Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yeah, this ain't what independent taxpayer stewardship looks like

In between the absurdity and bumbling that is today Wisconsin GOP were these couple of gems in the last week. Both of which involve topics I have some familiarity with.

1. The Walker Administration's idea to remove a cost-benefit analysis when deciding if they want to contract a service out. Yes, because the Blackwaters and Wackenhunt's of the world are sooo cost-effective and upstanding overseers of the taxpayers' dollars, let's just give them multi-million dollar contracts with little to no oversight. I mean, why have a state employee do a job when you can pay an unaccountable consultant $125 a whole lot more, right?

The especially cool part about that one is DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch saying "We did a cost-benefit analysis on the cost-benefit analysis and found it was costing us money." Even by Walker Admin. standards, that takes the Unintentional Comedy Scale to a new level.

2. The DOA also had to reveal to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel where it came up with its estimate of $7.5 million of damages caused by protestors to the Capitol building. And here it is!

Yeah, as someone that has to gather independent cost estimates for government procurements, I usually need more proof than me writing stuff on the back of a piece of notebook paper. Now, call me a stickler, but if I threw some figure against the wall for something involving taxpayer dollars and massively inflated it, I think I'd get fired for cheating the public.

But then again, I'm liberal, which does mean I have to be much better at my job than the right-wing affirmative action cases that seem to fill this administration. Oh well...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Other than hoops, we really don't want to be like Indiana

As a former resident of both Indiana and Wisconsin, and a former attendee of both Butler and UW, I've taken an extra interest in the recent clashes and comparisons of the two places.

First off, I was thoroughly discouraged by UW's egg-laying against the Bulldgos- I'd just like us to look OK when we lose one of these years (the last time I felt that way was in 2005). But Butler's toughness was a key difference, as it was yesterday when they returned to the Final 4 in an accomplishment that might be more impressive than them doing it last year. It's a lot harder to stay on top after losing an NBA first-round pick than it is to make the run in the first place, and it's remarkable that the best basketball school in the state is a 4,600-person little private school in Indy.

But while Indiana impresses on the court, they're not so impressive in real life. I wanted to bring extra attention to this in light of a long profile in the Journal-Sentinel on Gov. Mitch Daniels and the ways that Scott Walker is trying to match his agenda here in Wisconsin. Well, given that Mitch has been in power for 6+ years in the Hoosier state, we probably have a good indication of the great results his policies have had, and how much we should emulate them, right?

Let's go first to unemployment and job growth, especially since the February 2011 state numbers were just released this week:

Ind.- 8.8% unemployment (-1.9% from last year),
Wisc.- 7.4% unemployment,(-1.7% from last year)

Ind.- +19,800 jobs last 12 months (0.7% growth)
Wisc.- +25,300 jobs last 12 months (0.9% growth)

OK, maybe that's just one year, though the fact that Indiana was at 10.7% unemployment should set off serious alarms. May have been a fluke from Elkhart Trailers and such diving under in 2009-2010. Let's check out the numbers from 6 years ago to see the bigger picture of Mitch's performance, and to see what things were like before the economy blew up.

Ind.- 5.7% unemployment (-3.1% vs. today)
Wisc.- 4.9% unemployment (-2.5% vs. today)

Ind.- -168,400 jobs last 6 years (5.7% loss)
Wisc.- -70,900 jobs last 6 years (2.5% loss)

So Indiana under Mitch has lost more than TWICE as many jobs as Wisconsin has in the same time period. Seems to not make any sense to follow it from that perspective. But maybe the jobs are better jobs in Indiana that pay well enough to keep people out of poverty, so let's look at household income and poverty rates for another view.

Median household income, 2005 (using 2009 dollars)
Ind.- $48,390
Wisc.- $51,784

Median household income, 2009
Ind.- $45,324 (-$3,066, -6.3%)
Wisc.- $51,122 (-$662, -1.3%)

Poverty rates 2009
Ind.- 14.4%
Wisc.- 12.4%

Change in poverty 2005-2009
Ind.- +2.2%
Wisc.- +2.2%

Yeah, I don't think things have worked out too well for the average Hoosier under My Man Mitch. As mentioned before, Wisconsin held up comparatively well during this economic crisis, while Indiana has floundered, and has fallen further behind the fellow Midwesterners in the Badger state.

So while Butler may be the type of basketball team we'd like to be here in Wisconsin, we wouldn't want to have the Hoosier "quality" of life. Amazing how those pesky facts continue to get in the way of the narrative that "tax hell Wisconsin" was going down the drain the last few years, eh? Let's keep Mitch Daniels' failing ideas in Indiana where they belong, shall we?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Holy crap! I agree with WisGOP on something educational!

Yes I do, and it involves lifting the residency requirement for workers at Milwaukee Public Schools as well as City of Milwaukee workers. Needless to say, a lot of my fellow lefty Cheddarsphere bloggers and many Milwaukee city officials are against this, and the City of Milwaukee's Department of Administration released a paper with studies to back up why they thought it was a bad idea.

First of all, as a former teacher and city employee, I'll admit that the residency requirement did not and would not affect me if I worked for an urban school system or city government. I prefer to live in the communities I work in and like cities, and thoroughly enjoyed my time on the east side of Milwaukee, much like I enjoy my current time on the east side of Madison.

However, I'll disagree with Tom Barrett and others, as I think getting rid of the residency requirement would increase the quality of applicants, and increase the results of these governmental organizations. I think some potential applicants do keep from applying for these places because they don't want to live in the city, either because the location is not conducive to their spouse's job, or (more likely) they do not want their kids have MPS be their neighborhood school. This is a classic adverse selection problem, where the more-qualified people who might be wanting to take a job with MPS due to the challenge or the pay won't end up doing it because they don't want to live in the community themselves. Likewise, the people who ARE left to teach at MPS may not be the best that there can be, which is a double-whammy for a student population that often has the highest needs (especially with school choice and voucher schools allowing other districts to be less likely to have special education students and students whose parents don't care vs. MPS). Part of the way to make up for this is to offer more money or benefits to teach at MPS, but then it leads to the suburban complaint about the comparatively high amounts of tax money that goes to MPS.

The City of Milwaukee's paper approaches the issue the wrong way. In it, they point out that there is no shortage of city resident applicants for jobs and that city workers live in houses that are higher than the average home value, keeping the quality of life high. But the paper doesn't mention the applicants that choose NOT TO CONSIDER THE JOB OR APPLY due to the residency requirement, and the number may not be insignificant. The concern about a mass exodus of workers out of the city is also less-than-founded. Sure, some people may choose to leave, but I have a hard time believing it will dry up into a Detroit-level ghost town, as the people leaving still have good jobs, and with the improved services, may make the city a more desirable place to live. To me, fearing the loss of 2,000 or so city workers and their families out of town is a loser's mentality, and the mark of a city that doesn't think it's good enough to survive without these fake barriers in place. In Milwaukee's case, I don't buy it at all and would argue that the city is the only place in the metro area worth living in.

In addition, there is a practical need to be close to your job if you are a police officer or fire fighter, as you will need to be drawn into duty at a moment's notice, and the advantage of being nearby will often outdo any drawbacks of living in the city. Without residency, there will not be the need for the pay premium that the residency requirement pulls for MPS teachers and city workers, which may allow for taxes to stay reasonably low, which can encourage people to stay around or even migrate back to the city (a common right-wing talking point bitches about Milwaukee's high property taxes).

Now, that doesn't mean I'm going to become a Sykesist cheerleader on this issue, because I also don't believe the suburb boys and girls backing this bill give 2 shits about better results at MPS or City of Milwaukee government. These folks wouldn't care if it fell in the lake, as long as they could claim their mediocre suburban life was better. And they especially show their corrupt diregard in an awful bill that would allow politically-appointed hacks to oversee all of the state's charter schools with an unelected board in Madison. That is a disgusting pay-for-play move set up by Scooter Jensen and other school choice advocates who traded their contributions to the (must-be recalled) Alberta Darling, Luther Olsen, and Dan Kapanke to sponsor this vile piece of unaccountable legislation. Same goes for the WisGOP's dream of lifting the voucher school cap in Milwaukee, which is nothing more than union-busting and diverting taxpayer funds to corporations that will likely not care about the results of the community's education as much as a taxpayer-accountable board of education will.

But despite my misgivings about the motives of the WisGOPper's, if I was in the Legislature I'd approve of lifting the residency requirement. It needs to be a results-oriented world, and to me, you should be trying to get the best RESULTS for kids in MPS and residents of Milwaukee. One of the ways you do that is by opening up the borders to all who want to work there. Putting up artificial barriers such as residency requirements thins the pool of potential applicants, which can lower the quality of services given, which increases the negative impression people have of urban schools and services, and makes others less likely to want to locate in these communities to turn the negative cycle around. In a results world, and Milwaukee needs to do what it takes to raise the outcomes of its schools and quality of life, even if it ends decades of precedent.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How Sweet it is!

Pleasantly surprised to see the Badgers pull it together and make it to the second weekend. And the many fine beverages I consumed with friends over the course of Thursday's and Saturday's games were a nice bonus. How can you not love March?

And Marquette guys? I'm happy for you either, and I told you MU upgraded its coaching when Scott Walker...ERRR....Tom Crean left and Buzz Williams came in. In 3 years, Buzz has 3 20-win seasons and as many Sweet 16 appearances as the Tan Man had in 9 years in Milwaukee. And Buzz has more years with NCAA Tourney wins without D. Wade than Crean as well. Just sayin'.....

Maybe this crazy year in Wisconsin just got a little crazier. Can't wait to see where it goes next.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rev'd up over state budget news

Wanted to give an update of a couple of recent budget-related developments. The first involves the continued above-prediction revenue figures for the state of Wisconsin. The February figures from DOR show that tax collections are up 6.1% compared to this time last year. This is 1.5% higher than what was expected in the January LFB memos, and if you prorate this out to the end of the fiscal year in June, would result in revenues $180 million above estimates.

This development ALONE would close any of the alleged "deficit" that the Walker Adminsitration claims to exist, and also increase the base for the next budget, reducing the "structural deficit" that is alleged to be $3 billion +. Now, there's still a couple of months of volatility to go due to tax returns and refunds coming in (tax refunds is why you have income tax collections be so small for February), so it's not a done deal, but keep your eye on this. Walker budget math is looking fishier every day.

Another example of fuzzy decision-making is the Walker Admin's decision to to freeze Badgercare enrollment and raise premiums for current users that don't have kids. The excuse they give is a $1.6 million deficit that exists due to higher-than expected enrollment and costs for this part of the program. It's especially rich to see a suggestion in the article to have those left out by the Badgercare restrictions consider using Obamacare's High-Risk Insurance Pool to get coverage instead. (Hmm, that almost sounds like a public option, doesn't it?) Well, you think some of the better-than-expected revenues could go towards these millions that the program is allegedly in the hole? Given that Wisconsin has poverty, unemployment and uninsured rates well below the national averages, you have to wonder if Scotty and company just want us to be more like everyone else in misery, instead of putting the state on a strong road to continue its recovery.

Or did he just want to pay back his buddies in the road builders' clubs? As former DOT administrator Rod Clark accurately pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Walker paid back the road builders who paid him off in the last election by boosting spending on interstate projects. And the way this is being done is by diverting some sales tax money on car and part sales that could go to places such as Badgercare or transit, and by taking transit out of the Transportation Fund, so state transit funding would have to battle health care, education, and other needs for funding.

And it's not just any interstate projects this money will go to, but the Zoo Interchange work, which just so happens to transport the pro-Walker voters in Washington and Waukesha Counties around town. You gotta be impressed by how far Scotty and co. go to take care of their supporters, don't you? Of course, if you're part of the other 75% of Wisconsin, you're kind of out of luck, but I guess that's just collateral damage, isn't it?

This is just the beginning of a number of items that are still to be reolved and investigated, but the combination of above-average revenues and diversions of funds toward road-building and sprawl show just how false this administration's argument of "Wisconsin's broke" is. The only way we'll be broke is if we rob the state of its advantages in education and health care coverage, and that'll be the worst kind of broke, because it isn't just fiscal, it's moral. You know, much like the Southern plantation states that Walker wants us to be like.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why have public sector unions? Glad you asked

An occasional talking point spin job from the suburban sheep is that private sector unions have a place in society, but public sector unions are a special case because they are taxpayer-funded and therefore are less legitimate. Forget the obvious point that these dishonest people see no need for unions in any way and want oligarchs to run wild in the hope that one day they'll luck into being one themselves, their logic is completely backward. Public sector unions aren't just OK, they're a NECESSARY part of a government and education system that should be serving its public.

What do I mean by that? As a former teacher, it was important that I have the protection of a union to make sure I could do my craft with freedom and fairness. If I didn't have a group having my back, I could certainly be threatened by superintendents who may have agendas other than education on their mind (like self-promoting publicity, higher office, or a coach trying to keep his player eligible). Think about the people rewriting the Texas textbooks to indoctrinate a religious, right-wing point of view into students, instead of giving students the facts and encouraging them to LEARN and figure out answers on their own. And a union also backs up a teacher over obnooxious PTA moms that may not accept their child has deserved to be disciplined for acting out in class or getting an F for cheating on a test or failing to do work. If there is no union, the teacher has a much greater chance of being intimidated into being lenient or expressing favortism to a certain few students, which destroys the teacher's effectiveness, and hurts the overall quality of education.

That doesn't mean there shouldn't be accountability for teachers or some kind of performance standards that should be tracked to measure results of teaching, of course there should be (although it shouldn't be the entire evaluation either). But you can't have teachers become scared yes men/women, because it's a disservice to the kids, and teaches an awful lesson that crying and intimidating can be preferable to work and ability.

Independence also matters with those faceless bureaucrats in the capitols. Just look to Scott Walker's budgets to see what the opposite does. The most recent example is how the top lawyer for labor-management mediation is designated to turn into a governor's appointee. Now, call me a little skeptical, but shouldn't a mediator not have to answer to the whims of management to hang onto his/her job? Maybe the mediator should be, ohh I don't know, INDEPENDENT OF POLITICAL HACKS putting on pressure to see things their way?

And that's hardly the only example for Scotty and co., as they plan to remove 37 agency and communications positions from civil service and make them political appointees. So instead of independent workers whose number 1 accountability comes to the taxpayers and the local governments they assist, appointed positions lead to hacks who have to suck up to the boss, results and taxpayer accountability be damned. Same goes for the Department of Commerce and the proposed board for UW-Madison. These unaccountable agencies will be stocked with governor-approved officials, and what the guv may want could darn well not be what the taxpayers care to see, and once these people get on board, it becomes a long time to get them off.

If this doctrine of replacing taxpayer-accountable public servants with hacks sounds familiar, it should, because it was the entire M.O. of the Bush Administration's 8 years. Remember, Brownie? You know, the guy who headed up the International Arabian Horse Administration before landing a job with FEMA in 2001 when Dubya took over, and then FUBAR'ed Katrina? Remember the gift-taking, coke-and-meth-snorting oil regulators that allowed oil and gas industry execs to write their reports, and looked the other way as BP did the unsafe drilling that eventually led to the Gulf oil spill and several deaths? Put in place by Dubya. When you have a philosophy that "government doesn't work", it is in your best interest to put people in place that will eventually fail, allowing you to turn around and say "See, it doesn't work," and then sell off the services to one of your buddies for a nice profit.

Now, you see what Scotty meant by "Open for business?" Tell you what, we need pros doing their jobs more than ever for the 12 months these guys have left, so they don't leave the state unrecognizable for the next administration that will have to clean up the mess. And if the Senate GOPs won't keep this under their control, recall their asses and replace them with legislators who recognize that the greatness of Wisconsin will last longer than any one governor, and put the "public" back into taxpayer-funded work.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Boycott list- updated

After attending the huge rally yesterday at the Capitol (easily the largest yet, and not by a small amount, either), it's time to take the movement into the next level. And some of that is political action, with recalling any Senator who voted for this abomination (I live in Madtown and therefore, I'm out of that game), and making sure JoAnne Kloppenburg wins the Supreme Court seat on April 5 (which we all can do something about).

But there's a better way to hurt Walker and his supporters, and that's in the pocketbook. I put together an original boycott list last May, but a lot has happened since then, and it's time to give it an update. So without further ado -

1. Use the information from the Facebook group that lists the big hitters to the Walker campaign. This includes Sargento Cheese, Menard's, Kwik Trip, Johnsonville Brats, anything from Koch Industries, and a number of other big names. Good starting reference, and locally, you can combine it with the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's campaign finance database to bring it down to your commmunity.

2. M&I Bank- These guys are a special case all their own. And not just for having its CEO Mark Furlong, execs in the Kuester family and numerous employees bundling their donatations to Walker. It also took $1.7 billion in TARP money that it never paid back, gambled away a lot of depositors' money on risky real estate, lost a combined $2.9 billion in 2008 and 2009 and had to be bought out by Bank of Montreal, costing Milwaukee a huge corporate headquarters. And what does M&I CEO Mark Furlong get for presiding over this failure? An $18 million payout. And these people have the nerve to elect and support the WisGOPS who demonize public employees making $50K? Well, as the bank with the largest market share in Wisconsin, they rely a lot on those people to keep their business around. And they're finding out the hard way, as the M&I branch in downtown Madison had to close after numerous public employees pulled hundreds of thousands in deposits out on Friday in protest of Walker's bill. Beautiful.

3. Continue to put pressure on businesses that do work with companies that help Walker and co. For example, I have told UW Athetics a few times that being on a radio station like WTMJ is counterproductive, as they give TMJ a benefit from higher ratings for its anti-Madison, anti-UW shows. Why not encourage them to use their power to get their stations to knock off the rhetoric, or move to a station that won't denigrate the university at every turn? UW officials have told me they don't get involved in station content, but maybe they should. And if we let them know that the economic hardship that this bill will cause will lead to a lot of their fans not being able to donate as much as they'd like, or attend fewer games than we thought. You can do the same with the Brewers and the Bucks (obviously, the Packers are a different story- everyone always finds time and money for them :P). These are the businesses that can put the squeeze on the sqwauk radio stations that went a long way toward tricking people into voting for Gov. Dropout, and they won't stop their antics till they get it in the pocketbook.

4. Leff's Lucky Towne, Wauwatosa- This one hurts, because as a Tosa East grad that went to HS with family of the owners, I've actually liked going to this place. But they gave thousands to Scotty, and being from Tosa, they knew as well as anyone what this clown was about. The fact that they think it's OK means I can't be OK with giving them any of my money when I'm back in town, and I've gotta tell others about it.

5. Lastly, avoid the 262 area code any way you can. Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee Counties voted by a combined 67-33 for Walker, and gave him more than 1/4 of his voting total for the state. These are counties that frequently feel they can insulate themselves from the big city of Milwaukee, that Milwaukee hate radio gears its programming to instead of the diverse population in the largest city in the state and generally denigrate people who believe in things beyond a few more dollars. Well, let's have them lose our business for a number of months, have Lake Geneva suffer through a miserable tourist season, and have them enjoy the economic drain that $4 gas causes commuters. Then we'll see how much they enjoy the Walker regime. Besides, does anything exist in those counties that you can't get in other, more decent parts of Wisconsin? No, of course not, so why not go to Milwaukee, or Madison, or western Wisconsin (which was closer to 50-50) for your Summer enjoyment? I haven't stopped to get gas and limited any food I've gotten in these places for business travels, and I highly recommend you do the same.

I could expand this further, but I'll leave it there. I'll gladly add to this over the next few weeks if you like.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Well, I guess it's on

I was going to post a comment about how Wisconsin's economy continued to beat the national trends, as the January unemployment numbers came out showing another 6,200 jobs created in Wisconsin for January and an unemployment rate down to 7.4%.

I was going to add that the same report showed a state government job LOSS of 3,600 seasonally-adjusted jobs, which illustrated once again that Scott Walker's threat of layoffs was empty bullshit, and an indication of how limited his administration was in not simply taking the attrition losses to get major savings in the budget.

I was going to mention that today is the 2-year anniversary of the S&P's low point after the crash that followed the financial crisis- it closed at 676.53. Today's S&P close? 1320.02, a nice 95% runup (has your pay gone up 95%? NOOO?). Neither of these things look too bad for an anti-business president and a failed stimulus, eh?

And then the WisGOPs in the Senate give a no-notice, probably illegal vote, and give themselves the nuclear option by trying to eliminate collective bargaining. It's shocking and gutless, and I'm amazed that the GOP just decided to self-destruct sounds good on WTMJ?

I didn't think these dimwits at WisGOP could top themselves in incompetence and bubble-thinking, and boy was I wrong. I guess it's on, now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

More fun and games with the big budget (geeky)

So I've finally gotten around to some reading about Gov. Walker's 2-year (July 1, 2011- June 30, 2013) budget proposal. I highly recommend the Budget in Brief over the 1,300+ page kahuna with all the details. But here's a few highights that go into the added budgetary gimmicks of Gov. Walker and the Koch-heads.

1. Around page 73 comes the information on added pension and health insurance premiums for state and local employees. These increases, which the unions indicated they would accept 2 weeks ago, would cut spending by about $30 million for this biennium (taking care of most of the current budget in need of "repair"), and $326 million for the 2011-13 one. It's a nice chunk of change, and while a bit severe for my taste, is real progress, but it's not a free lunch cut. The $98 million in health contributions are pre-tax dollars, so if you assume a 6.5% tax rate for a $50,000 single earner, that's over $6 million in reduced income tax revenues.

I'm not even mentioning the reduced sales and tax and economic activity that would result from hundreds of thousands of households losing 10-15% of their after-tax income. But does Scotty's budget mention that reduced revenue? No, of course not. So there's a hole that probably reaches the tens of millions of dollars that's magically assumed to disappear.

3. Now you're probably saying, "but Jake, the economy is going to take off and that'll add revenues through higher income, corporate and sales taxes. (you were saying that, right?) Well, Walker's budget guys sure don't think so, as they illustrate starting on page 79. They estimate job growth to be all of 140,600 jobs added between the end of 2010 and the end of 2013, a yearly rate that's barely above last year's growth of 32,600. But wait, I thought there were supposed to be 250,000 new jobs by 2014? Walker's own budget indicates that they'll be about 47,000 below that pace if he's still around in 3 years. HMMMMMM....

In fact, Walker and the WisGOPs are gloomy about the economy in general. They anticipate job growth nationwide of 1.4% for 2011 or about 150,000 jobs a month, which is interesting to note given that today's monthly jobs report clocked in at 192,000 new jobs. Maybe they're working it out with the GOPs in Congress to screw up the economy in the second half of the year to give Obama trouble, and that's where it comes from (don't bet against this being a strategy, by the way).

Another suspicious number is the 1.6% inflation estimation for 2011. Inflation was already up 0.8% between November and January, and that's before the gas spikes and $104 oil hit. Now inflation certainly sucks the big weenie when it comes to purchasing power and in costs such as gasoline for State Patrol cars, but it also raises sales tax and excise revenue, because those costs are often based on a % of the price of the product. It's kind of the same way people could get jacked by higher property taxes because their property values shot up. So, much as I said earlier, don't be surprised if current-year revenues "suprise" on the upside.

3. This budget has NO LAYOFFS. In Appendix 5, you will see that not many positions get eliminated in reality. After you throw out the changes due to the Dept. of Commerce UW-Madison and the UW Hospitals being spun off of state government (the jobs aren't being reduced, just moved) the budget mentions that all 735 vacancies over a year old will have their position eliminated, 269 positions go due to the consolidation of a couple of juvy facilities, and 59 more are due to a couple of sexual offender facility closings. After those 1,063 positions are taken care of, there are basically no other position changes! Sure, some jobs get shifted from this department to that, but there aren't these massive drops in the number of workers that will be around 2 years from now.

Which begs the question- how can you lay anyone off if no one is in the jobs being taken away? Especially when requests for eestimates of retirement benefits from state employees are up 50% from this time last year. Heck, Walker and co. can't even tell the state unions where the layoffs will come from.

I'll tackle some of the other absurd parts of this budget (like cutting aid to schools and municipalities without allowing them to make up the difference) at a later point. But if you needed more proof that Gov. Dropout is all about union-busting and posing for national media instead of taking care of our budget issues, there it is. To call this budget a shaky one is to say that Charlie Sheen has been a wee bit off-center recently.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scott Walker = Tom Crean

You can't help but notice the comparisons between our current governor and former Marquette and current Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean. Seriously.

1. Both are obnoxious, media-grubbing Republicans in their mid-40s.

2. Both look ridiculous- Crean with that pemanent tan of his, and Walker with that ferret on his head that's a lame attempt to cover his bald spot.

3. Both got their big-time jobs in Milwaukee at a relatively young age, and then lucked into prominence in the early 2000s. Crean rode Dwyane Wade to a Final 4 in 2003, while Walker rode Tom Ament's corruption and Charles Sykes' schlong to County Exec. in 2002.

4. Both make a big show out of how in control their are, acting enthusiastic for their cause and knowing how to kiss the right backsides and strike the right poses to impress those of lesser intelligence. But their records in Milwaukee weren't worthy of the adulation their supporters would give them - Walker never got Milwaukee County's finances in order and destroyed the level of services, and Crean won a grand total of ONE NCAA tournament game at MU without D. Wade, and couldn't even make the Big Dance 4 times in 9 years.

5. Both have been pathetic in the position they got promoted to after leaving Milwaukee. Walker is well on his way to being recalled and a sick punchline in Wisconsin history, and Crean is now a stellar 8-45 in the Big Ten at IU. (You know, Indiana basketball, arguably the best program in the Big Ten's history with 5 national titles, 8 Final Fours and the home state of "Hoosiers"?)

6. Both are owned by those goofy Madison libruls. Walker has been outplayed and humiliated by the protestors and thinkers in Madtown right now, and he has no legitimate answer for what they are bringing to him. And Tom Crean has now lost 12 out of 14 against UW for his career.

7. You get the feeling it'll end badly for both of them in 2012. And just like Marquette has ended up better off with Buzz Williams, Wisconsin will end up better off after the Scott Walker era ends.