No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

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Archive for May, 2011

May 28, 2011

Pre-vacation quick smashes

by @ 10:59. Filed under Miscellaneous.

Sorry about taking the unplanned break this week – i had to prep for the first fishing trip of the year. There’s a “few” items that need commenting upon:

  • David Prosser won the recount by 7,004 votes, a drop of 312 votes from the pre-recount 7,316-vote margin. JoAnne Kloppenburg is now on the clock for what is widely expected to turn into Grand Theft Courts, and we’ll know one way or the other on Tuesday.
  • Fiat needed some serious federal refinancing in order to get to a near-majority position in UAW Motors. They tried and failed to get $3.5 billion on the private market, so they reduced their planned Energy Department loan to $3.5 billion and used that to pay off the higher-interest-rate loan from the Treasury Department. I will note that they did put in $2.4 billion of their own money to finish paying off the Treasury part of the loan, and that it apears the entire $1.7 billion owed to the Canadians was out of Fiat’s pockets entirely.
  • The day after the Department of Justice suggested Maryann Sumi recuse herself from the collective bargaining case because she filed a prejudicial brief on the DOJ/Department of Administration petition to the Supreme Court, she decided to prove that suggestion justified. It’s not surprising she did that, because compliance with the state Constitution is voluntary in the Kingdom of Dane, but the most nitpicky of nitpicks apply with devastatingly-harsh force to the enemies of the Kingdom.
  • It looks like the Rats will have their Rolling Recalls after all. They managed to throw up enough smoke to delay consideration of the three targeting their kind, and something tells me even if the GAB asks for a further extension of the deadline to call for elections, the Dane County judge that gave them the first extension and opened the possibility of the first 8 happening on the same day won’t do that again.
  • DOOM! Part 1 – Initial unemployment claims went up unexpectedly again. Just as “unexpected”, the prior week’s numbers were revised upwards the 11th week in a row.
  • DOOM! Part 2 – The Senate Rats once again believe no budget is necessary. After all, the continuing resolutions are continuing the $1.5 trillion deficits, and DOOM!sday is expected to be August 2 (coincidentally, I’ll be out of town that day as well).
  • At least the Legislature is moving right along. The FY2012-2013 budget is taking shape, voter ID is about to become law (on June 9 unless another Lawgiver-In-Black decides to have a hissy fit), and multiple versions of concealed carry are percolating up and out of committee. Life is good in Wisconsin.
  • On the Presidential horserace front, Tim Pawlenty (I wish it were T’Pau) is in, Mitch Daniels is out, and Rick Perry is waffling on whether to get in or not. Meanwhile, the conservative glitterati are acting like children on a road trip continuing to ask Paul Ryan if he’s in yet.
  • The Brewers went from pretender to contender with the just-busted 6-game winning streak. Now watch them go back to pretender before I get back.

Have a good weekend everybody. Do take some time on Monday to remember those who gave all so we can live in the greatest country in the history of mankind.

May 20, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – DONE!

by @ 18:31. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Waukesha County has filed its certified recount numbers with the Government Accountability Board, while Iowa County snuck in a revised set of certified numbers a bit before that point. With all 3,602 reporting units recounted, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting Justice David Prosser has beaten challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,006 votes, 310 votes less than the pre-recount 7,316-vote margin. The Associated Press (via WLUK-TV) has the totals as Proser 752,697, Kloppenburg 745,691. Final numbers from the GAB are not yet available, however; therefore, I don’t have an updated spreadsheet just yet.

The Journal Sentinel further reports that, since the GAB expects to certify the results on Monday, Kloppenburg will have until May 31 to file a judicial appeal, which will be heard by a reserve (retired or defeated for re-election) judge of Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s choosing. Kloppenburg’s campaign says that decision will come after they review the evidence, while Prosser’s campaign issued a statement that said it was not warranted. Quoting from the statement, “As an attorney, Ms. Kloppenburg would know she has a ‘right’ to go to court, and as an attorney she should recognize it’s not the right thing do.”

The reason Iowa County revised their canvass was they were informed by the GAB that 4 ballots, all for Kloppenburg, were “improperly rejected” by the board for not having proper signatures. According to the GAB, ballots lacking proper signatures can only be rejected if either there were more ballots than voters or the issue was uncovered in absentee reconciliation. Since neither happened, Kloppenburg was awarded those 4 votes.

Revisions/extensions (9:25 pm 5/20/2011) - The GAB has released the certified Waukesha County numbers. However, I have not updated my spreadsheet after reviewing both the daily tracking spreadsheet and the various county-certified spreadsheets. In a few other counties, there are still some unexplained differences between the daily tracking spreadsheet, the county-certified spreadsheets, and the minutes from the recount, where only two of three were the same. Notably, not all of the differences were between the daily tracking spreadsheet and the minutes.

In sum, the differences don’t change Prosser’s margin of victory much. If one uses the numbers from the county-certified spreadsheets found on the county-by-county certified numbers/minutes page, Prosser’s margin of victory changes to 7,004. If one adjusts the numbers from the county-by-county certified numbers page for the instances where the canvass and minutes (where available) do not agree by substituting the numbers from the minutes (and the daily tracking spreadsheet) for the numbers on the certified spreadsheets, Proser’s margin of victory changes to 7,005.

It’s too late for me to update the spreadsheet tonight to reflect any of this. I should have it up tomorrow.

R&E part 2 (6:48 am 5/21/2011) - Typo corrected; thanks to DINORightMarie for the catch.

May 19, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 21 (and all-but-done)

As I type, Waukesha County is working on the process of certifying its results after finishing the physical recount about 2 pm yesterday. With unofficial numbers from all of Waukesha County except the city of Muskego, most of the city of Waukesha, and most of the village of Summit (the last was reported to the Government Accountability Board but was still under review as of this morning) available from the GAB as of this morning, and certified numbers from the other 71 counties, 3,545 of Wisconsin’s 3,602 reporting units have been reported and at minimum reviewed by the Government Accountability Board, representing 1,477,284 of an original 1,498,880 votes. On a net basis, Justice David Prosser gained 368 votes over his pre-recount total in those 3,545 reporting units, challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg gained a net 678 votes over the pre-recount total, and an additional 162 “scattering” were recorded over the pre-recount total. That means Prosser lost 310 votes of his pre-recount 7,316-vote lead, and has an unofficial 7,006-vote lead.

Waukesha County is expected to finish the process of certification either today or tomorrow. Indeed, just before the board of canvassers broke for lunch, they completed the final canvass of Muskego. Once the certified results are transmitted to the GAB (note; if they’re transmitted electronically, they’ll be on the GAB county-by-county certified results/minutes page in short order), the 5-business-day window of opportunity to file a judicial appeal of the recount begins. If Kloppenburg, as the sole losing candidate, does not, do so, it will be Humpbot Time as Prosser is declared the official winner.

Since my last update on Monday, Kloppenburg penned an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel where she denied having made up her mind on whether to challenge the inevitable recount defeat in court, then proceeded to spend the remainder of the op-ed outlining why many, including both myself and the majority of the Journal Sentinel editorial board, believe she has already made up her mind to do so.

The Associated Press, in their Wednesday wrap (copy courtesy the Appleton Post-Crescent), decided to focus on the raw recounted numbers, without any perspective on either what the pre-recount numbers were in the same reporting units or what the change of margin has been, to repeat its Election Night “mistake” of giving Kloppenburg and her entourage false hope. For those who were tracking their numbers in the days following the election, they waited for several days after the failure to report the results of the city of Brookfield became common knowledge to correct their erroneous numbers.

May 16, 2011

Monday Hot Read – Reince Priebus’ “Tell the White House We’re Running on Empty”

by @ 13:32. Filed under Politics - National.

RNC chair Reince Priebus posted the following over at RedState today (emphasis in the original):

The summer of 2010 was supposed to be the Summer of Recovery. That’s what President Obama told us. It wasn’t and now nearly a year later, unemployment remains unacceptably high. With gas prices at nearly $4.00 a gallon and on the rise, the forecast for the summer of 2011 isn’t looking much better.

America is $14 trillion in debt. We’re running trillion dollar deficits which President Obama says are necessary to dig us out of the recession. The problem is Hope Isn’t Hiring and the unemployment rate recently ticked back up to 9.0%.

Today, the number of unemployed Americans stands at nearly 14 million. Finding a job in the Obama Economy is tough enough as it is, but with gas at nearly $4.00 a gallon, even getting to the interview has become a challenge.

That’s how these record-high gas prices really hurt – putting yet another burden on already overburdened Americans struggling to make ends meet. With fuel and grocery costs on the rise combined with dropping home values, Americans are now caught between a rock and a hard place – unable to afford the gasoline they need in order to drive to work, a job fair, interviews, or even just the grocery store to buy food.

A recent NBC poll had the President’s approval on the economy plummeting to 37% – the lowest of his Presidency. It’s easy to see why. In addition to restricting access to our own domestic energy resources, Democrats want to increase taxes on producers, which will only result in consumers paying more at the pump.

Together let’s send this President a message. It’s easy; just take a picture of the pump the next time you fill up. Then, upload those pictures to your favorite social media site. If it’s Facebook tag Barack Obama in the picture. If it’s Twitter mention @BarackObama in your tweet and include the hashtag #Obamanomics.

Enough is enough. Let’s hold Democrats accountable so we can get America working again.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 18

by @ 12:58. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

While the city of Waukesha has been fully recounted as of Friday night per Sarah Millard of Waukesha Patch, reconciling the poll books to the ballots occurred too late for the results to be reflected in today’s update from the Government Accountability Board. With 3,500 reporting units with at least reviewed results as of noon Monday, representing 1,445,559 votes, Justice David Prosser has an unofficial statewide 6,994-vote lead over challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, a drop of 322 votes from his pre-recount 7,316-vote lead. There are two reporting units in the Village of Sussex with reported results that are currently under review (more on the main reason certain reporting units have been under review in a bit), and 49 reporting units in the city of Waukesha (out of 61) that do not have reported results.

Once the Waukesha and Sussex results are added, there will (or more properly, did remain as of the close of business Saturday; the canvassing board took Sunday off) approximately 36,600 votes left to count in 51 reporting units (really 50; the one city of Milwaukee reporting unit in Waukesha County is the ADM Cocoa plant with 0 residents).

The big news is the GAB put out a rather strong statement regarding whether holes in the ballot bag or missing security tag information is by itself a valid reason to toss the ballots contained therein:

Questions about the authenticity of ballots have arisen during the recount process due to holes in some ballot bags, gaps in their closure or issues with security tags. A hole in a ballot bag or a missing security tag is not enough evidence alone to discard the ballots inside. The ability to put a hand into a ballot bag is not by itself evidence of fraud.

The statement goes on to describe an internal review process the GAB instituted after the first-day issues with the reliability of the numbers reported on that day designed to catch, among other things, a post-election stuffing of the ballot bags (emphasis added):

G.A.B. staff has created an internal review process to check each ward’s recount totals against the original canvass totals to look for variances of plus or minus 10 votes. Any ward in which 10 more or 10 fewer votes are reported is flagged by staff for follow-up with the county clerk for an explanation of the reason. So far, we have found no significant, unexplained variances of vote totals. Staff will continue to review Waukesha County’s results as they come in each day until the recount is complete.

The last thing it does is address the certification of the election. Under normal circumstances, the GAB staff does its own canvass of the results. However, since this election is being recounted, the GAB relies on the certifications of the 72 counties, and once the deadline for a judicial appeal passes (or once judicial appeal is fully adjudicated), it certifies the winner.

Porkulus destroyed/forestalled a net 599,000 jobs

by @ 12:10. Filed under Economy Held Hostage.

(H/T – Greg Mankiw via PowerLine and Speaker John Boehner)

Ohio State released a report on the effects of Porkulus by a pair of economists, Timothy Conley and Bill Dupor, on job creation and destruction. They estimated that, through September 2010, while roughly 450,000 state and local government jobs were “saved/created” by Porkulus, roughly 1,000,000 private-sector jobs were “destroyed/forestalled” by it:

Our benchmark results suggest that the ARRA created/saved approximately 450 thousand state and local government jobs and destroyed/forestalled roughly one million private sector jobs. State and local government jobs were saved because ARRA funds were largely used to offset state revenue shortfalls and Medicaid increases rather than boost private sector employment. The majority of destroyed/forestalled jobs were in growth industries including health, education, professional and business services. This suggests the possibility that, in absence of the ARRA, many government workers (on average relatively well-educated) would have found private-sector employment had their jobs not been saved.

They divided the jobs market into 4 broad categories: state/local government, “HELP” services (private health and education, leisure and hospitality and business and professional service), goods-producing employment and “non-HELP” services (the last includes federal employees). They also found that the majority of Porkulus aid given to states and local governments was “fungible”, defined as replacing other state/local revenues.

Under the “fungibility-imposed” scenario, state and local governments increased their payrolls by 443,000 relative to what would have been expected without Porkulus, and those entities in the “non-HELP” services raised their payrolls by 92,000 (unfortunately, there is no split between the federal government employment versus private-sector employment in this category), while the entities in the goods-producing sector decreased their payrolls by 362,000 and those in the “HELP” services sector decreased their payrolls by 772,000.

If “fungibility” is not imposed, those numbers get worse. Under that scenario, only state and local governments increased their payrolls, by 473,000. Meanwhile, “Non-HELP” services payrolls dropped by 443,000, goods-producing payrolls dropped by 832,000, and “HELP” services payrolls dropped by 882,000.

This actually surprised the economists. Quoting from the conclusions portion:

Much work on the effects of the ARRA remains to be done. We found, surprisingly, either negligible or negative effects of the Act on total employment; thus, it is important to explore whether alternative empirical specifcations, besides the historical ‘Keynesian multiplier’ approach of Section 5 used by other researchers, are capable of finding a signicant positive jobs effect.

My money is against that.

May 13, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Days 16/17

by @ 14:22. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Things continue to move along at a respectable, if slow, clip in Waukesha County. As of Thursday night, 116 reporting units (just over 50%) and just over 60,000 ballots remained to be counted and reported in the last portion of the Supreme Court recount still ongoing. Justice David Prosser’s unofficial statewide lead over challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg increased to 6,995 votes from the same point Tuesday. That is a net decline of 321 votes from the pre-recount 7,316-vote lead Prosser enjoyed.

Further good news on the speed of the recount came in a status conference held this morning by Dane County Judge Richard Niess. During it, Waukesha County Corporation Counsel Tom Farley said that the canvassers had made their way through nearly 80,000 of the 125,000 ballots cast in the election, and that the recount can be completed sometime between Friday, May 20 and Monday, May 23, several days before the Thursday, May 26 extension granted by Niess.

Once the recount is completed in Waukesha County, Kloppenburg will have 5 business days (not including Saturdays, Sundays or holidays) to decide whether she will go for the “Grand Theft Courts” strategy.

May 11, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 14 (and the first half of 15)

by @ 13:41. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Things started to move along in Waukesha County the past couple days, even though the tracking spreadsheet may not necessarily reflect that. After the canvassing board and their tabulators moved to a larger room in the Waukesha County Courthouse, they began to set a decent pace despite a continued barrage of challenges, making their way through roughly 8,000 ballots per day.

As for the results thus far, through the end of business yesterday, the Government Accountability Board reported late this morning results from 3,461 of the 3,602 reporting units (the 3,408 units in the other 71 counties as certified), along with another 4 reporting units (all in Waukesha County) still under review. David Prosser’s unofficial statewide lead stood at 6,984 votes, a reduction of 332 votes from his pre-recount 7,316-vote lead.

That included 44,848 votes recounted and reviewed, out of an original 125.070, in Waukesha County, plus another approximate 3,700 reported to the GAB but not yet reviewed, from 53 of 192 reporting units. That does not include the approximately 25% of the city of Waukesha’s nearly-16,000 votes that have been recounted thus far; as the city counted its absentee ballots in a central location, the canvassing board is waiting until the entire city is recounted to report the results. In Waukesha County, Prosser gained a net 25 votes on his pre-recount lead.

Kyle Maichle e-mailed me this report this morning from the Courthouse (editor’s note; it was sent before yet another ballot bag challenge from the Kloppenburg campaign, this time for a “small hole” in the town of Merton):

First, the City of Waukesha has been counted since yesterday. According to their City Clerk I spoke with, they are being counted in no particular order. As of this morning they have already counted 15 out of the 60-plus reporting units there.

There have been no ballot bag challenges documented since May 5th in the official minutes.

As of this morning, they are counting the Towns of Lisbon and Oconomowoc in addition to Waukesha-City. Yesterday, the Towns of Ottawa and Mukwonago were completed.

How they are running today’s recount is that one half of tables is for the City of Waukesha while the other set is for other municipalities.

Sadly, given that the challenges continue apace, and given the arrival of a multitude of Kloppenburg volunteers at the Waukesha County courthouse this afternoon, it does not appear that the Kloppenburg campaign will be taking the advice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board of not challenging the results of the recount in court.

May 10, 2011

May Drinking Right – TONIGHT

by @ 7:17. Tags:
Filed under Miscellaneous.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely need a few drinks. Fortunately, this happens to be the second Tuesday of the month, so it’s time for another round of Drinking Right. As always, we’re at Papa’s Social Club (7718 W Burleigh in Milwaukee), and as always, the fun starts about 7 pm. Dickie brings over a few pizzas and garlic bread from Mama’s next door, so you can also have some food with your favorite beverage.

Be there, or be nowhere.

May 9, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 13

by @ 20:25. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Since everybody rested on Sunday, there isn’t an update for Day 12. Today was supposed to be the end of the recount, but due to the multitude of stalling tactics by the JoAnne Kloppenburg campaign in Waukesha County, the deadline for that county was extended to May 26. The other 71 counties completed their portions of the recount by today, and the Government Accountability Board completed certification of the returns from 70 of them. With those 70 counties (containing 3,353 of the 3,602 reporting units), the 55 reporting units in Sauk County (the one county complete but not yet certified) and the 47 reporting units in Waukesha County recounted as of Saturday night, 95.92% of the reporting units have completed their recount of 1,411,609 votes (about 94% of the votes). That, along with the pre-recount totals in the 147 reporting units in Waukesha County not yet recounted, puts David Prosser’s lead over Kloppenburg at 6,977 votes.

Dane County’s minutes of the recount provide a rather interesting read. There were several torn ballot bags in the city of Madison, several instances of ballot bag seal numbers missing from the inspectors’ reports, ballots from two reporting units in two different municipalities that were initially missing from the recount room (both stacks of which favored Prosser in what were communities that were overwhelmingly carried by Kloppenburg, and which did not affect the pre-recount net margins once added), and an instance where an absentee ballot not cast at the municipal clerk’s office lacked a witness signature yet was counted both at the polls on election day and by the recount canvass board. I don’t need to tell you that there were no objections from the Kloppenburg campaign over any of this.

There was, however, an objection from the “non-partisan” Kloppenburg campaign on another ballot. In Madison’s Ward 59, the canvassers ruled a ballot that had a write-in for “Democratic one above” as a “scattering”; the Kloppenburg campaign wanted it counted for her.

WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes got a hold of the latest Kloppenburg fundraising letter, sent out on Sunday. It strongly suggests she will avail herself of a judicial appeal of the results despite cutting less than 0.03 percentage points off of Prosser’s pre-recount 0.48-percentage-point lead. She would have 5 business days from the end of the recount to do so, which means that if Waukesha County takes until May 26, she could do so anytime before the end of the day June 3.

Updates will come a bit more slowly now that Waukesha County is the only one still counting. The GAB will issue an update of their unofficial tracking spreadsheet once daily, and while I may not necessarily do a full post daily, I will try to both summarize things on Twitter and keep my tracking spreadsheet up to date.

May 7, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Days 10/11

by @ 20:27. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Sorry about missing the Friday evening update; I decided to start switching my tracking spreadsheet to the certified results by county for the 60 counties, representing 2,329 reporting units and 801,991 votes, that have had their portions of the recount canvassed and certified by the Government Accountability Board as of Friday night. Between those counties and another 638 reporting units that have had their results reviewed but not yet certified (a total of 2,967, or 82.37%, of reporting units), 1,172,096, or just over 78%, of votes, have been recounted as of 6 pm Friday night. Combining that with the pre-recount canvassed results from the remainder of the reporting units, David Prosser’s unofficial lead over JoAnne Kloppenburg stands at 7,054 as of Friday evening, a drop of 262 from the pre-recount total.

The main reason why it took me the entirety of Saturday to do that integration is because 55 of those 2,329 reporting units that have been certified have changes from the running-total spreadsheet that was released by the GAB Friday evening. The net changes from that unofficial spreadsheet are Prosser -5, Kloppenburg +5 (or a net lead change of -10), and scattering -21.

In addition to the 60 counties where the recount has been certified, another 8 of the 72 counties have turned in recount results for all of their reporting units as of Friday evening. That leaves Dane, Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha Counties as the last 4 counties left to complete their recounts. The GAB expects that Dane, Milwaukee and Racine Counties will be done by Monday, and they will be in a Dane County courtroom Monday morning to seek a court extension of the deadline for Waukesha County.

Speaking of Waukesha County, they finally finished the recount of the city of Brookfield a bit after 6 pm Saturday. I don’t have the recounted totals, but the number of challenges raised by the campaigns, mostly the Kloppenburg campaign, climbed to over 400.

Barring news reports from one of the four counties that were not done as of Friday evening, I don’t anticipate doing another update until Monday. Indeed, the GAB has not updated anything Saturday, and does not anticipate doing so Sunday.

Revisions/extensions (9:19 pm 5/7/2011) - I’ll be closing that poll on the left side of your screen at 7 am Monday.

R&E part 2 (5:11 pm 5/8/2011) - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Prosser added a net 2 votes to his lead in the city of Brookfield.

R&E part 3 (5:17 pm 5/8/2011) - WISC-TV reported that Dane County finished its portion of the recount late Saturday night, but they did not include what the changes versus the pre-recount canvass were.

R&E part 4 (6:35 pm 5/8/2011) - Charlie Sykes posted the ward-by-ward results from the city of Brookfield.

Hot Air commenter parke had this to say on the Green Room version of this post:

So, one way to look at this would be that an initial election result where, say one candidate won by 200 votes in this election, wouldn’t really amount to a hill of beans as far as being definitive. Thank you Joanne for establishing that point for us. It sure would make anyone who would claim complete victory by 200 votes look really foolish. And to think we wouldn’t have this insightful look if it weren’t for the efforts of Joanne.

Now isn’t that ironic.

May 6, 2011

Mostly-positive monthly jobs news – +244K jobs, +268K private-sector

by @ 8:05. Filed under Economy.

The “unexpected” jobs numbers releases continued today, this time in a mostly-positive direction. The seasonally-adjusted 244,000 jobs gained in April was the largest since last May, and the equally-seasonally-adjusted 268,000 private-sector jobs gained was the highest since February 2006. That, along with a drop in the long-term unemployed, should overshadow an increase in the unemployment rate to 9.0%.

Further, Tom Blumer noted that, along with upward-adjustments in the numbers reported for February and March, we finally have more non-temporary private-sector jobs than we did at the official end of the recession in June 2009.

However, not all is roses and rainbows; this only reflects numbers recorded through mid-month. The question is whether the positivity in the first half of the month will overcome the negativity in the latter part.

May 5, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 9

by @ 22:49. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

There’s 4 days left in the statutory deadline, though the Government Accountability Board will file a request in a Dane County court on Monday for an extension on behalf of Dane and Waukesha Counties. Dane County has requested a one-day extension, and at least as of Thursday afternoon, Waukesha County had not given an estimated end date.

With 2,862 reporting units (79.46%) and 1,124,236 votes (just under 75%) recounted and reviewed as of 6 pm Thursday, David Prosser’s lead dropped by 220 votes from the pre-recount 7,316-vote lead to 7,096 votes. With a further 12 reporting units reporting results to the GAB but not having their numbers reviewed, 64 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have now finished their portions of the recount.

Despite a continued hyper-challenge strategy employed by the Kloppenburg campaign, Waukesha County managed to finish recounting votes in 10 of the 24 wards in the city of Brookfield today (unfortunately, after the GAB released its 6 pm vote update), which brings that county’s completion total to just over 17% of the wards and close to 23% of the votes. The first of many challenges on the day began before the first bags of ballots were opened, as the overstuffed bags had begun to rip open from handling. The 6 plastic bags, from the first 3 wards and tied closed with a single red security tie, contained approximately 2,000 ballots. Lisa Sink at Brookfield Patch has an exhaustive multimediia report, including pictures of both the bags and several people dropping in to protect their votes, and video of the board of canvassers’ discussion and ultimate acceptance of the ballots.

A second early challenge, also dismissed by the canvassing board, involved the use of excess blank absentee ballots to compensate for the depletion of regular ballots on election day in Brookfield’s Ward 1. The funny thing is, up until today, I hadn’t heard, or at least I don’t remember hearing, of Brookfield running out of ballots, though I did hear of other, outstate locales running out.

Initial unemployment claims spiked to 474,000 last week

by @ 8:40. Filed under Economy Held Hostage.

Did you want the bad news, the “unexpected” news, or the butt-ugly news? Too bad; you’re getting all three, in four chunks.

The bad news is seasonally-adjusted initial unemployment claims spiked to 474,000 last week, its highest since mid-August 2010, with the rolling 4-week average climbing to 431,250, its highest since November 2010.

The “unexpected” news is Reuters, which once again broke out its favorite adjective to describe the POR Economy™, estimated that it would drop from the prior week’s initial reporting of 429,000 to 410,000.

The butt-ugly news, part 1 (from Tom Blumer), is that for the 8th consecutive week, the prior week’s numbers were revised upward. This time, it was from the aforementioned 429,000 to 431,000. I’ll sttate right now that the trend will, indeed, continue next week.

The butt-ugly news, part 2 (also from Tom), is that for the first time in at least a year, the non-seasonally adjusted initial jobless claim number is higher than that of the same week the prior year. Can you say, “Double-dip DEMpression”? I knew you could.

Revisions/extensions (7:53 pm 5/5/2011) - A comment from Tom on his blog reminded me of something a friend-of-a-friend used to do when he drove school buses, namely apply for unemployment during Easter vacation. I decided to go back through the historical record to see if the floating holiday is or isn’t reflected in the seasonal adjusting. It turns out that, over the previous 11 years (2000-2010) there is a rather consistent 2-week (usually; some years saw this effect only happen 1 week) period anchored by Easter saw an average 20,000-claim spike (each week) in initial jobless claims compared to surrounding weeks. Given that Easter is exceptionally late this year, the week-ending-4/23 jump to a now-adjusted 431,000 claims should have mostly been anticipated, though I would argue that it shouldn’t have been much more than 425,000 claims.

However, that does not explain the further jump in this report. The key is going to be the next two weeks. If initial jobless claims continue to be above the 425,000 line (and I fear they’ll be well above that), we’re back on the downward slide of the economy (as if we aren’t due to inflated gas prices and deflated dollar).

May 4, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 8

by @ 20:51. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

In 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, the recount is, or at least appears to be, on track for an on-time finish. With 2,717, or 75.43%, of the reporting units, and 1,044,530, or just under 70%, of the votes recounted and reviewed by Government Accountability Board staff as of 6 pm Wednesday, David Prosser has gained 271 votes from his pre-recount total, while JoAnne Kloppenburg has gained 481 from her pre-recount total. That represents a net loss of 210 votes for Prosser from his pre-recount lead of 7,316, bringing the unofficial full-state lead down to 7,106 votes.

Between those reporting units that have been recounted and reviewed and those which have been recounted but not reviewed, 61 of the 72 counties have completed their recount with just 5 days left in the statutory deadline. The GAB has created a page that contains individual county spreadsheets of the recount for those counties where results have been “certified” and, as they receive them, the minutes from the recount in those counties.

9 other counties appear to be on track, through either percentage of reporting units recounted or percentage of votes recounted, to be done by Monday. Milwaukee County, while it does not appear to be statistically possible to be done on time, is actually much further along than it appears; more than half the suburbs have been recounted, and the reason why the city of Milwaukee is currently reported as not reporting is the absentee ballots in every ward were counted at a central location on election day and thus must be counted separately from the ballots cast on election day.

That brings me to Waukesha County. As of Wednesday evening, only 10.31% of the reporting units, representing 17,549 votes, have been recounted and reviewed, with another 2,837 votes not reflected in the current GAB spreadsheet. Because the sum of those two numbers are barely 16% of the 125,070 votes canvassed by the county, and because of scrutiny not experienced by any other county including numerous challenges, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Waukesha County has asked the GAB to extend the Monday statutory deadline. If the plan wins approval in a Dane County court, Waukesha County plans on moving to a larger room once May 9th passes and doubling the tabulation staff, which would allow it to recount multiple reporting units at the same time.

In the meantime, the city of Brookfield, whose forgotten-on-election-night results are widely regarded as the major reason for the statewide recount, will have its recount started in the Waukesha County Courthouse Thursday morning. Waukesha County is providing a live-stream of their recount process, for those of you who wish to watch. I’ve heard rumblings that the rate of challenges will increase once the ballot bags for the city of Brookfield are brought into the room, and that more than the “usual” number of observers will descend on the Waukesha County Courthouse, so things could get “interesting”.

Staying with Brookfield and Waukesha County, WITI-TV reported that the first version of the spreadsheet sent by the city clerk, Kris Schmidt, to the county on election night could not be imported into the county system because of extra columns added by the city to allow it to double-check the votes. A second version was sent four minutes after Waukesha County clerk Kathy Nickoulas informed Schmidt the first one was unacceptable. The remaining mystery is why that second version was not imported into the county system on election night.

As for the type of nitpicking the Kloppenburg campaign has been doing, they successfully challenged 18 of the 24 absentee ballots in the Sauk County town of Sumpter, most of them from a convent, because they broke heavily for Pross…er, lacked witness signatures on the application. 14 of the 18 that were in the drawdown (random removal) were for Prosser, while the pre-recount canvass for the town had Kloppenburg carrying the town 96-83. The Prosser campaign, in an e-mail received by WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes, claimed that the GAB has not consistently enforced the witness signature requirement, and that even after the town clerk testified that the ballots that were delivered by her to the nuns were valid, the Sauk County board of canvassers rejected the 18 ballots a second time.

Revisions/extensions (7:09 am 5/5/2011) - I had the wrong link to the Waukesha County requests extension story. It’s fixed now. Sorry about that.

Treasury – An additional $2,000,000,000,000 in debt needed for the federal government to make it to 2013

by @ 17:08. Filed under Politics - National.

Reuters reports that, in informal discussions on the debt ceiling, the Treasury Department floated the figure of raising the debt ceiling $2 trillion, to $16.3 trillion, in order to avoid having to deal with the issue again before the 2012 elections. At an estimated 20 months of extension, that would be an annual rate of $1.2 trillion in additional debt. Worse, Reuters estimates that a “mere” $2 trillion in new debt won’t be enough to get the US to 2013.

Going back through the debt archives, the total public debt outstanding was at $5.728 trillion just before President George W. Bush took office and $10.628 trillion when he left. I may be but a public school graduate, but the approximate-$5.8 trillion of debt that would be added in President Barack Obama’s first term if the $2.0 trillion debt-limit increase is just enough to get to January 20, 2013 would be a new record for any President’s reign.

Supreme Court to take up Act 10, oral arguments June 6

by @ 16:30. Filed under Breaking news, Politics - Wisconsin.

According to a press release obtained by The Wheeler Report, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will take up the request by Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch to invalidate the current temporary restraining order against the implementation of Act 10, the budget repair/collective bargaining act. According to the schedule, the various respondents in the case have until May 18 to file a response and until May 27 to file a single reply to the filed responses. Oral arguments are scheduled to happen at 9:45 am June 6.

In case you forgot what the Department of Administration’s arguments are, the Department of Justice, acting as DoA’s lawyer, posted the petition on its website.

Revisions/extensions (4:39 pm 5/4/2011) - In my haste to get this up, I forgot to mention that the Wisconsin State Journal reported that, if there was no resolution to Act 10 by June, the Republicans would add the collective bargaining provisions into the FY2012-FY2013 budget.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 7 (and some special election news)

by @ 8:04. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

For the most part, things are moving along quite nicely in the recount as the halfway point came and went yesterday. According to the Government Accountability Board, over 69% of the reporting units, representing 64% of the votes cast, have completed the recount. With 2,511 “cleanly” reported/reviewed reporting units, (69.71%), one not “cleanly” reviewed, and 19 reported but not reviewed, out of 960,083 recounted votes, David Prosser lost 178 votes off his pre-recount 7,316-vote lead over JoAnne Kloppenburg, bringing the current unofficial lead to 7,138.

The reason why I say there is a reporting unit that was not “cleanly” reviewed is it appears the GAB fouled up the totals as listed on the spreadsheet from 6 pm last night for the town of Stone Lake, in Waushara Washburn County. The pre-recount county canvass had that town’s vote totals as 101 for Prosser, 82 for Kloppenburg and 1 “scattering”. However, the recount spreadsheet had the vote totals as 1 for Prosser, 101 for Kloppenburg, 84 “scattering”. Pending a “clarification” from the GAB, that is not included in the above vote totals.

As for the speed, WITI-TV reported that the GAB wants an estimate of finish time from each county clerk (or in the case of Milwaukee, the County Election Commission) by the end of business today, so they know whether they need to go to a court to get an extension of the Monday deadline. They further reported that it appears the city of Milwaukee will be done with the recount on Friday, the remainder of Milwaukee County will be done by Saturday, and Waukesha County will likely need an extension. With a note that the 19 municipalities and nearly-229,000 votes in Milwaukee County includes the city of Milwaukee, and the clarification that Sue Edman is the city of Milwaukee Election Commission executive director, here’s the report…

Kyle Maichle provided video of the Waukesha County board of canvassers dealing with one of the early issues there, the issue of the missing inspector’s report on a ballot bag in the Town of Delafield on Thursday…

Meanwhile, there were special elections in three Assembly districts (two in the Milwaukee area, one just north of La Crosse) yesterday to fill seats vacated by three Republicans who took jobs in Governor Scott Walker’s administration. WisPolitics reports the Republicans easily took the two Milwaukee-area seats, while Democrat Steve Doyle took the La Crosse-area seat. There are two items of note going forward:

  • The fact that Doyle won in an Assembly district that is part of Sen. Dan Kapanke’s (R-La Crosse) Senate district does not bode well for his survival of his pending recall election. While former Assemblyman, and now Department of Administration secretary, Mike Huebsch held the seat from 1994 until he became the DOA secretary, the district had been trending more Democratic in the “top-line” races in recent years.
  • The Assembly partisan split is now 58 Republicans, 40 Democrats, and 1 independent who, up until mid-summer last year, was essentially a DINO. Indeed, Bob Ziegelbauer (I-Manitowoc) voted for the budget repair bill that limited public union collective bargaining privileges. That is important because that means the Assembly Democrats still can’t follow the example of the Fleebag Fourteen Senate Democrats and run away to prevent action on fiscal matters.

Revisions/extensions (12:04 pm 5/4/2011) - Aaron Frailing of the GAB e-mailed me to say the information for Stone Lake was transposed when the staff entered it into the GAB worksheet. That correction would mean an additional reporting unit reported/reviewed and an additional 2 votes for Kloppenburg compared to the pre-recount totals. It also makes Prosser’s unofficial lead 7,136.

The learning curve continues.

R&E part 2 (1:09 pm 5/4/2011) - Normally I don’t do more than tweet the noon GAB update, but since there were multiple reasons (including my own typo; Stone Lake is in Washburn County, not Waushara), I’ll do a quick one summary here (my spreadsheet won’t reflect the changes until this evening and the 6 pm GAB update):

  • 2,648 of 3,602 reporting units reported/reviewed (73.51%), with another 21 reported but not reviewed
  • 1,009,143 votes recounted/reviewed (a gain from a pre-recount 1,008,273)
  • Net change from the pre-recount numbers: Prosser -104
  • Unofficial current Prosser lead: +7,212 (down the 114 from a pre-recount 7,316)

R&E part 3 (1:22 pm 5/4/2011) - I need to note that the towns of Larrabee and Royalton in Waupaca County were taken off the “recounted/reviewed” list as of noon. On Monday, they were reported as having a net 89-vote gain for Kloppenburg via recount.

May 2, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 6

by @ 21:52. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

The big news of the day is the catch of two errors committed by town clerks in a pair of Waupaca County towns, one of which should have been but wasn’t caught in the county canvass. The Government Accountability Board relayed the explanations from Waupaca County Clerk Mary Robbins (note; Robbins misstated the final vote total for JoAnne Kloppenburg in the town of Larrabee – it was 138 after the recount according to both press reports and the 6:07 pm 5/2 GAB spreadsheet; the latter link will not be to the 6:07 pm 5/2 GAB worksheet after noon on 5/3):

Town of Larrabee – discrepancy in count. I have attached our recount notes in regards to the Town of Larrabee. They use both the Edge machine and the Optech Eagle. The Town of Larrabee original tally sheet from the April 5, 2011 election showed a 0 vote count on the Eagle on their tally sheet. (minutes attached) Board of Canvass did not think they could open the ballot bag to count at their April 7th Board of Canvass, we should have done that. The clerk was called (Arlene Kratzke) and she said she just forgot to transfer the numbers onto the sheet. The Board of Canvass should have caught this mistake the tape was attached and I apologize, we must have just read the sheet and didn’t check the tapes, we normally always check the tapes. The call in sheet, also, only shows 70 for Kloppenburg, the tape shows 167 (sic), the actual hand count shows 168 (sic) for Kloppenburg.

Town of Royalton – discrepancy in count, Kloppenburg original count was 80, Recount final count was 95 votes for Kloppenburg. They use the Edge machine and paper ballots: Original Tally was 80 votes, the Edge machine tape showed 40 ballots, that total matched the tape, they counted the Edge tape 3 times. The hand counted paper ballots were 40 on the original tally sheet (I think they just put 40 in both columns by mistake) Tabulators, counted 3 times for Kloppenburg. The 15 ballots were paper ballots, the recount team counted these ballots 3 times. Clerk had no explanation other than the election officials forgot to count a stack of ballots cast for Kloppenburg when they reported and put all paper ballots into the bag or the person writing the tallies just copied the 40 twice. Since these were paper ballots a recount is the only way these would have been found.

Of note, David Prosser also gained a single vote in the Larrabee recount, while he lost 7 in the Royalton recount.

Overall, things shifted a bit further in Kloppenburg’s favor. With 2,128 reporting units (59.08%) and 806,888 votes (just under 54%) recounted and reviewed, Prosser lost 148 votes of his pre-recount 7,316-vote lead to bring the unofficial lead down to 7,168. A further 61 or 64 reporting units (depending on whether one believes the 64 listed in the summary on the GAB site or the 61 listed on the GAB spreadsheet) have reported, but have not been reviewed.

The GAB has also mentioned a couple of other tidbits in its summary of the day:

  • 24 of the 72 counties have completed their recounts.
  • Milwaukee County will appear to be a bit behind for a while yet because the absentee ballots in the city were counted at a central location on election night, and because of that, the separate count of those ballots were not yet completed.

I stopped at the recount location for Milwaukee County this afternoon and briefly talked with one of the election officials. He told me that they were “approaching halfway”, and that they hoped to be done by either next week Monday (which would be the day the recount is to be done by state law) or Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Lisa Sink over at Brookfield Patch reports things are continuing to go very slowly in Waukesha County. Only about 11,000 of the 125,000+ votes had been recounted as of midday.

Revisions/extensions (7:28 am 5/3/2011) - It’s time to crush the dreams of some Kloppenburg supporters. Let’s take the most-generous interpretation of the vote shift I can give you, and look at just the net 169-vote shift away from Prosser and to Kloppenburg in the votes recounted and reviewed by the GAB between Sunday afternoon and Monday evening. That involved 129,058 votes, which means that net 169-vote shift represents a 0.131% net shift to Kloppenburg. Taking the rate of additional votes over the course of the just-over-24-hour period (0.185%) into account would mean there would be an estimated 692,508 votes left to count (691,230 pre-recount votes left, plus an estimated 1,278-as-yet-uncounted net vote gain). Multiplying the estimated remaining votes by the unrounded net gain Kloppenburg enjoyed between Sunday afternoon’s numbers and Monday evening’s numbers would get Kloppenburg a net 907-vote gain out of the remaining ballots, which would put her total recount gain at 1,055. However, since Prosser entered the recount with a 7,316-vote lead, he would leave it with a 6,261-vote post-recount win.

If one uses the net 0.184% net gain Kloppenburg has received and the 0.0945% total vote gain since the start of the recount, her final net gain would be far less. Out of the estimated 691,894 votes remaining, Kloppenburg would gain a net 128-vote gain, bringing her total recount vote gain to 276 and giving Prosser a 7,040-vote post-recount win.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 5

by @ 7:57. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

The only news yesterday was the count itself. Shortly before the Government Accountability Board released updated numbers, the Associated Press (via WISC-TV) reported on the fact that, with just under 1/3rd of the 13 days allowed by state law to complete the recount, 1/3rd of the reporting units had results reported. The 4:15 pm release from the GAB upped that to 1,847 of 3,602 reporting units completed and reviewed, and with 677,830 votes as-recounted, David Prosser extended his pre-recount lead over JoAnne Kloppenburg by 21 to an unofficial 7,337 votes.

I do have to note the current (at least as of 4:15 pm yesterday) version of GAB’s spreadsheet has what appears to be an error in the bottom-line totals; they reported 693,592 votes as recounted, with similar “errors” in each individual vote total. As every number on their spreadsheet is hand-entered, that may well include numbers from reporting units that were not individually reported on said spreadsheet.

Again, both the GAB and I stress that those results are both unofficial and do not reflect all the reporting units that have completed recounts. For example, media reports had Eau Claire County as having completed its recount on Friday afternoon, yet the results released by the GAB yesterday afternoon did not have all of the results from Eau Claire County entered.

With that said, it is the “easy” half that is done. The canvassing board in, say, Milwaukee County can’t farm out some of their work to the canvassing board in, say, Green Lake County, even though the latter board already finished their work. Indeed, in terms of ballots recounted, Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties, out of those counties that have reported any results, are the only two which are significantly in danger of not completing the recount by next week Monday.

Even with just the partial results, some statistical analysis on the change of votes is possible. In just the reporting units that have been recounted and reported by the GAB:

  • David Prosser saw an increase of 187 votes, from the pre-recount canvassed total of 358,268 votes to a recounted 358,455 votes. That is a 0.0522% gain.
  • JoAnne Kloppenburg saw an increase of 166 votes, from the pre-recount canvassed total of 318,527 votes to a recounted 318,693 votes. That is a 0.0521% gain.

Just as a reminder, Prosser’s pre-recount lead over Kloppenburg was 0.4881 percentage points.

Revisions/extensions (12:01 pm 5/2/2011) - Kyle Maichle reports there is a poll list (called “poll book” in his Twitter stream) “issue” in Brown Deer’s Wards 1-3 (yes, it is a single reporting unit despite containing multiple wards, and it is in Milwaukee County). That reporting unit went for Kloppenburg by a pre-recount 925-704 margin.

Osama bin Laden is DEAD

by @ 3:48. Filed under War on Terror.

OH YEAH!. Bill Dedman of msnbc.com has the multi-year timeline of the trace of the place of bin Laden’s last stand (H/T – Michelle Malkin).

If you’re looking for the body, get yourself a submarine and head to the Indian Ocean – he was buried at sea to prevent a place on land where pilgrimages could be made.

I can’t let THE! BEST! AOSHQ! HEADLINE! EVAH! pass without a congratulatory link – Osama Bin Ladin Loses Popularity and 30cc of Brain and Skull But Mostly 30cc of Brain and Skull.

May 1, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount – Day 4

by @ 14:54. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Despite an earlier declaration from the Government Accountability Board that there would be no result updates today, they are now planning on the usual noon and 6 pm schedule. In fact, the noon update came out just before I finished updating my tracking spreadsheet in preparation for this update, so I added those numbers in. With 1,310 of the 3,602 reporting units, or 36.37%, reporting and (informally) reviewed by the GAB as of 7:04 pm last night, David Prosser gained a net 35 votes on his pre-recount 7,316-vote lead. That is on 441,178 votes recounted, or a bit over 29% of the votes cast.

There has been shockingly little news in the media this weekend on the recount. Other than the multiple reports on the numbers as released by the GAB just after noon on Friday, two Madison media outlets reporting on the Verona lost-and-found ballots, and some outstate sources reporting their local counties are either done or almost done with the recount with very little to no drama, there wasn’t anything I could find in my sweep of media outlets.

WISC-TV in Madison did a story on those lost-and-found ballots, and there is a “slight” difference with the CapTimes story I relayed yesterday regarding the condition in which the lost-and-found ballots were. WISC-TV reported that, instead of the ballots, all of which were “write-in” ballots according to WISC-TV, being merely rubber-banded, they were in a sealed ballot bag. WISC-TV also reported that neither campaign objected to the inclusion of the ballots in the recount.

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