Today’s news from Wisconsin:
- The award for Most Awkward Elevator Encounter of the week goes to Justice Prosser and the FOX6 team. I think, and I’m not sure, that maybe Justice Prosser doesn’t want to answer their question (although he did grab the microphone at first, so who knows), or it might be that I’m being unfair and the corner of that elevator is just really fascinating. Watch for yourself and see what you think.
- In other Prosser/Bradley news, William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection makes a charming argument that Bradley may need to be held accountable for her accusation that Prosser put her in a “chokehold”, because “a chokehold requires that there be sufficient pressure applied as to put the person at risk of reduced oxygen or blood flow.” Personally, that’s the test of civility I wish to see in the high courts: if there’s no risk of reduced oxygen, it’s a regular part of healthy judicial process!
- John Nygren’s case is being heard today, while Dane County prints the ballots despite his ongoing challenge. One thing I think I missed before in covering Nygren’s quest for justice: he didn’t sign his own nomination papers. I expect he was just being modest.
- Dennis Smith, secretary of the state Department of Health Services who believes the Affordable Care Act is a “power grab”, is blocking $27.5 million in federal grants to reduce chronic illnesses. It’s hard to decide what the worst thing about this is. Is it that Smith is so blatantly motivated by right-wing ideology that he would rather see Wisconsinites struggling with chronic illness lose $4.5 billion in productivity every year than accept that the federal government could be a positive influence on Americans’ lives? Or is it that he’s a good old-fashioned hypocrite, whose own department websites are full of information on the benefits of prevention– exactly the kind of prevention this federal grant would have funded?
- In case that wasn’t depressing enough, 96 percent of Wisconsin public schools will get less money under the new state budget, and Milwaukee Public Schools have already announced that 354 teachers will be laid off. This is the same budget that included tax breaks for corporations; further evidence that Walker’s Wisconsin is one where politicians give millionaires anything they want, but teachers, students and ordinary families are ignored and expected to do more with less. It seems that State Sen. Alberta Darling is perfectly happy with this state of affairs.
- More news from the Republicans’ attack on our children’s future: Luther Olsen refuses to say whether or not he believes the US could “do without” the Department of Education, and, teachers are now suing Governor Walker who, in keeping with that whole ‘small government’ thing, asserted the power to approve all agency rules before they’re enacted, and to overrule the elected School Superintendent in doing so.
- Finally, some comparatively light relief: State Sen. Dan Kapanke, in a desperate bid to stay relevant, is caught with his political pants on fire.