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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
Number of posts: 53,475

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"Self-policing" in the financial industry


For skimming $1.3 million, 2 Baird workers quietly fired, never charged

Some embezzlers who get caught go to prison, serve years of probation or at least must pay the money back. But for embezzling $1.3 million from R.W. Baird & Co., a pair of former employees who administered the company's payroll only got fired and barred from ever working in the securities industry again.

That's according to the discipline imposed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, a private organization made of up member securities firms. FINRA primarily acts as a self-policing agency, most often settling disputes between customers and stockbrokers, or between brokerage firms, and sometimes enforcing big fines against rule breakers. But it can also serve as a quiet mechanism for imposing at least some sanctions on workers who rip off their own companies.

The former Baird employees, Rochelle Maureen Matthews and Linda Whitmore, each signed letters of "acceptance, waiver and consent" with FINRA last year. The agency announced summaries of the actions in monthly FINRA discipline newsletters in April and May, about 18 months after Baird discovered the embezzlement.

The letters say neither woman admits or denies the findings, but accepts them for the purpose of the proceedings — "without an adjudication of any issue of law or fact." The FINRA orders do not indicate any fine imposed or restitution required.

Wisconsin: Mike Tate to step down as party chief


Mike Tate, the face of the state Democratic Party for the past six years, will step down as party chief at the end of his current term. “This is not a job you do for a career, but one you have the honor of holding for a short period of time where you try with all your might to do everything you can to grow the party and help elect Democrats,” Tate wrote in an email obtained by the Journal Sentinel. “Accordingly, today I am announcing that I will not seek another term as chair at our convention in June.”


A little more than two months ago, Tate’s team suffered major losses up and down the ballot, failing for the third time to defeat Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is now considering a presidential bid in 2016. All three branches of state government are now firmly in GOP control.


Tate’s announcement is expected to set off a battle between a veteran party official, a relative newcomer and perhaps others at the summer convention. Former state Sen. Joe Wineke, a 58-year-old Verona Democrat who led the party for two terms prior to Tate, confirmed that he is definitely running for the job he held from 2005-'09. He said he held off making an announcement until Tate decided wheter he would run again. "I didn't agree with everything Mike did, but I respect him," Wineke said. He said as many as nine people are weighing a bid, but he expects only two or three to actually follow through and make a formal bid.

Also considering a run is Jason Rae, a 28-year-old Democratic National Committee member and campaign strategist based in Milwaukee.

Good riddance. Tate's record is so poor one wonders if he's merely incompetent or working for the other side.

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO on Scott Walker's state of the state

from my email ...

Brothers and Sisters,

Last night, Governor Walker delivered his fifth State of the State speech. While much of his agenda continues to be at odds with the priorities of Wisconsin’s working families, we were pleased that he did not use the speech to push so-called “Right-to-Work” legislation. Although he’s supported the idea in the past, more recently he has indicated that he does not think this should be a priority at this time. As we remain vigilant in our monitoring of any movement toward this unnecessary and destructive legislation, we are committed to finding common ground on issues impacting the people of Wisconsin in this upcoming session.

These include investment in new infrastructure. The need to address our neglected roads, bridges, railways, etc., should not be a matter of partisan debate. Rebuilding Wisconsin’s infrastructure will create new, good-paying jobs and improve quality of life for all Wisconsin citizens. Democrats and Republicans should be able to come together to address this urgent need.

Governor Walker also discussed his proposal for eliminating and consolidating multiple state agencies. We could support smart reductions in bureaucracy that improve service at a lower cost to taxpayers, but we are concerned that this approach could also eliminate important regulations that keep workers safe in the workplace, and protect consumer rights and public safety.

A major legislative priority outlined in the Governor’s speech was a school accountability bill that will force failing public schools to become privatized charter schools. While we need accountability in our schools, it’s important to make sure all schools are treated equally and held accountable to the same standards. In the past, we have seen the rhetoric of “reform” used mainly to attack unionized teachers and give for-profit operators the chance to make money on students’ backs. Wisconsin – and Milwaukee in particular – has seen numerous attempts to attack public education through that strategy. We believe every student in our state deserves access to a quality, public education. Where it has been embraced, school privatization has not yielded the desired educational outcomes. We’ll continue to fight for policies rooted in results rather than ideology.

Governor Walker also talked about his tax plan. His plan focuses on property taxes, although he failed to provide specifics on the impact of any proposed tax cuts given the state’s grim $2.2 billion budget deficit. As the Governor and the legislature consider changes in the tax code, they must be guided by the principle of fairness. Previous tax cuts have often been weighted to mostly help those at the top, resulting in the large budget deficits that our state faces today. Smart tax relief should be targeted at those who truly need it, while making sure those who are doing best pay their fair share.

Finally, and unfortunately, Governor Walker didn’t address some of the other challenges facing middle-class families. For example, he continues to reflexively oppose all federal funding, which means we will continue to miss out on the opportunity to get our federal taxes back on many transportation projects and to pay for healthcare access for those who need it. That means Wisconsin tax dollars benefit people in other states while we get worse transportation options and higher healthcare costs. This is simply bad public policy.

Wisconsin continues to face many challenges. Working families lack sufficient opportunities to get ahead. In the coming legislative session, Wisconsin needs a pro-worker agenda that puts the middle class first, prioritizes public education, expands access to health care, and safeguards your rights in the workplace.

While there are areas of potential common sense cooperation, yesterday’s State of the State speech reminds us that we cannot let up in our efforts to protect the economic well-being of working Wisconsinites. We will continue to keep you updated throughout the legislative session and encourage you to stay engaged with your elected representatives to make sure they put working families first.

In Solidarity,

Phil Neuenfeldt
President, Wisconsin AFL-CIO

Stephanie Bloomingdale
Secretary Treasurer, Wisconsin AFL-CIO

It's pretty clear that Walker thinks "right to work" will interfere with his Presidential ambitions.

Wisconsin: Walker proposes merging all state agencies into one giant Department of Corruption

Wanker obviously has noticed that the Housing and Economic Development Authority has some money that can be stolen, so he wants to merge it with his favorite fraud tool, WEDA, the agency that hands out millions to his backers, with no accountability, not even tracking of millions of dollars of loans.


Walker calls for merging several state agencies, says Wisconsin can be leader

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker is calling for merging four state agencies into two, saying Wisconsin can be a leader in making government more efficient and accountable to the public.

Walker proposed in his State of the State speech Tuesday that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation be merged with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. He is also calling for merging the Department of Financial Institutions with the Department of Safety and Professional Services.

Walker says he believes that government has grown too big and is too intrusive in people's lives, but it still has to work to do.

He did not provide any estimated savings, or impact on state workers, in his speech.

Read here to see how the Urinal/Sentinel whitewashes the corruption of WEDA ...


On the other side of the aisle, state Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) said he was wary of the plan, pointing to the problems that followed a 2011 move by Walker and lawmakers that converted the then-state Department of Commerce into what is now WEDC. Barnes called the creation of WEDC a "failed experiment" that had to be reshaped because of mishandling.

"WEDC has been habitually reckless," he said.

In October, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that with its nontraditional structure WEDC has outpaced Commerce in quickly responding to companies looking either to move to the state or expand operations here. But the newspaper's review also found that in the rush to make those changes, WEDC relaxed its watch over taxpayer money, failing for a time to track systematically $12 million in past due loans originally made by Commerce.

Since then, the agency has improved its financial safeguards but struggled to repair its reputation.

The Progressive: The GOP’s new ploy to destroy Social Security


The GOP has a fresh strategy to attack Social Security: pitting older Americans against people with disabilities. The Social Security trust fund supports retired workers, while the Disability Insurance Trust Fund provides for working people of all ages who become too disabled to work full time. According to the Social Security Administration, the trust fund has enough money to pay full benefits until 2034, but the disability insurance fund will need to be replenished next year in order to avoid cuts of approximately 20 percent for its 8.9 million recipients.

Congress can keep both funds solvent through 2033 by simply shifting a small percentage of money from the trust to the disability insurance fund, according to the Social Security Administration. It has done this type of reallocation routinely almost a dozen times to shore up both funds. But one of the first actions of the new House majority was to pass a rule change by a vote of 234-168 prohibiting any reallocation that isn’t accompanied by cuts to recipients or increases in revenue.

Rep. Sam Johnson, R- Texas, a chief proponent of the measure, said he is trying to keep the “fraud-plagued” disability program from “raiding” the retirement fund. This assertion is nonsense. Disability insurance fraud rates are miniscule. A 2013 Government Accountability Office report concluded that only about 0.4 percent of beneficiaries may receive payments they don’t deserve.


The GOP can only achieve its elusive dream of gutting and privatizing Social Security by first creating an imaginary crisis. Don’t fall for it.

Wisconsin: Democratic legislators respond to Squatty Wanker's State of the State speech


MADISON – Tonight, Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) released the following statement about Governor Walker’s State of the State address:

“The State of the State address is traditionally reserved for a Governor’s victory lap of their successes. Unfortunately, Governor Walker doesn’t have too much to brag about because he’s failed to put Wisconsin families first.

“Governor Walker failed our economy by creating a 2.2 billion dollar deficit. Governor Walker failed our workers by falling short on creating the jobs we desperately need and refusing to give Wisconsin’s working families a needed raise. And Governor Walker is failing our children by refusing to make the necessary investments in their future.

“In contrast, Democrats are focused on restoring economic opportunities, creating opportunities for our children to succeed and protecting our personal freedoms. That is our vision for the State of the State.”


Madison, WI - Representative Lisa Subeck (D-78) made the following statement in response to Governor Walker’s State of the State Address:

“After four years of putting politics ahead of people, Governor Walker again fails to put Wisconsin families first. In his State of the State address tonight, Walker offered no tangible policy solutions to help struggling families in our state. Instead, he offered a series of gimmicks, claiming to reform state government but offering no real benefit to the public. Walker touted property tax declines, neglecting to mention these decreases have left schools and local governments strapped for dollars needed to provide basic services.

In his address, Governor Walker painted an artificially rosy picture of Wisconsin’s economy and current state of affairs. In reality, the state faces a $2.2 billion structural deficit and consistently lags behind our Midwest neighbors in job creation, wages and other economic indicators. At the same time, Walker’s policies on education and economic development continue to move our state backward.

Only one week into the legislative session, Republicans have already launched attacks on our public schools with a fast-tracked bill that takes away local oversight of neighborhood schools under the guise of school accountability. This comes on the heels of last session’s statewide expansion of a failed private school voucher program and is nothing more than an attempt to further decimate public education, handing over our schools to Walker’s special interest campaign donors.

Instead of focusing on an extreme right wing agenda and catering to special interests, Governor Walker should refocus his efforts on growing Wisconsin’s economy and ensuring all Wisconsin residents have the opportunity to prosper.

Wisconsin: Scotty GaGa

"Controlling? No, I'm not controlling."


H/t Senator Chris Larson:

Scott Walker shared his State of the State speech ahead of time, applause breaks included:

I'm sure all the Koch employees applauded on cue.

Mitt Romney says he considered going to France but ....

... there was no reason to go as there is no longer a draft.

Wisconsin legislator tries to shift the dialogue on charter schools, gets schooled

Here in Wisconsin, Assembly Bill 1 (AB 1) is a naked attempt to undermine our public schools while funneling education dollars to the Republican's friends charter schools.

My sister sent each of the members of the Assembly Committee on Education an email on the topic, the gist of which reads ...

These charter schools have at best no better a record than our public schools, and too many of them have a dismal performance record. Some of the failing charter schools have shut down without warning as owners abruptly leave the state, taking our tax dollars with them. In addition, we have no doubt that political ideology will play a prominent role in curriculum development and mandates.

Well, she got a response from one of the Committee members who wrote, in part ....

"... an overwhelming theme of communications to my office to this point is that most individuals simply share their points of contention with the bill. I would certainly appreciate hearing solutions offered for an equitable system to improve the performance of students at our persistently under-performing public schools and private schools in the Parental Choice Program. Feel free to share specific ideas via email or at the hearing."

My sister, wise woman that she is, let him have it ....

Dear Rep. Thiesfeldt;

We appreciate your prompt response to our concerns. You write that you would appreciate hearing solutions. While we're not educators, we can suggest some obvious solutions.

1. Recognize and acknowledge that our education problems weren't created overnight, and they won't be solved overnight. Quick fixes won't accomplish anything, especially since the roots of the problem are societal, and educators can't solve them; we have to address the societal problems.

2. Make K-12 education a field bright young people want to go into. That means first and foremost, treat educators as respected professionals, not the scapegoats for everything that's wrong with society (and not in their control). Provide full college scholarships to high-achieving high school students to major in education in exchange for a commitment to teach for a given number of years.

3. Provide mechanisms for adequate funding of public education. Our children are our future; why would we want to minimize the costs of something so critically important?

4. Recognize that some areas regarded by some as 'frills' are not frills. Don't cut funding for music, for example -- it involves simultaneously learning an entirely new language, higher-level math and the physics of sound in time and space. An avalanche of studies are demonstrating that children who study music and learn to play an instrument are gaining intellectual ability and self-discipline in all other areas as well. If legislators don't believe educators about this, ask neuroscientists.

5. Provide under-performing parents with support and guidance in parenting skills -- this should begin the day an infant is born and continue through the school years.

6. Establish family-friendly employment laws so that parents have the time and energy to provide a home environment in which their children can flourish.

7. Create and expand programs to ensure that children receive adequate nutrition, health care and a roof over their heads. How can they learn when they're hungry, sick and homeless?

8. Teach the public that 'elite' is not a dirty word. Americans once were proud to think of our country as elite -- the best in the world. We are rapidly losing ground globally to countries that emphasize and invest in education. If we think 'elite' is undesirable, how can we motivate our children to become the best they can be? They all want to become elite professional athletes because that earns status and recognition -- use the power of the media to which you have access to promote the position that intellectual achievement is the most exciting and worthwhile thing young people can aspire to. Create recognition and award programs for academic achievements that get as much attention and status as school athletics does.

America cannot thrive if the goal of education is teaching 'job skills.' We must teach children to think, question, experiment and contribute to the sum of human knowledge. We cannot survive as a nation of serfs and lords -- that day is long gone.

More here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/108413975

Aaron Rodgers welcomes Chris Christie to Lambeau


'New York Bozo!' Aaron Rodgers welcomes Chris Christie to Lambeau

On second-and-2 on the Green Bay Packers' opening drive on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, quarterback Aaron Rodgers called out an audible that — best guess — had a funny little double meaning.

"New York Bozo! New York Bozo!" Rodgers shouted as he scanned over the defense.

Hmm, let's see ... who is the most talked-about guest of a certain Cowboys owner? Yes, we imagine this was the Packers' response to New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his infamous red sweater being pals with Jerry Jones and a guest at the divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field, as well as several other big games this season dating back to Thanksgiving.

Yes, New Jersey is not New York, but it's one fewer syllable. Same difference in some folks' minds, maybe in all Wisconsinites' minds Sunday.

Take that, Omaha.
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