The Koch brothers, their plans for the public utilities of Wisconsin, and whether Michigan might be next

    By now you’ve probably heard that Wisconsin’s union-busing governor, Scott Walker, got fooled into taking a call with a degenerate blogger posing as conservative billionaire activist David Koch. The call, which can be heard in its entirety on the Buffalo Beast website, is interesting for a few reasons. First, Walker confesses to having thought about planting trouble-makers among the peaceful protestors now occupying the State Capitol in Madison. Second, Walker seems to agree enthusiastically to the-fake-Koch-brother’s offer of flight to California to be “shown a good time,” as a kind of reward, once the unions are done away with. This is of particular interest as it’s likely Koch Industries will make a play for Wisconsin’s power utilities, once Walker privatizes them… But I’ll get to that a little later… First, though, I wanted to note Walker’s mention of Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder. Here’s that part of the transcript:

    WALKER: Brian [Sadoval], the new Governor of Nevada, called me the last night. He said he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends, and he was kidding me… He said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada, because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor. That’s all they want to talk about is what are you doing to help the governor of Wisconsin.” I talk to Kasich every day—John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio. I think we could do the same thing with Rick Scott in Florida. I think, uh, Snyder—if he got a little more support—probably could do that in Michigan. You start going down the list there’s a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something big.

    FAKE KOCH: You’re the first domino.

    WALKER: Yep. This is our moment…

    It kills me that the guy posing as Koch doesn’t press Walker further on this point and others, but I don’t guess he had much time to plan before placing the call and trying to bluff his way through multiple members of Walker’s staff. And, I also don’t think he wanted to say too much and tip his hand. I would have loved to have heard if Walker and Snyder had talked about the chances of doing something similar in Michigan, though. And, more importantly, I would have loved it if the fake-Koch-brother had gotten Walker to talk about his plans for Wisconsin’s power plants.

    You see, hidden in the 144-page Wisconsin budget bill, behind all the union-busting stuff, is a clause that would give the Governor the right to privatize the state’s public utilities. And, not just that, but to do so without first collecting bids. Here, with more on that, is a clip from Firedoglake:

    …Andy Stern frames the debate in Wisconsin correctly as a 15-state power grab to take away worker’s rights. Under the cover of a fiscal crisis created by Wall Street and a deep economic recession, right-wing politicians in Wisconsin and elsewhere are trying to pin the blame on public employees and strip them of their bargaining rights. This is a power grab.

    But this wouldn’t be a Republican power grab without some profit-taking for corporate allies, now, would it?

    The fight in Wisconsin is over Governor Walker’s 144-page Budget Repair Bill. The parts everyone is focusing on have to do with the right to collectively bargain being stripped from public sector unions (except for the unions that supported Walker running for Governor). Focusing on this misses a large part of what the bill would do. Check out this language, from the same bill:

    16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b)…

    Oh, and did I mention that the Koch brothers, who contributed $43,000 toward Walker’s campaign for governor – making them his second biggest backers – are in the power generation business? Oh, and the $43,000 they contributed directly to Koch’s campaign is just the tip of the iceberg. Here, by way of Mother Jones, are a few more of the ways the Koch brothers found to buy the election for Walker:

    …According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly…

    So, that should kind of explain why Walker made the time to take the call from David Koch. He owes him some utility companies.

    Welcome to 2011 America, where corporations can buy elections and be paid back with public utilities.

    Oh, and here, for those of you who are interested, is that call between Walker and the man he thought was David Koch…. Enjoy.

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      20 Comments

      1. Knox
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        If Koch gets a single one of those power plants, someone should go to prison.

      2. Edward
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        As for whether or not Michigan will follow, according to University of Michigan professor Jason Kosnoski, probably not. This comes from a local ABC affiliate.

        We sat down with Dr. Jason Kosnoski, a labor and politics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint for his read on the situation.

        The short answer to the question is no, Michigan is not likely to see anti-labor legislation like the scene in Wisconsin. That’s because Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on the campaign trail said at the very least he wouldn’t push to make Michigan a “Right to Work” state.

        But that doesn’t mean that public workers unions in Michigan should not be concerned about growing anti-labor legislation.

        http://abclocal.go.com/wjrt/story?id=7973456&section=news%2flocal

      3. Tim
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Not sure a politician saying they won’t do something is very strong evidence that they won’t do something. Particularly when the something in question redistributes money and power away from the proles.

      4. Edward
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        I agree, Tim, and I should have said as much.

        Here’s some good news.

        The relationship between Koch and Walker actually made the network news due to this prank call. That’s huge.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBD209nYHjM

      5. Kim
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Where is Black Jake, reminding us that the Koch brothers give millions to charity?

      6. Posted February 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Don’t look at me, my paid right-wing blogger union is on strike.

      7. Posted February 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know about that, Tim. I generally take a politician at his/her word when they say they won’t do something.
        But maybe that is just me.

      8. Meta
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Shall we take Obama for his word? Here’s what he had to say during the campaign.

        And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.

        http://my.firedoglake.com/mmonk/2011/02/24/will-obama-find-those-shoes/

      9. djnawesle
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        the koch brothers are mad sick djs

      10. K2
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        We don’t need Jake. Koch defenders are popping up online, noting all the good the brothers do. Some of it isn’t bad. They contribute a lot toward ballet and the arts. They also fund some anti Patriot Act stuff, I believe. You can read a list here. I’d argue, however, that it doesn’t offset the fact that they are working to establish a perpetual peasant class in the United States.

        http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/frrth/stop_the_koch_brothers_they_are_trying_to_end_the/

      11. MiddleClass
        Posted February 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        Michigan? THE NEXT BATTLEGROUND AGAINST THE CORPORATE JIHADISTS.
        The threat to workers in Michigan is far worse than the threat to workers in Wisconsin. Michigan’s ‘Rethuglican’ lawmakers have launched a stealth attack against worker’s rights – an attack planned and orchestrated by the national corporate jihadists who want to complete their destruction of the middle class and turn America into a nation of serfs.

        We need to realize that for these corporate extremists, taking away the rights of workers is part of a cultural war that they consider holy, a life cause, an end-goal: it is their jihad against the infidel working class. Fiscal constraint is the ruse, the sham, the scam they are using to sway the weak-minded and the gullible.

        Some of the actions currently being taken against the middle class in Michigan include over 40 bills introduced in the House and Senate since January 1, 2011.
        Some highlights:
        Bills Affecting All Michigan Workers, Union and Non-Union

        Lower the Wages of Michigan Workers
        o HB 4224, -25, -26 : These bills do away with the 1965 Michigan law requiring that prevailing wages be paid on state, county, municipal and public school construction projects; SB 0095 does the same for all state projects. Talk about a race to the bottom.

        Unsafe Workplaces Approved by Law
        o HB 4128, and SB0020 and 0014: These bills make sure there are no pesky worker safety regulations. This group of bills make it illegal – yes, illegal – to have any ergonomic standards for the workplace, and they repeal the Michigan Health and Safety Act. These bills do away with safety rules in non-union environments, too. What will this mean to, say, nurses? Hospitals won’t have to buy any safe-lifting equipment, and nurses who get hurt lifting 300 pound patients without equipment will be on their own. We know the Rethuglican lawmakers’ answer to that: “If you can’t safely lift 300 pound people by yourself, then don’t go into nursing.”

        These bills will affect every worker who lifts anything heavier than a pencil, who works with any equipment, or who uses any cleaning products or chemicals on the job.

        Bills affecting All Michigan School and Municipal Workers

        Break Labor Agreements
        o HB 4214, -15, -16, -17, -18 and HB 4246: These bills allow any school or municipal emergency financial manager to terminate any labor agreements, dissolve councils, commissions, and school boards, and consolidate services in schools, townships, cities, and counties.
        o HB 4141 specifically recommends school district “service consolidation”.

        Once the services are consolidated, the following bill will be of interest:
        o HB 4309: Repeals Public Act 57 of 1988, guaranteeing union contracts, seniority, pension, and retirement when communities consolidate. So once districts consolidate under 4214-18 and 4246, your contract, seniority, pay, and retirement are gone.

        You will Pay if Your Students Won’t Study
        o HB 4142: Teachers will be responsible for improving each student’s performance, despite all other learning factors – and woe to the teacher who drew a class of students who will not study. We all know there are many factors that determine a student’s learning: the student’s starting performance level; a home environment that fosters learning; parents who have and use a large vocabulary; adequate nutrition; adequate sleep; time spent studying; physical, mental and emotional health; and others. But these jihadists pretend to believe that despite all valid scientific evidence, it is teachers alone who are responsible for putting knowledge into the heads of students, magically overcoming all external factors contributing to a student’s lack of learning. When combined with other developments in Michigan, such as larger class sizes, this bill will make it impossible to attract new teachers, and help speed progress toward the corporate extremists’ goal of eliminating the public school system in order to have all schools controlled by corporations, purely for profit.

        Bills Killing Collective Bargaining Rights

        Here are the bills that Rethuglican Michigan lawmakers claim “preserve collective bargaining”. They get “A+” in Orwellian double-speak, and an “F” for honesty.

        “Stop that Organizing”: To make it difficult for unions to organize and function, the use of “taxpayer funded equipment and facilities” for union activities will be illegal (HB 4052). This means that teachers (or union members in any other place) can’t talk to their union rep in the workplace during break or after hours. That means meetings must be held in rented halls – not even public library meeting rooms could be used. This is intended to hamper organizing and communications between union members.
        “Kill all bargaining agreements”: In schools and cities, emergency financial managers are allowed to terminate any collective bargaining agreements. (HB 4214-18, HB 4246)
        “Kill all bargaining agreements, part 2”: Break any collective bargaining agreements regarding wages, seniority, pension, retirement, benefits when any public entity merges with another (which other bills encourage them to do) (HB4309, HB4310, HB4311, HB 4312).
        “No pensions bargaining”: Collective bargaining provisions for pensions are killed (HB 4159) – even retroactively, for retirees already collecting pensions.
        “No health insurance bargaining”: Collective bargaining regarding health care, employer health care contributions, and employee contributions for all public employees is banned – the employer and the state-level Rethuglican party get to dictate terms and conditions to the serfs (HB4159, 4172, SB-0007, HB4140, SJR-C).
        “No wage bargaining”: Collective bargaining agreements struck down for wages, for public workers. Mandatory 5% pay cut for all public workers in the entire state despite any collective bargaining agreements (SJR-B).
        “Right to work for peanuts”: Cities, counties, townships, and villages can establish anti-union zones that promote union-busting in private and public workplaces (SB 0120, 0116).
        “High pressure negotiations”: Wages and employer health care contributions will be frozen during contract negotiations, (assuming any negotiations ever occur again, after the other bills make it into law) thus voiding previous in-force agreements (HB 4152).
        “Stack the board”: In Detroit, allow the fire and police retirement board to be deliberately stacked against retirees, by barring selection of a retiree member of this board during any bargaining period (HB 4135).
        “No strike, no arbitration, you get nothing”: And last but not least, although the police and fire unions gave up the right to strike and agreed to binding arbitration in disputes, well, the Rethuglicans are taking away the binding arbitration provision (HB 4205).

        WAKE UP, MICHIGAN!

      12. TaterSalad
        Posted February 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Here is you typical Barack Obama supporter:

        http://noiri.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-obama-got-elected-by-these-voters.html

      13. TaterSalad
        Posted February 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Here is you typical Barack Obama supporter:

        http://noiri.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-obama-got-elected-by-these-voters.html

        ………and then we have this:
        http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=4zRbe3kv70A

      14. Edward
        Posted February 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Interesting video, Mr. Salad, bus I don’t see where it’s noted that these people interviewed are Obama supporters. I’ll agree with you that they’re stupid, but I think it’s more likely that what they have in common is a love of Fox News, and not one of Barack Obama.

      15. Edward
        Posted February 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Anonymous is taking down the websites of the Koch brothers.

        http://twitter.com/anonsdg/status/41981468393750528#

      16. Meta
        Posted April 5, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        2,000 people marched on the Koch Industries offices in DC yesterday. While much smaller Tea Party rallies get main stream news coverage, this didn’t get so much as a mention on the network news.

        http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/04/2000-protesters-march-on-koch-industries-d-c-office/

      17. Meta
        Posted April 14, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        Koch Industries are starting to reap the benefits of putting Walker into office.

        Shortly after helping to elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Koch Industries opened a new lobbying office in Madison near the state capitol. However, little has been disclosed about the Koch lobbying agenda in Madison. The New York Times reported that Koch political operatives privately pressured Walker to crush public employee unions. But Walker’s major payback to Koch relates to environmental deregulation.

        ThinkProgress has learned that the Walker administration, along with state Supreme Court judge David Prosser, has quietly worked to allow Koch’s many Georgia Pacific paper plants to pollute Wisconsin by pouring thousands of pounds of phosphorus into the water.

        Koch’s Georgia Pacific plants are well known for releasing large amounts of phosphorus into Wisconsin’s waterways. A report by the state government showed that Georgia Pacific is responsible for about 9% of total phosphorus pollution in the Lower Fox River near Green Bay.

        http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/13/walker-koch-phosphorus/

      18. Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know if this is the right Rick Scott thread, but I wanted to be sure to link to this article somewhere.

        Governor to EPA: Water guidelines aren’t necessary here

        Gov. Scott asks EPA to rescind federal water pollution control rules, saying the state already has guidelines in place that accomplish the same things.

        ….The day after the Florida House passed a bill to ban implementation of water quality standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday asked the agency to rescind a January 2009 determination that the federal rules are necessary for Florida….

        Can you believe this shit?

      19. Olaf
        Posted October 3, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        All kinds of weird evil shit coming out about Koch Industries yesterday.

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html

      20. Meta
        Posted March 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Here’s a great infographic about the Koch Brothers.

        http://politicalfiber.com/articles/11197/

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