Pages

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Wisconsin Legislature is a Vastly Changed Institution



By Cal Potter


After having served a total of approximately 24 years in the Wisconsin Assembly and State Senate, I often hear commentary that the political
atmosphere during my 1975-1998 service is in major contrast in agenda, behavior, and the reason for serving in political office to that found today. The same observation is being made by those who have served in Congress over a number of decades.

I have not been a part of the Legislature for about the last 18 years, and thus cannot provide a first hand account of internal operations today, but I am told by those who are still there after many years that things are very different. I do have vivid recollections of the makeup of the Assembly during my early years, and particularly impressions of my first year, 1975. The most vivid image I have is the number of members who were of a more mature age, and had (or still did) served in local government as town, county, or school board members, or in some other unit of local government. The presence of those with that background had them be very task oriented, and not strongly partisan agenda driven. Their local government experience gave them a real worldview that government was to serve the people, and to try to address the problems we face, in spite of our differing political philosophies. So, while there were partisan differences on what should be done, and how much spent on the effort, no one felt a need to stall government for any valid reason. The state budget, in some form, needed to be passed as there were local units of government waiting for printouts as to what school aid, shared revenue, or road aid levels were to be expected so they could in turn prepare their budgets.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Read "Ringside Seat" by Tim Cullen


By Roger Utnehmer

Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson will be recorded as the second-most effective executive in state history. The reasons are apparent in a recent book by a two-time state senator and Thompson cabinet member, Tim Cullen, "Ringside Seat."

Cullen served in the state senate from 1975 to 1986 when be was appointed the highest-ranking Democrat in the cabinet of Gov. Thompson. Cullen returned to the state senate for one term after a long career in the private sector, retiring in 2015.

(Full Disclosure: I knew Tim Cullen when I worked for Republican State Sen. Clifford "Tiny" Krueger in the mid '70's and we continue a friendship today serving together on the Board of Directors of Common Cause-Wisconsin. Tim, in "Ringside Seat," calls "Tiny" the greatest senator with whom he served.)

His book is an insiders' look at the best and worst of our political system. Cullen writes a critical portrayal of Wisconsin's current governor, Scott Walker, accusing Walker of dividing a state rather than uniting it and of pursuing an unneeded and divisive attack on public employees to fuel a presidential campaign.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wisconsin's Real Voting Problems


By Tom Frazier


Two recent reports, one from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and one from Common Cause in Wisconsin, sheds light on Wisconsin’s voting problems. And the problems do not include people impersonating other people in order to vote illegally which is the problem that is supposedly addressed by Wisconsin’s photo ID law. In fact, impersonating someone else in order to vote is already illegal; it is a felony which is probably why so few people attempt it.

The League of Women Voters Report was compiled based on placing 103 trained volunteers in 202 polling places to observe a range of problems in voting related to the April 5, 2016 election. For most voters everything went smoothly with observers reporting that “poll workers were professional, helpful, and respectful of voters.”

There were, however, enough problems reported to raise significant concerns about the integrity of the voting process in the state.

There were problems reported that poll workers in some locations did not know the rules associated with all the recent changes in voting laws. For example, voting officials incorrectly telling potential voters that the address on the photo ID (e.g. a driver’s license) had to be the same as their current address.