Bad Deeds for 4-12-2012

Wisconsin Equal Pay Law Repealed Because “Money Is More Important For Men” – The Republican Governor of Wisconsin, with little notice or discussion, repealed the state’s Equal Pay law. For Scott Walker, it was no doubt the most logical step in his ongoing war on women and the working class, as the Equal Pay Law protected not just women but any protected class.

Republican state senator Glenn Grothman, who was an enthusiastic fan of repealing the law. According to Grothman, not only is there no actual pay gap between the sexes, if there was one it wouldn’t matter anyway. After all, men need money more than women do, since they have families to support. “You could argue that money is more important for men,” he told Goldberg. “I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”

Grothman’s views on women in the workplace is very 1960s sitcom to start with, but his understanding of breadwinning is even more so. Many families have two breadwinners, as both partners either chose to or have to both be in the workplace. And the majority of families lead by just one parent have mothers at the helm.

Then again, when asked about his source for his figures that prove there is no wage gap between the sexes, Grothman stated it was Ann Coulter.

The Top 1% Had a Fantastic 2010 at the Expense of Everyone Else – In 2010, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. The bottom 90% of Americans lost $127, the bottom 99% of Americans gained $80, and the top 1% gained $105,637. This chart shows that the very richest Americans have seen the fastest bounce back in terms of income (the blue line is the richest 0.1 percent, while the red is the richest 1 percent):

Texas Schools Having to Make Do On a Shoestring – For public school districts in Texas, this has been the year of doing without. Texas lawmakers cut public education financing by roughly $5.4 billion to balance the state’s two-year budget during the last legislative session, with the cuts taking effect this school year and next.

The budget reductions that districts large and small have had to make have transformed school life in a host of ways — increasing class sizes, reducing services and supplies and thinning the ranks of teachers, custodians, librarians and others, school administrators said.

Superintendents have been cutting back on everything from paper to nurses and have had to become increasingly creative about generating revenue. They are selling advertising space on the sides of buses and on district Web sites, scaling back summer school, charging parents if their children take part in athletics or cheerleading and adding periods in the school day so fewer teachers can accommodate more students.

In suburban Fort Worth, the Keller Independent School District eliminated 100 positions and some sports teams and no longer has uniformed officers providing security after it canceled contracts with local police agencies.

One Central Texas district, Dripping Springs, reduced its custodial staff and has relied on teachers to pick up the slack. Janitors now visit the classrooms every other day, leaving teachers to clean and sweep their rooms on the off days. Off day or on, teachers also must collect their trash and set it in the hallway, part of custodial changes aimed at saving the district $149,000.

In Hutto, a district with 5,600 students and one high school, administrators cut $4 million from this school year’s budget, eliminating 68 positions and taking the unusual step of temporarily shutting one of its elementary schools. The school, Veterans’ Hill Elementary, will stay closed for two years to save the district $1 million annually, and its 500 students, including two of the superintendent’s children, were sent to other schools. The only way to transfer the students was to take another unusual step: all fifth graders were moved out of elementary schools and into middle schools.

The district must trim an additional $1.2 million for next school year, and proposals include charging for bus service, canceling instructional field trips and eliminating music and art teachers in elementary schools.

“It’s almost like slow death,” said the superintendent, Douglas Killian, during a visit to Veterans’ Hill, where the classrooms are now used by adults as part of a higher education center run by Temple College and Texas State Technical College. “We’re being picked apart. It’s made a tremendous morale issue in the district. I’ve noticed that folks are a lot more on edge.”

From the previous school year to the current one, districts across Texas eliminated 25,286 positions through retirements, resignations and layoffs, including 10,717 teaching jobs, according to state data analyzed by Children at Risk, a nonprofit advocacy group in Houston.

However, several lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature have played down the impact of the $5.4 billion in cuts on schools statewide. In an interview in February with The Dallas Morning News, Gov. Rick Perry said he saw no need for a special legislative session to restore some of the education funding that was eliminated last year and said the schools were receiving an adequate amount of money.

More Bad Deeds From State Board of Education Member David Bradley – The Examiner, a Southeast Texas newspaper based in Beaumont, calls the controversy over two State Board of Education campaign fundraisers last weekend “another embarrassment for David Bradley.” The editorial today recounts a list of shenanigans by a ringleader of the state board’s far-right faction over the years, including:

Bradley’s indictment on a charge of violating the state’s Open Meetings Act in 2002
Bradley’s support for new social studies curriculum standards in 2010 that even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has said are filled with “political distortions.”

Claims by a former state board member (and fellow Republican) that she felt so threatened by Bradley that her husband asked the Texas Education Agency to post an armed guard at board meetings.

And now someone who publishes instructional materials, David Barton, has been a featured speaker at two campaign fundraisers for Bradley, who sits on a body that approves instructional materials for use in public schools across Texas. The Texas Freedom Network has called on the district attorneys in Jefferson (Beaumont) and Harris (Houston) counties — where the fundraisers were held — to determine whether Barton’s fundraising help violated state law.

Republican primary voters will have a chance to end this embarrassment on May 29 by voting for Rita Ashley, a former teacher, Legislative Director for the Chairman of the House Public Education Committee, and Clerk for the House Public Education Committee.

Wisconsin Republicans Repeal Equal Pay for Women Enforcement Act – Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a bill repealing a 2009 law that that made enforcing equal pay laws easier, proving that Wisconsin remains among the most combative turfs in the war on women.

The 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act allowed individual victims of wage discrimination to bring their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system rather than only in federal court as is typically the case with wage discrimination claims. Gov. Walker had until 5:00 p.m. Thursday to sign the repeal and he did, with as little hoopla as possible.

State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee), the authors of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, criticized Walker on Thursday for not informing the public of his actions on SB 202. “We are finally starting to see progress here in Wisconsin, yet like their counterparts across the country, Legislative Republicans want to turn back the clock on women’s rights in the workplace,” said Hansen.

Sign the DGA petition right now to tell Governor Walker that we will not let this latest assault on women’s rights prevail without a fight.

“Pro-Life” Republican Govornor Prefers Dead Babies Over Health Care For Illegal Immigrants – When Republican Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed the country’s first 20 week abortion ban back in 2010, he was eager to prove his stripes as a “pro-life” legislator.

That same session, he also vetoed Medicaid funds that would provide prenatal care for undocumented pregnant women, saying he couldn’t support any taxpayer dollars going to illegal immigrants, despite the fact that their children would in fact be citizens of the country.

When the unicameral legislature originally enacted the ban, they soon tried to find other ways to fund prenatal care for undocumented women rather than through taxpayer funds after learning how dire the consequences could be for the babies if a woman didn’t have access to health care. They were told about a “4 percent death rate during the first year of life for those babies whose mothers had no prenatal care at all. The high death rate has many factors, including that mothers who don’t get prenatal care may be less likely to take their children to doctors after birth. But prenatal care does play a role,” too, the health expert informed them.

Still Heineman’s threat to veto any bill that tried to get funding to these women kept the politicians at bay. This, despite the fact that doctors were reporting women who were choosing to have abortions rather than continue their pregnancies because they couldn’t afford prenatal care.

Koch Brothers, Worth $50 Billion, Sue Widow Over $16.00 of Nonprofit’s Stock – With the Koch brothers, it’s all about control. They reign over the largest private oil company in the U.S. with estimated revenues of $100 billion. They wield power over a sprawling network of nonprofit front groups with unbridled influence over everything from the Tea Party to economics professors at publicly funded universities. Forbes lists their personal wealth as $25 billion each. They own mansions in the toniest towns in America. And last week, in a decidedly Scrooge-esque maneuver, they filed a lawsuit against a widow who lost her husband to a stroke a mere four months ago over stock she inherited in the Cato Institute worth a measly $16.00. It’s part of the Koch brothers plan to take over the Cato Institute.

Millions in Texas State Jobs Program Funds Go to Only a Few Companies for Low-Wage, High Turnover Jobs – Millions of dollars in state subsidies designed to stimulate job creation have gone to a handful of Houston-area employers, mostly in industries where wages are low and employee turnover is high, a Houston Chronicle analysis shows. While 1,150 companies have signed up for the program – which provides up to $2,000 for each qualified worker hired – just 11 firms have claimed more than half of the $6.6 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Leading the list are Wal-Mart, which has collected $704,200 for hiring 404 employees, and ACS, which received $509,600 for bringing on 305 workers, according to data from the Gulf Coast Workforce Board. ACS operates call centers, information technology support, medical billing and human resource consulting services.

Rick Levy, legal director for the Texas AFL-CIO in Austin, questions the logic of subsidizing Wal-Mart. The giant retailer already has received 10 percent of the total funds and potentially can more than double that because it has another 459 employees enrolled in the program.

The second-biggest local user, ACS, a Xerox subsidiary, stands to receive as much as $462,000 more in wage subsidies – on top of the $509,600 it already has received – if another 231 employees who are enrolled in the program stay on the job for at least 120 days. While ACS was receiving wage subsidies in 2011, however, it also was handing out pink slips.





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About Jim Vogas

Texas A&M Aggie, Retired aerospace engineer, former union member, Vietnam vet, Demcratic Party organizer, husband and father.

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