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22
Feb
2016

boy-in-docRecords reveal Northwoods legislator failed to act on child safety concerns.


MADISON, WI - Newly obtained documents show that Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) was contacted directly by multiple whistleblowers about problems at the Lincoln Hills juvenile facility. An open records request to his office revealed more than 550 pages of documents including detailed warnings about understaffing, inmate overcrowding, assaults and other safety issues.

tom-tiffanyMonths before a high-profile FBI raid on the facility, one email warned Sen. Tiffany bluntly that riots, fights and assaults had “skyrocketed.”

“As shocking as these 550 pages of documents are, what's even more disturbing is Sen. Tiffany's inaction,” said SSDC Executive Director Matt Ullsvik. “Despite being confronted with horrific claims of child abuse at a facility in his district, the record shows that Tom Tiffany dropped the ball. Even after being warned about safety concerns and understaffing at Lincoln Hills, Tom Tiffany voted to cut over 100 staff positions and $140 million in funding from the Department of Corrections budget last year. Had Sen. Tiffany acted on these warning and addressed the serious safety concerns at Lincoln Hills, it’s possible that additional cases of child abuse, neglect and assault could have been prevented.”

Records show that Sen. Tiffany was warned at least as early as April 2015 about dangerous conditions at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile facilities. Aside from one email to the Dept. of Workforce Development, none of the 550+ documents released by his office show any effort by Sen. Tiffany to intervene on behalf of at-risk employees and children at Lincoln Hills.

“When children and workers needed his help the most, Sen. Tiffany let them down and chose to ignore multiple warnings,” added Ullsvik. “We may never know whether Sen. Tiffany was trying to protect Gov. Walker’s image during the lead up to his presidential campaign, or whether he didn’t think the red flags were worth investigating. However, given the ongoing safety concerns and staff shortages, it’s time for Sen. Tiffany to step up to the plate and stop defending Gov. Walker’s failures. Children, parents and workers deserve better than Tom Tiffany’s indifference and inaction.”

Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Matt Ullsvik   
 
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19
Feb
2016

clean-drinking-waterLocal Senator says backlash against the Republican proposal to allow an out-of-state corporation to buy and operate public water utilities in Wisconsin forced it to be removed from the Senate calendar.


MADISON - According to State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), an outspoken opponent of the bill, widespread backlash against a bill that would make it easier to turn control of public drinking water over to out-of-state corporations led to the bill’s apparent demise in the State Senate Friday.

dave-hansen“I was so happy to see the public outcry against this bill," said Hansen today.  "Thanks to everyone who spoke out, the bill was removed from the Senate calendar and it looks to be defeated."

The controversial bill was introduced at the request of Aqua American, a Pennsylvania corporation that buys public water utilities to operate for profit. In many cases that has been a bad deal for residents in communities where Aqua America took over control of their drinking water.

In order to increase profits in some communities, Aqua America has fired staff, reduced quality and raised rates. One community saw their average water rate skyrocket from $153 to $707 an increase of 397%.

“Assembly Bill 554 was nothing more than a giveaway to Aqua America, a Pennsylvania corporation that wanted to gain control over Wisconsin’s drinking water,” said Hansen. “Clean water is one of our greatest assets and its protection should remain the responsibility of the public. It should not be sold to a faceless corporation that is only interested in making a profit from it. I’m glad so many agree and made their voices heard.”

Written by GBP Staff   
 
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18
Feb
2016

school-closedTom Tiffany silent as Rhinelander and Northland Pines school districts forced to approve referendum.

Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin   
 
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17
Feb
2016

senateRepublican action ‘Height of Hypocrisy’ as majority party continues to ignore student loan debt crisis, mass layoffs and child safety.


MADISON – Senate Republicans voted to pass Senate Bill 707 Tuesday while once again refusing to take up the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Bill and address Wisconsin’s growing student loan debt crisis.

mark-harrisSB 707 was introduced by Republican Party leaders to block Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a Democratic candidate in the 18th Senate District, from serving in the Legislature.

“Families are tired of watching Republican politicians prioritize their campaign interests over the needs of Wisconsin communities and the middle class,” said Senate Democratic leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “At a time when we should be working together to restore school funding, address the student loan debt crisis, create jobs and improve child safety, Senate Republicans want to limit the freedom of local voters. The fact that we’re in the last days of session and this bill tops the Republican to-do list shows the height of their hypocrisy and the extent of their misplaced priorities.”

jennifer-shillingRepublican lawmakers had no problem with Gov. Walker running for office on the taxpayers’ dime. No complaints were raised when conservative Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer served as Manitowoc County executive for more than six years. In fact, Republicans recently urged Sen. Paul Farrow to stay in office while simultaneously serving as Waukesha County Executive so he could vote on the state budget and support the Milwaukee Bucks arena deal.

“This is what we’ve come to expect from Republican lawmakers who have been focused on limiting access to public records, dismantling the Government Accountability Board and opening the floodgates for corporate campaign contributions,” added Shilling. “Republicans have their priorities backwards, and it’s time we act to strengthen the middle class and encourage economic opportunities rather than caving to partisan politics. Wisconsin families continue to stand with Democrats in calling for action on school funding, student loan debt relief and improved child safety.”

***

Legislative writer Tony Palese contributed to this story.

Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats   
 
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