Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin Democrats’

Social media in Wisconsin politics

July 15, 2009

The importance of social networking services in politics and business cannot be overrated. OK, everything can be overrated. Even God.

However, from where we sit, the praise of Howard Dean’s “use of the internet!” to raise money seems pathetically antiquated. Blogs and social networks like facebook, twitter, and linked-in have become hugely influential in marketing candidates, as well as organizing supporters for campaigns. A campaign that neglects such tools is either irresponsible or has a comfortable enough lead to not bother.

Nowhere is the importance of open internet dialogue better displayed than in local politics. Ignored almost entirely by television and given only cursory attention by dying local newspapers, local pols often receive the most scrutiny from local blogs and other online discussion forums. Like I’ve written before, there is simply no better way to find out what happened at a City Council meeting than to read Brenda Konkel’s blog. Nowhere are issues of student government discussed more intensely than on the Critical Badger. In fact, the best analysis of local government from the local papers often comes on their blogs – which are usually entrusted to a recent college grad with a good understanding of the internets. Kristin Czubkowski at the Cap Times would be case and point, as would Bassey Etim, a former Herald editor who was recruited by the New York Times to work on their caucus blog.

Moreover, the social networks make it so much easier to market blogs and issues. Setting up a twitter and facebook account for the Sconz was easily the most productive decision I’ve made in getting traffic to this blog. While simply putting all my updates on facebook isn’t as helpful as say, a link from a big blogger, it helps to keep people in touch with the blog, even if they don’t click every time or visit every day. Simply claiming to write about local issues has gained me (very theoretical) followers from Madison lobbyists to gubernatorial candidates. And yes, unless I get a follow from Barbara Lawton, Jim Doyle, or Scott Walker, I will be forced to lend my extraordinarily heavy weight to Mark Neumann.

So it was good to see the Cap Times do a profile on the issue, discussing the implications on next year’s governor’s race.

“Around 11 in the morning, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker got online and did what his gubernatorial campaign manager had asked him to do several times a day. He reached out to his political supporters with a message that was simultaneously posted on his Twitter and Facebook accounts.”

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin, under new young leadership, has pushed aggressively into social media as well, adding Sam Roecker, a UW student and facebook friend of the Sconz, as a staff member specializing in social networks. Perhaps one of the most visible things Roecker did was create a youtube video for the party convention. Youtube is incredibly important – 15% of ALL internet traffic at any given time is on youtube.

The next step will be the creation of networks specifically for politicians, campaign workers and activists. Services like “ning” already allow people to create their own networks – for a field or cause as specific as transportation, human services or sex toys. I haven’t actually discovered the sex toys one yet.

What these services do is merely expand what the communications revolution started with the telephone, the radio and the television. They make the country and the world smaller. They will allow campaigns to have a larger pool of applicants and will open a whole nation of campaigns up to young activists and consultants.

Doyle gives mixed signals on prison reform

July 10, 2009

Gov. Jim Doyle has disappointed some in his own party by vetoing some key provisions of the early-release program put into the budget that was signed last week. For the first time since 1999, Wisconsin offenders will be able to earn reduced sentences with good behavior. It’s the beginning of a serious corrections policy in Wisconsin, which has one of the most ineffective and morally corrupt prison systems in the country. Not too mention one of the most expensive.

Doyle vetoed a part that would put caps on the amount of time offenders could serve for violating their parole/extended supervision. Currently an enormous chunk of Wisconsin prisoners are behind bars for simply violating the terms of their extended supervision – meaning they often haven’t committed a new crime. The average supervision violator spends 18 months in prison for it. At a cost of $99 million a year. But that doesn’t even compare to the havoc the policy wreaks on that person’s life and the damage it does to communities. Turning minor offenders into long-term inmates is perhaps the only real way to ensure that crime becomes their career of choice.

Nevertheless, Doyle is correct in asserting that judges, not lawmakers, should generally be the ones deciding sentences. Although there are reasonable maximum and even minimal sentencing guidelines that should be imposed, judges shouldn’t be constricted too much. But the legislature’s request was reasonable – parole offenders who haven’t committed a new crime should definitely not spend more than 6 months in prison. 6 months? Stop a second and contemplate 6 months in prison. Maybe you’ve done it – chances are if you live in Wisconsin you have a very good chance of being a good person who’s spent that kind of time behind bars for a petty offense. Doyle should not have vetoed the provision.

Other recommendations included limiting the time offenders spend on extended supervision to 75 percent of the time they spend behind bars, setting a goal to reduce recidivism by 25 percent by 2011, expanding community-based mental health and job placement services for offenders and giving judges the authority to hand out shorter sentences if offenders complete court-ordered treatment programs.

In the budget he signed last week, however, Doyle vetoed the 25-percent goal in recidivism reduction, the cap on extended supervision and the six-month limit on prison time for revocations. While the Legislature didn’t propose allowing judges to hand out shorter sentences contingent upon successful treatment programs, it would have allowed judges to review sentences that have been reduced. Doyle vetoed that, too.

It shouldn’t be too big of a deal that Doyle didn’t sign the 25 percent goal. This state is dying for corrections reform and everybody in the legal community can see the evidence surrounding us. Just look to Minnesota, which has a third as many prisoners and a third the cost of our corrections system. It also has a slightly lower crime rate. But, like most things supported by reason and/or science, Wisconsin Republicans are predictably vociferous opponents.

Citizens of Wisconsin beware: Thousands of dangerous criminals will be out of jail early and they may soon be coming to a neighborhood near you,” Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford said.

That makes sense. When one is sentenced to 6 months in prison but gets out in 4 – they’re considerably more dangerous. That two months they would have spent in prison magically destroys  their will to be naughty.

Democrats are OK

July 2, 2009

At first I thought that this press release was just a pathetic attempt for Mike Tate, the new chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and the youngest party chair in the country,to market Wisconsin politics as the next great reality tv show:

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate today released the following statement in response to reports that Senator Ted Kanavas’ may soon move to Texas.

“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

However, after reading Kanavas’ op-ed, in which he claims that Texas is an economic paradise, it’s very clear that he was asking for it. Please Ted, move to Texas – better yet, move to Mississippi.

Lawton for governor

June 29, 2009

A very real possibility. Caffeineited Politics comments on the prospect, with blogger Deke Rivers expressing excitement over the first female governor of the Badger State. Deke gets it wrong however, here:

To get to that point of course, Governor Jim Doyle needs to be appointed to a position by the Obama administration.

Nope. Doyle’s favoribility ratings have gone from bad to worse, and unless they drastically improve, which will only happen if the economy picks up, Doyle will likely withdraw from the running, either on his own terms or under pressure from state Democrats.