(AKA Friday Furies – today)
Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. Even though there are many more which I can't include. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."
After last week's focus on the Bradley Foundation (more fully, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation), I wanted to follow up a little, with articles that focus on specific things that the Foundation is doing, and articles that show that it is now getting attention from local media where it is getting most active.
Of course the Foundation is located in Milwaukee, WI, so it makes sense that Wisconsin media would be interested. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has zoomed in upon the Foundation's activities, including its ties to Scott Walker (gee, thanks, Bradley /S)
When Gov. Scott Walker laid out a plan in his state budget address urging people to take steps to avoid welfare, it mirrored a platform of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has pushed for greater personal responsibility and more stringent welfare requirements.
Documents hacked from the Bradley Foundation's computer server show the connection is not just philosophical — it's financial….
The foundation even awarded a $100,000 grant to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to underwrite the commission itself — an unusual, if not unique, step in government. Neither the source of the commission's money nor the foundation's stake in the outcome was disclosed. The state spent about $62,000 of the grant before making its recommendation to the governor.
This excellent piece of reporting follows the money to show how deep the Bradley Foundation's tentacles go, and how they spread out into multiple areas of Winsoncin government. Or maybe we should say "Fitzwalkerstan" government. Personally, I think it's a pity Scotty didn't take a post with the Trump Administration before now, so that he could be taken down with it. But, if he was too cunning to do so before, he's definitely too cunning to do so now. Sad.
The Journal Sentinel is very much on the whole story; there are two other articles just this week on the Foundation. One focuses on its funding of groups opposing climate regulation, and the other includes an interview with Marcus S. Owens, who ran the IRS's tax-exempt organizations division during the 1990's; he shows how closely they are skating to the exempt-non exempt line, and indeed going over it.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, it has comne to the attention of Colorado Politics that the Bradley Foundation is putting a lot of money into Colorado, with a focus on union-busting. Citing the CMD report, the article says:
Bradley has given the Colorado-based Independence Institute $1.45 million between 2004-2016, the documents indicate, including multiple grants some years. With the assistance of the Independence Institute, the right-wing Douglas County school board enacted a series of measures, including countywide school vouchers for private and religious schools (later struck down by the courts), plus an end to collective bargaining, teacher tenure, and automatic dues deductions for teachers unions. In 2013, the battle resulted in a high-dollar school board race where unions and the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group spent heavily.
Bradley has been a big funder of this agenda. In 2015, Bradley gave a grant of $100,000 to Independence Institute for “aggressive education reform,” which Bradley says included “neutralizing the power of Colorado’s teachers’ unions by defunding them at the local school district level” (Independence Institute, Grant Proposal Record, 11/10/15).
The Independence Institute's response:
It’s no secret that the Independence Institute, the Denver-based libertarian-leaning think tank, takes on unions at every turn, and it depends on anonymous donors to do it.
“We never talk about our donors,” Independence Institute president and CEO Jon Caldara said in an e-mail. “But if Bradley gave us that much money to fight unions, I’d be living on some small island with that cash right now instead."
Oh my. Well, it certainly is refreshing for a right wing/Libertarian operative admit he is an embezzler, even if only at heart.
Over in the State of Washington, The Stand ("News About Working People Standing Together in Washington State") also picked up the informmation about union-busting.
In Washington state, the Bradley Foundation granted $1.5 million over three years to the Freedom Foundation with the purpose of “defund[ing] Big Labor,” because “Washington State’s liberal labor laws have long allowed it to be a net exporter of union dollars to other parts of the country,” according to proposals regarding the grant.
Examples of the Freedom Foundation’s anti-union activities in Washington include canvassing, mailing, and phone banking union members to get them to opt out of their unions. They also hired a Santa Claus to leaflet state workers as they walked in and out of their workplace, encouraging them to stop paying full union dues.
The Stand also noted that, besides Wisconsin, Colorado, and Washington, the two states the Foundation targets most aggressively are North Carolina and Oregon.
Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO said:
We’re not going to let the Bradley Foundation, the Freedom Foundation, or the other groups they fund get us down. More than ever, working people are coming together to raise wages, protect workers’ rights, and expand the right to organize in our state. We will continue to spotlight and expose the negative, destabilizing outside pressure from anti-union groups on state and local governments. We must ensure Washington politics put the priorities of Washington’s working families first.
Dear Furies, fighting this thing is like fighting the nine-headed Lernean Hydra, which grew two new heads every time one was cut off, at least until the immortal head in the middle was found. Perhaps you need to enlist Heracles to deal with this – thing. One version of the myth says that cauterizing the necks with a torch prevented their regeneration; if you are too busy to hold the torches, perhaps Iolaos, who originally served that function, would come along.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4053330