01 June 2011

Paying Attention: What Happened in Wisconsin didn’t Start in Wisconsin

Cleaning up the archives, I discovered several interesting articles from the semi-recent past.

It seems there actually is* a “shadow government”, as my friend Jim always maintained. (We used to tease him that the Shadow Government was ineffectual due to being bogged down in Shadow Red Tape.)

The Shadow Government includes those who write, propose, fund and promote their own self-serving laws and initiatives. Unfortunately for me, the groups behind the S. G. are not the lefties. Left Curb politics is championed by the Known Knowns: Democracy for America, Move On, Progressive Democrats of America, etc. Not one secret organization among the bunch. With Transparency as the flag of the Left, we are constantly out-maneuvered by the secrecy and long-range plans of the Right.

So: ALEC -- American Legislative Exchange Council -- Click here for ALEC home page

I offer, from the archives (Just who's writing Wyoming's laws? Casper Star Tribune, 2006), the tip of the iceberg:
When you watch government officials, it’s a good idea to follow the money. In ALEC’s case, the trail is pretty clear. A state legislator pays only $50 a year to join. Corporate sponsors put up $5,000 to $50,000 -- for which they are privileged to write “model” laws that ALEC distributes to legislators nationwide. Legislators attend ALEC's conventions in touristy locales, where they rub elbows with the corporate benefactors who subsidize the whole shebang.

Current local aspect: Board of Directors member and Second Vice Chairman:
Rep. John Piscopo, Connecticut (Burlington, Harwinton, Litchfield and Thomaston)

Current State Chairmen:
Rep. DebraLee Hovey (Monroe and Newtown)
Sen. Kevin D. Witkos (Avon, Simsbury, Canton, New Hartford, Barkhamsted, Hartland, Colebrook, Norfolk, Granby, Torrington, and Harwinton)

Plus, in my archives, I found an article from 2002 that gives details on the maneuvers of ALEC:

Ghostwriting the Law
Indeed, lawmakers sometimes have no idea that they are voting on bills that have been drafted by industry. Fred Bosse, a Democrat in the Texas House, says he discovered ALEC's pro-business bias when he attended one of the group's conferences. "I saw that one of the talks was on the greenhouse effect, which was one of the issues I've always been interested in," he recalls. "There was this professor from someplace, and the theme of his talk was that the greenhouse effect is nothing but a scam being advanced by environmental terrorists to destroy business in America."

And sometimes they don’t care.
And then there is Wisconsin 2011
The ALEC acronym has appeared in numerous articles and blogs pertaining to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his agenda to end collective bargaining rights for unions -- and not only in Wisconsin. The similar bills - some even more extreme than Wisconsin's - in states like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Maine, all include very well organized and very closely worded bills that mirror the "model bills" of ALEC.[16] Although varying in the degree of severity, these bills have the common denominator of corporatizing state government.

Click here for more info and the tie-in to Wisconsin

Follow the Money, Archive everything, Fight the Power
"...we don't know the game. What we need is awareness, we can't get careless..."
Isley Brothers: Good Sound, for background, just a screenshot of the album cover.

The Live Video has bad sound.


Jonathan Kantrowitz said...

Great article - apparently ALEC isn't quite a secret as all that. I'd be happy to form a super secret Left wing organization with you - but we can't tell anyone else about it.

Tessa Marquis said...


Tessa Marquis said...

Read Jon Kantrowitz in The Connecticut Post for Political Think-Stuff,(http://blog.ctnews.com/kantrowitz/) as well as any of his many other informative and useful blogs. Click on his name in his comment above for links to the other blogs.

Alice said...

Tessa, thanks for drawing attention to this at a more local level. First I ever heard about ALEC was when the Repubs in Wisconsin demanded copies of a Univ. of Wisconsin history professor who had exposed this in an Op-ed piece in the NYTimes. I haven't heard anything more about this lately, but interested readers should look here for more info: http://scholarcitizen.williamcronon.net/2011/03/24/open-records-attack-on-academic-freedom/