Daily Archives: March 16, 2011

Think Progress: Property Rights And the Kochs

March 16, 2011- If I walked over to David Koch’s lawn and tore up all the grass, he’d probably feel that the basic principles of a free market society require me to be punished. After all, that’s his property. And then there’s what happens when the Kochs want to pollute someone else’s river:

The complaint alleges that a Georgia-Pacific paper mill on the Coffee Creek in Arkansas – owned by the billionaire Koch Brothers -emits 45 million gallons of paper mill waste including hazardous materials like ammonia, chloride, and mercury each day.

Coffee Creek then flows into Louisiana’s Ouachita River where the pollutants have left the formerly pristine water speckled with odorous foam, slime and black pockets of water, said Jerry Johnson, who has been visiting the Ouachita River for 35 years.

“People used to swim in it,” said Johnson, who now lives along the river. “In the summertime, it was the place to go.”

Press Release: USW Slams Walker’s Assault on Democracy

March 10, 2011-

Contact: Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444

(Pittsburgh) – This statement was released this morning by the United Steelworkers (USW) on actions taken last evening by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican Senators.

In a clear violation of Wisconsin’s open meeting law, Wisconsin conservative senators yesterday voted without a quorum to strip the state’s public sector workers – teachers, nurses, and librarians – of collective bargaining rights that the people of Wisconsin granted them a half century ago.

United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard said this attack on the rights of Wisconsin’s public sector workers is an attack on all working people. “Although Wisconsin law requires a quorum when Senators vote to spend the people’s money, these conservatives exploited a loophole to vote without a quorum on legislation to steal workers’ rights. This is not democracy,” Gerard said.

Scholoar As Citizen: Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here)

March 15, 2011-

A Study Guide for Those Wishing to Know More

After watching the sudden and impressively well-organized wave of legislation being introduced into state legislatures that all seem to be pursuing parallel goals only tangentially related to current fiscal challenges–ending collective bargaining rights for public employees, requiring photo IDs at the ballot box, rolling back environmental protections, privileging property rights over civil rights, and so on–I’ve found myself wondering where all of this legislation is coming from.

Assault on Cub Food Protesters

Can you spot the thug in this video? Hint: It's not one of the union guys:


What happens when you complain to Cub Foods about working conditions for the workers who clean the stores? Protesters and customers found out at a Cub store on March 15th when a security officer assaulted and pepper sprayed them.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker donor wins tax break in budget

March 6, 2011- Things are tight at the statehouse, but not so tight that Gov. Scott Walker couldn't find room in his proposed state budget to insert a tax break for some in Wisconsin's prefab home industry.

And it's a tax break that would benefit one of his biggest contributors – Wausau Homes in Rothschild.

Same old, same old Madison politics?


Maybe not.

It is true that the firm's co-owners and the co-founder's wife donated a total of $25,000 to Walker's campaign fund last election. The trio has also been active with the tea party movement and Americans for Prosperity, which helped organize tea party events.

Also, the head of the association that represents the prefabricated home industry said Friday that Wausau Homes would benefit from the Walker budget provision, which proposes exempting certain prefabricated homes made in Wisconsin from the sales tax if they are to be shipped to and located in another state. The state estimates that this would cut state revenue by more than $500,000 over the next two years.

Economic Policy Institute: The sad but true story of wages in America

-By Lawrence Mishel & Heidi Shierholz

March 15, 2011- Recent debates about whether public- or private-sector workers earn more have obscured a larger truth: all workers have suffered from decades of stagnating wages despite large gains in productivity. The current public discussion illogically pits state and local government employees against private workers, when both groups have failed to sufficiently benefit from the economic fruits of their labors. This paper examines trends in the compensation of public (state and local government) and private-sector employees relative to the growth of productivity over the past two decades.

This paper finds:

• U.S. productivity grew by 62.5% from 1989 to 2010, far more than real hourly wages for both private-sector and state/local government workers, which grew 12% in the same period. Real hourly compensation grew a bit more (20.5% for state/local workers and 17.9% for private-sector workers) but still lagged far behind productivity growth.

The Republic: NJ withdraws from lawsuit seeking judicial oversight over pollution issues

March 12, 2011- New Jersey has withdrawn from a lawsuit brought by several states that sought to have five electric utilities cut the greenhouse gases emitted by their power plants in 20 states.

State Attorney General Paula Dow notified the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday that New Jersey "will no longer be a party" to the case, though the decision was not publicly disclosed. The Associated Press obtained a copy of Dow's March 11 letter to William K. Suter, clerk of the Supreme Court, which was signed by Deputy Attorney General Lisa J. Morelli.

Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for Dow, told the AP on Saturday that the "lawsuit that was originally filed in 2004 has been effectively mooted by the 2007 Supreme Court decision declaring that the regulation of greenhouse emissions is a federal issue."

In an e-mail, he added that, "Considering the Supreme Court's ruling and the Obama Administration's subsequent position that the EPA must determine an appropriate plan of action, it does not make sense to incur further taxpayer expense on an unnecessary lawsuit."

Grist: Koch-funded group mounts cut-and-paste attack on regional climate initiatives

March 16, 2011- Fresh off last year’s successful defeat of federal climate legislation in the U.S. Senate, the oil baron Koch brothers and their dirty-energy buddies are now bent on dismantling one of the nation’s last hopes for doing anything about climate change in the near term: regional climate accords.

Today, a total of 32 states are active participants or observing members in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeast, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, or the Western Climate Initiative.

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