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"Mr. Smalley & me"

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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby jonnygothispen » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:03 pm

bensmomjo wrote:Thanks for posting this interesting correspondence. My husband has also on occasion corresponded with Mr. Smalley about various topics, to little avail. Very frustrating.
(My bold) Totally! Here's the latest.

Hi John,

Thanks again for your reply. I don't think it's too hard to follow. WSJ repeatedly published that Walker "balanced the budget" without explaining that it was a "cash accounting" balance that came about because of Walker's $558 million loan Wisconsin will be paying off until the 2030/31 fiscal year, with payments currently at $98 million a year. I have yet to see the loan mentioned at all.

And without explaining the difference between cash accounting V. the more accurate GAAP accounting method that reflects Wisconsin's actual debt. Forbes Magazine does a nice job of that in the middle of page 2:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2 ... t-deficit/

Along with is:
"... it was necessary for the Walker Administration to tell HHS that his state is running a deficit while attempting, at the same time, to convince voters of the precise opposite—all so he can hold onto the opportunity to place more than 50,000 Wisconsinites in danger of losing their only access to health care."

I would think that reporting on the actual debt/deficits (and their effects) instead of stating the exact opposite just a week prior to a recall over his qualifications to old the job would be pretty important stuff.

But WSJ did this instead on May 27th, 2012 in a featured Sunday article just before the recall: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/ ... 963f4.html

In the gray area on the left side of the page:

"Balanced the state's budget and closed a $3.6 billion hole without a widespread increase in taxes, and without relying on one-time funds to cover big gaps."

The budget isn't balanced: Walker's administration has run deficits both years by their own admission. There was no $3.6 billion "budget hole." That was a figure the appointed heads of various State agencies asked for and nevertheless, wasn't wiped out either way since our debt is $320 million + higher right now than when Walker took office (by their own admission). And Walker did, in fact, depend on more than several "one-time funds": The $558 million loan, $25.6 million taken from the mortgage relief fund, along with cutting $56 million from the Earned the Income Tax Credit, another $13 million from not indexing the Earned Income tax Credit for inflation, along with $107 million in tuition increases at the UW. That's $750 million in essentially "one time" funds along with another $156 million in interest on the $558 million loan we now owe until 2031.

You said earlier that you urged Walker to use the GAAP figures (for obvious reasons, I assume). So why not cite them, since you prefer them?

I agree that you've reported on jobs endlessly, but never (that I know of) in the context of when we gained jobs under Doyle's budget for the first 6 months in 2011, and then lost jobs for the next 6 out of 8 months after Scott's budget became law on July 1st, 2011. If you take out the 41,000 jobs gained under the previous Governor's policies, before Walker's budget went into effect, what are we left with in regards to jobs?

3-3-2012:
http://www.jsonline.com/business/us-add ... 33083.html

"Wisconsin has lost more private-sector jobs (an estimated 27,700) than any state in the country since the middle of last year (July through December), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only one other state, Missouri, is close, losing about 19,000 jobs in that stretch.

Although the state added more than 41,000 private-sector jobs in the first half of 2011, losses in the second half of the year have wiped out most of those gains, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Despite an uptick in December, Wisconsin has the biggest six-month decline in manufacturing jobs in the nation after California. That's significant because Wisconsin depends more on manufacturing for jobs than any state but Indiana. It's also significant at a time when a renaissance in manufacturing is helping drive the national recovery."


The BLS showed no significant gains from July 2011 to July 2012, meaning less than 6,000 jobs gained or lost. This link used to show that, but it's updated now to show December 2011 to December 2012, which also shows no significant jobs gained or lost for Wisconsin: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/laus.nr0.htm

How did we fall from being in the top 15 in job creation in the 1st 6 months of 2011 to the bottom 10, often ranking dead last, after Walker's budget went into effect? Considering that Wisconsin's deficits/debt and job creation were the 2 biggest issues in the State, I fail to understand your confusion over publishing more accurate figures, and the "hows and whys" in a more descriptive way over these issues.

Thanks...

Jon



--- On Fri, 1/25/13, John Smalley <JSmalley@madison.com> wrote:


From: John Smalley <JSmalley@madison.com>
Subject: RE: So I take it...
To: "jon"
Date: Friday, January 25, 2013, 11:15 AM

Jon,

I know you will think I'm thick-headed on this, but I'm just not sure that I'm following your concerns. We have reported extensively on the budget, and, like everybody else, we use the Legislature Fiscal Bureau as the arbiter on what's what when it comes to the numbers. Are you saying the LFB is wrong or playing partisan politics? And on the jobs and the timing, again, we've reported almost endlessly on the various jobs numbers, and the various disputes about which numbers are more accurate. So I guess I'm missing the point on that one, too.

-- John



From: jon
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:56 PM
To: John Smalley
Subject: RE: So I take it...

(geez) I'm just talking about the actual debt/loan which you haven't given the truth, and in fact stated the opposite about it. Sorry about the way I worded it...

Jon



--- On Thu, 1/24/13, John Smalley <JSmalley@madison.com>wrote:


From: John Smalley <JSmalley@madison.com>
Subject: RE: So I take it...
To: "jon
Cc: "Mark Pitsch" <MPitsch@madison.com>
Date: Thursday, January 24, 2013, 6:04 PM

No, Jon, it's not too much to ask to give people the truth. That's what we shoot for every day.

-- John


From: jon
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:42 PM
To: John Smalley
Subject: So I take it...

... that leveling with the people of Wisconsin about the actual debt and deficits of the last 2 years isn't something WSJ is concerned about? It would be kind of appropriate to tell them the truth after misleading them just prior to the recall, in my opinion, since it was such a big issue. Likewise with the jobs figures/timeline.


"Give people the truth and the freedom to discuss it, and all will go well." ~ William Evjue

Is that too much to ask?

Thanks
Jon
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby jonnygothispen » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:08 pm

... Mr. Smalley's explanation for not leveling with the "people of Wisconsin."

Hi John,

Thanks again for the reply. I like the BBL analogy, but it doesn't actually fit - there is actual debt using GAAP standards, which are required by law for businesses and most municipalities, and falsified debt using cash accounting principles, just as there is an actual BBL score and a fake score. The final score/debt remains the same whether you use the real figures of the GAAP, or the falsified cash accounting figures you used. I hope you use the GAAP every time, since this would call out the use of borrowing money to give the false appearance of a balance when in fact, as in this case, all that happened is that we are now deeper in debt with payments due until 2031.

I just want you or somebody to tell the truth, nothing more or less, and not hide behind "he said/she said" stuff. What is Wisconsin's actual debt right now V. when Scott Walker took office? What was Wisconsin's actual debt when Jim Doyle took office and what did he leave for Walker? Who ran up the debt to over $3 billion, and how did that happen? Honest journalism, nothing more.

It doesn't really hold water that you can't use the LFB's GAAP figures over the LFB cash accounting figures since no news reporting agency is held to any Government standard. But rather, it was always the job of the media to call out the use of false figures in the Olde' days. They relished it, and that's what helped keep government honest- the 5th estate, and all that you know.

And as an aside, it would absolutely GREAT if you did a run down using GAAP figures, perhaps back to the beginning of Tommy Thompson's reign since he ran up Wisconsin's debt to $3.2 billion and Doyle knocked it down to $2.7 billion before handing over the reins to Walker. But that's the job of a media outlet who wishes to be more honest with the State.

(October 16, 2010). Last sentence, paragraph 17:
http://www.jsonline.com/business/105115159.html "Doyle inherited a $3.2 billion deficit that now stands at $2.7 billion.."

To state the opposite of reality in terms of the budget, deficits and debt, and then find a way to not correct that says more about your standard than I could in reply. Who knows, maybe somebody will pick it up at some point? Thanks!

John



--- On Mon, 1/28/13, John Smalley <JSmalley@madison.com> wrote:


From: John Smalley <JSmalley@madison.com>
Subject: RE: I have to admit...
To: "jon"
Date: Monday, January 28, 2013, 1:58 PM

Jon,

I have shared your concerns with the folks closest to this coverage, so they are aware. I think the fundamental problem is you seem to want us to report on what it looks like using GAAP standards while the government uses cash accounting standards. It's pretty difficult to write two strains in every story -- "Gov. Walker says this about the budget, but if they were held to GAAP standards, then the numbers would look like this."

Not sure if you're a basketball fan, but to me that's kind of like reporting in every game story: "The Badgers scored 18 points off six 3-point baskets, but if we were using the rules from the previous era in the game that would have been only 12 points, not 18."

In other words, we sort of have to live by the rules as they exist, and use the language of the Legislature and the LFB and the Republicans and the Democrats and everybody else in state government. Nothing has changed in our reporting from the Doyle era to the Walker era, and both used cash accounting methods of scoring the budget.

If and when state government starts using GAAP standards to score budgets and deficits, I'm sure that's how we'll report it. But when they're not using that method, I'm not sure how necessary it is to keep making that same point -- that these numbers would be different if there was a different type of accounting being used.

Thanks for your interest in these important topics.

-- John



From: jon
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:47 PM
To: John Smalley
Subject: I have to admit...

... I feel strange even answering your last email. You're a bright guy who's fully aware of what we're talking about. I sincerely doubt you were "thickheaded" in asking. But thanks anyway. It's better to have some dialogue than none at all, usually.

I guess it will be interesting to see how it plays out, if it ever does, once people realize there was no such thing as a balanced budget 2010 through 2013, nor was there ever an actual surplus, but rather our debt grew during the time WSJ stated the opposite. Not to mention the $50 to $100 million a year in loan repayment obligations for the next 8 years, and tens of millions each year until 2031. It's your reputation on the line, or that of WSJ, anyway.

I don't know what to say about your position on this beyond that. Thanks again though.

Jon


Whatever happened to the honest media?
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby david cohen » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:01 pm

Anyone else feel like a voyeur reading these private emails? Whatever happened to the old days when it was unacceptable to post the contents of private emails on a website?
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby jonnygothispen » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:19 pm

Are the emails of public figures actually private? Is the issue at hand, WSJ's reporting, in the public interest? Would you rather keep it covered up?
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby david cohen » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:26 pm

Let's just say I won't be emailing you anytime soon, partner.
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby jonnygothispen » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:29 pm

david cohen wrote:Let's just say I won't be emailing you anytime soon, partner.
I'm sure you'll be too busy brushing that chip off your shoulder to bother with it. But thank God for internet fall guys, hey?

I think this is a huge issue. When the main stream media lies in major ways to favor a candidate they endorsed, it's the equivalent of ballot stacking/stealing an election. They broke the rules. I want to find out how that can be changed.

I think it might help to understand the mind of the person making these decisions. I'll live with the results. When it becomes this obtuse, then what have I got to lose?
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby david cohen » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:48 pm

I'm no fan of Smalley but I think you should advise him that you are posting his correspondence to the web, that's all.
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby jonnygothispen » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:24 pm

Mr. Smalley is pretty diplomatic in his replies, although a few, which I didn't post, weren't as well disciplined-let's just say. I like him, actually. My goal isn't to embarrass him, but it is to pressure WSJ, for their own sake and ours, to be honest.

Their decision to be dishonest about the debt/loan/deficits, along with other media outlets, is a betrayal of all of us, and all Wisconsin voters. I couldn't come close to that by displaying emails in regards to that very same thing. Maybe you should look at it that way too? I feel the State is worth more to me than your feelings towards me, David (I hope we can still be friends).

I'm also tired of arguing with people who have no idea what's going on because of the dishonesty in the media over this. If you have a better idea of how to rectify it, feel free to share, or keep it to yourself, whatever you like. But please DO something.

Just in case anyone is wondering, when you're a party to a conversation via electronically (phone, wiretap, video, and I'm guessing email fits into that category too) in Wisconsin, you can do what you like with it (There may be "decency" standards re: nudity) There are 3 pages of Wisconsin statute on this. You can also record (audio or video) any conversation you're a party of without the other party's consent.

I want things to get better in Wisconsin, and I don't want to leave the next election to chance. I'm tired of all the angst, BS, arguing, and especially the misinformation coming from the media that holds a higher responsibility than us, David. Thanks though. I'm glad you're concerned : )
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby Mad Howler » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:03 pm

Jon,
This bit caught my eye:
"In other words, we sort of have to live by the rules as they exist, and use the language of the Legislature and the LFB and the Republicans and the Democrats and everybody else in state government. Nothing has changed in our reporting from the Doyle era to the Walker era, and both used cash accounting methods of scoring the budget."

Perhaps this is a crazy notion, but given the "standards" applied to aspiring journalism students one might assume our paper of record might be a little more innovative? Tisk, tisk, ivory towers and all.
Still barking at moon. As usual.
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby jonnygothispen » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:36 pm

... he's suggesting that the Government, the LFB and Democrats control the message of the paper when he makes the final decisions over what gets printed. Pretty wild. "Everyone else is doing it" seems pretty weak to me. At one point, he told me it was too expensive to dig into this stuff, used the odd BBL analogy, and finally settled on "everyone else is doing it!"

Kind of leaves you speechless.

Jon,

OK, last pass at this. There is nothing disingenuous going on, nor shirking of responsibility. There are two ways of measuring budgets, and we report on the figures that EVERYONE uses and accepts as a measuring stick. You want us to report on the other set of figures, because you think they better represent reality. That's fair enough, but it doesn't were being disingenuous or saying someone else is at fault. It means we're reporting on state budget figures they way EVERYONE has ALWAYS reported on them. I'm not saying it's the best way to measure state budgets, but it is THE way it is being done. And I can't really change that. Does that help?

-- John
bold is mine...

Wasn't the original idea of having a press so that they would provide another set of checks and balances?

Completely frustrating. How many thousands of votes were swayed by the use of false budget/debt/deficit and jobs figures? In my opinion, the media stole the election this way.
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby Mad Howler » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:54 pm

Yep, at least he hasn't launched the "taming" conspiracy narrative accusation on ya yet. But it seems to have been stated around the corners. When you get there I would give him a bit of this...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lady_d ... ,_methinks

Whatever, it funny world.
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby Zoti Bemba » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:02 pm

Jon,

OK, last pass at this. There is nothing disingenuous going on, nor shirking of responsibility. There are two ways of measuring budgets, and we report on the figures that EVERYONE uses and accepts as a measuring stick. You want us to report on the other set of figures, because you think they better represent reality. That's fair enough, but it doesn't were being disingenuous or saying someone else is at fault. It means we're reporting on state budget figures they way EVERYONE has ALWAYS reported on them. I'm not saying it's the best way to measure state budgets, but it is THE way it is being done. And I can't really change that. Does that help?

-- John


So now I'm wondering who this EVERYONE who has ALWAYS done it like this is? Doesn't GAAP stand for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles? Is Mr. Smalley arguing that that should be GAEFWSGAP (Generally Accepted Except For Wisconsin State Government Accounting Principles)? Aren't most businesses (Capitol Newspapers Inc, for example) legally held to GAAP reporting standards? But Mr. Smalley would argue that the press should give the politicians a pass when they carve out legal or rhetorical exceptions for themselves? Huh. So much for the Fourth Estate.

As for the ALWAYS part I seem to remember a kerfluffle on WPR way back in the time before time when Tommy Thompson was Governor and the sly switch to cash accounting was made so everything would look so much nicer. Of course I'm not an accountant or a newspaper editor, but that "always" of Mr. Smalley's sounds a little short to me.
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Re: "Mr. Smalley & me"

Postby jonnygothispen » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:19 pm

It's nice to know that not "EVERYONE has ALWAYS" used cash accounting, and interesting as to who made that change. I just forwarded that scenario to Mr. SMALLey asking for a NEWS article explaining the whole enchilada.

I'm SURE it will be HEADLINE news very soon!
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