Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
You’re on your own Michigan’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention is recommending that the state end oversight for 18 occupations and 9 boards. Partner station Michigan Radio has a full list of the recommendations.
The board’s staff released signature tallies on Thursday on recall petitions for Gov. Scott Walker and the state’s lieutenant governor.
There were 931,053 signatures collected for Walker’s recall; 26,114 were discarded by the staff; 4,001 were found to be duplicates and 900,938 were declared valid. That’s far more than required to hold an election. Four state Senators also face recall elections.
If the elections are held, the staff recommended a primary take place on May 8 and the general election, if needed, on June 5.
Read all our coverage of Walker and the Wisconsin elections here.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is in the middle of a contentious recall fight, which has made headlines around the country.
But one story that hasn’t gotten as much attention is the ongoing criminal investigation involving a number of Scott Walker’s former staff members. The investigation is centered on Scott Walker’s time as Milwaukee’s county executive. So far, a half dozen of Walker’s former staffers have been charged with various crimes related to the mishandling of funds.
Walker has mostly remained above the fray. But Friday, Walker announced that he’s started a legal defense fund.
A spokesman for Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the governor has been told “he is not a target of this investigation.”
“The only way you can set that up is if you are under investigation or being prosecuted,” said Michael Maistelman, an election lawyer who is representing former Walker aide Tim Russell in the John Doe investigation. “One can only draw the conclusion that either one of those two things is happening.”
The prosecutor in the case is, not surprisingly, not commenting. But Bice says investigators have been looking into possible election law violations for 22 months. One former Walker staffer has already pleaded guilty. Another one was due in court today on embezzlement charges, but couldn’t make it because of an illness.
Walker is expected to meet with investigators later this month.
This is the second in a two-part series about what’s changed for public workers in Wisconsin, one year after labor protests gripped the state (part one is here).
The Capitol building in Madison is amazing – anyone can just walk in. And in Madison, people often do just visit, like Brian Austin, who often brings his children here.
Austin is a detective with the City of Madison’s police department. He was also one of the tens of thousands who packed this building in protest when Gov. Walker proposed limiting union rights for public workers. The law – Act 10 – passed anyway. So Austin says when he goes into the building now, he can’t help think of it as a “completely different” building – and he means that in both a positive and a negative way.
His ambivalence is because he says Walker has brought the Wisconsin workers together – even though they’re suffering now.
The Wisconsin state worker’s union estimates that some 22,000 public employees are taking home 13 percent less pay since the law has taken effect. As it was written, public safety workers like police officers were supposed to be exempt.
But now, police and firefighters are finding, they, too, are facing increased pension and health care costs.
Although he faces a much-publicised recall effort, Wisconsin voters aren’t negative on Gov. Scott Walker,
A poll by Marquette University shows that Walker’s approval rating is above his disapproval rating for the first time since he took office, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Voters approve of Walker’s performance 51 percent to 46 percent disapproval. Fifty percent believe the state is headed in the right direction, versus 46 percent who do not.
Walker also has single-digit leads over Democrats who might face him in a recall election.
The governor’s performance ratings bounce around a bit, depend on which organization is conducting the poll, the Journal-Sentinel says.
The most recent nonpartisan public polls on Walker were done last fall. Walker’s approval rating was 38% in a November survey by Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College; it was 47% in an October survey by Public Policy Polling; 49% in an October survey by Rasmussen; and 42% in an October survey by Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. These polls all have different methodologies, so some variation is normal.
Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker might have preferred to forget last week, when a truck filled with more than 1 million recall signatures showed up in Madison. But over the weekend, Walker got a pep talk from one of the state’s most fiery orators.
Former governor Tommy Thompson, a Republican who is running for the United States Senate, threw his enthusiastic support behind Walker and his efforts to curb collective bargaining rights for public employees, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.