Via Fond du Lac Reporter.
HAND-CURATED POSTS FROM THE WISCONSIN BLOGOSPHERE (AND SOMETIMES POINTS BEYOND)
The campaign of embattled state Rep. Bill Kramer has paid $10,000 to defend him against sexual assault charges, raising questions about whether the payments violate state campaign law.
State law allows politicians to use campaign funds for their legal defense, but only against allegations that they had broken election or campaign finance laws.
In addition to the hundreds of millions flowing into politics by way of the Kochs’ network of foundations and funding vehicles like Freedom Partners, David Koch writes millions of dollars in personal checks to political organizations every year, and funds from the Koch Industries corporate treasury are used to bankroll the right-wing infrastructure the Kochs have developed. Koch Industries, the company David runs with his brother Charles, is the second-largest privately-held company in the country.
“We are in a global marketplace and some companies, to be successful financially, need to outsource,” said Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO Reed Hall.
Hall was responding to questions about a 27 News story from last week, which showed at least two companies that received tax credits from WEDC later outsourced Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries.
Ed Wall, secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Corrections, is also concerned. In an April memo to DOC staff, Wall asked whether segregation is being used for punitive reasons, when “what we really need from segregation is for inmates to have a corrective and rehabilitative experience.” The department is now consulting professionals throughout the country, with the goal of releasing a revised policy by January.
Wall cited national developments in this area, including the “sobering” observations of former Wisconsin DOC secretary Rick Raemisch, now executive director of Colorado’s state prison system. Raemisch testified before the Senate committee, calling solitary confinement “overused, misused and abused.”
“Segregation either multiplies or manufactures mental illness,” Raemisch said in an interview. “It may help (control behavior) while the person is behind that steel door, but what you’re doing is magnifying the problem.”
“The numbers are clear: a far greater percentage of Braun’s hits are going to opposite field than in previous seasons, and the balls he does pull are being pulled with noticeably less authority,” Olney said. “What has caused this clear departure is for others to speculate on, but it is clear Braun is not the hitter he was in previous seasons.”
The longtime lefty has discovered the Republican Party.
Late last year, he gave the maximum donation of $500 each to Republican Reps. Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield and Joe Sanfelippo of West Allis. Sanfelippo is running against liberal Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan.
Last month, Abele coughed up another $500 to Sanfelippo, new filings show. That puts Abele in company with Bradley Foundation CEO Michael Grebe, the ex-Republican National Committee general counsel and Gov. Scott Walker campaign chairman who gave Sanfelippo the same sum five days after Abele.
The donations come after Republican lawmakers helped Abele in a variety of ways. They pushed through a referendum to slash the pay of County Board members, backed a bill stripping the board of its oversight of mental health care and adopted legislation allowing construction of the proposed Couture high-rise development along Milwaukee’s Lake Michigan shoreline. Sanfelippo, a former county supervisor, had his hand in all three deals.
A writer for the conservative Wall Street Journal’s opinion page has published a piece criticizing GOP Gov. Scott Walker for his TV ad accusing his Democratic foe, Mary Burke, of profiting from Trek Bicycles’ outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to the low-wage nation of China. Burke is a former Trek executive whose family started and runs the company.
Allysia Finley, an assistant editor of OpinionJournal.com, accuses Walker’s campaign of channeling Team Obama for the president’s attacks on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on outsourcing in the 2012 election.
“We normally associate criticism of outsourcing with Democrats, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a reminder that Republicans aren’t above playing the ‘Benedict Arnold CEO’ card themselves to fan populist furies,” Finley writes.
Burke, who supports the increase from the current $7.25 an hour, said workers at Trek’s Waterloo plant already make more than that. It’s “ridiculous” to expect workers to support themselves on the current minimum wage, Burke said.
“It ensures they are dependent on the government,” she said.
The case is among the 40 allegations of staff-on-inmate abuse since 2011 identified by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in Waupun’s segregation unit, commonly known as solitary confinement. Most involve indications that inmates received post-incident physical or mental health attention.
The allegations were made in lawsuits, internal inmate complaints, interviews, and letters to state officials and an inmate-rights activist.
View all allegations
40 allegations of guards abusing inmates at Waupun Correctional Institution
Details about each alleged incident, who was involved and the DOC’s response.
Of the 40 allegations, officer Beahm is named in 28. A dozen inmate lawsuits since 2011 accuse Beahm of physical or psychological abuse; six have been dismissed and six are pending.
The state Department of Corrections has denied these allegations and accused the inmates making them of lying. But the nature and volume of the complaints has drawn the notice of state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, and former state prison chief Walter Dickey, who has called for an investigation in response to the Center’s findings.
Beahm, a nine-year department employee, did not respond to written requests for an interview or offers to go over the allegations in detail.
Congress may face voters this fall with its lowest recorded approval ratings ever in a mid-term election.
Only 15 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to Gallup. You might expect such dismal numbers to put politicians in peril.
But for the 435-member House of Representatives, the election outlook is the opposite.
Rarely have House elections been less competitive than they are today.
Two Milwaukee police officers who admitted they were present during invasive body cavity searches that led to felony convictions against a third officer were neither criminally charged nor fired from the department after making deals with prosecutors, according to court records.
One of the two officers, Michael Gasser, was on the scene during a 2010 search that caused the victim to bleed from his anus for several days, according to Gasser’s deposition in a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Not only did Gasser avoid termination, he has been allowed to continue training rookie officers — even though he told internal investigators he didn’t think there was anything wrong with the search, he testified in June.
The second officer, Zachary Thoms, admitted in a deposition that he and Officer Michael Vagnini coerced a suspect to try to defecate into a cardboard box at the District 5 police station in 2011, hoping he would expel hidden drugs.
Meanwhile, two supervisors who were in charge of District 5 while illegal searches were occurring there have been promoted to the highest levels of the department.
Marvin Smith still has scars from his time at Waupun Correctional Institution — on his hand, wrists and leg. His injuries were received on Jan. 3, 2013, in the state prison’s segregation unit.
Smith, 26, in a federal lawsuit he filed himself, alleged abuse by prison guards. He said they purposely injured his wrists and arms, put him in a choke hold, smashed his face into a cell door and twisted his ankle. Smith insisted he was not resisting.
The defendants denied the allegations and portrayed Smith as the aggressor, saying he “violently pulled” a guard’s hand into his cell, causing injury, and refused to obey directives. Smith, a convicted armed robber, was disciplined over the incident with an additional 11 months in segregation, commonly called solitary confinement.
Smith’s claims of abuse by state correctional officers, though rejected by prison officials, are similar to allegations made by dozens of other inmates at the prison 55 miles northeast of Madison.
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has identified 40 allegations of physical or psychological abuse by correctional officers against inmates in Waupun’s segregation unit since 2011. The allegations, involving 33 inmates, allege extreme mistreatment, including being beaten and stomped on while handcuffed behind their backs.