Fifty Three to Fifty Six

Monday, February 11, 2008

Update on 53rd Assembly Candidates

As of 2/10/08, candidates for the open 53rd Assembly seat vacated by Rep Owens include the following:
  • Cecil A Streeter (R)
  • Mike Hatch (R)
  • James M. Chitwood (R)
  • Dick Spanbauer (R)

The Fond du Lac Reporter is reporting that the lone Democratic Candidate Timothy Blake is stepping out of the race.

We previously included information on Cecil Streeter here, and on Mike Hatch here. Cecil Streeter now has his campaign website up:

James Chitwood:

  • UW Oshkosh Dean of Students
  • (920) 235-2441
  • 5024 County Road R, Oshkosh, WI
  • Has served as Asst District Governor for Southwest Rotary in Oshkosh
  • BA and MS from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville in sociology education and counseling respectively. (source)
  • Received his PhD from the University of Northern Colorado in College Student Personnel Administration. (source)
  • Former UW Oshkosh Resident Life Director, and 2007 winner of the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International’s Parthenon Society Award.

Picture of Chitwood from

According to the Oshkosh Northwestern, "Chitwood served three terms on the school board from 1989 to 1998. He is a member of the Black Wolf town planning and zoning committee, a board member of the Winnebago Conflict Resolution Center, Inc. and a member of the Oshkosh Southwest Rotary Club."

Dick Spanbauer is a 2-time challenger to Carol Owens, and has served for many years as the chairman and board supervisor of the Town of Algoma. Dick is likely the leading contender at this point.

Surprisingly, very little is readily available on-line regarding Spanbauer's positions. We'll see in the future if we can't track down some candidate surveys or similar information.

According to Democrat and Winnebago County Board Supervisor Mike Norton, Spanbauer "has a great deal of local government experience who understands the impact of what Madison does has on county, city, and town government. He also been a member of a local union in the past and understands what both what the farmer and working person has to go through to make a living and better life for themselves and their families."

According to the Fond du Lac Reporter: "Spanbauer supports bringing out-of-state businesses to Wisconsin, making health care coverage more available and affordable for small businesses, farm families and low-income families, protecting the citizen's right to bear arms and pro-life issues and family values."

picture of Spanbauer from here.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

53rd Assembly Candidates

The following are reported candidates vying for the open 53rd assembly seat:

A. Tim Blake (D), 1416 Valley Road in the town of Algoma.
According to the Appleton Post Crescent: "Blake said that if elected, he would fight against higher taxes and the placement of sex offenders in places where children congregate. He said he would seek to bring higher paying manufacturing jobs to the district."

Tim has a website from his town of Algoma Board campaigns: According to the site:
I’ve been a member of the Town Board since 2003... I’ve been a member of the Town’s Parks Committee since 2005 and a member of the Oakwood School Safety Committee since 2006. I’m married and have three children (Michael (12), Christian (9), and Quintin (6)). My wife Katie and I enjoy raising our family in the Town of Algoma. We are members of St. Raphael’s Catholic Church. I’m employed as a Production Supervisor (North Plant) at Oshkosh Truck Corporation. Prior to my promotion, I was an Assembler and member of the UAW Local 578. I have attended both Fox Valley Technical College (Supervisory Management) and Lakeland College (Business Administration). My beliefs have been shaped by personal experiences as a Christian, a working person at Oshkosh Truck, and as a father and husband.
"the Town of Algoma may take legal action to try preventing the Oshkosh Area School District Board of Education from establishing new boundaries for the district. Town supervisors are apparently upset that the town was not included in the planning team’s decision-making processes regarding any potential boundary changes and that town of Algoma residents are affected as it is within the OASD. One town supervisor, Tim Blake, was actually quoted in the article as saying, “It shocks me that the town of Algoma was never invited to any meetings that other municipalities were. To me, that’s appalling because it affects our community.”
picture from Blake's website

B. Cecil A Streeter (R), 1000 Alpine Court, Oshkosh, WI 54901

We included information on his campaign on Nov 11, 2007 here.

According to the Oshkosh Northwestern: "He said that if elected he would want to focus on unequal spending in Madison because he think Madison and Milwaukee get a disproportionate amount of the state's resources. "

C. Mike Hatch (R), Town of Empire

Mike has a website here:

According to this site: Mike Hatch, the author, is an engineer and computer scientist who has past experience in defense industries including radioactive materials handling equipment for nuclear weapons and military aircraft production. Today, Mike teaches computer science and computer-based business logistics at the University of Wisconsin. His novels are packed with authentic cutting-edge computer, weapons and communications technology presented in a reader-friendly manner.

picture from US Rep Petri's website

picture from UW Madison college of engineering news piece


Recent Assembly Happenings Jan 25, 2008

Rep Hintz wants Public Defenders to be more accessible to low-income individuals. According to Hintz's release: The legislation would update the SPD’s financial eligibility criteria to be the same as that of the W2 program (except the SPD criteria limits the asset exclusion for a home to $30,000, and takes the cost to hire an attorney into account). Under the new eligibility requirements, the SPD would be able to provide legal representation in about 15,400 additional cases per year. Additionally, the new requirements would ultimately eliminate the liability for counties to provide counsel to people who do not qualify for SPD representation.

Rep Kaufert wants mandatory breathalyzers attached to your ignition for all repeat drunk driving violators. They would need to breath into it before being able to start the car and randomly while driving.

As many other sources have already told you, Rep Carol Owens is stepping down after 16 years of government service. You can read her release here. Rep Owens, like Rep Roth, would not respond to questions from this site, because she would only provide feedback to constituents in her district and we may or may not have had an address in her region. Hopefully the next official in the 53rd will be more open to disclosing their opinions and positions. Good luck in retirement Carol. This local site linked here didn't care much for Owens.

The Oshkosh Northwestern interviewed Rep Hintz and State Sen Roessler on their response to Doyle's state of the state address. The entire interview can be found here. Really not much is said, but here is one statement from each:

  • Hintz, when asked if anything was left out of Doyle's address: " thing that was missing was campaign finance reform. We seem to be closer to getting our governor’s attention when he called for a special session and we certainly still have time this year to act. I’m a little bit disappointed that we haven’t heard anything about campaign finance reform. It’s just because to me one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed in Wisconsin. I think the support is there from the public."

  • Roessler, when asked about Doyle's Health Care proposal: "my first comment is that it puts a further nail in the coffin of the Senate Democrats Healthy Wisconsin proposal. The governor continues to not support that proposal. What he did talk about is that the public cares about disclosure, how much they are paying for and they want to see those costs and who is performing the service. They want to be more in charge of it, consumer driven. The governor is now talking about the involvement of consumers and again, the Democrat majority simply want to pour more money in it and raise the money and then have a board determine what the benefit plans are going to be. A board of absolute generalists and no one from the medical community and on and on.A government operated health care system and government run system is costing $15 billion in taxes on our workers and employers is not the way to go. Now, the first that I heard of BadgerChoice is tonight. It is all about the cost. I agree with the governor that it is all about the health care cost. He said something there that it is the cost. He is the saying the same thing that we republicans have said for months when we came up with Healthy Wisconsin that it is about the cost. I do not know really the particulars about this plan. This is the first that I heard of it tonight."

The "Labor Chicks" are back to life, with early endorsements of any Democrat that will run. According to the site, they would support "Any Democrat who will do a good job in the 53rd Assembly district. All you have to do is be able to stay awake during Assembly sessions and you will be doing better than the incumbent. " Oddly naive - this blind Dem support at any cost leads one to endorse Chuck Chvala over Bob Lafollete. Not everyone has to like Bob.

Rep Roth and friends have introduced a bill that would require the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to prepare report to be released to the public for 48 hours before the Joint Committee on Finance, the Assembly, or the Senate can approve a budget bill. The report will bring to light all earmarks, including the cost, location, beneficiary, and requesting representative or senator. Their press release can be found here.

Rep Kaufert sponsored a resolution paying tribute to former state assembly rep and WW2 decorated veteran Richard Steffens, who passed away Jan. 2.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Roth Deploying to Iraq

According to the Appleton Post Crescent, 56th Assembly Rep Republican Roger Roth of Grand Chute will be deploying to Iraq later this month with the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Rep Roth plans to hold his seat while gone, having all business run by his staff. While Roth's press release indicated he could be back as soon as March, we have seen deployments of far longer periods.

This site wishes Rep Roth the best and hopes for a safe and quick return for Rep Roth and the entire 115th.

For a video of Rep Roth and additional biographical information, go to WisEye.


Hintz, Performing, and Booze

Rep Hintz performed with the Oshkosh Chamber Singers and several other public figures in Oshkosh during their recent Christmas event. The local on-line community and west coast groupies are wondering: was it the revival of air guitar?

As noted in June, Rep Hintz introduced a bill, AB584, that would exempt restaurants where alcoholic beverages are 50 percent or less of gross receipts from counting under the state's liquor license quota. The bill was co-sponsored by State Sen Roessler. According to analysis by the LRB:

Current law prohibits a person from selling alcohol beverages at retail unless the seller possesses a license or permit authorizing the sale. A "Class B" license authorizes the retail sale of intoxicating liquor for consumption on the licensed premises and, depending on the type of intoxicating liquor and whether a municipal ordinance has been adopted, may also authorize the retail sale of intoxicating liquor for consumption off the licensed premises, subject to certain limitations.

Current law imposes a quota on the number of "Class B" licenses that a municipality may issue. This quota is generally determined by a formula based on the number of licenses previously issued by the municipality and the municipality's population. Current law provides quota exceptions for a full-service restaurant that has a seating capacity of 300 or more persons and for a hotel that has 50 or more rooms and has a restaurant or banquet room meeting certain criteria.

Current law also provides a quota exception for certain opera houses and theaters, but a "Class B" license issued under this exception authorizes the sale of intoxicating liquor only for consumption on the premises and only in connection with ticketed performances.

This bill modifies the quota exception for full-service restaurants. The bill provides a quota exception for full-service restaurants regardless of seating capacity, but creates a definition of "full-service restaurant" that limits the exception to establishments where meals are prepared, served, and sold for consumption on the premises and in which the sale of alcohol beverages accounts for 50 percent or less of the establishment's gross receipts.

In addition, a "Class B" license issued under this exception authorizes the sale of intoxicating liquor only for consumption on the premises. The bill prohibits a person holding a "Class B" license, other than one issued under this exception, from surrendering that license and applying for a new license under this exception.

Additional information:

Opposition: According to director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin Peter Madland in a Milwaukee JS story: "Historically we've always been opposed to anything that creates more licenses," he said. "Obviously, the more licenses there are, the more it decreases the value of existing licenses."

Support: Oshkosh North Western: Liquor license barriers must come down: Anybody with a decent business plan, investment cash and the guts to open a full-service restaurant with fewer than 300 seats has to get in line and wait for one to be relinquished. Here, the city's 131 "Combination" liquor licenses are typically spoken for – it's been this way for years. Rarely, one frees up.

State Beverage and Alcohol Laws

State Alcohol Beverage Laws for Retailers

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Hintz & Roessler in Forum

According to TalktoTony.Blog, the following event is scheduled for 2/11/08 at 6:30pm at UW Oshkosh:

What Ever Happened to Good Government in Wisconsin? How Can We FIX it?

Monday, February 11, 2008 6:30–8:00PM

Room 227C – Reeve Memorial Union – UW Oshkosh

1748 Algoma Blvd - Oshkosh, WI

State Senator Carol Roessler – (R-Oshkosh)
State Representative Gordon Hintz – (D-Oshkosh)
Professor James Simmons – UW Oshkosh Political Science Dept
Professor Tony Palmeri – UW Oshkosh Communication Dept / Oshkosh Common Council
Kathy Propp – League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
Jay Heck – Executive Director of Common Cause in Wisconsin

Moderator: Alex Hummel – Editorial Page Editor of The Oshkosh Northwestern


For more information: or call Scott Colson (608) 256-2686

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hintz on Budget

From Hintz's website:on October 23, 2007:

Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) issued the following statement following tonight’s passage of the 2007-2009 State Biennial Budget by the Wisconsin State Assembly:

“The Republican Leadership decided that the best way to compromise was to borrow, use one-time funding, and accounting gimmicks to fund ongoing programs. There are important programs in this budget that deserve state support, but these programs require reliable revenue sources.”

“The current Legislature has dug a hole for the next budget by returning to Thompson-era style budgeting I campaigned against. It is no longer acceptable to vote for irresponsible budgets that fund expanding programs with one-time and potentially declining revenue.”

“I worked hard to make sure this budget includes funding for the UW-System and the first phase of the Growth Agenda, a six-year plan that will be meaningless if we can’t sustain our state’s commitment in future budgets. Starting the next budget with an estimated $892 million structural deficit in an uncertain economy makes the challenge that much harder.”

“I am hopeful state government can identify savings in this biennium that can be used to reduce our future debt.”

The 2007-2009 budget includes a $25,000 aquatic invasive species grant to treat weeds in Miller’s Bay as well as a $25,000 grant for neighborhood improvement, both which utilized existing state program funding.

“While the state continues to turn its back on cities like Oshkosh with no increase in shared revenue and unreasonable attacks on local control, I felt it was important to find other ways to secure funding for these important projects for Oshkosh.” ###

Gordon, the criticism of the Republican leadership speaks in generalities. Although you may be right, it would be more interesting to know what specific proposals you opposed and why. After all, you were only 1 of a few Dems who opposed the final budget, despite it including these things you state you fought for. Unfortunately, if you did provide this type of in-depth look into your positions and reasoning, you'd probably be the only state rep doing it.

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Kaufert and School Start Dates

According to an AP story on 11/30/07, freshman Republican Jim Ott of Mequon wants to remove the 2000 law that prevents schools from beginning before September 1.

The move to eliminate this law is supported by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards as well as, according to Ott, many school superintendents.

According to the article:

If Ott wants a hearing on the bill, he will get one, said Tourism Committee Chairman Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah. But Kaufert said he didn't expect the idea to get much support.

"I don't hear an outcry from people," he said. "I
thought this was pretty much behind us."

The original bill in 2000 strikes me as a "Big Gov in Madison excessively sticking its control hand into local communities" law. What makes one think that a rep in Madison from, say, Neenah, knows what is best for a local community education system in Milwaukee or Bayfield when it comes to a start date for the school year.

I would hope that communities would be able to work together to determine what works best to facilitate a healthy economy while serving the educational needs of the children. It seems that the current law does not allow this to happen. If so, then the proposal to allow communities and school districts to determine what serves them best would seem to make the most sense.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Following Budget Success, Give'em a Raise

According to a piece in the Milwaukee JS by Steven Walters, the Joint Committee on Employment Relations unanimously approved pay raises for state legislators and other state officials, including:
The 6.3% pay raise for legislators will take their salaries from $47,413 to $50,438. The $88 tax-free daily expense stipend that most legislators get when in the Capitol would not be increased; legislators from Dane County would still get a $44 per diem.

The article also reported the following pay increases:
Under the changes, the governor elected in November 2010 will see his or her salary rise from $137,092 to at least $147,313, a 7.4% raise. The next governor's base salary will probably be higher, because cost-of-living raises for non-union workers expected to be approved two years from now also usually go to all elected state officials.

Four other constitutional officers - attorney general, lieutentant governor, secretary of state and treasurer - would also get 7.4% raises, starting when their new terms begin in January 2011. The attorney general is now paid $137,092; lieutenant governor, $72,394; and both secretary of state and treasurer, $65,079.

The superintendent of public instruction who is elected to a new four-year term in April 2009 will be paid $122,516. That will be 11.7% more than the $109,587 now paid Superintendent of Public Instruction ElizabethBurmaster.

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Throw a Pie at Hintz

If you are available Wednesday, November 28, you can pay a few bucks to throw a pie in Gordon Hintz's face. Event is at Fratellos in Oshkosh, between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. Proceeds go to the Oshkosh United Way. Rumor has it Rep Hintz will be dressed as Kry Tuff, his air guitar alter ego.

Rep Roth won't be present, but the Milwaukee JS did throw a pie at his immigration proposal, calling it " Just Counterproductive" while a letter in the Capital Times stated the following:
What the legislators (Rep Roth and State Sen. Glenn Grothman ) are truly attempting is to fuse the notions of "immigrant" and "dangerous criminal." Their campaign is based on deception and confusion, which only promotes fear, division and confrontation within our own communities.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Hintz and Mayor Tower at BGC

A side story that is great - public leaders engaging local youth. From the Oshkosh Northwestern:
Getting children involved in making decisions is just one of the goals of the town hall style meetings that are being held at the Boys & Girls Club as part of the leadership program designed by Teen Center Director Ben Perkovich.

"The goal is to get people to think about rules, why we have laws and government," Hintz said. "The earlier that you can stress the importance of involvement of any kind, the better."

Perkovich hopes to bring in local leaders, historians or business leaders about once every three months to talk to the children about their backgrounds, what they do and how they got there. But the town hall style meetings aren't just about the kids listening to the speakers, Perkovich said he hoped the children become involved and ask questions, allowing the speakers to"rap with the kids."

Hintz was the second person to speak to the group. Oshkosh Mayor Frank Tower kicked off the meetings when he spoke earlier in the week.

Another positive is Rep Roth participating in a program with the Harbor House. Agreed, Rep Roth, that anytime you are able to learn about the important things affecting the lives of your constituents, it is a positive.

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Kaufert and State Budget Process

This column from Rep Kaufert appeared in Appleton PC on 11/23/07. This first half of the column is at best simple partisan ragging and ineffective negative rhetoric, which does little to promote dialogue or discussion amongst anyone not already deep within the camp.

The second half of the column includes recommendations on improving the state's troubled budget process. Many of the proposals are intriguing, and some are common sense - such as prohibiting political contributions during the budget process.

According to Kaufert:

"...I'll be exploring these proposals and concepts in the future for possible legislation:

Pay and per diems would be withheld from legislators until a permanent budget is passed.

All other legislative bills and proposals will be frozen until a budget resolution is passed. No bills will be allowed to be drafted, passed or have a public hearing.

Pass language that takes non-fiscal policy out of the budget.

Hold steady timelines requiring state agencies to submit their budgets by Sept. 15 of the prior year and that the governor must introduce his budget on the last Tuesday of January.

Explore the possibility of moving the state's fiscal year end date back by one month to Aug. 1 in odd years.

Adopt Assembly Bill 61/Senate Bill 25, which bans state elected officials from accepting political contributions during the budget process."

A response letter in the Oshkosh Northwestern questioned Kaufert's integrity and support of the measures he is offering here:

I read with great interest, Representative Dean Kaufert's laundry list of proposals to reform the budget process. What I would like to know is where these reforms were the last seventeen years that Dean has been in the Assembly?

This is not the first time the budget process has broken down while Rep. Kaufert has been in the Assembly. In fact it happened twice, in 1997 and 1999. It wasn't until the fall of those years that the legislature finally approved a budget. Where were these reforms then? Or, where were they just a few years hence when Rep. Kaufert co-chaired the powerful Joint Finance Committee and wielded enormous influence in the budget-writing process?

It's easy to stand on the sidelines, knowing your influence has waned, and armchair quarterback problems like the budget process. Rep. Kaufert knows his reforms will go nowhere. He can "champion" reform and pose for holy pictures, knowing full well he can score political points without changing the system that worked so well for him when he has been in power. I guess for Rep. Kaufert he can have his cake and eat it, too.

James Reiland, Menasha

The Appleton Post Crescent endorsed much of what Kaufert said here.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Early Assembly Challengers

Challenging Rep Owens:

Office: Assembly District 53

Name: Cecil Arthur Streeter

Party: Republican

Address: 1000 Alpine Court, Oshkosh, WI 54901

Phone: 920-233-2717


Occupation: Retired High School Guidance Counselor

Notes: Serves on City of Oshkosh Traffic Advisory Board, Member Oshkosh Southwest Rotary

Committee Information:

Name: Streeter for Assembly

Address: 1000 Alpine Court, Oshkosh, WI 54901

Phone: 920-233-2717

Treasurer: Cecil Arthur Streeter

Challenging Rep Kaufert:

Office: Assembly District 55

Name: Mark Westphal

Party: Democrat

Address: 945 Hunt Ave., Neenah, WI 54956

Phone: 920-727-4781


Occupation: Industrial Electrician

Notes: President Fox Valley Labor Council, serves on Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, United Way Board and Winnebago County W-2 Steering Committee

Committee Information:

Name: Westphal for Assembly

Address: 945 Hunt Ave., Neenah, WI 54956

Phone: 920-727-4781


Treasurer: Donald Winter


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Roth, Owens, and Illegal Aliens

Reps Roth and Owens are sponsors of AB569, legislation intended to seemingly protect the local policies that have been adopted in communities across the state in an effort to gain political clout by pushing the hot-button issue of immigration. This is an example of when elected politicians ignore significant issues within the state and the departments they "rule" over, and instead attempt to create the illusion that there is an issue regarding a controversial topic that will potentially provide them with political gains.

According the the LRB:

This bill prohibits a city, village, town, or county (political subdivision) from enacting or enforcing an ordinance, resolution, or policy that prohibits an employee of that political subdivision from inquiring about the immigration status of an individual who is seeking or receiving public services provided by that political subdivision and from notifying the federal government of the presence of illegal aliens in the political subdivision.

The bill also authorizes an elector of a political subdivision to file a writ of mandamus with the circuit court to require compliance with the requirements created by the bill if the elector is aggrieved by the failure of the political subdivision to comply with the requirements.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

The Cable Bill Update

According to the Legislative Spotlight:

"A proposal to establish a statewide video franchise, 2007 Assembly Bill 207, was introduced in the Assembly on March 22. The proposal would repeal state laws allowing municipalities to grant cable franchises and require cable companies to obtain a franchise through the state Department of Financial Institutions. After extensive debate, the Assembly adopted Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 to AB-207. The Assembly passed the amended version of AB-207 on May 9, by a vote of 66-28. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities and Rail, which recommended concurrence.

The companion bill is 2007 Senate Bill 107. On October 31, the Joint Committee on Finance recommended passage by a vote of 13-1. The Senate passed an amended version of the bill on November 8 by a vote of 23-9 and sent it back to the Assembly for their consideration."

Back in April, we posted current commentary from vested parties, much of which contained some degree of concern - see here. It isn't difficult to find opposition now either, including:

From the WI St Journal on 10/31/07: "The 2,200-member Milwaukee local of the Communications Workers of America last month voted to oppose AB 207, even though its parent union supports it. "If we're going to pass a bill here in Wisconsin, why not pass a good bill?" said George Walls, president of CWA Local 4603 in Milwaukee. Walls said his local could support the bill if it includes significant penalties for companies that don't provide service in all parts of a community and don't quickly provide services after the bill is passed. He also said the bill should include a provision for the state franchise to expire after a period of years, rather than be granted forever."

From the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign on 11/9/07: The state Senate passed AT&T's cable TV bill late yesterday. Assuming the Assembly agrees to the few noncontroversial amendments the Senate tacked on and the governor signs it into law as expected, this legislation will say a lot about who owns cable television in Wisconsin and what the terms of ownership will be. But it says much more about who owns our state government. The Democracy Campaign just released an analysis showing that special interest backers of the cable bill gave senators who voted for it 12 times more in campaign contributions than they gave the senators who voted against it. AT&T alone gave 28 times more in campaign donations to senators who voted to approve the legislation. (this information was emailed from the WDC, but the site link above includes more detailed info)

From the Wisconsin State Journal on 11/8/07: "opponents decried the bill, saying it would virtually eliminate regulation of television providers, do nothing to spur competition in most parts of the state and reduce consumer protections and customer service requirements. "This bill does nothing good for Wisconsin, " said Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma. The Senate rejected Vinehout 's amendment that would have replaced AB 207 with a similar bill that passed in Illinois that she said is better for consumers while still promoting competition. She said the Wisconsin bill eliminates local governments ' ability to protect consumers while failing to give the state money to investigate complaints. The bill adds satellite telecommunications companies to existing state consumer regulations."

According to Mayor of Madison Dave C on 11/9/07: "This proposal eliminates funding for public access programming, awards perpetual video franchises with minimal review, hampers the ability of local communities to control their rights of way, and provides no meaningful consumer protection or regulatory oversight."

According to Mayor of Milwaukee Tom B on 11/9/07: "the video franchising bill that passed the State Senate last night undermines the protection the City currently has for Milwaukee consumers and taxpayers."

According to the Capital Times on 11/8/07: "Critics, including Laitman (Cynthia Laitman, the co-founder of the statewide chapter of TeleTruth), charge the AT&T-backed bill would dissolve consumer protections, threaten the viability of public access stations and allow telecommunications providers to serve only dense and wealthy parts of the state. The bill has been heavily lobbied by AT&T, whose stable of lobbyists included for a short time Joe Wineke, the state chairman of the Democratic Party."

According to the Capital Times on 11/10/07: "As a former Dane County district attorney and Wisconsin attorney general, Gov. Jim Doyle knows that it is wrong for legislators who have accepted campaign contributions from special-interest donors to allow lobbyists associated with those donors to craft legislation. Yet, that is precisely how the cable television re-regulation bill that has now reached his desk came to be. As such, Doyle should not hesitate to veto this corrupt legislation. And the legislators who wrote it and are backing it have taken money from donors linked to the corporations that will benefit most from this atrocious restructuring of the process to favor the industry that is supposed to be regulated rather than the consumers it is supposed to serve. If enacted, the quality of cable service in Wisconsin will decline. Cable bills will go up. Rural areas and inner cities will be denied access to technological advances. The digital divide will grow wider. And corporations will know that if they spread campaign money and lobbying influence around in the right way, they can game the system in Wisconsin."

From to Capital Times on 10/31/07: "Backed by AT&T as part of a move to consolidate control over communications in Wisconsin, the legislation -- Senate Bill 107 -- was written in consultation with industry interests with the purpose of undermining consumer protections, threatening public access channels, eliminating the ability of communities to establish basic standards for cable service, and decreasing the likelihood that new communications technologies will be offered to communities throughout the state. The supposed regulations in this bill are riddled with loopholes that are designed to allow communications conglomerates to deny quality service to low-income and rural areas of Wisconsin."

From the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities on 10/29/07: "The bill would do significant damage to local government and public access to local government activities, while doing nothing to accomplish the goals of video competition and lower video rates that we all share."

In addition, according to state records, the following organizations and groups have registered in opposition of the bill: AFSCME Council 11, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, Citizens Utility Board, City of Madison and Milwaukee, Dane County Cities & Villages Association, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Inc, Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Alliance of Cities Inc, Wisconsin Association of Public, Educational and Government Access Channels, Inc., Wisconsin Association of School Boards Inc, Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials, Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, Wisconsin Council for Administrators of Special Services, Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG), Wisconsin Towns Association.

Conclusion: The notion that this bill must be passed immediately is an illusion. Fast tracking this bill is bucking the responsibility of ensuring that the best decisions are being made. The opposition to the current bill is too great from too many important components of Wisconsin society to push through the flawed legislation.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Library Vids and Public Defenders

Library Videos: Senate Bill 214, which allows police officials to access library videos, passed the Senate and Assembly recently. Rep Kaufert was applauding. The bill language is quite strong, "requiring" libraries to turn over records upon police request. Living in a sharply divided political climate in the state that produced J Mac, I hope this bill doesn't become dangerous down the road if, say, republican is the new C word and videos are demanded to see if in fact it was the Reagan Diaries I was reading.

Public Defenders: Rep Hintz issued a press release on a proposed bill calling for adjusted standards for low income individuals to qualify for a state public defender instead of having them work with county officials. The press release is here. The ONW did a related story on the cost of court appointed attorneys.

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