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June 30, 2015

Wisconsin flag maker will drop Confederate flags

flagcapA Wisconsin based flag manufacturer will halt sales and production of Confederate flags. The decision by the board of directors of Eder Flag Manufacturing Company in Oak Creek comes with the banner at the center of controversy in South Carolina and other southern states, in the wake of the racially motivated massacre of nine people at a Charleston church.

In a statement, Eder CEO Jodi Goglio said company founder Eugene Eder fought “against the forces of bigotry, hatred and tyranny,” while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. “The recent events in Charleston, S.C. and motivating factors behind those events, coupled with Mr. Eder’s legacy led to our decision to no longer manufacture or sell these types of flags.”

Milwaukee Senate Democrats to meet with Fitzgerald on Bucks

Senate chambers

Senate chambers

Milwaukee Senate Democrats are being asked to the table on a new Bucks arena.

“We haven’t been in on the discussion, we haven’t been filled in on the details. We don’t know where their votes are at, and there hasn’t been a count on the Democratic side, either,” said Senator Chris Larson. “So if they want to work with Democrats, fantastic. Let’s start that conversation.”

Larson and Senators Lena Taylor and Nikiya Harris Dodd requested the meeting with majority leader, Senator Scott Fitzgerald, in a letter last week.

“We’re getting the suspicion that this deal may already be dead, and they’re just looking for someone to blame,” Larson said, adding that he hopes the Senate GOP will negotiate in good faith.

Milwaukee Democrat, Senator Tim Carpenter, won’t be at the meeting with Fitzgerald and his colleagues.

“I don’t think they’re interested in hearing my ideas,” Carpenter said. He wants a ticket surcharge and no sales tax exemption for luxury suites, and believes Governor Scott Walker would veto both of those provisions from any funding package for a new NBA arena.

“There’s an existing ticket surcharge for the Bradley Center, so it’s not a new tax,” Carpenter said. “This would simply expand it so that people who sit in really expensive seats would pay more than someone who’d sit in the nosebleed seats.”

Democrats like Larson and Carpenter – as well as numerous GOP lawmakers – are insistent that any deal needs to be considered separately from the state budget. For now, it’s included as part of the two year spending plan.

Wisconsin ranked 38th for private-sector job growth

New figures from the federal government show Wisconsin ranked 38th in the nation last year for private-sector job growth. The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Wisconsin created just over 35,750 private sector jobs for the year ending in December. It’s an increase of just over 1.5 percent for 2014, which was well below the national rate of 2.6 percent.

The numbers also provide a look at job growth for the first four years Governor Scott Walker was in office. The governor had pledged to help the state create 250,000 jobs during his first term, but the final total came in at just over half that figure…with the state adding only about 129,000 jobs.

Democrats were quick to criticize the numbers as a sign that the leadership of Walker and his fellow Republicans is leading the state in the wrong direction, making Wisconsin dead last in the Midwest for job creation. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said in a statement that “instead of focusing on creating jobs and stimulating our economy, Republicans have been focused on divisive social issues and paying back out-of-state special interest groups that support Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign.”

Department of Workfroce Development Secretary Reggie Newson said the numbers showed Wisconsin is consistent with the growth rate relative to other states, and noted that the period between December 2013 and December 2014 “was the best year of December-to-December private sector job creation since 2004.”

Trade vote in House splits Wisconsin Democrats (VIDEO)

In what’s being seem as setback for President Barack Obama, House Democrats voted Friday to reject a key component required for passage before lawmakers can grant the president fast-track trade authority on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan was among 144 Democrats voting against the Trade Adjustment Authority, which assists workers who’ve lost jobs due to trade deals. After TAA failed, the House approved fast-track legislation, known as Trade Promotion Authority, in largely symbolic 219-211 vote. Enactment of TPA is contingent on approval of TAA. Pocan and fellow Wisconsin Democrat Gwen Moore voted against both measures.

“If we vote for TPA, we will have no ability to make it better, for this trade deal or any other trade deal for the next six years, under any President,” said Pocan.

La Crosse’s Ron Kind was a yes vote on TAA and TPA, along with Republicans Paul Ryan and Glenn Grothman. He countered his colleagues’ concerns about how the trade negotiations are being conducted. “There will be plenty of for us to decide if it makes sense for Wisconsin or not,” Kind said. He also cautioned that Democrats are “playing with fire” by rejecting the Trade Adjustment Authority, which is scheduled to expire in September if lawmakers don’t vote for funding.

“I would like to see a deal that has better, real protective teeth for labor and environmental law, strong protections for American sovereignty, and better protections for food safety and more,” Pocan said on the House floor Friday.

“No country is going to negotiate with us, if they also have to negotiate with us, if they also have to negotiate with 335 independent contractors on Capitol Hill,” said Kind. “They know that would be a negotiation without end.”

Report critical of industrial dairies in Kewaunee County

PHOTO: Kewaunee CARES

PHOTO: Kewaunee CARES

Advocacy groups say the hazardous, uncontrolled growth of industrial dairy pollution is running rampant in Kewaunee County. That’s the finding of a new 140-page report by local, state and national organizations led by the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, or SRAP.

SRAP teamed up with organizations Family Farm Defenders and Kewaunee CARES to research, publish and provide recommendations for the report, which cites multiple violations, hundreds of manure management failures and a host of operational problems at the 16 large industrial dairy concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

“We came to Kewaunee County because industrial dairies are out of control and the Wisconsin DNR is out of touch,” according to SRAP Regional Coordinator Scott Dye. “The ongoing contamination of Kewaunee County’s land, water and air and people right under the nose of the state agency meant to protect them is indefensible, has created a public health emergency and requires immediate action.”

Lynn Utesch, who’s a grass-fed beef farmer in Kewaunee County, help start the community group Kewaunee CARES.

“Wisconsin DNR has failed to carry out its most basic mission: to protect the health of Wisconsinites and the Walker Administration needs to read this report, admit its shortcomings, and change policy now,” said Utesch.

WTAQ