Madison — As large labor protests continue at the Capitol, the Wisconsin National Guard has toured more than one prison in the state, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The Journal Sentinel reported Monday that National Guard members last week had toured Redgranite Correctional Institution with its security director. On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie, spokeswoman for the National Guard, confirmed that other prisons had been visited as well.
“I can confirm that members of the Wisconsin National Guard have visited some of our state’s correctional facilities but I stress these visits are part of our routine contingency planning,” Guthrie said. “There have been no orders to provide essential services at Wisconsin’s correctional facilities — the governor has not declared a state of emergency.”
Longtime members of state unions stressed that they are not planning prison strikes but also said they have not seen such visits by National Guard members in the past.
Guthrie had initially said Monday that Guard members had not visited Redgranite before issuing the statement Tuesday. She said that she could not say the last time such a routine visit had been made to a prison.
… [Lenny] Wright, [president of the union that represents the prison's correctional officers] said he had worked as an officer at Redgranite for 10 years — almost the entire time the prison had been open — and had never heard of such a visit by the National Guard. Bob McLinn, president of AFSCME Council 24, said that in 27 years as a correctional officer he had also never heard of such a prison visit.
Update, 4:16pm, 2/22
In other news, new poll results out, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Madison — The polls are coming fast and furious as the public weighs in on the budget battle in Wisconsin.
According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll released Tuesday, 61% of those polled would oppose a law in their state that would “take away some collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teacher’s union.”
Of those polled, 33% would back such a measure.
The survey of 1,000 adults was taken Monday night.
Link to USA Today article.
Update, 7:25AM Pacific, 2/23
From Capital Times:
The bill allows the Walker administration, without approval of the Public Service Commission and without a competitive bidding process, to sell off or lease the state’s several dozen energy plants to private companies.
The state can sell the energy plants “with or without the solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state,” according to the rather circular wording of this clause, which then concludes that “any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest.”
Two of Walker’s biggest backers are the secretive conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries, the largest privately owned company in the U.S. with 70,000 employees and annual sales of $100 billion in the fiscal year 2008. Among their holdings in Wisconsin are significant lumber and coal interests, a network of gasoline supply terminals, and a toilet paper factory.
The Koch brothers’ political action committee gave Walker $43,000, his campaign’s second highest donation, and helped to fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent, according to pieces in Mother Jones and other publications. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett lost by five points.
And then this bill comes out and opens the door to the privatization of the state’s power plants.
Adding to this interesting political snarl is the fact that the guy Walker put in charge of the office that will oversee these potential power plant sales — though some people worry they will be more of giveaways than sales — is Jeff Plale. Remember him? He is one of the two Democratic senators who at the very last minute defected from the Democratic ranks to vote against state employee contracts last fall.
Around a month later, Walker handed the former South Milwaukee Democratic legislator the $90,000 post as the administrator of the Department of Administration’s Division of Facilities. And now he is busy defending the administration’s move to sell off the state’s power plants as no big deal.
Here is more from Forbes.