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Legislators May be Schooled by FOIA ..

FOIA RequestsLegislators May be Schooled by FOIA Revelations.

Madison Wisconsin – With each day we witness more and more evidence of corruption, disregard for citizens’ rights and violations of constitutional law. Most recently, we have seen Joint Finance Committee Chair Robin Vos and his band of tea-intoxicated cohorts, Alberta Darling, Luther Olsen, Robert Cowles and senate candidate John Nygren conspire to divert millions of taxpayer’s dollars per year from the Green Bay Public School system (and perhaps others) into a voucher program that supports Private Charter schools. While pretending to provide an escape for underprivileged children from a failing public schools in cities such as Milwaukee, similar voucher schemes have transferred money from the neediest of students to the most privileged. In the two decade history of this program, Charter Schools have failed to achieve success above that of the public school system even among the select group of underprivileged they admit.

Why, despite a dismal track record in Milwaukee, does Vos and his conspirators continue to push for an expansion of the voucher program? A private advocacy group, One Wisconsin Now is  investigating this question using a Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. We picked up on the story from Wispolitics which reported the following:

“Assembly Republicans have backed down from a controversial plan to siphon millions per biennium from Green Bay public schools to support private schools, just days after One Wisconsin Now filed a comprehensive open records request with five top legislators seeking communications between their offices and numerous representatives of the school privatization industry.”

Could it be that the FOIA documents will reveal that our legislators were motivated by factors other than a deep commitment to the belief that the voucher programs will improve educational opportunities for Wisconsin students? Was their change of heart due to “further consideration of the evidence” or fear that pressing the legislation would draw attention to their legislative motivations. Below you’ll get a brief history on this cast of criminals:

Senator Luther Olsen(R- currently up for recall)

Olsen legislative fitness is once again being questioned. An ethics complaint has been filed against him. His support for the school voucher legislation would directly benefit his wife’s employer CESA schools. It must be nice to be able to ensure your spouse’s job security when your own employment future is uncertain. It should be noted that Olsen received a generous $20,755 in campaign donations from the education sector relating to this bill.

Senator Robert Cowles (R – currently up for recall)

Cowles also supported the school voucher expansion legislation. It is interesting to note that until this year, Cowles was against such changes to public education. What made him flip flop on this issue? Was he holding out for an “offer he could not refuse”? While direct benefits for Cowles' support of this legislation may be revealed from the FOIA documents, he may be motivated to stay in close lock-step with his fellow repugnant republicans. After all they are supporting legislation which would ensure that in Wisconsin FOIA requests of elected officials will be very difficult if not impossible for citizens to obtain. What is trying to hide? Politiscoop has earlier reported that Cowles has a history of investments in the pornography industry which he may still hold as part of a blind trust. Cowles does not deny having had such investments but claimed to have sold when the State Journal reported on them. It should be noted that Cowles seems to have forgotten to report this trust in his statement of economic interests. Hello GAB? Are you listening? Of course not – but I am sure this question and many others will be raised when it is Kevin Kennedy’s (GAB) turn to be investigated.

Senator Alberta Darling – (R - Up for recall)

This Paula Abdul wannabe found the lime light recently when she bumbled through a speech incoherently touting the merits of the budget bill she so strongly supports.  Based on State donor records, Darling took in a mere $86,380 from advocates of privatization of our public schools. You would think for that price she could come up with a better defense of the budget than the blithering eight minute repetition of the words “families” and “independence” that she gave.

Senate Candidate John Nygren – (R - currently Assembly member)

Nygren appears to be an insurance business puppet with a voting history in Assembly of support for legislation that promotes private schools at the expense of public school funding. Although not yet in Senate, Nygren appears to be a prime candidate for the "Walker rubber-stamp Patrol”. FOIA documents may reveal a more direct motivation for Nygren’s advocacy for voucher programs.

Representative Robin Vos (R)

Last but not least, let’s consider Robin Vos. Vos appears to be the head madam in the Republican Parties Joint Finance Committee (JFC) brothel. The JFC recently voted to stop funding the Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund (which helps candidates running for legislative and statewide offices), and the Democracy Trust Fund assists state Supreme Court candidates. While Senator Lena Taylor (D) voiced opposition to legislation claiming that public funding for candidates “eliminate outside interest groups swaying an election”. Vos on the other hand, expressed his support for our representative being  “open for business” asking the rhetorical question: "Giving candidates no voice in their own election — is that a better democracy?" and added "I want the money to go through the candidates. I want them to go to the people and ask for $5, $10 or even $100." The people? Vos’s disclosed contributors include KochPAC, the Tavern Industry PAC, General Electric PAC, Pfizer PAC and Wal-Mart’s WAL-PAC and at least six other industry PACs.” Who knows what else the FOIA documents will turn up in this man’s closet?

The argument has been made that elections have consequences but the fact is is not JUST politics; there are peoples' lives hanging in the balance.  Our children’s education is our future. This isn't some sort of game of We win/you lose! The very fundamentals that America was founded are being trampled while our Legislators stampede to the corporation feed troughs.  Our our regulatory boards and courts do not give us fair hearing. People are quick to blame those in need of social support systems, but hesitant to point the finger at those responsible for the failure of our education, financial, judicial systems and of the infrastructure that once made America Great.

While we commend One Wisconsin Now and so many other citizen groups for their investigations of the individuals involved in this legislative Coup in our State we also have to ask why our Federal agencies are not also conducting investigations. It is time to wake up the Department of Justice in Washington DC and DEMAND a full investigation into the corruption infesting Wisconsin government. What do peaceful people do when the enemy has captured their fortress and is holding them siege? In earlier times there would be revolution and bloodshed. In our evolved times a State of the union should have recourse to Federal protection (at very least serious investigation). Has Wisconsin become an irrelevant to the federal government? Have they declared defeat on our behalf? Just how long will they wait or what will have to take place in order for them to realize that we are a people frustrated and oppressed and now, left no other recourse, -- reluctantly on the brink of open revolution.

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