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Scott Walker’s Next Target: Cancer Screenings For Women

First he gutted worker’s rights, then slashed state education funding and dumbed-down sex ed. Next on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s hit list? Breast and cervical cancer screenings for women. Come January 1, Wisconsinites who rely on Planned Parenthood to access free cancer screenings may be out of luck.

The Wisconsin Well Woman Program is an 17-year-old state service created to ensure that women ages 45 to 64 who lack health insurance can access preventive health screenings. It is administered by the Department of Health Services and provides referrals and screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and multiple sclerosis at no cost. The state currently uses a number of contractors to coordinate and provide those services, including Planned Parenthood. But now, in a move that could leave many women in the state without access to the program, the Walker government is ending Planned Parenthood’s contract.

In four Wisconsin counties, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider currently contracted as a coordinator for the cancer screenings. Coordinators evaluate women for eligibility, enroll them in the program, and then connect them to health care providers that can perform the exams. The coordinators also do community outreach, letting women know that there are options for preventative care even if they don’t have health insurance. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin has been a contractor since the program began—including during the terms of previous GOP governors Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum—but the group recently learned that its contract is being terminated at the end of the month.

Beth Kaplan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health Services, told Mother Jones that no decision has been made on the contract and would not comment on why it might not be continued. But Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, says they were told that the state is cutting them out of the program. “They have very clearly stated that they were ending the contract with us,” she says. [UPDATE: Walker himself has confirmed that the state is ending its contract with Planned Parenthood.]

Atkinson says the DHS cut is politically motivated; as far as she knows, her group was the only service provider whose contract was not renewed. The move puts in question what will happen to the more than 1,000 women that access the Well Woman Program through Planned Parenthood in Winnebago, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, and Outagamie counties every year. Doctors found 15 cases of cervical and breast cancer in the 1,260 women screened in those counties in 2010—cases that likely would not have been detected if women didn’t have access to the Well Woman Program. The county health officers in two of those counties have already issued statements decrying the state for targeting Planned Parenthood for the cut and for risking the health of their residents.

“If it’s not Planned Parenthood, then who’s going to coordinate? Where do women go?” Atkinson asks. “We don’t have any indication at this point.”

If Walker goes through with the cut, women like Laurie Seim might not get the services they need. Two years ago, the 52-year-old Seim discovered a lump in her breast and started feeling feverish and sick. Even though she had a part-time job as a medical assistant, she didn’t have health insurance and had never had a mammogram. The doctor she worked for sent her to the Well Woman Program coordinator at the Outagamie office of Planned Parenthood. She was able to get a mammogram the next day as well as an ultrasound, and both were covered by the program. Thankfully, she learned she had a cyst, not cancer. But without the program, she says, she probably wouldn’t have gotten that care.

“I didn’t have to worry about anything. It was such a godsend,” Seim says. “If I hadn’t been referred to that program, I don’t know what I would have done.” She worked in the medical field but still didn’t know how to navigate the system. “Well Woman was there for me.”

Planned Parenthood also provides some of the health screenings covered under Well Woman at other clinics around the state, including colposcopy, which is used to evaluate a women’s cervical health if she has an irregular pap smear result. But another bill that has been proposed in the Wisconsin State Senate would bar Planned Parenthood from providing those services, too. Senate Bill 331, sponsored by Republicans Mary Lazich, Glenn Grothman, and Pam Galloway, would block Planned Parenthood and any other health centers that also offer abortion services from being reimbursed for screenings through the Well Woman Program.

This isn’t the first time Walker and his allies in the Legislature have targeted Planned Parenthood. In June, Walker approved a budget that blocked state and federal funds from going to the group and any of its 27 health centers around the state. The clinics provide care to 73,000 women annually. And although there are already rules barring public funding from going to abortion services, Republicans in the state have gone after any and all money that goes to Planned Parenthood—even if it’s for services like cancer screenings.

“They’re willing to put their political ideology before women’s lives,” Atkinson says. “That’s really what’s happening here.”

December 17, 2011 Posted by | Women's Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gov Walker Plans To Celebrate Budget Bill With Felon Until Union Broadcasts Rendezvous

Today, Gov. Scott Walker will sign the controversial state budget bill into law. He was originally scheduled to sign his budget at Badger Sheet Metal Works, a private business operated by a man with six felony tax convictions, in Green Bay, at 2 p.m. on Sunday. However, now that Gregory A. DeCaster’s tax troubles have been publicized, the governor’s office has announced a new locationfor the ceremony: Fox Valley Metal Tech, also in Green Bay.

“While Mr. DeCaster has served his time in jail and paid his debt to society, it is fitting that the governor would choose to sign this budget at a business owned by someone who was once convicted of the felony of tax evasion,” said Marc Norberg, a Wisconsin native and assistant to the general president of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association.

Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said something quite similar earlier in the day when he told WisPolitics, “Green Bay, and certainly the company that we’re going to, reflects really what this budget and what Gov. Walker’s first term here is all about.”

Will the budget bill be a job creator?
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker chose to sign the budget at a manufacturer “to emphasize the budget’s focus on job creation.”

Gov. Scott Walker boasted that his budget proposals and other controversial policies have created 25,000 jobs in Wisconsin since the start of the year at a discussion led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday in Washington, D.C.

CMD contacted the Center for Wisconsin Strategy, a field laboratory for high-road economic development in the state for a bit of perspective on this spin.

“While we don’t think the governor has that much ability to affect overall employment … to the extent that he has, he has arguably hurt the state,” said Sam Munger, managing director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy’s Center for State Innovation.

Munger said a significant amount of provisions in the budget will end up destroying the quality of jobs that currently exist.

According to a recent Center of Wisconsin Strategy report, the 8 percent wage cut Walker issued to the 380,000 jobs under his control could cost Wisconsin about 22,000 additional jobs, “because families that rely on the income from their public-sector jobs will have less to spend in their local communities.”

“If you look all the way through the budget … his primary motivation has not been keeping jobs, it’s been remaking the state as a corporate welfare haven,” Munger said, citing Walker’s refusal of federal stimulus money and federal broadband money and his refusal to engage the state in other job-generating projects, while rewarding the wealthy and corporations with a range of tax breaks.

The budget’s cuts to municipalities will suck money out of localities, Munger said, adding that pulling money out of circulation will cost jobs in an indirect or induced way. In contrast to the rosy news coming from the Governor’s mansion, the most recent data from the Department of Workforce Development shows that unemployment increased in most Wisconsin cities in the month of May. The report shows that unemployment rates increased in 25 cities with a population of 25,000 people or more, with only Stevens Point experiencing a slight drop, from 7.9 percent to 7.8 percent.

Other budgetary measures that Munger said threaten job quality are cuts to childcare subsidies for working parents, making it more difficult to obtain unemployment insurance and rolling back child labor laws.

“Everything that he has done in the budget that related to jobs or employment has either killed jobs, destroyed the quality of jobs or been a giant giveaway to corporations,” Munger said.

 

By: Jessica Opoien, Opinion Writer, Center For Media and Democracy, June 26, 2011

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Economy, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Labor, Middle Class, Politics, Public Employees, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Tax Evasion, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Union Busting, Unions, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walkerville Activists Stand Strong: Peaceful Protest At Wisconsin Department Of Administration Offices

Dozens of Walkerville activists marched from the Wisconsin state Capitol to DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch’s offices at noon on Wednesday, June 15, to protest the former GOP state rep’s archaic Capitol security measures.

CMD learned while examining the drafting files at the Legislative Reference Bureau that Huebsch’s DOA gave the drafting orders for the collective bargaining section of the budget bill. Huebsch’s top political appointee, Cynthia Archer, served as a top aide to Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County Executive.

The group roared “Who’s House? Our House!” as they entered the Department of Administration building on East Wilson Street. Protesters weren’t able to schedule a meeting with Huebsch – considered by many to be Governor Scott Walker’s top ally, and the architect of his 2011-2012 budget – but still managed to hang “unWANTED: Mike Huebsch” signs in his personal office and throughout the building.

Pilar Schiavo, an activist with the People’s Rights Campaign and Nurses United, led the peaceful procession. She stressed the danger of overlooking Huebsch’s involvement with Governor Walker’s anti-middle class agenda, and the need to repel his efforts to crush “the public’s right to assemble.”

“We feel like it’s important to pull Mike Huebsch out of the shadows. He’s really been responsible for the shutting down democracy within the capitol, and he’s had his hand in creating the budget,” said Schiavo.

One protestor taped an “unWANTED” sign, which read “Suspect is believed to be dangerous and armed with the unlawful eviction of The People from the Capitol” to Huebsch’s desk chair. With protestors still inside the building, a DOA receptionist began taking down the posters, citing their “offensive” nature.

Protestors hang signs inside the Wisconsin Department of AdministrationThe mood remained hopeful despite yesterday’s announcement from the Supreme Court legalizing Governor Walker’s collective bargaining legislation. Schiavo reminded the crowd that in spite of recent setbacks, victory looms on the horizon for the Wisconsin workers’ rights movement.

“People need to remember that this is a long fight, and that we’ve been successful already. We were able to hold that law for months. This is a long term struggle – the Walker agenda has been in the works for 30 years.”

 

By: Eric Carlson, Center for Media and Democracy, June 15, 2011

June 16, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Freedom, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Labor, Middle Class, Politics, Public Employees, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Democrats Must Fight Back Against Wisconsin GOP Shenanigans Or Risk Losing

A potential bombshell development out in Wisconsin.

As you know, Wisconsin Republicans have hatched a scheme to meddle in Dem primaries in order to delay the recall elecions against GOP state senators in a last ditch maneuver to save their hides.

Now a top labor group heavily involved in the recall wars is responding: It is publicly sounding the alarm about the GOP tactics, and arguing that Democrats must respond in kind or risk failing to take back the state senate.

We Are Wisconsin — which is one of the biggest labor-backed groups involved in the fight — has just issued a public statement stating that it would be in the interests of Democrats to respond to the GOP shenanigans by running their own candidates against Republicans in GOP primaries, just as Republicans are doing to Dems.

In a major development, the group argues that the strategic and on-the-ground implications of the GOP tactics are far more complex and serious a threat to Dem chances than has been publicly explained. They argue that if Republicans do this and Dems don’t, the GOP will be able to dictate the election calendar with a free hand, deciding which general recall elections happen on July 12th and which on August 9th — a huge strategic advantage for Republicans.

Without GOP primaries, the group argues, GOP state senators will automatically advance to the general recall elections, allowing Republican voters in their districts to vote for the fake, GOP-backed “Democratic” candidates in the Dem primaries, making it more likely that the real Dem loses the primary and doesn’t even advance to the recall election. (If there’s also a GOP primary, Republican voters won’t be able to vote in both primaries under Wisconsin law.) And without GOP primaries, all the unlimited outside national conservative money could be channeled into boosting the fake “Democrat” and annhilating the real Dem. The group concludes:

Given the situation Republicans have so despicably concocted to manipulate these recall elections, it is the opinion of We Are Wisconsin that it would be in the interest of Democrats to run candidates in the Republican primaries to ensure the dates of the general election are predictably on August 9th, and that Republicans are forced to win a primary election instead of diverting their unlimited resources to back their “fake” candidates against “legitimate” Democrats. To that end, it would be in the interest of flipping the Wisconsin Senate that interested Democrats contact the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

This opinion is not rendered lightly. This is the most cynical manipulation of the Wisconsin electoral process in our state’s history, and is being done by a Republican party that has demonstrated no respect for the rule of law and our state’s tradition of clean elections and good governance. Unfortunately, however, after evaluating the strategic implications of their despicable tactics, to simply stand idly by would amount to unilateral disarmament and would almost certainly thwart the will of the hundreds of thousands of voters who support recalling Republican Senators in the upcoming elections.

Democrats and liberals have repeatedly described the GOP tactic of meddling in Dem primaries as a dirty trick designed to rig the recalls, and conservatives are now likely to cry hypocrisy. But it’s clear that the situation created by the GOP maneuver is far more complex and potentially dire for Dems than previously understood, and without a Democratic response, Dems would in effect be consigning themselves to defeat by tying their own hands behind their backs while Republicans manipulate the law to their advantage.

The question now is whether Dems will hear this message and respond in kind.

 

By: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, June 10, 2011

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Labor, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Public Employees, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Justice Delayed: Wisconsin Recall Elections To Be Held July 12

A Dane County, WI judge has approved a request by the state Government Accountability Board (GAB), which oversees elections in the state, to delay some state Senate recall elections and consolidate them into one day on July 12. In the course of making that decision, the judge turned back Democratic objections that some of their recalls should proceed as quickly as possible in June.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Signatures were filed against senators starting April 1, and under tight timelines in the statutes, the first election could have been scheduled in mid-June. But Dane County Judge John W. Markson agreed to give the accountability board more time to evaluate the petitions and schedule the elections.

He agreed the board needed more time because of the unprecedented demands on evaluating tens of thousands of signatures for each recall attempt. He also noted the board is bogged down by a statewide recount in the April 5 election for state Supreme Court.

The GAB had sought the extension primarily on the grounds that the extraordinary number of recalls was straining their capacity to review signatures. On the other hand, as WisPolitics reported on Thursday, Democratic Party attorney Jeremy Levinson had argued in a court filing that delaying any of the recalls would do damage to the Dems, and create political space for the Republicans to do mischief with the extra time:

Levinson argues delaying the matter would give the incumbents an “extra-statutory” fundraising advantage, and leave representation of those districts “an open and pending question.”

In addition, Levinson argues that delaying the recall elections may result in laws being enacted that would not be if the recalls are held in the time frame permitted by statute.

“The rush to put ‘Voter ID’ and the concealed carry of firearms before the legislature — to say nothing of the pending budget — confirm that this is an entirely concrete concern,” Levinson writes.

In addition, as Jessica Arp from the local CBS affiliate reported from Judge Markson’s court hearing, Levinson also argued that the earliest petitions, against state Sen. Dan Kapanke and state Sen. Randy Hopper, were filed so quickly as a deliberate decision on the Dems’ part, in order to have the recalls move forward quickly while the issues are still fresh in the public mind.

Ultimately, though, Markson declared that it had become difficult or impossible for the GAB to meet the statutory deadline, and that the public would be better served by having the recalls held on a single day.

The state Senate currently has a 19-14 Republican majority, with Democrats hoping to pick up three seats in recall elections and win a majority, in a backlash against Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation. In order to initiate a recall, signatures of at least 25 percent of the number of voters in the previous gubernatorial election, within the targeted district, must be collected in a 60-day window.

Democrats have filed recall signatures against six Republicans: Dan Kapanke, Randy Hopper, Luther Olsen, Sheila Harsdorf, Alberta Darling and Rob Cowles. Republicans have filed recall signatures against three Democrats: Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch.

Under Wisconsin’s recall law, elected officials must have served at least one year of their term before being recalled — thus exempting the half of the Senate that was just elected in 2010. In addition, Dems have also declared their intention to recall Walker himself next year, when the one-year exemption runs out.

By: Eric Kleefeld, Talking Points Memo, April 29, 2011

April 30, 2011 Posted by | Collective Bargaining, Elections, Gov Scott Walker, Politics, Public Employees, State Legislatures, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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