Posts Tagged ‘Doyle’

Lawton goes against Doyle…again

August 13, 2009

What is Barb (that’s what I call her) thinking with this move?

Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton is again taking a different stance on a hot issue than fellow Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

Lawton is scheduled to testify at a hearing Thursday in support of a bill that would remove the authority for the governor to appoint the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. Doyle opposes the bill.

How does she benefit from opposing the governor? It likely drums up support for her from Democratic camps that are tired of Doyle, and it gets her attention because it’s so unexpected. If she can push the idea that Doyle is out of touch, especially on an issue like this, where the governor appears to be making a power grab, she can drive up his negatives and perhaps increase the chances that he’ll decide not to run for re-election.

The main idea is to present herself as a viable Democratic alternative – to remind Democratic primary voters that there is somebody else out there.

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Brunch Links

August 12, 2009

Good morning Sconz nation! I’m a little today and the next few days with moving. I’ll try to keep you updated though. It’s another beautiful day in the 80’s.

Uh oh, six businesses accused of violating Madison’s lobbying disclosure law. Hammes Co, which is developing the Edgewater, is one of them. They say it was an honest mistake.

People keep talking about Doyle’s legal adviser, who didn’t pass the state bar exam (she was from California). Why does this matter?

Where should the high-speed train from Milwaukee to Madison stop?

Paul Soglin: Paul Ryan is a goofball.

How much does a regent have to pay Doyle?

August 6, 2009

I’ve been hearing rumors from people involved in university policy that the board of regents is stacked with major Democratic contributors, especially contributors to Gov. Jim Doyle’s campaigns. I did some research on my own to assess the charge, and I come back with mixed results, which leave me cynical enough to believe the accusations, but not convinced enough to declare Doyle “guilty” beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are the regents Doyle selected, including the amount they contributed to his campaigns since 2003:

Jeffrey Bartell – $17, 474

Mark Bradley – $20,219

Eileen Keesler–Connolly – $500

Judith Crain – $150

Danae Davis – $2450

Stan Davis – $1,350

John Drew – $0

Tony Evers – $0

Michael J. Falbo – $14,000

Thomas Loftus – $1,100

Charles Pruitt – $2,150

Brent Smith – $7,187

Michael J. Spector – $22,050

David Walsh – $24,250

Like I said, not enough to convict the man. A handful of very big contributors, including three who surpassed the 20 grand mark, a pretty impressive feat. Essentially that means they gave the maximum allowed ($10,000) for his first two campaigns and are probably planning on maxing out their contributions for his next campaign if he runs again. Of the two who gave no money, one is John Drew, a representative for the United Autoworkers, and the other is Tony Evers, the state superintendent, who is not selected by the governor. There are a handful of prominent lobbyists, including David Walsh, who represents communications interests, as well as many other members who have seemingly no experience in education whatsoever. Granted, it’s not just education buffs you need on the board of regents – you also need people with legal, financial and other cultural expertise.

What is extremely disappointing about the board of regents is how few of them come from outside Madison or Milwaukee. Many schools in the UWS system lack representation completely. Six come from the Madison area, seven come from the Milwaukee area, two come from Green Bay and one comes from La Crosse. Since the inception of the Board of Regents over 30 years ago, there has not once been a regent nominated from the Eau Claire area. Luckily one of the student reps on the board this year comes from Eau Claire.

But here’s the sad truth: under the current system, there should probably be even more regents from Madison.

This is relevant in the broader context of higher education in this state. The Board of Regents is an antiquated structure, which does not properly address the needs of the different UW campuses. UW-Madison, by far the largest campus in the system, needs separate governance. This has been proposed before by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, and it needs to be evaluated more seriously. Not only does Madison account for more than a quarter of all students in the system, it also supplies more than 90 percent of all doctoral degrees, and takes in 93 percent of all research funds in the system. UW-Madison is a state school and should remain one, but it is also a nationally renowned research university that can compete with the top public and private universities in the country. It needs to be independent to pursue this competition.

Not only would independence help Madison, but it would benefit all the other UWS campuses, who would then have the opportunity to have a board composed purely of regents with their needs in mind. Eau Claire would finally get some representation!

That’s why I don’t believe the legislation authored by Rep. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire), which seeks to nominate the regents based on seven geographical districts (all must be represented by at least one regent) goes far enough in addressing the inadequacies of the system. If anything, I believe this legislation would be a very bad deal for Madison.

Pocan disses Doyle, but approves trains

August 4, 2009

“The most telling aspect of the story is the Democrats’ refusal to comment. Especially when we’re talking about Madison-area Democrats, many of whom pride themselves on pushing for higher ethics standards and open, accessible government. You know Mark Pocan doesn’t like defending a governor who’s inviting comparisons to George W.”

That’s what I wrote earlier today, before this came out:

Rep. Mark Pocan scolded the DOT and Doyle administration from not informing the JFC about the agreement to purchase trains from Spanish company Talgo until a month before the panel had to act on the purchase.

Pocan pointedly asked DOT general counsel Bob Jambois when the agreement was signed by Secretary Frank Busalacchi. Jambois said a letter of intent was signed on May 11.

Pocan said the JFC members didn’t hear about the deal until July 17, the day Gov. Doyle held a press conference to tout the purchase from Talgo.

“As a co-equal branch of government we should have been informed earlier than just a little over two weeks ago about this,” Pocan said.

We’re still far enough away from the election for Democrats to criticize their commander without supplying the opposition with too much ammunition, however, it’s still a gutsy move by Pocan. Just look at the comments Republicans made. Robin Vos, who despite being insane, apparently represents a constituency, called Doyle’s deal “a sham,” saying Doyle only bought the Spanish trains because the Spanish government had paid for his trip to Spain.

Nevertheless, the trains were approved by the Joint Finance Committee on a party-line vote. The committee did withhold $500,000 from the $48 million – perhaps a symbolic protest?

Maybe corruption buys good trains

August 4, 2009

Doyle wants a fast train. I can sympathize. I dream of a world where rappers boast about their city’s mass transit, emphasizing the speed, the efficiency, and of course, the chrome plates on the tracks.

But in his zeal to develop hip-hop worthy trains, Doyle may have jumped the gun. Critics are pointing to the Spanish company which the state is scheduled to pay $47 million to make the train cars. It appears Jimmy awarded them a rare no-bid contract, despite a pledge from his office in February to choose the contractor through a bidding process.

Committee member Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said she would oppose the purchase in part because of the lack of a competitive bid that might have lowered the cost of a deal.

“The Doyle administration is like a runaway train,” Sen. Darling said. “It’s very upsetting as a policy maker to see the governor acting so cavalierly about hard-earned tax dollars.”

The most telling aspect of the story is the Democrats’ refusal to comment. Especially when we’re talking about Madison-area Democrats, many of whom pride themselves on pushing for higher ethics standards and open, accessible government. You know Mark Pocan doesn’t like defending a governor who’s inviting comparisons to George W.

Budget committee co-chairman Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, is still reviewing the proposed train purchase and hasn’t taken a position on it, spokesman John Anderson said. The other co-chairman, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, could not be reached for comment.

What no Republican is mentioning, however, is that Doyle’s no-bid contract was perfectly legal. Why? Because their own railroad man, Tommy Thompson, wrote an exemption for railroad companies that allowed the state to forgo the normal bidding process when negotiating rail contracts. Incredibly, the State Journal article on the matter does not even  reference the role the former governor played in this outcome. C’mon guys. If you’re going to cut something out of an article for the love of God, don’t cut out political hypocrisy. That’s the best part.

If we take the governor at his word, although there was not officially a bidding process, there was competition. Seven train makers were contacted and apparently only one company gave a comprehensive response. However, one must question how much Doyle was influenced during his trip to Spain, when he rode trains made by the company and talked to its executives. He obviously did not receive that kind of treatment from competing firms.

A somewhat rational point put forward by Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican leader in the Senate, is that taxpayers should be wary of a deal that only one of seven companies seemed interested in. Why were the three other European and Asian train-makers seemingly disinterested? But perhaps they are different types of companies – perhaps they operate at higher profit margins, or the project was not big enough for them. Remember, $47 million is not that much in the grand scheme of public transportation world wide.

I just hope this goddamn thing goes fast.

Brunch Links

August 3, 2009

So far so good in Madison today, however, we’re expected to get rain later on. High of 85 and a low of 58. The brunch today looks repulsive. You win some lose some.

The new domestic partner registry is now open! A good, comprehensive piece on the issue at the Cap Times. Can’t wait for the lawsuit from Wisconsin Family Council, or whatever they call themselves.

Doyle awarded the train contract to a Spanish company despite bids from three other companies.

Mayor Dave’s office: “Still, hiring more police is exponentially more expensive than other remedies that may be more effective.

Three Wisconsin women tied a man up and covered him with Krazy glue after finding out that he’d been having affairs with all of them.

The Political Environment: Build the trains in Milwaukee, not Janesville.

State Journal ed board lauds Wisconsin for actually spending stimulus money on bridges that need repairs.

Journal Sentinel argues in favor of taxing the most generous health care benefits.

Doyle tips hat to New York Times

August 1, 2009

Well he could for part of this editorial. The Times ed board writes that “high speed rail is not some pie-in-the-sky idea.”

Japan, Spain, China and Germany are among those with superspeedy trains that rival air travel and easily eclipse the irritations of a car trip. Yet America has only one high-speed corridor, from Boston to Washington, where the Acela Express is often forced by conditions to slow down to average speeds of around 70 miles per hour.

That part works for Doyle, who’s been mighty proud of a proposed high speed rail system that would extend a direct line from Milwaukee to Madison. The Times affirms the possibility of a line in the Midwest:

It’s not as if high-speed rail is a dream only for the East and West Coasts. When the Department of Transportation asked for proposals for using the president’s stimulus money, an astonishing 278 plans arrived from 40 states and the District of Columbia.

That unfortunately makes Doyle’s statement that Wisconsin is “taking a step that nobody else in the United States is taking right now” sound a little disingenuous.

Will Doyle run again?

July 30, 2009

Doyle, by all superficial criteria, is a perfect governor of Wisconsin. He’s cheery (at least in public), plump and he’s got just the right nasal touch to accent that reminds Wisconsinites that he’s one of them.

Unfortunately, however, the people of the Badger State are stubborn, and physical and linguistic characteristics apparently aren’t enough to guarantee Doyle their votes. Two different polls have shown Doyle to be at least relatively unpopular, with more people viewing him unfavorably than favorably in both instances.

Daily Kos/Research 2000Wisconsin poll conducted June 8-10 showed 43 percent of respondents viewed Doyle favorably while 48 percent were unfavorable. That was relatively Doyle-friendly, though, compared with a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey conducted June 9-10 that showed 60 percent of respondents disapproving of Doyle’s job performance, with only 34 saying they approved.

Moreover, the latter poll showed Doyle losing to Scott Walker in a showdown. Given this information, I was under the impression last month that Doyle would not seek re-election, and would allow Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton to declare her candidacy for the nomination. However, Doyle has continued to raise money, with the Cap Times reporting that his war chest is over $2 million – not a ton but certainly more than a lame duck governor would have. Contributors clearly believe Doyle is running again and the governor is doing nothing to dissuade these speculations. One Capitol staffer told me that people are pointing to phone calls Doyle is making to contacts in Washington D.C., to national interest groups, such as gay rights and women’s rights organizations.

Many Democrats, especially Lawton fans, are anxious for the governor to make up his mind. Three Republicans have already declared their candidacies and are out raising money, which Lawton can’t do as effectively unless she declares her governor. She’s already said she will not run for lieutenant governor again, therefore it’s hard for her to raise money without a campaign for higher office backing her up. One person told me that Doyle had better be running, because if he waits this long to drop out, “it would be a slap in the face to the Democratic Party,” as the Democrats would be caught off balance and behind the Republicans.

However, I still believe there’s a chance for Doyle to do either. Let’s say he’s weighing his options:

If he ultimately decides to run for re-election, he doesn’t have to worry about a primary. No relevant state Democrat, especially not Barbara Lawton, is going to waste time challenging him in a primary. He still has more money in the bank than any Republican opponent, and even though Walker has raised more in the last few months, he and Neumann are going to use up a lot of it in a primary contest, while Doyle will be free to raise funds for the general election.

That Doyle might wait so long to announce that he is not running leads me to believe that Lawton is the only viable candidate expected to declare for the nomination. Or at least that Doyle believes that to be the case. The longer he waits, the less likely it is for somebody else to try and challenge Lawton in the primary. Even if Lawton is behind Walker and Neumann in fundraising and campaigning, she will have the privilege of being unchallenged in the primary and not having to waste time and money in an intra-party showdown.

So there’s my analysis. What do you think? Are there other Democrats you could see running for governor?

Doyle is not a corrections reformer

July 25, 2009

If you thought that Gov. Jim Doyle’s support of modest sentencing reforms was evidence of a practical, humanitarian approach to corrections – then you’ve successfully been misled. Looking at Doyle’s political career holistically, he is at best a prison partisan who saw sentence reforms as a painful way to cut spending in the face of a disastrous deficit.

Let’s not forget, in supporting early release for good behavior, Doyle was mostly cleaning up for the disaster he caused as attorney general a decade ago when he approved the “truth in sentencing” policy championed by Gov. Tommy Thompson. Doyle was an enthusiastic yes-man on the issue, riding the anti-crime hysteria that defined the pre-war on terror 1990’s.

Even when Doyle came around this year, proposing cost-cutting measures that included allowing prisoners to earn early release through good behavior, he nevertheless did not hesitate to water down the reforms proposed by legislature Democrats, which went further in demanding results from the Dept. of Corrections. To paraphrase Doyle’s veto message, “it would be unfair” to expect such drastic change in policy. Remember, Wisconsin only imprisons three times as many residents as Minnesota, a state of practically the same population and crime rate. We’re in no hurry.

If anything demonstrates Doyle’s subservience to the prison lobby, it’s his most recent nominee to the Dane County Circuit Court, Amy Smith, the deputy secretary of the Department of Corrections.

Smith, according to numerous sources, is an awful addition to the judiciary. As a prosecutor she has been cited for making dishonest statements to courts on two separate occasions. Unsurprisingly, both lies were made during drug prosecutions, when Smith denied striking deals with witnesses for the prosecution.

Conductor Doyle, Madison the next stop on your train?

July 17, 2009

First off, trains are not toys. And people who put on the conductor’s hats and play with model train sets are not dorks – they are the way out of this recession. Anyway:

Gov. Jim Doyle seems to making good on a pledge to develop mass transit in Wisconsin.

The state is buying two high-speed trains that will operate along the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor and be assembled in Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle announced today.

Doyle said the state will make the $48 million purchase from a Spanish train company, and two additional trains could be bought if the state is awarded federal stimulus money for that purpose.

Doyle said the purchase represents a commitment to high-speed rail that no other state is making.

Kristin Czubkowski wonders aloud whether buying the trains makes it more likely for stimulus dollars to come. I would say yes. Not only will setting up the system make the case to the feds more convincing, but as the article points out, states generally share costs for passenger rail with the federal government. The good news is that $8 billion has already been set aside by D.C. for high speed rail. Frankly, more of the stimulus should have been targeting such meaningful development.

If this money proves to be available imagine the things Wisconsin could do with mass transit. A rail link to Milwaukee from Madison? Another one up to the Twin Cities? I think Green Bay would be a bit of a stretch, however, it would be the reality today if we had only begun this worthy investment decades ago.