October 4, 2015

Walker ready to get back to his ‘day job’ (AUDIO)

Gov. Scott Walker tours Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation in Beaver Dam. (Photo: WRN)

Gov. Scott Walker tours Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation in Beaver Dam. (Photo: WRN)

For the first time since abruptly ending his presidential campaign earlier this week, Governor Scott Walker talked to the media on Friday about his plans for the future.

Following a visit at a Beaver Dam manufacturing plant, Walker told reporters that “my focus right now is on being governor. I’ve got the best job in the country, I was happy to go back to my day job and physically be here.”

Physically being here, Walker said, is how he plans to show the people that there’s no job he would rather have right now. “You can say all you want, but the best way to make that case is to be there…to visit schools, and hospitals, and clinics, and small businesses and farmers.”

Walker decline to go into much detail about the reasons why he ended his bid for the GOP presidential nomination on Monday, which came amid rapidly falling poll numbers and reports that his campaign was facing serious financial problems. “My statement about the decision I made to get out of the campaign speaks for itself,” Walker said. “I’m not gonna go back in time and reassess anything else. For me, people want a leader that’s looking forward, not backwards, and I’m looking forward.”

AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker addresses his future plans (1:06)

The governor brushed off questions about whether he plans to seek reelection in three years, or whether he would consider a future presidential run. He did make a clear statement that he’s not interested in running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Walker said all the governors he’s talked to, who went from being governor to the Senate, have told him how miserable they are. “I have no interest in being miserable,” Walker said.

The governor also restated what he told campaign donors earlier this week – he’s not angling for a cabinet-level position if a Republican wins the White House or some other job. “I’m just focused on being governor,” Walker said. “I’ve got three more years left and plenty of things to do.”

Clement to undergo Sports Hernia surgery (VIDEO)

Motion WEarlier this week, the Wisconsin Badger coaches were hoping to have tailback Corey Clement back for this weeks game against Hawaii, if not the following week in the Big Ten Conference opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium.

But U-W official announced today that Clement is scheduled to have Sports Hernia surgery next week and could miss four to fix weeks of the Big Ten Conference season.

Clement carried the ball just eight times in the opener against Alabama and has been idle since.

Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal are now one and two on the Badger depth chart and Alec Ingold, who was moved from linebacker to running back last week, could see some time as well.

Ingold averaged 178.8 yards per game as a senior at Bay Port High School as a quarterback and can play tailback or fullback.  Ingold is currently listed third at the tailback spot on the depth chart.

Corey Clement spoke with reporters after the news broke today.  (Video Courtesy of

Republicans planning changes to Wisconsin civil service system

Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) describes proposed civil service changes. (Photo: Bob Hague)

Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) describes proposed civil service changes. (Photo: Bob Hague)

Numerous of changes could be in store for Wisconsin civil servants and job applicants for those positions, under legislation being worked on at the Capitol.

The proposal, from Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) and Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton), seeks to make a long list of reforms to the civil service system, which range from eliminating the current exam-based hiring process to making it easier to fire state workers. At a news conference Thursday announcing the plan, Roth called the changes “plain and simple recruitment, retention reforms” which are designed to help the state attract and keep top talent.

However, critics are already raising concerns that they could make it easier to inject politics and cronyism into the state workforce and its 30,000 civil service positions. In a statement, AFSCME Council 32 executive director Rick Badger said “These rules exist to ensure state employment decisions are based on what you know, not who you know.”

Governor Scott Walker expressed support for the plan, saying that “Wisconsin needs to be able to compete for the best and the brightest employees in today’s modern workforce. This legislation will implement common-sense reforms to our recruiting process to get the best in the door and will give state agencies the tools to retain their great employees, as well as to address the bad actors who abuse the system.”

The final details of the legislation are still being worked out, but Steineke and Roth outlined several specific concepts on Thursday. They include switching to a resume-based hiring process for seeking job applicants, instead of the exams the state currently relies on for most civil service jobs. Steinke claimed those exams are of little value anymore because people have learned how to “game” the system to get job interviews by making sure to include certain key words. Roth also noted that the system is an “archaic process” that the private sector moved away from some time ago.

Other aspects of the bill include:

  • Setting a 60 day standard for filing vacant jobs. Backers say the hiring process can currently stretch out to more than 100 days.
  • Centralizing the application and resume review process under a single state agency.
  • Creating an annual performance review and incentive program for state workers, which would be standardized across state agencies.
  • Modernizing civil service protections with an expedited appeals process, while also creating a new process for rehiring or transferring laid-off state employees.

The bill also seeks to define what “just cause” is for firing workers. Roth offered the example of a state worker who had been caught watching pornography on his state computer for over four hours a day, but whose termination was rejected because supervisors never told him it was “frowned upon.” He argued eliminating those gray areas would give more stability to state workers.

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca said those kinds of examples are clearly situations where workers should be fired, but he also argued that such cases are likely being offered up as a “red herring” to build support for the reforms. Once the final language of the bill is released, he predicted Republicans “will take and have one of the most extreme, right wing approaches to civil service.”

Roth said they hope to release the full bill by next week.

Speaker Vos says fetal tissue ban short votes in Assembly (AUDIO)

Speaker Robin Vos (WRN file photo)

Speaker Robin Vos (WRN file photo)

The top Republican in the state Assembly says a controversial proposal that would ban researchers from using most tissue from aborted fetuses likely does not have the votes needed to pass out of his chamber right now.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Tuesday that concerns were raised in a GOP caucus that lead him to believe it does not have the 50 votes that would be needed to pass. Vos said that if the sponsors show they have votes required, he would bring it to the floor for a vote. However, he added “I don’t believe at this point that, without some changes, that that would be likely.”

Vos said the GOP is “trying to find some sort of middle ground that would allow us to continue to have potentially lifesaving research, but do it in a way that is ethical and doesn’t require women to have abortions in order to procure those body parts.”

AUDIO: Speaker Robin Vos talks about Assembly support for the ban (1:03)

The bill has faced an often contentious path at the Capitol and was again the focus of a lengthy hearing at the Capitol Tuesday, with a Senate committee taking hours of testimony. Backers argue the ban is needed to prevent the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses. However, University of Wisconsin officials and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state chamber of commerce, have warned it could harm the state’s biomedical industry.

The legislation has been introduced in previous sessions, but gained momentum this year after a series of undercover videos were released by an anti-abortion group that claim to show Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses. Planned Parenthood has denied it profits off abortions and argues the videos were heavily edited to misrepresent their operations. The provider has also indicated none of its clinics in Wisconsin collect tissue from abortions that is used in research.

Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks dead at 77

Justice N. Patrick Crooks

Justice N. Patrick Crooks

Just hours after he appeared at an administrative hearing Monday, officials with the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced that Justice N. Patrick Crooks had died.

In a statement, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack said that the 77-year-old Crooks had died in his chambers, inside the state Capitol building. There was no immediate word on the cause of his death.

Crooks, who announced just last week he was not seeking reelection in the spring, had served on the high court since 1996. Roggensack described him as “an outstanding jurist, a thoughtful decision-maker and a colleague with a wonderful Irish sense of humor.”

Justice Annette Ziegler said in a statement that “Crooks was not only a dedicated public servant with a keen legal mind, but also a colleague with whom I enjoyed a unique professional relationship. While we will all remember him for his legal prowess, I will miss his quick wit and sense of humor. Serving with him was an honor and a privilege.”

Governor Scott Walker commented on the loss briefly, before announcing he was suspending his presidential campaign. The governor said he just wanted to “pass on our prayers and our sympathy to him and his family.”

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) called Crooks’ death a loss for the state. “The justice served Wisconsin well and with integrity,” Barca said.

Crooks has long been seen as a swing vote on a deeply divided Supreme Court. While his seat is up for reelection next spring, the governor could appoint someone to fill the position until then. A spokeswoman for the governor said he would make a determination on how to proceed at a more appropriate time.

Crooks was first elected in 1996, after serving 19 years on the bench in Brown County and several years in private practice. Crooks received his bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College in 1960 and his law degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1963. He leaves behind a wife and six children.