July 23, 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.

Milwaukee lifts cap on taxi limits

Milwaukee lifts its cap on the number of taxis that can operate in Wisconsin’s largest city. 

It’s a victory for individual taxi drivers in Milwaukee and smartphone-based businesses that want to compete with existing cab companies; so says Larry Salzman, an attorney with the Institute for Justice.

A coalition of cab drivers joined the law firm in filing the lawsuit that resulted in Tuesday’s Common Council unanimous vote. “The bottom line is that the taxi cartel doesn’t have a right to be protected from competition.” Salzman says, ” This new law embraces the right of all drivers to earn an honest living by getting into business for themselves. That’s good for drivers; that’s good ultimately for taxi owners; that’s great for consumers.”

Salzman explains this type of “freedom” offers transportation options for consumers and it’s good for transportation entrepreneurs of all types, whether that means individual taxi owners or some of the alternative services like Uber and Lyft, which offer peer-to-peer ride-sharing services via a mobile app.

Some long-time taxi drivers have threatened to file suit. “There are some old owners who would like to see their monopoly preserved,” he adds, “and they’re undoubtedly unhappy about this ordinance; but taxi owners, the large taxi cartel owners, don’t have a right to force the government to protect them from competitions. So, they have no legal claim.”

The Institute for Justice stands ready to intervene and “protect the driver’s right to earn a living,” Salzman says, if existing cab owners ultimately do sue to “preserve their monopoly.” New drivers must follow all the same rules — background checks, car inspections, and they must have insurance on their vehicles. 

Last year a circuit court judge ruled Milwaukee’s cap was unconstitutional. Tuesday’s Common Council’s vote complies with that order. Mayor Tom Barrett is expected to sign the measure which would take effect in September. In lifting its cap, Salzman says, Milwaukee becomes one of the freest cities in the nation for drivers looking to enter the taxicab market.

Public input on net neutrality continues

Battle over bandwidth

Battle over bandwidth

Discussions over equal and open access to the Internet continue. 

Advocates of net neutrality want unrestricted, high-speed access to the Internet, something that’s been talked about for nearly a decade. Barry Orton is a professor of telecommunications at the UW – Madison. “We are now in the fourth iteration of the Federal Communications Commission trying to figure out what to do about the Internet and failing legally each time.”

Orton thinks the Internet should be treated like a utility. Net neutrality gives open and equal access to broadband for all users, but businesses like Netflix want faster speed than everyone else. “We’re really talking about speeds and service to both rural areas and particularly to non-money-making institutions. We’re talking about schools; we’re talking about libraries; we’re talking about UW campuses; we’re talking about people who are taking an online course from home.”

AUDIO: Cross says businesses like Netflix want faster speed than everyone else. . :66

Orton says if the fast lane is reserved for big businesses, the slower lane is what’s left for the less profitable businesses and individuals.

The FCC is taking a second round of public comments, responding to the first round which ended on Friday. Comments will be considered when making rules on broadband. The number of comments, to be considered when making rules later this year, reached 1,067,779 — the most ever for an FCC rule-making proceeding.

Evers defends Common Core

State Superintendent Tony Evers (Photo: DPI)

State Superintendent Tony Evers (Photo: DPI)

As Republicans echoed Governor Scott Walker’s call for the Legislature to take action quickly next session to repeal the use of Common Core educations standards in Wisconsin, the state’s chief education official argued for the need to stay the course.

In a statement released Friday morning, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers says that Wisconsin’s Common Core Standard in English language arts and mathematics still have strong support among K-12 education leaders, teachers, and the business community. Evers says “Wisconsin’s teachers, parents, and children have spent the past four years implementing these standards, which our educators indisputably agree are more rigorous than our previous standards and still provide districts with the ability to select a local curriculum that fits their needs.”

Evers chalked up the renewed call to repeal Common Core, which came in a one line statement released by Governor Scott Walker on Thursday, to campaign season. “Not surprisingly,” Evers says, “politics trumps sound policy.”

Walker and opponents of Common Core have argued the state should abandon the national standards and craft a system that is tailored specifically for Wisconsin. However, Evers says “the notion that Wisconsin could simply repeal our standards or take a two year time out on our assessments not only runs counter to both state and federal law, it jeopardizes important reforms like educator effectiveness and school and district accountability. But most importantly, it brings chaos to our children and our classrooms.”

Evers says he will continue to stand with the state’s educators and focus on doing what’s best for Wisconsin students. “It’s time to keep politics out of the classroom and remain focused on what’s most important — delivering a college and career ready education to Wisconsin’s students.”

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.