Category: Wisconsin politics

How to make Milwaukee even worse

Vicki McKenna passes on this from retired Milwaukee police detective Steve Spingola:

Metropolitan Milwaukee is a land of makers and doers. At 5:30 a.m., the local interstate freeways are crowded with commuters en route to manufacture, construct, package and ship things. Southeastern Wisconsin is not Madison, Berkeley, Portland or Seattle; yet, anti-police activists have made inroads by bullying, intimidating or taking control of municipal common councils and police civilian review boards. Now, the mob is coming for two exemplary minority law enforcement professionals for simply doing their jobs.

Milwaukee Police Chief Al Morales is the idyllic leader of a big city police department. A life-long resident of Milwaukee, Morales rose through the ranks, making his mark as a homicide detective in one of the most dangerous cities in America. In 2002, a 20-year-old criminal defendant, just found guilty of homicide by a jury, disarmed a bailiff of a firearm in open court. Morales, who chaired the trial with an assistant district attorney, shot and killed the man in what he described as “an out of body experience.”

The major reason Chief Morales is so well respected by the officers he commands is his courage under fire. The son of Mexican immigrants, he has walked-the-walk. In Milwaukee, Al Morales is the one person standing in the way of the mob. Mayor Tom Barrett and leadership are an oxymoron. The Milwaukee Common Council, once a bastion of police support, has come to view the city’s criminal element as an emerging political constituency.

In early June, when a group of protestors attempted to walk onto the high-rise Hoan Bridge, also known as Interstate 794, during rush hour, non-peaceful protestors scuffled with officers. Milwaukee police deployed tear gas to disburse the unlawful assembly. Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, a man who has no law enforcement training, ripped Morales and the MPD’s Major Incident Response Team. In comments to the media, Hamilton said police should consider the motivations of protestors and, then, ignore the laws the so-called peaceful protestors driving on sidewalks, urinating on homes, throwing objects at police, and detonating fireworks, are trampling.

Morales, vis-a-vis his assistant chief, Michael Brunson, took issue with the Common Council’s depiction of events. “We have had five police vehicles struck by gunfire,” Brunson noted, and “forty-three business were looted on the first day alone.”

It was, however, when Chief Morales crossed the politically incorrect Rubicon that his job was suddenly in jeopardy. The day after the Hoan Bridge incident, Morales compared the physical and verbal attacks on his officers to the death of Christ. “Two thousand years ago, an angry mob came before people and said crucify that man…Law enforcement throughout our nation, law enforcement is being crucified.”

The references to God and service became too much for some on the secular progressive left. Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission soon issued a list of eleven directives to Morales. If these edicts are not fulfilled, Morales could be removed for insubordination. One of the directives demands Milwaukee police no longer use chemical irritants against protests of any kind. This directive caused several law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin to rescind an offer to provide officers for the mid-August Democratic National Convention.

Ironically, Morales isn’t the only minority officer under fire from those demanding racial justice. Wauwatosa — a suburb just to the west of Milwaukee — has a police department considered the gold standard in Wisconsin. One of the department’s officers, Joseph Mensah, has shot and killed three people of color in the last five years.

The first two shootings were ruled justifiable by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office, as well as the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. In the third shooting, which occurred February, a 17-year-0ld at a shopping mall pointed a gun with a thirty-one round magazine at an officer and discharged a round. Officer Mensah returned fire and killed the shooter. The incident was captured on officers’ body cameras. Yet five months have passed without the district attorney’s office doing what a fifth-grader could do: watch the video and find the shooting justifiable.

And now the mob is coming to crucify Mensah. In mid-July, the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission (PFC) suspended Mensah, even though Chief Barry Weber has not filed a single complaint against the officer. Officer Mensah has stated publicly that anti-police agitators have listed the addresses of his family and friends on the Web, and protestors have gathered outside the homes of PFC members.

Even more troubling is the Milwaukee media’s coverage of Mensah, which, on only one occasion prior to Officer Mensah’s suspension, noted that the officer himself is African-American. The anti-police journalists in the local media apparently saw no value in this critical detail. To the mob and its supporters, the narrative of a rogue officer on the lookout to shoot people of color was too powerful to undermine.

Fortunately, Officer Mensah is fighting back. As of this writing, supporters at his GoFundMe page have raised nearly $70,000 for his ensuing legal battle. And Chief Al Morales isn’t going down without a fight, either. Yet, if the mob can bully, threaten and intimidate in a metropolitan area of the makers and doers — the kind of people that make America tick – they will be empowered to use the same tactics across the country.

The school war

Jay Weber:

Ladies and gentlemen — Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald was genius, [Tuesday], as he laid down a marker on school reopening with the Governor.

This was genius and important move.

This came after Tony Evers told reporters he has no secret plan to close the schools …

And that comes — after we republicans and conservatives insisted this could be his next step. And it is. If he can pull it off. Trust me.

Gov. Evers has had WEAC and the five largest teachers’ unions in the state pressuring him for two weeks now- to force all classes on-line in fall. Not just in public schools- which are the schools these putrid unions represent-

But also private and parochial schools. The unions want to keep the schools closed to play cheap political games and help the democrats keep a blanket on the economy….until trump is voted out …

But they also don’t want to risk parents pulling their kids out of public schools and sending them somewhere else —  or — or — this is the bigger risk for the unions —

They don’t want a bunch of bad publicity and a PR war as the private and parochial kids go to school as normal in fall and thrive … as none of the kids get sick and the nanny-state worries are debunked.

Imagine if — by election day — if one set of schools was in nearly full operation and the kids were thriving and healthy and back with their friends and teachers…as MPS, Kenosha, and a bunch of the public schools had stayed closed and were still doing half-assed distance learning on line?

What a PR nightmare that would be for our public schools and the local school board members who are pro-union.so that’s what these union leaders are really worried about: if they are going to help out the democrat party and keep the public schools closed-they want assurances that their brand won’t be tarnished any more than it already is.

And so that is why the unions are pressuring Tony Evers to close all schools in fall and Gov. Evers was the state DPI head forever-and owes his entire adult career to the teachers unions.

They even shoveled over half a million dollars into his run for Governor.

And so — of course-Tony Evers is inclined to close down the schools … and i am certain … is planning to. And the issue has now gotten tangled up in his statewide mask mandate … which some Republicans want to repeal … and others don’t.

But as I said Monday — when i laid out both Fitz and Vos’s thinking —

One thing they are unified on is — if Gov. Evers moves to close down the schools via executive order — they will immediately reconvene the legislature and block that move.

This is a given-according to what Fitz and Vos have told me over the last few days. Gov. Evers will not get away with closing all WI schools via executive order and that’s the hill to die on, if it comes to that.

Not the mask order.

So — this had reporters asking Gov. Evers yesterday: do you plan to close down the schools?

To which he replied. Quote … I have no secret plan.

Okay … but that’s not a yes or no answer … to the question.

And so it is important to lay down the marker. As Fitz did. Because Tony Evers has lied to us … or ‘changed his mind’ … numerous times before and on the covid-19 issue alone.

Remember — Gov Evers said he had no plans to implement a state-wide shelter-in-place order … and then … less than a week later, he did it.

Evers said he had no plans to extend that lockdown order and then he did.

Evers said he had no plan to close the schools in spring when covid-19 hit and then he did.

And of course — for weeks — Gov. Evers said he had no plan to issue a statewide mask mandate- right up to the moment that he did it.

So Tony Evers has lied, or at least ‘changed his mind’, several times now. On covid-19 alone.

Evers said he had no authority to postpone the April 7 election. And then he attempted to.

And so — when he trotted out this claim on having no plan to close the schools-it was great that Scott Fitzgerald pushed back. Fitzgerald put out a statement a short while later, saying:

“I appreciate the governor’s statements that support in-person instruction, but actions speak louder than words. Earlier this spring, the governor flip-flopped on whether to issue a stay-at-home order. He flip-flopped on whether to move the April 7th Election,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m fearful that he will cave to pressures from liberal groups and backtrack once again.”

This seems like a minor thing. It’s not.

By issuing that statement, Scott Fitzgerald got statewide coverage and drew all sorts of attention to what the governor said … that it otherwise wouldn’t have received.

It is now — officially noted — that Governor Evers said he wasn’t going to close down Wisconsin’s schools in one fell swoop.

Everyone heard it — or heard about it.

And that is a very good strategic move, given that we know —

We know — the teachers unions have been exerting so much pressure on Tony Evers that he will do their bidding if he has an opening.

One of the arguments against having republicans challenge the mask mandate is — it gives Gov. Evers a way to scapegoat them as he closes down the schools.

The scenario is simple: the GOP forces repeal of the mask mandate … so Evers’ team watches the covid-19 numbers and waits for the next slight uptick between now and Labor Day.

And then says, see? See? Those damn republicans! Their repeal of the mask mandate has led to a new spread and now the governor has no choice but to close the schools. Blame it on them. Evil republicans.

I tell yah — this is what Evers and his evil handlers would wait for if the GOP repeals this mask mandate.

Evers needs the opening. The excuse. To shut down schools. That’s all he needs and the GOP shouldn’t offer themselves up as a convenient one.

In fact — if they allow the mask mandate to stay in place, and then Evers closes schools anyway, yet again, the Republicans will have the high ground.

They will be able to say: look, we let the illegal mask mandate stand, in part, so that we could get the kids safely back to school. But if you are going to close the schools anyway, then we’ll vote to block both items.

That’s how the Republicans should play this.

They already have Evers in a bit of a box when it comes to trying to close down the schools now — but Fitz planted a flag yesterday that everyone in Wisconsin could see:he got Evers ‘on record’ in every newspaper and TV station in Wisconsin: say what now, governor?You promise not to close schools?

Can you say that into the microphone for posterity, sir?

That’s what Fitz’s action was. It makes it far more difficult for Evers to simply ‘change his mind’ in a week or two and order all schools closed in service to his union masters.

And as for this idea that parents are worried about covid-19.

The left wing blogs are pushing this idea that parents are afraid to send their kids to school and the GOP and trump will be harmed by forcing this —

Bull plop.

All of these districts are taking parental surveys. And even in MPS, most parents said get my kid back to class. I think it was about a 60/40 mix.

And every poll i have seen out of every suburban district puts it at about 70/30 or better.

West Bend just polled their district.7 in ten parents said they want their kid back in school.

I believe Waukesha’s ratio was about the same.

Hey — in Waunakee — which is near Madison — the school board just reversed itself on an ‘all virtual’ opening after parents complained.

In the school district where I live, 80 percent of parents, who were surveyed twice, want their kids in school buildings.

And as local people of good will agonize over this decision on whether to reopen schools … the top democrats and union heads know the health risks are all bologna.

Seriously.

They know this is all about politics.

Some unions aren’t even really trying to keep it a secret. We have seen the LA, NY, and Chicago teachers unions all play extortion games that have nothing to do with covid-19.

They have reopening demands such as: we won’t reopen schools until the police are defunded. Until charter schools are outlawed. Until low income rents and mortgages are canceled and forgiven.

In Chicago: we won’t go back to class until the history curriculum is scrapped.

Honestly. This is a coordinated effort between the teachers union and Dem state lawmakers: we need to cancel history class because it only teaches about old white men, and their greatness. So … if you want the public school teachers back in class …

It’s extortion and has nothing to do with covid-19. The teachers unions are using covid-19 and our children’s education-as a political weapon.

And few things are more putrid.

This is truly awful, unconscionable stuff, people.

I don’t particularly have confidence in legislative GOP leadership. People have also forgotten that the state Supreme Court decision overturning Safer at Home specifically excluded schools, and indeed school buildings stayed closed through the end of the 2019–20 school year. So I’m not sure if Evers did close schools a reversal is legally likely.

 

Biden the COVID coward

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Whatever was left of an in-person 2020 Democratic National Convention evaporated Wednesday as organizers announced Joe Biden won’t be traveling to Milwaukee to give his presidential acceptance speech.

And neither will any of the other speakers who will address the Aug. 17-20 convention.

With the coronavirus pandemic paralyzing modern politics, Democrats will hold a virtual convention.

Biden will accept the party’s presidential nomination from his home state of Delaware.

Organizers said in a statement that there had been ongoing consultation with public officials and experts. The decision on speakers not traveling to Milwaukee was made “in order to prevent risking the health of our host community as well as the convention’s production teams, security officials, community partners, media and others necessary to orchestrate the event.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said: “From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first. We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives. That’s the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves. And that’s the leadership Joe Biden will bring to the White House.”

While the political logic of picking Milwaukee rested heavily on the urgency Democrats faced in winning back Wisconsin in 2020, the Biden decision is one more blow to the idea that this convention could provide an electoral boost specific to Wisconsin.

It also raises the stakes for the fall campaign as both Biden and President Donald Trump are targeting Wisconsin’s electoral votes.

Biden hasn’t campaigned in person in Wisconsin at all this year, although he has made several virtual campaign appearances aimed at voters here. In 2018, he appeared in Wisconsin on behalf of Democratic candidates.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton campaigned here during the primaries but did not make an appearance during the general election.

That doesn’t say much good about this state’s COVID-19 response under Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, does it? It does seem to render moot the question of whether Evers’ mask order will apply to the DNC, though.

As for hidin’ Biden, Michael Goodwin writes:

On Aug. 4, 2016, Clinton led Trump by nearly 7 points in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. That same metric now has Biden up by 7.4 points.

With apologies to Yogi Berra, if Biden isn’t careful, America could wake up in November with that déjà vu feeling all over again.

Just as military generals prepare to fight the last war, political consultants are prone to repeat the same errors that led to defeat before. The big one here is that Biden can play it safe, stay in his basement bunker, and take the oath next January.

For example, Biden has answered questions from the press just twice this summer, and the media obliged him with softball questions. It is notable that Chris Wallace of Fox News, a notoriously tough interview, recently grilled President Trump on his Sunday show, and then followed with an invitation to Biden that was promptly rejected.

The most fanciful part of the hidin’ Biden fantasies is the newest — that he can skip the debates and still get elected. I don’t see how that works.

For one thing, if there is anything voters, and Trump, can smell, it’s fear. And the mere entertaining of the idea that Biden could break with tradition that goes back nearly half a century and take a pass on face-to-face showdowns with his opponent may masquerade as strategy, but it is a sign of fear, plain and simple.

It is the fear that Biden will be unmasked as mentally unfit to be president. His deficiencies are not a secret to those who know him, and general-election voters have a right to see them clearly before they make their final choice for the presidency.

So far, Biden’s team hasn’t suggested he won’t debate Trump, but it is almost certainly something they have thought about. It’s even possible they have given a silent approval to the media Praetorian Guard floating the trial balloon to see if it flies. As of now, it’s still flying, unmolested by any hostile fire from other top Democrats. Where are Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi? Where is the Democratic National Committee? Where is Barack Obama on this one?

Their silence shows they, too, want to know if the no-show ruse will work. After all, they, too, must suspect that Biden cannot go for three 90-minute encounters with Trump and emerge intact.

Think what that means: It means the Biden campaign and the entire establishment of the Democratic Party are prepared to foist an impaired man into the Oval Office, uncertain that he can fulfill his duties. Trump Derangement Syndrome has done some strange things to people, but this one takes the cake.

In reality, if it became widely understood among independent voters that the insiders wanted Biden to skip the debates because they knew he wasn’t up to them, that would almost certainly lead to a Trump victory. Put it this way: Why would anyone who isn’t mad with Trump hatred vote for an opponent whose most intimate associates know he can’t do the job?

Although the first televised presidential debate is the most famous — the one between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960 — it wasn’t until 1976, when President Gerald Ford met challenger Jimmy Carter, that debates cemented themselves as a fall requirement. For the last two decades, there have been three each cycle, and one more between running mates.

Some have been enormously consequential, but most matter because they establish a baseline test of competence and readiness. With the coronavirus wreaking havoc on this year’s party conventions, the acceptance speeches by Trump and Biden will lose some of their excitement, giving their debates added significance.

If Biden doesn’t show, that will be conclusive proof that he’s not capable of being president.

 

Number 2? How?

Megan Fox takes an interesting concept but, as you will read, fails on a few levels:

If you are, like me, stuck in a state where coronavirus restrictions have turned your life upside down, bankrupted your business, and traumatized your kids, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, you might be considering a big relocation. There are plenty of states that are retaining liberty in spite of the Chinese flu virus that has a 99% recovery rate. If you are considering fleeing your state for a new one, then look into the following five states that scored the highest in a data-collection study by the financial site WalletHub, showing which states have the fewest coronavirus restrictions. (Please note that coronavirus restrictions change daily. It is possible that by the time this is published one or more of these guidelines will have changed so verify before you pick up and move.)

Mask logic

Tim Nerenz:

Good lord, I wish Facebook had way to block posts about masks instead of blocking friends; somehow this has turned into a caring contest, and so if you really care, consider what else you can do that is far more effective at protecting others than wearing a mask (which I do BTW).

Data and science, baby. The cloth mask does not protect you from the little covid bastards, and nobody has ever claimed it would. If you are outside of the range of transmission they have no effect whatsoever; you can’t hit a deer at half a mile with your bow and arrow, and that is why they don’t wear flack jackets and flip you the middle hoof if you scold them about it. European experts have set the perimeter at 1 meter outside and 2 meters inside don’t know why our folks don’t make the distinction – same data, same science.

What the cloth mask does is restrict the velocity of exhaled air flow to reduce the range of droplets which carry the shed viruses out of your body. If you are infected, you can reduce your risk of infecting others by 30% by wearing a mask to reduce your effective range. But that is not very much caring compared to what else you can do care a lot more.

When you pass someone at a walking speed, hold your breath – that reduces your risk of infecting others by 100%. Don’t talk to strangers, just like your mom said – that reduces your risk to others by 80%. Breathe through your nose – about 50% less velocity than mouth breathing. And (duh) cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands and don’t touch your face, again just like your mom said without a doctorate in virology. Stay home if you sick or contact-traced or return from travel to a place where it makes sense to play it safe for two weeks.

The data and science has said for a century that one little covid virus isn’t going to cause you any problems, it takes an army of the little bastards to storm the beaches and establish a foothold. After seven months and millions of cases, the covidian data and science says that 2 seconds passing by someone isn’t enough time for covids to get the job done; a couple of minutes at the checkout or drive-through window won’t either, and most now have plexiglass anyway – the worst Typhoid Mary could do is fog it up. Of course there can be exceptions and outliers – you could get TB or Polio or Ebola tomorrow too.

The data and science (courtesy of the local public health department in my German county) suggests that 10-15 minutes of direct face-to-face close quarters conversation with an infected person who is within 48 hours of showing symptoms puts you in range of the covid army. Maybe those kids texting each other on a date in the booth at a restaurant had it right all along – who knew? Elevators and crowded public transport puts in the right in the middle of several potential covid armies from all sides, so it is like going to covid Aleppo. Take the stairs and call an Uber if you can.

Near proximity for longer periods, say 1-2 hours, is also a risky move, so reconfigure your workplace and try to avoid the social security office. That is the problem with bars – we tend to stop caring after a few black russians with beer chasers, a pre-covid observation from my days back on the tour. Too close to too many people for too long. People my age already had our fun in taverns, let’s not muck it up for the young people who are unlikely to get severe symptoms by dying and giving the fun police a reason to shut the joints down over and over again.

Data and science tells us our risk of infection is more dependent on our own choices than what someone else chooses to do or not do; it is unreasonable to expect someone else to care about you more than you care about yourself. Personally, I do not find it to be a great inconvenience to wear a mask, although it does defeat its purpose when I have to pull it down to read the “must wear a mask in this establishment” sign because my glasses are all fogged up. A $9 neck gaiter solves that problem and my fellow humans are worth nine bucks to me.

But I find it even less of a bother to hold my breath when passing, not talking to people I don’t know, and breathing through my nose for a couple of minutes before returning to my normal mouth-breathing, knuckle dragging bad self. A few flights of stairs to avoid a crowded elevator is good for me – I was supposed to be doing that for the past 20 years anyway.

So to all my facebook friends who I love dearly, please don’t be selfish, don’t be unkind, and don’t be ignorant about the data and science. If you want to win the caring contest then, in order, practice good hygiene, keep your distance, hold your breath, don’t talk to strangers, and mask up when necessary, but remember to unmask as soon as it is not necessary. Don’t wear the damn thing around like it’s a jersey proclaiming your favorite team or a garlic necklace to keep the vampires away. It’s cloth, not kryptonite, and it is the least you can do to protect others – literally the very least thing you can do, so don’t expect a medal.

The data and science has been pretty clear and consistent since early February that flattening the curve meant stretching it out to 18 months or so. It would be nice to still have some friends left when this is over, don’t you think? 

How do we know Wisconsin’s mask mandate is a stupid idea (besides being illegal and unconstitutional)? Reuters reports:

The Dutch government on Wednesday said it will not advise the public to wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus, asserting that their effectiveness has not been proven.

The decision was announced by Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark after a review by the country’s National Institute for Health (RIVM). The government will instead seek better adherence to social distancing rules after a surge in coronavirus cases in the country this week, Van Ark said at a press conference in The Hague.

“Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the Cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks” Van Ark said. …

RIVM chief Jaap van Dissel said that the organization was aware of studies that show masks help slow the spread of disease but it was not convinced they will help during the current coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands.

Because counting is hard

Benjamin Yount:

There are questions about the numbers in Wisconsin’s coronavirus count.

The state’s Department of Health Services on Monday once again reported see-saw numbers when it comes to the number of people being treated in the hospital.

DHS said 250 people were hospitalized as of Monday afternoon. That’s a jump of almost 60 people in 24 hours. It is also the latest in what has been a series of up-and-down spikes.

The moving number of hospitalizations also comes with a warning. DHS posted an explanation on its website the data regarding hospitalizations is likely to change.

“Changes were made to the way hospitals report data by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), effective July 22. As adjustments are made to meet reporting requirements, data may appear different from expected,” DHS wrote. “We are working to make any disruption as short and minimal as possible.”

Those are, however, not the only changes to the state’s data.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said under-reporting and late reporting from public health managers in Dane County have put Wisconsin’s coronavirus count under a cloud.

“After the stunning revelation that Dane County had 17,000 unreported Covid-19 negative results that dramatically skewed the positivity rates in that county for at least three weeks, the public can no longer be assured that all state and local data is reliable without greater transparency and honesty from public health bureaucrats,” Nass said Monday.

The new broke last week that Public Health Madison & Dane County, the capital city’s joint public health department, did not report its negative tests results dating back to at least July 10.

Nass said Madison is Wisconsin’s second largest city, and a problem with the numbers there causes problems for the coronavirus numbers statewide.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the state positivity rate and many local county positivity rates are skewed significantly higher by the backlogs in reporting negative results,” Nass said. “While the development of backlogs was not intentional, the decision by public health officials to stay quiet about the existence of the backlogs was clearly intentional and terribly inappropriate.”

Nass said DHS need to make it clear that the backlogs are affecting the numbers the department reports each day.

There was no clarification with Monday’s report wherein DHS reported 590 positive tests and 6,356 negative tests. Wisconsin’s daily positive-test rate was at 8.5 percent.

When Wisconsinites die in the culture war

First, the Fond du Lac Reporter:

A Fond du Lac man was charged [July 9] with a hate crime after authorities said he intentionally crashed his pickup truck into a motorcyclist on July 3 killing the driver.

Daniel Navarro, 27, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, using a dangerous weapon and first-degree recklessly endangering safety, all as hate crimes. Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Robert Wirtz set bail at $1 million during an initial court appearance.

Fond du Lac County sheriff’s deputies responding to a report of the crash at Winnebago Drive and Taycheedah Way in the town of Taycheedah found the motorcyclist, 55-year-old Phillip A. Thiessen of Fond du Lac, dead in the roadway.

Thiessen was a former Marine and a retired special agent with Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation. He had previously been a police officer in Fairfax, Virginia.

“We do not believe that the suspect knew Phillip, had ever met with Phillip or had targeted him because of his background in law enforcement,” Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt said during a press conference Thursday.

According to the criminal complaint, police determined Navarro was driving east on Winnebago Drive when his pickup crossed the centerline and hit Thiessen.

A deputy at the scene asked Navarro if he heard him correctly about the crash being intentional and Navarro responded “yes, it was intentional, sir.” The deputy described Navarro’s demeanor as calm as he appeared to stare into the distance.

During interviews with detectives, Navarro said he believed he had been intentionally contaminated with a chemical sterilizer on his jacket by an employment supervisor in Ripon approximately a year and a half ago.

He went on to say, according to the complaint, that a friend poisoned him a year and a half ago, that he is still being poisoned by a neighbor and that he could hear one of his neighbors making racist comments through the walls of this residence.

Navarro told detectives that those who are poisoning him, giving him acid, and making racist comments are all Caucasian and targeting Navarro because he is Mexican.

He told investigators he took his red pickup, which is registered to his father, out for a drive in order to charge up the truck battery because he only leaves his parent’s house about once per week, the complaint states. He said he drove out in the county and saw the motorcycle, which he targeted because he believed it was a Harley Davidson driven by a white person.

However, Navarro was not aware of specifically who was driving the motorcycle because the headlight of the motorcycle was so bright.

Navarro’s parents said their son had been isolating himself and spent most of his time watching the news.

Now, Jake Curtis:

To many, the sound of a roaring Harley is iconic — an audible symbol of American freedom and ingenuity. To Wisconsinites especially, seeing a Harley on the road is a source of pride, as Milwaukee serves as the company’s global headquarters. Yet to Daniel Navarro, the sight and sound of a Harley represented white supremacy. As a result of that misplaced rage, over the July 4 weekend Navarro allegedly decided to take out his prejudice on Phillip Thiessen, swerving his pickup truck head-on into Thiessen. With the exception of a few local news outlets, the incident has received little attention. It simply does not fit with the national media narrative, so there will be no marches or protests commemorating Thiessen’s service-oriented life.

Five days after 2020 Tax Day …

Katherine Loughead of the Tax Foundation evaluates Wisconsin taxes:

Wisconsin, like every state, is experiencing a great deal of economic uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. States will need to use caution as they make revenue and spending decisions amid the ongoing public health crisis, but tax policy can play a valuable role in a state’s economic recovery, and policymakers ought to give careful consideration to tax policy changes that would help the state recover faster. Several structural tax changes are worth considering that would both promote a stronger economic recovery now while promoting stronger economic growth in Wisconsin for decades to come.

Wisconsin’s Current Economic Landscape

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate currently stands at 12 percent, which is both higher than the state’s peak unemployment rate during the Great Recession peak (9.2 percent) and higher than the current U.S. unemployment rate (11.1 percent). While the state saw 75,000 jobs return in May, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has issued a forecast estimating it will take approximately two years for the state to reach its pre-pandemic employment levels.

From a revenue standpoint, Wisconsin does have a notable advantage in that the state originally expected a sizable budget surplus for the current biennium (fiscal years 2020 and 2021). As a result, the revenue growth that occurred prior to the pandemic will help offset some of the state’s pandemic-related revenue declines that occurred this spring and will continue into the current fiscal year and likely beyond.

While Wisconsin’s April and May sales tax collections came in below last year’s April and May collections by 9.9 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively, as of May, total sales tax collections for FY 2020 were already 2.2 percent ahead of FY 2019 collections. Similarly, revenue from various business taxes, like the corporate income tax and the franchise tax, has already come in ahead of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s January 2020 forecast.

Now that Tax Day has come and gone, Wisconsin will soon have a better idea how much of the state’s individual income tax collections shortfalls were attributable to the delayed tax deadline and will thus be recovered in short order. While sales tax collections took an immediate hit during stay-at-home orders, they are likely beginning to stabilize. Corporate and individual income tax revenues, however, are expected to face steeper declines and take longer to recover, due to jobs and wages that will take longer to be restored.

Wisconsin’s Conformity to Federal Tax Provisions

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act made several changes to the federal tax code that will impact how state income taxes are calculated.

After the CARES Act was enacted on March 27th, the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate passed A.B. 1038, a bill that accepts some of the CARES Act’s tax changes but rejects others. Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed this bill into law on April 15th.

This law brought several of the CARES Act’s taxpayer-friendly tax changes into Wisconsin’s tax code, including the following:

  • An above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for charitable contributions made in 2020 (available for taxpayers who claim the standard deduction).
  • For Tax Year 2020, a lifting of the limit by which the deduction for charitable contributions can reduce taxable income (available to taxpayers who itemize).
  • An exclusion from income of certain employer-provided student loan assistance that is granted in 2020.
  • A waiver of penalties for certain coronavirus-related early IRA distributions, with distributions taxed over three years instead of all at once.
  • An exclusion from income for loan forgiveness received under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
  • A technical correction to the treatment of qualified improvement property (QIP), restoring QIP to a 15-year, rather than 39-year, cost recovery period.

It is also important to note that, after the federal tax reform law was enacted in 2017, Wisconsin enacted legislation (2017 Wisconsin Act 231) decoupling from two of the TCJA’s revenue-increasing provisions: the limitation on the deductibility of business net interest under § 163(j) and the limitation on the deductibility of excess business losses under § 461(l). As such, Wisconsin currently treats certain business interest expenses and losses more favorably than the federal government, so the CARES Act provisions that temporarily relieve certain federal limitations under those two sections need not be considered in Wisconsin.

While Wisconsin conforms to several of the CARES Act’s taxpayer-friendly provisions, there are some federal provisions to which the state does not conform that are worth considering in order to promote a stronger economic recover

NOL Carryback Allowance

Wisconsin does not conform to the federal tax code’s treatment of net operating losses (NOLs). In Wisconsin, if a business has NOLs, those losses can be carried forward up to 20 years to reduce future taxable income, but they may not be carried back to reduce past taxable income.

Prior to enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in late 2017, the federal tax code allowed businesses to deduct current losses against up to two years’ worth of past income taxes paid, but the TCJA repealed NOL carrybacks in order to offset some of the law’s rate reductions and other pro-growth reforms. The CARES Act, however, allows businesses that incurred losses in 2018, 2019, or 2020 to deduct those losses against up to five years’ worth of past income taxes paid. This allows taxpayers to file an amended return and receive a near-immediate refund of some of their past income taxes paid, which will be the lifeline many businesses need to survive this economic crisis and return to profitability in future years.

In many ways, NOL carrybacks are designed specifically for recessions, and Wisconsin should consider conforming to the federal NOL carryback allowance or offering an NOL carryback of its own in order to help more in-state businesses survive the current recession.

Unlimited NOL Carryforward Allowance

Wisconsin allows NOLs to be carried forward 20 years, and it does not conform to the TCJA’s cap that limits carryforwards to 80 percent of taxable income in any given year. However, some businesses have losses that extend beyond 20 years, which is one of the reasons the TCJA lifted the 20-year cap. The more generous a state’s carryforward policies, the more likely it will be that the state income tax will fall on the business’s average profitability over time.

Full Expensing Under § 168(k)

One of the most pro-growth tax reforms in the TCJA was a provision that allows investments in machinery and equipment to be deducted in the year those investments are made rather than incrementally over the depreciable life of the asset. The Tax Foundation’s General Equilibrium model shows that, at the federal level, full expensing can have a larger pro-growth effect per dollar of revenue forgone than even reducing the corporate income tax rate, and we can assume a similar effect at the state level.

As of July 1, 2019, 16 states conformed to the TCJA’s 100 percent bonus depreciation allowance under § 168(k), but Wisconsin is not one. Enacting such a policy would encourage in-state investment while removing a bias in the tax code that discourages investment, which would be a particularly powerful post-pandemic recovery tool.

Improving Wisconsin’s Income Tax Competitiveness

As Wisconsin looks ahead to the future, there are many tax policy changes worth considering that would make the state more competitive for decades to come. For instance, Wisconsin forgoes a significant amount of revenue each year by exempting many consumer goods and services from its sales tax base. Modernizing the sales tax base would make the tax code more neutral, and it would generate revenue that could be used to bring down some of the state’s less-competitive tax rates, including income tax rates. Wisconsin boasts the fourth-lowest combined state and average local sales tax rate in the country, but its income tax rates, including the corporate income tax rate and the top individual income tax rate, are among the highest in the Midwest region. Sales tax base broadening would allow Wisconsin’s sales tax rate to stay low and competitive while improving Wisconsin’s competitiveness in the other areas of the tax code where the state is falling behind.

Conclusion

Tax policy has an important role to play in helping states recover from the current crisis while paving the way for stronger economic growth for years to come. From a revenue standpoint, Wisconsin was better off than many states going into this crisis, but the policy decisions—including tax policy decisions—state policymakers make in the months ahead will have far-reaching implications for how quickly jobs and wages are restored in Wisconsin.

Whatever is done in taxes (and the answer will be “nothing” as long as the governor and the majority party in the Legislature are not the same) is insufficient unless accompanied by permanent (as in constitutional) spending controls.