Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hopper's real union "dialogue" was with Cass

Wispolitics cited the following quote from state Senator Randy Hopper in its Friday report to subscribers. Xoff picked up on it right away. After watching Hopper on Mike Gousha's UpFront program it appears that the quote came from that interview.
"When it came to having dialogue with leaders of the union they knew exactly where I stood because for the last two years I worked extremely hard to work across the aisle and have developed a relationship with those people. They are upset for losing their collective bargaining benefits, but it is important to help drive this state forward". - Sen. Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac

The quote is certainly jarring when you compare his words to his actual record and the actual reality of what has transpired this year. Just like Scott Walker, Randy Hopper never campaigned on trying to wipe out unions forever in Wisconsin. During his alleged "dialogue" with leaders of unions I am fairly certain that he never mentioned taking away all of their most fundamental rights in the workplace. It is not real "dialogue" when you talk to people and the whole time you are hiding the fact that you plan on "dropping a bomb" on them. No wonder union leaders and state employees in his district are so angry with him. He was dishonest, he shut them out and he was not and still isn't listening to them.

In fact, I've obtained yet another Randy Hopper email and I think that it really speaks to Hopper's phoniness when he suggests that he ever had a real "dialogue" with union leaders in the first place. The email also reveals what he really thinks about some of those union leaders when he is not actually talking directly to them.

On December 28, 2010 a union leader sends Hopper an invite to a local union meeting. They are hoping that Hopper will come to answer questions about his vote against the union contracts late last year. They also were anticipating that Scott Walker was probably going to do some "stupid things" to "screw over" state workers. So they also wanted to know what position Hopper was going to take when that time came.

You can argue about the appropriateness of the the guy's language because it was clear that he was probably very frustrated and angry and wanted some answers for his members. But the one thing that you can't say is that this guy was being a phony. Some may consider his tone harsh but it was also very clear, very honest and very direct. We might call it very open "dialogue", to use the word accurately.

After Hopper's staffer received the direct and very honest email he forwarded it to his boss. I don't have a copy of the actual reply from Senator Hopper to this union leader but I do have the email where Hopper forwards it to his alleged girlfriend Valerie Cass. Somehow I don't think that his actual response to the union official was the same as what he said to Cass. Here was his real unvarnished opinion in that email:
"Check this out then ask yourself how someone like this is elevated to lead? Wow what an idiot" -Randy Hopper to Valerie Cass in 12/28/10 Email

Again the union leader was certainly upfront and brutally honest about what he thought. You may not like what he said or how he said it but it was brutally honest "dialogue". Randy Hopper on the other hand proceeded to forward the guy's email to his alleged girlfriend. By the way, how many other constituent emails was he sending to her and is that even appropriate? In any case, Hopper proceeded to not only send that email to her but then went on to call the union official names behind his back and indict the workers that elected him to his position. Sorry Randy but that is NOT "dialogue". In fact it is much closer to the definition of phony.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Alberta Then and Alberta Now

Alberta Then

"Darling said she would be a better coalition-builder and admitted to wanting to help 'lost children' and 'unemployed populations'..." [Milwaukee Journal, 3/27/1990]

Alberta Now

And we all know that nothing helps "lost children" and "unemployed populations" quite like taking away their health care...

...cutting $800 million in funding for their education
...raising tuition and putting college further out of reach
...or by drastically cutting state aid to technical colleges

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Politifact continues to rate as "barely tolerable"

The "Politifact" experiment at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been panned on almost a regular basis since it began. Most of the time their critiques are so random and arbitrary and the focus is so misplaced or at best scattered. The classic example of this that still stands out to me is when they didn't dispute a single FACT in a Tom Barrett ad last year, but they didn't like the presentation of the graphics in the ad. So even though the claims in the ad were completely factual, they rated it a "pants on fire".

The other extreme is when they test a statement that isn't even in dispute as if they are just itching to give the person a "true" rating. We all know that the sky is blue and that is obviously not in dispute, so why waste our time?

As if people weren't getting annoyed enough with the arbitrary and random ratings of "Politifact" before now, the outfit has randomly changed its rating system. Somehow I'm not surprised. I noticed today that some things that were declared "barely true" a day ago have now suddenly become "mostly false". How is that even logically possible? What changed besides their whims?

One recent item that randomly changed from "barely true" to "mostly false" is the fact that Randy Hopper paid net state income taxes only once over a 9 or 10 year stretch. Sorry folks but that is a fact that not even he disputed in the news report cited in the ad [Fond du Lac Reporter, 10/24/08]. He obviously disagreed with the conclusion that was made based on that fact but he didn't dispute the fact itself. In fact it doesn't even seem that "Politifact" disputes these facts as it includes some of the following in its very subjective rating:

"...from 1998 through 2007, Hopper’s five businesses had no state income tax liability; and that from 1997 through 2007, Hopper personally had a liability in just one year..."

"Hopper, who didn’t dispute the facts in the 2008 newspaper article..."

"The records indicate that over a decade, Hopper’s businesses had no state income tax liability and he owed taxes personally in only one year."

So what gives? Where is the falsehood in saying that he didn't pay those taxes if he didn't and if both Hopper and "Politifact" know that he didn't? As has become typical, they appear to be upset not at the literal facts but at what they personally perceive to be the impression left by the ad. In fact they say as much in their conclusion. So the basic and literal facts of the ad are correct and no one disputes them, but "Politifact" doesn't like the "impression" that they imagine is left behind, so that makes the entire ad "barely true"...or excuse me..."mostly false".

OK I think I've got it now...and I rate this "Politifact" experiment as "barely tolerable".

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hopper Coached Cass on Scoring State Job

In March we learned that state Senator Randy Hopper (R-Unknown) left his wife and filed for divorce last year. According to his wife he had taken up with 20-something Republican operative Valerie Cass. It didn't take long for additional reports to surface showing that this girlfriend was hired by the Walker administration under questionable circumstances and at a questionable pay rate.

Some have wondered if Randy Hopper played a role in getting his girlfriend the taxpayer funded job. A number of newly obtained emails now provide a closer view of some of his involvement.

Based on a November 30th email Hopper and Cass wasted no time in trying to score a state job for her. In that email Hopper forwards a press release to her that announces Keith Gilkes as Walker's chief of staff. In that forwarded email he also advises her that she "might want to congratulate him if you call or email this afternoon."

At 1:25pm on December 28th Cass sends Hopper an apparent draft of an email to Keith Gilkes. In the draft email Cass mentions that she enjoyed talking to Gilkes a few weeks ago and that she is excited about the changes at the Department of Commerce. At 1:57 pm Hopper responds to her draft email and suggests that she add that she is excited to be a part of it. At 2:27 on the same day Cass sends the actual email to Keith Gilkes. The final version to him includes a version of the Hopper suggested comment.

Hopper's coaching of girlfriend Valerie Cass certainly didn't hurt as she was eventually hired by the Walker administration on February 7th.

Randy Hopper is a member of a full-time state legislature and as such he receives a very generous paycheck and outstanding benefits. In fact I'm fairly certain that many of his constituents only wish that they could enjoy such security. Yet apparently he finds it acceptable to use state time coaching his girlfriend on how to successfully score a generous state paycheck of her own. One would think that Randy Hopper would be more concerned about doing the people's work on a Tuesday afternoon. But that would mean that Randy Hopper was in office to actually represent the people of his district in the first place.

Related: "I Google you"

Friday, July 08, 2011

Harsdorf Hypocrisy: "Frankenstein Veto" Edition

Even though former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson was the king of what is known as the "Frankenstein Veto" GOP legislators never really cared much about it until a Democrat became governor. Leading the sneering at Governor Doyle at the time was current state Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-Walker's Pocket). [The Capital Times, “GOP has no veto credibility”, 8/10/07]

The Progressive recently highlighted Scott Walker's use of the "Frankenstein Veto" in the latest budget. In that example Walker crossed out 116 consecutive words and then drastically altered the meaning of the subsequent clause. Sheila Harsdorf was so quick to issue press releases, write letters and perform other PR stunts when a Democrat was governor, so I am waiting for something similar now.

Perhaps Harsdorf is fearful of criticizing Scott Walker but she should "recall" that it wasn't long ago when the people of Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly to end the "Frankenstein Veto" practice. A majority of Wisconsinites also disapprove of Scott Walker and his radical agenda. So if she doesn't take a stand now, when will she? It makes you wonder about her real motivations when she attacked Governor Doyle.