September 30, 2014

Soglin ramps up efforts to assist voters

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has launched a full-out push to help people vote. Citing what he terms ‘impediments’ in the form of voter ID and restrictions on absentee voting hours, Soglin said Monday that every effort will be made – and he’s counting on people to respond.

“I’m hoping everyone in our community sees this as an act of defiance that they are determined to carry out – that they will vote,” Soglin said.

The mayor said there are concerns that many older voters still don’t have the proper ID to vote, and Madison Senior Center Director Christine Beatty said there’s a lot of confusion. “You know, we’ve had to have the ID, and we haven’t had to have the ID, so there’s a great deal of confusion, and this kind of effort is going to help,” she said.

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, and the city clerk’s office has staffed more than 30 locations around the city, to help people do that. “There are over 800 people in the community who have volunteered . . . to become trained to register voters,” said city clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl. “By registering to votge early, you’re going to save yourself time at the polling place, and also free up some poll wotkers who are going to be needed to check IDs. It’s a lot easier to register in advance.”

With voter ID now in place in Wisconsin, Soglin and Witzel-Behl said 273 more workers will be needed at polling places in the city. Soglin said he’s looking into having city employee help out if necessary.

First Lady to campaign in Wisconsin for Mary Burke

First Lady Michelle Obama (PHOTO: White House)

First Lady Michelle Obama (PHOTO: White House)

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke will be getting some help on the campaign trail from the White House.

Burke’s campaign announced Monday that First Lady Michelle Obama will come to Wisconsin on September 29th to take part in a grassroots campaign event. The event will be in Milwaukee, although a specific location or time have not yet been announced.

Burke met privately with President Obama during a stop in Milwaukee on Labor Day, although did not appear on stage with him. The First Lady’s visit comes on the same day that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie plans to be in the state to campaign for Burke’s opponent, incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Mary Burke stands by jobs plan amid copying controversy

Mary Burke (Photo: WRN)

Mary Burke (Photo: WRN)

The Democratic challenger for governor is standing behind her plan to create jobs and grow the economy.

Republicans on Friday hurled accusations of plagiarism against Democrat Mary Burke, following a BuzzFeed report that found paragraphs in her jobs plan matched language in proposals offered by Democratic candidates for governor in other states in previous elections. The language was added by a consultant to the campaign, Eric Schnurer, who had worked on the other campaigns where the wording had been used.

Speaking to reporters in Appleton late Friday afternoon, Burke said that Schnurer was one of many experts her campaign worked with in developing the jobs plan. Much like in the private sector, Burke said she studied ideas from around the country because “the good ones are the ones that are based on ideas that have worked in other places.” She said the state does not have to “reinvent the wheel” to move the economy forward.

AUDIO: Mary Burke defends jobs plan.

While Burke stood by her plan, she also noted the Schnurer was never supposed to submit the exact same words he used when contributing to other plans. As a result of that, Burke said the campaign has terminated its relationship with him.

Affiliate WHBY contributed to this report.

Latest audit of Wisconsin jobs agency shows concerns over records

File photo

File photo

A new state audit shows Wisconsin’s job creation agency did not keep records to justify its spending on travel, salaries, and grants during its first two years.

The report from the Legislative Audit Bureau contains a fiscal review of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the public-private agency Governor Scott Walker created in 2011. Auditors said previously identified processing errors within the agency have been fixed, and there’s a new tracking system in which expense numbers upload directly into the agency’s accounting network. That reduces the chances for errors.

The audit showed that spending on 223 administrative items were not properly documented to indicate whether the items were reasonable, or even approved. The auditors also looked at 44 grant payments to businesses, economic groups, and local governments. They turned up processing errors, and a lack of supporting documents. The review covered 2011-2013 and noted that $1.7 million in job creation loans to businesses had not been paid back by the end of last year.

Agency CEO Reed Hall said his department now has a policy on documenting spending, and it plans to review its loan portfolio.

Walker responds to Burke copying claim

Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker

Governor Scott Walker says a report that his Democratic opponent’s jobs plans includes text copied from proposals offered by candidates for governor in other states “doesn’t change much” about the real discussions of the campaign.

Democrat Mary Burke’s campaign says a consultant who worked on the jobs plan is responsible for the text, which was the same or similar to paragraphs found in campaign plans offered by Delaware Governor Jack Markell in 2008, Ward Cammack of Tennessee in 2009, and John Gregg of Indiana in 2012. The consultant, Eric Schnurer, had also worked with those candidates. Burke’s campaign says it has cut all ties with Schnurer, following the revelations.

During a stop in the Green Bay area on Friday, Governor Walker said “it was disappointing to hear” about the situation. Still, Walker said he would rather be “talking about the positives of our plan, rather than who may or may not have been involved in writing our opponent’s plan.”

AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker (:11)

Burke’s campaign notes that she worked with a variety of experts in putting together her jobs plan. Walker admitted that’s it not unusual to use ideas from other politicians, but said it’s typically to give those individuals credit. He pointed to his “Better Bottom Line” proposal announced in his State of the State Address, which originated with Governor Jack Markell. Walker says he asked Markell in advance about using the term and acknowledged its origins in his speech.