Boy, reading the various papers and online news sources at the beginning of this week must have really smarted for many of the candidates currently vying for office in Wisconsin.
First, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a highly critical piece detailing why none of the major gubernatorial candidates' cost-cutting plans will work. Not even Tom Barrett's plan was safe from scrutiny. Then Isthmus put up an article alleging that Mark Neumann improperly avoided paying real-estate fees by claiming an exemption on land transfers for which his company didn't qualify.
Both Scott Walker and Neumann have been bestowed with the dubious honor of being endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life. They're also the first Republicans in quite a while to win the support of the even more hardline Pro-Life Wisconsin:
Walker and Neumann each scored a "100 percent" grade on the group's survey, vowing to support a complete abortion ban without exception and to protect pharmacists who refuse to dispense birth control on religious grounds, said Matt Sande, director of its political action committee.
Hooray for being anti-woman?
Wannabe senator Ron Johnson finally released his campaign finance documents and revealed that he owns somewhere between $116,000 and $315,000 in BP stock. This is coming from the guy who has defended the oil giant since the spill by accusing the government of "circumventing the law" in its treatment of the company. Johnson has also claimed that it's "not the time to be beating up" on BP, all while supporting the idea of drilling in both the sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and our very own Great Lakes.
Johnson, Westlake and incumbent Russ Feingold also have a new challenger to beat: Ernest J. Pagels, Jr. who may or may not be Wisconsin's very own version of Alvin Greene (and who the delightful Wonkette would very much like our press to take more seriously!).
It's getting rough out there.
Smoking ban doesn't seem to have hurt bars in Madison
One of the arguments made against the statewide smoking ban was that it would have a chilling effect on the number of bars/taverns that could stay afloat or even get started in the first place. Ban opponents made the same claim when Madison voted to go smoke-free several years ago.
But the numbers, interestingly enough, don't add up.
According to Public Health Madison and Dane County Coordinator Ryan Sheahan, who has been keeping tabs on Madison's Class B liquor licenses since the ban, in the summer of 2005, when Madison's ban on smoking in bars went in to effect, there were 332 Class B alcohol licenses in the city. As of this spring, there were 374 (links to documentation of this are available here).
According to those calculations, that's a 12.5 percent increase in liquor licenses since the smoking ban went into effect. I won't go so far as to say that the ban has actually had a direct hand in helping these businesses but it definitely doesn't seem to have done a lot of harm.
It will be interesting to see if all of Wisconsin follows suit.
The land of vape and honey
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we will be discussing electronic cigarettes again in the Thursday's edition of Emily's Post. If you'll take a look at the comments section on the last piece you'll see that the discussion is still full-on.
I've spoken with the folks at Johnson Creek Enterprises and, time allowing, may actually head out to tour their facilities and ask them some questions in person. I also plan to talk to some of the people with Smoke Free Wisconsin, as well as a variety of other sources concerning the current debate.
I'm planning for this next post to be my final, exhaustive word on the subject only to return if new developments arise. So be sure to tune back in for the exciting final chapter of our Adventures in Vaping.
Getting familiar with new media nomenclature
Juvenile? Maybe. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to point out this Twitter post by Ashlee Moore, logistical aid to Scott Walker:
It really has been a fun week for the candidates.