July 25, 2014

Walker claims Burke trying to ‘have it both ways’ (AUDIO)

Gov. Scott Walker speaks to supporters at a campaign event. (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Gov. Scott Walker speaks to supporters at a campaign event. (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Even though the general election in Wisconsin’s race for governor is still months away, the campaigns of both incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker and likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke are already shifting into high gear. Both campaigns have been out with ads that spar over the issue of outsourcing jobs and Burke’s role at Trek Bicycle, the family-owned company started by her father.

Walker’s campaign has run two ads in the past week that argue Burke, who worked as an executive at Trek, has personally benefitted from the company’s decision to outsource jobs overseas. Burke and the head of Trek, her brother, have maintained she had no role in those decisions and have criticized Walker for attacking a company that employs a thousand workers in Wisconsin.

Speaking with reporters in Madison Wednesday, Walker stood by the decision to go after Burke on the outsourcing issue and her role at Trek. The governor says voters deserve to know both sides of the issue, since Burke has campaigned on her experience at Trek as a reason to support her candidacy. Walker said “you can’t have it both ways if you’re Mary Burke. You can’t say like me for the things you like about this company, but ignore the other things that are out there.”

AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker (:45)

Walker also noted that Burke’s own campaign ads made outsourcing an issue before he brought it up, by trying to link him to state tax credits that were given by his administration to companies that outsourced job. “She started out with the argument. She made the case about this several weeks ago. We’re pointing out the hypocrisy out of that.”

Walker says he’s running on his record, but claims Burke is trying to run from hers.

Net neutrality comments reach more than a million

Battle over bandwidth

Battle over bandwidth

Comments submitted to the FCC on net neutrality reach more than 1 million as of noon on Thursday — the most ever for an FCC rule-making proceeding.

The Federal Communications Commission is ending public comments today on the proposed rules to regulate the Internet, at least in the first round. “They’ll have another round in a couple of months that allows you to comment on the original round of comments. So it’s not over by any means after Friday.”

The deadline to submit public comments in the first round of the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding was scheduled to end on Tuesday, but it had been extended until Friday.

Barry Orton is a professor of telecommunications at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He argues net neutrality allows for free and equal access to the Internet for all users, but big business wants faster speed. Individuals will have a chance to reply to the initial round of public comments until September 10th. “The fight now is about how the Internet is going to be divided among the commercial users whose whole profit margin depends on the Internet running fast for them.”

Advocates of net neutrality say two tiers of Internet access makes winners and losers. Those benefiting from implementing two lanes on the information highway — a high-speed and a slower-speed — would be entities such as Netflix, Comcast, and AT&T. Orton says it creates a group of “privileged providers versus the rabble” — the common folk trying to become entrepreneurs, growing their businesses. “It’s better for everybody … everybody wins … as my hero Bruce Springsteen says, “Unless everybody wins, nobody wins.”

The debate has been going on nearly a decade.

Orton says, the fight is about two things: who gets to deliver their services the fastest and who gets to referee the fights between the companies — that would be the FCC, he says. The FCC is expected to establish new rules by the end of the year.


Gigi B. Sohn is FCC Senior Counsel for External Affairs for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Follow her on Twitter @GigiBSohnFCC. Use the hashtag #NetNeutrality.

Future of broadband, access in rural areas

Computer mouse

Computer mouse

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross calls it the “broadband imperative.” He explains at a broadband symposium in Madison, “Big transformation coming. Highly dependent on the ability to move data between different sources … fast.”

Wisconsin’s economic future depends on widely available, high-speed Internet access for everyone, Cross says, citing examples of driverless cars, smart clothes, and the infinite possibilities in the area of health care.

And, he says, it’s important to teach people what they can do and what the possibilities are, even at a basic level. “People don’t know how to use it or how it might be used or can’t conceive its value.” Cross says education is perhaps more important than the technology.

AUDIO: Cross says progress depends on thinking outside the box, experimenting, and “accidental discovery.” :12

Also, public-private partnerships must be formed, he says, “otherwise we’ll fail.”

Rural Wisconsin

High speed Internet access is no longer just a luxury; it’s a necessity, according to panel members , the Madison meeting last week. It is needed for public safety, job creation, and to help students learn.

Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) says broadband needs to be considered a big part of a city’s infrastructure, just like roads, bridges, water, and sewer. “It’s critical, because many of these small businesses … these entrepreneurs are beginning and they say ‘we want to establish a business here, we want to grow our business here, and one of the hurdles that we have is bandwidth and access to the Internet.”

Shilling says tourism and agriculture thrive when broadband is abundant, and many farmers are dependent on high speed access, saying today’s tractor is an “office on wheels.”

State Representative Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), chair of the the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools, was frustrated that there were no legislative members from urban areas on that taskforce. “Even my own colleagues in the southern part of the state do not realize that we still have dial-up in the farthest areas of the northwoods. I wish we had had some urban legislators to fully understand not only what our rural schools are going through, but what our communities are going through.”

AUDIO: And satellite doesn’t work through dense hills and trees. Kara O’Connor, government relations director with Wisconsin Farmers Union, says residents are relying on the hope of fiber optic cable. :57

Panel members stress the need for private-public partnerships and a “significant infusion of capital from state and federal governments” as “critical parts of the solution.”

Shilling and Swearingen agree that broadband is necessary for the growth of agri-tourism — self-pick strawberry patches and apple orchards, bed and breakfasts, and other tourist destinations that are becoming more popular.


Brett Hulsey, longshot gubernatorial candidate in the Democratic primary, is quick to blame the governor for the lack of high speed Internet, reminding us of what he calls a lost opportunity. “Governor Walker gave away almost $23 million of upgrade grants that would have gone to 385 libraries and more than 80 schools and technical colleges in under-served parts of the state.”

Hulsey says that money also could have been applied toward improving communications in rural police, fire department, hospitals, job creation, and to “help students learn.” He says if he is elected to the governorship, “I’m gonna restore the Internet money.”

Wisconsin had received a $23 million grant in 2010 from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. That money was intended to build broadband connections in hundreds of Wisconsin communities, but the state returned that cash to the feds. State officials had said there were too many strings attached to the federal money.

State appeals ruling against gay marriage ban

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

The state Department of Justice has filed an appeal of a federal court ruling that struck down Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban.

The appeal deals with a court decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, who ruled that the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2006 violated the equal protection and due process rights of gay couples. The lawsuit against the state was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing eight same-sex couples.

Crabb’s June 6 ruling resulted in a flood of same-sex marriages across the state. Before Crabb issued a stay on her decision and ordered clerks to stop issuing licenses a week after the initial ruling, more than 500 same-sex couples across the state had been married.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed the appeal with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Girl in Slenderman case not mentally competent to stand trial

One girl charged with stabbing her young friend multiple times is mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Two doctors have found that the 12-year-old is not competent enough to proceed in the so-called Slenderman murder case. An evaluation from a Madison psychiatrist at the request of the girl’s attorney shows the same conclusion as one ordered by the court.

At a court proceeding today, Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren scheduled a hearing for August first, where both the prosecution and defense can address the competency question before a final ruling is issued.

The girl and her friend, also 12, are both charged with attempted homicide, after they allegedly stabbed a 12-year-old female classmate 19 times on May 30th while claiming allegiance to the fictional online horror character Slenderman.

The family of the unnamed victim issued a statement that supports the prosecution, but vows to keep focusing on the girl’s treatment and recovery.