Sunday, September 8, 2013

Catching up on events in Fitzwalkerstan

It's been a busy week here, with houses to close on and birthdays to celebrate, so I wanted to recap a couple of recent

1. The corrupt debacle involving the Koch front group "United Sportsmen of Wisconsin" reached a head this week, with Gov. Walker's office deciding it had no choice but to keep the United Sportsmen from receiving their tailor-made $500,000 grant. This comes after a couple more Walker Admin screw-ups, including DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp claiming that there originally was no problem because United Sportsmen had followed all of the requirements laid out in the grant (of course they did, Scott Suder wrote the grant specifically for them). The Journal-Sentinel also described some additional sketchiness that came to light regarding the people that worked for United Sportsmen.
The Journal Sentinel reported last Friday that the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc. appeared to be improperly claiming a federal tax-exempt status during the process of receiving a grant to promote hunting and fishing in the state.

The group, which has close ties to Republican politicians and other conservative organizations, now says its president, [Andy] Pantzlaff, was confused when he told state committee last week that United Sportsmen had been approved by the federal Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. However, United Sportsmen also had stated that on its letterhead in a letter to the state.

"Mr. Pantzlaff did not speak directly with the foundation's counsel concerning the 501(c)(3) status, and was mistaken about the exemption process," said a statement issued by the group. "There was no intent to mislead anyone and ... the foundation apologizes for any confusion caused by this misunderstanding."
Riiight, because Andy Pantzlaff can be trusted to follow laws. Especially involving the hunting and fishing duties he was supposed to be "educating" about.
Earlier Thursday evening, DNR chief warden Randy Stark confirmed that Andy Pantzlaff, the president of United Sportsmen, was cited for hunting with the wrong license in Langlade County on Sept. 11, 2005, and later convicted and fined. Stark said he couldn't immediately offer more details on the citation, which is a municipal violation and not a criminal one.

The violation involves the state fish and game laws that United Sportsmen would have been receiving taxpayer money to teach to new hunters and anglers as part of its grant.
Look, if I lied about things on a job application, not only would I be disqualified from the job, I'd be subject to jail time for fraud. Why isn't Andy Pantzlaff able to be prosecuted the same way for lying about United Sportsmen's 501(c)(3)'s status, and for not revealing his hunting-related conviction? C'mon JB Van Hollen, show me that there are real consequences for these guys for trying to grab taxpayer dollars under false premises.

Don't think that Walker allegedly asking the DNR to rescind the grant lets his administration off the hook for this fiasco. Walker had a chance to line-item veto this thing when his staff was going over the budget, but he didn't. He also is still planning to give Suder a hefty pay increase at his new administrator job at the PSC, so apparently Walker has no problem having people directly connected to the United Sportsmen mess in charge of this key position. The Walker Admin only did this because it was hurting Walker's standing with the public, and it begs the question about how many other similarly cronyist money shifts are going on with these guys. If we had a real media in this state, they'd be smelling blood in the water right now.

2. Speaking of unaccountable cronyist money-funneling, check out this article about the voucher students in Green Bay- where more than 90% of voucher recipients in the area's catholic schools already were taking classes at these schools.
Most of the 41 students coming into the Green Bay Area Catholic Education system using private school vouchers already are part of the parochial school system.

GRACE, the state’s largest Catholic school system with nine schools, split into three entities to apply for the new voucher program. Those entities, and Notre Dame Academy, learned last month they are part of the new voucher program. Notre Dame will have 10 students using vouchers.

All but three of the GRACE students already are part of the program, officials said. The small numbers are spread throughout grade levels, so schools won’t have to hire additional staff this year.
So in GB, the voucher program isn't causing students to attend different schools, and instead doesn't seem to be doing anything other than send taxpayer dollars to the Catholic churches that run these schools.

And if Assembly Speaker Robin Vos continues to get his way, these subsidized voucher schools won't have to face the same accountability rules every other type of subsidized school would have to, and money would continue to be poured into these schools no matter how badly they fare (in clear contrast to what they want to do to low-performing public schools). Democurmudgeon has a good breakdown of Vos's attempts to shut down any accountability measures for vouchers, and you might also remember how Vos told State Sens. Mike Ellis , Sheila Harsdorf and Glenn Grothmann at their pow-wow at Inn on the Park about how he could find $200 million in venture capital to start up new voucher schools.

And as I pointed out nearly 2 years ago when that video first came out, all of these politicians admit that poverty (or lack thereof) is a main driver behind school performance measures, but these Republicans don't care about reducing poverty or improving school performance as much as they care about how to funnel taxpayer money to the voucher advocates that fund their campaigns. The results of this first year of statewide vouchers is bearing this out, with most of the vouchers going to families that already were choosing private schools, and paying for them.

3. I was glad to see Public Citizen follow up on the Walker Administration's attempts to lie about the changes in insurance costs for Obamacare, and they have filed an Open Record request requiring the Insurance Commissioner's Office to "show their work", to reveal where the OCI came up with their claims of extreme increases in insurance costs due to Obamacare. I mean, the OCI didn't just pull these numbers straight out of their ass, so there has to be a trail of where the calculations came from, right? That's the way you handle politicized deceptions of data- you make these guys show their work, which will reveal the (usually intentional) flaws in the comparisons. It also means you won't need to wait for Politi-crap to give it a "halfway true" by allowing the Walker Administration to get away with using "average rates" when people don't choose based on averages, but instead will compare the costs that they'll have to pay for the level of coverage they need.

It's also interesting to note that Minnesota released their own study last week on what Obamacare will do for insurance rates, and it shows that in a state that had a similar high level of health care services to Wisconsin in 2010, Minnesota will end up having the lowest Obamacare exchange rates in the country. Of course, Minnesota chose to spend the time and effort to set up their own state exchange to better fit Obamacare to its current programs, but Walker threw that option away in Wisconsin, cynically turning down millions of federal dollars to help set up Wisconsin's own exchange, and deciding to throw Wisconsinites onto the one-size-fits-all federal exchange in an attempt to screw up Obamacare's implementation. Yet again, Minnesota is passing us by in taking care of its citizens, and running things in a more efficient and better way than we do in Fitzwalkerstan. And don't think people with career options in the Upper Midwest aren't noticing.

So there are some of your updates. We'll see if there's any fallout from these failed Walker policies in the next couple of weeks as the Legislature comes back into session, and Marquette Law comes out with another Walker approval rating poll.


  1. What's the schedule for that poll, do you know? And will Marquette poll anywhere outside of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties (snark)?

  2. So really what is happening in essence, is that they taxpayers of Wisconsin are funding the payments for the lawsuits filed against the pedophile priests? Wonder how many taxpayers would love to hear that?

    1. Don't know how many should know that Church "activities" are being subsidized by taxpayers,, but I'm thinking a few should be, ahem, made aware. :P