Hope you are having a very merry Christmas! Even if it is the only time all year, do stop in for a church service. It rounds out all the tinsel and glitter.
Now, down to business: Jihadists dream of 72 virgins awaiting their heroic martyrdom. Liberals dream visions of sugar plums, aka: campaign finance "reform." Let's call it for what it is: taxpayer-financed political campaigns.
The state legislature is not willing to impose such restrictions on itself, but our leggies are more than happy to foist taxpayer-paid politics on our local races: city council, village board, county board, even town boards!
Assembly Bill 619 was introduced late last week by 13 Democrats -- seven of them from Dane County: State Reps. Mark Pocan, Terese Berceau, Gary Hebl, Joe Parisi, Sondy Pope-Roberts, and State Sens. Fred Risser and Mark Miller.
Currently, state law regulates the financing of campaigns for both state and local offices. This bill allows localities to write and enforce their own limits, including lower limits. As the Legislative Reference Bureau explains:
This bill permits a county, city, town, or village to enact an ordinance appropriating money to pay for campaign expenses of candidates for county, city, town, or village office, respectively.
What's more, it hits at conduits, which allow individuals to bundle their contributions through their professional associations and is primarily used by conservative candidates. No, the bill does not require localities to adopt these changes but given the current make-up of the Dane County Board and Madison Common Council this will be catnip to the government class (as opposed to the working class).
I'll say it here: I do not want my property tax dollars to help re-elect Matt Veldran! Candidates who cannot raise money through voluntary donations have no right to use the coercive power of the state to pry open my wallet. The government class permits all kind of foul language to pass under the guise of free speech but watch them spring to action when someone cranks out a flyer on his basement mimeograph machine urging a vote for or against a candidate.
AB 619 has been referred to the Elections Committee, which is chaired by one of the authors, Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire.
While the leggies are unwilling to take their own medicine, they have forced "public financing" on state supreme court elections, not that it will make any difference to the spending by WEAC or WMC. The problem is that if a third party does exercise its constitutional right of political speech, the state digs even deeper into the taxpayers' wallets.
"Simply running an ad against a candidate can result in that candidate getting more taxpayer money," notes the lawyer for Wisconsin Right to Life, which is challenging the law.
Again, have the governor appoint state Supreme Court justices subject to State Senate approval and be done with all the fakery surrounding these elections.
I am so not coming to your party!
The Kathleen's social calendar just got a lot trimmer.
The Kathleen has declared she will lend neither her name or presence nor whatever prestige she retains campaigning for any of the supervisors who voted to override her veto of a small housing development in the Town of Springfield, which lies north of Middleton and west of Waunakee. That would affect a total of 25 of the 37 county supes, including chairman Scott McDonell, whom I have deprecated as The Kathleen's cabana boy in the past but must now reassess. Those 25 just meet the two-thirds threshold to overturn an executive veto. Tom Stoebig, in particular, is said to be "toast." He represents the near east side and had apparently promised to do The Kathleen's bidding but then changed his mind. Stoebig took a severe tongue-lashing from The Kathleen's chief of staff, Topf Wells.
This was only the second time Kathleen has been overridden in her 12+-year death grip on the exec's office.
"We need to build a monument for each veto override and stack 'em up," Sup. Bob Salov of Cambridge tells Blaska's Blog. He should know, the first override was over a rural library funding veto a good 8 to 10 years ago.
Adding a dimension is the power struggle between County Board Chair Scott McDonell, who suddenly grew a pair, and Falk sycophants John Hendrick, vice chair of the board, and Brett Hulsey, formerly of the Sierra Club. Indeed, the entire Prog Dane contingent present at the meeting last Thursday stayed true to Falk while parting company from their chairman.
McDonell e-mailed his colleagues that The Kathleen was vetoing the Town of Springfield zoning petition because the town did not recognize transfers of development rights. (It allows a property owner to sell development rights without giving up the deed to the property itself.) That flew in the face of McDonell's own transfer of development rights ordinance, which is pending before the board. That ordinance would assist those towns that wanted TDR but would not require it.
Falk's veto, therefore, represented bad faith to the towns which, under state statute, have the power to veto any change to the county zoning ordinance. But it does illustrate the creeping nature of big government: what is voluntary today becomes mandatory tomorrow.
I have no doubt that if the County tries to force TDR on the towns over a 10 unit subdivision, the TDR ordinance will be vetoed by the Towns and I would not blame them for that since they were sold on this ordinance being voluntary. Reasonable people can have different views on this issue, but I do not believe that is in the best interest of smart and innovative planning countywide to uphold a veto of this petition. In my opinion it sends the wrong message about Smart Growth and adherence to planning.
Override -- 25: Ferrell, Gau, Hampton, Hesselbein, Jensen, Levin, Manning, Martz, McDonell, Miles, O'Loughlin, Opitz, Ripp, Salov, Schlicht, Schmidt, Solberg, Stoebig, Veldran, Wiggy, Willett, Bruskewitz, deFelice, Downing, Durancyzk
Sustain -- 10: Erickson, Hulsey, Matano, Richmond, Rusk, Stubbs, Wheeler, Bayrd, DeSmidt, Hendrick
Absent -- 2: Kostelic, Vedder
Love those college kids!
Is this against the law? If it is, can it really be a crime when you make people smile? I got to think oncoming traffic could see this impediment a mile away. And the police were on hand very quickly, as the photo shows.
UW-Madison students built this huge snowball during the blizzard the night of Tuesday, Dec. 8. They left the snowball, measuring about 10 feet in diameter, in the middle of University Avenueand Lake Street. That's the Fluno Center in the background.
I hadn't seen this anywhere else. Thanks, Charlie. (I'm thinking when the snowball melts some time this April they'll find a couple of teaching assistants.)
Free Christmas goodies
First no Cap 'n Trade until 2012 -- now this: Governor backs off energy-efficiency pledge
We're so proud -- The SEIU union has named its Legislator of the Year awards to Sen. Judy Robson, D-Beloit, and Representative Mark Pocan, D-Madison.
Great Party -- Once again enjoyed the Bill and Lori DiCarlo party this past weekend in rural Middleton. The DiCarlos always throw a most festive party, with an eclectic guest list. (I'm on it, right?) I never tire of looking at Bill's model train set with its giraffe sticking out of the circus car as it circles through a hillside setting flocked with snow and cozy miniature homes and churches. The food spread is to die for. This year the DiCarlos solicited donations for our troops in the field, mainly toiletry items. Bill runs the Alliant Energy Center for Dane County and does a first-rate job.
I still like Sarah Palin. How could I be angry at her? I just don't think she can be vice president. If someone wants to send me the Christmas ornament (with moose) shown at the top of this blog, here's where to get it.
Here's another last-minute gift idea: Blaska's Blog, the gift that keeps on giving. Send the link to your friends. For that matter, it makes a wonderful lump of coal in the stocking for your enemies. Ho, ho, ho!
Here's a Christmas gift idea for that Common Council member or County Board supervisor who has to put up with those all-night meetings -- or anyone forced to endure the bosses' strategic planning session at work or, for that matter, Uncle Wilbert's annual retelling of the same boring story he told last year and the year before. Just peel, stick and sleep! (I still think he looks like Jeff Wood after he's been pulled over.)