Realtors and manufacturers plan to overhaul Wisconsin’s technical school system

cheeseheads against kochhead

Dear Readers,

It looks like the Wisconsin technical school system could be next in line for some of Walker’s patented “cares too much” treatment.

A special committee is looking to remove local control of technical schools in favor of state control and more funding from the state, not property taxes. The awkwardly named Study Committee on the Review of Wisconsin Technical
College System Funding and Governance committee meets July 24, 10:00 a.m. at the Capitol in Madison.

Readers will notice a heavy representation of manufacturer types on the committee list (see below). I expect “fix the skills gap!” talk at the upcoming meeting without comparable talk of paying skilled workers a competitive wage.

Readers should also note that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), Wisconsin Realtors Association, and the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers’ Alliance are given the opportunity to speak at the first meeting.

I seem to remember learning that all documents shared between Eric O’Keefe and WMC (and lots of other groups) got subpoenaed by a certain John Doe prosecutor due to suspected illegal campaign coordination between those groups and Walker’s campaign 2011 – 2012. – source

And I seem to remember Eric O’Keefe whining that conservative “speech” was being taken away.

The John Doe investigations have done nothing to take away WMC’s megaphone. WMC has a special relationship with The Guv. The Guv also has somethin’ goin’ on with Wisconsin Realtors Association.

Something so special that an article on John Doe emails might disappear [as seen here] to be swiftly replaced by an article about Scott’s promise to Wisconsin Realtors Assn. –  a promise to freeze property taxes.

So expect that the goal of freezing and/or cutting property taxes (and the goal of pleasing Wisconsin Realtors Assn.) will be top priority at this meeting as well.

promise to keep property taxes flat

Please note that this special committee is just one in a slew of special committees looking to “fix” things in Wisconsin. Hamilton Consulting has a list of all of them (and they seem to be especially pleased that a couple of people from Wisconsin Economic Development Association were installed on the committee looking to overhaul TIF).

Committee Mission:
“The Special Committee is directed to review the current governance model of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) in the interest of transferring governance responsibilities of local district boards to the state WTCS Board and examine the current funding model for the WTCS with a preference toward reassigning current local property tax revenue to a broader state tax source.”

Here’s the agenda:

Representative John Nygren, Chair; Senator Sheila Harsdorf, Vice-Chair
Wednesday, July 24, 10:00 a.m., Room 411 South, State Capitol
Organizational matters.

Presentations by invited speakers, including the following:
o Morna Foy, President, WTCS, and Andrew Peterson, President, WTCS Board.
o Joe Murray, Wisconsin Realtors Association.
o Todd Berry, Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
o Mike Birkley, Wisconsin Property Taxpayer’s Inc.
o Jim Morgan and Jason Culotta, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
o Member of a technical college district board.
o Josh Dukelow, Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce. Discussion of committee assignment.”


Members of the committee:

Representative John Nygren (Chair)

Senator Sheila Harsdorf (Vice-Chair)

Bruce Barker – President of Chippewa Valley Technical College

Allen Buechel – serving a sixth term as Fond du Lac County Executive as of April 16, 2013 / On board of FCEDC Board of Directors

Dan Conroy – Vice President of Human Resources Nexen Group, Inc., a manufacturer of precision motion control components, power transmission and web tension control products

David Dull – President and CEO of Allis Roller as of 2009.

Stephen R. Kohler – Director of Human Resources at Pierce Manufacturing Inc. based in Appleton.

Representative Debra Kolste

Representative Cory Mason

Dr. Susan May – President of Fox Valley Technical College

Joseph Sheehan – Superintendent at Sheboygan Area School District

Senator Jennifer Shilling

David Stark – President at Stark Company Realtors

Dennis Treu –
Managing Member at Treu Solutions LLC
Trustee/Board Member/Treasurer at Western Technical College
Member Governance Council at iLEAD Charter School
Advisory Board Member at Juneau County Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club
Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University
Partner/Member at Reliable Title and Abstract Company LLC
Broker/Owner at Century 21 Gold Award Homes – source

Mr. Mark Tyler – Public Member of the Wisconsin Technical College System board and founder and president of OEM Fabricators, Inc., a contract manufacturer in Western Wisconsin

Representative Thomas Weatherston

Bonus footnote on Wisconsin Realtors Assn.:

I wanted to emphasize that the Wisconsin Realtors Assn. are not only getting their voice heard when it comes to technical schools, they are also getting heard at the state Supreme Court level and they also, I assume, have a direct line to the U.W. System through top level Friend of Walker, Jim Villa.

Jim “V.I.P.” Villa

Jim Villa was a lobbyist for Wisconsin Realtors Association and he was Governor Walker’s chief of staff during the time he was in the state Assembly and during part of Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive. source

In the midst of a highly scrutinized 2005 real estate bidding process with Milwaukee County’s Department on Aging, Villa returned to work with Scott Walker in his executive office.

Wrote Dan Bice, “Authorities have been looking for signs of bid-rigging or other misconduct as representatives of the privately owned Reuss Federal Plaza vied unsuccessfully in 2010 to keep the county Department of Aging in its office space. The offices had moved in 2005 to the blue tower in a $3 million deal [a deal that has been described as “a rushed five hour bid“].”

“[Andrew P.] Jensen’s firm helped spearhead the Reuss effort to win the lease for the county offices.” – source

In 2008, Villa took the job as President of the Commercial Association of Realtors-Wisconsin (CARW), where he worked with Board Chair Andrew Jensen.

In 2010, Jensen won the “Wisconsin’s Realtor of the Year” award.

There was much in the press and the blogosphere about Jensen not “cooperating with the investigation” when Jensen got detained by authorities for one night in December of 2011. No criminal charges were brought up on Jensen. By April of 2012 Jensen had received a “highly unusual” letter of exoneration from D.A. John Chisholm’s office.

Nonetheless, in 2012, the Wisconsin Democratic Party reminded reporters that Villa’s company Markesan Group lobbied on real estate deals that were connected with suspected bid rigging in Milwaukee County as is documented in this lengthy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.

In May of 2014 Jim Villa began a $178K job as University of Wisconsin System vice president for university relations despite “concerns” raised by two members of the Board of Regents.

Wisconsin State Supreme Court
March 8, 2013:
“The realtors group filed documents with the state in February saying it may spend $206,648 to support incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack, who is considered one of the court’s four conservatives, in her April 2 reelection bid against Ed Fallone, a Marquette Law School professor.

The realtors have not directly spent money on outside electioneering activities in a Supreme Court race until now.”

Conservative values on display: AFP sends ballots to Wisconsin Democratic Party voters showing wrong dates

A lot of us are wondering how the right wing thinks they can get away with pushing the United States to the edge of economic ruin in D.C. After all – – won’t they pay a high price at the ballot box later?

Uhh… looks like the answer is: Not if they can keep Dem Party voters AWAY from the ballot box.

According to David Catanese at Politico, Dem voters in Wisconsin senate districts 2 and 10 got absentee ballots mailed to them from conservative group Americans for Prosperity that advise them to return ballots for the Aug. 9 election to the city clerk “before Aug. 11.”.

The two districts that have Aug 16 dates are to the far North and South of the state – locations nowhere near the Aug. 9th election areas.

“A Democrat on the ground in Wisconsin said the fliers were discovered to be hitting doors in District 2 and District 10 over the weekend.

“These are people who are our 1’s in the voterfile who we already knew. They ain’t AFP members, that’s for damn sure,” the source said.”

In district 10 teacher Dem Shelly Moore hopes to unseat Republican Sheila Harsdorf. In district 2 Dem Nancy Nusbaum fights for the position of state senator against Republican Robert Cowles.

The AFP might come back with a “whoops – we goofed” But this isn’t the first big Right Wing Whoopsie in Wisconsin. Arch-conservative group Wisconsin Right to Life pulled a similar stunt before the July 12 primaries. They hit District 10 – which is Shelly Moore’s race – hard then, too. Shelly Moore is a teacher and given the Walker regime’s administration’s attacks on teachers in Wisconsin, it’s no surprise to me that Republicans are pulling out every stop to try to defeat her.

Concerned readers, we’re 1 week and 1 day from winning or losing these seats. If you think this absentee ballot tactic is as low a blow as I do, please consider adopting these two fine candidates as if they were your own. It will be a blow against the AFP and tactics like this. It will be a blow against TeaPublicans like Scott Walker.

It will be a message that you will not stand for conservative bullshit.

website Nancy Nusbaumfacebook page

website Shelly Moorefacebook page

Map of Wisconsin Senate Districts

Here’s a copy of the ballot.

Scott Walker Press Conference or Campaign Stop for Harsdorf in Hudson? You Decide

by Appleton Wonk

Today Governor Scott Walker visited Hudson and announced that Wisconsin paid Minnesota $55,719,000 debt that was originally supposed to be paid December, 2010.  This isn’t a lot of money in a state budget, but this could mean a lot to the state of Minnesota.  Minnesota state government is currently shuttered.  When you have a $5 billion deficit, a surprise $55 million or so is like finding a $20 bill in the laundry:  It won’t solve all your problems, but it’s a pleasant surprise.  The article I read can be found here

He also took the opportunity to thank Sen. Sheila Harsdorf for her work to get this agreement started again. Harsdorf faces a recall election August 9th against Democratic contender Shelly Moore.  The Democratic primary in her district was Tuesday. Today is when campaigning begins in earnest. Is it just me or is the timing of his visit a little too convenient? Was this a press conference for Walker to showcase one of his accomplishments or was it a publicly funded campaign stop for Sen. Sheila Harsdorf?

Tax reciprocity allowed workers to live in one state while working in another without having to file a separate tax return for the state they worked in. The states settled the difference after tax day. A quote from an article published Minnesota Public Radio dated September 18, 2009, found here.

Because there are more than twice as many Wisconsin residents who work in Minnesota, Wisconsin reimburses Minnesota for the income tax it collects from Minnesota workers. However, the payments are made about 17 months after the taxes are collected.”

Walker hopes to get the reciprocity agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota reinstated within the next two months and has been working with Minnesota Governor Dayton to get this accomplished. Walker stated that this move was another way to make it easy for companies to do business in Wisconsin. This reciprocity agreement made doing business easier between Wisconsin and Minnesota and shouldn’t have been stopped in the first place.

It’s raining Wisconsin politics. Election reform hearing, GOP and Harsdorf attack WiscNet, Walker math, “Down and dirty” time


There’s just a lot going on.

Election Reform: I will make this public hearing of the Assembly Committee on Election and Campaign Reform. I think I’ll hear from Kloppenburg/Prosser recount volunteers who observed some mysterious things such as barely closed ballot bags, torn-open bags, and piles of ballots discovered. I know 10:15AM is too early for drinking games, but maybe if this is on Wisconsin Eye tomorrow and you’re viewing from home, you can take a swig of coffee every time somebody utters “Kathy Nickolaus”. Incidentally, if you wanted to get some official info on how to vote now in Wisconsin, here’s GAB’s document on that.

Republican under reacall, Senator Sheila Harsdorf, sponsored a budget provision which disables WiscNet. Why? I don’t know. To profit some telecom company? Quoted in this WPR story, Bill Esbeck says that he doesn’t think the University of Wisconsin should be competing with the private sector. But what it does to schools and libraries is not good:
“If our schools and libraries must use other Internet providers most will pay at least 2-3 times more than what WiscNet now charges. Furthermore, other Internet providers base their charges on how much bandwidth a school or library has – the higher the bandwidth, the higher the Internet costs. WiscNet’s funding formula is not based on bandwidth. Thus as schools and libraries continue to increase their bandwidth, their WiscNet costs remain the same. With our schools and libraries facing substantial budget reductions, how can anyone justify making them pay more for less service?” Tony Evers, State Superintendent Note: Rep. Strachota also sponsored the change in WiscNet.

14 for the 14
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is making 14,000 calls to support the Dem14 with volunteer help. This is a Madison event occurring at 609 East Washington Ave. If this isn’t convenient to you, maybe you’d like to canvass for any 1 of these 8 candidates or donate? See

John Matthews says it is time to get “Down and dirty” Cap Times focuses on Executive Director of Madison Teachers, Inc.
John Matthews who says about teachers, “They’re ready to do whatever it takes.” It’s not ALL sunshine and lollipops for Matthews in this article: “School Board member Maya Cole criticized Matthews for harboring an “us against them” mentality at a time when the district needs more cooperation than ever to successfully educate students.” Matthews is the leader of a four-day sick-out that closed school in February.

Walker Mathematics Lesson 7PM I’ll be heading down to Walkerville to hear about Walker Math. This involves no zombies, boxing, or singing grannies. I guess nobody could figure out how to put a quirky spin on Walker’s budget. Presenting is Dr. Michael Rosen, economist and faculty at Milwaukee Area Technical College,

Ending on a positive note. Nice piece by Mike Elk.
“Activists have been gaining a confidence and creativity in their ability to take on entrenched corporate power while at the same time union members have become more involved in running their unions. This promises to have a generational long-term effect much greater than any recall election for a four-year state senate term.” More at The Good News in Wisconsin that the Media Isn’t Covering

Shelly Moore to Oppose Sheila Harsdorf in Recall Election

A leader in education, Shelly Moore,  has stepped up to fight for the job of Wisconsin State Senator in District 10. Her opponent is Republican Senator Sheila Harsdorf. A special recall election for the seat is likely slated for July 12th.

What advice would you give teacher and contender Shelly Moore?

Should she stick to a strident pro-union and pro-education message – standing apart and standing for the energy that brought thousands of Wisconsinites to demonstrations?

Or should she choose a softer approach to appeal to a “moderate” voter?

Wisconsin’s Democratic Senators – all 14 of them – left our state to halt Wisconsin Act 10 waking us up and firing us up.  By sticking their necks out, those Dems gained new respect. And I believe they’ve gained a wider set of supporters than they could have foreseen.

The Dem 14 set a tough standard, but it’s one we now expect – that Democratic contenders in Wisconsin will be strident, unapologetic, fighters for unions and public education.

Your thoughts?

fromWEAC ”

Hailing from a family of educators, Shelly Moore, a high school English and drama teacher at Ellsworth Community High School, has 12 years of experience in the classroom. She was elected to the National Education Association (NEA) Board of Directors in 2005.

Moore’s calling is teaching self-confidence and creative expression to students by directing school musicals and plays, as well as coaching forensics and other academic competition teams. She is past president of the state theatre educators association, the Alliance for Wisconsin Theatre Education. She also volunteers with local community theatre and arts organizations and at the River Falls domestic and sexual violence shelter.

Moore believes all work on behalf of students and public education is significant and that the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) and NEA cannot rest until all children have equal access to education, a fact that is exemplified by her service to WEAC. She served as an alternate and later as a representative to the WEAC Board of Directors for three years, and was a member of the WEAC Legislative Committee. She has been a delegate to the WEAC Representative Assembly since 2000 and the NEA Representative Assembly since 2002.

She is currently active in the West Central Education Association (WCEA) as a member of its executive board and serves on several WCEA committees. A member of the Ellsworth Education Association, she was president from 2001-2004 and vice president from 1999-2001, and presently serves as local treasurer, a position she has held since 2005.”

Both candidates live in River Falls, Wisconsin.

Luther Olsen Recall Signatures are In + My Status Check on Recall of Wisconsin Republican Senators

We will see AT LEAST 5 sets of signatures to recall 5 Wisconsin GOP Senators turned in by May 2nd–barring unforeseen natural disasters and devilish acts we can’t foresee.

Senator Sheila Harsdorf  Signatures Incoming Tues. 4/19/11

“Organizers of the recall effort tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they have more than 22,000 signatures, 7,000 more than the 15,744 needed for a recall.  Those organizers say they’re headed to Madison Tuesday morning to get the signatures validated.”-kaaltv

You can join the Recall Sheila Harsdorf campaign cause page.

Senator Luther Olsen

About 24,000 signatures were filed today with Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board by the “Committee to Recall Olsen”. The group needed to collect 14,733 signatures.

As I tool around social media, I see that a number of volunteers from the 14th WI senate district (MAP) hope that Dem. Rep. Fred Clark of Baraboo will run against Olsen in the ensuing special election.

For extra geeky gold stars, check out Project Vote Smart for more on Olsen and Clark‘s voting record.

Hopper and Kapanke In Already

Signatures are already submitted to recall Senator Randy Hopper and Senator Dan Kapanke, making the Olsen signature hand-in the 3rd submission of necessary signatures to recall GOP senators in Wisconsin.

Jessica King of OshKosh looks like a shoe-in to run against Hopper. She lost to him by only 164 votes in 2008. Dem. Rep. Jennifer Shilling has thrown in her hat to run against Kapanke.

I was very excited to see Ms. Shilling run. I admit I don’t know Ms. Shilling so well, but I do like what she’s said and her presence of mind in the dramatic events of the past few months.

UppityWis says they’ve collected 110% of the signatures needed to recall Harsdorf.

Senator Alberta Darling

“We are getting close” – from the leader of the Darling recall, Kristopher Rowe. Darling represents the 8th District which covers parts of Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties, as well as North Shore communities in Milwaukee County and several small parts of the city of Milwaukee.

Darling is co-chair on Wisconsin’s powerful Joint Finance Committee and she is known for loyally standing by Scott Walker and his agenda. Here’s the Recall Alberta Darling facebook page.

Rep. Pasch or Dr. Sheldon Wasserman could run against Darling in a Recall…

Re. Sandy Pasch

Pasch: “State Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay) said Tuesday she is considering running against Sen. Alberta Darling, should a recall election happen.” More at AOL/Huffington Post’s property “the Patch”

Dr. Sheldon Wasserman: Notes on Wasserman’s facebook page indicate there’s some energy that could support him running against Darling. Darling defeated Wasserman 52% to 48% in 2008 in a tough year for Wisconsin Republicans.  Wasserman served in the 22nd Assembly District from 1994 until 2008. Here’s a brief debate between Wasserman and Darling on Mike Gousha’s show uploaded in Aug.2008. Here’s an ad against Wasserman, and an ad against Darling from ’08.

Senator Mary Lazich

The call is out there for more volunteer help and volunteers stood outside today with petitions Noon – 3PM in New Berlin.  Recall Mary Lazich facebook page.

Senator Robert Cowles

I don’t have a feel for how many signatures they have collected, but they are very busy and are ramping up activity.  The group that is working to recall Democratic Senator Dave Hansen – also from the Green Bay area – claims to have collected enough signatures already. Here’s the Recall Cowles facebook page.

Senator Glenn Grothman

A healthy gathering – nearly as much as that woman from Wasilla brought to Madison – came for a rally on Saturday called “Rally Supporting Labor Over Billionaires (SLOBs) and to Recall Grothman” . I’m estimating a few hundred people gathered based on this YouTube video from the event. It would be tough to pull off the recall in this red district, but the recallers are gaining some real blue momentum. They are no doubt setting the stage for a bump up in blue votes in Grothman’s district in 2012.  Here’s their facebook page.

FYI – Grothman’s district includes these cities: Campbellsport, Theresa, West Bend, Kewaskum, Jackson, Slinger, Newburg, Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington, Saukville, Fredonia, Belgium, Oostburg, Cedar Grove, Random Lake or Town of Wilson (just south of Sheboygan.)

Pictured: Signatures to recall Olsen being submitted today at G.A.B. Image: from MSpicuzzaWSJ

I suggest you follow Mary Spicuzza, known as MSpicuzzaWSJ on twitter. That’s her photo of 22,000+/- recall signatures. She writes for the Wisconsin State Journal.