How did toxic, anti-working-class ideology become dominant in Wisconsin?

“Wisconsin is the model”: Grover Norquist’s Tea Party scheme to crush his union enemies

At CPAC panel, RNC Chair Priebus touts “total and complete unity” between GOP, Tea Party, and Glenn Beck acolytes
Josh Eidelson, Salon, March 8, 2014

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“How did we do it in Wisconsin?” RNC Chair Reince Priebus asked Saturday morning. “The simplest way I can tell you is we had total and complete unity between the state party, quite frankly, Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party groups, the Grandsons of Liberty. The [Glenn Beck-instigated] 9/12ers were involved. It was a total and complete agreement that nobody cared who got the credit, that everyone was going to run down the tracks together.”Priebus made his comments on a Saturday morning CPAC panel addressing how conservatives could fight and defeat organized labor state by state. Moderator Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, opened the panel by suggesting that conservatives had been neglecting the union issue in recent years out of a mistaken sense that private sector union demise was inevitable, and that public sector union decline was impossible.

 

Grover Norquist’s ideology in one cartoon:
groverdrowns1

Rather, argued Norquist, a raft of National Labor Relations Board appointments by Obama – who he said had made a strategic error by prioritizing Obamacare over a pro-union “card check” bill – would make this “the time for the other team to cheat” and hike private sector unionization. (Pro-labor scholars have questioned how much impact proposed rules from the NLRB, a body which lacked a quorum for some stretches of Obama’s presidency, will have on union efforts.) Meanwhile, said Norquist, Republican victories in the states offered a chance to “fix a lot of the abuses that we thought we’d have to live with” in the public sector. “Wisconsin,” Norquist later told the crowd, “is the model.”

Scott Walker’s 2011 “budget repair” law, passed amid a high-profile multi-week protest occupation of the state capitol, severely reduced the right of public employees to collectively bargain, effectively imposed public sector “Right to Work,” and required regular “re-certification” elections among employees on whether to retain their now-narrowed form of union recognition.

Panelist Luke Hilgemann, the current Americans for Prosperity COO who formerly led the Koch-backed group’s Wisconsin efforts, told the crowd that the 2011 victory “started back in 2007 on the shores of Lake Michigan,” at a meeting of fifteen intrepid activists who’d “had enough of government overreach,” including then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Priebus, a former Wisconsin GOP head, credited the ability to pass Walker’s reforms in part to the party and Tea Party activists unifying well before the 2010 primary behind candidates that made voters “proud to wake up” and vote, like Ron Johnson, Paul Ryan, and Walker. Norquist shared that Walker, after deciding to do a hasty signing of the “budget repair” bill prior to the official event, in order to stave off attempts to sign union contracts before it became law, gave Norquist the pen he used to sign the bill.

Panelist Vincent Vernuccio, of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said that Walker’s success, and Indiana’s 2012 “Right to Work” law, helped make possible the subsequent passage of “Right to Work” in Michigan– a state Norquist said national “Right to Work” activists hadn’t had “on their hit list.” Vernuccio also credited that victory in the United Auto Workers’ stronghold to activists “working on Right to Work in Michigan for over twenty years”; the passage of prior “small reforms” that laid the groundwork; and overreach by unions whose failed 2012 collective bargaining constitutional amendment he said helped spur “Right to Work” despite GOP Governor Rick Synder’s previous claim the issue was “divisive.” (In contrast, unions point to pressure on Snyder, who had already signed other anti-union legislation, from top donors who’d helped fuel his victory.)

Read on Salon, click this link

The Bradley Brothers: Key players long before Grover showed up

Sourcewatch: Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (LHBF), formerly known as the Allen-Bradley Foundation, was established in 1942, describing itself as “a private, independent grantmaking organization based in Milwaukee.”[1] According to the foundation’s 1998 Annual Report and a 2011 report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation gives away more than $30 million per year.[2][3] In November 2013, One Wisconsin Now and the Center for Media and Democracy reported that the Bradley Foundation had given over $500 million to conservative “public-policy experiments” since 2000.[4]

For a full list of groups the foundation has funded, please see Contributions of the Bradley Foundation.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “from 2001 to 2009, it [Bradley] doled out nearly as much money as the seven Koch and Scaife foundations combined.”[5]

Harry Bradley was one of the original charter members of the far right-wing John Birch Society, along with another Birch Society board member, Fred Koch, the father of Koch Industries‘ billionaire brothers and owners, Charles and David Koch.[6] “Bradley was also a keen supporter of the Manion Forum, whose followers believed that social spending in America was part of a secret Russian plot to bankrupt the United States,” Jane Mayer writes in Dark Money.[7]

In the same book, Mayer details that, “The event that multiplied the Bradley Foundation’s assets by a factor of twenty almost overnight, transforming it into a major political force, was the 1985 business takeover in which Rockwell International, then America’s largest defense contractor, bought the Allen-Bradley company, a Milwaukee electronics manufacturer, for $1.65 billion in cash. The deal created an instant windfall for the Bradley family’s private foundation, which held a stake in the company. Its assets leaped from $14 million to some $290 million.[7]

Bradley Foundation Brought Scott Walker to Power

Who’s Behind Scott Walker’s Rise to Power?

by | March 31, 2015 AT 2:50 PM

By John McCormick

When Wisconsin Democrats failed recently to block anti-union legislation supported by Gov. Scott Walker, one name kept coming up: the Bradley Foundation.

The Republican governor’s opponents wanted to know whether the Milwaukee group helped draft the bill or coached those who testified for it. Their suspicions were rooted in the fact that Michael Grebe, one of Walker’s closest advisers, leads the powerful yet mostly inconspicuous voice for American conservatism. Diane Hendricks, a billionaire roofing-supply executive who is Walker’s top individual donor, is on its board.

Bradley and Grebe were central to Walker’s rise to national prominence four years ago, when he rolled back the power of government unions. They’ll probably be equally key to his almost-certain presidential bid.

“Without the Bradley Foundation, there is no Scott Walker,” said Democratic state Sen. Chris Larson, whose district includes its headquarters.

With almost $1 billion in assets, the group has financed research and policy experiments concerning public vouchers for private schools, voter-identification requirements and collective-bargaining restrictions _ all issues Walker has championed. Bradley had ties to many who testified for the “Freedom to Work” law, which lets employees in union workplaces opt out of membership.

While the group has a lower profile than those of David and Charles Koch, the billionaires who’ve raised hundreds of millions for Republicans, including Walker, its aims are similar.

“They are kindred spirits,” Aaron Dorfman, executive director of the Washington-based National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, said of the Bradley Foundation and the Koch brothers.

One key distinction: The nonprofit foundation can’t directly engage in politics, while the Kochs can spend their wealth on campaigns however they like and enlist other donors. Bradley spends roughly double the national average of 12 percent of foundation dollars on policy and public affairs, Dorfman said.

“The Bradley Foundation has been one of the leading funders of the conservative movement,” he said. “They’ve supported think tanks and other organizations that have been very effective at moving a conservative policy agenda.”

For all of Bradley’s political involvement, most of its giving is directed toward charities, artistic and cultural institutions, and schools. It’s especially generous to entities in Milwaukee, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, theaters, Boy Scout troops and Little League teams.

To Larson, all that charitable work isn’t enough to mitigate actions he says harm his community. “If they weren’t here, I think our community would be a lot better off,” he said.

Walker, 47, isn’t the only likely Republican presidential candidate with ties to the outfit. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush won a $250,000 Bradley Prize in 2011, recognition that he said at the time left him “incredibly humbled.” Bush was picked because of his creation of a charter school and testing program and for efforts to “cut taxes every year of his tenure in office,” the foundation’s website says.

Still, Walker, who, along with Bush, leads in early polling about possible Republican candidates, has stronger ties to the foundation.

In 2009, Walker picked Grebe as campaign chairman. Less than a week after winning the governor’s office in November 2010, Walker dined at a Milwaukee restaurant with the foundation’s board and senior staff, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Grebe went on to lead Walker’s campaigns against a recall in 2012 and for re-election in 2014.

Before joining the foundation in 2002, Grebe was chairman and chief executive officer of one of the nation’s largest law firms, Foley & Lardner, and is a past president of the University of Wisconsin board of regents. He’s also a former general counsel to the Republican National Committee and RNC member for Wisconsin from 1984 to 2002.

The foundation paid him more than $518,000 in 2013, according to its most recent Internal Revenue Service disclosure.

FULL STORY AT GOVERNING-DOT-COM

 

Editor: This blog post is not intended to attribute all of Wisconsin’s oligarchy of power to one man, Scott Walker.  Nor one particular “bad actor behind the scenes,” Grover Norquist.

It’s to get you thinking about what is the source of the oligarchs’ rise to power? What does plutocracy look like? How does it morph and shape-shift to always be years ahead of Us, The People as we struggle to establish even a slight toehold of democracy in Wisconsin, in the nation. Now that Scott Walker is temporarily out of office in Wisconsin, “progressive” people are celebrating.

Meanwhile, in the think-tanks and social-experiment labs of the Bradley Foundation, or Grover Norquist’s operations, the NEXT Scott Walker or Robin Vos or Scott Fitzgerald are being groomed up in the event those men are dislodged from political office.

Green New Deal, Complete 2010 Version (Manski, et al.)

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I – THE ECONOMIC BILL OF RIGHTS

Our country cannot truly move forward until the roots of inequality are pulled up, and the seeds of a new, healthier economy are planted. Thus, the Green New Deal begins with an Economic Bill of Rights that ensures all citizens: 1. The right to employment through a Full Employment Program that will create 25 million jobs by implementing a nationally funded, but locally controlled direct employment initiative replacing unemployment offices with local employment offices offering public sector jobs which are “stored” in job banks in order to take up any slack in private sector employment.

  • Local communities will use a process of broad stakeholder input and democratic decision making to fairly implement these programs.

  • Pay-to-play prohibitions will ensure that campaign contributions or lobbying favors do not impact decision-making.

  • We will end unemployment in America once and for all by guaranteeing a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work.

2. Worker’s rights including the right to a living wage, to a safe workplace, to fair trade, and to organize a union at work without fear of firing or reprisal.

3. The right to quality health care which will be achieved through a single-payer Medicare-for-All program.

4. The right to a tuition-free, quality, federally funded, local controlled public education system from preschool through college. We will also forgive student loan debt from the current era of unaffordable college education.

5. The right to decent affordable housing, including an immediate halt to all foreclosures and evictions. We will:

  • create a federal bank with local branches to take over homes with distressed mortgages and either restructure the mortgages to affordable levels, or if the occupants cannot afford a mortgage, rent homes to the occupants;

  • expand rental and home ownership assistance;

  • create ample public housing; and,

  • offer capital grants to non-profit developers of affordable housing until all people can obtain decent housing at no more than 25% of their income.

6. The right to accessible and affordable utilities – heat, electricity, phone, internet, and public transportation – through democratically run, publicly owned utilities that operate at cost, not for profit.

7. The right to fair taxation that’s distributed in proportion to ability to pay. In addition, corporate tax subsidies will be made transparent by detailing them in public budgets where they can be scrutinized, not hidden as tax breaks.

II – A GREEN TRANSITION

The second priority of the Green New Deal is a Green Transition Program that will convert the old, gray economy into a new, sustainable economy that is environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible. We will:

NorthwindRenewableAbout
example–a worker-owned cooperative in North-Central Wisconsin

1. Invest in green business by providing grants and low-interest loans to grow green businesses and cooperatives, with an emphasis on small, locally-based companies that keep the wealth created by local labor circulating in the community rather than being drained off to enrich absentee investors.

2. Prioritize green research by redirecting research funds from fossil fuels and other dead-end industries toward research in wind, solar and geothermal. We will invest in research in sustainable, nontoxic materials, closed-loop cycles that eliminate waste and pollution, as well as organic agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

MenomineeSustForest
example: Menominee Nation, Wisconsin, the only entire county managed for sustainable forestry in the state.

3. Provide green jobs by enacting the Full Employment Program which will directly provide 16 million jobs in sustainable energy and energy efficiency retrofitting, mass transit and “complete streets” that promote safe bike and pedestrian traffic, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing.

III – REAL FINANCIAL REFORM

The takeover of our economy by big banks and well-connected financiers has destabilized both our democracy and our economy. It’s time to take Wall Street out of the driver’s seat and to free the truly productive segments of working America to make this economy work for all of us. Real Financial Reform will:

1. Relieve the debt overhang holding back the economy by reducing homeowner and student debt burdens.

CancelStudentDebt

2. Democratize monetary policy to bring about public control of the money supply and credit creation. This means we’ll nationalize the private bank-dominated Federal Reserve Banks and place them under a Monetary Authority within the Treasury Department.

3. Break up the oversized banks that are “too big to fail.”

4. End taxpayer-funded bailouts for banks, insurers, and other financial companies. We’ll use the FDIC resolution process for failed banks to reopen them as public banks where possible after failed loans and underlying assets are auctioned off.

OccupyWS-1

5. Regulate all financial derivatives and require them to be traded on open exchanges.

6. Restore the Glass-Steagall separation of depository commercial banks from speculative investment banks.

7. Establish a 90% tax on bonuses for bailed out bankers.

8. Support the formation of federal, state, and municipal public-owned banks that function as non-profit utilities. Under the Green New Deal we will start building a financial system that is open, honest, stable, and serves the real economy rather than the phony economy of high finance.

BankIndia

IV – A FUNCTIONING DEMOCRACY

We won’t get these vital reforms without a fourth and final set of reforms to give us a real, functioning democracy. Just as we are replacing the old economy with a new one, we need a new politics to restore the promise of American democracy. The New Green Deal will:

1. Revoke corporate personhood by amending our Constitution to make clear that corporations are not persons and money is not speech. Those rights belong to living, breathing human beings – not to business entities controlled by the wealthy.

WIUTA3

2. Protect our right to vote by supporting Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s proposed “Right to Vote Amendment,” to clarify to the Supreme Court that yes, we do have a constitutional right to vote.

3. Enact the Voter Bill of Rights that will:

  • guarantee us a voter-marked paper ballot for all voting;

  • require that all votes are counted before election results are released;

  • replace partisan oversight of elections with non-partisan election commissions;

  • celebrate our democratic aspirations by making Election Day a national holiday;

  • bring simplified, safe same-day voter registration to the nation so that no qualified voter is barred from the polls;

  • do away with so-called “winner take all” elections in which the “winner” does not have the support of most of the voters, and replace that system with instant runoff voting and proportional representation, systems most advanced countries now use to good effect;

  • replace big money control of election campaigns with full public financing and free and equal access to the airwaves;

  • guarantee equal access to the ballot and to the debates to all qualified candidates;

  • abolish the Electoral College and implement direct election of the President;

  • restore the vote to ex-offenders who’ve paid their debt to society; and,

  • enact Statehood for the District of Columbia so that those Americans have representation in Congress and full rights to self rule like the rest of us.

4. Protect local democracy and democratic rights by commissioning a thorough review of federal preemption law and its impact on the practice of local democracy in the United States. This review will put at its center the “democracy question” – that is, what level of government is most open to democratic participation and most suited to protecting democratic rights.

CommunityRights

5. Create a Corporation for Economic Democracy, a new federal corporation (like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) to provide publicity, training, education, and direct financing for cooperative development and for democratic reforms to make government agencies, private associations, and business enterprises more participatory.

6. Strengthen media democracy by expanding federal support for locally-owned broadcast media and local print media.

7. Protect our personal liberty and freedoms by:

  • repealing the Patriot Act and those parts of the National Defense Authorization Act that violate our civil liberties;

  • prohibiting the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI from conspiring with local police forces to suppress our freedoms of assembly and of speech; and,

    OccupyWS-FBI

  • ending the war on immigrants – including the cruel, so-called “secure communities” program.

8. Rein in the military-industrial complex by

  • reducing military spending by 50% and closing U.S. military bases around the world;

  • restoring the National Guard as the centerpiece of our system of national defense; and,

  • creating a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives.

Let us not rest until we have pulled our nation back from the brink, and until we have secured the peaceful, just, green future we all deserve.

 

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Sample Resolution for Your County: Legislature, Enable Regional Transit Authorities NOW.

Resolution: Demand on the Legislature to Re-enable Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs)

If you agree with the main thrust of this proposed Resolution, contact your County Board Chair and ask them which committee would be appropriate to pass this on to the full County Board for passage, then conveyed on to the state Legislature for swift action.

WHEREAS, In 2009 the Wisconsin Legislature passed legislation included in Act 28, enabling the formation of Regional Transit Authorities, complete with the power of taxation necessary to fund their start-up and operations;

WHEREAS, In 2011, as part of Act 32, the Wisconsin Legislature passed legislation disabling the same Regional Transit Authorities, with no rational explanation or narrative for undoing what had been done two years earlier;

WHEREAS, the Wisconsin Association of Mobility Managers (WAMM) said, introducing their 2016 Legislative Priorities, “Wisconsin is the only Midwest state without enabling legislation to create these authorities. Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) are a quasi-governmental entity that provides a governance structure for a unified transportation system and has taxing authority, therefor offering a funding alternative to property taxes;”

WHEREAS, WAMM added, “Regional Transit Authorities allow for a regional and comprehensive look at transportation. They encourage connectivity and multimodal approaches since the planning takes place with one body for the whole region. A multimodal and coordinated system improves the mobility, connectedness, and quality of life for those who are unable to drive themselves, particularly older adults, individuals with disabilities and those with low incomes;

ArriveTogetherCover

WHEREAS, WAMM further noted that “Medical centers, employers, job centers, educational facilities are very often regional in nature; why should transportation be any different? Developing transportation systems requires flexibility to create innovative services that can cross municipal and county borders and account for communities of different sizes. RTAs enable this to be done in a more efficient, effective and sustainable manner;”

WHEREAS, WAMM concluded the 2016 document, “Transportation systems are a part of the infrastructure that helps people get to jobs, medical appointments, and remain active and engaged members of the community and local economy. Where there are strong systems and meaningful mobility choices, there are strong communities. People want to live and work in these communities and are seeking them out; and,

CentralWIbusStudy

WHEREAS, Our County places great importance on our system of mobility for the populations most in need of the services that a Regional Transit Authority could provide our residents, and residents of lower-income counties in our immediate region; and

WHEREAS, Our County places high value on the principles of “sustainability,” and

WHEREAS, lack of mobility for low-income workers and retired persons is a factor contributing to their lack of “sustainability,” while Regional Transit would allow easier access to jobs, schools, health care, and basic needs;

Sust-SocialJustice

 

THEREFORE, Our County calls upon the Wisconsin Legislature to quickly craft and pass Legislation once again enabling Regional Transit Authorities in Wisconsin;

FURTHER, that there be no limitations placed on the number of such Authorities, barring duplication of services or geographic overlap;

FURTHER, that Legislative obstacles to proceeding with near-100% renewable energy power for such RTAs be removed, keeping in mind future tightening of petroleum and natural gas supplies; and,

Metrail

FURTHER, that agencies and Legislative Committees charged with overseeing transportation needs, make the creation and link-up of these RTAs into one seamless working statewide system a top priority.

If you thing RTAs are needed in Wisconsin, but would craft a different resolution than the above, please use this Contact Form and let us know how you would word yours.