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Hola que tal amigo lector soy Mariella Godinez-Munoz del programa…

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Hola que tal soy Mariella Godinez-Muñoz presentadora del programa Hoy Wisconsin Today, que…

By Robert Miranda Commentary from the editor June 9, 2016…

Hola que tal soy Mariella Godinez-Muñoz presentadora del programa Hoy…

takingsidesAlderman Jose Perez responded to my inquiry asking him if older homes with lead service connection lines, or lead lateral pipes, to the city’s water mains presented a risk to families where heavy machinery is now pounding and busting up concrete for road repaving and sidewalk replacement. The massive construction project is being done in Milwaukee’s near Southside, in a neighborhood where many homes have lead water pipes.

His response was “… it is my understanding that department (Public Works) staff has prepared an informational outreach effort for that area and are taking other steps to act in the best interest of the public’s health, safety and welfare”.

It is unclear what that “informational outreach effort” was. I’m waiting for the Milwaukee Public Works Department to provide me an answer as I’m in communication with their public relations director. I’m hoping I’ll hear from them Monday.

Meanwhile, I’ve been talking to renters and home owners in the area who tell me that they did receive information that construction in the area (2100 – 1700 blocks of south 13th street) would be taking place. However, no one recalls any information regarding precautions they should take regarding drinking the water during this construction phase.

This could potentially be a major public health tragedy. The city suspended water main replacements when it was learned that construction replacing the mains loosened the lead in these lead pipes thus contaminating the water.

Long-term exposure to lead can cause serious health problems, particularly in children under the age of six and to the fetus of expecting mothers. Lead is toxic to everyone, but unborn babies and young children are at greatest risk for health problems from lead poisoning. Long-term symptoms include behavioral problems, adverse brain development, and anemia to name a few.

I got a sense that the alderman decided to punt this matter to the public works bureaucrats rather than realize the urgency of the issue and deal with this issue more aggressively, in order to get to the bottom of what is going on in this neighborhood he represents.

So did the city not go to these homes to inform and properly prepare residents that live in these homes about the potential health risk the construction on their block presented to the water they drink?

In Antioch, Illinois a similar issue was addressed in a more responsible way. An article about Antioch states:

“The properties with higher readings (Lead) were clustered near a massive road repaving and sewer replacement project. Engineers were able to deduce that vibrations caused by the construction were shaking loose phosphates that coat pipes and keep lead from leaching into the water”.

Since the City of Milwaukee busted up four near Southside city blocks, can someone explain why didn’t the Department of Public Works (and Alderman Perez) simply work out a plan to coordinate with home owners the removal of lead lateral water pipes?

This could have been a great opportunity to help fixed income and low income home owners reduce the out of pocket cost to them to finally get those hazardous toxic pipes out of their property.

In Antioch, located in Lake County, IL on the border between Illinois and Wisconsin, they tested the drinking water in the most high risk homes, older built homes with lead pipe laterals, and found alarming high levels of lead in the drinking water; in some cases lead levels 18 times higher than the federally mandated limit.

They “knew something was very wrong” and were unwilling to stick their heads in the sand like an ostrich and pretend that the problem did not exist.

The Antioch Director of Public Works ordered the engineers to look into it and they discovered a pattern; they found that homes with higher lead readings were clustered near a massive street repaving project. The engineers deduced that the street construction was shaking loose phosphates that coat pipes and keep lead from leaching into the water.

The City of Milwaukee uses phosphates to coat lead pipe laterals to keep lead from leaching into the water as well.

Who is to say that the massive street repaving is not shaking loose phosphates that coat pipes on South 13th Street? The city has not indicated they have done any water testing in those homes, yet any other massive street repaving projects throughout the city where there are high volumes of homes with lead pipe laterals.

If levels of lead spike in drinking water during street construction projects we will not know

Unlike in Antioch, the City of Milwaukee does not concentrate their annual lead water testing in the most high risk homes, in Milwaukee that would be the 70,000 homes that have been identified as still having lead pipe laterals.

In fact the City of Milwaukee, through Milwaukee Water Works (MWW), only test 50 homes every three years under the Lead and Copper Rules set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The last testing was in 2014 in which they used the “pre-stagnation” or “pre-flush” or “end-of-line” testing method (they are all the same thing) which has now been proven to distort lead level testing results.

Additionally, MWW does not concentrate those 50 homes tested for lead on the over 70,000 homes with lead pipe laterals.

For the record, MWW tests daily for water quality parameters identified by the EPA; however that is at the water treatment plant and has absolutely nothing to do with the drinking water that comes out of the homes with lead pipe laterals.

What MWW does not do is test the drinking water in the homes with lead pipe laterals along streets that are undergoing massive street repaving and repair although they are clearly aware that the shaking of lead pipe laterals results in lead levels in drinking water to spike.

It appears the city has some explaining to do.

takingsidesGovernor Scott Walker faces long term consequences of mediocrity. His failing policies of the last five years, the destructive actions that he and the Republican Legislature engaged in, which have hurt Wisconsin keep putting our state in unflattering news.

When first elected, instead of making the right decisions when he and his GOP cohort had the opportunity to grow Wisconsin’s economy, his past failed decisions are now amplified for the whole world to see how he is negatively affecting all of Wisconsin residents; including private sector businesses and his own donors.

In 2011, Scott Walker and the Republican legislature received the trust of the voters on the grandiose promise of generating 250,000 jobs. It was reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Wisconsin placed 31,670 in one year. In four months as Secretary of workforce development Manny Perez placed 24,000 jobs. It seems incompetence is the true measure Walker now relies upon when appointing new secretaries to the position of workforce development since Perez left.

250,000 jobs would have generated a solid level of tax revenue for the State of Wisconsin via payrroll taxes and business taxes; not mention increased consumption. According to Walker in 2010, nothing was more important than the creation of 250,000 jobs! All the promises of jobs to Wisconsin equate to nothing more than betraying the public trust.

Scott Walker immediately after taking office reduced the technical school system budget, without even any analysis nor regard as to how such reduction would affect the technical school system’s ability to generate the qualified workers that would be needed by the private sector from 2011 to 2016. In doing so, Scott Walker and the Republican legislators not only damaged workers but also have impaired the private sector’s ability to compete by not having top quality workforce for jobs supposedly created.  Now Wisconsin supposedly has many positions listed in the job center (100,000 Scott Walker touts) that go unfilled. Who caused this? Scott Walker and his Republican legislatures. The cuts he made to the technical school system budget now show 5 years later a skills gap employers need to fill. Thanks Scott!

Those jobs that have gone unfilled have NOT generated the tax revenue for the State of Wisconsin that could have occurred from the employees and business side. This is basically unrealized tax revenue and it contributes to the fact that Wisconsin tax collections have missed expectations. Now Walker does not have money to pay for roads to support transportation which is needed by the private sector to compete, to transport Wisconsin products and to attract new private sector businesses. Less workers, no new jobs, skilled positions unfilled leaves Governor Walker postponing payments on Wisconsin debt. And he has reservations about the Obama economy…Who will end up paying for the interest on the debt? The people of Wisconsin!

Scott Walker and the Republican legislators gave the private sector, particularly, the manufacturing sector a 7.5% escalated tax deduction without conditions on business expansion, job generation, or wage increases. In return, businesses have not expanded and if they have, they have not increased hiring as Walker is still at a dismal 165,000 jobs generated. Even if businesses were able to increase openings for skilled employment today, the skilled technicians/workers needed to fill those positions have have not been generated since the tech school budget was reduced in 2011, and no coordinated workforce strategy has been planned.

So, where is the money? What did the private sector do with the generous tax deductions? Do not be surprised if they have moved the money to overseas bank accounts like the Kock Brothers have done as shown in the Panama papers! Because surely the money generated from Walker’s generous tax deductions have not resulted in additional investments in Wisconsin by these companies or additional hiring.

Frankly, The tax cuts were nothing more than a payout to business owners for the campaign donations they made to Scott Walker and Republican legislators. Basically, they bought the Governorship, the legislature, and the Supreme Court. The corporate robber barons selected the most mediocre candidate they could find and someone who would easily be controlled and Walker was very eager to be their faithful servant. This is why Republicans across the nation rejected Scott Walker and and are rejecting the entire GOP establishment. The GOP establishment is feeling the backlash they have created themselves by selecting billionaire servants, puppets of the elite donor class who have no regard for the people who voted them in.

Scott Walker has allowed corruption at WEDC ($140,000 million), has allowed the politization of WEDC, Financial Institutions, DNR, DWD and blatantly did not take action regarding the juvenile corrections scandal at Lincoln Hills and now there will be delays to repair roads, a blow to the Wisconsin economy.

The people in Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, and Pewaukee need to wake up. Scott Walker has already lost the support of Republican moderates and independents in rural areas. It’s understood that the business owners in these areas can exert strong influence on their employees to keep voting Republican, maybe giving raises to motivate their employees to vote in the Walker cartel has worked, but rest assured, Walker does  not have your back because you are nothing more than a pawn to him.

Maybe one day the people of Wisconsin will elect a governor who works to advance a great healthcare policy, restores the middle class, and the workers simultaneously, and believes in education. Wouldn’t that be great? A governor  who is a servant to the people of Wisconsin, not a puppet of big donors.

takingsidesA few weeks ago, a letter was issued by the Obama administration directing public schools to provide transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms  in which a student sexually identifies him or herself with.

The letter issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education directs schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity–meaning a person who looks male but identifies as female would be able to use female bathrooms at public schools.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in a statement. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers, and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”

There is no federal law which mandates that bathrooms must be accessible to students of different genders, the Obama notice is purely administrative. While it is not required by law to allow for mixed use bathrooms, the letter does threaten removing federal support for those public schools that fail to make accommodations for transgender students.

However, the federal directive isn’t deterring Republican Rep. Jesse Kremer from introducing a bill aimed at regulating a students’ use of bathroom and changing facilities.

Kewaskum Rep. Jesse Kremer said he “absolutely” plans to introduce a bill addressing the matter of bathroom and locker room use for passage in Wisconsin.

Rep. Jesse Kremer is not satisfied with the federal guidelines the Obama administration laid out in its letter. In the letter, it is directed that when students or their parents inform a school that the student is transgender, the school must treat the student in a way that matches with his or her gender identity.

According to federal guidance, any student — transgender or not — can ask for additional privacy options, and schools are free to put increased privacy measures in place within shared facilities.

The federal letter doesn’t carry the force of law, but implies that schools that do not follow the administration’s guidelines will risk losing federal funding.

Kremer said the administration’s letter doesn’t change anything in his eyes. He said he’s most concerned not with bathrooms, but with locker rooms and changing facilities.

A conservative Christian group Wisconsin Family Action, which worked with Kremer on his bill, said that the federal guidance puts students in danger.

WFA executive director Julaine Appling said the letter “puts a price tag” on the privacy and safety of students, particularly female students.

“This puts the privacy rights, safety and well-being of all students at risk. And what about girls who have been sexually assaulted? This decree says their fears are meaningless and should not be considered,” Appling said in a statement. “At a time when our society is decrying campus and date rape and rails against a so-called ‘war on women,’ you would think the government wouldn’t be interested in putting these women in situations that could easily re-traumatize them.”

State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, will be standing against the Kremer bill.

Zamarripa said Kremer’s transgender “bathroom bill” is more about ensuring that non-transgender students are not made to feel uncomfortable.

“Many of these same opponents have equated transgender citizens with pedophiles and other sex offenders with absolutely no evidence,” Zamarripa said in a statement. “Their sweeping generalizations and attempts to write their bigotry into law only further demonstrate the need for the government to protect transgender students’ rights”.

I’m sure that there are plenty of efforts being made to ensure transgender students are having their issues addressed, and the concerns of those supporting Rep. Jesse Kremer’s bathroom bill not get Medieval.

On the flip side, you have to give it to those Republicans. They sure know how to stir the pot with issues like this bathroom bill. To bad the democrats haven’t a clue on what needs to be done to stir up excitement.

takingsidesBy Andrew J Petto, PhD

Guest Columnist

Lead exposure is a serious problem, but the attention that the situation in Flint, Michigan, has had one good result: more people are thinking and concerned about exposure to lead, and more people are organizing to find solutions for their own communities. Though we have succeeded in stopping new lead from entering the environment, there are many ways that we can be exposed to lead was in use before changes that removed lead from gasoline, paints, pipes and plumbing fixtures, the solder used in electronics and plumbing, and so on.

What is lead and where do we find it?

Lead is a naturally occurring metal. Because it is relatively soft and because it combines easily with other metals and often lowers their melting points, it has been in use by humans for thousands of years. In fact, the word “plumbing” comes from the Latin word for lead: plumbum. In Wisconsin, the original Wisconsin “badgers” were lead miners in the southeastern part of the state, where lead ore deposits are quite extensive, giving us place names like Mineral Point (and Galena, Illinois).

In its natural state, lead is rarely much of a threat to human health, and most of the danger to human health is from lead products in the environment that are the result of human use of lead in various products and chemical processes The World Health organization coordinates international efforts to control and reduce lead exposure, and provides this summary:

More than three quarters of global lead consumption is for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for motor vehicles. Lead is, however, also used in many other products, for example pigments, paints, solder, stained glass, crystal vessels, ammunition, ceramic glazes, jewelry, toys and in some cosmetics and traditional medicines. Drinking water delivered through lead pipes or pipes joined with lead solder may contain lead. Much of the lead in global commerce is now obtained from recycling.

The European water-treatment company Lenntech tells us that various lead compounds can enter the environment and can enter the body from air, water, and food (Read more In the case of drinking water, lead compounds are more likely to enter the water supply from pipes, solder, and fixtures is the water is acidic—and this seems to be one of the big problems in the water crisis in Flint. We also know that lead compounds in the soil and in dust can continue to be a problem, even long after lead in paints and fixtures has been eliminated.

Although paint has been removed from some of the more common sources, such as paints and gasoline, the possible lead exposure from public water supplies was received less attention. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports that the US Environment Protection Agency has identified over 70,000 lead service lines in Milwaukee’s public water system (Read more, where they also report that 60% of Wisconsin’s children known to have lead poisoning live.. Although a lot of the effort in preventing and controlling lead poisoning—particularly in children—has focused on lead in household sources, there is much less attention on lead in the public water supply.

What does lead do in the body?

The same thing that makes lead useful in making a wide variety of products is what is responsible for its effects on the body: it combines readily with many other chemicals. In the body, it can bind to the hemoglobin in the blood, it can replace calcium in important compounds throughout the body, with specific effects on the heart and blood vessels, bone, and the brain and nerves (details can be found here:

For most people, lead is absorbed and stored in the bone. This is one way that the body tries to protect itself from the adverse effects of lead. The problem is that lead can be released from the bone for many years after the initial exposure.

Because calcium is necessary for the proper function of muscles, nerves, and many other essential biochemical reactions in the body, lead can interfere with these functions in people of all ages. We are most concerned, of course, with the effects of lead on the nervous system in children. The World Health Organization (see below) emphasizes that children can absorb 4‒5 times as much lead as adults, even when they are exposed to the same levels in the environment. Many of the lead prevention and control programs are concerned with limiting children’s exposure because of the effects on the brain and nervous systems, as well as on the bones, but adults can also suffer effects from continued exposure.

How much lead is safe?

The World Health Organization reports that there is no known safe level of lead concentrations in the body (see below). However, many research and clinical studies show that blood levels above 10μg/dL (or about the same as 1/1000 of an ounce in an 8-ounce glass of water) cause serious problems in the function of nerves, the formation of blood cells, energy production in the cells, kidney function, and both and female male reproductive function. Higher concentrations, of course, lead to more and more serious problems.

Programs aimed at reducing lead exposure have been successful, but there is a lot of residual lead in some unexpected places. For example, much of the research literature points to lead consumption from fish and wild game. This may occur directly from the use of lead in bullets and bird shot, or indirectly in accumulations from wastewater discharge. Lead dust can also settle in waterways or on plants, and then be absorbed and accumulated in wild or domestic animals that we consume.

Getting the lead out

A comprehensive lead control and reduction program will need to consider all these sources of lead exposure. The importance of particular sources may be different for different populations. In an urban setting, paints, industrial by-products, and water mains could be the the most critical areas to focus attention. In rural or suburban areas, other sources could present more of a threat.

Because we know that lead poisoning is a life-long effect of exposure, even if we were able to remove all the lead in the environment in the next six months, we would still be dealing with the effects for a whole generation. But by focusing carefully on the sources of lead that pose the greatest risk to a community and reducing or removing those sources in order of the size of their effects, it is possible to reduce this risk to health significantly. We did this in removing lead from house paints and gasoline, and the effects were dramatic. The next logical step is obviously in water service lines, plumbing, and fixtures. But even that is just the beginning. The greater threat is from the lead that remains in the environment in our soil, food, and water.

Want more information?

Try these sources:

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Lead-Safe Wisconsin site:

2014 Report on Childhood Lead Poisoning in Wisconsin:

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lead information:

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Effects of Lead:

World Health Organization, Health Effects of Lead:

US Consumer Product Safety Commission, sources of lead in your home: furnishings decorations/426protectyourfamilyfromleadinyourhome.pdf

Mayo Clinic Lead Exposure page:

Mayo Clinic Lead Poisoning page:

WebMD Lead Exposure Page:

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, lead in drinking water reports:

Report of WUWM’s Lake Effect Program:

Andrew Petto is a bioanthropologist and a senior lecturer in Anatomy and Physiology at the Department of  Biological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He is currently coordinator of Wisconsin Citizens for Science and the state liaison for the National Center for Science Education.

takingsidesOnce again Wisconsin is the focus of negative national attention. Once again Scott Walker proves his critics right who say he is an incompetent and unfit individual to be Governor of Wisconsin. Once again Scott Walker’s hypocrisy exposes itself to the public reminding us of how strongly he and the Republicans criticized Jim Doyle for playing gimmicks with state money to balance the budget, and how he, Scott Walker that is, would follow GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Practices, to make sure his administration would be one of superb transparency, honesty, and faithful steward of taxpayer money. Remember that gobbledegook Republicans?  Recall before the days of Trump and Cruz, those glorious days when people thought the Republicans had learned from past lessons and would not drink the Kool-Aid out of the Cup of greed when they get in power and protect the people’s money?

Well, look what happened here. Not only did the GOP drink the Kool-Aid you mutha-flowers have given Wisconsin a governor who is now postponing a $101 million debt payment, indicating once again the Governor’s and the Republican legislature’s incompetence and lack of economic vision.

Of course you establishment Republicans know that all of this is rooted to the bad decision that Walker and the Republican legislature made in past years. You loyal GOP players know what they did! Walker and his loyalists changed the agenda from creating 250,000 jobs in 2010 to one of union attack and gerrymandering the voting districts, they allowed the waste of $140 million of tax credits wasted in corruption at WEDC, they gave Wisconsin businesses unrestricted 6% tax credits and they did not expand business operations so as to increase tax revenue (that could have been used to pay the debt). These tax credits were mere payoff to donors than anything else, and we least not forget, Walker attempted to change open records law to hide the secret shenanigans he and his gringo cartel played against the Wisconsin taxpayer…need I say more?

So, now that Scott Walker and his gringo cartel postponed paying on the debt, do Republicans still believe the current Republican legislature is good for Wisconsin?

So…is Scott Walker and the current Republican legislature good for Wisconsin? They may be good for the Waukesha, Racine, and Kenosha business owners but not for the rest of Wisconsin. Could it be that these business owners are subcontractors of the Koch Brothers? Maybe they should be investigated for secret bank accounts like the one discovered for the Kock Brothers in Switzerland in the Panama Papers.

Now you have proof why Republicans across the state and nation -except Waukesha, Racine and Kenosha- so strongly rejected Scott Walker. He, the Republican legislature, Reince Priebus, and Paul Ryan are under the direct controll of an establishment of business elites that keep them serving their needs by keeping Walker and his gumba cohorts under their control. Walker is a loyal servant to his corporate masters. Walker could careless about the people of Wisconsin who voted for him.

So keep making Wisconsin look good, Scooter. Soon we should be ready to default on the debt at the rate Walker’s administration is going.

HRC Supporters in Fantasy World

HRC supporters argue that Bernie Sanders remaining in the race is suppressing Clinton’s results in the national polls against Trump. This is the argument of braindead people stuck on a notion told to them. Their inability to think critically explains their unwillingness to test the validity of this argument. This is a level playing field and if HRC was as competitive, she would equal Sanders in these national polls. So the real question is, how much further ahead would Sanders be of Trump without Clinton in the race?

By landslide margins is the answer, and both Clinton and Trump know this.

I do wish that HRC supporters would cease their chatter about how many more votes she has won than Sanders. These results are limited to Democrats, and do not factor in the independents and republicans of the general electorate.

She has received 5% of the national vote, in a party that heavily favours her and represents only 29% of the electorate.

She has been running against an opponent who came from nowhere, starting with no money or organisation and who has accepted no funds from corporate America or special interests.

As a household name and with the entire DNC establishing backing her, along with wealthy and powerful donors, and the liberal media behind her, she has had every advantage.

When she has employed election rigging, voter fraud and suppression, illegal fundraising, a network of surrogates in the DNC establishment and media, a strategy of misrepresenting her opponent to distort the truth, and she has to copy his campaign themes and personality to boost her own popularity, the only place these results are only valid is on paper.

The true metrics are Bernie Sanders $200 million in small donations from 2 million donors making 7 million contributions, a network of 9 million volunteers (without a single paid troll), 1.2 million people attending Sanders rallies, with attendances in excess of 27,000 at single events, and his leading her for months in every poll against Trump.

She can only dream of such enthusiasm and passion from her base. This is the false picture that is painted when the hand of corruption controls the strokes of the brush.

The problem with Clinton’s poor favourability has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders. It is her own past wrong doings catching up with her.

It’s starting to sink in with her campaign and the Clinton media, Trump is going to be harder to defeat than they thought, and they are going to make a scapegoat of Bernie Sanders, the stronger prospect, to hide her weakness.


A recent report published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel informs us that Milwaukee bureaucrats are busy seeking a $20 million dollar federal grant to expand the Milwaukee downtown streetcar, so that it can provide service to the New York billionaire Milwaukee Bucks owners new sports arena.

“The idea all along has been that the original route needs extensions to make the streetcar route more successful and efficient. And this is the first next step in terms of having a meaningful extension to add to the success of the streetcar increasing connectivity downtown,” said Ghassan Korban, Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works commissioner.

Notice that Korban said “increasing connectivity downtown”.  It would be interesting to hear from the commissioner of public works, or from Mayor Tom Barrett, how “increased connectivity downtown” translates into safer Milwaukee neighborhoods, increased access for black-owned restaurants or other retail establishments into the downtown financial networks and increasing revenues to pay towards lead service line removal for over 70,000 homes who’s children risk being poisoned by lead laterals drawing water from the city’s water main.

The consummate and feverishly loyal bureaucrat, Ghassan Korban, states that if the city receives the $20 million federal grant, the grant will cover about 50% of the estimated costs for the Bucks downtown streetcar extension. The city will then cover the rest of the cost by once again using a tax incremental financing (TIF), which defers revenues away from public education throu050416-taking-sides-pix-1gh the use of “Donor Tax Incremental Districts” in particular, like it did to finance the early stages of the streetcar development. See graphic illustration below:

Milwaukee has subsidized economic development for the financial sector of downtown while at the same time nurturing austerity and neglect to the central city for the better part of the last 20 years.  For 20 years we’ve been told that an economically developed downtown would be good for Milwaukee neighborhoods and yet 20 years later, the only neighborhoods seeing improvement are those being gentrified nearest to the downtown district. All other neighborhoods continue to experience severe neglect from elected leaders.

This is why neighborhoods in the city of Milwaukee are crumbling. Milwaukee bureaucrats and elected leaders shat on spending money to remove lead pipe laterals because it’s too expensive, yet cheer spending hundreds of millions of dollars for downtown development, and immediate surrounding areas; feeding downtown growth for the wealthy.

If Milwaukee’s Camelot continues to bring economic growth because of the investments made there, why then are the central city neighborhoods not benefiting from the riches achieved? Why is there no money to remove lead pipes that are potentially poisoning the children of Milwaukee without having to raise water rates by 10%?

Is this the standard for our community these days? Prioritize hundreds of millions of dollars for the wealthy financial districts while at the same time refuse to fund and resolve the hazard lead pipes present to the lives of Milwaukee’s infants and toddlers?

There is a need to push even harder for fundamental change in our moral priorities in Milwaukee.

When news of the poisoned water crisis in Flint reached a wide audience around the world, it was revealed that when the governor’s office discovered just how toxic the water was, representatives of his own administration decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint’s residents, most notably to the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage.

Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

Milwaukee officials haven’t gone to this level of criminal behavior,  but it is clear that Milwaukee elected leaders of the Common Council and Mayor’s have known of this dangerous toxic issue for many years.

Which means that, while the children of Milwaukee continue to drink water flowing through potentially poisonous lead-pipes, the Bucks will draw clean water from Milwaukee’s clean lake and lead free pipes and people with money to spend get to ride to those Bucks games on a downtown streetcar courtesy families living with having to deal with a dangerous hazard threatening their water and infants.

takingsidesWalker’s Lincoln Hills Scandal

The recent dismissal of former corrections secretary Ed Wall from his new position at the Wisconsin Department of Justice has provided some interesting insights into the shadowy and shady world of the Walker administration.

Wall exposes for us the fact that Walker’s administration instructs its secretaries to work on matters of state in a secret fashion: limit all documentation by NOT putting things in writing through public mail or email etc — as evident by this statement Wall wrote in a letter to Walker Chief of Staff Rich Zipperer:

“I know that you didn’t want me sending this electronically or to the office because of the (open) records issue, so I elected instead to send it to your home in writing and would ask that you feel free to shred it once you’ve looked it over,” Wall wrote to Zipperer. “Nobody will know that I sent it and this is strictly between you and me. I understand the concern the administration has over creating records, Rich, but I can’t let that harm me or my family worse than we’ve already been harmed.”

For some excerpts from that letter:

It’s interesting that Walker’s Chief of Staff would instruct Wall not to email items like this, but then turn around and report Wall for sending that letter to Zipperer. Did Wall get set up? Why tell Wall not to send information electronically, then turn around and throw Wall under the bus for sending the information to his home via mail? Wall is no innocent spring chicken here. It seems he was trying to leverage something for himself.

Still, no matter what comes from Wall’s firing and actions, the effort by the Walker administration to act has if Walker did not know what his secretaries are doing is pathetic.

Isolating Walker from responsibility for not taking action regarding Lincoln Hills is the political play his team is trying to achieve.

However, Walker can’t play that game because it is his responsibility to direct his secretaries to report to him all matters that are serious and that have escalated and will affect the state adversely. Did Walker not give that directive to his secretaries?

Walker’s “I did not know” defense is a sham. It’s Walker’s responsibility to know. Walker just wants deniability. If Walker did not direct his secretaries to report all matters of great importance to him, then Walker is incompetent or setting up his secretaries to be scapegoats for his negligence.

Wall is guilty, like Reed Hall (WEDC), of inaction.

Walker’s efforts to move public attention away from his own inaction works only for his base. The rest of us can see what he’s attempting to do with Wall.

Walker should be criminally liable (or civil) for not being alerted—if that is what he is implying about the tragedy at Lincoln Hills. The idea of trying to make Wall the scapegoat is working only for the Walker sheep.

Republican Congressman Admits Voter ID Helps Suppress Votes

After the election on April 5th during a Republican Election Night party, Congressman Glenn Grothman was interviewed by a television news network and without hesitation bellowed out that Republicans would win Wisconsin in the upcoming elections because as he put it, “…we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.”

I thought to myself NO KIDDING!

In a moment of extraordinary honesty, GOP congressman Grothman said the new voter ID law will help enable Republican candidates running for office beat Democrats in the November elections.

The statement made by the Congressman didn’t surprise me. For years it has been argued that voter ID would suppress enough Democratic votes to enable Republican candidates running for office greater odds at beating Democrats in a election. To actually say it out loud… to a reporter… on camera, was arrogance on his part.

Rep. Glenn Grothman’s statement was made in response to questions about the primaries in Wisconsin. His statement gave credence to arguments that voter ID laws are tools used by conservatives to disenfranchise the poor and minorities, many of whom vote for Democrats.

An estimated 300,000 registered voters in Wisconsin, 9 percent of the electorate, were considered at risk of being disenfranchised during the primaries. The law in Wisconsin, and in other states with similar rules on the books, predominantly affects groups such as African-Americans, the poor, elderly individuals and students.

Grothman said something similar in 2012, when he was minority assistant leader in the state Senate. At that time, he said the law, which he helped to pass in 2011, could help GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney if it were in effect for the November election then, because “people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat.”

Conservatives often defend the laws as tools to guard against voter fraud, promoting voter integrity and even increasing turnout. However, there is almost no evidence that in-person voter fraud is a widespread issue. Conservative Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit bluntly characterized Wisconsin’s law as a “poll tax.”

“There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud,” he wrote in an opinion for a case addressing Wisconsin’s law, “and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.”

The law contributed to hourslong lines at polling stations for the state’s GOP and Democratic primaries, which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won, respectively.

Congressman Glenn Grothman, the man who stood against establishing Cesar E. Chavez day in Wisconsin, and used to make his state legislative staff work on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and puts out press releases complaining about Kwanzaa, now admits voter ID was designed to limit the ability of Americans to vote.

Clearly, Republican values are uncivilized.   

takingsidesScott Walker’s Endorsement of Ted Cruz Serves Koch Brothers – Helps Position Paul Ryan for Presidential Run

Republican presidential candidate, Ted Cruz has to be feeling pretty good about his campaign these days.

He got the endorsement of Koch Brothers front man, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and he’s threatening Donald Trump’s attempt to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

Also feeling pretty good about things have to be the Koch Brothers, who initially suffered a set back after their boy Scott Walker was defeated in his attempt to win the White House, but now suddenly find themselves back in the drivers seat after Scott Walker was able to seal the deal with Cruz.

But the Koch Brothers aren’t taking any chances this time around, they’re not about to let Trump win if Cruz doesn’t come through. The Koch Brothers have taken out an insurance plan to win the White House this time.

That insurance plan comes in the form of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Wisconsin Republican the Koch Brothers recently recruited to step in if Trump is able to beat Cruz.

The Koch oligarchs are manipulating the puppet strings of the Wisconsin Republican Party in order to defeat Donald Trump, their biggest threat preventing them from having control of the White House.

There are a few articles alleging that the Koch oligarch network “is quite confident” that the party establishment will be able to thwart the will of conservative voters and hand the nomination to their chosen champion, House Speaker Paul Ryan.”

This is the Koch Brothers insurance plan if Cruz is unable to pull through.

Ryan’s rise will take place at the national Republican Convention. Walker’s deal with Ted Cruz erases any concern the Koch Brothers may have with Cruz’s obnoxiously smug self-righteousness. For the Koch Brothers, defeating Donald Trump is top priority.

For the Koch Brothers, Cruz will be the most likely candidate who will support efforts to protect oligarch off-shore banks and shell companies from government accountability and taxes. But in case Cruz doesn’t make it, plan B will be Congressman Paul Ryan, who will be paraded onto the GOP convention floor as the alternate choice if Trump prevails during the GOP primaries.

For the Koch Brothers, having control of the White House protects their wealth and ensures pushing for tax laws that will further their efforts to avoid paying taxes legally.

The Wisconsin Republican Party establishment has proven to be nothing but a shill political party for the Koch oligarchs. Wisconsin Republicans under Walker’s control have no interest in playing by the rules in order to win the White House for the Koch Brothers.

If Cruz isn’t able to pull off a delegate victory over Trump, Charles Koch feels certain that his boy, Speaker Paul Ryan can sway the Republican National Convention to make him the party’s nominee if Donald Trump fails to win enough delegates.

No matter what the outcome is, what is certain is the fact that the Koch Brothers have much to gain if they control the White House.

takingsidesMyron Buchholz is no Ron Kind

Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District will have the chance to vote for change during the Congressional Democratic Primary.

Establishment Democrat incumbent, Congressman Ron Kind has a challenger by the name of Myron Buchholz, who is looking to dim the light of a leading Wall Street democratic point of light.

There’s a saying in the Latino community, “Dime con quién andas, y tediré quién eres” (Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are).

Congressman Ron has been walking with the wrong KIND of people, says Buchholz.

In fact, Myron Buchholz says that Kind has lost his way. Buchholz says that Ron Kind has turned away from being a good steward of the people, to being just another Wall Street rubber stamp.

Myron Buchholz is a retired high school history teacher and Eau Claire resident looking to change the direction that Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District has been heading under Ron Kind, who has held his congressional seat since 1997.

Dime con quién andas, y tediré quién eres, Buchholz says as he walks not only with anti-war activists seeking peace, and anti-oligarchs fighting against Wall Street control of Washington, he walks with the spirit of his loving wife who passed away. He says she keeps him focused and on the right path.

Buchholz says he was motivated to answer the “call” to take part in the political revolution that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders started: “The time to step up and take our government back from the billionaire class has arrived,” said Buchholz.

Buchholz said, “The Trans Pacific Partnership is just another give-away of power to corporations. TPP is no benefit to the working class….we know from past experience these trade policies do nothing but destroy our community after factories close and move out to other countries where governments allow the corporations to exploit workers.”

Dime con quién andas, y tediré quién eres! Myron Buchholz walks the walk of the people. He clearly is no Ron Kind.

takingsidesLead Pipe Hazard is Not Priority of the Mayoral Candidates

During a recent debate of the mayoral candidates hosted by the Public Policy Forum, mayoral candidates Tom Barrett and Bob Donovan, when asked what would be their priorities if elected mayor; both men declared that in the first 100 days in office the top three priorities will be:

Mayor Barrett:

1. Re-energize efforts to get the Century City successful

2. Push summer Earn and Learn Program

3. Work on city fiscal stability

Mayoral Candidate Donovan said:

1. Public Safety

2. Jobs

3. Education

Donovan’s public safety response could be interpreted to mean that he will be working to keep our children safe from lead hazards in our water, but his answer most likely dealt with crime fighting instead of fighting lead poisoning.

Unless Donovan clarifies his public safety stance, it is fair to say that safe drinking water will not be a priority issue for either candidate to address in their first 100 days in office.

Clearly, lead lateral removal is not Mayor Barrett’s priority — why shouldn’t that be a surprise? It was never a priority of his 12 years in office.

It’s sad that our Mayor can’t see the forest before the trees, leaving to chance that lead water leaching in 70,000 pipes will not be a serious matter anytime soon. He takes that chance at the risk of our children’s lives and the future of our city’s competitive edge.

Of course, the sense of urgency to do something about this ticking-toxic-time bomb flowing in lead infested pipes underneath the ground of homes in mostly Black neighborhoods is set aside. For the current mayor, it’s more important to count the money in the city’s coffer for safe keeping, than to set aside money to advance planning stages to remove the pipes that literally threaten our children’s development and future.

Let me be clear: There are thousands of lead service lateral lines buried underground delivering water through lead infested lateral pipes in our city, which could release unhealthy doses of lead into the water of 70,000 homes in Milwaukee, and neither candidate has this as a top priority to address?

Is this not the “Freshwater Capitol” of America? How is it that any mayor can claim to be “Freshwater Capitol,” yet is unable to provide fresh, hazard free water to children?

Whatever the outcome of the mayor’s race in the coming week, I hope that whoever prevails will reconsider their top three priorities and at least make safe water the top priority.

takingsidesMilwaukee’s Lack of a Strategic Plan to Remove Lead Pipes, Indicates Indifference

When a government struggles with an issue, it usually means the government has no plan in place to deal with the issue, thus government appears to be floundering in its attempts to be successful.

Arguably, a leading cause of government failure is in part, not having a strategic plan in place to deal effectively with issues that fester.

If a government has little idea where it is headed, it will wonder aimlessly and priorities become confused and its purpose become suspect as it chases strategies that have little or no meaning for the whole of the city.

Milwaukee’s failure to prepare a comprehensive strategic plan designed to create a road map for removing 70,000 lead pipe laterals has left a leadership vacuum that should be addressing the removal of hazardous lead pipes that bring water to these homes.

To be sure, at a minimum, Milwaukee needs to develop a strategic plan that:

– Establishes clear and specific goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics to remove lead pipe laterals

– Define strategy that allows the city to seek funding and test children in affected areas for lead

– Removes uncertainty and daunting out-look of removing lead pipe laterals

– Provides clear direction and focused attention to the removal of lead pipe laterals

– Moves the city to align people, departments, organizations, etc. to a common goal of removing lead pipe laterals

– Defines specific actions for seeking funding and establish an action plan for effective implementation

As mentioned above, a strategic plan would help city efforts towards achieving drinking water free from all known hazards. But perhaps most importantly, the strategic planning process for getting to that end first must be established.

For decades Milwaukee’s elected leaders have failed to make that happen, with respect to the 70,000 lead pipe laterals that present a clear danger to the health of our children.

Not setting this as a top priority indicates indifference on the part of City Hall.

Milwaukee bureaucrats and elected leaders must develop a comprehensive strategic plan in order to effectively remove these lead lateral pipes. Without a plan, there is little or no alignment with common goals and strategies to achieve this.

The notion that strategic planning has to be a long arduous process to be successful is complete nonsense. In fact, when the plan is completed without a lot of “bureaucracy” and extraneous analyses, the experience for everyone is short lived and accomplished.

takingsidesTrump Ignorance of Islam is Dangerous for the World

Donald Trump’s rise to power in America to become the Republican presidential nominee should worry governments around the world.

A Reuters’ article pointed out that foreign diplomats in Washington have shown serious concern over Trump’s foul mouth, ignorant rants and vitriolic language about Muslims and Islam.

The greatest example of Trump’s ignorance is his constant attacks against Islam. Trump speaks of Islam as if Islam is a country and Muslims are a race.

Trump considers Muslim immigrants to be intruders operating to undermine America. He projects to the poorly educated American that the country of Islam is attempting to control the American people.

Obviously his ignorance further polarizes America against Muslims as he fuels hatred against Muslims by stating that “Islam hates America,” once again injecting into the minds of poorly educated Americans the idea that Muslims come from a country called Islam.

What Trump fails to understand is that Muslim terrorists have incorrect assumptions about the religion of Islam. Instead, Trump thinks that Muslim terrorists are acting in the political interest of a nation called Islam.

Trump’s demagoguery detracts, blurs, and puts negative spin in the minds of America’s poorly educated class, which he caters to, by claiming that Muslim radicalism and terrorism are supported by a nation called Islam. The poorly educated in turn respond by thinking that they are about to go to war with a country called Islam and that Muslims come from that country.

Trump speeches do nothing but polarize people against each other, and secure hatred against Muslims.

Let’s be clear. Islam is a religion, not a country. Muslims are believers of Islam, much like Christians are believers of Christianity. There is no country called Christianity, like there is no nation called Islam. These are religions.

As for Trump, the trumpery Trump era has begun and America will be all the more ignorant because of it.

Plenty of Money for Downtown Development – Lead Free Water

A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article revealed that residential property owners in the City of Milwaukee face over $500 million dollars in costs to remove all lead pipes delivering drinking water to 70,000 residential properties in the city.

Realizing the seriousness of this, city officials at the Milwaukee Water Works canceled water main replacement projects in residential neighborhoods with older homes, because of fear of spiking up the level of lead being delivered in drinking water to homes in these areas.  The cancelation is intended to eliminate the risk of contributing to higher levels of lead contaminating tap water with the toxic metal.

Lead poisoning has been linked to learning and behavioral deficits later in life, aggressive behavior that some have linked to juvenile delinquency and even criminal behavior. Lead has also been found to be linked to poor performance in schools as evidenced by test scores and suspension rates, according to city officials.

Lead poisoning is of particular concern with children who are more susceptible because of their metabolic rates.

Recently, Milwaukee City Treasurer Spencer Coggs issued a news release informing Milwaukee residential property owners that cost related to replacing laterals in most of the city’s older homes will be allowed to be abated for six years by the city.

In other words, residential property owners will pick up the cost to change laterals on their property delivering lead water caused by city water main which are spiking the lead in the water of older homes in the City of Milwaukee–mostly located in the north side and parts of the south side.

Such absurdity needs to be pointed out. The City Treasurer and the Mayor of Milwaukee telling residential property owners to pay out of pocket to replace laterals that receive water from city pipes that deliver city water carrying minerals that contribute to the growing level of lead found in these laterals, and they expect property owners to pay out of pocket?

Let’s be clear here. The lead in our water spikes when pipes are disturbed for things such as “water main replacement, main breaks, or service line leaks” releasing more lead into the water we drink. Yet, property residential owner must pay out of pocket to replace laterals contaminated because of antiquated pipes the city should have replaced years, if not decades ago?

Well, isn’t that the cat’s meow!

Mayor Barrett and the Common Council can find tens of millions of dollars to give to New York billionaires for a new Bucks arena to pipe in water and they spend tens of millions of dollars to rip up electrical piping so a downtown streetcar can fill up downtown bars and local eateries, but they cannot find money to assist residential property owners to repair lead infested pipes forcing taxpayers to pay out of pocket for laterals if they want to drink clean lead free water.

What are these elected officials priorities? Who are they truly representing? It obviously is not their constituents!

Once again, the kneegroes in the Common Council, under the guise of their feckless leader Mayor Tom Barrett, simply sit in office looking like a deer in headlights about to get plowed over.

takingsidesTurkey Should Scrutinize Trade With Governor Scott Walker

Editor’s Note: The following article was published a couple of days ago by Yeni Asya News based in Istanbul, Turkey. Robert is a weekly columnist for the daily national publication for the last five years.

Recently, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former candidate for President of the United States of America, met with the General Consul of Turkey, Umut Acar, to begin talks to improve trade relations between Turkey and Wisconsin.

The government agency in Wisconsin charged with leading this effort is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The department is chaired by Dan Ariens who is also President and CEO of the Ariens Company.

The WEDC views Turkey as an important commercial link between East and West, which has evolved into one of the world’s newly industrialized economies. Governor Walker wants to pursue trade talks with Turkey because it presents Wisconsin companies looking to export goods with great opportunities.

Establishing trade opportunities between Turkey and Wisconsin is a great idea. However, it must be noted that engaging in talks with WEDC chairman Dan Ariens should be looked at closely as he recently made national news in America implementing a policy that has negatively impacted Muslim prayer in the work place.

Governor Walker’s representative, Fan Ariens, changed his company’s prayer policy to prevent dozens of Muslim employees at his company from worshiping on the job – and he threatened to fire them if they didn’t like it, Muslim workers at the company reported to American media.

Ariens Company used to allow over 50 Muslims who work at his business take two breaks a day – for five minutes at a time – for prayers.

That all recently changed abruptly when the company sent out a statement saying it “does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production” – even for prayer.

Muslim employees said that when they complained they were issued unemployment papers, which indicated that they leave the company.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for Ariens to compromise, stating: “We ask Ariens to revert to its previous policy allowing religious accommodation until a resolution can be reached that allows the workers to practice their faith and permits an efficient manufacturing process.”

But the company has not changed its policy.

Muslims have stated that, before the policy change, “undue hardship” to the company was avoided because other employees took over their tasks during prayer.

In addition, Governor Walker is reportedly ready to sign several laws that many in Wisconsin feel discriminates against immigrants-including Muslims.

The laws range from preventing immigrants from being given government identification cards that would allow them access to government services and health needs.

The laws recently were protested by over 50,000 people, who surrounded the Wisconsin State Capitol and called the laws inhumane.

These laws will negatively impact mostly Hispanic immigrants in Wisconsin, and will certainly negatively impact Muslim immigrants as well.

Governor Walker should use his influence and ask his WEDC chairman, Ariens, to reconsider his position regarding Muslims praying at his company in order to prevent precedent that would give other companies in Wisconsin motivation to enact similar policies preventing Muslims from meeting their obligatory prayers.

Governor Walker should also refuse to sign the anti-immigrant legislation that oppresses immigrants in Wisconsin as well.

Turkey should scrutinize Wisconsin’s motivations before engaging in trade with a state that is intolerant of Muslims and immigrants.

takingsidesGovernor Walker’s Former Secretary of Workforce Development Perez Asks Walker Not To Sign Anti-Immigrant Bills

Former Wisconsin Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Manny Perez responded to questions asked of him by Latino community blogger H. Nelson Goodson, of the Hispanic News Network-USA (HNNUSA)-the questions were posted on the HNNUSA Facebook page this weekend.

Perez was asked whether he supported or did not support the current Republican sponsored anti-immigration bills now being debated at the Capitol.

Former Secretary Perez responded to the questions by stating the following:

“As Walker’s first Secretary of Workforce Development and a moderate Republican, I formally ask Gov. Scott Walker not to sign these bills and of Scott Fitzgerald and Republican Legislators to block and put a stop to this legislation. The public perception is that of an anti-immigrant and anti-worker posture when, in fact, undocumented workers are present because companies are hiring them, because they are good workers seeking to feed their families here and in other countries, and when in fact both Democratic and Republican administrations have contributed to the existence of undocumented workers. Workers are not terrorists; they are here as a result of many factors that include corruption and lack of jobs in developing nations and US International policy and more.

“A framework for immigration reform was presented by me in 2014 to both Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson. It is sound and most certainly can be improved upon. I ask that, instead of Republican and Democratic representatives passing resolutions exerting tremendous pressure on the federal government, they should undertake immigration reform that tackles the ROOT causes of immigration without making the workers and private sector that hire them the scapegoats for failures of past Republican and Democrat administrations because they will – without doubt – both suffer. It is time for all Wisconsinites to go beyond a myopic and parochial view of labor, and of international flows of labor when in fact there are many geopolitical and international trade US policy issues that contribute to illegal immigration,” Perez said.

In addition to his statement, former Secretary Perez released a copy of his recommendations for resolving the immigration question.

Former workforce development secretary suggests:

Perez stated that,”With great concern, I have seen the approval of laws being perceived as anti-immigrant in the State of Wisconsin, which in my opinion does not reflect that a careful analysis of the economic and geopolitical realities has taken place.

“Two years ago, August 2014, I presented the framework outlined below to Sen. Ron Johnson and Congressman Paul Ryan. Senator Johnson and Congressman Ryan initially supported my proposal. I am presenting this proposal to the public in the interest of moving forward in order to resolve this matter,” continued Perez.

Former Secretary Perez Immigration Reform Proposal:

1. US must change its foreign relations policy towards Latin America via the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to tie development loans to actual, measurable, sustainable employment outcomes and increases in purchasing power. OBJECTIVE: Lower the supply of labor to the US via increased employment in Latin America, increased consumption in Latin America and aggregate demand for US products and services; reduce corruption in Third World government/nations, maximize use of US taxpayer funds;

2. Protect the border with increased security OBJECTIVE: Lower supply of undocumented labor to the US while increasing security; act in unison with the rest of these measures;

3. Implement MANAGED LABOR FLOWS approach/Temporary Guest Worker Program to existing UNDOCUMENTED workers in the US and overseas; consider granting temporary work permits to existing undocumented workers. OBJECTIVE:Meet labor demand needs on understaffed positions, or positions where skill is needed, or seasonal employment;

4. Standardize E-Verify across the US and penalize US employers and workers who violate the law. OBJECTIVE: Increase security, ensure workers are protected under labor laws, ensure proper accounting for taxes paid;

5. Establish comprehensive economic development and workforce development strategies at the national level as opposed to hodgepodge or reactionary initiatives.

OBJECTIVE: Provide a stable, flexible economic development and workforce development framework for the states to use to maximize outcomes and train the local workforce, yet achieve aggregate results;

6. Ensure all nations adhere to accepted WTO labor standards OBJECTIVE: Ensure that all nations play under the same rules, protect workers’ rights and safety, and ensure a stable labor force for business.

7. Focus on measurable results and outcomes. OBJECTIVE: Stop heated rhetoric and politicking and maximize benefits to the citizens and the nation

takingsidesWalker’s Workforce Development Debacle

Scott Walker has named yet another Secretary of Workforce Development, replacing Reggie Newson.  This is the third Secretary of Worforce Development since Secretary Manny Perez resigned in May 2011.

Before Secretary Perez left DWD, Wisconsin’s employment ranking was 17th in the nation. Since then, Wisconsin has dropped to 34th, according to the latest job report.

So, what happened at the Department of Workforce Development?

The DWD suffers from untrained and unqualified leadership being placed at the helm of the organization for political expediency. The difference between Secretary Perez and every DWD appointee after him, is that Perez has had private sector employment development experience, actual knowledge, and proven ability to achieve results; he understands the needs of business and workers and he cared for the wellbeing of Wisconsin.

Secretary Newson replaced Scott Baumback after it became fairly clear that there was a questionable relationship between him and Division Administrator Allison Rozek on October 2011.

This occurred after emails from Rozek were made public in which she revealed her “current relationship” with Atty. Scott Baumback, a revelation made after she had “filed” a harassment complaint against Secretary Perez. Her allegations against Perez were never filed and DWD sources say there was no harassment by Perez.

After some time elapsed, sources at DWD tell me that the harassment accusation against Perez was nothing more than dirty politics being played and that the governor did not do right for himself or Wisconsin accepting Perez’ resignation even though in that short period of time Perez achieved extraordinary workforce development results. In fact, sources at DWD tell me that Perez was strongly opposed to any employee having inappropriate relationships.

Since Secretary Perez’ departure from DWD, each Walker appointee at the Department of Workforce Development has failed, causing a great deal of damage to Wisconsin’s economy and Walker’s reputation and credibility.

Certainly, Walker’s abandonment of his promise to create 250,000 jobs is fresh in people’s minds. The inexperienced Secretary Newson replaced Scott Baumback after it became clear that there was a questionable relationship between him and Division Administrator Allison Rozek in October 2011.

The newly appointed Secretary of DWD, Ray Allen, has 18 years of experience in the Department of Financial Institutions and hence has no workforce development experience. Is he being brought in to clean up a financial mess, or to advance workforce development?

It is widely recognized that, in accepting Secretary Perez resignation, Walker shot himself in the foot. Sources very close to the Secretary’s office at DWD indicate that Secretary Perez “did in 5 months” more than had been done at DWD in the 5 years since his departure.

What did Perez do? First, Perez implemented a very robust system of financial controls and checks that require agency wide approval. He also deployed a system of internal audit procedures agency wide as a preventive measure to ensure compliance at all times. Furthermore, in 5 months under Secretary Perez’ leadership, the Wisconsin job ranking moved from 20th at the end of Doyle’s term to 17th.

Wisconsin placed an average of 6000–7000 workers per month for 24,000 jobs in just 4 months with worker wages starting to increase. In fact, in 5 months under Secretary Perez’ guidance, DWD placed the same number of workers that DWD placed in 12 months from 2014 to 2015. The December 2015 jobs reports cites, “Wisconsin added a statistically significant 23,600 private sector jobs from December 2014 to December 2015.”

Sources tell me that Secretary Perez aligned the labor market to economic development and that he had the confidence of Workforce and Economic Development Directors statewide. This is significant because most of the directors had democratic leanings at the time.

Sources also say that Secretary Perez was well on the way to making DWD help achieve the 250,000 jobs promised by Walker. But Walker let him go.

Perez Arrives At

Esperanza Unida

When I was hired to be Director of Esperanza Unida, I took on the challenge to restore a financially ruined agency. With over $750,000 in illegal loan debt, in addition to toxic debt of over $250,000 in expenses and another $500,000 in restoration and repairs needed at the two Esperanza Unida facilities, I implemented a plan that would have infused much needed revenue to the agency. The plan was an international manufacturing trade, job creation and training agreement between Esperanza Unida, MATC, Bucyrus International corporation and the country of Turkey.

The effort however was defeated by so-called progressive members of the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) Board of Directors led by labor lawyer Peter Earle and former State Representative Pedro Colon with the help of Voces de la Frontera Director, Christine Neumann Ortiz in 2007.

For several years, the agency struggled to stay afloat. In 2012, I had the opportunity to see Secretary Perez in action when I hired him to restructure the agency. After he confirmed that the organization’s board prior to my arrival had taken inappropriate loans using the 611 West National Building and 1329 West National Building as collateral, he went to work with the City of Milwaukee and the Federal Government to correct this situation, but conditions were not conducive.

Secretary Perez improved the 611 Building, found a buyer (Keystone Development), collaborated with the City of Milwaukee and the Federal Government EDA to allow a foreclosure of the building and perform an inmediate sell to the buyer. This saved the City of Milwaukee $700,000 in federal penalties and extinguished the $1.3 million in debt associated with the building. To derail Perez’ efforts at Esperanza Unida, Irene Correa made false allegations of harassment against Perez. Perez took her to court where her allegations were found to be baseless and were dismissed.


Pattern of Failure

Scott Walker has a habit of appointing people to key positions who are unqualified for the job and then blaming them for the failures of the agency. He also consults with people who appear to be his “friends,” but who feed him bad advice.

Examples of these are Mike Huesbch who – with Walker’s approval – pressed former Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) CEO Paul Jadin to give fraudulent loans to a company. There are those in Madison who say that, as soon as Jadin left WEDC and Perez left DWD, Wisconsin’s jobs future went with them.

Tim Murray basically destroyed WEDC. Former WEDC CEO Reed Hall had no knowledge of economic development. Marc Hogan, the new WEDC CEO, has no economic development experience.

Keith Gilkes, sources in Madison say, was a very bad Chief of Staff.

Scott Baumbach, Reggie Newson, and Georgia Maxwell at DWD are said to not have a basic understanding of or relevant experience with labor markets.

Of course when things go awry, Walker blames the agency or the Secretary in a feeble attempt to misinform the public, when in fact he himself is responsible for what happens under his watch.

My suggestion? Scott Walker do yourself and the people of Wisconsin a favor, consult and accept guidance from those people – such as Secretary Perez and many others – who have both the knowledge and successful experience in their field of expertise.

takingsidesRecent act of vigilantism took place in our community

The violent beating of a teenager accused of attempting a carjacking who then tried to flee the scene — only to be caught by a group of men, is the talk on social media this week.

The teenager was dealt some street Justice according to witnesses in the south side after he was caught.

A photo of the boy left lying on the snow after being beaten by a group of men has gone viral.

The photo has many people in the south side community wondering if he deserved it.

Milwaukee police are investigating the incident and released this statement to FOX6 News on this incident:

“Milwaukee police are investigating an attempted auto theft that happened on Monday, February 8th, around 1:50 p.m. in the 3200 block of W. Madison Street.  The victim observed two suspects in his vehicle attempting to steal it.  He confronted the suspects who fled.  The suspects attempted to enter a get-away vehicle and one of the suspects was successful.  The second suspect was confronted and punched by the victim.  The second suspect continued to flee on foot.   A witness attempted to detain the second suspect, grabbed him by the pants, pulling them off, as the second suspect climbed a fence and continued to flee.  Shortly after, an unknown person battered the second suspect, took a picture and posted it to Facebook.  MPD is working to determine who battered the second suspect.

“The second suspect, who is a 15-year-old Milwaukee male, has since been arrested and suffered a minor injury during this incident.  Once the investigation is complete, the case will be referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office for charges against the 15-year-old for attempted motor vehicle theft, and the person responsible for battering the suspect,” Police said.

Witnesses say that a young man was slammed to the floor and then surrounded by a group of men who started kicking and punching him for his attempted carjacking.

“They started tugging on his jacket, shoes and pants,” a witness told police. “As he was laying there practically naked, they still kept beating him and laughing at him.”

When the group of men left the teen, who was disoriented and laying on the snow, confused, the injured teenager tried standing up, but fell right back down in a pile of snow.

The photo of the boy lying in the snow was posted on Facebook.

This incident is a travesty. When people take the law into their own hands, they’re no different than the thugs that commit crimes against our community.

The Law and Justice

Dishing out punishment is not Justice. People can’t be taking justice into their own hands. When a criminal is caught, beatings and summary executions are not the manner in which criminals should be addressed.

In the 1930s, crime was out of control. Mobs did drive-byes with Thompson machine guns killing innocent people on the streets. Law enforcement eventually got a handle on things. This is nothing new. Crime is nothing new. The law is what matters. We must work with it to be effective.

Teenagers engaging in criminal activity do so because of failed parenting, schools and the economy. Truly, it’s up to parents to teach the children. When parents act like parents to their children instead of trying to be their friend, things change for the better.

As for the vigilantes who took Justice into their own hands, they must be punished for unjustly being prosecutor, judge and executioner.

Street Justice is not the way Justice is served.