Are you doing all you can to protect your family’s…
Hillary Clinton defended her call to deport children from the U.S. who are fleeing violence in Central America.
Clinton, without any hesitation, abandoned migrant children seeking safety from violence. Her action has demonstrated for Latinos why we must not be tricked into voting for her.
Clinton said, “U.S. immigration authorities should focus on expediting the deportation cases of children and people locked in family detention.”
Clinton is pandering for the crazy people vote. She wants to show these people, most of whom want a wall built on the border, that she can be just as nasty as Donald Trump.
The Huffington Post, which notes that unaccompanied minors are generally not even placed in the detention centers Clinton is so concerned about, cites pro-immigrant non-profit RAICES, which likewise blasts Clinton for her call for expedited deportations of illegal minors.
Raices Executive Director Jonathan Ryan told HuffPost. “Whether it’s [Republican presidential candidate] Mr. [Donald] Trump or Mrs. Clinton, these knee-jerk statements don’t do anything to protect children, and they certainly don’t do anything to protect vulnerable refugees.”
Raices revealed that virtually every illegal immigrant minor they have represented (98%) were granted asylum by immigration authorities.
Well, I got news for Hillary Clinton, when the time to vote arrives, at the ballot will be Latinos voting for justice.
Yes! Vote Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary. What better way to show Clinton that we are strong and united against anyone who dares to use our community as a political tool or as a source of hatred.
Why Bernie Sanders? Because he was part of the Civil Rights Movement.
Latinos without a doubt, benefited from this movement.
Bernie Sanders has always been consistent, making right choices that protect humanity and preserve democracy.
Bernie Sanders has been consistently championing for issues that directly affect the Latino community.
With Bernie Sanders as president, America will once again understand that the president is elected to serve the people, he is not there to fall down to his knee first in front of corporate CEOs and begin licking their boots.
Bernie Sanders serves the people. He’s not about helping mega-corporations that don’t need help. Sanders does not pander to ignorant racist and he is not one to be hoodwinked either.
The challenge for the candidates is to strike the right balances between humanity and the rule of law. Bernie Sanders understands this better than all the other candidates running for president.
The 1992 presidential election comes to mind when thinking about our current presidential campaign. Back then George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton had to deal with a wacky uncontrollable billionaire by the name H. Ross Perot.
Perot then, much like Trump today, conducted unscripted rants that changed the nature of the campaign.
Ross Perot entered the race in February 1992. After leading through the entire month of June, he dropped out, dropped back in, and ultimately received the highest third-party vote share since 1912: a stunning 18.9 percent of the presidential vote.
Perot’s campaign set the tone for what will be debated. In setting that tone, Clinton and Bush were forced to address issues like the federal budget deficit — n issue they might not have discussed.
Because of Perot, Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich proposed the infamous Contract With America, a policy platform that ignored social issues in favor of political reform, including the sweeping changes to congressional process.
But, contrary to popular belief, Perot was not responsible for Clinton’s victory. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone, Perot’s appeal was nonpartisan. Voters flocked to him because he promised to fix the budget deficit both major parties got the country into, in addition too lost manufacturing jobs and a political process reserved for wealthy lobbyists. Sound familiar? Kind of sounds like Donald Trump, huh?
I see Trump, like Perot, as an equal-opportunity basher. After initially attacking immigrants, Hispanics, Wall Street, and his once favorite television network: FOX NEWS, Trump has been bashing women with just a much ignorance.
A recent Washington Post/ABC poll shows that in a three-way race, Trump increases Hillary Rodham Clinton’s edge over Jeb Bush to 16 percentage points from 6 percentage points in a two-way race.
And according to a recent Rasmussen poll, 1 in 5 Republicans say they are “very likely” to vote for a Trump-led third-party effort, while less than 10 percent of Democrats say the same.
Trump creating a third party is very likely if he does not get the GOP nomination. A Trump independent candidacy will hurt Republicans more than Democrats.
Trump’s signature issue is immigration. He, of course, favors a hardline approach, insisting without evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border. Unlike Perot’s emphasis on trade and the deficit, which drew support from both Republicans and Democrats, Trump’s talking points exploit a deep division not only within the Republican Party, but also within the nation on immigration.
Various news reports indicate that a third of Republicans, and half of the most active Republicans, do not support any path to citizenship. A comprehensive immigration reform bill (which has passed in the Senate and which Speaker John Boehner says is a top priority for the House) would further alienate anti-immigration Republicans from their party and further reinforce Trump’s appeal to the anti-immigrant conservative base.
With eight to 10 states up for grabs, and the Republican candidate quite possibly tethered to a comprehensive immigration reform bill — either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio would have trouble shedding a pro-immigration reform reputation — a Trump independent candidacy could do real damage to the GOP. If Trump attracted even 5 percent of the vote, he could decide the election in Clinton’s favor. No wonder Republicans are worried.
In recent articles, Scott Walker made the statements that, if elected, Hillary Clinton would be the “great deceiver” and that she can not be trusted.
Governor Scott Walker attempts to shift public attention from his deceptions, verbal manipulations and mismanagement of government. His actions have negatively affected Wisconsin.
What moral or ethical authority does Governor Scott Walker have to call someone deceptive when his behavior clearly shows that he continues to practice deception, corruption, and wrongdoing? Here are the examples — you judge for yourself.
1. Secret email system in Scott Walker’s office as Milwaukee County Executive. Walker says he never knew about its existence. Do you seriously believe that Walker did not know the existence of the secret email router in his office as Milwaukee County Executive during the 2010 gubernatorial election? Do you seriously believe that an IT audit of the Office of the Milwaukee County Executive Office never took place?
2. Promising 250,000 jobs as the main platform of his campaign for governor, but after becoming governor, changing the priorities to attacks on collective bargaining. Walker was able to gather support from many voters via continuously pledging his commitment to focus on generating 250,000 jobs in his first term as governor. The unions had already agreed to have the workers pay more for their HEALTH INSURANCE. Therefore, there was no need to tackle collective bargaining, since that was not a fiscal item. Two weeks after becoming Governor, Walker changed the entire agenda from jobs to curtailing collective bargaining for the specific purpose of achieving national notoriety, which shifted all focus away from job creation. The result? Wisconsin fell from 20th best in the nation to 40th worst in the nation — the fastest shrinking middle class in the nation; used $140 million to give to donors via Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the corrupt and mismanaged agency he created.
Do you really think that Governor Scott Walker did not know prior to becoming elected that he would change the agenda from jobs creation to achieving national public notoriety by attacking collective bargaining?
3. About that $140,000 million give-away to donors via WEDC: Scott Walker says he did not know about this. Do you really think Scott Walker did not know about how the loans and TAX credits were being given in a fraudulent manner when he was the Chair of the Board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, when he named the CEO and the members of the executive team, and when he had specific members of the governor’s office appointed to the WEDC office (Murray)?
4. Clear participation and lies in an attempt to GUT the Open Records law in Wisconsin: A public outcry prevented Walker and his fellow Republicans from gutting the Wisconsin Open Records Law to prevent public access to information, loans, emails, etc. He publicly indicated he was not involved,only to find out via that same law, which could not be changed, that Scott Walker and his office were seriously involved in the drafting of this attempt to GUT the Open Records Law. Can you still doubt his clear desire to cover corruption and wrongdoing in WEDC and other departments in government?
5. Bill Kramer’s sexual assault and pattern of drunkenness and abuse to WOMEN: For many years, Bill Kramer has been close to Walker and the Waukesha GOP establishment. Walker says they did not know about Kramer’s behavior. For a very long time, and WELL before the sexual assault incident occurred, it has been widespread knowledge in the Waukesha GOP about Bill Kramer’s pattern of drunkenness and open sexual innuendos towards women. Governor Scott Walker has known Bill Kramer for many years and had to have his support to rise in the Republican assembly. As a reasonable person, Do you really think that Walker was not aware of Bill Kramer’s behavior towards women?
Even over-extending all courtesies to Scott Walker, it becomes painfully obvious to a reasonable person that Walker not only knew about, but also that he has been involved directly in all of these corrupt activities. Walker has taken advantage of the goodwill of the people of Wisconsin via sophisticated deception, lies, corruption, and wrongdoing, and now he wants to bring this behavior to the national level. Is this the person that should be President or even continue to serve as Governor of Wisconsin?
Moderate Republicans, Independents, even hardline Republicans need to ask themselves these questions. It is clear that there is something seriously wrong with Walker’s thinking that deception, lies, corruption and wrongdoing at the expense of the Wisconsin family are right for all Americans.
Time Magazine 8/6/15 Fox News debate in Cleveland transcript below illustrates clearly the pipe dream that is Walkernomics:
CHRIS WALLACE: Governor Walker.
(APPLAUSE) Governor Walker, when you ran for governor of Wisconsin back in 2010, you promised that you would create 250,000 jobs in your first term, first four years. In fact, Wisconsin added barely half that and ranked 35th in the country in job growth. Now you’re running for president, and you’re promising an economic plan in which everyone will earn a piece of the American dream.
Given your record in Wisconsin, why should voters believe you?
SCOTT WALKER: Well, the voters in Wisconsin elected me last year for the third time because they wanted someone who aimed high, not aimed low.
Before I came in, the unemployment rate was over eight percent. It’s now down to 4.6 percent. We’ve more than made up for the jobs that were lost during the recession. And the rate in which people are working is almost five points higher than it is nationally.
You know, people like Hillary Clinton think you grow the economy by growing Washington. One report last year showed that six of the top 10 wealthiest counties in America were in or around Washington, D.C.. I think most of us in America understand that people, not the government creates jobs. And one of the best things we can do is get the government out of the way, repeal Obamacare, put in — reign in all the out of control regulations, put in place and all of the above energy policy, give people the education, the skills that the need to succeed, and lower the tax rate and reform the tax code. That’s what I’ll do as president, just like I did in Wisconsin.”
First, Walker won his recall because the fundamental idea of a recall is to remove elected officials from office who committed acts while in office that are corrupt.
For example, recalling Alberta Darling and her accomplices Vos and Fitzgerald for their attempt to gut open records would be an appropriate recall action.
Doing a recall against an elected official because you do not agree with his or her policy is not an effective recall action. Walker was able to win because many of Wisconsin’s voters did not agree with the notion that recalling Walker for implementing ACT 10 was justification for his removal.
Second, Walker won his election over Mary Burke because Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) under former chair Mike Tate did not do the best job of getting out the vote, and because Tate rammed Burke as the Democratic candidate, ignoring the democratic process.
Tate failed because he caused many to question the manner in which Burke was chosen to be the Democratic contender, causing many voters to turn away from supporting her. He also failed to use DNC resources effectively to help get out the vote. DNC could have come to Wisconsin in full force to beat Walker, but did not. Why not?
Third, Walker has demonstrated clearly that tax breaks and deregulation do not work under Walkernomics.
Walker was just giving away money to corporations that were dying and had no commitment to creating new jobs.
His failure is simple. When providing grants or loans to corporations, Walkernomics failed to establish strong connection to innovation and job creation.
The money should have been tied to internal company alignments that ensured innovations led to the creation of new jobs. None of that was done.
Finally, obfuscation plays a big role in Walkernomics. What Walker fails to say is that, by definition, the unemployment rate does not count people who have given up looking for work, people who return to college or education or people who simply left the labor market. If all of those people were counted in the present stagnant job growth in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin unemployment rate would likely be higher.
Walkernomics is all about sophistry, obfuscation, policies of tax breaks, deregulation and corporate welfare, all ingredients that would destroy America’s economy.
As more and more information comes forward regarding Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), it is without question that Walker’s allies continue to look for ways to stop the bleeding and embarrassment that WEDC has caused.
The GOP once touted its resolve to be a fighter and protector of taxpayers. They vowed to fight against waste, fraud and corruption in government. But after news reports of WEDC loans being given without proper oversight, companies using those loans to buy luxury cars, companies receiving WEDC support while shipping JOBS OVERSEAS, and companies going under yet given loans anyway, in addition to companies failing to produce JOBS after receiving WEDC money, Republican leaders have resorted to desperate attempts to stop the political damage by initiating an effort to change the open records laws, and are now trying to remove elected representatives from being members of the WEDC board of directors. Clearly they have something to hide.
A corrupt core of GOP leaders have taken the GOP away from its marketing brand of being professionals who can balance the budget to create jobs, to prevent tax increases and to give tax breaks aligned to job creation for the purpose of CREATING JOBS. Obviously, these goals are no longer are the creed of the GOP.
Fat Cat Wannabes
What they have become is what Walker has created. A mob of fat cat wannabes waiting their chance for a fat PAYCHECK. And they’re perfectly happy to allow Walker to do what he’s done to Wisconsin to be replicated to the rest of the nation.
Walker’s failure to create prosperity, jobs and government accountability in Wisconsin is to be rewarded by placing him in the running for president of the United States?
Do the GOP principles as interpreted by Walker meet the GOP cornerstone of prosperity? No! Did he increase the middle class? No. He failed.
He failed because he did not work for the citizens of Wisconsin. He worked for himself and he used all of us in the process.
From scrapping light rail to backstabbing the Kenosha CASINO deal, Walker has been working for Walker at the expense of Wisconsin families.
Is this truly what the GOP stands for? Killing prosperity? Killing jobs? Killing Wisconsin’s middle class?
It is clear that the GOP vision for Wisconsin is not a vision created by Wisconsinites, but more of a vision created by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
ALEC is imposing their vision of our future on all of us. Walker works for ALEC. Walker and his allies do not work for Wisconsin. If they did, they never would have thought to destroy our state resolve to keep government accountable by attempting to GUT our open records law.
The Republican Party is awash in self-serving, anti-Wisconsin moneychangers who are only interested in their individual future, not our children’s, our families’ and our state’s.
As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker seeks the GOP nomination for President of the United States, he would like to use what he has done in Wisconsin as a real example of what he would do as President. But what Walker wants to show you, and what Walker has done, are two entirely different things.
Walker’s ECONOMIC SECURITY plan fell apart when he decided to follow political agendas that do not generate JOBS, increase incomes or expand the middle class.
Ask yourself: “Is this the person you want in the White House?”
1. WISCONSIN EMPLOYMENT 38th WORST IN USA IN 2014 — WAS 20TH BEST IN 2010: Walker not only failed to fulfill his promise of creating 250,000 JOBS IN his first term, Wisconsin now ranks 38th worst in the nation and last in the Midwest.
SEE AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF:
Question: Do you really think that, under Walker ‘s leadership, the US will have more jobs for its people?
2. INCOME FALLS FOR AVERAGE WISCONSIN HOUSEHOLD AND WISCONSIN MIDDLE CLASS SHRINKING FASTEST IN NATION: July 21, 2015, Walker claimed that Wisconsin’s median household income was +2.7%. This was rated MOSTLY FALSE by PolitiFact: http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2015/jul/27/scott-walker/scott-walker-says-under-his-leadership-incomes-are/ The reality is that the figures show that, under Walker’s leadership, state household incomes have fallen, even after accounting for inflation. http://host.madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/report-wisconsin-worst-in-nation-on-shrinking-middle-class/article_f802788b-2405-5e5f-9fe3-522939779911.html
QUESTION: Do you seriously think that under Walker’s leadership the US will experience rising incomes and better quality of life for its people?
3. WALKER SUPPORTS CORRUPT AND SHADY PRACTICES AT WEDC: Since 2011, the Wisconsin Economic Development Agency (WEDC) created by Walker, chaired by Walker, and run by Walker’s key executive choices working at his pleasure, has squandered at least $140 million in loans and tax CREDITS to many companies — including donor owners, without following even the most basic underwriting rules and WITHOUT CREATING JOBS. One former donor used the money to pay off a Maserati. No wonder Wisconsin ranks 38th worst in the nation in JOB CREATION. Walker now wants to distance himself from the agency by having the legislature remove him as the chair.
SEE AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF:
QUESTION: Do you seriously think Walker did not know about the inappropriate loans and credits going out to donors when everyone reports to him and his appointees? Who knows what other things the public does not know? The standard should be that, if you did not know, you should have known…hence no matter what, Walker is responsible.
4. WALKER’S MEDIOCRE ECONOMIC POLICY: Walker’s economic policy is mediocre at best. This is because:
a. General tax breaks were approved without conditions or alignment to job creation in the hope that the private sector would generate jobs that were NEVER REALIZED (Wisconsin 38th worst in the nation in job creation)
b. WEDC approved loans without following underwriting guidelines and with corrupt and shady practices
c. Complete lack of alignment between WEDC and Workforce Development, Transportation, Housing, Social Services, etc.
d. Property tax reductions had minimal impact on households and on increased consumption ($300m total — about $10 per household)
e. Lower revenue collections due to unmet JOB CREATION goals
f. Walker has postponed debt payments in the amount of $300 million so he can BALANCE the latest budget..leaving the people in Wisconsin holding the bag!
g. Lack of understanding that a strong economy is a matter of economic SECURITY
h. At the root is Walker’s PERSONAL AND MENTAL inability to focus on the right priorities instead of following political agendas that SHOULD have generated JOBS, increased incomes and expanded the middle class
i. WALKER’S MEDIOCRE ECONOMIC POLICY RESULTS: WISCONSIN IS 38TH WORST IN THE NATION IN JOB CREATION, INCOMES ARE FALLING, MIDDLE CLASS IS SHRINKING FASTEST IN NATION
SEE AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF:
QUESTION: Do you seriously think that under Scott Walker’s leadership the US will experience rising incomes and better quality of life for its people – business owners, middle class or workers?
QUESTION: Do you really think that under Scott Walker‘s leadership the US will have more JOBS for its people — business owners, middle class or workers?
Do you think that Republican values as applied by Walker will generate jobs, prosperity, safety and security?
As Scott Walker announces a run for the White House, the sleaze and incompetence of his office have become obvious to the public, causing many questions to arise.
The Republican Party’s open records tampering failed. The failed initiative was followed by another taxpayer give-away article published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the hands of Walker’s corporatestein monster, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
The corporate monster WEDC took another hit after it was reported that WEDC lent $1.2 million to a businessman who had a history of troubled finances.
Just last week, Scott Fitzferald stated to the media that Walker and his office were directly involved in the drafting of the proposed changes to the Open Records Law. But Walker is not one for taking a fall. To take focus away from his own reason why he would like to see the Wisconsin open records law changed, Walker told conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes on WTMJ-AM that the idea didn’t come from him. Interesting. Walker did not initiate the removal of the open records changes from the budget until all hell broke loose from the political left and right.
What many people have not realized is that, if the changes to the Open Records Law had taken place, information pertaining to the corruption and incompetence at WEDC would have been difficult if not impossible to obtain. Could the WEDC information still criminally implicate Scott Walker? For sure it will be a topic of discussion among the GOP presidential candidates. Unfortunately for Walker, his hope to keep WEDC secrets secret slipped past him shortly after the effort to change the open records law was exposed.
The timing of this attempt to overhaul Wisconsin open records law, it can be argued, was about slowing down that WEDC avalanche now picking up steam and threatening his presidential aspirations, and potentially implicating him in corruption practices.
The twists and turns and the finger pointing around the open records story clearly indicate positioning by those in the know that a WEDC explosion is coming, and they all want plausible deniability from its backlash.
Since its inception, and until recently, Scott Walker had been the Chairman of WEDC Board; he named the CEO, and the key executive team, and it was pretty clear that as far as WEDC, not much got done in the Walker administration without first being vetted and approved by the Scott Walker team.
The tampering of open records appears to be an effort to ease the anxiety of officials caught in the middle of the WEDC mess. But it failed and now fellow Republicans are trying to distance themselves from being labeled conspirators in an attempt to keep the truth about WEDC from the public. What the public does not know is that those legislative changes do not even take place without being first approved by the governor. But the public outcry and appearance of corruption was too great for Walker to ignore.
Prior to the new WEDC loan development reported recently in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker was telling a different story about how the idea of changing Wisconsin’s open records law came about. His administration’s attempt to point at others flew in the face of the fact that it was reported that a Walker spokeswoman stated the governor’s office was involved in the open records overhaul effort. But all that seems to not matter as the governor’s posse pointed out that a number of Republican legislators came forward with the idea and asked for the governor’s involvement.
According to the former WEDC chief, Paul Jadin the agency was a mess.
Jadin said in an interview with Madison WTAQ 1360 radio in May of 2013 that “All of the processes, particularly underwriting and tracking (were a mess). As we started to receive these internal reviews, we learned what we were doing was not acceptable and obviously that had to change,” said Jadin. “We knew there was an issue. I asked just about every week, ‘Bring me the loan portfolio. Bring me our balances on economic development tax credits, job tax credits’; I’d get assurances that that information was coming. And instead of getting a report when I demanded it, I’d get a resignation from a comptroller.”
Paul Jadin left WEDC in November of 2012 to take on a position as President of Thrive, an eight-county regional economic development partnership in south central Wisconsin. He may have left WEDC a couple of years ago, but recent reports by the Wisconsin State Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding suspicious WEDC LOANS have revealed that loans to suspect corporations were approved during his time as the agency CEO under Scott Walker’s oversight.
Who authorized the release of these loans and why, were the questions I posed to Paul Jadin by telephone. My interview with him was brief, but that was only because I had specific questions I wanted a yes or no answer to.
Asked was why WEDC released $500,000 to a company that showed no solvency, Jadin’s response was telling. He said that he recalled that former Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch and Former Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes approached him seeking to get $3.8 million dollars on top of the $500,000 for the Building Committee, Inc. When pressed to explain why Huebsch sought the extra millions of dollars, Jadin responded by simply saying Huebsch would have to answer that question.
Jadin said for his part, he was against the request, but would not elaborate any further. What people may not be aware of is that actions by Mike Huebsch and Keith Gilkes, as the righthand of the governor, are assumed to have the approval of the governor, so it stands to reason why Jadin let the loan fly.
Ex-WEDC chief Paul Jadin told me: “I have no recollection speaking with the Governor about the Building Committee, Inc.” I then asked Jadin if he was ordered by the governor to release the loan to the Building Committee, Inc. Jadin said that he and the governor would speak about loans to corporations totaling more than a million dollars, but that he did not recollect a discussion with the governor about the Building Committee, Inc. Hmmm…
Governor Walker and Jadin knew WEDC was already a mess…Why did Walker allow funds to be released to these companies in the first place? Especially to those recipients who were/are campaign donors of his.
Scott Walker will most likely attempt to portray to the public that people at WEDC were acting unilaterally without his knowledge, just like he’s using the legislators in relation to the changes to the Open Records law. And the same kind of response he made to the public about a secret email system in his Milwaukee County office. At the very best, it is all incompetence by Walker and, at worst, there may be criminal behavior by him as the person in charge and his subordinates acting under his direction, using WEDC to leverage political support.
Nevertheless, like the outcry that occurred which prevented the open law records changes, the public must demand a full criminal inquiry into WEDC and hold Scott Walker acountable for its mishaps. In all likelihood, the irregularities about the Building Committee, Inc. and other corporations at WEDC are just the tip of the iceberg.
The Mother Jones report: “Scott Walker’s Office Was Part of a Sneaky Effort to Keep His Records Private” link is below. It seems clear that this action, to tamper with Wisconsin’s open records law, comes on the heels of several news reports published in media outlets all over Wisconsin highlighting a loan given to a failing corporation without staff review. Reports indicate that taxpayer money was used by the Building Committee Inc. to pay for luxury cars including a Maserati.
The link below is to an article in which it gives a quote by Paul Jadin, once a key WEDC administrator who left the agency not long after its creation.
The quote is clearly a smoking gun statement directly from Jadin’s mouth.
“All of the processes, particularly underwriting and tracking. As we started to receive these internal reviews, we learned what we were doing was not acceptable and obviously that had to change,” said Jadin. “We knew there was an issue. I asked just about every week, ‘Bring me the loan portfolio. Bring me our balances on economic development tax credits, job tax credits’; I’d get assurances that that information was coming. And instead of getting a report when I demanded it, I’d get a resignation from a controller.”
Clearly Jadin must be brought to a state hearing and asked directly whether or not he was ordered by Governor Scott Walker to give the Building Committee, Inc., or any other corporation (s) loans without staff review/underwrite.
The timeline below was provided to me by State Senator Lena Taylor, who released it upon my request. It is telling indeed and clearly shows WEDC operated without financial protocols. The fact that no financial checks and balances where established put WEDC staff at risk for releasing funds without proper authority and protocols, freeing Walker of responsibility.
Only Paul Jadin can tell us now why was the loan released and if he was ordered by Walker to release the loan to the Building Committee, Inc., and/or to any other corporation (s) in similar circumstances.
Timeline of major WEDC issues:
May- A Wisconsin State Journal investigative report finds:
Serious open records concerns with a Building Committee Inc. loan… The required loan paperwork appears to be missing or never existed.
Potentially fraudulent actions on the part of the business owner who appears to have falsified forms in order to SECURE a state loan.
Serious questions about the role of some of Governor Walker’s top advisors – then-DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch, Governor Walker’s campaign manager Keith Gilkes, and others who may have influenced WEDC to give out a loan to a major campaign contributor.
Rep. Barca and Sen. Lassa ask U.S. Attorney General to investigate violations of federal law including fraud, pay to play, contributions in the name of another and theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.
May- The Legislative Audit Bureau issues another scathing report that indicates:
WEDC did not consistently follow state law or its own policies when making awards.
WEDC did not require grant and loan recipients to submit information showing that jobs were actually created or retained.
WEDC maintained a $15.6 M unassigned fund balance, which was larger than necessary.
WEDC awarded tax credits without verifying the accuracy of information submitted by businesses.
WEDC did not report clear, accurate and complete information on numbers of jobs created and retained as a result of its programs.
April- Outsourcing: Eaton Corporation (a global power systems management corporation) announced layoffs due to outsourcing—twice—after receiving taxpayer help from WEDC. It received nearly $370,000 in tax incentives from WEDC since 2012 and is shipping jobs from Wisconsin to Mexico for the second time in three years.
September- Personnel WEDC’s VP of Business and Industry Development resigned saying COO Ryan Murray is “causing deep and lasting harm” at WEDC. The VP, Lee Swindall, rescinded his resignation a couple days later.
WEDC has had problems with turnover of top staff. Had Swindall left, he would have been the third VP to leave this year.
WEDC’s own internal reports found a 25% turnover – three times higher than other state agencies (versus 7–10% at the State of WI overall) WEDC’s consultant found that the #1 cause of turnover is inconsistent messaging and management style.
May- One Wisconsin Now reports that nearly 60 percent of the FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE money awarded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has gone to businesses whose owners or employees have donated money to the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) or the Republican Governors Association (RGA).
May- The Legislative Audit Bureau issues a startling report that WEDC violated state law in at least six ways including making awards to ineligible recipients for ineligible projects and for amounts that exceeded specified limits. It unveiled a huge range of issues including WEDC had no policies for handling delinquent loans, no policies for employee purchases and did not have adequate records to assess its effectiveness in creating jobs.
October- A national report by GOOD JOBS First sites WEDC as an example of the problems that have been caused around the country by quasi-private economic development corporations and that oversight of taxpayer resources in an inherent problem with this model.
June– During the bidding process for a statewide computer system, the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) found out that WEDC pre-empted the process by making a “soft offer” for tax credits to a business. Upon discovery, DOA had to suspend the bidding process and WEDC had to rescind the TAX CREDIT offer as it violated what should be a fair and competitive process.
July– The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that WEDC was projected to spend $14 million more than it was allotted, creating a deficit in the agency.
August– The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development criticized WEDC for not following federal laws and state policies, when it gave out $9.6 million in grants. The situation intensified as WEDC’s board and the public were not told about the condemning letter causing one of the board members to threaten resignation.
September– After the Governor appointed his young aide Ryan Murray, a Republican political operative with no private-sector or economic development experience, as Deputy Secretary and COO, WEDC’s CEO and Secretary Paul Jadin announced his resignation.
October– WEDC announced after a Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing that it had lost track of $69.3 million in loans, at least $9 million of which were overdue. Because of the hasty transformation from DOC to WEDC, no one was assigned to tracking this huge loan portfolio.
December- Schenck Audit shoes financial transactions were either not recorded or improperly recorded throughout the year and went undetected by WEDC
December- the Financial Institutions Products Corporation (FIPCO) Report says WEDC was “created quickly with an incomplete infrastructure.”
Source: Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor
Was the attempt to tamper with the open records law a diversion to pass other laws? Or was it a real effort to prevent more information about WEDC from coming out? Who gave the order to Jadin to release $500,000 to the Building Committee, Inc.?
Last Minute Effort By Governor Walker Posse to Undermine Open Records – Democracy
What does Governor Scott Walker and his posse have to worry about? What are they trying to hide?
This past week the State Republicans tried to sneak in a rider amendment to gut Wisconsin’s OPEN records law as lawmakers prepared to pass the biannual state budget. The rider amendment basically would have prevented the public from accessing documents the public is entitled to review to ensure our government is operating cleanly.
The last minute effort was thwarted however when grass roots groups from liberal and conservative sides of the political arena raised objection in unison. Not only did the public come out in force to stop this sneaky anti-democratic action, Republican law makers and Wisconsin’s Republican attorney general cried foul.
Who introduced this rider? Turns out that was a secret as well. Apparently, no one wants to claim authorship of this attempt to block the public from obtaining documents from the government.
Since the public outcry coming from the political left and the right scared boss Walker and the rest of Wisconsin’s Tammany Hall bunch, boss Walker was forced to come out publicly and declare that the rider was pulled from the budget legislation and no longer will the open records law be tampered with.
But this should not be the end of this matter. Not by a long shot.
It seems to me that time has come to turn up the heat on the WEDC scandal and put some focus on the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) as well.
First, the WEDC wound needs to be poked so that the pain from the puss underneath the surface of that agency’s obfuscation can be felt by boss Walker and his cohort. I’ve said before, going after former WEDC director Paul Jadin and making him appear at a hearing to ADDRESS questions under oath should be pressed for aggressively. He is key to informing the public if boss Walker or Straw boss Mike Huebsch, former Secretary of Administration, gave the order to release $500,000 to the Building Committee, Inc., or to any other undeserving corporations.
A review of the checks and BALANCES procedures/protocols focusing on who signs off on WEDC checks and releases them for approval should be reviewed or audited. Were sound financial protocols in place that could have prevented the release of tens of millions of tax dollars in LOANS etc., to suspect corporation(s)?
Second, WEDC and DWD should have been aligned to support each other to produce the kind of jobs creating pipe dream boss Walker promised. Were these two jobs agencies even coordinating together?
Where did all the money go that DWD received to TRAIN workers and then land them jobs?
Wisconsin’s poor jobs creating performance clearly demands that a comprehensive audit of DWD be conducted to account. The poor jobs showing for all that money spent at DWD and the questionable WEDC loans to companies that were supposed to create jobs is at best poorly managed or at worst orchestrated for the enrichment of greedy CEO’s
The attempt to undermine Wisconsin’s open records law is clearly an act of desperation.
The question is whether this action was done to limit the political damage Walker will face during his run for president of the United States.
Clearly Walker’s political allies are not happy with this attempt to wipe out the open records law. Even Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch, husband to Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, took offense to this latest effort to attack democracy.
Governor Walker knows the magnitude of his administration’s CORRUPTION and committed an act of desperation to curtail the damage by attempting to change open records.
WEDC, DWD, DOC and other state agencies that contract out have a story to tell that Walker does not want told.
Who are the corporations getting those contracts? Is there a pattern where these corporations benefitted from their contributions to his campaign? Are there other Building Committee, Inc., examples? Walker knows he has to stop the facts from getting out during his presidential campaign.
WEDC is Walker’s Achilles heel. It is the STEPPING stone to getting these facts. It is the starting point from which Wisconsin can save itself and at the same time maybe prevent the world from inheriting our ghost.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has a hot mess on his hands. His signature jobs making Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, or WEDC, has become an albatross riding along a repo man sought Maserati.
But before we indulge on the notion that we too can possibly have Wisconsin taxpayers buy each of us a Maserati, allow me to bring you up to speed on what WEDC is and why you should PAY attention to what can be potentially Governor Scott Walker’s biggest scandal to date.
WEDC was created in 2011 by Governor Walker who decided to replace the Wisconsin Department of Commerce with the WEDC. Why did he do this? Well, Walker, who promised that he would create 250,000 jobs in the state his first term in office, created WEDC to HELP him achieve that lofty goal.
But as anticipated by those who saw Walker’s action as nothing more than a pipe dream, Walker did not reach his goal of 250,000 promised jobs.
However WEDC, the agency that was supposed to help Walker create jobs instead created a hot mess for Walker I had previously hinted at.
What did Walker’s WEDC achieve, well in May 2013 an audit from the Legislative Audit Bureau reported at the time that WEDC had troubles it could not ignore. The audit found that between 2011 and 2013, WEDC gave out $124.4 million in awards to various corporations without a formal review by staff or underwriters. Underwriters? You know, the people you wait to hear from that tell you to either hit the road or welcome to the party after you apply for a HOME LOAN.
But don’t get your undies in a bunch. Walker it seems was clever enough to not set up fiscal checks and BALANCES procedures when he created WEDC. Checks and balances?! Who needs stinking checks and balances!?
Indeed, our Governor had things set up so nicely that at the time WEDC was christened, WEDC didn’t mandate staff reviews of awards it was giving out because the awards it seems were all approved by the agency’s bipartisan WEDC board of Directors.
Hmmm….you say! Yes, I say.
This amateurish administrative blunder allowed for awards to go to companies that sat on the brink of ruin. For example, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS) reported that a Milwaukee based company called Building Committee Inc. got a $500,000 loan after falsely saying it hadn’t been sued for five years. The MJS found that this company did default on a loan and later dissolved. But here’s the nugget that caught the attention of political pundits who don’t SUPPORT Walker, the company’s owner had given $10,000 to Walker’s first gubernatorial campaign. BINGO!
But wait a minute! This rabbit hole gets even more interesting. Turns out that Walker’s team pushed very hard to get the Building Committee, Inc. this loan so that the owner of the company, the guy who gave Walker $10,000 campaign donation, can keep his precious Maserati and several other luxury cars.
Since this revelation, reports from newspapers all over the state have published that WEDC did not formally review over 25 other loans totaling over $123 million dollars. Wow!
Imagine you being able to walk into a BANK. No money. In bankruptcy. About to go under. You then see an opportunity. Find $10,000 (LMAO). Donate that money to Scott Walker’s campaign for president and WHAALA! You’re approved for a WEDC loan to spend the money as you please. Oh! By the way! That string tied to the loan reminding you that that money is supposed to be for creating jobs, well, that’s just a technicality.
Hey! Don’t worry about it!
Well, lucky for Wisconsin taxpayers two Democratic members of the WEDC Board of Directors are not biting the line–“move on folks! There’s nothing to see here”.
In fact, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) called for a full investigation at WEDC and have requested the assistance of Attorney General Brad Schimel in facilitating the release of full records and documentation on any unsecured WEDC loans, WEDC loans issued over concerns of underwriters, or WEDC loans where underwriting documentation is missing or was not complete.
Scott Walker’s failed flagship jobs agency gave out over $123 million worth of taxpayer-funded economic development assistance without review or approval of an underwriter.
And what did Wisconsin taxpayers get BACK for the Building Committee, Inc. and all the other companies who received loans without and formal review?
A lousy 2,100 jobs, were actually created as a result of the awards provided to the over 24 companies that got $124 million dollars curtesy of Walker’s corporate welfare PROGRAM known as WEDC.
Pathetic puts all this mildly.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) released a statement that concluded:
“Instead of again misleading the public, we would rather WEDC and the Governor focus their energies on quickly getting us all the records we requested – including any awards they made over the objections of underwriters, Community Development Block Grant ACTIVITY under WEDC and now the Department of Administration, and details of loans under $200,000 that were approved without staff review.”
Hey Governor! We are worried about it!
A few weeks ago Milwaukee media blew up the town with news reports bellowing the narrative that a plan eliminating chronic homelessness in Milwaukee County in three years is being implanted by our local government officials.
Some call the plan “ambitious” and some label it “fantastical”, the goal to coordinate a collaborative strategy by county and city officials is sound and should be supported by the community, especially the business community.
I met with Health and Human Services Director for Milwaukee County, Hector Colon to talk about the plan.
Our meeting came about after a few Facebook exchanges highlighting what I felt was a flaw in the plan.
After reading a report published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS), this part of the story raised a red flag I could not ignore.
The MJS report stated: “The community prosecutor would help identify homeless people and panhandlers in downtown and differentiate between those who need help and those committing criminal activity, said Kent Lovern, Milwaukee County chief deputy district attorney”.
After agreeing to meet with me I met with Colon at his office where he shared information regarding not only what he was doing to end chronic homelessness, and also what was going on at the Health and Human Service.
Colon is without question enthusiastic, knowledgable and ambitious. I mean that in a good way.
Colon’s work at HHS is guided by the influence of the Milwaukee County Executive. As long as Colon moves forward with Milwaukee County Executive Abele vision, Colon should have no trouble being successful transforming HHS into a top rate quasi-government operation over seeing much of the services its corporate and non-profit partners will be contracted by the County to do.
Getting back to the proposal to end chronic homelessness. Colon informs me that he is tasked with ensuring that 300 individuals defined as “chronically homeless” are no longer chronically homeless. He said it’s the moral thing to do and it saves the County money and resources. Good cause for getting people off the street who have been homeless for a long time.
Colon stated the annual $1.8 million cost of the program would come from reallocation of already existing funds, largely rental assistance funds, which includes $900,000 from the county and about $900,000 from the city and its Housing Authority.
I get it. Yes, the plan is sound and doable. However, that part where “…The community prosecutor would help identify homeless people and panhandlers in downtown and differentiate between those who need help and those committing criminal activity…” still troubled me.
I asked Colon what did the plan have in place to prevent a racial disparity gap between those who got help, and those being sent to jail. Was there any data being gathered? What internal check and balance was being employed to ensure racial parity?
Colon assured me that data gathering was being developed in order to prevent such issues from happening.
Colon went on to say that collecting such data is important to be able to identify if in fact homeless people are being treated differently based on race when their circumstances appear similar.
Well, this is Milwaukee where racial inequality, racial profiling, black unemployment is double white counter-parts, the jail and House of Correction is housing more blacks and Hispanics and blacks are the most disproportionately counted as homeless in the county, leads me to be skeptical.
But without real data in hand, all one can do is highlight this concern to the people behind this plan and wait to see if in fact they collect the data and truly seek to achieve the racial parity that is needed to make this a truly successful effort.
Indeed, there is a real effort on paper to help our most needed. There is a commitment by County Executive Abele, Dir. Hector Colon and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to do the moral right and improve the quality of life for many of the homeless in this community.
Nevertheless, the jury is still out on whether or not this is going to be a round up of black and hispanic homeless people ending up in the big house, instead of their own house.
Walker’s WEDC Debacle Needs Aggressive Pursuit for Accountability
This past week, newly elected Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairwoman Martha Laning stepped into the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) imbroglio by sending a letter to Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel officially asking that he do his job and release the official WEDC records in order for the public to see firsthand what damage has been done to the wallet of Wisconsin’s taxpayers.
The letter by Laning is the first real aggressive action DPW has initiated against Walker, who has enjoyed cupcake responses by DPW in the past few years, for his administration’s destructive policies that have sent Wisconsin into a whirlwind of debt, which Wisconsin’s children and grandchildren will have to pay unless more actions like this continue.
Laning’s letter follows the demands by Democrats State Representative Peter Barca and State Senator Julie M. Lassa, both members of WEDC board, who acted responsibly to demand WEDC records but have yet to have their demands met. Why? What is Governor Walker hiding?
WEDC, a state corporate welfare agency in Wisconsin created by Scott Walker and supported by Republicans of the Wisconsin State Legislature, has repeatedly been in the news giving corporations LOANS to support CEOs who clearly should have not received WEDC LOANS that Wisconsin taxpayers will sooner or later have to pay for.
Laning is now putting pressure on the Walker administration, and it’s about time.
Clearly Wisconsin taxpayers are experiencing an injustice if Schimel ignores Laning’s letter and refuses to comply with federal and state laws.
In addition, why not demand a letter from former Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch stating that, during his tenure as SOA, under no circumstances, was there any malfeasance on his part to provide loans to failing corporations, including “The Building Committee Inc.”
As stated in an article published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Paul Jadin, the former head of WEDC, said Minahan and then-Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch pushed for a $4.3 million LOAN, but the agency couldn’t justify more than $500,000 — which Jadin said he considered ‘fairly risky.’”
Paul Jadin it seems would be a likely individual to bring to a legislative committee to further inquire as to whether or not Jadin was directed to provide a WEDC LOAN to The Building Committee. In fact, Jadin, during such a legislative committee hearing should make it clear as to whether or not he was directed by Governor Walker or Walker’s appointed administrative watch dogs, former SOA Mike Huebsch and his Chief of Staff Keith Giles, to provide any other corporation a WEDC loan under similar nefarious circumstances.
Further, an independent audit should also be requested by the Department of Workforce Development focusing on the number of jobs created and how many have been made permanent.
Finally, former SOA Mike Huebsch should resign from his current post at the Public Service Commission (PSC). His abrupt exile as SOA to the PSC raises an eyebrow of suspicion as to why he was demoted by Walker. Clearly WEDC has more CORRUPT pieces to the puzzle than what has been reported so far. Having Mike Huebsch continue on as a member of the PSC taints the position he currently holds.
To be sure, this is Wisconsin! There is no room for Tammany Hall like politricks at our state Capitol. Schimel must do the right thing. He must do his duty and force the release of WEDC PUBLIC RECORDS so that the full facts of what has taken place at WEDC can be known. In doing so, the wheels of justice can turn so that the mistrust and bitterness many of Wisconsin’s taxpayers have for our government can finally be reversed.
The Wisconsin Democratic convention was held this past weekend. The biggest excitement for the Democrats was the election of a new leader to step in and steer the party towards a new path that would lead to victories in the Wisconsin Assembly, Senate and reclaiming the Governor’s office.
This year Democratic Party delegates voted for Martha Laning to lead the party forward. Laning of Plymouth received just over half of the voting delegates’ votes. She will be in this position for the next two years.
During the convention a gubernatorial straw poll was featured. The straw poll revealed over twenty six candidates receiving votes from 511 individuals who decided to participate in the straw poll. The straw poll is an informal unscientific poll which asked Democrats attending the convention who would they like to see run for governor. The straw poll was conducted by Wispolitics.com
The winner of the straw poll was State Senator Kathleen Vinehout of Alma, Wisconsin receiving 149 from the 511 individuals who decided cast a vote (29.16%).
Those who came in second and third place were: State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse – 89 (17.42%) and 3rd – U.S. Representative Ron Kind of La Crosse – 85 (16.63%).
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a former candidate for governor received one (1) vote. To be fair, there were others who received 1 vote including Congress Woman Gwen Mooreand Mayor John Dickert of Racine. In all, a total of 11 of the 26 potential candidates received one vote.
The Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin will not be in effect for at least another three and a half years, which is a good thing for Mayor Barrett if he’s seriously thinking of running for governor again.
Abele is proposing aggressive Feudalist type tax collection tactics against indigent tax payers living in Milwaukee County in order to collect revenue needed to build Billionaire owners a stadium so that millionaire basketball players of the Milwaukee Bucks have a palace to play in.
The County Executive, who ironically announced recently that he would be spending $1.8 million annually to end chronic homelessness, makes it clear now why he is spending that money on the homeless initiative, he’ll obviously have to address growing homelessness in Milwaukee County once he starts shaking down indigent seniors and poor people for money he needs to off the Milwaukee Bucks stadium.
A key part of the proposed plan to create a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks calls for Milwaukee County tax collectors to go after “uncollected” debt owed Milwaukee County to generate $80 million the proposal seeks to help pay towards the new stadium.
According to Milwaukee County Budget Director Steven Kreklow, the county is owed $120 million as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Don Behm. Mmmm…so County Executive Abele did not collect this may to provide decent health care services for the elderly and poor, or address homelessness sooner, but we sure can collect the money owed now to pay for a basketball arena.
Well, can’t say the County Executive lacks vision. He clearly sees a future where more Milwaukee County residents will be joining the homeless ranks. I wonder if he was able to see that coming from his skybox seat during a Bucks game recently?
Rae represents the destructive forces using the Democratic Party of Wisconsin as a cash cow. Rae represents a desperate attempt by those holding power now to keep control of the DPW.
These are the same networks that have done nothing but loss democratic campaigns Under the failed leadership of out going DPW Chair Mike Tate, who is also supporting and pushing for Rae to win.
Rae is not the person for the job. While I don’t have issues with the Gay community, in fact, the issues I have with the Gay community are more political and economic than homophobic, Rae is the first to respond to critical views of him with the your homophobic response. With such a threat ready to be levied against anyone who questions his work, who would be willing to challenge some of the things he does? As one progressive blogger put it, “…he thinks that people shouldn’t question him or candidates that the Democratic establishment supports, which is a textbook example of a royalist mindset”.
Martha Laning on the other hand is more down to Earth. Her interviews on radio and her efforts to outreach into the central city of Milwaukee are actions that prove her to be sincere in her efforts to do what needs to be done to regain the legislator in democratic hands.
Martha Lanings values is being provided. I believe these words from her. It is because of these words and her actions I ask Latino democrat delegates to vote for Martha Laning.
Martha Laning Values:
From Martha Laning: I believe being a Democrat and a progressive should be one and the same.
While many people talk about the challenges facing our state, I have taken action. I have demonstrated my ability to deliver concrete outcomes that reflect my values, such as the efforts I spearheaded in Sheboygan to fund a new school computer lab, add a school breakfast program so every child had a better chance to succeed, and build a broad coalition of activists, business people, and community leaders to raise $4.6 million dollars to build the Generations Center for Sheboygan County during the recession. I believe that real change comes when people work together to make their communities stronger, and I have enjoyed leading projects that make a difference.
I am proud to be part of the Democratic Party because of our strong support for Wisconsin and Democratic values:
- Ensuring equal opportunity for all Wisconsinites. All people deserve the same opportunity to live their lives, support their families, and engage in their community safely, free from harm, and with dignity and respect.
- Providing access to a quality public education. In order to move Wisconsin forward, we need to fund our public schools, oppose the expansion of unaccountable voucher schools, develop our technical and job training programs, and support the decisions made by Wisconsin education professionals, including the implementation of Common Core.
- Unifying the people of Wisconsin. Only by listening to and respecting all sides of the key issues facing our community, can we move forward towards an effective solution.
- Investing in Wisconsin workers. Wisconsin is strong when our workforce is strong and our businesses are profitable. Increasing the minimum wage, strengthening labor unions, and supporting small businesses are not mutually exclusive.
As DPW Party Chair, I will work to raise the funds, strengthen the statewide team, and support the candidates necessary to ensure Democratic values are strong in Wisconsin.
This past weekend Chicago recorded over 55 shootings over 15 deaths and no one seems to care. America’s fascination with guns is turning into an ever growing insensitivity towards life, with the latest carnage taking place in Chicago. Yet, there is no evidence that the US is any closer to joining the rest of the civilized nations and imposing strict gun control laws in order to reduce violent crime.
Indeed, every national tragedy involving guns, the American public is being inundated with figures about gun violence, ranging from the fact that more than 84 people are killed daily with guns, to the shocking statistic that there are more than 31,000 gun-related deaths annually. In 2010, for example, there were 8,775 murders by firearms in the U.S., while in Britain there were only 638. Moreover, there are 300 million firearms in a country of just over 311 million and just over 47 percent of Americans own guns. Most disturbingly, as pointed out by the Children’s Defense fund, is the fact that in 2010, “2694 children and teens were killed by gunfire [and] since 1979 …a shocking 119,079 children and teens have been killed by gun violence. That is more child and youth deaths in America than American battle deaths in World War I (53,402) or in Vietnam (47,434) or in the Korean War (33,739) or in the Iraq War (3,517).” These are startling figures, data from ten years ago to be sure, still data today or five years ago do not tell us enough about the cult and spectacle of violence in American society. Nor do they make visible the myriad of forces that has produced a country drenched in bloodshed and violence.
There is little doubt that the role of gun supporting organizations are instrumental in the violence haunting American culture, but they represent only one factor in the culture of symbolic and institutional violence that has such a powerful grip on the everyday cultural apparatuses and workings of American society. The issue of violence in America goes far beyond the issue of gun control. When gun control is the focus — instead of a broader consideration of violence — it can actually serve to deflect the most important questions that need to be raised. The grave reality is that violence saturates almost every aspect of North American culture. Domestically, violence weaves through the cultural and social landscape like a highly charged forest fire burning everything in its path. Popular culture, extending from Hollywood films and sports thuggery, to video games, embraces the spectacle of violence as the primary medium of entertainment. The real issue here is the existence of a pedagogy of violence that actually makes the power of deadly violence attractive. Representations of violence dominate the media and often parade before viewers less as an object of critique than as a for-profit spectacle, just as the language of violence and punishment now shapes the U.S. culture — with various registers of violence now informing school zero-tolerance policies, a bulging prison-industrial complex, and the growing militarization of everyday life. There is also the fact that as neoliberalism and its culture of cruelty weaves its way through the culture it makes the work place, schools, and other public spheres sites of rage, anger, humiliation, and misery, creating the foundation for blind rebellion against what might be termed intolerable conditions. Accepting the logic of radical individual responsibility, too many Americans blame themselves for being unemployed, homeless, and isolated and end up perceiving their misery as an individual failing and hence are vulnerable to forms of existential depression and collective rage. We have seen such violence among students reacting to bullying and among postal workers responding to intolerable work conditions. There is no one cause of violence, but a series of a number of causes that range from the war on drugs and the militarization of police departments to mass incarcerations in prisons to the return from brutal wars of many trained killers suffering with PTSD. All of these factors combine in an explosive mix to create an dangerous culture of violence and cruelty and as Jeff Sparrow points out a “willingness of ordinary people to commit unthinkable atrocities.”
The metaphysics of war and associated violence creep into everyday life in the United States, a process which has intensified since 9/11. War and militarism not only eat up resources and revenue, it also determines the more general meanings that shape the values of social relations of everyday life and is constitutive of both social power and culture itself. Under neoliberalism, markets are now fused with the warlike logic of militarization as ways of thinking, subject positions, and the ordering of social relations are fused, as the philosopher David Theo Goldberg points out, with “military truth, structure, and temporality.”
Of course, what I mean by this is that is the United States is not only obsessed with military values shaping foreign policy, but war and militarism have become a mediating force that now seep into almost every aspect of daily life. War now makes men, and becomes the most important logic mediating not simply contemporary views of masculinity but social relations in general. We see war and its dynamics of cruelty and punishment seeping into a whole range of institutions. For instance, we see schools and social services modeled increasingly after prisons. We see police forces being paramilitarized. We see popular culture endlessly celebrating the spectacle of violence. What is startling is that the logic of war and violence have become addictive, a socially constructed need that we simply cannot get away from. Violence has become a defining organizing principle of society that has become one of the few shared mediating forces that now holds everyday life together. What is crucial to acknowledge here is that “the fields of politics and violence—a violence that seems to lack rational organization, not excepting self-destruction—are no longer separated. They have progressively permeated one another.”
State violence is now amplified in the rise of the punishing state which works to support corporate interests and suppress all forms of dissent aimed at making corporate power accountable. Violence as a mode of discipline is now enacted in spheres that have traditionally been created to counter the symbolic and institutional violence perpetuated by forms of state and corporate sovereignty. Airports, schools, public services, and a host of other public spheres are now defined through a militarized language of discipline, regulation, control, and order. Human behavior is now reduced to the instrumental logic of cost-benefit analyses, market shares, and profit ratings. Human relations and behaviors are not simply militarized, viewed as targets, but also reified and dehumanized making it easier to legitimate a culture of cruelty and politics of disposability that are central organizing principles of predatory capitalism.
Since the early 1980s, Milwaukee has witnessed a deteriorated manufacturing industry leading to decaying neighborhoods. While this deterioration of neighborhoods progressed, Milwaukee was fast working on reliving the glory days by focusing its efforts to build up the downtown area in the mid-1990s.
This brings me to a parallel I found most interesting after watching news coverage of the Baltimore riots, and studying the causes for the explosion of human emotions that took place after the death of Freddie Grey.
Closely examining Baltimore’s problems as brought forth by many of the youth who participated in the chaos, Baltimore has much of the same social and economic problems the Black community faces in Milwaukee. Unemployment, poverty, crime, and racial inequality are some of the same social problems both cities face.
The social problems that exist in both cities, combined with the economic problems, create a perfect storm for social upheaval, especially in the central city of Milwaukee.
Prof. Marc Levine of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee addressed these social and economic problems when he wrote about Baltimore’s major investment efforts to bring itself out of the shadows of deterioration and into the light of renaissance in a book entitled: “The Social Sustainability of Cities.” In this book, Prof. Levine published the chapter: “A Third World City in the First World: Social Exclusion, Racial Inequality, and Sustainable Development in Baltimore.” Now the parallels I see that Prof. Levine address in that chapter about Baltimore seeking to improve its brand can easily be compared to Milwaukee’s efforts to create its own Camelot.
Prof. Levine points out that Baltimore set out to recreate its image from that of a manufacturing Blue collar utopia that is falling apart, to a more modern festive-like city with a carnival atmosphere. To achieve, this Baltimore put most of the city’s political gambling chips on rehabilitating the inner harbor. Sort of their version on betting on their future.
Baltimore city leaders told city residents that creating such a tourist hotspot would benefit the city as a whole, but as Prof. Levine points out, Baltimore neglected some of its other social problems while pursuing this “carnival city” strategy.
Focusing on building Baltimore’s inner harbor, tourist hot spots and carnival city strategy in order to attract tourists to the city’s downtown area—sounds a bit like Milwaukee’s rebranding strategey, doesn’t it?
Prof. Levine points out that Baltimore spent over $2 Billion dollars since the 1970s to the present during its renaissance effort. That’s $500 million dollars every ten year for the last four decades. To put that in another perspective, Baltimore spent over $50 million dollars a year to achieve what? It certainly did not improve conditions for Baltimore’s Black citizens.
According to the leaders of Baltimore’s Black community, they have not seen any progress in their neighborhood and things for Black people in that city have gotten economically worse every decade since the 1970s. It’s no wonder why the city’s people exploded the way they did.
Milwaukee’s mayor Tom Barret is headed in the same direction. His renaissance Fresh Water Coast development ideas coupled with his festive streetcar initiative is moving tens of millions of dollars into developing the City’s fresh water coast and downtown area.
So as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett builds his Camelot, Milwaukee neighborhoods of the Central City will mimic Baltimore’s deterioration, and Milwaukee’s underclass neighborhoods will see increased social problems and police misuse of force.
If there is political will to avoid the mistakes of Baltimore, city leaders must open access to black entrepreneurs into those areas now being developed in order to reshape and renew Milwaukee’s brand as a truly diverse city.
The mayor must initiate policies and programs that provide education to Milwaukee’s struggling minority entrepreneur class that helps guide business competitors though the city procurement process and contract competing procedures.
Above all, the mayor and city leaders must commit to the federal standards for hiring people of color and women and stop ignoring its failure for not doing so.
Indeed, it is much easier to find the social and economic flaws of the city, but the solutions are there. It just takes political will to follow the standards already in place and to implement accountability when those standards have not been achieved.
American Cities Will Feel Heat This Summer
The world once again turns its attention to events in America, this time the world is witnessing civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland USA; it’s important to note that Ferguson, Missouri demonstrations are still going on. And as the weather in America begins to warm up, the cities of the United States will most likely not only feel the heat of summer, but will most certainly begin to feel the heat of fires burning in their communities as well.
The mayor of Baltimore referred to citizens upset with police killing and brutalizing them as ‘thugs’. The governor is calling in the Maryland National Guard and a State of Emergency has been declared in this American state. Everyone is on high alert as pompous people look down their noses and talk about how ‘out of control’ Blacks are in Baltimore and how ‘riots never solve things’.
What’s interesting is that while many are quick to condemn the unrest in Baltimore, many of those same people blasting the demonstrations are the same people who stood by and cheered loudly when they saw ‘riots’ in Tunisia and Egypt during the Arab Springs. These same Americans say those riots were necessary for people to free themselves from oppression and brutal police tactics.
When students in Hong Kong rioted against police, American conservative and neoliberal media cheered and gave the students major approval and moral support. The United States condemned the brutality of Chinese police.
Of course we have the unrest in the Ukraine. America is actually sending aid to help those who dared to stand up to oppressive police forces. American political leaders call them Freedom Fighters.
It’s funny how America loves to cheer for those fighting for Freedom except when it comes to Black people fighting against oppression. In June 1976 the Soweto Riots took place, thousands of people were killed and the world condemned South Africa. However, the USA and Israel kept their support of the leaders of that country and their brutal Apartheid Regime.
American media tried to say that the students in Soweto needed to find peaceful means to stop oppression. They were told riots never solve anything. Every time a vote came up to put embargoes on South Africa, the USA was there to veto it. During the time of the Soweto riots former President Gerald Ford and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were trying to find negotiations, not to end Apartheid but to make it friendlier. The US saw South Africa as an important geo-political partner. Hence it wasn’t about freeing Blacks; it was about keeping things orderly. Fortunately Blacks in South Africa refused to go along and talks fell apart and ultimately they won their country.
Violent protests is the byproduct of a system in which the police are given freedom to do as they wish without consequences.
Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t condone unnecessary violence, whether it be a rioter burning a store or police shooting an unarmed suspect in the back, but psychologically, violence is an understandable (though still unacceptable) response to the current situation in Baltimore.
The police and the American court system have made it clear that police will continue to be above the law, even when their actions are dishonorable at best, and horrific at worst.
On the other side of that coin, I expect measures will be put in place to keep police from abusing their power, and using the special consideration the legal system affords them to justify, and get away with any heinous act, and this is where AMERICA has gone horribly wrong as a society.
With no official channel to turn to for results, people feel helpless and frustrated, and some of those people use rioting in Baltimore as an outlet for that frustration. It’s still not acceptable behavior, but it’s definitely understandable behavior, and it’s also behavior we’re going to see more of in the coming months and years if America, as a society, continues to accept the status quo when it comes to the way police are treated in our legal system after killing unarmed Black Americans without facing justice.