February 23, 2011

Prank call fallout becomes a firestorm

The fallout from Gov. Scott Walker's prank call Wednesday has become a firestorm.Click the links below to read each of the stories. If you just got back from Venus,  HERE's the original story.  Listen to the call itself here: Part One | Part Two.  Or, go here for a complete transcript.

Letter from State Sen. Tim Carpenter to Gov. Walker
Governor Walker, this tape would make Richard Nixon blush. If the recording and the items discussed by you are indeed your plans, you have no business being in public office  in our State, and should resign.

Is this what Democracy looks like?
"So we're trying about four or five different angles, so each day we crank up a little bit more pressure," Walker said to the man he thought was Koch in the prank call. "The other thing is I've got layoff notices ready. We put out the at-risk notices. We'll announce Thursday, and they'll go out early next week. And we'll probably get 5,000 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, you know."
-- Jessica Opoien, Iowa State Daily

Sen. Robert Wirch called the information revealed in the conversation "devastating." "This governor cares about right-wing think tanks and the Koch brothers more than he cares what the people of the state think."

Wirch was also glad he found out about the governor's plan to trick them into coming back, admitting that it might have worked. "Candidly, I think we probably would have given the governor the benefit of the doubt, so I'm glad I found out about his real agenda... We probably would have seen it as a breakthrough instead of a trick." 

Asked whether Democrats are now less likely to trust Walker, Wirch replied, "Yes. In a word, yes."
--Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post

Walker said at a news conference Wednesday that he "absolutely" did not include a budget repair bill provision on selling state powerplants as a means of rewarding Koch. Walker noted that the Koch firm had said it wasn't interested in buying the plants.
 --Steve Schultz, Journal Sentinel's All Politics Blog

Scott Walker's 'Dire Consequences'
It's not every day that a governor at the heart of the biggest political story in the United States is humiliated by the revelation that he managed to fall for a prank-call from a blogger pretending to be a libertarian billionaire. But like a good soldier, he ploughed straight ahead.

Wisconsin Dem: Walker has pushed us away from negotiating
State Sen. Chris Larson... called Walker "cocky" and "gullible" for believing that David Koch, the billionaire conservative bankroller, would call him up to discuss political tactics. On a tactical level, however, he called the prank a major blunder on Walker's behalf. "He just gave it all away right there," Larson insisted.
--Sam Stein, Huffington Post 

At the end of the call, the prankster says: "I'll tell you what, Scott, once you crush these bastards, I'll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time."

"All right, that would be outstanding," Walker replies, adding the standoff is "all about getting our freedoms back."
 --Seattle Times

The blogger behind the Walker prank call
"I joked with [the aide] that my maid Maria threw my phone in the washing machine, and that I'd have her deported but she works for almost nothing," Murphy said. "So I told them it wasn't really possible for them to call me back and I better call him. I thought it was so ridiculous, and there was no way I would get through,"
--Peter Wallsten, Washington Post

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February 22, 2011

Racine mayor sued for slander

A city employee fired late last year sued Racine Mayor John Dickert this week for slander over comments the mayor made on WRJN radio.

Bill Bielefeldt, who was fired from the city's Department of Development in November, filed suit in Racine County Circuit Court on Monday. Dickert allegedly said on the radio that Bielefeldt was "embezzling" from the city. To date, no allegations of embezzlement, which is a form of financial fraud that's essentially stealing, have been made against Bielefeldt.

An insider with knowledge of the situation said the mayor overstepped in alleging criminal action by Bielefeldt. They also said the suit was purposefully filed against Dickert, and not the city, so the mayor would have to hire his own attorney to defend himself. Dickert will not be able to use the city attorney's office in the case, they said.

It's hard to say what, if any, impact the case will have on Dickert's re-election bid. Voters could see it as a messy situation involving a disgruntled employee and give the mayor a pass. But they may also wonder why Dickert was even talking about Bielefeldt in a public forum, much less making allegations no one, at least publicly, has stated.

No court dates have been set in the case, which is being handled by Judge Charles Constantine's court. Bielefeldt is being represented by Thomas Santarelli, a Kenosha attorney who is known as a bulldog in the court room.

Beth over at Racine Uncovered was the first to jump on this story. The JT is also paying attention.


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February 21, 2011

Madison and Lambeau from the air during 'Return to Titletown'

We first met Chris Wawro at the Monument Square Art Fair a few years ago, where he was displaying and selling incredible aerial photos. He takes the pictures while flying his Cessna around Wisconsin, Illinois and other locales.

Chris has a business doing this -- Aero-Fotografik, LLC of East Troy, WI -- but it turns out he sometimes also does it just for fun ... as he did after the Packers returned to Titletown after their Superbowl victory this year and when he flew over the State Capitol.

Chris sent us the video above, and provided the following explanation in answer to our questions:

I had no ticket to the Lambeau party. I viewed the event with at least a little cabin heat going! I felt enough of the cold when shooting through the open window! When it's that cold you have to wear gloves to keep the hands from freezing.

I kept having to wait out the winter storms to shoot night aerials of the Capitol. Wednesday, Feb. 2,  was a beautiful evening and relatively calm but unfortunately the airport was buried in snow with no plow service from the Village of East Troy until Thursday morning. I finally took off Thursday evening and was able to capture some nice shots of the Capitol lit green & gold for the Pack.

After confirming there was no TFR (temporary flight restrictions) in effect over Lambeau Field I departed for Green Bay. Lambeau Field was planned as a stills shoot but I grabbed the Panasonic HDC-TM700 camcorder just in case and am glad I did. When I arrived on site there was another Cessna circling at a lower altitude so I chose to remain higher at 2,000 ft. We were all in contact with the tower and maintained proper separation. After that Cessna departed a helicopter arrived and did an orbit or two then departed. I then had the airspace to myself and completed my shoot.

Stills were captured with the Canon EOS 1Ds MkIII & 5D MkII. Aerial video was shot with the Panasonic HDC-TM700 3MOS Camcorder. Aircraft used was the Cessna 172. Altitude shot from was 2,000-3,000 ft. Solo flights.

Here's a picture of Chris that we took a couple of years ago

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February 20, 2011

Madison Protests: 'This is what democracy looks like'

The Tea Party Protest was drowned out by anti-Walker crowd. 

The pro-Walker demonstrators tried to rally, but they were pretty meager. 

Signs ruled the day at the peaceful protest around the Capitol. 

The weather was beautiful.
These two want a "Paradimes Shift." 

The crowd marching past where the Tea Party rally was organized. It was truly thousands versus hundreds. 

You can see a handful of pro-Walker signs in the background. 

This was pretty much the look of the Walker crowd. 

Even the Walker side had some funny signs. 

Lots of attacks on corporations.

For Harry Potter fans

Inside of the Capitol. They allowed 4,000 people inside of the building at one time. 

"Please don't tea bag our children" 

"Johnny Walker is what we drink. Scott Walker is why we drink."

A silent protest.

This demonstrators directed teachers to actual doctors at the protest who signed notes for sick days taken to attend the rally.