State Government and Political News: More havoc in the Walker recall primaryWisconsin News
-- Experts normally downplay the effects of Wisconsin’s open primary. But that doesn’t stop people from trying to cause havoc, by urging one party’s voters to cross over and vote for a weak opponent for the general election.
Experts normally downplay the effects of Wisconsin’s open primary. But that doesn’t stop people from trying to cause havoc, by urging one party’s voters to cross over and vote for a weak opponent for the general election.
Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau said there were rumblings about Republicans voting for Kathleen Falk in the May eighth Democratic recall primary. That’s because Falk is slightly behind Tom Barrett in recent polls – and a Falk victory could give Republican Scott Walker a weaker opponent on June eighth. But now, a progressive group is taking things one step further, encouraging Democrats to cross over and vote for Arthur Kohl-Riggs in the GOP primary. The Youth Revolutionary Council said on its Web site quote, “Democrats now have the potential to remove Scott Walker before he even has a chance to face off with a Democratic challenger.” Kohl-Riggs is a regular during the State Capitol protests, and he filed enough signatures to make the Republican ballot. He tells the Madison Capital Times he wouldn’t mind getting Democratic votes. But his main angle is to keep Republicans at home during the primary, and vote for Walker while Democrats pick who they think will be their best candidate. In last week’s presidential primary, exit polls showed that 11-percent of Democrats voted in the GOP race – and they tried to put a monkey-wrench into Mitt Romney by choosing Rick Santorum 44-to-24 percent. It added two-percent to Santorum’s statewide result – but it was not enough, as he pulled out of the presidential race this week.
State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has asked two of his colleagues to withdraw from his disciplinary case. But Ann Walsh Bradley and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson say they won’t recuse themselves – at least for now. The state Judicial Commission has filed ethics charges against Prosser, for allegedly putting a choke-hold on Bradley in a spat last June. Prosser said Bradley charged at him, and he was only trying to defend himself. Three appellate judges will decide whether Prosser should be punished – and they’ll give their recommendation to the Supreme Court for final action. Abrahamson says it’s too early for her to withdraw, because the case is not before the court yet. Bradley said Prosser’s request was quote, “rife with inaccurate statements and unfounded attacks.” Prosser said Bradley and Abrahamson both witnessed the incident – and he says both are biased against him. Bradley and Abrahamson are among three justices on the court’s liberal wing. Prosser is part of the conservative majority.
Wisconsin teachers and school administrators say Governor Scott Walker is wrong in trying to compare results from surveys the two groups have done. Walker says the data backs up his contention that schools are doing well under his law that ended most union bargaining. Yesterday, Walker asked the state’s largest teachers’ union to re-post data on its Web site, which showed that twice as many schools laid off teachers in 2009 as they did last year – the first year under the union law. But the WEAC (wee-ack) teachers’ union said it’s wrong to compare school surveys it did in past years with a more comprehensive survey last fall by the school administrators’ group and the state Department of Public Instruction. Miles Turner, head of the administrators, said his group’s survey was conducted differently and more openly than WEAC’s anonymous surveys of districts in past years – and they had different response rates. WEAC’s Mary Bell said her group stopped doing the surveys two years ago, and the results were no longer posted after the group revamped its Web site. By demanding the old data now, Bell says Walker is only trying to conduct a “public relations blitz” in advance of his recall election. And Turner said the old numbers are irrelevant. But Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie disagrees. He said quote, “Mary Bell has said Governor Walker is destroying education in this state when her own data – which we believe is compatible with the current data – counters that view.” And Werwie said nobody wants to release WEAC’s data because quote, “these reforms are working.”
Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill to add more business members to
the Milwaukee Area Technical College Board. It’s the bill that kept the state Assembly in session for 33 hours on its final day last month. Democrats opposed the change, saying it might have put the school’s two public TV stations in jeopardy. Federal licensing rules prohibit a wholesale change of board members – and Republicans addressed that concern by allowing six-of-the-nine current members to finish their terms. The change was proposed to put class offerings at the Milwaukee tech school more in line with the needs of the area’s large manufacturing industry. Five of the nine board members will come from Milwaukee’s business and non-profit medical communities. And they’ll be appointed by county officials instead of a panel of public school leaders. Democrats called it a power grab. Assembly Democrat Cory Mason of Racine said if Walker really thought it would create jobs, the governor would have held a public ceremony to sign the measure. Walker signed it in private yesterday. In a statement, spokesman Cullen Werwie said more must be done to promote collaboration between employers and educators – and the Milwaukee tech bill is quote, “a positive step in that direction.”
Wisconsin crime victims will be kept off the witness stand during the early stages of criminal cases. Governor Scott Walker signed a bill yesterday that allows hearsay evidence during preliminary hearings. It’s the second step in felony cases, in which judges decide if there’s enough evidence to put defendants on trial. Under the new law, a single police officer could testify about all aspects of a case – including what a crime victim may have told another officer. Supporters say the change will save time and money – and it will spare crime victims from the trauma of testifying. The bill was one of four criminal justice measures Walker signed during a ceremony in Green Bay yesterday. One of the other bills eliminates the time limit for prosecutors in charging those suspected of attempted murder and first-degree sexual assault.