree.

2011-12- $9.824 million
2012-13- $44.913 million
2013-14- $98.431 million
2014-15- $98.426 million
2015-16- $83.630 million
2016-17- $83.619 million

TOTAL 2011-2017 PAYMENTS- $418.843 million

You read that right, Walker's short-term cosmetic moves to make his budget seem solvent will cost taxpayers nearly $419 million over the next 3 budgets, which will be money that can't go to schools, universities, social services, and numerous other General Fund programs, or will result in a major tax increase to maintain these services. And the next 14 years is nearly another $300 million in interest and principal payments thanks to this stunt. It's a lot like taking on a huge credit card loan to pay off your bills right now. In the short-term it works, but it'll hurt you a lot later if you don't get any extra money coming in. Sen. Vinehout rightfully called this recklessness out.
“There is a conflict between the popular wisdom the state budget is balanced and the bills are paid and the reality that the state has not paid over half a billion dollars in debt payments coming due. If we want to have an honest discussion about how to move our state forward and cure our financial woes, we must have an honest discussion of what’s happening right now and how these actions affect our financial future."

Even more remarkable is that this borrowing nearly matches what Jim Doyle borrowed over his last 7 years in office combined.
Doyle 2004-2011- $592.8 million
Walker 2011-2012- $558.3 million

So much for the right-wing argument that Walker "fixed" the budget by doing what Doyle wouldn't. In fact, Walker uses another trick much more than Doyle ever did to make his budget seem in balance- lapses. The most recent revenue estimates don't include much of this new borrowing, but it does include another $593 million in lapses between next July 1 and June 30. And if Walker wins the recall election, his administration can arbitrarily decide which areas those lapses could be, which could mean another screw job of the UW System or some other agency Scotty doesn't like.

And Walker's the one who sheds crocodile tears about caring for "the children's future" as a way of justifying the screwing of hundreds of thousands of state employees? WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP. His moves have sent this state further into debt and with higher deficits than we ever faced under Jim Doyle. And unlike 2009, it isn't happening in the middle of the biggest economic meltdown in 75 years, but in a time when almost every other state (except Wisconsin) is recovering and growing jobs.

So is the J-S or State Journal reporting this debacle and destruction of one of Walker's and WisGOP's central claims for why they should be kept, that they balanced the budget without extra borrowing or raising taxes? HELL NO. It's time to demand that they do, and spread this word wide. Our state's economic solvency depends on it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

St Norbert poll- Walker by 5 = Barrett up 3?

In what continues to be an infuriating trend, once again we saw a Wisconsin recall poll come out, and once again it oversampled voters favorable to Scott Walker, resulting in a Walker lead. This time it's the Wisconsin Public Radio/ St. Norbert College poll, which has a topline of Walker 50, Barrett 45. However, once you go inside the numbers, it's pretty obvious why Walker leads.

Who did you vote for in the 2010 election? St. Norbert poll
Walker 52
Barrett 38

2010 Governor's race results
Walker 52
Barrett 46

Well no kidding Walker leads if you have a sample that voted +14 for Walker in 2010 while the real Wisconsin voted Walker +5.77. In fact, that should make Walker backers worry, because if Walker gets an 8 point advantage in the sample and he's only up 5, isn't it logical to say if we get a similar turnout to 2010 that this race becomes Barrett +3? And Dems and lefty voters are a whole lot more fired up than we were in 2010.

That being said, when you get into the "attitudes" questions, they're very enlightening, as it shows that the respondents have serious problems with Walker's character, and think Barrett's best attributes are his ability to unify people and his integrity. The poll also shows that a majority of this pro-Walker sample of Wisconsinites favor collective bargaining rights and they see Walker's moves as one to hurt unions over helping the budget, so a combination of negative ads on Walker's character and positive ads on Barrett's decency and desire to restore collective bargaining rights to public employees seems like a winning strategy to me.

St. Norbert's not the only poll that has oversampled GOPs in the last 10 days. The faulty polls from last week set a incorrect media narrative of "Walker ahead" into motion. It's tough enough to battle against talk radio and Walker ad propaganda, we don't need the rest of the media working against the good guys as well.

Now another poll that blunted that agenda was the We Are Wisconsin internal poll from the weekend, which showed Barrett within the margin of error, basically a toss-up. However, we should also be skeptical of this poll, not just because We Are Wisconsin has an obvious leaning, but because there are few cross-tabs released with the poll. However, the cross tab that was released was intriguing.

We Are Wisconsin poll, by party ID
Democrat- Barrett 93-7
Independent- Barrett 50-44
Republican- Walker 96-3

So if you assumed each group was 1/3 of the population, you'd come up with it dead even, 49-49. That indicates the sample was probably GOP +1 or +2, and while that's not the GOP +7 absurdity that we saw in the PPP poll last week, it still goes against the 2010 CBS exit poll from Wisconsin, which was Dem +1.

Bottom line, it's a turnout game right now, and if Dem voters turn out in Wisconsin (where they are the majority), Barrett would win. But this thing is far from being in the barn either way. I just wish the pollsters would recognize that reality and make their samples match Wisconsin's voting population.

Picking up from April Wisconsin jobs wreckage

We already knew April's jobs numbers in Wisconsin were awful, but we've had a couple of backup reports reiterating how bad in the last 2 days. First of all, let's go with the mass layoff report from the BLS, which measures unemployment claims resulting from large-scale shutdowns at one place. And again, Wisconsin has a notorious spot among states in and around our region.

April mass layoff events, Midwest
Wisc 44
Ill. 38
Ohio 34
Mizzou 27
Mich 23
Ind. 17
Iowa 13
Minn 8

This is even more damning when you consider Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana have populations higher than Wisconsin's, and should be ahead of us if all things are equal. We're also Number 1 in this group for total unemployment claims resulting from mass layoffs when adjusting for workforce population, and 3rd in this group (behind Illinois and Indiana) for total claims overall. It also coincides with Wisconsin's 4th in the nation status for mass layoffs for the last 3 months of 2011, and it shows things still aren't turning around, no matter how many times Walker runs that false ad during my Brewer game.

Another example of the drops in employment was in today's local Wisconsin jobs report, which shows the unemployment and job amounts in counties and cities. And in continuing with an overall theme of the last few months, it's the rural areas that are taking it the most on the chin, while Northeast Wisconsin has kept its heads above water.

Year-over-year change in jobs, Wisconsin metro areas
Green Bay +4,300 (+2.59%)
Oshkosh-Neenah +1,600 (+1.71%)
La Crosse +1,000 (+1.35%)
Appleton +900 (+0.78%)
Fond du Lac +700 (+1.55%)
Sheboygan +300 (+0.52%)
Wausau -100 (-0.15%)
Racine -500 (-0.66%)
Janesville -800 (-1.31%)
Eau Claire -1,500 (-1.87%)
Madison -2,700 (-0.77%)
Milwaukee -8,400 (-1.03%)
Rest of State -11,000 (-1.47%)
State total -21,400 (-0.78%)

Looking at those numbers, it's interesting to note the Walker Administration's subhead to the jobs release was "Milwaukee area loses 2,100 over the month, 8,400 over the year." I'm sure that was totally coincidental on the Walker boys' part. Hmmm, wonder why they didn't mention their larger job losses by % in rural Wisconsin, Eau Claire or Janesville? And why they didn't mention that the red counties of Ozaukee and Waukesha have also been passed by the rest of the state when it comes to declines in the unemployment rate?

And funny how they now have full faith in the BLS numbers when last week, they were saying the BLS numbers weren't accurate and that they had their own magic stats which showed jobs gained? Well kiddos, which metric do we want to use today?

The scrambling by this desperate administration to run away from their pathetic record brings only one thing to mind. YAKETY SAX!

Time to give these clowns the hook.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Honesty from the "job creators"

First, excellent common sense from venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, who mentions that the rich aren't the job creators, the middle class is. And that we all do better WHEN WE ALL DO BETTER. You may have seen this before, but it's worth checking out again. Lots of good info.

And now here's the bad guy being honest, from Gordon Gekko in my favorite scene in Wall Street. "I create nothing, I OWN." Turn it up! (the sound's a bit quiet on it).

"Now you're not naive enough to believe we're living in a democracy, are you Buddy?"

Only if we step up and keep it alive. And make the "job creators" pay from what they've been stealing from the other 99% of us.

Pay the Guv, he'll pay you back. And on our dime

Good report from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign going over how giveaways and special legislation in the Scott Walker/WisGOP budget are costing families $235 in taxes this year, and $300 down the road. Basically the report tracks how certain industries gave Walker and the GOP millions, and then how protections were repealed, tax credits handed out, or taxpayer-funded projects awarded to these groups, which means us plebes will end up paying more to make up for it. It's another example of how these privatization schemes really don't save taxpayer dollars or help the economy, it merely changes who gets the money. And more often than not, that money goes to the well-connected that have much less accountability to the taxpayer.

And here's another link to check out, where Bill Lueders and others at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism show how Scott Walker loves to make time for businesses that donate and support him. Here's a good taste of how this works, and a good primer on who you might not want to give your money to.
Center reporters pored over more than 4,400 calendar entries during this 13-month period to tally Walker’s contacts.

The analysis suggested that big donors got more access. Three-quarters of all PACs that have given Walker at least $20,000 are associated with companies that show up on his calendar. In contrast, about a quarter of the PAC donors that gave under $20,000 are listed.

Companies and their executives appear in Walker’s calendars in jobs announcements, factory tours, check presentations, phone calls and private meetings -- sometimes labeled “no media,” as with 3M and Caterpillar Inc.

The list includes many big businesses, such as Harley-Davidson, IBM, Northwestern Mutual, Johnsonville Sausage, Walgreens and Uline. No one company dominated Walker’s time: Leading the list, with four contacts, was Ashley Furniture, based in Arcadia, Wis.
If the concept of Walker showing up for those who gave him cash sound familiar, it should. I touched on this 3 weeks ago, where I noticed that several Walker appearances and tax credits coincided with companies that had given him money.

There's even a nice connection to Walkergate, as Walker showed up at a few weeks ago for a tepid job expansion at a Waukesha-area company called Spancrete, and Spancrete employees gave thousands of dollars to Lt. Gov. candidate Brett Davis in September 2010. The Davis connection matters because accused Walkergate criminal Kelly Rindfleisch basically admitted working for Davis' campaign as part of the job that Walker hired her for in Milwaukee County. This Rindfleisch/donor connection reared its head again last week, when Walker and Kleefisch donor Michael Eisenga was fined $144,000 for contacting people on the state's no-call list. Among those working for Eisenga's sketchy mortgage company?....Kelly Rindfleisch, who worked for Eisenga's company in Columbus right after leaving her taxpayer-funded campaign job for Walker. Makes you wonder how Kelly got hooked up for the job, doesn't it?

When I told people that Scott Walker would be Jim Doyle's sketchiness on steroids, many might have doubted it. But it turns out I was understating it, because I didn't know in November 2010 that the only way our new Governor would be showing "transparency" would be in revealing how bought off he was. But now we know, and because of that new information we have to send him back to Tosa (and Faux News) in 15 days.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don't get mad at Wisconsin hate radio- get even

Annoying Scott Walker ads are not the only way right-wingers are trying to saturate Wisconsin with their side of the story. The most egregious example of this are the 9 hours of hate brought to you every day on Milwaukee stations 620 and 1130, with obvious coordination and information being passed directly from WisGOP to the hosts. However, they may be running afoul of the law, as reporter/blogger Sue Wilson exposes in the following piece.
There are two radio markets in the U.S. I've been closely watching which highlight these concepts of physical scarcity and private censorship. One is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where five local Conservative Talk Radio hosts dominate 100,000 watts of radio power.

The other is my adopted hometown, Sacramento, where Clear Channel Communications broadcasts about 190 hours per week of national one-sided political talk over three giant stations, KFBK-AM, KGBY-FM and AMFM Holding's KSTE-AM Clear Channel management disputed that number at a recent meeting with Media Action Center, Sacramento Media Group, and Occupy Sacramento. But (now former) Clear Channel GM Jeff Holden told us he is very comfortable airing only one-sided political talk on three giant stations - during an election year.

But what Holden may or may not have known is that, in the 60 days prior to an election, if broadcasters sell or give time to one major political party candidate or its supporters, they must, by law, offer comparable time to the opposing major political party candidate or its supporters. (See Section 315a of the Communications Act and the Zapple Doctrine.)

The Media Action Center has been monitoring talk radio stations owned by Clear Channel and Journal Communications in Milwaukee since May 9th, the first day of the Walker/Barrett campaign in Wisconsin. We will release detailed results of that monitoring [Tuesday] May 22nd, but suffice it to say that supporters of one major political party are getting short shrift, and they have been complaining to the Talk stations demanding equal time, and they will soon be complaining – loudly – to the Federal Communications Commission to immediately enforce comparable time laws under Zapple. (The FCC is the law enforcement agency on broadcasting issues.)

But those Talk Radio giants are also violating the First Amendment rights of supporters of candidates whom they are not allowed to be heard in the midst of the election. "Private censorship" comes down to a matter of access, says the Supreme Court of the United States.

And speaking of limiting access, the Walker campaign is apparently doing just that with certain stations for these last 2 weeks of campaigning. So much so that I have seen commentator reports on Daily Kos and other places hinting at the fact that the Walker campaign has bought so many ads that it is preventing other groups' ads from being shown. This is a restriction of access, and runs counter to FCC rules regarding political advertising. It is one thing to have more money than the other candidate and be able to afford to buy more ads, but from what I remember in my MassComm Law classes at UW, it is wholly another thing for a station to keep another candidate from being able to go on that station if they have the money to do so. If the Walker campaign and the TV stations in Wisconsin are doing this to the Barrett campaign or other groups, they are in violation of the law, and are subject to fines and further action from the FCC.

Remember that broadcast stations are required to act in the public interest as a requirement of their license from the FCC, and if WTMJ-AM and WISN-AM and WTAQ in Green Bay (among others) are actively keeping left-wing guests and voices off of their station before an Election Day (and no one doubts they are- try calling in as an honest left-wing caller if you don't believe me), they are violating the requirements of that license. As a result, they are asking for someone to challenge the owners when those stations' licenses come up for renewal. And interestingly, all stations in Wisconsin have their license expire on December 1 of this year, and the deadline to file a petition protesting the renewal of that license is November 1 of this year.

So this has now piqued my interest, and I wanted to see what the FCC had to say about filing a petition to deny. So here it is.
Petition to Deny Requirements. First, to file a Petition to Deny, a person must be a "party in interest" and have "standing." That means, generally, that the person must have more than a passing interest in the station. He or she must be a regular listener or have some other contact with the station that gives the petitioner a real stake in the outcome of the renewal process. A petition must be supported by an affidavit of a person or persons with personal knowledge of the allegations of fact contained in the petition. [ed. note: I'd think there's a few people on the left side of the Cheddarsphere that have some good records of what hate merchants like Sykes, Belling, McKenna have said to smear Dems and union supporters.] Additionally, a Petition to Deny a license renewal must be "timely" filed at least one month prior to the license expiration date, as explained in the previous paragraph. Finally, the petition must contain a certification that a copy of the petition was mailed to the station. Failure to include the certification that a copy was mailed to the station and the affidavit of personal knowledge will result in dismissal of the Petition to Deny.

Procedure for Filing Informal Objections. A person or entity opposing the grant of a station's license renewal application may file an informal objection against the license renewal application at any time prior to staff action on the license renewal application. An informal objection is less formal than a Petition to Deny, but some requirements still apply. It may take the form of a letter signed by the objector and mailed or delivered to one of the FCC addresses above. An informal objection need not contain the affidavit required for a Petition to Deny. It should, however, contain sufficient information to establish any violation alleged. Additionally, an informal objection not received by the time the station's license renewal is granted will not be considered.

Filing Positive Comments. Affirmative comments concerning a licensee's service during the prior license term should be filed by the Petition to Deny deadline through the Office of the Secretary at the addresses listed in the next section. [Ed. Note: This could be good too, as it could make WisGOP or Koch or WMC-backed groups go on the record to back up the stations that help them out.]
Given the one-sided, degrading nature that stations like 620 and 1130 have had on this state, maybe it's time to put these guys to the test, and make them show that they are or are not fully-paid subsidiaries of the Wisconsin Republican Party. Putting up a Petition to Deny would be a great way to make them show their cards, and see whether they are or are not fully-paid subsidiaries of the RPW and WMC. Sounds like Sue Wilson may be onto something here, and exposing these hate radio mouthpieces for the puppets they are would be a beautiful bit of revenge indeed.

Of course the best revenge would be to blow Scott Walker away at the polls on June 5, and show just how much of a bubble these right-wing shows are compared to the everyday lives of Wisconsinites (heck, I might have to listen to 620 and 1130 for one of the few times in my life that day if it happens). But I think jamming these oligarchs and their on-air spokepeople in the pocketbook and making them sweat to stay on the air (or have to change the way they do business because of the disgraceful way they have handled themselves) would get a whole lot more of their attention, as well as the attention of an often-unknowing public.

Well that's a way to keep unemployment low

Guess we know where that allegedly low unemployment rate comes from in Wisconsin. Just cut people off of unemployment through an arbitrary policy put in place at the DWD.

I was wondering why Wisconsin's unemployment claims went down after having a spike in early April (reflected in April's brutal job numbers for the state).

Wisconsin new unemployment claims March-May 2012
3/3- 11,997
3/10- 12,074
3/17- 11,121
3/24- 10,954
3/31- 9,863
4/7- 12,022
4/14- 12,983
4/21- 11,142
4/28- 10,398
5/5- 9,993

But the new policy of delaying unemployment can't be working too well though, because Wisconsin's 9,993 new unemployment claims for the week of May 5 is still more than twice that of Minnesota, nearly 4,000 more than Indiana, and more than Ohio, who has nearly twice as many jobs as Wisconsin.

And it didn't stop Wisconsin from being 4th in the nation for number of mass layoffs the last 3 months of 2011. This is especially henious given that Wisconsin is 20th in U.S. population, so there are 16 states that had more people and fewer mass layoffs at the end of 2011.

But hey, if I was the Walker Administration, I might be trying anything to cosemtically help my bad stats as well, including cutting people off of unemployment for sketchy reasons.

Walker budget cools off our record heat

Can't say I'm ready for it to feel like July, but can't say I'm complaining about it either. And it looks like it isn't going to stop for a while, with temperatures expected to stay in the 70s and 80s all week, well above what it often is for Memorial Day Weekend.

And it continues the pattern we've seen for 2012, where the NOAA notes that places like Madison have set records for the warmest first 4 months of a year.

This includes an April that was still above average in Wisconsin, albeit nor the records we aw in March. Much of the rest of the U.S. was even more above average in April and the U.S. is now at its hottest January-April and May-April period in 118 years of records.

So let's revisit something I was looking at earlier, to see if the warm weather was impacting jobs and spending in Wisconsin. The sectors I want to look at in particular are the construction, Leisure/Hospitality, and Retail trade sectors, because those would seem to be the most likely spots to have impacts from warm weather.

Wis. 2012 change in job sectors vs. 2011

Dec 2011-Feb 2012- +6,600 seasonally adjust. -8,100 non-seasonally adjust.
Dec 2010- Feb 2011- +3,500 s.a, -6,900 n.s.a (interesting in itself on the nsa and sa differences for the 2 years- could be some 2012 book-cooking in itself)

Feb 2012- Apr 2012- -6,000 s.a, +6,700 n.s.a
Feb 2011- Apr 2011- -600 s.a, +10,900 n.s.a

Well the weather didn't help construction hiring the last 4 months, that's for sure. In fact, there's 1,400 fewer (non-seasonal) Wisconsin workers in construction than there were at the end of 2011- a pretty remarkable feat by the Walker folks, given that Springtime is the usual ramp-up for construction hiring, and because we gained 4,000 construction jobs in a much colder 2011.

Dec 2011- Feb 2012- +3,000 s.a, -6,300 n.s.a
Dec 2010- Feb 2011- -2,300 s.a., -9,600 n.s.a

Feb 2012- Apr 2012- -2,200 s.a, +9,000 n.s.a
Feb 2011- Apr 2011- -600 s.a, +12,300 n.s.a

Within this is probably the best proof of a weather effect, because the 9,000 n.s.a increase in 2012 is pretty evenly spread between March and April, while the seasonally-adjusted numbers show +2,800 in March and -5,000 in April. Clearly Leisure/Hospitality people were hired in March instead of April this year, and the 70-degree March temperatures probably played a role.

Retail trade (n.s.a. losses in Dec-Feb due to XMas shopping ending)
Dec 2011- Feb 2012- -1,200 s.a., -23,300 n.s.a
Dec 2010- Feb 2011- +1,800 s.a., -21,700 n.s.a

Feb 2012- Apr 2012- +2,000 s.a., +4,300 n.s.a
Feb 2011- Apr 2011- +1,200 s.a., +4,900 n.s.a.

Unlike Leisure and Hospitality, this did not see the "March bump", so it seems that weather was a small factor at best for the retail trade sector. What seems to be a bigger factor for the indifferent retail sector is soft consumer spending in Wisconsin, as evidenced by Roundy's bad earnings in 1stQ 2012, which Chairman Bob blamed on "the consumer being not at all secure." As a result of that "insecure" consumer, sales in many of Roundy's markets (a large chunk of which are in Wisconsin) were weak in early 2012. Gee, you think cutting salaries and causing great job uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of public workers, as well as having the worst job performance in America might have something to do with that?

And that's what these stats really show to me. There's no doubt that the hot weather should be helping Wisconsin businesses in key sectors hire and increase sales, but Walker's dissastrous economic results is too strong of a headwind to overcome. The drop in construction employment is especially worrying, because there is evidence that stronger home sales were pushed ahead into March and April instead of the peak months of May and June.

So the question is- what happens if we're stuck with the dreadful Walker policies and the weather doesn't go our way, like with a brutal winter or rainy June that softens tourism spending? Do we even want to know how bad things would get in that instance?

Let's fire Walker on June 5 instead and not find out.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The J-S won't tell you, so I will- Wisconsin stays dead last for jobs

I know this has been a common theme for the last several months, but I wanted to give an update on the latest stats (hey, some of you are new here :P). The BLS' monthly state-by-state jobs report came out last month, and yet again, Wisconsin was Number 1...for most jobs lost. And it's quite telling since April 2011 was the first month after Act 10 was passed, and the month that Wisconsin employment started dropping under Scott Walker.

Most job loss by state, Apr 2011- Apr 2012
Wisconsin -21,400
Rhode Is. -4,300
New Hamp. -3,700
Conne'tc't -2,300
Mis'is'ippi -1,800
Montana -1,300

Most private sector jobs losses by state, Apr 2011- Apr 2012
Wisconsin -11,100
Arkansas -4,600
Rhode Is. -3,400
New Hamp. -2,700
Mis'is'ippi -2,700

And none of the states in the negative are places big enough to have one major league sports franchise, making this even worse. In fact, the only thing keeping Wisconsin from reaching the trifecta with highest % of job losses over the last 12 months are these guys:

Highest % of total jobs lost, Apr 2011- Apr 2012
Rhode Is. -0.93%
Wisconsin -0.78%
New Hamp. -0.59%
Montana -0.30%
Mis'is'ippi -0.16%

So where's this update in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. NOWHERE, other than misleading "false equivalency" crap about how "Governor's candidates battle over jobs numbers." There no battle, WE ARE LAST, and that's not a debatable stat if you're using federal, "apples to apples" data. But what the J-S does promote is Walker's magic, unvetted jobs increase in a pathetic MMAC-demanded editorial this morning. This bilge of an editorial makes me ill just looking at it, but I'll give you a little taste of what the corporate slime at the J-S editorial board are trying to serve up.
Of course it was politically motivated. What else could it be? But that doesn't mean that new statistics on jobs released this week by Gov. Scott Walker are not credible.

Assuming the federal government agrees, the statistics show Wisconsin gained jobs during Walker's first year in office. That's good news for Wisconsin families. And of course it's good news for the Walker administration, which, not surprisingly, took the highly unusual step Tuesday of rushing the numbers to the voting public. The numbers weren't expected to be released until June 28, three weeks after the recall election....

The fact that a reliable source says Wisconsin created jobs - instead of losing them - in 2011 is good news. The quarterly census is considered reliable because states gather the data from almost all their employers in both the public and private sectors. (Ed. Note: Stop right there. Why does the J-S consider anything this Administration says to be fromv "a reliable source," especially when no one else has seen or confirmed these numbers? A HS journalism student wouldn't be allowed to uncritically accept data like this, let alone the state's largest newspaper.) The Current Employment Survey, by contrast, is a survey of 3.5% of employers and is sometimes subject to sharp revisions. In fact, the quarterly report is used to benchmark and clean up the monthly reports. And, as Walker has noted, preliminary data showed that the state's unemployment rate ticked down to 6.7% in April from 6.8% in March, the lowest since 2008.

But the quarterly report numbers have not been reviewed for accuracy by the federal government, and it's impossible to compare Wisconsin's performance in the quarterly report with other states since the Walker administration released them early. (So why are you giving them any credit at all when it may be bullshit or massively lagging other states? Because J-S editorial staff has been told they have to do this.)

Walker's policies may encourage development over time (though it hasn't for over a year), but business owners and executives across the state will hire only if they can justify the expense of another worker (or if people want to buy their product, which is hard to do with lower wages) . If more of that was happening last year than previously thought, that's a good thing (even though Walker's souped-up numbers would still suck!) . But voters would be wise not to give very much credence to the job creation claims of either Walker or Democratic opponent Tom Barrett.
If that last line isn't the epitome of D.C. Villager-style "false equivalence," nothing is. It's not just the Barrett people making this claim, it's the pros in D.C. at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I'll use my judgment to trust them over hacks like Gov. Dropout and Reggie ("You'll say Jobs are Created or I'll get my 4th DWD Secretary") Newson any day. Why the J-S refuses to do the same tells you who's paying their bills.

And speaking of the BLS report, let's go back to it one more time. Another trend that continues in their report. is Wisconsin's huge lag behind our Midwestern neighbors. First I'll give you a chart that shows the other Midwestern states vs. us, and then I'll follow with a chart that puts it in percentage terms since Walker and WisGOP took office in January 2011.

Change in jobs, Midwestern states, Apr 2011- Apr 2012
Mich +59,300 (+1.51%)
Ind. +54,200 (+1.91%)
Ohio +47,200 (+0.93%)
Ill. +28,000 (+0.49%)
Minn +23,300 (+0.87%)
Iowa +18,100 (+1.22%)
Wis. -21,400 (-0.78%)

And now the chart going back to the start of Fitzwalkerstan in January 2011. Check out how Wisconsin fell off right after Act 10 was passed in Spring 2011, and stayed in the doldrums ever since. By the way 100= the January 2011 amount of jobs for each state.

So no matter how the J-S wants to spin and obfuscate, the numbers from the BLS that everyone else uses tells the truth- Wisconsin is bringing up the rear when it comes to creating jobs over the last 15 months, and the clear reason why is Scott Walker and the policies of the Wisconsin GOP. Because while the U.S. and the Midwest have all had to climb their way out of the Bush recession of the late 2000s, only one state has had that progress halted like Wisconsin.

You'd fire any CEO that had such a disastrous record after taking over a place that was holding its own (as Wisconsin did under Jim Doyle). Why wouldn't you do the same to Scott Walker on June 5?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scotty's a job-killer- the rest of the story

The April release of jobs info from the Wisconsin DWD has a few other interesting kinks to it, in addition to the obvious headline that is the continued failure of Scott Walker's policies (as outlined in the first part from earlier Thursday).

The first is where a huge amount of the revisions from March comes from. Now Scotty's TeaBag supporters might say the data isn't as bad as advertised, but the major reason that may be so is because of STATE GOVERNMENT JOBS BEING REVISED UP BY 6,600! And when compared with last year, Mr. "Small Government", Scott Walker has actually added 900 jobs to state government since Act 10 was passed in March 2011. It proves once and for all that Walker's not about cutting state government spending, he's just about cutting where that money goes (look at all the money he's giving away to the road builders).

Where government has been cut has been at the local level, by 10,500, and that's your cops, road workers, and teachers. And again, this is by design by the Walker boys, because the goal is to cut funding to local communities without giving them any way to make it up other than privatizing and cutting services, all while telling people that Walker's policies had nothing to do with it. The cynicism of such a move is beyond disgusting, but par for the course for an Administation that thinks the average Wisconsinite is a stupid as the average talk show listener.

Also worth mentioning is the drop in manufacturing jobs by 1,300 for April, which happened despite a nationwide increase in manufacturing jobs in the same month. This is especially concerning since Wisconsin is tied with Indiana for having the highest percentage of its jobs in manufacturing out of any state. But even in this important metric, Wisconsin lags behind the nation, with fewer jobs in the sector than there was before Walker's budget was signed in June, and that's while manufacturing has made a steady comeback under President Obama.

The other drop worth mentioning is the collapse in construction work, which is down by a seasonally-adjusted 6,000 jobs in the last 2 months (due to slower than usual seasonal hiring), and 7,300 since Act 10 was signed in March 2011. Hmm, you think that cutting the take-home pay of hundreds of thousands of public sector workers might put a crimp in the home-building and road-work market? Of course it does, and now you're seeing the results.

There are other sectors to go after in this report, including the slower-than-normal seasonal hiring in the "Hospitality" sectors (resulting in a seasonally-adjusted "loss" of 5,000 in April), which bodes poorly for the upcoming tourism season. But the bottom line is that the failure of Scott Walker's policies cut across numerous sectors, and it has rendered this Wisconsin austerity experiment as a setback that has hit this state in almost every corner. And unless we stop it on June 5, it'll only get worse.

P.S. Here's great work from UW Professor Menzie Chinn further showing how dreadful Walker's record truly is, and how BS his "new jobs metric?" is.