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Gov. Walker’s Economic Development Agency Under the Microscope

Walker 2016

April 24, 2015 CONTACT: Mike Browne
CELL: (608) 444-3483

‘Record Shows He’s Enriched His Cronies While Failing to Deliver for the Rest of Us’

MADISON, Wis. and DES MOINES — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has come under scrutiny by media nationally and in Iowa recently for a $62 million-plus award of state funds to the retail outlet Kohl’s doled out under his watch as chair of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted that more transactions by Walker’s WEDC deserve scrutiny, including over $86 million in state economic assistance to businesses that outsourced jobs to foreign countries.

As Walker treks to Iowa again this weekend as he auditions for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic commented, “It’s the time of year where a lot of politicians are coming to Iowa trying to win our support. But we need to take a good hard look at what they’ve done too.”

According to a One Wisconsin Now analysis of WEDC grant awards and federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) filings, since 2011 the quasi-private state economic development agency, whose board is chaired by Gov. Walker and whose key staff are hired by him, has approved over $86 million in state tax credits, grants and other aid to businesses that have outsourced jobs to foreign countries.

Ross noted there’s a vast disconnect between Walker’s actions as governor, overseeing millions in state aid going to outsourcers of American jobs, while on the campaign trail for president alleging his most recent immigration flip flop is being made out of concern for “American jobs and American wages.”

Progress Iowa’s Sinovic commented, “When Scott Walker was in Iowa in March he tried to tell us that he’s on our side on the critical economic issue of renewable fuel, despite a long history of doing and saying the exact opposite. Now he’s saying he cares about American jobs and American wages but we find out in Wisconsin he doled out millions to companies that were shipping jobs to foreign countries.”

Independent audits of Gov. Walker’s WEDC found an agency plagued with incompetence and questionable practices. The agency lost track of millions of dollars in state loans to businesses, failed to confirm aid recipients were fulfilling the terms of their agreements, failed to follow basic accounting practices and even used taxpayer funds to purchase liquor, football tickets and iTunes gift cards.

A report released by One Wisconsin Now, W is for WEDC, found that, in addition to providing aid to job outsourcers, a majority of aid went to businesses whose owners and employees contributed to help Gov. Walker’s campaigns, funds failed to produce promised job creation and recipients included companies engaged in health and safety violations, mass layoffs and conflicts of interest.

Ross concluded, “The cronyism, corruption and incompetence of Gov. Walker’s WEDC is a big reason Wisconsin’s economy is such a mess — last in the Midwest on jobs, lagging wages and a middle class that’s shrinking faster than any other state in the nation. With Scott Walker you know he’ll say anything to win an election, so you have to also pay attention to what he’s done. On jobs and the economy, the record shows he’s enriched his cronies while failing to deliver for the rest of us.”

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

Sunday Funday: Bump And Grind For Donations Edition

Mike Luckovich, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mike Luckovich, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Saw this Mike Lukovich cartoon and just had to share it. Being in Iowa we will be viewed as the epicenter of politics until sometime in January. Yet in the Republican Party the epicenter is actually a much smaller group. You may have heard that the Koch brothers, Charles and David, will be involved in picking the next Republican candidate in this election round. They were a bit put out that the party chose such a stinker last time around. Even though he was wealthy, Mitt Romney just didn’t meet their criteria.

Charles and David will be holding a beauty contest among 5 candidates – their own Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and another damned Bush. Winner gets as much from them as they will from the Republican party itself. Perhaps as much as a billion dollars. Those two are their own third American Political Party.

1) Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced legislation to extend what just in case Republicans get the win they want in King v. Burwell?

2) After all the bluster against Loretta Lynch, who was the only senator to not vote on the confirmation of Lynch for Attorney General?

3) Freddie Gray died while in police custody last Sunday. What major US city did this happen in?

4) How did Iowa’s senators vote on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as US Attorney General?

5) The FBI stunned the jurisprudence world this week when it admitted that it faked what type of forensic investigation?

6) Loretta Lynch’s confirmation vote was held up until a vote could be taken on what issue?

7) The former president of what country was sentenced to 20 years in prison?

8) The World Meteorological Association has removed what name for hurricanes starting in 2016?

9) The Prime Minister of New Zealand had to issue an apology for continually doing what to a waitress?

10) President Obama issued an apology when it was revealed that an American and an Italian citizen were killed by what in January?

11) What brand of ice cream has made a major recall due to a listeria problem?

12) Chicken and turkey farmers in northwest Iowa have been hit with a major outbreak of what disease?

13) An anti-bullying bill pushed by Gov. Branstad and passed overwhelmingly by the Iowa senate is being stalled by who?

14) A century ago (boy April seems like a violent month) last Friday was the anniversary of beginning of the genocide of what people?

15) Twenty-nine years ago today, the world is stunned by the meltdown of a nuclear power plant at what city in Russia?

16) A speed record for trains was achieved in Japan when one recorded going 590kph. What kind of train made this record?

17) A blogger who pushed a vegan diet claiming it cured her cancer was revealed to never had to have had what?

18) The son of what presidential candidate was cited (not arrested) for DUI after running into a parked car?

19) Pumps at what nuclear plant that suffered a meltdown stopped last week causing radioactive water to leak into the ocean?

20) Despite giving away state secrets what man got a suspended sentence and (for him) a small fine?

Ray-ban has asked Rand Paul to please remove their sunglasses from his online store. No doubt bad publicity for them.


1) subsidies to those who now get subsidies through the ACA. These subsidies would last through 2016 (to avoid Repubs being blamed for the loss of subsidies)

2) Ted Cruz

3) Baltimore

4) Both voted no.

5) Hair analysis – great story here

6) Human trafficking

7) Egypt

8) Isis

9) pulling her pony tail

10) a drone attack

11) Blue Bell

12) bird flu

13) House speaker Kraig Paulson

14) Armenian

15) Chernobyl

16) a bullet mag-lev (magnetic levitation) train

17) the cancer she claimed she had

18) Rand Paul

19) Fukishima

20) David Petraeus. 2 years probation and a fine equal to about half of one speaking fee.

Write Grassley And Ernst Regarding The TPP

Charles Grassley, like it or not, will be up for re-election in 2016. There is no time like the present to let him know what he should be doing for the people of Iowa. Joni Ernst is in her first months and has already taken many steps that should be making her unpopular among voters. Like it or not, they are our senators and they need to hear from us.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) may be up for a vote in the senate next week. My expectation, as I am sure yours is, is that Grassley and Ernst will vote for fast-tracking the TPP in lockstep with other Republicans. Remember this vote is not to approve the TPP, but to give the administration the ability to negotiate and approve the TPP basically behind closed doors. This is not what representative democracy is about.

Approving a trade pact the size of TPP in the dark just tears at all the basic tenets of democracy. From what we know TPP will affect every segment of our society. We have also learned that there are many troubling aspects to problem resolution within TPP that may overrule our laws from outside. Not a situation that America should allow itself to get into.

There appear to be many other troubling aspects of the TPP but we do not know for sure what is in this pact since all negotiations have been under super secrecy. The latest rumor is that the TPP is based on the model of the recent (2011) trade pact with South Korea (KORUS) that has been disastrous for the United States. That agreement has sent yet more American jobs offshore while greatly expanding our trade deficit. TPP will do the same on steroids. America can not afford the TPP.

Here is what I will send to our senators:
Senator __________,
I am writing to ask that you vote against fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. This trade agreement will affect all aspects of the American economy and possibly aspects of out day tot day lives. In a democracy such as ours, any act that will have this much affect on the daily lives of our citizens should have open debate so that all sides may be brought out. There should also be plenty of time and opportunity for common citizens to offer input.

Please vote against fast tracking authority for the TPP when it comes to the senate floor.

Thank you,

Here are the email links for Grassley and Ernst:

To Our Grandchild

Celebrate Earth Day Everyday!

Celebrate Earth Day Everyday!

We want to get our apology in now. We won’t be around a lot longer and it looks like the one thing we had hoped to give you when you reached adulthood was a world that was at least trying to get a grip on its problems so that humans could share the one planet we have in a way that all could survive. If things continue the direction they are going, we will have failed miserably and left your generation in the worst shape of any that inherited the earth.

For the past 35 years the greedy have ruled the planet with money and their own interests in mind. For the most part that meant that they exploited most everything they could. They exploited raw materials around the world where they sowed the seeds of hate and injustice and eventual war in pursuit of that exploitation. They exploited human labor to the very depths they could and bought off government and officials so they would look the other way when they went even lower than was legal.

They exploited the American constitution so they could essentially run the government. Laws were written such that they could exploit American workers and our environment. They used their money and power to influence elections through gerrymandering, through disenfranchising certain segments of voters and also to confuse and intimidate voters. When their candidates were elected they went about the business of changing laws to keep them in power and filling the judiciary with their lackeys so that their view would almost always win in courts.

They exploited and owned the media to its fullest extent. Finding any alternative news source after the presidency of Ronald Reagan was much like looking for Sasquatch. Rumors were that such things existed, but were seldom spotted. We have been given a steady stream of information that tells us that whatever is good for the rich is good for us. This media has led us cheering into war after war. They have led us to believe that the US committing terrorism by drones within foreign countries is good. They have created fear among citizens to the point where we armed ourselves to the teeth ready to shoot strangers at the drop of a hand. And for every drone, every weapon of war, every gun and bullet that was sold the greedy got richer and our society got poorer.

They exploited fear not only of strangers but of an unseen and unprovable entity called a god. They used this god to extract unquestioning loyalty for fear that the exploited would meet some fearful eternity. Using the fear to create a people scared of their own shadows and afraid to question whatever the greedy did.

When people were full of fear and filled with so much misinformation that reality seemed like a fantasy to those people, the greedy then went about destroying the environment that allowed human life to occur on this one lonely planet that we know of. The air became nearly impossible to breath, the water so filthy it could barely be cleaned any more. The temperatures soared and rivers and aquifers dried up in one spot while floods raged in others driving people from their land and eventually covering coastal areas. Food became scarce for many even while food resources were used to feed animals for consumption by the greedy who had money and power.

Your grandmother and I tried to work in the systems of democracy to stop what was going on. Sadly, our letters to people in power, our marching, our phone calls were easily drowned out by the money on influence of the greedy. We were frustrated, but carried on believing that what was best for all would eventually win out. Slowly we learned that a few greedy people with money and power can easily get their way through access, confusion and fear.

And so you inherit a world that is broken. A world where food and clean water are like gold was to many of us. You inherit a world where fear that has been ground into people is one of the driving forces. You inherit a world full of religious prejudice and fear. You inherit a world that is so warm it is nearly impossible to lived in. We are deeply sorry.

We believed that given choices that most people would choose what was best for the greatest number. We were very wrong. We learned that most people will follow what seems to be the crowd, even if it is an artificially produced crowd. Maybe your generation will respond to the crisis we dropped on you, but I fear forces of greed will stop any progress in your time also.

But we will not stop fighting. Mankind is worth fighting for.

Organic Food & The Farmer’s Face

Locally Produced Spring Greens

Locally Produced Spring Greens

Is the local food movement here to stay?

Intellectually, how could it not be? The future must necessarily be one of producing food much closer to where people live, especially as transportation costs escalate, and current food sources in the California Central Valley, in South Florida, and Texas face the extreme weather characteristic of climate change.

That said, life with food is not always about rational behavior.

Growth of organic food sales is unmistakable, with 2014 food and non-food item sales setting a new record of $39.1 billion. Organic was almost five percent of food sales, according to the Organic Trade Association.

There is good and bad organic food. When we think about it, what good is it to buy organic canned black beans produced in China more cheaply than what a local farmer can sell? Is it bad that local producers use “organic practices” yet do not secure USDA organic certification of their operations?

The good news is interest in organic food helps small-scale producers generate needed sales. As organic sales go mainstream, being found in four out of five grocery stores, a crop of informed consumers is making up 18 percent of buyers, accounting for 46 percent of organic food sales. There is room for continued growth in this segment as wider availability of organic food, and mainstream information about organic foods drive people to buy them.

Each week, I hear people explain why they buy organic food. Their reasons are diverse, and don’t always make sense. The commitment is often to “eating healthy” as opposed to any sound rationale. This attitude toward organic food can become problematic, and  small-scale producers in the local food movement are particularly vulnerable. If organic is the latest fad, then long-term sustainability may be out the window for them.

Another thing people don’t mention much is as organic food becomes mainstream, large-scale players will increase their share in organic, and dominate the marketplace. Companies like Earthbound Farm Organic will become the norm, rather than the exception. Food conglomerates may establish gigantic organic food divisions as they have already done with gluten-free food. Better margins in organic food will attract capital, and small-scale farmers seem seldom have enough of that to compete.

I brought a bag of seven or eight kinds of spring greens home from the farm, reminding me of why I buy and barter for local food. I know how the farmers treat the soil, where they get seeds and rootstock, how they control pests, how they treat animals, and how they treat labor.

There is not much hope for a market based on “eating healthy.” It is not sustainable, even if organic is gaining market share.

Some of us find hope in being close to the means of production and getting our hands dirty. We also know the face of the farmer—something that gets forgotten midst the hoopla of buzzwords.

Knowing the face of the farmer is sustainable in local food systems. It is hard to replace, and it is time we got to know more of the farmers whose production we eat every day.

Iowa Pipeline Walk: Landowners Are Fighting Back

ed fallonIowa Pipeline Walk: Day 37

Ed Fallon

Friday, April 17, 2015 – Newkirk, Iowa

Click here to go to original post at

Dakota Access is growing more and more aggressive, playing hardball with landowners who do not want the company coming on their land to survey for a pipeline.

And landowners are fighting back.

Randy Sieren, who farms in Keokuk County, called me today saying he found four surveyors trespassing yesterday. “I just caught them out in the field,” said Randy. “I told them they didn’t have any permission from me to be there, so they’d better hit the road.”

They left, but a pipeline staffer went to Randy’s home. “He told my wife they’d be back in the morning, and they didn’t want any confrontation. Well, to make sure there was no confrontation, I had the Keokuk County Sheriff stop by.”

“The following morning, they showed up again but never had a chance to get out of the car,” explained Randy. “They argued that the certified letter sent to me was all they needed. The Sheriff said it wasn’t, and told them to leave.”

Surveyors have yet to force their way onto Weslie & Teresa Phipps’ farm. Perhaps that’s because Weslie is the farmer who told the pipeline official, “They’d have to carry me out in a pine box before I’d let any oil pipeline people on my property.”

Weslie raises an excellent point: “I question the jurisdiction of the Iowa Utilities Board over an interstate oil pipeline of a private company. They are not a utility. The power of eminent domain was not given for private use. Any and all powers not delegated to government by the people remain with the people. Our rights are simply not for sale.”

A woman wrote to me, saying, “I totally understand the message about the aggressive and nasty reps of the pipeline company. Tell people to keep resisting, even if it means not being polite and nice, because the company reps don’t understand polite. They also don’t understand ‘no.’ I, too, received their packet and an offer. Mine came by mail because I wouldn’t let them come to my home when they called. I still get a call about once a week telling me they will be on my property to do some surveying and I say not by a long shot, stay off private property. (Sometimes my language might get a little more harsh, shall we say.)”

The woman went on to tell me, “One example of how nasty these people are was when they went into a nursing home and harassed an older lady to let them survey. The staff had to ask them to leave! True to form for ‘big oil’ and their money.”

Wow! I am hearing more and more such stories. All I can say to landowners is, stand strong – and to the rest of us, let’s continue to show our support for them.

Want one more example of why that’s important? On my Facebook page, one of my friends, Deborah Marlin, shared a news clip of my walk. Kim Luetkeman responded: “I don’t know you but thank you for sharing this. My family’s century farm is being affected by the pipeline. All the support we can get is greatly appreciated. It seriously means so much to have complete strangers help in our fight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We aren’t about to give in and will fight for this as long as it takes.”

Will Grassley And Ernst Get It Right This Time?

Ed Flaherty

Ed Flaherty

Call On Iowa Senators to Wage Peace

by Ed Flaherty

Iran has come to an interim agreement with the U.S. and five other countries to dramatically reduce its nuclear program and to allow even more intensive international inspections. A final agreement is to be complete by June 30.

Congress will soon be debating its role in this matter. Iowa’s senators Grassley and Ernst have, up to this point, expressed not only skepticism about a potential agreement, but have attempted to derail it. They will now have another opportunity to weigh in on it, both in the upcoming debates and in the congressional review of the agreement after June 30. This will be an opportunity for them to get on the right side of history, by supporting an agreement than ensures that Iran will not have the ability to build a nuclear weapon. (Despite the senators’ claims to the contrary, U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed multiple times in the last decade that there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapon program).

The alternative to an agreement will be more sanctions, more distrust and isolation, enhanced conditions for another war. In January, 1991, Senator Grassley voted against the first Gulf War. He was one of only two Republican senators to vote against the Republican president’s request, and it took courage and common sense to do it. Now is the time to ask that he exercise that courage and common sense again and support this historic agreement. His actions would also hopefully have a profound effect on the junior senator from Iowa.

Earth Day And The Pentagon

Ed Flaherty

Ed Flaherty

by Ed Flaherty

This week we celebrate Earth Day. It is a day to bring into the active areas of our brains the innate understanding that we have only one Mother Earth to live on, and that she needs our care badly.

We can each help in our own individual ways. We can bike, recycle, eat healthy, garden, plant trees, reduce our carbon imprint, etc. But how can we reconcile our own important but small efforts with our blindness to the fact that most of the discretionary budget of the U.S. federal government is devoted to the military? The U.S. military is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world. It emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other organization in the world.

Forget for a moment the disastrous environmental effects of war itself. Forget for a moment the erosion of moral and civil values as we accept the idea of perpetual war.

Ask yourself one question. Why devote most of our discretionary budget to fund the organization that is doing more than any other to destroy the security of the planet? Our splendid democracy should be capable of allocating our resources to efforts to secure our environment, and should be able to induce the Pentagon to adjust its mission to one of helping, not destroying, our only home.

earth day april 22

Click on the image for Earth week events in Iowa


Is That Climate Change Article BS?

WHY-WHY-NOTWhat’s true is there are a lot of posts, articles, books and periodicals that discuss global warming and climate change on the Internet. There will be more along the road to COP-21 in Paris this December. What’s more true is a lot of it is bullshit.

Blog for Iowa recommends the handy climate change BS guide, “How to Tell if the Article About Climate You are Reading is B.S., in Four Easy Steps,” an article on ClimateProgress by Joe Romm.

Romm delineates these four steps:

Skip climate articles by people who think the problem is hopeless or intractable — because it most certainly is not.

Skip articles written by George Will and his ilk.

Skip articles—especially longer climate essays—by authors who don’t explicitly tell you what temperature target or CO2 concentration target they embrace and how they’d go about attaining it.

Skip articles embracing Orwellian terms like “good Anthropocene.”

Check out the entire article here.

Click on the image for Earth week events in Iowa.

Click on the image for Earth week events in Iowa.

The Republican Way

donald kaulKaul weighs in on the 2016 campaign.  Read the original article at

The Road to Ruin

The race for the White House delivers either Republican presidents who favor the rich or Democrats who also favor the rich, but not as much.

By Donald Kaul

That harsh whine you hear in the background — like a buzzsaw getting ready for a log to come down the chute — is the vast right-wing conspiracy revving its engines.

America Rising, an opposition research Super PAC that lives to trash the Clintons, dashed off a press release challenging the notion that Hillary was going to “drive to Iowa” to start her campaign as she said she would. Hillary doesn’t drive, it said. Someone would have to drive her.

Not exactly the Teapot Dome on the scandal meter. But it’s a start.

Observers say that the main thrust of the Republican strategy will be an effort to make her into a Democratic Mitt Romney — rich, privileged, and clueless as to how real people live.

“How can she relate to the cost of gas?” asked Republican strategist Kevin Madden. “How can she relate to rising food prices when she doesn’t shop herself?”

And Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican hopeful, is about to run a series of ads accusing Clinton of “representing the worst of the Washington machine” that’s “destroying the American dream.”

In contrast, the former Hillary Rodham seems to be in a Mr. Rogers mood. She’s wandering around Iowa, meeting people, and saying, “It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood. Will you be my friend?”

Her announcement, by way of a video, was so low-key as to be boring. She made the obligatory genuflection to hard-working American families who are “struggling to get ahead.” She promised to be their champion. Ho hum.

Expect all of this to change in the coming months. The Republicans say they’re not going to get personal, but they won’t be able to help themselves. That conspiracy won’t let them.

You’re about to be inundated by a veritable tsunami of campaign garbage coming from the dozens of right-wing organizations that have been collecting ammunition for just such an assault. Whitewater, Troopergate, Vince Foster (If you don’t remember that White House aide, look up the name. Hillary Clinton was supposed to have killed him), sex in the White House, sex out of the White House, Travelgate, Benghazi, email-gate, her jet-setting ways.

All of this baggage and paranoia will come flooding back in its rancid glory. Lies will be mixed with truth, truth with exaggeration. There will be a lot of outright fantasy.

My own personal favorite anti-Clinton story is Bill’s former lover who claimed that the Clintons had killed her cat.

It’s the Republican way. Before, during, and after an election they attempt to delegitimize the opposition. Carter, Dukakis, Kerry, Clinton, and Obama all got the same treatment. It’s the only arrow in the Republican quiver.

At some point, however, Hillary will have to come out of her shell and go on the counter-attack. And I think she can do that. For one thing, she’s got a shot at amassing a reported $2.5-billion war chest.

So what if she’s rich? Pretty much all presidential candidates are rich. So what if she’s out of touch? Do you think Jeb Bush shops for his own dinner or washes the dishes every night? And if he did, how much better would he be able to deal with Iran?

The thing that this campaign will demonstrate yet again is that the way we choose U.S. presidents is broken.

We require our candidates to go around with a tin cup begging for money, promising this to that group and that to this other one. And then we expect them to be honest and principled once in office.

That’s unrealistic. If you’re lucky, you get a semi-honest, semi-principled person who campaigns for high-minded goals, without conviction.

Although I will never understand how the Republicans figure that getting rid of health insurance for millions of people qualifies as high-minded.

The ultimate result is either Republican presidents who favor the rich or Democrats who also favor the rich, but not as much.

I just don’t think that’s what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. At least I hope not.

OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.