Email date: 11/2/07
In this update:
1. Pigpen to Charlie Brown: It’s all cleaned up!
2. Complete profile of Ziegler’s campaign finances now online
3. The Legislature at its worst
4. New ethics watchdog looking to fill top staff posts
You know the old saying that a picture’s worth a thousand words. A good editorial cartoon has to be worth 10 times as many. This one says all that needs to be said.
For the nearly four months that the state budget stalemate dragged on, we saw the Legislature at its worst. We are seeing it again with the mad rush to pass AT&T’s cable TV bill. When you’d think our elected officials would insist that AT&T give Wisconsin a cable deal at least as good as the company agreed to in Illinois, lawmakers here seem to have been rendered blind, deaf and dumb by AT&T’s public relations and lobbying blitz.
A front group for the company, TV4Us, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV ads promoting AT&T’s position. The company has spent more than $200,000 on lobbying at the Capitol so far this session, and has given current legislators and the governor more than $352,000 in campaign contributions including over $28,000 in the first half of the year while the bill was being prepared for introduction and sailed through the Assembly.
Then just a few days ago, AT&T and its allies released a poll aimed at sealing the deal in the Senate. After you read the poll results, read a little about the polling firm, which prides itself on shaping public opinion rather than measuring it.
AT&T’s bill passed the Assembly on a 66-28 vote in early May and then was just approved by the Joint Finance Committee 13-3 on Wednesday. It has been scheduled for a vote in the full Senate next Thursday. So far, lawmakers haven’t been willing to do what even some of the proposal’s original backers have been doing . . . namely reading the bill’s fine print and looking at AT&T’s track record on keeping past promises. That’s leading to second thoughts. To see what we mean, go here and here.
The new Government Accountability Board created by the ethics reform law enacted earlier this year has been formed and is now taking on the task of filling top staff positions. Its first hire will be a legal counsel who will head the new enforcement agency. The Democracy Campaign testified at a public hearing yesterday on what the new board should be looking for.