Sunday wrap

Vaunted Stimulus larded with costly union-only kickbacks ... When U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold recently trumpeted news of federal stimulus money for a nursing home renovation, the numbers were eye-catching for Wisconsin, never a leader in grabbing bucks from Uncle Sam. One nursing home in Chetek was ticketed for $2.8 million. And even though it will use $1 million less than that, it was still one of the largest recipients among hundreds of rural projects across 39 states. Cause for celebration in the small northwestern Wisconsin community? "It's kind of a joke as far as I'm concerned," said Carmen Newman, Chetek's city clerk-treasurer. "I don't understand how they can say this is stimulus." Chetek Mayor Dianne Knowlton added: "I don't see how the project benefited." Knowlton and Newman, like local government officials around the state, partly were reacting to the dawning reality that a $499 billion appropriation in Washington, D.C., will not shower enough money to cover small-town America's long list of needs and wants. Even when some dollars do flow, they might go for a project that already was on the verge of getting other federal funding. And, often, local officials will have to repay it. They call from all over the state. Local officials and contractors say stimulus rules on paying union-scale wages could give large statewide contractors a boost in the competition to bring Knapp Haven into the 21st century. Others point out that non-local firms pay extra costs for travel and for housing workers. The prevailing-wage requirement and a buy-American mandate in the stimulus law could combine to raise the total cost of the project, local officials worry. Officials in Chetek, a Barron County city of 2,100, seem frustrated with the lack of outright grants for various projects they had once hoped stimulus money could cover. "I haven't seen anything that stimulated me," Mayor Knowlton said of the economic package. (jsonline.com)

ABC News reports Stimulus fraud ... But -- this was a project that had already been approved by Davenport city council to be paid for by federal monies, Margaret Murphy the Assisted Housing Manager for the city, tells ABC News. When the stimulus bill passed, some astute city workers realized they could have some of that order paid for by the stimulus because of the American steel used in the stoves. So the city of Davenport submitted $13,000 for 42 stoves (and installation) paid for by the stimulus. The point is: those stoves would have been purchased and installed anyway. Where the impact of this may be that the $13,000 in non-stimulus federal funds can now pay for something else in Davenport. Perhaps something stimulative. Perhaps not. But again, not everything is as it seems. This project was going to happen anyway. (blogs.abcnews.com)

Sotomayor holds membership in radical leftwing racist group ... Back in the 2006 nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court , Barack Obama criticized the philosphy on confirming Supreme Court Justices stating the Senate should "only examine whether or not the Justice is intellectually capable and is nice to his wife." He further objected that, "once you get beyond intellect and personal character there shouldn't be further question to whether the justice should be confirmed. Meaningful advice and consent includes an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record." I imagine this is the kind of "empathy" Obama was looking for in a nominee, however the benefit of the doubt could rule she mispoke. Similar statements, however, seem to make clear exactly how she feels her sex and race influence her judgement: "Our experience as women and people of color affect our decisions. Whether born from experience or physiological or cultural differences ... our gender and national origins may and WILL make a difference in our judging. Personal experiences affect the facts judges CHOOSE to see." That statement is pretty clear cut, and as far as I know completely unreported by the media. Just looking at Sotomayor's record, we can already see how she is prone to rule in race cases. We also shouldn't ignore what we ended up with the last time a nominee mentioned race and gender influencing decisions. However, the most disturbing reflection of Sotomayor's character is the company she keeps. According the American Bar Association, Sotomayor is a member of the NCLR, otherwise known as "La Raza". (newsbusters.org)

More than a handshake ... President Barack Obama shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. It's not the handshake that no one in the news media or otherwise wants to acknowledge. Everyone had a good look at this particular handshake but no one commented then or now. I feel someone should comment on this faux pas or omission of any comment. Obama gave Chávez a bro handshake, which has a lot of connotations, unlike a normal handshake, which actually has no meaning. This type of handshake is used in the context of two men showing each other that they have common goals. So far, everyone seems to ignore this even though the film clip showed it distinctively. This type of shake is only used when two people are standing on common ground, basically signifying the same as bowing to one another. (theadvertiser.com)

AFSCME picks, freezes, personalizes, polarizes oppressive Red Cross ... American Red Cross workers picketed a blood drive at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital Friday. The contract for 225 members of the Local 3145 of Council 4 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees expired March 31, was extended to April 26, and remains in limbo, said union Spokesman Larry Dorman. Dorman and three of the 10 union members wearing union t-shirts and carrying placards on the sidewalk of the hospital on Montauk Avenue said that the stalemate in contract negotiations could threaten the blood supply as well as the quality of jobs. At risk, they say, are health-care standards, sufficient rest time for drivers between shifts, wages and the supervision of blood drives. (theday.co)

Bonus links:
Summary of Saul Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals'
• More Saul Alinsky stories: here
'Rules for Radicals' at amazon.com

Dems threaten worker-choice in Virginia ... Robert McDonnell, Virginia's former attorney general, formally accepted the Republican Party of Virginia's nomination for governor Saturday in Richmond before a crowd of over 10,000 delegates. He also countered Democrats' recent characterization of the Republican Party as the party of “no.” It is the Democrats that deserve that moniker, he suggested, as he described his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as “card check,” which would allow unions to be formed at workplaces if a majority of workers sign union authorization cards. “When it comes to the job-killing card check bill which threatens Virginia's Right to Work law, a cornerstone of our business success, our opponents will say no to protecting the secret ballot, and no to safeguarding Virginia's Right to Work law,” he said. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Sickening jumbo union disintegrates in desert ... A bitter, protracted leadership struggle within one of the nation’s most progressive unions apparently ended Friday when Unite Here General President Bruce Raynor resigned, ceding control of the international apparel and hotel workers union to the man with whom he shared power, John Wilhelm. Raynor said he decided to quit after Wilhelm’s allies, accompanied by nearly a dozen security guards, broke into his New York office and stole personal files related to mediation sessions aimed at reconciling the two leaders’ differences. “It was more reminiscent of the Sopranos than anything I’ve ever seen in my trade union career,” Raynor said in an interview. “It sickened me. It convinced me that things had gone so far that I no longer wanted to be associated with Unite Here.” A Wilhelm spokeswoman disputed Raynor’s version of events, saying that union officials were responding to repeated reports from Unite Here staff who had witnessed the destruction of documents in the union’s New York headquarters. “Our lawyers advised us to take precautions to make sure that the office and its equipment were secure,” spokeswoman Pilar Weiss said. “The files were the property of the union, not Bruce Raynor.” (lasvegassun.com)

How Whilhelm took Sin City: By Card-Check ... John Wilhelm was dispatched to Las Vegas in 1987 to salvage a casino workers union rattled by devastating losses. The Culinary Union was debilitated by a citywide strike three years earlier that sapped resources and morale. Six hotels persuaded employees to decertify the union, and four others illegally reneged on the Culinary contract. The union’s health care plan was tanking. Wilhelm, a Yale graduate who cut his teeth organizing the university’s clerical and blue-collar workers, came to Las Vegas as the Western regional director for the Culinary parent, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. And in 1989, he moved the Strip’s labor relations into a new chapter. He negotiated a landmark deal, allowing casino owner Steve Wynn to simplify job classifications in exchange for organizing rights at the Mirage — and at future Wynn casinos. The victory for labor: Rather than having to hold elections to organize — a process that allowed management the upper hand over organizers — workers were able to organize simply by signing union cards. Before long, operators up and down the Strip fell in line. (lasvegassun.com)

Union-backed Dem baron plagued by earmark corruption ... A Pennsylvania defense contractor to whom Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., directed millions of dollars in congressional earmarks has been blocked from doing business with the Navy amid allegations of fraud. Word of the suspension comes during an annual defense contractor trade show in Johnstown, Pa., the heart of Murtha's congressional district. Seven of the world's largest defense contractors, who have been among Murtha's biggest campaign contributors over the years, are helping to bankroll this week's "Showcase for Commerce." At a brief news conference Friday in Johnstown, Murtha turned aside questions about the suspension of Kuchera Defense Systems Inc., a family-run business that has supported Murtha with $60,000 in donations to his campaign and his political action committee since 2002. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Rahmbo cuts Obama's personal travel budget ... There are no official events are his schedule Saturday, so President Barack Obama had plenty of time to devote to his other roles — father and husband. The president watched one of his daughters play in a morning soccer game just a short drive from the White House. In the evening, he's taking first lady Michelle Obama up to New York for date night. The White House is keeping mum about details on soccer and the quick trip to Manhattan. No word on which daughter — Malia or Sasha — was scurrying on the soccer field at Palisades Park. And there aren't any details on just what the Obamas will do in New York. What is known is that the Obamas will fly on a smaller plane than the jumbo jet he usually uses. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Dues-starved Teamsters get boost in labor-state ... Workers at Washington County’s five recycling stations have formed a union. About 15 workers will be joining the Teamsters International union. The move was granted by the Washington County Board of Supervisors earlier this month. "I think it will give them some structure," said Paul Engel, a business agent at the Teamster’s Albany office. "They’ll have working conditions they’ll get to collectively bargain for. Any changes in working conditions will have to be subject to negotiation." More than 170 county workers are members of the Teamsters — including employees at the county’s nursing facility Pleasant Valley Infirmary in Argyle and workers in the highway department. (poststar.com)

Teamster Talk

International Collectivism

Ecuador Leftist picks Chavistas over Obama ... Correa said the Ecuadorian people had chosen a “profound, rapid and peaceful revolution”. He promised to “deepen and radicalise” the process of change, “now, not tomorrow”. Correa announced that Ecuador would become a full member of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). ALBA is a trading bloc promoting pro-people regional integration based on solidarity and cooperation. Its current members are Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica and Saint Vincents and the Grenadines. He said all Latin American countries “have a common past and our common destiny is unavoidable. The vast majority of Latin American leaders are fighting for Latin American integration.” On the same weekend, Chávez and Correa signed five bilateral cooperation agreements on oil exploration, tourism, food sovereignty, mining and banking. Correa said key sectors of the economy, including oil and mining, must be in government hands: “We will fulfil the goal of having strategic sectors in government hands.” (greenleft.org.au)

Debate challenge shuts up Chávez ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has cancelled an edition of his TV show, Alo Presidente. The cancellation comes amid arguments with the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa about a live televised debate. Mr Chávez has broadcast some 18 hours of special editions of “Alo Presidente” since Thursday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the program. But the latest edition has been withdrawn at late notice with no explanation from the government. After around 18 hours on air over the past two days, the third installment of President Chávez's marathon program was suspended with no official reason given. The decision to suspend Alo Presidente comes after a series of challenges and counter-challenges about holding a televised debate with the Peruvian writer and arch-critic of President Chávez, Mario Vargas Llosa. Mr Vargas Llosa is currently in Venezuela to attend an opposition-led seminar about democracy and authoritarianism in Latin America. (portalangop.co.ao)
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