HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Thursday, January 26, 2012


-Message to Our Supporters-

Congratulations! Over the last two months, over a million of you, from truck drivers to teachers, signed the petition to recall Scott Walker. With each signature you said you would not allow our state to be steamrolled by Walker’s radical polices. No more will you tolerate his drastic cuts to our prized education system, watch jobs flee our state in droves, and no more will you sit on the sidelines as Scott Walker assaults our working class institutions and values. The day that over 1,000,000 signatures were turned in, was the day that the people of Wisconsin won the first battle in the war to take back our state.

What’s next?
In just the past 30 days, Walker raked in over 4.6 million dollars, 1.6 million of which has come from only 17 individuals. Additionally, over 60% of these contributions defending Scott Walker have come from out-of-state interests. Walker received over $500,000 dollars from Bob Perry, the Texas home builder and key funder of the “Swift Boat” smear campaign against John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election. Clearly, these payoffs from Walker's big corporate allies have flooded into our state to defend their candidate. Please donate $12 to tell Walker that the people of Wisconsin will not be bought.

Thank you for your hard work and support! United Wisconsin made a promise to you to force the successful recall election of Scott Walker. We still have work to do. In the next few days, you will be asked to tell us what you feel is most important to focus on to ensure getting Walker out of office. We know that victory requires putting the people first.
We cannot meet this outrage with silence. Please donate $12 dollars to help defend Wisconsin against out-of-state interests. Your $12 dollars will send a clear message that we may not have millions of dollars, but we have the will of over a million Wisconsinites.
Together we can take back our state.
Thank you all for your hard work,

Your friends at United Wisconsin



While our grassroots activists were collecting more than 1.9 million signatures to save Wisconsin, Scott Walker was secretly flying all over the country on a corporate cash bonanza to put Wisconsin up for sale to the highest bidder.

The total haul for Scott Walker? More than $4.5 million in just five weeks, with $1 million from just four right-wing donors in Texas and Missouri.

We don't have billionaire donors bank-rolling our grassroots campaign in exchange for massive corporate tax breaks or massive handouts. We have extraordinary supporters like you who are committed to putting government back on the side of the people.

Make a grassroots donation of $10 or more right now to counter Scott Walker's corporate cash bonanza and receive a limited edition "I recalled Walker" bumper sticker for free.


Scott Walker's latest campaign finance report shows that he has doubled down on financial support from Texas billionaire Bob Perry. He's a good ol' boy of George W. Bush and Karl Rove who ponied up more than $4.45 million to launch false attacks trashing Senator John Kerry's heroic Vietnam War record in 2004.

Bob Perry specializes in funding smear campaigns against Democrats and he has now given Scott Walker a record-setting donation of $490,000 to flood the airwaves with false and misleading television ads.

Scott Walker has made it clear that he stands with New York hedge fund managers and right-wing billionaires from Texas, Kansas and Missouri.

Stand with our grassroots campaign to save Wisconsin from Scott Walker's fire sale and help give us the resources we need to defeat Scott Walker in the general election.

Donate $10 or more right now and receive a limited edition "I recalled Walker" bumper sticker for free.


We'll never match Scott Walker's corporate millions, but we do have more than a million Wisconsinites who don't want to see their state sold off to the highest bidder.

Please make a donation today so we can win this historic fight for Wisconsin's future by defeating Scott Walker and his billionaire friends.

Thank you,

Mike Tate

Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin


Saturday, January 21, 2012


This just in:

The same week that 1 million signatures were turned in to recall him from office, Scott Walker continued to make national headlines with his assault on Wisconsin values. In a move he claimed would save Wisconsin from the “the encroachment of ObamaCare in our state,” Walker announced he is turning down a $38 million grant from the federal government to develop the central element of the national health care reform law, a competitive health marketplace. This reform would have outlawed insurance discrimination based on gender, age, and preexisting conditions, and guaranteed a fair marketplace where consumers have a number of high quality coverage options.

It is clear that the real threat to public health is not ObamaCare but WalkerCare. Under WalkerCare the needs of health insurance industry CEOs come first, and nearly 65,000 people, including nearly 30,000 children, will be forced off BadgerCare.

The more Wisconsin voters learn about WalkerCare, the more certain will be Walker’s defeat in the upcoming recall elections. We need your help to get the word out. Please give $100, $50, or what ever you can afford to help us build a major campaign to educate the public about the threat of WalkerCare.

Walker began his assault on health care reform this fall when he filed for a waiver from new federal standards which cap excessive health insurance profits and overhead. If Walker gets his way, Wisconsin consumers will lose $14 million in rebates owed to them by the large national health insurance corporations.

Then, Walker’s bureaucrats used the unilateral power given to them by Act 10, the same law that stripped union rights from most public employees, to move a plan forcing nearly 65,000 people off BadgerCare in the middle of the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression.

Please support Citizen Action of Wisconsin, so we can continue to get the word about the devastating consequences of WalkerCare. We need to make Walker’s assault on health security a major issue in the upcoming recall elections.

When Walker announced his latest assault on health care reform, I happened to be in Washington, DC at the largest gathering of state health care reform advocates. I can tell you that even advocates from deeply conservative “red states” are stunned by the radicalism of WalkerCare. My mobile phone has been ringing of the hook with media inquires. Walker has clearly overreached yet again, and his attack on BadgerCare and health care reform can play a major role in defeating him in the upcoming recall election.

The 1 million signatures that were turned in this week is truly historic, and shows that there is a grassroots movement beyond anything we have ever seen in Wisconsin. The next step is to win the public debate on the issues that matter most.

Please give $100, $50, or what ever you can afford to help us build a major campaign to educate the public about the threat of WalkerCare.


Robert Kraig, Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin

P.S. Listen to our Battleground Wisconsin Podcast every week to get the latest updates and news about Scott Walker’s assault on Wisconsin values.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


This is my favorite photo of the office, my little haven out in the middle of nowhere. I really like days like the one pictured because I can fire up the wood stove and get it so warm in here that I can strip down to my long johns!

This past Monday, while my friend Tom was visiting, after supper, in front of a good hot wood stove, we got to reminiscing about a couple of gigs on which he had kept me company for the road and Tom mentioned that he'd seen me at gigs when the audience was really with me, and gigs where there was a distinct feeling of disconnect.

We talked about what performers refer to as "a hell gig" - mine being an after dinner 45 minute set for Phillips Plastics. Should have known there was going to be trouble when the woman who contacted me told me that my fee was too high, talked me down $100, and when we got there we found a table piled with door prizes - enough prizes that by the end of the evening, everybody won something - and not cheap crap, either!

I tried my best to loosen them up and get them to laugh but I became aware that in their estimation, I really sucked. After about ten minutes, some of them got up, went out to the bar, ordered up some drinks, and talked loudly among themselves.

Guess it could have been worse. No prime rib for me, but at least I got my downsized check.

The only bright side of that gig was that it was on our way to Green Bay, the very place we were looking for as we had tickets to a Packer game.

I went into that job thinking it would be really fun!

Then Tom brought up the gig I did down near where he lives. It was one of the winters in which I had slipped and fallen on the ice and I actually did the luncheon from a wheel chair.

So Tom and his good brother Stan came with me to be my "roadies". Can't remember where the supper club was except it was going west out of Madison near Mt. Horeb.

This was for a farm credit organization - so we got there early so as not to be in the way when the members started showing up to sign in for lunch. Farm folk love a "free" meal - who doesn't? so it was a big crowd. Then just before they all sat down, a number of Amish signed in and took seats way in the back corner.

I began to worry when the crowd that had gathered didn't take the conversation level up to a roar - which usually is a good sign that they are tipping a few and relaxing, will be sitting down to good cooking soon, and surfeiting themselves enough to be a good audience -

But this crowd stayed timid right up until the saying of Grace.

By the time they finished eating I was a nervous wreck, mostly because I was certain the Amish were going to really find the show disgusting.

I did my first bit and got an amazingly good response. By mid-show, everybody was laughing - and the Amish were laughing harder than the "Englishers"!

So it goes to show you never can tell. right?


I love what's going down in politics right now! It's been a long time since the ordinary good guy American has some signs of hope!

This first e mail is one I got today from Mike Tate .. just want to pass it on as it talks abut the first step in getting rid of the King:

Dear Lawrence,

While volunteers from counties all across Wisconsin were turning in more than 1,000,000 recall signatures on Tuesday, Scott Walker was in New York City holding a $2,500 a plate dinner hosted by former AIG Chairman Maurice Greenberg at Citigroup's world headquarters.

Instead of facing the people of Wisconsin, Scott Walker decided that he would rather beg for more unlimited corporate cash from the Wall Street swindlers and fat cat bankers that destroyed the global economy to line their own pockets.

Will you show Scott Walker and his billionaire Wall Street pals that you stand with our One Million Strong people-powered movement by making a donation of $5 today?


Your donation of $5 or more will go directly to our legal defense fund to protect the voices of more than 1,000,000 Wisconsinites who want Scott Walker recalled from frivolous lawsuits and challenges filed by hot shot Wall Street-funded attorneys.

Scott Walker is in denial over the 1.5 tons of Democracy that you delivered on Tuesday. He didn't think working, middle-class people could do it. He didn't believe that the people of Wisconsin would rise up and take on his corporate army.

But you did. Now Scott Walker's last hope is to game the court system to toss out the historic number of signatures you turned in on Tuesday.

Their shady Wall Street legal shenanigans will fail. And that's because of the strength and determination of grassroots supporters like you.

More than 1,000,000 Wisconsinites are fighting Scott Walker's extreme vision that puts the interests of Wall Street and powerful corporate lobbyists ahead of working, middle-class families.

Protect their voice and stand with them. Make a donation of $5 or more to our legal defense fund right now.


Thank you for your support,

Mike Tate
Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin


So I did! And I have done before! Not much - I don't have much - but every little bit helps! I hope you will consider funding the war on Walker too! Together we can make another glorious chapter in the history of THE GREAT PROGRESSIVE STATE OF WISCONSIN!


Then there's this! One of the greatest things that has happened in my lifetime is the conscientious attempt to keep our wild life thriving. For me, it was exciting to see large flocks of wild turkeys working their way through corn stubble, to see an occasional coyote along the road, and right outside my door I have seen badger, fox, and eagle.

Now in addition to the polar bear, the wolves, tigers, and god know what else, the North American Bison, which was brought dangerously close to extinction at the end of the 19th Century, and which I thought was making a huge come back, is once again being threatened.

There are few North American wild animals as iconic as wild bison.

Once hunted to near extinction in one of the most shameful episodes in American history, only the bison of Yellowstone National Park survived in the American wild. Today this wild herd still numbers only around 3,500.

But each winter, when they descend from the park in search of forage free of Yellowstone’s deep snow, these magnificent animals are hazed back into the park, rounded up in holding pens or shipped to slaughter, all out of exaggerated fears that they could spread disease to cattle.

With winter well under way now, Yellowstone’s bison are once again at risk of hazing, capture or even slaughter as they search for food outside the park. Will you help them survive?

Help fund our efforts to increase tolerance and expand habitat for wild bison around Yellowstone, and prepare new homes for Yellowstone’s bison on tribal lands. Text WILDLIFE to 90999 now.

Last month, we achieved an important milestone in our efforts to restore wild bison to more places, when Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer approved moving 68 wild Yellowstone bison now in quarantine to tribal lands of Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Indian Reservations to start new conservation herds.

Defenders staff played an important role in these negotiations and in working with tribes to prepare areas for bison, and caring supporters spoke up time and time again in support of the tribes’ requests to help secure new homes for these bison.

Unfortunately, our work is far from finished.

Support our efforts to increase human tolerance and safeguard even more wild bison and other imperiled wildlife. Text WILDLIFE to 90999 now to make a $10 donation.

To date, Defenders of Wildlife is the only national conservation group to help fund bison restoration on the tribal lands of the Assiniboine, Gros Venture and Sioux Tribes. In the months ahead, we aim to increase our efforts to protect this animal we consider to be one of the most important biological and cultural species in North America.

Your $10 mobile contribution now will not only help offset the costs of completing the necessary fencing and other infrastructure needed to make their homes on tribal lands, but it will also support work to expand habitat for bison around Yellowstone National Park, oppose the annual hazing and slaughter of Yellowstone’s wild bison, increase human tolerance, and advocate for other wildlife-saving initiatives.

Why can't we just get along?


Here is this week's letter from Senator Larson:

This past year has been one of little progress, especially in the area of job creation and economic growth. Below we look at the partisan road blocks that have prevented our state from moving forward.

As usual, please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns or opinions you may have about our community or our state.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

Wisconsin at a Standstill, Forward No More

Wisconsin is the birthplace of progressive reform, the home of progressive leader Fighting Bob La Follette, and boasts the motto "Forward" on its state flag. Our state's history and traditions center around the ability of Wisconsinites to work together to keep our state moving in the right direction.

Unfortunately, under Governor Walker's control, Wisconsin has become divided like never before, bringing common sense reform and work on real solutions to a stand still. Like a car that has run out of gas, our state is currently stalled, even on issues that garner bipartisan support. Below we will examine issues that remain untouched and ignored by Governor Walker and Republican legislators.

Job Creation and Support for Small Business
Governor Walker's major campaign promise was to create 250,000 jobs by 2014. To reach this promise, he should have been creating approximately 5,200 jobs each month. However, his promise remains unfulfilled. Under Governor Walker's leadership, which began in January 2011, the number of jobs Wisconsin has created is quickly approaching zero as we have lost jobs every month since his budget went into effect. Over the past year, Governor Walker has created less than 1% of the jobs he promised.

Governor Walker also called for two special session this year under the guise of prioritizing job creation in our state. Unfortunately, the governor chose to take advantage of this fiscal crisis to give away our school funds and middle-class tax breaks to large corporations in one of the biggest special interest giveaways in state history totaling $2.3 billion.

Democrats, on the other hand, made jobs their main focus this session by:
Unveiling a jobs package of 10 bills on the first day of session designed to put our unemployed Wisconsinites back to work
Introducing legislation to encourage investment in start-up businesses, increase access to capital for small businesses, and expand grant programs to provide training in manufacturing
Proposing an additional package of nine bills aimed at giving our workers much-needed training and connecting skilled workers with potential employers
Despite our hard work, dedication and commitment to advancing these job creation measures, extremists continue to throw up partisan road blocks. As a result, these measures are currently languishing in their assigned committees unable to move forward.

Other Legislative Priorities On Hold
Job creation and economic growth are not the only issue areas with bills being held hostage by the majority party. There are many other legislative initiatives that Wisconsinites would like to see move forward that are being held up by Governor Walker and Republican legislators. Below are just a few examples of bills that continue to be ignored by Governor Walker and Republican leadership despite having bipartisan support or approval from the majority of Wisconsinites:
Strengthening Wisconsin's lax drunk driving laws through increased used of ignition interlock devices
Returning the $35 million cut from our technical colleges, which are crucial for producing skilled workers
Ensuring voters can get the documents needed to obtain a photo ID free of charge
Requiring ethics reports to be filed by members of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to prevent fraud
Applying our Open Meetings Laws to the Wisconsin State Legislature
Providing adequate funding for women's health services such as breast exams, pap smears and birth control
Immediately removing the caps on FamilyCare that were wrongfully imposed by Governor Walker and his administration
Turning down $38 million federal grants to help Wisconsin implement portions of federal health care law, which provides coverage for pre-existing conditions and ensures the majority of funds are spent on patient coverage not profits
Allowing cooperation between municipalities in order to save money
Restoring funding to the recycling program, preventing a cost-shift to local government who already faced cuts to shared revenue in the budget
Wisconsin deserves better. Traditionally, it has been the Wisconsin way to put our partisanship aside in troubled times to get things done. Governor Walker has soundly rejected this tradition.

Wetlands Destruction Bill Passes Committee
This past Thursday, Republicans on the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Environment ignored a scientific and balanced approach to wetlands preservation by rejecting efforts to craft a consensus bill. Rather than turn the bill into something that hunters, anglers, environmentalists and neighbors could stand behind, Republicans voted against a tradition of bipartisan work and in lock-step opposed amendments to decrease flooding and preserve wildlife habitats. As a result, Senate Bill 368, legislation that significantly diminishes environmental protections that keeps our water safe for drinking and recreation and protects our valuable wetland resources, is now available for scheduling on the Senate Floor.

Concerns were raised during the hearing about how passage of this legislation will likely irreversibly degrade our wetlands and contribute to increased flooding. Wetlands are critical in protecting the health of our community. They purify runoff from cities, farms and construction sites, reducing our water treatment costs and ensuring we have cleaner water for drinking and recreation. Furthermore, wetlands are able to store large quantities of water to help prevent devastating shore erosion and flooding in our neighborhoods. The protection provided by wetlands is crucial in the Milwaukee area, which was devastated by flooding in June 2008 and 2009, and July 2010.

Wetlands also play a prominent role in Wisconsin's environment and tourism industry. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, nearly 40% of Wisconsin's 370 species of birds live in or use our wetlands as well as many mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles, such as white-tailed deer, waterfowl and walleye. Additionally, Wisconsin's wetlands are home to one-third of the plants and animals on our state's endangered and threatened species list. The nature and wildlife featured in Wisconsin's wetlands provides the perfect setting for recreational wildlife watchers, anglers, hunters and boaters.

Senate Bill 368 became a clear choice of priorities with legislators opting to side with hunting and fishing groups along with environmental scientists or aligning themselves with special interests seeking easier profits. The following are some of the more problematic provisions that remain in this legislation:
Eliminates protections for areas designated as having significant ecological, educational or recreational value
Rolls back the "avoid and minimize" rule that ensures developers consider alternative non-wetland sites to avoid unnecessary destruction of our valuable natural resources
Allows for automatic approval of some permits after only 30 days, leaving our communities at risk if the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is hampered in their review process
Changes mitigation rules to allow high quality natural wetlands to be replaced with lower quality artificially created wetlands elsewhere in Wisconsin

January is Reproductive Awareness Month
This week is national reproductive awareness week. Access to reproductive health care services is directly linked to bettering health care outcomes for women. In addition to the primary purpose of allowing women to plan and prepare for pregnancy, basic reproductive health services also aim to save lives by preventing and treating life-threatening diseases such as HIV/AIDS and breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer through pap smears, breast exams, and screening and treatment for STDs.

I am supporting a resolution to proclaim January 22 through January 28 of this year Reproductive Rights Awareness Week in Wisconsin. This resolution encourages public awareness, conversation and support for reproductive health statewide. Some of the issues highlighted in this resolution include:
Emphasizing the importance of prenatal care in decreasing our infant and maternal mortality rates
Recognizing that reproductive services encourage prevention and treatment of health problems including ovarian cancer and cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease and osteoporosis
Supporting access to contraception for all women to better prevent unintended pregnancies
Acknowledging that issues related to women’s reproductive rights are personal issues that should be decided by women with their families, health care providers or clergy members
The unprecedented assault on women’s reproductive rights by Governor Walker and Republican legislators over the last year have reinforced the need to raise awareness about the grave consequences women face if access to reproductive care is restricted. The attack on women’s health began in Governor Walker's 2011-2013 Biennial Budget, which restricted access and funding for preventative health care services for women.

The health care options for Wisconsin’s young women was also negatively impacted with the repeal of the Healthy Youth Act, which helped ensure that Wisconsin’s youth were kept informed about contraceptive and sexually transmitted disease prevention. According to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health, approximately 87% of Wisconsin voters support requiring sex education instruction that includes information about both abstinence and contraception.

We owe it to women across the state and future generations to not only bring awareness to the importance of reproductive health services, but to also support these services whole-heartedly to ensure that Wisconsin women will have adequate access to vital and life-saving reproductive care. I will continue to support legislative proposals that keep our state moving in the right direction on women’s health.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pizza and Using the Leftovers

My good friend and traveling buddy, Mr. Thomas Johnson, stopped for an overnight last night, which of course meant that we would be having his favorite "Larry Heagle" pizza, the treasured "Blinky", so-called because of an eye condition Mr Johnson once suffered on a trip to Lambeau Field - the trip wherein he gained the nickname "Blinky" and yours truly the nickname: "Little Bladder Man", which needs no explanation and sounds somewhat Native American. The pie is home made Italian sausage and jalepeno-stuffed green olives on a bed of sauce and real Wisconsin provolone.
After blueberry buttermilk pancakes, Mr. Johnson was on his way to Madison around 9:30 AM and I have been working steadily all day - at what, I couldn't tell you, but I know I have kept the wood stove going at a rapid burn all day.

Around 2:30 earlier this afternoon I decided I would make myself some lunch - so I used up some left overs. I made an Italian Breakfast Sandwich:

One slice Muffin bread, toasted, buttered
One hamburger sized patty of the left over Italian sausage
One circle cut of the provolone cheese
One large egg

I toasted and buttered the bread, set it aside while I grilled the Italian sausage patty in a wrought iron frying pan. After turning the patty, I topped it with the provolone and continued to cook until provolone began melting.
In the meantime, I dropped the one large egg into a small no stick pan, added a couple of drops of water, covered it and cooked just til yoke began to be translucent.

I put the cheesed patty on top of the toast, topped that with the fried egg and called it breakfast! And it was good!


I have some stories to tell - but it's already going on 6PM and I gotta run to the house and feed those kitties! Story time tomorrow!


Sunday, January 15, 2012


Well, here it is - Green Bay Packer's first post season game! And I am facing it alone. dropped Kimmy off at the airport shuttle and she's bound for warmer temps in Arizona with "The Get-Away-Girls" - so it's me and the kitties for the rest of the week. And Hammy and Stella don't much like football because all of daddy's screaming at the TV makes them run for cover under the bed.

And here's the awful truth. I don't think the Packers can do it today. The defense has been suspect all season - Yeh, I know they went 15-1 over the regular season. But this is a PLAYOFF game and playoff football is a whole different kettle of fish, ball of wax, or whatever overused hackneyed expression you want to insert here. If you don't believe that, you haven't been watching the playoffs thus far.

Unless we can get some turnovers, Mr. Rodgers neighborhood could very well turn into a Bronx slum.

And wasn't the 49'er/Saints game just one of the best you have ever watched? Wild and crazy all the way! Happy for the Niners. Mostly because my friend Doug Cox lives out there half the year - I just took him up to the airport this past Monday.

And I know this is going against the flow, but I really enjoyed watching Timmy Tebow aka the "Baby Jesus" get REALLY beat up yesterday. How come when he loses he doesn't take time to thank his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

And as long as I am talking football, I have to comment on the NFL Channel's talking heads. Please, please, please get rid of Michael Irvin, Deon Sanders, and Warren the sap. I didn't think much of them when they played the game and now they are really full of hot air and BS!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012


It took some doing, but with the help of a charity that came out and loaded up a large sofa that took up way too much room, and moving everything else around into a logical, space saving order, I know have a humidified room in which to practice or just sit and read!

I had one of "those days" today. I opened up the monthly statement from good old AT&T to write a check for the monthly amount and suddenly realized that my check book was not in the one of two places it usually is in at my little office.

I back tracked the past week in my mind and decided that the last check I wrote was for dinner with Doug Cox and Kim at T.J.'s Inn in Downsville - home of the best aged sirloin anywhere. I checked my online checking account and according to it, the check to T.J.'s was the last check I wrote.

If you have ever misplaced something as important as either your check book or your wallet you know how entirely exasperated (or as Doug would say "hesperasated) I was - If you are like me, you start looking everywhere it possibly could be, including the laundry basket, the garbage can, the inside pocket of all winter jackets, the top drawer of the dresser, back pockets of jeans -places where you know darn well it isn't, but you look anyway.

This went on for nearly three hours until I decided I had better go through some old notebooks that I had discarded near the stove for burning. And I will be doggone! Right in the middle of that mess I find the blue-covered RCU logo'ed check book!

Usually when I find something I will then remember when I put it where I found it - but what is entirely frightening is that I have no idea why my check book was where it was.

So I have it back in front of my computer where it usually resides. But now I have a much more uneasy feeling about taking care of things like wallets and check books. I don't like it!


Thursday, January 5, 2012


Every week, State Senator Larson e mails an update from Madison. The one I received today needs to be shared by everyone in Wisconsin who is concerned about the lack of transparency in our state government since Walker was elected just over a year ago and why the recall is about much more than the collective bargain issue.

I wrote to Senator Larson and asked permission to disseminate the excellent information he provides and he was glad to grant me that permission, so here goes:

Lifting the Veil of Secrecy
Under Governor Walker we have seen an ever-growing culture of secrecy and misdirection. Fortunately, as we enter the new year these efforts to keep the people of Wisconsin in the dark are starting to come to light. Just this week we saw indictments handed out to top Walker aides, verified that Governor Walker unjustly created a cap on FamilyCare and tried to take credit for its repeal, and saw Republican leaders harshly criticized for the backroom tactics used to draw the new legislative district maps. We will look at these events in more detail, in addition to others that occurred over the past year that steered Wisconsin off the path of transparency.

Removing the Unjust Cap on FamilyCare
During debate on Governor Walker's budget, my Democratic colleagues and I expressed our concerns about how people across Wisconsin would suffer because of the proposed cap on Medicaid programs, including FamilyCare. Since then, I have been contacted by hundreds of neighbors voicing their opposition to the cap and sharing how this change affected them personally or a family member.

It was hard for many of us to accept that cutting our safety net by imposing this devastating cap was even a possibility that could be considered by the Walker administration. As it turns out, it was not. Late last week we were made aware that caps placed on Wisconsin's Medicaid programs was not legal and as a result, the federal government ordered Governor Walker to lift the cap he placed on FamilyCare. Once session resumes, the Legislature will need to pass a bill to officially remove the current cap on Wisconsin's health safety net programs.

Courts Condemn Secret Process for Drawing Maps
After legislators, advocates and neighbors voiced concerns over the new legislative district maps drawn and hurriedly passed by Republicans earlier this year, two former legislators and 13 others filed a legal challenge. The group raised concerns that the partisan boundaries violate the federal Voting Rights Act and the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because of the way they treat minority communities and shift voters from one district to another.

In September a federal three-judge panel was assembled to hear the challenge. The panel, two of whom are Republican appointees, includes J.P. Stadtmueller of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Diane P. Wood of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Robert M. Dow Jr. of the Northern District of Illinois.

Republicans introduced several motions attempting to keep the process used to craft the maps secret. Not only did the three-judge panel rule against these attempts, but they issued a scathing opinion saying the following:

"Quite frankly, the Legislature and the actions of its counsel give every appearance of flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide from both the court and the public the true nature of exactly what transpired in the redistricting process."

The court went on to say that the taxpayers should not have to pay for the sanctions it issued and instead ordered the Legislature's attorneys to cover the costs because they are “those ultimately responsible for the sandbagging, hide-the-ball trial tactics that continue to be employed.”.

Pattern of Decreased Transparency
Governor Walker and his rubberstamp Legislature began their attack on our common sense open government protections with a special session, which allows them to fast-track bills. The following are just some of the bills authored and passed by Republican legislators during that session, reversing Wisconsin's progress in ensuring open government:
Special Session Senate Bill 1--Prevents victims and their families from obtaining justice against negligent corporations and manufacturers. Republicans rejected Senate Amendment 2, a Democratic amendment to ensure reports relating to health care violations are not kept secret.
Special Session Senate Bill 3--Creates tax incentives for corporations that relocate to Wisconsin. Republicans rejected Assembly Amendment 2, which would have required tracking the number of jobs created by these incentives to ensure tax dollars are being spent wisely.
Special Session Senate Bill 4--Gives $25 million more to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for corporate tax credits. Amendments were rejected by Republicans, which would have required the Audit Bureau to conduct an annual audit of the program and recoup credits if a business submits false information or fails to fulfill promises.
Special Session Senate Bill 6--Replaces the Department of Commerce with the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. To protect against the potential for corruption, an amendment was introduced to require all WEDC employees to be subject to the open records law. It was rejected by Republican legislators.
Special Session Senate Bill 8--Requires approval by the Governor on all administrative rules. This is an unprecedented power grab that decreases the power of the Legislature and makes Wisconsin's executive branch one of the most powerful in the country. I introduced Senate Amendment 8 that would have prohibited a Wisconsin governor from accepting campaign donations from those that would benefit financially from rule changes. Republicans ultimately rejected this amendment that would have eliminated the potential for conflicts of interest and maintained integrity in the rule process.
Following these bills, Governor Walker and Republican legislators continued to send Wisconsin in the wrong direction by pushing through the Republican budget, which was brimming with special interest giveaways, sneaking nearly 80 non-fiscal policy items into what was promised to be a purely fiscal document. The following provisions are some of the most egregious:
Approved a $162 million corporate slush fund for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, but provided no details on how the agency would use these funds.
Eliminated the clean election initiatives in Wisconsin, taking power from voters and giving more control of our elections to wealthy, out-of-state corporations.
Seized powers from the constitutional offices of the Secretary of State and State Treasurer.
Granted unprecedented dictatorial authority to Secretary Smith at the Department of Health Services who will be able to make unilateral, unspecified changes to Wisconsin's medical Assistance programs, which could include dramatic service cuts to our most vulnerable.
Ripped authority from the Department of Public Instruction regarding its educational authority and stunted DPI’s power to develop important education improvement initiatives.
Allows the Walker Administration to sell state assets without bidding for the best deal for taxpayers.
My Democratic colleagues and I introduced amendments to remove such backwards provisions from the budget in order to ensure Wisconsin maintains its tradition of clean, open and transparent government. Unfortunately, Republicans voted down these amendments with little consideration for Wisconsin’s traditions.

In addition to placing the wish lists of special interests ahead of working families when pushing his legislative agenda, Governor Walker and Republican legislators have also tried a variety of methods to keep the doors of the Capitol locked to the public, by doing the following:
Abruptly halting public hearings on controversial legislation before citizens were able to speak
Violating Wisconsin's Open Meetings Law
Physically locking the public and legislators out of the Capitol
Implementing guidelines that makes it nearly impossible for individuals or groups that are not wealthy to utilize their constitutional right to free speech and assembly
No matter which party is in control, we need more accountability and transparency, not less. I will continue doing what I can to promote good government policies, not follow in Governor Walker's footsteps by forwarding legislation and policies aimed at keeping government actions under lock and key. I will also continue to keep you updated on the most recent events and any future events that indicate a threat to our tradition of open government as they develop.


I would suggest that you e mail Senator Larson and ask to be on his mailing list!


Sometime during the month of August, Eau Claire Electric Cooperative offered a service in which they come in to your dwelling and point out where you are losing heat to the outside world and wasting energy and money. The service wasn't free but we decided we really should have it done with propane prices skyrocketing annually.

About that same time, Kim and I did a TV commercial for Chippewa Valley Siding, Roofing, and Supply. We were both impressed with the professional manner that owner, Gary Schilts displayed and so after the energy study, in which we found that the house leaks like a sieve, we gave the bid to Chippewa Valley Siding, Roofing and Supply. (notice how I got that plug in twice?)

First we had our good friend and carpenter Ron Wendt come out and do all the basement walls, which were unfinished concrete. When he finished we could actually feel how much warmer the basement had become!

Then Gary's crew, and Gary himself, came out to tackle the main floor's leak problems. They spent nearly two days sealing off various cracks , nooks and crannies where heat was escaping around such things as window casements, doors, and closet walls.
One of the biggest heat losers was the entire fireplace fixture so we had to make a big decision. We were aware that our roof and the current shingles were starting to be less than up to standard but Gary thought they could last another three years or so. However, insulating the chimney was going to be nearly impossible until such time as they actually opened up the area from above and could see what needed to be done to really get it insulated properly.
We thought it over for several weeks and decided that if putting a new roof on with entirely new blown insulation topped with regular insulation and brand new 50 year warranted shingles would really seal up the house and have a real effect on our heating costs then we might as well do it now as who knows what materials will cost three years down the road - certainly not less!

To top it all off (no pun intended) the weatherman gave us temps in the 40's this week from now until the weekend, by which time the crew pictured intends to have the roof entirely insulated, re-boarded, and shingled.

The only real casualties in this project are our two cats, Stella and Hammy. Every day it must sound to them like the world is coming to and end with the incessant pounding and scraping they can hear coming from above them. They seek refuge under the bed all day every day, quaking in their little fur booties. It is only after the crews shut down for the day that they come out of hiding to eat and take care of their bath room duties.

Poor kitties!

But we keep telling them how nice and cozy they will be for the rest of their lives!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Wilson/Heagle Conclave Celebrates 35th wedding Anniversary

January first is Kim and Larry's wedding anniversary. I always joke that the reason I wanted to marry on January 1 was so I would remember the occasion by waking up with an alcohol induced pounding headache from New Year's Eve.

Boy! Have things changed. New Year's Eve day I picked up my friend Doug Cox and we went down to Water Street and joined the "old timers" from UWEC theatre who gather every year at noon on the 31st.

I had a shot of Stolichnaya (Russia's revenge) before I left to pick up Doug and over lunch I had a Bloody Mary backed with a "snit" of beer. That's all the alcohol I consumed!

By the time I got back home, around 2PM, I was physically ill from the drinks. Not drunk - just nauseous. I simply cannot drink anymore. and that's a blessing in disguise - who needs to spend money on alcohol anyway? I can get the same effect just by standing up too quickly!

It was good to see the old guard - we all sang Auld Lang Syne and David White performed two monologues - The Walrus and the Carpenter and The Jabberwock(?) both by Lewis Carroll - how David can remember THAT is beyond my comprehension..

We shared theatre "war stories" - I told my favorite. I was in Shakespeare's "A Comedy of Errors", portraying one of the twin slaves. Late in the show there is a confrontation between my master (who is accompanied by his wife) and a courtesan. He is adamantly denying that he knows this strumpet, played by a gal named Nancy Briggs.

She has the line: "Sayest thou doth not know me? Here is the ring you snatched from my finger."

The night of final dress rehearsal she got to that line and unknowingly said: "Sayest thou doth not know me? Here is the ring you fingered from my snatch."

Needless to say, the entire cast lost it! Except for Nancy - she was totally unaware of what she had said. "What?" "What?" "Why are you laughing?"

Needless to say Dr Earl Kjer, our director, was not happy with our reaction and the complete loss of character. The show opened and every night, when we got to that line, the entire cast would hold their collective breath - and Nancy would slow down her delivery and concentrate!

She got through the entire ring without making that mistake!


What an amazing show Mr. Matt Flynn put on yesterday in the Packers 45 - 41 defeat of the Lions! He set a franchise record of 6 touchdowns in a game!

I fired off an e mail to my friend "Blinky" Johnson who was in Superior, Wisconsin over the weekend and I have to share the e mail I got from him in reply:

No local TV here Sunday, and I didn't feel like fighting the crowds in bars with a dish. Followed the game in the old-fashioned way: listened to it on the radio. Happy that Flynn had such a great game: almost 500 yards and 6TDs! So, I'm inclined to trade Rogers for many draft choices, keep Flynn and bring back Favre as the quarterback coach and assistant GM. Is Ray Rhodes available to be the DC, by the way? Flynn could even take over the lease at Favre's Steakhouse and text message a picture of his penis to Dianna Favre. I'm spending a lot of time alone here in Souptown and these things make perfect sense to me. Did I mention my idea about trading Donald Driver to the Vikings ?

A great thing for Flynn is that he is going to get beaucoup bucks next year for wherever he signs. MMNM seems to be having a resurgence at the end of the season, and then Jennings is coming back! I can't wait to see the Saints bitch slap the Lions. Bitch slap them, Mr. 'aitch!
El Loco