The Hispanic Conservative The Hispanic Conservative on Wisconsin Politics and More! Wed, 24 May 2017 09:40:07 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Union President Craig Ford Reduced to Name Calling I interviewed with Channel 12 today over a tough decision to go fair share - meaning my union dues will no longer fund the union's social or political causes.  Union President Craig Ford was also interviewed making rather disparaging comments about my faith, my conservative ideology, and for "wrapping myself up in the United States flag and abusing the memory of New York's fallen firefighters."

Ford also said I used the tragedy of 9-11 to promote my own agenda, but this exactly what he did when he voted to retract an agreement he had with Gorniak to help with the parade.  He chose - along with four others - to distill the self-sacrifice and heroism of 9-11 firefighters into a political statement to snub firefighters that finance their own social and political causes.

Ford also says that they've been chastised and villainized because they simply opted not to endorse, promote, or support Gorniak's float.  But it's really not that simple.  It wasn't like Gorniak asked them for help and they simply decided not to use union resources for his pet project.  You see, Ford had already agreed to help Gorniak and went as far to suggest flying in a New York Firefighter to march side by side with Racine's best. Gorniak never asked for union resources nor did he request flight accommodations for New York Firefighters.  He simply wanted Racine Firefighters to know they could participate in the parade.

When Ford learned that Gorniak didn't pay full union dues - no doubt by Oak Creek's Union President Steve Wilding - he backed off completely.  In fact, he led Gorniak to believe that he would go to bat for him when presenting the idea to the Executive Board, yet he voted against Gorniak when the rubber met the road.  Mark Polzin was the one dissenting vote to help Gorniak with the parade.

And finally, I did not go to the media to air my grievances with my local.  They came to me as news got out about snubbing an Oak Creek firefighter.  The recent interview I did with Channel 12 was the result of a department-wide email Ford had sent that was meant to pin the "PR nightmare" Ford had caused.  What Ford needs to do is take ownership of the political decision he made to intimidate and punish another firefighter.

Ford says that the firefighters that died in 9-11 were all under a union contract, and that he would be embarrassed to support the initiatives of fair share firefighters.  However, fair share firefighters operate under a union contract and their union dues pay for their representation.  What's the problem then?  How can Ford explain shunning Gorniak when he's faithfully paid his union dues for a longer time than Ford's been a firefighter?

Ultimately, anyone who knows Matt Gorniak knows that his intentions to promote the fire service is beyond reproach.  It's unfortunate that Ford flushed an excellent PR opportunity down the toilet and was instead forced to defend a prejudiced decision to put politics ahead of doing the right thing.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Thu, 14 Jul 2011 23:50:14 +0000
Why the Racine Fire Union Executive Board Voted Against the Float: an Insider View Disclosure

In full disclosure, I am a Racine Firefighter.  I personally know all six of the Racine's Local 321 Executive Board members, and I can attest they're all good men looking out for the best interest of Racine's Fire Union.  I may not agree to the manner of which they have steered union members over Madison's budget battle, but I also know they do not take the impact of 9-11's tragedy on the fire service lightly.

A Brief Summation of the Story

News abounds everywhere over the decision made by the Racine Firefighters' Union Executive Board to withdraw their support from Oak Creek Firefighter Lt. Matt Gorniak in helping with the Racine Parade.

A few weeks ago, Gorniak called local 321's Union President Craig Ford to get Racine Firefighters to participate in the Racine 4th of July Parade.  Unlike past parades, this one was unique since it was the 10 year commemoration of of 9-11's fallen heroes.  In 2002, Gorniak and a few other firefighters from Oak Creek built a float to recreate the famous ground zero image of three firefighters raising the American Flag amid the rubble of the World Trade Center.  Since then, Gorniak has used this float to honor the fallen in three city parades with tremendous emotional impact.

When Gorniak had initially reached out to the Racine Union, Ford expressed enthusiasm thanking him several times for the PR opportunity.  Gorniak said that Ford was so excited and thankful about the invitation that he would have hugged him if they had talked in person.  The next day, Ford called Gorniak with a novel idea of using union resources to fly in a New York Firefighter to march side-by-side with Racine's best.  It was a nice touch, something Ford said was bound to get media attention.  Ford even suggested taking the story to the Racine Journal Times.  Of course, this all changed soon after Ford learned that Gorniak wasn't a full member of the IAFF.   Apparently, no excitement is too great to overcome working with a fair-share firefighter.

Someone on the IAFF's State Board - presumably Oak Creek's Fire Union President Steve Wilding - informed Racine's Union of Gorniak's fair-share status.  Being a fair-share firefighter means that someone like Gorniak would only pay for the costs incurred to the union to negotiate his contract.  Gorniak went fair-share because he no longer wanted his dues to fund the agenda of the Democrat Party.

Ford reminded Gorniak that all the New York Firefighters who died in 9-11's tragedy were under a union contract.  "It didn't matter," said Gorniak. He was willing to hand over the float's keys so that Ford could drive it himself.  Gorniak said his gesture was meant to resolve the problem, but ultimately, that didn't happen.  Five of the six Racine Fire Union Executive Board members voted to rescind union support for the parade.

Ford's Rationale for Rescinding Their Support

When the media asked Ford why he wouldn't support the float, he gave two primary reasons.  First, he said that they do a lot of charity work, and they just cannot use union time and resources to support every initiative that surfaces.

Yet Gorniak didn't call Ford to utilize union resources.  He asked Ford to alert Racine Firefighters so they had a choice to march behind the 9-11 reenactment float.  Ford's argument about not using the union's financial resources is a red herring.

Ford's second argument was that he could not support the float because the man promoting it was a fair-share firefighter.  The firefighters that died a ground zero were all union firefighters, says Ford, and they all operated under a union contract.  But Gorniak is still a union member who pays a "fair share" of his union dues; so why blackball him because he doesn't want a portion of his dues to fund Democrats?

And why does Ford believe that commemorating 9-11 is not worth union resources if one person involved in the parade is fair-share?  Certainly there are many non-union workers in that parade, so why alienate Gorniak?  Even more telling, Gorniak had offered to step aside relinquishing control of the float to Ford.  So if Gorniak's fair-share status was the reason Racine's Union Executive Board voted it down, then eliminating that variable should have solved the problem - unless of course, they were just trying to punish Gorniak for his decision to go fair-share in the first place.

There is another part missing from the argument.  Ford did not explain why the union membership means that no fire union anywhere should offer assistance to non-union firefighters for events that promote the fire service.  To be consistent, this would mean refusing to help most of the nation's firefighters who are paid-on-call and not unionized.  It's a dangerous slope to be on.  It means that union membership - a financial investment in one's representation - is such a powerful life experience that even death cannot escape it.

But the public doesn't see it that way. They see those men and women who died in the line of duty as heroic firefighters, not as due-paying members of a union.  What we really commemorate when we march for the firefighters that died on 9-11 is their courage and selfless sacrifice.  Membership in a union is a money transaction and a fair system of representation, but it's not heroic.  And it's not what we ought to be commemorating on 9-11.


Much like soldiers who give their lives in battle, firefighters at 9-11 made the ultimate sacrifice. Firefighters, unionized or not, go into burning buildings when others run out.  But love has no boundaries, and their sacrifice keeps us all safe.  The men who gave their lives on September 11th deserve more respect than a vote to snub a fair-share firefighter.




]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Sun, 03 Jul 2011 19:19:22 +0000
Is MJS Editorial Board in the Tank for Barrett? Synopsis

In their Sunday edition, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board gave positive marks to Tom Barrett's 67 jobs plan proposal while taking "civil" aim at the plan proposed by Scott Walker. In addition to taking pot shots at Walker's aides, the editorial board started from the premise that tax cuts for the wealthy do not spur economic growth. They also presupposed that tax cuts are likely to blow up the state budget despite Walker's best efforts to cut government spending. <p>

Rabbit Trails

Barrett introduced a 67 page business proposal, most of which involved more spending (investments) and more government involvement (creation of councils and boards). Although Walker's business proposal was smaller, one of the bloggers on his campaign website increased the font to gigantic proportions to make it one page longer than Barrett's. The blogger wrote, "It's the best of both worlds: good, substantive ideas for people who are into that type of thing, but also lots and lots of pages!!!"

The idea was to poke fun at Barrett's campaign for making his business proposal so long. The only reason the editorial board mentioned the gimmick was to draw attention to what they called "Walker's lack of details". It was an unnecessary jab precisely because a concise business plan should not have to be the size of a book. If size were important, then Obamacare should have been a national healthcare wonder, but the majority of Americans still want the law repealed.

If aides were seriously that important, then perhaps was also relevant to mention that one of Barrett's aides was arrested for domestic violence trying to choke his girlfriend to death. But there is really no point since it has nothing to do with his jobs plan, right? Well, one wouldn't think so.

The Difference Between Theory and Practice

It's important to note that the editorial board, during the length of their piece, neglected to discuss Barrett's 6 year record of failed job creation. A recent census report showed that Milwaukee has the 4th worst poverty rate in the country. And it is likely that a 12% unemployment rate, which is far above the national average, played a role. We believe that it's both important and relevant to consider a city's unemployment and poverty rates when discussing a candidate's ability to create jobs. After all, what good is a detailed 67 page jobs plan when the candidate delivering it has poverty rates comparable to both Detroit and Cleveland?

A Matter of Ideology

Walker's plan did not appeal to the editorial board, we were told, because "tax breaks for the wealthy" are less likely to spur economic growth than tax breaks for the middle and lower classes. They stated that the middle and lower classes were more likely to spend their money than the wealthy.

And although we can understand their reasoning, it is overly-simplistic and factually incorrect. 75% of what we consider "wealthy" individuals are actually small businesses, since small businesses file their tax returns as individuals. Giving money back to small businesses that create jobs for the middle and lower classes is a wiser investment, but to be clear, Walker's tax cuts don't just apply to the wealthy. They, instead, are broad-spectrum tax cuts that aim to remove bumps on the economic road to recovery.

And while they applaud Barrett's 20% tax cut for construction projects in targeted areas, they ironically assume that diffuse tax cuts for businesses is to be feared. If lower taxes spur economic prosperity for some sectors of the economy, then wouldn't they spur growth for all sectors of the economy?


The editorial board was critical of Walker's proposal because they "feared" his tax cuts would "leave an even bigger hole" in the state budget. However, history has shown that in each instance where the capital gains tax was decreased, the government took in more revenue to fill budget holes. And in the 80s, when the capital gains tax was increased, government revenue actually went down.

The editorial board's critique revealed more about their ideology than it did about Walker's plan to create jobs. Based upon the paper's history endorsing liberal candidates, we believe their recent editorial is priming the pump for an expected endorsement of Tom Barrett. Only time will decide if we are right.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Sun, 03 Oct 2010 01:06:53 +0000
Neumann is either a Hypocrite or a Career-Styled Politician I'm Tired of Career-Styled Politicians, How About You?

Mark neumann

I'm fed up with scheming politicians and their senseless press releases. Case in point, Mark Neumann has demanded that Scott Walker reimburse the county because one of his aides, on county time, had posted partisan comments on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's website.

In a year's time, Darlene Wink posted about 70 comments on articles that pertained to Scott Walker, Tom Barrett, and Mark Neumann. I'm not sure how much time that would add up to, but it couldn't be much more than a few hours' pay. Neumann has also accused Walker of working part-time so he can campaign for governor. This last charge is rather fascinating.

Deer Hunting During a Key Vote

Mark Neumann apparently has a memory problem. In 1995, when Neumann was a U.S. Congressman, he missed an extraordinary vote so he could hunt deer with his 13 year old son in northern Wisconsin. Neumann missed a vote that favored a GOP plan that would bring the federal budget into balance by 2002. Then Majority Leader Bob Dole called it the most important vote of his 34 year career. And similarly, Newt Gingrich stated that it was the most important vote in Congress since 1933.

That being said, it was either really bad timing on Neumann's part, or his hunting trip must have been the most important expedition in congressional history. But hey, one of Walker's aides spent a few hours posting on county time without Walker's knowledge or consent, so let's shoot out a press release demanding culpability and reparation.

In Neumann's most recent television ads, he takes credit for being among those in Congress who helped balance the federal budget in the 90s. But oddly enough, he missed the most climatic and budget-balancing vote in 70 years. Perhaps he should have mentioned that in his TV spot? "Hey folks, I'm Mark Neumann. And when I was in Congress, we balanced the budget. Vote for me, and I promise I will shake things up, but only after I make time to bond with my son in the northern woods of Wisconsin."

Just as interesting was Neumann's rationale for missing the key vote. Neumann said he was averaging 70 hours a week so he was entitled to a little time off. In contrast, a 7o hour work week is a bare minimum for Scott Walker. Keith Gilkes, Walker's campaign manager, said it best when he said that Walker works 24 hours a day, which requires him to have a cell phone in case of county emergencies - emergencies that don't really care what time at night it is or how many hours you worked in the previous week.

Paying for Ads with Taxpayer Money

In 1998, Neumann was caught using taxpayer dollars to run advertisements that aired outside his congressional district. At the time, Neumann was running against Senator Russ Feingold for a U.S. Senate seat. He used his congressional account to pay for radio ads touting his political achievements. The point of interest, again, is that the ad aired outside his congressional district.

Keep in mind, Senate races are state-wide events meaning anyone in Wisconsin can vote for a Senator. In contrast, a candidate running for a House seat gets elected only on the basis of the district he represents. So, by running an ad that aired to voters outside Neumann's congressional district, local Democrats correctly inferred it was a thinly veiled attempt to promote his run for Senate. So the real question is, did Neumann reimburse the taxpayers? And if not, why is he demanding that Walker do it?

Neumann's Problem Answering Questions

On April 29th, radio talk show host Charlie Sykes asked Neumann if he had ever threatened a party delegate saying he would run as an independent if the GOP grassroots didn't support his run for governor. Neumann hedged a bit. So Sykes asked again, and again, and again. Sykes was persistent. Previous to the interview, rumors had abounded that Neumann told Congressman Sensenbrenner he would run as an independent if he didn't get what he wanted. The move would be tantamount to splitting the GOP vote and guaranteeing that neither of them would become governor. Sykes asked Neumann the same question nearly 5 times. And finally, Neumann gave a definitive "no". So either Neumann is lying, or several of the party delegates are lying. Which is it, Mark?

Second, Milwaukee Journal reporter, Dan Bice, asked Neumann about a comment he made as a U.S Congressman when he said that if he were God for a day, homosexuality would not be permitted. Bice asked him if he stands by his earlier assertion, and Neumann again failed to provide a straight answer. Bice asked Neumann the same question several times, but again Neumann kept meandering. At one point, Neumann said, "You know, this is really fun because you asked this question more different ways than Charlie Sykes asks." Bice reported, "And yet the wannabe governor hadn't answered any of them (questions) directly."

And finally, when asked about Arizona's immigration law, Neumann refused to answer the question at all. What candidate for governor says, ah, I don't think I'll answer that question? At least Walker had the guts to answer the question although controversy ensued.

Perhaps Neumann doesn't remember hunting with his son or campaigning on taxpayer time. Perhaps he tried to answer those interview questions directly, but just doesn't know how. Or perhaps Neumann is just a hypocrite and a career-styled politician. Ultimately, you will have to decide.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Wed, 19 May 2010 22:57:06 +0000
A Visitor Milestone Thanks!!!

I just wanted to give a shout out to all the readers that peruse my articles.  This year's flow chart shows that the Hispanic Conservative has reached record numbers.  In February, we had 6,000 visits, which is slightly higher than average based upon last year's results.  In March, however, we reached 19,000 visits thanks to the brilliant work of my cousin Zeus Rodriguez, who is an expert in SEO.  Below is a graph showing the results.  Once again, thanks for the visits everyone.

19,505 Visits!

Visitation graph of HS for March


]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Tue, 27 Apr 2010 21:47:18 +0000
Wisconsin Democrats Push Flawed Motor-Voter Bill ACORN on Steroids?

voting chickIntroduced on March 31st, a bill designed to provide a sweeping overhaul of election law in Wisconsin earned a strong rebuke from Republicans calling it "ACORN on Steroids".  Senate bill 640 proposes at least four significant changes to current law, which other Republicans call 10% reform and 90% partisan advantage.

First, it includes an automatic voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which means that when people renew their drivers' license, they are automatically registered to vote.  Second, it limits poll watching by voting district or ward, which means that poll watchers will need to provide proof of residency before they can challenge the legitimacy of a vote.  Third, it establishes satellite absentee voting locations to places like college campuses.  And fourth, it imposes harsher penalties on those who thought to deceive or prevent others from voting.  Let's unpack this bill and see why Republicans consider it a blatant partisan attack.


The first and probably the most controversial feature of the bill is auto-registration.  Wisconsin Democrats seek to remove any confusion from the registration process simply by placing the burden of registration on the shoulders of government.  Beside the obvious observation that if something goes wrong, people are able to sue the government for disenfranchisement, a serendipitous event seems to have occurred.  Just as ACORN is being nationally de-funded and tied up in bureaucratic red tape, it appears that our state government has decided to do their bidding. In fact, it seems a bit worse than that.

At least ACORN required individuals to sign their own signatures and provide their own addresses, which allowed for some personal responsibility.  If this bill were to pass Wisconsin's legislature, the state automatically does the heavy lifting.  And by "heavy lifting", this means registering everyone including people not eligible to vote or interested in voting.

Similarly, in Minnesota, Democrats in the state legislature pushed a bill for an "auto-registration" when applying for or renewing a drivers' license, but Governor Pawlenty vetoed the legislation partly because registering to vote should be "a voluntary, intentional act" and partly because the bill lacked bi-partisan support.  In other words, Minnesota Republicans tried to add a voter ID requirement to the bill, which made sense since license registration already occurs at the DMV, but Democrats shot it down for reasons unknown to the public.

Limiting Poll Watchers by Ward or District

Current Wisconsin law does not restrict the residency of poll watchers.  As an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said, votes casted in Wisconsin affect everyone that lives in Wisconsin.  The inference is that cheating is still cheating regardless of voting district or ward, and therefore poll watchers should be able to challenge the eligibility of votes regardless where it occurs.  However, the proposed bill not only seeks to limit poll watchers by residency, but seeks to impose a hefty fine up to $100,000 or up to 6 months in prison for those determined to have deceived or intentionally prevented people from voting.

Imposing a fine or penalty for infringing upon someone's right to vote is judicious when done in a proportional amount, but there doesn't seem to be a balanced effort by a Democrat-controlled legislature to consider voter fraud seriously.  First, this is apparent because the Democrat proposal does not contain an equal $100,000 fine or 6-month imprisonment for voter fraud.  Second, the bill requires identification to challenge a vote, but no identification to vote.  And third, the bill does not contain the most basic safeguard, which is a voter ID card.  How hard is it for the same DMV that gives you an ID card when you register for a license require that you show that same ID card for voter registration? 

Another issue sprang up concerning residency restrictions.  Democrat lawmakers want to see tighter restrictions on poll watching in larger cities like Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, and Kenosha.  Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, a Republican from Horicon, has criticized these lawmakers such as Representative Kessler for a double standard that seems to favor the supporters of Democrats  He said,

"Rep. Kessler wants more people voting and less people watching, but only in heavily Democratic cities."


Satellite Absentee Voting Locations

Another cause for concern is the set up of satellite absentee voting locations if the bill were to pass.  Republicans in the state legislature criticized the feature for lowering safeguards on voter fraud.  It stands to reason that not all satellite locations, e.g., college campuses, can be regulated to ensure that groups aren't compelling people to vote for particular candidates or parties. 


There is a serious disconnect between the perceptions of Democrats and Republicans when it concerns elections.  A routine charge from Republicans is that voter fraud is wide spread and should be reigned in by issuing tighter restrictions on absentee ballots and the voter identification process.  Democrats routinely charge that voter abuse is wide spread and should be controlled by reducing the number of poll watchers and issuing tougher fines if people are caught deceiving or preventing people from voting.

Certainly, both accusations have some truth to it.  However, in fairness, there are far more cases "on the books" with voter fraud than voter abuse in the United States.  In Wisconsin alone, for instance, we have voter fraud on the books every presidential election cycle.

In 200o, we had the "votes for smokes" incident where Gore/Liebermann supporters were caught on video bribing the homeless to vote for free packs of cigarettes.  In 2004, the Milwaukee Police Department issued a report showing that there were 4,600-5,300 more votes in Milwaukee than voters recorded to have casted their ballots.  This particular election was critical since Wisconsin went to Kerry by a mere 12,000 votes.  And finally, this year, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen charged 5 people with election fraud - two of which worked for ACORN for the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama.

How many have been charged in Wisconsin for voter intimidation?  Approximately zero.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Sun, 04 Apr 2010 17:02:43 +0000
Neumann Tries to Become Relevant Neumann in cap

A Dignified Approach

Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann is staying above the political fray. He is too dignified to dibble-dabble with political finger pointing because it doesn't solve problems.

After all, Neumann is an important business man who is more interested in achievable causes like hosting an online petition to repeal Obamacare. If you sign up now, you can become an email target for the Neumann campaign the next 6 months! Yes, it won't repeal Obamacare, but you get a nifty "A" for effort while bolstering Neumann's run for governor.

Lee Bergquist, the same reporter who failed to do his job in an earlier report, gives Neumann some free press by allowing him to finger-point while claiming that finger-pointing is both useless and unproductive. Oh the irony.

Bergquist opened up his article saying,

"Mark Neumann, Republican candidate for governor, said Thursday that he's steered clear of finger-pointing over the Zoo Interchange because it wouldn't do anything to get the bridge fixed. Neumann told an audience at Marquette University Law School that he didn't think the critical exchanges between Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett were useful."


Let's take a closer look at this. Neuman thinks that finger-pointing is not useful, and this is the reason he gave for staying out of the Zoo Interchange debacle headlined the past week in the news.  But not so fast.  Neumann's campaign staff (Derek Ellerman) is spending time making open-records requests on the County Executive's calendars and scheduling.  Exactly how useful is it for Neumann to be sifting through Walker's records?  Is he hoping to find something that solves real problems, or is he looking for something worthy of finger-pointing?

This is also the same Mark Neumann who has attacked Walker's job record in the Metro Milwaukee area - attacks that have won him the bitter ire of Mark Belling, who called him out for making a "brazenly misleading and unfair, irresponsible attack".  By the way, whenever you hear Neumann mention "Metro Milwaukee", he's likely taking a stab at Walker. Remember, the city of Milwaukee belongs to Barrett, not Walker.  So by making the distinction "Metro Milwaukee", Neumann is trying to lump Walker with Barrett. Keep an eye on this brand of (non-finger pointing) finger-pointing in the near future.

Why Neumann didn't get Involved.

From a political standpoint, Neumann didn't add to the finger pointing because he wasn't relevant. Doyle is relevant because he raided the transportation fund of 1.2 billion dollars and thus didn't have the funds to repair the Zoo Interchange. Barrett is relevant because in 2005, he believd that the Zoo Interchange would stand the test of time.  And Walker is relevant because he supported efforts to rebuild to Zoo Interchange as a state legislator and a County Executive.

Neumann, however, is not relevant because he was in Congress during the late 90s and early 2000s pissing off his own party and getting kicked off the appropriations committee. Bizarrely, Neumann touts this during one of his TV spots, which starts off with the annoying line, "Hi folks, I'm Mark Neumann" every 15 minutes on Fox News. Interestingly, Neumann goes after his own party calling them "party bosses". Now how useful is that?  I remember watching his commercial with my grandfather the other day. He turned to me saying, "Now that's not too smart. He's going after his own party."

Hey Neumann, if you want to fix bridges, you might want to start with your own party. No, it's no Zoo Interchange, but if you mend those bridges, you might not have to spend millions in cash trying to buy the race.


According to Bergquist, Neumann thought it would have been better for Walker and Barrett to debate about the Zoo Interchange and how to solve the problem rather than participate in a blame game.  What a strange comment.  As we speak, the state is solving the problem by rebuilding Highway 45.  What's there to debate about?  Call it finger-pointing if you will, but examining how the myopic vision of a governor and the poor judgment of a mayor contributed to a net loss of $15 million on a temporary bridge that will be torn down later is probably something voters should know about.   

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Fri, 02 Apr 2010 15:00:29 +0000
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Failed to Report Important Facts about GE

Former Wauwatosa Mayor Versus Current CEO of GE Healthcare

Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a piece written by Lee Bergquist entitled "Candidates for Governor Spar over Job Creation".  In the article, reporter Lee Bergquist summarizes a recent "dust-up" between Theresa Estness and Scott Walker concerning his role in attracting GE Healthcare to the Milwaukee County Research Park in Wauwatosa.  Berquist says,

"One recent dust-up involves Walker's talk of his help in landing GE Healthcare's $85 million headquarters in the Milwaukee County Research Park in Wauwatosa in 2004. But the former mayor of Wauwatosa said Walker's part in the project is overblown. "That's a good piece of revisionist history," said Theresa M. Estness, who was mayor of Wauwatosa from 2000 to 2008."

It's important to note that Bergquist included the criticisms of Theresa Estness in his piece.  Why?  Presumably because the opinion of a former Wauwatosa mayor is relevant to moving GE Headquarters to a site in Wauwatosa.  What is not in Berquist's article is a quote from Joe Hogan, the CEO of GE Healthcare, that describes Scott Walker as a "huge help" in picking the Wauwatosa site.  When it concerns what sort of role Walker played in attracting GE Healthcare to Milwaukee County, there is no greater authority than the CEO of GE Healthcare.  So why wasn't his quote included in Journal Sentinel's artricle?

Interestingly, Theresa Estness (the same mayor who backed down to thug Michael McGee) is described as a neutral and objective observer by Bergquist.  Perhaps this was the reason she was included in the article.  What is clear, however, is that Bergquist made certain the reader knew that Estness was a political independent with no axe to grind agaisnt Walker.  But this is very much in dispute for the simple fact that the more accolades Walker receives for creating 2,000 jobs, the less attention Estness gets for her involvement in the deal. 

Journalistic Standards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Concerning journalistic standards, it's important to ask why the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel excluded Hogan's statement about Walker.  The reason a reporter would include Estness' quote in their piece should be the very same reason to use Hogan's quote as well - it's  called relevance.  Hogan, being the CEO of GE Healthcare, is the preeminent authority on all things GE Healthcare, which includes what sort of role Walker played in helping GE relocate their Headquarters.

Consider this for a moment.  Figuring out what is relevant for a story is the job of a good journalist.  This can present a lot of gray area for journalists, but not in this case since Hogan's commentary was obviously relevant.  But let's assume for the moment that Hogan's remarks were not relevant to the story.  Wouldn't a good journalist include it in the story for the sake of being fair and balanced?  By fair, I mean fair to Walker as a public official and as a candidate. And by balanced, I mean presenting both sides of the argument for the Journal Sentinel's general readership.

The next important question to ask is what on earth is going on over at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel?  The consumer who pays for the print version of this paper is entitled to pertinent information and a balanced perspective, both of which was missing in this story.  What is even more disturbing is that Bergquist admits in his story that the Walker campaign released "a flurry of documents and news stories" showing that Walker was an important player.  More specifically, the Walker camp provided them with information showing what the CEO of GE said about the level of Walker's cooperation with GE.  And yet they still refused to include it in their story!  So is there really an excuse for MJS at this point?

The Role that Scott Walker Played in Getting GE Healthcare into Milwaukee County

Another good question to consider is why Hogan thought Walker played a "huge" role in bringing GE Healthcare to Milwaukee County?  There are two issues at play here.  First, and most importantly, Walker signed off on a $27 million incentive package that paid for GE's parking structure, a second mortgage loan, and the parcel of land that GE currently uses.  According to a former mayor of Wauwatosa (who apparently wants a little more credit for her role with GE), the County's $27 million lending capacity was a bit "overblown".  But the $27 million was a "huge" matter to the CEO Joe Hogan who wanted the benefit of a larger entity guaranteeing nearly $30 million in government bonds.

And second, there are some serious benefits to having a colossal company like GE Healthcare locate its "global" headquarters near a well-managed "international" airport.  And in terms of it being "well managed", there is quite a bit of evidence showing that Walker has done an excellent job managing the airport.

Walker has used the weight of Milwaukee County to invest nearly $200 million into the airport allowing them the ability to charge airline companies less to locate their businesses at the Mitchell Airport.  Charging airlines less has led to cheaper airfares at Mitchell, which then charges less for their airfares - out-beating 75 other airports in the nation.  As an natural outcrop of reduced pricing, Mitchell International Airport continues to break passenger records month after month - even during what we call a "Great Recession".  Not only will passengers benefit from major renovations and cheaper fares, but the global Headquarters of GE Healthcare will benefit greatly as well.  This is what we call a symbiotic relationship.  

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Tue, 23 Mar 2010 17:23:55 +0000
Open Letter to Mark Neumann  

Mr. Neumann,

With disappointment and frustration, I write this letter to urge you to withdraw from your gubernatorial campaign.  I think you are a good man with good ideas, and under different circumstances, I believe you would have been a solid candidate for the governor of Wisconsin. 

However, you have acquired little support from GOP officials including Republicans in our State Senate and Assembly.  You have no prominent endorsements, and your most distinguished supporter left your campaign to endorse your opponent.  Your campaign fundraising is anemic, strengthened only by your own cash transfusions.  Your team is fraught with mismanagement as you have replaced your campaign manager more than once. And the only media attention you manage to amass is when you criticize the top Republican contender.

My friend, you are up against a mighty current that even your own personal wealth cannot stop.  There is a strong grassroots movement behind Scott Walker and for good reason.  He is young, resolute, and has considerable name recognition.  Every decision he makes in Milwaukee County, for better or for worse, will attract more attention than you could generate with a dozen campaign ads.

While you were building a successful company for the past decade, Walker has built himself a noteworthy administrative legacy.  He has battled tax increases, cut spending, and produced budget surpluses when other counties ran major deficits.  With fiscal restraint and wise budgeting, Walker has strengthened the county's municipal bond rating, which as you  know, makes it easier to sell securities.  Walker also has a number of political achievements that will be accentuated during his campaign.

  • Walker's county transit system that was deemed "efficient and effective" providing the highest ridership per capita while delivering the lowest per passenger cost.
  • Walker's county parks won a national gold medal of excellence from American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and also the National Recreation and Park Association. 
  • Walker's Mitchell International Airport had record-breaking traffic and national recognition for being the number one least expensive destination in the nation.
  • Walker's Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division won an award from Harvard University demonstrating that he has built himself a distinguished reputation.

Walker's legacy is not the only obstacle to your campaign.  You must deal with the fact he's a more viable candidate for governor.

  • He has a better record of winning campaigns, which is something any Republican strategist in the party will value and support.  
  • Walker has better grassroots support situated in every county of Wisconsin, which includes the tea party movement that you have unfortunately ignored. 
  • And most importantly, Walker is a better match up against Tom Barrett.  This is important.  You know as well as I that Democrats are elected on the basis of winning the Milwaukee and Dane counties.  Walker, by virtue of being popular in Milwaukee County, is a better candidate and more capable of neutralizing Barrett's metropolitan advantage.

Republicans in Wisconsin have been given an opportunity of a lifetime.  With failing democrat strongholds like Massachusetts, immoral scandals permeating Democrats in New York, and tea party winds at the back of fiscally conservative contenders everywhere, you must see that Walker has the best odds of winning this race.

If you continue down your path as a secluded agitator, not only will you become an impediment to repairing our state, but you will also succeed in turning a conservative base against you - a conservative base that would happily support you if you chose to run for the U.S. Senate.

You sir, when you openly criticize Walker, will become a tool in the hands of Mike Tate and the Democrat party - a party that possesses a single candidate free from the political hazards of a primary.  As you told me last year, your ideological approach bears no significant difference to Walker's.  So instead, you have distinguished yourself as a business man that understands the importance of job growth and operates primarily through innovation.  And yet your gubernatorial approach and innovative ideas never took hold in Wisconsin.

Sir, your campaign has not taken root.  I urge you to retire your campaign for governor and put your full support behind the candidate that will stop the spending, reduce taxes, and promote the same business growth that you have advocated.


Aaron Rodriguez

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Sat, 06 Mar 2010 14:55:19 +0000
Should Tom Barrett Participate in Communion? A New Era of Conservative Catholicism

On January 4th, a new era began as Bishop Jerome Listecki was installed as Milwaukee's next Archbishop.  The installation was a tightly restricted invitation-only ceremony reserved for influential Catholics and some political dignitaries like gubernatorial candidates Scott Walker and Tom Barrett.  It did not appear, however, that Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann received an invitation to attend the ceremony.  This would not be surprising since he has quickly become forgettable.  

During the ceremony, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett partook in the communion - a ritual of substantial importance for Catholics that signifies spiritual devotion to Christ.  This occurs at a time when Catholic Bishops have taken an increasing role in denying pro-choice politicians the rite of communion.  Why is this relevant?  In the late 90s when Tom Barrett was a Wisconsin Congressman, he voted against a proposed ban on partial birth abortion; and he did this not just once, but twice.  His vote opposed a bill that, if passed, would have protected unborn children from a cruel and unusual form of medical execution.

Denying Communion to Pro-Choice Politicians

Just last November, Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin made headlines by denying Patrick Kennedy (son of the late Ted Kennedy) communion.  Bishop Tobin described Kennedy as "not  a good practicing Catholic."

In August of last year, Bishop Listecki wrote a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi charging her for producing a scandal and misleading the faithful.  In particular, he accused her of incorrectly stating a Catholic Church teaching about when human life begins in order to justify abortion.  This is the same Listecki, mind you, who has just moved into Barrett's backyard.

Back in 2004, Boston Bishop Sean O'Malley denied Presidential candidate John Kerry communion because he was expressively pro-choice and stated he would never permit a pro-life judge on the Supreme Court.  And to add more fuel to the fire, he was denied communion while campaigning for president in St. Louis by Archbishop Raymond Burke for the same reasons.  More and more, Catholic Bishops are making a distinction between an ordinary pro-choice Catholic and a pro-choice politician that wields significant power to affect important policy decisions for the nation.

During the 2004 election, Kerry was trying to court Catholic voters, which made up 27% of registered voters.  Kerry felt blindsided.  At first, he argued that these Bishops had erred by not properly distinguishing between his personal views as a Catholic and his actions as a legislator.  He said it it was not appropriate in the U.S. for legislators to legislate their personal religious beliefs for the rest of the nation.

Without looking to the Catholic Church for an official response, I can say with confidence that Kerry's line of reasoning is not only fallacious, but unconstitutional.  Why are the "non-religious" allowed to vote their conscience as moral human beings while it is inappropriate for the "religious" to do the same?  Morality and religion are not easily distinguishable.  Some morals are shared by many religions, including the protection of innocent life.  By making such statements, Kerry not only demonstrated a pointed bias against the members of his professed church, but an ignorance about how religion is expressed.

Tom Barrett on the Wrong Side of Catholicism

In order to justify taking communion on Monday, Tom Barrett has one of two options: he can stay quiet about his prior votes in Congress and hope that Scott Walker doesn't resurrect it in the throes of a campaign season, or he can confess to his priest (if he hasn't done so already) and publicly recant his earlier position.

Ultimately, it was a tad bit audacious for Barrett to take communion knowing who the new Archbishop is and knowing that Walker could hang him for it politically.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Local Wed, 06 Jan 2010 00:33:06 +0000